22 December 2016


Advent is routinely more successful for me than Lent. I suppose that's by my definition of success, which is that I'm more faithful to my commitments. (Perhaps God views it differently?)

I think it's because it's a sprint and not a marathon, like Lent seems to be.

We (my roommate and I) are on day 28 of WholeAdvent (Whole30) and it has been a good month. I'm bored to tears of eating meat and vegetables, but I think we stuck to the rules pretty well. We grocery shopped and meal planned on the weekends, and only went to Chipotle (one of like 3 Whole30 approved restaurants) about 5 times all month (haha!). If you would have asked me six months ago if I'd ever do Whole30, I would have said helllllll no. But as per usual, once I decide to do something, I'm too stubborn to not complete the task.

We also prayed Night Prayer every night, and surprisingly, we were together every night of Advent except one that I was in San Antonio for a family Christmas thing last weekend.

I only read religious books this year during Advent. I started and finished Reed of God by Caryll Houselander, and Letters to a Young Catholic by George Weigle. I am about half way through Jesus Shock by Peter Kreeft, but I should finish within a week or so.

A few things I've learned about myself this Advent:
The only way for me to learn to trust God is to ask Mary to give me some of her trust in Him.
Self awareness is a journey, not a one and done "got it or don't got it" type of virtue. I'm still at the beginning.
The person in front of me (in any given circumstance or encounter) can teach me something about God that I cannot learn without them. This takes practice to recognize.
My stubbornness and grit can be a virtue when they take the form of perseverance to do God's will.
When I don't have Facebook to distract me and keep me entertained, my job is really freaking boring.
When I'm bored, I need to work on bettering myself and my relationships.

I'm kind of a grinch. I LOVE Advent so much that I want to preserve it in its wholeness. I love bare trees with only white lights (and maybe a purple ribbon!). I hate how obsessed our culture is with rushing Christmas. I NEED the time in Advent to prepare my heart for Jesus. I complained a few times about Christmasy things happening in Advent. Church, why do you go the way of the world on this one?! The Christmas Choir Concert should be during CHRISTMAS!
End rant.

Mary, to the wonderment of nature you bore your Creator, yet remained a virgin after as before. Pray for me!

03 December 2016


The first week of Advent is nearly over. And it is December! Where does the time go?

My roommate and I decided to take this time between Thanksgiving and Christmas, which so often becomes a blur of Christmas parties and shopping etc. and be really intentional about how we spent it. 

So we're doing Whole30 (and calling it WholeAdvent). If you haven't heard of it, its a 30 day eating "challenge" where you basically eat really strictly paleo as a sort of gut reset. After the 30 days is over, you reintroduce legumes, grains, dairy, and sugar to see how your body reacts to each group. The objective is obviously to be healthy, but also to reduce inflammation, and to ultimately see if the way that junk food impacts you is really worth it. We are on day 9 of 30, and we'll finish on Christmas Eve, just in time for the little Savior to be born into the arms of Our Lady! 

One thing that has been awesome about WholeAdvent is that instead of each of us making something separate or grabbing something quickly, we have to be intentional about meal planning, and we're doing it together. We've made some good crockpot meals for the weeknights when we get home and are tired, and we've left the more labor intensive meals to nights when we're both home and free. 

I'm also only reading religious books for Advent, and we're praying Night Prayer every night before bed. 

The theme that is coming up in my prayer over and over again lately has been trust. I am a bit of a control freak and I have such a hard time trusting in a plan that I cannot see. I'm realizing more and more how complete Mary's trust in Jesus is, and also that she's my only hope to learn to trust Him too. 

This is the Marian prayer for after Night Prayer during Advent:

Loving mother of the Redeemer,
gate of heaven, star of the sea,
assist your people who have fallen yet strive to rise again.
To the wonderment of nature you bore your Creator,
Yet remained a virgin after as before.
You who received Gabriel's joyful greeting,
have pity on us poor sinners.

Maria, Virgin and Mother, pray for us! 

13 October 2016

When I am weak, He is strong

Last month I got a new Spiritual Director. (raise roof hands)

In the past few weeks I've realized more and more about how God wants me to evangelize at this point in my life. Previously, I'd been torn.

On one hand, I don't feel fulfilled by my job (apparently this is quite the millennial conundrum) and I feel completely in my element when I'm doing evangelization related things. On the other hand, if I'm going to be discipling people who are working, it's helpful for me to be working (not for the Church) too so that I can be empathetic... and so that we can talk about ways to bring Jesus into the work place and I'll actually have some credibility. I was thinking that eventually I'd have to make a decision either/or. Either I spend all my free time leading small groups and discipling women (and therefore do not have time to "scale myself" and tackle some larger projects that I've been working with on a diocesan level) OR I spend ALL my time leading small groups and discipling women and teaching leaders from parishes around the diocese to do the same thing.

But the Church is a both/and Church... not an either/or. I realized that if I could land a job that allows me more flexibility (read: time outside the office) I can accomplish all the above. So now that's what my focus is on for my next job: flexibility!

After this realization last week I was so fired up to be able to spend my spare time working for Jesus. This week I'm a little annoyed with Him.

One of the things that no one tells you about evangelization after college is how damn lonely it can be. You leave the college campus with high hopes and great plans for working in the vineyard along real world Catholics. And sometimes you look around and it feels like you're the only one working.

I have a vision for what I want my life to look like in the context of my parish. But it rarely ever goes as planned.

This week I invited 6 people to my Bible Study and 13 people to brunch at my house on Saturday. Zero people came to Bible Study and 3 people are coming to brunch. Fail.

In college I was frequently the person that people asked "what are we doing tonight/this weekend/next Tuesday etc."
I know people in the "real world" are very busy and I try not to take that personally... but now I'm left wondering if I'm no longer 'contageous' like I used to be. And if I'm not... what in the world is Jesus doing by giving me any responsibility... let alone the responsibility to bring eternal souls to Him!

I don't know why He called me to this... and I especially don't know why He's called me to this alone.

But I said "send me there, I'll go."

And He sent me here.

Come, Holy Spirit.
Saint JPII, pray for us.

(Side bar: I'm putting on a diocesan evangelization training for young adults next Saturday and I'm really nervous that no one is going to come. Please pray a Memorare and ask JPII to pray for us. Thank you!)

04 October 2016

Little G

My Goddaughter, Gianna Marie, was born on August 19th!

I got to visit her parents in the lovely (stretch) Dayton Ohio two weekends ago for her baptism and I am just head over heels in love with this sweet girl.

We had an awesome weekend. Gianna's parents are missionaries with FOCUS and it was so fun to be back in the middle of campus and team life and hear about the ways they are bringing Jesus to their students. Also, Kelly and I got to spend some quality time together talking about her life as a new wife and mom and all of the good things she wants for Gianna and for their family. I am so so thankful and honored to be a part of their family.

Last August we were here:

And now we're here:

Godfather (Nick), Dad (Mat), Mom (Kelly), Little G, Godmother (Brit)

The newest member of the Church!

Little Thinker

Solving the World's Problems!

Not quite asleep....

She had to tell me one more good idea 

And... she's out!

And.... I'm out! 

Saint Gianna, pray for us!

21 August 2016

Happy Sunday!

I've had a busy busy busy month since my last post.

I moved into a new apartment (pictures forth coming, in a week or so when everything gets hung up on the walls) and I took a little Tour de France (and 5 other countries.)

It was great. We stayed at Air BnB's and a few hotels and did Europe on the super cheap, which was great. I was anxious about the flight (I'm a little claustrophobic) but it was perfectly fine and comfortable.

My favorite secular parts:
The architecture in Paris! I've seen paintings of it and even pictures but didn't realize that the white stone with flower window box look is THE ONLY architecture in Paris besides a few Churches and other monuments. And it is gorgeous. I couldn't get enough.
Monaco. It's literally the playground of the rich. We saw huge yachts and gorgeous homes tucked into hills overlooking the Mediterranean. The beaches in Monaco weren't as pretty as in Cannes but from a cliff hundreds of feet up, who cares if they're rocky?!
Mont Blanc. It's the tallest mountain in Europe and the largest of the Alps and right on the border of France and Italy. There was snow on top which was melting, creating lots of beautiful waterfalls with icy green water that was the prettiest color I think I've ever seen.
Switzerland. Lake Geneva is set against an amazing backdrop of the Alps and is an adorable town for shopping (if you're rich) and chocolate and cheese.

My favorite religious parts:
The Cathedral in Lisieux. Hands down, without a doubt, my favorite. The Cathedral is GORGEOUS and Zelie and Louis are buried in the crypt. Lisieux is this tiny little town in Normandy of about 20,000 people who are surprised when pilgrims come from all over to visit their Cathedral.  When we were there on Saturday evening, there were only a few people in the Cathedral so it was perfect for praying and silence. Afterwards, I just kept remarking that a little girl who left the world for the cloister at 14 years old and her devotion to Jesus inspired all of this. It was awesome. St. Therese is buried in the Carmel there, which we did not have time to see. Next trip, for sure.
Lourdes. Because, duh. My soul felt refreshed to be where Our Lady appeared, but it was hard to pray there because of the sheer quantity of pilgrims. It really is a universal Church!
St. John the Baptist in Torino, Italy. This Cathedral is also gorgeous, but more importantly it houses the Shroud of Turin and the tomb of Blessed Pier Giorgio. It was quiet enough to pray, and my Spanish plus the tour guides' Italian was a good enough combination to let us know where Pier Giorgio's tomb was. His body had just returned from World Youth Day the day before we got there!
Notre Dame + Sacre Coeur in Paris. Both are too much for words.

Overall, I feel so so lucky and blessed to have been able to go on this trip of a lifetime. I am so thankful that I had a little 8 month reprieve from weddings so that I could save up some cash to get to take trips like this! (Anddddd now I have 4 in 4 weeks in October/November so there's that. But I'm excited! God is so good!!)

Also, my PRECIOUS Goddaughter, Gianna Marie, was born on Friday and I cannot wait to hold her and squeeze her and love on her, in one month!

I'm sorry there are no pictures on this blog post. Stay tuned!

St. Therese, pray for us!

19 July 2016

St. Anne

Yesterday was the first day of the Novena to Saint Anne, my patroness.

Not only is my sweet patroness the mother of Our Lady and the grandmother of Jesus, she is also the patroness of: Brittany (a French Province), women in labor, mothers, equestrians, homemakers, seamstresses, Quebec, the poor, and grandparents.

Please join me in praying this Novena for the conversion of souls and for my vocation.


Saint Anne, pray for us, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

29 June 2016

A Few Good Things

Oh, Summer.

We have a love/HATE relationship.

This month has been pretty ho hum, but there are a few highlights.

I went on a retreat at the University of Dallas this past weekend. It was good to take some time to ask God to speak into my life and to try hard to listen. I don't know exactly what the fruit of the retreat will be just yet. As I was driving home from the retreat, I was thinking about all the things I can do for the Kingdom of God: I have the ability to make (and give) a lot of money which can/will do a lot of good, I am an evangelist, I know Jesus and I'm equipped to make Him known.  Then He stopped my utilitarian line of thinking right in its figurative tracks when He told me very clearly that I was worth so much more to Him than what I can do for Him. It was such a great reminder. Our society is so objectifying in so many capacities. But He loves me because of exactly who I am, not because of anything I can/will do for him. (And He loves you because of who you are too.) Sometimes "who I am" feels like a real piece of shit. But where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more!

During the retreat, we watched the movie Karol. (Whole movie on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z4bWX9zaFBI)
This movie is the best movie I have ever seen. I have loved SAINT John Paul II since I was little but this movie just takes my love for him to a whole new level. I can't believe I've gone 26 years without seeing this movie. If you've never seen it, please stop reading this post and go watch it. It's worth EVERY MINUTE of the 3 hours.

In other beautiful Pope news, I heard this quote by Pope Francis about Pope Benedict. It's a rough paraphrase because I can't remember the exact wording and now I can't find it. He said something like this: "Pope Emeritus Benedict is so holy, when I read his writings, I feel I should read him on my knees."
I just love the love that they have for one another. Priestly brotherhood has got to be one of the spiritual wonders of the world.

In other news, this evening I finished my 4th golf lesson. I'm having so much fun!! (But I think I will enjoy it even more in the Fall.)

Also, one month from today I'm off to my European Vacation and I.CANNOT.WAIT!

Saints Peter and Paul, pray for us!

07 June 2016

Come to the Lover

Today I had a few interesting experiences.

First, I was talking to a colleague (literally at the water cooler) and I started telling him about a mission trip I'm thinking of going on. (He's some kind of protestant preacher.) He said "wow, I didn't know you were a believer." I told him that I used to be a missionary, etc. and when it was his turn to talk, he immediately told me about his first encounter with Christ.

This interaction made a deep impression on me for a few reasons.
1. Why didn't he know that I am a "believer?" Why did he seem surprised to find out?
2. Why was I so quick to give him my "Christian Resume?"
3. Why don't I lead with my experiences of who Jesus is?

I thought about it all the way to Mass. A comment that a different protestant colleague made a few weeks ago about transubstantiation (and how it isn't the most incredulous thing about the Catholic Church) made me think about how many churches would be filled to the brim if we had a true understanding of Christ's Eucharistic Presence and could share that joy with our protestant brothers and sisters: that Christ dwells in thousands of Tabernacles in every country in the world, just waiting for us to come to Him. I feel like transubstantiation isn't believable or isn't a big deal to protestants because if it were true and if it's implications followed, how or why would we go one day without going to see Him?

I have none of the answers.

I was praying for a bit before Mass, completely aware that I was in the Presence of Jesus... and I asked Him to give me an experience of Himself outside of the Mass. He came through in a big way in my prayer this evening, as I prayed over Isaiah 55:

All you who are thirsty, come to the water! You who have no money, come, receive grain and eat; Come, without paying and without cost, drink wine and milk! Why spend your money for what is not bread; your wages for what fails to satisfy? Heed me, and you shall eat well, you shall delight in rich fare.
Come to me heedfully, listen, that you may have life. I will renew with you the everlasting covenant, the benefits assured to David.
As I made him a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander of nations, So shall you summon a nation you knew not, and nations that knew you not shall run to you, Because of the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, who has glorified you. Seek the LORD while he may be found, call him while he is near.
Let the scoundrel forsake his way, and the wicked man his thoughts; Let him turn to the LORD for mercy; to our God, who is generous in forgiving.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD.
As high as the heavens are above the earth, so high are my ways above your ways and my thoughts above your thoughts.
For just as from the heavens the rain and snow come down And do not return there till they have watered the earth, making it fertile and fruitful, Giving seed to him who sows and bread to him who eats,
So shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; It shall not return to me void, but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I sent it.
Yes, in joy you shall depart, in peace you shall be brought back; Mountains and hills shall break out in song before you, and all the trees of the countryside shall clap their hands. In place of the thornbush, the cypress shall grow, instead of nettles, the myrtle. This shall be to the LORD'S renown, an everlasting imperishable sign.

It also reminded me of this song:

Felix and Elisabeth Leseur, pray for us. 

01 June 2016

Mum's the Word

Almost nothing thought provoking has been happening lately.

I say almost because there is one area of my life where I've been able to have some life giving conversations, and it's in the most unexpected of places: my office! My protestant teammate and I have had some pretty interesting conversations about Jesus. He seems  to be an unaware Christian Relativist (I thought those things were mutually exclusive too) but he likes Aquinas and Augustine. I have been given such an interesting grace: complete detachment from the outcome of these conversations. Of course I would LOVE to see him think his way into the Church but I have no desire to tie up loose ends in any of our conversations. Usually I get a little overzealous and want to sit down and figure everything out right then and there when these situations arise, but in this case, I have him captive for a minimum of 11 more months, and I have been able to completely surrender the results to Jesus. I'm just feeding a little fuel into the fire that the Holy Spirit has already begun.

In most other areas of my life, I feel like I'm in a quiet period. (Picasso went through a blue period, can my soul go through a quiet one?) It is also perhaps the calm before the storm.

Life Update during the calm:

I'm taking golf lessons.

I'm going to take a quilting class (and hopefully make a quilt for my Goddaughter)
This month I will pay off a student loan I've been working on paying down since August!
My Bible Study is starting back up for Summer. (Pray for the women who I'm asking to join us!)
I'm still working on training for a 10k. I've gotten myself up to a 5k but I'm so absurdly slow that if I start the 10k race now I might finish by the 4th of July.
Still getting into the groove with my new job. This one has a much longer "ramp up" period than others I've had.

The storm?
July 30-August 8: FRANCE!!!!!!
Kathlene and I are going to Paris, Lisieux, Normandy, Tours, Bordeaux, Lourdes, Toulouse, Lyon, and Reims! EEEEEK!!! I'm so excited! Joie de vivre! (This is about the only French I know.)

Also in August: bridal shower for the beautiful and holy and talented Allie, and mid month my Goddaughter (daughter of my friends Kelly and Mat) should make her appearance!

Right now, while I feel like I'm in this quiet period (characterized by a calm contented prayer life where neither Jesus nor I say much, I think) I'm trying to be the best Me. I don't know what God has planned for my life. I want to know... but I also want to be able to look back on this time fondly, as if I lived each moment and enjoyed this time. I don't always enjoy it, and I often have to remind myself to wait for the future to come and not grasp at something that isn't mine yet. But I want to try my hardest. I want to become holy while carrying this cross, and not look at others and ask for those instead.

St. Joseph, pray for us.
Servant of God Elisabeth Leseur, pray for us.

25 May 2016

The Pacific Coast Highway in Pictures

We had an AWESOME time on the Pacific Coast Highway. Ciara and I flew into Seattle and drove all the way to San Diego. We literally did so many things every day that I had to keep a list. We had really 3 main focuses: see anything and everything cool along the way (this meant stopping at EVERY beach town and doing all the tourist things), do a pilgrimage of the missions of St. Junipero (we hit up 11 out of 21!), and go through the Holy Doors as we passed them (we received six (I think) plenary indulgences for the Jubilee Year of Mercy!). Oh, and we wanted to do it on the cheap (which we accomplished.)

Without further ado, here are (SOME of) the pictures!

St. Junipero Serra, Apostle of California, pray for us!