Work Update + An Opinion!

Yup... it's official! :)

Well... it's Thursday.  Tomorrow is Friday and I will have completed my first week of my new job!!  I can't believe it!  I have to say... I think I am really going to love it!  Right now, it's just a lot.  Like anything new... there is a lot that you don't know, a lot that you have to learn and new people to remember.  By the time 2130 (or 9:30pm for you regular clock folk), I am crashing.  Ready to hit the sack and sleep for.ev.errrrr.

It's nuts.

Let's see... what have I dealt with this week??  Well, besides all the paperwork and behind the scenes stuff (meaning everything that doesn't involve direct contact with the kiddos), I have seen lice, teeth falling out, bathroom accidents, "chest pain," tummy aches, bumps and scrapes... oh, and fights! ha. One of my schools is pretty rough and they had 4... FOUR fights in one day.  I think it's safe to say that no day will ever be the same! :)

All the new that comes with the job... also comes with balancing my life.  When do I run?  How do I actually make WeightWatchers work for me now that I don't have to eat basically all my meals at night?  When do I get to talk to my family and friends?  When will I be able to volunteer or get involved more at church?  Or, hang out with the babe??
After work my first day!
Yes... I know, I have only just started.  Just as the weeks go by and my work life makes more sense, so will my regular life.  I am so looking forward to having a grasp on both!

Please continue to pray!  I really appreciate all the love and support from you guys.  It really, really means the world to me. :)  I am just so thankful to God for giving me this opportunity.  I can't even explain how He has just obviously been with me every step of the way.  He is so good, that God of ours!

Oh... and for kicks!
Ignore the weird face.
What do you think of aviators on me?!  Be honest.  I am more of a bigger, rounder framed sunglass wearer (look on top of my head).  But, I was at Charming Charlie the other day and tried a pair of aviators.  They look so cute on everyone else!  I am not sure I like them.  I can't tell if it's more b/c I don't wear glasses like that, or if they just look bad.

Let me know!!

And with that... it might be an earlier than normal bedtime for this girl!
Blessings and sweet dreams!!

NAS: Icebreaker!

I feel like this week we are doing an icebreaker.  Ya know those silly, fun, sometimes annoying, games that we do when we are with a new group of people??  Yea... that's what this is.  Except, we kinda of know quite a bit about each other already, but not the basics.

When Britt gave Morgan and I this idea... we thought, perfect!  It makes you all seem more real, ya know?  Even if you don't participate with the NAS every week, we still want to hear what you have to say!! When I pray for you guys, these things make me feel like we are actually friends! haha  So, I will list the questions (we added a few more, so be sure to copy them from here or Morgan's!) and then answer them. Have fun!!

~ Age
~ Area of country 
(no need for specific location on the interwebz)
~ Are you working? If so, what do you do? Or, are you in school? What are you studying?
~ Family (let's see some pics!)
~ How did your parents meet?
~ Confirmation Saint
~ Favorite Gospel?
~ # of previous relationships?
(ya know, that required a FB status change!)
~ Top 3 qualities you are looking for in your hubby
(b/c, hey, maybe we can help each other out! Cousin? Coworker?)
~ Online dating experience? Advice?
~ Advice for a single lady
(in tweet-like fashion, 140 characters or less)
~ What is your fave thing to do outside of blogging and work/school?

Age: 28 years young, people.
Area of country: Southwest Florida (if you are in this part of the country... email me! We can meet up IRL)

Are you working, etc?: YES! I just finished my LAST nightshift at the hospital on Friday (thanks be to God, literally.) and started my NEW JOB as a school nurse yesterday! Please continue to pray!

Me and my beautiful Momma

Family: I love my family... and have the best one. :)
My daddy and I at Starbucks... per usual.

How did your parents meet?  Hmm... I am pretty sure they met at an Amway function back in the early '80s. I should ask them again.  It wasn't super dramatic or movie-like, I don't think  ha.  BUT... a good story is how my mom and her better half (boyfriend, significant other, other half...) met. Now, THAT is a good one.  I'll share that at the end. :) (my parents divorced when I was 7, to give you a better context. Didn't want you to think we had some weird polygamy thing going on around these parts! :) )
Surprisingly I don't have many pics of my brother and I, sadly.  Or with my SIL. :(  The next time I am there, I really need to remedy that situation.  BUT... I have tons with my cuter than cute niece, Charlotte! :)  I just love her to pieces.   
Now, if you would like to see more pics of my awesome fam... please click on the Who? tab above!

(Sorry if that format looks weird... I just wasted spent an incredibly long time trying to make it look pretty... and it still looks... unpretty. Oh well)

Confirmation Saint: St. Therese of Lisieux
 Yes, I actually took these photos IN Lisieux, France. 
I went on an incredible pilgrimage throughout France back in 2007.

Favorite Gospel: umm.... all of them? Oh gosh, I am embarrassed to say that I don't really have one. Ugh, I fail at being good Catholic that is all about the bible. :(

Number of previous relationships: Um, like.. 2. 
Top 3 qualities in my future hubby: I am going to assume that this is BESIDES being Catholic?? :) I'll say... a spiritual leader, funny, loves kids.
Online dating experience: HA... yes, I feel I have talked about this a TON before. :)  Here and here are some of my frustrations.  I know online dating works, and I do have faith in the process.  My experience hasn't been all that positive.  I think after this subscription ends, I will be letting it go.  I think it will be better for me.  My advice: patience and persistence.  If you haven't had a connection with a guy, don't freak out.  It can take time and little bit of active persistence.  ALSO... don't email and email and email (thinking you do have such a wonderful connection and all that) for a long period of time.  When you do finally meet and there isn't an actual connection... it's really hard.  You feel like an idiot for spending so much time and getting to know this person for what? Nothing, it seems.  So, if you DO have a connection, I would advise talking on the phone or meeting up sooner (like within 2 weeks, less if the email exchange is pretty frequent) rather than dragging the emails on. Good luck!!! 

Advice for singletons in a tweet-like fashion: 
Fall in love with the Lord, always be yourself, never give up hope. 
Oh, and meet new people! Enjoy your life now! #adviceforsingleladies

Fave thing to do outside of blogging and work: hm... hanging out at Martha's, eating her realllly good food, and hanging with the babe! :)  I can also say... running (I don't know if it would be a fave, but it's something else I do!), laughing, visiting Jesus in Adoration, OH! and going to the beach!

Well, there you have it! :)  I can't wait to get to know you ladies better!

{Oh and here is the story of how my mom and Paul met: Let's see, back in 2004 (right mom?!), my mom was working at the school, she is a (now-retired) juvenile probation officer, when she had to drop some paperwork off for her intern at the UMd campus down the street.  When she was walking out of the building, this random gentleman stopped her and said something along the lines of, "I let you walk by once, I can't let you walk by again. Come have coffee with me!"  Of course my mom was a little taken aback, but was intrigued so she said YES! :) They ended up having lunch and then she dropped him off at the airport (ha... Paul was only in town from MN visiting his daughter who was getting her PhD at the time and was leaving that day).  They emailed and phoned each other pretty consistently and I got a call from her one day telling me she was going out to visit for one of the long weekends!  And, well, that was that!  They have been together ever since!! :)

Isn't that a fun story?!  I love it.  Mom, did I miss anything big?  Or did I get things wrong?!}

September 3 (I canNOT believe it's September...):
Follow the Peace
(a followup to my post on following the peace a while ago.
What brings you peace? Are you able to do those things?
If not, what's preventing you?)

September 10:
Is it possible for a woman to pursue a man?
(what do you think about THAT?!)

Please let us know what other ideas you all have! :) See ya next week!

An Open Letter to Catholic [single] Men

Dear good, holy, single Catholic men (well, I guess all good men out there, but this is geared towards the Catholic variety!),

There is something on my heart.  Something I need to share... I would like to take a moment to apologize.  Yes, apologize.  On behalf of us, single ladies.

I have recently noticed, among the young, single Catholic ladies (maybe including me)- who feel that marriage is the Lord's will for them- there seems to be a lot of resentment or frustration with you all.  Yes... you as a whole population.

It's hard sometimes, being single.  Especially when you feel so confidently that the Lord is calling you to this vocation.  It's hard waiting, wondering when that wonderful day will be when you enter our lives.  Do you find that it's hard, too?

Gosh, you know what I have noticed?  That during this time of waiting... we sometimes get frustrated and mad and annoyed that we aren't married yet.  All of my friends are married.  They have been married for years.  Have a kid... or two... or three.  I am 28, I'm no spring chicken anymore!  I think you can see where I am going.  In our frustrations, you know who we seem to blame?


You aren't pursuing us.  Marriage actually freaks you out.  You don't want to commit.  You don't want to get to know us. You suck at communication.  You. You. You.

If you have come across a post or tweet or article that blames you.  I am so sorry.  It's not fair.

The thing is.  There really isn't anyone to blame.  I mean, we can... we can blame God.  But, who wants to do that?  No one.  If we, as Catholics, really believe in having a call from the Lord - a vocation- then, we have to trust the Lord in His timing.

Yes, it's hard.  It does suck sometimes.  But, you are not to blame.  We are not to blame.  There isn't anyone to blame as to whyyyyy we aren't married yet.  Which, of course, sucks in and of itself.

I just want you to know, I believe in you.  I know you are out there.  You love women, but know how to respect us.  We aren't just something you win.  You want to pursue us.  You are ready for marriage.  You value the sanctity of marriage as a new beginning, not the end of your life.  You love kids.  You love the faith.  You live the faith.  You are proud of the faith.  You know what you want.  And if you don't, you are actively pursuing the Lord's will in your life.

I am praying for you.
With blessings,
A Catholic Single Lady

Quick Takes Friday: So Thankful

Og my gosh... you guys.  THANK YOU so very much for your kind and encouraging words about my new job!! :)  I am so thankful for the support through this here bloggy world.  I apologize about not responding directly to each of you.  It's been a little crazy over here.  But, please know that each comment and prayer made me smile and is SO appreciated.
Could I ask for for a few more prayers, maybe?  Tonight is my LAST shift at the hospital (PTL!!), and I begin my first day as a school nurse on Monday.  You know what's happening? Doubt and fear are creeping in.  God has been ALL over this new job happening and it's so so so good.  The devil doesn't like that, ya know... and wants to ruin it.  So, enter in... doubt.  Worry.  Fear that I can't do it.
The unknown is never fun.  And, I don't like change... so this type of reaction may be just a leeeetle normal for me.  BUT, that doesn't make it any easier to deal with.
So, if you happen to have a few extras leftover prayers, would you mind saying some for me?!
Thank you veryveryvery much. :)
I need running music help!!!!!
I have come to realize that dance/fast moving/get your groove on type music isn't what I enjoy. In fact it almost makes a wee bit angry. Eeek.
What I have been reallllly loving while I run is Mumford&Sons! I just listen to their whole album on shuffle... and it's perfect.
So, any of you music loving people... please provide me some suggestions!!
Amanda, I saw what YOU'RE listening to on your 7QTs (get out of my head, btw)... have any more suggestions?!
I noticed one day that Jen had linked back to a specific Quick Take on one of her posts, and I thought "wow! That is so cool! I want to do that!" Ha... well, that didn't work out so well.
And THEN! I noticed that she updated her link-up description box and do you know what it says:
NEW FEATURE NOTE: The 7 Quick Takes template (which you can find here) now includes links on each number, so you can link to your individual takes. 
WHAT?! Oh my gosh!  SO... I decided to try it this week.  So, from here on out... I can link back to some profound (HA!) Quick Take in a future post. 
I already feel more like a sophisticated blogger!
Thanks, Jen!!
I am not ashamed to admit...
that I am pretty darn bummed that I will NOT be attending the Backstreet Boys concert in Tampa this weekend.
There will always be a special place in my heart for them.
I never share links on here... but, I came across a few good posts in the last month or so and thought I would share:
Love in the Time of Toelrance by Rhaki @ The Pitter Patter Diaries
(an awesome reflection on what it means to love)
Sexual Abuse by Mrs. Chastity @ Catholic Sex
(a great post if you or you know someone who suffers from abuse)
Why I Love My Husband: Anniversary Edition by Kathryn @ Team Whitaker
(an awesome and inspiring post about her marriage)
Frustration is a guest post on The Veil of Chastity
(awesome post about those frustrations we sometimes feel in our singlehood!)
And some pics... just because I can! :)
I FINALLY got to see and hold and squeeze this babe
after TWO weeks of not seeing her.
Man, did it feeeeel good! :)
I had a wonderful time in Miami last weekend
with Jennine and her hubby, David!! 
Last on call shift... I'd say it was spent well. :)
Pretty moon on my run the other morning!
For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary! Thanks, Jen!
Happy Weekend, errrrbody!

NAS: For the LOVE of friendship

I was really excited to write this post.  When Nikki gave us the topic suggestion to explore what love is... we thought we'd try to narrow it down and just talk about the love between friends.  When I was in college, I took one theology class, Friendship, Marriage and God, the ONE that everyone said you should take.  Being a nursing major, there really isn't time to take anything else OTHER than nursing things... so, when I fit it in my last semester, senior year, I was stoked.

That class pulled me and stretched me and challenged me and brought me closer to the Lord.  (Although if you ask some of my friends who were also in that class with me, they would tell you how frustrated they were b/c the prof wasn't alwayssss teaching Catholic teaching in the best way. But... I didn't pick up on that so much. Oh well....)

THE paper we had to write was to define love.  That's it.  Our professor didn't really give us much else to go on.  So, you just want me to define love?  Um, what?  Up to that point, pretty much all of the papers that I had written were research or something concrete in the nursing world.  Um, nothing as big and open-ended as... love.

It was rough.  To say the least.  We read some great books during that class... and I really learned a lot about what Christian love is all about.  In my paper, one of the examples I gave was the love of friends.  So, this topic is near and dear to my heart.  And, if ONLY I could actually find that paper.  But, alas! I cannot.  So, I am going to write on a whim... see where the Holy Spirit leads me.

Alright.  Well, first... I truly believe love is an action.  To love... to love is to give of yourself.  Obviously this will look different with each relationship you have.  But the large umbrella definition is to give of yourself.

To love someone is to be all about the other person.  It is not selfish.

So, within a friendship... you want the best for your friend.  You serve them.  You do things for them.  You encourage them.  You pray for them.  And, sometimes... you even challenge them and hold them accountable.  Because you want the best for them (and they for you, I hope!), you may have to step outside of yourself and your comfort zone to reach them where they are.

Now, you cannot give this love without receiving it.  It's a two way street.  To give and give and give without knowing what love in return, is a pretty bad state of affairs.  But, that love you receive may not come from the person you love... they may not be able to love you in that way (maybe your friend suffers from addiction or struggles with abuse), so who, then, can show you that love?

Well... yes, your family, your spouse, perhaps.  But, more importantly, Jesus.  Jesus is basically a never-ending supply of love.  When you are close with Him, and are praying and receiving the sacraments, it will be easier to love others.  God is love.  So, if we are not close to the one person that IS love, how would we be expected to love in return?

I have some of THE best friends a girl could ask for.  Our friendships are not perfect.  We get frustrated.  We get jealous.  But, we alwaysalwaysalways want the best for each other no matter what.  We want to grow in holiness and closer to the Lord.  With that comes loving each other not for what we get out of it individually, but what we can do for the other person so they can be the best version of themselves!

I hope that all made sense!  Ha, what do you think?  Be sure to check out Morgan and the rest of the ladies, too! :)

Survey/Random Facts time!

I feel like we know a lot about one another, but don't know the everyday things that make us... us!  So, this week is a little lighter on the content and more about getting to know each other! Have fun!

~ Age
~ Area of country (no need for specific location on the interwebz)
~ Are you working? If so, what do you do? Or, are you in school?
~ Family (let's see some pics!)
~ Confirmation Saint
~ Favorite Gospel?
~ # of previous relationships (ya know, that required a FB status change!)
~ Top 3 qualities you are looking for in your hubby
(b/c, hey, maybe we can help each other out! Cousin? Coworker?)
~ Online dating experience? Advice?
~ Advice for a single lady
(in tweet-like fashion, 140 characters or less)

September 3 (WHAT?! How are we talking about September already?):
Follow the Peace
(a followup to my post on following the peace a while ago.
What brings you peace? Are you able to do those things?
If not, what's preventing you?

September 10:
Is it possible for a woman to pursue a man?
(what do you think about THAT?!)

Serious Randomness... and TAG!

Wow... my mind is a little... mushy.  I watched For Greater Glory this afternoon at Mart's... and boy, did I bawl.  I mean... practically heaving.  Such a GREAT movie.  So powerful.  But, so so emotional.  And, it kinda freaks me out to think that religious freedom can be stripped away at any time.  Anywhere.  May the Lord continue to protect and guide us... that we (whoever you are... Christian/non-Christian/Jewish/Muslim/etc) can be able to practice and live our faith freely, but boldly.

Pray for Egypt.

I should be working on my Not Alone Series post for tomorrow... but, I just can't at this moment.  After an AWESOME weekend in Miami (where I did NOT run into Juan Pablo... DARN IT!) and getting a wee bit nervous about my new job (orientation is tomorrow morning, which makes all of this real. It's actually happening)... I am not in the place to write about something so important and so special to me... the love of friendship.  So, for those that care, I hope to have that up tomorrow afternoon.

So, what I thought I would do is something a little less mind engaging and answer some questions.  Amanda tagged me in... what are we calling it??  Tag?  Ok... yea.  Well, she tagged me and I am It!  I love Q&A's... and I love getting to know people better!  So, here goes nothing!  Also, I feel like Coll also tagged me in something very similar... but I can't find it. So, I hope this makes up for it, Colly!  If this is boring for you, continue on and come back tomorrow!

1. Post these rules.
2. Post a pic of yourself and then write 11 things about you/your life.
3. Answer the questions for you set in the original post.
4. Create 11 new questions and tagged people to answer them.
5. Go to their blog/Twitter to tell them you tagged them.

Ok, rule 1... done.

I just love this pic of me and my niece. :)
Hmmm... 11 things about me.  Well, let's see where this goes.
  1. Orange is my fave color.  I actually fell in love with it when I wore an orange dress to homecoming in high school.  It looked great on me! :)
  2. I love airports.  I love the people watching and the anticipation of going somewhere. I never mind getting to the airport early!
  3. I really cannot wait to have a dog again one day.  
  4. One of my biggest pet peeves is people who DO NOT merge correctly onto the highway. Oh, sometimes I get heated.
  5. I love to smile at people... and always get a little bummed when they don't smile back.
  6. If I could have one talent in the world it would be able to dance.  SYTYCD inspires me on so many levels... it's a beautiful performing art, I just wish girls didn't have to dress so immodestly all the time.
  7. Change freaks me out. (pray for my new job!)
  8. I love thunderstorms.
  9. Sometimes its harder for me to watch animals getting hurt/dying in action movies than it is for me to watch the people.
  10. I over think and over analyze things... sometimes to a fault.
  11. I love to cuddle... with my friends, significant other, pet.  It doesn't matter.
Amanda's q's to me:

What is your favorite thing to blog about, or which is your fave post?
Well... I mean, I love to blog about anything.  I don't think that I have one specific subject that I love.  Lately it's a lot about the single life, but that makes sense b/c it's my state in life.  And, I don't think I have a fave post either.  Hmm... I am not starting off too well with these questions!

Who is your favorite band at the moment?
Well, I am really loving Mumford and Sons... and Fun.  I am not a HUGE music person... I get into one particular artist/band and listen to them for a whiillle and then something else comes along.  I am not one of those people who connects songs with time periods or events in my life.  I never have been, but I think it's pretty cool that people can do that!

If you were going to die tomorrow and you could go anywhere before you died, where would you spend your last day on Earth?
Hmm... well, really anywhere.  The only stipulation?  That ALL of my family and really close friends were there with me.  I would be satisfied if that were the case.  But, if I had to choose a place... the beach.  Or the beach in Greece.  With all those people.  That would be great! :)

What is your favorite prayer outside of Mass?
Liturgy of the Hours.  

What song or movie do you turn on at the end of a bad day?
Hmm.. I am not really too sure.  I don't really have music that I turn to... or a movie either.  I am a channel surfer for the TV... or I get lost in the interwebs.  Or... I vent/hash things out with my mom or a friend.  That's usually how I wind down.  Talking it out.

Which season of the year is your fave and why?
Well, if I was in DC... spring!!  It's gorgeous.  Things are blooming again!  Really, all the seasons have their pluses in DC.  It's great!  But, here in Florida... winter.  It's amazing down here during the winter months.  Little, if any, rain.  Blue skies.  Sometimes the temps can reach the low 40s at night... that's my idea of a winter right there!

Which liturgical season is your fave and why?
Hmmmm.... I am gonna say... Easter.  It's what makes Christians... Christians, ya know?  Plus, I love welcoming so many people into the Church at that time.

Would you rather be taking pictures or being in the pictures?
BOTH!  I love trying to capture moments, but I am a HUGE ham... and I like to be in them, too. :)

What is the best deal you have ever gotten on a piece of clothing and what did you buy?
Oh gosh... no idea.  My mom is WAY better at this stuff than me.  I am sure there is something.  But, I am gonna say my cute nude Nine West heels... I got them from Martha... for free!!  I love free things!! And good friends giving me their things!

What is the best piece of advice/wisdom you have ever heard from your mother?
Um.. there are so many things.  Gosh... how can I just pick just one?  I might have to come back and answer this once I have pondered a bit more.  My mom is awesome, and always says great and wonderful things!

If you could go back in time 5 years and tell yourself one thing, what would you tell your younger self?
Hmmm... 5 years... I would be 23.  Let's see... I would tell myself, do more mission trips!! If you want to do a longer term mission, GO NOW!  Also, get more involved with young adult activities.  Don't be so shy and worry about not being the best Catholic.  Oh and... stop worrying about being married.  B/c well, it doesn't actually happen when you think it will... so, just enjoy life! Meet people! Love Jesus! Pray more!

MY questions:
  1. If you could go to ANY country RIGHT NOW, where would you go?
  2. Are you a toilet paper up or down kinda person?
  3. Fave Catholic speaker?
  4. Do you like Facebook or Twitter better?
  5. What is one or two pieces of jewelry you wear everyday?
  6. Describe your perfect sandwich.
  7. Would you rather drive, fly or take a train somewhere?
  8. Beach or snow?
  9. Fave thing about your home?
  10. What do you think about tattoos? Would you get one?
  11. If you were going to go out with your girlfriends... what would you want to do?  Dinner? Drinks? Dancing?
Annnnnd... TAG... you're it!!
Martha @ Shiny Happy Catholics
Colleen @ Modern Catholic Momma
Kristin @ Team Boda
Jordan @ Occasional Humor (I know Morgan tagged you... but I thought this would give you MORE motivation to come back!!)
Jennine @ My Life, Thoughts, Journey...
Natalie @ Here I Am...

Ok... no pressure to do this!! It's just fun and random... especially if you need something to blog about! :)

On that note... I am going to sleep.  This has taken wayyyy longer than I wanted!
Sweet dreams and blessings!

7QTs: What do these things have in common?!

~ 1 ~
Eight hour work DAYS!
haha ;) just kiddingggg.
~ 2 ~
NO weekends, NO holidays, summers OFF!!
Aw, shucks.
~ 3 ~
Working with kids every day.
(do I really need a pic of kids? Think of a group of kids happily playing... there you go!)

~ 4 ~
Doing health assessments/screenings.
If all the kids were as easy as this little girl. :)
~ 5 ~
Speaking Spanish.
Si, yo puedo. :)
~ 6 ~
Planning/implementing health services.

... what do you think??
Have you figured out what these things have in common?!
Do you want me to just tell you?
Ok... twist my arm.

~ 7 ~

And guess who will be the newest one?!
No... not her!

That's right!! I am so incredibly BEYOND excited, you guys.  ThankyouthankyouthankyouTHANKYOU for your prays recently!

As you all have probably read at some point or another (um, here, or mentioned a wee bit here, and maybe here, too), my current job isn't really my favorite.  I won't go into details, b/c it's not really that important.  BUT, I applied for a school nurse position (within the special education program for the county) on a whim, and it was offered to another school nurse working for the county... but THAT opening led to a regular school nurse position!  There were many a thing throughout BOTH interviews, followup, timing, etc that told me God was all over this.
And, boy... He was.  He done good.  Reeeeeal good.

I have FOUR shifts left at the hospital, and then it's off to the new-to-me, wonderful world of school nursing!  Please continue to pray for me during this transition.  That I can soak up all that I need to know.  That I have the confidence in my past experiences to help me with the future.

This just feels right.


Please head over to Jen's for more fun!! :)

He Grabbed Hold of My Heart

Oh my gosh... I am SO excited Amanda is hosting this link-up!  I just LOVE a good conversion story.  I love them.  I love hearing the amazing and different ways that our Lord brings people to Him.  They are inspiring and encouraging.  Sometimes funny and weird.  Whatever it is... they all lead to one thing:

An undeniable and awesome love for Jesus, God and the Church!

My story needs a little backstory:
My mom grew up Protestant, dad grew up Catholic.  They married in the Church.  When they had me, they baptized me in the Church, too, as they agreed to when they married. :)

According to my mom, we went to Mass as a family when I was young, but I have no recollection of this.  When I was 7, the year I was to have my First Communion, my parents' divorced, unfortunately, so no First Communion took place.  And, then, I guess no one went to church anymore.

Fast forward to 7th grade, and I wanted to do everything my best friend at the time did, and that was a lot of fun things with her youth group at church!  So, I joined her and then decided to receive a few more sacraments: First Communion AND Confirmation.  It was a joyous day, I remember. ALL of my family was involved. :)

And, then.  I just stopped going to church.  Nothing.  Zilch.
End backstory.

But, let's fast forward again because there really isn't much to report on from high school.  I was a good kid, didn't get into trouble, got along (and still do!!) great with my momma.  Overall a pretty "drama-free" high school career.

College.  Well, by happens-stance I went to a small Catholic university (really b/c they have a well known nursing program and my dad liked the school- that was the biggest draw).  I hated it my freshman year.  I was your typical freshman: partied, drank too much, not involved with the best crowd.  Ya know, things like that.  I still made school a priority, and went to class and all that.  But, my school and I just didn't mesh well that year.

Colly and I... one of the very first pics together!
We often matched... 
But THEN.  I was accepted as a Resident Assistant (RA) for my sophomore year... and it.was.amazing.  I LOVED IT!  I got really involved with campus life, had a purpose, met some really good people, namely Miss Colleen.  She and I became THEEE best of friends.  And then one day, she decided to go back to Mass.  When she found out I was baptized Catholic, she tried to encourage me to go, too.  But, to no avail.

Well, she must have convinced me a few times, but I don't remember much.  What I do remember, though, is hating it.  I hated going to Mass.  I cried every time I went.  I felt unworthy and like people just knew that I didn't belong.  It was horrible.  (I chuckle now, because let's be honest, no one really pays attention.  No one really cares! ha.  But, that's what I felt back then, ya know?!)

Alright, Coll and our other RA friend, Amy, were both going on Alternative Spring Break.  This was a week long service trip down to Charleston, SC where we helped rebuild/repair homes hit by Hurricane Hugo back in 1989.  They were both going, and I didn't have plans for spring break, so I went, too!

I believe the last day on site.
I never wanted to leave!
And this is where big things happened for me.  It was not one moment, but it was the entire week!  It was the first time I had ever experienced people my age talking openly about God like it was normal.  These people were normal, too- joking, having fun, being silly... they weren't super crazy telling me how to live my life.  Ultimately, they were showing me.  God was just a normal part of their lives.

The love that we experienced with the family we were serving and amongst the volunteers was incredible.  To give and to serve is such an awesome way to love, and it was HUGE for me to witness.

God grabbed hold of my heart that week and has never, ever let go.

ASB completely changed my life.  After that week, I made the choice to live for Him.  Now, it wasn't easy (never is!).  I still struggled with Mass.  It was then that I decided to try other churches out there, thanks to my other best friend, Morgan.  She is a devout Christian woman who was, and still is, completely in love with Jesus.  I accompanied her to different Christian churches in the area.  It was... interesting.  I enjoyed spending time with my friend, but I always felt MORE out of place in those services than I did at Mass.  Imagine that!

I love me some good structure and routine and tradition.  Mass provided that for me.  It was familiar and pleasant.  Well, it became pleasant after I had been going again for a while!

The Catholic Church was is my home.  Mass is where I felt at peace.  Things made more sense to me.  I belonged.

I went home for the summer, and really tried hard to stick with Mass.  But, it's hard when you are doing it alone, ya know??  So, I slipped a little behind.  But, when I went back to school that August (early, for RA training), I was ready to see Coll again and get back to it.

I read a ton.  I dove head first into our Campus Ministry programs.  I asked questions.  I prayed.  Went on some incredible retreats.  I met some amazing women who taught me how to have a personal relationship with Jesus.  I found a love for praise&worship.  I even helped lead our ASB trip that year!

I absolutely fell in love with the Catholic Church.

And there was no going back. :)

That, my friends, is how it began for me.  It's not the most dramatic story, but I think it's a pretty good one.  God spoke to my heart through service.  He just knew how to get me!  This life we choose to live isn't the easiest, but it's the best.  I am so thankful to Him for opening my heart to His love.  To His church.  To the amazing friends that I have made along the way.  To the awesome opportunities He has provided for me.  The most supportive family (even though they may think I'm crazy, sometimes!).  His grace is the only way I have made it this far.

There are no words to ever express my love and thankfulness.  All I can muster, Jesus, you rock!

Now, go check out all the other awesome conversion stories over at Amanda's!!! :)

FF: Dairy-free Goodness

So, I have decided to go dairy-free to help with my hormonal acne.  I have done a LOT of reading about this, and there is a big link between dairy and women who suffer from the hormonal, cystic, painful acne that I do.  Women who have eliminated dairy from their diet have seen a HUGE difference in their acne.

Because I have tried a tooooooooon of stuff since I was a teen (and birth control being the only thing that made my face look great and have stopped it for good), I thought why don't I just try this!  Once I made the decision to do it is when the sense of loss of some reeeeeally great food became a reality.  :(  It was sad! ha.  But, it really hasn't been that hard for me.

I wanted to share some things that I have found to be free of the dairy AND deeeelicious!  Disclaimer:  I am not into the whole clean eating thing or what not. SO, if you are looking for a really REALLY healthy diet over here, you won't get it.  I still eat processed things.  Sue me. Oh, and a lot of the dairy-free things are also gluten-free.  I haven't intentionally been avoiding gluten, too.


(I am not a milk person in general, so this was not hard for me. But, I do love chocolate milk!)
Serving Size: 1 cup; WW PointsPlus: 3
Where to buy: local grocer, most likely; Whole Foods
Serving Size: 1 cup; WW PointsPlus: 3
Where to buy: Whole Foods
Good, but the almond milk is better!
(I love yogurt, especially greek yogurt, so this was hard for me! BUT, I found SO Delicious Yogurts!)
Serving Size: 1 container; WW PointsPlus: 3-4
Where to buy: Whole Foods
Once I found these, I really haven't tried any others.  Their regular yogurts are pretty good, too... a little bit thinner than normal dairy yogurt, but still good!

(In quotes because cheese is cheese BECAUSE it's made with dairy!)
I love cheese.  Love it. This was a huge loss (still is!) for me.
Thanks to my brother and sister-in-law who encouraged me to try a non-dairy cheese (doesn't that just sound gross?), I discovered Daiya.
It's made from tapioca and cassava.  It melts and stretches. 
And, I have to say... it's pretty good.
Slice- Serving size: 1 slice; WW PointsPlus: 2
Shreds- Serving size: 1/4 cup; WW PointsPlus: 2
Where to buy: Whole Foods; your local grocer if you are lucky!
Ok, so nothing will ever be as good as real cheese.  But, Daiya does a good job.  I have had the Provolone slice on a turkey sandwich.  Added the cheddar shreds to some eggs and made nachos the other night.
It's different.  It really is.  When melted, it's very creamy.
But, for being a cheese-like food, I am satisfied. :)

(when you click there and see the pic, it looks different than the pic below. I don't know why. What I buy in the store looks like this pic right here!)
Serving Size: 24 pretzels; WW PointsPlus: 4
Where to buy: Whole Foods; local grocer
Martha's mom (hi Jen!!) introduced these to me, and they are AMAZING! Seriously.  For those doing WeightWatchers, the 24 pretzels are a satisfying amount, but be careful b/c you really can just keeping eating them!

Graham Crackers!
Really... dairy free and DELISH!
I have put a little peanut butter and some honey on them for a snack. MmmMmm.
Serving Size: 1 full cracker; WW PointsPlus: 2
Where to buy: ANY grocery store

Serving Size: 1/4 cup; WW PointsPlus: 3
Where to buy: ugh, Whole Foods! Sorry.
I found Udi's Vanilla Granola on a whim one day at Whole Foods, and thought I would try it!
I love it on fresh fruit and mixed in with one of the yogurts! It really is SO good. :)

Frozen Desserts
What I have found and loved are alllll SO Delicious Coconut Milk items.
Here are two:
Serving Size: 1/2 cup; WW PointsPlus: 5
Where to buy: Whole Foods
Serving Size: 1 sandwich; WW PointsPlus: 2!!
Where to buy: you got, Whole Foods!
Both of these are TO DIE FOR! :) Yum, yum, yum.

And there you have it!  I hope this helps anyone who is looking for things that are yummy and satisfying AND dairy-free.  Let me know what you have found OR if you have tried any of these things! :)

Ok, and clearly I am a Whole Foods shopper now.  If you don't have one near you, check out the brand's website to see where you can buy them!

Thank you to Hallie for graciously allowing me to bombard Five Favorites with all things dairy-free! :) Happy Wednesday!

NAS: Challenge Accepted

First, I just wanted to apologize for being here, but not really being here.  The last few weeks have been a little crazy.  I am going to try and be much better at actually writing something each week! :)

Alrighty.... so Morgan and I posed a challenge a few weeks ago:

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! 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?

Today is the day we get to talk about it!!  Now I know that there might have been some confusion, SO if you didn't do anything, yet, to talk about today... no worries!  What do you want do?  What would be something that would make you step out of your comfort zone?  When you do it, maybe you can update us all later! :)  I think it's so important for us to be able to challenge one another, hold each other accountable and push ourselves out of our comfort zones, all in a loving way.  It's all part of the Christian friendship, right?!  So, that's what we are trying to do here!!

Let's see.  I kind of struggled with my challenge.  More on a practical level.  I really want to get more involved with my parish.  Specifically, the young adult group.  I was able to go to ONE, just one, meeting. :(  It was a good meeting.  I am glad a went... I get shy meeting new people (which is funny b/c I love being around people... but when they are new, it's hard for me!), so it pushed me to actually get there.  Once I did, it was pretty easy.  We discussed the first chapter of Lumen Fidei.  And then about a whooooooole bunch of other Catholic things.  It was nice.

Now, I haven't been back b/c I have worked every.single.Tuesday since then.  I am feeling confident that veryvery soon my schedule will be a bit more open to allow me to do more things.  LIKE... becoming a Eucharistic Minister.  Now, I know this isn't the same as making an active step in meeting new people, but it does help me get more involved.  And, it's been on my heart.  So, there's that.  I can't wait!!

Another thing that I have decided to do is be a bit more intentional in my interactions on CatholicMatch.  I have talked about my experiences here and here, so I am trying to be more proactive, I guess.  Nothing fruitful has come, yet, but I am ok with that.  This is just another tool to help me be more open to finding my hubby!

So, that's where I'm at.  My biggest thing right now is getting more involved at my parish.  I think that will be huge! :)

YOUR TURN!!!  I can't WAIT to read what y'all did.  The linkup par-tay is over at Morgan's here today.  Life just gets in the way sometimes! :)  Linkup below!

Thanks to those of you who gave us some topic ideas!!  We REALLY appreciate it. :)  If you don't see your topic, don't worry, I am sure it will be coming!  If you want to talk about something, then please let us know! :)  As always, email, comment, tweet, SOS, or whatever!

Next Week, 8/20:
What is Love of Friendship?
(What is love? But specifically within a friendship.
You can talk about it in any way you would like)

August 27:
Random Facts
I feel like we know a lot about one another, but don't know the everyday things that make us... us!  So, this week is a little lighter on the content and more about getting to know each other! Have fun!
~ Age
~ Area of country (no need for specific location on the interwebz)
~ Are you working? If so, what do you do? Or, are you in school?
~ Family (let's see some pics!)
~ Confirmation Saint
~ Favorite Gospel?
~ # of previous relationships (ya know, that required a FB status change!)
~ Top 3 qualities you are looking for in your hubby
(b/c, hey, maybe we can help each other out! Cousin? Coworker?)
~ Online dating experience? Advice?
~ Advice for a single lady
(in tweet-like fashion, 140 characters or less)

September 3 (WHAT?! How are we talking about September already?):
Follow the Peace
(a followup to my post on following the peace a while ago.
What brings you peace? Are you able to do those things?
If not, what's preventing you?

September 10:
Is it possible for a woman to pursue a man?
(what do you think about THAT?!)

Quick Takes: Good Things are Happening!

Oh hey... do you still remember me??  I blog here.  With the surprising my SIL, working 3 nights straight and running around... I've hardly had time to sleep, let alone blog.  I have a lot on my mind, and hope to put those thoughts into blog form in the not too distant future. :)

Until then... enjoy some Quickity, Quick, Quick, Taaaaaaakes!

~ 1 ~
You guys... I have some news.
No, I am not pregnant. Or, engaged.
(which is good... on many levels!)
But, I do have some pretty exciting news!
I am not ready to fully divulge on here, yet, but will soon!
So, thank you for all the prayers that you may have said for my "special intention" these days!
They have reallllllly been helpful. :)

~ 2 ~
I love conversion stories.
I had asked a while ago about doing something so we (as in me and whoever happens to read my loverly little bloggy) share our stories! But, no one said anything. 
Amanda from worthy of Agape wants to do a linkup on JUST THAT!!
Mark August 15th down on your calendars!
Write up your story and linkup up with Amanda!

~ 3 ~
You know what's a wee bit unfortunate?
Getting five fillings.
But, the being numb for HOURSSS and not being able to talk right or tell if you are drooling or not BEING ABLE TO EAT WHEN YOU ARE STARVING for fear of chewing everything BUT your food.  That is the most unfortunate part.
And the fact that my new dentist told me most of this COULD have been prevented if my previous dentists did their job better.  Isn't that a nice thought?

~ 4 ~
Speaking of the dentist.
I don't really mind going.  Even if I have to get fillings which won't allow me to feel my face for a long time.  Whatevs.  I have had since my first ortho procedure, the dentist just became my second home.
But, what I will NEVER understand...
I mean, do you they just want to hear themselves speak?
You can only add so many "uh-huh"s and shoulder shrugs and forced giggles to a conversation before it gets old.
Does anyone else have that problem??

~ 5 ~
I miss my niece.
I miss hearing her say "Aunt Jen! Aunt Jen!"
She is SO big now.  I mean, she will be THREE in a few weeks.
I can't believe it.
She is such a beautiful little girl.
I can't wait to see her grow in her role as big sister!
And I can't wait to meet my still-in-utero niece in just a few months!!
Gosh, I just love my family.

~ 6 ~
The other day I was really craving pizza.
But with pizza, there is cheese.  And since I have resolved to do the dairy-free thing for a while, pizza was looking like one of those things that I was just going to have to give up on.
My lovely sister-in-law decided it would be her mission to figure out a way for me to eat pizza.
She searched things and then she and Matt thought about restaurants in Lawrence that would have dairy-free cheese for their pizzas!
They were right!
Wheat State Pizza was the winner!!
I got a Hawaiian that has Mozzarella Daiya 'cheese'!
I was hesitant... but it was actually really good! 
Thank you to Matt and Em for that discovery!

~ 7 ~
Whole Foods sells Daiya... and now I am hooked, I think.
They have many different styles, but I've only tried these two.
I think I am going to do a whole post very soon on all the things that I have found that are dairy-free AND delicious! :)  So, stay tuned for that!

And with that... this has been theee longest Quick Takes.
Maybe not what is actually here, but to write.
So, off I go to eat! Nachos with the Daiya cheddar shreds.

Have a wonderful weekend! Please go visit Jen to see what she and everyone else are up to!

NAS: Envy and Singlehood

Hey! Ok, so I just got back from my weekend of surprising my SIL for her baby shower, and haven't been able to prepare this week!  I hope to try in the (later) morning, but I work SO, I might have to sleep before.  Ugh.

It's all about envy and singlehood... however you choose to interpret is up to you!  I can't wait to read what you gotsta say! :)

Challenge time!!!
I can't wait to hear all about what you guys have chosen to do!

Get your linkity linkup on below!

7QTs: SURPRISE Edition!

~ 1 ~
My alarm was set for 0255 this morning (I had an early flight out here to KS PLUS, I like to be early)... I woke up this morning for whatever reason and thought to myself, "I bet I only have 5 minutes until my alarm goes off! Ugh." So, I checked and it was 2 minutes PAST 3AM!
Thank you, Jesus, that I just woke up!
I got ready and was out the door a little past 4.

~ 2 ~
Well, I really over estimated my time.
Only one car... ONE car passed me from my house alllll the way to the longterm parking lot.
Dropped my car off, hopped on the shuttle and was through security before 5am.
And there was absolutely no one there.
Nothing was open.
It was nuts.
I guess I could have slept in a little more. :)

~ 3 ~
I would have Tweeted, FB'd or 'Grammed all about my traveling per usual...
BUT... my SIL, Em, follows me on all of them.
And SHE was the one I was surprising this weekend.
It was a nice little break from social media... except for the whole continuing to look at everything part.  Oh well.

~ 4 ~
I made it to KS with no problems.
Matt picked me up and we went straight to the "fun park" as my niece calls the gymnastics gym that has trampolines and foam pits and bounce houses to play in.
Charlie was already there with Pam (Matt and Em's good friend) and Emmett.
Then we hung out and tried not to be suspicious... well, Matt tried not to be suspicious when talking with Em. :)  Fun times.
Sliding down the the bounce house; post-nap jumping onto the
couch; riding in the car
 ~ 5 ~
When Charlotte is in her turf... she is WAY more open to hanging out and chatting with Auntie Jen.  She chats with me.  Laughs.  Acts silly.
Seriously my heart might explode from pure joy whenever I hear "Aunt Jen! Aunt Jen!"
I have waited for quite some time for her to say that and really know that it's me.
It's just SO fun.  I really feel like I am her aunt now and we can really build our relationship!
I even got a picture!!!
~ 6 ~
Because I was surprising Em... and Matt said he had a "gift" for her today, I decided to get some bows and put them on my head. :)
I am so cool.
~ 7 ~
And THEN... Em finally got home from work where we could actually
pic collage courtesy of Matt.
I think we were successful!
Em, I can't wait to celebrate YOU and my newest niece!
I am so happy to be here... I hope that you were surprised!

For more Quick Takes, please go visit Jen and the gang!
Have such a wonderful and blessed weekend e'rbody!
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