Friday, August 29, 2014

Friday quick takes!

It is Friday! I am taking a half day today to go meet one of my favorite Pittsburgh Pirates (for the second time) and get his autograph. Yay :) I'm super excited! Here is a picture of when I met him last year, on my birthday:
Jordy Mercer
I'm still trying to figure out if I want to get that picture signed, or if I want to get this baseball that I caught at one of the games signed. Decisions. It would be awesome if I could accumulate signatures on the baseball though... or maybe I'll see if he will sign both :) If you haven't checked out the Imagine Sisters movement, DO IT. Now! They are awesome. There is not very much within the Church currently to promote religious life for women, and this non profit took it upon themselves to change that. Even if you are married, single but no discerning, please help support them and support a positive culture of discernment for young women! If everyone even just gave a dollar, it would be a huge help to them. :) (and no, I'm not getting paid to say this... they are just seriously that awesome) 
Some cute, happy nuns! 
Hellooo labor day weekend! So thankful for having a day off next week. Savoring the last bits of summer, but so excited for my favorite season to be upon us! I've recently been diving into Twitter more often. If you want to give me a follow, I'm @maggiemercy3. I'm also finding so many hilarious Twitter accounts to feed my inner, pun-loving nerd. If you have any favorites, let me know! Does anyone else think it is a little crazy that the Pumpkin Spice latte is already out at Starbucks? It just seems like everything gets earlier each year. I'm afraid that someday, we will have one big season and holidays will go all year around and nothing will be fun and exciting anymore! Agh, life. This is the first post I have written in quite some time! I've been having major writers block. Hoping to get back into more. I've been taking a break from Facebook because I was convinced it was sucking away my creativity. I think I feel it coming back to me ;) Have a good weekend all!
For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Don't settle in your friendships

Recently, I was talking to someone about alcohol consumption. Let's call this person Fred. After hearing many of Fred's "drunken stories", he asked if I had any funny stories. Clearly Fred and I do not really know each other, or he wouldn't be asking this, because I simply responded that I do not like getting drunk. He pressed further, and so I told him, my moral reasoning aside, that I don't like feeling out of control, acting like a fool, and probably feeling sick from it later. It just isn't fun to me, and I am perfectly capable of having a good time without it. Don't get me wrong, I am not against alcohol, but just in moderation.

Fred then responded that he either won't drink or he will get drunk. He never does the in-between. This made no sense to me. I asked him if he even liked getting drunk, to which he responded, surprisingly, that he does not. So why do you do it then? "Just because my friends are and I don't want them to feel bad if I am not." 

I have been thinking about that conversation since then and for some reason have been pondering his response. It just seems so relativistic. How often do we just go along with things because we don't want people to "feel bad", even if doing it goes against what we like or even what we believe? Why do we do this? If one of your answers is that you are afraid of losing your friends, well honey, I think it is time to find some real friends who will unconditionally love and accept you.

It is sad to me that we as people are so desperate for love and acceptance, that we will do anything just to remain part of something, to have a sense of 'belonging'. Unfortunately, our world is broken and there will be times where we experience rejection and heartache. But don't sell yourself short, don't change who you are just to have a temporary relief from your loneliness or your boredom. And I need to remind myself of this as much as anyone else. Don't settle for mediocre friendships that don't cause you to grow and flourish. Maybe you don't know where to start though, or where you could possibly find such community. Start with looking inside yourself, discovering your likes and dislikes, what are you passionate about, what are your goals, and then finding people with similar interests. Maybe even be so bold as to invite God to show you who you are, to lead you to deeper friendships, to help you find what you are looking for.

I know I could be reading too much into a simple conversation, but hey, that is what a psychology major tends to do. Just don't give up. Trust me, it is not worth it.

"What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?" - Matthew 16:26

Friday, May 23, 2014

Quick takes!

Wow, it has been FOREVER since I have posted something on here! I have been keeping up with the blogs I follow, but just haven't had the time, nor maybe the motivation to post. Things have been extra crazy of late!

For starters, I just moved into an apartment! Well technically it is the top floor of a house, but it's so great. It is in Pittsburgh's "little Italy", which is perfect for me since I love all things Italian. I'm still in the process of moving everything in though which is taking forever since I am working full time, and weekends have been swamped. However, I am 5 minutes from work which has been absolutely glorious.

 My 3 friends from high school and I took a trip to Nashville a couple weeks ago for a long weekend away. I am now a country convert ;)
The girl in the cowboy hat is getting married! 

My parish carnival has been all this week! Bring on the donuts, carnival rides, and good times! I have been spending my evenings volunteering in the french fry/lemonade booth, the fish bowl game, and icing donuts. It is always crazy, but I wouldn't miss it for the world!
calm before the chaos 

I just signed on as an independent consultant for Arbonne International! If you don't know, Arbonne is an awesome health and wellness company, with products made from all natural, organic, vegan ingredients. Products ranging from cosmetics to hair care to nutritional and diet supplements. It is seriously good stuff and I am so excited to be on the team and share this greatness with others! And I get to be spoiled by a lot of their products as well ;) Just tried one of their shampoos last night and it is magical, seriously.

Well it is memorial day weekend! Just wanted to give a shout-out of gratitude to all those who have served/are serving our country. You are all amazing! And thank you as well to any families who have loved ones overseas. Your sacrifice is just as great. God bless you all!

The weather has been SO GOOD lately. Can't wait to have a nice long weekend and enjoy some sunshine! Happy Friday everyone! And happy 14th birthday tomorrow to my sister, Frannie!

There she is in the middle to the right of my head haha. Making lemonade at the carnival! 

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

NAS: Deal Breakers

We have all thought about our list of qualities for our future spouse (and maybe even religious community), but sometimes those can be pretty limiting on who God has planned for you. Instead, maybe think about the few things that are so important to you, that if a guy you were considering dating (or community you were entering) didn't have those things, you would have to move on. Why are those things important to you? 

I don't know that I have specific things that are deal breakers. I used to have this list of qualities that I would want in a relationship, but I have since done away with that. Not because I am going to settle, but because I decided not to have restrictions on God's providence. I know that I would not be as Catholic as I am now if I hadn't gone to school at Franciscan University, and I recognize that not everyone has been blessed with that same opportunity. I've also come to realize more and more that they are good men out there, that maybe are only Catholic in name or are some other Christian denomination. And that is ok! I am open to being used by God to bring someone closer to His Church, even if that means dating someone who is not Catholic. I would probably draw the line at being an Atheist, but hey, if he is a good, loving person and open to learning about my faith and letting me be who I am, then I would be probably alright with that. Would I be on my knees every day praying for his conversion? Of course. But if God calls me to that kind of relationship, I am up for the challenge. I don't really think He is calling me to that, but I am ready and willing if He is. It is important though to always check myself and find the balance between settling and being too picky. And of course discern each situation as it comes. I am confident that I am strong enough in my love for the Lord and in my faith that He wouldn't lead me to a bad relationship that I get sucked down by. And even when I may feel weak or tempted to be led astray, He is strong and so merciful.

By what I said above, it may surprise you to know that I am actually very picky when it comes to men. But I am picky in a very petty, surface level way that I am trying to work on. There is nothing specific, but usually I can tell right away if I will be able to like someone or not. I always seem to find a list of things that annoy me, but maybe that is just my way of weeding out the people that aren't right for my personality. I guess I'll know I found the one when I don't start making those lists in my head! Or at least the pros will outweigh the cons ;)

Hope everyone has a great week! Can't wait to read what the rest of you have to say over at Jen's!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Real women are strong women

I saw something once that really frustrated me (for more reason than one). It said something to the effect of "Girls who are naturally skinny are lucky. Girls who have to fight to be skinny are strong"

First of all, I hate that women feel like the have to be a certain way. That in itself is complete crap. But on top of that, this statement frustrated me because I am probably one of those girls that, looking at me, you would think I am a lucky one. I have always been on the thinner side, even in those times I thought I was as big as a house. But in reality, I don't feel "lucky".

Sure, it is nice to have people complement your figure, tell you how beautiful you are, but after a while, you feel like that is all you have become. A body.  A pretty face.

I don't feel lucky to be constantly so concerned with my body and what size my clothes are. I don't feel lucky to have once struggled so much with eating that I tried losing more weight than I could afford. And now, because of that, this is just the state of my body. I will always be small. Does this mean I am not a strong person because I am "lucky" to be thin? The grass is not always greener.

And then there is the argument about "real women". We need real women models, not these skinny models that do not portray reality. No one is that size. While I understand the sentiment in statements such as this, and it is important to display women of more shapes and sizes than just thin, what does that say to those models? To women that maybe are that size? Are they less of a woman because they have bought into the lies of the culture, because they believed too much that they needed to be thin to be beautiful? Are they not real, too?

If you are a woman who is confident in your body, confident with your size, then truly, I applaud you. It does indeed take great strength to rise above the lies that society tells us as women, and to embrace the body that you are blessed with. And sure, we all have good days and bad days, but you are defeating the body image battle, and it is a beautiful thing. Activists who are out there promoting awareness on this fault of our culture constantly praise celebrities who speak out about loving their "fuller figures", calling them real women, strong women, beautiful women.

And where does that leave those of us who maybe don't love our bodies as much, who maybe relate more to those celebrities who are "too thin"? Feeling weak, 'unreal', and defeated by the body image battle.

Praise God that He has brought me through so much healing that I no longer struggle as much. But let's not forget our sisters (and brothers) who do struggle, who have a hard time seeing that their beauty and worth lies so much beyond a number on a scale. Yes, there is strength in confidence, but there is also strength in the struggle. Strength in the pain, the sorrow, the disgust. Maybe looking at someone and thinking they have it easy because they are thin is not actually true. We are fighting too.

In truth, at the end of the day, we are all fighting. No matter our size, no matter our shape, we are all trying to be beautiful in our own way and learning to love our selves. Some of us are better at it than others, and that is ok. I know people mean well, but maybe instead of just calling some women beautiful and strong and real, remind every person that they are indeed those things and so much more. Even if you may think they simply have more luck.

**Edit: I am aware that many women have been "Photoshopped" in photographs, so that is where the concept of 'real women' may come from, however I think the above is still something that needs to be discussed. Just adding a different perspective to the discussion :) 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

NAS: Bucket list

What are those things that you want to do before you get married (or enter the religious life)? Is there anything that you're excited to do, accomplish, etc. before engagement, marriage, and babies come along? Even if you feel that you've done everything you wanted to do pre-marriage, dig deeper and see if there isn't anything else you'd like to do!

I wouldn't say that I have a "singe life" bucket list... most of the things I want to do in my life are things I could do at any point. I guess there are a few things though that might be more difficult once children would come along. So here is my "single or married but before children" bucket list ;) 

1) Finish writing a book
2) Ride in a hot air balloon
3) Do more mission work! This is a big one. Whether it be short or long term, and I am totally open to doing mission work with a family. Whatever the Lord calls me to! This has been on my heart a lot lately.
4) Run a half marathon (Pittsburgh 2015!)
5) Travel, travel, travel. There is so much of the world that I want to see! I have friends in almost any state, so why not pay some visits? 

Anyways, that is about all I've got. I'm not much of a list maker. My philosophy on life is that I go wherever the wind (or Spirit) leads! Embracing my inner hipper ;)

Looking forward to reading what everyone else has to say and maybe gaining some inspiration!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

TBT: Habemus Papem and Steubenville mission!

Since today marks the one year anniversary of having Pope Francis as our spiritual leader, I decided to do a throwback to what I was doing during the conclave!

I'm sure many of us remember exactly what we were doing when the white smoke appeared. I happened to be spring break and serving the people of Steubenville on a mission trip with many other students from Franciscan. We spent the week divided into groups and tackling whatever needed to be done in the city. This ranged from volunteering at soup kitchens, doing home renovation projects, working at the Samaritan House (a discount thrift store/food pantry run by the TOR Sisters), and even doing some street evangelizing/ prayer ministry. Some of us also attended an ecumenical prayer meeting with different denominations from around the city and simply prayed for one another and for all the poverty and darkness that is present in our beloved Steubenville. It really was a beautiful thing.

Habemus Papem! What was I doing exactly when we heard these words? I was at the Samaritan House doing some office work and helping to clean and reorganize the shelves. We all huddled around the Sisters' computer and watched the live stream. Of course it froze just as Pope Francis was walking out onto the balcony, but it thankfully wasn't stuck for long. It was really awesome to be with Franciscan students and the Sisters when we learned that he chose the name Francis. We all were very excited :)

Here are some photos from that week!

At LAMP, a Catechetical soup kitchen run by the Sisters
We did a scavenger hunt for some team bonding!
We got up really early one morning and prayed over the city. Awesome.
At a home renovation site 
The whole motley crew! Loved my team 
Hanging out with kids from Tower of Power church. So fun!
I have so many more pictures on the FB, but these are just a few. It was truly an amazing week. Not only did I fall in love with Steubenville, but my team members continually inspired and taught me so much. We had such a great group of guys on our team who got up early one morning and woke us women up by playing guitar and made and served us breakfast!

If you want to learn more about the city and the amazing work still going on, check out the Harmonium Project. They are awesome. 

Happy Thursday :)

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Child-like faith

Time for some really adorable sibling stories!

My little brother JP is probably the most adorable little guy ever. I know, I am biased. But I've been told this on a regular basis by everyone else, so it's probably true ;)

However, more than just being cute, he unknowingly calls me on in my faith on a regular basis. Jesus really knew what He was talking about when He said that we need to have the faith of a child. Here is one example:
The other day, JP had a huge splinter in his hand and was freaking out as I was about to start removing it. Through his tears he said "Hold on, just give me a minute to pray to God first." He ran to the couch and prayed and came back and said "ok, now I'm ready."
Talk about a great reminder to pray in the midst of trials, and we will be given strength!

Another great example:
I got home from work the other day, and JP ran over to me saying "Maggie! I just want to hug you! I love you, I love you! But I don't love you the most, because I love God the most".
And then proceeded to yell "I love you" to the sky because he was telling God he loves him. Heart puddle. 
If only we all had such unreserved expression of love for our Creator....

Little man also had his first Confession last night, so he is a holy roller ;)

And example number 3:
My 12 year old sister, Rachel, asked me a couple days ago if I was planning on going to 6:30 mass this morning (Wednesday). In my head I'm going Um...wasn't planning on it... but I should probably go.... snap....  So I told her "maybe". Why did she want to know? Because she wanted me to take her to mass. At 6:30. Before school. How can I say no to that? 
Needless to say, that was plenty of motivation to get my butt out to the car and to church this morning before the sun even came up. (Thank you, daylight savings).

I hope that these little examples of child-like faith inspire you as much as they do me! There is always something to be learned from His little ones. We only need to take the time and the humility to allow them to teach us.

Maybe lent is a good time for us to take a step back and re-evaluate our relationship with God, and learn how we can better love and serve Him and His people.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Quick takes! Lent and life

Happy Lent everyone!! (Can I say that?) Honestly, I love this liturgical season because of how much of a challenge it can be. I love that it forces me to deepen my relationship with Christ, something that I should be doing every single day, but unfortunately something that can get lost in the shuffle of life. This year, I decided to give up my snooze button. This allows me to get up earlier, and have some time for morning prayer. I and doing a 40 day Scripture challenge, finding a verse each day to live by. You can search #40dayrhemachallenge on Twitter or Instagram to follow along, or post and tag your own verses! I would love the company!

Another favorite part about lent? Two words: Fish Fry. I always feel bad because I love fried fish so much that I feel like it is not penitential enough for lent. But as a wise nun always explained to me, fasting doesn't have to be miserable! It just means that you are giving up something as an offering. So I guess I will enjoy my fish in peace ;)

On Ash Wednesday, all the employees got a little gift from Fr. David with a can of tuna and a Lenten prayer book. I love working for the Catholic church!

Photo: A little #ashwednesday gift. I really work for the best people! #capuchin #friars #lent #ashtag

I decided (well the Holy Spirit decided for me) that the "theme" of my Lent is Ezekiel 11:19-20. This is what Lent should be about: molding our hearts to be more like Christ's and learning to die to our selves. I thought this quote illustrated how I felt perfectly! I pray that the Lord breaks our hardness of hearts and gives us beating, thriving, alive hearts, burning with love for Him and for the whole world!

I decided that since I am really over the cold weather, the best way to combat that is to buy a new sweater! (See my logic here?) I got this at Kohl's on clearance. It is probably the softest sweater I have ever had the privilege of wearing. AND it has a huge pocket on the side. How fun is that? I also got two other tops, dress pants, and running shoes... but we will save those pictures for another day.

Sorry for the awkward selfie

I was looking through coupons the other day (yes, I am a coupon clipper) and saw one for the new Special K hot cereal bowls. I have actually been thinking about trying these, so I took that as a sign that I should go for it! For those of you who never heard of these, here is a description from the website:  "The unique multi-grain blend boasts quinoa, oats, wheat and barley — plus real fruit and crunchy nuts — for less than 200 calories"
Well that about does it for me this week! I'll just leave you with this, because it is awesome and so fun. Happy weekend!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

NAS: Masculinity

Who is a great example of masculinity in your life (father, brother, uncle, priest, etc)? 
What is it about them that you love?

Linking up with the NAS again!

Basically, I'm gonna let the men speak for themselves on this one. I had been talking to a guy off and on last year (hate using the phrase 'talking', but that applies here haha), and long story short, he started dating someone around the holidays. I really wasn't invested in this friendship at all because of how sporadic our conversations were, but nevertheless, it was still very kind of him to let me know he was dating someone and that was why he had stopped contacting me. To me, true masculinity encompasses  being honest and speaking truth to our worth and dignity as women. Someone who is able to protect our femininity.

I'll just leave you with part of what he sent to me. For privacy, I am not including his name or how I know him, but I hope that all women reading this will take his words to heart and know they are true for each of us.  

"You seem like a really great girl and I know you will find someone great if you just keep centered on your faith and pray about it, God will help you meet someone great! Don't ever doubt that either! You are awesome and a guy would be lucky to have you, so don't settle for less than someone who is a good Christian man who respects you and treats you right! And remember, the right guy will like you just how you are, and love that you're faith is so important to you because it will be important to him too. I wish you the best of luck though! Keep praying and God will help you meet someone :) " (emphasis added)

I honestly was floored by this. This man owed nothing to me, he could have just stopped talking to me and let me wonder what happened, like so many have done before. Instead though, he manned up and decided to be honest with me about the situation that had unfolded, and at the same time, encouraged me to keep strong in my faith and not to settle. I don't think he realized just how important these words were to me. I hope you are comforted and encouraged by them as well. Happy Tuesday!

Monday, February 24, 2014

NED Awareness Week

This week is National Eating Disorder Awareness week. Having been on all different sides of this illness (the one struggling, the one helping a friend, the one sitting in Counseling classes), I know just how dangerous this disorder can be. It also seems to be one of the most misunderstood disorders, and also the most hidden. In fact, it is the most lethal of all mental health diagnoses.

Here are some facts, resources, and also some of my favorite organizations if you or someone you know is struggling.

• "Up to 24 million people of all ages and genders suffer from an eating disorder (anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder) in the U.S."
• "Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness"
• "25% of college-aged women engage in bingeing and purging as a weight-management technique"
• "Anorexia is the third most common chronic illness among adolescents"
Sources and more stats here

As you can see, this is a huge problem. 

Click on the picture to enlarge. There are more infographics here. 

Of course, there is Eating Disorders Anonymous which has TONS of resources on their site, as well as packets to start your own support group.

My all time favorite though would have to be Made in His Image. They have since branched out from speaking on strictly eating disorders, but they provide frequent blog posts on femininity, being your authentic self, healing, and recently added a section geared toward men. There is so much more than just these topics though, all from a perspective of finding your worth in Christ. It really is such a beautiful ministry. I highly recommend checking it out, even if you aren't struggling! Anyone could use the truths that they convey.


My hope in providing awareness about this illness is that those who are suffering will know that they are not alone, and that there is hope and healing to be found! Also so that people can recognize symptoms in those around them and have the courage to speak up. Together, we can defeat the ramifications of our culture and help one another to realize our worth and beauty.

Note: I am happy to answer any questions or provide more resources if anyone is interested. 

Friday, February 21, 2014

7 Quick Takes {5}

Ok seriously, where did the month of February go? I can't believe that there is only a week left. This year is already flying by!

I'm SO excited that I can finally see grass today! The rain and warmer temps have been getting rid of the snow. I almost forgot how green and beautiful it is underneath all of that. Needless to say, I am enjoying this warm spell. The 40s and 50s never felt so good :)

I did manage to get out and take some pictures of the winter wonderland outside before it totally melted away! I'll be hopefully be posting them on my website soon. For now though, feel free to check out some of my other work here, and check back for more photos! I wish I had a sample to show you, but alas, they are currently on my other computer.

I've been experimenting with some online photo editing software lately. I always have fun adding filters and adjusting levels... all that good stuff. I find it to be incredibly therapeutic. I was in a pinch though, and looking for some pictures to edit, so found a cool mirror and tried doing some artsy shots with my Iphone. One of these days you think I would learn to carry my camera with me... Anyways, here are some shots I was fooling around with. Kind of takes me back to middle school... but oh well. It is a good stress reliever!

I know, shameless mirror pictures.  It was all I had to work with ;) 

I've been staying up wayyy too late all this week watching the Olympics. I LOVE love love watching the figure skating and that is always at the end. I think they do that on purpose.... Anyways, I decided I also really enjoy the biathlon: A mixture of cross country skiing and shooting. It looks like so much fun! All of the games so far though have been very captivating, and the stories behind some of the athletes and games have just been incredible and so full of depth. I love it. However, my body is taking the heat for all those late nights as I struggle to roll out of bed in the mornings.

My little 7 year old brother was shouting this morning about how he hates Fridays. How can anyone hate Friday? It is the day before the weekend! Maybe if you have to work on Saturdays, I could see how Friday would be pretty pointless to you. His reasoning for hating it was simply because he has to wear a tie on Fridays to school. Oh, the little annoyances in life.

I'm trying to figure out when the best time would be to have my first shamrock shake of the season! Yes, I am one of those weird people who have strange traditions. It has to be the perfect level of warmth outside, preferably not raining, and I need to already be relaxed. You can't chug down a shamrock shake as a stress reliever. If your environmental influences are already such that you are loving life, than your experience of the first shamrock shake of the season will be 10x more enjoyable. Trust me on this. Hoping my moment comes soon because I am getting pretty antsy ;)

Have a good weekend everyone!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

NAS: Valentines Day

What are your thoughts about Valentine's Day? Do you enjoy it? Loathe it? Not even realize it's a special day? Do you celebrate it in any way? 

Linking up with the Not Alone Series again!

Honestly, I am not the biggest fan of Valentine's day. I think because I have always associated it with being a purely romantic holiday. However, I have, in the past couple years, also been learning to celebrate all the loved ones in my life! This Valentine's day I think was particularly difficult because of a few outside factors. The main one is that I have moved away from most of my friends, so I really did not even have them to celebrate with. I would have normally hung out with my best girl friends, greatly enjoying their company, but this year I spent the day working (particularly longgg day at work!) and then going home to my little sister's sleepover party haha. I must say though, that I do enjoy the excuses to eat chocolate and wear pink heart earrings. And my little brother and I watched Star Wars. So that was fun :) 

My biggest problem with Valentine's day this year though was social media. It was just wayy over the top, in my opinion. Between the Instagrams of flowers and couples, to the cheesy in-depth Facebook statuses about how wonderful my "girlfriend/boyfriend" is, I found myself getting very annoyed and vowed to myself that I will (try my hardest) to never be that person! Let's see how well that pans out in the future... feel free to hold me accountable ;) It really kind of made me take a step back from Social Media and, while I am a HUGE supporter of it, made me rethink about how much I want to reveal on the social media sphere, and what may or may not be appropriate to flaunt for all to see. And what are people's motives for posting these things? But these are thoughts for another day perhaps....

Looking forward to reading what other's have to say on this topic! 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

TBT: Medugorje

I know that the Church hasn't declared Medj to be a legit apparition site, and I know that many faithful Catholics have differing opinions on the subject, but I for one am a believer. Unless proven otherwise. I had a beautiful experience visiting the apparition sites and meeting one of the visionaries, and I truly felt Our Lady's presence among those mountains. But I'm not here to write a dissertation on whether its legitimate. I'm here for a photo/memory dump! So without further ado, here is:

We stayed at a pilgrimage site called the castle, which is run by a beautiful couple, Nancy and Patrick, who sold all that they had and moved to Medj in order to create a place for pilgrims to stay, and to spread the messages that Our Lady gives here. Nancy reminded me SO much of my late grandmother, so I was very comforted by her presence and often would help her in the kitchen preparing our meals.
It really did look like a castle :) 
My friend Caitlin and I with the castle in the bg.

Ivanka, one of the visionaries, in the green shirt!!
At the top of apparition hill! Where Mary appeared
Top of cross mountain 
The amazing view! 
Just being artsy :)
Me... obviously... great view in the background!
Statue of the Resurrected Christ that leaks human tears from the right knee. They actually tested the properties of the liquid and found it to be same make-up as is found in tears! So cool!
We stopped in Split (Croatia?) on the way back. Beautiful little place.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

A depiction of my day...

Today is my little sisters birthday. Rachel turns 12 today! This morning, I was meandering around the kitchen making coffee at around 6:15 when my dad stumbles downstairs. He starting preheating the oven and told me that mom wanted him to make Cinnamon Rolls for Rachel's birthday.

A few minutes later, he started waking the kids up for school saying, "Happy Bunch's birthday!" (We call Rachel "Bunch"... there is a long story there somewhere...). As soon as he says this he quickly looks over at me and says,
"Wait, it is Bunch's birthday, right?" 
"Yes dad, that is why you made the Cinnamon Rolls"  
"Oh....right.... coffee..."
Needless to say, this made my morning. But I am also greatly relating to this early morning sentiment as I am enduring the crash hours of the day.

I've already had two cups of coffee. Now currently consuming a bottle of Coke.

A fun little bakery opened up down the street and today was free doughnut day! You were allowed to take two! (They were minis, in case anyone was wondering, I did not eat two giant doughnuts!) This one was absolutely adorable though. It was an Oreo doughnut with EDIBLE GLITTER on top! I didn't know that was a thing until I went in this store and they had bon-bons completely covered in glitter. Anyways, I thought it was cool.

Tired eyes.
Anyways, I know you all wanted my stream of conscious thoughts. I decided though that my family should be on a reality show, so you might be reading some more hilarious/embarrassing/real-life-crazy stories from my abode.

Hope everyone is having a wonderful Tuesday :) 


Friday, February 7, 2014

Quick Takes {4}

On Sunday night, my parents came back from a 5 day trip to California. I had to be in charge of my siblings while they were gone, and I was quite relieved when they got home! Being a "single mother" to my 6 siblings was no easy task, especially since I'm not actually their mom haha. Between taking the kids to their practices, watching their games, helping with homework, and getting them on the bus in the morning, I was sooo happy when Mom and Dad got home. It was definitely good practice for motherhood one day, but the difference (hopefully) is that I will have a husband to help me!

Tuesday night, I saw Wicked with my mom and my sisters! It was so amazing! I was a little nervous that I was going to be disappointing because I am such a fan of the original Broadway cast, but the Pittsburgh crew most definitely exceeded my expectations. SO much that I was moved to tears at more than one point. I hope to see it again and again! 
My sister and I acting out the picture...except I forgot I was supposed to be smirking.. ;)

I recently bought Thin Mint coffee creamer, and my mornings just became a little more exciting. Now if only I could relax and enjoy the coffee instead of chugging it down while getting ready for work...

I don't really know what this is, but it looked fun. I think it is saying that it is delicious. 

While we are on the topic of Girl Scouts, I know a lot of people are boycotting them because of all their work with planned parenthood and how the organization is teaching girls things that are questionable by Christian standards. I have been conflicted about this I have been in Girl Scouts all my life and my sisters are as well. Just because the organization is going down the tubes doesn't necessarily mean that each troop is following suit. My mom is a Girl Scout leader at my sisters' Catholic elementary school, and when talking to her about this, she said that "Isn't it better to stay in the organization and try to teach your girls morals and values then boycott it completely and let someone else guide them who may not have those same values?"

Well played mom, well played.

As annoyed as I am getting with the snow and the cold, I am hoping to get out and shoot some winter landscapes this weekend, so that is one positive thing that this weather has going for it. It makes for a some beautiful photos! I have a new lens and some filters that I want to experiment with, so I am looking forward to getting out there and creating.

I don't know why, but I decided a few days ago that I really want to ride a Hot Air Balloon. I'm not really sure what prompted this feeling, but it is now one of my goals in life. Maybe I got the idea from an article about 10 romantic date ideas... but either way, now I really want to do it. This is a little abnormal for me because I am not the most adventurous person you'll ever meet, but there is just something about floating in the air in a basket tied to a balloon that sounds incredibly intriguing...

I found some healthy, energizing snacks that I really want to try making. They look so delicious! Definitely check out this link if you need some great ideas. I'll be sure to put something on the blog if I make any of them!

Happy weekend!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Friday, January 31, 2014

Quick Takes! {3}

I am so glad that it is Friday! This is my first full week back at work since I was out with the flu, and I forgot how exhausting it can be! I seriously don't know how some moms work full time. I can't imagine having to take care of a family on top of working 8 hours a day! If you are somehow able to do that, you must be super woman! I'm so whipped out in the evenings, and there is just me to take care of! I guess you get special mom grace or something :)

I have been thinking a lot about healthy eating and fitness lately. I really want to do the Pittsburgh half-marathon in May, but I am a little intimidated by how long of a run that is. I just started running over the summer, so it is still kind of a new thing for me. I also seem to not be able to get myself to run when it is cold outside, so I have been using the elliptical. I'm not sure that would be adequate training, but I don't anticipate it getting warmer any time soon! Maybe I just need to suck it up and wear layers and get out there! Anyone else having problems getting motivated to run in the cold?

Speaking of fitness and health, a friend recommended putting spinach in a smoothie for some extra nutrients, so I decided to try it. I made a strawberry banana smoothie with Greek yogurt and added a handful of Spinach. I was a little nervous, but I actually couldn't taste the Spinach at all! So it was still delicious, but had some extra goodness in it. Totally going to do that again!

My sisters and I are going to see Wicked on Tuesday! I am so excited! I have never seen it, but have listened to the soundtrack so many times that I know all the words to the songs. It is definitely one of my favorites!

Is anyone else getting tired of the cold and snow? I know it is winter, but it has been a little more extreme than usual. I'm beginning to think that it is going to be frosted for ever....

Unfortunately, because of the amount of typing I do at work, I have developed pretty bad carpal tunnel in my wrists. I have been wearing braces and trying to take care of them, but they don't seem to be improving. I am looking into different ways to put less strain on my wrists, but if anyone has any suggestions, I would love to hear them! I really don't want to end up having surgery. People keep telling me that I am too young to have this, but alas, I do.

I have been watching a TON of Gilmore Girls lately. Mostly while I was sick, but also while I have been on the elliptical. (another perk that is keeping me from running outside...). I find myself constantly wishing that Stars Hollow was a real place, and wanting them to make another episode or two (or whole season....). I am dissatisfied with how the whole series just ends. If you haven't watched it, I don't want to spoil it. But if you have, you might know what I mean!

Anyways, I hope you all have a good weekend!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

An exercise in beauty

Laura over at Catholic Cravings came up with this idea to write a poem about our beauty. She provided the template and we fill in the blanks. I decided it would be a good exercise for me in seeing my beauty. Not gonna lie, it was awkward writing this, and I feel even more awkward that people might read it, but I think it is good. No, it is necessary. It is so important that women realize they are beautiful in their own ways. We should not be afraid to be beautiful. We shouldn't feel like we are being prideful in recognizing our beauty. Beauty is innate in all of us.  I highly suggest writing a poem for yourself, even if you want to just to it privately. It helps you to realize a lot. So without further ado, here is my poem. 

I am beautiful.
I am beautiful because I am made in the image of God, who makes me strong when I am weak. I am beautiful inside and out, for He didn’t just make my soul but my body too. All of me, body and soul, is His image. 
I am beautiful because my hair is thick and wavy, my eyes are big and deep; they remind me of how strong and thoughtful I am. 
And because I play 3 instruments.
I was beautiful when I would sit on the swing with my grandma and listen to her singing.
I am beautiful because my skin is flawed and my wrists are weak.
I am beautiful like sun beams in the woods on a Fall day.
I am beautiful when I smile.
I am beautiful when I receive Holy Communion and when I am singing praise and worshipI am beautiful when I laugh and when I mourn, when I pray the Divine Mercy Chapletwhispering  'For the sake of His sorrowful passion' to Him who is so beautiful. 
I am beautiful when I wear my one shoulder black dress and pearl earrings.
I was beautiful even when I did not see it. Though I bought into the lies that I wasn't good enough, I was beautiful.
I am beautiful still.
I don’t know whether my eyes are doves behind my veil, or my hair like a flock of goats descending from Gilead. But in my own way, my own Maggie-way, I am beautiful. Perhaps, I am beautiful like a vintage photograph or like waves crashing against the shore at sunset.
I am definitely not beautiful because I am perfect. I am not perfect, inwardly or outwardly. I have flaws enough.
But I am beautiful.
For I am loved by God, and love is in my heart, and where there is love:
there is beauty.

*********And here is the template for anyone wishing to do their own!***********
I am beautiful.
I am beautiful because I am made in the image of God, who [quote or paraphrase a  bit of your favourite bible verse1 ]. I am beautiful inside and out, for He didn’t just make my soul but my body too. All of me, body and soul, is His image. 
I am beautiful because my [a feature I like about yourself] is/are [two descriptive words]. [x3]: [describe how they remind you of you] as I am. 
And because [something that's an odd quirk you have or trick you can do].
I was beautiful when [one of your earliest memory].
I am beautiful because [describe two things you don't like about your body].
I am beautiful like [a favourite thing] in [your favourite place] on a [your favourite season] day/night.
I am beautiful when I smile.
I am beautiful when I receive Holy Communion and [favourite thing about being a Christian]. I am beautiful when I laugh and when I mourn, when I pray the [favourite prayer], whispering [favourite bit from that prayer] to Him/her who is so beautiful. 
I am beautiful when I wear my [fun thing to wear] and [favourite piece of jewelry].
I was beautiful even when I did not see it. Though I [describe any negative body image but only if you want], I was beautiful.
I am beautiful still.
I don’t know whether my eyes are doves behind my veil, or my hair like a flock of goats descending from Gilead. But in my own way, my own [name]-way, I am beautiful. Perhaps, I am beautiful like a [beautiful man-made object you can see] or like a [beautiful natural thing or moment you can see].
I am definitely not beautiful because I am perfect. I am not perfect, inwardly or outwardly. I have flaws enough.
But I am beautiful.
For I am loved by God, and love is in my heart, and where there is love:
there is beauty.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

NAS: Engagements

Linking with the Not Alone Series again :) 

Do you struggle with balancing the sting of hearing about yet another proposal with genuine excitement? What emotions come into play? What virtues do you enlist to deal with it all?

I often find it hard not to get bitter at other people's relationships. However, I find it a LOT easier to be excited for people when I avoid a few things: 
1) Facebook. I'm not saying I boycott it completely, but the more I get sucked into the virtual world of comparison, the more I put myself down. I need to check myself and make sure I'm not spending too much time looking at what other people have, especially because I have a ton of awesome things going for me right now! 
2) Too much self reflection. The times when I am looking too much into myself, and not enough at God and  the needs of those around me, I find that I am much less satisfied with my place in life. That is when I have the tendency to complain or become envious of others. I am the kind of person who LOVES analyzing myself, so this is a hard one for me. I often can become very much lost in my thoughts, which can sometimes lead to a downward spiral of emotions. On the flip side though, it helps me to be very aware how I react to things, and I can keep myself in check. It is a gift and a curse ;) 

And one more phrase that has been fueling me: Don't let anyone steal your joy. Someone once told me that my greatest attributes are how loving and caring I am, but I need to be careful not to let those go. They will be my greatest strengths one day. I need to hold onto them.

Obviously, I don't want to be bitter toward anyone engaged, so those are the few things I try to avoid. And of course, above all, remain rooted in prayer. I want to rejoice with my friends, not be secretly envious behind their backs. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.