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!