Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Not Alone Series: Makeup ...and a CatholicTV giveaway!

What are your thoughts on wearing make up? Do you see a tension between a pressure from society and a God-given desire to be and make life beautiful? Is your use of make up compatible with the idea that God sees you as naturally beautiful? (Thanks to Bek!)

I was interested by this topic when it was suggested to us by Bek, because I haven't really given makeup much thought!

Personally, I've had varying experiences with makeup and have used it in different ways over the years. I don't believe that makeup is inherently evil, nor do I believe it is necessary.

In the days when I struggled with emotionally and physically painful acne, I depended on cover-up, concealer, and foundation to keep my self esteem in tact. Should I have pondered the Lord's love for me despite my perceived imperfections? Perhaps. But even now, I don't think that I did anything wrong by attempting to conceal my acne.

There was one Lent when I decided that I wanted to give up makeup...I allowed myself to use only one makeup product every day. Most days, I would use concealer to cover up pimples, but that was it! No eye shadow, mascara, blush, etc etc etc. While it was weird in the beginning, by the end of those 40 days, I realized that I didn't WANT to use as much makeup as I had in the past! For a good amount of time following Easter, I only used concealer and a little bit of mascara...no longer did I feel the need to "put on my face" each morning.

These days, I wear makeup daily, but I'm much less concerned about concealing all of my flaws. Granted, much of this has been helped by my use of the OCM. My acne and oil is nearly nonexistent, and my scarring has all been erased. 

One of the issues I used to have was how LONG it would take me to get ready...like, is this really necessary?! Nowadays, I take maybe 15 minutes in the bathroom...including hair.

At the end of the day, God loves us exactly as we are and doesn't see our "flaws" as flaws. He loves you with your thin eyelashes, pale lips, freckles, etc etc etc. But do I think He is offended by us using makeup as a tool to help us enhance our beauty and/or self esteem? No...I think if we use makeup and it helps us to become better, more confident versions of ourselves, well, I think He's ok with that.

You know what, though? Sometimes I purposefully leave a couple zits unconcealed.


Sometimes, I do this to show others that yes, I too have flaws. I remember the first time I saw a classmate of mine who had a red zit on her nose. This was a girl who seemed to have it all together...but wait! She got zits, too?! Just seeing that made me realize that I was not alone in this...and that imperfection didn't make her any less beautiful in my eyes, so hey! maybe I could be less insecure about my imperfections!

Now, I don't think that anyone in my life sees me as having it all together...but if by denying my vanity for one day, I could build solidarity with the people around me, I think that's worth it.

What are your thoughts? Do you wear makeup? Do you think that using makeup is good? Bad? Share your thoughts in the comments or by linking up below!

AND! We have a giveaway today!!!

Bonnie at CatholicTV was gracious enough to give Jen and I a few gifts to give away to you! I will be giving away a CatholicTV care package this week and Jen is giving one away next week! Wanna know what you could win?!

My care package will include a CatholicTV beachtowel, USB stick, refrigerator magnet, and magazine!

All you need to do to enter yourself in the giveaway is comment below answering the following question: 
"If you could give CatholicTV a pitch for a new TV show...what would you suggest?"

The giveaway will end on Tuesday, 10/7 at midnight. At this time, I will assign numbers to each comment in the order published and randomly select a winner via randomnumbergenerator.com! If your email is not connected to your user name, please add that to your comment so I can notify you if you win!!

Good luck!!


Next week's topic:
Rosary + Single Life
October is dedicated to the Holy Rosary, so we wanted to honor Mary and reflect on her help during this time of singleness. How have you called on her intercession before? What is your relationship with our Blessed Mother like? If you don't know much about Mary or the Rosary, is there something keeping you from getting to know her?

October 14: 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?

October 21: 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?

Friday, September 19, 2014

#NASBoston Recap: Being Tourists! {part 2}

This second part is reeeeally long (but has a lot of pictures!) so my apologies in advance :)
{part 1 here}

After Jen and I finished up at CatholicTV, Bonnie dropped us back off at Shae's house. At this point it was sometime after noon...and we were STARVING. Probably because, duh, when you only have a half a cup of coffee for breakfast...you're gonna be hungry. Dumb.

We wanted to:
1. head towards downtown (we were staying out in Brighton, a good ways away)
2. get some fooood
3. enjoy the gorgeous weather

So we quickly changed, grabbed the sticky-note map Shae had left us and navigated ourselves toward the nearest bus stop. Now, let me just remind you that neither Jen nor I have ever been to Boston...heck I could barely tell you which way DT Boston was from Brighton. Add onto that attempting to decipher random bus stop signs AND my mounting hanger/hunger sickness....well, we were a lost cause. I'm pretty sure anytime Jen asked my opinion on where I thought we should be waiting, I just replied "Let's just find food."
Sorry, lady!

I'm gonna make a long story short because I'm sure Jen will be able to fill you in on the full story, basically, in trying to head downtown, we got on the bus going the wrong way...should have been standing on the other side of the street and we would have arrived at our destination 30ish minutes sooner. I probably would have thought this was a funny occurance if I wasn't so freaking hungry! Sorry again, Jen. I'm kind of a grump without food!!

We finally got near downtown and found a Bruegger's for lunch...by now it was probably 3PM? 2PM or 3PM I'd say.

But it was nice to sit and chat about our morning once I was back to being a functional human being AND THEN I realized that our interview had been posted on the CatholicTV website! But Jen had run to a shop next store for a new phone charger, so I had to wait for her to get back. AHHHH!

We had to search for our part of the show (around 22:27) but we sat right there in the bagel place and watched ourselves on TV!!! So fun. It was so surreal watching ourselves on TV...and honestly, while I thought the interview had gone really well, watching it back...shoot! We did awesome!! ha!

Reveling in our new found fame and success (kidding!), Jen and I made our way to where we thought the river would be...and wouldn't ya know? We found it without any transportation issues! ;)

Gorgeous view of the city!

Jen and I walked through THEE cutest park/trail area along the river and found a place to sit and relax in the sun. The weather was absolutely perfect: a touch of wind and sunny. Gorgeous! It was so fun just to relax and debrief from our day together! Since this was only our second time being together in person, and the first time we were with 6 other people, it was so nice just to sit and chat about life. Jen and I talk ALL THE TIME...like text, gchat, phone, etc. a few times a week, so we're pretty close friends and it's weird to remember that we've only ever been in the same location twice! How insane!
But I definitely consider her one of my best friends so it was great to spend some time just the two of us!

After lounging in the park for a bit, nearly getting run over by dogs, runners, and adorable children, we decided that going "home" was the best idea. I didn't want to be a wet blanket, but SO hoped Jen wanted to go back haha So when she suggested getting some New England clam chowder to go...AH. Best.

On our way back through the park, we came across this dude playing his upright bass beneath a willow tree...how hipster of him! We started taking pictures of him and others joined in. ha!

Upon returning back at Shae's, we got into our PJs, warmed up our "chowda", and may have watched our interview a few more times...

"Where is he?!"
I couldn't resist making a GIF out of this!!!

After our loooong day (it's exhausting being stars! ;) I had no shame in curling up for bed around 10PM. We wanted to do a lot on Saturday, so I needed my rest!!

No alarms set, no schedule planned, we woke up Saturday refreshed. And Shae, being THE BEST EVER, made us coffee and toast with HOMEMADE JAM. We decided to go to brunch on the South End and MAN OH MAN did it live up to my high expectations.

Ok, seriously. If you ever make it out to Boston, go to Aquitaine. Their pimento and ham omelette is to.die.for. And the cinnamon bun was delish. Aaaand their mimosas were amazing. It was all perfect.

After brunch, we had to walk off all of that deliciousness, so Shae showed us a bit of downtown, including the Boston Public Gardens.

Above group photo stolen from Jen's post....LOVE IT!!! We were so excited to wear fall clothes! ha!

We walked around in the park for awhile and when we came out of the other side, we saw this huge festival going on across the street! Now, I LOVE festivals. Love large crowds of people, love fair food, just love the energy that comes with a huge group of people joining together for one event. We heard music, saw tents, and since we were headed in that direction, I said "let's just go through here and see what's going on!"

We started walking through the crowd, glancing at different tables and booths...and I started noticing a theme.

"Hemp Brownie Mix"
"Northeastern Institute of Cannabis"
"Boston Pot Report"

....there's no way. Did we just stumble into modern day Woodstock?! By the time we realized that we were in the middle of a "Hemp Fest", it was too late. We were headed toward the food trucks and the crowd was taking us with them.

All we could do was try to stick together and crack up along the way. It was one of the most entertaining mishaps of our trip, by far.

We finally made our way out of the crowd and kept moving in the direction of the Boston Harbor. I told Jen when we were talking about what we hoped to see while in Boston that all I really wanted to see was the Boston Harbor....ya know, Boston Tea Party site?! I'm no history buff, but that kind of stuff is cool to me :)

We finally made it to the harbor and took in the general splendor...

It was all very cool and I was satisfied. About this time we began to head in the direction of Mass, where we were planning to meet up with Catherine!! So many blogger meet-ups in one weekend!!

We got to the chapel address and realized....wait, is mass INSIDE the shopping mall?!

After checking a map, yep! Looks like the St. Francis Chapel is right by the Dunkin' Donuts!

How cool is that?!

After mass, we met back up with Shae and grabbed some Starbucks before dinner (thanks for the giftcard, Bonnie!!) It was so fun getting to know Catherine! I hadn't been following her blog or twitter, so this was the first time we'd ever really interacted. But, we're a lot alike and got to talking about some of our mutual interests (namely, NFP haha) She is hilarious! And being from Toronto, who knows when this kind of meet-up will be able to happen again!

Shae had suggested this tapas restaurant "close by", so we headed that way, but first stopped by Perpetual Adoration at a parish Catherine and her husband visit often. So gorgeous! And how great to have Perpetual Adoration available in the middle of a busy city?!

On our way to dinner, we realized that Shae's version of "close by" is very different than our interpretation! But, this might have been influenced by the rain and our aching feet. It felt like we had to walk 5 miles. Mayyybe a slight exaggeration.

Unfortunately, the place we planned on eating had about a 2 hr wait (LITERALLY standing room only), so we went to a different restaurant nearby for authentic Venezuelan food. DELICIOUS! Orinoco was such a cute little place and it was the perfect setting to be able to hold a conversation. After going to the ladies room, Catherine reported back that there were religious candles in the bathroom!! What?!

So cool! Clearly, this was where we were meant to eat :) And, in talking to our server, we found out that his Grandfather had lived in Champaign! How crazy!!

Post-dinner and drinks, we were so stuffed, but every person we had talked to at CatholicTV said that we MUST go to the North End for cannolis. So after walking Catherine back to adoration where she would wait for her husband to finish with his music gig, we headed to the Italian neighborhood for dessert!

Can you believe it? I'd never eaten a cannoli! Apparently, there are two places that have the best cannolis in town, so we got a couple from each and cabbed it back to Brighton.

Wanting to give both Mike's and Modern an equal shot to win our vote, Jen and I tried cannolis from each...

I'll be honest, I wasn't a huge fan of the cannolis. Maybe it was because I was SO full from dinner, but the ricotta was just soooo rich. Between the two, I'd definitely be in the Modern camp, though the service was much quicker at Mike's, albeit less friendly.

After dessert, it was time to pack up and hit the hay since our cab was coming at *gasp* 5AM. UGH.

Waking up Sunday morning was rough, we hated saying goodbye, and I wish Jen and I could have hung out together before our flights, but whatcha gonna do.

Overall, travelling to Boston was an exhilarating experience. Between CatholicTV, hanging out with great friends, and experiencing a new city...you can't ask for much more! Jen and I parted saying "let's not wait too long before getting together again!!" so when/if we plan another trip and you're in the area, let's see each other!

The more people I meet who I've originally met through the NAS or other social media sites, the more I thank God for His hand in all of this. I know for a fact that Jen and I were called to the ministry that is the Not Alone Series and I can't wait to see where He takes us next!

If you've made it this far, thanks for reading! Stay tuned for an exciting giveaway opportunity on Tuesday!!!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

#NASBoston Recap: WE WERE ON TV!!! {part 1}

Oh man. Y'all this post is so fun to write. On one hand, I cannot believe that #NASBoston is already over, but I'm so excited to share all the deets with you!!

[grab some coffee or a snack, this one's gonna be long]

As a recap of how we got here, way back in May, Bonnie at CatholicTV reached out to us about being interviewed about building community after college and the Not Alone Series. Jen and I were so blown away and so excited for this opportunity to share the NAS community with more of the world!

So, we started making plans to fly out to Boston, where CatholicTV is located. Keeping this secret was SO hard! And then we finally got to share it with our #NASavannah ladies....then made the public announcement! The support received was incredible, and being able to have all of you share in our excitement made this opportunity that much more thrilling.

Ok, so enough with my recap before the recap! Let's get down to it!

Our interview was scheduled for Friday morning (9/12), so the only logical plan was for Jen and I to fly into Boston on Thursday evening. Unfortunately for me, flight options were not super flexible...since I didn't want to take an additional day off of work for the trip, I had to leave after 5PM. This meant that the earliest I could arrive in Boston was 11:59PM.

But hey, I was coming from the Central time zone, so I hoped that this paired with my night owl tendancies would help me out.

The flight from Champaign to Chicago was uneventful...except that it began my FIRST SOLO FLYING TRIP EVER! Yes, I am in my mid-twenties and have never flown by myself. 
Go to dinner solo? Check. 
See movies alone? Check. 
Roadtrip by my lonesome? Check.
But fly across the country by myself? This was a first!

My first leg of the trip was only 31 mins long...insane! And the clouds were so gorgeous!


By the time I landed in Chicago, the sun had set and I'd gotten myself in a tizzy over the fear of missing my connection to Boston. Luckily, I made it to my terminal with plenty of time...until 2 minutes before boarding they announced that the plane was deemed unfit to fly and we needed to move to a different terminal.

Cue mad dash to a terminal clear across the airport. Because that's convenient. Oiy.
It all worked out and our ETA was only pushed back by a couple minutes.

Well, poor Jen had already arrived in Boston and upon deciding to wait at the airport for me to get in so we could share a cab, had found out from an employee that my flight might be delayed/cancelled. I was so frustrated that they told her that! Never did I hear any word of my flight being cancelled, so that worry was all for nothing! Sorry, Jen!

I finally arrived in Boston, found Jen, grabbed a cab, paid WAYY too much for a fare, stayed up too late chatting with our amazing host Shae, and hit the hay.

Waking up Friday morning [suuuper early] was somewhat surreal. Was this really happening? Jen and I struggled to wake up, but had some coffee and got ready in Shae's amazing duplex. I wish I would have taken some photos! It was so cute and Shae is seriously THEE best hostess. By far.

Nervous and excited!!

Jen and I rush rush rushed to get ready and managed to take a quick pic before heading out the door!

Bonnie from CatholicTV picked us up a little before 9AM and we were off! After so many months of going back and forth with Bonnie, it was so nice to put a face to the name! She was super sweet and accommodating! Thanks again for everything, Bonnie!!!

When we finally arrived at the studio, that's when everything got real. I started getting super nervous and THANK GOD we had the opportunity to attend Mass because I don't know how I would have remained semi-calm.

Although, the multiple cameras recording mass LIVE didn't help me calm down toooo much.
But, Jesus did :)

Most of Mass was spent praying that the Lord give me His words while on air...and that I wouldn't pass out. Ha! Please know that I prayed for you, too, and offered my Mass for all of you out there!

Post-Mass, we met the other gentleman being interviewed on This Is The Day, Jim Gorman from The Society of St. Vincent de Paul, and Bonnie gave us a quick tour around the studio.

Now, I don't know about anyone else, but I'm the type of person who needs a little time to get centered before public speaking. So when at 10:20, we were still looking around the studio...I was getting antsy. Like, checking-my-watch-isn't-anyone-else-worried?! antsy. This was when Bonnie told us that 10 minutes before showtime was lightyears in the TV business. Oiy!! I am NOT cut out for that!!

Taking pity on my poor nerves, Bonnie showed us to the set and OH MAN were we excited. AH!!

We got to meet one of the hosts of This Is The Day, Jay Fadden, who was great and assured us that we had nothing to worry about. Sweet, Jay, but I was still tweaking! Turns out that Jim was going to be interviewed first, so we had some time to chill out.

So Jen and I snapped a couple shots...

There's Jay!


Jen tried to take the first one....hilarious! But we did get a selfie with Jay! ha.

While waiting offstage for our turn, we were reading through all of the tweets of love from you guys! Y'all are the best!!!

Before we knew it, Jim's portion was over and we were being ushered onto the big red couch! We met Kevin Nelson, Jay's co-host for the day since Father Reed was gone, who also assured us to just take a breath and it'll be fine. They both were so funny and normal, it was easy to forget that we were about the be interviewed ON LIVE TELEVISION. Actually...we forgot a little too soon and the guys had us laughing so loud the crew guys asked us to quiet down...oh right, the news segment was filming...whoops!

And then it was three, two, one.....

Ok, really. Those 6 minutes were some of the most fun I've ever had. Well, those and then the 10ish after the interview when we just sat and chatted with Jay and Kevin. Here are a couple more pictures from during the interview...

Jen and I! On TV!!!

Shameless screenshot from YouTube....IS THIS REAL LIFE?! THAT'S ME!!!

And now for my favorite part of the whole interview...


Hilar. See?! They made us feel so comfortable! This is the kind of thing I would say to a friend...not intentionally on LIVE TELEVISION. But hey, I did ask God to give me the words to say what needed to be said, soooo.....

When we were finished with the interview, we just kind of hung out on set with Jay and Kevin, joking about how to meet guys in Boston. Somehow we got on the topic of whether buying us a couple "cups o' chowda" would be a smooth move, which is where I believe this shot came from:

Analyzing our expressions and gestures now makes it all look so staged, but I swear! Bonnie was taking pictures throughout and this one's completely natural! 

Then we all took a group picture...

After this, it's all kind of a blur...I know we hung out with Bonnie in her office a bit, and then ended up back in the studio for part two of our interviews. Apparently, there's a monthly show that Kevin hosts called Encounter, so eventually our interviews will be featured on that as well!

This time, Jen and I were interviewed separately by Kevin...which allowed us to get some shots of each other getting interviewed!!

First I went...

Then it was Jen's turn in the hot seat!

We both had the chance then to do a little prompter work...basically just saying "I'm ____, and you're watching CatholicTV"...but it was pretty cool! I've never used a prompter before, so realizing that the words are RIGHT OVER the camera blew my mind! I always envisioned the prompter being to the side of the camera!

Once these little segments were completed, Jen and I were ready to head out! But, not not before a couple more photo ops!

I'm totally blown away by our experience at CatholicTV. Not only was this an amazing opportunity to reach more people with the ministry that is the Not Alone Series, but Jen and I left the studios refreshed, re-energized, and reinvigorated with the passion behind WHY we started the Not Alone Series.

In the day to day, when I tell people that I have a blog or when I try to explain what the Not Alone Series is, I'm usually met with blank stares and polite nods. People aren't outright rude, but oftentimes I feel that the idea of "having a blog" is met with confusion. And the concept of a community built through an online forum is seen as being weird. Maybe this is my misinterpretation, or my own insecurities.

Either way, being at CatholicTV, all we were met with was openness, excitement, and interest. People who not only were genuinely interested in learning more about the Not Alone Series, but could recognize that there IS a need for it. And furthermore, the people we met AFFIRMED our mission to help others know that they are not alone.

Every single person we met at CatholicTV was great. And I'm not just saying that! They really were. We had some time in between things to talk to some of the crew, and there were all so cool and passionate about their work. The other thing that was really cool is how many young people work at CatholicTV! Of the people we encountered, I'd say roughly half were in their 20s or 30s. AWESOME!

I could go on and on and on and on and......but I won't. I'll just say this: thank you, CatholicTV, for inviting us out to experience your ministry to the world. Keep up the amazing work, you're doing good for the Kingdom!

There is so much more that I want to share, but I'll save that for part 2...coming tomorrow!

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