25 March 2013

Ponderings for Holy Week...

2 things that left me thinking on Palm Sunday:

"After arresting him they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest; Peter was following at a distance" (Luke 22:14-23:56).   One of the things I love about St. Peter, is every time this guy opened his mouth he always seemed to put his big foot in it.  He questioned Jesus, didn't trust him, denied knowing him, and ran away when his best friend needed him most...and then after the Resurrection, Jesus makes this infamous 'mess-up' the first Pope!?!? I guess there is hope for me then too...
But what really strikes me from this Gospel reading yesterday is how 'Peter followed at a distance.'  I feel like Peter here, for this Lent it feels like I have followed Jesus at a distance.  I haven't as my spiritual director encouraged me, "Just let the Lord love you! And in knowing his love for you then you start to be more loving with yourself."  I haven't been walking hand in hand daily with Jesus as much as I like...but more like playing catch up.  And as I heard that read at Mass, I started wondering, "Lord, what ways in my life do I follow you at a distance?"  That's something I'm really going to spend some time reflecting on this week...
Lent has been a tough one in more ways than one.  Those spiritual goals I had at the beginning of Lent have withered and faded, and have been hard for me to be constant in.  It's been a hard Lent for my hubs and I.  We have been working through a lot of issues in our relationship that have surfaced.  We started seeing a Catholic therapist to help us resolve and work together to learn from all of this and grow stronger together as a family.  Things are getting better, but it takes work on both our parts {duh!} and we're learning to do so more and more.  And so as I enter into Holy Week, my first thought is to feel weighed down and sad/frustrated/depressed that Lent wasn't some awesome experience for me spiritually.  But instead, I'm remembering that just like Jesus was able to use Peter for great things the same thing is so true for all the rest of us too, whew!  Lord, help me to really enter in this week with you, and not follow from a distance...

The whole scene of Peter in the garden and being recognized as a follower of Jesus.  And in the third time he denied knowing Jesus, "the cock crowed, and the Lord turned and looked at Peter; and Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said to him, 'Before the cock crows today, you will deny me three times.'  Peter went out and began to weep bitterly"  Just that whole imagery, the Lord turning to look at Peter, and Peter's remembering of what Jesus said to him. wow. just leaves me speechless.  And then I realize, I'm not really any different than Peter here, am I?
And that causes me to think, "Lord in what ways do I deny you in my life?"  Probably too many to
count, I'm embarrassed to say.
So as I enter into Holy Week, there's no deep theological, earth shattering realizations here.  Only that I'm a work in progress.  I cannot be slack, but also not impatient/unkind with myself.  I'm going to not follow Jesus at a distance this week, but rather help comfort him and keep him accompany as he walks this lonely road.

20 March 2013

How to be a 'not-so-great' Christian: Learning from my mistakes...

Growing up, I LOVED books. like a lot.  Whether it was day dreaming what it must have been like for Laura Ingalls Wilder to cross the prairie in a covered wagon or waiting for the next exciting turn in my Nancy Drew mystery book, I was a book nerd.  Each one on my bookshelf at home was like an near n' dear friend I could call one at a moment's notice.  To this day, I still make time to read a little before I go to bed; I find it helps me relax and settle in for sleep.  And even as an adult, nothing sounds quite as good to me as curling up with a good book.

A few weeks ago, in one of my Friday Quick Takes, I mentioned having an idea for a post on a book I recently came across.  So today I'm finally getting around to it...  In case you forgot, this is the book I'm talking about.  Don't worry I'm not gonna get all preachy on ya, honest!  I'm not about to get on a high horse and be all 'holier than thou' or whipping out the Bible to beat you over the head with.  As I read the title (How to defend the faith without raising your voice), it made me stop. think. reflect.  These pictures give an illustration to what's been on my heart the last few weeks thinking on how to write this.    

Looks not terribly friendly or loving...
Yelling at people about the faith=doesn't work

First of all I don't claim to be perfect and/or a saint (ask my husband/family of origin, they'll set ya straight!).  As I get older, I realize one area I struggle with sometimes is judging other people: making a judgment on a person without fully knowing/understanding them and/or their life circumstances.  There is a quote by Mother Teresa, "If you judge them, you have no time to love them." Yikes.  {cringes}.  But it's SO true.  As and I thought about how to write this, this quote just kept coming to my mind over and over again.

Being a cradle Catholic, I grew up in a home of faith.  We talked about Jesus, went to church weekly, and prayed before meals.  It was just a part of my existence, my life as I knew it.  In junior high, I was getting to a point where it didn't mean much to me; I simply 'did' all the churchy-Jesus stuff because my parents did and wouldn't not let me.  My experience of church and Jesus was "because my parents made me."  There was no personal relationship with Jesus and/or physical expression of living that out in the midst of a church community.

Fast forward to end of high school/beginning of college.  After going through issues of deep emotional/spiritual turmoil, I had an experience of quiet prayer where I met/encountered Jesus in the most deeply personal way up until that point of my life.  Though I always knew stuff about Jesus/the church/etc. through the kick a$% example of my parents (thanks ma and pa!), I don't think I really had a personal relationship with Jesus...I didn't make my Catholic faith my own, rather it was just the faith of my parent's.  Through those tough times in my life, for the first time, I felt I knew that Jesus loved me, had a plan/mission for my life, and that I mattered to him and this world I was put into.  Those insights really changed me.

I started reading everything and anything about Catholicism.  I started studying my faith in earnest, trying to understand and wrestle with doctrine and apply what it meant for my life.  I started reading the bible and learning how to pray.  I got involved with a great young adult ministry in Dearborn (which is later where I met Jim too!).  I went on pilgrimages, mission trips, and local service opportunities.  I wanted to really figure out what it meant for me personally on how to be a young, committed Catholic.  As I studied and prayed, I really came to fall in love with the Catholic faith.  It was no longer the faith of my parents, but it was a personal decision of my own. I wanted to be a Catholic Christian because through my own self-discovery; I realized that I wanted, believed, and loved the Church.

HOWEVER...in my great new found zeal for my Catholic upbringing, I was not always loving to others who maybe didn't agree with or understand me.  I cringe to even admit this, but I definitely had that 'holier-than-thou' attitude.  I thought I was better than others because all the 'churchy stuff' I was doing.  Sure I was going to Mass, reading Scripture, and going to Eucharistic adoration, BUT those things didn't always translate well into my daily life lived amongst the world.  I did the "churchy stuff" but you couldn't always tell that by the way I treated others.  I was judgmental of other people, I didn't understand what it meant to be pastoral with people.  I turned off at times those closest to me (sorry siblings!) and at many times was not a good example to the faith I professed by the way I treated people out in the world.  You remember that church hymn, "They will know we are Christians by our love"...well let's just say I didn't do such a hot job of being an example of that. 

One of the most important lessons I have learned in my faith life, is learning to being able to defend/speak about/stand up for my faith without raising my voice (like the title! :).  I am learning that yes it is critically important to be able to defend and stand up for my faith with strength and courage, but it ABSOLUTELY must come with a loving, pastoral, understanding, non-judgmental attitude.  No I'm not saying I have yet perfected that, but WOW have I learned some lessons from mistakes I've made.  Its like I tell teens in youth ministry, we may be the only Bible that people ever read, so be that good example of the faith you profess to others in the world.  Walking through the streets beating people over the head with the Bible is not how its done, but with loving, fair, and honest dialogue is how you reach and touch people's hearts.  I totally get that everybody under the sun has varying ideas on moral, social, and faith related issues.  And sure its probably no secret that much of what the Catholic Church teaches is widely contested amidst people who identify themselves as Catholics and in non-believers, and sure I may not personally agree with you (or you me), but it's all about how in our differences we treat each other.

I have learned that to be a good example of the faith I profess is NOT about judging them or getting in a yelling match {major whoops on me!} but rather, speak calmly in love. 

Sure its really no secret if you know me at all, that I really really love being Catholic; yes I know warts and all.  Sure the Church isn't perfect because its made up of sinful humans, duh! No that's not an excuse, but its the truth. 

I want to do what I can to make this world a little bit better by my being in it (sure, it sounds idealistic, but that's how I feel).  I want to help folks meet and know Jesus more in their own lives.  That he is not just some 'character' you read about in Sunday school, but is real and has so much for us.

If you're reading this, and over the years I have perhaps offended you in they way I treated you because we were polar opposites on any variety of issues, please know I'm sorry and I have learned from those mistakes.  No, I'm not sorry for my Catholic faith or for being public and sharing it, but my style was not always something I have been proud of.

I don't claim to be perfect or even a really 'holy' person, but I have learned  a lot and am still learning from my mistakes.  St. Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, "Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel."  Sharing the Gospel is critical, but its in the 'way' we do it that can actually turn people away or lead them to Christ...and that's a hard, but important lesson I have learned.

15 March 2013

Friday Quick Takes {vol. 4}

Another Friday link up with Jen...be sure to check out her website for other fellow quick taker's...

--- 1 ---
Best thing of the week for me????? This guy.  Pope Francis.
I wrote another post here about my thoughts about all this awesomeness for the Catholic Church this week. 

--- 2 ---
You may want to skip this one.  Okay really Piers Morgan???  If you are going to have people who identify themselves as 'Catholics' on your show, at least get people who semi know/understand what's going on.  I mean many of us already saw how Penn Jillette was better able to articulate Church teaching than you were (sorry but its true).  I'm not naive, sure many people who self-identify as Catholics have varying views on faith and morals in the Church, I get it.  But, on national TV if you are going to represent the entire Catholic community, PLEASE get people who know what they are talking about.  Piers Morgan (CNN) had Martin Sheen (a self-described committed Catholic) and Mia Farrow (who openly said she left "Rome") on his show last night talking about the election of the Pope Francis and the future of the Catholic Church. #Really? #IsThatTheBestYouCanDoPiers? Arrrggghhh...something that kinda drives me bonkers at times.

--- 3 ---
Today through tomorrow afternoon I'm going on a retreat with other Youth Minister's from our Archdiocese.  I've been looking forward to it for awhile.  It's always a great time gathering with other church workers for some fun and relaxation, and most importantly be reminded of the awesome task we are doing by helping build up the Kingdom of God.  Prayers please for all going :)

--- 4 ---
My social media fast of no use past 7pm has been really hard to stay on track this week with Pope mania everywhere.  I keep picking myself up and starting fresh, but gosh its hard some days.  It makes me realize how much we are connected to all our media stuff, for better and for worse.  It's great absolutely, but sometimes its important to also pull yourself away from it too.

--- 5 ---
Jim has been on spring break this week.  And while I'm on retreat today into tomorrow afternoon he will also be attending with my folks a charism school for lay people at a church near us this weekend with Damian Stayne.  He is a lay leader and a Catholic Charismatic evangelist from England who has traveled all over the world teaching people how to understand charisms and be able to give a personal witness.  I'm joining Jim and my parents tomorrow evening after my retreat ends, and I'm looking forward to seeing what he learns from the weekend.  Prayers for all attending that too please.

--- 6 ---
This book. By Colleen Carroll Campbell.
My Mom got it for me for Christmas and I'm just finishing it, but mostly because I read several different books at a time.  SUCH a good read.  It is her life story of re-discovering her Catholic faith and how several different women saints have helped her grow, understand, and work through life; very touching, personal, and a good gem for women everywhere!

--- 7 ---
And lastly, this dear one makes me smile...I've already printed it out for a poster in our Youth Room...
Have a great weekend everybody!
For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

14 March 2013

Thoughts on the 'new guy'...Pope Francis

WOW. Did that all just happen...yesterday was a GREAT day Catholics all over the world.  Yes, I am enough of a church geek to have gotten excited by the white smoke. (Heck, I was entertained by the seagulls that were hanging around the smokestack as we all waited!)

Pope Francis...266th successor to St. Peter

Since I watched it all from white smoke to first official Pope spotting, these have been some of my thoughts in no particular order:

1.  Can you repeat the name one more time, I missed it the first time?!?!?!?  When the announcement of who our shepherd would be I immediately thought, "Who's that, I've never heard of that guy??" (as if that really mattered) I was really, really surprised to hear a name that was not mentioned in the past weeks (well played Holy Spirit!).  Honestly, I admit there was a momentary flash of disappointment when it wasn't one of the names I was thinking or was even familiar with.  When he first came out he seemed kind of quiet, almost shy and maybe even a little nervous or uncomfortable...I kept thinking to myself, "He's just standing there, do something new Pope!"  HOWEVER that soon began changing when I began to hear more of the life story of this humble, loving servant.

2.  I can't help thinking Pope Francis is like discovering some really cool uncle I never met in my life until now! And now I'm like, "Score! New person in my family!" :)

3.   This. picture. 

When I was watching the live streaming of Pope Francis' first appearance to the world, the camera would occasionally show close ups of his face.  At one point in the middle of watching this live, I started thinking about what his experience could have been like in the "Room of Tears."  What was he thinking...what could have possibly been going through this man's head???  To be chosen by the cardinals to launch forward the mission of the Church in new ways.  To be asked to carry on the mission of Jesus as his rep on earth. To imagine this kind, sweet looking man humbled before his brothers and God...to accept SUCH a huge spiritual and emotional task; it really took my breath away and brought me to tears.  Seriously.  Stop and think about that for a few minutes. 
Just even imagining seeing all of that through his eyes...is! un! real!

4.  This is a humble man...just listen to all these facts coming in about him.  He chose to live in a small apartment heated by a stove instead of the palace, cooks his own meals, takes the public bus, and oh yeah washes and kisses the feet of AIDS patients!?!?!? That's like kissing the lepers, right?
And then just observing such deep humility when he first greeted the people: first he prays for B16 and asks the crowds to join in, bowed before the people asking them to pray for him in silence, and then he prayed over all of us. Seriously, at that moment, Pope Francis did have to say much more of anything at all, he had me at hello.  He has a deep love and heart for the poor.  Yes, he is still Catholic (sorry media:); teaching on faith and morals will not change...but he is also passionate about social justice, and I'm guessing he will combine deep love of it all together in a new way perhaps we have never seen before.  He has stood up against injustices with the government and has fought for the rights of the Church in Argentina.  Heck, he was exiled by his own religious order, the Jesuit's.  He would simply go out and walk amid the streets of his city back home simply talking to the people, meeting them where they were at and just get to know them.  Can we say 'New Evangelization 101'?

On break last night during my Trinity/Christology class, I saw an interview with Cardinal Dolan where he told reporters the surprising story of how the newly elected pope decided to take the bus back to the hotel Wednesday with the rest of the cardinals instead of riding in the Holy Father’s car.

“So we take the buses over and the cardinals kind of wait outside to greet the new Holy Father as he comes back to Doma Santa Marta…and as the last bus pulls up, guess who gets off the bus? Pope Francis,” Dolan said. “So I guess he told the driver, ‘That’s OK. I’ll just go with the guys on the bus.’”  WOW.  I'm really looking forward to learning more about him and seeing letters/books/encyclicals he writes in the future. 
Taking the bus with the cardinals...just one of the guys ;-)

5.  World Youth Day this July in Rio is gonna. be. off. the. hook.  Who would have thought when I signed up for this adventure, we would be welcoming a new Pope only months before our pilgrimage???  A WYD in South America with the first South American Pope!?!?  I have a slight feeling everybody and their brother in South America is going to turn up for this...currently Rio is preparing for 2 million people, but now I'm thinking the numbers may increase ever so slightly? ;-)
Holy Father, I eagerly look forward to celebrating and learning from you this summer in Rio! 

P.S. Dear Pope Francis, I would REALLY, REALLY love to get a good shot of you at some point while in Rio, if you can remind the driver of the Popemobile to slow down a little (he went too fast for me in Sydney), I greatly would appreciate that.  Thank you very much.


 6.  I cannot help finding how funny/unique are the ways of God.  In Scripture, we hear "Your ways are not my way, says the Lord."  This conclave and election of a new Pope remind a strong headed control freak like myself of that at exciting times like this.  EVERYBODY had their 'top picks' or 'favorites', and sure I was in that crowd too.  By the time there was a white smoke spotting, I think many were waiting/hoping to hear 'their guy' being named.  But being so surprised as we all clearly were last night reminds that no matter what we are not in control of this election or anything in life.  God's got this under control, so let's all sit back, and enjoy and learn from our new shepherd.  I'm really looking forward to Pope Francis...it's like he's that surprise Christmas gift you get as a kid you weren't planning on, but then in the end, it turns off rocking off your socks!

7.  This is too fun to not share...for those of you who have seen 'Elf' you'll enjoy it:)

I really do love being Catholic, not in some blind belief kind of way, but in a lively and dynamic, joyful way.  As the Church embarks on this new journey with Pope Francis, I can't wait to see what's in store with him...something tells me it's gonna be exciting :)

13 March 2013

Five Favorites {vol. 2}

Joining Hallie for mother fun link-up early this morning...say some prayers for her as she waits for her newest sweet pea's arrival...

1.  This week I have been fighting a wee bit of a cold.  So I enjoying lots of hot tea, honey cough drops, and Vicks vapor rub.  I've never been a huge tea drinker, but am kind of enjoying it when I have all these different cute mugs in our kitchen cupboards to enjoy something hot to help make me feel better.  Here are some of my favorites I have been using :)
St. Therese and John Wayne are some of my favorites!
Here my husband is joining me for some tea! :)

2.  Since I am working on feeling better the DRE of the parish I work at gave me something to help boost my immune system.  This stuff works wonders!  Its a powdered drink mix you can use with hot or cold water...basically a jolt of vitamin C and good stuff for your body.  I have been having one at breakfast and one at dinner time to help pick up my body!  I'm even thinking of bringing this with me to World Youth Day this July in Rio to help ensure no one from our group gets sick while over sea's...good stuff! Check it out next time you are sick.

3.  Okay Can I just say how AWESOME all this social media stuff is as we await the new Pope!?!?!?  My Twitter and Facebook newsfeed are all scattered with updates on the smoke reports: with all kinds of fun, cool hash tags like #STOKEDFORTHESMOKE and #PopeWatch2013.  In case you don't personally know me, I REALLY love being Catholic...and its great times like this when news all over is abuzz with the exciting task ahead of the Church! It's a great time to celebrate and be grateful to be Catholic...go #teamCatholic :)

4.    I recently found out about this website/app for your phone.  It a website for women written by other Christian women.  Its to encourage women in reading Scripture and surrounding themselves with the daily truths and promises of God.  They have all these different topical and thematic Bible studies/daily reflections you can access on their website and through your personal phone.  I have the logo on my homepage so you can check it out...just a helpful tool for me personally as I strive to work more to believe the promises of Christ vs. the misconceptions I believe about me or what the world tells me.

5.  This last one is a two for the price of one...but I think you'll like them so I'm going with it ;-)
I really love both of these two pictures.

After 8 years of being the 'servant of servants' he has earned a good rest...notice his cute little red Pope shoes are now simple brown loafers.  How blessed we were with this holy man of God!

SPOILER ALERT!!!!! Sorry for those of you who were excepting something different....

Have a beautifully, blessed week!! See some of you for "Friday Quick Takes" :)

08 March 2013

7 Quick Takes Friday {vol. 3}

Linking up with the lovely Jen again this week...check out her website for other fellow quick taker's...

--- 1 ---
Do you ever have one of those days were you feel like you have gotten nothing accomplished??  Wednesday was that day for me this week.  In July I'm going to my third World Youth Day in Rio.  Crazy exciting and slightly stressful at times.  I spent most of the afternoon between calling our travel agency helping us with travel plans and the Brazilian consulate in Chicago trying to clarify exactly what documentation we need to obtain our visa's for Rio.  Fun times as the Group leader!

I'm very thankful our group consists of a total of 6 people.  And I'm really excited because my Dad is also coming as our male chaperone.  SO excited to share this experience with him, especially since its his first trip out of the States.  I know some Youth Ministers who have taken over 30 people to WYD's past...I admire them for that, but don't think you could pay me to do that!  Excited to celebrate with 2 million Catholics from all over the world...oh and yeah, a new Pope!?!? I think so:)

--- 2 ---
I don't even know where I came across this one, but it popped up on my Facebook feed yesterday afternoon.  If you have never been to the Sistine Chapel (heck even if you have!) you should take a
a look at this website: Its the site of the conclave. Use your mouse for the tour. Move around and zoom in and out.  Sure its not as good as seeing it in person, but a good second option!
--- 3 ---
Thursday I had a day workshop on Youth Evangelization in our diocese.  It's always a good time gathering with friends in ministry and getting ideas, input, and practical tips how to reach the young church in relevant ways with the awesomeness of the Catholic faith. 
 2 awesome things happened at the workshop.

1.  I met this DRE who has workshops and trains folks in ministry how to create their own websites. but good websites.  I'm so stoked to head to her workshop in May especially since lately I cringe when I look at our Youth Ministry section on the parish website...its been on my mind for awhile to do something about, and this lovely lady was like an answer to prayer! score.
2.  For closing prayer at the workshop, we watched this video....really enjoyed it! Thinking something to maybe show to teens...they also have a website at www.anygivensundayproject.com

--- 4 ---
Jim had two big papers due this week for school.  He also made it two back to back all nighter's.  Needless to say, he is one tired bear.  On the agenda this weekend is some major sleeping/relaxing for Jimbo and I'm starting to write my paper for my Trinity/Christology class and puttering around the apartment.

--- 5 ---
I'm actually getting a makeover done on my blog!!! I have been using these free templates for a bit, but there is only it seems so much you can do with it.  I'm looking forward to seeing what Shannon comes up with...if you're looking for design idea's, take a look at her website.  Thanks Erika for recommending her to me! 

--- 6 ---
Okay. This one is a question.  My friend Mary posted last week in her quick takes on how to disable the security thingy that makes you prove you're not a robot.  Sounds great to me, but how do I actually do that??? Any of you know how to dismantle it?? Thank yee kindly :)

--- 7 --
Bragging alert below!  Jim is really handy with fixing stuff around home.  Earlier this week, one of the toilet's got clogged.  Apparently if you fill up both of the bathtubs at the same exact time, and then empty at the same time while flushing at the same time it does something to the pipes, or something that stops a clogged toilet from overflowing. Never knew that.  This husband is handy to have around it looks like ;-)
For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

06 March 2013

Five Favorites link-up

I'm starting to enjoy the whole 'link up' thing in the blogging world.  The lovely Hallie Lord at Moxie Wife is hosting a five favorites one and I'm joining the party...


1.  Today I read this post from Elizabeth at In the Heart of my Home.  The title alone reeled me in, 'How Compassionate are you with yourself?'  Not really good at it, I said to myself.  I have struggled for a long time comparing myself to others and being loving to me.  One of the things my spiritual director suggested I work on now (esp. during Lent) is letting Jesus love on me...and allowing that to help me love myself better.  hard. stuff.
But I appreciated her post especially these closing words: "If you don’t love yourself — if you can’t be compassionate with yourself, gentle with yourself, forgiving of yourself — start there. Spend Lent learning how to nurture your own soul, to open it up to God’s grace and mercy, to believe that you truly are forgiven. We can’t love others well and we can’t love Him well until we learn a loving compassion for the image of God that lives in our very selves."  Here's to keep working on loving the "me" I am made to be...one day at a time....
Thanks for the reminder Elizabeth!

2.  This one may sound kinda weird but lately I'm on this cereal/cold milk kick...especially this most dee-lic cereal!  And of course, the BEST part is the milk becomes instant chocolate milk...added bonus! It's the little things in life right??? ;-)

3.  Ann Voskamp.  Have you heard of this lovely mama from Canada?  She writes daily about grace, blessings, and eucharisteo here.  Her words and photo's challenge readers to live a life full of thanksgiving to God; to be able to see grace and joy all throughout our sometimes messy lives.  Her website is full of great ideas and words of encouragement...check it out, I promise you'll be glad you did!

4.This one is perhaps my most favorite make-up item I own: bisque from Bare Minerals (their version of concealer).  This. stuff. works. A bit pricey, yes, but a good investment.  I have never seen anything that gets rids of scares, lines, redness as well as this.  It's like a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser for your face! Blemishes, be gone!
Definitely a handy lil' helper in my make-up bag! :)

5.  For Christmas, my in-laws got us the Catholicism series by Fr. Robert Barron.  We just watched the first two episodes last Friday. oh. my. gosh.  We absolutely loved it!!  If you're looking for something spiritually edifying to watch, reflect, and pray on through Lent, I highly suggest this series!  After seeing the Holy Land on these DVDs, we're both aching even more to visit there...we'll see, hopefully some day!

01 March 2013

7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 2)

--- 1 ---
    WOW...And...we are "Popeless" for a time...

The crazy thing is that the Sunday at Youth Group before we found out the Pope was retiring, we had a good conversation about how we really are living in the most exciting times as Catholics.  Who would have thought the next day we'd be hearing the Pope put in his 2 week notice!?!?  I'm sure many of you have seen these or similar things floating around the world of social media about the resignation/upcoming conclave/etc.  But these are two neat websites I found...

Adopt a Cardinal
No not these cardinals...                                                                             These cardinals

Your are assigned a cardinal from around the world to pray for him as he enters into the conclave in the coming weeks.  I ended up getting Cardinal Dolan from NYC.  I just think its a neat way to really be connected to the momentous task ahead of the Church right now.

The other on is Fantasy Conclave.  Its a website to help folks learn about the papacy and learn about the whole process we're about to head into. neato burrito:)

--- 2 ---
Tonight Jim and I are going on a double date with my folks.  Because its a Lenten Friday, we'll be getting our fish n' chips on at a local grill.  Afterwards, just coming back to our apartment for some dessert and pink moscato. Yum.

--- 3 ---
This week I had gotten a coupon to Hobby Lobby in my e-mail.  I headed over there on Monday and found these two bulletin board lovelies (2 for $20!?!?).  I was a little geeked!

I LOVE a cute chevron pattern!!
This will look great in our 2nd bedroom :)

This burlap number I thought would be cute in the kitchen...
Hubbard Command Central ;-)

--- 4 ---
I've had this idea brewing in my head for a particular post.  I haven't had much time lately due to studying for my Trinity/Christology mid-term and starting to do some research for a paper.  Recently a priest was telling me about this book and the title struck me.  Don't worry I'm not about to get all preachy or controversial on you; but let's just say I didn't used to be very good at the first part of the title 'how to defend your faith without raising your voice.'  It's more a personal reflection on learning from the mistakes I made in trying to be a good witness to what I believe, but instead I came across as judgmental and kind of un-Christian.  Stay tuned for further reading!

--- 5 ---
The 1st Thursdays of the month are quickly becoming on of my favorite days of the week.  That's the night we head to Ann Arbor for a young adult group.  If you are a young adult from south-eastern Michigan you DEFINITELY want to check out 'i.d. 916.'  Like their Facebook page or check out their website.  The evening starts out with Mass, fellowship, a dee-lic catered meal (only $10 with adult beverages!), a young adult testimony, and some type of talk relevant to young adults trying to live their faith.  Seriously. Just do yourself a favor and check it out.

--- 6 ---
Prayer. is. sometimes. a. struggle.  The other night Jim went to bed early and I was finishing up the end of an episode of 'The Office' (the one where Michael burns his foot in the George Foreman grill?? hysterical!!!  After I finished it, I was debating to perhaps watch another.  I really just wanted some time to veg out and relax.  And then began the internal wrestling match: relax with more TV and veg time vs. the need to pray. I really didn't feel like praying (sorry Jesus!), but knew I had really checked in much that day and with it being Lent and all thought it would probably be a good idea.  So after some quiet time and writing in my prayer journal, I pulled out a devotional Jim and I were reading during Advent-the present.  I really liked this part: "Jesus is not Santa Claus or a magical ATM that spits out any amount you ask for.  He is a person, and prayer is a relationship.  The heart of prayer isn't about trying to get what we want but trying to love God (and experience his love) in a deeper way."  In my head I get that prayer is about a relationship, but it is a constant work in progress to live that out in my thoughts/actions.  The part that really knocked me upside the head was that part that said 'and experience his love.'  In talking with my spiritual advisor, I have realized that this is an area in my life I need to work on: letting God love me.  I struggle a lot at times with comparing myself to other woman/not always having great self-esteem.  And I think that's an area that God wants to work on with me; getting better at loving me!  And Lent's as good a time as any for a good spiritual makeover right?? ;-)

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Jim graduating with a bachelor's in Philosophy!
April 9 is a big day in our home: Jim's commencement ceremony for grad school!  He will receive a Master's in Social Work, and is very eager to work as a family/individual faith based therapist.  He's been a busy bear for the past two years going to school full time and working an internship...its exciting to see the light at the end of the tunnel for him!  Yahoo cuddly! So proud of you!
Looking forward to seeing him all cute n' handsome in a cap and gown :)
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