Friday, January 28, 2011

7 Quick Takes Friday (#16)

You know the drill... CONVERSION DIARY... word.

  1. The March for Life this week was fantastic! We had about 40 people from the Newman Center marching, and we ran into so many great groups - seminarians and priests and brothers and nuns and young people and old people... it was great to see so many people out showing our nation that LIFE is something that people care about.
  2. Earlier this week, Jennifer Fulwiler at Conversion Diary posted about her article in Envoy magazine. I promptly commented that Envoy was at the FOCUS Conference with free copies, and I excitedly picked up one and told all my friends, "I know her!" even though I actually only know her through my addiction to reading her blog. Well, surprise of all surprises, I got an email from her a couple of days later thanking me for my kind words and "awesome" comments... (Insert image of Liesl jumping up and down and getting a bit excited). Jennifer Fulwiler said I leave "awesome" comments. I mean, you have to admit, it's kinda cool. I feel like a famous person emailed me personally. I guess in the Catholic blogosphere, she is kinda famous, so I am legit in my excitement, right?
  3. Yes, I just used the word "legit". I'm still in my early-mid-20s, so I'm allowed to say stuff like that.
  4. I am a huuuuuge fan of Josh Groban - he is one of the few artists that is 1.65783 billion times better live than on his perfectly tweaked album - but I think this video displays his true talent like I've never seen it before. It's short. Check it out. If you're up with pop culture... you'll get a good laugh. (Warning: Some briefly bleeped language.)
  5. I've been getting a lot of traffic lately - which is FANTASTIC!!! If you're new around here, WELCOME! Hope you enjoy my snarky wit and insights into life. If you want to take some time and check out my Getting to Know You page, I'd love to hear more about you! Especially if you have a blog of your own, I would love to check it out... really, I spend way more time than I should looking at blogs. It's an addiction. Maybe someday we'll have support groups - Bloggers Anonymous. It could work.
  6. As I mentioned in this novel post, I've pretty much listened to nothing but Audrey Assad's album, The House You're Building, since FOCUS conference. I'm a little bit in love with it. So I'm going to share some more with you. You're welcome.
  7. It's Your Sacred Heart within me beating, Your voice within me singing out for love of You.
  8. You know that Olivia Newton John song "Physical"? (OK, side bar - the only way I know this song is because they did a remake on Glee. I wasn't actually born yet when the original was released. I apologize. Although, God already knew who I was!) I've been thinking of doing a remake called "Let's Get Spiritual"... I think it would be a big hit. I imagine my Billboard Top 40 hit as going something like this:
I'm praying all these things that I know you'll hear
Like whispering in Your ear 
I gotta listen closely now 
To learn Your will 
You take me broken, as I am 
Grace abounding freely 
Through the gift of his Sacred Heart 
You breathe into me 

 Let's get spiritual, spiritual 
I wanna get spiritual 
Let's get into spiritual 
Let me hear your Spirit talk, your Spirit talk 
Talk to my heart

          How's that for a spiritual... workout?!? Did you see what I did there? Heheheh.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

FOCUS Conference 2011 - Answering the Call

This past weekend, I attended the FOCUS Conference in Baltimore, MD. For those of you who aren't familiar with FOCUS, it is the Fellowship of Catholic University Students, and it is an organization dedicated to the new evangelization. They send out dynamic teams of missionaries to college campuses throughout the nation to engage students in discussion about faith, start Bible studies, and bring students home to Christ throughout those very difficult and tempting college years.

Someday, I hope to be a diving board model.
There's only one way to describe the conference experience: AMAZING times ten. Really. My personal experience was very introspective, where light was suddenly shed on a lot of things about which I have been praying. No one can doubt the presence of the Holy Spirit at the conference... but what else can you expect when you put about 1500 college students and young adults in the same place to worship Christ? I feel like this always makes God preeeeeeetty happy - to see young people in love with His son.

One of the best parts of the conference was the opportunity to hear so many amazing speakers. They each centered on the theme of "Answering the Call." I got a lot out of each of the talks, although sometimes I think I missed parts of their talks due to something they said that sent me off hurriedly scribbling away in my journal. Like I said, an introspective experience for me in many ways - the Holy Spirit was busy at work!

**Long blog post awaits all ye who enter... ye be warned**


She should wear a superhero cape.
Lila Rose - I was pumped when I found out she was speaking at conference, because I have watched many of her undercover videos on Youtube. Lila is a recent college graduate and convert to Catholicism that has answered the call to pro-life activism through starting Live Action. She goes into Planned Parenthood clinics across the country posing as an underage teenager who has discovered she's pregnant, and the video she's gotten... well, let's just say that people should be getting into WAY more trouble than they are.

She gave a lot of interesting - and frightening - facts about abortion. Like the fact that there's an abortion in our country every 23 seconds. Or the fact that ONE-THIRD of my generation has been the victim of abortion. ONE. THIRD. Can you believe it? I can only begin to imagine the great things that could have been accomplished by now if we didn't live in a culture of death.

One of the most profound things she said was a prayer that she says she prayed many years ago, and still does today. I want to be used by you, Lord. Tell me what you want me to do. Teach me to love you more. Show me what to do and help me act. She admitted that this is a dangerous prayer - look where it's gotten her! - but that it's what we are designed for.

You're gonna wanna buy this album.
Audrey Assad - What a beautiful musician! Audrey Assad was absolutely amazing - it was like an intimate concert despite the fact that our setting was a conference hall in a hotel. Her music was so full of emotion and personality, giving each listener insight into her personal faith journey. She shared with us about her awkward school years, how she was the girl that was way more into band than normal - hello, that was basically me. She worked through her awkwardness and struggles with life, faith, and love through music - so it's something to which we can all relate in some way or another.

After the concert, I was able to buy her album, where I got to tell her thanks for her music as she signed my CD insert! Let's just say that I've pretty much listened to nothing but her album since I got home from conference. My favorite song off of her album is "Restless", which is based on writings by St. Augustine, who said, I am restless 'til I rest in you. The song is simple, but incredibly beautiful.

I think the best thing that I got out of listening to her perform was that while she was singing, my mind started to wander and take off, leading me through thoughts that I've been trying to unlock for months. Thankfully, I had my trusty prayer journal with me... which is probably why I got a couple of strange stares from the people next to me as I furiously wrote before my thoughts got locked up again. Probably the most productive concert I've ever attended in my life.

"I want YOU to answer the call!"
Jeremy Rivera - Jeremy spoke on spiritual gifts and how to discover and use them for what God intends you to do. He said a lot of profound things. One of my favorites was when he asked all the full-time ministers to raise their hands. Priests and the FOCUS missionaries raised their hands. Then he asked everyone to raise their hands, saying that this response was the answer to the next question: Will all the full-time ministers raise their hands? He made the point that we are all in full-time ministry, just some of us are in disguise as teachers, students, construction workers, etc. What a great thing to tell college students - we are ALL full-time ministers! If even half of us go out from that and are even just part-time ministers - think of all the lives that can be touched. Some other great things he brought up:

  • When you're operating within your gifts and passions, weariness is low and effectiveness is high.
  • Where do we begin to answer the call?
    • What are you passionate about? What brings you alive? The word passion means to suffer, so are you willing to suffer for what you think your passions are?
    • What are your spiritual gifts? If we start serving in our communities and churches, our gifts will start to bubble to the surface.
    • What are your previous job experiences? What did you learn from them, and can you answer the call through them?
  • Don't compare yourself to others, because each of us has a place in the Lord's plan. Don't judge others, but don't belittle yourself either.
  • Evangelization is just one bum telling another bum where to find food. We are all broken, in need of a Savior.
Again, the floodgates of my brain and heart were once again opened while he talked. Let the furious scribbling ensue once again.

Jesuits are smart. He's no exception.
Fr. Robert Spitzer, S.J. - Fr. Spitzer spoke on the historical proof of Jesus. I think the most interesting part of his talk was how he started - by giving us six questions to ask people who believe in God but question His authority and awesomeness in sending His only son to save us all.

Q: What is the greatest power that you have, a power of human beings that brings good into the world?
A: LOVE! The power of empathy, where doing good for others is easier than doing good for ourselves.

Q: If you have this power, do you think the Creator is devoid of love?
A: NO! God must have at least some love.

Q: Do you just want some love, or do you want infinite, unconditional love?
A: Through our relationships with others here on Earth, we all long for unconditional love from others. We all long to receive it and desire to love in that way as well. Could this be the meaning of life? Intriguing thought...

Q: Do you believe that the Creator could be devoid of unconditional love?
A: No, not if this kind of love is what we all long for.

Q: If God is, or is capable of, unconditional love, what would He be like? Would He want to be with you, not just spiritually, but physically? Would He be Emmanuel, "God with us"?
A: Just like when we love another person unconditionally, we want to be with that person, in his or her presence. This is what God also wants, to be in our presence in a perfect act of humility. Not just spiritually, but physically.

Q: Is Jesus the One?
A: YES! God the Father can seem way up there sometimes - distant - but Jesus is about God having infinite affection, humility, and love for each human being.

Whew! A logical progression of thought can lead to Truth. Good thing God gave us the power to reason as well as to love!

He also brought up the point that Christianity experience geometric growth proportional to the degree in which is was persecuted in the early Church. This growth is different from every other Messianic movement... why? Because the resurrection gave hope to the disciples and because of the Holy Spirit. Would you die for something that was a hoax, that you didn't believe in with your entire being? I wouldn't, and neither would the disciples and the many martyrs throughout history. People look for evidence of Christ's resurrection - you don't really have to look very far.

Whoa. (stupid surfer voice)
Chris Stefanick - This man walked out onto the stage and started playing classic rock licks on his guitar. What are we about to hear...? is what a lot of us were thinking, I'm sure. Well, we were in for a ride - but a good one. He is filled with love for God, but has a way of sharing Truth and catechizing in a very dynamic and hip way. He had the best one-liners, and he had the entire crowd cracking up one second and then "Aww"-ing at a picture of his baby girl the next. Some of the best thoughts and one-liners:
  • Reverence is when you stand back from something and feel WOW. But the closer you get, the more familiar it is. We get used to the most amazing things - i.e. GOD - and then they don't seem so amazing anymore. God is the creator of the universe... we should be saying WOW!
  • "Atheism is dumb... it's like the flea denying that the dog exists."
  • "You're telling me the Big Bang big banged itself billions of years ago?"
  • We need to step back as if we've never heard or seen this before and say, "Whoa." ... like a stupid surfer would say it.
  • The world gets a picture of "Happy Jesus" in their heads, especially with difficult teachings. The world thinks something is harsh and asks WWJD... "Well, have you read the Bible? He made the comfortable very uncomfortable."
  • Jesus taught that he is God. He's either God or had the biggest ego in history.
This guy is a hilarious, rock guitar playing saint! Can you imagine if he were canonized hundreds of years in the future - the card on your refrigerator would be him with his guitar going "ROCK ON!" Here's just a taste of his talk. If you ever get a chance to see him in person - do it.

His Dad-of-8-look: "You better answer the call, or else!"
Curtis Martin - No, I'm not talking about the former NFL running back (thanks Wikipedia!). I'm talking about Curtis Martin, the founder of FOCUS! I've heard him speak on Catholic Answers Live before, and so I was more than excited to hear him speak in person. His talk especially left an impact on me. Again, in the middle of his talk, I went off on a page and a half tirade in my own thoughts. I eventually came back around to catch the rest of his talk.

He told a joke (in a hilarious Italian accent!) that brought up the point that answering the call can be difficult sometimes - we pray for it and ask to know God's will, and then when we get an inkling of it, we blow it away.

Thank God he answered his calling and started FOCUS! He thought, "We live in a great but scary world - how can we solve this problem?" More Catholics! He quoted Pope Benedict XVI, who has said that evangelization serves the end that we address poverty in all forms. I've heard other people say that social justice issues wouldn't be issues if everyone knew Christ. No one would go hungry. No one would be abused. No one would live without a roof over their head.

He said that there are only three things that you need to live:

  1. To know God - to be in a relationship with Him (see CCC 1).
  2. To know God's plan for you - the only way to know His purpose for you is to know God.
  3. To go out and live that plan with zeal and passion.
He recommended that we all join him in the habit of prayer - so that we can become people who don't just walk with Christ every once in a while, but who will always know and walk with God.

What a privilege to hear him speak - you can tell that he is in love with his faith and hopes to spread it to as many people as possible. FOCUS seems to be doing a pretty good job so far - may it continue to grow exponentially!

Well, if you made it through my whole post, congratulations! You get 5,000 bonus points... that go towards something really cool. Trust me.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

1 John 4:7

I've found that the more I learn about Catholicism and the deeper I get into my faith, the more I see God - or notice the lack of God - in secular pop culture. My latest victim of scrutiny is a movie I borrowed from the library this past week - (500) Days of Summer.

Yea, they look cute together, but don't be fooled.
I was excited to see this movie because I've heard a lot of good things about it. If you've heard anything about the movie, the basic premise is that it tracks the relationship between Tom and Summer, as it jumps around the 500 days between when Tom meets Summer, starts up a sort of relationship with her, and finally when he has to try to get over her and move on with his life. They tell you at the beginning that this movie is not a love story... which is true. It's not a love story in the way that Hollywood defines "love story"... but it does teach us all something about love... rather, a view of what people do in the absence of feeling that ultimate Love.

To be honest, I was initially disappointed with this movie, because my heart was breaking. Breaking for Tom, as I watched him fall completely in love with the wrong girl. Breaking for Summer, who didn't seem to have any regard for the feelings of others and how her actions affected those close to her. As I was watching, I couldn't figure out why I was being so affected by the movie, by the characters. Then I realized that my heart was breaking for myself too, for the pain that comes from a relationship - friendship or otherwise - where a person says one thing with words, but his or her actions say the exact opposite. Or where a person shows a complete disregard for the consideration of others, choosing to live in a world where "I" always comes first in the alphabet of the world. I realized as I was watching that the reason I was so affected by the movie was because I could completely relate to Tom's character and what he was going through - I've been a part of those friendships and relationships. The sad truth is that many people out there today probably have been a Tom before. Most of us can also probably stake claim to being a Summer, a time where we selfishly disregarded the good of others. It seems that so many people out there in our world have hearts breaking as they search to satisfy the hunger in their hearts, instead finding pain from trying to fill the place meant for ultimate Love with a sad adaptation.

JPII, looking for Love
I suppose that one of the purposes of the arts is to show us a view of our own realities, so we can relate to issues in society in a non-confrontational way. But secular art lacks what Tom needed the most. I've especially learned through reading into Theology of the Body that we all long for a deeper love, and that hole in our hearts is Christ-shaped. So while the movie ends with Tom finding the next phase of his relationship career, he's still searching for that fulfillment from a woman, one who may or may not break his heart. What Tom doesn't realize is that he is longing for what Pope John Paul II called a "beautiful love", which is an invitation to discover the true love of Jesus Christ. So the question is - how do we expose the Toms and Summers of the world to JPII's - and the Church's - beautiful teaches about Love? How do we explain to secular society that Love has been and is freely given to each and every one of us, and all we have to do is invite it in?  If we could find some good answers to these questions, can you imagine how much better the world would be, how much better people would treat others?

Friday, January 21, 2011

7 Quick Takes Friday (#15)

Check out Jen at Conversion Diary for more quick takes!

  1. Monday is the March for Life in Washington DC! Anyone coming around for it, or are you attending one in your region? I have to teach in the morning, so I'll miss the Youth Rally and Mass they hold at the Verizon Center each year, but I will be marching with many other students from the Newman Center in support of life. We had a priest come speak to us this week, and he brought two women who have had abortions in their past, and they told us about the amazing healing they've found through the Church. Women are so hurt by abortion, that it sometimes disgust me that so many "feminists" are pro-abortion. Let's pray that our voices will be heard this year as we speak up for all the unborn who can't speak and all the women who are hurting!
  2. This weekend, I'll be attending the FOCUS Conference in Baltimore, MD. I am so pumped to spend a weekend away from DC with thousands of Catholics. Mass every day, Adoration 24/7, music, speakers, food... can't get much better than that! Hopefully it will be a prayerful and "productive" experience, as well as a time to meet some new people!
  3. I found out this week that I've been chosen for an interview for the DC Teaching Fellows! That was some fun news... now I have to register for the Praxis II. I have been assigned to take the General Science exam... I hope they realize that the only science I am qualified (or want) to teach is CHEMISTRY. Goodness, it's not like I almost have a graduate degree in that subject! Just leaving everything in God's hands though - He knows what's best for me!
  4. I started teaching lab again this morning. It will be nice to have something to keep me a bit busier than I have been... I have run waaaay too many errands this week.
  5. I finally bought a frame for my Ophelia print that I bought at the Tate when I studied in London... 4.5 years ago. I'm excited to have it on my wall finally.
  6. Do you ever watch a movie that skips around through time, and you wonder - "Are you doing this to be artistic... or just to confuse me like crazy?" I sometimes think directors do it just to drive people crazy.
  7. Have I mentioned that I am really excited for FOCUS conference this weekend? I think I might have...

Friday, January 14, 2011

Repeat as desired

I've been reading through Startling the Day's old posts and came across this one with her all time favorite book and movie recommendations. I always have people asking me for book and movie ideas (I own a lot of books and movies...), and I often become a library lending them out.

Because there are so many good books I've read out there, I'm going to limit my list to books I've read waaaay more than once... but if you want more recommendations, trust me, I have a HUGE list.

So without further ado, here's what I think is worth your time over and over again. If you need to borrow any... well, this library hasn't been hit by the harsh library tax cuts yet, so we're still open 7 days a week.* So get ready to lather in the shampoo, rinse, and repeat as desired.


Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine - If you've heard of this title, it's most likely from the movie with Anne Hathaway. Well, hate to break it to you, but the movie was like the Shrek version of this book... as in there are ogres, which have layers, like onions. Long story short, the movie is the cheese-tastic layer of the onion (although I do like some of the music and Hugh Dancy), but the book is FANTASTIC. It's probably one of my all-time favorite books, and I've read it so often that the poor paperback is worn and torn. Yes, it's a book written for 12 year olds. I don't really care. I can't wait to read it to my little girls someday, if and when I get married and if I have girls. If I don't, then I'll have to borrow other people's little girls so I can read it to them. Totally not in a creepy way, in a "I'm teaching you to love books" kind of way. It might be better if I just have my own kids... 
You're only allowed to read the version with this cover. Any other cover is lame. Yes, I judge a book by it's cover.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen - If you are a woman and you haven't read this book, shame on you. If you are a man and haven't learned how to be Mr. Darcy so I can fall in love with you, shame on you.

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett - This is a beautiful story about the power of music bringing people together. Go. Read. It. Now.

The Bible by God - I've always wanted to read the Bible the whole way through, even though I've heard most of it many times. I recently found this site to read the Bible in a year, and I think I'm going to give it a try! I'm sure I'll update how it's going... once I get started... if that happens.

Me in front of the Globe Theatre, where I saw 2 plays!
Anything by Shakespeare - I first met Shakespeare in Honors English my freshman year of high school and it's been a wonderful love affair ever since. My goal is to read all the plays and see them all performed. I've read and critically studied at least 14 of his plays (many of them more than once) and I've seen 9 of his plays performed (again, many of them multiple times)... so it's a life goal. I try to take my time and enjoy our love.

Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling - Anyone who knows me for a span of longer than 5 minutes will not be surprised to see this on the list. I've actually lost count of how many times I've read the books... I'm also a fan of listening to the audio books - Jim Dale just has an amazing voice and he acts out each character. If you haven't listened to him read them yet - be sure to check it out - he makes the HP experience a million times better than it already is.

Atonement - by Ian McEwan - I'm actually reading this again now. It's a beautifully written novel that makes more and more sense each time you read it. Even if you don't understand what's always going on, the words just flow like poetry through your eyes into your brain.


Noting says romance like the gift of a kidnapped, injured woman!
Stardust - To be honest, I'm not sure if I can explain why I love this movie. I just do. I seriously notice something new every time I watch it. I like to think of it as a less cheesy (but still plenty of cheese!) version of The Princess Bride (Mawwiage!), but really, I just think the acting is amazing. The score is amazing. The characterization is amazing. I just love watching it over and over again.

Pride and Prejudice - Unlike the rest of the female population, I have only seen the BBC version once and couldn't get past the hairstyles... however, I am in love with the Keira Knightley/Matthew MacFayden version from 2005. When I say "in love", I really mean it. I can always watch that movie and never be bored. The score is also amazing. The gazebo scene in the rain? *Ahhhhh*-mazing.

National Treasure - This movie just holds so many memories for me... being on one of the four channels I had while living in London, every single night (no joke)... quoting the lines with my sisters... fighting over whose boyfriend Riley was going to be with the sisters (I usually won, I played the "oldest" card)... watching it with my Grandma the summer I lived with my Poppy and Grandma... running around DC acting out all the scenes (OK, I haven't quite completed this yet...). I just love American history brought to life, and I think this movie makes it fun and adventurous... and Riley is really witty and cute.

The Holiday - This is one of those "chick flicks" that I've actually heard guys admit that they like. I also think it's just a wonderfully weaved story about love and the different ways that people deal with and learn about and fall in love. The characters are all really great to watch, and Jack Black's character would totally be a guy I would fall for with his geeky cheesiness, while Jude Law's character is also a guy I would fall for with the literature loving and cute glasses. Hopefully the real life version will be a perfect mesh of the two! 

That's me in the green, singing the harmony.
The Sound of Music - I am 16, going on 17!... Do I really need to explain more than this? OK, good, I can continue singing. Edelwiss, edelweiss, every morning you greet me...

She's the Man - I only list this because I can probably quote the entire movie... because the lines are hilarious. My youngest sister and I used to watch it together all the time - she knows it better than I do. It's also based on Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, which is quite possibly my favorite comedy. So it's a win-win.

Hope you find some things you like! Maybe next time I will feature my favorite music and TV shows.

*So, I went to the library today (Thursday) to return some DVDs and pick up a book and some more movies... and they were totally CLOSED. What library is closed on a THURSDAY!?!?!? That's so random. I hate cutting library budgets. They feed the minds of America! Let's increase taxes on video games instead...

7 Quick Takes Friday (#14)

Check out Conversion Diary for more!

I thought I would give a shout out to some great blogs and links that I have found for my 7 Quick Takes this week. Without further ado...
  1. I have become... for lack of a better word... addicted to Catholic Answers Live in the past couple of months. I've listened and learned about saints, Church doctrine, Marian apparitions, the early Church fathers, abortion, contraception, Protestantism, Scripture... the list could go on and on. I enjoy listening to the podcast on my morning commute or during long car rides. Be sure to check it out.
  2. I just recently discovered Startling the Day by Elizabeth, a young Catholic woman living up the faith, and I just can't get enough of her entries. From her entries on finding spirituality in a secular song to teaching Theology of the Body to teens, to marriage and dealing with the lads, she has a fresh way of relating Catholicism and faith to the world in which we live. I completely relate to a lot of what she writes, and I secretly wish that we could be friends... well, I guess it's not a secret anymore. Whoops!
  3. Over break, I read this amazing book recommended to me by a friend about Marian apparitions and the end times. Pierced by a Sword scared the crap out of me, but it was also beautiful. I highly recommend it... you can order free copies through Catholicity, along with the other two novels and a wealth of free CDs. What can I say, I love free things.
  4. If you're looking for interesting discussion and great entries on Church teachings, check out Little Catholic Bubble. While I try to stay away from the heated discussions on some of the posts, I find the entries refreshing, informative, and sometimes even fun. Yes, Catholics can be fun, who would've thought!
  5. I stumbled on this blog by stumbling onto another blog, etc. and well, it's been a nice stumbling. Modestia is written by Rebecca, a young Catholic woman who highlights how to be... well... a young modest Catholic woman! I find her links interesting and helpful, the fashion pictures are much more pleasing to the eyes than those in my Glamour magazine, and her entries are very honest and real. She's also got some great links for... take a guess... FREE STUFF! I love free stuff.
  6. I couldn't post a list of links without sending everyone to the GW Catholic blog. He posts homilies, links to cool Catholic videos and sites, and interesting topics relevant to young adults and all Catholics. Be sure to look at the recent posts on exorcisms
  7. Probably most people reading this are familiar with Conversion Diary. I am kind of in love with this Saint Generator she made, and I've been having fun "generating" saints and reading about them. I think in an effort to learn more about the saints, I am going to "generate" a saint each month and make him or her the patron saint of my month! So, this month's saint is (drumroll, please)... St. Michael, the Archangel! (Trumpet fanfare!) His feast day is September 29, and he has been honored as patron and protector by the Church! I liked this comic strip, that had the prayer to St. Michael written by Pope Leo XIII.
Yes, I like to picture the saints as kicking butt and taking names.

Saturday, January 8, 2011


I came across this beautiful quote about love while reading The Imitation of Christ awhile back:
‎"Nothing is sweeter than love, nothing stronger or higher or wider; nothing is more pleasant, nothing fuller, and nothing better in heaven or on earth, for love is born of God and cannot rest except in God, Who is above all created things."
I think that our world today forgets from where love originates - God. Love is born of God because God is Love, and it is only through God where we can more truly experience the fullness of love to which we are all called.

So then I was catching up on my Magnificat readings yesterday while praying and came across these Scripture passages:

Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God. Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love. In this way the love of God was revealed to us: God sent his only-begotten Son into the world so that we might have life through him. In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins. (1 John 4:7-10)
Beloved, if God so loved us, we also must love one another. No one has ever seen God. Yet, if we love one another, God remains in us, and his love is brought to perfection in us... Moreover, we have seen and testify that the Father sent his Son as savior of the world. Whoever acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God remains in him and he in God. We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us. God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him. In this is love brought to perfection among us. (1 John 4:11-17)

We have been given the greatest gift - to be loved by God and to be able to experience this gift with others - but it's important that we let God into the equation so that we can more truly experience the gift of love with others. Here's how I understand it:

Yea, this is nice... but compared to this:

Imagine trumpet blasts from all the angels... it's hard to draw that when I am not skilled at drawing with a laptop mouse, but hopefully you are getting the image I'm seeing.

And since bulleted lists are fun, in summary:

  • God is love. Love is God.
  • Love (i.e God) is the greatest gift we are given by God. 
  • Jesus (i.e. the greatest gift EVER) is perfection in depicting God's love for us here on earth and is a preview to the love we will bathe in when we get to Heaven. 
  • We are all called to love as God loves.
  • The more we love others, the more we are with God and God is with us.
  • We need to keep God in the equation of love so as to truly experience the gift He has given us.

Friday, January 7, 2011

7 Quick Takes Friday (#13)

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Well, I haven't updated in a few weeks (I know, you're really upset by this...) because I've been at home on winter break! I am back in DC now, so my Quick Takes this week focus on my homes!

  1. It was good to be home again, and it's good to be back in DC! I enjoyed seeing friends and family and now I'm enjoying catching up with friends now that I'm back. For some mixing of Ohio and DC, I had a few friends over last night to watch Miami kick some Tennessee rear end in the Bowl Game! Great to see the boys go from a double digit losing record last year to a double digit winning record this year! This pre-game speech was epic.
  2. My family enjoys playing board games, and we played almost every night when I was home. I have officially declared myself the Scrabble champ of the household with a winning record of a billion wins to one loss. Alright, a billion is extreme, but believe me when I say we played A LOT of Scrabble.
  3. My next youngest sister turned 21 over the break and so my parents and I took her for her first wine tasting to Wyandotte Winery, a local winery near where I grew up! It was a lot of fun, and I walked away with some delicious wines to bring back with me!
  4. CHRISTMAS! That is the whole reason for the season, right? I played flute with the choir at Christmas Eve Mass, which is always fun. We celebrated Christmas at home and then also celebrated with my dad's extended family on the 25th and my mom's extended family on the 1st. Great times with all the family! I can say that I got everything I've ever wanted for Christmas... except for a monkey carrying a backpack with a million dollars. Maybe next year.
  5. I spent New Year's Eve with my friend Claire and her hubby. I rang 2010 in with them and another friend that was in their wedding with me, and so it was like a reunion one year later! It was a fun night. I also spent a few days with her crafting and playing board games! She got this game for her husband called Carcassonne, and it is so much fun. Really. She is also a master crafter and I hope to make millions of dollars someday so I can finance a craft store for her to run.
  6. Since I've moved out of the house with all of my bedroom furniture, I no longer have a room or bed to call my own when I travel home. This means I usually end up playing "musical beds". I often sleep on the spare twin in my youngest sister's room... which is also the bed/mattress I slept on when I was 3... so sometimes I switch it up and sleep in whatever bed happens to be open... even if it means waking up at 7 AM when the kids have gone to school to take over their bed. Needless to say, I am glad to be back to my own bed.
  7. I don't really attend daily Mass when I'm home... I'm not sure I could tell you why. I think it's mostly to do with it's much earlier in the morning and therefore much less convenient than our wonderful noon Mass at the Newman Center. I miss going to Mass every day so much, though! It really has opened my eyes though to the need to start getting myself there even when it's not convenient... especially since I won't be in grad school on this campus forever (I should probably do a post about that...). So it's good to be back, and I'm trying to get back into the swing of things so I went to Mass today and stuck around for Adoration before grabbing lunch with a couple of friends.
Happy New Year!
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