31 December 2015

IT'S CHRISTMAS!!!!

I waited all of Advent to sing Christmas songs and do Christmas things, and I'm so happy it's finally here!

I've spent the last few days studying cramming furiously for my Individual Life Insurance exam as a part of the Chartered Life Underwriter designation I'm working on. Old habits die hard. I had the exam today, it was a lot more difficult than I anticipated, partly because I hardly knew the information and was learning new material as late as 1:55 this afternoon. But I took it and I passed! Thanks be to God for being a good guesser and a good test taker, and for just plain good luck. After the first ten questions (where I knew no more than four answers) I thought for sure I was toast. But I pulled out the big W.

Since Advent started, I've been praying the Sunday readings with the use of guided meditations from a lectio divina book I bought. I've tried to pray through each meditation 2-3 times throughout the week. I've found that I've been able to get into a much deeper form of prayer, which I think means that I'm doing it right? I love prayer, but even after all these years of practice I still wonder if I'm doing it the way that God wants me to do it. The guided meditations take you from lectio, the first reading and the gospel reading for that Sunday with some commentary on the scriptures, then there are questions for the meditatio, the beginning prayer for oratio, then contemplatio and operatio.
During contemplatio,  my mind was completely blank, unoccupied by the usual endless stream of words, my eyes were closed, and I felt my heart being drawn up completely into the Lord's. I didn't come away with any revelation about what to do with my life or any firm resolve to turn away from my sins, but it was a very intimate moment. I'm not sure how long it lasted, and no words were exchanged. I started by praying that God would just work on my heart, and He did!
It made me question if I had ever really had a real experience of God before that. (I'm not denying that I have had experiences of God, this just seemed that much deeper.) It also made me question the whole idea of consolation and desolation, or at least my understanding of it. Formerly, I'd thought of desolation as just seasons where you can't "feel" God moving, and are usually uninspired to pray, etc. After that experience, I wonder if I haven't been in desolation my whole life, and the only consolation is meeting God in that place. If the saints, who are way better at praying than I am, regularly have those intimate moments with God, and then He withdraws from them,  perhaps that is real desolation, and anything I've named desolation in my life is just me being a brat. I bought St. John of the Cross's Dark Night of the Soul to find out for myself. I've been so into my carmelites lately!

Human will is a tricky thing.

Mary, Queen of the Universe, pray for us!


27 December 2015

Overlooked Details


Now that Christmas is finally here, I've been jamming out to my favorite Christmas songs. Starting at Midnight Mass, I was struck for the first time by how many songs make a reference to the wise men who visited Jesus.

We've all heard the story of Jesus' birth so many times that it's easy to take for granted some details which seem subtle or inconsequential. Three wise men or kings came to visit Jesus by following the light of a star. Sure. Heard it a thousand times. But if we were reading the Gospel of Saint Matthew with the eyes of a first century Jew, we would realize how absolutely radical it is that the three wise men came to pay homage to Jesus. 

A few weeks ago I finished reading Dawn of the Messiah by Edward Sri. Allow me to share some of his insights regarding the wise men:

"For many first-century Jewish readers, this plot [the story of the Magi] would sound all too familiar. It would recall the Old Testament story of Balak, Balaam and he prophecy of Numbers 24. Balak was the king of Moab who feared the Israelites so much that he called upon a pagan prophet from the east named Balaam to put a curse on them. However, when Balaam tried to curse Israel, words of blessing mysteriously came out of his mouth. Three times Balaam attempted to cast a spell on the Israelites, but each time God intervened to cause him to utter blessings.... All this prefigures the story of Herod, the Magi, and the star in Matthew 2. Just as the wicked King Balak wanted to use a pagan from the East to destroy Israel, so the wicked King Herod tries to use the Magi from the East in his plot to kill Israel's new born Messiah. Similarly, Balaam prefigures the Magi. Just as Balaam did not cooperate with Balak's plan to harm Israel but ended up blessing God's people, so do the Magi refuse to cooperate with Herod and instead end up paying homage to Jesus and bringing him gifts fit for a king. "

Jesus fulfills hundreds of prophecies from the Old Testament, including the prophecy that He would bring together all nations. The Magi from the East are not Jews. They are the first gentiles that God brings back into His covenant through Christ. The gifts they bring allude to the Kingship of Christ, His Divinity, and His death. 

How crazy is it that these men come to worship a little baby and recognize Him as the Savior?!! They don't have knowledge of the Old Testament, but God moves in them and allows them to take part in His plan for the salvation of the world.

Praise God!

St. Stephen, pray for us. 


Check out this a cappella version of The Little Drummer Boy by Pentatonix: 


23 December 2015

Kelly Ann Fox, 22 Dec 1961 - 16 Dec 2015, Requiescat in Pace

It seems like it's been a month since last Wednesday. I had the great fortune of attending a wedding of some sweet friends from college this past weekend, but my mind was in a million places at every pause in the conversation.

After the wedding, I trekked to South Bend, Indiana by way of Chicago to be with my family. Emotions ran high the whole time we were all together, so that was stressful.

It may sound cliche but you never can quite understand what its like to lose a family member to suicide unless you've experienced it. For the most part, I'm proud of my family. We're not all that close in general, but we came together and were there for one another when it mattered most. Even though I'm not that close to my family, the love I have for them is strong. There's something about our shared experiences of one another (in addition to our shared genetics) that we just kind of "get" each other. I wasn't close to my Aunt Kelly, in fact I cannot recall the last time we spoke. It may very well have been ten years. But God put us in this family together for some reason. And I loved her.

I was asked to be the closing speaker at Aunt Kelly's Memorial. To my knowledge, she didn't practice any religion, although she was baptized as a baby. My family asked me because there would be no minister and they wanted to hear something from scripture. Death is one of those things that forces people to think about God. Here's what I said:

For those of you who don't know me, I'm Brittany, Aunt Kelly's youngest niece. As the youngest niece,  I feel like I have a special connection to Aunt Kelly- we are both the baby girls of our family. This is why anyone will tell you that we were both my late grandfather's favorites. It could also mean that we are my grandmother's least favorites because we think the rules don't apply to us. 
Every position in a family has with it a set of responsibilities toward the whole. For us as the babies, we are here to remind our older siblings and cousins not to take life too seriously. We are here to keep some of that child-like joy; to be a breath of fresh air when things are too serious or difficult. 
Ultimately we're all here- babies, oldest, and even the forgotten ones in the middle- for a reason. When God made us, when He formed Adam and Eve and when He knit each of us in our mother's womb at our conception, He made us for a purpose. That purpose of course is to love Him and to be in a relationship with Him as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Throughout the course of human history and hundreds of thousands of times in my life and yours, we have broken that once perfect relationship by sin- those times when we turn away from God and rely only on ourselves. When we sin against a perfectly loving and infinite God, there is nothing we can do to rebuild that relationship. Thank God that isn't the end of the story. 
The gap of sin is too wide for us to bridge on our own, so God stepped down out of Heaven to bridge it for us. He took on human flesh and became a vulnerable baby to heal that broken relationship, all so that we could spend eternity in everlasting paradise with Him. He bore the weight of those sins when He hung on the cross. But this love cannot be one sided. The very definition of love requires reciprocation. Jesus, through the cross, shows us that suffering isn't something to fear, instead it is the path to our salvation. 
Jesus invites us to cast our burdens on Him. He invites us to embrace the crosses in our own lives. He doesn't promise that our lives will always be perfect or rosy or happy, but He does promise that, if we allow it, He will walk with us, even carry us when necessary.
I know that Aunt Kelly suffered. She was the life of the party, but deep down she fought her battles. None of us may ever really know how hard she fought. I think the hardest thing about her death for my family are the "what ifs." What if I could have done something more to show her how loved she was? What if I would have been there? The "what ifs" can eat us up or they can inspire us to tell our family how much we love them, show them how much they mean to us. That is what Aunt Kelly would have wanted.
For me, the hardest thing to fathom is how lonely the decision must have felt. I cannot begin to understand the way she came to make that decision, but now matter how lonely she felt, I can say with 100% confidence that she was never truly alone. God doesn't make mistakes, and He doesn't leave His children, especially not His baby girl, my Aunt Kelly. 
As I've been praying this week, I keep coming back to this verse from the Gospel of Saint Matthew. I hope that in those last moments, she could have been comforted by these words from Jesus Himself:
"Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy and my burden light."
I pray that each of us can come to know the saving power of God this Christmas. As we grieve the loss of Aunt Kelly and celebrate the birth of Jesus, let us ask Him how He wants us to respond. Let us love each other the way He loves us. And let us pray that Aunt Kelly will soon see her Savior face to face in paradise, where suffering is no more.
 Our Father... 


17 December 2015

Promised Tomorrows

Life with Jesus is just so good.

Today I heard a song on the radio that had the line, "we're not promised tomorrow."
But it isn't true, I don't think.

Jesus DOES promise us tomorrow. It may not look like today. It may not be pretty or sunny. It may not even be on earth or inside time. But He does promise us tomorrow, and a thousand tomorrows after that, if we cooperate with grace. And He promises that tomorrow will be for our good and that He will fulfill the desires of our hearts and we will be loved in it. Those are the kind of promises that my God makes. That's the kind of Savior that I have. I am grateful.

I love the New Evangelization. God has no hands and feet but ours mine. People NEED to hear this! My own friends and family NEED to hear of the saving message of Christ's coming, they need to know that His yoke is easy and His burden is light.. How scandalous is it of me to keep something like this from them? How hateful of me?

Today my mom's sister Kelly took her own life. She sent a message to my mom and her other sisters, so I was able to pray the glorious mysteries in the physical hour of her death, which gives me comfort. No one is beyond the redeeming love of our Good Father. Please pray for the repose of her soul, and for my family.

Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. (Mt 11:28)

Oh my Jesus, forgive us our sins. Save us from the fires of Hell. Lead all souls to Heaven, especially those in most need of Thy mercy.

St. Matthew the Publican, pray for us.

14 December 2015

Waiting in Joyful Hope

Now that we're past Gaudete Sunday, we're in the home stretch of Advent.

I'm very thankful for how Advent has gone so far this year. For most of my life I hardly knew what liturgical seasons were. Then in college Advent always seemed to get forgotten because of finals, and when finals were over, Advent was half way done and I was like a (rein)deer in the headlights in front of the Christmas truck. Living life in semesters is not exactly conducive to living liturgically.

Since I've been in the "real world," this is the first year that I was really intentional about making plans for Advent. I've been trying to be more intentional about all the things I do. I'm open to suggestions.

This year, I started planning early by making an Advent reading plan. I ordered a book called Conversing with God in Advent and Christmas, by Stephen Binz. It's a book of guided lectio meditations for the Sunday readings. I paid a lot for the book (well, what I consider a lot for a book, I don't think it is being published anymore), but it.is.so.worth.it. It's good. I'm reading through Isaiah at the same time.

I've also been reading Dawn of the Messiah by Edward Sri. It is great as well. I'll be finished with it before I go to Auburn on Thursday, I think. You know how I like to check things off my to do list.

As I was preparing for what I would read during Advent, I started making some other goals. I really wanted this Advent to be about cleaning out the cobwebs of my stony heart and asking God to fill the space left behind.

Here is my Advent List:
Give up Facebook (so far so good)
Pray the Rosary every day (so far so good, thanks to YouTube!)
Clean out my closet (done, clothes donated, and I even cleaned out two other closets in my house!)
Don't eat out (fail.)
Don't spend money (fail.)
Read more (check!)

You might think I'm too focused on lists. Maybe even obsessed. It might be true. Productivity is good for my soul, I think. It seems counterintuitive, but when I'm busy, even my prayer time is better. My soul takes a respite from the busyness and I can hear God.

How is your Advent going?

St. John of the Cross, pray for us!

13 December 2015

Fake It Till You Make It

Over the last few years, I've had the great blessing of loving and being loved by some very humble and holy introverts. As far as I can remember, not one of them has ever embraced the idea of faking it until you make it. Read Ross's insightful take here.

Like most things in life, I think the reason I tend to disagree with my introverts on the topic is because they've thought about it much more deeply than I have. As far as extroverts go, I'd like to think of myself as less surfacy and more self aware than most (my pride speaking). It's probably not actually true. Anyways, the interior life requires quite a degree of self awareness and introspection, and I'm working on it.

I was in discipleship with two women during my junior year of college. In the fall semester, both of them were experiencing desolation, and my advice to both of them (which frustrated them immensely) was to fake it until you make it. I was coming off of a spiritually high summer and was excited to spend an hour in the chapel with Jesus every day. I knew they weren't, and I knew I wouldn't always be so thrilled about it either.

For weeks, neither of them were praying because they wanted to want to pray before they went to pray. Wanting to pray is not a prerequisite for praying, I don't care if you're an introvert or an extrovert. They hated the idea of fake it till you make it because of the word fake. I was convinced that if they would just go to the chapel and be with Jesus, He would work in their hearts. Had I been more mature, I could have probably communicated my thoughts without using that word.

When I think of fake it until you make it, I'm mostly thinking about obligations and actions. I NEED to be praying and keeping the lines of communication with God open, regardless of how I feel. I NEED to go to work and make money, regardless of how I feel. I NEED to love the people around me, regardless of how I feel. It's about using my faculties and acting on my will and my intellect over my emotions.

In the Ignatian Exercises, one of the rules is that you don't make or break plans in desolation. You make plans in consolation and you stick to them in desolation. You fake it until you make it back to consolation, if that's what it takes.

In Ross's post, he talks more about feelings. Self confidence, for example, isn't even a virtue. Is there a point to faking it until you make it if what you're faking won't advance you in the spiritual life? Hardly. He and I agree there. I love that he's asking questions I hadn't considered: do the ends justify the means? When it comes to engaging the will and intellect over the emotions, I think both the means and the ends are virtue. What do you think?

I wish there was a phrase that meant the same thing without the word fake in it. Perhaps "just keep swimming" from Dory from Finding Nemo. But it doesn't hold quite the weight of self denial that I think is captured in fake it till you make it.

St. Ignatius, pray for us!

06 December 2015

Evangelii Gaudium

Everyone gets to have their own opinion about the things that are happening in the world. Some are right, some are wrong, most are filled with pieces of the truth. We're responsible for informing our own consciences in a way that we seek to understand truth and are able to identify it when it is presented. It is becoming increasingly more difficult to obtain unbiased information, so what is a girl to do when she wants to think about current events with the mind of the Church? (That was a real question! Help!)

Ultimately, I want to be able to have intelligent conversations about current events, but I really don't want my own opinion. I am a follower of Jesus. In my life, what He says, goes. So I want to think what He thinks.

A few months ago I read Pope Francis's Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, or Joy of the Gospel.

It has rocked my world and changed my life. It's mostly changed my mind about things at this point because I'm still figuring out how to live it out practically. I love all of  "my" Popes (JPII, BXVI, and Francis), but it has been along time since I read something so impactful to my way of thinking. I'm still processing a lot of it (rare for me... I would love to process out loud if any one has read it or wants to read it and argue with me over how we can live this out.. that would be ideal.) I wanted to leave you with some quotes from the fourth chapter, entitled The Social Dimension of Evangelization. Everything I've written is directly from this chapter, I've used ellipses to skip over some sentences without interrupting the integrity of his intention, but read the whole thing, it's really worth it. Here are some of my favorite parts:

"The Gospel is not merely about our personal relationship with God... the Gospel is about the kingdom of God.... 'evangelization would not be complete if it did not take account of the unceasing interplay of the Gospel and of man's concrete life, both personal and social.'" (Francis quotes Evangelii Nuntiandi, Pope Paul VI)

"It is no longer possible to claim that religion should be restricted to the private sphere and that it exists only to prepare souls for heaven. We know that God wants his children to be happy in this world too, even though they are called to fulfillment in eternity, for he has created all things 'for our enjoyment' (1 Tim 6:17), the enjoyment of everyone.... An authentic faith-- which is never comfortable or completely personal-- always involves a deep desire to change the world, to transmit values, to leave this earth somehow better than we found it."

"Each individual Christian and every community is called to be an instrument of God for the liberation and promotion of the poor, and for enabling them to be fully a part of society. This demands that we be docile and attentive to the cry of the poor and to come to their aid... the mere fact that some people are born in places with fewer resources or less development does not justify the fact that they are living with less dignity. It must be reiterated that 'the more fortunate should renounce some of their rights so as to place their goods more generously at the service of others.' (Paul VI, Octogesima Adveniens)... We are not simply talking about ensuring nourishment or a 'dignified sustenance' for all people, but also their 'general temporal welfare and prosperity.'(John XIII, Mater et Magistra) This means education, access to health care, and above all employment, for it is through free, creative, participatory, and mutually supportive labor that human beings express and enhance the dignity of their lives. A just wage enables them to have adequate access to all the other goods which are destined for our common use."

"This is why I want a Church which is poor and for the poor. They have much to teach us. Not only do they share in the sensus fidei, but in their difficulties they know the suffering Christ. We need to let ourselves be evangelized by them. The new evangelization is an invitation to acknowledge the saving power at work in their lives and to put them at the center of the Church's pilgrim way. We are called to find Christ in them, to lend our voice to their causes, but also to be their friends, to listen to them, to speak for them, and to embrace the mysterious wisdom which God wishes to share with us through them." 

"Where is your brother or sister who is enslaved? Where is the brother and sister whom you are killing each day in clandestine warehouses, in rings of prostitution, in children used for begging, in exploiting undocumented labor? Let us not look the other way. There is greater complicity than we think. The issue involves everyone! This infamous network of crime is now well established in our cities, and many people have blood on their hands as a result of their comfortable and silent complicity."

"The whole is greater than the part, but it is also greater than the sum of its parts... we constantly need to broaden our horizons and see the greater good which will benefit us all."

"Interreligious dialogue is a necessary condition for peace in the world.... what is not helpful is a diplomatic openness which says 'yes' to everything in order to avoid problems. We Christians should embrace with affection and respect Muslim immigrants to our countries. Faced with disconcerting episodes of violent fundamentalism, our respect for true followers of Islam should lead us to avoid hateful generalizations, for authentic Islam and the proper reading of the Koran are opposed to every form of violence."

Yes. Yes. Yes.

St. Francis of Assisi, pray for us that we may rebuild God's Church as you did.

27 November 2015

Juxta Crucem Tecum Stare

Today I stood with you beneath the cross,
And felt more clearly than I ever did
That you became our Mother only there.
Even an earthly mother faithfully
Seeks to fulfill the last will of her son.
But you became the handmaid of the Lord.
The life and being of the God made Man
Was perfectly inscribed in your own life.
So you could take your own into your heart,
And with the lifeblood of your bitter pains
You purchased life anew for every soul.
You know us all, our wounds, our imperfections;
But you also know the celestial radiance
Which your Son's love would shed on us in heaven.
Thus carefully you guide our faltering footsteps,
No price too high for you to lead us to our goal.
But those whom you have chosen for companions
To stand with you around the eternal throne,
They here must stand with you beneath the cross,
And with the lifeblood of their own bitter pains
Must purchase heavenly glory for those souls
Whom God's own Son entrusted to their care.

St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, written on Good Friday in 1938

14 November 2015

Incarnational Evangelization

This week I was given multiple opportunities to have really awesome conversations with a few Protestants and an Atheist. It felt so good to have really meaningful conversations with people I hardly know. We didn't talk much about ourselves, but about Truth. Although when I talk about Truth, I would be remiss not to mention what God has done in my life, especially over the past few years.

I was also able to see the ways in which my current job has influenced my ability to evangelize. Personal finance is so touchy, people are very guarded about the way they view, spend, and save money. Even though I am the financial professional, sometimes it is difficult to get a good grasp on someone's financial situation. I've spent the last two years learning to craft questions for my clients to help them self realize what they should do, and provide financial education along the way. I'm pretty good at it, but I still have a long way to go. For a depiction (which I find hilarious and accurate) of my day to day life, watch this video. Warning: one f bomb at the end.



This year I've also spent a lot of time getting inside the minds of 8th and 9th grade girls and learning about what makes them tick. I'm far better at financial planning, let me tell you. One of the things I appreciate so much more about FOCUS and evangelizing to college students and young adults is that the men and women who are being evangelized are much more rational than my 8th and 9th grade girls. In a lot of ways, I read and thought myself into the faith. I had a lot of emotional experiences of God when I was in high school, and I do believe that those are the seeds of faith. When I got to college, it was more important to me to know what I believed. Today, my faith is pretty intellectual. This has kept me coming back for more, even when I couldn't feel God moving in my life, and for this I am extremely grateful. I am nowhere near as holy as God wants me to be and I fail all.the.time., but I'm so stubborn that I just won't quit. When I'm having conversations with adults, I feel like I'm able to get an understanding of their points of views and ask questions to hopefully help them self realize what I want to tell them, instead of just telling them flat out. I never knew how to do this as a missionary. I would like to spend a lot more time getting better at this. I don't mean to sound manipulative, but I do think it can be an effective strategy in helping someone see Truth. 

I'm even more convinced that authentic evangelization comes from living in community and building real, tangible relationships. The internet is so annoying to me lately, from #redcupgate to all the hashtag activists. It drives me nuts. Everyone has an opinion, no one takes any action. The world is changed for the better in communities of people who are inspired to change their schedules to help another person. (One of the defining characteristics of a disciple maker from the FOCUS Discipleship Road Map)

Anyways, right now I'm reading some of the writings of Edith Stein (Sr. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross)  and I wanted to share with you some of the things I read that moved me this week (parenthesis and bolds are mine):
"Those who attain the freedom of these heights (holiness) and expansive views have outgrown what is usually called "happiness" and "unhappiness." They may have to fight hard for worldly existence, may lack the support of a warm family life or, correspondingly, of the human community which sustains and supports-- but lonely and joyless they can no longer be. Those who live with the Holy Church and its liturgy, i.e., as authentic Catholics, can never be lonely: they find themselves embedded in the great human community; everywhere, all are united as brothers and sisters in the depths of their hearts."
She goes on to write:
"According to everything which we learn from personal experience and the history of salvation, the Lord's method is to form persons through other persons... Persons are used as instruments to awaken and nurture the divine spark. Thus, natural and supernatural factors reveal that even in the life of grace, "it is not good that man should be alone.""

God is good!

St. Frances Cabrini, pray for us. 


10 November 2015

I Did It!

Today I learned how to drive a stick shift!!!

I'm so proud of myself.

It was tough to get going and I killed the car probably dozens of times. But it was awesome. And now I feel super accomplished.

On the way home, in my car, I even kept noticing the shift changes my car was doing automatically, and my left foot was even like what? Nothing to do?

If I were ever in an emergency situation where I needed to drive a stick, now I know for sure that I can!

St. Frances of Rome, pray for us!

04 November 2015

Death: A New Perspective

Today I gave a talk to a bunch of 7th and 8th graders about the Holy Spirit. Never in my life have I felt so inadequate and unworthy to give a talk. I talked it through with some trusty friends about what points to get across. Most of these kids have never met the Holy Spirit before, so this was really an introduction. I didn't know where to start. 30 minutes to cover the third person of the Trinity??

Anyways, it went well, pray that the kids will be radically open to the Holy Spirit working in their lives!

While I was researching for the talk, I found this:


I am SO excited for this project to come out. And my friend Jenn McAleer's parents started 4pm Media, which is super cool. I LOVE the image of the Holy Spirit as a wild goose. The middle schoolers loved it too, I think.

So I prepared a lot for this talk. Maybe more than I have ever prepared for a talk before. There was editing. That's how nervous I was. I kept asking myself, "what is the ONE thing I want them to know about the Holy Spirt?" And I still don't have an answer to that question. 

I was trying to find the answer today, even after the whole talk had been prepared. I went to Adoration and sat in the front row. I was in arms length of Jesus and I asked Him to tell me what to say. He didn't. I took that to mean that He was cool with what I had prepared, so we went with that. But what we did talk about was death. It's been on my mind ever since we put Bella down, and also with All Saints and All Souls Days. Sorry that it took me putting my dog to sleep to get a new perspective on death. The Lord uses all things for good!

I never talk about this because I'm supposed to be holy but if you've read my blog for any length of time you know how feeble my attempts at becoming holy are, so the cat's out of the bag: death and eternity often scare me. It is the unknown about all of it that is the most scary, I think. It's also scary that it's permanent and can never be undone. I don't like change. I know a lot about numbers, but the idea of infinity can't be contained in my brain, and I don't like that. I've heard that Heaven described as more real than earth. That is a comforting thought to me, because it's a promise of something similar to what we experience now, but more authentic, more good, true, and beautiful.

While I was with Jesus today, thinking about how Jesus said that it was better for Him to go so that He would send the Advocate. And at the end of our time on earth, it is good for us to go too. It is BETTER than staying here. Death is a good thing. I thought of death as if it were birth. We have that image in the prayer of St. Francis when we talk about being born into eternal life. Birth is permanent, a baby cannot be unborn once it is born. When a woman becomes pregnant, the baby's birth is inevitable, and it is a great thing. The alternative is worse. Death is permanent but it isn't the end. It's a transition into a place where we can become who God truly made us to be.

This song has literally been on repeat in my mind. It's not her original, check out John Mark McMillan's version if you prefer more of a rock feel.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VVfDQyw4guc
"On Friday, a thief, on Sunday, a King... the man Jesus Christ laid death in his grave." YES.

To live is Christ, to die is gain!

Veni Sancte Spiritus.


25 October 2015

Christian Community

Before I start this post, I want to tell you a completely unrelated story. This weekend I was taking Ciara home after we'd gone to Mass and out to Sushi on Friday. She lives on a gravel road, which they'd just dug up to build a new sewer line. They finished the sewer line and re-graveled the entire long driveway. And on Friday it rained about 7.19 inches. (Thank you, Patricia.) Anyway, I was leaving and I got stuck in a soft spot in the rocks and couldn't get my 4Runner out. I had sunk down to the middle of my tires. Long story short, there were cops and neighbors trying to help me rock it back and forth to build up momentum to get it out (and it was raining). I was praying "Come, Holy Spirit" (my go-to prayer right now) and for some reason it popped into my mind to ask for the intercession of St. Isidore. I have no idea why. I don't even know that much about him. But I asked for his intercession and we got my car out. He's the patron of farmers and laborers, so that doesn't have much to do with getting a car out of a rut, but I'm thankful for his intercession regardless. It was such a random person to pop into my head that I wonder how many more of the saints want me to ask them to pray for me. I'm sure they have the free will to pray for whomever they choose, but I felt like he wanted me to ask for his intercession, so I did, and he came through. It was awesome. (Also sometimes if saints pray for me I make somewhat irresponsible promises to name my children after them... I should probably quit that because I'm about 99% sure I'm not Abraham going to have descendants as numerous as the stars to name after all the saints who pray for me. Saint Joseph, if you're reading this, I still got you covered... don't forget about what we talked about.)

Anyways, moving on.

Relationships and friendships move much more slowly in the "real world." I suppose it's because I can't see my friends every day, or really even every week in most cases. I see my colleagues every day, so if I worked somewhere that I had colleagues who I wanted to be friends with (FOCUS/anything with the Church), I suppose that wouldn't be the case. I live in the suburbs because I work in the suburbs. I'm not willing to drive 30 miles and fight traffic for an hour to get to work each day. I don't need that kind of stress in my life. One of the trade offs though, is that I don't know many faithful Catholics my age who aren't married or married with children. There are young adult groups at my Parish and also at the Parish where I attend daily Mass twice a week. But their events are often at the same time as daily Mass, and if I'm given the choice, I need Jesus more than I need them. It's not that  I'd feel guilty going to one of those events instead of Mass, it's that I legitimately prefer going to Mass. I've skipped daily Mass before to go to dinner with some couple friends of mine, I do think that Christian Community is important enough to miss an occasional daily Mass for. But I only have the ability to go a few times per week, so usually when I can go, I go. I'm terribly in need of the grace of the Eucharist to make it through the week. Why can't these events happen after Mass? Or why can't an organic community form from among the daily Mass goers and evolve into something that provides an opportunity for that Christian Community? God is big enough to make it happen, so I'm going to keep praying for it, trusting Him that slowly and surely He will bring it about. I think it's worth waiting for and being faithful to Him.

What do you think?

St. Isidore, pray for us.
All you holy men and women, angels and saints of God, pray for us.

21 October 2015

Extroverted Homebody?

Hey little blog readers! I love you!

I have been thinking over a blog post I want to write about Pope Francis KICKING MY ASS through the entirety of my reading of Evangelii Gaudium. SO GOOD. I love that I can be so challenged by his words and so affirmed and encouraged at the same time. And in case you're keeping track of my #30b430, you'll be pleased to know that I've figured out how to check the box for "build something useful." More on that to come once it's finished... it may take the better part of this year. 

I've probably said this before and I'm sure I'll say it again, but I really love my 30 Before 30 list. I am a dreamer and a realist all wrapped into one and my type A personality requires that I get.shit.done. I get super antsy if I haven't done anything productive in a while. (Sometimes a while can be a few days, sometimes it can be a few hours.) When this happens, the remedy is to take my laptop and a notebook to a restaurant or coffee shop and make a few lists, and then start checking things off. This usually appeases me. I'm a weirdo.

Over the past two weeks I house sat for some rather wealthy friends of my mom's who were on a cruise in the French/Italian Riviera. #mustbenice 
But it actually was pretty awesome for me because they paid me. A lot. So now I'm thinking I should start a house/pet sitting business. Cash business, no overhead... Sallie Mae will be so pleased! Anyways, that's in the back of my mind. 

I've also been reading a mom blog, Catholic All Year, from the beginning. I don't feel very productive when I sit and read it for a while (unlike a book... also probably why I hate the idea of e-readers.), but I've enjoyed getting to know her family. I wonder why so many mom blogs are so viral but you see very few single girl blogs with more than a few readers. Probably because being a single girl comes with so many insecurities and question marks, and no one cares to read about that stuff. I'm not sure. I like reading mom blogs... I hope this blog will one day turn into a mom blog. But that day is not today.

I spent this past weekend doing all kinds of hipster/trendy things. I stayed out till 2AM on Friday, ate at a Paleo restaurant, drank a beet/rosemary/agave margarita on a rooftop bar, and attended an open mic night in an obscure art studio in a warehouse type building on Saturday, then drank mimosas and brunched in a different rooftop bar on Sunday. It was fun and I was glad to have branched out. I want to do that more often and meet more young Catholics. This requires going out of my comfort zone and my area of town. I am happy to have agreed to lead some girls small groups this year because my presence is required at these weekly events. When it comes to things that are optional, like going out, meeting new people, etc., I tend to stay home. But I wasn't made for comfort, I suppose! I still maintain that I am an extroverted homebody. I hope God made someone who can deal with all the juxtapositions contained within this one little soul.

St. Joseph, pray for us. 
St. Gianna, pray for us.
St. Louis and Zelie Martin, pray for us! 

07 October 2015

Because Human Suffering is Redemptive


Today we had to put my sweet little Nana (Bella, Belly, Smelly, Bumble Bee, Nanny, Nana, Nina, Bellatrix, Boo, Noodle, etc.) to sleep. She's been having seizures and the vet said there was likely a lesion on her brain.

I came home at around 8 this morning to say goodbye. Since the seizure was over, she was calm and normal looking. When we went to put her in the car to take her she even ran up to me to get in.

From about 8 to 11, I sat here with her, just petting her and loving her, and getting in some final memories. I just had to keep reminding myself that suffering, for my sweet girl, was not only meaningless, it was cruel. I'm the kind of (rude) person who makes fun of people for treating their pets like children, but taking her to the vet today was one of the hardest things I've ever done emotionally. This is why God made faculties, and gave us the gift of our intellect and our will. If we only acted on emotions, Bella would still be here for my own personal comfort, and that isn't fair. I had an overwhelming feeling of having the power to decide who lives and dies. I hated it. I would have rather she been taken from us than for us to have to decide.

I just kept thinking of prison guards/executioners on death row, willing themselves to perform actions which would result in someone's last breath. I'm absolutely terrified of that kind of decision, and I'm honestly shocked that they can find anyone who will do that as their job. I wouldn't do it for all the money in the world. But there's a HUGE difference in taking the life of a person, and taking the life of a dog. A human can be redeemed. A dog has no need of redemption. And suffering, be it gruesome or cruel or involuntary, helps us to be united to Christ on the cross. And that is more valuable than gold.

After she was gone (we stayed with her through the process), I felt SO at peace. Immediately. I knew her suffering was over, and the rest was just selfish on my part. I was hugging her as she took her last breath and I felt her leave and I know she doesn't hurt any more. Occasionally little doubts creep in about what if she wasn't actually that sick and we just killed our dog for no reason, and of course I already miss her like crazy. It's going to be very hard to come home and not have her sweet face and wagging tail meet me at the door. I'm just thankful that God made creatures who can legitimately teach us about Him by their selflessness and unwavering loyalty. Every thing exists to point us to Him. Everything. Praise God. And because everything God made is good, I believe that He wants all of His creation with Him in Heaven. So for today, I believe that Bella is in Heaven with God.

Please keep my mom in your prayers over the next few weeks in your charity.

St. Francis of Assisi, pray for us.

29 September 2015

Back on the Grid

After a few months of being internetless, I'm back folks.

It's kinda bittersweet to tell the truth. I had four channels and no internet except on my phone for... almost six months? I used a lot of phone data during that time, but for the most part, I was pretty productive.

In that time I completed my month long journey to becoming a #scratchpaperpoet. I spent a lot of time on the phone with friends. I even picked up cross stitching again. I'm officially into grandma hobbies and proud of it.

God has been taking me on a crazy ride lately. I feel like he's teaching me how to be pursued, which is something I'm not that familiar with. Over the past few years since I moved home after FOCUS, I've had ups and downs with prayer, but in 3 years I haven't had a regular prayer schedule or a desire to go to Mass. I think I just kept looking for someone to invest in me, or a group of friends to fill me up. I didn't realize that the first place to start if I wanted to be filled was to empty myself. Now I'm leading two small groups, 8th grade girls on Wednesday and 9th grade girls on Sunday. I knew I'd need to be holy if I was going to lead them, so starting this summer, I've been pretty regularly attending Wednesday Mass and praying for a while before Mass when I can. Slowly, my heart has been more and more opened to Jesus and He has been steadfast. He's probably been doing the same things all along I just never took the time to notice. It's been such a sweet period of consolation for me. Of course I'm still distracted in prayer and during Mass sometimes, but when I get to the church and see Jesus my heart just sighs and I feel like everything is right. I've also had a much more intense desire to know the Holy Spirit and see how he works in my life than I ever have before. Plus, I'm reading Pope Francis's Evangelii Gaudium, which is amazing, I feel like he's speaking directly to me, and his heart for the poor is rubbing off on me. How can I call myself a real Christian if I don't love Jesus in the poor in my backyard?

In case I'm ever reading this blog when I'm stuck in the doldrums of desolation and I can't feel Jesus:
God is real. He makes Himself known to you in the deepest desires of your heart. Even if you can't feel Him or don't trust that He has a good plan for you, keep being faithful to the Sacraments, especially the Mass and Reconciliation. He has gone to the ends of the earth with your name on His lips and He holds you into existence in every moment. He is perfectly just and perfectly merciful. He loves you immensely even though you are a terrible sinner. He knows you better than you know yourself, and He loves you and wants to hold you close to Him. He will do anything to direct your gaze towards Himself. Keep praying, even when it's difficult. Suffering can be redemptive if you offer it to the One who suffered for your soul.

In your charity, please pray for my girls! They have to put up with me asking them questions all school year long to try to get them to self realize that they need Jesus!

Michael, Raphael, and Gabriel, pray for us.

22 September 2015

The Sinful Woman



A dark storm, she cries. She wets Jesus’ feet with her tears. She “rains,” it reads; in the original Greek Brecho. She rains, she’s this brecho that breaks. 

She’s this full rain, falling. 

She’s this heart-water let loose. 

Him so pure and his feet so dirty. Her so filthy and Him  her only purity.

Will anyone was his feet with their love?

And that woman, she has no pitcher but she has passion—the kind no Pharisee could ever understand, and she has no water but she has her heart.

She pours it out. She pours it out

And with no towel but tresses, no hand cloth but her hair, she does the unthinkable, the scorned and the disgraced.

When all Jewish women were required to keep their hair done up, lest they be seen as shameful and loose, she lets her locks down.

Rabbis, men of the law, said that if a woman loosed her hair in public, let her hair flow mingled down, it was grounds for divorce. Grounds to be shamed and sent away.

But there is a love far greater than the law. 

That Luke woman, she lets her hair loose, lets her love loose, and she looks loose and there are always Michals who will scorn David’s dancing before the ark.

But Jesus? He lets her kiss Him.

It seems shocking, appalling, too intimate, and this kataphileo, these kisses, this is the same word of the father kissing the prodigal son, a symbolic picture of God embracing, the father falling on the neck of his child and kissing, and doesn’t the whole realm of earth need to be seized with a power of a great affection, “for we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones.” (Eph. 5:30)

Ann Voskamp


06 September 2015

Travels, Crafts, and More!

Happy Football Season, little bloggles. War Eagle! I'm missing Auburn something fierce right now... and it's still 3 more months until my next trip. BUT I'm going to see my Tigers play in November here in Big Tex.


For some reason I woke up yesterday expecting it to be cool outside. I even got up and made some fudge! I was legitimately confused when I walked outside and it was 99*. Better luck next time.


Like you know, I've done a bit more traveling than is usual for me over the last 3 weeks. I had plans to stop in Kansas City on my way to Illinois for Kelly's wedding but God had better plans, so I ended up in St. Louis. I'd never been to the Cathedral there and I had to hold back tears for the first 20 minutes I was in there. It is so beautiful.

Pictures can't even do it justice.

Then the next week I was in Salt Lake, here are a couple pics from that trip. Highlight: we got to go to Park City, where the Olympics were held. Even though there wasn't any snow on the ground, it was so awesome to feel that cool, crisp air.

Salt flats and the Great Salt Lake from the plane
The Capital of Utah, view from our office in SLC

Since I got back I've been crafting up a storm. Partly because I'm bored, partly because I'm decorating my new cubicle at work. (Maybe buying a Keurig for your cubicle is overboard, but I don't care.) I'm even going back to my grandma roots with the cross stitching.
This was before I finished, it now has a quote from "America the Beautiful" written in the white stripes.
This is hanging on twine now in my office. 
This is a joke, of course. Probably only funny to a financial planner. I'm going to frame it for my desk.



Also, after getting back from SLC, I went on a retreat with the Core Team from my Parish. I gave a talk on discipleship, and it was so fun. I love talking about Jesus. High school students are a tough crowd, I felt myself concerned about whether they liked me, which is a rare sentiment for me. It's going to be an interesting year. I finished the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Bible Timeline, which I'm excited about. Now to start all over again! Also, I picked up a copy of Pope Francis's Evangelii Gaudium, so I'm pumped to start reading that as well.

Also, I'm starting another Certification. Call me a glutton for punishment. After the CFP, the CLU (Chartered Life Underwriter) only requires 3 more classes, and no comprehensive final exam.... So I figure that I may as well while I'm still in "study mode."

For some really interesting thoughts on Modesty, check out this post. My friend Ross puts into words things I've been thinking about over the past week especially. I love how he comments that immodesty's goals are more realistically accomplished by modesty. It's so true. Similarly related: I have some friends who date a lot, and it seems like they meet losers after losers. That's what you get when you meet guys on Tinder... what kind of men do you expect to meet from a website that is based solely off of a superficial swipe of the finger? It's a paradox. Women want attention, so they dress immodestly to get it, but the attention they get is cheapened by the way they got it. One woman I know commented, "I can't respect someone who would date me based only on this." What's the point?!!

St. Mary Magdalene, pray for us.

Bl. Mother Teresa, pray for us.

24 August 2015

11th Wheel

Mini Life Update: I did get the new job, I'm very excited for it, and I'm sitting in a hotel room in Salt Lake City where I will have my training! I'm here with a group of people from Dallas, we went out to dinner and they're out having drinks now but I'm here in my hotel room writing to you. How extroverted am I, really?...

Anyways, you probably know that when I commit to something, I like to give it 110%. I'm diving head first into youth ministry. I never saw myself doing this, but I never saw myself single and almost 26 living at home either, so there you have it. I'm giving a talk at the core team retreat this weekend about discipleship. I haven't given a talk since FOCUS so pray that I'm not too rusty and that Jesus uses me.

I had a meeting with one of the youth ministers last week and I was expressing to him that I needed community. He said his wife just told him they were having people over the very next day and that if I was free I should come. So I did. And there were 5 couples and 8 babies and me.

Being a single Catholic young adult is the second hardest thing I've done in my life so far. (The first was fundraising my salary.) It's so lonely. It seems like most legit Catholics my age are married. I tried to act interested when the women talked about their kids sleep schedule or teething or whatever, so most of the night I sat there and smiled a big fake smile. I thought that with 10 well catechized adults we might be able to have some semblance of a conversation around things that mattered... or at least things that I think matter. I am 100% sure that the guy who invited me did not realize the position I would be in. But I'm also 100%  sure that every wife who was there noted it immediately. They were very kind, but I still felt like a leper. I cried half way home. I wasn't crying because I was sad that I'm not married, but more because I felt embarrassed. I'm not sure why, but that's how I felt. Embarrassed that I was alone. Ashamed of my loneliness.

Also, I used to have this struggle in high school, and maybe it's returned since I work with all men, but I didn't feel like I could relate to the women at all. We're just in completely different places in our lives. The men work outside the home and have things in their lives that I can talk to them about. Both of the youth ministers want to evangelize the kids at our Parish. I could talk about that for days!

I am ambitious. I WANT to be married and stay home and raise lots of babies, but that's not what I'm called to do today, and while I'm waiting for that time to come, I want to accomplish things. I want to climb the corporate ladder, I want to gain knowledge and skills and get shit done. I want to see the world and I want to make a difference.

These women were great women and I'm sure they have a lot in common and a lot of fun together, they just didn't make an effort to make me feel like it's okay that I'm not there yet. I hope that I remember, if/when God calls me to that life, to constantly be inclusive of everyone around me, to keep learning and growing, to have hobbies. I think that will make me a better wife and mom.

St. Anne, pray for me.

01 August 2015

The Story of How My Whole Life Changed in One Month

No one liked my poetry? Hmm... rude.

;)

Anyways. 

Speaking of my poetry, my project is still paying dividends for me. I feel like it was the push I need to help me fall back in love with Jesus. Not that I was ever "out of love," I dont know. We went through a rough patch. And I feel like I'm coming out of it! My realization that some most of the time I spend at work and outside of work, I'm doing/saying things that don't matter that much. 

Today is one month from July 1, the day that I told God I was going to start looking at jobs outside of my firm if I hadn't found anything. That was also the day I got the email about the dream job with a glimmer of hope, which postponed the job search. This is what happened next:

I am not moving to Denver because I did not get the dream job. Praise God.

I knew this whole process would be a good opportunity to trust God, and I feel like He's drawn me closer to Himself, and for that I am very thankful.

After I found out I didn't get the job, the way I would describe my emotions is just shock. I thought for sure that all of the stars were falling into place and that this was God's will. After the fact, I was a little shaken because I felt like I couldn't trust my discernment at all. I went to confession for the first time in a while on Saturday, and now I feel more confident in my understanding of why things happened/happen they way they did/do and in my discernment. I think I'm seeing things more clearly now.

I took the day off on Monday and had some good old fashioned water park fun. Afterwards Ciara and I went to Mass. I went again on Wednesday (I usually try to make it) and one of the youth ministers tapped me on the shoulder after Mass. The youth minister said during Mass he'd been reflecting on Matt 9:37-38, "the harvest is plentiful and the laborers are few, so beg the Lord of the harvest to send laborers into the vineyard," and that he felt like God was asking him to talk to me. (We'd never met before.) Long story short- I ended up staying for a meeting and I'm going to be a part of the Core Team this year. During the meeting, the other youth minister who was running it (who I had met before) said that if the Church isn't making disciples, she's failing in her mission. What I heard: if Brittany isn't making disciples, she's failing in her mission. 

After the meeting, there was a Holy Hour and I was praying about how crazy the whole week had been. I realized that real discipleship is what I'd been missing. I've spent the last three years of my life thinking my mission field was my work- with no real plan or ideas of how to go about evangelizing. To my credit, this is why Jesus sent the disciples out two by two, and I've been alone in this.  I told Jesus, "if I have to be single for now (which is another story), I want to be doing this. I need to be making disciples."

I'd been thinking for two years that Denver would solve all of my problems: I'd have friends there, real friends who I could share life with, more convenient Masses and Holy Hours, accountability, roommates maybe. But looking back I feel like I just wanted to run away from here, because here is home and home is hard. 

I called my best and told her all about my new plans, we were both so excited because God has done some crazy things in her life lately too. I told her the only thing missing now was a new job that would keep me here in Dallas, because I'm still really burnt out on my current one, and I need a new challenge, but I now actually feel called to stay here. With the big question mark in the job box, I started to be more open to other paths that I'd previously closed the door on. And what do you know... I met with a manager on Friday just to talk about a job she's hiring for, and she wants to interview me right away... as in... on Monday. The job she's hiring for starts in 3 weeks. The job is very similar to the one in Denver, it's just in the office over the phone instead of on site in person. 

I haven't gotten an offer yet, but I'm SO confident that this is what God wants, and it's all starting to come together. I'll keep you posted!


Lord of the Harvest, have mercy on us. 



26 July 2015

Checking off the List

After my rant on artists yesterday, I'm going to showcase one of my recent artistic endeavors.


One of the items on the #30b430 was to write poetry every day for a month.

I finished on June 30 and I was very pleased with the whole exercise.
I learned a lot about myself and I feel like it reignited the spark that was missing in my relationship with God.

Here are some of my favorites. I just took pictures of them because typing them out makes them lose something. As you can see, there were some themes that kept coming back up. I tried to include some that are different from me pleading with God, haha. Enjoy!















St. John Paul the Great, pray for us.


25 July 2015

The Great American Lie

This is my objection to the notion that "you can do whatever you want when you grow up." A line told to many by their parents.

To be sure, America is still the land of opportunity. But with opportunity comes responsibility. This is the part that many parents leave off.

I'm going to try to be as charitable as possible in this, my treatise on artists.

I love the arts. I love live music (in the right setting, especially if said music has no lyrics.) I love musicals and plays. I love craftiness and textiles and fabrics. I love paintings and art museums, I love the idea of making something new and beautiful that reveals the truth of the human person.

That being said, I'm jealous of artists, to some extent. Maybe this is me being cocky but I feel like if I had the time and resources to develop my artistic side, I could be just as talented as anyone. Sure there are prodigies with supernatural talent for specific things, but hard work is a HUGE part of success, and I'm pretty determined (stubborn.)

I know a few "starving artists." One is a musician, one is a painter, a few others do various different things in the arts.
These people are reliant on friends, family, and the government for the majority of their well-being. As a human in need of beauty to direct my soul to the Truth, I appreciate their sacrifice. As a child of capitalism, I think it's ridiculous that these people seem to feel entitled to the charity of others because they are talented or passionate in an area that is not considered valuable enough by our society to earn a living. I wish society did value these talents and passions, and surely a shift is needed, but what about until then?

I'm sure I sound jaded and angry, and to some extent I am. I wish I could forego a job and a career which takes up 40-55 hours per week of my time in order to cultivate my creativity and become better at my chosen craft. But I can't, because I have responsibilities. I have to think of my family, my future.

In my opinion, these outlets are HIGHLY valuable. But because of the world we live in, which doesn't match that opinion with a value that translates into real dollars and cents (sense, haha), these things are hobbies, and artists have a  responsibility to find ways to support themselves that doesn't include the government, family, or friends.

This sounds harsh, but it seems to me that artists are just creative and passionate people who lack common sense.

Someone please tell me I'm wrong. I want to see the softer side of this argument. I want to understand.

St. Catherine of Bologna, Patroness of the Arts, pray for me!

11 July 2015

Life Update

Two posts in one day!

I have been thinking about my little blog- just unable to post due to lack of internet.... which has afforded me the time to watch Downton Abbey from the beginning. I'm in the middle of season 5 now, and just to give you an idea of my feelings, I've added this conversation between a friend and I from season 2.

Me: Tell me why I'm obsessed with Matthew Crawley.
Her: I know, same.
Me: What if I love him more than I love my real husband?
Her: These are legitimate concerns.

Anyways, moving on.

As most of you know, I have been working towards moving to Denver for approximately 18 months. I never prayed really specifically about it, I just wanted to do it and figured that if it was God's will He would make it happen. Now that it's closer, of course I've been praying about it in much more specific ways. Back in February I got some contacts of people who work with me in different jobs and I've found my (for now) dream job. I had a phone conversation with the boss of the team I want to be on a few months ago and he told me he didn't think anything would come open in Denver.

Side note: I'm really burnt out on my current job, so I decided I would give it some time (until July 1st specifically) until I started applying for jobs outside of my firm.

By this point I was hooked on the job, and after praying about it, I thought maybe Denver really wasn't where God was calling me. So I applied for the same job in other places... Chicago, Raleigh. I just figured I'd toss it up and see what God would do with that. It was really freeing and I felt like I was trusting Him fully for the first time since FOCUS.

Nothing ever came of any of the other locations... and then on July 1st, I got an email from the manager of the team I wanted to be on telling me that there was a spot open in Denver, asking if I was going to apply.

I.WAS.THRILLED.

Not only did he remember our conversation, I had made an impression on him, and he was interested in interviewing me. AND he'd been getting applications for two weeks, so my thought is maybe he wasn't too excited about any of the candidates so far... but that's just a guess. Also, the client that I would be working with, if I get this job, is a Catholic Hospital run by a group of Sisters in Denver.  It's almost too perfect.

I had my interview on Thursday, and the manager is looking to move quickly on this, so he says I'll know by early next week. That makes me nervous because all the other candidates are in Denver, so I had to interview well enough to give him a reason to move me out there, and I'm second guessing myself.

The bottom line is that God is good, and although I don't know what his plan is, I know that it is good.

St. Josemaria, pray for me!

Walking with Turkeys

A few weeks ago, after the Supreme Court decision to legalize same sex "marriage," my Priest gave a homily about how God made us. Fitting, right?

One of the things he talked about was how God made us to live in freedom. I've written posts before about how free you really can be when you have the confidence of knowing that you're doing the will of God. It's unlike anything else. 

One of the things Father talked about was how God made us to soar with eagles, so why do we spend our time walking with turkeys? It's an interesting question. We know that misery loves company, and people who live in the darkness of sin not only want others there with them, they want people there who tell them, the turkeys, that they are in fact eagles. But through our baptism, in continuing with this analogy (which is now mine and not Father's), God makes us new creations- we go from being turkeys to eagles. (Maybe this would have worked better with caterpillars/butterflies.) 

It's difficult to be an eagle among turkeys at first, but then after a while, even the proudest eagle starts to think he may also be a turkey, if he never spends any time working out those wings, and seeing how high he can fly. But God calls us to make eagles of all turkeys.... the hardest part for me is finding a balance. 

(I swear I'm not on drugs.)

Moving on from the worn out analogy. 

One of my colleagues and I got into a conversation about same sex "marriage" after the decision. It was the perfect example of why I don't think I could ever really be friends with any of my colleagues. I LOVE a good debate but I can't stand talking to people who unknowingly hold multiple opposing "truths" to be true and haven't even realized it. As the conversation went, we ended up on the topic of abortion. He said that he thought it should be legal for women in their first trimester, because... "its a woman's body." I said that the first decision that had to be agreed upon before we could have a conversation was the question of when life begins. He immediately said that life begins at birth, and had no idea why he thought abortion should only be legal in the first trimester. 

It sounds calm as I type it, and I don't think I ever let him know fully how frustrated I was, thank goodness. After the fact, I was so mad that I had to walk away. And then after calming down, I was mad at myself for how mad I got. I suppose it may be considered righteous anger, that someone (and so many people) can be so careless about the value of a human life. But after spending some time reflecting on it, I realized that there's no way that I can convince someone of the love of Jesus by showing them why I'm right and they're wrong... even if I have non-religious reasons for the beliefs that I hold (which so happen to be truths of Natural Law and upheld by the Church). And isn't that the ultimate goal? To show them that they are infinitely loved by the God of life? People don't need Catholic Social Teaching Apologetics. They need a relationship with Jesus. I have to keep reminding myself of that.

Holy Spirit, give us the words of eternal life.

06 June 2015

A Quality of Beauty and Intensity of Emotion


Hello, blogosphere.

It seems I've been away for a while, my excuse is that I no longer have internet at home, and I prefer not to blog from my phone.

I've been busy lately- preparing to move (location: still unknown) and praying that God will grant me many opportunities to concretely trust Him and His will.

I'm looking actively for a new job, within my company for now. I've found the job that I want, my current dream job, and I've already had my HR "screening" interview. It went very well but I'm concerned that the HR Staffing Consultant isn't fully aware of what my current job entails, so that makes me nervous, especially because we ran out of time and she didn't ask me many questions about it. Long story, short: opportunity to trust God.

There is a job opportunity in Raleigh, NC and I would LOVE it there, I think. This is the first time since I started my finance career that I feel like I've really given the reins to Him to help me make decisions. I know what job I want, I know that I want to move, I just don't know where He wants me or where I want to be, so I'm trusting that He will direct my path. On some level I feel like God might be calling me to Nashville, but there are no jobs open there, so I'm going to leave that one up to Him.

I'm also intentionally taking time to accomplish tasks on my 30 before 30 list.

I recently started a new/revamped an old skin care regimen and have been trying to make exercise a part of my daily life. Katelyn and I are preparing for our 5k in two months, so I'm trying to run 3 times per week (trying being the operative word) and I'm successfully doing a dumbbell/strength training/toning work out on the off days. The weight workouts don't make me feel as accomplished as the running, but it's good to have balance. My skin care regimen is a game changer. I'm actually taking off my make up before bed, moisturizing, and falling asleep much faster. (Could also be due to lack of internet.) My process starts with cleansing with Cetaphil, then I use the calming kit from Dermalogica. My capillaries are very close to the skin in my face, which is why my cheeks are red a lot. The calming kit has really helped, and even with my sensitive skin, the Dermalogica works great. I spray my skin with a calming serum, then I use their anhydrous moisturizer called Barrier Repair. I follow that up with some eye cream, and voila, ready for bed. I think there is rosemary and lavender in the serum, which really calms and relaxes my skin and my mind. So there you have it.




In addition to those things, I've been trying to write more. One of my 30 before 30 goals was to write poetry every day for a month. I decided June would be great because I knew that if I did this in the fall, I would only write about the weather, because fall is my favorite season. I'm learning a lot about what's important to me. I spend 80% of my day talking and thinking about things that I would never write about because in the grand scheme of things, they just don't matter. That's an eye opener. I  have spent the majority of the last few days writing about my vocation and the rough draft poems really communicate a sense of longing, which I suppose is pretty central to who I am right now. Last night I wanted to go a different direction, so I scribbled some thoughts about the seven deadly sins.


#scratchpaperpoet

Poetry is really interesting. I suppose I should have read more poetry before I decided to become a scratch paper poet, but I thought if I did that I may just have been trying to rip people off and copy their stuff, and I also wouldn't feel good about my own writing if I was comparing it to the likes of Emerson, Poe, Frost, and David the Psalmist. I'm learning a lot about myself and I'm only 6 days in. This was the original objective of the goal, so I'm happy with it.

St. Anne, pray for us. 

13 May 2015

Women: Are we just naive optimists?

So you all know that I work with a whole bunch of men.

I feel like a lot of the men I know (from outside of the office) would be completely scandalized if they heard how the men at my office talk... to each other, to me, about their wives, about women they hardly know.

Today, two of my teammates had a conversation (which I was obviously listening to as we had just had a conversation about a different topic) that sounded like this:
Guy 1: Oh yeah, ______ (girl's name)... I wonder what she's doing now?
Me: She's a manager in another department.
Guy 1: Oh my gosh what if she became our manager...
Guy 2: Yeah that'd be crazy.
Me: Why? Half of the population is women, you know.
Guy 1: Because she's so hot, that would be awesome.
Guy 2: I don't see what the big deal is, but you would never get any work done.
Guy 1: Yeah so true.... I'd be staring at her ass all the time.
Me: What would your wives think about this conversation?
Guy 2: Oh they don't like it... they know.
Guy 1: Yeah... our wives get mad when we say stuff about women.
Guy 2: Yeah, it's like they actually believe there are men out there who don't do that.
Me: I mean....
Guy 2: See! You're a woman, of course you probably believe that too, but let me tell you.. EVERY guy thinks about this stuff and talks like this.
Guy 1: Yeah our wives are just like you, but let me tell you, I've NEVER met a guy who doesn't.


Relatively speaking, this was a pretty tame, PG Rated conversation compared to the other things I've heard. I don't want to be spoken to or about that way, and I would be even more upset if I heard anyone talking that way about my friends. Why is a woman's body so much more valuable to men than her mind? And for these men who are married, what makes them think that they can objectify another woman and that their wives should be okay with it because they're committed to their wives minds and bodies and souls. Am I the only woman who would be really upset if my spouse made a comment about another woman's body, either to me or to anyone else?!

What really frustrates me is their understanding that this is how it is and has always been, which is used as an excuse to perpetuate it.

So now I'm of course thinking the worst about every guy I know, because here I was all along thinking the men in my office are a particular breed of hedonist. Someone prove me wrong!!!

St. Joseph, pray for us.

08 May 2015

Life is Hard and God is Good


Anyone remember that verse of St. Paul's, which ends simply and beautifully, "to die is gain."

Sometimes I'm reminded just how true that is.

Backstory:
A few weeks ago I got to visit three of my bests, Caralyn, Laura, and Katie in New Orleans. We all lived in Auburn during college and now they live there and I live here alone without them, story of my life. Anyways, Sassy (Caralyn) is in charge of this really cool event called Night Fever. It's an event that happens all over the world on the same day, a few nights per year, where the doors of Churches in public areas (Cathedrals in Copenhagen, London, Chicago, etc.) are opened to the public for a few hours, and people are invited to come in and pray, light a candle, and sit with Jesus during Adoration.

I had the opportunity during Night Fever to sit at the front of the Cathedral and pray for those who were coming in. By the end of the night, there were so many candles lit that it was almost as bright as if the lights were on. I was so amazed at the different people who came in, some dressed for a wild night out in the French Quarter, others with their families... all stopping in to the Church to give a nod to their Creator and the Savior of the World. Based on the reactions that I saw, I was so in awe of the way that Christ made Himself known to them in that moment. I thought that most people would come in, light a candle, and leave without ever knowing that they'd come within feet of the Living God in the Eucharist. Some did that for sure, but so many others had an obvious and visible encounter with Jesus. All it takes for God to forgive a sinner and change a heart is one little glance toward Him, and I know that there were many people who saw God face to face that night... it was really cool to witness. It made me think of the many many many times that I've been face to face with Jesus but never really knew it was Him, or if I knew, I didn't acknowledge or experience Him in a real way. I received Jesus in the Eucharist for years before I knew it was Him, and these people, seemingly random to me but definitely chosen by Him, knew that something was different about that place and that Altar. The beauty of the Cathedral points in one direction, and that is to Jesus on the Altar. Praise God.

All that being said, I just sat there and prayed for people. When I lived in my little Catholic Bubble, I used to think that it was crazy that people would live their lives as though they owed nothing to anyone and could just do what they wanted without regard to others, to the poor, or even to the salvation of their very own souls. When I saw people coming in from all walks of life, all cultures, sexual orientations, backgrounds, languages, social classes, etc., I was just so convicted that life, any and every single one, is sacred. Also, I just spent time reflecting on just how difficult this life really is. I didn't know any one of the things these people prayed for... but I did know that every one of them had their own battles and their own Crosses that were a heavy burden which Christ wanted to carry for them. Even if they let Him take on that burden for one moment in time, it is all worth the effort of the Night Fever volunteers.

Front Story:
Last night one of my dad's cousins was killed in a car accident. She and her husband were on their way to pick up their daughter from college and the weather was bad and the car was crashed. I don't know many details except that her husband is in critical condition and she was killed in the wreck. As I've been thinking about her family and praying for her soul, I've been surprised that I'm not sad for her. I'm definitely sad for her family, losing a loved one is never easy, and especially when it is tragic and unexpected. But as for Elaine, I'm not sad. In fact, I feel happy for her. I was just leaving a friends house after a concert when I found out and I went directly to be with Jesus. I prayed for her soul, and I felt like I could tell that Jesus was happy to be reunited with her. People die too soon (or so we think) every day... but it's only those who are left behind that we should feel sad for, not the one who gets to return to their true home in the arms of Christ.

My grandmother is taking it particularly hard. I think its because she feels like she's ready to go, and Elaine was so young and could have had so much life ahead of her. But God is the Father of this family, and He decides who comes and goes and when. Life is hard and God is so good. He knows when we've had enough, even if it's difficult for others to understand.

Please pray for the holy souls in Purgatory and pray that my grandmother and God will be reconciled before it is too late.

St. Christopher, pray for us.