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!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

2013 Pirates: My experience

Ok this might seem silly, but this whole emotional roller coaster with the Pittsburgh Pirates has given me a lot of insight into my self/ how I handle things. For those of you who don't know (and might I suggest, have been living under a rock) the Pirates made the playoffs for the first time in 21 years. 21 YEARS! Not only did they make the playoffs, they had home field advantage for the wild card game, had an outstanding game with record high attendance and people were saying it was more intense than any Pittsburgh sports game they've ever been to, then they moved on to the series against the Cardinals which seemed like we could possibly win it, but then lost after a tough battle in the 5th game of the series.

And all the time during the regular season, there were some people who thought it possible, then there were those who refused to believe. I unfortunately leaned more towards the latter. I had seen this all before and I knew how it would always end: with another losing season. They would get our hopes up and then they would be dropped in a collapse. I have however stood faithfully by the Pirates each year because of my love for baseball, but I never allowed myself to get attached or hopeful for fear that it would end badly again.

This year was different.

As it got closer and closer to the end of the season, and I noticed that they kept winning and winning, something changed. I started becoming more emotionally invested. I would try to bring myself back down to earth with thoughts of "Oh, they'll probably lose this game." or "I wouldn't be surprised if they lost" or "Just brace yourself for the collapse". As soon as they would break a winning streak and lose one game, I would immediately put my guard back up. Then they would win a few more and I would slowly be put at ease, but one loss and the walls would go back up. It's like I was afraid to allow myself to enjoy it because I didn't want to feel "hurt" or "let down". Always dwelling on the negative.

Even when they did make the playoffs and have the incredible games that they played, I still found myself bracing for a loss. When people would talk on the radio about them going all the way, I would scoff to myself. Just you wait. But at the same time, wanting so badly to believe it possible myself. And now I find myself in the position where they did lose. October has ended for Bucco nation. Do I feel any better because I was "prepared" for this? Heck no. Now instead of focusing on the positive, the fact that they made the playoffs in the first place, all I can think of is "well, they didn't take us all the way". I wish I didn't automatically think like that. It really brought awareness of how much I live in fear of 'getting hurt', or fear of failure, or how much I focus too much on the negative. Maybe I am too cynical. But for whatever reason, if you are out there feeling the same as me, maybe we need to work on looking more at the good then the bad. Maybe we need to not be afraid. I don't want to always live my life like that. I don't want to continually bring myself down because of fear that "something bad will happen". I don't want to live with my heart in a box.

It was an INCREDIBLE season, full of ups and downs, excitement, drama, success, wins and loses, but ultimately it was a season that brought hope back to Pittsburgh baseball. I wouldn't have wanted to miss it for anything.

Here's to the 2013 Pittsburgh Pirates. Here's to an excellent season and the prospect of only going up.

Let's raise that jolly roger with pride.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

NAS: Fav recipes!

So I don't really ever have to cook for just myself, because I have moved back home and my mom cooks (even better), but when I do, here is my go-to:

I have been running a lot and trying to eat extra protein, so my favorite things is a bagel sandwich.
Toast the bagel, fry the egg, then melt Swiss cheese on the top, add some veggies (peppers, tomato, lettuce), and sometimes bacon. I also put a little cream cheese on the bagel as well before adding everything to it. I don't know why, but I just love these!

When I did live on my own though, I was a big fan of buying frozen chicken in bulk and then just taking out a piece or two and experimenting with different side dishes. Anything with black beans was always a winner :)

Anyways, that is all I've got for now. Looking forward to reading other recipes!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Busy-ness and ranting

So I know I have not written anything in about a month or so, but I have just been swamped with so many things. I am feeling kind of like not enough butter spread across too much toast. There are so many things I need to get done, and by the time I get home from work, I am just exhausted. I've had to not go to mass some mornings because I just couldn't get myself out of bed in time. Getting up at 5:30 and going full speed all day til like 10:30 is apparently not working for me (especially also for someone who needs to recharge by having down time). I'm kind of at a loss though as to what I should do. I don't really feel like I can cut anything out of my schedule, but maybe I have to find something. Or maybe I need to do some more time management and figure out where my free time is (if any...). All I know is, I am feeling SO drained and tired, and it is shaking my emotions and my relationship with God. I've been very irritated lately, and I have no reason to be. My trust is definitely being tested in all of this. I doubt His goodness and His providence. Maybe I need to go through this to trust Him better, but if so, I need to find a better way of learning this lesson so that I am not sacrificing my health/spiritual life in the process! Anyways, rant over. I just need to de-stress a little and keep fighting the good fight.