Sunday, December 30, 2012

can't help but wonder...

I am extremely curious about something...
Why does my post Anchor My Heart To Your Cross have over 1000 views?!?

Did it get shared somewhere?  Does the title interest you?  Is it relatable?  If you were one of the 1110 people who have read it, why did you read it?

This may sound sarcastic, but I'm genuinely interested.  Something must have made that post my most popular!  And if I can, I'd be happy to do more of whatever makes you interested in it!!

Treasure these last hours of 2012,

Friday, December 28, 2012

7 Quick Takes Friday (vol 5)

Merry Christmas, all!  I hope you had a blessed celebration with your families!

Silent Night....I'm babysitting 3 of my nieces and nephews tonight, and they're all tucked into bed.  Compared to the 5 or 6 I usually have when I babysit them, tonight was a piece of cake.  They're never, ever difficult for me, but sometimes it's harder to feel like I can individually talk to them.  And since I'm only home/see them every couple months, I really value those times when I can spend time with them all.  It's a blessing to have them all so close by!
Stasia was kind enough to remind me that we have just over 2 weeks until we leave.  No pressure.  None whatsoever.  (read:AAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!!).  Have I started packing? Nope.  Is everything put away from the fall semester? Haha, no.  I have 14 days left!!  It'll totally happen.
Christmas was very nice.  My parents and aunt and I went to my sister's for Christmas Eve (she and my brother-in-law have a gathering with friends and family), then to Midnight Mass, opened gifts on Christmas morning, and then the whole family came over in the afternoon.  Favorite gifts?  Monogrammed note cards from mom and dad, tickets to My Fair Lady in DC this Sunday, and a "ticket" to go see Les Miserables with my aunt!!  
We received more sad news this week... my mom and aunt's cousin passed away on Christmas Eve.  My parents and aunt are currently en route to the funeral (or trying to be, if this storm doesn't mess things up!).  Please keep their family in your prayers!
At the end of the semester, I decided that I was going to read Harry Potter.  I realize this can be a controversial series, but I am halfway through book 3 and I'm loving it!  (and here Stephanie and Josh and Elizabeth and everyone else can cheer =).)  I got so excited when I found out that the 4th book is ~300 pages longer than the 3rd!  Yes, I can understand why people may not like it, and I'm not a fan of the fact that Harry gets off the hook so often and so easily, but other than that, I'm really enjoying the series!  Maybe I'll do a longer post about it when I finish the series...
I did end up baking cookies last week.  Actually, they were more like shortbread bars.  Some had lemon icing, some had vanilla, and others were plain.  My family must not like shortbread, because only 2 little squares got eaten on Christmas.... oh well.  More for Mom and I!!
And again, I give you more music.  (I guess this is just gonna be a weekly thing...!)  This time, from Lindsey Sterling, an amazing violinist.  Enjoy!

Friday, December 21, 2012

7 Quick Takes Friday (vol 4)

I am realizing what "moving back home" is really like... it means lots of papers on the floor, over a week of organizing, and my obsessive desire for everything to be just right.... It'll all happen eventually, right?
I have been so blessed to be able to get together with lots of friends this week!  Usually said meetings center around coffee or lunch or cookies or 2 of the above ;).  It's been wonderful to catch up after an extremely busy semester for all of us!
Today I went back to my high school to speak to the Junior boys and all the Seniors about Crossroads. I was pleasantly surprised at how interested they all were, and at the number of questions I got at the end of the talk!  It was a lot of fun to talk to them.  And now I have oodles of PRO-LIFE stickers in my (newly organized) closet.  By oodles, I mean around 300.
I saw the Hobbit with my friends Hannah and Robyn, their brothers, and a priest friend this week!  Wow..... it was amazing.  I haven't read the book (yet.  I'm on page 10) but the movie was just fantastic and I'm looking forward to seeing it again when it comes out on DVD!
Speaking of movies, there seem to be a bunch of movies coming out that are interesting!  Les Mis comes out on Christmas, and Anna Karenina is out soon as well!  Why must movies be so darn expensive?!?  (Stasia informed me tonight that $9.50 matinees are not the norm for the whole of the country... she pays $5.50 for a matinee (away from the city)!  Yup, I'm definitely a city girl (although I could do without the high prices).
I want to bake cookies.
And I leave you with this song by the Piano Guys!
Have a wonderful last weekend of Advent!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

This was the year!

This was the year that I went tree hunting... for the first time EVER!
We found the perfect one!

...and had to say goodbye because it had mold on it :(

Finally, we found it!!

the tree-searching crew
Back at our house.... I carried the tree inside, then held it in the family room for 7 minutes while the entire family searched for a camera so they could take a picture of me holding the tree :P
Yay!  Lights and angel are on!

Now, the postscript to this story is that this morning, I was awakened by Mom opening my door, calling "Allison!  Quick!  The tree fell over and Dad's still getting ready for the day! Put something on your feet!"  So I stumbled out of bed, threw slippers and glasses on, and ran down the stairs.  Sure enough, the tree had done a face-plant on the family room floor.  Thankfully, only one ornament broke.  So the tree is currently sitting right in the middle of everything, right behind Dad's chair at the kitchen table, because the carpet needs to dry out.

Oh, the adventures of Christmastime!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Graphic Design!

If you've read my "About Me" page, you may have seen that I want to go into graphic design after college.  Well, this semester I've been taking a design course, and I turned in all my projects today.  I thought I'd show you my first project that I completed: a CD cover..... with very limited knowledge of Photoshop.  I'm pretty happy with the way it turned out!  (I also designed the back of this cover, but I don't think it's worth showing you :P )

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Random Thoughts and Ramblings

Time: 11:18
Location: dorm room
State of Mind: somewhat (read:completely) out of it
Why? finals are over!!!!  and therefore I am tired, braindead, and ready to sleeeep.
Looking forward to: sleep. (see a trend?) And home-cooked meals.  And seeing friends and family at home.
Best thing(s) that happened this past week: (1) Stasia and Grace made me half-birthday signs for my door, since I won't be in school for my actual birthday =) (Thanks to the Bunker!) and I got an A on my Biblical Studies paper! Huzzah!

What do the next couple days look like? tomorrow will be completely full of graphic design, and Thursday will be completely full of packing, and Friday will be completely full of packing and Liturgy Committee end-of-year stuff.

Wait.  Finals are over.  Why am I working on design still? Because it's not due 'till Thursday and we don't have a test in that class.

I'll try to post my designs after I turn them in, so that you can get an idea of what I'm doing =)

Saturday, December 8, 2012

It's the Journey: part V

(part Ipart IIpart IIIpart IV)

The hardest thing that happened this summer was the passing away of Andrew, one of the walkers on central walk, after he was struck by a car while he was walking.  Although none of Northern Walk had ever met him, there’s a certain camaraderie you have with a person who is going through the exact same thing as you.  That week, we learned so much as every one of us debated whether or not we were going to continue the walk.  It’s not easy to think about not finishing something that you’ve dedicated your summer to.  For some, it was an easy decision; others debated for a couple days.  Ultimately, our entire group remained on the walk.  Walking was even more meaningful following the accident: we were walking not only for the unborn and for our own growth, but also for Andrew.  We were finishing what he was unable to finish.

Crossroads was truly a unique experience.  Most people can’t say that they’ve walked through 14 states in one summer, touring the corn fields and stumbling across hidden towns featuring "World Famous Milkshakes".  Or that they’ve slept in an RV with 11 other people for a weekend.  (or gone 5 days without a shower? sshhhh…. Hey.  Just bein' real.)  Or that they’ve brushed their teeth in a pasture.  Washed altar linens in an outdoor spigot.  Or that they made lifelong friends in a matter of weeks.

I have quite a few really good friends.  Some I’ve known for 12 years.  Others I met in high school.  Some I met in college.  But the only people who I can claim I really got to know within weeks of meeting them are my Crossroads teammates.  I can say with certainty that if I ever need something, I can call any one of my walking buddies and they’d respond in an instant.  And I can state with equal certainty that if any of them ever need anything, even if it’s just to talk, I’d drop everything to help them.

I hate tossing around the words “I love you”.  I have a quote hanging in my room that says "And Love is a word used too much and much too soon"; I think those are special words for special people.  But I can tell you with my whole heart that I love these people.  They are and forever will be my family.

It's interesting, when I got home in August, I was able to see my 2 closest friends (that I've known since Kindergarten) for a couple hours.  At the end of our time together, they both said to me, "You've changed, and I don't really know how.  But it's for the better".  That's exactly how I feel.  I can't put my finger on how I changed, or what precisely brought about that change, but I do believe that it was for the better.

Maybe now you have a better understanding of why I can’t easily explain my time on Crossroads.  Yes, I can give a pretty darn good talk at a parish.  I can convince people to donate money and ask them to pray for us.  But explaining my own personal experience?  As with anything life-changing, it’ll takes a little while.  Still, it’s a story I’m more than willing to share.  

Like I mentioned at the beginning, it’s easy for me to think about Crossroads, but I have come to the understanding that in order to truly grow from this summer, I need to digest it all and let it penetrate my life.  I’ve obviously changed, so I need to let that change fully happen and fully effect me.  I hope that through these few, weak, insufficient words that I’ve put together, you’re able to gain a deeper insight into the walk and into my heart.

If you have a spare week during a summer, or maybe even a whole summer free, I’d encourage you all to think and pray about doing Crossroads.  I can assure you that you will grow like you never grew before.  You’ll laugh harder than ever.  You’ll overcome personal fears, and you'll conquer mountains, figuratively and literally.  

Lastly, I’m going to ask you to pray for Crossroads and everyone involved.  Pray for our directors.  Pray for all of us giving talks for Crossroads over our Christmas breaks*.  Pray for the first-ever Australian walk that starts in 6 days.  Pray for all walkers, past, present, and future.  It’s a difficult mission, yet also oh-so-rewarding, and I can say from personal experience that there’s definitely a spiritual fight going on in Heaven over this amazing organization.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions or comments about what I’ve said.  You can either leave a comment if you’d like me to address it on my blog, or email me at if you’d prefer I email you directly.

Lots of Love,

*I’ll be speaking to about 5 classes at my high school before Christmas… yikes.  I feel old.  I remember Crossroads people coming to speak when I was a sophomore in high school.  And now, 4 years later, “those people” is me.

Friday, December 7, 2012

It's the Journey: Part IV

(part Ipart IIpart III)

And that week was when I realized how much Mass meant to me.

If I didn’t have Jesus that week, or any day, for that matter, I know I would have fallen apart more often than I did.  (Surprise, teammates!  I wasn’t as together as I appeared!  *sigh* Oh, the beauty/confusion of being somewhat of a stoic…)  Mass united me with the universal Church, and I knew I could depend on the graces of Communion to give me a spiritual boost.  Mass also united me in a deeper way with my team, as we all offered our entire selves on the altar and asked for the graces to make it through one more day.

An even greater challenge for me was to open up to my team.  Being an introvert, it takes me a little while to feel comfortable sharing any part of myself with others.  Yes, I fully realize that we’re not supposed to share our hearts with people the first week we know them.  But when you’re living with people for 13 weeks, it’s kinda strange if you don’t share anything.  After I had recognized and accepted that these people were actually trustworthy, I was able to, little by little, share bits of myself with them.  I found that some of the best conversations occurred during night shift.  I don’t know what it was about walking at night, but there was just something about the stars being above you and the road expanding as far as you could see in the dark.
For me, I had three conversations that really stand out to me as being truly blessed.  The first was, in fact, during night shift; we were doing a 10-mile walk, the air was cool, and it was a conversation in which, at the end, we both really understood where the other was coming from.  The second was difficult and deep, and again happened at night, but this time was at the Little Sisters of the Poor’s home for the elderly where we were staying the weekend.  This one was so hard for me to begin, because it was born of my “I’m driving the struggle bus” experience over the previous 3 weeks.  But ultimately, I’m so glad I had the conversation and I will be eternally grateful for the other person’s willingness to let me share my heart and to be open in return.  And finally, the last was sitting on the gravel in an RV park during the last week of the walk.  I was able to really share with someone who I hadn’t been able to previously, and vice versa and that pouring out of hearts has continued past the walk.

I have learned what a blessing vulnerability is.  Frankly, vulnerability is something I’m quite horrible at, but this summer taught me that it can be ok to open up to people.  Not everyone is going to betray my trust.  Now, I have some very concrete examples for myself of occasions when vulnerability paid off, both for myself and others.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

It's the Journey: Part III

Then there were the times when emotional and spiritual suffering really kicked in.  I think each of us had days when we were really struggling.  I look at our journey in two ways- our physical progress across the country, and our spiritual journey as individuals and as a group.  I believe we all began by fighting the battle of Crossroads- the challenges that we were fighting because we were a part of this tremendous journey.  And then came a week when we all conquered, so to speak, this “Crossroads challenge” and entered deeply into our own personal difficulties that we brought with us from home.  We all got there at the same time.  

And so began Hell Week.

There was not a single person who wasn’t “off” the week of July 2-6.  On the Saturday that ended "hell week", I wrote in my journal: “Well, we all made it through the Week of Hell…………………this has been such a crazy week, a crazy summer.  I know I'm going to look back and just laugh.  It's a huge lesson in trust, and it's a lesson I haven't really learned yet.  It's a lesson in humility- having to admit you're weak or you're wrong.  In honesty.  Faith.  Joy,  Friendship.  So many good lessons.  I hope to all hope that this week goes better than last ..."

That week, those who usually kept the group encouraged were discouraged themselves, those who lifted spirits with laughter weren’t laughing.  There were a couple (read: very, very few) encouraging texts flying around, but not close to as many as usual.  We didn’t talk a lot during dinner.  Long car/RV rides were stressful, not fun and exciting.  

That week, I had this text conversation with one of my teammates.  They wrote, “Okay, so something definitely seems wrong. Just wanna say I’m here if you want to talk.  If not, I won’t bug you about it…” to which I responded, “Thanks.  This has been a rough week for me and I got to the end of my “put on a happy face” rope this afternoon…”  Who was I to talk?  As if enough hadn’t already happened, I had just lost this teammate’s saint medals in the wash, and they were disappointed, yet they didn’t get upset at me.  Had I been in their position, at least that week, I would have lost it.  Lose it I did, later that night in the car.  Just silently.

Yes, I frequently “put on a happy face” this summer.  Is it a bad thing to fake happiness?  I honestly believe that it depends on the situation.  There were two or three of us this summer who frequently took the role of being the happy ones.  We tried to keep the morale of the group up.  But it can get really hard to always be that person, especially when those who you’re trying to cheer up are still not happy.  I say this not to point fingers, because honestly, its just my personality to try to cheer people up even when I’m having a bad day.  It’s not a chore for me.  But sometimes the cheerer-uppers need to be cheered up too.

(part IV)

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

It's the Journey: Part II

(You can read part one of this series here.)

I believe that Crossroads was put in my path (no pun intended) because I needed it.

I just got finished saying that I don’t fully know why I did it.  That’s because it takes me a heck of a long time to process anything.  (You can ask anyone I walked with how true this is.  I was the most indecisive person on the walk, by a long shot.  In fact, we thought about having a week when Mr. Philosopher (Peter) couldn’t philosophize and Ms. Disney (Kirstin) couldn’t talk about Disney and Ms. Indecisive (yours truly) had to make all the decisions.  It didn’t happen...)  We all took the Myers-Briggs test during week 2, and I came out as 100% introverted each and every time (I took it 6 times because I didn’t trust my own answers).  Wait.  So I did a walk, with strangers, where I had to talk to people at Walmart about my mission every time I went to buy peanut butter, and I’m an introvert?  whyyyy????

Because I needed a challenge.  And I didn’t know that I needed it until it was over.

Oh, now naive I was at the beginning!  I expected the physical challenge, but not once did I think about how emotionally and spiritually draining this summer would be.  I shared some of these challenges already, but I want to do so in a little more detail now.

The physical strain began right at the beginning, week one.  In the course of 5 days, we walked through the city of Seattle, along the highway, over the mountains, and began entering the desert.  We reached the highway on the first day.  It had been drizzling all day long, but as rush hour hit, the rain got harder.  We had no rain gear with us, and after about a mile, we gave up avoiding the 3-inch-deep puddles, stopped flinching when we were hit with water as the semis drove by, and embraced the squoosh of our sneakers.  Paired with the fact that we (Josh and I) drank over a gallon of water that shift, necessitating frequent stops at restrooms, we were quite uncomfortable.  Later in the week, we conquered the mountains.  Although it was late May, the snow had not yet melted, and we could see our breath as we walked through some snow.  Pressured by the fact that this stretch of road would be dangerous in the dark, we pushed to finish over 30 miles each day.
It was a few weeks later that I asked myself, “Why the heck am I doing this?” for the first time.  I guess it had something to do with the fact that we had re-walked a section of windy road, through a ravine, that day shift had already finished for us.  It was partially our fault, partially their fault, and neither group was thinking that day.  It had been a difficult night, and when we discovered our mistake, we were all ready to just give up.  When we tried to sleep in the van after we walked, an animal outside kept us awake the whole time.  We all got about 45 minutes of sleep that night.  Yet we had to remember what, who, we were walking for.  It’s the sacrifice that we’re there for, and we had to embrace that suffering.

Each one of us had our moments of physical weakness.  One member of the group had to go home not once but twice because of health challenges.  Another member had a serious cold for a couple weeks.  Someone else’s foot got infected, shin splints weren’t uncommon, and blisters were abundant.  I had a sort of allergic reaction to some sausage and spent a night pacing in a Walmart parking lot, and later got heat exhaustion twice.

During this time, I learned perseverance.  I learned the value of suffering, especially in silence.  There is a difference between saying, “Gosh, my legs are killing me!” and giving a mile-by-mile update at how badly you ache, how thirsty you are, how you can’t wait to just go to bed.  Hearing a constant update would be tremendously discouraging, and while you’re suffering anyway, the last thing needed is discouragement.

(part III)

Sunday, December 2, 2012

It's The Journey: Part I

(for about 2 weeks, I've been gradually writing this blog post series.  My hope is that through writing this, I will better understand my Crossroads experience and that by reading, you will get a deeper look into my life as a walker.)

I have spoken of Crossroads multiple times since I completed my walk, but never with much clarity.  I can very easily write of the wonderful people I was with, or individual circumstances, but when it comes to piecing the entire picture together, I wander around and never really reach a conclusion.  And still, there is a certain confusion surrounding those three months.

Time does so much for the heart.

Sometimes, time heals, and other times, it causes deeper hurt.  It completely depends on the situation.  

Josh writes on his blog of his thoughts after giving himself some time without really thinking of the summer.  I highly recommend that you read his post, because while I am obviously not the same person as he, and therefore didn’t go through all that he did, he says some things that I think are relevant to all of us who walked last summer, at least on Northern walk.  I really respect those who can just “not think about” a life-changing event for a while.  I think it’s wonderful and possibly one of the best way to process.  I wish I could do that.  But at least at this point, I can’t work that way.  Right now, I’m struggling to not think about it every day, every hour.

This isn’t healthy.

I can’t keep living in the past.  It doesn’t do any good, and won’t help me learn.  That being said, I have been able to spend some time over the last three months simply thinking and journaling.

Why did I decide to walk Crossroads?  I’ve been called crazy for doing it, and in a way, I agree with that adjective.  You can’t be completely sane if you decide to walk across the country for an entire summer.  To fly to the other side of the country, meet up with people from California, Missouri, Wisconsin, Maryland, Virginia, South Carolina, and Ireland; and essentially, upon meeting, entrust them with your life.  We quite literally kept each other alive this summer.
I was completely comfortable with my decision to walk Crossroads all of last semester.  It wasn’t until the morning I left that I started freaking out.  I had a breakdown, which doesn’t happen except rarely, and I thought, there’s no freaking way I can do this.  I had processed my summer in advance (as much as I could), gone through all the logical succession of what I would encounter, and accepted that it would be difficult.  But the morning of May 16, I questioned my sanity.

So why did I do this?  When I began, I honestly didn’t know.  I’ll be 100% completely honest.  I still don’t know.  Well, that’s only partially true.  I know that I walked for the unborn.  I know that I needed to stand for life at all stages in a concrete way.  But I didn’t need to walk across America in order to do that.

I believe that Crossroads was put in my path (no pun intended) because I needed it.

(part II)

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Saturday's Silly Saying- This One's From Me

What's the good of posting other people's silly sayings if I can't post my own?!?

(Scene: Grace is standing holding the dorm door wide open.  The air in the hallway is colder than the air in our room and is blowing inside, making us cold.)

Evelyn: Hey, I want to read you this awesome quote by Augustine.
Me: Uh, there's already a gust in here

(Grace cracks up, Evelyn continues reading blissfully ignorant, and about 3 minutes later dies laughing on the floor...)

And this, friends, is what happens when sleep deprived friends are together!
Have a great weekend =)

Friday, November 30, 2012

7 Quick Takes Friday (vol 3)

I didn't mention it in my last post, but my great-aunt passed away last week.  It was fairly sudden and we're still trying to get everything in order.  I'm sure my whole family would greatly appreciate your prayers for her soul, and for the family's peace.
The longer I am in my Principles of Biblical Studies class, the more I get excited about Theology and the Bible.  my high school scripture class was what convinced me that I needed to major in Theology in the first place, and this class is confirming that.  We just learn so many fascinating things, and almost every class, I have that "Catholic nerd" moment when I look at Grace and say "Oh-my-goodness-this-is-so-amazing!!!!!!"  Unfortunately, when I attempt to share my joy with others, they usually don't quite understand my excitement about learning that, for example, there were so many sacrifices at the dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem (when it was built by Solomon), that they had to wash it out, so blood and water flowed out of the side of the temple.  Jump forward a couple centuries, and blood and water flowed out of Jesus' side on the cross!!  How amazingly awesome and beautiful is that??
Last night, I had the opportunity to go to a Byzantine Divine Liturgy here on campus!  I had been to one before, in 8th grade, but when I had gone before, we didn't have booklets, so we couldn't really participate.  So, for clarification, I am a Roman Catholic, and this was a liturgy in the Byzantine rite, so it was a liturgy of St. John Chrysostom  who was a bishop of Constantinople.  It was really beautiful and made me think a lot about what was going on, mainly because I had no idea what was coming next.  I would love to go again and hopefully participate more this time!
When I go home, I am going to sleep until I wake up on my own.  No alarm.  Enough said.
I made pumpkin bars over break!  And they were quite yummy, if I do say so myself... I got the recipe from Stephanie at Little Bit of Paradise and her Thanksgiving Desserts post.  Although, I have to admit, I didn't use a jelly roll pan.  I actually used the bottom of a broiler pan.  They turned out just fine, except the middle 6 bars were rather wet still.  Oh well, snacks for me!! ;)  The other thing that went a little wonky was the frosting... I'm not sure if it was the melted butter, or what, but Stephanie's frosting looked creamy and think, whereas mine was more like a glaze.  hey, as long as it tastes good, right?!

I know I keep saying this, but Europe is just getting closer and closer!  43 days from today, I'll be on a flight overseas... Yikes!  Plans are starting to come together.

Last but not leastvote for Scythian for the best studio album of 2012!  Danylo and Alexander, who started the band, walked with us for 2 weeks this summer, and they are wonderful guys in addition to being fantastic musicians!  Check out one of our (Northern Crossroads) favorite songs from the summer here!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Paper Planes and Playground Games

(20 bonus points if you get the song ^ reference ;) )

So, as I mentioned in my last post, it's getting quite hectic and stressful here in the Ohio Valley... I mentioned that I had 12 projects/papers/tests to complete in 14 days (including exams).  (It's actually 15, but who's really counting?)  Well, I've officially finished 4 of those!  So now, I've got 5 exams, 2 somewhat long papers, a Bible journal, and 3 graphic design projects.  Thankfully, I have some friends who are seemingly light on the homework, so they have been keeping me sane with off-key singing parties and lunches at 2 pm.  Oh, and Carol of the Bells has helped too :)

I wanted to share a post with you by Grace, my roommate for next semester.  She just started a blog at Behold Your Beauty, and THIS post is absolutely fantastic.  Ya'll should check it out!

Stay warm!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Brace Yourselves...

...for the end of the year is coming.

In 2 weeks, I will be done with the fall semester of my sophomore year.  2 WEEKS.  *minor freakout*
Before then, I have 12 things due (tests, papers, projects, and finals).  11 of them still need to be completed.

I'd appreciate your prayers for my sanity and the sanity of all my friends and professors during this ultimate crunch time.  We all feel like the end of the year snuck up on us, and that is not a very pleasant feeling.  No one likes endings to sneak up on them!

I can't give any promises about posts in the next couple weeks... I know at least one will happen between now and then, I just don't know when :)


Friday, November 23, 2012

7 Quick Takes Friday (vol 2)

I'm home again!  It's yet another whirlwind trip home late Tuesday night, back again early Sunday morning.  Leaving early Sunday, that is.  Evelyn is driving back with us, so we should have a fun car ride!  And I'm imagining there will be some homework done, as well.  Nothing like productivity!

Thanksgiving was a little different this year- My brother and sister-in-law hosted, so it was at their new house, but my sister and brother-in-law were hosting his family at their house.  So we had a mere 12 people for dinner instead of 19 :P  We all pitch in to make parts of the meal, so I made the spinach artichoke dip for the football-watching, as well as the cranberry sauce and pumpkin bars. :)

One of my favorite parts of breaks is seeing friends... Wednesday morning I met a friend from high school for breakfast, and tonight I saw another high school friend for FroYo ;)  Que delicioso! *

I didn't brave the stores for Black Friday.  Or gray Thursday.  BUT I did go shopping for a couple things that I needed, both for the remainder of the school year and for Austria.  I purchased some quite awesome boots to replace my old ones that are literally falling apart!  I also think I'm going to try the mall tomorrow for new snow boots for overseas.

You would think that as a college student, I'd be quite adept at finding sales.  But I am just now getting the hang of it.  I've found quite a few handy websites to help with saving money!  And who doesn't love saving money??  Of course, Amazon is a common go-to.  Hukkster is a new website that helps you track sales.  You just find an item on, say, and then "hukk it"- the item is added to your hukkster page and you'll be notified if it goes on sale!  Lastly, has coupons for tons of common items, from sausage to shirts at Target to pens.  This week, there are $671.66 in available savings!

I could happily spend many hours doing many different things- reading, scrapbooking, watching Once Upon a Time... but when I am in an organizational frame of mind, I love to go to blogs like i Heart Organizing and admire people's beautiful houses.  She has some amazing ideas for organization, and they are (mostly) totally do-able!

Last week, I gave you a video that I couldn't get enough of.  This week, I share one that you will only want to see once.  But it is worth watching.  Prepare to laugh.

I hope you all had a beautiful day with your families!

*I have no idea what that technically says... hopefully it means something like "How delicious!".  My spanish skills are questionable.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

With a Grateful Heart

Thanksgiving Day is a day that most see as a day of family and food.  But, as my pastor reminded us at Mass this morning, it's primarily a day to thank God for what He does in our lives.  That's so important for me to remember, and I definitely don't do it enough.

My "Thankful" List
My Faith- a God who loves me, a Savior who died to save me, and the Spirit who gives me so much grace and inspiration
My Family- Mom, Dad, Aunt Patti, Christine, David, Teresa, Jake, Sarah, Matthew, Joseph, Tobias, Rebekah, Catherine, MaryGrace, Celia, Jacob, Jonah, Rosie, Baby G*: You guys are awesome, I love you, and I thank God for you every day!  Thanks for keeping me “in the loop” while I’m constantly away from home :P
My “Second Family”- John, Josh, Zechariah, Peter, Mario, Stephanie, Grace, Kirstin, and Amanda: Thank you all for the beautiful friendship that we all have.  We’ve all been blessed beyond imagination and God certainly knew what He was doing putting us all together this summer!  I say this with all the sincerity in my heart- you are family, and I love you.
My Friends- Hannah, Robyn, Hannah, Leslie, Abby, Leslie, Gracie, Evelyn, Stasia, Grace and everyone else who has made me who I am over the years: I’m so grateful that you’re in my life.  I’m sorry that I haven’t kept in touch with all of you like I should have, but that doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten you.  Thank you for your friendship.

What else I’m thankful for: (in no particular order)
Spiritual Direction
the opportunity to go to a Catholic school **
Once Upon a Time
Waking Rose
Principles of Biblical Studies class
Skype and Google chat
laughter at 2 am
The Milky Way
the founders of Crossroads and all current directors
Andrew and his beautiful witness
tea & scones
conversation with friends who expand my worldview

* surprise!  Come June, I will have a new little niece or nephew!!  Needless to say, I’m fairly excited (read: I’m freaking bouncing off the walls!)
** despite the fact that sometimes it drives me nuts… ;)

What are you grateful for this Thanksgiving Day?  Maybe tonight, before you fall asleep, you can say a quick prayer thanking God for something that you usually take for granted.


Friday, November 16, 2012

7 Quick Takes Friday (vol 1)

"This is the start of something new...."

This Friday (and hopefully every Friday following) I will be joining Jen at Conversion Diary :)

I am tired of sporadic weather.  Three days ago, it was quite literally 75 degrees outside.  I had a short sleeve shirt on.  Today, I walked out the door to 29 degrees and cold.  Not cool, weather guy, not cool. 

Getting older is happening to me.  Quickly.  No matter that I'm "only" 19.  When one's niece is applying to the junior/senior high school that you graduated from 2 years ago, one realizes how old one is.  In other words, my super cool niece is applying for 7th grade at my high school!  I'm really excited for her :)

I am not a fan of this whole 2-breaks-within-one-month thing.  I just got back from All Saints Day Break (also known as Fall Break), and then we have 12 days of classes and "spliies!" ("surprise" for those of you who are not Stephanie.) we have Thanksgiving!  and then oh, look at that, 10 days later we've got finals.  Humph.  In the words of a dear friend, "I'm not a fan". :P

Last night I room-hosted for the first time... and it went really well!  (room hosting is when someone who is visiting the school stays with me overnight).  I didn't know this girl, so I was worried that it would be super awkward or she wouldn't want to do anything or we'd just stare at each other, but she was really awesome and we had a lot of fun.  I can be an extrovert when I want to be!!

Austria is becoming more and more of a reality.  Last week we got information about Eurail passes and roommates.  58 days.  1 month and 28 days.  aaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh......

Who has international travel tips??  I'm looking for tips on how to pack for 4 months abroad, how to pack for weekend trips abroad, what not to bring, things I absolutely must bring, and anything else you think may come in handy.  One of my challenges is that I will be there in the winter and in the warm(er) weather.

WATCH THIS VIDEO!!  It's beautiful music, and perfect for getting into the Christmas spirit.  ssshhhh!!  Usually I'm all for waiting for anything semi Christmas-related until after Thanksgiving, but this just can't wait.  it's that good.

Have a good weekend, all!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Striking a Balance

Today was a beautiful day.

It all started with the walk to Mass in 70-degree weather.  Say-WHAT?!  It's Ohio, in November, and we get 70 degrees?  I'll take it any day!
Mass was great, as per usual, and I was able to EM.
Following Mass, I had lunch with Stephanie, which was really nice since we hadn't really caught up since fall break 2 weeks ago.
And THEN we ran back to my room and google-chatted with our Crossroads Family!!!!  Everyone except Mario and Zechariah was able to come, at least for a little bit, and it was so awesome to be able to talk to everyone.  We all gave our little update as to what was going on in our lives, and we laughed a whole lot.  Fun times :D
As if that wasn't enough, I then spoke with my friend from when I was in kindergarten, who I haven't actually talked to in about 3 months.  Whoops!  I've known her and her sister for 14 years!  I'm so blessed to know them, and the great thing is that no matter how long its been since we've talked, we pick right up where we left off.

Now, though, the fun is over.  I have quite a few books of the Bible to journal through before 1 pm tomorrow.  Wait, scratch that.  The fun can't be over when Grace is coming to journal with me!!


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

show us where to go

Well, last night was interesting, to say the least.

Yes, this is a political post.  In my (ever-so)humble opinion, I have spared you all from rants and raves throughout this election season, so maybe you can put up with one little tiny political post?  Perhaps?  Good, I thought so.

Um... what happened last night?  Really, America?  Right now, I'm just sad.  Does our country realize what it's done to itself?  I honestly don't think it does.  We just re-elected a man who is against religious freedom, against life, and is driving our country further and further into debt.  And yet, we've re-elected him.

Needless to say, campus was going nuts both last night and today.  Reactions ranged from "WHATTHEHECK" to "Well, that's the end, then" to "I'm moving to Canada/Malta/Australia/[insert country of choice here]".

This election was a deciding point for our country.  I truly believe that everyone will be affected in some way, shape, or form.

My professors will no longer have health care, because Franciscan University of Steubenville will not support a mandate that provides birth control.
I will most likely not have health care after college, because any parish I work for will have the same mentality of Franciscan. (just for clarification, this is a good thing!)
Catholic OB-GYNs could potentially be forced to close down.
Any retirement home is in danger of forcing to euthanize their residents.
Unborn children are still at risk of being murdered.
Any nursing majors here at school could be required by law to assist at abortions or to recommend birth control.
--This is not ok!  Talk about removing freedoms...

Now, I'm not one to think that the world is over and we're all doomed to go to Hell in a handbasket.  There's still hope.  The church militant is rising up, and the youth of my generation are impassioned!  We can't sit by and just let all this happen, but at the same time, we must trust that this is either ordained or allowed by God for a reason.  We are meant to be alive right now, we are meant to have our Catholic faith at this point in time.  We must work alongside our Lord, stay in tune with His will, and pray for our country and our President.

Speaking of praying for our president, 5 friends and I were talking at lunch today, and we've decided to start something kinda big.  It involves facebook, twitter, tumblr, and lots and lots of praying.  We're still in the baby steps, but in the next couple days (yes, days.  we're movers and shakers here at Franciscan!)  we should have this up and running!  I'll be sure to let you know what's going on!


Monday, November 5, 2012

Language is the Music of the Soul

I've had various conversations lately about words.  Words are amazing things.  Ya know those people who use language so elegantly and beautifully without sounding funny?  I love those people.  And if they can write like that, all the better.  So when I fell across Renee's blog over a year ago, I fell in love with her writing.  Renee's beauty comes out in her writing, and I love that so much.  And then, last week, she posted this jewel of a post.  And it happened to just fit perfectly with a conversation I had recently had.

There's something about spending time with people that gives you more things to laugh about.  It's different from connecting via text or email or chat.  Because those funny one-liners rarely come from email messages.  They do, however, emerge from phone calls, skype conversations, or, best of all, talking in person.

(Don't get me wrong, I see the value of today's social media (Hello, multimedia major here!).  But the personal connection from talking goes way beyond any other type of communication.)

These types of one-liners are beautiful.  And fun.  And they tie you closer to the person or people with whom you have them.  Cases in point:

"Pinterest!"- I can't hear it (from certain people) without laughing, unfortunately.
"I heard he was cute""Brilliant!""Where's the van?""Group Dynamics!!"

These phrases draw my friends and I together.  Each time we use one of them, we are reminded of an experience that we had.  That's such a blessing, you guys.  When you re-hash a fun time or a difficult week, you are re-learning about the people with whom you experienced this, you are re-learning about yourself.  It's so beautiful, important, and crucial to your growth with your friends.

And that's how friendship turns into family.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012



Guys, it's officially official.

I'm going to Austria in January.
Do you realize how exciting/terrifying/mind-blowing/crazy this is?  In 2 months and 14 days, I'll be in Austria.  For 4 months.  Europe: France.  Germany.  Belgium.  Ireland. Spain?  Portugal?  England? It's all possible.  Probable, actually.

The plane-ticket-buying procedure was a bit frustrating.  Since I'll be making a domestic flight to meet up with some friends (shout out to Stasia and Grace!), I had to book that separately from the flight overseas, so there was a bit of time coordination to do.  It's done.

This will really be the adventure of a lifetime.  I'll be in a foreign country, studying, traveling, seeing things I've never seen, going places I've only read about, eating foods that I can't pronounce the names of, and meeting new friends.

I've chosen my classes.
I've booked my flight.
Now, I just have to wait.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Beauty of Faith

Being a Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion (EM) is truly a blessing.  It never gets "old", and there isn't a single Mass that I minister where I'm not blown away by what I am doing and Who I am holding.  Sometimes, though, there are Masses that make me three times as excited to minister in this way.

Yesterday, I distributed the Precious Body at Saturday morning Mass.  It brings me so much joy to see people receive the God of the universe.  I am always especially struck by the people who are obviously excited to receive Jesus.  I'll be honest, usually these people are women.  But yesterday, a guy approached; he was really tall and I had to reach up as I went to place the Host on his tongue.  And as I did so, his face lit up.  He smiled and said what was possibly the most reverent "Amen" I've ever heard.  He received Our Lord with such a simple joy that it made me tremendously joyful.  I don't know who he was, but he made me think about the Eucharist a lot after Mass.

How often does receiving Jesus become just "part of the Mass"?  Do we always understand Who is coming into our very beings?  He's not just a Man who was raised from the dead; He's our God!  This guy's beautiful faith reminded me how incredible Mass truly is!


Saturday, October 27, 2012

Saturday's Silly Saying

Conversation from the dorm last night:

Girl in the hallway: *yells* DOES ANYONE ON GROUND FLOOR OWN P.S. I LOVE YOU????
Girl in my room: *yells through closed door* NO WE DON'T!!!!
Girl in the hallway: THANKS SO MUCH FOR ANSWERING!!
Girl in my room: NOT A PROBLEM!!
Girl in the hallway: HAVE A GREAT NIGHT!!
Girl in my room: YOU TOO!!

Oh, the adventures of a college student in a dorm :P

Friday, October 26, 2012

Anchor my Heart to Your Cross

Faith, Hope, and Love.  Three little words that we flippantly say so often, but how often do we truly think about them?  

Lately, I've been absolutely loving the symbol of the anchor.  We all need to be anchored to something.  SomeONE, actually.  Our Lord is the only One who never moves, is always constant, and it is He who we can always trust in.  An anchor indicates strength, and I think it's appropriate that it's the traditional Christian symbol for hope.  When a ship is anchored to the shore, it can bob up and down, it rocks from side to side, and it can even drift a little bit, but it really can't go too far.  What a comforting thought!  If we are anchored to Christ as our rock, we aren't guaranteed that we're never going to go through troubling times.  Actually, we're pretty much assured that life is going to be difficult.  But as long as we keep our anchor of faith tied to our Rock, we can have hope that we can make it back to His side.  His strength can pull us through, so long as we keep our eyes on Him.

I'm going to be honest with you all: in the last couple weeks, I've really been struggling with these three virtues.  They all go together, and I think that when one suffers, the others do as well.  I have come to the understanding that I don't receive God's love as well as I should, that shakes my faith in Him, and then I find myself drifting further and further away from His perfect life-giving Presence.

Sometimes, I need visual reminders of what I'm working on in my spiritual life.  I guess this is one reason that I have so many inspirational quotes around my room, because I forget those fundamental things too often.  When I realized how much I really need to push myself to work on these three areas, I knew I needed something concrete.  I started with a sticky note, but that didn't stay with me all the time.  Then I started looking for a bracelet, but they were all too clunky.  I also realized that it doesn't necessarily need to be visual to everyone.  OK, I thought, I will go a different route.  So later that afternoon, I bought an anklet, and three charms (on amazon, of course...)- a cross, an anchor, and a heart.  The chain is really thin, and the charms are super tiny, just as I wanted.

I was actually afraid that I was going to regret this purchase (I am going to Austria, after all, and journeying in Europe costs a wee bit o' money), but the more I've thought about it, the more I've realized that this will help me a lot.  Visual, tangible reminders like this one will hopefully keep me on course and help me grow in my faith!

Have you come across anything in your own life that you find you need a visual to remind you of?  Share in the comments!

ps- last week, I celebrated 10,000 views, and today I'm celebrating 100 posts!  Let's make a deal- you help me reach 20,000, and I'll give you another 100, ok? ;)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

recent thoughts

Date: October 22, 2012
Time: 10:31 p.m.
What I'm listening to: The Fighter (Gym Class Heroes)
What's been going on: A heck of a lot!  This weekend was Fall Fun Day with Liturgy Committee; we went to a farm and did the petting zoo, a hay ride, and other fun fall-ish things.  Sunday I went into the city with a bunch of other people from school to see Mary Poppins!  It was really, really good; if it comes to your area, I highly recommend it!  And oh-by-the-way I also have 3 tests, a paper, and a project due within the next 6 days.
corn maze at Fall Fun day!!
Recent realization: Evelyn and I have a lack of  pictures of the two of us.  Which, considering that we've been rooming for a year and a half, is fairly pathetic.  So we've decided to remedy this situation by taking more pictures of ourselves!!
What's the weather: The beauty that can only occur in fall...the colors are gorgeous and the temperatures are heavenly.  Although this coming week, we're (supposedly) going from 70s one day to 30s and snowing the next.  Figures.  Typical Steubenville.
What I'm excited about: This book!  I saw it last spring on vacation while Stasia was home with me.... and I just bought it.  On Amazon, of course, because that's where all college students shop for everything!!!!  Ok, maybe that's an exaggeration.  Still.
What I'm reading: the Bible.  No, I'm not being tricky.  Or "holy".  I mean, hopefully I am being holy, but that's beside the point that I'm reading the Bible.  I have to journal my way through the Bible for my Biblical studies class.... so for Wendesday, I have to read and journal on every chapter of Numbers, Deuteronomy, and Judges (Joshua is "read-only").... it takes quite a while!!!!
What I'm passionate about this week: Verily Magazine!!!!  It's an awesome magazine for older teens and women.  They write on relationships, fashion, and other topics relatable to women living in today's world who want to be modest, respectable, and fashionable.

I've actually teamed up with Verily to get the word out... I ask you all to take a look at their website (you can find it here).  There's a complete teaser issue so you can get an idea of what it's like!  If you like what you see, you can order the magazine for $10 off the cover price with a special code (enter CAWOLF30 at checkout).  It's only $3 per issue (to put it in perspective, that's one Starbucks Frap per issue).  Check it out and let me know if you've got any questions!!
What's coming up this week: women's ministry meeting, lunch with Stephanie (from Crossroads), Liturgy Committee (as per usual), and hopefully looking at trains in Austria and Germany!