Monday, August 26, 2013

After the VMA's...

A Letter To Miley Cyrus

I don't want to take credit, this is just a great way to look at a sad situation and the fall of a young role model. Definitely worth the read, even if you didn't watch the VMA performances last night.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Married to the WRONG PERSON

I saw this posted 69483750 billion times on Facebook, but for those of you who haven't seen it yet, it's DEFINITELY worth the read. I love hearing things from the guys now and then, especially about love, marriage, sacrifice, friendship, etc... and to kick off the beginning of wedding season!

How I Know My Wife Married the “Wrong” Person

Today my wife Lindsay and I celebrate our two year anniversary. Two years ago, we tied the knot and took the plunge. Two years ago, the cutest girl in Indiana was taken off the market! Two years ago, we launched the beginning of the rest of our lives. Two years ago…
And after two years, there’s no hiding behind the dinner-and-a-movie façade of dating life any longer. I can’t buy enough flowers to conceal it. I can’t open enough doors. I can’t say enough “I love you’s.” She knows (and painfully, so do I) that she married the wrong person.
Allow me to humbly explain (before she reads this). For quite some time now, there has been a myth floating around our idealistic individualistic society. A myth that claims that marriage will only work when you find your “smoking-hot, high-class, filthy rich, love-at-first-sight, sexually compatible, accept-me-as-I-am, Titanic-Notebook-Sweet-Home-Alabama-Twilight-esque, soul mate.” 
Don’t believe me? Look at the message Hollywood communicates; look at the empirical evidence pointing to later and fewer marriages; research studies suggest this is a primary factor that holds men and women back from marital commitment – they just haven’t found their soul mate. They believe in their heart of hearts that their match-made-in-heaven is still out there, somewhere.
Much could be said about where this mindset came from, but let’s just leave it at this –Singles today (and most married couples too) are searching for super-spouses that simply don’t exist. People expect far too much from their spouse in all the wrong areas.
That’s why I know beyond doubt, at least by society’s standards, that Lindsay married the wrong person.  I’ll never be quite as smart as a New York Times Best Seller. I’ll never make a six digit paycheck. I’ll never electrify the bedroom in the way our pornographic media culture broadcasts as the norm. I’ll never understand her quite as well as we both wish I would. I’ll continue to make mistakes. I’ll get angry over silly stuff. I’ll forget to do the dishes. I’ll raise my voice when I shouldn’t. I’ll let pride get the best of me. And I’ll probably think of myself far more often than I should… Oh yeah, and my younger days as a part-time body-builder, part-time male-model, full-time Matthew McConaughey stunt double are over. I retired this January. (Are you drowning in my self-pity yet? I am.)  Look, I’m not an astrophysicist. I’m not a movie star. I’m not a billionaire. I’m just Tyler. And Tyler does not meet the standards of the Real Housewives of Louisville.
So what then is the solution? What do you do when you find yourself in a relationship with the “wrong person?” Well here are a few things you could try:
(1) Every time your significant other falls short, find another. On to the next one. Then when they fall short, and they will, do it again. And again. And then again. Forgiveness is futile. Reconciliation, pointless. If they were your soul mate they’d never make those kind of mistakes. If they really loved you, they would’ve thought before they acted. Of course, there will be significant emotional baggage to carry with each new sexual partner. Or there will be financial fallout from dividing your wealth over and over. Or your kids may grow up with a distorted view of parenting or marriage. But sooner or later you’re bound to find Mr. or Mrs. Right, right? And they’ll be perfect, right?
(2) Try it before you buy it. Test drive it. See if the chemistry is there and the sparks fly. Cohabitate. Allow someone into your life at the highest degree of vulnerability, and give them this priceless delicate gift without asking them to commit to you past tomorrow morning. Maybe in the process you’ll find your soul mate. Let’s just hope they agree.
(3) Avoid it all. Make it girls’ night out every weekend. Feed your appetite for sex when it’s hungry, for community with drinking buddies, but don’t let anyone too close. Marriage is old news anyways. Commitment is so Generation X. No strings attached. Lock your heart up in an “iron-clad dungeon” where no one can reach it, and allow it to grow “motionless, unbreakable, and impenetrable.” Then no one will ever break it… or capture it.
(4) Or, whether you buy the biblical view of marriage or not, realize that love takes hard work. And that, as long as you limit the field to human beings, you’ll never marry the “right person.” Because there are no 100% “right people.” Sin’s presence in the world guarantees it. There are only wrong people who pretend to be right and wrong people who are becoming right, through Jesus. That’s why I like the biblical image of marriage. The fairy-tale image of two soul mates finding love at last is just that, a fairy tale. But the biblical image of marriage provides something so much more beautifully realistic.
It paints a portrait of two sinners, committing to the task of one another, for the sake of one another, until death do them part. It’s two imperfect people, committing to the sanctifying work of expressing Jesus’ self-sacrificial love, to their lover, so that they might see him or her become the person God has always intended them to be, knowing full well that neither of them have yet to reach this goal.
When you both commit to this, not only will you experience the perks of marital intimacy like you never could imagine, but you both will change. You both will become more forgiving, more sensitive, more loving, and more truthful, together.
Or even if just one of you commits to this, I think you’ll be surprised how much, still, youboth will change. Your forgiveness, your sensitivity, your love, and your truthfulness will enable and compel your spouse to show the same kind of transforming character back. And what could be more satisfying than that?
Not much. Trust me. I know. Because I’ve been married, two years now, to a girl who has relentlessly committed to this task with me. And because of that, I’m a better person. And so is she, I think. Love you Lindsay. Here’s to fifty more. Can’t wait to see the person God is making you to be. And can’t believe I get the honor of being a part of it.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Swimsuit Season!

544839_473848922686478_529333198_nPhoto Credit: Rey Swimwear 
By Rachel Clark
Summer is rolling around, and our time at the beach or pool just skyrocketed! I think we can all agree that the majority of girls wear bikinis at any place involving water. However, I don’t. Most of my friends think I shy away from bikinis for the wrong reasons. They either think I am insecure, am forced away from bikinis like the plague, or have some weird hatred for skimpy swimwear. All of those reasons are wrong.
First off, I’m not insecure about my body. Secondly, no one is forcing me to do anything, I am independent in my swimwear choices. Lastly, I don’t hate 2-piece swimsuits. I think some of them are really cute. I really like the vintage bikinis in style now, so retro! And I’ll share a dirty secret, I really like the nautical inspired, strapless bikinis. If there is one style I love, it’s nautical.
But wait, you say, I thought you don’t wear bikinis? You’re absolutely right, I don’t. Then why am I telling you all of this? Because I want girls to know that dressing modestly is a SACRIFICE.  It’s not always fun or easy. Sometimes you’d rather wear something else. I would like to wear a bikini at the beach, I think they’re cute. I also find all the extra fabric of tankinis annoying when trying to swim. And lastly, more material on swimwear = more $$$.
So why don’t you just wear a bikini, you ask? Why? Because I am making a sacrifice for the guys around me. I’ve heard the excuse, Guys just have an imagination, it’s not a girl’s problem. Frankly, I think that’s stupid. Part of it is our problem. The way we dress impacts those around us, especially guys. I don’t really want a guy to look at me and notice me for my butt, upper thighs, or chest. I’d rather him notice my smile or God-loving personality. Well sure, you say, that’s all fine and good, but guys should be able to control their imagination and look beyond our bodies. That’s true, they should control it. But it’s important for girls tohelp them as they try and do so.
Let’s try and put ourselves in a guy’s shoes. I think we can all agree that as girls, exercise is important to us. We want to stay healthy and are often working on getting fit. We work out and stay away from carbs or sweets. We use all of our willpower to not eat the chocolate cake on the counter! Now, let’s pretend that someone picked up that chocolate cake and followed us around all the time, 24/7. We can never get away from the chocolate, it’s always right there, tempting us and even smelling all ooey gooey and chocolate-y. Most of us, myself included, would find it easy to break down and eat the cake. And we would probably continue to break down and eat cake, because it would always be there. Our exercise goals would be long gone in no time.
This is how I imagine it is for guys. Girls are walking around all the time with barely any clothes on at the beach or pool! Guys can never get a break from it, even if they’re trying to see past all the bodies to find the smiles and personalities within the girls.
So really, how hard is it to not wear a bikini? If you’re like me, it might be a little disappointing.  You also might have to save a little more babysitting money to buy a cute (yes, cute ones do exist) tankini or one piece. But honestly, a little disappointment and a little extra cash aren’t that hard to swallow. Especially when such things are to fulfill a God given responsibility. In his Theology of the Body, soon to be Saint John Paul II said, God has assigned as a duty to every man the dignity of every woman. He also assigns to every woman the dignity of every man. Let’s make a commitment this summer to ditch the skimpy swimsuits, earn self respect, and help our brothers in Christ.
P.S. You are enough.


Saturday, May 25, 2013

Self-Defense 101 for Women who watch too much Law & Order SVU

...namely me. It's a terrible addiction. If there's a marathon on, I can't turn it off! Or turning an episode off halfway through the episode? I won't sleep for oh so many reasons.

One of my dear guy friends posted this on Facebook and I have no idea if the source is legit, but coming from a woman who lived by herself in a somewhat sketchy small town with questionable characters in her large apartment building and no street light on the back side of the building between my door and the dumpster... it would have been comforting to have this along with my rosary and cell phone in hand when I was late-night cleaning. And it's much cheaper than a self defense class (I have no idea if those cost money, but if they don't and anyone knows of any in my area and someone is willing to be my buddy so I don't look like a crazy cat lady, let me know).

So here's this:

It seems that a lot of attackers use some tactic to get away with violence. Not many people know how to take care of themselves when faced with such a situation. Everyone should read this especially each and every girl in this world.


Through a rapist's eyes! A group of rapists and date rapists in prison were interviewed on what they look for in a potential victim and here are some interesting facts:

1] The first thing men look for in a potential victim is hairstyle. They are most likely to go after a woman with a ponytail, bun! , braid or other hairstyle that can easily be grabbed. They are also likely to go after a woman with long hair. Women with short hair are not common targets.

2] The second thing men look for is clothing. They will look for women whose clothing is easy to remove quickly. Many of them carry scissors around to cut clothing.

3] They also look for women using their cell phone, searching through their purse or doing other activities while walking because they are off guard and can be easily overpowered.

4] The number one place women are abducted from / attacked at is grocery store parking lots.

5] Number two is office parking lots/garages.

6] Number three is public restrooms.

7] The thing about these men is that they are looking to grab a woman and quickly move her to a second location where they don't have to worry about getting caught.

8] If you put up any kind of a fight at all, they get discouraged because it only takes a minute or two for them to realize that going after you isn't worth it because it will be time-consuming.

9] These men said they would not pick on women who have umbrellas, or other similar objects that can be used from a distance, in their hands.

10] Keys are not a deterrent because you have to get really close to the attacker to use them as a weapon. So, the idea is to convince these guys you're not worth it.


1] If someone is following behind you on a street or in a garage or with you in an elevator or stairwell, look them in the face and ask them a question, like what time is it, or make general small talk: can't believe it is so cold out here, we're in for a bad winter. Now that you've seen their faces and could identify them in a line- up, you lose appeal as a target.

2] If someone is coming toward you, hold out your hands in front of you and yell Stop or Stay back! Most of the rapists this man talked to said they'd leave a woman alone if she yelled or showed that she would not be afraid to fight back. Again, they are looking for an EASY target.

3] If you carry pepper spray (this instructor was a huge advocate of it and carries it with him wherever he goes,) yelling I HAVE PEPPER SPRAY and holding it out will be a deterrent.

4] If someone grabs you, you can't beat them with strength but you can do it by outsmarting them. If you are grabbed around the waist from behind, pinch the attacker either under the arm between the elbow and
armpit or in the upper inner thigh - HARD. One woman in a class this guy taught told him she used the underarm pinch on a guy who was trying to date rape her and was so upset she broke through the skin and tore out muscle strands the guy needed stitches. Try pinching yourself in those places as hard as you can stand it; it really hurts.

5] After the initial hit, always go for the groin. I know from a particularly unfortunate experience that if you slap a guy's parts it is extremely painful. You might think that you'll anger the guy and make him want to hurt you more, but the thing these rapists told our instructor is that they want a woman who will not cause him a lot of
trouble. Start causing trouble, and he's out of there.

6] When the guy puts his hands up to you, grab his first two fingers and bend them back as far as possible with as much pressure pushing down on them as possible. The instructor did it to me without using much pressure, and I ended up on my knees and both knuckles cracked

7] Of course the things we always hear still apply. Always be aware of your surroundings, take someone with you if you can and if you see any odd behavior, don't dismiss it, and go with your instincts. You may feel little silly at the time, but you'd feel much worse if the guy really was trouble.


I know you are smart enough to know these pointers but there will be some, where you will go "hmm I must remember that" After reading, forward it to someone you care about, never hurts to be careful in
this crazy world we live in.

1. Tip from Tae Kwon Do: The elbow is the strongest point on your body. If you are close enough to use it, do it.

2. Learned this from a tourist guide to New Orleans: if a robber asks for your wallet and/or purse, DO NOT HAND IT TO HIM. Toss it away from you.... chances are that he is more interested in your wallet and/or purse than you and he will go for the wallet/purse. RUN LIKE MAD IN THE OTHER DIRECTION!

3. If you are ever thrown into the trunk of a car: Kick out the back tail lights and stick your arm out the hole and start waving like crazy. The driver won't see you but everybody else will. This has saved lives.

4. Women have a tendency to get into their cars after shopping, eating, working, etc., and just sit
(doing their checkbook, or making a list, etc. DON'T DO THIS! The predator will be watching you, and this is the perfect opportunity for him to get in on the passenger side, put a gun to your head, and tell you where to go. AS SOON AS YOU CLOSE the DOORS, LEAVE!

5. A few notes about getting into your car in a parking lot, or parking garage:

a. Be aware: look around your car as someone may be hiding at the passenger side, peek into your car, inside the passenger side floor, and in the back seat. (DO THIS TOO BEFORE RIDING A TAXI CAB).

b. If you are parked next to a big van, enter your car from the passenger door. Most serial killers attack their victims by pulling them into their vans while the women are attempting to get into their cars.

c. Look at the car parked on the driver's side of your vehicle, and the passenger side. If a male is sitting alone in the seat nearest your car, you may want to walk back into the mall, or work, and get a guard /policeman to walk you back out. IT IS ALWAYS BETTER TO BE SAFE THAN SORRY. (And better paranoid than dead.)

6. ALWAYS take the elevator instead of the stairs. (Stairwells are horrible places to be alone and the perfect crime spot).

7. If the predator has a gun and you are not under his control, ALWAYS RUN! The predator will only hit you (a running target) 4 in 100 times; and even then, it most likely WILL NOT be a vital organ. RUN!

8. As women, we are always trying to be sympathetic: STOP IT! It may get you raped, or killed. Ted Bundy, the serial killer, was a good-looking, well educated man, who ALWAYS played on the sympathies of unsuspecting women. He walked with a cane, or a limp, and often asked "for help" into his vehicle or with his vehicle, which is when he abducted his next victim.

I'd like you to forward this to all the women you know. It may save a life. A candle is not dimmed by lighting another candle. I was going to send this to the ladies only, but guys, if you love your mothers, wives, sisters, daughters, etc., you may want to pass it onto them, as well.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

For The Guys... who aren't afraid to get schooled by a kid

Men: watch... IF YOU DARE! Just know that once the information in this video is in your brain, you cannot UNSEE it! You have been exposed to a calling, one that you are obligated to answer... the fate of the world depends on you now.

Friday, May 17, 2013

For the Gals: 8 Principles for Dating

*This is not my writing, I just found it and wanted to share here.

I recently came across a 20-year-old photo of Phil and me when we were dating. I started thinking about how very little I knew about relationships, men, and marriage then.

Formulating a list of what I would tell myself back then, my advice began with a stern warning to stay away from any man with a mullet . . . but then again, it was the ’90s—every man had a mullet!
On a more serious note, these are eight principles that would have taken much confusion and heartbreak out of those tumultuous dating years. I hope they help you:


I am not kidding. Repeat. After. Me. Out loud, often, with conviction. These are such simple words to say, but they have the most deep and resounding impact on our souls if we would just believe.
God says to his daughters in Jeremiah: "I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you." Until you have tasted God’s eternal, steadfast, redeeming love, hold off on looking for a man. You may just end up settling for a quick love that cannot fill your core heart’s longing. Even if you are not currently being pursued by a man, you are constantly being pursued by Jesus.


Our sin makes us ugly. No amount of makeup, clothing, or confident, flirtatious façade can change that fact. It takes a humble, redeemed woman changed by God to admit the ugliness of her sin and rest in her beauty in Christ. We must repent of our pride, our shame, our obsession with our looks. We must believe and embrace who God made us to be: beautiful in his image.
True beauty emanates from a woman who boldly and unabashedly knows who she is in Christ.


Is it fear, loneliness, demand for a man, seeking approval, career, money?
Let the love of Christ control you. Pay attention to what is controlling your heart as you wait for a date, are in a dating relationship, or even into marriage. We settle for lesser gods than the one who died for us and love us unconditionally.
“For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who might live no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.” 2 Corinthians 5:14–15


Most of us have them—wounds on our hearts from our earthly fathers and their shortcomings. Whether yours was absent and uninvolved or abusive and abandoning, don’t let him define who you believe your heavenly Father to be. Even if you have a godly and protective father, he is not God.
You are not looking for a dad-duplicate or a dad-replacement in a man. You have a perfect heavenly Father.
Let Scripture reveal to you who God is as Dad and what kind of care he gives his daughters.
"If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!" Luke 11:13


"Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised." Proverbs 31:30
Often, our grand scheme for how to snag a date goes only skin-deep. We put massive pressure on ourselves to pour on the charm and look cute wherever we go, not realizing that a godly man will also be concerned about inner beauty. God certainly is.
"But let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious." 1 Peter 3:4
A woman who fears the Lord is one who, despite her desire for a date, fears being far away from God more than she does missing out on a man who is easily fooled by her exterior.


Submission is not only for wives. God asks for a submitted heart now, one that trusts in his provision and plan for your life, including dating. Ultimately, dating, and all of life, is about submission—waiting and trusting God and saying as Jesus does, “Not my will but yours be done.”
This does not, however, leave you helpless, hopeless, and hamstrung in the relationship department. A godly woman can express friendly interest in a brother in Christ. 
  • It is OK to mingle—but don’t manipulate.
  • Peruse—but don’t pursue. Let him initiate.
  • Take notice of the godly men serving Jesus around you—but never stalk. It’s creepy.
  • Cross paths with a man who interests you—but don’t tackle him.

7. DRESS TO KILL . . .

. . . your evil desires and his. We all know what it’s like to be noticed for what we wear. Your desire to draw attention to yourself is vanity. Do not falsely advertise what is not available to anyone but your future husband. Don’t open the door for men to make assumptions about you by what you wear. Help your brothers in Christ by dressing modestly and appropriately (and by all means, neatly, cleanly, and fashionably!) Check your heart for your motives when you dress.


Guarding one’s heart is still an issue even if no one is overtly vying for it.  Watch out for the “might be” snare, as in, "He 'might be' flirting with me and so I’m going to get carried away thinking about every possible place [read: marriage] that could lead."
It is entirely possible to honor God, yourself, and a brother in Christ on a date. Don’t elevate him or the relationship to the place that God alone should hold in your heart. Enjoy, don’t idolize . . . and for goodness sake, relax! A cup of coffee does not necessarily mean a diamond ring is soon to follow.
As a single woman, give your heart fully, wholly, unabashedly, and devotedly to Christ alone.
Be active, vigilant, and careful about how much of your heart you give to a man. Be able to walk away from a dating relationship with your whole heart intact so that your future husband is not robbed of part of it down the road. Prayerfully consider what, when, how much to give away.
"Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it." Proverbs 4:23 (NIV)

Monday, May 13, 2013

A Different Mirror

How we see ourselves is usually different than how other people see us. That's one of the reasons why constructive criticism is so important, and why marriage is an incredible path to heaven: other people can affirm our strength and goodness when we need it, and also offer an outside perspective to what we could see in ourselves.

But where is the line?

I've probably mentioned before a thing or two about caring what people think about you. It's good to take into account, but keep in mind who is providing the feedback. Is it constructive or destructive? It is out of love for you and a genuine appreciation for your goodness? Or does it steam from a jealousy or woundedness in someone else? And then there's criticism of yourself.

"You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." Matthew 5:48

We are told to strive to be perfect as the heavenly Father is perfect because God, our loving and merciful Father in heaven with unquenchable love wants us to spend the rest of our earthy lives nitpicking at ourselves so we can someday hope to reach a level of perfection that we will never actually attain. FALSE. Let's consider humility. I've heard it described and defined different ways, but in my humble opinion, the simplest way to describe humility is seeing yourself exactly how the Lord sees you. You are beautiful, loved, and capable of great things. You are wounded, weak, flawed, and you try to handle way more by yourself than you should. Sometimes you let pride or fear get the best of you, but you know you can do better, and you know you can... but not by yourself.

One of the biggest (most arguably) and most detrimental ways that women (especially single women or women in crappy relationships) pick at themselves is their physical appearance. We question our attractiveness in our bodies and all of a sudden we question our worth. Simple affirmations go a long way and I have had enough crappy days to know that everyone could use one now and again. We receive by giving, and although we shouldn't give for the sake of receiving, we can, nay, we HAVE TO, and give of ourselves to be whole (just ask Jesus).

I realize that this is a little deep after my big break from screens and it is very late as I am writing this post, so I'll keep it short and wrap it up with yet another video. But if you want more, one of my most dearest friends in the world, Miss Jackie Heider (what up!), saw the same video (above) and wrote this ...she is an actual writer who writes for magazines and stuff. And she's good too. REAL good. Read it, you won't regret it.

Love, love, love.

"So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love." 1 Corinthians 13:13

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Back for more?!

Ladies and gentlemen, I am back again!

My computer was the most of critical conditions (goodbye, hard drive!) until the most wonderful of all IT guys worked some freaky geeky micro magic (it was insane) and we are up and running!!

Don't get your hopes up too TOO high though (yes you can, just not because of what you think) because there are some serious changes coming this way... but not until after I share with you the articles/ideas/videos/borrowed blog articles that I have been storing up during my time away from the screen.

I have learned surprisingly, a lot about myself during my lack-of-computer-possessing time. It had not occurred to me until day 3 or 4 that I was bored out of my mind without Facebook, Twitter, blogs, Gmail, Youtube, Pandora, Etsy, and let's not forget Pintrest. I did not update my iPod, watch TV shows while I did the dishes, look up people I used to judge in high school, watch TV shows to kill time... I even had to make up my own outfits when I got dressed in the morning without consulting my dream closet full of ideas. Instead, I was forced to call people I hadn't spend time with or talk to in ages, actually pick up books and read them (they were made out of paper and everything!), go outside to see if something was at the store, and try things on my own instead of looking at what everyone else is up to (I'm coming for you, lefty guitar).

And it actually wasn't that terrible.

I spent more time with my family and people I love, I found places in some towns dear to my heart that I hadn't yet explored, I spent more time in prayer, and with the coming summer months I even managed to motivate myself to get off my ass once in a while and get my blood pumping (workouts totally suck, but they're worth it).

I came back to everything and I just caught myself mindlessly skimming. No, it wasn't even skimming, it was just scrolling. It was blindly scrolling. I wasn't even looking at the news feed or the twitter feed or the pins anymore, but I was spacing out and my mind kept wandering off to this land where my eyes didn't hurt (you know... from the screen).

Lesson to be learned? Unplugging is good! I wouldn't by any means in our day and age advise most people to get rid of their facebook or twitter or email or youtube or whatever, especially because it is becoming a central part of our culture to communicate and share information and bond long distance, and that is totally fine! I just don't want anyone to end up like this poor girl:

Unplug! There's more than the internet, more than texting, more than Skype and FaceTime (although it would be much harder with out you), etc. etc. You are right here, right now! Do not lose sight of that! I don't mean #YOLO as a license to be stupid, but don't be the person browsing Facebook out of boredom... be the person having too much fun with the people you're with (or whatever you're doing) to stop and take pictures for Instagram, or at least be the person so at peace with a sunset or a delicious bite of a damn good burrito that you know a picture or post won't capture the awesomeness in that. I hope you come back and check my blog soon... but you'd better do something great between now and then!

Talk to you soon! :D

Monday, March 4, 2013

The Industrial Age

"What are your plans for after college?"

"What are you doing with your degree?"
"What line of work are you in?"

"Do you have a job lined up?"

"Oh, that's nice. How are you liking that job?"

"Yeah, I know, this economy right?"

"Where do you see yourself in 5 years?"

"What are you doing with your life?"

"Well, you seem like you've got it all figured out."

Guess what guys... you don't have to have it all figured out. Not when you're 15, not when you're 25, not even when you're 45 or 75. Point is, you're here.

We live in somewhat of an industrial age. We wake up, we go to work, we bring home bacon, we win bread, we veg on the furniture, and we count down to the weekend. We put our money in savings so we can spend it on a mid life crisis when we wonder "Where has the time gone?" I am by no means insulting the family of five, one or two dogs and a white picket fence kind of culture, not at all. I love it. But do you want it?

I just watched the most charming movie about a 30 something woman struggling to get it all figured out. She's job hunting to no end, painfully smiling while her well-meaning family members shove what they want for her down her throat, but having no "better" alternative, she goes along with it, having little ammunition for protest. The film revolved around the theme of feeling powerless while everyone around seems to work like a cog in a well-oiled machine. I'm a sucker for great cinematography, so naturally I loved that there weren't really any bright colors in the whole movie. There is a looming dark cloud, a feeling of loneliness, complacency, boredom, and dullness. The leading lady stares longingly out a window, wishing she knew what the flip she was supposed to be doing with her life.

I get that. I understand that feeling. Having job hunted for months at a time and seeming to come up empty, having your plans you thought would stick for the next few years (at least!) fall apart in front of you, bouncing from temp job to temp job, moving back in with the 'rents until you can get your act together and answer the question "what's next?" is a more common feeling than people let on.

Don't believe Facebook photos: most of those people probably don't have it together either. It's the ultimate censorship: you can make yourself look however you want, as put together as you want, and show off how much of a life you're having. For those of you who are happy where you are...rock on. This post is not for you. Enjoy Europe.

My dearest readers, your value is not measured by your level of productivity. You are more than your paycheck, what kind of car you drive, what model of phone you have, or the brand of your clothes. It is easy to get discouraged when we feel like we are pressured from all sides to get that promotion, work our way up to the top, marry once you've given everything a "test drive" just to be sure (gross), and by no means settle for "just" a blue collar job. Seriously, you can do whatever you want (within reason, of course. I hate it when people say that and they brainwash people and tell you you really CAN become anything....false. Someone I know wanted to be a computer when he grew up....he is not a computer. But he still likes them a lot).

If you want to try something you've always wanted to try and then crash and burn, I'd say good for you! You went out and did it and now you know it's not your thing. No idea where to start? What do you do for fun? What's something you've loved since you were a kid? Try it again! At the very least (if you're stuck in the job/field you're in for whatever reason), pick it up as a hobby. Eventually, you'll hit the nail on the head... or at least get somewhere by process of elimination. I'm one of those people though that doesn't WANT to bounce around every couple of years (give or take) constantly guessing where I'm going to be, not feeling like I can rest my head and get restful sleep at night. And that's fine! Just set a plan right now. 

Right now, I am working an office job with people I thoroughly enjoy, paying my bills, and learning important skills that are going to prepare and equip me for... well, who knows what? I don't need to know. This is my plan right now. I'm going to stick to the plan until something sweeps me off my feet; one of those things that is undeniably what you are supposed to do. I don't need  to know what the next 5, 10, or 15 years looks like and frankly, I couldn't care less about my high school reunion. I want to be happy. I want to be fulfilled. I want to savor every minute of even the mundane. I am blessed to be kept alive, to be held so gently in the Lord's powerful hand, and I at least owe Him to appreciate what I've got. I want to live fully. I want to be free from the countdown to the weekend, free from pressure to "make something of myself," and free to be me.

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O men of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek all these things; and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well."                               Matthew 6:25-33

Monday, February 25, 2013

You're comparing us to THEM?! (Love like the movies)

As promised, I am answering questions you're asking. Gabe asked a super good one: "If what girls really need is a strong dependable man, why do some girls love chick flicks where the guy and the girl get in these big heated fights. Do they long for that??" Great question! So great, in fact, that I wanted to take my time in answering it. So here you go!

There are a few reasons girls love the big fight scenes in chick flicks. NOTE: none of those reasons is because she wants to be miserable, fight all of the time, or be with a guy who picks fights with her or is just plain bad news (and here's my two cents on THAT). These reasons are not listed in any particular order.

1. We love the drama. Movies/musicals/plays/dramas/etc excite the psyche. They are entertaining, and that is precisely why they call it the entertainment industry. It is a story, with a building tension, leading to a climactic fight. If the writers did their job right, the viewer has gotten to know the characters, and if out of curiosity than nothing else, we want to know what happens! And as much as they might hate to admit it, I'm willing to bet that at high percentage of guys at least are a little curious how movies like that end.

2. We can relate. Well, to some extent, depending on the person being entertained and the story that is being told. Often times great stories mirror situations that on some level are real, and the conflicts are situations real people experience or fear.

3. We see characters they love (and in romcoms, characters they love together) argue about something that threatens to tear them apart. In the movies (at least of this nature), the couple works it out and still lives happily ever after, even though there might be lingering issues, a little collateral damage, or repercussions of their irrational emotional actions/mistakes. They are things the couple will have to work on. Overall, they give us HOPE that we can work things out on our own lives, that some mountains are not too big, and that obstacles aren't always the end.

We want to be happy and we enjoy seeing others happy, even if on some deep/subconscious/shallow level, we are living vicariously through them. There is a danger there that these movies can romanticize conflict and can have a subtle influence over real-life experiences, but we must not lose our own sense of reality in real-life conflicts. Instead, we keep in mind common threads that make real life relationships/friendships work and last, and hopefully in the heat of those moments, we can understand the difference between love in the movies and love that is real, raw, and rewarding.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

At this time I'd like to open up the floor...

All right ladies and gentlemen, the time has come. Thus far I have been one of those bloggers who has just ranted and raved and mused and meditated and speculated and so on, but the time has come! I want to hear from you! Comment or message (or email, snail mail, telegraph, text, etc) me topics about which you would like me to write or share about or offer my two cents (and for once I actually have change outside of my savings jar, so that's something). I want to know that you're there, I want to know that you're reading, and I want to do my best to be of service to you.

**Note: this is not because I have not been posting recently and it might seem as if I am running out of ammo, which I can assure you, is not the case. I just want to try something new! And don't worry... if I don't hear from any of you, you'll still be seeing plenty of posts from me. That's just how I roll.

***And this is me (photo courtesy of Miss Jessica Foti) rollin at the 56th Commission of the Status of Women, an annual conference held at the United Nations in New York City. Shout out to the group of amazing people whose group I crashed to go... y'all are awesome and I have no doubt you'll change the world (fun fact about this picture: the meeting was in another language and I couldn't figure o

So let's hear it people, and in the meantime, you'll be hearing from me! ...and whoever writes other articles I find interesting and pass along to you, as I've been doing thus far. God bless everyone, let's talk soon.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Captured Little Heart

I wrote this article as a part of a Valentine's day essay contest 2 years ago. Apparently they liked it, given it was published in the online newsletter (the original post is here:

Happy Valentine's day, to all the single ladies!!

Captured Little Heart
Everyone loves a good fairy tale, although many believe that they are something to be left for children—a fantasy too far from real life. This is a real story about a princess, her capture, and the fight to win her heart by the perfect prince. This is my love story, and it is entirely true.
I was born on the east coast and lived there with my parents, older sister, and younger brother for six years. My loving parents announced to me just after first grade that we were moving closer to my mom’s side of the family, to the Midwest. I, the outgoing, spunky middle child was excited to make new friends. We made the big move, and as far as I knew everything was wonderful.

A year after the switch Dad left to visit his side of the family. I found out soon after that he wasn’t planning on moving back. He still loved us and wanted to see us, but it just wasn’t working out for him to be out there, for reasons unbeknownst to little me. I don’t remember much about that time, but I do remember one thing: Dad made Mom cry. I made a decision that night with no idea how it would alter my life. I chose a life without Dad.

The three of us kids spent the school year with Mom and the summer with Dad, which worked out fine. For years I was civil to Dad, but I had always felt like he didn’t just leave Mom, but he left us too. I secretly wanted to let him in, but my stubborn pride had too strong of a hold on me, and it grew stronger as time went on. The wound was too deep for me to let go.

I am forever grateful to Mom for teaching us the Catechism and to love the Lord with all of our hearts, and the grace we were given through her is immeasurable. Although I knew Christ as the Son of God who died for my sins, I hadn’t yet known him as someone who could fill the hole I had in my heart. I tried to make up for it elsewhere. I thrived on attention, especially from boys. I loved flirting and learned to use my feminine wiles to get whatever I wanted. It seemed like I couldn’t keep good girl friends for long, but that didn’t bother me as long as I had some guy to remind me periodically that I was pretty or that someone was thinking of me. When I was 15 I got my first boyfriend and was swept up in a whirlwind romance. He was 2 ½ years older than me and leaving for basic training for the Army. We made up for our time apart with intimate visits and phone calls that only fed our infatuation for each other. The whole affair spun out of control and I ended it multiple times, but he was the most constant man in my life at that point—and I couldn’t let him go. We were on and off for years, and I filled his absences with late-night hookups. I fell into habits of grave sin, but I needed affection, and boys gave it to me. They made me feel beautiful, appreciated, and wanted.

My lows were balanced with spiritual highs from Catholic conferences and retreats, where I could see the error in my ways and promise God that I would change. However, my broken heart needed that physical person to whisper he loved me and give me kisses. I entered as a freshman into a wonderful Catholic college, surrounded by holy, attractive men who knew how to treat a woman right. It was there that I met a man I thought would be my future husband. He was everything I could have wanted. He respected me; I could see it in his actions. We were chaste, we went by the book, and we even prayed together on the phone! Betrayals and broken hearts in my past made me hesitant, but after much coaxing, I gave him my entire heart. I had a new home in him.

The emotional honeymoon didn’t last. Just over six months into our relationship, he flipped a switch and everything came to a bitter crashing end. I cried and screamed to God, begging for no more pain. I was blinded by my hurt and flung myself at the feet of the Eucharist in adoration. Slowly, the flow of my tears slowed and my breathing began to slow. I heard no voice, felt no touch, saw no apparition. But I calmly returned to my room and listened to music. A song began to play with a soft pace. He sang to me:
“He is jealous for me.”

The words struck a chord in my heart. Someone is jealous for my love; he wants it for himself first. I kept listening.

“Loves like a hurricane; I am a tree bending beneath the weight of his wind and mercy.”

I pictured a tree, swaying back and forth by strong but gentle winds. The beat reminded me of a waltz.

“Oh, how he loves us.”

Jesus does love me, but it’s not the same as a man in front of me that I can touch, feel, or taste.

“And heaven meets earth like an unforeseen kiss and my heart turns
violently inside of my chest.”

All of a sudden it all came together for me. Heaven met earth when God became man, and Christ meets me at my lips in the Eucharist. This was the dialogue of love that I had been longing for: the man to meet me at the altar with an incarnate kiss. Christ is my beloved, the rock upon whom I build my days and spend my evenings dreaming of. I was captured by pain and freed by the Prince of Peace who sacrificed his life for this princess.

Happy Valentine’s Day, from this little heart captured by Christ.

Monday, February 11, 2013

‎"The human heart is not wrong in wanting love; it is wrong only in thinking that a human can completely supply it." - Fulton Sheen

Saturday, February 2, 2013

A smile for you!

I'd only wear them in public if I was sick, about to work out, just woke up, and/or I know I won't see people, and I do love wearing jeans more than any other item of clothing, but yoga pants are a close second.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Beneath Your Beautiful

Ladies and gents, I want to apologize for my recent hiatus. I've been experiencing some big changes professionally and personally and I am just now getting back into a rhythm. Hopefully these insights can help you to forgive me :)

My brother has been a huge inspiration to my taste in music. He finds random songs I would like that seem to fit a variety of occasions, themes, moods, etc. He has a pretty good idea of my taste, and when he passes me a song I usually end up exploring similar songs and artists and give my music library a fresh feel. Recently he showed me this song, and in an effort to hear it again I just looked it up on Youtube. I found the video moving... and of course it got me thinking about my favorite theme throughout this blog: love and vulnerability.

The rest of this post will make a lot more sense if you listen to the chorus at the very least.

The song made me think of an article I read recently about marriage, found here (seriously, read it. I might repost it later for all of you lazy people who just don't want to click on another link or read a lot more words). The connection I saw was that love is about more than happily ever after. Love is real, love is honest, love is blunt, love is raw. At its deepest, it is two persons encountering each other in entirety, including scars & fresh wounds, emotions, fears, shortcomings, bad habits, and obstacles that seem like they'll never be overcome.

But what is love when it is not real? When it does not reach the core? It has no connection, no bond, it is not built on sacrifice for the sake of the other, it is driven by passion and emotion, it is photoshopped as it masks imperfections for the sake of pride, selfishness, and the fear of being alone.

NOTE: Yes, that does sound a little extreme, and yes, there are exceptions, as John Paul II, C.S. Lewis, Socrates, Kierkegaard, and many other philosophers and theologians have so beautifully articulated. The love that I am referring to in this post is most simply put as love in relationship. I am using the context of dating/marriage, but it also very much applies to deep friendships.

The point that I am trying to make here is not a new one:
"Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails." 1 Corinthians 13:7-8
Loving with this intensity does reap rewards. When people love selflessly, they "get back" love 10 fold... the satisfaction of giving. It's one of the wonderful things that help motivate us to service, both in our personal relationships and in our communities. And it has a contagious, pay-it-forward effect. As wonderfully put in the example from the blog I linked above (read it), when people feel genuinely appreciated, they are more apt to honestly appreciate and encourage you to be the best-version-of-yourself. It is beautiful, awe-inspiring, and almost majestically mysterious.

Don't get me wrong, I am not trying to sugarcoat anything. I want to challenge you, my dear friends, to love vulnerably, to let yourself get to a point where you can feel pain. In the above Scripture passage, St. Paul goes on to say:

"When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I gave up childish ways." 1 Corinthians 13:11

This love takes maturity. It means no games, no hanging up on someone just to draw out the drama, no gossip, no snapping back as a reaction, especially when you both know you're in the wrong. No beating around the bush, no pushing someone away for the sake of saving yourself the risk of heartache when they have every intention of showing you genuine appreciation. Give up childish ways. We can still dream of happily ever after, but iconic fairy tale stories end with a lavish wedding and riding off into the sunset.

Newsflash: your life together doesn't begin when you hit the horizon or come back home from the honeymoon. Your life with the ones you hold near and dear began the day you started being real with them, and them with you. Sure, there might be sunshine and lollipops and rainbows and gummy bears in your future, but don't miss one minute of loving someone wholly today because you don't know what tomorrow will be. Get dressed up for dates and don't be afraid of fake-it-til-you-make-it confidence if need me, but in order to live fully, we absolutely must let others see beneath the beautiful at least once in a while.

*This blog was intended for single women forging their way through their young adult years trying to figure out what the what is going on with their lives, and ladies, I am thinking of you as well as I write this, not just those in relationships. Walls keep us from love in all aspects of our lives, including loving God, our families, our friends, potential suitors, and ourselves. Don't hold back. You've got this. :)

Thursday, January 24, 2013

“Falling in love, being an emotion, is not eternal. The emotion of love must be purified. It must undertake a journey of discernment in which the mind and the will also come into play. … In the rite of Marriage the Church does not ask whether you are in love but whether you want, whether you are resolved. In other words, falling in love must become true love; it must involve the will and the mind in a journey (which is the period of engagement) of purification, of greater profundity so that it is truly all of man, with all his capacities, with the discernment of reason and the force of will, who says: ‘Yes, this is my life’”. -Papa Benedict XVI