So Thankful!

Just a few things I am thankful for today that have reminded me how abundantly blessed I am.

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I am 99.9%, prettydarnsure, 
that I have found a place to live!!!!
It's perfect. Location. Size. "Cuteness."
Yes, it has a guest room. hint hint.

****
I have my schedule set through mid-April!
I have a JOB!
It's been 1.5 years since I have stepped inside a hospital to work.
If you want to visit, now is the time to tell me! ;)

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People here are SO NICE.
Like... really, really nice.  Genuine smiles and greetings.
It's "the South" they say.
Boy, did I miss out on this living in the DC area. :)

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I love how my friends and family (ahem, Mom!) get just as excited 
as I do about all the good in my life.  Such an amazing thing.

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So grateful for Papa Benny for his leadership, guidance and shepherding (is that a thing... there is no red line of incorrection).  I am thankful for having the pleasure to be in his presence TWICE during his almost 8 years as Pope.  Thank YOU, Papa!

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Children.  I love them.  All of them.
Especially the ones that are in my life.  :)

I could go on and on.  But, these are the things jumping out after a day like today!

Abrazos,
Jen

7 Quick Takes (14)

~ 1 ~
Wow... it's Friday.  Another week has gone by.
I leave tomorrow to fly back down to FL.  No imminent return date.
This is it, people.
I will be really starting my new life in SW Florida.
Prayers, please!

~ 2 ~
If you don't normally follow this here blog, then you have missed all the action about my pilgrimage to Italy.  So you don't feel left out, please check them out:

~ 3 ~
Um, I start my new job in a little over a week.
AHHHH!!!
While this is really exciting and I am ready to act like a real adult again,
I am nervous.  New hospital.  New people.  New technology.
I made my appointment for all the new-hire paperwork for Monday.
It's really happening.
God is so good.

~ 4 ~
Because I have been home, I have been able to see friends that I hadn't seen in a while.
I started my week off by seeing an amazing family that I met while their daughter was in the hospital.
They are a beautiful, devout, Catholic family.  So inspiring.
I was also able to meet up with a good friend I worked with for coffee.  It's like no time had passed at all.  I just love that.
I also had dinner with two ladies that were my old bosses who are now good friends.
I hope having a week filled with people from my old job is only a sign of what's to come with my new one.

~ 5 ~
God and I have had some really great prayer time.
I was expressing to a friend the other day how I have had such a sense of clarity about my vocation, and I cannot wait to get married and have some babes (God-willing, of course) one day!!
My heart wants to burst because it's filled with so much joy. :) :)

~ 6 ~
Because of number 5, it's hard to not think about my future hubby: when we will meet. Where.  How. WHEN? ;)  Even though I would really like this to happen sooner, rather than later, I am not really stressed about it.  I trust God.  It will happen.  Until then I am continuing to pray for him daily.
But, you know what's funny?  Whenever I express this to someone, their first response is usually something like, "you are so young! You have all the time in the world! Live your life! blah blah!"
While I know they mean well, how does that help me?
My vocation is marriage.  I am allowed to desire it.  I am allowed to want it.
I am living my life. I love my life.  
But, God is calling me to be married, and I want to fulfill His desires for me.  
To do this fully, I need a hubby.
For all of you non-Catholic/Christian people, this does not mean that I need a husband to make me happy. Nope.  I already am.  Because of our Lord, I am happy.
He is the One that brings true happiness. :)
We are all called by our Lord to be something.
Once we figure it out, that's how we are supposed to be living our lives. Fully.

~ 7 ~
And, now that #6 is no longer quick (b/c I was ACTUALLY being quick for once!), I will leave you with something to add to your prayers: Culture of Life Africa.  The pro-life movement over there is really beginning to take hold.  They need our prayers!  Visit Leila, she has some more info, too.

Thanks for stopping by!
As, always... please visit Jen and the gang for more fun! :)

Italia Parte 5: Roma, Day 4- Our Last Day


YOU MADE IT!!!
This is our last and final day in Rome.
It was a doozy.
We started the morning off with Mass, and then headed straight to the auditorium for our audience with Papa Benny!!!

This was the stage where His Holiness would be speaking to us.
I have NO idea what that thing is on the stage.
It's a little creepy if you ask me.
YAY! :)
We were ready.
Well, the babe was getting some last minute Zzzs. :)
I cannot express to you how absolutely amazing it is that I was able to be in the presence of Pope Benedict XVI just before his big news.
It's such an honor and big deal in general, but to know that I was at one of his last audiences is even more incredible.  It will be something that I am going to try hard to never forget.
Ever.

There he is!!!
Lookin' all snazzy in his white.

We were not that close.  I was just able to zoom and them cropped them a bit.
I am so happy I have these.


The place was packed.  People made signs.  Chanted.  Sang.
The Pope said some prayers and read his reflection in multiple languages: Latin, Italian, English, Spanish, French, Polish, German, Portugese and even Arabic.
So amazing.
After he said the reflection (here in English), 
the people/groups that spoke that language would then scream, sing or do a chant.
And Papa would wait.
Oh... my heart.
My heart wanted to BURST every time he waited until the group would finish.
To smile and clap:

Or to give an extra little blessing:

He was so tender.  And gentile.
I almost started crying a few times.
And now... how incredibly sweet it is.  
He must have been thinking about not having many of these audiences left.  
He was so patient and seemed genuinely happy to be in our presence.
His flock.
I am almost to tears again, as I write this.
I am humbled that our Papa was touched by our presence, as much as we were touched by his.
He truly loves us.
All of us.  
No matter where we are from.  What language we speak. What sins we have committed. How old or how young we are.
He loves us.
Just as Jesus commanded.
And, I am so thankful for him and our amazing Church.

We tried our darndest to get the babe blessed.
But, His Holiness just didn't see her.
Because if he had... he couldn't have resisted!
Even with one sock missing!
And, as quick as he came... he was gone.


After we had some lunch and relaxed a bit, we had our Ancient Rome tour with Liz.

It was a GORGEOUS day!
First up, the Colosseum: 



Panoramic from my iPhone!




And then the Forum:


And, then, we had our amazing last group dinner. :)
Reflected. Laughed. Cried.
And were so incredibly joyous.

Mart, Tom, Jennine and I went back for a walk to say goodbye to St. Peter's.
And to see it's beauty at night.

And, it really, really is.

This was such an amazing experience.
I am so thankful and honored that I was able to see all of these places.
I hope you all have enjoyed this little tour.  Thank you for your patience!
If you have any questions, please let me know. :)

I do want to let you know, if you happen to read this blog:
I prayed for you.  A lot.
Please know... your intentions were taken to St. Peter's.
Our home.

Italia Parte 4: Roma, Days 2 & 3


Alright, so day 2.... we woke up and went to St. Peter's for Mass.
Gorgeous morning!
It was so amazing to walk into St. Peter's and see every single chapel filled with a priest saying Mass.
Just beautiful.
Our Mass was below the main level...
in part of the original structure of the church
built over St. Peter's tomb.
AMAZING!
We had the amazing Liz Lev as our local tour guide.
She is incredible.
Everything she said, you couldn't help but believe what she had to say.
So passionate.
So... awesome. 
The Pieta
I was able to pray in front to Pope JPII's tomb.
So powerful.

 Then we just, ya know, hung out in St. Peter's Square.
Had some lunch and enjoyed the day.




We, then, had such a wonderful opportunity to have a PRIVATE tour of the Vatican Museum AND the Sistine Chapel.

When we walked through St. Peter's... the Pope was in his apartment.
I like to think he was walking around, in his slippers and red PJs... doing all the Pope things.
Now in hindsight... I wonder how much time he was in there praying and thinking and pondering about his upcoming resignation.
So crazy.






The entire time we are in Italy, all we have heard is that the guards at the Sistine Chapel are crazy!
No pics are allowed, and if they catch you they will make you delete them.
We walk into the Chapel, and of course the crowd we are with, remember, could care less!
They are click, click, clicking away.
The guards... who knows where they are?!  When they do finally come back, they could care less, as well.  So, feeling guilty, I pulled out my camera and only took three! :)
Absolutely stunning.
Michelangelo painted that STANDING UP on this special scaffolding he made.
Incredible.
 I just can't believe I was able to be there.  IN THE SISTINE CHAPEL.
So many popes were elected there.
And how awesome that another conclave will happen again in JUST a few weeks.
I am so blessed, it's unreal.

Papal library.
Alrighty... Day 3, we had our tour with Liz of Christian Rome.
Unfortunately, we saw a lot of churches and they kind of started to blend together, plus I am not a huge history/art fan, so it's hard for me to pay attention all of the time.
So, I am not sure I will have a lot of info for the next few. :)
St. Mary of Martyrs... maybe?
St. John's... the first Christian church inside the walls of Rome.
 B/c of that... the Papacy was there for quite some time.
These are the original Pope doors. :)
Stations of the Cross leading up to some relics:
piece of The Cross, nails and thorns.
Incredible.
AND THEN!
Jennine and I decided to CLIMB ST. PETER'S DOME!!!!
Yup, we did.



We had just had Mass right down there a few days before.
Then, we went up some tiny spiral staircases.
And, because we are climbing the CURVED dome... 
of course the walls would begin to bend:
I am standing up straight... 
 This was the last part.
This photo is looking up.
The tiniest spiral staircase with only that rope to hold onto!

 And then THIS:
 ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!?!

Guh.  I mean... I can't even describe it.
Another view from the dome.
WE WENT UP THERE!!!!!!
Back inside... statue of St. Peter.
So old... and feet so worn.
So many pilgrims touching his feet.
Unfortunately, it was blocked so we couldn't touch it.
 Then, we had some time before the choir concert. 
Which happened to be right near Santa Susanna church.
And of course we had to bring the babe. :)

The concert was at this basilica which was made out of the roman bathes!
Cool, huh?
This was across the street.
One of my fave pics.
 St. John's choir was amazing!
They had such a great turn out. :)


Let me just tell you...
Susannah was the HIT!
I mean... every.single.person loved the babe.
This was one of the cutest.  I wish it wasn't so blurry.

All of us with Luca (our amazing tour guide, but really Zuzu's boyfriend)!

Wow.. I know this was a long one.  Thanks for making it! :)
One more... for our last day which included our audience with the POPE!!
Until next time!
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