Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Wisdom for Wednesdays

"Out upon the snowy fields
There’s a silent peace that heals
And it echoes the grace of our Savior’s embrace
Because hope was born this night."

-lyrics to Hope Was Born This Night, by Sidewalk Prophets

(Prepare Him room, dear friends. One more week until we celebrate His birth. May we open ourselves to the gifts of peace, grace, and hope that He offers.)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

We Still Sing

"Sing we now of Christmas
Sing we all Noel
Of the Lord and Savior
We the tidings tell."

Eight of us met that night for Christmas caroling at the nursing home. What an incredibly beautiful experience. Though Christmas was still ten days away, it felt as if Christmas came to us that night.

Or maybe not Christmas...but Christ who came and was indeed in our midst.

We walked through the dimly lit halls, eight voices lifted in song, altos and sopranos mingling in harmony. As we passed each room, we would pause at the door to finish the song, then ask for any requests. "Silent Night" was the one most often chosen--for who isn't touched by the holy wonder of that song?

Later as I reflected on the gifts of girlfriends and kindness and music, I realized the evening held even deeper meaning behind it...

Click here to read the rest of this article at The Catholic Young Woman

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Go and Be Healed

We stood for the Gospel as we always do at Mass, out of love and respect for the powerful words of Jesus. It was Thanksgiving Day. The church was packed with people who had come to thank the good Giver. I was squished comfortably nestled between my brothers in the pew.

I was thankful. But I was broken. And raw.

My focus was simply on getting through one day at a time, yet the question still lingered.

Where do I go from here?

I don't want to go anywhere. I want my knight to come rescue me...except that my knight broke up with me. That never happens in fairy tales.

Then the priest began to read from the Gospel, from the Book that is better than any fairy tale ever written…

On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Sama'ria and Galilee.
And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance
and lifted up their voices and said, "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us."
When he saw them he said to them, "Go and show yourselves to the priests." And as they went they were cleansed.
Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice,
and he fell on his face at Jesus' feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan.
Then said Jesus, "Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine?
Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?"
And he said to him, "Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well." -Luke 17:11-19

He said to them, "Go." And they went. Then they were healed. They had to step out in faith before they received their healing. Imagine their faith and trust in Jesus...leprosy sores all over them as they began their journey. What if they got to the high priests and the sores were still there? If no healing had taken place? Did they wonder that? Or did they simply trust in Jesus' command to "Go" and know that somehow, some way, as they journeyed...He would heal them.

The lesson wasn't lost on me. In all my pain and confusion and heartache, I wanted to curl up and wait for healing--or answers-- before I kept going. But Jesus asks me to trust Him. To keep going and trust that He is here and that the healing is a process.

It takes faith to 'go' when we're not sure what will happen on the way. It takes faith to walk when we're limping. To stand up when we're bleeding. To trust when we're hurting.

But faith makes us well, Jesus tells us (verse 19).

So we step out in faith and we keep going.

The healing is coming. And the Healer is with us.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

7 Quick Takes Friday...on a Saturday [Take 5]

Christmas tree lit. Candles flickering. Hot chocolate steaming (made with almond milk today for a change. It's delish-- kinda nutty and chocolate-y at the same time). And a few free hours all to myself.'s been a crazy week so this. feels. wonderful.
Today I worked at our community's free health clinic. I sign up for it every so often and I love it every time. It's really touching to meet the people who come there for care. I'm inspired by their openness, trust, and gratitude. A group of college students help us with the paperwork and with bringing patients back. I love college kids, so it's a lot of fun to hang out with them and to hear about their majors and such. I missed them today--most of them were already on their Christmas break.
(Just a minute. Need another sip of that amazing hot chocolate.)

Last night my dear girlfriends came over for a Christmas party. My one Christmas party of the season that I was hosting...and it started out completely unlike I had planned! I got home from work much later than usual because I ended up in the Emergency Room with someone (all is well now, but please say a quick prayer for their health!). My sweet girls were so understanding and kind. They even made my stuffed mushroom recipe while I changed clothes! Normally, I love hosting and want everything to be just right, but this was a great lesson for me. I was just thankful all turned out okay at the ER and it didn't really matter that the party wasn't perfect. We had a beautiful time caroling at the local nursing home and then came back to my apartment for snacks and a white elephant gift exchange (and lots and lots of talking).

I went to a zumba class with my friend K. on Monday. Wow. So ridiculously fun. There were probably around 75 women and many different ages. I messed up sometimes and laughed a lot of times. The upbeat music and friendly women made for an enjoyable night of, working out. Can exercise really be this fun? (although I'm making up for it now! Pretty sore these last few days...)

I home-made my Christmas cards this year and I'm almost finished mailing them out. I love the old-fashioned thoughtfulness of snail mail in the midst of this technology age. There's nothing like handwriting a message, sealing the envelope with a cute sticker, and knowing that someone will be opening and reading that same card in a couple days across the city, or state, or country.


I'm getting my feet wet with training for the crisis pregnancy center. This past week was overwhelming with the amount of protocols, policies, and paperwork to learn, but I knew that would be the case so I'm okay with it. There was one moment that made it all worth it--when a girl close to my age came in asking for a pregnancy test. I looked into her eyes and I recognized the emotions of fear and uncertainty. I knew we were not so different no matter how different our circumstances might be. I knew this was exactly where I wanted to be. To tell her and other sisters like her what every one of us needs to hear sometimes: you are safe. You are loved. You are precious. And I am here for you.

Remember this dear friend? She called this week and left a message inviting me to visit for an evening of spending time together...along with some cheese fondue. Just thinking about it warms my heart and relaxes my soul...and makes me kinda hungry, too!

Last night we girls talked and prayed about the tragedy of the school shooting in Connecticut. My brain can't even wrap around the unimaginable details of it. I don't have words. I really don't. I just feel fragments of thoughts and unfinished sentences in my mind. About Christmas for those families. About loss and death and mental illness. About our world and what kind of pain or torture leads a person to commit such horrors. About the demons that prowl about (1 Peter 5:8) seeking to destroy. Father, be with the people of Newton. Send your Spirit the Comforter to them. Hold those precious little children close to your heart.

Every day of life is such a gift. I'm reminded of this and it sobers me, silences me, slows me. Whatever stress, heartache, or uncertainties are in my life or in yours...we have this breath, this moment alive. And it's a gift. So as one of my favorite-godly-women-ever reminds me and the young adults (C.), "Take a deep breath. Breathe in all your heart's breathe out in surrender."
It all comes from Him. And even in senseless tragedy, we know He is good. So we trust Him. And we surrender.
"Be still and know that I am God." -Psalm 46:10

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Wisdom for Wednesdays

After all, You are constant
After all, You are only good
After all, You are sovereign
Not for a moment will You forsake me

You were singing in the dark
Whispering Your promise
Even when I could not hear
I was held in Your arms
Carried for a thousand miles to show
Not for a moment did You forsake me

And every step, every breath, you are there
Every tear, every cry, every prayer
In my hurt, at my worst
When my world falls down
Not for a moment will You forsake me.

-lyrics from "Not for a Moment," by Meredith Andrews

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Paper Bag Christmas {A Book Recommendation}

I love Christmas stories.

I mean, really love them. It's one of my favorite things about Christmas--to snuggle under a blanket with a cup of tea or hot chocolate and a collection of Christmas stories and books. I recommended some of my favorites last year and the year before that. This year I'm going to recommend only one (so far, anyway).

The Paper Bag Christmas, by Kevin Alan Milne.

I read it in less than twenty-four hours. It's not only an easy-read; it's also that good. The book shares the story of two young brothers--with very long Christmas gift lists--who are convinced by Santa to help out at the local children's hospital for a few weeks in order to earn 'the best Christmas present ever.' I really can't share many more details or it would spoil everything! You'll just have to read it yourself.

Be prepared with some tissues, though. My roommate walked through the living room one morning when I was reading the book on the couch. I started telling her all about the book as I sniffled my way through. "Are you crying?!" she laughed. "I thought it was your allergies at first!"

Do you have a favorite Christmas story or book? I'd love to hear your recommendations!

Monday, December 10, 2012

So there's this girl...

Who absolutely loves being a nurse...

And loves babies...

And women's ministry...

And listening to and loving others in time of need...

Who is a passionate American who wants this country to be pro-life again...

And she's okay with being a leader when needed.

So when this job opportunity came up that put all of these characteristics together into a unique and intriguing fit,

What could she do but take the job and become the Nurse Manager for a new crisis pregnancy center opening next year?

my precious godson and nephew

Okay, so actually the decision was anything but that simple! This journey has been incredibly difficult but grace-filled. In the spring, I signed up to volunteer a few hours a week for the local crisis pregnancy center as a nurse...feeling this quiet but persistent heart-tug to be doing more in the pro-life arena. I had to wait unti the fall for their volunteer training session. It was an intense and overwhelming four days that left me uncertain if this was even for me. But somehow I continued to feel led to follow through with it.

What a surprise when the director asked if I'd consider joining them instead as an employee and nurse manager of a new clinic they wanted to open!

Um, flattering but no way. My initial reaction. Ha!

Grace by grace, the Lord continued to gently invite me--just as resistance by resistance, the Enemy conitued to throw multiple roadblocks in my path (insurance, my current employer, my breakup with P., my own hesitations and fear).

The breakup with P. made what I thought was my final decision. There was no way I could take on this job without his support (ah, but I was forgetting that I know the One who is The Way...). There I was, a broken-hearted single woman with a diagnosis that may affect my own fertility someday. What was I thinking even considering this job to work with pregnant women every day?

But I'm telling you, friends, His grace is so amazing.

Somehow I just know He wants me here. And that's been enough. The way He has worked in my heart and gently guided me to this place. The words He's spoken to me through others, especially the pregnancy center's amazing regional director. The reassurance He's given me, the desire to step out in faith and trust with this opportunity. Even the stubbornness that grew within me at each roadblock. I am just as certain that the Evil One does not want me here as I am certain that the Lord does. And I know the Lord will be with me on the good days and the challenging ones.

So I put on my Ephesians 6 armor and I took the job.

Crazy grace.

Friday, December 7, 2012

7 Quick Takes Friday: Christmas Style [vol. 4]'s Friday. As I was putting my coat on at work this evening, I had a painful flashback of the many Fridays in the past when I would race out the door, ready to see P. for a date. And as much as I wish that were the case tonight, I do have to say there's something comfy-cozy about this Friday-night-in. Organic frozen pizza in the oven...Brogan curled up on my lap...and lots of good books and DVDs...
There are also a lot of other happenings in my life right now besides the heartache (several good happenings, too!) but for this week I'm going to do my quick takes with a bit of a twist. Instead of seven updates, I decided to share seven Christmas-decorated areas of my home. The updates will come in time but for now...I hope you enjoy!
I love the fun colors of these ornaments...and they match the bright colors of our kitchen!


Just seeing these cute little guys makes me want to bake cookies :)


Love this one. So much meaning. The sign above the manger says, "God Keeps His Promises."
He did then. And He still does.
Who wants to wash her hands with Sugar Cookie soap and then put on Peppermint Candy Cane lotion?
So cozy.


Coffee or tea? It always tastes better in cute mugs!


I couldn't find my Advent wreath this thanks to an idea from my creative sister,
I have one now.

 --And just for fun--
Whew! Christmas decorating makes me tired! (Check out his festive velvet jingle-bell collar)

For more Friday Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Thursday, December 6, 2012


Right now it's tough to see people I haven't seen in awhile because the inevitable question comes up.

"How have you been?"

How have I been? Can broken and grace-filled be used in the same sentence? Or do I just say 'fine' and avoid a conversation?

But when I saw her, I didn't mind if she asked. I even wanted her to. Because everything about her is beauty and kindness and sincerity.

She looked me in the eyes and asked the question.

And even though I hadn't seen her for months, somehow I could tell. She knew.

I stumbled for words and she hugged me. She held me tight and murmured kind words as tears crept to the corners of my eyes. But tears would have to wait, for we only had five minutes. So we quickly talked about me. And him. About her. And her husband's health. And about the faith we both cling to and rest in. The tears stayed in the corners of both our eyes.

This woman is one of the strongest yet most feminine women I know. She knows suffering and pain very well, but I've never seen her bitter or harsh or angry. I met her years ago...when a lanky frizzy-haired teenager asked a lovely, gentle woman what type of floral perfume she was wearing (Jessica McClintock brand, since I know you were wondering!). Who would have thought such a meaningful friendship could develop from that encounter?

Today's encounter was no different. I was comforted and refreshed simply after seeing her. My heavy heart's burden was eased because I knew this woman loved me and cared deeply. I saw her strength in carrying her own crosses...and I was inspired to take up my own cross more joyfully, more faithfully.

All this from one woman. From one moment.

And I wonder...

What do people experience in their encounters with me? Do I help ease their burdens by listening and comforting? Do I spread joy and grace? When they leave me, do they feel loved?

Father, mold me into a woman who opens her eyes to the opportunity to love in each moment, one person at a time.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Wisdom for Wednesdays

"If God is here for us and not elsewhere, then in fact this place is holy and this moment is sacred."
-Isabel Anders