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Nothing More & Nothing Less

April 23, 2018

Oh friends. I did a silly thing today.

Today, I told one of my dearest friends that I was finally okay with whatever God had in store for me this upcoming year.

WHY would I ever do that?

Do you ever have that moment, where you feel complete peace and everything seems to be going so well and then BAM out of seemingly nowhere, a self doubt stronger than you’ve ever known creeps in and you’re in tears faster than you can say “I’m okay”.

No? Just me?

Okay, well… that’s where I am right now. There is a pretty big part of me that is really excited for this new adventure- to see what it is exactly that the Lord has planned for me.

There’s also a part of me that is *loudly* shouting; THIS IS NOT A PART OF THE PLAN. YOU ARE RUINING THE PLAN. MAYDAY. MAYDAY. GET IT TOGETHER.

And honestly, I wish I had an answer for you. I wish I knew what the heck I was doing, and if this trusting in God’s plan thing was really going to work after all.

But I have no idea. Right now, I feel like I am stuck between two phases of life. Older than the typical college grad, probably should have a job. Younger than all my friends who have three kids, but married for Almost three years without kids.

I am in no man’s land, and am figuring it out.

How was I so happy and confident this morning, then all of a sudden was doubting everything I was doing by 6PM?

Life.

Happy Monday folks.

Honestly, something tells me I will never not be in a phase of trying to figure my life out.

10 years ago, it was what college should I go to, what would my major be?

5 years ago, it was how would I ever find a guy who wasn’t the worst?

My track record has been pretty good so far in winding up just where I needed to be. 10 years later I am almost done with a Masters in Business Administration. 5 years later I am married to an incredible man.

So maybe I don’t have the answers right now. But maybe I will also look back in 5 or 10 years and know that this moment was the one that launched me into greatness.

I only have to know the plan for tomorrow. No more. No less.

And ultimately?

I am going to be okay.

Dear Twenty-Something

Your Dreams Are Not Dead

April 21, 2018

20 April 2018

 

“Wildflower; pick up your pretty little head,
It will get easier, your dreams are not dead.”

– Nikki Rowe

 

Dear Twenty- Something,

Does it feel like everything is just hitting rock bottom for you right now? The stress keeps mounting, and all those things you are working so hard to accomplish feel like they are never going to come to fruition.

Get the degree, they said. You won’t regret it. Yet, as you sit through another group meeting on a Friday night, you have to ask yourself: was this really all that worth it? You gave up so much of your life for this. It better be worth it.

Quit the job, you decided. But you also don’t know how to have free time, and you are constantly worried about how others might see you.

Stop.

Breathe.

There you go. You’ve got this.

Everything happens for a reason. Isn’t that a mantra you preach to your friends?

You are exactly where you need to be, in this exact moment in time. Do not forget that.

Soak in every moment. You will never be in this exact moment again. Don’t miss any part of it.

Look yourself in the mirror and ask yourself those questions that helped to form the person you are today:

Who am I? What do I want?

It’s time for an update anyways. Your dreams have evolved, just as you have, and a re-evaluation is always welcome in your life.

You are strong. You are beatiful. You are loved.

Don’t ever forget it.

-S

 

Encounter

The Power of Creativity

April 18, 2018

“The more powerful a person’s creativity is, the more the person’s creation has, so to speak, personality. It exists, lasts, and affirms itself as time passes. This, in fact is the characteristic of a work of art, just as everything born of God’s genius and infinite power acquires an unmistakable identity of it’s own, for the simple reason that it participates in God.” (Giussani, Why the Church, pg 194)

Have you ever heard the phrase “made in His image and likeness”?

I have heard it countless times, in so many different capacities. You are worth it, you were made in His image and likeness. You should help this person, after all they are made in His image and likeness. Stand up for this cause. Vote for this politician. Don’t wear this. Don’t watch that. Only listen to praise and worship.

This idea that being made in His image and likeness limits me to looking and behaving in a cookie cutter way always bothered me. It seemed like the things that made me most myself were the things the church didn’t want me to be.

But what if being made in His image and likeness gave me an absolute freedom to continually seek His heart and become who I was meant to be, in a way that allows me to still be me?

This quote explains perfectly to me (a creative artistic, type), what being made in His image and likeness means. God the Father as the master creator made me. Not to be his carbon copy. But to bring glory to Him through being the best version  of me that I could possibly be. He created me to have my own personality, and to constantly be striving to find Him in my every day encounters.

As I read this quote, something stirs deep in my soul. I am His work of art. And He created me- all of my good qualities and all of my quirks. He loves me through my imperfections and wants me to constantly work towards being the best I can be.

So, what does that look like?

Jack’s Mannequin on my morning commute. Law & Order SVU when I can’t sleep at night. Bible Study with my friends. School of Community. Instagram stories. Morning hikes. Tom Clancy novels.

Maybe I am biased, but… that looks like a pretty normal twenty something woman  to me. God didn’t create me to be placed in a box. He created me to be fully alive and to constantly be striving towards Him.

YOU are an irreplaceable work of art. YOU are His incredible creation.

What does this journey look like to you? I want to know how you encounter God in your daily life.

 

Lifestyle

When Change is Good

April 16, 2018

I have realized something recently. I am a creature of habit.

House Blend coffee with half and half every morning.

Apple Products for life.

Find one pair of jeans that fits? QUICK! Buy every single color because you can never find jeans that simultaneously cover your booty and your ankles.

Never switch your planner. No matter how beautiful the new planner looks, or how much you want to be even more organized, you will always go back to the OG black, hardcover moleskin.

These things seem trivial and quite frankly, they are. But they are indicative of a deeper personality trait that I seem to have.

I like an established routine, and sometimes often I have trouble with changes to my routine.

Then I read an instagram post from an account called One Hail Mary at a Time. If you’ve never heard of her, click here to check her out!  In this post on Instagram, she basically said that her and her husband will evaluate where they are in life and if something isn’t working, they make the change to what is going to be best for them.

And somewhere, deep in the recesses of my soul, I knew I needed to make a change that was bigger than just my planner or my morning beverage choices. I needed to make a change that would bring peace to the incredibly weary heart I have been carrying around inside of me.

I have known this for a long time now, and this instagram post, coupled with a bible study of Esther really gave me the courage to start the process of making the changes I need to make to be the best version of myself, the version of myself that God wants me to be.

In the spirit of authenticity that this blog has come to embody, I just wanted to admit that this is hard for me. It’s all still really new, but I am coming to ask for prayers as I start this new journey, and try to figure out what exactly it is I am supposed to do next.

Between the pursuit of a masters degree, a trip to the ER and a retreat that I MC’d, a lot has happened in the past four months of this year 2018.

Each of these events has left a mark on my soul, and has stirred in me a new desire to give back to the world in a better way than I was.

I’m sure as time goes on, I will have the opportunity to tell you more about all these big changes, but for now, throw up an extra Hail Mary for me if you think about it.

I’ll be praying for you as well.

 

Dear Twenty-Something

So Can You

April 15, 2018

15 April 2018

“If

the ocean

can calm itself,

so can you.

we

are both

salt water

mixed with

air.”

– Nayyirah Waheed

 

Dear Twenty- Something,

Take a deep breath. It’s all going to work out okay. I know that sometimes it feels like the world is against you, and no matter how hard you try to make it all work it just doesn’t.

Recently your life has felt tumultuous. Actually, lets rephrase that, your life has felt like a tsunami that just keeps hitting over and over again, each wave seeming bigger than the last.

Find your anchor and hold on for dear life. This too will pass, and when it does, the calm will be surprising.

Take some time to really see where this life thing is trying to take you. One day at a time, you’ll start to figure it out.

Be still. In the recesses of your soul lies a strength you didn’t know existed.

Be grateful. Your life is beautiful.

Take the next step and do not be afraid to see where the new adventure is taking you!

I believe in you.

-S

P.S. Sorry that this is a few days late. Behind the blog is a girl with friends to celebrate, and family to support. But I am happy to put this up now 🙂 See you tomorrow friends!

Encounter

The Perilous Voyage

April 12, 2018

“To put the matter another way and use a metaphor much favored by antiquity, the man who has partaken of this mystery has already made harbour in the next world and is nevertheless on a perilous voyage; he carries upon his soul the seal that gives him clear passage upon his heavenward journey, yet during that journey his enemies, the evil spirits, still lie in wait for him…” (Hugo Rahner, taken from Why The Church pg. 191)

No matter how many times I read this book, this passage will always stand out to me.

In this section of reading for School of Community, Giussani spends a good amount of time discussing the sacraments in relation to man’s freedom. This is something I at one point struggled with. Confession and weekly communion seemed more like rules I had to follow than an encounter I could freely accept.

Once I had come to grips with my freedom in relation to the church, this passage really began to make a lot of sense to me.

If I was created for eternity, and my whole life is geared for moving towards that destiny, than everything I do should bring me one step closer that reality.

There is a sense of wonder and mystery that come with the sacraments. A person that you see during the week, sits in persona christi and can forgive your sins. A small piece of bread becomes the living God.

Each time I participate in these sacraments, I move one step closer to my end goal, one step closer to my final destiny.

The idea that always strikes me is the one that states that I basically have a ticket that I show the conductor that says my end goal is eternal life. I have a direct route, but along this route there will be so many moments when I want to get off the train.

This desire to get off the train is an every day battle. The world is big and offers so many good enough things that sometimes, I lose sight of what really matters.

But the sacraments that I freely participate in are the very things that give me the strength to try for just one more day.

I recently committed to going to confession once a month instead of twice a year. In fact, it’s actually probably time for me to call my priest and set that up since we are half way through April.

I also try to go to daily mass as frequently as possible, to continue to receive that extra grace.

What sacraments do you participate in on the regular? I’d love to hear your experiences with encountering Jesus in these awesome tools the church has given us.

 

Lifestyle

Spring Has Almost Sprung!

April 10, 2018

Hello Friends!

I have been waiting for spring like a kid waits for Santa Clause on Christmas Eve. Honestly any time I see a blue sky I am like oh great its gonna be warm now?! Okay?! Okay!

Then it’s still cold and miserable and generally snows about 3 seconds later.

I am SO ready for spring. I am ready for flowers and birds chirping and sunshine and those sweet few weeks where it’s not yet too hot, but you also only need a sweatshirt to be comfortable outside.

Spring just brings about a sense of renewal. And with this longing for spring, I have been trying to bring about renewal in many places in my life.

Cleaning my house. Doing my homework in the daylight hours. Eating a primal diet again. Setting up dinner parties with friends. Celebrating victories as they come (640 I am looking at you!). But with all this refreshed zeal for life, there came a dreaded realization.

My MacBook has begun its slow descent into its next phase of life.

That trusty MacBook Air has seen me through a lot. Finishing my undergraduate degree. Most of a masters degree. A tumble out of the hands of clumsy TSA agent.

But it’s poor brain just can’t handle another round of 35 page papers. As I began to think about its ultimate demise and what would be the next best option to finish out my MBA and be able to do all the things that I love to do, I fell down the rabbit hole.

Should I go for the desktop? Another MacBook? Certainly an apple product. After a decade of using apple products, I was never going to be able to make the switch to a PC without losing my ever loving mind.

I thought I had settled on buying the rose gold MacBook. It was familiar, seemed more portable than my MacBook Air and of course, it was pink.

But then I pulled up YouTube and did a bad thing. I searched for: iPad Pro vs. MacBook.

Could I really replace my computer with a tablet? What about the full keyboard? A lack of a mouse?

I started to think about what I really use the computer for, and realized that I was mostly responding to emails all day, blogging a couple times a week and perusing social media.

I edit documents. I send them back for approval.

Once school is done, it becomes even less. Did I really need another computer? Would the iPad suffice?

After many more hours of research and playing around on my mom’s iPad Pro for a day, I decided the iPad would more than likely be the right move.

So here I sit on my mom’s couch, iPad in tow with a magic keyboard on my lap and an Apple Pencil by my side, writing to you about what my new workflow is going to look like.

The Verdict: so far so good (though I have only been at this for 48 hours so let’s check back in 6 months).

I have a really  good feeling about this new set up. Ultra portable. Ultra Versatile. Pretty in Pink. Simultaneously a lightweight “computer” and ultimate portable Netflix viewing machine, this seems like a good fit.

Now- for all you tablet hating computer purists, I will say that old faithful will remain on my desk at home. Microsoft office will be alive and well on the MacBook Air that sits at home, and when I need to cry real tears about excel it will be there for me. I plan to back a lot of things up onto an external hard drive and then let that little computer that could just quietly work it’s way into retired life.

As the season changes and the sun starts to make its debut, how are you embracing this renewal? Big and small, I want to hear them all!

 

Lifestyle

Welcome to Holy Week

March 26, 2018

Wow. Palm Sunday is always an incredible up and down of emotions for me. As I listen to the readings and watch the gospel unfold, I begin to see how my life follows the events on a regular basis.

When things are good I praise Him, welcoming Him into my life.

When things are bad, I turn my back on Him- no He is not the one that has done such good for me.

I deny knowing Him when I want to have the courage to  say otherwise.

I stand in the crowd and yell crucify Him when I choose myself over an ultimate good.

How many times have I shook my fists at the sky these past three months shouting from the depths of my soul: MY GOD MY GOD, WHY HAVE YOU ABANDONED ME. Father let this cup pass from me. I am done. I cant possibly handle any more. Please. Make it stop.

But Jesus follows this sentence with one that I always forget to utter as I grovel in despair: not my will, but yours be done.

See? I toldya. All. Of. The. Feels.

Friends, as we enter holy week together, let us continue to strive to live a life of abundance.

I am sure you are only too excited to stop seeing these posts. We can go back to our regularly schedule programming of why my new face wash is just awesome. Or how I had to go back to my old school planner because my brain is like hardwired to only work a specific way.

But bear with me for just one more week.

Here’s a cute reminder as we approach these holiest of days to continually cry out: not my will, but yours be done.

 

 

Lifestyle

Day 35: What If There Was More To Life?

March 21, 2018

“So if the Son frees you, you will truly be free.” (John 8:36)

This hit me like a ton of bricks.

If Jesus sets me free from any burden that I have, then I am actually free.

There are so many things right now that have me in chains tighter than I can imagine. School. The thought of perfection. Work. The thought of success. Just to name a few.

But what if there was more to life than just perfection and success?

What if there was freedom and joy and happiness? Do those things exist? Are they real?

What changes to I have to make to get there? How do I possibly find the room in my life to find joy and happiness?

I clearly have a lot to pray about and think about.

Overarching the thing that I have come to learn is that my life is good. I have so much when so many people have to go without.

Now is the time for me to listen to what He is telling me and unabashedly respond: here I am Lord, I come to do your will.

Will I be able to do it? This is the most important question. I will be reflecting on this for the next few days as we approach holy week, then will be coming back to the foot of the cross to ask for clarity on the way that I should be spending my life.

What is your advice for living your best life? I would love to hear it.

 

Lifestyle

Day 34: The Bronze Serpent

March 20, 2018

“Why have you brought us up from Egypt to die in this desert, where there is no food or water?” (Numbers 21: 5)

 

Yeah. this is where I am day in and day out. Sometimes I have glimpses of clarity where I am good with what God is putting me through at this current juncture, but for the most part I am like…. PLEASSSSEEEEEE MAKEEEE IT STOOOOOOOOP.

Am I the only one that feels that way? I can’t be.

Most days I look up at the sky and say I cannot handle this. Why do you think I can handle this? And most days he responds: You can’t handle this. Why do you think you can handle this? Stop trying to take care of everything. Let me take care of it for you.

And yet even though He says this to me, I continue to wander around like a chicken with my head cut off in the hopes that I will be able to figure it out.

You know what happens in the rest of this story? God sends these doubting people a bunch of snakes and they suffer snakebites and some of them die (here Shannon pauses and is like… what.the.heck. but okay hold on there’s more). They then pray to God to save them and he totally does by letting Moses create a staff with a serpent on it that they can look at and be healed.

Now look, I am not looking for some magical object to look at and be healed of my exhaustion, frustration and at times bitterness. But I AM looking to be more like the Israelites in their prayers, asking God to go ahead and help me out here.

I need  more of that in my life. Embracing my suffering and asking God to help me when it is in line with His time and when it fits with His plan rather than what fits with MY plan.