Monday, December 30, 2013

Superhero complex is not necessarily a good thing.

I have something that I like to affectionately (or begrudgingly) call the "superhero complex". Now this doesn't mean that you will see my trying to swing from a spiderweb between buildings or trying to burst up into the sky from the rockets that shoot out from my feet (although that would be awesome!!), but rather that I feel like I should be indestructible. I hate my weakness. I hate other things controlling me. I should never give in to anything outside of myself. I need to be able to be at all places, doing everything for everyone, and still have ample time for prayer and to do the things I need to get done for myself. I beat myself up when I fall short of my own standards. I push myself past my limits quite frequently and detest when I feel burnt out. I should be able to do this. I hate that I'm human.

Well news flash: I am human. Completely immortal and destructible. And that's ok.

I am also quite "contrarian". Aka if everyone is into something, I refuse to like it just for the sole reason that everyone else does. If I am going to like something, I have to come to it on my terms, always waiting til the bandwagon has long left the station. [I know, I'm annoying. But I'm working on it.] I think that has effected though how I feel about my humanity. I should be able to do all these things that no one else should do. I shouldn't have these weaknesses, these temptations, these fears... that is what happens to normal people! I don't want to be like that! But have a become so contrarian that I have begun to detest my own humanity? If this is the case, then something needs to change.

I often feel like I don't trust God, and I am always telling myself that I need to trust Him more. Recently though, I was talking to someone about different things going on in my life and how I know that God will be/is protecting me. The conversation ended a little something like this:
"So you trust that He is taking care of you?"
"Of course! He always does."
" I think you trust Him more than you think you do"

Bingo. This is where my problem lies. Because I don't trust in Him perfectly, I feel like I am failing. But I can't trust Him perfectly. I am imperfect. I am not free from sin. I cannot trust Him and love Him as perfectly as Mary, whom I always ask to strengthen my trust to be like hers. BUT just because I don't trust Him perfectly, doesn't mean I don't trust Him.

It was amazing how much less anxious I felt after realizing this. Hey, I don't have to do this perfectly. My trust, my loyalty, my love is going to be flawed. But that is beautiful because it allows Him to fill in the gaps. I have been learning to not only accept my humanity, but to love my humanity. This does NOT mean though that we should use our weakness as an excuse to slack. This is the other side of the spectrum that deserves caution. I need to make sure I don't become too complacent in my humanity that I forget that I am made for greatness and I am not made for this world. It seems silly to want to be content with being weak, but this is where our strength is really found.

And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast [a]about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10 Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with [b]insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.

I have always loved this verse from 2 Corinthians 12, but it seems much more profound now. I always used to think that my weaknesses meant that I had issues, I had problems, but I needed to let the Lord give me strength in those. And yes, that is true, but I think it is more than that. I need to boast of my humanity. I am content with being me, being human, being weak, because in that, I am giving glory to my Creator. Because He made me this way! He wants to be the strength in our lives.

Just today, I was thinking to myself about what I had brought to work for lunch (a bagel and yogurt) and wishing that I had brought something different. I really felt like going to the convenience store a few blocks down the road just to get a snack, but I was trying to squash that desire within me. You should be content with what you have. Why do you feel the need to have more? Getting a snack is not going to satisfy you. You could be spending that money on better things. Needless to say, I went.
[Disclaimer: mostly I enjoy going out on my lunch break because I love encountering people. People are fascinating. But it is usually frowned upon if I just go into a coffee shop or cafe and don't buy anything. Anyways, this is how I justify my snacking habits ;) ]
I am SO glad I went. I ended up talking to the young woman who worked there and found out that her daughter had been killed in a car accident this past August. I was there to tell her that I would be praying for them, and now I will carry that intention close to my heart. You should have seen the sadness in her eyes...
This whole situation really made me think. What if I hadn't listened to my inner desire? What if I had not allowed myself to want some fresh air and some coffee? (I know, the nerve of me to want those things!) If I hadn't allowed myself to be human, the Holy Spirit would not have been able to work in my life and in this woman's life the way He did today. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying do whatever your flesh tells you to do because God will use it (again, it is all about finding the balance), but it just made me think about how many times I might be missing the movements of the Holy Spirit in my life because I am too proud to allow myself to be weak. I need to become nimble to allow myself to go where the Spirit leads. I need to let go of my self and pour my humanity at His feet.

I am not a superhero. I am human. And that is a beautiful thing.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas Eve Traditions

I love Christmas. It is so full of tradition and family and all those things that just make you feel warm and fuzzy inside. One of my favorite traditions, the Feast of the Seven Fishes, is eating 7 different types of fish on Christmas Eve. This is an Italian tradition, origins are  not completely known, but it has to do with fasting before Christmas and the '7' has something to do with the 7 Sacraments or the number of days it took God to create the world. And Italians are just the best. :)

We don't do ours exactly by the books because we have picky fish eaters and little children, but we still carry out the tradition as best as we can. Here is how we do "7 fish" in the Andreola house:
Btw my mom makes all of this and it is amazing

First we start with hors d'oeuvres of a tuna ball with crackers and shrimp cocktail! 

 3: Then we have Crab Bisque which is to DIE for. It has just the right amount of kick to it. 
A giant vat of course
Then we move on to the main meal. All of this is served with a giant bowl of pasta with olive oil and garlic and red and green bell peppers for a festive appearance. 

4: Tilapia 

5: Salmon 

 6: Crab legs

 7: Scallops 

And of course for the picky eaters who won't eat the above 7 fish, 
they are free to stuff themselves full of fish sticks :) 

Like I said, my mom made all of this so I can't really tell you how she made anything, but everything was SO delicious. I've been eating leftover bisque for two days now and haven't gotten sick of it. I think we have polished off the last bit though. Sad day. Until next time....

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Come, Emmanuel

Advent is almost to a close. There is such an ache inside of me. My heart aches for something. What seems to be an ache for companionship, for love, is really an ache for something greater. An ache for the King of Kings to come dwell in my heart. An ache for Him to be born again into my being.

This Advent has certainly been an interesting one. I have been journeying with Mary and learning, well trying to learn, how to trust like her. She had perfect trust in the Lord's plan. I know she was without sin so she had an advantage, but I still have been looking to her example and striving to be like her. I am learning to trust that if I jump from the cliff, He will catch me. If I fall, He will be there. I am trying my best to believe in my heart, in the depths of my soul, that He loves me and wants me to be happy.

If I had been alive for that very first Christmas so long ago, would I have been an inn keeper that turned them away because I had no room? Have I made enough room in my heart for the King to lay His head? Or would I have been like the wise men, who had such faith that they followed a star, not knowing if it would actually take them where they dreamed it would.

I hope I would be the latter. I hope that I would have the faith to follow a star in search of a King. But I don't know that I would. Even today, knowing that He is real, knowing that He came into this world, knowing that He died to save me, I still have a hard time believing.

As Advent comes to a close, I pray that God will fill me with a greater sense of my dependence on Him, a greater awareness of His love for me, and a greater knowledge of His presence in my life. I pray the same for all of you as well.

O come, divine Messiah!
The world in silence waits the day
When hope shall sing its triumph,
And sadness flee away.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

TBT: Venice :)

Sorry I have been on a little TBT hiatus! I was at a conference and then last week was Thanksgiving, so naturally I wasn't here on my blog, but stuffing my face!

Anyways, what kind of Italian would I be if I didn't feature more of my travels in beautiful Italia?

Here are some pictures from Venice. It was just as magical and beautiful as I always thought it would be. I was definitely not disappointed :)

All I took on my trips was my trusty backpack. Here we are waiting for our train!
I believe this is Padua, where we stopped on the way over, but it is too beautiful not to share
Yes, this is real life!!
Too cool for words.
Everyone travels by boat!
So, so beautiful 
With gelato of course!

When in Europe.....
I'm embarrassed by the redness of my face haha. I was walking all day and probably just flustered ;) 

We were only in Venice for the night because we were on our way to Rome, but it was SUCH a great city, and we enjoyed some great food AND I got an awesome pair of purple boots that I'm sure will make their photo debut on here next week! Hope everyone has a wonderful Thursday!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Advent rejuvenation

Since it is the beginning of Advent, I have been reflecting on how I want to bring in this liturgical New Year. I stumbled upon this quote by Pope Francis, and it has been my springboard:
"This journey is never finished. Just as in the life of each one of us there is always a need to start again, to get back up, to rediscover the meaning of our existence, so for the great human family it is necessary always to redirect ourselves toward the common horizon that is the goal of our journey. It is the horizon of hope! This is the horizon of a good journey. The season of Advent that today we begin once again, restores the horizon of hope for us, a hope that does not disappoint because it is founded on the Word of God. It is a hope that does not disappoint simply because the Lord never disappoints! He is faithful! He does not disappoint! Let us think about and feel this beauty." -Pope Francis
I have for a while been in a time of great discernment, great purification, and unfortunately great confusion as a result of that. I realized, though that I have become so consumed with "figuring out my life" that I have lost my ability to live out my first vocation, which is to become holy. What more appropriate time to start over then now? I am looking forward to re-opening my heart and preparing it for the Lord of the Universe to lay His head. For the duration of Advent, I am going to try and not plan my future. I am going to try and not "pray about my vocation". This may seem counterproductive, but for now, I need to focus on praying just to pray, just to give God honor. I need to wait on His timing, as I am waiting for Him to be born again in our hearts.
4 Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. 5 Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act. 6 He will bring forth your vindication as the light, and your right as the noonday. 7 Be still before the LORD, and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over him who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices! 8 Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil. 9 For the wicked shall be cut off; but those who wait for the LORD shall possess the land. - Psalm 37

(Linking up over at Natalie's!)

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

NAS: Surviving parties

Linking up with the Not Alone Series again! Last one until the holidays are over!

Surviving events/parties as a singleton
The holidays are coming up! Family parties, friend gatherings... and you're single. How do you "cope"? Any tips or tricks?

Oh, this is always a fun topic. I think if you go into the events expecting the questions, it can make it a lot easier to get through. I've read articles that provide you with all sorts of witty, sarcastic comebacks for when this topic comes up, but as much as I would like to use those, I don't think they usually end well!

I find that usually just calmly answering the questions and moving along in the conversation is the best tactic. And even agreeing with them when they say things like "Well, those guys don't know what they're missing!". Instead of moping, if you answer with confidence in who you are, it becomes slightly less annoying!

There are definitely the harder questions though that eat away at your insides: There is the ever classic "Well maybe if you weren't so picky..." or, "Maybe you should smile more!" (yea, I get this one all the time). My usual response (depending on who is asking me) is to either use it as an opportunity to evangelize and explain why I am waiting and what I am looking for in a relationship, or just tell them I'm not in a place to be dating right now and that is why I am not. That is not technically lying, because if we were in a place to be dating, we would be dating because God would see that we and mystery man would each be ready for His plan to unfold.

As far as going to friend parties, I usually try to make sure I have a friend to go with just for moral support and so it is less awkward if people are in pairs.

Anyways, my advice is to just keep your chin up and don't let anyone steal your joy! You know in your heart who you are and what is going on between you and the Lord. Remain confident in His plan and say a little prayer if you're having a rough time. Maybe we can offer up these little annoyances for perseverance and patience in our future vocations.

I look forward to reading what everyone else has to say on this topic and I hope everyone has a blessed holiday season!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

TBT: Cinque Terre

This Thursday, we are taking a trip back to Cinque Terre, Italy. This was one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to. The name means "5 Lands" and is significant because it is made up of 5 separate villages. It is seated right on the coast of the Italian Riviera. There is a path along the cliffs that overlook the sea if you wish to walk through each of the villages. We walked through them all, but took a train back to where we were staying. It takes about 5 hours to walk the path. There will probably be quite a few pictures because I foresee having trouble choosing which ones I like best ;)

Classic Italy

The river sparkled in the sunlight!

A portion of the path. You can see another town in the distance.
Some of the lovely ladies I traveled with.

Never before or since have I had pizza that tasted as good as this.

real Italian wine of course! 
Seafood pasta from the Mediterranean :)
Relaxing and enjoying gelato!

And one my friend took...she had a much better camera ;)

Thursday, November 7, 2013

TBT: That one time in Gimmelwald

At the beginning of November 2009, during my study abroad program, we took a little weekend trip to Gimmelwald, Switzerland. This was probably one of my favorite trips! (Who am I kidding, I loved them all!)

We stayed at a little mountain hostel, which was adorable and seated right in the alps, and had to take a little cable car to get to the top. We spent the weekend hiking, getting to know other travelers at our hostel, drinking hot chocolate (may or may not have been spiked...) and just breathing in the fresh mountain air. There wasn't much snow where we were, but that made for perfect hiking!

My friend Caitlin and I on the train ride over
The school always gave us these sandwiches to take with us. We were so sick of them by the end of the semester!
My friend Emily and I prepared for the elements 
The view as we were going up the mountain
Our hostel!
So lovely 
On our hike

Just breathtaking.
Look what was hiding behind the fog!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

NAS: Fave single blogs

Linking up again over at Morgan's!

Share other single-person blogs or websites that you love! 
(or include posts/articles that you've enjoyed that pertain to the single life!)

One of my favorite blogs is Made in His Image. While it isn't specifically about being single, it has a lot about building up and healing women and helping us to realize our dignity! They do have posts here and there that are more about relationships, so if you have some time, I recommend looking through them. They recently started a men's portion which has been really interesting to read things from a guys point of view as well. They just posted this, which is  geared to men, but has a lot of good points about relationships: 
"From time to time, God allows us to be single. Being single isn’t being lonely or afraid, it is growing in holiness and learning to fall in love with God. "
Love that. 

I can't really think of many other posts off the top of my head. The ones I usually read are ones that I run into on Facebook that my friends have shared. Or ones that I find through all of you ladies in this series :) So thanks for spreading the love!

And for some single-ness humor, you can always count on buzzfeed.

Edit: I just found this post and thought it was great :) It is from and about when God makes you wait. We all know how that can be!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

TBT: Halloween!

This Thursday of course is Halloween, so I thought it would be appropriate to reminisce about one of my favorite Halloweens!

This one took place in the Kartause in Gaming, Austria, where we had a Halloween dance!

My friends and I decided to be the Spice Girls! We even learned the dance to one of their songs... but no one knows what happened to that video... hmm..

Anyways, below it what happens when I brush my hair. Needless to say, I don't do that often. Also, my hair was abnormally long. The other two Spice Girls are not present in this picture.
Baby, sporty, and scary spice
These 2 have become some of my best friends! I think they were Hansel and Gretel. And sorry about the bad picture...

My friend Dave and I were having a contest to see who's hair was bigger... mine for sure:)

Anyways, this was definitely a memorable night. Tons of fun, and tons of hilarious costumes! People were very creative. And everything just seems more fun when you're in Europe :)

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

NAS: Settling

No one would encourage you to "settle" in your relationships, but would you ever consider it?

Ah, the topic of settling. I am probably one of the biggest "anti-settling" advocates you will ever meet. I used to struggle with this lie that it was my fault I was single, and that maybe if I didn't have such high standards, that my life would be different. Well yea, it would be different... in a bad way.

I have been on dates with different guys over the past years that really liked me. And they were definitely ready to speed up the process and tie the knot. And they were good, Catholic men. So what was the problem? It just didn't feel right. I knew I couldn't force myself to settle just because the opportunity presented itself. There were times when I would sit there and think: I could probably marry this guy. I know he would take care of me, but would I be happy? The answer was always NO. Now, I am not throwing these guys under the bus, and I still keep in contact with them occasionally, but it just wasn't right. It wasn't in the Lord's plan for me. I felt bad that I couldn't just "like them" and move on with life, but there was just no peace. You can't force love.

I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem,
    do not stir up or awaken love
    until it is ready! - Song of Songs 8:4

This verse was always one that stuck out to me in these situations. As much as I wanted it to be, it wasn't my time. And now I am seeing more and more how fruitful those decisions were, and how much the Lord's plan has been coming to light in all of my waiting.

I truly believe that if we are following the Lord, and keeping in communication with Him, that He will lead our heart and its desires. So yes, have standards, but also listen to what your heart says. If you find yourself falling for a guy, and he is a good, moral man who will take care of you and cherish you, but maybe doesn't have all the checks on your 'list', maybe you just need to think about that list and what is really important. And look for peace. That is usually a good indication that you are on the right path.

I just stumbled across this blog post by Jackie Francois in my news feed. I think it was providential ;)

You are all worth the wait :)

Monday, October 28, 2013

"The saint that is just me"

I have a problem. And I think it is a very common problem. It is the problem of comparison. For myself, it is the problem of comparing myself to the holiness of others. I think this is extremely common in authentically Catholic circles, and I know it is something that  happens at FUS as well as within my friendships. Not only that though, but also with the saints in Heaven. 

I was just talking to a friend the other day about this, and how I find myself comparing my life and my situations with those of my friends. I have friends who are missionaries, friends who are doing awesome ministries, friends who just seem to be making such an impact on the world... and sometimes I feel inferior. It always seems to me that they would be the ones who would be picked out as "most likely to become a saint", because people know about them. They are out there doing awesome, holy things, and I am just sitting here behind a computer screen, living a subtle quiet life of 40 hr work weeks and being crazy busy. I struggle to get up for 6:30 mass every day because I am just too tired. I have the tendency to think "No one would probably ever think that I would become a saint..." 

Truth be told, it shouldn't matter what other people think. I shouldn't need other people to affirm me in my pursuit of sainthood. I know in my heart, and God knows, how much I want to become a saint and how (very badly at times) I am trying. The problem is, I want to make an impact on the world. I want to do something extravagant for Christ. Maybe this is my pride speaking, the desire to be recognized, but whatever it stems from, it causes me to compare. I look at the saints and all the things they have done in their lives and I want to be them. When my life (obviously) doesn't mirror their lives, I become discouraged. I feel as though I have fallen short. This is what the devil wants me to think, and I need to speak truth to that lie. Jesus wants all of us to become saints and to do so in our own ways. He desires to make me a saint. He desires to make YOU a saint. And He will do that if we continue following Him every day, and continually laying down our lives at His feet. 

If you have never heard Danielle Rose's song The Saint That is Just Me, you HAVE to listen to it. It helps get me through these moments of comparison. 
"You didn't die so I would try to be somebody else.You died so I could be the saint that is just me"

Thursday, October 24, 2013

TBT: Lourdes and Czech Republic

I decided to start doing my own little version of "Throwback Thursday"! Please feel free to comment/do your own if you would like. (I don't really know how to do an actual link-up, so if anyone's interested let me know and I can figure it out) ***EDIT: I was told how to make a link-up, so there is one provided at the bottom of this post!

I'm taking a little trip down memory lane to October of 2009, when I was studying abroad in Gaming, Austria. It was around this time that we were on our 10-day break, and I chose to go to the Czech Republic for the first couple days to do a retreat, and then I went on pilgrimage to Lourdes. Here are some highlights:

Love these cobblestone roads!

The trees in the Czech Republic were so beautiful since it was fall!
The Grotto at Lourdes! Not really the best picture, but I was an amateur back then ;)
The "castle".  Well, it's the church, but seriously looks like the Disney Castle, right??
Basically, this trip was amazing and life changing. We were supposed to be putting on a retreat in the Czech Republic and only one kid came to it... so that was kind of a fail... but we sill were there to minister to him and help him in his faith journey, so that was a really cool experience!

Lourdes was anything but a fail. I was able to spend time with some girls who are now two of my best friends, and I was able to actually take a bath in the Lourdes water. The line to take one took forever, but we were surrounded by little old Italian ladies praying the rosary over, and over, and over, so that was an experience it itself. I am very blessed! I'll probably be posting more of my travels in the Thursdays to come, but like I said, I would love to hear about your memories as well!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

NAS: Patience

Linking up with the Not Alone Series again!

Do you find yourself becoming really impatient, or struggling with your life to "really" begin? If so, how do you combat it? Do you do anything? How can we support one another in this area?

Patience is definitely something that I struggle with, especially when it comes to the unfolding of God's plan for my vocation! I have the tendency to think my life hasn't really begun unless I am fulfilling those desires. But this is where I am wrong, and where my trust falls short. I frequently need to check myself and make sure that I am not living too much in the future. When I do this, I become so focused on what is to come and less focused on living my life to the fullest in the present. My focus is taken off God and what He is doing in my life right here and right now. While day dreaming about our vocations is not a horrible thing in itself, it becomes toxic when we are living for the future. (My life will begin when...) 

Well, here is a newsflash for all of us: our lives have already begun! And they're awesome! 

I need to have that plastered across my mirror as much as anyone. For me, the cause of my impatience is a little different... (but still the same as we are all waiting as patiently as we can)... because I really want to be a nun. SO badly it hurts sometimes, as I'm sure it does for all of you yearning for husbands and families. But this is not in the Lord's plan for me right now. I still have loans to pay off, I have a job I am committed to, and the timing is just not right. It's hard when you see so clearly the end of the road, but are not sure how long the road is that lies between you and that destination. 

It is kind of like we are all taking a cross country road trip together, and want so badly just to speed through to our destination. But we need to savor in all the little pit stops along the way. Just think of how much we could be missing? I had an experience like this once... some friends and I were coming back to Ohio from a wedding in New York, and I just so desperately wanted to get home and get out of the car. We ended up having to get off the highway because of an accident ahead of us, and my friends saw an adorable little farmers market and insisted that we stop. I was not too please originally because I was set on just getting back, but it ended up being a ton of fun. This little experience taught me a lot though. They were simply enjoying each others company and the fun of the journey. 

I try to remember that experience in times of impatience. It is a good reminder to just sit back and enjoy the ride. That's not always easy when you've been 'driving' for years and don't even know when the road is ending, but it is always good to 'stop and smell the roses'. 

I read something once that said if you have to think about the future, think about it with Jesus in it. Imagine Him there, and it won't seem so daunting and distant. Because truly, He is with us every step of the way! 

I try to think of it too as I am learning how to be patient now so that I can grow in that virtue and have more of it to bring into my vocation. You can never have too much patience ;) 

Anyways, hope my ramblings make sense! I tend to think of more things as I write! Looking forward to reading all of your posts!