A Renewed Purpose

Some time has passed since I last touched this blog, and much has happened – to say the least. I cannot go back over the last year and a half and recap details for you, but I can pick up from this very moment and say that being HOME has inspired me to return to my roots…to reflect on the things and people who have touched my life…and to work for the causes that have shaped my calling and vocation.

The one event that moved me to start posting again was a recharge like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. This past weekend, we attended the 2nd annual Mother of Life Conference at the University of San Diego, sponsored by the Knights of Columbus San Diego Chapter. I saw the powerhouse line-up of speakers and knew I wanted to attend; however, I just didn’t think it was possible for various reasons. But I couldn’t stop thinking about it for weeks. Finally at the last minute, I mustered up the courage to ask Gary if we could go. Of course, he said yes.

I’m so glad we made it out.

I’ve been to a lot of conferences and conventions over the years. This one, though, was incredibly special because everyone there was united in the one mission and purpose all of humanity is called to fight for: LIFE. Preserving and celebrating the dignity of the human person – from the moment of conception to natural death. And it only made sense that the greatest of pro-life speakers were present to share their stories and give witness to the Great Commandment of Jesus Christ…to “love one another as I have loved you.” We couldn’t help but be touched by the Spirit of Love that permeated the Pavilion. As we walked around the exhibits meeting both speakers and participants, there was an inexplicable joy in their smiles and the peace in their hearts no money could ever buy.

We had the three kids with us, and I was a little nervous about the girls’ laughter and pitter-pattering feet during the talks, hoping that people wouldn’t be irritated that we were disturbing their conference experience. Elderly ladies would only turn around and glow with appreciation because Gary said that our kids reminded them of what it was they were fighting for. It was so beautiful to see the oohs and ahhs from admirers young and old as we walked Kali around the plaza, and to hear the words, “How wonderful that you were able to bring your children to this conference.”

Kali meeting Fr. Frank Pavone

Do you see the expression on Fr. Frank’s face? This is a man who labors every day for the lives of unborn children, and the smile on his face as he is looking at Kali captures the love he has for babies everywhere. Never having naturally fathered any of his own children, this holy priest has – through his work – adopted the world’s unborn as his family.

The Dyogi family w/ Fr. Frank

“We do not stand on the platform of Democrats…we do not stand on the platform of Republicans. We stand on the platform of JESUS CHRIST!” he exclaimed during his talk. This statement resonated in both my heart and Gary’s as well because we know that Life is not a political issue. It’s a human issue. And we felt sad that it was even an issue to begin with. Praise God that there are good and courageous people committed to the movement, but it’s so unfortunate that we should have to rally to defend a God-given human right. Nevertheless, we move forward together – led by the Spirit to speak for those who have no voice.

The talks were so encouraging and convicting, full of reminders to us who needed that extra push to not only speak fearlessly in defense of life, but also to get down on our knees and truly intercede for our nation. They couldn’t have had a better program.

Dr. Alveda King (niece of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.) – civil rights activist and pro-life warrior

The one speaker I was quite excited to hear was Dr. Alveda King. She is the pastoral associate of the African-American Outreach with Priests for Life and gives a powerful testimony of her journey from abortion to the pro-life work she does today. Her witness and the videos she shared touched me deeply because I have taught in African-American communities for the last 7 years. Knowing that more awareness must be raised regarding the reproductive health and right to life of all people has encouraged me to at least expose my students to the Maafa21 trailer and eugenic history of Planned Parenthood. It is my prayer that the truth be spread and our communities will be truly empowered to choose life for their children, rather than succumb to fear and the culture of death.

Our heroes: Crystalina & Jason Evert – world-renowned chastity speakers and authors

It was a most wonderful surprise to meet Jason and Crystalina Evert at the conference, and to see them fill in for Eduardo Verastegui who was not able to make it that weekend. These two have transformed us as a married couple and also have strengthened us as speakers/teachers because they share an understanding of chastity and marriage incomparable to anyone we have ever known. What is so encouraging is that they are young parents, like us, trying their best to raise their family in a God-centered home. I really enjoyed talking to them about NFP and our kids…hearing Crystalina ask me, “So are you going to have anymore?” and Jason playfully holding Baby Kali’s hand as he shared a little about their plans to move closer to Crystalina’s family soon after they return from World Youth Day.

Of course it would have been great to have thousands upon thousands of people pouring into the Jenny Craig Pavilion at USD that Saturday, but I am secretly happy it was relatively easy to approach the very people I have always wanted to meet! God is so good to me….

Marianne, Kali Damien, and Jason Jones (producer of Bella)

Now this guy was super-cool to talk to! Pictured above is Jason Jones, one of the men who brought us the beautiful pro-life movie Bella, starring Eduardo Verastegui. He hails from Hawaii (hence the “shaka”) but God brought him here to evangelize the world through Hollywood filmmaking and to organize one of the greatest human dignity campaigns called I Am Whole Life. Again, another conversation that started off with the intention of networking yet joyfully made its way into the parenting realm. Jason will be having his 6th child in about three weeks, and we were able to meet three of them at the Movie to Movement booth. He’s such a humble, down-to-earth soldier of Christ who scales the planet as far as Sudan to spread the living Gospel through his humanitarian efforts. Must be that Aloha spirit!

The many connections we also made with the conference participants were priceless. My favorite was a married couple – Jerry and Joan – who we met just outside the restroom. Jerry shared that he and Joan had 5 children, 9 grandchildren, and 9 great-grandchildren. It was obvious that they loved each other, their family, and their Church. Jerry was a Knight and he asked Gary if he ever thought about being one. I told him that I never knew how involved in the pro-life movement the Knights of Columbus were until I looked up the history of the organization. The work they do is absolutely phenomenal. I pray that more men will answer God’s call to join such an inspiring brotherhood – to serve the Church in her greatest needs – because they sure do A WHOLE LOT more than host the weekly Lenten fish fries!

To learn more about the amazing pro-life leaders and their work, please visit the following sites:
Fr. Frank Pavone – National Director of Priests for Life
Dr. Alveda King – Founder of King for America
Jason and Crystalina Evert – The Chastity Project
Jason Jones – producer of Bella and I Am Whole Life Movement
Knights of Columbus – “In Service to One. In Service to All.”

If you’re interested in ordering the talks for this year’s Mother of Life Conference, or if you would like to attend next year, make sure you bookmark this link:
Mother of Life Conference

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