Tuesday, June 25, 2013

NAS: What I love about being single

I have to say that this topic came at perfect timing for me. I just last night had one of those dreams where you are married and have babies and then you wake up to reality... doesn't always put you in the best of moods to start your day! But I'm thankful for the ladies hosting this series because it is causing me to put those feelings aside and think about all the little things I love about my state in life. So without further ado:

What I love about being single

  1. Practically speaking, I can focus on paying off all my student loans now so that when I am ready to move on to my next stage in life, I can do so debt free! That will be a huge blessing to not have those financial burdens later on.

  2. I can hang out with these kids every free minute I can get:
    These are my 4 of my 6 siblings (I'm on the right). On Sunday we went to 7:30am mass and then spent all morning at the farm picking strawberries, and then went home and made delicious strawberry shortcake. I'm willing to bet that I probably wouldn't be able to go on all these fun outings with my family if I was off doing my own "non-single" things!

  3. I can devote any other free time I have to doing things that I love: hanging out with good friends, catching up on all the books I've been meaning to read, taking millions of pictures and spending however long I need to editing them, playing music, laying out in the sun, blogging, going for runs, and just living life. My only time commitment right now is to my job (granted that takes up most of my time), but would I really even be able to have this wonderful job if I were busy raising a family? That answer is a big, fat no because I am definitely the stay-at-home mom type. And that will come in it's own time. But right now, I do enjoy spending my time how I feel is most rejuvenating and productive for me!

  4. And most importantly, right now, it's just me and God. Not that I wouldn't love to have someone to pray with and to lead me, but I'll never get this precious time back. It is a great opportunity to work on my primary relationship with Him where all my other relationships should flow from. Having this time of healing and becoming more of myself through Him will build a solid foundation and enable me to be the best woman I can be in whatever vocation He brings me to. I won't always have the luxury of spending an hour in prayer if I need to or making the hour+ drive to Steubenville for Festivals of Praise once a month. Right now, it's about focusing my everything on Him and knowing that, in His time, His plan for me will continue to unfold. 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Five Favorites Volume 1!

Five Favorites, hosted at MoxieWife.com

Joining Hallie for this fun linkup!

{1} Priests
First of all, priests are my favorite. Since Father's Day was this past weekend, I was thinking a lot about the Spiritual fathers in my life and how wonderful they are! I also went to a diaconate ordination where all the diocesan priests were present and it was really beautiful to see all of them. I'm just so thankful for the priesthood and all that priests do for us! Here is one of my favorite Friars and I on a retreat last year:

{2} Nike+ running
I recently started using the Nike+running app on my new phone, and I love it! Up until now, I haven't been much of a runner (in fact, I hated it with a passion) but it's always been on my "list of things to start doing". I've only started a couple weeks ago but so far have been running 3 times a week and this app helps me track my mileage and increases my goals for me. It also maps out my route with a GPS so I can track where I ran as well! It somehow makes it more exciting for me. I highly suggest it if you're into running!

{3} SOUP
I had really delicious potato soup for lunch yesterday so I'm gonna have to say that it is one of my favorites. Definitely was a good pick-me-up for the middle of the work day!

{4} "Oceans" by Hillsong
This song is on repeat on my Ipod lately. I can't get enough of it! 

{5} New Twitter ministry!
Called "Chains Be Broken". Something I'm just starting and so far have 15 followers. I would love more though! Dedicated to spreading Truth throughout social media, especially using Scripture. I'm really excited about it and praying that the Lord sends me more followers if it is of His will! Check it out and spread the Word :) 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

NAS: Prayer!

I'm joining up again with the "Not Alone Series" for this weeks topic on prayer!

Since starting a new full time job, I have found it incredibly difficult to keep consistency in my prayer life. I definitely feel the lack going from having the Sacraments available to me every day at Franciscan to struggling to find Adoration in my city. Not being able to go to mass daily has been difficult for me as well. I've had to learn to adapt in whatever way I can! It takes me about an hour to get to and from work every day, so I've taken that time to be the bulk of my prayer time: saying a Rosary or Divine Mercy chaplet, or just talking to God about my day.

I've also noticed the profundity of the simple offerings that we give the Lord throughout our day. I think it is all too easy to beat myself up for not being able to squeeze mass and/or holy hours into my schedule but I need to remind myself that my whole day and life should be a prayer to Him. The simplest moments of thanks and praise for the little things in life mean the world to Jesus, and I need to not forget to include Him in my joys and struggles throughout the day!

One thing that I want to share (since this is a 'singleness' blog as well) that has been helpful to me in my spiritual journey is to have a "future husband journal". A friend suggested this to me and it has been really fun.  (Unfortunately I haven't written too much lately since I've been so busy!) I started writing things to my future spouse in a journal that I plan to give to him one day (or to give to the Lord if that is what He calls me to). But in it, I will write maybe something significant that happened in my prayer life that I would like to tell my husband, or if I am having a really rough day with the fact that he hasn't showed up yet, maybe I'll rant about that! (It's quite therapeutic...) Or I'll offer up small prayers or sacrifices during the week for our future marriage and/or children that I'll jot down in the journal as well. You can really make it whatever you would like. Just a small token that you can give to him one day that will show your journey with the Lord while waiting for him. It is really helpful because it makes the whole journey seem less ominous and more like it will actually come to a point someday. Who knows how long that will be, but it makes it seem more real. It also helps to keep me focused and a good reminder of what I am waiting and praying for!

One of my favorite prayers of all time is the poem by St. Anthony of Padua, "Be Satisfied With Me".
A lot of people just think of St. Anthony as being the one to help them find lost items, but this is probably one of the most beautiful things ever written. I'll close with this because nothing I can say afterwards can top it! Read it and weep :)

Be Satisfied with Me
by St. Anthony of Padua
Everyone longs to give themselves completely to someone,
To have a deep soul relationship with another,
To be loved thoroughly and exclusively.

But to a Christian, God says, "No, not until you are satisfied,
Fulfilled and content with being loved by Me alone,
With giving yourself totally and unreservedly to Me.
With having an intensely personal and unique relationship with Me alone.

Discovering that only in Me is your satisfaction to be found,
Will you be capable of the perfect human relationship,
That I have planned for you.
You will never be united to another
Until you are united with Me.
Exclusive of anyone or anything else.
Exclusive of any other desires or longings.
I want you to stop planning, to stop wishing, and allow Me to give you
The most thrilling plan existing . . . one you cannot imagine.
I want you to have the best. Please allow Me to bring it to you.

You just keep watching Me, expecting the greatest things.
Keep experiencing the satisfaction that I am.
Keep listening and learning the things that I tell you.
Just wait, that's all. Don't be anxious, don't worry
Don't look around at things others have gotten
Or that I have given them
Don't look around at the things you think you want,
Just keep looking off and away up to Me,
Or you'll miss what I want to show you.
And then, when you're ready, I'll surprise you with a love
Far more wonderful than you could dream of.

You see, until you are ready, and until the one I have for you is ready,
I am working even at this moment
To have both of you ready at the same time.
Until you are both satisfied exclusively with Me
And the life I prepared for you,
You won't be able to experience the love that exemplified your relationship with Me.
And this is perfect love.

And dear one, I want you to have this most wonderful love,
I want you to see in the flesh a picture of your relationship with Me.
And to enjoy materially and concretely the everlasting union of beauty, perfection and love that I offer you with Myself.
Know that I love you utterly. I AM God.
Believe it and be satisfied

Monday, June 17, 2013

What I wore Sunday {1}

What I Wore Sunday linkup

I've never done this link-up before, but my good friend Natalie does it frequently and it looks like fun! I especially wanted to do this Sunday because I was wearing one of my favorite dresses :) 

This past weekend, one of my family's good friends became a permanent Deacon and so Sunday was his first mass at my parish. It was very exciting and  beautiful mass. But here is what we are all interested in for now! The outfit!

(sorry the picture seems to be not working....)
Picture courtesy of my new Iphone :)

The dress is one of my favorites: A one shoulder with ruffles on the top and an adorable belt. Can't remember exactly where I got it, but I assume Kohl's because its basically the only place I shop!

The sweater: from the best place, my sisters closet! Free and convenient :)

Shoes: Tan wedges from Payless 

The sweater makes it more presentable for mass, and then it turns into a great party dress without the sweater! Love it :) 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

NAS: Discernment

Link up here :) 

I'm joining up with the "Not Alone Series" a week late so I'll give you all a little intro! My name is Maggie, and I graduated from Franciscan University in Steubenville in May 2012. After that was a CRAZY time of discernment which is why I wanted to join in on this weeks topic!

  A little more intro first though: I currently do development/fundraising work for Capuchin Franciscan Friars which is awesome. I love it. It keeps me busy (which is always helpful) and I'm "raking" in the dough so I can not be indebted to student loans for the rest of my life! Aaaaand I just moved back home with my family about a month ago. So clearly, I'm single. And this is my discernment story. [disclaimer: this might be a bit lengthy, so if you just want my advice without the back story, feel free to skip to the end, but that would be cheating ;) ] 

For my whole life (all 23 years of it), I was absolutely, 100% convinced that I am supposed to be married one day. It wasn't even a question for me. Besides the fact that I love babies, nuns scared the crap out of me. They were really quite terrifying (in my defense, there are some really cranky nuns out there!)

Senior year of college was coming to a close, and I was beginning to get discouraged by the fact that I wasn't dating anyone, while almost all of my closest friends had their weddings planned for that coming summer! (It's hard to go to a school like Franciscan where people regularly get married right out of college). Nevertheless, I was trying to truck through it, but still thinking about how I hadn't dated anyone in four years. I was also starting to be very unchaste in my emotions, and was having a hard time learning to just be friends with the men in my life and not look at them as potential spouses. I decided to take that summer after graduation to really work on my relationship with the Lord and learn  to be satisfied with Him alone.   

I had moved into a house in Steubenville with some of my closest friends and had a summer job at the University, so I was in a very good environment and in a prime spot for the Lord to start revealing His heart to me. I didn't want to feel that emptiness of not having someone in my life, so I pretty much told the Lord that He was going to have to pursue me like none other. And of course, He jumped at the invitation! He waits patiently to romance us... 

Slowly, I started falling in love with Him in ways I didn't know I could. One day, I even found myself thinking that in order for me to really show Jesus how much I love Him, that I should go on a vocations discernment retreat. [where the heck did that thought come from]. One of my friends happened to be going on one with the Franciscan TOR Sisters who are very involved at the University (and are a little less scary) so I decided, what the heck, I'll call the vocations director and see if there are any spots available. [At this point, still 100% sure I'm not supposed to be a nun, but thought I should just show the Lord that I was "willing" to do whatever He wanted!] So I make the phone call....Of course she asked where I was in my discernment, and I told her that I was just starting out. And then I asked her a question that changed my whole thought process: What are some usual signs or feelings that someone has who is called to religious life? And that's when I blanked out of the conversation.... Only because what she was saying spoke so perfectly to my heart. I can't even remember exactly what she said to me, but all I know is that I was left speechless. 

Needless to say, I went on the discernment retreat. 
{September 2012}

After that was a series of ups and downs. It was a roller coaster to say the least. The TOR sisters shattered every scary notion of a nun that I had in my brain. They are probably the farthest thing from scary actually. They are the most fun, real, incredible, holy group of women that I have ever met, and their charisms fit me like a glove. It would make complete sense for me to join their order. I loved everything about it. But something was still off. I wasn't fully convinced.  

I started going to spiritual direction around this time as well, and the priest I was going to told me that he wanted me to date... [Now I'm even more confused...and also, you can't just make guys date you! But that's another issue...] However, we both decided that I had no concept of what being in a holy, Catholic relationship was like, so in order to really discern religious life, I would need to fully know what I was giving up. [makes sense I suppose]. So this leaves me even more confused than before, wondering where I can possibly go from there. As the Lord would have it though, I end up going on a few 'dates' with some guy friends, and nothing really comes from any of those situations. So, thinking I gave it a fair try, I revisit the religious life issue. [If you're still reading, congrats on keeping up! We're almost done I promise!] 

After a few months of confusion, talking to different sisters, spirals, 180's, and many other events that I will keep out for the sake of time, I decided to take the next step in the discernment process and go on a come-and-see week with the TOR sisters. 

{May 2013}

This week was such a blessing to me, and exactly what I needed to do. I fell even more in love with the sisters and the Lord, and had one of the best weeks of my life. For me, I needed conviction and for the Lord to show me clearly if He wanted me to be there. Basically, I wanted Him to propose to me, like any other gentlemen would, if He wanted me to do that for Him. But the thing is, He didn't ask it of me. I struggled with this for a bit, wondering why He wouldn't "want me" or how he could possibly be calling me to marriage when religious life seems like such a higher calling. But through prayer and learning more and more about marriage, I know that to be not the case. I have so much peace knowing that I gave Him my all and showed Him that I would be willing to give everything for Him. I still don't know exactly where He wants me to go, TOR sisters or marriage, but I do know this: That no matter what, I will be happy. Only He knows which of those will make me the most happy and holy and glorify Him the most. That's ultimately the purpose of our vocations. 

So where does that leave me now? Single, loving the Lord, being satisfied with Him alone. Yes, there are good days and bad days where I just want to marry the first guy who is nice to me. But these are the times that shape us and make us better to be able to serve wherever He calls us.

My advice to anyone discerning: 
1. Ask the Lord to purse you. It will amaze you how much He loves!
2. Have a relationship with Him. Tell Him what your struggles and confusions are
3. If you can get a spiritual director, GET ONE. They are amazing.
4. Don't be afraid to try new things! The Lord won't make you do anything you don't want to do!

and most of all: 

5. Be open to whatever comes your way, and TRUST :) 

Thanks to the ladies who are hosting this series! I look forward to reading all of your articles on this as well!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Newness :)

First off, I just wanted to say that I'm not neglecting my blog.... I got a new job a few weeks ago and am adjusting to working full time and learning a new level of time management! :)

That being said, I will be getting back into the swing of things soon and can continue posting. There are a few new link-ups that I will be getting involved in so stay tuned for those!

Also, I just started a twitter 'ministry' of sorts that is just taking off. It is called "Chains be broken" and I am using it to spread the Word of Christ and teach people to use Scripture to heal from wounds and replace lies that we are being fed by our culture. I would appreciate your help and feedback as I get this going! I am a newbie at Twitter....never had one before so I hope I'm doing it right :p If you're on there, please follow me @rhema_setfree ( https://twitter.com/rhema_setfree ). Also, it is supposed to be interactive, so tweet your own Bible verses with #rhema and let's spread truth!  My dream is to have so many people doing it that if you search #rhema, a TON of powerful verses will be there. We'll see how this goes :)