Wednesday, May 31, 2017

This time tomorrow...


It's weird to think that this time tomorrow night I'll be alone in my new apartment with my dog...probably sipping chamomile tea and working on my laptop.  I can't really keep up with my life. Seriously, how is it possible that four months have already passed since I came home from Guatemala?!  

Baby moon is definitely over.  My Guatemalan mojo is a faint spark that I think is still there...but only by grace.  

The hardest part isn't moving on to my own space (I haven't lived alone in almost two years!).  No, it's the sadness I feel at losing my friends!  Not only am I on my way to another home...but so are they...and it is in Texas!  I will miss them!!

But...change is inevitable.  And after being told not once but four times today, "I can't believe you're that old," I am officially, "I can't believe you're that old" old...another unavoidable change!  

Because today is my (what the heck...how is it possible???) 37th birthday!!!  

I thought it would feel....I don't know...different?  And I would have more done by now.  Well, I mean in the way of having a husband and kids...I've done more in my life than I thought I would!!  Traveling to almost 40 countries, hiking tall mountains, running marathons, learning new languages, publishing a book, and making beautiful friendships...  It's not the things that I thought I would do...but actually it's a lot cooler.  :o)

God has a way better plan than I ever did!  

Here's to the next 37 years!  Or days, months, weeks...whatever He wants... :o)

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Crushing the head: Fatima


"The decisive battle between the Lord and the kingdom of Satan will be over marriage and the family."
Sr. Lucia dos Santos




Hashtag 100 years!  Who doesn't love the story of Fatima?  An Angel, Our Lady, three holy and beautiful children...and a message for the world.


"Are you willing to offer yourselves to God and bear all the sufferings He wills to send you, as an act of reparation for the conversion of sinners?"




"Then you are going to have much to suffer, but the grace of God will be your comfort."



"You have seen hell where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace."


This is the second time I have been privileged to visit Fatima.  The first time was with all of my sisters when we were teenagers.  That was over fifteen years ago!  I spent the first day in Fatima walking around seeing how things have changed, remembering our visit and thinking how much we have grown since then.


I lit candles for my loved ones and their intentions.  I knelt on the walk.  I wandered through churches both above and below ground.  Then I found a nook where I could just sit, watch and think.


And I spent a lot of time in prayer.  100 years since Our Lady appeared in the little Cova and now it is a beautiful site with churches and chapels and thousands of people.


But Our Lady didn't come so a beautiful cathedral or basilica would be built.  She came to bring peace and to give us hope.  Her message to the world 100 years ago is just as timely today.


Sister Lucia, the visionary who died several years ago but lived through almost the last one hundred years, would tell you the same.


“Let us all willingly endeavor to follow faithfully the path that He has mapped out for us. Yes, because it was out of love that God sent us this pressing call from his mercy, in order to help us along the way of our salvation.”


*Quotes above taken from the words of Our Lady to the three children of Fatima except for the last one which is from Sr. Lucia's book.


Saturday, May 20, 2017

The Way of Beauty

I know I promised Fatima...but it will have to be the one after this!


I just spent the most beautiful week at the Malvern Retreat house in Philadelphia studying the Way of Beauty with the Institute of Theology of the Body.  The course was 30 hours of lecture cushioned by Mass, the Rosary, Holy Hour, and private time to pray and walk around these beautiful gardens:



I met the most interesting people: authors, artists, musicians, art teachers, priests, sisters, and consecrated.


The instructor used the writings of Pope Benedict, Saint John Paul 2, GK Chesterton, CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien and combined it with Moana, Van Morrison and Bono to illustrate how beauty lifts our hearts to God.  




We also looked at the great works of art, from cavemen drawings 42000 years old to modern art (including one amazing painting -shown below- made by a fellow classmate during the session).  I came away with a sense of wonder at the beauty God puts all around us and also how clear it is that beauty unites with truth and goodness to bring us closer to Him.



The following poem struck me after watching Evan Koons read and explain it...not only by the beauty of the poem itself, but also by its meaning.  How easy it is to go around "selving" and missing the beauty that is around us...raising us up to God...in our own self-absorption!


As Kingfishers Catch Fire

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As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame; 
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells 
Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell's 
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name; 
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same: 
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells; 
Selves — goes itself; myself it speaks and spells, 
Crying Whát I dó is me: for that I came. 

I say móre: the just man justices; 
Keeps grace: thát keeps all his goings graces; 
Acts in God's eye what in God's eye he is — 
Chríst — for Christ plays in ten thousand places, 
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his 
To the Father through the features of men's faces. 



The biggest thing I took away from the course was the immensity of God's love, love for us!  We see it in each snowflake, dewdrop, and blade of grass.  We see it in our friends, family, and the kindness of strangers.  We see it in music, movies, works of art, and architecture.  Because, we see it in beauty.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Copenhagen and Stockholm: Land of fairytales and Vikings

Kings and queens and fairytales...Copenhagen was beautiful!  



Castles


Cafes


Gardens with spring blooms

Nyshavn

Tovoli, second oldest amusement park in the world 

and Walt Disney's inspiration for Disneyworld


Home of Hans Christian Andersen

The Little Mermaid


Palace of the Rosenborgs


Coffee and Michelin Stars and Royalty...Stockholm was Beautiful!


Sunset in Stockholm


Gamla Stan (Old City)


Docked Ship Bars

Sunset over Stockholm


Famous Vasa ship: sailed for one day and then spent the next 330 years underwater



Fika time: Taking a coffee with a friend!

Potato and Anchovy Pie


Along the way: biking

Stockholm Palace Guard


From the top

Danishes in Denmark!

Royal ship of the King and Queen




Climbing towers


Pretty little church

On every corner


Our gastropub experience: 2-star Michelin chef...can't imagine what more stars is like!

LOVED DENMARK AND SWEDEN!  Beautiful and friendly.  Scandinavia is such a unique, small pocket of the world.  Six days was not enough time.  And now Norway and Finland call me!