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!)