Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Not Alone Series {news and announcements!}

Hello NAS community!

After a summer-long hiatus, it's great to be back! My summer was filled with the brim with travel, family time, and growing pains - all good things :)

Y'all, the Not Alone Series has been around for more than TWO years now. Is anyone else blown away by that? When Jen and I first began discussing the concept of a bringing like-minded, holiness-seeking, single ladies together to build solidarity and friendship, well, I had no idea where this would take us. In reflecting on the series, we've said that we had "high hopes and low expectations."

This is completely true.

And isn't this how we sometimes view God's plan for our lives? Sure, I'm hopeful...but I also don't expect Him to do that much with my life. Other people, for sure. But me? That just seems impossible.

Thanks be to HIM that our expectations don't determine what He will carry out. The past two years of the Not Alone Series have been so formative for me. I look back at the place I was at when this series began and I'm overwhelmed with how God has changed me. No matter the changes, I'm still the same person - but I've grown.

And I have you all to thank for that. You have helped me to know that I am not broken, I am not lost, I am not left behind.

This community Jen and I created with hopes of bringing together women who feel isolated in a world obsessed with romance has served us as well.

Thank you for being that community!

These couple of years, Jen and I have been called to constantly discern the direction of the NAS. How can we best serve this community? How can we reach new people? Where are we being called to grow?

We've been offered numerous opportunities to answer these questions with action! Members of our community gathered in Savannah last summer! Our Facebook group has become a haven for questioning hearts and prayer requests, shared sorrows and joyful noise! We were asked to share the NAS with CatholicTV on This is the Day and Encounter!

And yet, we're continually called to discernment. A few months ago, Jen and I were praying about the future of the Not Alone Series and our role in that future. In taking that to prayer, we mutually discerned that we are no longer called to lead the weekly NAS blogging.

This has been fairly difficult for me to come to terms with. My personality is very all or nothing and I have a hard time letting things go. I tend to want to see everything I begin through to the very end. But with prayer and arguing with God, it became clear that He's calling me to step back and hand the reigns over.

So while this was a hard decision, I am so excited to announce that two lovely ladies have agreed to take over as hosts of the Not Alone Series!

*** drumroll please ***

It is my great pleasure to announce Lindsay of Lindsay Loves and Rachel of Keeping It Real as the new hosts of the Not Alone Series! Jen and I are so excited that Lindsay and Rachel are stepping up to lead the NAS weekly blogging!

The future of the Not Alone Series matters to me and Jen. We want to see it continue to flourish and I am confident that with Lindsay and Rachel, we will continue to see the fruits of this community!

A new round of weekly blogging topics begin next week, on September 15th! The first topic is below:

Five Love Languages
Dr. Gary Chapman has outlined five ways people give and receive love in his book "The 5 Love Languages." Take the quiz at 5lovelanguages.com to discover yours! What is your love language? How does that affect your approach to romantic relationships, family relationships, and friendships? How do you give and receive love with people who have different love languages?

Please head over to say "hi!" to Lindsay and Rachel! The Lord does great things with those who are willing to say "yes" - thank you to Lindsay and Rachel for their "yes"es!

I am excited to be a part of the NAS community in a different capacity and I'm thrilled to have these two ladies as the new leaders of this venture! 

Please join us on this journey! Join us on Facebook by requesting to be a part of the NAS group and liking the NAS page! Join us in reading and writing on the weekly prompts! Join us in building friendships which are authentic and true!

Know of my prayers and gratitude for each and every one of you. Our God is so good and I know He will continue to bless our path.

Monday, July 27, 2015

When Jealousy Threatens Joy

Welcome to summer, folks - also known as "Wedding Season"!

Now, I love weddings. The dressing up! The sacraments! The love! The tears!
All good things.

And don't forget about the post-wedding goodies! Dancing, food, fellowship! Pictures, videos, marriage!
Again, all good things.

There are people who would comment that I'm in that stage of life when everyone is pairing and marrying, and to an extent, they'd be right. The mid-twenties: an age where it seems that EVERYONE is getting married.

It's true, many of my friends have entered marriage this year - I've been in three of these weddings since March! But, in a way, it feels as if I've been in this stage of "marriage is the thing to do" for awhile.

I have friends who married young, while we were still in college.
I have friends who married after they graduated, but while I was still in school.
Then there were the friends marrying the summer of our college graduation.
And throughout these three years following college, nearly each season has been filled with friends entering into this next chapter.

I've begun to wonder: how does one fully embrace the joy one has for friends entering marriage while feeling the heartache of longing for that vocation?

Recently, I watched the wedding video of a friend from high school. SO BEAUTIFUL. The love he and his new wife share is palpable. I was moved to tears, and I realized that these tears weren't simply happy ones, but slightly sad ones shed for myself.

Don't get me wrong - I am overjoyed for each and every one of my friends who've entered and will enter into this sacrament. To witness the love between two people is incredible, so to witness the love between two people you love is overwhelming. It's truly an honor to share in their joy.

And yet, I feel the twinge of jealousy. Just a twinge, followed by a wave of guilt. What's wrong with me?! These are my friends getting married!

I try to focus on the joy and ignore the ache of my heart saying "AH, why not me?"

But pushing down these feelings, this ache, pretending that I don't feel the way I do.... this doesn't make it go away. The struggle is real, y'all. I'm convinced that there is nothing quite like the pain of waiting for your vocation, especially when you're certain of God's call for you.

I had a moment in prayer weeks ago - while simultaneously driving because, hey, why not make the best of that highway time? - during which I got this image of when I'm finally married to the man God created for me and I am able to look at my husband and say "you were so worth the wait". Many emotions washed over me in my mind's eye - that feeling of "home" and gratitude for the struggle.

Call this prophesy or a glimpse of my future for the sake of keeping hope alive in my heart, but whatever it was, I'm grateful for it. For the first time, my heart believes that whenever that day comes, when my husband and I are together at last, the pain and longing and tears will all have been worth it.

The Lord has fulfilled other promises He's made to me, why do I doubt that He will fulfill this one as well? Trust is the only cure and one of the hardest things to develop.

I'm not sure how to close out this post.... I have no resolution. This struggle between the ache of my heart and the bubbling over joy is an on-going reality.

I will continue to bask in the glow of my loved ones who have found the one for whom their soul longs.
I will continue to allow myself to feel what I feel, yet not dwell on these emotions which crush my hope.
I will continue to cling to the cross, knowing that He will fulfill the desires He's placed on my heart.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

I'm single and yeah, I use NFP.

It's NFP week! Lots of posts have been published on this topic, but I've seen few written by non-married peeps! So, I'm taking a hiatus from my blogging hiatus to contribute from a non-married lady's perspective :)

It was a few years ago when my interest in Natural Family Planning (NFP) was sparked. I was intrigued by the concept of truly understanding your body and it's happenings while also being able to identify fertility markers.

But as much as I thought it all sounded interesting, I never imagined that I'd dive into that world until I was close to marriage.

After all, it seems like everyone learning NFP is over here like:

And I'm here all:

That all changed when I attended the Vita Institute.

For anyone unfamiliar with the Vita Institute, it's an intensive interdisciplinary training program for leaders in the national and international pro-life movement. A program of the Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture, the Vita Institute was one of the most incredible weeks of my life. Not only was the educational material top-notch, but the community fostered between myself and the other participants is unmatched.

When I attended in June 2014, one of our lectures was given by Suzy Younger, MS, FCP of the St. Joseph FertilityCare Center. Suzy's lecture was one of my favorites. The way in which she spoke of NFP as a key to understanding the mystery of the female body hooked me.

Following that lecture, I decided that I needed to learn how to chart via Creighton. I know a bit about most NFP models, but Creighton was the one that has come most highly recommended from friends and family.

And so, in February of 2015, I began to meet with a Fertility Care Practitioner (FCP) to learn the Creighton Model FertilityCare System. I've been charting for about 5 months now and wow. So cool.

My reasons for learning Creighton stemmed from past complications in my cycle and the desire to learn more about my fertility. When I was in college, my doctor decided to put me on the pill because my irregular cycles were due to a lack of ovulation. Yet, the pill suppresses ovulation. Hormonal birth control is often prescribed to "fix" a problem, when it actually just masks it without digging to the cause.

Additionally, I know many couples who had a quick engagement and between preparing for marriage, a wedding, etc....also threw learning NFP into the mix. More often than not, I've seen friends either stressed by the pressure to learn NFP in a short amount of time, or neglect their instruction amidst the buzz of planning.

Basically, I don't want to do that. I have no idea when marriage will become a reality in my life (aka I'm single and ready to mingle, fellas) and I also have no idea if my future husband and I will have grave reasons for avoiding pregnancy. Regardless, I intend to enter into marriage as prepared as possible. I desire to be equally spiritually, emotionally, and fertility-y prepared for marriage.

So, this post is for any single lady who's been thinking about learning an NFP method, or anyone who thought that NFP was only for married people. I've been in both camps and I want to make a few points.

1. Reading about NFP methods online and from friends is not sufficient for effective use.

I have friends, married and single alike, who haven't been formally trained in any particular NFP method, but "get by" with borrowed materials from friends and/or online research. From my experience, you will never be able to fully learn any NFP method without formal instruction. I went into my first appointment with my FCP thinking that this would all be a piece of cake. But several follow-ups later, I am convinced that having a practitioner who gives me, my chart, and my questions individualized attention is much better than any Google search.

Do yourself a favor and seek out an instructor before teaching yourself a wonky version of NFP.

2. It IS NOT unethical for unmarried women to learn NFP.

This question was asked in a Facebook group for unmarried ladies who are interested in NFP. Considering that NFP is often misjudged as "natural birth control", I can understand the worry that using NFP will only encourage promiscuity.

But truly, all NFP methods are focused on learning the unique rhythm of each woman's body. While you are taught how to identify days of fertility and infertility, NFP is NOT natural birth control. Creighton, in particular, is taught in a way that is cognizant of the human person as mind, body, and soul. NFP sees fertility as a part of health, not a disease to be fixed. Learning NFP can also help to identify biomarkers of abnormalities, which are useful for any woman.

3. Learning NFP is worth the investment.

I'm not familiar with what cost is associated with learning NFP methods other than Creighton, but I'm sure there's something. It's my understanding that each instructor is responsible for setting their rates, but I could be wrong. Additionally, I've heard multiple instructors say that they never turn away someone because they can't afford the session fees.

As a single lady trying to live my life off of one income, the price tag attached to learning Creighton was daunting at first. But ultimately, I know that whatever I need to pay to learn Creighton is an investment in knowledge for the rest of my life. After your first year of instruction, follow-ups are more spread out and the majority of the cost comes from materials (once every 6 mo).

Additionally, depending on your health care plan, you may be able to get reimbursement for out-of-pocket charges through a flex-spending account or the like. Look into how you can make this work! Giving up Starbucks twice a week would cover my follow-up fees, and isn't that worth a lifetime of knowledge?!

4. Why wait to learn something that you can implement today?

Sure, NFP is an awesome tool to be utilized within marriage for family planning. However, there is so much more to learning NFP than just knowing when you could make a baby.

Through the observation you're taught, hormonal imbalances, issues like PCOS of endometriosis, and more is able to be detected. In this information-obsessed society, it seems natural that women would want to know as much as possible about their own bodies as possible. For me, I was interested in learning Creighton so that I can detect potential fertility issues now rather than down the road whenever marriage comes into play.

5. The human body is AWESOME.

How incredible is it that without any high-tech tools, I can monitor where I am in my cycle and my current fertility? Like, talk about being a crunchy hippy. (life goal, BTW) I'm serious about my faith and chastity, but it's still fascinating to know on certain days: "huh, my body could maybe make a baby today".

Just by learning how to make observations and evaluate them, you can take charge of your fertility. NFP gives patients the chance to have a hand in understanding and tracking their health, something that most modern medicine cannot say.

I encourage anyone who's even remotely interested in learning more about NFP and how to begin learning to check out some of the resources below. And if I didn't convince you to dig deeper, maybe Kelly can.

Creighton Model

Billings Ovulation Model

Sympto-Thermal Method

Marquette Model

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Not Alone Series: Summer Break!

Happy Summer, all!!!

I suppose it's technically not summer until what? June 21st? But whatever....it's JUNE already and therefore, I declare it summer. :)

If you can believe it, we are coming up on the 2 YEAR anniversary of the Not Alone Series! How amazing is that?!

It's crazy to think that 2 years ago, Jen and I launched this series, as an attempt to build a community for single women! And now, our topic discussions have occurred for 2 years AND the NAS Facebook group has grown to more than 80 ladies!!! Insane!!!

I remember how amazed we were by the first year of the NAS....it's crazy to look back on this second year at everything that's happened!

In July, we had a NAS girl's weekend in Savannah! So fun! In September, Jen and I traveled to Boston to chat on CatholicTV about the Not Alone Series! But most successful in my eyes has been the constant growth of the NAS community! Our Facebook group has continued to grow as a place for encouragement, shared struggle, and friendship!

I am so grateful for the NAS community! Thank you for being a part of it!

Since the summer is a busy time for most of us, this week's discussion will be the last one before we take a break for the summer!

But before we take that break, please join us today in talking about your plans for the summer! Do you have anything exciting planned? What are your favorite parts of the summer?

My summer is filled with a lot of travel for work, and also some for fun! There's an annual family vacation in the plans, 2 more friend weddings I'll stand up in, some family reunions, and work events to plan and execute!

All good things, but hopefully also some slower weeks to relax a bit! With all the traveling I've been doing, I'll really cherish the time I have back home...I can't wait to have a free Saturday to stroll through the farmer's market and just spend the afternoon hanging out outside!

I'd say my favorite parts of summer are the time I get to spend in the sun. There's something about warm sunshine on your face, a gentle breeze, music playing, and maybe a cool drink in your hand - nothing beats that! I love living in an area with 4 seasons, but the summer is such a sweet, sweet time!

I hope you have a fun and blessed summer! Please share with us your plans for the season and we'll see you back here in a couple months!!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Not Alone Series: Good Reads

Hello hello! This week, our topic is...

What books, articles, devotionals, blogs, etc have you been reading, loving and being encouraged by?! Or even, movies, videos, podcasts? Share with us so that we may be inspired, too!

I'll be the first to admit that I'm not a great person to ask for advice on resources...actually, I'm usually the one asking for the resources.

But lately....I've had a few awesome discoveries, so I'll share those with you!

The Joy of the Gospel by Pope Francis - I got this as a present from a FOCUS missionary friend of mine and oh. em. gee. SO GOOD. Read and be inspired.

God is Love by Pope Benedict XVI - Papa Bennie just gets me. His stuff is kiiiinda deep, but it's worth it.

Men, Women, and the Mystery of Love by Edward Sri - Borrowed from a friend, this is such a good, easy to comprehend break-down of St. JPII's Love & Responsibility

Blessed is She - Okay, lemme be real. I have an issue with change and new things and accepting stuff. Unfortunately, I let my pride get the best of me for the past several months when it came to Blessed is She, but guys...once I gave it a chance...ah, I love this community. For real. Please check it out!

aaaand that's all she wrote! Clearly, I'm in need of more suggestions! What are some of your recommended resources? Share below!!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Not Alone Series: Blind Dates

Have you seen the show Married at First Sight? Along this thread, what is your opinion on being set up by family, friends, or an "expert"? Would you be open to a blind date? If you'd like, share your thoughts on arranged marriages!

I'll be the first to admit that I'm a sucker for reality TV. The Bachelor, Bachelor in Paradise, Keeping up with the Kardashians, 19 Kids and Counting, Sister Wives...the list goes on and on and on and.... you get it.

So when I stumbled upon Married at First Sight? AH! LOVE! Jen and I both watched the first season, and the follow-up show, Married at First Sight: The First Year and agree: this is crazy! Getting married to a complete stranger?! Eek!

I'm not advocating for being a part of this "experiment"....buuuuut I have heard myself say "I wish arranged marriages were still socially acceptable!" a time or two. It's true!

If you think about it, your family knows you best, no? At least, this is the case with my parents. They know my standards, my deal breakers, and what I'm looking for in a spouse. I would totally trust them to set me up with someone.

Now....I might have told them that a few too many times since my mom has been known to give out my number a time or two....but hey, no harm in that, right? :)

Truth be told, I think I'm super open to the idea of blind dates and set-ups because this is how my parents met. They were set up by my mom's grandma and my dad's sister. The story that's told is my great-grandpa gave my dad a winning endorsement: "he's a nice Catholic boy, with a good job, and he likes to play cards!" So they went out, just to see if there was potential and the rest is history!

I'm perhaps more okay with this concept now than ever before due to my new mindset on casual dating. A date is just a date! All you're committing to is dinner or something similar. It doesn't have to be for forever....but it could be! 

In fact, I went on a blind date recently. We did a double-date with the friends who were setting us up and it was a lot of fun. Nothing has progressed past that one evening, but it was a fun time! Plus, having our friends there made it a lot easier to feel comfortable and less pressured to "make it work".

So, I think I'll continue to tell my friends, family, co-workers, priests, etc etc etc to keep their eyes open for me...you just never know how you might meet "the one"! ;)

What do you think? Would you ever be willing to go on a blind date? Comment below and/or link up your post on this topic below!

Monday, May 4, 2015

living {life} as it is

"I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, 
he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing." 
- John 15:5 -

"For those of you who are married, imagine your life without your spouse. For those of you with children, imagine your life, it's impossible, without your children."

My pastor began his homily on Sunday with these words. Well intended, to be sure, as he began to discuss what our lives would be without God and this comparison would help to conceptualize this lack for the congregation. Yet, unexpectedly, I was overcome with a wave of tears as I thought:

"What about me?! I don't have any of that!"

Immediately, my mind was swept away from the current moment, the beauty of the Mass, and taken to a place I long to be. A place where I hold a sweet child in my arms, a place where the comfort of my husband's arm encircles us both. Surrounded by my loving and vibrant parish community where seemingly hundreds of couples were living this reality with their hundreds of babies, I was overcome by my aching heart.

This is a constant struggle for me: presence in the current moment. How quickly am I able to forget about my present, my present which is very full.

I'm easily distracted by the lives of others. I constantly compare where I am to where friends, family, acquaintances, strangers, etc. are.

Other women my age who are having their first, second, third! child.

Other women my age who are getting engaged or married.

Other women my age who are moving up the corporate ladder, gaining prestige, wealth, and power.

Other women my age who are travelling to places I long to see, experiencing a life I wish I could afford the time or expense to live.

I'm easily overcome with wishing I had what any, or all of them, have....and lose sight of how much I love what I have.

I love where I live; my town and everything it has to offer.

I love my work, my co-workers, and why we do what we do.

I love the travels I've taken, the opportunities I've had, and the trips I'm planning.

I love the relationships I've cultivated, the friends I've made, the stories we can tell.

I love the independence my current life holds, with all it's unpredictability and freedom.

The lives of other women my age are wonderful and beautiful and blessed.

And so is mine.

As a result of my recent birthday - 25! ah! - I've been hit once again with the reality that where I am in my life is not at all where I had hoped, or anticipated. But, this isn't an inherently sorrowful reality.

What would be a sorrowful reality is if I wasted these present moments living in and for the future.

I've finally, truly found a place in my life where I'm content. I know who I am, where I am, and where/who I want to be. Why can't I just sit in that and be content?! If I believe that He has a plan for my life, then I must also believe that this time is also part of His plan! These aches and pains are perhaps simply His pruning of the branches.

These desires of my heart, placed there by God, for marriage and children - ah, and these are such present desires! -  are good and pure, but they are not the end-all-be-all. 

I'm still coming to accept and embrace that my vocation, right now and forever, is to live fully as a follower of Christ. This is not dependent upon my relationship status. Nor is the need for me to grow and evolve into the woman God made me to be.

Regardless of if I'm single, dating, engaged, or married, I'm called to live for Christ every day and love Him above all else. Losing sight of that will only make His pruning more difficult.


Linking up with the Blessed is She community!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Not Alone Series: Casual Dating {freebie!}

Helloooooooooo! Hopefully, wherever you are, the weather is as nice as it is here in good ol' Illinois. Warm, breezy springtime - my fav.

This week, Jen and I decided that the topic would be a freebie! Whatever you want to talk about, go for it! Just link up below!

A couple weeks back, I mentioned that I've been dabbling in this thing called "casual dating" and there were a few questions about what this all looks like....so OF COURSE I must oblige ;) Also, it's something that I've been meaning to write on since my perspective has changed dramatically in the past few months.

"Casual dating". What the hey does that even mean?

I used to hate the idea of casual dating, mainly because of the cultural connotation attached. I took this to be something that's hand-in-hand with the "hookup culture"....and I'm not about that.

So, naturally, I rejected this as a possibility for me.

Additionally, it seemed to me that casual dating also meant that there was a lack of intentionality....I mean "causal" can be just that: no commitment, no obligation, no worries.

But I don't like that. I like commitment. I like obligation. I like intentionality. I like worrying....ok maybe not, but I don't like a carefree view on dating. I mean, there has to be a purpose behind every date, right?

I've realized that casual dating can be intentional and doesn't have to be just about hooking up. Not if you don't want it to be.

So....what does "casual dating" look like for me?

Ultimately, it begins with a certain state of mind. Specifically, realizing and accepting the fact that while relationships should be about discerning marriage, dates are about discerning a relationship.

It seems to me that anything with the word "discernment" attached is immediately taken more seriously. But just because we're called to discernment in everything doesn't mean that we can't have fun! Dates are really meant for getting to know someone and figuring out whether or not you want to pursue something further.

And guess what? You can get to know more than one person at a time!

I used to shy away from talking to and/or going out with more than one guy at a time....and while it's an adjustment, I have to say, it's actually really helpful in maintaining emotional chastity. See, I can't be projecting too far into the future with a guy when there's someone else I'll be going out with next week.

But, I think the attitude of casual dating can be utilized even if you aren't going out with more than one person. It's really all about perspective and not putting too much pressure on any one date.

I've struggled with investing so much of my heart into a potential relationship, before it's appropriate, that if/when it doesn't work out, it's frustrating and disappointing.

However, once I really embraced the concept of dates being just "get-to-know-you"s and not "omg-I-must-determine-if-you're-"the-one"-by-dessert"s....well, there's a weight lifted and it's a lot easier to be yourself. 

Additionally, it's a lot easier to be honest with yourself if something just isn't clicking...because THAT'S OK! Ultimately, if you don't fit right with the person you have coffee or lunch or dinner with, all that means is you have one less man or woman in the world to date and you're one step closer to finding your "one"!

Another question is whether or not this idea of dating being casual is discussed with the men I've been going out with. No, not really. I think the way in which I interact in a date, makes a big difference, though. 

If, when accepting an invitation, you say something like "That sounds great! I'd love to get to know you better!" ....and then during the date you actually try to get to know the person you're with, that's huge. But, I really try to allow the first few dates to be not super intense. My natural inclination is to want to know every single thing about someone....but that gives off a very serious vibe when you're talking about your hopes and dreams for the future or where you ideally want to settle down to raise a family...on the first date.

If these things come up, that's not bad...but keep it light! Perhaps hold off on bearing your entire heart and soul until you're in a committed relationship?

I think that's all I've got! At the end of the day, this whole living my single life became a lot easier once I truly, truly allowed myself to realize that the fulfillment of my life is not defined by my relationship status. This place I'm in makes it a lot easier to go into a date thinking "I'm perfectly happy with my life where I'm at, even if this doesn't turn into anything, I'll be in this same place, which is good." (those are actually the exact words I must remind myself of before every date/hangout/whatever)

Please don't hesitate to ask other questions or for clarification! I'm by no means an expert on dating, but I'll try to help however I can! :)

Link up your freebie post below!!!


Next week's topic:
Touchy Feely
Everyone has different ideas on physical affection in and out of relationships and where their personal boundaries lie. What boundaries do you draw or expectations do you have for physical affection in romantic relationships? Have specific experiences led you to draw these lines?

Please help Jen and I out by suggesting any topics you'd like to write on in the coming weeks!!!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Not Alone Series: Challenge Check-In

Hello!!! Happy Easter!

A few weeks ago, the Not Alone Series community challenged one another to take a step in growing toward becoming the people God is calling us to be!! Challenge posts are here.

Being the slacker I am, I neglected to write a challenge post. Womp. BUT I have been working on a few things and challenging myself along with the other NAS ladies.

My biggest challenge in single life is contentment and finding peace. Oftentimes this is due to the wall I put up around myself which incidentally blocks God out, too.

So, the past couple weeks I've really been trying to focus on finding peace, and JOY, in each day He gives.

I tend to steer towards focusing on the big picture of my life, which leads to freaking out because my long-term vision has not yet been accomplished and I'm running. out. of. time!!! But this is so dangerous because then I miss the day-to-day beauties. I can't enjoy the day-to-day when I'm zoomed out all the time.

And for some reason, in the past, this zooming out has caused me to be so focused on my end-goal vocation that I forget...oh right, dating has to fit in there somewhere! And honestly, I think I'm bad at dating. Not the date part of it, I'm fine with that....but the openness to pursuit, allowing the excitement of a new budding relationship, the unknown that comes with it all.

So....I've been dating casually. SO WEIRD, I know. Or, maybe not. But for me, yes.

It's been interesting. And annoying. And enlightening. I might write about all of this in detail someday....

But for now, dating causally has allowed me to open up; to welcome the unknown and allow myself to just be.

Maybe this all makes little sense, but for whatever reason, causal dating has brought me to this place of clarity and I'm at more peace than I have been in a VERY long time. Maybe ever.

It's taught me to not take myself or life, in general, so seriously. I mean, yes, the gravity of life itself is very serious. But focusing on the end goal nonstop - marriage, children, etc. - can distract from enjoying the in between. And the in between can be really, really good.

(It can also be really, really weird and ...weird. Dating is weird.)

So that's what I've been doing. Learning trust and finding peace through casual dating. Who would've thunk?!

How did you utilize the NAS challenge? Did you learn anything about yourself? Please comment or link up below!!


Next week's topic:
Christian Friendship
What does it mean to be a friend based in Christ? Do Christian friends hold each other higher? Do we let certain things go easier? Do we hold each other accountable? How do these friendships differ from non-Christian based friendships? Do the differ? Is one better than the other?

Do you have an idea or suggestion for a NAS topic? Please email me or Jen! We're always looking for new ideas!!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Not Alone Series: Lent

We're about half-way through Lent...how's it going? What did you decide to give up or take up? Did you make any spiritual goals? How have you grown thus far and how do you hope to make the most of the remainder of this season?

It seems insane that just next week is Holy Week! Insane!

My Lent has flown. One might understand this to mean that my Lent has been wonderful and therefore has flown...however, it's been a rollercoaster of happenings.

God has a way of stretching me, taking seasons to help me grow, and even if I can see that this is His intent in the midst of these periods, I have a hard time appreciating these opportunities.

This Lent has been a rollercoaster of emotions and events. Some extreme highs and some lows. I'm being challenged day after day to pick up my cross, one that I love and simultaneously despise, and follow after the One who gave His all for me.

I chose to give up a couple of things this Lent, one of these being music in the car. I've started to feel overstimulated in this world, so I thought this could be a good way to quiet my mind and heart. The one exception I've given myself is when I'm on a long drive, since I travel some for work and other life events and music is usually the only thing that keeps me alert on the road.

So, when this past weekend I drove more than 700 miles, I had a good amount of music time.

I've become re-obsessed with NEEDTOBREATHE and had one of their CDs in my car (yes, I'm an old lady with CDs...get over it)....this was really the only album I listened to for all of those 700+ miles. I'm the type who, when I find a song I LOVE, I listen to it on repeat for hours.

"Garden" is one of these such songs. (though the entire album is perfection. take a listen.)

The subject matter is clear from the title, but the first lyrics set the scene perfectly in the Garden of Gethsemane:

Won't you take this cup from me
'Cause fear has stolen all my sleep
If tomorrow means my death
I pray you'll save their souls with it

I've been hearing repeatedly in sermon and personal prayer that I must attempt to align my suffering with that of our Lord on the cross. But, I forget about the pre-cross scene.

Jesus is fully God and fully man. He had full knowledge of what was to occur and this frightened Him. He stepped into His fear despite knowing what was to come, but He too had to surrender to the will of His Father.

I forget this. Too often, I forget this. While I'm over in my corner suffering and crying out in anguish, I forget that Jesus did the same. I forget that my Savior also had doubts, He also had fears, He is human, just like me. (except that I'm just fully human) His suffering had a purpose, my salvation. I must believe that my suffering, which pales in comparison, has a purpose as well.

And in the same thread, our Lord isn't asking me to be fearless or cast away my doubt, but He is asking me to trust Him. The only way His Father's plan worked was through Jesus' trust, and so I must try my darnedest to trust Him as well.

The chorus of "Garden" reminds me of how I need to be living my day-to-day:

Let the songs I sing bring joy to youLet the words I say confess my loveLet the notes I choose be your favorite tuneFather let my heart be after you

Despite my heartache, despite my fears, despite my loneliness and worry and everything else....the one thing that I can focus on in the turmoil is fixing my eyes and heart on the One who loves me unconditionally.

God doesn't ask for grand gestures. I'm sure He finds joy in my mortifications and self-denial, but ultimately, all He wants from me is my heart. And all He wants from you is your heart. When I feel that I have nothing left to give, when I've been emptied of everything, I still have my heart to be surrendered to my Lord.

And that's all He wants.

So that's how my Lent is going. It's struggle and beauty, all in one.

How is your Lent? Please share your reflections with us in the comments or link-up your post below!


Next week's topic:

Expectations vs Reality...of the Single Life

Have you ever had people in your life, who have expectations of what your life is as a single person which are different than the reality of your life? Do friends or family ever make assumptions about your life simply because you're unmarried? Did you ever have expectations about being single which turned out to be different than the reality? How do you manage the expectations of others with the reality of your day-to-day?

4/7: Challenge Check-inA couple weeks ago, we set to challenge ourselves! What did you decide on and what did you end up doing? Was this a fruitful experience for you? Why or why not?

4/14: Christian FriendshipWhat does it mean to be a friend based in Christ? Do Christian friends hold each other higher? Do we let certain things go easier? Do we hold each other accountable? How do these friendships differ from non-Christian based friendships? Do the differ? Is one better than the other?

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Not Alone Series: Encouraging Men

We seem to always have something say about guys treating us right! Or, not right! But, what does that mean? Have you ever thought to share those insights so guys have a better idea on what to say/how to act? Well, let's do it! What are some good habits guys can take up when dealing with us ladies?

A while back, I wrote a piece on Encouraging Chivalry, which touches on a lot of ways we as women can try to let men be men.

I'm not sure that I have many more insights as to what men can continue to do right....but here are some things that I appreciate, as a lady :)

  • Common Chivalry - Ok yes, open doors to buildings but car doors too! This has become much less common and it's really a sweet touch. Little things like this show a lady you're considerate. And for the Catholic men out there: let the ladies go before you in the communion line. SERIOUSLY. I don't care if she's your sister, best friend, platonic friend, girlfriend, whomever, let her go first. If you sat together, allow her to go before you. THIS is a huge point-winner (though it's not about the points, but the do add up!)
  • Be Intentional - Do you like a girl? Let her know! Want this dinner-grabbing thing to be a date? Say so! There is nothing that gives a lady more peace of mind than knowing where you stand...or where you don't stand. If you have a friendly/flirty personality, and you know if you do, be sure to tell the girls you aren't interested that you appreciate their friendship, that you are so glad you're friends. Telling them you aren't attracted to them probably won't go over well, but wishy-washiness is THE WORST.
  • Discern Your Vocation - Please, visit that seminary. Apply to seminary. GO to seminary. Or don't, but at least explore it. At least pray about it. I can't tell you how many times I've heard a guy I'm interested in say: "meh, I just never really thought of the priesthood", or worse: "I thought about it, but I REALLY want to be a dad". I get it, believe me. I have a deep desire to be a wife and mother. But I've also asked God what He desires for me. Please do your future wife (maybe!) a courtesy and explore your vocation.
  • Keep it Casual - Intention is necessary, but a proposal on the first date is not. Dating is meant to be fun, so try to keep it lighthearted...get to know the girl, but especially in the beginning, it's okay to not know if she's "the one"...just try to get to know her! (this one goes for the ladies, too!)
  • Don't Reveal Too Much - My best friend just married the love of her life, a man who I'm proud to now call another of my best friends. He's wonderful. And he could teach y'all a thing or two. One of the lessons this gentleman could teach is to be sure you're not revealing more of your intentions to other folks before the young lady you're pursuing. In example, the first time I met my friend's now-husband, her sister and I had the chance to grill him on his intentions. While deep down, he was sure that my friend was "the one", he kept his reply short and sweet, without revealing more to us than he had revealed to his intended. Oftentimes, we want to win over important people in our intended's life...siblings, best friends, parents...but be sure that when you're revealing your heart, you reveal it to your beloved before the whole world. You want her to be the first to hear it, rather than from her sister.

I think that's all I have for now! Bottom line is honesty and clarity is best. Flirting is fun, but don't leave us guessing.

Link up your thoughts below!


Next week's topic:
It's that time again! In the past, we've challenged ourselves to grow and/or take steps toward moving closer to our vocation. These challenges have come in all different forms! Trying online dating, getting more involved in our young adult ministry, and working on discipline have all been past personal challenges. What is one thing you want to challenge yourself to do that might help you along on your path toward God's will...or maybe just help you become more open to God's will?
Share what you're planning to challenge yourself with and why, then in 2 weeks we'll write on how this challenge went!!

3/24: Lent
We're more than half way through Lent... how's it going?! What did you decide to give up/take up? Did you make any spiritual goals? How have you grown thus far and how do you hope to make the most of the remainder of the season?

3/31: Expectations vs Reality... of the Single Life
Have you ever had people in your life who have expectations of what your life is like, as a single person? Do friends or family ever make assumptions about your life simply because you're unmarried? Did you ever had expectations about being single which turned out to be different than the reality? How do you manage the expectations of others with the reality of your day-to-day?

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Not Alone Series: Dating Fast

We've all likely heard about [dating fasts], but have you ever done one? If so, what was your experience? If you haven't, would you consider doing one? Why or why not?

It was the first day of first semester my sophomore year. I had three or four classes that Monday, all on the main quad, which afforded me plenty of time to get to class early. I treated each classroom the same: arrived 5-7 minutes early, strategically selected my seat, and watched as my classmates arrived.
Specifically, watched as my male classmates arrived.

I made mental notes on where the cute ones sat, whether or not they glanced my way as they chose their seats, and how near me they placed themselves.

This continued on throughout the week, until my Friday "African Music" class. This was my most interesting class, with a teacher who was encouraging of self-love and virtue and would dance for us on the regular. I should have been captivated. 

But I was sitting behind and to the right of one of my male peers. One of the star QBs, he was well-known on campus and cute to boot. I remember sitting behind him, analyzing his perfect jawline and strong shoulders, day-dreaming about our potential future together. 

We'd tell our kids how we met in college, laughed over our enthusiastic music teacher, and quickly fell in love. What an unexpected pair, the two of us: star athlete and devoutly Catholic good-girl.

It was somewhere in the middle of this daydream that I had a realization: how many times had I danced this routine throughout the week?

How many young men had I ogled and planned my life with, unbeknownst to them?
What was I doing?! 

Rather than see these men as brothers in Christ first, I was sizing them all up as potential love interests.

Over that weekend, I analyzed my actions, thoughts, and emotions. I determined that this had gotten out of hand. I needed to stop this way of thinking and change how I viewed the men in my life.

And that's when I started my first intentional dating fast.

Throughout the next couple of months, I focused on intentionally changing the way I thought of every man my eyes came across. I began to think of them as brothers in Christ, and desire holiness for them, rather than a romantic relationship with me.

It was hard, to be sure. This way of thinking doesn't come naturally for most of us, but in a way, it was freeing.

Knowing that the only relationship I was pursing was my relationship with God allowed me to treat every man in my life as a friend first. I was able to be my most authentic self because I wasn't trying to be the woman I thought men desired.

This first fast led to the deepening of my bond with Christ and helped me to hear, for the first time, His call for me to marriage.

I didn't have a specific time-frame set for this fast, so it kind of just tapered off in mid-October. Of course, old habits died hard and over the next couple of years, I fell into many of the same traps I had before. But this theme of seeing all men in my life as brothers in Christ allowed me to have more authentic friendships.

I entered my second intentional dating fast at the end of my Junior year, this one being more structured than my first. Starting in February and ending in May, I entered this fast because I began to see myself picking up these old habits. I had developed feelings for a friend of mine who was just entering the Church and I noticed myself attending events or doing certain things simply because I knew he would be there. This desire to develop a relationship with him was dictating my life.

I needed to be free from dating, or the possibility of dating, and so I fasted. 
I needed to draw closer to the Lord, depend on Him alone, and so I fasted.

This dating fast was exceptionally fruitful. I was able to see that the qualities I saw in my friend were ones I really wanted in a future husband, but even more than these qualities, I need to be able to be my true self with this future spouse. 

Again, I saw myself become free of the box I was trying to fit myself into. I realized that my future spouse, whoever he is, wouldn't want me to be the person I think he wants me to be, but desires me to be me.

And so, I'm a huge supporter of dating fasts. I know many other NAS ladies have written this week that they've been on unintentional dating fasts for some time, and believe me, I get that. :) I've been there.

But there's something to be said for taking an intentional step back from thinking about potential romantic interests, seeking out romantic relationships, and focusing entirely on God.

Natalie hit the nail of the head when she wrote about the tendency toward dating fasts as a formula to finding your future spouse. We cannot attempt to trick God like that. But, I'm guilty of that as well!

"Ok, Lord, I'm not looking for him...just do whatever you want.... *peeking* ...ok, really, just bring him whenever you want..."

....as if this will trick God into bringing me my future spouse. Yeah, He's smarter than that.

Really, the point of a dating fast, for me, is to re-center myself on what, or who, is really important. Dating fasts don't have to be long-term. I know people who've taken 1-5 year intentional dating fasts, but maybe just take a short one....like a month or two.

One book I love is The Dating Fast

Katherine Becker wrote this as a guide for anyone seeking to renew their relationship with Christ. It's a day by day guide, with reflections and challenges for every day.

I won't make a blanket statement that every. single. person. NEEDS to take a dating fast. Buuuut I do think they can be helpful and fruitful.

If you're curious about how taking a dating fast could be fruitful, I'd encourage you to try it out. If you have a spiritual director, maybe broach the topic with them and see what they think about you taking an intentional dating fast. Even if you haven't been in a relationship or had a date in years, being intentional about this break from dating could be fruitful.

What do you think about dating fasts? Ever taken one before? Comment below with your thoughts and head over to Jen's to see what others are saying!


Next week's topic:
Encouraging Men
We seem to always have something say about guys treating us right! Or, not right! But, what does that mean? Have you ever thought to share those insights so guys have a better idea on what to say/how to act? Well, let's do it! What are some good habits guys can take up when dealing with us ladies?

3/17: Challenge!
It's that time again! In the past, we've challenged ourselves to grow and/or take steps toward moving closer to our vocation. These challenges have come in all different forms! Trying online dating, getting more involved in our young adult ministry, and working on discipline have all been past personal challenges. What is one thing you want to challenge yourself to do that might help you along on your path toward God's will...or maybe just help you become more open to God's will?
Share what you're planning to challenge yourself with and why, then in 2 weeks we'll write on how this challenge went!!

3/24: Lent
We're more than half way through Lent... how's it going?! What did you decide to give up/take up? Did you make any spiritual goals? How have you grown thus far and how do you hope to make the most of the remainder of the season?

3/31: Expectations vs Reality... of the Single Life
Have you ever had people in your life who have expectations of what your life is like, as a single person? Do friends or family ever make assumptions about your life simply because you're unmarried? Did you ever had expectations about being single which turned out to be different than the reality? How do you manage the expectations of others with the reality of your day-to-day?

4/7: Challenge Check-in!
A couple weeks ago, we set to challenge ourselves! What did you decide on and what did you end up doing? Was this a fruitful experience for you? Why or why not?

4/14: Christian Friendship
What does it mean to be a friend based in Christ? Do Christian friends hold each other higher? Do we hold each other accountable? How do these friendships differ from non-Christian based friendships? Do they differ? Is one better than the other?

Sunday, March 1, 2015

{the better OCM} Oil Cleansing Method

Writing out my skin-care regime (again!) in response to a lot of recent requests!

For nearly 2 years, I've been following a skin-cleansing method called the Oil Cleansing Method, or OCM.

After more than a decade of struggling with deep, painful, cystic-type acne, finding something that actually worked was a God-send.

It doesn't matter how much self-confidence you have, the way you look matters to some degree. And while I had become used to this acne struggle throughout junior high, high school, and college, I was always on the look out for something to help. I would tell myself, my mom, and my doctors the same thing. I never expected to have perfect skin. But if I could find a way to manage my acne or decrease it in someway, I'd be happy.

As you can read in my previous post, I tried everything. Topical gels and creams, oral medications, birth control, Proactiv, hormone testing, every different cleansing system you could find at Walmart....even Accutane.

The topical stuff just dried out my skin.
The oral meds didn't seem to make much of a difference.
Birth control gave me mood swings and I questioned it's impact on my future fertility.
Proactiv ended up giving me their money-back guarantee.
Hormone tests all came back normal.
Cleansing systems never really did anything but dry out my skin.
Accutane seemed to help....for awhile. But there's something funky about a medication that effectively shuts off your body's natural oil production. Also, the pregnancy warning was freaky.

I had mostly given up hope. I wondered if my acne would follow me all the way to the nursing home. My purple scarring had become severe enough that I refused to leave the house without makeup.

Then, on Pinterest (where else?), I read about the OCM. 

The thought process behind using oil to wash your face begins with the concept is that oil dissolves oil. By using "purifying" and "cleansing" products on your skin, the dirt, oil, and grime isn't being removed from your skin. Also, using drying washes can cause your skin to produce more oil. The skin is self-cleaning, but when we strip it of oil, the natural reaction is for it to produce MORE oil. Using oil to "wash" your skin helps restore it's natural healthiness, and over time can even out it's composition.

I tried the OCM for awhile with a Castor Oil/EVOO combo....aaaand hated how my skin never felt clean. This combo left a film on my face and my makeup seemed to just slide off.

Then I was told about Coconut Oil and tried that with the same original method described in my first post.

And it worked! My acne cleared up (once it became used to the oil) and my skin, while still occasionally oily, is basically "normal". I needed to implement the use of a baking soda + lemon juice scrub to take care of bumpy oil build-up on my nose, but that wasn't too much of a hassle.

Fresh-faced! 2+ years with OCM!
I was still using the original OCM until I went on a work trip about a year ago. For some reason, I modified my face-washing method for a few days.

That's what changed everything. Just over those couple of days, I saw a change in how much easier it was to wash my face, and I felt like my skin was reacting better too!

So, here's my modified process, which I've been using for just about a year!

At night:
1. Scoop out some coconut oil with a spoon (not fingers, to avoid bacteria growth), and massage all over face...ON TOP of makeup. Rub into eye area, too.
2. With a DRY washcloth, wipe oil off of face. All makeup should be removed through this step. 
3. When oil has been wiped off, splash very warm water on face. With the other side of your DRY washcloth, wipe/massage face in small circles until all water is removed. Don't be shy with rubbing hard, especially in bumpy/blackhead-prone areas. (for me, T-zone area)
4. Go to bed! That's it!

In the morning: 
1. Do nothing. Just shower, apply makeup, etc. as usual. 
2. If skin feels too dry, massage a little oil on dry/tight areas.

I've found that this modified method:

1. Goes a lot quicker. No longer do I need to "steam" my face with a washcloth.

2. Removes the need for my aforementioned every-other-day baking soda scrub. The dry washcloth scrubs my skin enough to keep it niiiice and smooth :) The scrub worked, but the lemon juice burned if I did have a breakout. And the scrub left my face a little dried out, resulting in increased oil production the next day.

3. Removes my makeup more completely. I hated realizing that by steaming my face with the other method, I was basically steaming an oil/makeup mix into my pores.

I've shared this method with others and coconut oil seems to work best with people who have super oily skin. Some friends with naturally drier skin have found that coconut oil dries their skin out too much, Argan Oil might be a better option. I've tried EVOO, castor oil, jojoba oil, etc. but coconut works best for me. Depending on your skin composition, you might need to try a couple different oils, but the method itself can work with any type.

I should say here that the OCM might not work for your skin. Maybe you try it and hate it or your skin gets worse...please don't curse your jar of coconut oil because of me!

But, if you're curious about a natural way to care for your skin, or if you're struggled to find anything to help clear up your acne, my suggestion is to try it out! My attitude going in was that my skin couldn't get any worse, so what did I have to lose?!

A couple last tips:

1. For anyone with especially severe acne, when starting this method off, please be gentle with your skin. You don't want to scrub too hard, but if/when your skin ends up clearing up, then you can move on to being more aggressive with your dry washcloth exfoliation.

2. The oil might stain your washcloths, especially if you're removing a good amount of makeup. So, take that into consideration...white, expensive washcloths might not be the best for using in this method :)

3. Use a new washcloth every. single. night. Re-using washcloths can lead to bacteria growth, just like sticking your fingers in the coconut jar.

The OCM, specifically this revised OCM method, has changed my skin forever. I hope this might help you to improve your skin as well!!!

The best skin of my life!!!
Please don't hesitate to comment or email me with questions!!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Not Alone Series: Travel!

How do you travel as a single lady?! Any tips or tricks you'd like to share? Do you have anything fun planned for this year?

I loooove this topic, mainly because I'm so excited to read other peoples' perspectives!!

It was probably about 2 years ago when I was first bit by the travelling bug and my fever has only gotten worse. Not that I travel allll the time now, but I'm beginning to travel more and more.

Part of this is intentional, part of it is just that I've had great opportunities.

However, most of my travelling is with other people. Either roadtrips or occasionally flying, but almost always with others. Overall, I think I prefer to travel with others just in case something goes wrong so there's more than one brain to figure things out.

When Jen and I went to Boston in September, that was my first time ever flying alone! It was terrifying and exhilarating....mostly terrifying. I don't fly a ton, so that in itself is an experience...but my myself?! AH!

But it all went fine, even though my flight was almost cancelled during a layover, it all worked out!

So, I guess I don't have a ton of tips/tricks for travelling alone...

Though I will encourage everyone to seek out adventures. I've heard amazing stories lately about Yellowstone and The Bach has peaked my interest in exploring Mount Rushmore/SD. There's something about planning an exciting trip, even several months in advance! It gives you something to look forward to!

And on that note, TAKE YOUR VACATION DAYS! I know not every job is afforded the same luxuries, but un-taken vacation days are a special kind of travesty. My first year working full-time, I took only TWO vacation days. TWO! Since then, I've made a point of taking every day allotted to me. Even if it just means I take a long weekend to explore Chicago or St. Louis or Indianapolis...there's so much to be seen! Let's see it all!

I'm looking forward, this year, to a few trips I have planned....

The first being a work trip to Arkansas in April...not a hopping place necessarily, but I've never been there! So I'm excited :)

Then, of course, I'm over-the-moon pumped to go out to Philadelphia in September TO SEE POPE FRANCIS!!!! WEEEE!!!

Other than that, I'm not sure yet! Perhaps Yellowstone will be a trip this year or next, but either way, I have a lot to look forward to!

Well, since I didn't give much advice for traveling as a single person, would you share your own? Comment or link up your post below! Be sure to include a link in your post back to this post and Jen's!


Next week's topic:
Dating Fast
We've all likely heard about them, but have you ever done one? If so, what was your experience? If you haven't, would you consider doing one? Why or why not?

3/10: Encouraging Men
We seem to always have something say about guys treating us right! Or, not right! But, what does that mean? Have you ever thought to share those insights so guys have a better idea on what to say/how to act? Well, let's do it! What are some good habits guys can take up when dealing with us ladies?

3/17: Challenge!
It's that time again! In the past, we've challenged ourselves to grow and/or take steps toward moving closer to our vocation. These challenges have come in all different forms! Trying online dating, getting more involved in our young adult ministry, and working on discipline have all been past personal challenges. What is one thing you want to challenge yourself to do that might help you along on your path toward God's will...or maybe just help you become more open to God's will?
Share what you're planning to challenge yourself with and why, then in 2 weeks we'll write on how this challenge went!!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Not Alone Series: Loneliness

We all have times when we feel alone. What are ways that you combat loneliness? Pray? Join a group? How can we encourage each other to stay positive? 
Thanks to Laura P!

I was just minding my own business, perusing Facebook, when a post by CatholicTV's Encounter caught my eye. Naturally, I clicked, and imagine my surprise when I hear the following intro to this month's Encounter episode:

"Welcome to the February edition of Encounter. Well, it is February, the month of Valentine's and a lot of people may be thinking about their relationships and about love. For many people who are single, this may not be a time of year that they get particularly excited about but this month we're going to talk to two Catholic single women who are excited about sharing their experiences in the single life with other women in the Not Alone Series."

Ok, y'all. Throughout this intro, I was cracking up. Literally. Doubling over, holding-my-side laughing.

Back in September, Jen and I traveled to Boston to talk about the Not Alone Series on This is the Day, and while there, we did mini-interviews for another CatholicTV show, Encounter. Little did I know that our interviews would be featured during the "month of love".


And how fitting, too, that we have this week's topic, right before V-Day itself?!

Loneliness: a feeling, or state of being, that everyone has encountered at one time or another, but one that few people enjoy talking about.

Have you ever mentioned feeling lonely and the people around you congratulate you? Or given you a high five?

No. More often than not, it's a difficult emotion to address. And most times, I've experienced others feeling sorry for me.

Well, as "nice" as that is, people feeling bad for me doesn't help the situation. If anything, it just reminds me to never talk about my loneliness because this only leads to awkward conversations and attempts to console without knowing what to do in order to change the problem.

You see, the Not Alone Series, as I tell in my Encounter interview, began as a response to this loneliness. The loneliness, specifically, that results from feeling that you're the only person who knows what you're going through.

As much as we have created this community to address the need for solidarity, and I hope it has brought comfort to those we were trying to serve, this loneliness still exists.

I know this all too well. Despite how much I enjoy my life and am attempting to live it very fully, the loneliness creeps in.

It creeps in after I come home from work and am reminded that, like every night before, I am alone.

It creeps in during a fun night out, when I'm reminded that many of my dear friends have what I do not yet experience.

It creeps in at a family event, when I'm hand my cousin his daughter and witness the love that is shared between him and his wife.

I don't have someone to vent to about my frustrations, or share in my joys, or help to bear my burdens.

I feel that I have so much love and attention and affection and time to give, but to who?

This loneliness can overwhelm us, if we allow it. And I've allowed it to do so, from time to time. I don't want it to consume me, but it's pull is real.

What's a girl to do?

The only solution that's helped me to diminish this loneliness is to run to the Lord and Him alone. He is the only one who can comfort me, who can love me, who can understand me the way I need.

The surest way to continue feeling lonely is for me to continue distancing myself from God.

But, remember, this only diminishes the problem, it doesn't eliminate it. So, it helps to have other things in your life, in addition to your relationship with the Lord, to take your mind off of these feelings.

- Good friends, those who share your interests or hobbies. This differs from the friends we've all had who only want to talk about who's dating who and who you're dating, etc. 

- Hobbies! The best way for me to forget about being alone at home is trying to teach myself guitar (it isn't working, by the way) or working out or cooking or reading, etc etc etc.

- Learn to love your own company. Find your happy place, alone. Maybe this starts as a cup of coffee in the morning or a glass of wine after work. Maybe this evolves into adventuring on your own, either in your town or elsewhere. Regardless, learning to enjoy your "me" time can be extremely helpful in realizing that being "alone" does not equate "loneliness".

But, sometimes, we need to let ourselves feel what we're feeling. Keeping busy and trying not to think about what you're feeling for an extended amount of time isn't healthy. We mustn't become numb to the longing of our hearts. Sometimes, it's theraputic for us to acknowledge our loneliness and let ourselves feel it. For it is only when we face something head on and allow ourselves to be that we can learn to thrive despite opposition.

Something important to understand, too, is that loneliness doesn't simply evaporate after marriage. It will still creep in, still find it's way into your heart. So if we can learn to acknowledge and adapt to our loneliness, that will only help us in the future. 

How do you deal with loneliness in your life? Please share with us in the comments below or link up your post!


Next week's topic:
Spiritual Writings
What are some of your favorite or go-to books, devotionals or even blogs that help encourage you in your spiritual life?

2/24: TRAVEL! 
How do you travel as a single lady?! Any tips or tricks you'd like to share? Do you have anything fun planned for this year?

3/3: Dating Fast
Most of us have heard about them, but have you ever done a dating fast? If so, what was your experience? If you haven't, would you consider doing one? Why or why not?

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Not Alone Series: Selfies

Do you support the selfie trend? Do you think it promotes self absorption, vanity and narcissism? Is there a way to incorporate selfies into the Church's teachings of modesty, authentic beauty, humility? 
Thanks to Hannah!

How do I feel about selfies? Basically what the second part of the above definition says.

Do I take "selfies" with friends? Yes.
Do my sister and I get a little crazy with Snapchat selfies and holiday selfies and baby selfies? Duh.

Buuuut there's a line.

No judgement, I don't think that selfies are inherently evil. However, I have unfollowed people on Instagram who seem to have the need to post a picture of themselves every. single. day.

Now, if you're with friends or just got your bridesmaid dress or are meeting your bffs baby for the first time....go for it, take that selfie. But the selfies that I'm opposed to are the self-gratifying, attention-seeking pictures. 

I'm talking about the pictures where the girl looks frazzled, yet perfectly coiffed and captions with a "days like today that I just can't wait to go home..."

Really? Is that necessary?

Again, do what you want...buuuut I might unfollow after these posts become a daily occurrence.

I think what this boils down to is our inculturated need to be constantly connected to people...which actually leads to disconnection. We post pictures and updates on what we're eating, where we're going, who we're seeing, what we're doing....so much so that we lose touch with the current moment.

We stop living simply to tell people what we're up to.

And I'm guilty of it too, to be sure. Did I really need to tweet a couple nights ago about my new loud neighbors? Or did I really need to post a picture of my fabulous Jamberry nails? Probably not. 

The world around us doesn't need a filter and neither do you. Maybe we need to pocket our phones and just be.

But first, lemme take a selfie.

What do you think about the selfie fad? Leave a comment below, or write your own post and link it up!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

a song for someday

Music moves the soul, or at least, that's what Pinterest quotes tell me.

As much as I love "love songs" and "breakup songs" and "drinking songs", there seems to be a void in the category of "I'm single but wish I wasn't and long for my vocation" songs.

You might be familiar with I Will Wait by Mumford and Sons. For those of us who feel like we're waiting forrrever (so, everyone?), this is a good one.

And did you know that Matt Maher wrote My Only Love while he was single and longing for his future bride? Gold.

You're Not Alone by Marie Miller, while not specifically about this stage of life, aids in dancing out your singleness angst. It's a good "I'm here for you, friend" song. ("interesting" music video, but GREAT song)

Well, thanks to good ol' Spotify, I've discovered one more. Listen below. Love. Repeat.

Any suggestions for me and my collection? Do tell.
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