A Deep Breath of Gratitude

I could C R Y.

It’s been oh so long, friends. Posting this blog post (after a 2+ month hiatus) feels like a huge virtual hug to any person out there who is reading this right now.

This semester has been a wild ride. Graduate school (+ life / growth / relationships) has proven to be quite different and much more challenging than I could have expected, but c’est la vie, eh?

But in the spirit of {American} Thanksgiving tomorrow, I thought this would be a fine time to take a hot minute to breathe and show gratitude for the things of life — the happy, the hurt, and every detail in between.

This semester…

I’ve experienced profound friendships.

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I’ve studied more than I ever have, but at the same time earned the most humbling and disappointing grades in my college career.

I’ve eaten some good-for-the-soul food.

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I’ve doubted my ability to become a competent physical therapist several times.

I’ve been ceaselessly encouraged by friends, family, and God to keep on keeping on.

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I’ve seen blue skies, gray skies, purple skies, and orange skies.

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I’ve had fun nights filled with line dancing, cheers-ing, and singing at the top of my lungs.

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I’ve had nights that didn’t seem to end even when the sun rose.

I’ve seen friends, family and strangers with even longer nights of the soul than I could imagine.

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I’ve made myself some wholesome foods.

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I’ve made myself think I’m eating wholesome foods.

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I’ve felt hurt in ways that I’ve never felt before.

But I’ve felt joy and the feeling of being cared for in ways that I’ve never felt before.

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I’ve seen what it means to be among beautiful women of God, who love to the very end.

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I’ve hurt others in ways I never intended but still wish I never did.

I’ve had to humble myself and apologize for my wrongdoings, which happen more times than I can count.

I’ve accomplished things in mind, soul, and body through God’s grace, and I’ve seen others do even more.

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I’ve seen tears of sadness, tears of guilt, tears of anger, and tears of joy.

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I’ve cried until I didn’t know why I was crying, and I’ve smiled until I didn’t know why I was smiling.

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I’ve dropped the ball in some friendships and allowed others to help me pick it up.

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I’ve seen God in every single day, in all of these things which remind me that, although we are dying, we are living all the more. I am beyond thankful for every person and every motion of the heart that has made this semester, this year, this LIFE… something beautiful.

God is good. All the time.

p.s. if you want to read something nourishing for the soul, please do yourself a favor and check out my friend Kelsey’s blog – she writes about beauty and about humanity so eloquently it hurts.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I am grateful for you.

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Summer Lovin’

I think every blogger has used this title at least once in their careers.

But that could be said for “Day in the Life,” “Recent Eats,” “Lately,” etc. etc. etc.

I’m calling this post “Summer Lovin'” because a) it’s summer; b) I went to my friends’ wedding this weekend!!

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This was my first friend wedding. All other weddings I’ve attended up until this weekend had been for aunts and uncles who seemed to be at a life stage that was eons away from where I was. But here we are kicking off the start to what I’m sure will be many friend weddings in these next few years.

I’m not complaining, because I LOVE WEDDINGS.

On Saturday, my friends Sean and Alicia entered into the beautiful sacrament of Holy Matrimony. I met Sean through the Catholic Center when I was a freshman and he was a senior, and he became one of my “older brothers” during my first year at BU.

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“Can I be obnoxious and ask for a selfie with you guys?”

Sean and Alicia are high school sweethearts (CUTE), and they continue to be a stunning couple. It was a privilege watching two holy people unify in love for the glory of God.

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Their beach-themed wedding reception was also wonderful. It was a blast being there with some other folks who met Sean through the Catholic Center.

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The speeches were short and sweet, the evening was gorgeous, the conversations were fun, the food was DELISH…

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h’ors d’oeuvres and beer at cocktail hour + fab sun-dried tomato bread and butter + bomb salad + delicious chicken with rice and veggies + a slice of vanilla with raspberry mousse cake (ok, two slices)

…and the dancing scene was ON POINT. The bride, groom and respective parties made some solid song requests. Wedding dancing is one of my favorite things in the world, especially with the right people.

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Congratulations again, Sean and Alicia! Thank you for allowing me to celebrate such a joyful occasion with you and your loved ones. I’m definitely in the top 10 people who were most excited about your wedding 😉

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I LOVE YOU GUYS. May God bless both of you as you start this beautiful journey together.

I pray for those affected by Hurricane Harvey. I hope you are all safe and well.

So tell me:

Do you like weddings?

Do you remember your first friend wedding?

WAS IT WILD (like, “everyone’s getting old ahhh” WILD)? What did you do this weekend?

 

The Great and Small Things I Learned This Semester {Junior II}

I needed to use both handrails to get up the stairs yesterday.

That squat-burpee ladder workout (originally from Peanut Butter Runner by the way!) I did on Monday? Annihilated my legs. I have not been this sore for as long as I can remember, but it has taken me 2.5x longer to get anywhere these past few days. I used to take pride in feeling so sore that I couldn’t walk, but it’s honestly the worst. It’s fine every once in a while, but waddling at turtle pace all day is not functional.

Besides the woe of my quadriceps, today I am sharing the SIXTH edition of…

the great and small

…second semester junior year! Time really does move more quickly every year. Studying abroad in Ireland for the first semester made junior year disappear especially quickly, but second semester was also gone like *snap* ← that.

The culmination of lessons up until now: Freshman I // Freshman II // Sophomore I // Sophomore II // Study Abroad

1) I love being able to cook for myself in an apartment (it literally feeds my overnight oat obsession).

2) I still don’t really know how to deal with cockroaches, but I do know that I can survive after living amongst those six-legged demons.

3) The origins, insertions, actions, nerve supplies, and blood supplies of nearly every muscle in the human body.

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4) How to commit to things that I don’t feel 100% comfortable with (within reason). 

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5) I can meet more native Irish friends my age in Boston that in Ireland itself.

6) Megan has taught me so much about humility, simplicity, and embracing the little things. She has been a wonderful travel buddy and roommate this past year.

7) The dynamic of friendships may change, but that doesn’t mean the friendships have weakened.

8) I can survive 40+ days without peanut butter (or any nut/seed butter).

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9) I really like enchiladas.

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10) It’s still difficult for me to prioritize sleep, but when I do, life is so much better.

11) I do like running, and I need to get over saying, “ehhh I don’t LOVE running.” I love it when it’s with good friends.

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12) Buying regular carrots rather than baby carrots is not as convenient but it is a heck of a lot cheaper.

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13) How to better pray with Scripture. God’s Word becomes meaningful and relevant to you only if you give Him permission to speak through it.

14) Avoid melancholy like the plague. Like when I used to listen to sad songs because feeling sad was better than feeling nothing at all? None of that anymore.

15) I still struggle with perfectionism, but God has really brought me down to earth this semester and taught me that I don’t need to have it all together before going to Him or others.

16) According to my friends, I’m really good at taking selfies.

 I’ll put it on my resume. Is this a transferable skill?

17) How to direct skits.

18) “We are most authentically human when we give ourselves in love.” – Fr. Mark Murphy

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19) I’m happier without Instagram.

20) I should check cancellations online before walking (and royally wiping out) over treacherous ice to reach my destination.

21) Emotional persecution is real. I’m almost numb to it in some of my classes, but although it can be hurtful, it also forces me to become more understanding of why others are so ready to bash on certain beliefs rather than others.

22) Megan and I are solid bread chefs: scones, brown bread, focaccia, French toast. Let us know your carb needs; we’ve got the hookup.

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23) I cry at least once a week for a positive or negative reason (or both).

24) I very much enjoy classic Disney movie soundtracks, Hannah Montana and High School Musical songs (listening to that right now, TBH).

25) It’s SO FUN when blogger friends visit you in college (@Colby)! 🙂

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26) Apparently I look quite different now from when I was a wee little freshman lass.

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my first photo with Lauren ever, I think

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I mean, we ARE two years older. My hips don’t fit into those red jeans anymore, nayyyyy.

27) The sushi and bagels in Boston do not compare to those of New York.

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28) I’m really bad at consistently stretching.

29) The best part of a Red Sox game is the singing and dancing. Sweeeeeeet Caroline {bop ba baaaa!}

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30) The people are what make BU a great school. Walking around campus after most people have left feels sad and empty.

31) Writing when praying is incredibly helpful in regards to staying focused and remembering what happened during my conversation with God.

32) My blog still encompasses food and fitness, but it has naturally incorporated more faith and life subjects recently, and I’m okay with that.

33) God truly is present at all times in infinite ways.

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Thank you to my parents, brother, family, professors, the Catholic Center, friends (including all of YOU reading this), and strangers who have somehow influenced my life for yet another wonderful and fruitful semester of college. ❤

So tell me: 

Three things you learned this semester/since the beginning of 2017! 

Greater Love

I feel spring coming!!!

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The days have been sunny and warm here, and this week it’s supposed to get up to a high of 63*F! Bye, snow. You were fun for 12 hours.

This weekend, I went on a retreat with the Boston University Catholic Center to Kennebunkport, Maine (which is where “the way life should be” according the state border sign). The theme of the retreat was Greater Love, a theme intended to help the attendees understand and grow more deeply into a truly loving relationship with God, with themselves, and with others.

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Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. – John 15:13

We often ask ourselves what love is, where to find it authentically, and whether it will last. From a Christian/Catholic perspective, phrases such as, “God is love,” and “Jesus loves you,” are often thrown around, which is great, because both statements are absolutely true. But knowing those truths cerebrally is very different from encountering them personally. This weekend was about both aspects— learning and experiencing the Love that is greater than all else, God Himself.

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This retreat was a little different from all my last retreats (herehere, here and here), because this time I was on the retreat team as the skits producer. Basically, during every retreat there are a few skits throughout the weekend to help animate the theme. I won’t get into much detail, but the actors (i.e. my friends who kindly volunteered to act) delivered hilarious, thoughtful, powerful skits, and I cannot thank them enough for giving their time and effort for the glory of God.

And now for some other nuggets of wisdom from the weekend about L-O-V-E. Huge thanks to Fr. Mark Murphy for being our insightful speaker this retreat!

“We are most authentically human when we give ourselves in love.” – Fr. Murphy

Fr. Murphy also said, “Charity always requires difficult things.” In other words, love is sacrificial. If God sacrificed Himself out of love for us, there is no way that we can love without sacrifice as well. But the difficulty that love requires is nothing compared to the peace and true freedom it yields.

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the coolest retreat directors in all the land

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channeling our inner “From This Moment On” Shaina Twain 

Love is not just a feeling; it is an act of the will. Emotions are a gift, and they can point us towards authentic love, but they are not everything. If people loved others in word and deed only when they felt like it, marriage and friendship would never ever work. It only works if you choose to love every day, sometimes despite your feelings or lack thereof.

shoutout to the kitchen staff at the retreat house! thank you for the delicious food all weekend!

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Angelica, one of the stars of skit team

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Charity is love of God above all else for His sake, and it is love of neighbor out of love for God. – Fr. Murphy

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God speaks silence. – St. Padre Pio

Get rid of the noise and clamor for a bit and let the gentle and loving God speak to you in the silence. Just you and Him. It’s all He longs for.

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Dan, another star on skit team

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“There isn’t any torture that you couldn’t suffer for the souls God has entrusted to your care.” – Fr. Murphy

In other words, suffering has value if you are willing to offer it to God out of trust and love. He will give you the strength to suffer for the sake of other souls, even if you don’t currently see why you’re suffering or who you’re suffering for or when the suffering will end. Suffering sucks, but how beautiful it is that God chooses to entrust us with suffering for the sake of His children.

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“He’s just so sausage-y!”

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The means of holiness is already there in the Church — it is Jesus Christ. – Fr. Murphy

The Church has good people in it. It also has people in it who do terrible things. The bottom line is that the Church has sinful humans in it, but Jesus Christ is always good, no matter what His children do.

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The more the soul lowers itself in prayer, the more the Lord lifts it up. – St. Teresa of Avila

The more we recognize our lowliness, the more God will raise us up to Himself.

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Acknowledgement of the truth is authentic humility. – Fr. Murphy

It is the truth that we are weak and sinful. It is the truth that God is Love and Truth itself and that we need Him. Acknowledgement of who we are and who we are not is authentic humility.

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Contemporary people learn more from other people’s witness than from their words. When people do learn from others’ words, it’s because of their witness. – Fr. Murphy

Basically, don’t just talk the talk. You have to walk the walk in order for people to learn from you and to know that what you stand for is good and true.

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best friend tradition ♥︎ 

We have a God who prefers littleness. – Fr. Murphy

God, the Creator of the universe, came as a little infant to a little manger in a little town called Bethlehem. He loves our littleness and comes to us when we feel the most insignificant and least powerful in the world.

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retreat team family photo (aka one of my most favorite pics of all time)

Fr. Murphy told us a beautiful story about an elderly married couple. The wife was bedridden and crippled, and her husband took care of her lovingly every day. The husband told Fr. Murphy that he loved her more in those bedridden and crippled days than he did on the day he married her.

This is because when you love someone who is crippled, bedridden and most helpless, your sacrificial love is most pure. Your love is the greatest because you are giving of yourself despite the other person’s inability to give back. It’s the same thing with the Church and with the world. When the Church is most broken and helpless (like it is today), that is when we love her and care for her most purely.

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~contemplative~

Thank you so much to all who made retreat possible. You are all stellar humans.

This is the most faith-filled post I’ve written in quite a while. I plan on addressing how my blog space has changed recently (in case you haven’t noticed it yet), but when God makes His way into your life, ya just have to talk about Him everywhere. He’s on the brain, on the heart.

If there’s one thing you can take away from this post, it is that you are loved so deeply by Love Himself. If you need more on that, check this out ➔ He thirsts for you.

And I LOVE YOU!!!

So tell me:

What is love? (← big question, but let’s chat!)

One beautiful thing you experienced this past week.

Other things on your heart that you’d like to share. Let’s get cozy.

What Moves You?

I GOT 14 HOURS OF SLEEP ON SUNDAY NIGHT.

I conked out a little before 7pm and woke up at almost 9am. I needed it though. This past week, I’ve gotten anywhere from 3-6 hours of sleep per night, but I am happy to report that this was mostly because of long, wonderful days.

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egg sandwich that I packed with me for my flight from Florida to Texas — very happy I brought this

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also very happy my flight provided Biscoff cookies 🙂

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Remember the Alamo!

As I said on Friday, I was in San Antonio, Texas for a Catholic conference called SEEK. The theme of the conference is, “What Moves You?”

So with almost 13,000 (!!!) other students (plus a whole lot of religious sisters and brothers, priests, missionaries, and others), we ventured on a four-day journey to reflect on this question.

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can you find Boston University?

Even though I felt like I was moving through a can of sardines the whole week, it was absolutely incredible to grow closer to Jesus Christ with so many other young people.

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Our days consisted of breakfast provided by our own BU missionaries (thanks so much1 ♥︎)…

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they even had pb because they’re the most considerate of souls

…followed by Adoration and Mass with over 13,000 people…

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…then a little Battle of the Sexes game show fun before our separate men’s and women’s talks. Fun fact: I was the contestant on Battle of the Sexes on the third day.

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thanks, Jaime 🙂

A little background: The men won the Battle of the Sexes the past two SEEK conferences. The score by the third day when I went up there was 4-3, women in the lead. But the men had one more lifeline, while the women had used both of them by third day (we had two total for the week — ask the audience and ask a religious). So the pressure of regaining the title for 7,000+ women was on my shoulders. Good thing I had a very strong sense of, “Trust in God; this isn’t about you,” in my heart by the third day.

Rachel filmed this for me:

Funny how I didn’t know the second question, which had to do with women’s rights… Rachel said the night before, “They chose the worst possible person for this.” A little bitter about that comment, but she’s not entirely wrong.

It ended in a tie (he got two right, I got one right), so later that night there was a tiebreaker that THE WOMEN WON. I’m convinced that Our Lady of Victory was interceding for us 😉

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Anyway, after the Battle of the Sexes and the respective men’s and women’s talks, we all broke for lunch, which was provided every day.

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always some variation of sandwich, chips, cookie, and water

After lunch, we had two 40-minute breakout sessions. There were so many talks to choose from each time. Throughout the week, we were blessed to hear a plethora of phenomenal speakers provide inspiration, insight, information, apologetics, and testimonies about different topics in the Catholic faith.

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The second talk ended at 4:45pm, and then we were on our own for dinner. We usually went for some Tex-Mex food, because…we were in Texas.

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tacos and tamales are my faves

Although, one night my Californian friend, Sarah, took us to In-N-Out — apparently an essential experience for all of us who had never been.

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“They all just look so happy there.”

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regular cheeseburger, no onions + vanilla shake

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thanks for the photo, Domenica!

‘Twas delicious!! Even if I was stuffing it into my face in our Uber as we rushed back to the conference that night.

At night, we would have a keynote at 7pm, followed by different programming each night. One night there was adoration with all 13,000 people (chillingly powerful). Another night there was a comedy show by Michael Jr. Another night there was a performance by The Oh Hellos (if you like folk rock, you HAVE to check them out!). Another night, my friends and I ditched the programming and bought ourselves ice cream from CVS.

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ice cream and fellowship  ♥︎ 

Also, San Antonio is a pretty sweet city. Everyone is so kind; it kinda throws off us northeasterners a bit.

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our mascot living his best life in San Antonio

So now to answer the question, “What moves you?”

After this SEEK conference, here’s what I’ve learned moves me:

  1. The unchanging nature of things, especially the unchanging nature of being a woman in a world where the model of femininity is constantly changing (see Lisa Cotter’s talk for more on this!).
  2. The Law of God, which is based on love.
  3. God’s Mercy and the mercy of others in my life.
  4. The fact that, although there are logical reasons to believe God exists, “for most of us, God is not a hypothesis; He is a personal experience.” – Matt Fradd
  5. “We are not the sum of our failures and weaknesses. We are the sum of the Father’s love for us and our real capacity to become the image of His Son.” – St. John Paul II
  6. “God is not just the destination; He is the inspiration.” – John O’Leary
  7. The fervent prayer and worship of so many young people, as well as their support, kindness, and drive to use their talents for the sake of the Kingdom.
  8. The sight of lively and radiant nuns, brothers, friars, priests, and religious.
  9. God not just being a big part of my life but God being my life.
  10. The fact that a guilty conscience is helpful, but shame is not from God.
  11. The gift of writing, which is so helpful for focusing during prayer.
  12. The fact that what breaks my heart breaks God’s heart.
  13. The honest and vulnerable testimonies of men and women from every (and I mean every) walk of life.
  14. “If God is going to spend so much time designing the unique circular patterns on your fingertips, how much more will He care about the love that is in your heart?” -Sr. Bethany Madonna
  15. “You will become what you love.” – Leah Darrow
  16. Just as we can’t exercise and then go feed ourselves with whatever crap foods we want, we can’t just go to church/pray and then feed ourselves with media and activities that point us away from God. It’s a lifestyle.
  17. Jesus’ Real Presence in the Eucharist.13782242_1136742099682279_7064718394112318411_n
  18. These people:

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the Boston University crew! thanks for the pic, Veronica!

So tell me:

What moves YOU?

A fun fact or two about last week!

Have you ever been to In-N-Out before?