Tuesday, December 31, 2013

What to Read in 2014: Link-Up

We've all been there. That moment when you suddenly find yourself with 5 minutes free, and you think, "Oh, I shall be intellectual and read a book!" ... and then you realize, you have no idea what to read.

When did I last read something other than a magazine?

When was the last time I even read the title of a book?

Do I even remember how to read?!

If you have found yourself asking yourself any of the above questions recently, then this post is for you.

The ladies of #CathSorority were talking about what to read in 2014 recently, and we collectively decided that it would be fun to do a link-up to post our recommendations for all to see.*

So let's list 'em. What are five (5) books that should definitely be on all of our reading lists for 2014?

These books can be fiction or non-fiction, Catholic or not-Catholic, written for adults or written for kids... whatever should be on our personal reading lists, we want to know!

Really. I do not care what makes your list - it can consist of anything from Theology of the Body to Everybody Poops - whatever you deem as worthy of our precious time to read next year needs to be shared with us all. (Well, wait, I lied. If anyone lists 50 Shades of Gray... you are hereby booted from the link-up. We already took a vote.)

And now, without further ado, here are 5 books that I think you should read in 2014...

Thou shalt read the book with this cover.
(1) Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine - I may or may not have mentioned this book once or twice  before, but hopefully this gives you the last final hint that you should read this book right now. It is my all-time, ultimate, favoritest book ever ever ever in the world, and I do not say this lightly.

This book takes the fairy tale of Cinderella and gives it a whole new spin and adds a lot of adventure. Ella is spunky and spirited, and you'll find yourself laughing and cheering and probably tearing up all at the same time. You also might find yourself having the sudden urge to slide down stair rails. You just never know! This book is written for ages 8 and up, but it really doesn't matter how old (or young!) you are. I can't wait to read this book to my little girls someday, and if I never have little girls, then I will borrow someone else's... in a totally not creepy way.

Just don't steal this book.
(2) The Book Thief by Markus Zusak - I've always really enjoyed reading novels that are set during the Holocaust, and this book is so well written and weaves such a compelling story that it is hard to put down.

The novel is narrated by Death himself, which is fitting since Death was everywhere in WWII. He tells the story of a girl living in Nazi Germany who falls in love with the written word after stealing her first book as a young girl. I saw a lot of myself in the young protagonist... and not just because her name is Liesel! (I mean, the author should've spell-checked her name, but whatever, I'm over it.) Death continues to tell Liesel's story, as well as the story of those around her, as he paints a picture of what Nazi Germany was like, whether or not you were Jewish. The book looks long, but the chapters are so short and easy to read... trust me when I say that you will finish the book quicker than you expect and be sad that it's over.

Can you imagine taking a stroll with Mary?!
(3) Walking with Mary by Edward Sri - I have a confession to make. I am cheating a bit by including this book on my list because I have not yet finished reading it. But! I have read up through the Wedding Feast at Cana (favorite Jesus miracle!), and I am enthralled by this book and decided it had to be on my list.

I've written recently about Mary, and this book has helped me even more in understanding Mary's role not only in Jesus' life but also in my life. The chapters each detail a significant moment in time for Mary (such as the Annunciation, the Visitation, etc.) in both a historical and Scriptural context, while also relating each of these pivotal moments to what it means for our own personal faith journey. Sri helps relate Mary's relationship with Christ to how we can better our own relationship with Christ, while also explaining why Mary is just so gosh darn special! Already, reading this book has helped me to meditate more deeply on the mysteries of the Rosary and to see Mary in a whole new light.

When in Rome...
(4) Rome Sweet Home by Scott and Kimberly Hahn - I often get asked "Can you recommend a book to read for someone who ...wants to learn more about Catholicism..." or "...is interested in converting..." or "...who wants to read about the Catholic faith without getting too bogged down...?" and this is always my go-to recommendation. I first read this book when I started to dive deeper into my faith several years ago, and it completely opened my eyes to the truth and beauty of the Catholic faith. As the Hahns, former evangelical Protestants, fell in love with the Catholic Church, I too found myself falling in love the the Church.  Their struggles with certain teachings were some of my struggles (even though I was raised Catholic), and they tell their story in a personal and beautiful way as they detail their journey to Rome.

High five if you read it!

(5) The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel - I first picked up this book because Jennifer Fulwiler of Conversion Diary said it was instrumental in her conversion from atheism to Catholicism, and I trusted her, so I thought, "Eh, I need something to read, why not?!" So I promptly got a copy from my local library and set out on an investigative journey with the author. 

Here is what I concluded when I finished reading: Everyone needs to read this book. I don't care what religion or lack of religion you are, this book outlines the evidence for Christ being the Son of God in a way that is readable and understandable for all. The book is broken up into three sections ("Examining the Record", "Analyzing Jesus", and "Researching the Resurrection"), and looks at the historical, psychological, scriptural, archaeological, medical, etc. evidence surrounding Christ. I would have to say that my favorite chapter was on the medical evidence of Jesus' crucifixion, but I learned something from all of the chapters. If you are a Christian, you need to read this book so you can talk about Jesus from more than just a Scripture standpoint. If you are not a Christian, you need to read this book because I told you to read it. That should be enough, right?

*Please note that the "we" was a bunch of ladies saying "Let's do a link-up!" followed by "Liesl, when are you posting the link-up?!?!"**

**I'm totally happy to do it though... link away!


Since so many people are also posting a list of what they would like to read in 2014, I'm encouraging you all to also list what you would like to read this year! After all, this gives us recommendations as well, right?

Here is a very crafty image of a few of the books I plan to read in 2014!

1. Something Other Than God by Jennifer Fulwiler - I just pre-ordered my copy, and was probably more excited than I should have been to get a tweet from the author herself!

2. Pope Awesome and Other Stories by Cari Donaldson - Because stories are fun and the Pope is awesome.

3. Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan - Anything by Ian McEwan is a must-read on my list.

4. Dune by Frank Herbert - I started this in 2013 but the holidays distracted me... I hope to tackle it again.

5. Allegiant by Veronica Roth - Because the Hunger Games made me hungry for more dystopian literature (heh, get it, hungry?!).

6. No One Sees God: The Dark Night of Atheists and Believers by Michael Novak - This book was listed on Strange Notions... and the author also happens to have the same name as my organic chemistry lab professor from college (not the same person) so it must be a good one.


And now, for the link-up!

Here are the very strict rules and regulations:

(1) Your post should include five (5) books. If you post more than five (5) or less than five (5), I will seek you out on the interwebs and beat you with an e-stick.

(2) Please include a link and/or picture of the books so we can judge the book by it's cover. Very important.

(3) Include a link on your post back to this here mother post so all the other people in the world can find it and post their own recommendations. Go ahead and steal the graphic above for your post, too.

(4) Be sure to visit the other posts in the link-up and read all the books they tell you to read.

(5) If you tweet this post and/or your post, you can use the hashtag #WhattoReadin2014... or make up one that is better. #Becausemyhashtagsareusuallylongerthanthetweet

(5b) Also, if you tweet your post to me, @LieslChirps, I will retweet you! This is a very coveted honor.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Mama Mary

I've written before about how I've struggled to have a relationship with Mary.

That was until Mary quite literally nudged her way into my life a little over a year ago.

I had been praying for a special intention that I hold very close to my heart for some time, but I felt like I had hit a stumbling block. I could only do so much by praying, and things weren't happening on the timeline that I wanted. Add in that I still felt like I was in the midst of that pesky spiritual dry spell, and I was getting frustrated... I wanted things to happen now.

There had been a few times during all of this prayer that I had felt a little nudge to pray a rosary for my intention or to talk to Mary about it, but I kept shrugging that feeling away.

What can Mary do to help me with this? How can I even begin to relate to her?

So I kept pushing her away.

On a night like any other, I found myself praying in the chapel. It was very late; the chapel was dark and quiet, and I was completely alone. I sat as I usually do when I'm alone in the chapel - on the floor, right in front of the tabernacle. I had just finished praying a novena for my intention, and was having a little beg session chat with the saint of my novena when it happened.

Mary snuck her way into my thoughts again.

Turn to me.

I pushed the thought aside as I always had before.

Ask me for help. Please.

I gave a mental exasperated sigh.* I closed my eyes, and cleared my mind.

Fine. I give up. What do you want, Mary?

And at the exact moment when I decided to let Mary in, I no longer saw the darkness of my closed eyelids, but instead my vision was flooded with one of the most beautiful sights I've ever seen.

I could see Mary, as if I was watching her from above. She held my intention tightly in her arms, close to her heart. Her mantle was wrapped around it, to shield and protect it from all harm. Just as she once held her Son, she was holding my heartfelt prayer with all the love and care that a mother can give. Most importantly, she wasn't letting go.

It was in this moment that I began to cry.

This is why you've been bugging me for so long, I thought. You've been trying to show me, all along, that you're taking care of this.

And so, that night, and every night since, I've handed this intention that I carry with me over to Mama Mary. I see her hold it close to her heart, and I know that she will never let go, until the time is right for her to place it at the feet of her Son.

Recently, my spiritual director encouraged me to do a 54 day novena to Mary. As I set out on perhaps the most challenging spiritual quest I've ever taken on, I can't help but think that Mary is behind this, too. Always trying to nudge me into a deeper relationship with her, because she longs to bring me closer to her Son.

*In retrospect, I was so rude to Mary. I know. Again, I'm pretty sure she's forgiven me, because she loves me and we're pretty much like this now:
When we finally get to meet Mother Mary in Heaven, 
from Let Me Be Catholic Tumblr

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Two Minute Penance

How To Cultivate A (Truly) Grateful Heart

Blessings in Disguise by Julie @ The Corner with a View
Amanda @ Worthy of Agape
...and YOU! Join us on Facebook!


I'm not very good at being grateful.

I don't think I really realized this until Julie came up with this topic... but I can tell you that my spiritual director seems to have known this about me for a long time. How do I know that he knew this long before me?

My most common penance is "Spend two minutes thanking God for all the good things in your life."

Or something like that.

It's not as easy as it sounds.

It usually goes a little something like this...

Thank you God for the gift of your only son, for his sacrifice on the cross, for the gift of the Eucharist... thank you for my family who supports me, and good friends... thank you for providing me with a job that I enjoy, and a roof over my head, and food to fill my belly...

And then after about 30 seconds of that, I'm stuck with another 1 minute and 30 seconds of things like this...

Thank you God for air conditioning (recited when this takes place in the summer)...

Thank you God for air conditioning (recited when this takes place in the spring)...

Thank you God for air conditioning (recited when this takes place in the fall)...

Thank you God for my fan (recited when this takes place in the winter and the air conditioning is switched off in my building but it's still too darn hot)...

I think you get the idea?

The moral of the story is, I'm not very good at being grateful. So what on earth am I supposed to write about for this month's topic?!

I think I came up with a solution, and that solution is this: I'm not going to tell you how to cultivate a (truly) grateful heart, because I don't know the answer. I wish I did, but I can't lie to you.

What I am going to write about is this: a grateful heart is not something you are born with. It is not something that you discover one day, and then have the rest of your life. It is something that you must work to cultivate on a daily basis... and most days, I fail. But some days... some days I manage to be truly grateful... or more likely, God gives me some extra grace to be able to have a truly grateful heart, just for a moment. And I am truly grateful for these moments. One of these instances happened a few weeks ago.

I'm going through a rough time right now, and instead of focusing on all the good things happening in my life, I tend to dwell on all the things that are not right, and wonder if the things I had hoped for and thought were supposed to happen are ever going to happen. It's hard for the truly grateful heart to break through this fog.

This is where my mind and heart were as I was walking to my car from a friend's house late one night. It was one of the first nights where it was actually cold in DC, so much so that I put on my gloves for the first time this winter, keeping my hands warm as I carried a box of leftover pizza to my car. I was crossing the street when I heard a rustle, and saw movement out of the corner of my eye. I turned my head to see a homeless man, arranging his cardboard boxes and thin blanket to make his bed underneath a tree. He climbed in, snuggled down under his one blanket, and laid there quietly. I thought about stopping to see if he wanted my leftover pizza; but I decided to continue walking to my car as I was alone on a dark street late at night. Yet there was something that really struck me about this man. Though probably cold and hungry, he looked at peace wrapped up in his blanket and cardboard boxes. This man didn't have much, but he seemed to be truly grateful for the things he did have.

I got into my car, turned on the heat, and drove past the man sleeping under a tree. And then that grace from God hit me out of nowhere:

I am truly blessed.

I had spent that evening, and most of the past days, lost in my own world. I was blind to the suffering of others, because all I could think about was my own. But in that moment, God reminded me how blessed I am.

I am blessed because I have a warm car, and a home to drive home to. I am blessed to have leftover pizza, and gloves to warm my hands in the cold. And yes, I am even blessed in my sufferings, because while my suffering means that I may have lost something truly good, it also means that I am blessed to have experienced something good in the first place. My suffering is evidence of true vulnerability for perhaps the first time in my life, evidence of my faith in God and my faith in others and even a little bit of faith in myself. My suffering - though I wish with all my heart I didn't have to experience - is evidence of truly living.

In that brief moment, I had a truly grateful heart.

It didn't last longer than that night, at least that specific moment. But it's these fleeting moments of God shining a light on the blessings we have - the good and the bad - that help us to cultivate a truly grateful heart throughout our lives.

Maybe I won't figure it out tomorrow, or next week, or the next year, but as I just spent more than two minutes thinking about and writing this post, I do know that the next time I receive the "Spend two minutes thanking God for all the things!" penance from my priest, I won't have to "fill time" thanking God for my air conditioning. As I always should, I will spend that time thanking Him for all the good and the bad, the joy and the hurt, the laughter and the tears, because experiencing all of these things means that I am trying to truly experience love and life... and for that, I am truly grateful.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Catholic Womanhood

We must become a people truly strong ... by the valiant nobility of character of all of us, from the humblest to the greatest. Chastity, determination, and the dignity of life should be perpetually taught and developed in all. Woman, whose immense role and influence [the French] do not yet fully grasp, and who does not always grasp it herself, should from now on realize her task and consecrate her life to it.

To recoil from duty and sacrifice is cowardly ... [I]t is a duty to have a care for those in less fortunate circumstances than our own in the matter of wealth or education; it is a duty to develop unceasingly one's intelligence, to strengthen one's character, to become a creature of thought and will; it is a duty to view life with joy and to face it with energy. Finally, it is a duty to be able to understand one's time and not despair of the future.

All this woman can do. As much as man, she is a being who thinks, acts, and loves; she can proudly reclaim her right to duty. But for that she must come and draw her strength from the source of all strength, and to increase her intelligence she must bring it into contact with the supreme Intelligence. But this also is true of man. He also is powerless without God ... God must live in our hearts and lives.
- Elisabeth Leseur, from her Journal on July 30, 1900

Elisabeth and her husband, Felix.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

What I Wore Sunday: Blue Edition

Why, cello, everyone.

If you've been wondering why I haven't posted in the past couple of months, it's because I've been spending all that time trying to figure out what I was going to wear to Mass today.

Hey, a girl has got to plan ahead, right?


Say hello to my friends Emo and Knee-Popper.

Zee Outfit
Dress - Land's End, via Unique Thrift Store (on sale!)
Jean Jacket - Old Navy, via Unique Thrift Store (similar-ish)
Cami - Sonoma, via Kohl's (similar)
Wedge Sandals - Croft & Borrow, via Kohl's (similar)

My hair is also courtesy of being tangled and windblown from an outdoor concert last night, so I simply twisted it back to hide the tangles, very similar to this - except a) much simpler, and b) I was rocking this look waaaaay before her... I set the trends for the stars, you know.

This outfit has so much blue, I don't even know what to do.

I love to end with a little rhyme, so I'll see you next time!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Anything but Marriage? (Not Alone Series: Discernment)

Not Alone Series: Discernment
Late to the game, as usual. But I get there, so that counts, right? I missed the "Getting to Know You" portion of this all, so I'll be quick.

I'm Liesl. No longer 16 going on 17. You can read all about me, if you wish. I also like chocolate, sarcasm, and chocolate covered sarcasm. In that order.

Oh, and you should probably know that I really dislike being single - more than when all the chocolate is gone - and I'm also really really terrible at being single, so of course, I love to write about it.


Discernment. Way to start us off with a light and easy topic... I'll try to keep it as hot and heavy as possible.

(Although I really think that I'm the last person in the entire world who should be writing about any kind of discernment. If there's one thing I've learned from my spiritual life the past two years, it's that I am completely terrible at discerning God's will. Like fail-tacular. I will pray about something a lot for a long time, do the whole "Thy will be done!" thing, sense that my prayer and certain signs are leading me in a certain direction, jump in wholeheartedly because I'm following God's will, y'all!, and then...

To be fair, I haven't completely given up on the latest excursions into God's will-land... but all of that is a not-yet-completed-story for a yet-to-be-determined time.)

Did I just go off on a tangent? That tends to happen. Ever so sorry.

So, discerning my vocation. I suppose it really all started a few years ago, when I began to meet regularly with my spiritual director.

There's one thing you need to know. My spiritual director loves vocations... especially religious vocations. Are you a man? He will ask you every day of your life if you've thought about being a priest. Are you a lady? He may not ask you every day of your life, but he will ask... a lot.

And that was the first time I encountered the "Liesl, have you ever thought about being a nun?" question.

I laughed. Really really hard.

Me?! A nun?! Are you serious?!

When I realized he was serious, I got a little bit defensive.

But I've always wanted to get married and be a mother. Always.

His response: Yea, I always wanted to get married, and see where that got me? It's not a sacrifice if you give up something you don't want.

That's when I pulled out the big guns.

What, so I'm not good enough for a man? I haven't found a guy yet so I should just give up on marriage and run for the religious life?

He assured me that's not what he meant, but he let it go. For then.

After I left that spiritual direction session, I couldn't help but thinking about what he said, and laughing some more. I mean, I'm pretty sure that if I were a nun, I'd be like Maria...

Oh, I'm supposed to be at morning prayer right now? Whoops...
I also have confidence in rain, that spring will come again, and in my complete inability to heel click.
Along with impatience, laziness, sarcasm, mimicking British accents, et al, etc, la dee dah!
You get the idea?

I later told a couple of my very Catholic friends that my priest had dared to suggest that I think about the religious life. I asked them, Me as a nun?! Can you see that at all?

They all said, "Well, yea..."

That shut me up right quick.

After a little bit of thought and a lot of singing The Sound of Music in my head, I realized that I had always assumed that I would get married because that's what I wanted, but I had never really discerned what God wanted for me. I realized that whatever God was calling me to do would make me as happy as I could possibly be here on earth. Why would He call me to something that wouldn't bring me the happiness He created me for?

So I decided I was going to be open to it, whatever "it" was. I kind of informed my spiritual director that I wasn't going to actively pursue any particular vocation for a bit, but I was going to open my heart to be open to any vocation - marriage, single life, or religious life - and let my prayer be that God would place the desire in my heart for what He wanted for me. And for many months, my prayer wholeheartedly became, Thy will be done.

During this time, I met lots of people. Guys. Gals. Married people. Single people. Priests. And nuns. We had some nuns come by our Newman Center every couple of weeks to go to lunch, lead discussions, and just generally hang out. They were young. They were hip. And they were joyful.

I mean, they smiled ALL THE TIME! If they weren't smiling, it was because they were laughing! Which was also a lot! I quickly realized that I enjoyed being around them because they were so happy!

It also didn't take me long to realize that I felt no inclination towards their life. I loved their joy, but I didn't see their joy as someday being my joy. I prayed about it a lot, and asked God to please place a desire for their joy in my heart, if that's where He wanted me to go. But that desire never came, and it still hasn't.

Wuv! Twue wuv!
My prayer during this time especially drew me closer to God, but it also drew me closer to that desire for a husband and children.

Have I had any profound visions of my wedding day during my prayer? No, but God knows that would just be waaaaay too easy for me (right, God? I mean, I could take easy right now...).

Have I met that special man who will someday wait for me at the altar? I don't really know, but if we have met, we definitely haven't fully realized that we've been placed in each others' lives for the very specific purpose of marriage.

Since that time when I was really-super-duper-whatever-you-want-God! open to any vocation, I've had a few moments of very clear consolation towards marriage. You know, no fireworks or neon signs (boy, would that be nice...), but deep senses of peace that could only be from God. And, well, confirmation from my spiritual director, of course.

Like that time where I went on a 5 day silent retreat that was... well, let's just say, quite an experience for me... and my spiritual director and I agreed that we still haven't figured out what God wants for me but we could definitely cross "cloistered nun" off the list.

Or like another time when I very casually mentioned to my spiritual director that I didn't really feel any calling to the religious life, and his response surprised me quite a bit. His words:

Oh, yea, I agree... with your sense of humor, you couldn't be called to anything but marriage.

Um, thanks Father? I'm going to take that as a compliment... and as another little sign among many that I'm discerning the correct-ish vocational path.

So I continue to discern, and I continue to wait - very impatiently, because that's how I roll - and sometimes, I even continue to try to pray "Thy will be done" even when spiritual dry spells or heartbreak stand in my way. I may not be very good at placing complete trust in God, but I know deep down that He won't let me stray too far from the happiness He has planned for me.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Beholder

This post was originally published on June 17, 2012 as a guest post for Christina's You are Beautiful series.


Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

When I first heard this saying as a child, I thought that it meant that beauty was relative.  You know, how some people think the sunrise is one of the most beautiful things in the world, whereas I hold the belief that something that happens that early in the morning can only have so much beauty.

Other things that aren't too beautiful in the morning include my unkempt hair and sleepy eyes.
The trap we fall into with relativism though is that it leads us to believe that lies are the truth - yes, even with beauty! I can't count the number of times I've heard over the years, "You look pretty!" or "That dress looks beautiful on you!" but I can tell you that there have only been a few times I've heard the words we all long to hear: "You are beautiful." 

Yet, when I started thinking about the theme for this post and the above adage popped into my head, another thought came to light that made it all start to make sense in a way I'd never realized before.  What was the thought that entered my mind with this saying, you ask?

What if I think of God as The Beholder?

Beauty is in the eye of The Beholder.

It doesn't change much, but it changes everything.

The sunrise is beautiful, because God made it. My morning unkempt hair and sleepy eyes are beautiful, because God made them. I am beautiful, because God made me. You and I, though, we hold a different kind of beauty than the sunrise because our beauty comes directly from God, who is Beauty.
Then God said: Let us make human beings in our image, after our likeness... God created mankind in his image; in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them... God looked at everything he had made, and found it very good. (Gen. 1: 26-27, 31)
The sunrise was created by God, but only us human beings were created by God in His likeness. We were not just created beautifully, but we were created to be beauty.

Just like everything else in the world, the fall into original sin skewed our perception of beauty. We forget that our very creation is beauty. We forget that because we were created by God, we are beautiful. We forget that in God's eyes, we are beautiful.

So, what can we do when we forget that God sees as beautiful? Imagine God singing something like this to you:
We'll ignore the fact that these kids are about 12 years old for now and just enjoy being told we're beautiful.

Oh, wait. My bad. God already has written us a song or two:
Ah, you are beautiful, my beloved,
ah, you are beautiful; your eyes are doves! (Song of Songs 1:15)
You are all-beautiful, my beloved,
and there is no blemish in you. (Song 4:7)
You have ravished my heart, my sister, my bride;
you have ravished my heart with one glance of your eyes,
with one bead of your necklace.
How beautiful is your love, my sister, my bride,
how much more delightful is your love than wine. (Song 4:9-10)
How beautiful you are, how pleasing, my love, my delight! (Song 7:7)
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Just don't forget that God is the only Beholder that matters. Remember that in His eyes, you are loved and you are beautiful.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Myth, The Legend, “The One” (Being Single Series)

Some single Catholic ladies and I were discussing the idea of "The One" a while back, and there were so many differing ideas and opinions on what that means that I asked if any of the ladies wanted to write about it for the Being Single Series. Here is the first of what I hope to be many guest posts about "The One", written by the lovely and oh-so-wise Amanda!


We’ve all been there. We start talking to one of our friends about a certain guy and the inevitable question comes up:

Is he “The One”?

I used to wait for this question. There was a time in my life where I was dating the man I firmly believed to be “The One”. In fact, at the time, I would have probably bet my life on it. We had the next five years of our lives planned out, the engagement ring, the wedding, where we were going to live, and what we were going to name our kids. You name it and we’d probably had some sort of a plan about it. We started dating and were very serious very fast. Our friends were incredibly supportive and many of them pestered us about when they would get an invitation to our wedding.

Then it ended.

Our fairytale romance had come to an end when he told me that he didn’t think I was “The One” anymore. That’s not my only relationship that has ended with something along the lines of, “I just don’t think you’re ‘The One’.”

The Myth

“The One” sounds like a fairytale, you meet your Prince Charming, you fall in love, and everything is hearts and rainbows. It sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? On some level I think we all long for that fairytale romance, that epic story that we’ll tell our children and our grandchildren. We’ll tell them of a perfect love, unstained by bitter fights, and a relationship that was written in the stars.

However, that fairytale isn’t reality. Relationships take work. Whenever you put two people together there are bound to be disagreements, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t get through them together. My parents have been happily married for 28 years and they still disagree from time to time, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t supposed to be together anymore. What matters is that they choose to love each other and they commit to working through the tough times. I think that one of the biggest dangers of buying into the concept of “The One” is that we think that relationships should be effortless and easy, and that we’ll never disagree. We think that we will find that perfect someone and we will instantly click with a powerful and intoxicating chemistry. Then, once we hit a snag in the road or have a disagreement, or get busy with other things, we no longer think the one we are with is “The One” and end the relationship.

The Legend

I’m not saying that clicking and powerful chemistry are bad things. I’m not saying that it isn’t possible to find someone that you feel was made for you. The danger comes in when we pass on good relationships because there is a snag or because we find that relationships actually do take time and effort.

We probably know a story or two of someone close to us who seems to have that fairytale romance. I know a few couples whose love stories put Nicholas Sparks books to shame. Their stories are wonderful, but I know that if l cling to them too closely I’ll assume that my story has to be just like theirs or else I’m a failure in the love department. Those legendary love stories should give us hope: hope that love is real, that people are still willing to commit to one another, and hope that love can triumph.

“The One”

The fact of the matter is that at this very moment God is writing your love story. GOD. Your love story might be one that is legendary, one that Jane Austen could only dream of writing about. Your love story will be unique to you and your future spouse alone. As much as I know and believe that God is writing your love story (and mine), I also know this to be true: relationships take work and commitment. Don’t use the idea of “The One” as a cop-out when you don’t feel like putting in the effort or working through the tough stuff. Entering a relationship with an eye towards marriage, and more importantly toward Heaven, will naturally place your heart in God’s hands. Decide for yourself that relationships are worth the effort. Choose to love. Love is about more than emotions and mushy-gushy feelings – Christ showed us that on the cross.

Is there only one person God made for you? I don’t know. He does. I do know that He will guide you if you let Him, but we have to be willing to put in the effort too.


Amanda is a single, Catholic woman who lives out in Denver, CO. She works as a youth minister, blogs over at worthy of Agape, writes for Ignitum Today and The Papist, oh, and she wrote a book which is being released on May 14th! Head over to her blog to pre-order your copy today!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

And the Winner is...

Y'all remember my #LentPlaylist challenge?

It's time to announce the winner!

Drum roll please...

I said drum roll, not rick roll... geesh.

That's better-ish. But kinda lame.

Yes. Just yes. That's what I'm talking about.

Aaaaaand back to announcing the winner...

The "Most Listened To Song During Lent" is...

I especially like the part at 4:31!

Desert Soul by Rend Collective Experiment!

This song is especially perfect for Lent. As we all know, Lent can be an especially... trying time. Spiritually. Mentally. Physically. Emotionally.

But it is also a great time to find our center and remind ourselves that we are just a dry, barren, desert soul without God. It's a time to remember that we should always be running towards God.

I love You Lord
But I want to love You more
I need You God
But I want to need You more

I'm lost without
Your creative spark in me
I'm dead inside
Unless Your resurrection sings

I'm desperate for a desperate heart
I'm reaching out, I'm reaching

All that I am is dry bones
Without You Lord, a desert soul
I am broken but running
Towards You God, You make me whole

You are exactly what we need
Only You can satisfy 

That being said, we should always be running towards God, not just during Lent. So put on your running shoes, blast this song on your iPod, and let's get going.

You may be wondering, Yes, this is great, I like this song too... BUT WHO SUGGESTED THIS SONG TO YOU AND IS THE OH-SO-LUCKY WINNER OF THE DELICIOUS BAKED GOODS?!?

Well, I heard about Rend Collective Experiment just before Lent started, when the extremely talented Audrey Assad posted about them on Facebook and Twitter. Because Audrey and I are BFF+Ever, I trusted her and gave them a listen and was hooked like a fish. I bought their album right away, and haven't looked back since.

So, congratulations Audrey, you win delicious homemade baked goods!

Think she'd mind sending me her address so I can ship them to her?

Too creepy?

Some other great songs that were close in the running...

Here With Me by MercyMe

I Will Wait by Mumford & Sons

Blessed Are the Ones by Audrey Assad

Meant to Live by Switchfoot

The Spirit and the Bride by Matt Maher

OK, now it's your turn again. What should have made the list, but didn't this time around?

Feel free to make your case if you think you should have been the lucky ducky winner.

Friday, March 29, 2013

The Look

Peter's Denial by Carl Bloch
After arresting him they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest; Peter was following at a distance. They lit a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat around it, and Peter sat down with them. When a maid saw him seated in the light, she looked intently at him and said, “This man too was with him.” But he denied it saying, “Woman, I do not know him.” A short while later someone else saw him and said, “You too are one of them”; but Peter answered, “My friend, I am not.” About an hour later, still another insisted, “Assuredly, this man too was with him, for he also is a Galilean.” But Peter said, “My friend, I do not know what you are talking about.” Just as he was saying this, the cock crowed, and the Lord turned and looked at Peter; and Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the cock crows today, you will deny me three times.” He went out and began to weep bitterly. (Luke 22: 54-62)
How did Jesus look at Peter? What was on his face that made Peter realize that he had denied Christ? What did Jesus' expression say that made Peter go out and weep bitterly?

Jesus could have looked at Peter with a smug face that said, "I told you so!"

He could have looked at Peter with anger. "How could you deny me, after everything I've taught you, everything I've done for you!?!?"

Christ could have looked at Peter with hurt and sadness, where his eyes said it all: "All I ever asked from you was to follow me, and you can't even do that when I need you the most..."

Jesus could have looked at Peter in any of those ways, and I'm sure any of these would have made Peter shed some tears.

But these looks don't belong on the face of Jesus that Peter knew, that we all know.

I think Jesus looked at Peter with love. His eyes said, "I forgive you. I am with you to the end. I still love you, no matter what you do."

And that kind of expression - that look of love, even when we feel unworthy of being loved - is what made Peter weep.

Wouldn't you?

We found Love in a hopeless place...

Sunday, March 24, 2013

What I Wore Sunday: 1950's Flashback Edition

I decided to bring back the 1950's this Sunday, because sometimes I wish I could dress like that every day.

Mostly I just wish we could bring the classy 1950's bathing suits back.

I'm actually considering a second career of being an "I Love Lucy" double... but I suppose I'd have to dye my hair red.

Navy dress with white polka dots - Ann Taylor via The Salvation Army thrift store
Pink cardi - Macy's
Brown boots - Merona via Target (not pictured today, but pictured pretty much every other WIWS...)
Hairdids - courtesy of HairCuttery... where they apparently don't understand the "Please do not cut the upper layers of my hair *this short*" ... bobby pins it is until the man bowl cut grows out a bit...

Happy Palm Sunday! Cannot believe Lent is almost over... but I'm so ready to have chocolate again for Easter!

Trot on over to FLAP for more!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Ode to St. Joe

Today is the Solemnity of St. Joseph, which is my favorite feast day in the Church.

Jesus says, "I like your beard."
And no, it’s not just because his feast day always falls during the Lenten season and I get to go all...

Alright, maybe just a wee bit.

But really...
It's because St. Joe,
As you may well know,
Is my very favorite beau.
(I call that little ditty “Ode to St. Joe” and yes, I know it’s a masterpiece. Copyright, TM, patent pending, etc. No stealing, I spent a lot of time writing that rhyme.)

Why is he my favorite beau?

Well, he's helped me get a job - twice! - including the one where I just celebrated my one year anniversary.

He helps me out with vocational and relationship advice. It's like girl talk, but I'm on earth, and he's in Heaven. So we don't get to paint each other's nails, but whatevs. Maybe in Heaven someday?

He's pretty much the most powerful intercessor ever, because he's Jesus' foster daddy. I mean, you never say no to your foster daddy, right?

And he is just otherwise pretty much the best saint ever. The bomb dot com. Awesome sauce. Cooler than the flip side of my pillow. A bada** saint.

St. Joe spent his daily life living with Jesus and Mary. Jesus. and Mary. Can you just stop for a minute and think about how EPIC that would be? He got to live with GOD and the Mother of God.

That just blows my mind.

And also, can you imagine how difficult that would be? I mean, you're living with two perfect people. I think I would feel so completely unworthy and imperfect and just... dumb. All the time! But then again, I don't have the humility and patience that St. Joe had.

St. Joe also is known for the most epic line ever in Scripture:

" "

With this beautiful line, he shows us the importance of shutting up and just listening to God. I mean, he completely trusted God, 100%. Even when trusting God was difficult, when it led him to being ridiculed and shunned by society, when he was forced to flee to Egypt and all over the place... St. Joe risked his life over and over again to do what God was calling him to do. If only we all had the trust and resolve to just let go and follow God's call like St. Joe did.

I could go on and on and on about St. Joe, and how he is such a great example to all of us - to me - but instead I will leave you with another one of my epic poems. I know that's why y'all are really here.

(Yep, stiiiiiiiiiill working on that humility thing. Can you help me out, St. Joe?)
St. Joe, St. Joe,
He doesn't want to be your foe.
He wants you to love God mo' and mo',
And to His call never say "No!"
Even if it means you'll be po'.
So hop in the boat and row,
Pick up your plow and sow,
Get in your truck and tow,
Jump on your horse and... "Whoa!"
Whatever it is, just go,
Giving glory to God high and low,
And trust God just like St. Joe!
St. Joe, St. Joe,
All he wants is to be your beau!
Who is your favorite saint? What do you love about him or her? Please write me an epic poem, in iambic pentameter, about your favorite saint. 

(I would appreciate a Shakespearean or Petrarchan sonnet format, but I will let you have creative license.) 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

What I Wore Sunday: Back in Action Edition

Well... long time, no see! Is it accurate to say "see" when talking about blogging, since you never technically "see" me? Thought to ponder.

I have reasons for taking an unexpected hiatus, and some of them are good and some of them are poor excuses, but trust me when I say that I am missing you all and hope to have some fantabulous blogging ideas again soon.

Til then...



The Clothes:

Hair - courtesy of "I laid in bed too long to do anything more than throw on some clothes and run out the door"

Black cardigan - Macy's, a couple years ago

Purple tee - Target clearance rack, awhile back (I love rhyming, yes I do, I love rhyming, how 'bout you?)
Skirt - Target clearance rack, same awhile back as the purple tee
Boots - Bare Traps via DSW


How many of you heard the Prodigal Son today and how many heard the Blind Man passage?

We heard the Prodigal Son, which is a great reading. The priest brought up a great point - that we almost always focus on the sons in this parable, but the Scripture is really all about the Father and how merciful He is. All we have to do is come home, and we are welcomed with open arms, joy, and lots of celebration! How beautiful is that?

Linking up with Fine Linen and Purple, as always!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

What I Wore Sunday: Classy(ish?) Librarian Edition

I got dressed in my warmer clothes for this cold and blustery evening, and realized when I looked in the mirror that I kind of looked like a librarian. Too lazy to change? Eh. C'est la vie.

Awkward fuzzy hair tuck.
15 points to Gryffindor if you can spot the package of Oreos in that picture that came out of hiding for Sunday's chocolate feast.

Modeling my ear(rings).
Zee details:
Let's got from bottom up, today, just to be fun!

Black suede shoes - Macy's via my favorite clearance rack
Black tights - Tarjeta or Ross... who knows, I just keep buying tights!
Black and gray skirt - Jones New York via le thrift store
Purple blouse-ish - Macy's via not-the-clearance-rack (but on sale, of course!)
Earrings - Kohl's via the clearance rack... probably

Now that I think about it... the librarian look is missing something...

Every librarian needs teeny reading glasses, right?
Ah... there it is!

Gallop on over to Fine Linen and Purple for the rest!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Friday, February 8, 2013

Offer It Up

The Bright Maidens are back to Live Lent!
Welcome back ladies, we've missed writing with you!

Our Heavenly Father... longs  to convince us of his passionate love for each one of us, that relentless mercy which calls - and enables - us to share his own divine life, that fiery outpouring of love... Let's face it, we humans really don't want God to love us that much. It's simply too demanding. Obedience is one thing, but this sort of love clearly calls for more than keeping commandments. It calls for nothing less than total self-donation. That might not be a difficult job for the three infinite Persons of the Trinity, but for creatures like us, such love is a summons to martyrdom. This invitation requires much more suffering and self-denial than simply giving up chocolate for Lent. It demands nothing less than a constant dying to self.
-Scott Hahn, A Father Who Keeps His Promises, page 18

When I was "growing up" (as in, through college!), I never really took the "Give up something for Lent" thing very seriously.

That wasn't completely honest. I never really took Lent seriously.

That wasn't completely honest either. I never really took the whole "Living the Catholic Faith" thing seriously.

Anyway, I thought Lent was just another part of the Church year where you just chug-chug-chugged along until you got to wear your brand new dress at Easter.

I would sometimes "give up" something for Lent, but I hardly ever stuck to it. Or if I did, I found ways to master my way around it.

Like that time I gave up dessert... I started eating my cake before dinner. Appetizers, anyone? I get points for creativity, right?
Christ of St. John of the Cross
by Salvador Dali

Thankfully, I've grown to learn that Lent is not just another part of the Church year. It is the Church year.

It is through Lent that we truly live out the Christian life. Suffering and sacrifice and wandering in the spiritual desert with Christ? Yes. We are all called to walk the way of the Cross.

But like at the end of Lent, we are also told that through our suffering and sacrifice and spiritual dryness, we will encounter joy and love through the Cross and ultimately with the Resurrection.

We aren't called to just chug through Lent for 40 days. We are called to live it... each and every day. Yes, the entire year!

Since I started taking Lent - and, well, this whole living Catholic thing - seriously, sacrifice and suffering for me has been focused on giving up attachments that are in some way keeping me from giving a complete gift of self to God and others. It's about giving up things that distract me and get in the way of being who I am called to be.

Here's my Lenten routine...

Give up chocolate. Chocolate and I have a very... special relationship. 

... and that's putting it mildly! All I can say is, Bless the poor souls who get to put up with me when I go all cold turkey without my chocolate.

Chocolate is an addiction for me. I crave it. I need it. I have torn apart my kitchen looking for it before. I don't know what it is, but there are times that it controls me. And after I give into the craving, I always feel a little bit sad, because I didn't have the self-control to say no!

So by giving it up for Lent, I am working on my self-control, which Lord knows is something I need... desperately. And not just with chocolate.

Give up the drinks. I love milk. I enjoy juice. I like a beer every now and then. I hate water. Hate it. It's so... boring! Seriously, something that is that good for you should at least have a taste!

So, for Lent I'm giving up all drinks except for water (and I make an exception for milk on my cereal... girl needs her multi-grain Cheerios, mkay?!). 

In addition to giving up chocolate, only drinking water helps me put some focus on not just my spiritual health, but also my physical health. My body is a temple for the Holy Spirit! After I receive the Eucharist, I am physically carrying Christ to the world! I know that I sometimes put so much effort into my spiritual workout that I just put my body to the side, but I have to remember that this body is a gift from God, and needs nurtured just like everything else.

Listen only to Christian music. I wrote about how I love my little musical guilty pleasures. I actually don't really find anything wrong with non-Christian music, but I do find something wrong with how I let it affect me sometimes.

I love love love music and how it speaks to me, but there are times when my guilty pleasures feed into my state of life - I'm talking loneliness, impatience, and lack of trust. Listening to a lot of this music (ahem, maybe mostly TSwizzle Diggity Dawg) brings all of these emotions to the forefront - even when I was feeling perfectly fine before! - and just lets that longing for wanting to be loved and cared for by another surface and bubble over. And this is when the emotional chastity goes out the door and the pity party begins.

By listening only to Christian music (or music that reminds me of God), it helps me shift that desire for another to my longing for The Other, as in God. It leads my heart and mind to be more focused in prayer, and I have to say that of all the things I've ever sacrificed, this has been the most fruitful for me in building a stronger spiritual life. It also reminds me why I struggle so much with loneliness, impatience, and lack of trust - because the desire I have for loving another is a good thing! But it also reminds me that I have to have patience, which again, Lord knows I need!


Some of you might be thinking, "Uh Liesl, did you not read your own book excerpt that you put at the beginning? Lent is more than just giving up chocolate!" And you would be right!

So, what do we do with all these little sufferings and sacrifices? OFFER IT UP! 

This is a concept that evaded me until a couple of years ago, but think about it... What did Christ do? Whine that he had to die on the Cross? H--- to the NO!

He offered it up for each and every one of us, in atonement for our sins. We are invited to join with his sacrifice by offering up our sacrificial splinters to be a part of his cross.

I offer up each of my sacrifices and sufferings for something very close to my heart, each and every time. But you can offer it up for anyone or anything you want - just don't waste your suffering! 

... Even if you are just suffering over not being able to chomp on a piece of chocolate!

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