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love

Lifestyle

A Broken Yet Beautiful World

October 9, 2018

Man. What a time to be alive. I have recently taken to watching Good Morning America every morning as I drink my coffee and do my morning meditation. Depending on what my day looks like, I may fold a basket of laundry while watching live with Kelly and Ryan afterwards.

This new routine helps me to start my day on a little bit of a slower pace, and often points be toward the one or two hopeful news stories that are floating around in the world. Boy do I feel like I need that right now.

All day, every day, my newsfeed is full of people battling each other over incredibly important issues. There is a deep, dark beauty in these feuds as I watch people stand up for what they believe in at all costs. I think there is something really beautiful about seeing the need for change, and the raw, unbridled power that it unleashes in people’s hearts. The storm of change is brewing, and ready or not, this world we live in is going to undergo a radical reconstruction.

But so often in the heated discussions and one terrible headline after another, I begin to lose sight of the fact that this world, though broken and desolate, is still beautiful.

I find it so easy to forget that this world, though scary and imbalanced at times also breeds goodness and hope. I can focus on the negative. It would be easy. Or I can dig my heels in a little deeper and look for the goodness, beauty and truth that lies there just below the surface.

I choose to see the people in my newsfeed as warriors against injustice; injustice that runs ramapant in our society. I choose only to engage when it is something that I truly have taken the time to research and have an educated opinion about. I try always to use kind and non attacking language.

I take heated conversations out of the ring of the newsfeed and in to a real life conversation- over coffee, or dinner or in a private message if only a virtual friend. I keep an open mind, and an open heart, listening for the full story when talking. I am always searching for the truth and when someone has clear eveidence towards the truth that contradicts what I know, I thank them for opening my eyes. It is only in being willing to learn that any change actually happens.

And in each of these encounters, I have become a better person. I have seen the light, beauty and goodness that my friends have to offer. I have grown into a person that I am proud to be. Open, willing to change, willing to learn and constantly striving for a better baseline.

And this, sweet friends is a beautiful thing. Even the darkness and destruction of our current society can give birth to something good. I just need to remember not to forget it.

Keep on fighting the good fight. The world needs more people like you.

Dear Twenty-Something

A Built in Season of Change

September 28, 2018

29 September 2018

Dear Twenty-Something,

“He found himself wondering at times, especially in the autumn, about the wild lands, and strange visions of mountains that he had never seen came into his dreams.” – J.R.R. Tolkien

I want you to stop, for just a moment. Stop to breathe in the crisp, chilly air that so rapidly descended upon you.

As the days grow shorter, and the leaves begin to change, take a second to embrace all of the ways your life is changing in this season.

Go back to the things that make you happy. I know your time is precious and you feel like you have to schedule every hour of your day to make sure you get everything done, but make time for those things anyways. It is worth it. YOU are worth it.

Take at least one day a week to move a little slower. Don’t think of the 100 things you have to get done. Choose three things, and complete these tasks deliberately.

Get out the Halloween decorations. I know you haven’t seen them in a while, and it seems like a silly thing to do on a Friday evening, but do it. Your soul will thank you for the small addition of beauty to your routine.

Light the candle. Make the soup. Wear the slippers. Drink the hot cocoa. Embrace every stereotype even if it makes you #basic.

How lucky are we, that a season that revolves around change comes built into the calendar year. If the world around you can embrace these lovely moments, then you, sweet friend, can too.

Adventure awaits in this season of changes if only you are brave enough to look for it.

-S

PS- go get your flu shot. It takes two seconds and is probably worth it.

Dear Twenty-Something

Girlfriend, I Am Proud Of You

August 24, 2018

24 August 2018

Dear Twenty- Something,

“And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.” – John Steinback

Have I stopped lately to tell you how proud I am of you?!

You have said yes to so many exciting things- being brave and trying new and scary things.

You are excercising three days a week, and are planning to get to 4-5 days a week. Who would’ve thought you’d ever get there? (I am only partly kidding)

Also, dude, I am proud of you for eating the egg rolls while watching the Barbie documentary on hulu and reading Magnolia Journal. Because tonite, you took time to just breathe, and gather yourself, and treat yourself with love.

I am proud of you for embracing change. I am proud of you for never losing that work ethic.

I am proud of you for making new friends, and I am proud of your for keeping the friendships you have going. I am also proud of you for rekindling old friendships, even though it sometimes seems like friendships as an adult can be really hard to navigate.

Girlfriend, I am proud of you.

Keep up the good work.

-S

Encounter

Rising to the Occasion

August 1, 2018

“He became so much involved with man that He Himself became man. Through Jesus, God became “an affectively attractive presence,” to the point that it would challenge our hearts forever.” (Fraternity Exercises- First Lesson pg. 11)

I am honestly not sure when I have read a more true statement.

Each and every day, I find myself in awe of the world around me, and the goodness and beauty that reside in my life.

Friends who text me to tell me they love me. Friends who ask for prayer. A new style of workout that is fun and engaging. A burning desire to know more and become better.

These things do not happen as mere coincidence. Jesus challenges my heart in every moment of every day. In the times when I have no patience but need an ounce more. In the times when I am tired but I need to give just a few more moments to be a listening ear. How often has someone given me these precious gifts- moments of peace and security in an otherwise troublesome world. How often someone has been the face of Christ to me.

I want to be like Him. I want to sit with the people whom I love and listen to their stories. I want to be a part of their story. I want to share in their experience. I want to be able to build others up when they need the support. I want to love at no cost, and love when there is not enough to go around in this world.

I want to rise to the occasion of this challenge, and never stop trying to be the person that He is asking me to be.

Trusting.

Loving.

Caring.

Gentle.

His.

Lifestyle

You’re The Only One Who Can Be You

July 24, 2018

In the past three weeks, there has been a dramatic shift in my perspective. My incredibly stressful class is over, I went on vacation for two weeks, I was invited to read and study with a Lay Marianist community, and I developed a deep love for Mr. Rogers.

These four things have changed me in a profound way. But the thing that has had the biggest impact on me, is my newfound love of Fred Rogers.

In a world where we see so much hate, destruction, and death, this calm and gentle soul ushered generations of kids into a safe space, where they knew they were loved and cherished, and they were able to just be kids.

Going back to watch his work as an adult at first seemed silly. Why would I do such a thing? There were plenty of other shows that I could watch.

It all started in May. I had been suffering a wicked bout of insomnia for four months at this point, and I had watched 17 seasons of Law & Order SVU, and every episode of The Great British Bake-off that Netflix had to offer. At this point I knew I needed something different, but I also knew none of my shows (looking at you Eric Kripke, and Shonda) would be back until the fall. I was running on empty. Getting 4 hours of sleep a night because my mind was racing at the prospect of not getting a perfect grade after all of my hard work… or editing papers that just came in so late I had to stay up all night to get it done. How could I possibly find a show that would help me to get even just one more hour of sleep?

I started scrolling through Amazon Prime and saw that kind and familiar face that I had seen as a kid. I chuckled to myself and kept scrolling, but something told me to go back.

I hit play, and those familiar first notes trickled through the speaker… “It’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood…”. The first night I watched 5 hours of Mr. Rogers and let me tell you what- that dude tackled some real issues in his day. I sat in bed, in awe of his courage and amazed that he could do that all with a slow melodic voice. And don’t even get me started on the puppets- how does one person have that many voices stored up in their imagination?

As the days went on, I slowly made it through fewer episodes- that sweet melody lulling me to sleep, or Fred Rogers’ intelligent and kind voice helping me to face some big scary things that we see in the news even still today (who knew he would be so timeless?). This man gave me back my sanity. I started sleeping 5, 6, and 7 hours a night, worrying less, and making better use of my time.

I got an A in both of those really crazy classes. My hard work paid off, and I then got to go on vacation with my family to celebrate my parent’s 30th anniversary. I downloaded a book on my kindle about Mr. Rogers, and set off to learn more about this person that had already changed my life by helping me to sleep a little easier at night.

I recently turned 26. Roughly 3 days before that happened, I woke up at complete peace in my life. I had established a routine that I was following (morning meditation and scripture, carefully planning my weeks, adding in chores and getting dressed up in the mornings). I was swearing less (not completely… yet, but I’m hopeful lol). I was being far less judgmental. And I finally felt like I had nothing left to prove. I was the most alive I had been in years.

As I reflected on this series of events I realized that for the first time in my life, I have had a deep and profound conversion. Through the gentle care of a television neighbor, I have come to see that God is in the slow moments. He doesn’t want me to rush. He doesn’t want me to be stressed or in emotional pain.

I decided I was going to be like Mr. Rogers, and my life changed dramatically, for the better. My time seems to stretch endlessly, and my days are filled with joy and gratitude. My errands don’t take nearly as long, I forget things a lot less frequently these days, and I am completely at peace.

6 months ago, I would have told you I didn’t even remember what peace was. Today, I can’t remember what it was like to live in a complete world of stress. It is so crazy to me that I would let my need to prove I was the best, I was worthy and I was what they wanted after all, slowly kill my joy.

I was worthy all along. I have gifts and talents that no one else on this earth possesses in the exact measure that I have them. Sure- they aren’t great big magical things, but they are my talents. I taught a one year old how to say cock-a-doodle-doo. I also taught him that if he throws hummus on the ground, we have to clean it up. I lead music for a holy hour that sent chills down my spine as the students I was playing for sang the bridge to the song by themselves. I wrote a thank you note that established what will be a life long connection.

These things are all seemingly small. But in my life- these are ways that I met God in my day to day interactions.

And I never want to stop. I want to take each day as Mr. Rogers would have taken it- with grace and patience, stopping to recognize that sometimes the small things are what make us the best people we can be.

If you had the opportunity to live a life with less stress and more joy would you?

It’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood of joy and peace. I’ve always wanted a neighbor just like you! Let’s make the most of this beautiful day, since you’re still here reading this, I might as well say- won’t you be my neighbor?

Lifestyle

When the Instagram Feed Suffers

July 6, 2018

An encounter with beauty stirs something deep in my soul. A longing for a continued encounter with the infinite goodness that I have just experienced.

And isn’t this how it is all supposed to work out? WiFi has been limited on this trip, and I have honestly loved every second of it. Sure, my instagram feed has “suffered” but the pictures I do have are unreal. The experience I am having are even more liberating. Time spent with family members, catching up with and learning more about them through chance encounters- a bad sunburn led to my brother and I doing an incredible hike together and loving every second of it. Standing on the back deck with my dad waiting for the ship to set sail and feeling immense, immense gratitude at the first that has been given to me. Sitting at the pool with my mom while we cheer for my sister playing volleyball in the pool.

UNESCO World Heritage Sites with thousands of tiny pieces creating profoundly moving mosaics in a mausoleum. A church with a beautiful devotion to our lady. Sitting on the deck and watching the deep blue water go by.

This is only the first half of an incredible adventure. I cannot wait for the second half, and to share all of the pictures when I get home- keeping this encounter with beauty going for a long time.

Encounter

Your Life is a Gift

June 6, 2018

“If you could only sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet; how important you can be to the people you may never even dream of. There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person.” – Mr. Rogers

We live in a world that is in turmoil.

It seems like every day, we hear of someone else that we looked up to succumbing to addiction, peer pressure and darkness.

The news is full of unspeakable horrors that happen so frequently they seem common place.

Yet we live in a time where Mental Illness is still stigmatized, and often times, it causes feelings of great shame to ask for help.

Last year, I was involved in youth ministry when 13 Reasons Why was released. Having read the book a decade earlier as a high school freshman myself,  I was surprised to see the book brought to the “big” screen. I plugged through the 13 heart wrenching episodes so that the people I was working with would have someone to discuss the show, their feelings, and their life with.

I thought the story was complete, and as gruesome as it was, I felt it provided many talking points, and a common starting ground to open the door to those really difficult conversations.

But then 13 Reasons Why Season 2 came out. I debated whether or not I would watch this most reason season. People were saying it was even darker than the first season, and that it was difficult to watch.

Let me go ahead and confirm that:  it is difficult to watch. If you haven’t already watched it, and are planning to watch it, this is me encouraging you to watch it in a safe environment, with your parents, an older sibling, or someone you love and trust.

Mental Illness shows no bias. It can affect anyone. In fact, it most likely affects someone you know and love.

It may even be affecting you. 

In a time when the world seems dark, we need more people like you in it. We need the gifts and talents that you alone give to this world.

You are important.

You are loved.

You are Irreplaceable.

Your life is a gift. You may never know how many people you have affected with just your smile, but you, sweet friend, are a gift.

If you are having a hard time remembering this fact, please, don’t go it alone. Find someone to talk to. Talk to a priest, minister, therapist or counselor.

You are never alone. 

There is always someone in your corner.

I am always rooting for you.

 

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:

1-800-273-8255

Dear Twenty-Something

The Mind is Not Loyal to You

May 26, 2018

25 May 2018

“Don’t be so loyal to your mind: the mind is not loyal to you.” (Bert McCoy)

Dearly Twenty- Something,

Stop and smell the roses. Take time to breathe and acknowledge the beauty that each moment provides for you.

Sure, there may be something that seems better, or the grass may be greener on the other side, but where you are in this exact moment is just where you need to be.

Did you know you can change the way you think and process the world around you? I sure as heck didn’t until today!

Take some time to reflect and figure out exactly what you need in this current moment of your life.

Enjoy each moment. Soak up the sunshine. Revel in the little things.

Don’t forget where you came from, and don’t ever forget the dream of where you want to go.

Sometimes anxiety can take over not only your mind, but also your world. It can inundate you to the point you don’t even know if you can do your basic chores. But stop trusting your mind, and start trusting that quiet inner voice that says “I can.”

You are stronger than you think.

You are strong.

You are beautiful.

You are loved.

-S

Encounter

Distance Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

May 24, 2018

“How many times have we spoken about it and have we experienced it in our lives: the distance of our heart from Christ becomes distance between each other, so that we often feel like strangers to each other.” (Father Julian Carron, Fraternity Excercises 2018)

Something about this really struck me tonight.

Time is flying by at a pace I really didn’t believe to be possible, and as I look at my calendar, I am faced with the reality that not only has my hardest 6 months in recent past nearly come to a close, I also have done so without keeping in touch with any of my friends.

I have been so overwhelmed by the tenacity of my class, and my work that I have forgotten the people in my life that I love. I have pretty much become a hermit, surviving on Netflix and copious amounts of coffee.

So often in the past few weeks I have had someone that I love dearly say: “How are you? I miss you. I feel like we haven’t talked in forever.  I hope you’re well.”

I can only respond with the usual pleasantries of how nice it is to hear from the, and how I promise that soon enough I will be done with the craziness, and will be able to get back to being a human being again.

But reading this, I realize that my community, and the friendships that help me to the the best person I can be, are actually as important as I think they are.

They are important enough not to put on the back burner.

It is in these friendships that I come to encounter Christ, and the more that I think that I can do it alone, the more I close myself off to the mercy and support that God wants to give to me through these beautiful people.

Now look- I can’t make any promises. My weekends are still cuckoo bananas. I still go to class two nights a week. But if you’re reading this, and you’re one of those people who has been wondering if I fell of the face of the earth- shoot me a text or a message of some sort.

I miss you. I miss my village, and I can’t wait to get back into seeing you all again. Because I know that as soon as I fall into the rhythms of fostering strong and beautiful friendships, I will start to see God in my life on a regular basis again.