Monday, December 30, 2013

Books of 2013 and a Look to 2014.

So I made my goal and read 13 books in 2013.  It probably wouldn't have happened if this summer I didn't nanny for a nap alot infant.  Honestly I don't know how some of you busy moms are able to be such vivacious readers. Well I do know how, you make it a priority, but I digress. Anyway I just wanted to get excited one more time for my 13 books in 2013 and look to the future.

I don't really have a set goal for 2014 except a lame goal of 14 books.  However I do really like keeping track of books on this here bloggity both to review great things I read but also to keep track of titles I have read for my own sake.  So once again I will be making a 2014 book list. Besides I have no idea what reading will look like in a real 40 hour a week nursing job starting this year.

Happy Reading in 2014.
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Saturday, December 28, 2013

"Most" Posts of 2013

Sarah over at Amongst Lovely Things (please go check out her blog she has the darnest kids   (including baby twins) and is a great photographer) is hosting a link up of the "most" posts in 2013.  I personally really enjoy end of the year post that link back to posts throughout the year and we all know I am a sucker for link-ups.  Hope you enjoy looking back with me at the "most" posts of 2013. 

Post with the most clicks

I am not really sure why but my post with the most clicks is my "God in Austria: Introduction" post.  It makes me realize that I want  to write more posts about my trips and life in Austria. 
Post with the most comments

Its a tie for most comments.  The Not Alone Series Introduction and the What I Wore Sunday (Vol. 13).  Why that particular WIWS I will never know.  

Post with the best picture

Really you are going to ask me this? This was so hard to pick between and I was able to narrow it down to two.  The first is the picture that I say in the post is my favorite of my roommate in this What I Wore Sunday post.  Isn't she just beautiful?! And then the second one I would have to say is from the post about one of my best friend's wedding which I was a bridesmaid for.  The picture we sent to her now husband before the ceremony has to be a favorite. 

Post that was hardest to write

Ok this one is really hard because if it is hard to write I tend to just not write it.  I am very adamant that this blog is not a journal and thus my heart and intense intimate thoughts aren't smeared all over the blogsphere.  Despite that I would say there are alot of my Not Alone Series posts that were challenging to write so that I didn't smear my heart all over the internet but I still wanted to to encourage woman and let them know they are not alone.  Some posts were easier than others but some of them were darn hard. 

Post that was your personal favorite (not your readers' favorite- your favorite)

Another double.  How can you pick just one.  The first one is less about the post and more about the crazy excitement that I know existed while writing it.  That would be my post right before we left for the airport to travel to Haiti.  Ignore the crappy picture and know that there was so much excitement getting ready to begin another adventure to Haiti.  God is so good to me. 

And the second one is just an honest Not Alone Series Post about settling or the lack there of.  Go over and tell me if you agree that it ranks up in the favorites. 

I hope you enjoyed looking back at 2013 with me.  I will also be doing a little update to my 13 books in 2013 and I look forward to another year of writing and reading here in the blog world.  

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Monday, December 23, 2013

Purposely Waiting: Singlehood

I was at WalMart today buying a last Chirstmas wish add on of my mother's and the store was a bustling.  As we all decorate the last cookies, wear the ugly Christmas sweater again, and attend another holiday related event I want us not to forget that it is still Advent and we still wait in stillness for the baby Jesus.  Advent related to the single season of our lives is actually one of the things I originally planned on touching on with this Purposely Waiting series so I cannot let Advent come to a close without writing about it.

Last Advent this post on Captive the Heart blog really impacted me.  In particular this line,
"Know this: that every desire you feel for your husband-to-be, emotional, rational, and yes, sexual, is so good and so holy...All through your Advent, embrace the groaning.  Give yourself permission to feel, to hope, and to be purified."
I have literally come back to that line over and over again this whole past year.  Allow yourself to want that vocation, that marriage, that husband, that family. Advent is all about waiting for, anticipating, and preparing for the Christ child.  What better period of time to be purified in what the single years and waiting for marriage mean.  As Advent comes to an end, if you are single, hope for the Christmas with your own little family and pray that your heart is made ready for the Sacrament of Marriage.  Happy last few days of Advent.
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Monday, December 16, 2013

Purposely Waiting: Mary

The stomach flu hit, and it hit me good.  It wasn't even the stomach that hit so hard as the flu.  It explains my unschool related quietness around this here bloggity but I return with more Advent ponderings. 

If there is one thing about Advent that comes back into my prayer and heart over and over again it would have to be Mary.  I know I am not unique in this.  How can you not think of the Mother when you contemplate the Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes laying in a manager.  Luke 1 and 2 is filtered with references to Our Lady.  And there is so much goodness we can gain from meditating on Mary while purposefully waiting this Advent season.

Our Lady wasn't unlike any pregnant woman, waiting for her baby to be born.  I am sure she imagined all that he would be and prepared her heart and home to welcome baby Jesus.  Christ was conceived and carried in her very body.  We too must invite Jesus into our hearts and carry him there for when Jesus is part of our life we conceive new life.  We are lucky as Catholics that in a very real way we welcome the Body of Christ into our bodies-what a gift we have!  Please, next time you receive the Eucharist reflect on the parallels between yourself and Mary.  Ask her to show you what it means to wait, what it means to purposefully wait for the Infant Jesus.  

Friday, December 13, 2013

Purposefully Waiting: Getting Back to Waiting.

Linking up with my linkup, "Advent:Purposefully Waiting".  I hope you will go be enriched by other bloggers posts and post up your own reflections on the season of Advent. 

Guys my shoulders are so sore.  Nope not because I did a steller workout (hardy hard hard) or lifted a crazy number of heavy boxes.  My shoulders are sore from all the studying I have done for the past 5+ days and once I let the stress disappear and my tension release I was left with some sore muscles.  People, that is Pathetic with a a capital P.  Now that those finals are behind me (and I passed another semester if I do say so myself, one more to go!), I can get back to entering into advent in a purposeful, prayerful way.

When I was able to sneak away for those moments of entering into Scripture and meditating on this season the past week, the Lord rewarded me so greatly.  I wanted to highlight a couple of those passages for you here.

"And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen as it had been told them." Luke 2:20

I am a senior at Franciscan University and part of being a senior means preparing yourself to leave a University where you grow so much in your faith.  This piece of the Living Word spoke so much to this.  At Franciscan, at the Mass you attended last Tuesday or in the moment you stole away to enter into prayer the Lord speaks to you in ways that are treasured.  We must like the shepherds, turn then giving glory and praise to God.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I traveled home last week for one of my best friend's dad's funeral.  The whole situation stunk real bad and I am still trying to process it all.  However, the following verses bring hope in a faithful soul's departure out of this world.   Simon, who had been promised by the Lord that he would not die without first seeing the Savior, speaks poetic words of faithfulness, trust, and hope upon holding the Child Jesus in his arms.

"Lord, now lettest thou they servant depart in peace, according to thy word; for mine eyes have seen thy salvation which thou hast prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to they people Israel." Luke 2:29-32 

I hope and pray that when the time comes for the Lord to call me to heaven I can praise the Lord for the salvation He has shown in my life and the lives of those around me.

The Lord is so faithful and if He whispers to you to quiet your heart and life it means there are things He wants to place into your heart and life.  I pray that you and I continue to enter into this blessed season of Advent.  
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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Five Stages of Finals and Regular Programing

Guys these finals are killing me.  I have my last one tomorrow, Thursday, morning and it can't come soon enough.  Well really it would be great if more hours could be added to the day so that I know that I know endocrine disorders, shock and other things that you never want to happen to you.  But really I just want it all to be in the past.  

I have so many advent thoughts to share with those who care to listen so expect once I get home for me to be sitting in front of the fire with a cup of coffee/tea/wine and spilling it all out here on the bloggity.  Until then I leave you with the 5 stages of finals.  

1.  Denial.  Coming back from Thanksgiving break you try to deny that finals week is coming.  It can't possibly be that time again, can it? 

2. Anger.  Oh my gosh it is finals week again! No student deserves to suffer through this! Why did my parents ever instil in me a sense of achievement?! 

3. Bargaining.  Ok Lord, if I drink this large cup of coffee I will have 2 more hours of productive, focused studying time.  If I offer this next hour of studying up for my friends'/family's/pope's intentions I will for sure get an A.

4. Depression.  There is no way life is worse than this.  This is miserable.  There is no possible way I can do this for another minute/hour/day.  

5. Acceptance.  Life will go on.  I will finish these finals and I will pass all my classes.  Soon enough I will be watching way too many hours of television, drinking coffee because I want to not because I have to and sitting mindlessly under the Christmas tree.  

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

In Memory

So I know I said I would only be doing Advent related posts but whats rules if you are not going to break them.

I am actually home from school sitting at my parent's kitchen table.  One of my best friend's from home dad died this Saturday.  He fought a year plus battle with brain cancer and a cure was not to be.  I am angry I am home, not because I don't want to be here for the wake and funeral, because really there is no other place I could be with this going on, but because I am angry that a friend's dad dying even exists. All three of my best friends are in town for the first time since my friend's wedding, for a funeral.  How much does that stink?  However I am thankful that we have been able to pull together over the past year to support my friend and pray for her dad.  I am thankful that he was able to see one of his daughters graduate college and the other high school.  I am thankful he got to be with his family for a whole year before the cancer completely took over.  I am glad that he is no longer in pain and suffering but is rejoicing with the angels in heaven.  I post this because I ask that you keep his family in your prayers as they continue living when someone they love no longer is.
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Monday, December 2, 2013

Advent: Purposefully Waiting

Oh I am excited about this, really excited.  I love the liturgical seasons of the Church.  They are purposeful, rich and an incredible gift.  If we just float through the seasons without purposefully embracing them we are missing out on so much the Church, the Body of Christ, has for us. Advent is no exception.  It is a time for us to wait for the newborn King.  To enter into the same waiting the Blessed Mother experienced.  To wait for the baby in the stable and to wait for the return of Christ at the end of time.  Advent is filled with so much secularism and if we aren't purposeful about celebrating the liturgical season of Advent we will get to Christmas not knowing where the season went.  We need to be purposeful.  I suggest we need to purposefully wait.

I have decided to be deliberate in celebrating Advent this year and I want this here bloggity to reflect that.  During Advent I will not be posting anything that isn't related to Advent and growing closer to Jesus.  I will not be participating in any link-ups that don't have to do with the true meaning of the Christmas season.  Outside of this blog I will be reading parts of Luke 2 everyday.  I will try to quiet and still my heart in the midst of finals and holiday celebrations.  Each day I will be spending time purposefully prayerfully entering into the season.  I want this blog during Advent to inspire and encourage you in your own Advent walk.  I will post lyrics, verses, quotes, Advent related to singlehood, and Our Lady's Advent.  I want to say I will post at least twice a week but that defeats the whole point.  I will have a link up with this post so that if you are writing about the season of Advent you can link up (however many posts you have) and our Advent can be enriched by your words. We can be so tempted to only post about the gifts, the outfits, the food but I encourage you to be deliberate and write about the liturgical season too.

I want you and I to quiet our hearts and life.  To reflect on the grandour that is the King of the Universe entering the world through a humble woman and laid to bed in straw. I want all of us to purposefully wait this Advent.

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Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013

I was so blessed to bring home a friend from school this year for Thanksgiving.  Being from Texas, going home wasn't in the cards this year for her.  I have had fun showing her around my town and we still have a few more days for shopping, Great Lakes Brewery, and maybe the Cleveland tree lighting ceremony.  

Here is what we wore for Turkey Day 

Thanksgiving is all about being thankful.  I am thankful for another year at Franciscan, my parents who keep me laughing, my household sisters, being able to in a very real way be the hands and feet of Christ caring for my patients, and for the Lord always drawing me to deeper intamicy with Him.  I am excited for another year of blessings which God willing will include college graduation and a big kid job.  Also, I have come to honestly be thankful for the community on this here bloggity-especially those who comment and the NAS ladies.  

Make sure to come back on Sunday.  I will be introducing an Advent series I am really excited about called "Purposefully Waiting". Start thinking about the ways you can deliberately live Advent this year.  

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

NAS: Surviving Parties

If you have been around this blog since the beginning of the summer than you may remember that I went to five weddings between the beginning of July and the middle of September.  I have had to attend my share of events as a single person and there is no sugar coating it, it can stink.   I vividly remembering driving to a wedding alone where I would only know a handful of people and stressing over the fact that I may not know anyone once I got there.   Defiantly a situation where I wish I had a date so that I would at least have him to chat with.  So big events, yeah I wish I had a date.

Casual parties are a whole nother story.  I never really go to a party that I don't know anyone.  I know how to small talk and talk to pretty much anyone about anything.  I love being about to move around mingling, laughing and getting to know alot of the people at the party. So small causal gatherings I have never even had a second thought going alone.

I started reading some of your ladies entries and I have to say I have never had anyone make a comment about me being single.  Yes small intimate gatherings with some ladies a comment may have been made but honestly more of my friends are single than are not.  I think if someone random ever made a single comment I would be flustered and have not respond with as much grace as I may wish.  You ladies are awesome for sometimes having to deal with that.

So I feel like I didn't let you guys in on anything profound or insightful but there are my thoughts on surviving parties as a single person.  

I will be sad not to hear from all you of you on a weekly bases but please follow my blog and instagram and I will be sure to follow you so that we can all keep in contact over the blessed Christmas season.  

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Thursday, November 14, 2013

7QT (Vol. 21)

So I haven't been around this here bloggity lately, chalk it up to life.  However I keep putting interesting articles and videos into a draft post so alot of these are random tidbits that I want to pass on.

So this weeks Not Alone Series topic was Vulnerability with Friends and I totally thought I was going to be alone in my ideas about the topic but virtually everyone wrote about the exact same thing.  That is just something awesome about the Not Alone Series.  Here is my thoughts on the topic and go check out all the ladies' thoughts at Morgan's blog.

So Breast Cancer month is over but I wanted to pass on this article because it makes you stop and think exactly how you are supporting women with breast cancer.  I don't want to get in a debate or hurt anyone but I do want to bring up the fact that some big breast cancer awareness associations give money to Planned Parenthood knowing that Planned Parenthood hands out oral hormonal contraceptives and performs abortions which we know directly sky rockets your chance of getting Breast Cancer.  Just something to think about when you consider how to support the cause.

Ahh this article, just makes you excited about life!

I may or may not have cried watching this video when the mom listens to her daughter's heart recipient. Grab some tissues, its a tear jerker.

Want more tears, here watch this one too.  Something about adoption stories just always makes me weep.

So I know all your moms out there will roll your eyes because I know you have it soooo much worse with all your little kiddos but this time change hit me hard.  I know it is only an hour but I felt like I was off for a week.  I wonder how I adjusted to the 6 hour Austria time change so easily.

My household, Regina Angelorum, is on retreat this week so please please keep us in your prayers.  This is going to be a really fruitful and blessed retreat so we need all the prayers we can get!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

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"Best of Fall" Cara Box

Cara Box

I think the new Cara Box rules, hosted over at Wiffessionals, are brillant.  Getting to know another blogger over the course of three months rather than one just makes sense and makes life a little less crazy.

This round I sent a box to Mandy over @Through the Hansen's Lens. And received one from Nicole @Letters from Nicole.  Nicole was so sweet and sent me an awesome package! (Sorry for the awful Iphone quality but the peeps are already gone so no DSLR photo for you)

Isn't it lovely!  She hit it right on the dot with this package.  Lighting candles is one of my favorite things to do.  I still can't light it here in the dorm but I can't wait to use it at home or next fall.  The journal will defiantly be filled and always needed.  I have never tried the Starbucks Via coffee but I am excited to try them.  The fact that the peeps are already gone says something.  I already have one EOS chapstick but I love having another one in a different scent to change it up. And the travel mug, yeah defiantly will be used.  

Thanks Nicole for the great package!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

NAS: Vulnerability with Friends

Do you find that your non-single friends struggle with relating to you or vice versa? If so, in what ways? How do you handle it? What is something that you would like them to know or understand that they just don't seem to get?

Oh this one is rough.  I would say that I do not struggle with relating to my non-single friends as much as say that often I feel replaced by my friend's new boyfriends (normally by the time wedding bells ring they figure the balance out).  You know your friend talks to you all the time about waiting for the right guy, then about how much she likes this guy, and then about how awesome the first date was and before you know it that friend is talking about everything with the boy rather than you.  Yeah being "replaced" stings.   

However, not all friends have done this to me.  These friends I find have healthier relationships that don't allow the current guy to become their whole life.  They know when they need to spend quality time with their boyfriend/fiance and when to still spend time with their girl friends.  Many friends are so encouraging to me whether one of us has a significant other or not.   These friends encourage me in staying authentic and growing in my relationship with the Lord. 

So what is the simple answer to the questions?  Sometimes their is a struggle with a friend in a relationship relating to me as a single woman but more often not.  If there is a struggle it is because I feel like they replace me. I haven't yet figured out a way to handle it because I struggle with confrontation, even holy good confrontation. I would want these friends to stay deeply rooted in the Lord, and to keep their relationship deeply rooted in the Lord because when this happens balance tends to flow naturally.    

Have you ever felt replaced?  I can't wait to read you other ladies' thoughts!
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Monday, November 4, 2013

Reads: My Life with the Saints

I finished this book forever ago but I am just now getting around to reviewing it.  I of course blame this thing called school.  And guess what this is my 13th book in my "13 Books in 13" Challenge.  The confetti is falling and the balloons are being released as we speak.

Well now that that is done on with My Life with the Saints.  (affiliate link if any of you would like to be so kind and buy it.) Most of this book was read while I was still nannying-oh that seems like a different life hanging out with my little 4 month old.  I choose this book because my mom already owned it and I thought if I liked My Sisters the Saints so much I would enjoy this book too.  I was right.

I love with both of these books I can learn so much about saints in a story format.  This book comes from a priest's perspective versus My Sisters the Saints which is written from a young woman's perspective.

Just like My Sisters the Saints, I would recommend this book to anyone especially if you want to grow closer to the saints.

Have you read either of these books?

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Five Favorites: App Edition

I am cleaning out my draft folder so get ready for a few random posts.  

Confession:  Hi my name is Natalie, I am a 23 year old college student and I freak out a little if I don't have my phone with me for any length of time.

Typical. So my five favorites this week are my Five Favorite I-Phone Apps.


Call me a hipster but one of my favorite apps is Instagram, affectionately refereed to as "the 'gram".  I can't get enough of it. 

The Nike + app. I really like knowing how many miles I have run and how fast.  Now if only I could run more miles faster.  

Bloglovin'.  I hate that I can't seem to leave comments through my iphone but I like that I can read blogs anywhere anytime in such an easy to read format.  


TMI ALERT.  Another favorite is the MyFertilityMD app.  I actually paid nearly $10 for this app but it was so worth it.  It is a very professional app that allows you to chart your cycles using the Creighton Model.  It has great resources including Ask the Doctor options and informational videos and FAQs.

What kind of young adult would I be if I didn't mention Snapchat?  Why is it so great to send pictures to all your friends that can only be viewed for 10 seconds?  Who knows all I know is it makes the top 5 list. 

Honorable Mentions:
Lippincott's Review for NCLEX

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

NAS: Settling

I am sitting at home during my All Saint's Break (we take passionately Catholic seriously :) ) in my parent's Ikea Poang chair and am really excited to spend some time blogging and catching up on reading the last few weeks of the Not Alone Series so if you get comments on old posts you know why.

Ugh settling.  I don't think that word should be included in any conversation also concerning the words "holiness", "heaven", or "deeper conversion".  If we want heaven, if we want holiness, we can never settle. (See Blessed Pier Giorgio) Instead we must always be striving for deeper conversion, for more growth in our relationship with Jesus.  If our vocation and our husband are part of our path to heaven than settling here too is not an option.

I recently went on a vocations retreat with the TOR Sisters (check them out on Facebook) and at the end of the retreat I was talking with one of the sisters (who I had known from my time in Austria) all about how the retreat defiantly brought me so much peace and certainty that I am called to the vocation of marriage.  As the conversation continued, sister just said "but Natalie how are you going to make sure you get a "good" guy."  I smiled.  I have a heart that is ready to lay down my life for my marriage and family and I want to love, honor, and serve my husband.  It is scary to think of laying down my life for someone else and it not being reciprocal (talk about how Jesus feels but I digress). But all I can do is pray and trust.   The Lord will not let me settle.  He will put into my path a guy who will lay down his life for me, who will live in imitation of Jesus, who will treat me as a prized jewel, and who will live marriage on the path to heaven with me (will he fall short?-of course!).  I am not going to settle for anything less because I know the Lord wants heaven for me.  I need to trust that the Lord is bigger than any game of chance.  Each day I ask Our Lady to intercede for me and bring me a man who will walk with me to heaven.  

I challenge you. You too pray to Our Lady asking her to rid your mind of thoughts of settling, to show you your worth, and to lead you to the man who will lay down his life for you, because you are worth nothing less.   
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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

NAS: Patience

Heroic Patience. Defiantly not one of Our Lady's easy virtues.  "Be patient" is hard to hear but especially for a woman who so badly wants to be a wife and mother.  I am not going to pretend like I have any answers, that I have it easier than any other woman because I am only 23 or that I have it any harder because I am already 23.  I am going to encourage you-encourage you to remain grounded in the Lord, to trust, and to make sure you know that I am praying for you.  You aren't the first or last person that lacks in patience but I do know you are not the first person that the Lord has forgotten about.  It really isn't surprising that we struggle waiting for our Vocations to start.  If we believe that our Vocations can and should lead us to heaven than of course we want to start walking down that path to heaven, that path that leads to eternal praise of the Lord.  I am confident that it is all worth it in the end.
Ladies, I am here for you to vent to, I encourage you, and I am praying for you.
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Monday, October 21, 2013

WIWS (Vol. 31)

Joining the FLAP ladies because I knew you are just dying to see dorm mirror pictures.  

Dress: Old Navy 
Sweater: Cardigan 
Boots: DSW
Hair: New found love for the .5"-1" Curling Wand 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Color Run-Pittsburgh

Photo dump from the Color Run I ran in Pittsburgh last Saturday.

Over the summer Maggie and I would always snapchat each other pictures pre, during, and post running but this was our first time actually running together!!

Maggie's First 5K!!

Me before the race!!

Three angels waiting to start!!

Our Team

After the race.  Some rain caused a mess of colors. 

Three sisters post race.
"Therefore since we are surrounded so so great a cloud of witnesses let us lay aside every weight and sin which clings so closely and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us." Hebrews 12:1

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