Power and Love and Self-Control

There are a million words yet no words at the same time. I’ll give this post my best shot, because it’s worth it.

Black lives matter. The murder of George Floyd is an act that ought to be condemned. There needs to be justice for George Floyd, his family, and for all people of color who have been oppressed and, evidently, suffocated to the point of death under systemic racism in America since its onset.

If you have followed this blog for a while, you know that I am not too shy about my views on life issues (i.e., divisive ones like abortion), and the issue of racism is one of those life issues.

This post from @rachel.cargle is striking. The actions we take and the words we speak in the Black Lives Matter movement are not to be in vain. This is what I am hearing from many black people, whether they are close friends or strangers. The gist is: “It’s a marathon, not a sprint.”

Yes, this should be true for ANY life issue. Yes, this movement is getting a lot of attention right now. But major events that gain attention, despite the chaos, can stir up genuine good and necessary change. We are not forgetting other causes nor minimizing them, but for something as important, real, longstanding, and stifled as the issue of racism in America, there is a very clear need for action and tangible, expedient change.

It is easy to be complacent and tired of all of this, but if we can muster up a little bit of energy to, in some minuscule way, lay down our life for a brother or sister, please Lord, help us to help.

Act. It is not wise to “sign x, y, z because everyone is signing this and it’s probably good.” You have the faculties given to you to make an informed, conscientious decision about which petitions to sign, which organizations to support, or which posts to share.

Make the decision because you know what you are doing, why you are doing it, and the implied WORK it requires you to do after you donate, sign, post, etc. Please be responsible, not just reactive.

Be honest in your research and be okay with hearing “both sides.” You might find a sense of good in both sides of the conversation. You might find discomfort or disgust in elements of both sides of the conversation. Ask yourself why. Talk to people with an open heart. Seek to understand.

In all of this though, the priority is to listen to those who are being oppressed (i.e., black people).

If you are not sure where to even start, here are suggestions:

  • For a concise, honest, and helpful understanding of the Black Lives Matter Movement, watch this. Although I do not condone any sort of violence or crime, this video provides perspective on the deep, unspeakable pain that is yielding such actions. Additionally, I have seen and heard of many instances where black people are the ones preventing others (of various races) from destroying businesses and hurting others. There are riots, yes, but there are many necessary peaceful protests, where a majority of the protestors actually condemn any violence and destruction. Nevertheless, I am learning more and more that the riots and looting are coming from a place of extremely long-standing oppression and systemic inequity against black people (watch this). There can be an understanding of rioting and looting without condoning it. And most importantly, in understanding why it is happening, it has pushed me to realize the urgency and duty of addressing the “why” — to seek out true reform; to get dirty and serve underserved areas; to speak with my vote; and to empower young people of color with my time, energy, and money so that change can happen from the bottom up. In other words, I need to do what needs to be done so that black people do not ever feel that their only chance to be heard and loved is by rioting and looting. Who put them in such a position in the first place? Even if I did not ever personally place a black person in a position of poverty and inequity, to not do anything about it now is to do just that.
  • For my Catholic friends who are not sure how Catholics are responding or how they ought to respond, watch this and this and read this. Pray and fast for justice for George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, for real upheaval of systemic racism (which will take a lot of time, so you’ll probably be praying for it for your whole life), and for respect for black lives. Ask God to shine a light on any prejudices in your own heart, and ask Him to uproot them. Pray about how God is calling you to act against racism, and follow.
  • For those who are wondering why the Black Lives Matter movement seems to be getting so much more attention and momentum vs. the fight for unborn lives (hint: the issues are not dissociated from one another), watch this (I have linked the particular part of the video that addresses this question).
  • For petitions to sign, organizations to support, and a plethora of other resources, go here.
  • For a history on police in America, listen to this.
  • For Boston friends who seek to support local organizations that empower young people of color, consider donating to African Community Education and Boys and Girls Club of Dorchester. One of my friends, who is an immigrant from Ethiopia, said that he believes real change will happen only if black people are in positions of power, and that starts with true nourishment and quality education from a young age.
  • Support local black-owned businesses (Boston list of black-owned restaurants).
  • Start a book club with friends. Be open to conversation, and remember that you can use the opportunity to LISTEN. Discuss what you agree and disagree with, but listen. My friends and I will read Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. I also recommend Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin.

Systemic, but always interpersonal. Someone told me that change still comes down to the interactions that we have with the people in front of us. And this does not mean to shut out the world and live in one’s own bubble, because ignorance of the sufferings outside of one’s own immediate environment is part of the problem. But truly, how do you love the person in front of you today?

Does loving them mean having a tough conversation about the reality of racism? Does loving them mean reminding them of their worth, power, and love, so that they can go and pour out to others and be inspired to do something bigger than themselves?

And then after being informed about the the injustices and atrocities against black people in America, after honestly praying and educating yourself about the history of racism, how can you go to black people within your community and love them? Or at least donate to them? And if you are really not physically amidst black people, then how can you reach out beyond your community?

Look to those who do it well. I will share below some Saints who I know have worked against racism and slavery as Catholics. White people within the Catholic Church have indeed participated in racism in the past and some likely still do today. Please remember these people are imperfect and sinful human beings who act of their own accord. What is important, however, is that even their evil racism did not keep black people from the Love of Jesus Christ in the Church.

For example:

Above all, I find that Jesus Christ proves to be the answer to everything. He knows unjust condemnation. He knows racism. He knows judgement from others. He knows contempt. He knows poverty. He knows the pain of being brutally murdered for no reason.

Yet He, the Victim, gives Wisdom. He, the Victim, gives Mercy. He, the Victim, gives Power. He, the Victim, gives Peace. He, the Victim, gives Joy. He, the Victim, gives Love.

He is everything broken, impoverished, and slandered, yet He is everything good and triumphant.

My friends, my words here are not perfect. This is important though. And please, teach me more if you can, and help me to amplify black voices. Help me to love others more.

“For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control.”

2 Timothy 1:7

“‘Teacher, which are the two greatest commandments?’ Jesus replied, ‘”Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” The second is like it, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.'”

Matthew 22:34-40

Go forth in power, love, and self-control. Black lives matter.

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.

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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[source]

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.