Five Years

A lot can happen in 5 years.

I mean, a lot can happen in any about of time, but 5 years seems like a significant amount of time, ya know? Don't so many parents have those moments like, "How in the world do I have a FIVE year old?!"

Anywho... in my life the last 5 years have been full. Very, very full.

Five years ago yesterday, I left for Honduras.

I had just left my awesome job, ended a whirlwind couple of months of travel to visit all my family and friends that I wouldn't see for over a year, and then hopped on a plane to a place I had never been to follow the Lord's call to serve. Him. The children. The poor.

While there, I had some of the best experiences of my life, and some of the toughest. Being there was harder than I ever thought- emotionally, spiritually and mentally (maybe physically if you count all the times I was sick and such!). Not because of the service I was doing. Not because I had to deal with cold water and roaches. And not even because some of the things that I saw were just heartbreaking.

It was because I was broken, and I didn't realize how much. The wounds- they were deep.

I was stripped away from all that I knew... new place, new people, new job, new language, new everything. And this stripping of all that kept my world together (friends, family, familiarity, etc), forced my wounds to surface and come to the forefront of all that I was doing. At the time, I just thought I was overwhelmed with being in Honduras. That I couldn't handle being there. That I wasn't tough enough be there in this situation that I clearly felt the Lord calling me to do.

It was a lot.

And I made the excruciating decision to leave. In the middle of my year commitment. It was a very tough pill for me to swallow. And look at my fellow volunteers in the eyes. I was sad. I was upset to be abandoning them. And the children. But, I just knew that I had to get home. And work on myself. To figure out what was going on. To heal.

I've heard many people say that you shouldn't do mission or service work if you aren't mentally "okay" for many of the reasons that I have listed above. I get that. I get that on a practical level because you can't be your best for others if you are dealing with your own stuff. But, see, it's precisely because of Honduras and my mission work that I realized how broken I was. I didn't plan on it. I didn't do it maliciously. It can't be a blanket statement for all people... no one would take the leap to do the mission work that the Lord needs to be done. The way He works is mysterious and doesn't always make sense to us on the outside. And it's taken me a while to not be ashamed of the fact that I did have to leave. I did, and it's part of my story. And I still wish many times that I could have done it differently. But, that's not how my life unfolded.

That moment of getting on the plane to Honduras 5 years ago to serve, deciding to leave 9 months later, was just the beginning of the crazy awesome. I:

  • Became a Godmother
  • Moved to Southwest FL
  • Became a school nurse
  • Started a young adult group at my parish
  • Began therapy
  • Met some amazing people
  • Traveled to some beautiful places
  • Got my "dream" job at my old hospital
  • Moved back to DC
  • Lived with my grandparents
  • Bought my first home
  • Healed
  • And continue to heal
Therapy has been the biggest thread throughout the last few years. I talked about things that I never knew I could talk about. I learned things about myself that I didn't realize. My wounds were ripped open. I was forced to see myself as a beautiful daughter of the Lord and how much that can play into how I view life. I have healed in so many beautiful ways, yet still healing in others.

I hope to share some more specifics of my healing and the realizations that have come from it at some point. But for now... reflecting on the last 5 years of my life, and seeing the beauty within it (when I don't always remember feeling the beauty at the time) has been good. I am no longer ashamed of many aspects of my life.

That is a beautiful and refreshing thing.

Shame is a nasty chain that holds on for a veryveryvery long time. It sneaks up at moments that you don't expect. The devil likes it that way. Shame prevents you from being completely you, being open to others, allowing the love of the Lord to seep in and change you.

I pray that if you are holding on to shame from your past that you figure out how to let it go. Give it to the Lord. He wants to spare you from it. He wants to love you deeply. If it's really deep and you are really struggling, please consider talking to someone. Therapy has changed my life. And there is definitely no shame in that. :)

The life that I am living is nothing like I hoped. I would be married and have multiple kids by now, yet this is the life that I am living. Right here. Right now. I am doing my best to let that be enough. That the Lord's will for me right now, is this life. Today. And that is enough.

Please, Lord. Let this life be enough. I want this life, and you, to be enough.



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How about an OCM update?!

Well, it's October 1st.

October. First.

Nuts.

I could write about Fall, and all the things. Pumpkin. Cozy sweaters. SCARVES!

It's also my patron's feast day. Happy feast day, St. Therese!!! Pray for us! I should probably write about her beautiful doctrine and all the awesomeness that she is.

Instead... I bring you an OCM update. Why? Well, why not?

I haven't written about it in, ohhhh... a year and a half. I figured now is as good a time as any to provide a little update!

Here are all my related OCM posts:
My Oil Cleansing Method Experience + the Clarisonic Mia 2
An Oil Cleansing Method Update
No Makeup, huh?!

What's better than before and after, er, now pictures?!



Annnnnnd TODAY!

October 2016
This is seriously amazing! :) I love doing this... it gives me such a great perspective on how much my face has improved. I see it everyday, so, of course, I am my own worst critic. I see everything. But, this!

HOLY MOLY! I CANNOT BELIEVE THIS!!!

Right cheek.

So exciting!!! No Makeup.
Also. Crazy long hair.
Guys. I am comfortable running errands, going to work, going out, etc WITH NO MAKEUP. I don't constantly think about what people may possibly me thinking when they look at my face. Gosh, I don't know if I ever thought I'd ever be comfortable in my skin. 

I am TOTALLY comfortable in my skin. Ah! PTL!

What am I doing, you ask?! THE SAME THING!

The Oil Cleansing Method with coconut oil. Interestingly, I have NOT used the Clarisonic in over a year. I can't really tell you why I stopped. But, I did... and for right now I am ok with not using it.

My method continues to be this...
BED TIME:
  • Take my eye makeup off and brush my teeth
  • Scoop some coconut oil into my hand (maybe a nickel size) with a 
  • Rub the oil alllll over my face and jaw line
  • Wipe off with hot wash cloth (as hot as you can stand it)
  • May take a few times to get all the oil, makeup, etc off
  • Rinse out washcloth
  • Splash some water on my face
  • Pat dry with towel
  • Go to bed
MORNING:
  • Wipe face with hot washcloth
  • Take a leeeeetle bit of coconut oil and rub on face as moisturizer
THAT'S IT!!

Really. It's that easy.

I say this all the time but I will say it again. Please take the time to see which types of oils work for you. You may need a combo. You may need something completely different than coconut. Your skin may react differently to certain oils than others. Take the time to find what will work for you. :)


For me. I loooooooove me some coconut oil. :) :)

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I love my momma.


I told myself I would write something today.

It's been a while. I miss this space. I miss this time of reflection. I have been teeeeerrrrrrrible about self care for the better part of this last year. And this writing. I think it will help. I am out of practice. I am getting distracted. Do I really have anything worth saying?

Who cares? I am here. Writing. And it feels good.

So... my mom went back home last night. She was here for 10 days. TEN DAYS!

It was the longest we had spent together for a long time... it was both a long and very quick trip.

There is so much that I could talk about. From the house drama that she dove head first into. To me still having to work and not actually seeing her very much. To the enjoyment we both had just being around each other again.


We both miss that. More on some days than others.

But, what struck me most about this time with my momma... is her absolute love for me. I mean, for real. Her flexibility and sacrifice of doing things she wanted or what she preferred... all for me. All while I am freaking out about the next house thing, or stressing about work stuff, or sharing some things that are difficult to share.

It's really something that I take for granted... ya know? A mother's love. Her willingness to sacrifice and do all the things... just for her kid. I know my momma loves me. I know she wants to do these things for me. But, it just seems so one sided.

How can I ever really, truly make it known to her that I do notice. That I do appreciate all the things. That my life wouldn't be as full without her love and sacrifice.

This isn't to say that we never get on each others' nerves. Agree on everything. Words hurt sometimes, ya know? We have both felt them over the years. As much as we would maybe not like to admit, we are very similar in many ways. We tend to take things personally, are emotional about many things and need time to process when we are feeling hurt or aren't seeing where the other is coming from. As we both have gotten older, we have learned -through some tears, some yelling, some silence- how to talk with more love. Reminders to not take things personally. Apologies. And hugs.

Those hugs are ever important now that we don't see each other on the regular anymore. Physical touch with people that you are closest with is so important, ya know? Hugs can do wonders.

I am just so grateful to my momma. For her love. For her words of wisdom and advice. Even when I don't feel like hearing it OR feel like it fully applies to me life. :) For her hugs. For her silliness. For her desire to want her kid to be living her to the fullest.

I love you, Mom. Thank you for being you. And hanging out. And making me buy all the things for my place to make it my home. ;)

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Living Room Help!


Hi Guys!

So... there are just too many choices to design a space. I mean, obviously. I watch HGTV, so I get it. But, when it's YOU that has to make the decision it can be overwhelming. This does not come naturally to me. I just want to be done and have my home feel like home.

But, such is life. I don't have an unlimited budget (what?! I know.) and am not a DIYer. I have succumbed to the fact that I maaaaaaay have to do some DIY things. But, it intimidates me. I need to look for the good thrift stores in my area, still.

But, Jen, what is your style?! I DON'T KNOW! That is such a big question! But, here is what I have been really drawn to...

  • Midcentury modern... tapered legs give me all the heart eyes.
  • Bohemian textures/colors
  • Mixed materials- wood/metal is the bomb
  • So, eclectic. That's me.
  • West Elm. If I could buy ALL the things, I'd be set.
The issue with the MCM/Boho look is that it's very minimalistic. I have a problem with clutter. And right now, I have stuff everywhere still. Boxes. Stuff with no home. Things I don't even know what I am going to do with. I know that the big stuff will settle overtime. But, in a general sense, I do have a hard time throwing stuff away. *eye roll* I knoooooow.

For the MCM/Boho look to work well, I need to learn how to control allll that. That should be another post with advice.

Living room! That's what I need advice for right now! Help!

So, the space is... interesting. It's open to the dining area. But is also long and kind of narrow. To figure out where the TV should go that works with the couch and chair. Ugh.

Inspection Day

After move-in and for about a month I lived like this.

And this is what it's been for almost another month!
Obsessed with my IKEA Chair!!
West Elm Peggy Couch
I just rearranged because it just didn't feel right. I am not convinced the below design is best. But, I am going to live with it like this for a bit. In pictures it actually looks nice, but in real life it feels weird still. But, that could be because it's new.

The kitchen is behind me to the left (enclosed)
The dining area is to the right, behind... open.

Side table is from World Market


Just to give you a better idea of the flow of the entire space.
This was before I moved the living furniture, obviously.
And I don't have the placemats out like that.
West Elm dining table.
IKEA dining chairs.
Eames chairs from TJMaxx
SOOO! What do you think of the living setup? I would mount the TV on the wall in the corner. And I need a fun area rug! It needs to fill the area, complimentary to the dining rug, more functional than just for the look (technically I should have wall-to-wall carpeting... ask me about that ordeal sometime! #homeownership).

Give me all your ideas!
ALSO! What resources do you LOVE for home design/style?! Especially for a newbie like me!

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A little mouse that broke me

Guys.

I was eating dinner at my kitchen table...

I am sitting in the chair closest to the camera. There I am, just chomping away... and I see some movement out of the corner of my (left) eye.
Quickly turn.
And there. In all it's glory.

A mouse. A da** mouse.

I just stared at it. Panicking inside. Heart rate high. Stomach sinking.
How do you get rid of the thing WHEN IT'S JUST SITTING THERE!?

I stood up. Took one step.
It scurried under the stove.

*shutter*

What else could I do, but... that's right, CALL MY MOM!

Mom: Hey sweetie
Me: MOM!
Mom: Yeees?
Me: THERE IS A MOUSE IN MY KITCHEN! A MOUSE! A FREAKING MOUSE!
Mom:
(feeling sorry for me silence, not a "good luck with that" silence... make sense?)
Me: Oh my gosh. Mom! A MOUSE! Uggggggh!
Mom: Yuck! I am so sorry.

She then proceeded to calm me down... a little. I called my associations' maintenance guy, who gave me the number for the exterminator. I went to Home Depot and got some traps.

Texted my dad.
Continued to freak the freak out.
Texted my friends.
Realized that I REALLY can't handle crap like this.

I am not one of those people that just deals with creatures. Rodents or bugs or anything that INVADES MY SPACE.

WHY ARE YOU IN MY HOME! NO ONE INVITED YOU.

And I just broke. Why did I think it was a good idea to buy a house? And handle all of this on my own? Who said I was adult enough for this? Why did I decide to live on my own? And just be able to deal with all the stuff that I don't like.

I didn't go to bed until after midnight because I was scared the darn thing was going to find me. No joke. How old am I again?

And here comes the part where this is all just a big metaphor for my life.

Just kidding. I mean, I am absolutely sure there is a very meaningful one. But, I haven't fully found it yet. Nor, do I really want to. It's kind of exhausting having to find meaning and purpose in every.single.crazy.thing that happens in the day/week/year/life, ya know? I can't be the only one.

But, I do know that Satan tried to use this to really, really break me down. To believe things that I know only come from him.

I did buy this awesome condo.
I can do this. Yes, it's hard. Yes, I will do things that I don't want to.
Yes, I will learn a whole lot about things that I can't even imagine.
I am capable of making this place be a place of joy and love and beauty.
This is my life. This is where I'm at.

With da** mouse and all.

No, I haven't caught him. No, I haven't seen him again. Maybe he went away!! Or, maybe he is dead under my stove.

The exterminator comes tomorrow.

Pray for me.

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Wait, I'm a homeowner?!


It's still surreal.

I own MY on place.

As of yesterday, I have officially been a homeowner for 4 weeks. FOUR WEEKS!

I can believe it's already been 4 weeks... and it's only 4 weeks? Isn't that funny? How timing works.

Anyway, leading up to, the day of and the days after May 27 were a whirlwind. My mom came into town. I bought/closed on my condo. I moved in. I went to the beach to celebrate Gramps' 9th birthday. Oh, and I was working.

HA. It was a lot. Overwhelming. Scary. Nerve-racking. But, so so so SO exciting!

My mom was a godsend. She was ever-patient and worked her tail off. It was pretty much nonstop while she was here, but she just... handled it. She was so excited for me, and helped organize and move things and put things together. I seriously wasn't super stressed because my momma was here. It was the best.

The days and weeks following the move have been a little... weird.

It was weird to be sleeping in this place by myself.
All the new.
Sounds.
Smells.
No idea where anything is.
No furniture.

Even though this place was my condo, my home... it was definitely not home.

And that has been really hard. Harder than I was expecting it to be. Actually, I don't even think I gave it one thought.

I was so excited to be having my own space. My own place to put all of my belongings. Organize things the way that I want them to be... that I just didn't think about the transition. The fact that everything is going to be empty. And bare. And cold.

And, so not homey.

And then, I was driving home one day and I realized something.
I realized that I was embarrassed.
Guh! I know.

I was embarrassed that my first place is a condo instead of a cute little house. I was embarrassed that I was doing this by myself instead of with a husband. I was embarrassed that I may be paying more than I should be. I was embarrassed. Plain and simple.

And then I read something on the ol' IG the other day, "Focusing on what your life is NOT rather than accepting what it IS, is one of the greatest forms of self sabotage."

That line right there... hit me like a ton of bricks. And I'm still feeling the effects.

That is exactly what I had been doing without even noticing. I was totally focusing on everything other than NOW. What is going on in my life right now. And it was completely sucking the joy away.

I have often said that I'm pretty good at living in the now and being in the moment, but it's kind of disconcerting how quickly that can change. How quickly the devil sweeps in and takes hold of the part of you that doubts and worries and trusts that life is good, and makes everything seem just completely not good enough.

Oh my gosh... I BOUGHT A CONDO! I am 31 years old, living outside of one of the most influential cities in the world, working at one of the top pediatric facilities in the country basically doing my dream job... and I was able to BUY a home. Not only THAT. I have some beautiful people in my life. I have some amazing friends. An awesome family. And am loved by an incredible God.

This life that I am living... it is not exactly how I pictured it would be. But, this IS the life that the Lord has given me, and darn it, isn' that good enough?! Isn't the Lord good enough?

So, I am getting there. I am letting that embarrassment go, and letting excitement and gratefulness take over. Will you pray for me?!

Annnnnnnnnd because I know y'all are dying for SOME pics! :) Just remember, this is transition. And I don't have much furniture. Keep that in mind. :) One day when I have things more organized and have actual furniture, I will try to do a real tour. My comp is making things difficult with pics these days... maybe it's on the frtiz?!

Master bedroom on inspection day 

Pretty much what it looks like right now! That carpet is the BEST!
Home Depot

Master bath, renovated.

With some of my things.

Living area, on inspection day.

And pretty much now. The tv is out of the box because CABLE.
And, I have ordered a couch!

A little shout-out to the awesome windows in my place! All the heart-eyes.

Kitchen on inspection day. Yep, with some crazy under cabinet lighting.

Ha! Right after I moved in. It's pretty nice looking now.. but not a whole lot has changed.

My condo is 3 bedrooms, two baths and has a little balcony. I know some of you are curious. It was completely renovated, so it was move-in ready! So, I just have the fun of organizing, buying fun furniture and adorning the walls! I am sure I will need allll the help I can get. :)

Thanks for stopping by!
Blessings,

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THREE YEARS {NAS-iversary!}


AHHH!!!

THREE YEARS!!

I can't believe Not Alone Series has been around for three years! :) Oh, that first post... !!!

Morgan and I had an idea... and we have watched it grow and bloom into something beautiful. We couldn't have done it without so many people. Definitely Rachel and Lindsay who have handled the hosting like champs since the Fall, and JUST recently we have added Laura from A Single Drop in the Ocean to our repertoire. :) WELCOME! We know the burden that is hosting, so it's not a surprise when life happens and others need to step in. It's one of the most beautiful things about this community... you ladies continuing to recognize the need and desiring to help keep it going.

And of course... to you. YOU YOU YOU! You who read, pray, comment, join in on FB, etc. All of you. I have said it before, and I will say it again... this community would cease to exist if you weren't here. There would be no community.

Thank you. Thank you for your love, support, prayers, encouragement. Thank you for being you.

In honor of Not Alone Series' recent THIRD birthday, we thought it would be fun to talk about online community. What role has it played in your life? Have you made lasting relationships from your online world? What do you love most?


Let's chat about online community, shall we!!

I have chatted about this quite about on here. Obviously. Because this is a blog. And a blog is online. :) I wrote some things here and here, where I feel pretty similarly today.

Through the Not Alone Series and Blessed Is She, I have met some amazing women and built some beautiful friendships. I am so very thankful for the role that my online world has played (and continues to play) through all of life's transitions. Through the loneliness. Through the crazy. Through the joys. Through the awesomeness that life has to offer.

The encouragement. The prayers. The love. The advice. The humor. And the gazillion virtual hugs. Hugs that even have made it to REAL LIFE.

There isn't a moment when my online world doesn't touch me. Through social media. Through the friends I get to see that i met on here somewhere. It's truly a beautiful thing.

I'm just so thankful for you.

What about you!?!? I can't wait to hear! Link-up below!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
BUT WAIT!
We need YOUR help!!!

Please, please, PLEASE take a few moments to fill out this survey.
We are in the process of figuring out the future of NAS, and we want to hear from all of you. Whether you have participated once, or since the beginning! If you are single or married! If you are currently discerning or not! If you have in some way (little or big) been affected by the Not Alone Series, WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!!!
Thank youuuu!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

We will be doing monthly link-ups for the Summer!
(I will update with prompts soon!)

July
Wedding Fun!

August
Spirituality Types!

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Hey, there.


Oh, yea.

Yup... I am still here.

I can give you all sorts of reasons why it has taken me MONTHS to get back here. But... life. Life is life sometimes, ya know?

Blogging (along with 50 thousand other things that I would like to do) is on my list of things that I would really like to incorporate back into my life.

I miss the writing.
I miss the processing I do when I am writing.
I miss the community that I created here way back when.
Basically... I miss you. Anyone who still happens to read this little ditty.

Let me catch you up on life a bit.

I am still loving my job! I am working a lot. Still figuring out some good work/life balance because, let's be honest, I don't want to burn out. And there are days where I feel really stretched.

Being in the nurse educator position has been amazing, challenging and difficult. I am learning so much all the time, and trying to get all the things done. It's different in many ways than what I had imagined it would be. It's better and crazier, but also harder than I thought. I mean, I knew it would be hard, but being in an organization that relies HEAVY on their educators, you are constantly adding things to an already looooooong list of "priorities." It's been a constant back and forth to try and balance and learn how to manage my time. I still feel very much like a new nurse in that respect. So, I like to think it helps me relate even more to my newbie nurses. :)

But, I love my unit. I love my coworkers. I love the organization. I have no regrets making the big move last summer!

The other most recent and exciting news...

I BOUGHT MY OWN HOME!!!!!!!!!

(I would show some pics, but my computer is being really slow and dumb.)

Oh my gosh. I am still partly in shock. But! It was so nice to walk inside today from time at the beach celebrating my Gramps' 90th (90!!) Birthday. It's not very organized. I don't have much furniture. Currently a card table serves as my dining table. No pots or pans.

But, it's mine. ha! MINE. Isn't that the craziest?! I have been an official homeowner for a little over a week, and the shock is wearing off (until that first mortgage payment!). I am getting over all of these feelings of was this wrong? Should I have done this? Shouldn't my first home have been a little house with a yard? Who PAYS for something that basically feels like an apartment? 

But... it's a starter. That's what your first home is anyway, right? It's mine! If I want to paint, I will! If I want to do something different in the kitchen, I can! (Not that I will need to at the moment, b/c it's been beautifully updated). If I want to buy that really awesome sofa, I can! This is my place. Not anyone else's. I am going to learn to love it and enjoy it... and I cannot wait until it feels like home.

That's what I hope for the most. It to be home. It's going to take some time and patience on my part. I can't get ALL THE THINGS that I want right now. I just can't. And that's ok. I need to accept that. Be proud of the fact that I was even in a position that I can buy my own little place.

Eep! I hope to share more of all the ups and downs of homeownership here in this space. I have no idea what I was share, honestly. Maybe I can talk about my crazy experience actually buying it? Of course how I choose to design it? I dunno... whatever floats my boat.

I hope to be around here more. Please know that I am praying for you! Will you pray for me, too??

Blessings and hugs,
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Negative Self Talk

I had made a mistake a couple weeks ago. A mistake at work. It caused some confusion. I had to work quickly to rectify things and get the information back out. And really, it all worked out. No major damage was done. At all! PTL.

But, you guys. I made a mistake. I couldn't believe it! Ya know, a mistake that I didn't catch before. People had to see. I was embarrassed. I was annoyed at myself. I was just really bummed about it.

And then I was feeling a little down. For a couple of days.

All the thoughts started running through my head. See, you can't actually do this job. You aren't that good at it. Why do people trust you to do this? Just proves that you aren't good at much of anything. Then everything starts flooding into my head. You are so stupid. You can't do your job. You are still single! No one will love you. You're impatient. And rude. And on and on and on.

Oh, but, this time. Before I really spiraled, like I usually do. I stopped. I pulled out my journal.

And I wrote.
I acknowledged my frustrations.
My sin.
And reminded myself that those things don't define me.
I wrote down a little bit of how God sees me, and that is who I want to be.
I chose to be around people the following days.

And it was a beautiful Grace. I didn't spiral. I mean, it was seriously amazing! And that grace, I am SURE of it, sailed me right into a beautiful and blessed Holy Week.

Negative self-talk. I am a PRO. It's not something I am proud of, but it is definitely something I am always, always dealing with. And only just recently (even with the years of therapy!), have I begun to figure out how I handle it best.

It's a choice I have to make, almost, every day. I have to choose to ignore those thoughts. I have to remind myself that when I become that person, it is NOT who God has created me to be. It is most definitely not my authentic self. Especially when I have the days when I am down about being single. Sometimes it seems too easy to see why I am single. But, those reasons? They are not from God. They are just a deep seated hold that the freakin' devil has, that I am working SO HARD to get rid of.

For me? Writing down and rewriting and rewriting (and rewriting) the things that I like about myself, the things that I am good at, the ways that God sees me has finally proven to be fruitful. Choosing to ignore those thoughts. Surrounding myself with people. Because when you are thinking way less of yourself, why would you want to be around people? No, I have to choose to be with people. Most especially people that build me up, inspire me and encourage me to be the best that I can be.

It's a work in progress, but for now? I am SO enjoying where I am. To finally be breaking free of this chain that has tied me up for FAR too long.

Do you struggle with this? No you aren't alone. And let me remind you... you are so so SO loved! Even when you feel down. Even when you sin. Even when you don't love yourself. You are absolutely, 100% loved... :) Praying for you!



So, SURPRISE! I am hosting Not Alone Series this week!!! WHAT?! Thanks for having me back this week! And for Lindsay and Rachel for reaching out!

Being single can leave us feeling unworthy and unloveable sometimes, but we know that it's not true! How do you avoid negative self-talk? How do you lift yourself up instead of allowing yourself to be down? How can we continue to acknowledge our low-points, but encourage each other to something more?

Please, please join us!!!


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Alleluia!

By Catholic All Year via her FB Page.


Happy, happy Easter, Friends!!!

Gosh, in some ways, I can't believe it's Easter already! In other ways, man! I am SO GLAD it's Easter already! :)

I basically bombed Lent. It wasn't my best one.

Holy Week, though. That was my jam this year, guys.

It started out with a beautiful (and quick!) Lenten retreat with the Franciscan Sisters up in Steubenville, OH.

Such a wonderful day reflecting in God's mercy and love.

I was able to go to a beautiful Palm Sunday Mass at my alma mater.... by one of my favorite priests! It was perfect. Jump started the week perfectly.

I just really felt present throughout this whole week, and it was wonderful. I was able to enter into each day, so that by today I could REALLY celebrate! Ah! Such an amazing thing!

I hope you all, too, have had a blessed Holy Week and beautiful Easter day!!
May God continue to pour His blessings upon you!

Love,
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I tried to stop yelling at people in my car

Key word: tried.

I gave it up for Lent. The yelling at the obvious stupid people who don't know how to drive. The getting incredibly frustrated. The interrupting conversations with people (mostly my mom!) to FREAK OUT at the person who cut me off.

I tried I'm trying. But, dang.

You know what I have learned? This is an incredibly deep-seated habit. It is my guttural reaction to get angry. Yell. Freak out. #%@^*!.

I said a lot of quick Hail Marys at first. "God BLESS you" in a very frustrating tone. But, as the weeks have gone on... the prayers have almost stopped and the frustration just remains.

I am not proud of that person. I don't like that person.

I started saying the Rosary in the morning. It has helped tremendously. Imagine that.

Last week at Mass we heard the Prodigal Son parable that we are all pretty familiar with. If you aren't, check it out, but here is the quick and dirty: a dad and his 2 sons live on a farm-- the younger one takes his earnings and inheritance and blows through ALL the money on feasting and prostitutes. The older one is loyal and stays, of course. The younger brother realizes that he can have a better life as a servant of his father, so he returns. The dad rejoices and throws him the biggest party!! Slaughtered the best calf, gave him a fancy robe! And the older son is... jealous and angry! He did all the right things and his dad NEVER threw a party for him. "My son, you are here with me always; everything I have is yours. But now we must celebrate and rejoice, because your brother was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found." ~ Luke 15:31-32

So, the priest talked about this parable in a way that I hadn't really heard before. Together, the sons represented the 7 Capital/Deadly Sins: Greed, Gluttony, Lust, Sloth, Envy, Anger and Pride.

The younger son seems pretty obvious- greed, gluttony, lust and sloth.
The older- envy, anger and pride.

The priest focused on Pride. Of all of the sins- pride is the most dangerous. It can infect all areas of ones life, when you think that you are good enough or the best at certain things (work, faith, etc)-- you stop growing. You stop seeing others as equals in life. It prevents you from truly loving. And then...you start judging.

Gosh. How easy it is to find myself in the older son. Hence, the reason I bring up my road rage tendencies- it pretty much stems from pride. I know better about driving, and NO ONE IS DRIVING CORRECTLY!

Which is completely false. I am not a perfect driver. No one is, let's be honest. ;) Those other drivers deserve love... and I am not loving them. Even if it's from the inside of my car and I never speak to them.

Then, I started to evaluate my life a little deeper. Look, I in no way think that I am perfect- in life, in my faith, at work, with my friends, with my family. Not at all. Buuuuut, pride still creeps in. That's the thing with pride. That's why it's so dangerous. You can be humble it a lot of ways, and be prideful in many others.  For me, it creeps in mostly with my faith (and when I'm driving, I guess). The way I choose to live my life, and the way that God calls us to live through the Catholic Church. It's so easy to fall in the trap of "these are things that we are supposed to do- I do them... you don't. Or I do them better... you don't."

It's such an ugly trap to get caught up in, ya know? I fall prey to this sin particularly with fellow Catholics- mostly the ones who say they are Catholic, but so obviously don't live any of her teachings. You know the ones.

But also with my friends at certain times. And even with my family. I am the only practicing Catholic in my family. A lot of the time I feel as if I am on the defensive about my beloved faith. Lots of misconceptions fly around. Lots of misunderstanding. Lots of beautiful moments to bring the Truth. But, also perfect moments to be prideful.

Which has caused some moments of tension. Some heated, passionate discussions. This is how it is! I say. But it doesn't have to be that way for everyone, they say. And off I go to Mass, no eating meat on Fridays during Lent, ticking off all the "things" that a "good Catholic" should do.

Bringing the Truth and showing love is hard sometimes. Especially when people don't see where you are coming from. Or I don't see where they are coming from. I don't want people to see me check off the "Catholic To-Do List" and that be that.

It's so much more.

I want people to know Love. I want them to know a love so deep, so wide, so beautiful, so captivating. A love that only God through Jesus can bring. It's a love that few understand. It's a love that we are all deserving of. All of us.

It is through this love that I am able to live life. It is through this love that I am able to see my fullest potential. It is through this love that I am able to love others. Imperfect, yes, but love just the same.

Pride takes away that love. It stomps down my ability to love and replaces it with judgment. Jealousy. Frustrations. Misunderstanding. Attitude. And sometimes, downright ugliness.

I pray, Lord God, that you will tear the walls of pride down. I pray that I can love my family, friends, coworkers, strangers, more fully and deeply. Remind me, Lord, that each person on this Earth is an encounter with You. Each moment is a moment to share in your love. Your grace. And your mercy. Especially in the car!!! Amen.

How do you deal with pride?? I can't be the only one!

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What an honor




Yesterday, I had the privilege to attend Justice Scalia's public viewing at the Supreme Court.

What?? Yea.

I am still in awe.
I am still processing.
Did that really happen?

Let me back up for a sec.

If you know me... you know that I am not at ALL in the know with anything related to government, politics and the like. I am one of those people that would get quizzed randomly by Jimmy Fallon's people about how a bill becomes a law and all that and... fail. Then the video would go viral with questions like, "what is wrong with the young people of this country?"

Yea.

So, just know that.

I heard the news of the Justice's death by way of a text from Martha:




Sad? Embarrassing? Perhaps. But, this is me. (And thank God I'm not alone! Heeeeey Steph!)

Anyway. You can imagine that I didn't know much about the late Justice. I have learned things here and there throughout this week, of course. Overwhelmingly, I heard what a wonderful, faithful man he was, and how much he touched the people in his life.

Beautiful, right?

Ok... fast forward to Friday. I was texting with a friend about getting together. She was saying that she was going to the Supreme Court and may be available after.

Supreme Court? Um, what are you doing there? Should I know what's happening?

Justice Scalia's public viewing, of course. I should go, she says! It's only a 0.5 mile walk from Union Station (where I park/get the employee shuttle for work)!

Um. Sure. Why not?! History and all of that.



So, I went. I walked from Union Station to the Supreme Court, ya know... like all the people in the city do. Walk to places. To me, if felt very adult and adventurous.

Man, I gotta get out more.

I digress.

I walked up to the building and there are a TON of people. TONS. All for this one, great man. Beautiful.

I met up with my friend and we had to walk blocks and blocks and blocks to get to the end of the line. And then... we waited. After an hour of the line kind of moving but mostly not moving, my friend texted her friend that works for one of the justices... and was at work. At that moment.

10 minutes later we go through the employee entrance and are going through security.

WHAT?

We go up the elevator to the floor WHERE ALL THE CHAMBERS ARE! Receive a mini tour. See the fireplace (apparently it's a big deal. Obviously). Everything was so grand! It was surreal.

Before we know it, we were on our way to the Great Hall.

Everything was moving so fast. I couldn't catch up to the moment. I was still so happy I wasn't in the cold anymore! I had no idea what to expect for the evening. I have never stepped foot near the Supreme Court building and here I was standing INSIDE, just having visited some chambers. I didn't know I would "enjoy" (not the best word to use under the circumstances, but go with me) all of it until I was IN it. It was just all too much.

I kept looking at my friend with this "is this real life? what is happening?" look. Because, really. Was this real life? And, was this actually happening?

Yes. And, yes.

I was very quickly brought back to the moment, when a young guy saw someone he knew in our little group- he began to cry. And my heart broke.

Not only did our country lose a great man, but all of these people inside this building had lost a coworker, a mentor, a friend, and from what I hear, an encourager, supporter, etc. His family lost a husband, father, and grandfather.

We rounded the corner to the Great Room. And I was so overcome with awe. The room is indeed great. Bright. Quiet. There, Justice Scalia's casket, draped with an American flag, lie in the middle.

We moved in front of the casket for a few moments. I prayed for him. And ask him to pray for us. We need his prayers so very much.

Just as I was about to walk out the doors, I can feel like the ladies are not with me. I turn back, and the changing of the guards was happening. Amazing.

And then we were on the steps of the Supreme Court. Staring at one another. Overwhelmed.

I am just so humbled and honored to have been able to be part of this in some small way. I am grateful to learn about a man who has represented our country and our faith so well. I am blown away by the outpouring of love (for the most part) for this man- for this husband and father and grandfather. I hope to continue to learn more.

May you rest in peace, Justice Scalia.
And please, please pray for us and our beloved country!



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Birthday Shenanigans!


So, my birthday has come and gone.

Which means that the month of January has come and gone. Obviously. You know that already.

But, it flew by! FLEW. I feel like there are moments when time just goes by so quickly. I can't keep up. I'd rather be enjoying all of this than just waiting for it it go by. Ya know?!

Anyway... I just thought I'd chat about my birthday. I feel like I've been real serious around here lately AND depriving you all of pictures. Honestly, it's not as fun to share pics when I don't have adorable children to show off. ;)

I really wanted to just go away for the weekend, but not really go out of town. Fortunately, there are many places in the DC Metro area that you can make this happen. I decided on National Harbor. I have loved this area since it started many, many years ago. I have seen it grow from just a few hotels and the Peeps Store, to shops! restaurants! a ferris wheel! outlets! all the things!

One of the main hotels is the Gaylord Hotel and Convention Center. My aunt does events there frequently and has some amazing connections. So... wait, I am getting ahead of myself! Hold on. :)

Last Friday, my office mate surprised me by decorating my door and desk AND with a yummy cake. :) I celebrated with my coworkers and it was very sweet. My mom even surprised me with FLOWERS!! So much love, you guys.

There were many, many times during the month that I legitimately forgot my birthday was coming. There has been so much going on at work, and life is happening, as well. It's funny that I got to the point in my life that I forgot. I love birthdays. And I love MY birthday.

I guess it's all part of getting older. Living life. Being busy. Weird. :)

I am just going to get to the pics and share the rest of my weekend through them!
Waiting to check-in... view of the atrium. If you even get a chance to visit a Gaylord hotel, do it. They are so fun!
 Like I mentioned before, my Aunt Marie has some connections at the Gaylord. And boy, did those connections blow me away!
A CAKE! Made by the pastry chef. 

AND MUNCHIES!

A HUGE ROOM!

A beautiful view. Seriously. It was amazing.

Allll the heart-eye emojis!!!

To say that I was overwhelmed was an understatement. I was just walking around the room... the bedroom, the living area, the bathroom... looking out the window. I couldn't believe I was about to be hanging out HERE for the weekend. That my Aunt went all out. For me. Because it was my birthday. In that moment, I was just so overcome with love. I am so incredibly blessed with this amazing family that I have. We are not perfect, but we sure do love one another.

Beeeeautiful view at dinner!

Family dinner! Missing a few people, but it was still wonderful.


We went back up to the room and enjoyed some cake. And took some selfies, of course.
Grandparents.
Aunt Marie and Uncle Duane.
 And THEN! I picked up this girl. :) PARTY TIME!

Listen, we may or may not have had quite a bit of wine.
And then walked around.
And were very silly.


Steph was very very excited about the snow!
We went to bed way too late. And then just hung out allllll day on Sunday (my actual birthday). It was really nice, actually. I kept thinking, maybe we should have done something.. but sometimes, it's ok to be still. Be lazy. Watch movies. Order room service. :)

We did manage to make it to Mass at the basilica! Looooove that place.

Stepped out of the door and saw this.
Stunning, right?
Basilica at dusk!
 We made it back to the Harbor for dinner... and MC joined us! :) It was wonderful and delicious.

Steph has been wanting to go to the Zoo for quite some time... and FINALLY we made it.

And got to see BEI BEI!!!! He is sooo cute. I can't even handle it.



Thanks for the pose!

A little rain ain't gonna stop us! Especially with those awesome ponchos!

Martha sent this in a text: "I made this for Auntie JENS birthday!"

And my heart burst.

Overall... it was a wonderful birthday! Thank you all for the wonderful messages, words of love and prayers. This year has already started off beautifully!

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