There and back again

This summer (similar to last) has been one of lots of transition. And in the three week period that we had to find a place to live in a new city AND move…I decided it would be prudent to plan an impromptu trip to Boston. Not gonna lie – it added a little bit of stress to the situation, but I also think it was worth it.

I surprised my dear friend, Sarah, and her new boy, Rafa, at Boston Children’s Hospital with the help of her awesome husband. It was the first time I’d been back to Boston since Kevin and I left last summer. It was completely surreal and totally normal. However, it was only the fact that I was visiting that made the MBTA bearable (one of the tipping points in our move away from the city ;)).

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Me and some of my favorite people! I’m still not sure what Sarah was really thinking when I walked into their hospital room, but I hope there was some excitement there! To everyone’s surprise, Rafa was taken home just a couple days later, so these parents certainly had their hands full. I simply took in their presence in the little moments I stole with them. Such love <3

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I spent an evening at the Green Briar (an old neighborhood fave) with some truly wonderful people. My heart was exploding with how much I miss these people. The only thing that would have made it better was if Kevin was with me, but sadly he had to work (but he is in Boston right now, so he’s getting his fill!). There was just an immense amount of organic laughter and joy; I never wanted it to end. Which is pretty much how all moments are with the Boston community, no matter where we’re congregating.

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I was also tremendously grateful to have some quality time with this treasured friend! Mike has been in Rome the past few years studying at the seminary out there (he’ll be ordained a Deacon in September!), but is home this summer. So I got to catch up with him AND his family, which is always a treat. I somewhat crashed his family BBQ, but if anyone asks, I’m a long lost cousin…or just an old friend from BU.

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Another gift! Ammmmmyyyyy! I got a beautiful morning (and Mass) with her and her husband plus the beautiful daughter that I hadn’t met yet! All of these moments would have been worth the trip individually, so can you imagine my excitement that just compounded as my visit continued?!

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I was fortunate enough to visit Mother Olga’s new convent and spend an afternoon with her – a nice oasis in the midst of my go-go-go. What a Saint, that woman. And what a gift her order is to the Boston Archdiocese.

There were many more moments not captured on camera, like visits with other lovely friends and my stay at my former apartment (back from my single days). And then just the beauty of Boston that seems so obvious and striking when you’ve been away for some time…

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Classic Brookline.
Beacon Hill!
Beacon Hill!
The original Trader Joe's in my book.
The original Trader Joe’s in my book.
Downtown.
Downtown.
"Star-Dunkin" - aka a little spot of compromise for me and Kevin just down the street from our first home.
“Star-Dunkin” – aka a little spot of compromise for me and Kevin just down the street from our first home.
The Watertown Public Library. THE best library we've ever belonged to. Ask anyone - it's legit.
The Watertown Public Library. THE best library we’ve ever belonged to. Ask anyone – it’s legit.

It was so rejuvenating to go back, and I am abundantly grateful for the opportunity to see people that I’ve missed terribly. It does, however, feel right that it was just a visit and nothing more. I love Boston, and I treasure the people, but we are happily at peace in Minnesota.

Though I’d also be cool if we took semi-annual vacations in the Northeast every spring & fall. And I’d be more than okay if all my friends moved to one big neighborhood. 🙂

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.

 

Surprised & Delighted

This afternoon, I sort of last minute decided to host the Blessed is She Advent Gathering for some women in Duluth. I had mentioned it to a couple ladies a while back, but only got on the ball a couple days before the event. I decided to reach out to a few more people I knew, even if just acquaintances, and for the most part they all came! I was a bit nervous, since I’m the new girl in town, but it was a beautiful experience and here’s why.

Today was the first time since moving here of having an intentional gathering of women. While the transition from East Coast to Minnesota has treated us well, I was never quite optimistic about making good new friends, specifically with women. I love my brothers and sisters rooted in my college community, and I never felt a desire or need for anything more. And in a way, I always felt like if I were to open myself up to more people, that it would take away from the relationships I cherished so dearly. Those friends I had close to me in Boston as well as those who had moved away to all over the country. But with our arrival in Duluth, I knew I was going to have to at least make an effort.

And in terms of community, God has surprised me with goodness since day one. Contrary to what I had thought (or prejudiced), people have been so welcoming. We’ve had dinners, bonfires, social events, and church events. And today, having these women all respond with enthusiasm, having real, grace-filled conversations with them – it’s brought more consolation than I could have imagined.

I was even surprised to find out that I could relate more to many of the these women today than I could with some of my closest and most dear friends, particularly with our hardships and struggles. Not that I’ve all of the sudden forgotten my most beloved sisters elsewhere in the country (not in the least!), but I’m learning something important. That my heart has room for more. My capacity for love and friendship is so much greater than I thought.

We are made in the image and likeness of God who is love and loves infinitely. While we are not God, we are His created spirits and to love is one of our sole purposes. And the more we strive to be like Christ, naturally our ability to love should be all the greater. By putting limits on myself, I was putting limits on God. Ridiculous, I know. He has given me a great community with those who are far away (continuing to bless it), and He is now opening up a new one right before me. I don’t have to trade in something old for something new, but rather it can be both/and. This is God at work. And for everything, I feel an abundance of gratitude.

So with today’s retreat theme of “Delighting in the Promise,” I will continue to delight in the way God is walking with me in all things. His steadfast love is an unchanging gift that I would do well to remember at all times.

“Blessed are those who love you, O God, and love their friends in you […] They alone will never lose those who are dear to them, for they love them in one who is never lost, in God, our God who made heaven and  earth and fills them with his presence, because by filling them he made them.” – St. Augustine’s Confessions

 

Life in Duluth.

Kevin keeps commenting that I don’t take pictures anymore. And it’s true. We’ve been doing so much, but I have little to no photographic evidence! Partly because I’m trying to make good impressions on all the people here and I don’t want to be that person who is always snapping away. So what is it that we’ve been doing? Well, sometimes it feels like not much, but I think that’s mainly because I’m working from home all day and my only outside time can sometimes be running to throw our compost bits into the woods and running back in for fear of the bobcats. But besides my days at home, life has been full and has been good.

A typical week starts off with Sunday Mass at our parish. I’ve never felt more at home in a parish before and it’s awesome. My first parish outside of college felt more like an extension of my college campus ministry (which was great! but not exactly a parish feel). Our parish as a married couple in Boston…we felt very much on the outside of an exclusive club. Not good. But here, it’s a great community of families, couples, singles, children, etc. And I feel at home lingering after Mass chatting up anyone (for the most part). They even baked us grain-free brownies when we officially became parishioners! How thoughtful!

After Mass is typically a walk with Kevin, exploring different areas. If we’re in the mood to see beautiful homes and neighborhoods, we walk around East Duluth. Sometimes we’ll go to the Lake Walk on Canal Park. We’ve been blessed with great sun on Sundays, so it’s been nice time out of the house!

On Wednesday night, we attend talks with Father Michael. Fr. Michael and Kevin were in seminary together at UST, same year. He also con-celebrated our wedding in PA. He’s been a wonderful friend to us since moving here, and we’re super grateful he’s assigned to a parish actually in Duluth (for the time being), considering how far this Diocese extends. He’s been giving excellent talks each Wednesday night at his parish on things like the existence of God, Evolution, Hell, Purgatory, Heaven, etc. But it’s super impressive because for a young Priest such as himself, he’s wise, super intelligent, and very pastoral. Kevin and I have been loving this part of our week.

Each week, we usually host people for dinner at least once. What a joy it’s been to have a real home to open up and to have the time to cook for others! Typically, it’s Father Michael and Suzanne (another one of Kevin’s friends from years ago as well as a fellow parishioner). We’ve hosted many others as well and it’s been very fruitful to build a little community in this way.

A few nights a week are just Kevin and I, which is a treat. With Kevin’s current schedule and short commute, it allows for lots of time together in the evenings. Part of that time is “productive time” where we’re working on hobbies or shoring up new skills. The remaining time is just enjoying the others’ company. I absolutely love our pace of life at the moment.

This past weekend, we also hosted Friendsgiving for a bunch of people – bringing together all the people we’ve hung out with individually. It was a grand time with good food, great conversation, prayer, and…parks & rec. Yes, we watched an episode (or two) at the end of the night. Because why not?! It’s just that good.

So life is beautiful. And I’m incredibly grateful. I try to put it into words, but often fail: I love Boston and the community I have there and I miss it dearly, but I’m also very content with where we are. I’m very confident that this move to Duluth, at least right now, was the right choice. I’ve received great consolation and it’s bearing fruit in my spiritual life, in my marriage, and in my relationships.

Deo gratias.

Roadtrippin’ to Duluth

It feels like both a day and an eternity since we moved from the East Coast to the Midwest. On the one hand, it really did just happen….like a week ago. On the other hand, it’s been insanity since we’ve arrived and I don’t really know what day it is anymore because it’s been so busy. I honestly don’t even know how to recap our move and the places we visited because I’m currently living in scatterbrainville.

However, we did it. The evening before we moved out was an absolute nightmare (we should have expected that). It was a complete scramble – we had sightings of skunks and racoons by our car as we were frantically trying to fit everything (getting skunked literally would have threw me into a pit of despair – praise God that did not happen!), we ended up working in the dark of our apartment since we’d given away all our lamps, we ended up having to last minute ship 9 boxes that just would.not.fit, words were exchanged (as were apologies)…but we made it through! The next morning, after leaving the apartment and not looking back, we stopped off at the convent of the Daughters of Mary of Nazareth to see Mother Olga. And thank goodness. Instead of leaving in bitterness, we left in complete consolation. It was a grace-filled morning and we left Boston in a state of joy.

The peaceful morning with Mother Olga.

 

The next few days were spent in PA with my family. It was a lot of getting things done that we really hadn’t had time to do up until then, relaxing in my parents’ home, and preparing for our journey. I have so much to be grateful for when it comes to my parents. They have given so much and are a wealth of support.

The following weekend was at the Dills’ in State College, PA! This is where we really entered into our peaceful stage. It was a weekend of literally just hanging out with them as they live their life with a baby. Pure awesomeness. The search for pumpkin spice (fail), deep conversation, good food, laughter, Catholic scattegories, and prayer. It was a gift to be able to stop and see them en route to MN.

Me & Ashlie!

After PA we drove to Ann Arbor, MI – through northern Ohio…mehhh. But we arrived! And we got a full day with Elise & her fiance, Joey! I had visited Elise in Detroit once before and LOVED it so it was great to be able to share that with Kevin now. If you’ve never been to Detroit, go. It’s got such character and draws me into its beauty in unexpected ways. We spent the evening in Ann Arbor walking around U Mich and had a delightful dinner.

With Elise in her natural habitat.

The next couple days seemed to blow by, but we didn’t really spend an extended amount of time anywhere. We stayed at Holy Hill Shrine in Wisconsin, which was beautiful, but we didn’t get to explore much. It’d be nice to go back! Erin, WI was absolutely stunning and I now want to spend a dedicated trip exploring the rurals of this [foreign-to-me] state.

Erin, Wisconsin

Erin, Wisconsin

We had a night in St. Paul with a good friend, but then dipped out early to make it up to Duluth. It was a relief to arrive with our full car, but I made the mistake of thinking the stress of moving was behind us. In fact, it really hadn’t even started. Since our arrival, we have not stopped going. Car registration and issues. Unloading our Ubox. Picking up all our shipped boxes. Figuring out how to live out of a select number of boxes during this transition time. Job searching. Job interviews. And lots more.

Up to the old country :)

I’ll admit it’s been a lot of trials. But our God is good. And there have also been a lot of consolations. Through the difficulty, God has been affirming the decision we made to move here. I cannot express my gratitude for that because it would be very discouraging if it were just the trials. In fact, while I do feel a bit like a chicken running around with her head cut off, I’ve received immense peace about being here…and about staying here. While I’ve been trying to make plans like “in a year we will move to the twin cities,” I feel a calling to just be present in this place. No timelines. No additional steps. Just enjoy where I am. And with that, I can see a future here, which I did not anticipate. So for now, I will just see where God leads us.

OUTBOUND

Outbound from Boston!

(Warning: I’m in reflective mode and this will be more dramatic than it needs to be!)

 

Monday, August 31st, we set out from Boston on our two week adventure to Duluth. We are currently sitting in a Caribou Coffee just outside of St. Paul, just a few hours away from our destination. It all feels incredibly surreal to me. When I really try to think about it, I understand that this is a move and that we are not turning around. But for the most part, it feels a bit like a vacation. We traveled, saw family and friends along the way, will get to our destination, and then venture back to Boston. It feels like we’ve been in transition for months at this point, so the thought of something more finite and permanent is really hard for me to fully comprehend.

Maybe in a few weeks, once we’ve conquered all the insurmountable tasks that lay before us, I’ll feel a sense of permanence. But for now, I’m letting it be what it is. Because honestly, the thought of not going back, not seeing some of my best friends every week, not having our close-knit marriage bible study, not having ladies nights with my former roommates, not experiencing a New England fall (especially that we now have a car!), not being in the place where all our college friends come back to, not being able to visit Brother Sam and Mother Olga, being even even further away from my family, not having such easy access to all the things that come with living in a big city…it’s a challenge. And that’s not to say that I’m not incredibly excited for what’s to come and for the ways in which God will lead us through this change, but with most worth it ventures, there is a sacrifice (or many).

I spent eight years and one week in Boston. Those eight years carry with them a lifetime of experiences, growth, relationships. I’ll never be able to craft the words to express how different, and better off, I am for having lived there. It wasn’t necessarily the city of Boston that did it, though it has a unique place in my heart for being the place where it all happened. Mistakes were made. Some really big ones. But I transformed from an ignorant college freshman to a more mature woman that I would not have recognized back then. I went from not knowing my creator to having an intimate relationship with Him. I did not know what real community was, and I now have the greatest one that spans countries and oceans. I grew, sometimes painfully, alongside sisters and brothers that I will forever be connected to in deep friendship and the sacraments. I met my husband at such a providential time in my life, and spent the majority of my time in Boston outside of college growing in love with him and integrating that relationship into the rest of my life. Kevin and I conceived and lost our first child, one that I know God has welcomed into His Kingdom for our benefit as well as that of many others.

Some people live eight years in one place and leave no better, sometimes for the worse. I cannot thank God enough for every little piece of my time in Boston. Every trial, every victory, every tear, every laugh, every person, every messed up commute (yes, I can say that now that I’ve left), every Sunday morning sunrise I saw on Newbury Street when I had to work those dreadful early shifts in the hotel, every BUCC retreat/SNL/spaghetti supper, every sacrament, every moment with the diversified variety of roommates I’ve had the privilege to live with…everything.

If there’s one lesson I’ve learned (and will probably have to learn over and over again), it’s that God can bring an incredible good out of suffering, and to take the sorrows alongside the joys in growing closer to the Lord. Yes, we have suffered, and we discerned that it was good for us to leave, but boy, did we have an abundance of joy as well, and that is what I choose to take with me. (And of course we will visit!)

“Son,’he said,’ ye cannot in your present state understand eternity…That is what mortals misunderstand. They say of some temporal suffering, “No future bliss can make up for it,” not knowing that Heaven, once attained, will work backwards and turn even that agony into a glory. And of some sinful pleasure they say “Let me have but this and I’ll take the consequences”: little dreaming how damnation will spread back and back into their past and contaminate the pleasure of the sin. Both processes begin even before death. The good man’s past begins to change so that his forgiven sins and remembered sorrows take on the quality of Heaven: the bad man’s past already conforms to his badness and is filled only with dreariness. And that is why…the Blessed will say “We have never lived anywhere except in Heaven, : and the Lost, “We were always in Hell.” And both will speak truly.” ― C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce

Summer Highlights

This summer truly is going by so quickly. I am torn because as excited as I am for this next phase of our life, it breaks my heart to leave the people I love and the place that has so much significance in my life. To recap the summer that has just came and gone, here are some choice photos…

Just a few of us former residents of 728 at BU in front of the Grotto where my life was literally changed on a retreat nearly 7 years ago.
Just a few of us former residents of 728 at BU in front of the Grotto where my life was literally changed on a retreat nearly 7 years ago.

June was the Brotherhood of Hope Boston Alumni Retreat. A beautiful reunion of friends from both the CC at BU and Northeastern.

Precious time with the Dills and my family!
Precious time with the Dills and my family!

The weekend of July 4th, which turned out to be a bit more eventful than we had planned, was still a really beautiful one. There weren’t any real plans, so I got to do my favorite things of going to Pat’s Colonial Kitchen for brunch, visiting Washington’s Crossing Park, strolling around Peddler’s Village, and spending time with the Dills and my family.

:)

Time with Sarah. This girls been here with me for seven years. We grew in faith together, lived together in two different places, were by each others side on our wedding days, became neighbors, and have just shared many joys, sorrows, and everything in between. I’m going to miss this lady so much…but I know God will provide and our friendship will grow in ways we cannot predict.

The VB's flew out to the East Coast!
The VB’s flew out from AZ to the East Coast!

Two dear friends, Christina and Ky, got married in Connecticut and it was a beautiful celebration! A few good friends came from quite a distance and it was absolutely lovely reuniting for a bit. Emily and Ted (far right) are expecting their first child in November and we were able to throw them a little baby shower in Boston the following day with some local friends out here.

Mother & Daughters

I went home again to PA in August to celebrate my sister, Kristen (blue dress), and sister-in-law, Jenan, who are both expecting their first children in October! Both girls!

Such an awesome group of people.

The Dills (A, J, and JP) drove up to Boston for Ashlie’s birthday, and Elise made it out from Detroit as well! It was quite the reunion and we had a beautiful evening bringing together many loved ones. Mike (tallest guy pictured in back) is a seminarian for the Boston Diocese over in Rome and has been back for just a bit this summer. Brother Sam (second from left, back row) joined us as well! That guy. Aka my former boss, campus minister, and always spiritual father.

Friendship, sisterhood, love, hats 🙂

The four of us ladies, Ashlie, Elise, Sarah and I, did afternoon tea/lunch at the Boston Public Library for Ash’s 25th birthday! We got all fancy and it was splendid. We had the entire restaurant to ourselves on a Monday afternoon, and then strolled to the courtyard for some photos and boy, did we get some stares or what (because of our hats). We loved every second.

Siblings and some cousins at Fenway!

A couple weeks ago, my family did a large vacation in Plymouth, MA since my brother and his wife are currently stationed not too far away for the military. We rented a magnificent home on the water, and some extended family joined us as well. It was a week of games (sometimes a bit too competitive), relaxing, riding bikes along the coast of Nantucket (#worthit), and going to a Red Sox game at Fenway. A wonderful trip (so grateful to my dad!), and a kind of last hoorah before two babies arrive and cross country moves are made by multiple parties.

Boston friends! Oh how we will miss them!
Boston friends! Oh how we will miss them!

Sarah & Javi threw us a little going away party with some close friends, and gosh…I get sadder with every day we get closer to our move. It is so nice being with these people; we had a great time of fellowship and of course, P&P (the game “pencil & paper” that will forever be my legacy in Boston).

Various generations of BUCC Alumni, former roommates @ Priscilla, good friends!
Various generations of BUCC Alumni, former roommates @ Priscilla, good friends!

And finally, a night out just before we left celebrating a friend’s birthday. It was a gift to have another reason to see everybody before we left.

There has been much more goodness, but one can only make a post so long! I’m overwhelmed with how much there is to reflect and look back upon my eight years in Boston, but above all I am filled with gratitude. Deo gratias!

 

Leaving the community I love.

In all those months Kevin and I discerned leaving, it seemed like the obvious thing to do – it was just a matter of when and where. There have been a number of difficult things about our time in Boston together – unfulfilling jobs, finances and the insanely high cost of living, public transportation, the Northeast mindset, the go-go-go mentality of city living…there’s no doubt that it was hard. But now that we are really moving…in a month…we are both struck with all the good things we are leaving behind. Primarily community.

Boston is my spiritual home. I’ve been here for eight years, and seven of those I have been intimately tied to a Catholic community rooted at BU. While some of my best friends have left since college, there are still so many loved ones here – and the community has grown as well. This is also the place where all those who are elsewhere come back to – it’s our hub. I’ve been spoiled with incredible friendships, and this place is the center of it all.

This past weekend it really hit me hard. It was a weekend filled with all my favorite people in Boston – having drinks with the ladies, hanging out at a barbecue, exploring the city, studying the Word of God, the sacraments…Christ is woven into it all, and that is why I know I am so bound to all these people. And why I’m going to miss them so much!

Last night, Kevin and I went on our evening walk (a little ritual for us), and we relayed to one another how much more difficult this is going to be than we anticipated. And for him – he came to this city four years ago for schooling, found the Catholic group I was a part of, met me/got married, and all this time he’s been surrounded by my friends, my community, living in my city…or at least that’s sorta what we both thought. But they have truly become his friends, his community, and he’s made this just as much his city. And now that he’s going back to his hometown, he’s just as sad as I am (well, maybe not as sad)!

Through all my tears on our lovely walk, Kevin turned to me and said, “So much of you is your love for your friendships, and that’s part of why I fell in love with you.” And then he made promises to ship me back here (or wherever it is I’ll need to go) as often as possible and to continue encouraging these friendships that are so life-giving (sound like anyone we know, Josh & Ashlie??). I’ve seen this happen with those who have left, and while distance isn’t exactly easy, we’ve been abundantly blessed with time together – we’ve grown together through Vocations, children, losses, and more.

Duluth will be a new experience, quite the transition, and I know it will be good. But leaving this city where my faith came alive and this community that continuously bears fruit will be difficult. It’ll take a huge amount of trust in God on my part. Trusting that these relationships will continue to grow in the manner they ought, that life will change for the better, and that God will bless all of us as we strive for the same goal: heaven.

And now I will be sappy and post this song that comes to mind…thanks for not judging. 🙂

Now let’s enjoy this last month!

Out of the city we go!

Just for a few days…but I’m so grateful! Even with the occasional snow day (only thanks to the MBTA shutting down), it has been “GO GO GO” around here. And I am so excited to GO elsewhere! Like middleofnowhere, New York for the long weekend with my best friends?! I don’t care how much snow there is, as long as it does not delay our traveling and I am not in the city.

This will be our third annual YO_O trip since college. We’ve certainly seen each other many other times in these past few years, but these trips are long weekend trips to a neutral place and they are the best.

2012: YOMO – “You only Minnesota Once” (little did I know I’d marry a Minnesotan…)

2013: (just realized this one never happened…but there were a couple of weddings, so it’s understandable!)

2014: YOLVO – “You only Las Vegas Once” (my bachelorette party…good time, but no need to go back)

2015: YOLMO – “You only Livingston Manor Once”

This year is super exciting because we are meeting the lovely John Paul! Ashlie and Josh had their first child in November and we all have been dying to meet this lil guy! We will also be meeting Elise’s new beau…so it’s gonna be a great time!

This will be our first trip with any of the men (except Josh…he attended YOMO), but I’m sure the four ladies will find a reason to all be in the bathroom at the same time for 5 hours or so (or until JP needs to be fed)…

Getting our retreat on.

A couple weeks ago, Kevin and I (sort of last minute) decided we’d like to go on a retreat put on by the yHope community outside Boston. It’s a young adult group (mainly early 20’s to early 30’s) that we’ve attended before and really love. It’s a lot of authentic people with great hearts. We hadn’t been in since before we were married since we don’t have a car and now live a little farther away. But this retreat seemed like a great opportunity to reconnect.

I’ll admit, I was a bit nervous at first because I’m still figuring out where we fit as a married couple. It might seem silly, but being in that in between spot of we’ve entered into our Vocation but don’t yet have children can be a little confusing as far as what we do for community (maybe it’s just me). And a lot of talks on this retreat were geared towards discerning your Vocation. But alas, we went and are so grateful we did. We were the only married couple, but I don’t think that deterred from our experience at all. In fact, it was quite enjoyable to be on retreat with my husband.

The theme was “remind me who I am,” and I don’t even know if it was any of the talks that made it sink into my heart, but rather just being there. I haven’t been on a retreat in over a year and a half, and taking this weekend made me realize how much we need that time away, focused solely on God.

I think something that helped the theme hit home for me was the fact that the retreat center was one that I’ve been to many times before, at very different stages in my faith journey. It’s a Pauline retreat center just outside Boston, and I’ve been there four different times with four different communities over the past six years:

In February 2009, our spring undergrad BU retreat was held here. It was a time that I was just really coming into my faith as a sophomore in college. New friends, a new lifestyle, and most importantly, the beginning of a deep relationship with God. In November 2011, the grad group at BU held a retreat here, so a lot of familiar faces. I had only graduated college six months before and was still adjusting to life in the real world. In February 2013, I attended the Pure in Heart retreat on JPII’s Theology of the Body. Pure in Heart is a young adult community in Boston that I was heavily involved with my first couple of years out of school (and also where Kevin and I met). During that time, Kevin and I were dating looking towards engagement. Now we’re in November 2014, and I’m in such a different life state, as I’ve been each time before. I’m now married and, though still fairly young as people point out, my life is focused on vastly different things.

With John & Kev - they've been with me on all four retreats at St. Thecla's since the BU days!
With John & Kev – they’ve been with me on all four retreats at St. Thecla’s since the BU days!

As I said, the theme was “remind me who I am,” and by coming back to this familiar place in which I’ve had so many powerful experiences, I really felt reminded. Yes, my life is not as it has been: I’m battling different struggles, I’m receiving new graces, and I’ve matured in greater ways. But God is still God. He is unchangeable. And going back to the one who is reminded me of who I am, now and always: a beloved daughter of God. Regardless of what is going on in my life at the moment, that fact remains.

I guess the takeaway for me was bringing me back to the basics. My life has come a long way in the past 6 years; I would argue and say it’s much more complicated, but that doesn’t change where all the answers lay. Scripture, sacraments, prayer. All centered around my relationship with Jesus.