Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Not Alone Series: Thanksgiving

In what ways are we thankful?! Write about anything you want under this theme! Do you have any family traditions that help you to be mindful of the blessings in your life?


I LOVE holidays. Good food, good smells, dressing up. It's all good.

But the best part? The family time.

I don't know about you, but the older I've grown, the more I appreciate the quality time I get with my family. With 3 younger siblings, each in 3 different cities and 3 different states, we rarely see each other. So you can imagine my excitement as Thanksgiving has grown closer. It's something like this:


I LOVE Thanksgiving. Autumn in and of itself is delightful: scarves, dresses, tights, boots...AH! 
Throw in some turkey, stuffing, gravy, PUMPKIN PIE, sweet potatoes, and vegging out with the fam. 
Perfection.

My extended family always gets together for Thanksgiving, and while there have been some modifications to this year's plans - I'm doing my best to not be all "BUT TRADITION!" - we're still all getting together and that's what counts, right? Yep. 

This year's changes, while I've been annoyed and frustrated for some time, remind me of the need to be more flexible AND that I must be grateful regardless of the circumstances. Truth be told, I do not prefer to spend my extended-family-Thanksgiving extravaganza at a banquet hall/bowling alley. However, any family time is good time and I must be grateful for that. Rather than being grumpy about the changes, I need to enjoy the time with my loved ones and thank God that I have them.

In regards to other traditions, we usually do the customary everyone-say-something-they're-thankful-for thing, but I heard of a different spin on that this weekend which I might try to implement. A friend told of how his family goes around and each person has to say something they're thankful for about each person at the table. This might get lengthy, but it might be fun for my immediate family Thanksgiving celebration!

The Church does a great job of constantly reminding us to give thanks. In each Mass we are reminded to give thanks for what we have been blessed with and just to be thankful for the Lord's love and mercy. But Thanksgiving is a wonderful time for true reflection, and real reveling in the goodness of family time.

I'm always thankful for my family, but Thanksgiving is specifically a time when I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the love and companionship in my family. It's also a good time to reflect on the past year and realize that I have a pretty great life. A good job, a warm place to live, good friends...perhaps I should have more gratitude for these blessings in the day to day....

I pray that you have a blessed Thanksgiving and hope that you're able to spend it with loved ones!

How will you be spending your Thanksgiving? Share with us what you're thankful for in the comments or attach your post below!

PSA: If you emailed Jen and I about being paired up with a prayer partner, we will contact you later today!

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Next week's topic:
Preparing the Way! 
{NAS Advent post}
Happy Advent! How do you prepare your heart, home, etc. for the coming of the Lord? Are there specific recipes or traditions you partake in? Share with us how you are making way for our newborn King!





Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Dream big, kid.


My boss asked me recently if I've ever experienced one of my dreams coming to fruition.

The dream that first came to mind made me laugh. My boss, being curious, wanted to know what I thought of. Preceding my story with "this is really silly", I told him of my dream in 1st grade to go on a date with one specific cute boy. 10 years later, I experienced that dream.

Silly.

My boss laughed, and asked if I had a different, perhaps more meaningful, dream. And I do, believe me, I do. Some of these dreams have come to be. Some have yet to be fulfilled.

My dream to date that boy, well, looking back seems silly. And yet, when I think of the daydreams that occupy my mind these days, I'm slightly embarrassed to admit that they aren't too different.

How often do I dream of the day my Prince Charming and I will ride off into the sunset?
How many times have I wished and hoped and prayed that this new guy I'm talking to is "the one"?
How much brain power do I waste on willing a cute guy at the coffee shop to stop his coy glances and COME AND TALK TO ME ALREADY?

Sheesh. To quote Elizabeth Bennet, " Is that really all you think about?!"

In truth, no.
But in truth again, I think about this A LOT.

It's natural to long for the things our hearts desire. It's natural to wonder and hope about what the future holds.

But how about taking it a bit deeper?
How about dreaming about a better world around me?
Or dreaming up a new way I can serve my fellow humans?
Or what if I dreamt up a project to build the Kingdom and saw THAT to fruition?

People say all the time "as soon as you stop looking, that's when he'll show up!" The problem I have with this is that there's a big difference between truly immersing yourself in life and just pretending you are with the hopes of that "working".

I want to dream big. I want to change the world.
Yes, above everything else, I desire to get to Heaven and believe that God intends me to get there via marriage. However, I know He has many plans for me in the meantime.

And who knows, maybe I'll meet Mr. Right while seeing through a different dream.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Not Alone Series: The Struggle Bus

What ways do you run to implore the Lord's help when you are struggling? Do you always spend time in Adoration? Do you dive into the bible? Automatically go to Confession? Could you be better? How? And what about those times when things are good and you are joyous? Do you still give the Lord your time?

Ok, ladies. I have a confession to make.

When Jen and I were making this year's NAS topic schedule, I wasn't super pumped about this topic. Then with how things worked out with trading off topics, and I realized that I'd be hosting for this particular topic, I thought to myself: "well, I don't know what I'll say here...I haven't been in a slump/rut/funk for awhile..."

God knew better.

The past several weeks I've been a regular on the Struggle Bus. It's hard for me to pin-point specifically what is wrong. I hate this, because as a natural sanguine, extrovert, ENFP, etc. I feel the need to be constantly "on". At least, when I'm around people. But internally, I'm exhausted. What's the deal, Morgan?!

Maybe it's my perpetual singleness.
Perhaps it's a restlessness in my work and the unknown future.
Or maybe I simply need to get off my butt and be more physically active.

Or....maybe it's the lack of a spiritual rhythm in my life.

There was a time when daily mass was a given. When I'd spend at least an hour of my busy day devoted to our Lord. When HE was the center of my life.

Hm. Yep, that could be it.

A couple weeks ago, I finished Jason Evert's book on St. JPII. Wow.
Since then, I've been working my way through a couple of encyclicals: The Splendor of Truth and God is Love. Both have such genuine Truth.
And in teaching CCD on Sunday mornings, I'm learning more about salvation history than I ever did as a child.

This is all well and good...reading the Bible, lives of the saints, and the writings of our Church leaders.

BUT. Without our SOURCE AND SUMMIT at the center of my daily life, I'm empty. Lost.
Without our Lord LITERALLY within me, getting through the day is rough.

So I need to make some changes. And pray for the discipline to stick to them.

How do you get through slumps like this? Do you have any tips or tricks? I'm honestly asking.
Link up below!

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Next week's topic:
Prayer Altar/Corner
How do you pray at home? Do you have a special place in your house? How do you make that area special? Comfy chair? Icons? Prayer cards? What suggestions do you have to make a home altar? If you don't do this, in what ways can you begin?

11/25: Thanksgiving! :)
In what ways are we thankful?! Write about anything you want under this theme! Do you have any family traditions that help you to be mindful of the blessings in your life?

12/2: Preparing the Way! {NAS Advent post}
Happy Advent! How do you prepare your heart, home, etc. for the coming of the Lord? Are there specific recipes or traditions you partake in? Share with us how you are making way for our newborn King!





Friday, October 31, 2014

Single Women Making a Difference Interview!

Hey hey hey!!!

A few months back, through our NAS Facebook group, I learned of a blogger who specifically focuses on mentoring young women. Whaaat?! Awesome!

I'm always so excited to discover new single-lady bloggers...so discovering Brenda from Triple Braided Life was like discovering a gold mine. Why, you ask? Well, well, well.


Brenda launched this new series in October called 31 Days of Interviews with Single Women Making a Difference. Basically, every day in October, Brenda interviewed a different single gal who isn't wasting her single years being sad about her relationship status, but is embracing life and living these years to the fullest! It's really been incredible "meeting" all of these other women who are in this same boat!



I feel so blessed to be counted among these women and my interview was posted today! Head on over to Brenda's to check it out!

Be sure to read the other 30 interviews, as well!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Not Alone Series: Discernment

We all agree that discernment is challenging. Figuring out what the Lord is calling you to do with your life can be frustrating and exhausting. But, then add on lack of family support, cultural pressures, and your personal expectations... ugh. And, this isn't just in relation to vocational discernment, but general life discernment, too! How do you keep going? What helps you to push through? How can we encourage one another? What indicators have you experienced that lets you know you're going down the right path?


The word "discernment" within Catholic circles causes me to automatically think of vocational discernment specifically. But I think it's important to identify that "discernment" is simply deciphering the Lord's will...and that can be about anything!

Trying to decide if you should stay in your job or look for something else? Discernment.
Having a hard time knowing if your significant other is "the one"? Or "the one for now"? Discernment.
Struggling to find a time or way to approach a friend or family member about a difficult subject? Discernment.

Nearly every choice in our lives requires discernment: allowing God to have a say on the decision. While I don't think this applies to "Should I have white or wheat bread?" or other little choices like that, we definitely must give Him input on the big things.

I generally have a hard time keeping in perspective that God DOES have a plan in mind for me. It's so easy to get stressed and worried about "where is my life going?! am I making the right choice?! ahh I don't know what to do!!" ....when really, what I SHOULD do, is take it to prayer. And give God an honest chance to lead me the right way.

The biggest thing that I look for when discerning His will is peace. If I don't have peace, then something needs to change. And change maybe needs to happen within circumstances, or my own heart. Not having peace might simply be an indicator that I need to grow. Humility is HARD. Change is HARD. But the more and more you allow God to give input on your life, the easier it is to tell His will.

At least, that has been my experience.

It's similar to watching a small child...most little kids have languages of their own, and if you've never encountered them before, it can be hard to understand their wants and needs. But their parents can understand them perfectly! The more time you spend with that child, the more you'll begin to understand them. This is also true with our Lord. The more you spend time with Him, the more you listen to Him, the easier it is to know what He wants for you.

Discernment never stops. I think this is the hardest thing for me the grasp. So often I long for the time in my life when I'm settled with my husband and a kid or two....but EVEN THEN discernment will come into play! Does the Lord desire more children for us? Are we working where He wants? How should our children be educated?

AH! Neverending!

But hopefully, by this point, I'll be so tuned into the Lord's voice that these choices can be made more easily.

Do you struggle with life discernment? How have you learned to hear the Lord's voice? Write a post and link up below!

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Next week's topic:
Still have those deal breakers?
We have chatted about our deal breakers/non-negotiables before, but how do you keep from letting your standards fall? What prevents you from just dating any guy out there? What keeps you going?

11/11: Feeling down
What ways do you run to implore the Lord's help when you are struggling? Do you always spend time in Adoration? Do you dive into the bible? Automatically go to Confession? Could you be better? How? And what about those times when things are good and you are joyous? Do you still give the Lord your time?

11/18: Prayer Altar/Corner
How do you pray at home? Do you have a special place in your house? How do you make that area special? Comfy chair? Icons? Prayer cards? What suggestions do you have to make a home altar? If you don't do this, in what ways can you begin?

11/25: Thanksgiving! :) 
In what ways are we thankful?! Write about anything you want under this theme! Do you have any family traditions that help you to be mindful of the blessings in your life?



Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Not Alone Series: Modesty

Continuing our reflections about our make-up routines, let's chat about modesty! What does modesty mean to you? Does it just involve the clothes you wear and how you wear them? What about the things you say or do? In what ways can we improve our overall modesty?


Ohhhh modesty! LOVE.

As I look back on the past 10ish years, I have to be honest: I didn't always dress modestly. But, as Katie pointed out, modesty isn't just about dress. And I am often guilty of not living, behaving, or speaking modestly.

For the sake of today's post (and so I don't ramble on for.ev.er.), I'll focus on modest dress.

Much to my delight, dressing modestly has become MUCH easier. When I was in high school, it was "in" to wear tummy-baring shirts. Well, actually....in my case, it was actually tummy-baring camisoles. I know. I'm shaking my head too.

The more skin, the better. Or, at least, that's what I thought. It wasn't until I was a bit older that I realized: in order to get attention, I didn't have to show a lot of skin. No! I had more to offer!
My thoughts! My humor! My personality!

And as I've grown older (or as my students like to tell me: OLD), I find more and more delight in wearing MORE clothes.

Sure, it helps that layering is "all the rage" and vintage styles have become fashionable. 
High necklines, cardigans, scarves, high-waisted pants, fit-and-flare dresses.... *sigh*

It is true that there are also not-so-modest styles that are popular.
Leggings as pants (WHY?!), crop tops, body-hugging spandex-like dresses, aaand cleavage.
All the cleavage.

So, while it's easier and relatively unquestioned by others....the question remains with me: why? 
Why not simply succumb to what others are doing? Buying dresses would be easier...not worrying about length, fit, or up-top coverage. Looking for pants in the morning would be a cinch...not attempting to conceal my derriere.

Well, for starters, there are practical reasons. Have you ever worn that just-a-little-too-tight or just-a-little-too-low-cut or just-a-little-too-short shirt/dress/etc? If you're anything like me, you had a hard time enjoying yourself because you were constantly adjusting, pulling, tugging, making sure everything was in place. I find it hard to be myself when I'm uncomfortable, and so one of the reasons I enjoy more modest clothing is the FREEDOM I find whilst wearing it. Surely, I must still be a lady, but I can allow myself to laugh heartily without fear of popping out of my outfit. 

Dressing modestly helps me to feel more comfortable.

Additionally, dressing modestly helps me to be more present. While it helps me to feel more physically comfortable, I also feel more emotionally comfortable. I know without a doubt that a cute guy at the bar is talking to me for reasons other than how I'm dressed. Again, there is a freedom found in coverage. I feel more secure knowing that someone is focusing on me attentively for reasons other than my upper body parts. In having this freedom, I am my most authentic self. Less insecure and less concerned about the reasons for which someone approached me.

But modest dress isn't something I appreciate just for myself! No, I am so grateful when the people around me are dressed modestly. Many people would agree that "men are visual creatures", but the truth is, we all have eyes and are all visually stimulated. I find it very difficult to concentrate while amidst all sorts of exposed body parts. I truly desire to know others on a deeper level, but find it challenging when bombarded with all sorts of skin. Shoot, I can't imagine what it must be like for men!

And finally, I dress modestly because I know that I am worthy of deeply knowing others, and that this can be accomplished without showing everything my mama gave me. I can't phrase it any better than this:
"Therefore, the problem with immodesty is not that it reveals too much, but that it obscures the value of the person. Modesty, then, is not about hiding one's body, but about revealing one's worth. It is an invitation to contemplation. It conceals certain areas of the body not because they are bad, but in order to invite others to discover one's full value as a person, thus opening a way toward love."
Saint John Paul the Great: His Five Loves by Jason Evert, p 106-7

Modesty is freeing, both for the person practicing it and those present. Because of the liberation I find in dressing modestly, I feel free to be a better version of myself, and those around me experience and better version of me! Win-win!

What do you think? Is modesty something you practice or simply hogwash? Please share your thoughts in the comments and link up your post below!

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Next week's topic:
Sex!
Our culture is obsessed with sex. With anyone! At anytime! If you want to, just do it! But, the Church teaches that sex was created for the context of marriage. Why do you choose to abstain? Why aren't you going around having sex with just anyone? How would you encourage others to do the same? How do you remain strong when everything in our culture is encouraging you to abandon your convictions?

October 28: Discernment Challenges
We all agree that discernment is challenging. Figuring out what the Lord is calling you to do with your life can be frustrating and exhausting. But, then add on lack of family support, cultural pressures, and your personal expectations... ugh. And, this isn't just in relation to vocational discernment, but general life discernment, too! How do you keep going? What helps you to push through? How can we encourage one another? What indicators have you experienced that lets you know you're going down the right path?

November 4: Still have those deal breakers?We have chatted about our deal breakers/non-negotiables before, but how do you keep from letting your standards fall? What prevents you from just dating any guy out there? What keeps you going?

November 11: Feeling downWhat ways do you run to implore the Lord's help when you are struggling? Do you always spend time in Adoration? Do you dive into the bible? Automatically go to Confession? Could you be better? How? And what about those times when things are good and you are joyous? Do you still give the Lord your time?





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