Thursday, August 28, 2014

And...I'm a Senior!

During Orientation Weekend of my freshman year, I was leaving Finnegan Fieldhouse (oh, those Fieldhouse Masses!) to head up to Tommy More (my dorm). I saw the sidewalk, but that was just too boring a way to travel up the hill. I looked at a large grassy pit in the ground and the grassy hill on the other side. Yes, I thought, this is a far better way to get to my dorm. Wearing my cute sundress from Paris, holding my sandals in hand, I felt very much like Maria Von Trapp. Arms outstretched, I ran down the hill, planning to run up the other side. My heart was singing “The Hills are Alive, with the Sound of Music!” All of a sudden-I stopped. My feet were impeded from movement, and mud was splashing up my legs.

Someone failed to mention to me that the beautiful grassy “pit” had been a former attempt to create a man-made pond/lake thing, and had never fully drained. Without knowing it beforehand, I had plunged myself into a little marshland. My wonderful idea to go all “Maria Von Trapp” was stopped by mud! Weeks into that school year, I recall meeting a girl who said, “Wait, I remember you-you’re that girl who was covered in mud and standing outside our dorm!”

Yup, I was that girl.

That girl who stood outside the “Tower of Estrogen” (as it is commonly known, since the dorm houses five floors of women) while my mom and brother ferried out cups of water to wash my legs. I was that girl who spent most of my waking free hours in a men’s dorm baking and hanging out with my new “brothers.” I was that girl who went to a convent for a week, and left more confused than ever. I was that girl who fell madly in love with an adorable redhead, even though I didn’t realize it at first. I was that girl who got engaged a week into sophomore year. I was that girl who traveled across Europe with my fiancĂ©, going on pilgrimages to Italy, Poland, Germany, Austria, and France. I was that girl who got married to the most incredible man, just a few months after our return from Europe. I was that girl who discovered the glory, joy, and peace of being a married college student. I was that girl who bounced into Egan 113 at 7:50 a.m. on Tuesday morning for my first class (Phonics with Dr. Holmes), wondering, where did all the time go?

This is it. Senior year.

It is quite strange to say this to people, because it is so hard to believe myself. I’ve always looked up to the seniors, and observed their maturity, sophistication, and professionalism. I’m still very much a kid, and don’t feel like a senior. I think about all of the crazy experiences I have had since freshman year, and I have such an immense amount of gratitude to God. It's crazy how much I've changed! I made mistakes (still do), I went through rough spots (still do) but all of the joy and incredible blessings overflow far beyond any hardships. All of the struggles and mistakes have helped me to become who I am today, along with all of the joys and blessings. Coming to FUS has changed my life, and I still have this entire year to continue growing and developing many skills!

One of the skills I am hoping to improve upon this year is my writing. I love to write, and have for many years. Yesterday, I discovered that I have the blessing (that’s what I keep telling myself! It’s a blessing!) of having 60+ pages of work due on December 3 (thankfully, that’s far away, so I can focus on other papers and reading assignments before then!). One Theology Thesis + one Creative Nonfiction Paper (which will be 40-60 pages) equals one crazy semester! So, I will not be blogging as much as I did this summer, though I will try to keep it up!

I am extremely excited for the semester; all of my classes are amazing (and I’ve been looking forward to Creative Nonfiction since before I was a student, so it’s really good to finally take it!), being with all of my household sisters again is wonderful, and Jacob and I will have many wonderful adventures, I am sure. I always try to live life abundantly, but even more so now.

It’s time to get crazy, to celebrate and embrace each day-trials and joys together-and use all things for God’s glory, and for our sanctification!

Happy new school year!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Mercy Monday: The Glory of Our Humble God

Happy Mercy Monday! Here's our reflection from St. Faustina's Diary: 

          "...The God who is beyond all understanding stoops to me under the appearance of a little Child.

                      But the eye of my soul does not stop at this appearance.  Although You take the form of a little Child, I see in You the immortal, infinite Lord of lords, whom pure spirits adore, day and night, and for whom the hearts of the Seraphim burn with the fire of purest love.  O Christ, O Jesus, I want to surpass them in my love for You!  I apologize to you, O pure spirits, for my boldness in comparing myself to you, I, this chasm of misery, this abyss of misery; and You, O God, who are the incomprehensible abyss of mercy, swallow me up as the heat of the sun swallows up a drop of dew!  A loving look from You will fill up any abyss.  I feel immensely happy at the greatness of God.  Seeing God’s greatness is more than enough to make me happy throughout all eternity!" (Notebook I, #333-334)

Have an abundantly blessed day! 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

JPII wants YOU to Destroy your Inner Cyberman

There seems to be a misconception that I've encountered where people (specifically women and girls) are given the idea that we need to shut off our emotions. We're "too emotional," we're "not guarding our hearts," and we "aren't using reason-just be rational!" We see relationships where men and women only are emotionally invested, and we don't want that. So, as a result of this train of thought and other fears we may have, there's a temptation to shut down emotionally, trying to disregard various feelings and attractions that arise.

What does this look like? 
Of course I can't resist referencing Doctor Who, since the new
series starts this week!!!
For those of you who don't recognize this picture, these are Cybermen. A group opposed to the Doctor, it goes around trying to "upgrade" human beings: replace body parts with plastic and steel, and insert emotion inhibitors. So, where a living, breathing, feeling human being once stood, an emotionless steel man now stands. Terrifying, isn't it? Huge hunks of steel following orders, destroying and "upgrading" people. No love, no compassion, no community.

I think we can all safely agree that Cybermen have got it all wrong. How do we fix this problematic thinking? Are we supposed to swing to the opposite end of the spectrum, letting our emotions and feelings guide all of our actions? 

Let's take a look at Love and Responsibility, by that epic man, Karol Wojtyla (St. JPII the Great!). In the section titled, "From Sympathy to Friendship," he discusses the presence of sympathy in our lives. Literally, form working with the roots, "sympathy" means "experiencing together." It brings people together emotionally who experience things together. When people's relationships  thrive solely upon sympathy, their joint emotional experience, they ultimately are driven apart, because when "sympathy breaks down they usually feel that love has come to an end." Wojtyla also mentions how oftentimes, men and women leave their relationships at the level of sympathy, feeding off of pure emotion.

What does Wojtyla say that we should do instead? Move from sympathy alone to friendship. In a friendship, we utilize our will. "I desire a good for you just as I desire it for myself, for my own 'I'." Friendship requires commitment, a movement of the will, a choice. Now, some of you might be thinking, "Clearly, friendship-relationships are much healthier than sympathy-relationships, so we should put aside the sympathy." Looking at Wojtyla's writings and wisdom, I don't think we really want that. In fact, Wojtyla says that a friendship without sympathy "will remain cold and incommunicable." Like our giant, steel, emotionless Cybermen. 

We need a balance. "Love cannot be merely a matter of 'consuming' sympathy, or of finding an outlet for one's feelings in it. No, love consists in the thoroughgoing transformation of sympathy into friendship...Sympathy and friendship are two processes which must interpenetrate without hindering each other." Sympathy brings warmth and communion into a relationship, and friendship focuses us on the other person as the object, not emotions as the object.

We need to destroy our "inner Cybermen," letting ourselves acknowledge our emotions as a gift from God. At the same time, we must not let ourselves be ruled by emotions, but using our will, order everything into its proper place. Emotions and sympathy can be a great way to bring two people together, so that they can start a relationship of some kind. But we shouldn't stop there--we need to build a friendship.

"A dawning sympathy between two persons brings with it as a rule the possibility or even the modest beginning of friendship. Sympathy, however, is often intense right from the start, whereas friendship is faint and frail at first. The next stage is to take advantage of the emotional situation created by sympathy to fashion a mutual friendship, thereby endowing sympathy with a solid and objective significance."

Speaking from personal experience, when trying to place emotions in the proper place, asking the saints for help is always a plus. We need supernatural help in so many areas of our life, and they are ready and happy to help us!

Have an abundantly blessed and epic day!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Literature's Unsung Hero (or, Who Gatsby Might Have Been)

This summer, I had the opportunity to spend many luxurious hours reading. I tried out some new books, and I dove into "old favorites." There is something so comforting about re-reading favorite books that I fell in love with years ago. It's like sitting down for a conversation with an old friend; nothing's changed, and yet many things have changed. Grasping a particular book, I am brought back to all the previous places where I've read it. 

A book that I re-read this summer was one I fell in love with back in my early teenage days. It tells the story of one of literature's great unsung heroes. In 1928, Mr. Blue, by Myles Connolly, was published. At just 115 pages, it's small and an easy-read. But remember: great things come in small packages. This book follows the life and antics of J. Blue, a young man in New York City. In the introduction of the book, John B. Breslin, S.J. compares and contrasts J. Blue with Jay Gatsby, of The Great Gatsby. Both were young men living in the Roaring Twenties, and both Mr. Blue and The Great Gatsby are written in the voices of narrators who observe the lives of these men.

Yet, in the words of Breslin, "J. Blue was the man whom the ambitious Jay Gatsby might have become had he steered by a higher truth than the sound of money in Daisy Buchanan's voice." 

As a side note, I think it would be really cool if this book was paired up with The Great Gatsby in literature classes, so that students could compare and contrast Blue and Gatsby, look at their motives and lives, and discuss their searches of the infinite (because they both do this in different ways). But anyways, back to Blue...

J. Blue is hard to pin down. He's a bit of a free-spirited 1920s Franciscan. Whether it's flying a huge kite on the top of a skyscraper building, or describing a potential plot of an apocalyptic motion picture, Blue lives fearlessly, freely, and abundantly. This book doesn't really follow one strict order of events; it basically records the narrator's life as impacted by his interactions with Blue. The reader is placed alongside the narrator, encountering Blue in page after page. The reader, along with the narrator, is challenged to view the world as Blue does: with wonder and awe. The narrator reflects that, " He somehow gave you the impression that we were all crazy and he alone was sane." The character of J. Blue challenges us to leap outside of our comfort zones and to live passionately. 

I believe that J. Blue is an unsung hero of literature. He does not allow himself to be molded into the ideals of society, but steps out with intensity and purpose, seeking to passionately love and bring joy to the world. He may not be well-known in the classrooms around the U.S., but his nobility shines true nonetheless. 

I want to close with the words of J. Blue himself: 

"Play life safe, and you'll keep out of harm. Be careful, be cautious, and you'll never die on Saint Helena. Your failure is measured by your aspirations. Aspire not, and you cannot fail. Columbus died in chains. Joan of Arc was burned at the stake. Let us all live snugly--and life will soon be little more than a thick, gelatinous stream of comfortability and ignorance." 

Monday, August 18, 2014

On Getting Married in College

Since we celebrated one-year of marriage a week ago, I've been thinking lots about how awesome married life is. Specifically, how awesome being a married college student is. For those of you who don't know, Jacob and I were both 19 when he proposed, and we got married 11 months later, when we were 20. To some people, this may seem outrageously young, to others this may seem more normal (incidentally, when we were preparing for marriage, we knew three other couples our age who were all getting married the same summer as us!).

When we first got engaged, many people were very supportive, some people not so much (because they cared for us and didn't want us to get hurt), and lots of people had questions. So even though I should have done this a long time ago, I want to address a few "frequently asked questions" that people have had (and still ask me) about being a married college student.

Girl, don't you know that this is your time to be wild and crazy? You're a college student! Enjoy that singleness!
I thoroughly enjoyed life as a single girl, going to Europe (twice), hanging out with lots of friends going to dances and parties, leading retreats, and seeking to fulfill God's purpose for my life in my singleness. Even though it was all a lot of fun and I lived a fulfilling life, I would not choose to continue that for the world--because I have a much more fulfilling, more incredible, more sanctifying life now that I'm married! Having adventures with my husband is far greater a joy than having adventures by myself. And getting married is itself a crazy adventure!

Aren't you a little young to be married? 
Actually, according to the Code of Canon Law, a man has to be 16, and a girl has to be 14 (obviously, people have to act within the laws of where they live). At 20 years old, we were both mature and old enough to make the conscious decision to lay our lives down for each other in the Sacrament of Marriage. I know this may appear shocking (and a few years ago, I thought being married in college was a bit crazy of a thought), but it's really not that weird. After all, how many of us applaud a woman who enters the convent when she's 18 or 19? Or St. Therese, the Doctor of the Church, who entered the convent when she was 15?

But life will be so hard for you; instead of living in the dorms and having a meal plan, you'll have to find a place to live, buy groceries, etc. 
The easy option isn't always the best option. While it would have been "easier" to just check the boxes on the forms, pay the money, and continue to live like thousands of other single college girls, this was not the best option at all. My then-fiance and I were/still are deeply in love, had discerned that God wanted us to be married in college, and had reasoned through it-waiting till after graduation may have been "easier" in the eyes of the world, but it wouldn't have been "better." Also, living off campus and buying groceries isn't that difficult, and we've had a very peaceful time of it all.

You're a poor college student-don't you know kids are expensive? 
First off, while there is expense with raising children, there are many inexpensive ways to go about it. I know loads of huge families (we're talking at least 5 kids, going up to 13 kids) and most of them aren't that rich-but they cut costs and live within their means. Many times, when people talk about babies being "expensive" they are thinking of formula, diapers, all the latest gadgets and gizmos for babies, and cute little snacks as the babies grow. Well, ecological breastfeeding is way better for mother and baby, no kid needs all of the latest gadgets, and those little snacks are purely a marketing technique to get more money out of new parents, in my opinion. But we don't have kids yet, so those things are down the road somewhere. Also, this question assumes that everyone who gets married immediately will start having babies, and that's not a healthy assumption to make. Yes, marriage is ordered to "bonding and babies" in the words of a friend of mine, but the babies come within God's timing and plan, not in our neighbor's plan. (A friend of mine wrote a wonderful blog post about this aspect of newlywed life.)

Now that I've touched on some of the major concerns people have had, I want to mention some of the reasons why being a married college student is incredibly awesome!!

You realize all of the blessings and gifts God gives you in a whole new way. 
When we moved into our little dumpy apartment, we realized how rich we are, how God has blessed us. Instead of living in small dorm rooms, we have an entire apartment! With our own kitchen! And living room! And bathroom! And we only have to share the washer and dryer with four other apartments, instead of an entire dorm of students!

You get to grow up together. 
We're young, and we have so many adventures to come in life! And we get to share those adventures together! We will (God willing) get to finish our years at college together, raise children together, get a house together, grow old many experiences, challenges, triumphs, and joys that we will share!

You don't focus on spending money. 
Everyone knows that a huge point of conflict in many marriages is money. Well, we already were poor college students, living frugally but still having fun, so when we got married, we easily continued to live frugally-but still are having lots of fun! There are loads of creative, inexpensive ways to have adventures-our focus is on our relationship and doing fun stuff together, not on having an expensive date.

You get to learn to love each other with the stress of schoolwork. 
While many of the difficulties in marriage are the same-in college or graduated-I think one of the great benefits of married college life is homework. It's taught us how we can best love, serve, and sacrifice for each other when papers, presentations, and theses are piling high. We've learned how to work together in helping each other study and stay accountable with projects and papers.

Furthermore, having a peaceful home to go to is a great joy in the midst of schoolwork. 
Marriage is so abundantly peaceful. Living out the vocation is a huge blessing and it's awesome. Getting to spend time at home together in the midst of classes is great-it's an oasis of peace in crazy semesters.

Having tons of friends around it super awesome. 
It's college, so we have tons of friends around, which is great! We're still able to spend time with different friends and my household sisters, which is a blessing! It's also cool because sometimes they'll ask us about married life, relationship tips, and NFP, and we're able to give them our thoughts!

You're flexible. 
We're not old and set in our ways; we're really young, and can adapt and compromise and learn to work together really simply! Sleep schedules and meal menus are totally flexible according to what the other needs; we adapt and change it up, and it's no big deal!

You may have even had the chance to study in Europe first...
Spending a semester right before marriage in Europe was amazing for so many reasons, and you may not have guessed it, but-it was great marriage prep. I forgot my debit card in the U.S., so we spent the semester living off of one debit card, which forced us to communicate about all things money and budget (a huge beneficial preparation for marriage). We spent hours on trains, shower-less and gross and sleep-deprived and loved each other through it all, which is also great marriage prep, since when we have kids someday, a portion of our life will be sleep-deprived and shower-less and gross : )

You don't have the pressure "to get engaged/plan a wedding while doing a thesis or planning your life." 
A lot of people, I've noticed, get engaged during their senior year in college. It makes sense-you've been dating a few years, you want to get married, and you know that life after college will include both of you. Some people feel the pressure of "I have go get engaged/get married, I'm graduating and need to figure out my life!" or, they are pressured that "Everyone else is getting engaged, I want/need to as well!"  One of our friends told my husband and I that, "you guys have it good, you've already done the Big Stuff." We can just relax, go to classes, do thesis work, and figure out jobs and such for after graduation, and not worry about planning a wedding.

You can grow younger all the time. 
We're crazy, young, college students, and getting married has made us even younger. I don't know what exactly happened, but we're crazier, sillier, more youthful, and more joyful!!

You haven't gotten disillusioned by a long life of broken hearts and shattered dreams. 
I've encountered this philosophy that before "settling down," you need to get your heart broken several times, experience failure, and "find out who you really are." Um...that doesn't sound like a good idea. If these things haven't happened to you, you don't need to try and make them happen! Jacob and I both had strong friendships with people of both sexes, but our friendship together was something special and deep on a whole new level. I had never dated anyone before Jacob, I had never tried to "find myself" in some broken lifestyle, and I am so glad! We both brought this sparkling innocence into our relationship, and we didn't need to "find ourselves" through some weird sort of young-life crisis. We knew our identity in Christ, and as a married couple, we get to face challenges in life together! 

You get to live the Sacrament of Marriage!
It's a huge blessing, a tremendous blessing, and amazing blessing. And we get to live it! It's super cool to witness to marriage, and I can't count how many people have told us how touched they are by us and other young, strong married couples. Going to daily Mass, praying a daily Rosary, and going to Confession frequently together have been incredible ways to grow stronger in our Faith and as a couple, and have helped us as we live out this vocation!

I hope this post has helped some of you look at married college student life in a new light! Not everyone can or should get married in college, but I think many more people should at least see the beauty in it and consider if God desires them to do it, because it's epic!

Have a great day!

Mercy Monday: Our Offering to God

Happy Mercy Monday! Here's our reflection from St. Faustina's Diary:

"February 7, [1937].  Today, the Lord said to me, I demand of you a perfect and whole-burnt offering; and offering of the will.  No other sacrifice can compare with this one.  I Myself am directing your life and arranging things in such a way that you will be for Me a continual sacrifice and will always do My will.  And for the accomplishment of this offering, you will unite yourself with Me on the Cross.  I know what you can do.  I Myself will give you many orders directly, but I will delay the possibility of their being carried out and make it depend on others.  But what the superiors will not manage to do, I Myself will accomplish directly in your soul.  And in the most hidden depths of your soul, a perfect holocaust will be carried out, not just for a while, but know, My daughter, that this offering will last until your death.  But there is time, so that I the Lord will fulfill all your wishes.  I delight in you as in a living host; let nothing terrify you; I am with you."
(Notebook II, #923)

Thursday, August 14, 2014

When life hands you lemons, God makes lemonade!

About a week ago, our car got totaled. Yes, the lovely Batmobile that took us on many adventures is no more. It was just a minor fender-bender, but the car in front of ours was a big pick-up, and our little car crumbled like nobody’s business. My husband and I have been discovering how life without a car-when we were used to having a car previously-is definitely a bit of an adjustment. Even though many people in Steubenville-longtime residents and students alike-don’t have cars, having that lovely mode of transportation is wonderful. You can drive to St. Peter’s downtown. You can drive to Aldi and Wal-Mart. You can drive to the library. And you can even drive outside of Steubie on day trips! All of a sudden, we lost our car, so all of these things that we used to do frequently are a bit out-of-the picture. In the midst of the schedule alterations we’re forced to make, however, there have been so many abundant blessings from God in all of this!

God provides. Really, I know it’s a bit clichĂ© to always say, “Oh, God will provide,” and as such, many people may disbelieve it. But He really does! For example, when Jacob called me up after the car got totaled, he was stuck 40ish minutes away, and I needed to find him a ride back to Steubenville. Since the first people who came to my mind all had 6-8 kids (many of them quite young, so I felt bad asking them), I had no clue what to do. On a sudden burst of inspiration, I called a household sister, but she was at work—so she volunteered her boyfriend (who I had never met before) and he dropped everything to spend the next few hours helping my husband and I out. Also, when I called the Adoration coordinator at St. Peter’s (since we could no longer commit to our hour), I had thought she would be very disappointed that she’d have to hunt up someone else to take our hour. Instead, she (even though she doesn’t know us) immediately started volunteering her time to shuttle us back-and-forth places if we needed it! We’ve also had friends and other students selflessly volunteer rides for us. God really provides all the time!

More time with my husband! Since my husband can’t make the long drive to work everyday, he’s going to start working remotely (which he had planned to do during school). So, I get to spend more time during the day with him, which is so much fun!

Poverty! I think a lot of people take certain possessions for granted (like phones, computers, cars, showers, houses, etc.). But living without a car is doable. Not always the most fun, but it can be done! It’s been a wonderful way to focus on the gifts that God gives us and be detached in regards to possessions-to have poverty of spirit, even when we own different things. And getting to walk everywhere seems very Franciscan to me, which is awesome J

Budgeting. This whole car thing forced us to get down to the nitty-gritty details of our budget, which has been wonderful and quite a blessing!

Exciting Adventures. Not having a car brings on a whole range of adventures that wouldn’t of happened otherwise. I could have passed on the whole stalker-incident last week (basically, I was being stalked by a creepy guy in a van-moral of the story: make sure my cell phone is easily accessible at all times in case that happens again!), but other great things have happened.  For example, on Sunday we had to go to Mass on campus instead of St. Peter’s, since it was a lot easier to walk up to FUS. Well, as we reached the chapel, we ran into a good friend of ours from Wisconsin, who we haven’t seen since she graduated in May! That was a huge present and gift from God-life is such a great adventure!
There’s the old adage, “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.” I beg to differ slightly on this-because we don’t have to “try and make the best of things;” what we need to do is trust God and see how He’s working! He always does incredible work in all difficulties that come along, and we should take joy in this!

When life hands you lemons, God makes lemonade-and He wants you to enjoy it!

Monday, August 11, 2014

So We Got Married a Year Ago...

Sunday, August 10, 2014. One year of marriage.
This past year has flown by, and it has been the most incredible year of my life. Being united to Jacob sacramentally is mindblowingly awesome. In fact, I can't even find all of the words to express just how wondrous marriage is, and how fabulous this year has been. So I'll just keep this simple. 

One year of marriage!!!!!!!
When many people have asked Jacob or myself "how married life" is, we always give the same answer: Peaceful. Marriage is so peaceful--that joyful peace that bubbles up throughout the day consistently, despite all hardships that come along. It's the peace of living out one's vocation day-to-day. I always tell people who are having "discernment problems" that what I've found is wherever you experience the deepest true peace is probably your vocation. After all, our God is the Prince of Peace. I was talking with a religious sister several months back, and she totally understood what I was getting at. She told me that she, too, experiences that deep peace in her life in the convent. No matter what, my husband and I have the peaceful security that we are united to each other, and God is guiding us both closer towards Him. It's so good! Prior to marriage, I thought that being married college students would be insanely crazy. Life was already crazy, and adding marriage to the mix? Whoa...But, I was surprised to find that the peacefulness of living out the vocation and dedicating our days to God caused/still causes our life to be filled with peace. We are so blessed!

I began to learn many things during our engagement, and I've continued to grow in those areas throughout marriage. One of these is perspective. In Europe during our engagement, I learned that, despite how lame it was that we literally had no money in Assisi (irony!), putting things into perspective revealed that it wasn't that big of a deal in the long run and we still had an awesome trip. Even though I open the fridge to make dinner and discover that those 3 lbs of beef were rancid-and thus not able to become our dinner-in the long run, it's not that big of a deal. Despite the fact that becoming car-less is a bit of a rough adjustment and not as much fun as having a car, in the entirety of our marriage, it really won't matter. Jacob is super calm, and always helps me to put things into perspective (since I'm a very passionate sanguine, and will act like rancid beef is the end of the world!). Keeping things into perspective and living in the present moment is vital to marriage, because I've learned that no matter what inconveniences come along, our marriage and relationship with God is the most important! And He will always provide for us! 

Marriage is also extremely fun, joyful, and youthful (I'm pretty sure my husband and I have both gotten younger in this past year), and all-around fabulous! Being a married college student is an amazing, incredible blessing, something which I'll probably blog about some other time.

In the past few months and weeks, many people have asked, "What are you guys planning/what did you do for your anniversary?"

We had decided to have an "anniversary week," and do lots of fun activities throughout the week. Because really, celebrating a whole year of marriage shouldn't just restrict itself to one day (I mean, we basically celebrate marriage every day). Since our car got totaled on Wednesday, we had the huge blessing of Jacob getting some extra time off of work (since he couldn't drive into work) to have adventures!

Examining the map to find a geocache!
The special geocache that Jacob made for me! 
Then, on Friday, we went geocaching, which we had been planning on for about a week. Jacob had found maps for a couple potential caches on campus, though they were pretty old, so we didn't know if we'd find anything. Using our first map, we looked and looked and found a cache! It was pretty small, but finding it and signing the log was super exciting! Two of the other maps we had must have been pretty old, because we didn't find caches. But a fourth map was incredibly thrilling. Following the map, Jacob and I walked over to a path that leads from Assisi Heights to the edge of campus. Jacob and I began searching along the path, and we finally decoded a message that gave a hint, telling us to look along the bottom of a fence. I kept looking and looking, and finally I found it: a plastic container that had a paper labeled "Geocache." I was beyond pumped! Then, I opened up the cache, and found a letter and started reading it. Well this is awkward, some random person left a love note to his or her girlfriend in a geocache? I don't want to read another person's love letter! (did I mention I can be pretty blonde?) Jacob walked over, flipped over the paper, and I saw my name! He had made a completely fake map and coded hint to a geocache that he planted for me! What a great husband! 

In the midst of outdoor adventures and lots of boardgames, we also had planned a special celebration for Sunday. We had a Star Wars movie and dinner! IT WAS SO AWESOME!!!!!!! We ate food from the movies while watching Episode Five, "The Empire Strikes Back." Can I just say it was extremely epic?

Our feast!!!!
L-R: Storebough rice cracker things (which Leia gives to
the Ewoks), Rootleaf Stew (Yoda makes it in Episode 5), Leia Buns
(giant cinnamon rolls), and Sarlacc Pit Pizza Dip!

Jacob did the detail work on this, and it
looked so awesome!!!

 Only the best from a short green Jedi Master!
 So there's a little sampling of our life right now, I hope you enjoyed reading about it! And if any of you are dying to try Yoda's stew, check out the recipe!

Rootleaf Stew, as created by Chef Craig Claiborne, who was invited to create the recipe during a campaign for the Episode Five radio dramatization.

3 pounds lean lamb or other meat
Salt to taste, if desired
Freshly ground pepper to taste
6 tablespoons oil (light corn, vegetable or other)
6 cups finely chopped parsley
3 cups thinly sliced onions
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 tablespoons finely minced ginger root
1 teaspoon finely chopped seeded hot green or red chilies
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 bay leaf
3 pounds fresh spinach, well rinsed, tough stems removed

1) Cut the meat into 1" (one inch) cubes; add salt and pepper to taste.
2) Heat half the oil in a heavy skilet and add the meat until the pieces turn brown on all sides.
3) Heat the remaining oil in a Dutch oven or heavy casserole and add parsley, onions, and garlic. Cook, stirring often, until the onions are wilted. Add the meat, coriander, cumin, turmeric, ginger root, chilies, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, bay leaf, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir.
4) Add water to cover, bring to boil and cover tightly. Let simmer about 2 to 2 1/2 hours until the meat is quite tender. (we had to add water after an hour or so. But I've seen some posts on the internet where people like it with less water, to serve over rice. So it's probably a matter of preference!)
5) Meanwhile, drop the spinach into a kettle of boiling water with salt to taste and let simmer about 5 minutes. Drain well and run under cold water. Drain thoroughly.
6) Squeeze the spinach to remove all excess liquid. Place the spinach on a chopping block and chop coarsely.
7) Add the spinach to the stew and stir. Let simmer together about 5 minutes. Yield: 8 servings.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

As Summer Flies By...

Our Lady of Snows, pray for us!
Happy Feast of the Dedication of St. Mary Major! One of the reasons why Catholicism is awesome is that we celebrate the dedication of some churches! And Mary, the Theotokos. J It’s great. Don't know much about the feast? Check out this awesome blog that a friend of mine runs!

It’s hard to believe, but that time of year has come. The time when the Steubenville Kroger and Walmart see an increase in sales, when professional carpet cleaning service trucks clean out the rentals in LaBelle, and when students trickle back to The Hill in waves—ResLife, O-Team, new students, and returning students.

Where has the summer gone?

Life just flies by, and it’s an insane ride. Looking back on this summer, I’ve noticed some things I haven’t done (write freelance and try to publish it? Yeah…no, that didn’t happen…Figure out what I’m doing my thesis on this semester? Umm…I’ll get back to you on that J) but even more so the things I have done. I think it’s really important for people to see what they have accomplished. Yes, it’s good to see where we came up short, and to work on those areas. But to look at what we’ve done, and what God has done in us, is extraordinary!

I crocheted Doctors 9, 10, and 11 for my older
brother's birthday a few weeks back. Yet another
summer adventure: learning to crochet : ) 

Just reflecting on my own summer, there were so many incredible elements: Beautiful conversations with household sisters and other friends. Outdoor adventures with Jacob. Board games with Jacob. Chicken-sitting for a couple of weeks. Reading Confessions of St. Augustine (awesome, but got to be a bit confusing-trying to explain time and God’s eternity? Yipes!), Love and Responsibility (highly, highly, highly encourage you to pick this up!) and a ton of other books. Having the time to blog here a bit more. Watching Series 1-7 of Doctor Who. Increasing prayer time and just simply enjoying the world around me. Making and eating “summery foods.” Finally getting around to reading more Chesterton (I just started The Ball and the Cross. It’s fabulous!) Celebrating one year of awesomeness as a married couple!!!!! (Our wedding anniversary is this Sunday, and we’re basically celebrating it all week.) And so many other wonderful things…

Some of my textbooks for the fall!!!! SO PUMPED!!!!!!
Thankfully, the summer isn’t over yet-classes don’t start until the end of the month. But, seeing how quickly summer will end is giving me a burst of enthusiasm to work harder on relaxing, learning, playing, and overall enjoying my many summer activities. Though don’t get me wrong, I’m also pumped for classes. My textbooks have been coming in the mail, and I’m so pumped!

Whether you start school in a couple weeks or a month (or out of school), I encourage you to look over the wondrous things that God has worked within you over the summer, and to seize these final days of break with joy and gusto! Let us always rededicate our entire lives to Him, and excitedly embrace every gift that He sends us each day!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Our Daily Strength and Food

Happy Monday and Happy Feast of St. John Vianney!

Here's our quotation from the Diary of St. Faustina for the week: 

"I find myself so weak that were it not for Holy Communion I would fall continually.  One thing alone sustains me, and that is Holy Communion.  From it I draw my strength; in it is all my comfort.  I fear life on days when I do not receive Holy Communion.  I fear my own self.  Jesus concealed in the Host is everything to me.  From the tabernacle I draw strength, power, courage and light.  Here, I seek consolation in time of anguish.  I would not know how to give glory to God if I did not have the Eucharist in my heart."
(Notebook III, #1037)

This week, let's all try to meditate on the incredible gift of the Eucharist that God gives to us! If you can, maybe you could try to make it to Adoration or an extra Mass this week! 

"What does Jesus Christ do in the Eucharist? It is God who, as our Savior, offers himself each day for us to His Father's justice. If you are in difficulties and sorrows, He will comfort and relieve you. If you are sick, He will either cure you or give you strength to suffer so as to merit Heaven. If the devil, the world, and the flesh are making war upon you, He will give you the weapons with which to fight, to resist, and to win victory. If you are poor, He will enrich you with all sorts of riches for time and eternity. Let us open the door of His sacred and adorable Heart, and be wrapped about for an instant by the flames of His love, and we shall see what a God who loves us can do. O my God, who shall be able to comprehend?"
~St. John Vianney