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peace

Encounter

The Ultimate Delusion

March 13, 2019

“Thus, the first point that gives the fundamental tone to our Christian personality is this: the living awareness that salvation, liberation—words that mean the same thing— are found in a reality that is already present in man’s life: Christ. The opposite of this first point is seeking salvation, that is the meaning of our actions and those of others, the meaning of time and of the world, by establishing it in something made by our own hands. This happens in our personal life, for example, when we cry over our dreams or when our plans do not work out. We delude ourselves because we have placed all our hope in human strength.”

Giussani, L. (1986). Morality: Memory and desire. San Francisco: Ignatius Press.

Every year for the past 8 years, lent has been a serious period of reflection for me. Without fail, there has been something that has caused me to question if I actually trust God, and the plan that he has laid out for me.

It always hits me like a ton of bricks- I am just living my life, doing my thing and casually thinking I trust God. I blindly follow Him into the desert, thinking “hey, I’ve got this. I am happy and trusting God and theres no issues here.” Then he gets me out there and I swear, every single year he just like *POOF* up and disappears.

And I look around, and theres nothing but sand as far as the eye can see (my worst nightmare) and I feel deeply alone.

As my carefully constructed universe comes crashing down around me, I come face to face with the truth that lies deep within me. As a Type A person, I always have a plan. And a back up plan. And a back up plan for that too, actually. Every hour of every day is carefully accounted for, work, school, prayer, community, volunteering, read a book, write for the blog, buy milk. The list goes on and on.

And when things don’t go according to my plan? I get more and more anxious. I start to shut down and then get nothing done which further spirals me into more anxiety because nothing is getting done. I put my trust in my ability to get shit done, on time and to the best of my abilities, at all times. I place all my hope in my human strength.

You can see how this a recipe for disaster in this season of reflection and purification we have embarked on… right?

Well friends, lent started a week ago. Just like most lents, it started in a packed church (well, gym this year, but I digress) with lots of people waiting to get their ashes. And I didn’t think much of it, except to commit to finding God in the center of my mess. I said this so cavalierly, like “oh hey, its no big deal. I’ll just find God in everything and that will make it a good Lent.”

Oops.

You can guess what came next… right?

School got hard. My group seems to be on the brink of destruction every time I turn around. Did I mention that we have our capstone due on March 27th? Nobody’s schedules line up. There’s additional meetings, and things need to get done. I need to print out how many copies of the 30+ page thesis? And put it in tabbed binders with a deck as well? Who am I, Rockefeller? Sheesh!

I am still trying to get my house ready for a baby to come home to. I am so blessed that I have so many people who love me, and want to gift me with the things I need to take care of my little girl. And right now, I am frantically cleaning and purging to make sure I have room for all of these things.

I have a class at the hospital with the doula program. I have a class at the hospital on breastfeeding. I have to get stuff together for a baptism and did you know you have to go to a class for that too?

And then there is just the whole being pregnant bit. No matter how many books I read, how many vegetables I eat, or how many kick counts I do, this whole thing is kind of out of my control. And that is one of the scariest things I have ever had to experience.

Ultimately, I can plan all I want, but it doesn’t matter. I have to trust that God gave me this tiny person for a reason, and that He will not lead me astray.

As I enter into the craziest weeks of my life thus far, I am certainly entering the proverbial desert.

But I am reminding myself that God would never lead me into a desert that He does not intend to lead me out of. And that even if I feel alone, He is always there.

Here’s to hoping that this lent leads me to a deeper understanding of the true meaning of trust.

Lifestyle

Don’t Wait to Love Yourself

November 6, 2018

This one goes out to all my girlfriends out there. In the spirit of keeping it real I want to dive right into a sensitive subject. Let’s talk about body image. Gosh even just typing those words sent a shiver down my spine.

You know, most women that I know could instantly point out the things about their body that they don’t like. My hair is too stratight. My hair is too curly. My teeth are not white enough. My face is covered in acne. My butt is too flat. What abs? If I work out a little extra, if I go on this special diet… the list goes on and on.

I was not immune to these lines of thought. As I started learning how to have a better relationship with food- viewing it as fuel for my body, and not something to just munch on when I was bored, or something to avoid to lose weight, I began to appreciate my body a little more. Then I started to work out, and I began to appreciate how strong my body actually was- I was capable of so much more than I thought I was! I was spinning three days a week, I was eating a mostly Paleo diet and I was feeling strong, confident and beautiful.

Right around this time I started gaining this confidence, my husband and I started talking about what it would be like to have a baby (SPOILER: I am writing this post nearly 14 weeks pregnant =p ). I have always known I was made to be a mother. I have known since I was a little girl, pushing bitty twins in a double jogging stroller that I wanted to be just like my mom, raising strong and good people to make this world a better place. So after nearly three years of marriage, this conversation seemed only natural.

But as we started having that conversation, those thoughts that I just had overcome started to come back. What if I gain too much weight? What if all the weight goes to my love handles? What if I get stretch marks? What if I get grey hairs? What if my hair texture changes completely? What if I get acne? OMG what if I get stray hairs on my chin that I have to pluck?

Then we got pregnant. And the first three months were no walk in the park. I was sick every night. I had dark circles under my eyes. I couldn’t use face wash because it turned my face as red as a tomato. I was now going to be doomed to acne (insert major dread here). I was bloated and none of pants fit. I found three grey hairs. AND there definitely are stray hairs on my chin that I have to pluck (LOL). WHAT IF I GET STRETCHMARKS?!

As we’ve gotten further along in the pregnancy, I am carrying all my weight in my love handles and backside. I stopped wearing pants because I couldn’t bear to keep buying bigger sizes. I had to buy all new undergarments because my body is growing in ways I didn’t know it could. I just recently had to take a break from the workout I love so much because the muscles that hold everything together are stretching so much and so rapidly that they hurt when I stand up too quickly.

And you know what the most surprising thing is to me? I am the happiest I have ever been. I could absolutely care less about gaining weight, unruly pimples on my upper lip and the side of my nose or those stray hairs I have to pluck. I haven’t found any stretchmarks yet, but I am sure they are coming, and I am ready to welcome them with open arms.

My body is physically housing another human right now. It not only created a human from scratch, but is now letting it have the space for the next 5 months to grow and get stronger and come into this world as a little human that we can hold and love.

My body is now the body of a superhero. Seriously. It is ridiculously awesome that I am actually growing another person inside of me right now. And if it takes gaining weight, and earning some tiger stripes along the way, I am happy to do that.

I am in awe of my body and all of the ways it is growing and changing. It’s amazing that it took me all these years and a completely life altering event to finally truly appreciate this body that I have been given. I only wish I could have loved and appreciated my body sooner.

If you’re reading this and you’re in the phase of wanting to change something about your body, I want to encourage you to look in the mirror and find one thing about your amazing body that you can love right now. Loving yourself is a life long process, but start today! Don’t wait.

You are amazing. If I am the only person to tell you that today, I hope it sinks in. You are truly, utterly, amazing.

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

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?

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

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.

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!