NAS: Resources, yo!

Wow... I did not super prepare this week.  There must be something in the water, because Miss Morgan was a'struggling, too! :)  It's all about what things (books, music, etc) help you stay close to the Lord!  I am always on the lookout for new books and things, I can't wait to read everyone's posts.

One of my absolute fave books:

Captivating by John and Stasi Eldridge really get into what makes us... us.  The heart of a woman is really explored, and it helped me a lot when I was in college.  Hmm... maybe I should reread it.  And their guy "version" Wild At Heart.

I have mentioned this before, but, I enjoy He Speaks to You by Sister Helena Burns, FSP.
This is a daily devotional where each month discusses a different topic that pertains to young women.  You can go in order, or just pick a month and start depending on what topic is on your heart.  Each day there is a bible verse and quote to ponder, an activity and a topic to journal.  It really hits all areas of prayer and reflection.  Seriously, you've got to check it out!

I have to say, when I brought this topic up to Morgan, I wasn't necessarily thinking that the resources had to be specifically related to our singlehood. ha. I don't know why?!  So, the next few are just my ways to stay close to the Lord in general. :)  But, if you need more inspiration for good things, please check out Raquel's AWESOME list! :)  It looks like I will be dusting of my Kindle quiiiiite soon. :)

There was a time when I prayed the Liturgy of the Hours all.of.the.time.  I was intimidated by LOH when I first heard about it in college, so it was years later before I actually cracked one open and prayed it.  It's incredible, you guys.
My well love prayer book in all it's glory.
I have been slacking recently, but it's been on my heart to start up again.  Mart just gave me The Everyday Catholic's Guide to the Liturgy of the Hours and it has rejuvenated me to start praying again.  

This will help you understand LOH if you have never prayed it or to refocus you on it's beauty if you are an LOH junkie. :)  You guys, really consider it!  I love to be able to hold the prayer book in my hands, but their are tons of options for tablets/iPads/phones if that's more your style.  It's SO much easier to pray it now more than ever.  Let me know what you think once you start praying!

Similar to what I said about my fave ways to pray... adoration, praise and worship (!!!) and listening to music.  Audrey Assad and Matt Maher always fill my heart up.

These are the things that help to keep me focused on the Lord.  As Natalie mentioned, it's also great to surround yourself with good, holy friends.  Ones that will challenge you and build you up.  And,  of course all of the amazing blogs that I read.  Yours, and of course all the marrieds. :)  I learn so much and am inspired by reading about others' lives.  It's just really, really awesome. 

What about you?  How do you stay close to the Lord?!

NEXT WEEK Aug 6:
Envy and Singlehood
(Interpret as you like...)

August 13:
Talking about our challenge!
What steps did you take to meeting new people?
Or getting to know a religious community more?
I can't WAIT to hear about your experiences.

WE NEED MORE TOPICS, LADIES!!!!!!!!!!

Be sure to link up at Morgan's!  See you next week!

Funny Story

Wanna hear a funny story?  Of course you do!

Mart asked if I wanted to hit up confession with her yesterday, and I was so happy she asked.  I hadn't been a little bit, and really needed a good cleansing. :)

So, we get to the church and both confessionals are opened.  Perfect!

I go in the first one...

Priest slightly startled: Oh, uh... peace be with you.
Me: ... hi? Thank you.  (I haven't gotten that response down yet... #fail)
Priest: ...
Me: Bless me Father for I have sinned... etc. (Say my sins)
Priest: uh huh.
Me: (finish up) I confess all of these sins and all those that I may have forgotten.
Priest: ...
Me: (thinking, ok... he is just pondering about what to say...)
Priest: ...
Me: ...
Priest: ...
Me in a slight whisper: Father?
Priest: ...
Me in normal voice: Um, Father?
Priest: ...
Me: *COUGH* A.A.AHEM...
Priest: ...
Me: peers through grate to see a very peaceful looking, deeeeeep breathing (sleeping) priest)
Me: knocks on kneeler
Priest: ...
Me loudly: Father?
Priest, startled: Oh, uh peace be with you!
Me: confused, slightly
Me: Um, Father, did you happen to hear anything I just said?
Priest: Uh, no I didn't.
Me: Oh, um... I just confessed to you.
Priest: Well, can you give me a recap?
Me (whaaaat?! Seriously?? Is this REALLY happening right now?!): Oh. Sure. (recaps sins)
Priest: Finishes up Confession, gives penance and apologizes...
Me: Oh, no problem. Um, thank you...

And that my friends... is hands down the funniest/most annoying/most entertaining confession I have ever had. :)

Hahahahaha... oh man.  It still makes me laugh.  And, I hope it makes you chuckle, too.

Happy Sunday!
I hope you have such a blessed, blessed day!
St. Ann, pray for us!
St. Therese, pray for us!
St. Francis, pray for us!

And on that note... this is day 7 OF 7 of Jen's epic blogging challenge!  I barely scooted by. ;) It's been fun... and challenging... and a wee bit exhausting.  But, it did help me get back in the swing of things! :) Woo! I hope you all had fun, too!

Week in Pics and 'Grams

Ahhh! It's a bit past 11pm and I almost went to bed withOUT posting today.  The epic weeklong blogging is almost complete... and I must complete it. :)

So, I thought I would do something a bit easy and throw up some pics of what my week has looked like.  Warning: if you do not think babies are cute, then you should not look at this post.  I spend A LOT of time with my goddaughter... and take lots of pics of her. :)

If you do like babies... please enjoy!  And, if you follow me on Twitter or Instagram or are my FB friend, then most of these are repeats.  So, you don't have to look if you don't want.  But, the babe is just adorrrrrrrable, so you just might want to look again!

These things are SO addicting and I have access to them all.of.the.time. at work.
#nursingproblems
When mommy was studying and daddy was working,
Auntie Jen and the Zuz got to hang on alllll day! :)
We did quite a bit of each of these.
This kid LOVES LOVES LOVES her some aguacate.
And maybe is a slight lush... ;)
Loooooove her.
I mean... really?! Ugh.
Sometimes I just don't know if I can handle the cuteness.
And then, the next day comes.
Finally went to the beach for a while yesterday!
I realllllllly need to do it more often.
I love those wispy clouds!
Walking back home from a run.
Ugh... it was a bit frustrating.
I love that I live in a place that has palm trees everywhere!
EVERYWHERE!!
Went to confession today at a church that has this awesome statue of Mary,
chillin' in the middle of a pond. :)
Ended the week with a wonderful meal at Martha's with wonderful people.  My friend Jennine and her hubby are in town, so it's always fun to catch up with them. :)  We even ended our evening with some praise and worship!  Oh, I just love having friends that love love love praising the Lord through music, and have beautiful voices!

I hope you all had a wonderful week!  Happy Weekend!

7 Quick Takes (32): The Online Dating Edition II

So, I wrote a while ago about some of the things that... kind of get under my skin about my online dating experience.  Today... I still have those same frustrations, and a few more.  Maybe it's just me.  Maybe I need to lighten up a bit.  I don't really know.  If you have any suggestions (or a really great Catholic guy, by all means let me know), I am all ears.

~ 1 ~
This is a great post by Cindy from The Veil of Chastity, that really made me think about how I am approaching online dating.  What do you think?  I am still trying to work through how exactly that translates to my everyday dealings with it.  We shall see.

~ 2 ~
Am I the only one who takes this seriously?
I know that I am not.  But, sometimes, I just feel like I am the only one who is really on there [being the site, a Catholic one specifically] trying to be as open as I can be to meet my future husband.  Does anyone else do the online dating thing who actually want to find their spouse? Or are they on there because they think they have to settle for "leftovers" of people that they don't meet in real life?

~ 3 ~
I am not "leftovers"
Listen, yes... I am on this website, but that doesn't mean I am some weirdo, misfit, can't get a date, crazy... and I don't believe you (as in the guys) are either.  I am taking this as another way to meet good, honest, devout Catholic men.  I may not meet my husband on here, but I am open... I am open to whatever the Lord has in mind.  I can tell by reading your profile whether you really believe that or not, or whether you are taking this thing seriously.

~ 4 ~
"I am not really sure about this whole online dating thing"
Please stop writing that!!
Take if off of your profile.
We all know that the ideal way we want to meet our future spouse is in person. But, in today's world... that isn't always the case.  We are an internet loving generation, so get on board!  And, if you aren't... just don't say it.  Seriously.  It makes me not want to read the rest of your profile...

~ 5 ~
Write a message!
I have said this before... if you are interested in a girl, then write her an actual message!
Oh, and maybe ASK A QUESTION!!  I mean, you want to initiate conversation, right?
If the girl happens to right you back even if you didn't ask a question, and tries to engage in a conversation and you STILL don't ask a question, please don't be surprised when you don't hear from me.  Rude.

~ 6 ~
Profile Pic
Please have one.
And SMILE!
It is SO creepy when guys look at your profile and they don't have one!
It tells me you are not really interested or are not taking this whole thing seriously.
(Although, props to the guy that did not have one and sent me a nice message, which intrigued me enough to look at his profile, which revealed a very nice one with lots of other pics. When I questioned him about it... he said "I would rather pursue than be pursued." What? Yes, there ARE nice guys on these sites, people!)

~ 7 ~
Pray, pray, pray.
I mean... I have to say a little prayer these days whenever I log into the site b/c I often get frustrated when looking through profiles and such.  I don't know what that says... maybe I need to take a break for a while?  I am not really sure.  But, I have to pray for patience and perseverance.  And, of course for my husband, in general. :)

Thanks to, Jen, for hosting, per usual! :)  Head on over to see what everyone else is up to!
Happy Weekend!
I am also still posting every day this week over with Jen and everyone, too! :)

NAS: More on Guy Friends

I am jazzed to be talking about all of these things again.  I was so blessed to be part of a faith formation small group in college, Girl's Night, where we talked about such things in the Not Alone Series.

One such topic was, indeed, friendships with guys.

I feel like I need to elaborate a bit more from my earlier post because maybe you guys think I am adamantly against being friends with guys or that I am crazy for not really going down that road.  I am not opposed to guy friends, of course not!  And of course I think that men are awesome and need to be part of our lives.  But the relationship that we have, as single women, with single men really need to be examined and peeled apart to be sure that both your heart, and his, are NOT being played with.

After being reminded that I've been down this road before (talking about it in Girl's Night), and reflecting on it a bit more, I still stand by what I said earlier... for me this is a choice that I have made.  It's not because I don't love men (oh, because I do!) or that I am prudish.  It's that I have decided to be proactive about guarding my heart.

There is no way you can be just friends with a guy if you are sharing ANY desires, aches, hopes, dreams of your heart.  There is just no way. That relationship is already wayyyy more than a friendship.  The little bits you give away to this guy and that guy will eventually leave nothing for your husband (if that is your vocation... for the sake of this post, let's go with that).  Why would you want to do that?

Your future husband will understand your past relationships where you had to share your heart.  That is the nature of dating and courtship.  But, to say that you have a guy friend (when you are dating someone and/or are married) who you are able to share X, Y, and Z with, that maybe should only be meant for your boyfriend/fiancĂ©/husband, then I think that your significant other has the right to question your relationship with said "friend."

Your best guy friend SHOULD be your significant other.  I think this would be easier to come about if you were already proactive in guarding your heart with friends of the opposite sex.  Friendship is based on love.  Love is an action.  Love is giving of yourself for the sake of the other.  So, if you are sharing parts of your heart with a guy who is not your significant other because it makes you feel better and you don't have any feelings for him, etc. then perhaps you are being a bit selfish and not really looking out for your friend.  As Martha says sooooo much better than me, "even if you say you are just friends, it is easy to enjoy the attention, the phone calls, texts, emails - easy to enjoy it because it flatters, eases an ache, feeds a desire to be wanted. This is not holy and not helpful to either party. Someone usually ends up being hurt and wounded, leaving them with greater pain to take forward into their vocation." [emphasis mine]

I feel like I am rambling and being a bit... abrasive?  I don't know.  But, I feel strongly about the type of relationship we have with guy friends.  I am cool with it.  But when it's a situation that protects your heart.  Friends with guys in group settings.  Limiting your one-on-one time.  Avoiding the temptation to share whatever part of your heart b/c you know that guy friend would be able to comfort you.

It's more healthy for you and for your future relationship with your spouse.

Can we go back to my friend who I served with in Honduras... let's call him Q.  Now, there were not many volunteers, so we all got really close, really fast.  Q and I got along great.  We talked about so many things, usually with everyone else around.  It was great!  So many memories and laughs.  Then one day, I realized he was totally into one of the other volunteers.  Like... realllly into her (it was adorbs).

But, I also felt like I was sucker punched.  Wait, what?  Yea... I didn't even realize I had any sort of feelings for the dude.  So that surprised me and scared me.  How could I have not known?  Somehow, I lost hold of my heart during my time in Honduras (along with a few other things) and it was worrisome.  I don't want to be like that.  I wanted and needed to be emotionally chaste.  I didn't really want to give my heart away, even though looking back it was enjoyable.  But, it wasn't healthy.  I took a step back and made the conscious decision to be better.  I am not perfect, I failed a bit (HN did crazy things to me! Ask me about it sometime if you really want to know).  But, I knew that I had to protect my heart from being given away prematurely and possibly being a bit scratched (not broken).  I also knew I could be AND needed to be better about it.

I am just so passionate about protecting our hearts, ladies.  It really is important.  Yes, be friends with guys!  But, be sure to look inside yourself and the relationships you already have to see if you are guarding your heart (and his!).

Well, I think I am done now.
And should really be sleeping.  Let me know if this has no confused you all more or makes better sense.  Honestly, I want to know. :)

Five {Random} Favorites!

Thank you to Hallie... er, GRACE for hosting! :)

- ONE -
Yes, Apple.  The glorious makers of all things iEverything. :)
My iPhone 5's camera decided to stop working last Saturday! Yes, JUST the camera.
It was very tragic... b/c, of course, Zuzu was doing very cute things at that moment.
SO! I made an appointment for Sunday at the Genius Bar to get that thing figured out.
You guys... I walked in, talked to the people and maybe ten minutes later I left WITH A BRAND NEW PHONE! Yes, that is correct.  A whole new phone! :)
I am always so impressed and thankful for the awesome customer service that Apple provides.
They rock.

- TWO -

When my mom was here back in May, she got me hooked on oatmeal!
I feel like I have talked about this before...
Oh well.  I STILL LOVE IT!!
Some fruit, a little Splenda Brown Sugar... perfection.
MmmMmmMmm!

- THREE -
Pope Francis back in his home turf, if you will.
Back in South America... he must be so excited.
God is so good ya know... we didn't even know that our new Papa would be South American when WYD Rio was chosen.  He is just so good. :)

- FOUR -
AEO Performance Bras!
I tried to find a pic, but it was only coming up with the one with the model.... and that just seems weird to have on here.
So you will have to click here and here to see the ones that I got.
I love them! :)
Yes, I know... I am 28 and still shop at American Eagle... but I LOVE THAT PLACE.
I always have.  I don't always like everything, but for the most part their style fits me.

- FIVE -
The sun.
Yup... the blob of fire up in the sky.
It has been out pretty consistently the last few days, and it makes me happy!
Now, if only I wasn't working so that I could enjoy it more, instead of sleep during the day... that would be swell.
:)

Happy Wednesday, peeps!

NAS: Friends with Guys?

Hmm... I am not sure I really have much to say on this topic either (man, I am really winning these days!).  I feel like I can count on... maybeeeeee... 3 fingers the number of guy friends that I have.
Funny, I image Googled "guy friends", and got this post from The Catholic Young Woman,
great post, actually. Check it out! Perfect for this weeks topic.  God is so funny!
My first reaction to the question, can you really be "just friends" with a guy? is... no.

Ahhh! I know... I am sure you are all like, that is crazy! I have great guy friends! I grew up with them! Blah blah.  Ok, I hear you.  It's just my first reaction.  I am still pondering about it.

But, when I think of my friends (girlfriends) and the type of relationship we have... I couldn't have that with a guy and just be their friend.

My close girlfriends know a looooot about me.  Some very deep and personal things.  Things that are shared in confidence.  I can be myself... no matter what.  The silly, crazy, emotional self that I am.  They pray with and for me.  They challenge me and love me.

There is just no way that I would share half of the things that I share with my girlfriends with a guy friend, unless we were more than friends.  There is no way.  But, maybe that's me.

My girlfriends, my mom and Jesus know my heart.  My heart isn't for everyone.  I want to keep my heart safe and as whole as possible for my husband... I wouldn't want to even tempt my heart to give itself away to a guy because they were my friend.

I have a few very close friends... I don't need a lot.  For me, guys aren't part of that equation.  I may be crazy, or prudish or whatever... but, it works for me.  Oh, but you say: Don't share such intimate things!  They don't need to know those things about you!  Your heart will be fine!

But, then... without my heart, would I still be me?  When I look at the relationships I have with the few guys that I would consider a friend, one is married and I only consider a good friend because his wife is my best friend, but even still, he doesn't know all the things that his wife does.  Another friend, we don't talk on the regular.  We served in Honduras together and got to be pretty close, actually... but again, I had to protect my heart.  I felt comfortable enough to share quite a bit with him, but didn't, because I didn't feel it was appropriate.  It's hard, ya know?  I would love to be able to be great friends with guys... but, it just doesn't work for me.

Have you all made it work?  Do you have guys that are "just friends"?  Have you ever been worried that what you shared may have been too much for a guy friend?

Next Week 7/30:
Fave Resources!
(books, music, devotionals, etc that help keep you close to the Lord!)

August 6:
Envy and Singlehood
(Interpret as you like...)

August 13:
Challenge!
(Ok, so... you think you are called to marriage? What have you done to help with that? Go to a young adults activity! Sign up for CatholicMatch.com! Something that allows you to take an active step towards meeting your hubby. Praying is important, but God isn't just going to plop him in our laps for us, we have to do our part, too!
Or, feel the religious life is your thing? What about reaching out to a community you're interested in? Go on a retreat with them!  Have coffee with a sister from another community! Same goes for you ladies... pray, yes. But, it's important to be active in your search for God's will.
SO... on 8/13 tell us what you did! How'd it go? Did that help motivate you to do more?
What's a community without challenging each other?? Can't wait to hear about it!)

Also... ladies!  Morgan and I STILL need your input for some topics!! Please, please, please let us know what YOU want to talk about!

See you all next week! :)

Happy NFP Week!!

Yes, we all know that I am single.

But, I can still be excited for National Natural Family Planning Week!! :)

We also know that I have talked about my journey on here... and that I am stilllll struggling with staying on top of my charting.  I have a touch of the lazies right now with it.  But, I will need to get better.

I just wanted to take a moment and encourage all you single ladies to really learn about NFP now, while you are single.  If you feel that God is calling you to be married one day, then you will do yourself a HUGE favor by learning now, instead of rushing it a few months before your wedding.  Plus, don't you want to see firsthand how AWESOME your body is?



Wait... what is NFP again?
It's basically learning the signs that your body naturally makes as it relates to your menstrual cycle so that you know when you are fertile/infertile to help achieve or avoid pregnancy.

So, why do I want to know this as a single lady?
Good question!  As you learn about NFP, you learn what a "normal" cycle usually consists of (click here for an overview) and what signs your body will show in each phase of the cycle.  What's great about learning this now, is that if your body doesn't seem to be showing the signs that you learned or a certain phase is longer/shorter, there is a possibility of something abnormal that could affect your ability to get pregnant in the future.  Wouldn't it be awesome to know those things NOW, so if there was an issue (ie PCOS, endometriosis, etc) you could make lifestyle changes or get surgery?  That way when you are married and it's time to try having a baby, your chances are already higher!

So, even though as a single lady, we are not trying to get pregnant, we ARE trying to learn the most we can about ourselves and our bodies so that we can be fully prepared to give of ourselves completely to our future hubbies.

Plus, once we do get married, it's the most natural, cost effective, side-effect free way to space a family!  It's complete communication with your husband every single month about what is appropriate for the family at that time.  It's being open to life, no matter what.  And, yes, it will require a few days out of the month (or longer if you are being conservative) of abstinence. WHAT?  Hey, marriage is all about sacrifice, right?  I think for the sake of your family and your relationship with your husband, this is a pretty minimal thing to do.



Let me know if you have any questions!
Check out iusenfp.com and 1Flesh.org for all things NFP!
Or, this awesome series on women's NFP stories.
Annnnnd... check out other people who are celebrating NFP Week, too!

(And, yes... this is day one of 7 posts in 7 days that Jen has all nudged us to try! :))

Quick Takes (31, I think!)

~ 1 ~
I feel like I have a blogger's block (like a writer's block)... I haven't been super inspired to write a whole lot of anything these days.  No idea why.  
Maybe I will take Jen up on her challenge of writing something every day next week.
Maybe?
Hmm.

~ 2 ~
It's currently 2:24 in the morning.
Why am I up, you may wonder?
Well, I am on call.  I slept all day yesterday with the anticipation of working all night.
But, when the census is low, they don't need all the nurses that are scheduled.
It was my turn (again) to be put on call, and then wait.
Wait and see if they need me.
It looks like they won't... 
and here is that annoying part of the night where I should want to sleep, but I am not that tired yet.
It's a fun little game.

~ 3 ~
I'm still running.
If you were curious.
I did 4.5 miles this morning yesterday morning (sleeping during the day/staying up messes with your head people. It's no joke).
Anyway, 4.5 miles!!! :)
Longest I've run so far... and it's exciting!

~ 4 ~

I was eating yogurt (oh, shoot! The next Take will be about the yogurt...) the other day and thought that maybeeeee some granola would be tasty.  I haven't always been into granola (although I do love me some granola bars), but when I saw the huge amounts of options at Whole Foods, I said to myself, "self, just try it! You might really enjoy it."
And you know what... I DO!
This Udi's brand is DELISH.  I haven't put it in my yogurt yet, but I have added to to the fruit salads I've been obsessed with.  I just want to eat it all of the time.
All.of.the.time.

~ 5 ~
Yogurt!!
I mentioned recently that I was going try the whole dairy-free thing, but I reallllly love yogurt.
I went on a quest (albeit small) to find some good options that didn't include soy.
I looked online and found that Trader Joe's and Whole Foods had coconut milk yogurt.
TJ's was up first... eh. I wasn't impressed.
Whole Foods, you gotta help me out!
Oh, and they did!

I have tried the vanilla and strawberry.
Greek yogurt is my ffffffave... so when I saw the 'Greek style' my heart may have skipped a beat.
It's thicker than traditional Greek yogurt, but it is ohhhhh soooo good!
My heart and tummy are happy.

~ 6 ~
Huh... maybe I am getting a little sleepy now.
I keep getting distracted.

~ 7 ~
I've started praying my first novena to St. Anne! :)
First one. EVAH!
I've always been amazed by novenas, but never jumped on board.
It's been on my heart recently, so hopefully I am praying with the right intention in mind!

~ 7.5 ~
Please don't forget to say some prayers for the Borobias... who lost their youngest babe on Monday.
The funeral is today at 11am (central, I believe). Take a moment to be with them in spirit if you can.  And, a prayer for all of those who have lost a child and/or have a child suffering in some way.

Thanks Jen for hosting!
Have a wonderful weekend, everyone! :)

NAS {Guest Post}: 5 Important Things God Wants To Tell You in Prayer


Mary Alex is a newbie blogger at Ever Ancient where she is "dedicated to sharing a glimpse of an Ever Ancient God, an Ever Ancient Church and and the 'Ever Ancient City' of St. Augustine, FL." It's pretty cool, you guys. Go visit and show her some love!

Before I moved to this city, I had this somewhat obscure idea of who I was. I think we all do, especially in times of transition and times of loneliness. I was in a new town where I felt there was nobody my age, my close friends scattered across different states, not even a job at first. No one to greet me after Mass. No one to get a beer with. I spent college planning my future, and now that I was a college graduate, I had no idea what I was doing with my life. I felt as much a stranger to myself as I was to everyone else in town.
We place so much of our identity in other people, in their reactions and responses to us, in whether they take the time to text us or like our status on Facebook. We desire approval more today than ever, and we seek it constantly. So what happens when you’re removed from the reactions of other people and you’re left sitting alone on a bench by the bay with no reaction or encounter except with God?

I’ll tell you what happens. You begin to meet yourself. Because the truth of your personhood is how you are seen in the eyes of God, and it’s never more revealed to you than when you take time to leave everyone else in the world and to ask him who you are. I thought I was alone when I moved to St. Augustine in August, but what I really had was the most intimate time with God I'll probably ever now, and  it’s revealed several things about who I am that I never really saw.

1. You are a body.
I am made in the image and likeness of God, not just internally, but externally. I have a human body that’s capable of just about anything, and for a long time, I didn’t see it. And because I didn’t see it, I didn’t care about it. But then I really saw my body for the first time. I found health, which is more than just being skinny, and beauty, which is more than just clear skin. I realized that if I took care of my body by devoting time to it, I could use it to glorify God. I could honor his creation by polishing it the same way I’d polish a precious ring. I lifted weights to see how strong I could be.  I ran. I ran a LOT. And not just on a treadmill. I ran through fields, past churches, by the water, smiling at passersby. I’m making myself stronger. But apart from being strong, I’m beautiful. And my body isn’t beautiful because I’m in shape, but because I was created different than anyone else. I have green eyes that no one else has, and they’re BIG. I have full lips. I have a really nice smile. My cheeks get flushed when I run and it’s beautiful that there’s blood running through my entire body. Seeing how I was created makes me want to thank God by doing everything I can to take care of the gift of my body.

2. You are a soul, and a good one at that.
I am not a bad person. I am a good person, which has been a hard thing for me to come to terms with and a hard thing for me to see. I have a beautiful soul inside and out. I’m beautiful because I desire good things like holiness and truth. I desire to improve myself, to be a source of joy for others rather than a source of suffering. But I’m also a beautiful soul because I’m a human soul. I fall short, I make mistakes, I drop the cross every now and then. I suffer. Sometimes I don’t even get up. I just lay there in my own self-loathing, and even then - when I’m completely failing at life – my soul is still beautiful to God. He loves me even when I give up on everything. If he loves me that greatly, then why should I ever dishonor his love for me by drowning in shame when I say something stupid or do something embarrassing or sin on an unprecedented level. Those feelings of shame and guilt and self-loathing are a lie. We know the truth, we know God loves our souls, so why would we acknowledge a lie when God’s vision of us is our absolute identity.

3. You are a woman.
I have a feminine body and soul and that makes me a woman. It’s revealed throughout my entire being. Externally, I have all the physical assemblage of a woman. I started as a little girl with long hair, toothy grin, and a high pitched voice. My body is physically ready for serving others. With the help of a husband, my body is capable of building a child. I have a place to make a child, to grow a child, to carry a child, and all the things around that space to keep that child comfortable. My body can feed a child. My arms can offer a gentler embrace than a man and hold people close to me, and yet I’m petite in a way that I can be held by others. And just as I was created physically a woman, I was created with an identical soul. Internally, I have the heart of a wife and mother even in my singlehood. I already belong to my eternal spouse, Jesus Christ. I’m his. I love him, I desire him, I would suffer for him, and he would do the same for me. I’m vulnerable and emotional. I’m occasionally paranoid and I talk way too much. I want to be protected. I want someone to fight for me. But I also want to give myself over to others: To Christ, to my future spouse and children, my family, my friends, people on the street. I want to serve in a way that could never be slavery because I’m happy to do it. And my womanhood – it’s imprinted on me for eternity. I will always be a woman.
  
4. You are loved.
I am loved body and soul already, even though it’s hard for me to see it sometimes. I have friends who take the time to visit me and talk to me. People who actually WANT to hang out with me (can you believe it?). My family loves me and provides for me every day. Especially my parents who always have and always will sacrifice even when there is nothing for them to gain (that’s the nature of the love of parents for their children). People know who I am, and generally have a good impression of me. When people have a bad impression of me, I can’t be angry at them because the impression they have is a lie. If they saw the truth, the truth of God’s vision of me, then they couldn’t have a bad impression of me. They could only love me. But I can pray that these people see who I am, and pray that I don’t see other people the same way they do.

5. You were made for greatness.
There’s a story unfolding at every second of every day. I’m drawing closer to something at every moment. Whether it’s a death, a birth, a new friendship, an insufferable trial, an exciting triumph, an immense love – I am always becoming great because I was designed for that by God. I am only great because God makes me great, and the story of my life that we are writing together is the greatest story I’ll ever know. I shouldn’t live in worry or waiting or remembering. I should live in the present, for the future. Love today because my future is unfolding. I can be holy. I can be a saint. The more I become aware of all the things in the present that can lead me to that, all the choices I make right now, the greater I will become for the sake of God.

*****************
Head over to Morgan's... you can get your link-up on at her place.

After getting some of your feedback, we have decided to give you the topics for the next 4 weeks NOW, so you can plan your posts!  Again, you don't have to participate in all of them, but for those who like to plan ahead, we hope this will be helpful!

NEXT WEEK 7/23: 
Is it possible to be "just friends" with a guy?

July 30: 
Fave Resources 
(ha, sounds so academic! But, all the books, music, devotionals, etc that you LOVE and keep you close to the Lord!)

August 6: 
Envy and Singlehood 
(this interpretation is up to you!)

August 13: 
Challenge time
(Ok, so... you think you are called to marriage? What have you done to help with that? Go to a young adults activity! Sign up for CatholicMatch.com! Something that allows you to take an active step towards meeting your hubby. Praying is important, but God isn't just going to plop him in our laps for us, we have to do our part, too!
Or, feel the religious life is your thing? What about reaching out to a community you're interested in? Go on a retreat with them!  Have coffee with a sister from another community! Same goes for you ladies... pray, yes. But, it's important to be active in your search for God's will.
SO... on 8/13 tell us what you did! How'd it go? Did that help motivate you to do more?
What's a community without challenging each other?? Can't wait to hear about it!)

BUT, but, but... we still would REALLY like your ideas for more topics!  Morgan and I have said that WE have a lot of topics WE would like to talk about, but WE are NOT ALL OF YOU!  The "we" really needs to include all of us.  We are in this together.  Yes, we are hosting the linkup, but we really want everyone to be involved.  Please email us or comment on our posts about things you would like to discuss.  Anything from the silly to the really serious.  Whatever you find that is on your heart, something you normally discuss with your girlfriends, etc, there might be someone else who wants to chat about that, too!  So, let us know!!

And... as always... if you happen to stumble upon this blog and are NOT single and want to participate, PLEASE DO (ahem... Kristin and Martha)! We would LOVE to have your perspectives, as well.  Don't be shy!

Thanks so much, ladies.
Oh, and can you say a few extra prayers for me?  I kinda had a rough weekend... and am still feeling blah.  That would be super helpful! :)
Hugs and blessings!

He mattered.

I was trying to find a good quote or something to show how I was feeling... but I just couldn't.  So, I will just start rambling...

If you follow me on the Twitters... you already know that Friday night was a rough night.  It involved a patient dying and going through the emotions, care and aftermath of all that.

I can't give too many details or go into why the night was made even crazier and more annoying... but what I will say... is that this little boy's life mattered.

He mattered to his mom.
He mattered to him dad.
He mattered to his extended family.
Most of all... he mattered to our most loving Father.

And because of that, his death is JUST as big of a deal as the 2 year drowning victim.  Or the 1 day old newborn.  Or Cory Monteith.  Or your son/daughter/mother/father/sister/brother/aunt/uncle/friend/etc.

So please stop saying or implying or suggesting that just because this little boy had mental delays, was always admitted to the hospital and his prognosis didn't bode well for him to have a great quality of life, that it's a good thing he died.  Or that you wish his brother would, too (because he lives with the same things).  Or say that he shouldn't have been born at all.  Or that the mother should stop having kids.

It's rude. And disrespectful.

I signed up to be a nurse to care for kids.  No matter who they are, what their diagnosis, or what the family chooses/doesn't choose to do for their child (ok, yes... I do take into consideration my moral beliefs sometimes... but that's never really affected my care for a kid).  It is my right, duty and privilege to treat every single child with the respect and dignity they deserve because he/she is human being created in the image and likeness of our Lord.

No ifs, ands or buts about that.

So... to me.  This little boy mattered, as well.
May he rest in peace.

"Fried" Bananas!

Ok, I really don't know what has gotten into me... but, I wanted to share a recipe I found on Pinterest, that I ACTUALLY made... and really enjoy(ed). :)

I am one of those pinners that just pins things to pin them.  In my other world where I am Suzie Homemaker, I do ALL THE THINGS that I have pinned.  But in real life, I just pin things and gaze at them longingly.  And then I came across this recipe for "fried" bananas!

I was intrigued b/c 1) I LOVE BANANAS and 2) there are only 4 ingredients!  Only one of which I had to go to the store and buy (which was cinnamon if you were curious... cinnamon, Jen? Doesn't everyone already have that in their house? Well, yes... all of you who cook and bake and all that jazz. I am not one of you people.  So, no, I didn't have it and I had to buy it!)

I digress.

ANDDDDD, and and... it was super simple.  When it comes to cooking, I like simple.

SO, if you like bananas and sweet things... you will love this!

ALL that you will need:
1 Banana (a firm, green banana works best!)
'drizzle' of olive oil
1tbs honey
1tbs water
'sprinkle' of cinnamon

THAT'S IT!!!! :)

What do to:

  • Slice the banana to your desired thickness (the thinner they are the more crisp/burned they can be!)
  • Drizzle some olive oil in a frying pan/skillet (mine is non-stick, and from the comments on the original recipe that is what works best... and it does seem to work well) over medium heat.
  • Arrange banana onto pan and fry for 1-2 (really that's it!) minutes on EACH side.
  • While the first side is going, whisk together your 1tbs honey and 1tbs of water and set aside.
  • Make sure to flip over your banana slices!
  • Once they are done frying, remove from heat and promptly pour honey/water into pan. It SHOULD bubble up.
  • Once it's cool a bit... sprinkle cinnamon to your liking and then EAT 'EM UP!
This was my first attempt.  I used a regular, ripe banana.
It was pretty mushy the whole time.
When I poured the honey/water it really didn't do much of anything.
So, it was good... tasted AMAZING, but the texture/look of them were weird.

Then I tried again this morning!!
This time I used a green banana!
Wayyyyyy better.  Fried up quicker, the honey/water did that bubbling thing.
No more mushiness! Soft, yes, with a slight, slight crunch.
I am not sure how to make them crunchier!
But, I don't really mind.

THEY ARE SO GOOD!!! I think I could eat them all of the time.
Let me know if you try them!

Annnnd... now back to regular random blogging. :)

NAS: Follow the Peace

I wanted to write about stability vs being settled.  I had this great convo with my friend Sarah when I was in DC, and I haven't gotten it out of my head.  But, I just haven't been inspired.  I will write about it at some point... or maybe SARAH will write a guest post or something... hint hint, nudge nudge.

With that being said... I am literally taking words from He Speaks to You by Sister Helena Burns, FSP this week.  It's a great devotional if you haven't heard of it.  It's a daily format, but each month is broken down by different topics.  And, it's written by a young woman FOR young women.  It's great!

So, here is what pg. 107, April 14 had to say.  It's not exactly related to despair and vocation, but I think it can help give perspective if when/if you are feeling that way!

[God speaking to you] Do you find discerning your vocation difficult? Do you find discerning My will in general? Trust me. I am not hiding or playing games with you.
God's Word: "For God is not a God of confusion but of peace..." (1 Corinthians 14:33)
Words of Wisdom: A young woman struggling to discern her vocation said: "I wouldn't wish discernment on anyone!" Discernment is universally an intense, foggy, time-consuming experience- and maybe it's supposed to be that way! Why? Perhaps so that we focus, realize how important the decision we're about to make is, and take time to decide well.  If we falter in our decision later on, we can remember and retrace the whole process. 
To Do: In whatever you're discerning now, ask yourself: What brings me true peace? Take note of when you experience peace. Follow the peace
To Journal: Discernment is like transition because it's about change. Most of us don't like change. Think of some transitions you've already been through. What helped you?
Prayer: Dear Jesus, if nothing else, discernment teaches me patience. Help me to learn from the whole process. 
 *bolded emphasis added by me*
 Thanks, Amanda, for the topic this week! :)


Next week's topic is pretty awesome... and intense.  It was suggested through a possible guest post email that Morgan got, and I think it would be awesome to get everyone's perspective! :)  So, next week's topic is:
Who are you right now as a young, single woman??
(here is a blurb to help you see what we mean and to get your juices flowing: 
We place so much of our identity in other people, in their reactions and responses to us, in whether they take the time to text us or like our status on facebook. We desire approval more today than ever, and we seek it constantly. So what happens when you’re removed from the reactions of other people and you’re left sitting alone on a bench by the bay with no reaction or encounter except those from God?

I’ll tell you what happens. You begin to meet yourself. Because the truth of your personhood is how you are seen in the eyes of God, and it’s never more revealed to you than when you take time to leave everyone else in the world and to ask him who you are. I thought I was alone when I moved to St. Augustine in August, but what I really had was the most intimate time with God I'll probably ever know, and  it’s revealed several things about who I am that I never really saw.)

Got an idea?  Please email/tweet/comment!! :)  We would LOVE to hear them!

Head on over to Morgan's to linkup!

So, how do you know...

... when you are a RUNNER versus someone who just RUNS?

There is a distinction in my head.  But, somehow I can't put it into words very well.

For over a month now... I have gotten up every morning and run.  I just do it.  My mind may still be sleeping  but my body slips the shoes on and just goes.  Mind boggling.

It was after that initial push (pull? dragging?) from Martha (AFTER we had just done a Jillian workout, btw) to go on a run with her.  I did... begrudgingly... and yelling to her husband as we trotted out the door, he might have to come looking for me b/c I will be dead on the side of the road.

Surprisingly, I made it.  I didn't die.  How??  HOW?  This I do not know.  God's grace?  The world ending?  Who knows.

And even more surprising... I have just kept running.

Simply, amazing.

So, when Mart said that she and her mom were running a 5K on the Fourth, she realllly tried to convince me to do it with them!  And she did.

And, so we ran it.  This morning.  I ran the whole thing!!!  Well, I did walk for a minute b/c I got a cramp (after getting excited that the finish was RIGHT THERE and then realizing that I still had a second loop to do.  Oops! #rookierunner)...

BUT I JUST KEPT RUNNING.  You know what?  It really wasn't that bad.

Earrrrrly... and the babe is just as cute as ever. :)
Before!!
During...
Yes, I look special (thanks Mart),
but I saw Mr. Rogers with the camera AND was excited I finished!
Mrs. Rogers and Mart almost done!
YAY!!!!
Such a good feeling :)

So... am I a runner?  I guess so.  It's more of a mind thing, ya know?  I don't feel like a runner.  I came across a blog from a college friend and I read this post last night... perfect timing, huh?  She linked to this great post, as well.

It's all in my head.  I guess I will just keep running and see if my head catches up at some point. :)

Thank you for all of your prayers, support and encouragement!!  Next up... possibly a 10k in October!  What is happening to me?!?!

HAPPY 4th OF JULY!!!!

5 Faves: My House Edition

I did some serious cleaning today.  I don't always like cleaning... but I sure do enjoy being productive.  And, since I know sooooo many of you are dripping with anticipation of a tour of my cute little house, I present to you my five favorite rooms/things!! :)  I am not ready for a full reveal as I am still gathering things to make this place my home.  Please enjoy!

Uno
When you first walk into my house, you are right in the living room (not pictured), but one of the first things you see when you step in a bit is the wall of the dining room.
Shelf donated by Team Boda, word art from my momma and knick knacks are alll mine.
When my mom was visiting, we put that shelf up.
Ohhh my goodness.  That thing was nuts-o.
It took a while (and some LOUD encouraging), but we did it!!
And, I just loooooove it.


And, when you turn back to the door, there is the 5th word art:
good reminder, huh??
Dos
Alright, so now we walk straight through the living room (dining on right where the first pic is) to the hallway and the first door on the right is my room!  I just love my room. 
It's a little mismatched, but it's great. Bright and cheerful... just like me!
The door you see is to a great walk-in closet!
Tres
Keep walking down the hallway (you will pass the bathroom on the left and a wall of mirrors... not as creepy as that sounds) and we get to the guest bedroom!
I pretty much left this as my landlord had it! It's beach themed and I love it!
It was the only room that I didn't have to do much to, other than add some personal things.
It also acts as storage when I don't have guests! :)
Cuatro
Now, if we return back down the hallway, come to the living room and turn right, we enter the loverly porch!!
Hands down... absolute fave part of my house!
I think I have mentioned this before.
But, I mean... can you blame me???
This is an older pic, and currently the drying rack is STILL there!
But that stuff you see behind the door is all gone.
And, if you look into the window (bottom), it looks directly into the living room and you can see the wall from the first pic that is now decorated. :)

Cinco
Again, if you look at the bottom portion of the above pic and move your eyes to the left, you will see those double doors.  Inside is another full bath (!) and the laundry room!!
And, I just love the washer/dryer.
After being introduced to them at Martha's... I was pleasantly surprised that I would have my "own" set!  It makes doing laundry just a wee bit fun.
My landlord added curtains to cover the area so that it's not an eye-sore.
I very rarely have them closed... such a hassle. ;)

Welp... there you have it!  I hope this little peak will hold you over until I am happy with how things are.  I may even use my good camera and take some good shots! :)

Happy Wednesday!
And, if I don't talk to you before... Happy July 4th!  Have fun swimming, eating hot dogs and watching fireworks!

Thanks, Hallie, for hosting!  Head on over there to see what everyone else is up to!

NAS: This World Isn't All About Us

Last week we discussed all the things we loved about being single!!  I loved reading all of the posts... some were insightful and raw, others were downright funny.  I just love this series because everyone is so different... it's just awesome.


So, in talking about the things we love about being single, obviously it was all about us.  I know there were a few of you that mentioned being able to pray more on your time or volunteer or whatnot (which is so great and true), but my list was kindaaaaaa allllll about me.  All the things that I could do/see/experience/etc.

Which is maybe why Morgan and I decided to have this weeks topic be about the things we can improve.  I mean, it will not be "all about me" forever.  It's great to be reminded that being single isn't really the worst thing in the world, but it's also great to be reminded that this world isn't all about us.  Jesus walked this earth for every single person, to love and serve them... you, me, your family, the people that live in the tiny village on the other side of the world.  Everyone.  And, He called us to do the same.
Be serious and sober for prayers. Above all, let your love for one another be intense, because love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaining. As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace. Whoever preaches, let it be with the words of God; whoever serves, let it be with the strength that God supplies, so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 4:7-11
Yes, it's incredibly overwhelming to think about all ALL THE THINGS we have to/should be doing to live as Christ taught.  But, for the sake of this series (obviously) I am only talking about things that I can be better at NOW to serve my future hubby and children.

I don't really like talking about things like this.  I mean, who does really?  Do you know anyone that's like, "Oh I love talking about the things I suck at and how I should improve them and then actually fail at again. It's just SO fun!"  Um, I don't.  And that would be weird if someone does.  Anyway, I have to try really hard to not go down a dark path of I am so horrible.  This is why I am single.  What is WRONG with me?  Ugh... it's not pretty.  But, it has to happen sometimes, ya know?  If I want to improve... I have to look at these things.  If I want to be the best version of myself, I have to look at the things that need to change.

Onward!

Charting- I have talked a bit about my NFP journey on here before.  But, I've been prettttty horrible at it lately.  I keep telling myself, "it's ok. I don't need to know this 100% yet... I'm not married. It's not happening right now. It's fine."  But, you know what's funny about God's timing... things happen when you least expect it and maybe when you aren't thinking about it.  So, if I keep doing what I am doing, I will be in panic mode before my wedding trying to make sure I really understand this NFP-ness.  It's just silly.  This is the easiest and most practical thing I could be doing right now to prepare for my marriage.  If I've got it down, it will be easier to teach the hubs and be less of a stressor when we are first married.


Prayer- I mean... I am not even going to go into this.  This is by far the BIGGEST and most important thing that I need to improve on.

Patience-  I am a pretty patient person... but I can be pretty quick-tempered.  I mean, I realllllllly loathe bad customer service.  Let's not talk about that too much, mmmmk?  But, I also find that when little things don't go my way or someone says things a certain way (I am a wee bit pretty darn sensitive, too) I get frustrated right away.  I sigh.  Roll my eyes (to myself, never, ever at the person... I promise, mom!  At least I realllllly hope I don't.  Ugh).  It's my gut response.  And, that's not too good.  I don't act on those frustrations, for the most part, but I need to find a balance of being SO frustrated with a little more patience.  It will help when things don't go my way in my future relationship.  How do I get better?  Um, pray.  And, practice... with friends.  Situations at work.  Maybe even some bad customer service situations.

Learn and Watch- by this I mean... read more books about healthy, Godly marriages.  Hang out with married couples that I admire.  Listen to what they say about marriage.  Learn the effective ways of communication.  Basically, immerse myself in all things good, holy and healthy marriages.  It's where I will really learn what things I want to be part of my marriage or I don't.

Ok, I think that's enough for this post.  There is a TON more that I need to work on.  But, having these in my face is a good start to really give me the nudge to get working.  I will be praying for you all, and the things that you need to work on, as well.

Hosting again b/c Morgan is on vacay.  I hope you're enjoying your fam, girl!!

Next Week:
Despair and Vocations
The lovely Amanda suggested this topic... here is what she had to say:
Most of us have times where we despair about our vocations, or, if we know them (i.e. marriage), we despair that they will never be fulfilled. How do we deal with that despair and what are our best tips on moving past the despair into hope?

----------------
Thank you to everyone who provided feedback last week!  We really appreciate it.  We are still chatting about what changes, if any, need to be made!  We will keep you in the loop, promise!  See you next week!
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