Prodigal

The story of the Prodigal Son, which is this week's Gospel reading, is a well known story, a story about greed and humility, a story about mercy. I went to the young adult group (!) held by the Catholic Church on campus, and we reflected on this week's Gospel. While I kept quiet for the most part, it was so interesting to hear other's revelations about this famous story. 

A few thoughts that were shared tonight:


  • In the beginning, the younger son was very greedy. But not only that, he wanted what was "owed to him" in the form of his inheritance, something only received after the father would have passed. So not only does he say give me what I am "owed", he could be alluding to the fact that his father/family is now dead to him. This only heightens his distancing himself from his father in his belief that he can live life "his way".
    • What do we throw away to pursue what we want or think we need?
  • After squandering his inheritance on things he *thinks* will bring him fulfillment, he resorts to thinking"And he would have gladly filled his stomach with the pods that the swine were eating, and no one was giving anything to him". He is so desperate for something to fill him that he would eat pig slop.
    • Are we ever so desperate that we resort to "pig slop" to fill our needs and desires?
  • "Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son”..... But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him."
  • Through his sin, the son feels unworthy of the father's love or grace. But the father doesn't merely accept his son back into the family, no he "saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him". The father's love and mercy was not contingent on how the son behaved, it was unreserved and unwavering no matter what, and he gave him the best he had to offer.
  • The older son's jealously is a reminder of a few things:
    • One, God doesn't love us because we try to be perfect. We are able to strive towards holiness because God loves us unconditionally
    • Two, We are not the judges of who is deserving of what. We need to take a reality check and humble ourselves.
    • Three, does our pursuit of the "good" keep us from pursuing the "best" or the "greatest"? The older son was so concerned with playing by the roles, or doing what was good, that he forgot that the greater good was loving his brother and welcoming him home. 
I think that last point is an interesting one. How often do we concern ourselves with things that aren't bad, that may be good, but that keep us from the greatest good? It isn't bad to spend time with friends or family, but if that time spent interferes with our ability to seek God, is the good getting in the way of a greater good? I feel like this is a hard question to answer, especially for the person who feels like they are doing the right thing and "deserves" the splendors that the younger son receives. But we don't deserve anything because of what we do or don't do. We deserve the gifts of the Father because of who HE is, not because of who we are.




Luke 15:11-32

And He said, “A man had two sons. The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the estate that falls to me.’ So he divided his wealth between them. And not many days later, the younger son gathered everything together and went on a journey into a distant country, and there he squandered his estate with loose living. Now when he had spent everything, a severe famine occurred in that country, and he began to be impoverished. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would have gladly filled his stomach with the pods that the swine were eating, and no one was giving anything to him. But when he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger! I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men.” So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet; and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’ And they began to celebrate.
“Now his older son was in the field, and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. And he summoned one of the servants and began inquiring what these things could be. And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has received him back safe and sound.’ But he became angry and was not willing to go in; and his father came out and began pleading with him. But he answered and said to his father, ‘Look! For so many years I have been serving you and I have never neglected a command of yours; and yet you have never given me a young goat, so that I might celebrate with my friends; but when this son of yours came, who has devoured your wealth with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him.’ And he said to him, ‘Son, you have always been with me, and all that is mine is yours. But we had to celebrate and rejoice, for this brother of yours was dead and has begun to live, and was lost and has been found.’”

New Beginings



The past few months have been quite eventful, as I made the move out of Philadelphia and began my southbound road trip throughout late July and August, finally making my way to Florida. I've been in grad school for just about three weeks now! I keep telling myself that I am going to keep up more regularly with blog posts now that I'm settled, but for now, I'll leave a few snapshots of my journey out of Philadelphia down to Florida!





Last day of work lunch at Sabrina's with the loveliest of co-workers

First leg of the journey, Sunsets in West Virginia down I-81


Quick Trip to Nashville to visit the brother! A few days experiencing the best sights, sounds and tastes of music city

Spent plenty of time hanging out with my favorite Charlotte girls!

 
 Another quick trip! This time, just the girls headed to Asheville to visit the Biltmore Estate and to get pampered at the fantastic Grove Park Inn and Spa

Got to spend plenty of time with this bestie and my favorite pup, Lasso! 
Brunchies, Breweries, Pool Days, Shopping, The Bachelorette, what more could I need!
Got to pick this one up from the airport on her way back from Alaska, so we could spend the day shopping for bridesmaid's dresses, drinking margaritas and watching the Bachelor!

Last stop before Florida was my favorite beach:
Hilton Head Island
Boat Cruise on the Bay
Finley spotting!


Family
If people ever wonder where I got it from.....
South Beach Marina: Salty Dog Cafe
 

Last Night on the Beach


Next stop:
FLORIDA

A little announcement...

A lot has happened since my last post 7 months ago. I took a little hiatus to focus on a very big undertaking in my life, which was applying to doctoral programs in psychology, a feat that consumed me since about Summer of 2015 until the past few weeks.

The undertaking that was applying to grad school is finally over. The long months of studying, researching programs, writing and rewriting (and rewriting and rewriting) statements of purpose,  flying all of the country for full-day interviews, waiting for acceptance offers, negotiating financial aid packets and agonizing over the choice have finally come to an end. I knew going into this process that it would take a lot of work, but I couldn't fathom the physical and mental endurance it would take. The application process tested me mentally, but ultimately allowed me the opportunity to take stock of what I have learned and channel that towards my future goals.




The actual interview process was something else entirely. I was incredibly blessed to receive more interview offers than expected, giving me the opportunity to explore new sections of the country and meet individuals who could push my aspirational career goals into tangible experiences. Through the interview process, I flew to states I'd never visited before, rented my first rental car, experienced my first "stranded in a new city" when Winter Storm Jonas cancelled all my flights one weekend, met many professionals in the field I plan to work in and surprised myself with how I handled being surrounded by people I've never met before. I was terrified by the idea of being thrown into a full day interview where I knew no one but the experience taught me a lot about how much I can handle and how important it is to face my anxieties head on.

The entire process was a tiresome, but incredibly enriching experience. Applying took all my free time in the fall. I had interviews for 6 straight weekends in January and February, 5 of which required me to fly out of town, and 4 additional Skype interviews. Right in the middle of this experience, my grandfather passed away, which jolted the formulating ideas of what I wanted next in an unpredicted way. I made my final visit to a potential school on my 26th birthday, made a decision a few days later and then promptly got sick for the next 2 weeks, knowing my body just needed to crash and reset. Its amazing how rejuvinating the release of stress and your body's healing of itself can be. I've had two weekends in the row of feeling back to myself, and its all finally starting to sink in. I'm making my bucket lists, counting down the days until my "lasts" begin here and the goodbyes start. Reflecting on this entire process, its crazy to think that the dream I once had of getting my Ph.D. one day is a concrete reality.

I'm absolutely thrilled to be heading off in August to pursue doctoral level studies in School Psychology at the University of Florida on an academic fellowship. A lot of praying, reflecting and being honest about what I really wanted for the next phase of my life led me to this decision, and I'm excited to be heading back to the South. The program, the people, the location in Florida (and proximity to beaches and Disney World) and the location relative to home all make me excited for the next chapter, and I can't thank enough all of the individuals who helped me and dealt with me this year. To the mentors who wrote my letters of recommendations and guided my decision making process, to my coworkers and roommates who bore with me as complained and shed tears of exhaustion, to my best friends and family who sacrificed their time to listen to my endless back and forth about programs and whom I am grateful for even though I wasn't as present to them as they were to me this year, I thank you. I know I didn't show it often, but all of your support helped me not only to survive this year, but showed me what sacrificial love could look like, and for that I am ever thankful, for I couldn't have made it to now without you.

Here's to the next chapter

Joy.



Like everyone else in the country, I've been glued to my TV/Laptop/Twitter account this week watching, listening and reading the coverage of Pope Francis' Inaugural visit to the U.S. I think I've talked to every person I could possibly know about Pope Francis in the coming months, and I reached a point where I couldn't keep my cool when talking about him, even at work.




I live in Philadelphia, so needless to say the City of Brotherly has been eagerly anticipating this visit for over  year now. I've seen the preparations slowly unfolding at first, and now we as a city are in full-on Francis prep. The Benjamin Franklin Parkway is lined with banners decorated with Pope Francis' face and his messages of hope. The Convention Center is filled with pilgrims attending the World Meeting of Families Congress this week. Barricades and Jumbotrons and directional signs and posters are everywhere across the city. Regardless if you are Catholic or not, Philadelphia knows that it is preparing for something special.

Watching Pope Francis' speech to the joint session of Congress today reiterated that point to the rest of the country. This is something historic. This is something special. The fact that members on both sides of the aisle gave him a standing ovation on both his entrance and exit from the chamber helped others to realize that his message is universal, for all people, and all he wants is to help humanity. His message today made it more and more visible to everyone that he is God's servant, a vessel for the Holy Spirit and a messenger to all of us. He didn't shy away from topics. People have been waiting to see which side of the aisle he would side with more, and one reporter finally pointed out that he was neither Democratic nor Republican, he's Catholic. He spoke of Jesus and His Church and what it means to respect the dignity of humanity in all forms. He spoke of great Americans and called us up to be our best selves in order to serve the greater good.

And he is just getting started.

His speeches in NYC and at Independence Hall will be greatly anticipated, by I can't wait to see more of his interactions with the people he shepards, like when he met with the homeless in D.C. today. The joy on his face when he gets to interact with people brought me to tears, and to be able to experience that joy with the thousands of pilgrims in Philadelphia this weekend has me so excited I can barely focus on anything else. I can't wait to see what the next three weekends hold for his visit, and pray that he continues to be safe, healthy and joyful in his visit. See you Saturday Papa!


Update: This was my view of the Holy Father before the Papal Mass. He took a detour and came to the Basilica to visit the Grotto of Mary, Undoer of Knots and I was volunteering there! To say overwhelmed and in complete tears wouldn't even begin to sum up that moment.


Quote form Evangelii Gaudium Chapter One

"More than by fear of going astray, my hope is that we will be moved by the fear of remaining shut up within structures which give us a false sense of security, within rules that make us harsh judges, within habits with make us feel safe, while at our door people are starving and Jesus does not tire of saying to us: 'Give them something to eat' (Mark 6:37) "

Pope Francis

Time to step outside our comfort zone.

Asparagus, Bacon, Corn and Sweet Potato Skillet

I love when beautiful things come about by piecing together pre-existing parts you never thought belonged together. I realized on Thursday that I had a half a bunch of asparagus and a sweet potato that I needed to cook before they went bad, so to Pinterest I flew! I did a quick search for asparagus and sweet potato and found this amazing recipe off of Barefeet in the Kitchen! It is super quick, super simple and so delicious! I was amazed by how much flavor was in this simple dish! Enjoy!





Asparagus, Bacon, Corn and Sweet Potato Skillet
Yield: 4 servings


3 slices bacon, cut into 1" pieces
1 large sweet potatoes, 2 1/2 - 3 cups, diced into 1/2" cubes
1/2 lb asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2" pieces
1 ear of corn, kernels removed
kosher salt, to taste
freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
Optional: 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

In a glass bowl, microwave the sweet potato pieces for 2 minutes, stir and microwave another 2 minutes. Stir again and check tenderness. They should be fork tender, but still just a bit crisp. Cook them another minute if necessary. Set aside.

In a very large skillet, over medium high heat, cook the bacon pieces and then remove to a paper towel.  Add the softened potatoes to the bacon grease left in the skillet and toss quickly to coat each piece. Season with salt an pepper and cook about 5 minutes, stirring/flipping occasionally.

Add the asparagus and stir to combine. Cook another 4-5 minutes, until the asparagus is almost softened. Add the corn, toss well to coat and cook 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the bacon back into the skillet and stir to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper and remove from the heat. Drizzle with balsamic and stir again. Serve hot and Enjoy!

Friday Favorites

Oy with the poodles already. Summer has just flown by. While I haven't traveled too much this summer, this summer was busy between actually working all summer (missing that teacher life...), trying to do ALL the Philly summer things and...whomp whomp, studying for the GRE. BUT, I finally took the GRE last week and the next step of the application for graduate school can begin! I'm giving myself a challenge of actually trying to post more regularly on here, so we'll see how that goes. Working on some upcoming things, but as for now, here are some Friday Favorites!




one
Y'all, two of the things I love most in this word are dancing and weddings. Even better is dancing AT weddings. This ballerina couple had their reception on stage at the theater where they perform, and this groom and his groomsman brought down the HOUSE with this routine. 

two
Girl Scouts can earn a badge in Mental Health Awareness
As someone who works in the field of mental health, nothing is better than seeing this article highlighting positive promotions of mental health in the community, especially within an organization that works with younger girls. Educating girls around these issues begins to normalize that mental health is something we all deal with, even if we don't have a mental illness, helps to break down communication barriers and will hopefully give girls who need help access to resources. Right on, Girl Scouts

three
Josh Groban sings Donald Trumps' Tweets
In the follow up to Josh's singing of Kanye's tweets, we get Trump Tweets sung by the voice of an angel. Now, I still fume when I remember that Trump is actually running for president (#notafan) but hearing his tweets, some of which are just ridiculous, sung by Josh Groban make them a little more bearable.


four
Philadelphia Restaurant Week 


Philly, like many other cities, hosts a biannual restaurant week(s) that allows restaurants to set fixed menus with fixed prices so patrons can enjoy places they may not normally go to. Restaurant week is one of my favorite things to do in the city. It is so much fun dressing up, heading to a new (usually fancy) restaurant to sample some of its best cuisine. This year fall restaurant week was earlier due to the city basically shutting down for the Pope's visit next month. We hit up XIX Nineteen, which is on the 19th floor of the Hyatt at the Bellevue Hotel. The restaurant is GORGEOUS and definitely has the feel of an old 1920's ballroom, with high ceiling draped with pearl-shaped lights. We had three courses (including a dessert trio) before we headed out to take a picture on the balcony overlooking the city


five
My Marriage is not a Fairy tale
Jackie Angel hits the ball out of the park with this one again. She keeps it incredibly real and highlights that marriage is real life.

Have a great weekend, y'all!

Cyberbully

It was a typical Monday night and the roommates and I were sitting down for our weekly viewing of The Bachelorette. I completely admit that the franchise is my biggest guilty pleasure. Even though the vehicle is unorthodox and doesn't necessarily work a lot of the time, watching someone chase after love is intriguing. No, I don't think the show promotes the best morals in terms of how we go about looking for love, but I love it nevertheless. This season has been one of "the most dramatic seasons of the Bachelorette ever"....as it always is (Chris Harrison I am buying you a thesaurus to up your adjective game) and tonight aired the "Men Tell All" episode. Always drama, always people accusing others or defending why they did something, always the heartfelt last words of the last gent sent home (<3 Ben H. <3) to Kaitlyn. All very typical MTA episode stuff. 

Kaitlyn made many choices on the show, some of which I agree with some of which I don't. She owned up to her choices and mistakes. The backlash of cyber harassment that followed her during the airing of the show was atrocious. Whether or not you agree with her, bullying someone for any reason is NOT okay. 

This is a topic very close to my heart. I work on a psychology research team that studies relational aggression and cyber bullying and works to create programs to help kids deal with aggression, bullying and friendship problems in healthy ways. It is disheartening to see adults take to social media outlets to bully and harass other individuals who they "know" through a TV program. 

There is a difference between expressing an opinion and harrassment. It is fine to disagree with any one person's choices and lifestyle and to defend your beliefs and morals. It is okay to feel a certain way about a person, a TV show and those who participated. In one of my programs, we teach our kids that "all emotions are okay but all actions are not okay". That's where the choice comes in. That is where you decide how to take what you are feeling and deal with it. 

A lot of bullying has to deal with power and I think with cyberbullying in particular, people who may not feel powerful in their everyday lives take to a space where they can remain anonymous to exert power over another person. Making fun of someone for their choices or appearance and using derogatory terms, which not only hurt the intended victim but normalizes the use of such language to make it seem okay to demoralize one another with that language, not only hurts that person and those in their life, but it also makes hatred socially acceptable. By attacking someone else to defend our beliefs we show others, especially those who learn from us, that the only way to stand up for your beliefs is to knock others down. We become less loving role models and become more stereotypes of religious judgement.

Our God is a God of love, not of hatred. Does that mean God endorses or wants His beloved children to disobey him? No, but that God also doesn't want His children spreading hatred and judgement as a way to try and get others to see His Message. Jesus didn't die for us and continue to offer Himself in the Eucharist to us  so that we may demoralized and judge our fellow brothers and sisters when they fall. He called us "to love our neighbor as ourselves" (Mark 12:31) and His future follower, St. Francis of Assisi calls us to "preach the Gospel at all time, if necessary use words." We don't change the hearts of others and help lead them towards Jesus by shaming them with hatred. We don't impact the next generation by dismissing someone as a role model by calling them derogatory names. We don't become more powerful leaders for Christ by making others less powerful. 


1 John 3:18 

As of lately...

I think I am really going to get back to writing more regularly soon, but as for now...

Eating-- Vegetarian Chili from the Healthy Grocery Girl Nutrition Plan. This is not the exact recipe, but it is a twist on the original. Even though it is crazy hot, this was super easy to make and made a TON of food!

Listening-- Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness (Previously of Jack's Mannequin and Something Corporate). Jack's Mannequin is one of my all time favorite bands and their song "Swim" is pretty much my anthem.


Drinking-- Water, water and more water. Have I mentioned it is hot here?

Thinking-- About cyberbullying and how it doesn't necessarily get better once you become an adult (more to come on that later)

Wasting-- time watching "Royal Pains" on Netflix #obsessed

Dreaming-- Weird dreams that somehow take place at the Louvre and Disney World at the same time #lifegoals #wanderlust #happiestplaceonearth

Eyeing-- Tory Burch Riding Boots from Nordstrom Anniversary Sale

Laughing-- At my coworkers and their ridiculous stories. They keep me sane :D

Reading-- Grace for the Good Girl by Emily P. Freeman. I just started it so I haven't formulated an opinion/review of the book. The topic, though, hits right on point.

Wishing-- I had air conditioning or a tropical beach. But at least it isn't winter....

As of lately

This spring has flown by.
I think the combination of being happy that it is no longer winter (#praiseHim), being so busy at work and traveling so much has made this time go fast. It has been incredibly full and here is a little round-up:
Easter trip to California to visit my best friend and her husband! Spent the day in Santa Monica
We surprised one of my co-workers and  took her to sky zone for her birthday!
My college friend is leaving the area to start PA school, so we went to Painting with a Twist to celebrate!
My brother graduated college in Boston over Mothwr's Day weekend. Naturally, a photo shoot ensued.
Gurlz weekend celebrating a wedding in NC.
Being a super tourist
Happy Easter from Beverly Hills
Quick weekend trip to NYC with the parents to see a few shows and visit the WTC memorial 
Hiking in the NC mountains for Memorial Day weekend!

Work is winding down a bit and my extensive travels will be calming for a bit over the summer, so hopefully blogging will get back on my radar!

A Future Not My Own





God slow me down
I'm like a river running
Pressed to the ground
I feel it overcoming
I'm on my knees
I'm incomplete
This is a great unknown
Love is a long and narrow road
Come chase this heart of stone
I need a future not my own
Your spirit groans
Where all my words are ceasing
Can't do this alone
Lord help my unbelieving
My poverty
I'm incomplete 
This is a great unknown
Love is a long and narrow road
Come chase this heart of stone
I need a future not my own
Not my own
We see the start but You see the end
We see in part but Your love sees everything
We plant the seeds but You make them grow
We're building a house, You're building a home
This is the great unknown
Love is a long and narrow road
Come chase this heart of stone
I need a future not my own
This world is not my home
I still have miles and miles to go
Come break this heart of stone
I need a future not my own


For the love of a watch

In college I was never a big watch person. I figured, I have my phone, I'll just check the time on that. A nice watch seemed too "adult". Real people with real jobs have nice watches! Well fast forward to a year after college and oh hey! I'm a real person with a real job! I decided I wanted to invest in a classic time piece. I spent time doing my research, finding a look I liked, figuring out a price point and keeping up with sale sites like Rue La La for any deals.

I finally invested in a beautiful Michael Kors Tortoise Shell and Gold Watch as my "back-to-school" gift to myself. I finally got it sized (after having it for four months....) and it has never left my wrist!  Unless I am at the gym, sleeping or in the shower, it goes with every outfit and makes me feel just a little more dressed up. I never thought I would spend a lot of money on something like that, but discovered that something I wear as much as a watch needs to be good quality, so I am willing to invest a little more.

Does anyone have a statement piece of their wardrobe that they bought as an investment?





It's burning in my soul

I've been trying to feed my spiritual life more lately.
The closet church to where I live is the Basilica for our Archdiocese, so I tend to walk there on Sunday mornings for an early mass. The walk there is not that interesting, so I try to listen to music.

For the past few weeks, the first song I instinctively played as I start walking is "Burning in my Soul"by Matt Maher. Now. I. Love. Matt. Maher. (but more on that later)
The song leaves me with a desire for more, to have a passion reignited in my soul for Christ and His Church. I love listening to this song on my way to Mass, because it almost "pumps me up" for Mass, gets me excited to spend time in the celebration, gets me ready to "hear the sound from heaven, a mighty rushing wind" through the Word and to be nourished by His Body.

I love this song because it reminds me of the beginning of this year, when I started to thirst more for a deeper relationship with our Lord

I got to see Matt Maher perform in October at a music festival called Abbey Fest at the Daylesford Abbey in Paoli, Pa. 
He played as adoration began, in a field under the stars and I full on lost it.
I have always loved spending time in adoration and God has led me to some powerful experiences in adoration but I guess this time felt a little different.

I think I had been starving myself spiritually. I was so preoccupied with everything else going on in my life that I was not nourishing my soul. In that moment when Adoration began, I fully submitted to God. I didn't know what to say, to think, to pray for, so I just tried to be present in the moment of adoring a loving God.

The song has a line that says "we are calling for revival, God let your fire fall again, " and while that could be looked on as a greater metaphor for our generation calling for revival, I also take it as a personal call for me. A cry for something deeper and something more. I want my desire for Christ to be "burning in my soul" but that doesn't happen if I don't nourish and feed the soul where my desire needs to grow from. I too often want the big revelation without taking the small steps to work towards a meaningful relationship with God, and I know that I need to recommit to those small steps now in preparation for something more.





Room Inspiration

My room has a lot of blank wall space (cue Taylor Swift) that I have been trying to figure out how to decorate.  I have pictures, posters and some cute signs up, but couldn't figure out what to hang on the wall behind my bed. I was going through my closet last night (took all the clothes out....only to put all the clothes back in) and was going through my scarfs. 

I have a beautiful scarf that I bought in Barcelona that I never wear because the ends keep fraying and getting caught in jacket zippers. I was looking at it and thinking how much I love the colors and how it was such a big scarf and it hit me! I was the perfect thing to hang behind my bed and make a statement. My bedding is white and gray, as is my accent lamp, and my pillows are turquoise and coral. I was so excited and #impressed by my burst of "creativity". I think all that time looking a Pinterest has finally paid off!




NAS: But first....Let me take a Selfie

Link up with Jen and Morgan for this great series!


Do you support the selfie trend? Do you think it promotes self absorption, vanity and narcissism? Is there a way to incorporate selfies into the Church's teachings of modesty, authentic beauty, humility?Thanks to Hannah!


Not gonna lie, not a fan of the "selfie", Whether it is the song "but first....lemme take a selfie" or the never-ending parade of pictures on Instagram. 

I love pictures. Many a turned-around camera self picture has been taken in the hopes of not missing out on a memory, usually to capture who I was with or what I was witnessing around me.

Selfie overlooking the Copenhagen skyline
Back in the day, the "selfie" was when you turned the camera around in order to get everyone in a picture but there was no extra person to take it. It's purpose was to include everyone and make a memory. Even the occasional solitary self-taken picture was to savor a moment in which no one else was able to take the picture.  I'm all for documenting memories to live on. 



I'm not a big fan of the selfie just for the sake of having a picture of yourself, especially when posted on social media. I believe in the importance of feeling confident yourself and how you look, but the I see the posting of "selfies" of just yourself comes from the need for approval from others regarding our looks and our lifestyles. 
Selfie while walking El Camino de Santiago

Now, I completely fall prey to pruning my social media accounts to display my ideal self. I don't think anyone wants to feel like they look "bad" in their pictures, but I've realized there is a line between deciding what you want displayed and what you think should be displayed. The thought process of this picture makes me look this way or if I post this picture then it looks like I am fulfilled in this area of my life can trap us into hiding who we truly are, of hiding a true beauty. 

We don't need the others to assure us of that beauty. 

Page through the Bible, especially Song of Songs and discover gems like this one:
"You are beautiful in every way, my friend, there is no flaw in you!"
Song of Songs 4:7

We need to use the selfie to capture more memories, more joy. Memories with friends, an experience of a lifetime, a moment of bliss. If we could use selfies to promote the joy of living  full lives with Christ instead of using them to promote living lives full of ourselves. 

I'm challenging myself to re-evaluate the selfie, will you?

NAS: Children

Whoops, I had all intentions of writing a post for last week's link up with Jen and Morgan, but I completely forgot!

But jumping back into things this week because I LOVE the topic!




Do you have children in your life? What is your relationship with them like? Do you have godchildren, and how do you form a relationship with them? Does having children in (or not in) your day-to-day life make you feel happy, wistful, or wary (of having your own someday)? Thanks to Lindsay! 



I'd have to say that there are a good amount of kids in my life. Let me break it down: Family-wise I am the oldest of three siblings, the oldest of 13 cousins on my Dad's side and one of 19 cousins on my mom's side, most of whom have kids (so about 13 first-cousins once removed). So I grew up around A LOT of kids. And my career has also taken me down a path of working with a lot of children. From babysitting and teaching CCD in high school, to studying to be in a career working with children in college, to two-years of teaching 6th graders and now working on initiatives in Child and Adolescent Psychology, my career goals have always been to help better the lives of children.

My Godson!
I have a godson, who is actually my godmother's son, and he is the cutest stinking kid in the entire world. I don't see him enough and I want to learn to be a better role model to him through being his Godmother, but I'm just continuing to love the little goober and his silliness for now. 


Confirmation 201


I am also blessed to have been the confirmation sponsor of two of my cousins in the past two years, and I have been able to see them develop into such strong young men, a privilege that my geography has granted me recently.  I've learned a lot from how they view the world and am ever-blessed by their humor.
Confirmation 2013















I feel like I have a good relationship with most of the kids in my life, though my little cousins have told me on more than one occasion to stop acting like their teacher #canthelpit. Although spending all day teaching wasn't the best fit for me, the part I miss most about full-time teaching is my kids. Not my students, my kids. I realized very early on in my teaching career  how quickly I began to care for my students when I started calling them "my kids", and still refer to them that way when I talk about them (which tends to confuse some people who didn't know I was a teacher.....). I loved the times when we could just talk, where I could just hear them reflect upon their life and their hopes and dreams. While I enjoyed teaching my math and science lessons, one of the most fruitful moments in teaching came from an hour and a half long conversation I had with my class the day after Pope Francis was elected. It was fascinating, in a Catholic school that serve mostly non-Catholic students, to hear their perspective on the event (side-note: All kids think the Popemobile is cool).

I think because I come from a teaching background that I am sometimes to strict with the kids in my life, but I think it is because I've see so much potential and future hope in kids and I want them to have every opportunity to use the gifts that God has bestowed upon them. The children in my life bring me the most amount of happiness in my days, especially when they blow my mind answering questions so simply. Their unbiased innocence lends itself to that, and they show me an insight into the world and the human experience that is closer to what God intends us to see than what we necessarily see when we view the world. I see myself working with kids for as long as I can, either directly in their care or in advocacy for their rights and needs. While I don't know when it may happen, if He chooses to bless me with them, I can't wait to have kids of my own one day, in whatever way God grants them to me. 

The greatest thing that teaching has taught me is that we have a lot we can learn from them while we hope they may learn something from us.



"At that time the disciples approached Jesus and said, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a child over, placed it in their midst, and said, “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven and whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me"

Matthew 18:1-5



joy


While I was in Mass this evening, I was reflecting on the difference between joy and happiness after receiving communion. I am happy with my life now. I really like my job and find a great deal of fulfillment with my work. I like where I live, the trips I get to take, the friends I get to see. My family is healthy and I get to visit and communicate with them often. I really have nothing to complain about. However when I was in Mass, kneeling after receiving His Body and Blood, I couldn't think of the last time I was truly joyful, truly filled with a sense of wonder and awe. I realized that the last long stretch of time that I truly felt joyful was in college when I was extremely involved with my college campus ministry group. Sure, I was crazy stressed at certain points and I may not have been happy with everything that came my way, but I experienced true moments of Joy brought by God, whether in a Bible study, on a retreat, in Adoration or teaching at Sunday school. There have been fleeting times since, but I think I lost track of joy and what joy truly was to cultivate and appreciate it. Joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit, and as this super reliable website says, " The "fruit" is the product of the Holy Spirit's cultivation of character in a heart." Joy doesn't come from worldly things, from accomplishments, achievements and the things we acquire. Joy is a gift that comes from cultivating something within our hearts. Joy comes from God within ourselves, not from outside sources. Over the past few weeks, I'm been realizing more and more of my need and desire to come back to the heart of it all, to the heart of worship, to the heart of Jesus, and it is then, when I come back to Him, that I will find my joy.

Fall in Love

"Nothing is more practical than finding God, than falling in Love in a quite absolute, final way.

What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything,

It will decide what will get you out of the bed in the morning, what you do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, whom you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude.

Fall in Love, stay in love, and it will decide everything."

---Pedro Arrupe, S.J.