The post where I basically dote on my nieces!


It's so so so so soooooo nice to be home. My bed. My space. My alone time. :) #singlelifeperks

But, that doesn't mean I don't miss all the wonderful people I visited. #jensjunetravels was busy and awesome and exhausting. :) It took me to Pittsburgh then to Minneapolis then to DC then to Kansas, and then back home again.  And I loved every.single.bit.

Today... it's allll about Kansas and my bro, SIL and ADORABLE nieces.  Ready? I thought so!

Most of my time was spent with the girls, Charlotte and Lorelei:
Where we made lots of silly faces:


And ate at places with crazy dinosaurs:
And were a wee bit rebellious:
Charlie is just the silliest!
I heard a lot of "Aunt Jen, let's build a cow!"...

Daddy was enjoying the animal building for the.... 3rd? 4th?
time that day!
Charlotte loves to swing and be in motion. Her gymnastics classes in the fall should be PERFECT!

She even has her own trapeze swing in the basement!
We even watched and watched (and watched... no seriously! It was so cool!) a bunny family hang out and eat the carrots Charlotte and daddy threw out there:


When we weren't stuck in the tiniest house in the world, of course...

;)


And eeeeeeeven some pool time!!


Lest you think I only hung out with tiny humans... I did not. Matt and I had a sibling date day! It was so fun! Ever been to Kansas City?! I hadn't, and it was great! I can't wait to go again. :)
Tour of a brewery, coffee and pics with Ben Franklin statues,
3D movie and a verrrrry yummy dinner!

And even squeezed in some kid-free nights to hang out with these two! :) Love them so much!

It was a fabulous way to end my June travels. I loved spending so much uninterrupted time with family that I don't get to see very often. We had some amazing laughs, good convos and made memories to keep forever. I am so blessed and so thankful to Matt and Emily for hosting me, loving me, laughing with me, and taking time out of their busy lives to spend with me.

I am also so happy and thankful that they create such adorable little girls. ;)  I am reminded of the privilege I have to be in these girls lives. To witness them grow and learn and absorb life is such an amazing thing. I just hope that I can be someone that they look up to and can continue to offer them love, support, and encouragement.

I have the best family. :)


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Quick Takes: I'M HOME!!!


HELLO! I thought I'd join Jen, et al and check in! :)

~ 1 ~
I AM TYPING ON MY COMPUTER!!!!
And it feels so good. And so right.
I didn't take my computer with me on my 3 weeks of travel. It was weird, and hard. But, I survived. Mainly because of my phone. And other people's computers.
Ah well.

~ 2 ~
You guys. Thank you.
Thank you so much for your comments and kind words on my last post.
It means so much to me. I will try to write you all back, I promise (although, Blogger doesn't always make that easy with the "no-reply" emails). Please know that each word was read, and I prayed in thanksgiving for all of them.
You all are the best.

~ 3 ~
It is currently storming LIKE CRAZY here. 
All afternoon... it's been nuts. And my house might float away.

~ 4 ~
Instead of sleeping in like I really, really wanted to do this morning, I agreed to go paddleboarding with Martha and the youth group. And let me tell you... IT WAS AMAZING! It's hard to believe at this moment, but we had fantastic sunny weather. The nicest guide. The best of times. 
And, I stood and didn't fall. It was so great.

And this girl, of course:
I missed her so very much.

~ 5 ~
And THEN.
I unpacked (which I loathe), did laundry and cleaned my house. 
It's a miracle.
It feels great! I really love being productive.

~ 6 ~
Even though I am SO HAPPY to be back home... I do miss my adorable nieces already.
I just had thee best time hanging out and loving on them. Because of that, they deserve a whole post of their own! :) :)

~ 7 ~
I am also so happy to - hopefully - get back to some normal blogging. So many things I want to talk about. We shall see! :)

Go visit Jen and the gang for more Quick Take fun! :)

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I won't take the pill, but I STILL WANT YOU TO LISTEN!

Oh hey... yup, still enjoying my Auntie time. I just love the scheduling posts business. :)


One of the things that always comes up when I see my family again, for better or for worse, is my acne situation. It's always coming from a place of love and concern, but it's always so awkward when you hear, "Oh, your skin looks great these days!"


Um, really? It's not. But, I appreciate the thought.


It's hard because I STILL HAVE NO SOLUTIONS.


When it comes up, I don't have anything new to say about it. Clearly, I haven't found the magic thing to make my skin beautiful again. Because if I did, the world would already know about it.


And without a doubt, it always comes back to why exactly I stopped taking birth control (ie: the pill) in the first place.


Oh jeez. Yes. I am Catholic, and I don't believe in taking the pill. For many reasons.


But, it's more than that. I care about my overall health. I care about my body. I took birth control for about 8 years. EIGHT YEARS! Every day, putting synthetic hormones in my body. And to be honest, it was the BEST my skin has ever been. I didn't have to worry about always putting makeup on when I walked out the house, or be self conscious that someone was staring at the inflamed blemishes and red blotchiness when they were speaking to me. I didn't have to worry about hugging someone and accidently rubbing my cheek against theirs and fear their disgust when they felt the oil on my skin.


Being 29 and dealing with this is not fun. At all.


But, I also want to be healthy. There is more and more research coming out about the long-term effects of the pill. Cancer. Infertility. Blood clots.  Why would I willingly continue to do that to my body? It doesn't make sense. Natural Family Planning (or the Fertility Awareness Method- same as NFP, but you are able to use condoms and the like) has been on the rise to help women know their body's better, to be aware of their cycles and the changes that the hormones can do to your body physically and mentally. It's a beautiful thing.  I read somewhere that it's a lifetime skill... not a quick fix. I love that.


It has been amazing to learn about my body in this way. I am not great at charting and such, but I am proud of what my body can do. I just wish I understood it more.


And, I WISH SOMEONE WOULD LISTEN TO ME!


That's all I want. I haven't found any doctor who wants to help me figure out why I have hormonal acne issues (also, I haven't been as committed to looking for one as I should be!). Every.single.time I give them my history and say that the only thing that has ever helped is the pill, but it's no longer an option for me...


crickets.


I mean, you would think I was telling them that I sell cocaine.


It's humorous, but also really irritating. Our culture is so wrapped up in this pretty little pill that can do no wrong. They have no idea what to do when it's not an option.  Clearly, my acne is hormonal as the pill did "help" me. Yet, my blood test came back normal (I have been off the pill for about a year and a half now). I would have expected my androgens to be higher, as that is common reason women deal with acne. And they weren't. And, yet, all you can say is that I am "sensitive" to my hormones... what does that mean exactly?


All I want is for a doctor to say, "hey, I know that you have tried x, y and z in the past, can we give it another shot? Let's see if it works! If not, we will go down another path."


YES! I will love you, who ever you are, if you are willing to work with me. I am not looking for perfect skin, I am just looking for less blemish-y skin!


Have you had issues like this? How did you find quality doctors? Trial and error? Let me know! Cause I am getting motivated to get back on the horse, here. :)


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#jensjunetravels


Hello!! I am just checking in... not that you've missed me too much, I'm sure. :) Today is my last day in NoVA/DC, and I'll be heading to Kansas to visit my brother, SIL and my beautiful nieces!! I can't wait!

My trip has been wonderful! Although, I am a little antsy to be home and in my own home and bed and do my own thing... I wouldn't trade this time for anything! It's been weird not having my computer (although, you wouldn't really know I've taking break if you follow me on the 'gram or Twitter or are my FB friend...), as there have been many, many thoughts and ramblings that I have wanted to hash out on here. Ah, well! In due time, I suppose. Here is a sneak peek at some of the fun that I have been having with my beloved family and friends! I may have a few more posts coming up randomly... so yea. Fun times!

Mmmkay. Pictures. Bye!

On our way to Pittsburgh to see Colly!

Some milk and cuddles before bed. Coll's beautiful girls!

We finally got a pic together! I love these ladies.

In Minneapolis now... what's better than homemade ice cream and cute kids?!
I'd say nothing.

Minneapolis is awesome... I love it more and more I visit!
I hung out with my good friend Hunter who just got back from Honduras!

Case in point. The lakes?! They are amazing!!!
Riding bikes with Mom around Lake Calhoun

Me and my beautiful momma...
you would never know she was battling an annoying cold!

Oh! Now in DC! Went to the National Building Museum with Dad and Connie!
And, had my first food truck food! DELISH!

Met up with Cindy (no pic, sadly) from the Veil of Chastity,
AND Sarah Therese from Cherishing Everyday Beauty.
I love our blogging community.

THE BEST FAMILY SELFIE EVER!! :)
They are all actually smiling b/c they thought I was NUTS for trying!
And look how great it turned out!


Dad, Connie and I went back to the National Harbor for the day...
we rode the Capital Wheel ferris wheel! Pretty sweet!

Until next time! :)
Abrazos!
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Bachelorette Ramblings and #LiveLikeEric


Let's see... when this post publishes I will be at my mom's! Yipee! I am not sure if we will be watching The Bachelorette tonight (wait, is it even on??), but in honor of it being Monday, I thought I'd share some of my thoughts on the subject.

I don't think my thoughts are going to be new or make you look at the show in any different way, but I just wanted to jot some things down.

I love The Bachelor(ette)! Yes, it's superficial. Yes, it's catty. Yes, I know it's a "real-life" showed that is planned out and edited to make us think/feel/react in certain ways. I know.

But, I don't love it for the drama. I actually enjoy it more when there is no unnecessary drama (I am sure I'm in the minority on this one!). Or how cute the guys are for the season (although, that helps!). Or to see what amazing "dates" the show takes us on.

No.

I watch it because I genuinely love watching people fall in love.

Even if I don't always connect with the bachelor(ette) that season, I still love being part of their love journey.  It's fun (sometimes funny!), albeit scary, nerve-racking and the sort, but isn't that what happens in real life anyway? I would assume, as I don't have first-hand experience.

In a way... the show gives me hope! I don't want all the crazy and elaborate things (although I would never say no to a helicopter ride flying over some gorgeous location). What I desire most is the love that God has called me to... first with Him, and then as a wife.

I desire the butterflies in my stomach.
I desire the smile on my face that just won't go away.
I desire loving someone so deeply, that I hurt when they hurt. And rejoice when they rejoice!
I desire being loved for exactly who I am, flaws and all.

And, I desire that most with Jesus himself.  And, I hope that I can continue to fall more in love with Him, so that I am prepared to love (and be loved) by my husband.



from the #LiveLikeEric FB page
Also... will you please pray for the repose of the soul of Eric Hill. He is the guy that passed away from the a terrible para-gliding accident. Last week, he left the show on not the greatest terms with Andi, and it's sad because now he can't even speak up for himself.  I am disappointed with ABC on how they aired this last episode he was in. They tried to make it "all about Eric" yet ended the show with an interview only with Andi, asking how she was and if she would have done anything differently. Of course, this is not Andi's fault. But, to me, it actually took away from Eric. And his life.

I do think overall, the show has done a wonderful job at highlighting what a wonderful guy he seemed to be. I hope and pray for his family and friends as they continue through the grieving process. #LiveLikeEric has gone viral, and is helping spread his mission and passion of philanthropy and love of travel, new cultures and finding the "awesome" everywhere in the world.

Rest in peace, Eric.



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Cutting the [Computer] Cord


Not literally, of course. That could be dangerous. And, I don't want to buy a new one.

But, I have decided to go crazy and not.bring.my.computer.with.me for my three weeks of travel.  I am sure you are wondering how... as you read this post. Alas! Thank goodness for the invention of scheduling posts!

I decided to scribble some thoughts down on a few posts... just to have some flavor up in here. Uh, what?

I don't know.

Moving on. Listen. This is going to be hard for me. I envision some withdrawal symptoms of sorts. Checking my phone a ton. Being bored at moments.

But then... peace. That is what I am hoping for! So, today, as you read this... I am sure I will be going a bit stir-crazy. But, tomorrow and the next day... peace of cake. ;)

I am on my computer so much of the time... for better and for worse. I am going on vacation to see my friends and family that I do not get to see all of the time. I don't want my computer and the interwebs to draw me away from the in-person connections and time I have with the people that I love. They deserve all of me. :)

And, let's be honest, I still have my phone. So, it's not like I am going to DISconnected by any stretch of the imagination. I just won't have my usual blogging outlet. I guess that means I'll have to journal, for realz. (Or use any one of the computers at any one of the places I am staying... but, shhhhh... let's not talk about that!)

With that! I will see you all very soon. Expect updates with pics and ramblings of how awesome my friends and family are... and my life is, really!

Loooooove,
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NAS-iversay: Guest Post



Hi again! {If you are looking for the linkup, click here!} I am honored to welcome Amanda from Worthy of Agape today, as well. :) As many of you know she JUST GOT MARRIED over the weekend and is currently enjoying newlywed bliss with her new hubby, Anthony. She has been an avid supporter and participator of NAS since the beginning and wanted to share her thoughts, as well. Please continue to pray for Amanda and Anthony as they learn more about each other (and life) through their marriage! Take it away, Amanda!

If there are any die-hard Gilmore Girls fans out there, you'll know that today is the day that Lorelai almost married Luke. On this June 3rd, a fitting date as any, I figured I'd join the NAS ladies for a year in blogging/life review...

I can only vaguely remember writing my first post for the NAS series a year ago. It was a year ago already?! It is somewhat comical to me now to re-read that post and remember exactly what was going on in my life behind the blog. Even though I had my lips sealed on the blog, I had begun dating the man I just married. And I mean I just married him. On Saturday. (Okay, I wrote this blog in advance, so what?) We'd only been dating for about a month and he was preparing to leave for Lebanon for six weeks. It was a crazy time in my life: a new, budding relationship, a job I'd just lost, a job I was interviewing for, and my book had just come out. Then came this wonderful blog series and community of other single/not-yet-married ladies blogging about life. I was hooked.

In all honesty, the community kept me sane. Blogging has been my safe refuge and gotten me through some really rough times in life. Blogging has given me hope, and the NAS community was and is a big part of that. Though I'm clearly not very consistent with the posts anymore, I still follow the posts and read along. When Anthony (my now-husband) left for Lebanon, these posts kept me afloat and focused. Rather than getting lost in daydreams of flying to Lebanon just to see him (who am I kidding? Those daydreams happened.), the topics helped to keep me focused on dating and being grounded in reality. It could have been very, very easy to get swept away with the fairy tales my friends were spinning about how he'd come back from Lebanon and instantly get down on one knee. Instead, posts like this one on discernment, this one on preparing for marriage, and this one on who I am as a single lady kept me focused on me rather than lost in some fairy tale. The truth is that I had a lovely (not really lovely) habit of allowing myself to dream up romantic tales and get lost in them, which also caused me to lose touch with reality. This NAS community was a much needed slap in the face to keep me grounded and rooted in prayer as I discerned my relationship and potential marriage to Anthony.

If I had to pick a favorite post, I suppose it would be the one I wrote on vocations and despair because, looking back I was so worried that God wouldn't come through. It seems silly to me now, but the agony was so real then. Re-reading that post in particular reminds me that God is always faithful. I'm sure there will come a time or two in life when I'll be tempted once again to despair and to doubt that God will really come through. Hopefully I'll remember to look back and see that He does come through - even if it isn't on my time frame or in the way I want, He is faithful and He loves each and every one of us more than we can even fathom.

Amanda Sloan blogs at worthy of Agape where she writes about whatever floats her boat, but primarily living life as a Catholic woman and all that that entails. She married her husband, Anthony, on May 31st and is currently featuring a series of guest posts on the marriage vows while she honeymoons. She is also the author of Worthy: See Yourself as God Does.






Thanks again, Amanda! I am so happy and excited for you! Thank you so much for your love, prayers, support and participation with the Not Alone Series. It would't have been the same without you! :)

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Happy ONE YEAR Anniversary, Not Alone Series!


Ohhhhhhhhh myyyyyyyy gooooooosh.

One year.

It's incredible. We have been doing this thang for one year [tomorrow]. God is so good.

When Morgan wrote this post, throwing out this idea of a "support group" for single women who were living life and seeking holiness yet in limbo because they felt called to marriage, but were, in fact, not married yet. I knew we had to do something.

Through many, many emails and gChats (and video chats?? Did we do those then?)... the Not Alone Series was finally born.  We knew that we had found each other and became friends for a reason. And this series could quite possibly be that reason. If we had these similar feelings about our state in life, there had to be others out there, as well. We tested the waters with a few mentions on some 7QTs posts, and found that there were more ladies out there thirsting for something like this, too.

I am so glad I emailed Morgan. I am so glad I listened to God's nudge. I am so glad that we have the internet to even make this possible. But, mostly, I am so glad for all of you.

Without all of you who read, write and pray for NAS, this series would cease to exist. Without all of your posts, week after week, sharing your stories, your heart, your worries and your fears... I would probably still feel like I was the only one who was sometimes struggling with their vocation and where God is calling them.

So, I thank you. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I have said this before, but you have made me feel less isolated in those times when I have struggled with loneliness. You have made me feel less crazy. You have given me hope. You have loved me. You have encouraged me. You have made me laugh, and even shed some tears.

You have become my community. In the midst of finding my place in a real life community, you all have been there for me. I will be forever grateful to God for you, and for the Not Alone Series.

Sometimes, this hosting business is hard. It's a bit demanding and there have been many times when Morgan and I struggled with whether to keep going. Some weeks we would only have a few ladies participate. Sometimes some people would write things that were less than charitable. We would struggle for topics. We didn't feel like writing. But, in the midst of those times, we would always, always get an email or comment, thanking us for starting this series.  God's way of reminding us, I've got this. Keep going. You are doing a wonderful thing.

And, so we do. Because of Him. And because of YOU. It has nothing to do with the amount of people who link-up, the amount of comments we get or, even, the quality of our posts. If one person feels supported and loved and encouraged, and realizes they are not alone... then we have done exactly what we have set out to do.

Reminding you ladies that you are not broken. You are not lost. You are not left behind.

I am not sure I have an absolute favorite post. We have talked about so many things in this last year! I just reread my intro post... the excitement that exudes is incredible! So fun!

There were many posts that were challenging for me, reminded me of what a wonderful life I have, were a bit controversial, super popular and just plain fun!  All the while, learning and getting to know each of you AND learning more about myself.

We even created a Facebook group!

And I cannot forget to mention our TRIP TO SAVANNAH, GA! :)  July 18th can't come soon enough!!

So, HAPPY ANNIVERSARY EVERYONE!!!!  Please join us in celebrating by writing your own posts about your journey with NAS (and linkup below!!) :) If you don't have a blog, but have been reading along, please please comment below and say hello! We would love to hear from you!

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Summer Schedule
We decided to be a little light for the Summer, ladies. Lots of travel and (hopefully!) family time!
I hope you have some wonderful and blessed fun in the sun!

July 15
Summer Reading List
Your fave books and recommendations!
(Thanks, Britt!)

August 12
Freebie!
Feel free to catch us up on life, talk about something that's on your heart or have a stream of conscience post! No rules here! :)

September 2
Regular NAS blogging continues!
Topic... TBD!
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