my lobsters

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Kevin and I were in Ann Arbor, MI this past weekend for one of my best friend’s weddings. This was the first time I’ve seen any of my closest friends since moving to Minnesota. It was a BIG deal. I left after five days with a hoarse voice, probably due to the fact that I have not talked or laughed this much in a looooong time.

These friendships make me think of Phoebe’s lobster philosophy early on in Friends – obviously she’s talking about romantic love between Ross & Rachel, but I’d like to think it also applies to my friendships. They are my lobsters! As Ashlie put it on Saturday, we’re on the forever friendship train, destination: eternity, no getting off.

These are the friends that comfortably embrace the toilet humor that would embarrass anyone else, the ones who know your most intimate stories, the ones that love you through your ugly cry no matter the reason, the ones that you can unload all the feels onto and need no words in return, the ones who allow you to grow as you need but also keep you accountable. It’s truly such a gift. And one that our husbands and “sig-o’s” (as Elise has labeled them) have been absolute heroes for embracing, cherishing, and becoming a part of.

Life moves forward for us all, and we have to fight more and more for that quality face-to-face time, but I haven’t been disappointed thus far. I’m excited to be on this forever friendship train with these incredibly special people.

Also, Elise & Joey’s wedding was incredible: beautiful ceremony, tear-jerking speeches & first dance, and all around wonderful community time.

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Above was at the rehearsal dinner with the happy couple! And below our dear Elise – such a STUNNING bride!

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The wedding was a blast. How could it not be when I have such a handsome date? He’s quite accustomed to being with a bridesmaid ;).

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Since it was a Friday wedding, Saturday was mainly just spent with all our peeps. Boston, Ohio, Duluth, Houston, Phoenix, Virginia, etc. We come from so many places, but ours hearts are together!

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And finally, a Sunday send-off brunch with this wonderful group of friends. Not pictured: my waterfall tears from all the goodbyes.

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Deo gratias.

 

a happy Easter!

Happy Easter! He is risen!

Despite me being a little bit lazy and out of it this past Lent (though, our Pastor gave an excellent homily about this recently and it really encouraged me even in my failures) – Saturday night brought such joy. I didn’t realize how much my soul was longing for Easter until it was upon me.

These past several weeks have been quite full. Work challenges, more big life decisions (and no resolutions as of yet!), finally seeing the grass in our yard before it getting covered in snow again, etc. March always seems to have a consistent air about it, doesn’t it? At least for me, every year that March hits I’m 100% ready for spring and the Easter Alleluia. And yet every year it’s a month that drags on and taunts us. That’s what I get for living in northern climates, I suppose.

Anyway, enough of the dreariness, it’s Easter! In all fairness, we’ve experienced a great amount of peace this winter/Lent. God has been merciful. It’s such an odd thing to say, but I just feel so at home in this Diocese and it’s really hit me in the past month or so. I could say I feel at home in Duluth, but I think it’s actually something more particular to the Duluth Diocese. Not sure how to describe it, but it’s a lovely consolation. So thank you, Jesus.

Now as we head into spring, we’re in a similar situation as we were last year (classic!): do we stay, do we go, what about work? Of course, we’re praying God will provide for us to stay in Duluth (which is not what I had intended when we moved here), even if our life looks a little atypical. But may His will be done! Because as I’ve discovered this year (and all my years…), He values our little leaps of faith and will make it work out for the best (even if it’s not what I had initially wanted).

May you all carry the joy of the Spirit with you this Easter season! Let us rejoice and allow ourselves to hope in the One who makes all things new!

Who is Jesus?

Who is Jesus? Sounds like a simple question, right?

Savior.

Son of God.

Redeemer.

Prince of Peace.

King of Kings.

The list goes on and on. The past few months the title that has resonated in my heart and kept me pondering is the Word of God. Isn’t it funny when we find ourselves in these moments of epiphany? Then we speak it out loud, and all of the sudden it sounds so silly. Because it should be obvious, right?

It’s right there in the first lines of John:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.” [John 1:1-2]

And yesterday’s first reading:

“So shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; it shall not return to me void, but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I sent it.” [Isaiah 55: 11]

While it’s been right under my nose for years, it’s finally hitting me. A deeper understanding of the Second Person of the Trinity through this title: Word of God. The fact that all of scripture is God’s one uttered Word. Total & complete. The catechism states that we venerate the Scriptures as we venerate the Lord’s body. How beautiful is that?

I think it’s pretty dang beautiful. And powerful.

February at its finest

Lately, despite a little bit of sickness (that’s what we get for diving back into grains – I knew the paleo lifestyle is what kept me healthy this past year! I’m back to it now after my week of frivolity!), we’ve been really living it up & enjoying our time together. We’re trying not to get a case of the February’s, and I think we’re doing a fine job.

[Early morning running along Lake Superior…trying to get back into a habit.]

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[Sunday breakfast at Va Bene #worthit #twosundaysinarow #ournewspot]IMG_1611

[Day trips with friends – and seeing a real life mine!]IMG_1605

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[Our short-lived relationship with grains – good, but not good enough.]IMG_1613

[Making new friends (or reuniting for Kevin) & enjoying good company.]IMG_1614

So take that winter! I hope you’re all staying warm & getting your cozy on.

Something to miss

I love living in Duluth. In this moment, it is good that we are here. But lately we’ve been missing Boston hardcore. And I’m so glad we do. It means that despite any hardships we faced, we had a life worth missing.

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Today, I’m thinking of St. Clement’s Shrine in downtown Boston on Boylston Street. I was visiting a friend at her work the other day and somehow the Oblates of the Virgin Mary came up in conversation. They are a phenomenally orthodox order of great & holy Priests, and they work so hard to make the sacraments accessible to all people of the faith in a city that seems to have no faith (perfect example: these men ran into the scenes of the Marathon bombings with sacramental oils, without hesitation).

I mentioned that they have a shrine in the Prudential Mall, and it was just then I realized how unusual that must sound to an outsider. Yes, St. Francis Chapel is in the mall, directly across from Ann Taylor Loft and next to Dunkin’ Donuts. And it is a pure oasis. Such a gift. They hear confessions all day every day, they offer Mass three times a day (Monday-Friday) as well as multiple weekend Masses. They have a little shop with Catholic books, DVD’s, holy cards, etc. All downtown at an intersection of many major T lines.

One of the main reasons Kevin chose to move to Boston for art school as opposed to his other options was the availability of sacraments. And when I think about it, I don’t know a place that can compare to what we had. I bring up St. Clement Shrine because it’s Lent and every Lent since graduating college I’ve spent most of my Lenten season in this Church.

For many years it was right on my commute to/from work. Their 7am Mass worked well for having to be at work around 8-8:30am. Their perpetual adoration meant the doors were always open to visit & sit with our Lord. Their Friday night stations of the cross were always done beautifully, making it worth few extra hours downtown. It was also the place where our young adult group was held (the same group I met Kevin through). No matter what time of day you were in the Shrine – this haven in the midst of Fenway Park, Berklee College of Music, the Prudential Mall, and Kenmore Square – you could always count on seeing a friendly face.

And then there is the Triduum. I’ll admit, it’s going to be tough not experiencing the Triduum at St. Clement’s. While a couple years I ended up elsewhere for the Easter Vigil due to plans with friends, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and much of Holy Saturday were spent in this sacred place. While the Catholic faith is the same everywhere (or at least we hope) and the Mass is still the Mass, I’ll miss entering into the Triduum with the Oblates. I’ll miss the solemn entrance they make on Good Friday, the procession to the upper room after the Liturgy, sitting in our Lord’s presence before emptiness takes His place, walking into the quiet Church on Saturday in anticipation for His return.

Ah, but alas. He does make all things new. So while I will treasure the memories and gifts from those experiences and traditions, I know they will continue on in that Church in unity with my new Parish. The greatness of the universal Church! And I do love our new Parish, so I look forward to participating in all the Lenten activities as well as the holy Triduum.

May your Lenten season be greatly blessed! And go rock those ashes 😉

 

Just another day

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Sunday. It’s my favorite day of the week. I enjoy all the Sabbath has to offer. Prayer, community, rest. Often Kevin and I choose to do something special to mark the day for the both of us – a walk on the lake, visiting a new place, eating something special, watching a movie, having company over. Sunday.

I could easily spend this Sunday like all the others, celebrating the turn of the month and being just a bit more closer to spring.

But today is different.

Today was the projected day that I would have held a child in my arms for the first time. My child. Many women spend nine wonderful months in hopeful anticipation of their due date. I had that mentality for just a little while before it was taken away.

I had all the possible names written down – boy or girl (still an untouched, yet adored, list in my email drafts – where I keep random notes). I’m not sure if we would have opted to know the sex ahead of time. I like the idea of waiting, but have never been good with surprises.

I remember back when we were expecting thinking what it might be like to deliver a baby in the height of winter in northern Minnesota (although we weren’t set on leaving at that point). I mostly made jokes about how we’d be snowed in and end up doing a home birth.

Just as any type A planner would, I had completed my registry with all the natural & organic goodies  – the bamboo swaddles, the organic sheets, the cloth diapers.

But none of it mattered. We never got that far.

I’ve tried to reflect this month on the emptiness that comes with passing a due date and nothing to show for it. Too many women deal with this time and time again.

And it’s a tragedy. It is sorrowful. It’s tear-inducing and hurtful.

But the most amazing thing of all is that there is healing. Healing that is unexplainable, but very real. Healing that is truly a gift. It is not a coincidence we named our child Giovanna Raphael: “gift of God that heals.”

While I can’t understand it, I know that I am in a good place. While my heart longs for children, I am also content. That contentment has days of sadness, but it’s still there.

So we continue on. We continue to hope and pray for what only God can give. I’m trying to do my part, but I shouldn’t be so naive as to think that it’s all on me. That’s a heavy weight. One I can’t carry.

In the meantime, I thank any of you who have offered prayers for our unborn child, the gift that I hope now rests in the presence of her Creator. And for the prayers for us as we figure things out and let them happen.

God is good and in that I firmly believe. My hope is in Him.

Deo gratias.

that [delicious] gluten-free, blueberry pastry

Last Sunday was the brunch for The Guiding Star Project here in Duluth. If you haven’t heard of them, you should look them up. They are a phenomenal organization doing ground-breaking work in the world of holistic & life-affirming women’s health. We were invited by some friends to attend at the Graysolon Ballroom (um, stunning). We had a lovely time and were so glad we went.

But I did something that day I don’t normally do.

I ate a gluten-free, blueberry pastry.

Yes. Katie, the self-proclaimed anti-grains queen (who was also on day 15 of her second Whole 30) ate a gluten-free pastry filled with grains, sugar, and dairy. And it was damn good. Now why on EARTH would I do such a thing when I’m trying so hard to improve my health?

Let me tell you. Up until the first time we conceived, I had become obsessed with nutrition. While there were reasons that made it necessary for me to look more carefully at what I was consuming, I went full-throttle into the world of “let’s eliminate everything and maybe it’ll work.” Do I still think grains are harmful to most, if not all, people? Yes. But I became so regimented and strict with myself that any mess-up would lead to extreme guilt and shame. (Like when I blamed myself for eating a piece of bread just before we miscarried.)

I love my lifestyle. I genuinely enjoy eating paleo. I am grateful for the Whole 30 and the perspective on food it’s given me (and I’d recommend it to anyone). I’m even inclined to start the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol soon (which is like a few steps beyond the Whole 30 – no eggs/nuts/nightshades).

But just as someone can be a slave to food by over-indulging in unhealthy items, I too can let food rule me to the point of deeply fearing a cupcake. How ridiculous! While there have been good intentions of bettering my physical health, I’ve failed to notice what it was doing to me psychologically.

So I very intentionally ate a gluten-free (blueberry) pastry. And it was delicious. And I felt fine. Maybe it wasn’t the best choice and maybe I’ll regret it. But I had lost the freedom I once had in choosing what I eat, and I am now re-claiming it. It’s important to me that I be happy. That’s not to be confused with gluttonous or over-indulgent. No. I probably won’t dip back into grains anytime soon, for sake of prudence. But I need to know the reasons for which I am doing this, and I need to freely choose this path.

So there. I’m a work in progress and I hope that’s okay. 🙂

A Day of Remembrance

Last night I got an email from Kristen Hawkins, President of Students for Life (not a personal email, I’m not that special) saying that the annual Students for Life Conference would be cancelled this weekend due to weather. While I live nowhere near DC and had no intention of attending, this saddened me. My whole life I had been pro-life, but it was also never something I seriously considered. It just made sense. Don’t kill babies.

My senior year of college, though, I had the privilege to attend the March for Life along with the conference. Sitting in that auditorium with hundreds (thousands?) of students and listening to those incredible speakers: my heart was changed. The whole experience was so profound for me – I left on a retreat-like high. And while my life is quite different now than it was five years ago (ugh – five years?!) – I don’t get into abortion debates with the everyday acquaintance – I’m still changed by that event. Which is why I am so upset with this DC weather for thwarting it this year!

It is a tragedy that so many in our country are either passionately pro-choice/abortion, or (maybe worse?) just lukewarm to the topic. Even with most of the medical community now acknowledging that life does, in fact, begin at conception, the issue is still not resolved. Far from it. While there have been strides in the pro-life movement (I think you’d be surprised to learn that the pendulum is actually swinging in this direction these days, despite the loud efforts of opposing parties), there is still so much to be done.

What is one way we can support this cause? The cause of life. Maybe you’re attending the March in DC (or a local one in your city), maybe you have a conversation with someone who isn’t exactly convinced, or maybe you offer up fasting & prayer.  Whatever it is – kudos to you.

My favorite sign from the March for Life 2011.

 

wintering

As I’ve mentioned, it’s been a bit cold. Not unbearable, but just really cold. I attempted to put air in our tires yesterday at 7am and it was -11 degrees…I got through one tire. Besides things like that being a challenge, though, and having to dress extra warm in & out of the house, it’s been beautiful. I’ve found myself not very motivated in a lot of areas – there is so much I had laid out on paper for 2016, but I can’t bring myself to really do right now. And maybe that’s just winter. We do what we have to do, and let the season be.

I love the reset that the new year brings, but I also think January (and February & March if you live north) have a resting quality to them. I think it’s okay that I’m not going out and doing all the things. Staying in and drinking a cup of tea is quite acceptable. Reading a book for leisure over starting that massive project – that’s fine. And it’s not as if I’m doing nothing – I have a full-time job. But I think working from home sometimes makes me things I need to be doing more than I am.

I’ve been feeling overwhelmed lately and a bit of paralysis regarding ideas I want to put into action. But I’ve decided to let winter be winter. Spring will come in all of its newness; it always does. Right now, I can focus on the work I have in front of me, the beauty of wintering in a real home, and the luxury of a bit more flexibility than we had last year.

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The above photo is on Lake Superior. Kevin and I took a [short] morning stroll in Canal Park on Sunday (-18 degrees…yikes!) followed by a cozy breakfast in West Duluth. Slow paced life can be so good. Our day off (MLK day), we went out for another breakfast with friends. There is such perfection to being in a warm place with good people while the wind & snow continue on outside.

I hope you’re enjoying the season in all its fullness 🙂

the little things

It’s been a cold week here in Duluth. Like…negatives and single digits cold. And I’ve never had to really heat a full house before (while also thinking about the $$ needed for it). Needless to say, I’ve been wearing many layers and wrapping myself in blankets. This is the only time I’ll admit it would be nice to work in an office all day where it’s probably well heated.

Regardless, it’s been a good week of productivity in some areas, and the rest is just cozying up and letting winter be winter. A few little necessities (and luxuries) have gotten me through this week, which also happens to be the start of our Whole 30. And I hope they’ll continue to do so as it continues to drop in temp!

This bag from Target that my sister got me for Christmas. It absolutely brightens up my day and gets me excited to take work out of the house occasionally.

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Young Living’s Joy Essential Oil! I recently got a new bottle of this amazing oil, and it really does lift the spirits. I don’t know how to describe the scent – spicy, happy, and warm? All things perfect for winter.

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Our wood burning stove. Admittedly, it took me several tries to figure out how to get a fire going. “You gotta kindle it!” Kevin would keep saying. “You’re so silly!” he kept saying. Well, I figured out how to properly “kindle” a fire.

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These dish towels! They were a gift from Kevin for Christmas that he sneakily bought when we were in PA at one of my favorite little shops. I eventually want our kitchen to be french themed, and this was our little start – some french dish towels!

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La Croix sparkling water! It’s the little things, right? It’s Whole 30 compliant (I think?), no sugar, just “naturally essenced” sparkling water. I think just the loveliness of the can would be enough for me.

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Happy weekend (and three day weekend for some of you)!