Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Divorce of the Heart

"Very seldom are we ever invited to live out of our heart. If we are wanted, we are often wanted for what we can offer functionally. If rich, we are honored for our wealth; if beautiful, for our looks, if intelligent, for our brains. So we learn to offer only those parts of us that are approved, living out a carefully crafted performance to gain acceptance from those who represent life to us. We divorce ourselves from our heart and begin to live a double life."           -The Sacred Romance: Drawing Closer to the Heart of God, Brent Curtis, John Eldredge.
I just started reading this book a week or so ago, and this quote has been haunting me since the moment I read it. There is so much packed into this statement. This phenomena can be seen pretty much everywhere, whether in the extremes of celebrities, those who invest all of their lives into their jobs, women who continually use their bodies for attention... I could go on, but I think you can think of your own examples. I think the most recent extreme example I can think of is the whole Miley Cyrus drama going on right now. She started out as an adorable young girl on Disney, and because of the attention and the fame she had begun to receive, only offered those parts of herself because that is what she was getting attention from. Since this never actually fulfills our hearts, and certainly not her own heart, she is led to offer more and more to gain that false sense of acceptance, and you see an explosion like at the VMAs.

Now I'm not here to rip on Miley. It truly breaks my heart to see anyone so divorced from their heart, where Christ desires to dwell. I know I have definitely been divorced from my heart at times as well. The fear of getting hurt again, the fear of feeling certain emotions, the fear of rejection can all lead someone to cut themselves off from their heart, keeping it boxed up so that it will never feel those things it doesn't want to feel. Even if you aren't intentionally doing this, it can happen gradually until one day, you begin doing things because you "don't care anymore", when really in the depths of your heart, you care immensely.

There is such a great danger in only affirming how people perform functionally, or in only noticing someone for one aspect of themselves. Because the truth is that human people are so much more and there is so much depth to an individual person. If a girl is repeatedly affirmed in her body and only her body, then she will soon believe that that is all she has to offer, and continually offer that to receive that acceptance, even though in her heart, she is broken and confused. If a young boy grows up being told that he is only good if he excels at a certain sport, then he will find himself playing that sport just to gain the acceptance, even if inside he would rather be doing anything but that. Then there is the young girl who grows up playing sports, wearing sweats, and then one day when she is older, decides she wants to start dressing up, letting her hair down, but is afraid of what other people say...this is who they know her to be, so she stays the same to keep the status quo, instead of doing what her heart is leading her to do.

This is the great divorce of the heart. The lives we live without really living at all. I only know because I used to be one of those girls and have since allowed the Lord to bring back together the bond that I had severed between my self and my heart to keep 'safe'. It can be a slow, scary, hard process to begin living from the heart, but there is something so freeing about living from the depths of your soul and doing the things you are truly passionate about doing. It can also be hard to figure out what the desires of your heart truly are. If you have been separate from your heart for so long, it might take some time to get to know your heart again, what makes it tick, what brings it the most joy, the most sorrow, and slowly allowing it to feel. Take some time to figure this out, and start really living. And if people reject you, then maybe it is time to find some new friends who care about your heart's desires and not just what they can get from you or what you have to offer. Because you are SO much more than that and you deserve to live out of your heart.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Five Favorites {2}

This is my second time doing this link-up, and I am still excited about it! Except I think I am confused as to what day the link-up opens, so if someone could let me know, that would be great :)

1. Chai Tea

I just bought a new box of Market District Chai yesterday because I have been craving it, and it is probably the best Chai I have had so far. I want to try making Chai Tea Lattes because they are one of my absolute all time favorite things! They say 'Fall' to me.

2. My camera lens mug

One of my best friends got me a mug that looks like a camera lens, and I always feel really legit when I use it. I love photography so it is only appropriate that I have a travel mug that expresses that!

3. Early mornings

I have learned to love the quiet of getting up early and having a relaxing morning. I of course love this more if I have nowhere to be going, but I love just sipping some coffee/tea and reading a good book before getting ready for the day.

4. Fall

All things Fall. I cannot wait for the season of Fall to being. I am bursting with anticipation thinking about hot apple cider, pumpkin spice, crisp afternoons, changing leaves, hay rides, etc. etc. etc. I could go on for days! But I have til September 22, so I will need to practice some patience! Really though, it's the best.

5. The Pittsburgh Pirates

I have a borderline obsession with the Pirates, and for the record, have been obsessed for years even when they were terrible. They still haven't completely won over my heart though because I am fearing the collapse, but hoping to be proven wrong! Here's hoping for a winning season! 

My sister and I with our favorite player, Jordy Mercer

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

NAS: Survey!

Linking up with Jen and the other ladies again this week for the Not Alone Series!

About me: 

  1. Age: 23!
  2. Area of country: Good old Pittsburgh, home of the black and gold!
  3. Are you working? If so, what do you do?: I work for the Capuchin Franciscan Friars doing development/fundraising work! And I am going to start doing photography and just started a Facebook page for them. It would be great if you would 'like' their page! They're wonderful holy men of God.
  4. Family: I am the second oldest of 7 kids! It's a crazy but always fun household :) 
    From L-R: Me, JP (7), Michael (25), Rachel (10), Joe (20), Frannie (13) and Laura (17)

    The whole clan at Easter 

    In addition to 7 kids, we have 4 cats, a psycho dog, and a fish. I have to include a picture of my favorite kitty, Bella! Isn't she adorable? 

    So needless to say, my house is pretty hectic. But I wouldn't have it any other way!
  5. How did your parents meet? My parents have actually known each other since like 1st grade. They went to the same elementary and high school, and their last names were right next to each other alphabetically, so my mom would always sit behind my dad in every class. In high school they started dating and have been now married 25 years!
    The units taking a selfie
  6. Confirmation Saint? St. Catherine of Sienna! I actually picked her because she was the only saint I really knew about in 8th grade... I apparently wasn't properly catechized... or I just didn't pay attention in class.. but either way, I'm glad I chose her because she is AWESOME.
  7. Favorite Gospel? My favorite Gospel is Matthew 14:25-31. This is the one when Jesus tells Peter to step out of the boat and walk on the water toward Him. And then Peter starts freaking out and sinking, and Jesus immediately saves him. I identify a lot with Peter in this Gospel, which is probably why it is my favorite. 
    "25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. 27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”29 “Come,” he said.Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”"

  8. # of previous 'facebook official' relationships: Well if we are going FBO, then I guess only 1. But I have had many other guy 'flings' I guess you could call them.
  9. Top 3 qualities in a husband: Strong, giving, Christ-like
  10. Online dating experience? Advice?: Yes, I am on Catholic Match and have been for some time. I don't really go on very frequently though, and when I do, it is mostly just to check out the scene. My experience has never been quality, and usually I'll talk to a guy for a little and that's that. I guess it is good experience just to talk to them, but I have found that there are not entirely very many eligible guys on that site. Maybe that just happens to be the area that I am pulling from, but I have not really been satisfied with my online dating experience. I don't think it is a bad idea though, and God can definitely work through the modern technologies that are available to us. I know many other people though who are happily married to people they found online. So if you want to, go for it! There is a taboo about it, but why not try it? It might work for you, it might not. 
  11. Advice for a single lady (in 140 characters!): Pursue Christ first and foremost and let everything else just fall into place.
  12. What is your favorite thing outside of blogging and work/school?: I like running, reading good books, doing photography/photo-editing, enjoying nice quiet mornings before the family is awake, watching baseball (Pirates!), and just spending quality time with my siblings! 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

NAS: The love of friendship

Linking up with the NAS

I have learned a lot about myself and how to love through my friendships. In college, I was privileged and blessed beyond belief to be a part of a household, which basically is Franciscan's version of sororities and fraternities with a Catholic twist. There are about 43 households, each based off a different virtue of aspect of our faith, and we sign a covenant, committing to live a faithful life and to help one another grow in holiness. My household is Regina Angelorum, or "Queen of the Angels", and my sisters and I would have weekly mass, rosary, holy hours, share groups, and other activities together.

Without a doubt, my best of friendships have come out of this group of women. Never in my life have I seen such real, authentic, raw, vulnerable human love. These friends sisters have stood by me through the thick and the thin. Through the moments where we laugh so hard our sides hurts, through praying with each other in our heartaches and tears during all hours of the night, through looking a sister in the eye and asking how she is really doing, through dragging one another to mass at 6:30 in the morning, through the moments where we are so lost in shadow and despair that nothing keeps us together except the love and prayers of our sisters. Through the excitements, the joys, the losses, the sharing of our hearts. This is the real love of friendship. And this love requires vulnerability. I would not have the beautiful relationships that I have if I had kept my heart enclosed for fear of it getting hurt again. I would not be the woman I am today without having friends who loved me enough to kick my butt and tell me when I was wrong or to encourage me when I was hesitantly walking the right path. I know that no matter what, no matter what time, no matter the distance, there are always 200+ women whom I am blessed to call sisters and who are always ready to love on each other. So to these beautiful women, wherever you are, thank you for teaching me how to love and be loved. Know that I hold you all in my heart.

Fight the good fight always

A bunch of sisters were visiting so of course we took a picture!

From retreat last spring

Thanksgiving party :)

A household sisters wedding in CT!

My two little sisters and I

And of course, our mother and her Son!

Cue the tears...

Monday, August 19, 2013

Hebrews 12:1

"12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us"

I am a runner.

I just started running ehhhh about a couple months ago. This is quite an accomplishment for me, because I used to be vehemently against running. Not that I didn't like it, but that I felt I could never be a runner. It was too hard, took too much effort, and I was lazy. But one day I snapped, and I put on my tennis shoes, ran the 1/2 mile around my block, and thought I was going to die on the side of the road. But for whatever reason I kept going. Now 25 runs and 71.4 miles later, I am a runner. I run at least 3 times a week, and average about 4-5 miles per trip. [[Who would have ever thought I would be posting about running??]]

There is something in particular though that strikes me every time I run. Without fail, the first mile or two are torturous. Absolutely brutal. My body is cramping, my lungs are struggling to keep up with how much oxygen I need, and through the music in my headphones, I hear my mind telling me to give up, stop running, this is too hard, you can't do it, it's not worth it.  And oh man, do I want to stop running. But, being the crazy Catholic that I am, I spiritualize everything. And as I am running and fighting with myself, I think about our spiritual lives. How often on our paths to purification do we want to give up because it is too hard? How often do we want to just listen to our bodies and let them dictate our actions? Allowing the Lord to heal our brokenness can be scary and painful. Being a Christian is hard sometimes. It may seem easier to just give in to temptation. The devil is constantly whispering give up, stop trying, this is too hard, you can't do it, it's not worth it. But it is so worth it. Because once you get passed the initial hurdles, it is smooth sailing. The endorphins kick in, your breathing finally regulates itself, your muscles are no longer tense, and you are flying down the pavement with the wind hitting your face, and you feel free. Once you allow the Lord to begin healing you and taking control of your life, once you give everything over to Him, only then can freedom be found.

So when it gets tough, ask Jesus to run with you. Ask Him to hold your hand and pull you through. And if you need Him to, I bet He would be even willing to carry you. (Trust me, He has had a lot of practice). Yes it may be hard, yes it may hurt, but if life is a race and Heaven is the finish line, I want to be sprinting full speed ahead, not stopping, not giving up, keeping my eyes fixed on the prize set before me, throwing aside all sin that might hinder me, and running with perseverance the race that is marked out for us.

Fight the good fight always.

Friday, August 16, 2013

7 Quick takes {2}

I haven't done Quick Takes in a while, but I am hoping to get started up again!!

First of all, this is potentially going to be very difficult to type... my keyboard is wireless and will randomly stop working. I usually just pick it up and shake it and that usually does the trick :)

Yesterday was the Assumption of Mary! And since I resisted the urge to tell everyone my usual joke for that feast day, I'm going to have to do so now. It goes a little something like this: "You know what happens when you assume.... Mary goes into heaven!!"  I know, it's lame. But gets me every time!

Along the lines of yesterday being a major feast day in the Catholic Church --> I got the day off! One of the many perks of working for the Capuchin Friars is that I get off on major feast days such as the Assumption. I decided to spend my time wisely and drive an hour to Steubenville to see some of my lovely friends from Franciscan U. I got there on Wednesday night so we went out for dinner and drinks, and Thursday was spent going to mass and having wonderful, grace-filled conversations and seeing so many beautiful faces!
Me and two household sisters :)

Our church is undergoing renovations, and it has been decided that our tabernacle will be redone. So I had to take a picture of this gem, because the 70's 'wheel of fortune' will be no more! I'm kind of sad to see it go, but it's probably about time....bittersweet....
Note the wheat coming out like rays... I'm kind of weirdly fond of it...

Back-tracking a tad. While I was in Steubenville, I helped my friend Kimmy reorganize her room and also create a "Sacred space". It was a lot of fun and I wish I had taken a picture of the final product! It was a good reminder that we should have some place set aside for prayer. And now I'm inspired to do some re-designing of my own!
For those of you who want details of how to make your own: Basically, it consists of a table of some kind in your room (like an end table) or in this case, a small bookshelf that we put on its side. Then we draped a scarf over top of it (red for mercy) and placed a picture of Jesus, a rosary, and a candle on top of it. Then since the shelf was sideways, there were little cubbies underneath that we put other pictures and books in. It was quite lovely when it was finished!

I am going to Kennywood tonight (an amusement park) to watch my sister and the high school band play in the parade there. I used to work there for 3 years and have not gone back since because I was so done with the place. But this should be interesting. I am excited though to go and take pictures of her and watch her perform! She is a senior trumpet this year, and I am very proud of her.

If you have never watched the literal Harry Potter trailer on YouTube, YOU NEED TO. I guess only if you like Harry Potter though. But it is hilarious and I am not sure why I just thought of it. I plan to go watch it shortly after I post this. I could use a good laugh! And it will probably be more amusing to me than normal because I am all hyped up on allergy medicine....

Have a blessed day! Thanks for reading!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

NAS: Envy and Singlehood

I've been taking a little hiatus from posting with the Not Alone Series because I didn't feel it was prudent for me to do so, but I have still been reading everyone's posts each week and really benefiting from the wonderful advice and insights from so many of you. So thank you! Unfortunately though, this weeks topic is something I need to write about because it is something that just popped onto my radar unexpectedly yesterday. I have been doing well lately and getting myself refocused on Christ and keeping my relationship 'status' if you will centered on Him, so this is something that I have thankfully not been struggling with too much recently. I have definitely had my moments, but the Lord has really been blessing me. I have been making a much greater effort to go to mass in the mornings at 6:30 before starting my day and WOW does that make a difference. Being filled with Him and His love is what I think keeps me together and focused.

But it's the little things that get to me sometimes. The little moments of "I don't have that..." that creep in unexpectedly, things you might not even think about. Like having someone to surprise you with coffee while you're at work. Or having someone to meet up with on your lunch break. Or having someone to go running with. I think it's these little things that I "envy" the most. They all kind of hit me yesterday because I would see other people having these moments that I wasn't having. I mean seriously, I have to walk across the street and get my own coffee! (I know, life is so hard haha).

But if I didn't have to "walk and get my own coffee" I would miss out on all the sights, sounds, and the chance to be outside for a brief 10 minutes when I'm constantly inside longing to be out in the fresh air. I would miss having the opportunity to talk to the people who work in the coffee shop and build relationships with them. If I didn't have to "run by myself" then I would miss out on having my little oasis, the freedom to just go and not having anyone holding me back or pushing me past my limits. I wouldn't have that space, that time where I feel completely and utterly free, just me and my thoughts... and for an introvert that is very important! I've come to the realization lately that I need to learn how to be me, and just me. Not me with anyone else. I don't mean this in a depressing way, but I need to stop living in waiting and stop looking at what other people have that I don't. I often find myself thinking of all the things I want to do when I have someone to do them with. Even though I am an introvert, I actually don't really like going places alone. (I'd much rather just sit at home alone where I am comfortable, but that's a different issue haha). I am learning to become me in the world and do the things I love doing. I am learning to take care of myself and make my own decisions, not in a "I don't need anyone" sort of way, but in an "I'm ok by myself" way.  And in reality, I'm not alone. I have friends, family, and above all my Jesus who continues to amaze me every day. So my first step in defeating envy, is to not be a lady in waiting. Of course I am anxiously awaiting the day my vocation will be revealed to me, but until then, I am not going to sit in a tower (like I feel I have been) and gaze longingly out the window at what everyone else has. I am going to live my life and embrace this time and become the woman I am created to be, and just roll with what life brings.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

"Then come receive Me..."

Catholic Inspired

I was in Adoration yesterday, and I was discussing  complaining to the Lord about how I haven't been feeling as passionate about my prayer and my love for Him. I know our prayer life can't be based off feelings, which is why I have been trying to push through this dry spell, but the feelings are definitely nice and helpful! Being the mental health major that I am, I was racking my brain trying to figure out the source of this, and why the passion has been sucked out of my relationship with the Lord. Not a second after I thought, Lord, I just can't figure out where this is coming from, I heard His reply in the depths of my heart:
 "Then come receive Me"  
I was floored. I couldn't believe that I hadn't realized it sooner. How can I expect there to be passion in my relationship with the Lord without the intimacy of receiving Him in the Eucharist? I went from going to daily mass at Franciscan to just going on Sundays since I have been adjusting to my full-time job for the past 3 months. It's no wonder that I have been feeling this lack. And oh, how I have been feeling it. Just as any relationship requires intimacy, our relationships with the Lord of our hearts requires the greatest intimacy. Receiving Him in the Eucharist is the most intimate encounter we can have with Him, as we receive Him into our bodies, hearts, and souls and become one with Him. Here in this place, we are vulnerable, exposed, open to having our hearts radically changed by His presence, His love, His very Being. I know everyone may be different, but I want that more than just one day a week. I want that every day of my life. I want that Love to transform me, to heal me, to live in me. Realistically there may be days where I just can't get it together, but I'm sure as heck going to get to that church as often as I can!

So without a second thought, my alarm rang at 5:40 this morning, and I pleasantly jumped out of bed, eager to attend this Heavenly banquet. Off I went at 6:20, and mass was beautiful magnificent  glorious. (As if it would be anything less!) And I even had time to go to my favorite coffee shop before hitting the road to get to work. And it's pay-day. And I'm going to the Pirate game tonight.

Thank's Lord :)