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Lifestyle

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.

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.

 

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.

 

Lifestyle

Day 33: Following His Plan

March 19, 2018

“She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1: 21)

Throwback to lent when we were questioning how these people could possibly be okay with all this angel of the lord shenanigans.

But really. Lent is a time for us to grow, change and challenge ourselves to be better people. At least that is what lent has always been for me.

Over the past 33 days, I have really had to stop and evaluate a lot of my life decisions. Why am I doing what I am doing? Does it make sense to keep doing what I am doing? Is there where I am supposed to be at this current moment?

These questions keep popping up and my overarching question back to God is: Why are you asking me these things?! I do not have time for you to be tearing down all of the foundational walls that I have built. Please stop. Go away. Don’t ask me these questions.

And yet they keep appearing. I imagine that Joseph was probably like: okay, okay I get it. You want me to go ahead and follow your plan. You can stop butting into my life now.

Okay maybe not. He was super holy. But I am 1000% feeling that way right now.

Like… okay I get it. You want me to be able to follow your will. But like… my plans seemed pretty good too! Okay, okay… I will do what you want. What now you want me to do it joyfully? can you give a girl a break?

And as the days turned into weeks, all of a sudden, His plan didn’t seem as scary as it had all those weeks ago. Suddenly there was peace in the turmoil. There was a way to keep my head above water. There was an anchor keeping me from floating away in the choppy seas.

So where does that leave me?

The end of lent is fast approaching. It has been hard as it always is, but has caused me to make life decisions in ways I have never had to make them before. This has probably been the most powerful lent I have ever experienced. It has lead me to a new found community, breathing life into my weary and tired bones. It has lead me to a peace deeper than anything I have ever known. It has lead me to understand that plans change, and that being willing to move away from a set plan is the best way to live a life to the fullest.

As we draw nearer to Holy Week, I am stopped dead in my tracks at the amount of change God has been able to affect in my life in such a short period of time. 40 days seems like nothing compared to the great big adventure of life.  I am so thankful for the ways he has changed my heart, and reminded me that, while He is the most radical answer, He is also the only one that will bring peace to my weary soul.

Holy Week 2018… I am looking forward to you.

Lifestyle

Day 32: A Clean Heart

March 18, 2018

“Create a clean heart in me, O God.” (Psalm 51)

Once again I spent a lot of time with this psalm this past week. When you have to write a catchy but simple melody, you find yourself singing this line over and over again.

The beauty of playing for a mass? You get to pray with the readings and the songs you are choosing the whole week before hand. In what other capacity do you get to pray with the mass readings and sing songs that relate to them? I am honestly super lucky.

As we are drawing closer to the end of lent, I am constantly reminded of my need for God.

A few weeks ago, I told God I would say YES to whatever he was asking of me. And here I am a few weeks later, having rescinded my yes feeling miserable. I do not think it is any coincidence that I feel this way.

Even though more often than not I feel alone out in the desert, I still need a God that runs to me and welcomes me back with open arms. I need a God that is merciful and loving, even when I feel that he is stretching me to my breaking point. I need a God who looks me in the eye and asks why I am continuing to do what I do, and if I could be happier if I was listening to what He wanted me to do.

As I was writing a melody for this psalm, I kept begging over and over- Lord, create a clean heart in me. Eliminate my pride. Eliminate my vanity. Make me more like you. Help me to be better.

Those prayers haven’t quite come true yet, but I know that if I keep asking, He will help me to have a clean heart, yearning only for Him.

And tips on how to get there faster? I could surely use some =p.

 

 

Basilica of The Immaculate Conception: Waterbury, CT

Lifestyle

Day 31: He Meets Us In Our Mess

March 17, 2018

“Never before has anyone spoken like this man.” (John 7:46)

For some reason this is the line that really spoke to me. Everyone is so concerned about where Jesus comes from (Galilee- shudder! how gauche) , but when asked when they would be turning Him in, they say claim that they have never heard anyone speak like Him.

Everyone thinks He is crazy, but these people see something in the way that Jesus speaks and it moves them to their core. They know that He is speaking a truth to their hearts that will change their life.

He speaks of clothing the naked, feeding the hungry and visiting the imprisoned. He speaks of a son who turns away from his father, but upon asking forgiveness is given the best the father has to offer. He speaks of a widow that gives just a few coins that are worth more than the world to her, and the beauty of her sacrifice. He speaks of a woman, caught up in sin, but forgives her of it all if, telling those who condemn her to leave unless they are sinless.

This lent has showed us a God who loves and heals beyond anything we can possibly understand. He loves those on the outskirts, those with no one to love them, and those so entrenched in sin that they never think they could encounter God. And yet He met them there.

This God comes to meet us also. In our times of trial, in our times of joy. He is there for the good, the bad and everything in between. He loves us with a ferocity that can not be measured, and He works for our good at all times.

I know these things to be true.

Will you give him the chance to love you in this way? Will you allow him to meet you in your mess and help you to grow into the person you are supposed to be? It is worth every second. I promise.

 

Lifestyle

Day 30: the Lord is Close to the Broken Hearted

March 16, 2018

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; and those who are crushed in spirit he saves.”  (Psalm 34)

Stop and read those words again.

How many of you have a broken heart? Sometimes I stop and think about that term.

Broken Hearted.

What does that mean?

Maybe you just lost someone important to you. Either it was sudden, or you knew it was coming. But death really has a way of adding salt to the wound.

Maybe you just ended a long term relationship. You thought he was the one and when  push came to shove, you weren’t living your fullest life and you knew he wasn’t going to be the one that got you to heaven.

Maybe you just got dumped. You thought maybe he would be it. You had so much fun together and you were both trying to figure out what God was wanting from you and thought he would be the path there. But he wasn’t and it hurt. More than you will ever care to admit.

Maybe you didn’t get into grad school. Maybe it was a crazy year of fighting and clawing your way into the program and you hate yourself for “not being good enough”.

Wherever you are in your journey to God, and whatever your broken heart entails, He is there in the mess with you, wanting to give you the comfort that you need.

I’ve been in each of those places. And coming out on the other end of each of them, I can tell you that He was there in the heartbreak, and that He has answered every desperate prayer. He has been with me in the darkness and has been the light that got me through to the next moment.

He will be there for you also. I can promise you that.