Why I Remain Catholic

The pope's in town. Did you hear? :)

He visited DC, NYC and ended his trip at the World Meeting of Families in Philly this past weekend. He has been on the go go go since he stepped foot on American soil. Speaking, visiting, celebrating Mass.

And everyone is watching.

Every media outlet is covering it in some way. Every.single.one.
People from all faiths, all walks of life are talking about Pope Francis. Talking about Catholicism. It'a a beautiful thing.

And I'm all.... not. I just haven't been into it.

I feel like a really horrible Catholic or something for even admitting that.

But, it's the truth. I have been thinking and reflecting about why that is. Why is it that I am not as excited as the rest of the Catholic people, as the rest of the world?

I still can't put my finger on it. It might be a combo of things- stress about getting to work (I work in DC), I have been blessed to be in Papa Benny's presence twice and didn't feel the urgency to see Pope Francis... maybe. There is SO much about our dear leader that I love. And there are some things that give me pause. I also really really really miss Pope Benedict. I feel like people give him a bad rap for choosing to retire, and that just makes me sad.

Martha seemed had similar thoughts about it in her own post. Check it out, but I especially liked what she said at the end:
The thing about Pope Frances is that when you talk of him, you can never really be sure what to say. There's so much to love and so much to confound; much to celebrate and to mourn. When he speaks, we always want to believe the best - but it's so rarely clear that's what he means. Perhaps that's why we're silent - because, just like the rest of the world, he's simply giving us a lot to think about.

Regardless of what I think or don't think about the Pope being in town...

I am proud to be Catholic.

If you've been around for a while, then I'm sure you have picked up on that. :) I wanted to elaborate on that juuuuust a little bit. I am hoping (praying!) that with all of this coverage of Papa Francesco and our beloved Church, people will begin to get a glimpse of the Church that I love. Maybe they will see Her beauty. Her love. Her joy.

Usually our culture and world think it's weird, degrading, discriminating or just plain wrong. In many ways, it's a radical way to live. And you know, I love it! Here are some of the reasons why! Disclaimer- I am no theologian, I am an imperfect daughter of Christ who has found her home in the Catholic faith. I am just being honest in my love for the faith, but if there is something seriously glaring that contradicts Church teaching, let me know.

God's love. It's the basis for everything in the Church. His love is what keeps me going... when I am rude, unloving and say stupid things, God still loves me. All of me. When I worry, when I doubt, when I am angry, when I am judgmental, when I don't love myself. God does. Always has, and always will. It's such a beautiful and powerful thing. It's a love that I don't understand, yet God calls us to this love, anyway.  We are called to bring that love to others. To serve and give of ourselves to every single person. Our families. Our friends. Our coworkers. Our enemies. Babies. Elderly. Homeless. Christians. Non-Christians. Those that believe what I believe, and those that don't. It's not a choice. Every person deserves love because they are part of the human family, created out of love by the One who is Love.

Ok, ok Jen... we get that. But, Catholicism, really?


Every.single.thing the Church teaches is based on that love. We are called to love and serve all those around us, in our house, in our neighborhoods, in our workplaces and around the world. No single person is off limits to His love, and thus our love. The Church and her wisdom calls us to something more. Pushes and guides us to extend that love.

My absolute favorite thing about the faith: it is truly universal. Every Sunday at Mass, people from across town, throughout the country and around the world, across cultures and languages, are hearing the same readings from the Bible, praying the same prayers, receiving the same Eucharist. Every.single.mass. WHAT?! It blows my mind. It welcomes every single person in the world, because it's a reflection of the love that God has for each of us. We are all messy, sinful and crazy, yet there is a place for each of us in the Catholic faith.

It is Truth. It just makes sense. It's logical. It has believed the same things since the days Jesus walked the Earth. It brings together science and faith in a beautiful way. It stands up for those truths, no matter what. It pushes and challenges me to be who God created me to. I don't want to be  complacent in my walk with Christ, and there is no way to be that way when you are doing your best to live the Catholic life.

It is beautiful. From the old architecture of the churches throughout the world to the wonderful pieces of art to each individual. Catholicism is rich in beauty. The dignity of every.single.human person (babies, the homeless, the disabled, the elderly, the mom, the dad, the friend, the coworker) is beautiful in the eyes of God, therefore, too, in the eyes of the Church.

It serves others. Obviously, Catholicism is one of the biggest proponents of social justice, serving those in need and helping those in the trenches. Throughout the world, Catholic organizations are doing all they can do to bring people out of poverty, feed the hungry, get kids to school, protecting the Christians that can't proclaim their faith. It's part of God's universal call to love. The Catholic faith takes that very seriously.

There is always someone else. Listen, Catholicism has been around for thousands of years now. The people that have gone before us- the Saints, and saints. Those that have learned how to live a life of love and holiness better. There is always someone to pray for you. Those people in Heaven, but those that you see at church on Sunday. People who would love, more than anything, to pray for you and your needs. There is also someone who knows how to answer your questions. There are people who have studied the faith, written books and created ways for us to understand the faith better. No matter what your question- there is someone else who has also asked it, and most likely answered it. If there isn't a clear answer, there are discussions about those things. And, it's pretty awesome! We have a natural desire to want to know about life and Truth and love- the Catholic faith is ready for those questions!

The sacraments. It would be remiss to not mention the wonderful sacraments. Baptism, Holy Communion, Confirmation, Reconciliation (confession), Matrimony, Holy Orders and Anointing of the Sick. These tangible gifts of God's grace is simply an amazing thing. The Church believes, without a doubt, that each of these Sacraments provides people with Grace. A gift from God, to be able to get through the crazy of life. It's an amazing thing really.

I have found a home here in the Catholic faith, and for those that don't always understand why... I hope this helped, at least a little bit. I want to be the best person I can be - to always strive for that - and I believe Catholicism pushes me to be just that.

Know of my prayers for you!

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#BlessedBrunch: on community, going deep and being enough.

Via Mary's IG :)
What a gift.

Yesterday... it was a beautiful, fun, joyful and so very needed gift.

I attended my first #BlessedBrunch!

I have been involved with the fab Blessed is She community just after it's inception, around this time last year, I think. I didn't realize it at the time just how much this group of women would impact me, my life, and my faith. From the first Advent journal, to the daily devotions, subsequent journals and regional FB groups... I have gotten to know some wonderful women. Grown in my relationship with God. And saw how beautiful women really can be toward one another.

The need for community is real. The need and desire for authentic friendships are real. The need for women to encourage and support one another is real.

Being back in the DC area has been so good. My job is good (busy! But amazing!). Seeing my family is great. Getting the little peeks into Fall... sooooo exciting! (Scarves, here I come!!) But, my thirst for community has been at an all time high, I'd say. Leaving it, to not having it... and spending a lot of time with work stuff... it makes me feel a little imbalanced.

My faith is my priority.
And building myself up to serve and love all those around me (including those at my job).
Surrounding myself with people that will build me up, and point me towards Heaven.
That's what I need.

Mary, again!
So, this brunch?? It couldn't have come at a better time!

Mary was a fabulous hostess!
The weather was beautiful (very sunny... may or may not have a burn to prove it).
The food was DELISH!
But the company... the best.

Because BIS is a community of authentic positivity... meaning, we can be ourselves (messes and all), while loving, supporting, encouraging and building each other up... that was our expectation when going to this brunch. And that is what happened within our conversations.

It's an amazing thing when you can talk about the messes and struggles in life right from the get-go, and not feel ashamed or unloved or even weird/awkward. We were married, single, kids, no kids, kids with special needs, young and older (not old... never old)! We were listening and we were being heard. We were nodding along. We were laughing. We may have even shed some tears.

What struck me most- the similarities of our struggles and worries even though we were all in different stages/states in life. Feelings of isolation, thirsting for community, desiring authentic friendships. Those are true and real no matter who you are. We as women need to be reminded of those things, so we can get out of our bubbles and be more intentional with our friendships. Of meeting new people. Of realizing that we, as women, are way more alike than different.

I was reminded, yesterday... I am enough.
I am enough to be loved by God.
I am enough to be heard.
I am enough as a single lady.
I am enough with my messes and doubts and worries and all.
I am enough... just as I am right now, right at this moment in life to be loved, supported, encouraged and believed in.

This is why community is important.
This is why we need to each other to remind us of these simple truths.
We are meant to go through this life with others.

Thank you, thank you, thank you to Mary for hosting and to all the #BlessedBrunchFX ladies for saying YES!!! Yes for coming out, being open and vulnerable, and accepting me as me.

This one is mine this time. :)

Let's do this again.
Real soon.

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Let's see... many of you heard about/saw this:

Kelley Johnson was 2nd runner-up for Miss America, and is also a nurse (obviously). I found her monologue to be unique, simple, genuine and humble. She is proud to be a nurse. She has every right to be. Us nurses, we love sticking up for one another (ok, yes... and pointing out the bad apples, but mostly we support one another!)... and I am proud of this woman for standing out amongst all those traditional talents and being proud of her chosen profession. I was so happy to see this video going viral, people talking about how awesome nurses are (because we are), supporting one another, lifting each other up. It was/is beautiful!

And then, perhaps, you saw this:

Ummm... yea. Where Joy Behar asked, "why does she have a doctor's stethoscope around her neck?" Oy.

Which resulted in great memes such as:
Shout out to my fellow CNMC nurses for this! :)
Even doctors all over the place were posting pictures of support... like this guy:

It's great! People are talking about nurses! So much! It's great to get so much recognition, positive attention and love from so many people. We really do have an awesome job... no matter where you practice, inside or outside of the hospital setting.

But dang... some nurses are peeved. OUTRAGED. Petitioning to get "The View" cancelled.



Over some incredibly ignorant things that were said? Those ladies have no idea what they are talking about. They are talk show hosts. They talk and talk and talk and talk. That's what they do. A lot of it is useless and boring. Are we surprised that they don't know much about a nurse and their profession?

I mean, the reality is: not many people have any inkling of what a nurse does. If you are a nurse, then you know. Plain and simple.

No TV show gets it right. Our friends and family don't always get the full picture. And while our patients and families know how much we care for them, even they don't have a clear idea.

Why are we surprised that a TV talk show host didn't either?

Let's take all of this enthusiasm and attention and turn it back to our work.
How can we improve patient safety?
How can we decrease our patient load?
What about increasing RN satisfaction?
What is the best way to increase medication/procedure compliance?

Imagine what a difference we (the nurses) could be making for our patients and families, if we spent all this time trying to improve best practices, decrease hospital acquired infections, increase our nurse/staff morale, instead of trying to get Joy Behar fired?

Harsh? Perhaps. But, I'm entitled to my opinion, too! :)

Let's just keep doing what we are doing. Let's take our "15 minutes of fame" and share our stories. Tell the world why we are awesome. Remind them that we are so much more than #justanurse.

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Not Alone Series: Welcome Back + Announcement

Hello, ladies!!

Gosh, it's been a busy, but amazing Summer! I hope it's been that way for you, too! When we took our Summer hiatus, I didn't realize 1) how much I needed the break and time to get things done (like move and such) and 2) how much I MISS you guys. Seriously!

Who would have thought that people you (mostly) have never met and only communicate through the written word, can be such a big part of your life?! When Morgan and I first started down this Not Alone Series road, I don't think we ever imagined what an amazing community that would come from it.

All of your prayers and encouragement and love have been a staple in my life the last few years, and I am so incredibly thankful to God for placing you all in my life in this most unusual way.

I am also still in awe that we have been going for over 2 years!! :) That in and of itself is such an incredible accomplishment, and I only have you guys (and God) to thank for the success of this community.  Without either... well, it just wouldn't be.

Thank God you all have been wanting this community, in the interest of transparency, because Morgan and I have had moments of being completely burned out. Not sure how to keep going. Slacking on topics. Lagging with motivation. Our enthusiasm seemed to run dry at moments.

But then... one of you would email or comment or write in our group- saying how incredibly thankful YOU were for this community, as well. You have no idea how needed, how important, how encouraging those words were for us. Obviously God was still using us- this community- and what we were doing (and lacking) in big ways.

And we can't say no to God.

So, we have been praying for the future of NAS. Discerning what the next steps should be. Should we continue? How to keep going?

Well, we've made some decisions.

We feel that at this time, we need to take a step back and allow other women to be more involved. Morgan and I will take a more "behind the scenes" role, helping with social media, promotion, etc. We will still be linking up occasionally and being around the FB group, don't you worry.

Uhhh... so who is going to be hosting and such then?


Please give a warm welcome to Rachel and Lindsay!!!!!!

They have graciously said yes to you, this community and God by taking over all things hosting/blog related! Both have been pretty active within this community and are super supportive. They love the mission of NAS and all that we strive to do- namely to remind each other that we are not broken, we are not lost, we are not left behind... and we are most definitely not alone.

Be sure to give them lots of virtual hugs and high fives, ok!?
Lindsay: Blog | Twitter | Instagram | Email
Rachel: Blog | Email

Because some will ask:
  • Tuesday will still be link-up day.
  • All hosting will be done at Rachel's or Lindsay's (just as it alternated between Morgan and me).
  • Send any topic suggestions to them (or share on our FB page or group).
  • We start NEXT Tuesday, September 15th.

Next week we are talking about:
The Five Love Languages
Dr. Gary Chapman has outlined five ways people give and receive love in his book "The 5 Love Languages." Take the quiz at 5lovelanguages.com to discover yours! What is your love language? How does that affect your approach to romantic relationships, family relationships, and friendships? How do you give and receive love with people who have different love languages?

Before we go... could you do me a favor???
Keep praying for NAS... and all the women we may reach.
And will you share our FB page, if you are into that sort of thing?! :)

So happy to be back!
Love, hugs and prayers,

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Random thoughts + pics

There are so many things that I want to share here... but I just don't know how to get them all out of my head. It's not as if I have a lot to catch you up on... it's just that... I have been thinking quite a bit lately, and well... would love to formulate them into blog posts. But, I don't know where to begin.

Here are some random things rolling around in my head. Perhaps one day I will get to expand upon them more. I guess that's what happens when you move, start a new job and try to find a community... your blog gets a little lost. I love this space. I love connecting with you all here. But, sometimes... you can only do so much. Right??

At least for me, anyway.

God's love is so amazing. Amiright?! I just... am so in awe of His love for me. ME. An imperfect person with a sometimes too short temper, who gets frustrated over the silliest things. Who struggles with loving herself through and through. Who decides to do other things, when she knows she should pray. Who looks to others for encouragement and validation about things in life, when really, that should come from God, and God alone. Yet, with all those imperfections... I am so loved. I desire that love first and foremost. It is that love that keeps me going... that comforts me when I am unsure... that allows me to be ok with the fact that I may never get married... that will satisfy all of my desires and longings. That is a great Love, indeed.

Nurses are real-life superheroes. Seriously. I am so damn (sorry!) proud to be a nurse. I am doing some orienting shifts on the floor (my actual role is no longer at the bedside, but I am around the unit, and to best support my fellow nurses I need to know what's up), and let me tell you. I am SO out of practice! Being away from the bedside for over 3 years... shoot. You can tell. Some things have come back, but boy! I have SUCH an appreciation for nursing. The knowledge, the compassion, the running around, the trust, etc etc... it's a lot. It's amazing. It's not for the faint of heart. To all of my nurse friends- YOU ROCK! Thank you for doing the wonderful things that you are doing!

Dangit for community being so hard to find. Ugh. I am still feeling pretty lonely these days. Besides going to work everyday... I have yet to find things to do. I am not saying this as a "whoa is me"... it's just the reality right now. I know it will come. It's just so obvious how important community is when you all of a sudden don't have it anymore. Sure, I have my NAS and BIS... but, nothing compares to real life talk, hugs, laughs and prayer.

No prayer time is no good. I am still trying to come up with a routine... figure out my schedule... blah blah. Anyway, I've realized this before annnnnd again with all of these changes, that if I don't make any time to pray - even 5 minutes - things just don't feel right. I need that down time. I need that chat with God to get some sort of equilibrium.  It makes everything else make sense.

There are many other thoughts... but I am watching God's Not Dead (have you seen it?) with my Dad and stepmom, so I'm gonna go! :)

Oh, but pictures... maybe. Hmm... not too many. See, not much going on! :) Only pics of me. Fun times.

I may or may not have had TOO much coffee this day.

My oldest niece turned FIVE a few days ago. FIVE. How did that happen?!

Fist PSL of the season!!!

Homemade cookies, handwritten note and info about a friends' soon-to-be mission year!
Pray for all the missionaries around the world!

Have a great week, errbody!
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