What’s next?

Over the last couple weeks, in a renewed zeal for sharing my thoughts, I’ve sat down and written a couple posts. They came easily, and I enjoyed the distant but familiar joy of sharing what’s on my mind. But they didn’t make it to your screen. I was too incredulous at the dumbness of the world that my words would probably definitely be regretted.

The world hasn’t really calmed down since then, but I’m here, finally ready to take this thing head on.

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Thankfully, taking on San Francisco hills for work has proven to be less difficult than taking on our culture.

Since graduating and beginning life in the real world a couple months ago, I’ve been thinking about my place in all this craziness. That may never be crystal clear. But I do clearly know that I can’t be silent right now. I’m not one to ever be silent about things that matter. But lately it’s been too overwhelming to comprehend. We all know it.

I’m going to start writing again anyway.

If there’s ever a time we needed person to person dialogue, this is it.

We need to discuss things that matter. We need to remember each other’s humanity when we disagree. We need to challenge ourselves and people we can reach to build the future we hope for.

I’m starting small, and not making any promises. But I am back (with a prettier blog!). And I’m here to tackle our culture, current events, and life as a Catholic in a world increasingly against me. What’s next? A whole lot of fun breaking down the issues and getting to the heart of the issues we’re all struggling with.

Welcome to the ride! If there’s anything you want to discuss, contact me anytime. You can bet there are fun things in the works already😉

To Life,

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On being an adult

Job, transportation, housing, and so much more are what we as young adults have to figure out after leaving the comfort of a college campus. When I first heard people use the term “adulting”, it seemed pretty weird. But now that I’m in the throes of figuring out post college life, it seems to accurately describe my feeling toward transitioning into a full-fledged member of society.

Adulting - Not Alone Series at A Drop in the Ocean

Not long ago, it felt like I was standing on the edge of a cliff. Since then I accepted a job offer, graduated from college, and road tripped half way across the U.S. with my family to get home. In the few days between getting home and when work training starts, it’s been crunch time figuring out a new car, financing said car, public transportation to work, insurance, and eventually moving out of my family home (to name a few things). It’s a LOT all at once, and can be overwhelming. But I’m also so, so grateful to have a job.

With this whirlwind transition going on, there hasn’t been much time to think about all the other components of young adult life. You know, forming a new community and whatnot. Adulting is hard, sometimes. There are lots of transitions. And there’s stuff I haven’t begun to deal with yet since graduation was just a week ago. There’s so much I want to do. It’s such an exciting time! But right now I’m focusing on figuring out the basics.

To keep myself sane, I’ve been taking it one step at a time. It can’t all happen at once. [Even if I do have a million tabs open at once trying to put it all together…]

And you know what? It’ll all happen in time. I think that’s an important thing to remember in figuring out all this stuff. We don’t have to have all the answers now, thank goodness!

Here are some reminders for this time:

  • Be patient. If you have everything all perfectly laid out, it probably won’t happen that way (ask me how I know, ha!).
  • Learn to trust God. He’s got your back, even when everything else seems uncertain.
  • Be smart with money. I think it’s a major disservice to young people that so many of us don’t know much about handling money. But I do consider myself in a good position because of the years of hard work put into earning my way through college. I took out far less in loans than many college students, have great credit, and a full time job. But I still have to be smart and make concrete goals – a work in progress! Having goals and good advice in this area I think can help alleviate a lot of worries that go into adulting.
  • Give, give, give. As a single young person, there’s nobody depending on me and nobody I’m depending on (in the same way as being a child). Because of that, it’s easy to become self centered. Use this time to give back in ways you couldn’t do later in life. After all, we can only find ourselves in service to others. Donate the time, talent, and treasure that you can!
  • Do things you enjoy off the internet. Like to hike or draw or crochet or read? Do it! When things get stressful, slow down your mind in healthy ways that relax you. Spend time with people. Try new recipes. Paint a room. Finish a book. Try a new coffee shop in town. Go to a dance class. Thrift shop. Sew. Play an instrument. Get a little beauty into your life!

It can be a little unsettling figuring life out. And I’m smack dab in the middle of it right now! But it helps to know I don’t have to have all the answers right now. Life as an adult is just beginning for me, and it’s exciting thinking about all the possibilities. Imagine what’s possible when we make the most of our young adult years and work to become the people God made us to be!

Thanks to Rachel and Lindsay for having me host NAS this week! Share your pro tips for adulting in the comment section or the link-up, and let’s help each other out.

To Life,

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Link up next week with Lindsay to revisit the topic of love languages. Here’s the prompt:

Love languages apply to more than just romance; they help you learn how to make people feel appreciated and cared for in all of your relationships. What is your love language? (Take the quiz at 5lovelanguages.com.) How have you learned to speak someone else’s love language? Do you find it easier to speak some languages than others; if so, which ones? How have you shown or received love in multiple languages?

 

Standing on the cliff of uncertainty

It feels like I’m standing on the edge of a cliff.

Being just over a week away from graduation is something that always seemed way in the future. But now it’s right here. I am an adult who will soon have a degree and job.

My future is still not quite crystal clear, which is something I didn’t expect. At first when job leads became unsure, I insisted on looking at specifically Catholic or pro-life jobs. When nothing was happening with those leads, I expanded to non-profits in general and applied there. It’s been frustrating not knowing what the future will be like.

I’ve been praying about it and was grilling God a couple weeks ago questioning whether I was supposed to even work with Catholic or pro-life organizations. Were my standards too high? If nothing’s happening with those leads, am I not supposed to work in those areas? Why in the world would I have spent the last 5 years working in those fields only to be rejected to continue full time? Was I being doomed to work in a meaningless cubicle away from the work I’m passionate about?

So naturally, I gave God an ultimatum of sorts and said “Okay, but if you want me in those other places, show me. Open the door and I will walk through it, even if I don’t love it.”

Daring God is not the most intelligent or mature thing I’ve done, but it also gave him just enough room in this adventure.

I continued my job search online widening my horizons. It was rather discouraging. Those business jobs unrelated to missions of helping people are the jobs that are often highly competitive and driven by profit and dirty business. That’s not what drives me, so it’s difficult to bring myself to apply to those jobs. But wouldn’t you know? I think God’s got something up his sleeve because other leads started developing. And my applications for jobs at non Catholic/life-related jobs were rejected.

So maybe that was the point – to get to the place where I gave up my plans and started looking at what I don’t want to do.

After all, one thing taking Catholic Social Thought has taught me is that it’s not the specifics of our work that make it meaningful. It’s our co-participation with God in his plan to develop creation. It’s our dignity as creatures made in his image that gives our work meaning.

Who knows where God is calling me? Not this girl. I’ve been surprised, disappointed, discouraged, but also hopeful at different times during this process. Figurative doors have been slammed in my face. It has not been fun. It’s not something I wanted to do. And it’s certainly not over. But more than anything, getting to this point in life has taught me that the best things often happen when my plans don’t work out.

Recently I was absentmindedly humming Here I  Am Lord, and this line stuck with me when I realized how applicable it is to senior year: “I will go, Lord, if you lead me.”

I will go, Lord, if you lead me

And for the first time in my life, I’m realizing that I actually mean that. God does not abandon us, EVER. Things like this that test us make us stronger. Bring on the fire! We can choose to lean into the change and let ourselves be molded, or we can crumble under the pressure. I choose to make the most of this. I choose to not be passive about finding what God has in store. I choose to find joy in this, even when it stinks. And I choose to allow God to unfold the masterpiece of my life.

Trust in God is one of the most horribly painful but awesome things ever. And it’s born from a place of realizing the gifts in life (basically everything) while developing an attitude of thanksgiving. It goes like authenticity to trust to gratitude.

That will never be easy to accept, but it has gotten easier. God’s got a plan and I’m out to find it. Are you?

To Life,

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Why I’m not boycotting Target

Potty talk isn’t generally acceptable in most social circles, but it’s been all the rage with Target’s recent statement of policy. This statement (which is not new) tells us that Target will “welcome transgender team members and guests to use the restroom or fitting room facility that corresponds with their gender identity”. So naturally, people are losing their ever-loving minds.

Nearly a million people have responded by vowing to boycott Target.

But I’m not one of them.

Let me tell you why.

Why I'm not boycotting Target by Laura at A Drop in the Ocean

First off, let’s chat about the big picture of these bathroom laws. Yes, I 100% disagree with Target’s policy. It’s playing a political game and siding with a liberal agenda. I don’t think we should have to think about politics or controversial issues when buying shoes or milk. This is corporate personhood taken WAY too far.

Additionally, we don’t have a grasp of what this new concept of “gender identity” means. The best I can understand it is a type of body or gender dysphoria (unease or dissatisfaction with the way things are) or dysmorphia (obsessive focus on a perceived flaw in appearance). It’s a problem to accept this as normal behavior. This is a very real struggle and we should be seeking ways to help people become the best version of the person they were born as – not run away from that person by becoming someone else.

There’s also the concern of safety. I don’t want men walking through bathrooms when I’m peeing. It’s bad enough when you make awkward eye contact through those gaping cracks in the stalls with another woman. Can I get an amen? This opens doors for creepers to have easier access to victims. However, I’ve seen people argue that we should be watching our kids already. And then there’s the point that criminals don’t really care about laws. So while this argument has merit, I think it’s hard to argue without statistics and facts to back it up. There are lots of stories, though, that we shouldn’t ignore.

Okay, but I’m still not boycotting them. Why?

  1. Boycotting is fairly ineffective. Imagine Target executives sitting around and discussing the issue. Do they care about a bunch of (what they think are) haters? Not really. Nope. A bunch of Christians whining isn’t going to make them cry. Unless you’ve got the whole country mad, boycotting just doesn’t work.
  2. This is not new. Target has been known to be a flaming liberal company for quite some time. Why do you care about them now?
  3. I don’t even shop there often, so boycotting wouldn’t take much of anything away. Maybe I’ll go someplace else if I can, but I barely shop at target to begin with.
  4. It reinforces the “ew” factor of Christians against people dealing with gender/LGBT issues. Instead of creating dialogue, it just confirms the liberal view that we just.can’t.even. when it comes to these issues. You know what? Yeah, it’s wrong to say you can change gender. God made us male and female for a reason. But reacting with this much of an ick factor isn’t doing much for our cause. Let’s talk about it and come up with a solution together.

But my biggest reason is that I want to be consistent in what I stand up for and support. If I’m going to boycott Target, guess who else I have to boycott? Pretty much everyone.

Walmart executives should probably pay some jail time for the number of people who’ve been hurt through their manipulation of suppliers to lower safety standards. Do you know that chocolate and cell phone batteries are usually made possible through the work of slave children? How do you feel about that? What about sweatshops in China?

If you dig deep enough, there’s going to be something morally objectionable that almost all companies support.

So when you claim that your conscience is offended by these bathroom laws, I get it. Mine is too. But your conscience should also be taken aback by other issues. It is wildly inconsistent to scream BOYCOTT to the bathrooms but silently enable slave owners. It’s so easy to whine on social media but not let these issues permeate our beings and radically change how we live.

The liberal agenda is dumb. I don’t feel super comfortable peeing in public anymore knowing anything could happen. But we’ve got to pull ourselves together and be logical. Don’t cave to the hysteria of tolerance. Don’t just throw your hands up and not care. There’s too much at stake.

But remember that there are real people involved, and people better darn well know us by our love. Sometimes life calls for tough love. It calls for courage to go against the tide. It calls for so much more than a boycott. It calls for a consistent ethic in who and what we support. So let’s examine who we give our business to and make sure that our money is always where our mouth is.

To Life,

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Letting go of what I can’t control

It’s a funny thing to be at such an uncertain part of life when I was so certain this wouldn’t happen. But you know, God like to laugh when we make plans, right?

With graduation in just under six weeks, I don’t know yet where I’ll work or live. This might not seem unusual to you, but for me – I’m a planner and a doer. Summer plans until now have always ended up providential with the help of hard work and perfectly timed generosity. Networks have been built. Relationships maintained. The people I’ve worked with are important to me, and it’s so wonderful to keep in contact with everyone I can.

But things haven’t gone how I expected.

That’s okay. I know it is. I know there’s a plan (SOMEWHERE, RIGHT?!) that is better than mine. But it’s very strange to be asked what my post-graduation plans are and truly not have an answer. “But you’re the kind of person I’d expect to know!” people have said. You and me both, honey.

Sometimes it feels like a little bit of a failure. Earning my degree has not always been fun. I would have given up SO many times if I were that kind of a person. But sheer determination, the grace of God, and lots of coffee have gotten me here. So did I really work that hard to graduate without a clear path?

But that’s not true. I know my path. My path is holiness. It’s the call each of us has. And right now I’m waiting for God to open the right door. But in the meantime I’m knocking on ALL the doors to see which one cracks open. Which means lots of resumes and cover letter drafts on my laptop.

This all has been a reminder to me that I’m not really the one in control. And letting things go does wonders for ones sanity. How many times do I need that reminder? A lot, apparently. Things might not end up like I planned. But they still could. And I’d really like to know NOW. But this story keeps coming to mind:

“When the brilliant ethicist John Kavanaugh went to work for three months at ‘the house of the dying’ in Calcutta, he was seeking a clear answer as to how best to spend the rest of his life.

On the first morning there he met Mother Teresa. She asked, ‘And what can I do for you?’ Kavanaugh asked her to pray for him. ‘What do you want me to pray for?’ she asked. He voiced the request that he had borne thousands of miles from the United States: ‘Pray that I have clarity.’ She said firmly, ‘No, I will not do that.’ When he asked her why, she said, ‘Clarity is the last thing you are clinging to and must let go of.’

When Kavanaugh commented that she always seemed to have the clarity he longed for, she laughed and said, ‘I have never had clarity; what I have always had is trust. So I will pray that you trust God.’”

And that’s the challenge. Do I get frustrated? Yes. Does that mean I give up? No. It means I learn to punch doubt in the face and trust better. Isn’t that funny? It’s my word of the year. I’m sure many college seniors can relate that it’s easier said than done, but I’m just going to keep knocking and waiting.

Your move, God.

To Life,

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Theology of the {unmarried} body

If you’ve been around Catholic circles in the last 20 years, you might have heard some serious fangirling over St. John Paul II. He was allegedly the “coolest saint ever“. He even fished, wore hipster glasses at some point, acted, and oh, gave us Theology of the Body.

Theology of the Unmarried Body - Not Alone Series

If you haven’t heard of it before, “Theology of the Body” (TOB) started as a series of talks that was later compiled into a book . . . which has now been explained so normal people can understand it (even Cosmopolitan). JPII used these talks to reflect on and teach us the purpose of our lives. No big deal, right? You know, it’s just our place in the cosmos and the answer to the question we all ask: “Why do I exist?”

Intrigued? Good. Me too. So I read this introduction and my mind was blown. The main point?

God created us in his image so we can reflect his love in our lives and ultimately be united to him in heaven.

His love is free, total, faithful, and fruitful. (I mean, obviously the Trinity isn’t going to be breaking up anytime soon.)

He created us to learn to love like he does.

He created us male and female to show us that we can reflect the love of the Trinity, a communion of loving persons, as evidenced by the way our bodies were designed. He created us to give of ourselves unconditionally and accept others unconditionally, just like he does, doing our best to see the dignity of each other made in the image of God.

This communion of loving persons many people are called to is the family. But some people misunderstand TOB and think it only applies to marriage. This is false, because TOB teaches us about everyone’s call to love. Some people are called to love through marriage and family life. Others through a religious community or consecrated single life. This post isn’t about marriage and relationships. It’s about how we live out this call to holiness, to give of ourselves unconditionally, as people who are unmarried.

Essentially, TOB teaches us to love others by giving instead of grasping, by seeking to see people more like God does: with the unique dignity of being made in his image as a gift to the world. That’s possible, and dare I say, demanded of us as Christians at all stages in life.

JPII teaches us that “man . . . cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself”. This central message is insanely simple, but radical at the same time: Give. It’s implications are countless.

For people who aren’t bound by marriage or religious vows to continually give of themselves to the same person/group of people, we have the unique privilege of giving ourselves more fully to the people we encounter everyday.

“The married person puts their spouse first,” said Janet Smith. “The celibate puts God first. When you’re single, the next person who crosses your path is the person you put first. That’s who Christ is asking you to give yourself to. That’s how you love him.”

What might this look like in our lives?

1. Give the gift of your time to a cause you believe in.

  • Cultivate a spirit of selfless giving by volunteering to build homes, go on mission trips, serve at a soup kitchen, cuddle babies at your local NICU, babysit for tired parents . . . figure out where your passions and schedule meet with other people’s needs.

2. Give the gift of your skills and talents to people who can use them.

  • Good at math? Tutor. Love to paint? Host a painting & wine night for friends who need a little community. Master chef? Make meals for people recovering from a big life event. Our abilities are meant to be shared freely and generously.

3. Give the gift of your prayers. Always.

  • Sometimes the most we can do is pray. What I do for this is post on social media every Sunday asking people to comment/message/like the status and I’ll remember their intentions throughout the week. I write these intentions down in a journal (when I’m on top of it) and refer to it throughout the week in prayer. When I’m on top of my game enough to offer things up for people, that happens too. My goal is to visit those intentions each night. This has been a huge way to not only connect with people, but offer more of my time and effort for them.

4. Die to yourself (aka. don’t always treat yo’self).

  • For example, we could bring the brownies to share at work instead of finishing them on the couch while binge-watching Netflix. Fasting every once in a while might be your jam, or offering other things for people. It sure doesn’t fit with pop culture, but it teaches us to be more selfless which is what TOB is all about.

5. Push yourself to see the dignity in everyone.

  • That coworker who gets on your nerves? She’s made in God’s image. Crazy driver who flips you off? God’s image. It’s easier sometimes to see the dignity in the homeless and poor than the people we live with or are closest to. So before you entertain nasty thoughts about people or snap back to a rude comment, STOP and challenge yourself to see their dignity as a child of God. They are a unique and unrepeatable gift to the world, even when they aren’t acting like it.

6. Be grateful.

  • You know what’s hard? Being grateful. There’s so much we have to have and do. Mmkay. You seriously don’t need to have the newest iPhone. Relax and count your blessings. After reading this book, I started writing down things I was grateful for each day. It’s made such a difference. It teaches me to see the gifts in the little things. Seriously, try it out. Notice the little things. Unless you’re a naked starving hobo living in a cardboard box, you’ve got at least a few things to thank God for.

7. Go the extra mile.

  • As unmarried people, we can give more of our time than pretty much anybody else. Yes, there are jobs and commitments. Life is busy. But life is always busy. And we have time for things when we make time for them. So make time for loving people! Go out of your way to have coffee with a friend, start a book club, or organize a local event. Remember that even when people don’t seem like they deserve it, do something nice for them anyway. It will change your life (and theirs!).

That’s it. TOB is about finding our purpose in life through selflessly loving. It’s harder than it sounds. But I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t all keep fangirling over this if it wasn’t worth it. It’s really hard to describe, but it’s in those moments when you think of other people, do thoughtful things, and respect the dignity of people unconditionally that we are most fulfilled. Not to mention that’s when we’re best living our mission to love.

In These Beautiful Bones, Emily Stimpson says:

“We’re all made to be a gift. And we become that gift by using our bodies to serve, teach, comfort, correct, feed, clothe, shelter, heal, encourage, lead, suffer, sacrifice, and pray for others, helping them through it all to become more the men and women God calls them to be.”

And my main man Fulton Sheen (as always) has a few words on the topic of when we meet Jesus face to face:

“He will look at our hands to see if they have been scarred from giving, our feet to see the calluses from travel to preach His Gospel, and our side to see if we have loved to a point of sacrifice. Woe to us who come down from Calvary with hands unscarred and white.”

Ever thought of TOB like this? How can you apply it to you life? Tell me what you think by commenting below or linking up with the Not Alone Series here!

To hands scarred from giving,

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Transgender feelings don’t trump my safety

As someone who tries to keep up on current events, much of what I read makes me stop and question the state of our world. I used to routinely express my disgust by posting snarky Facebook posts and ranting about whatever the latest story was. But that takes away my peace. That was lots of fun, but I’m trying hard to not do that anymore.

I still get mad about the stories . . .

The bills that are passed (or not).

The misrepresentations of my faith.

I still rant in my head, or sometimes with friends. But I generally try to not post rants online because I don’t think it helps people understand my beliefs. I don’t think it opens the door to conversation. And I know complaining about things I can’t change isn’t helpful.

But that’s led to me not addressing a lot of current events. And I’m not okay with that. We’re supposed to be in the world. Not of it, completely. But as a Catholic wanting to spice things up and show people the awesomeness I’ve found in my faith, I can’t do that by keeping quiet.

So things are going to change! The plan is to use this space to share how I approach different issues in light of my Catholic faith. I want to think through how to respond to the issues we’re facing. Will you join me? Ask questions that come up, and always feel free to contact me if you’re not comfortable commenting publicly.

Today I’m talking about allowing people who claim to identify as opposite the gender they were born as use the bathroom of the gender they choose.

Transgender feelings don't trump my safety

Many states have “gotten with the times” and passed bills that allow people who are genetically male or female from birth to use whichever designated public restroom they choose. If they were born genetically male, they can use restrooms reserved for women. If they were born genetically female, they can use the restrooms reserved for men. They just have to “identify” as the opposite gender. I’ve also seen this apply to locker rooms and changing rooms.

To some people these are duh bills.

But I just don’t buy it.

Why? Because I don’t think people’s feeling are what we should base laws on.

I was born a man but now identify as a woman. It hurts my feelings if you don’t let me use the women’s locker/changing/bathroom.

Their feelings may legitimately be hurt. And it’s not that I don’t care about their feelings. But do we stop to ask, “hey, what is this person actually going through?” What does it even mean to “identify” as the opposite gender? We don’t have extensive research on the science of a person who claims to be transgender. So why should we acquiesce to a single group of people’s desires while potentially putting everyone else at risk?

We can’t blindly accept this without seriously considering the consequences.

For example, I recommend reading What really happens when transgender person uses locker room. In this case, a man walked into the women’s locker room at a public pool to change. There were many women and girls inside, in various stages of undress (naturally because that’s what happens in a locker room). The man said “the law has changed and I have a right to be here”. But because he did not state that he identified as a woman, he was asked to leave. HOWEVER, “the man would not have been asked to leave if he had simply verbally identified as a woman“.

That is all it would take for any man to be let into a women’s locker room (in states where this is the law). Please let that sink in.

This paragraph struck me as well:

“But would the man’s statement have made the previously “alarmed” individuals suddenly comfortable with his presence? Would the man’s body have looked any different to the young girls as he undressed had he merely professed to be a woman? Would such a statement eliminate the dignitary, emotional, and psychological harms a woman suffers by having her unclothed body viewed by a man against her will? Of course not.”

This powerful piece from a rape victim tells us:

“[it’s] nothing short of negligent to instate policies that elevate the emotional comfort of a relative few over the physical safety of a large group of vulnerable people.”

And that’s where I’m at. I don’t think this conversation has to get to a philosophical or religious level, because it seems so obvious the abuse that can result from it. Do I have the perfect solution? No. Maybe we should think about making unisex restrooms. And we definitely need to have research done on what it means to be “transgender”. Because right now anyone can decide to identify as whatever gender they want. And that doesn’t seem like a reasonable foundation for our laws.

How do you answer this? What is your thought process?

To Life,

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Peace be with you

A lot of what we do is in an effort to try to control our lives. We pick the perfect school, what we wear, how we act, the car we drive, the job we have, the place we live . . . all to build up the life we want. We snap and ‘gram the moments we want to share. It’s fun, really, to create the life we’ve dreamed of.

And then we lie in bed at night and wonder what in the world we’re doing with our lives.

We’re in an age where it’s easy to be connected with hundred of “friends” and feel unheard at the same time. We take in so much information but don’t take the time to think. We’re caught up in the everyday things instead of thinking long term.

And it all eats away at our peace.

I’ve been working on this for a while and can honestly say that it takes a lot to truly upset me now. I can rant about politics or contraception, but I don’t go to bed feeling sick to my stomach about the state of our world. There’s something deep down that takes a lot to shake. And it’s not because I posses heroic virtue (HA!). I think the deep sense of peace I have come to is because of:

  • surrender
  • detachment

When we surrender our perfect ideas, we let God make our lives the beautiful stories we’re made to be. Surrender comes when we give up control, when we admit that our plans aren’t always what’s best for us, when we pray for guidance instead of making a headstrong decision. Do that! Instead of claiming that you know best, create peace in your life by asking for God’s direction.

When we become detached from material things, it brings so much peace. I don’t own a whole lot of stuff (which will change when it comes time for an apartment of my own) and I like it that way. Well, except for books. Thaaat’s a different story. I try to remember that my things are mine to share with people who don’t have them. Now this is not easy. I am NOT a pro. But when I do choose to let go of how I want something, it brings a lot of peace. Try giving someone else the best muffin, letting someone change your plans for the evening to something they’d like to do, or giving away something you like.

Those are a couple practices that bring peace everyday. Other things that bring peace are:

  • putting away social media
  • spending time outdoors
  • writing
  • reading
  • praying
  • being creative (such as crafting)
  • cooking
  • cleaning
  • listening to music

A wonderful book on the topic is Peace of Soul by Fulton Sheen – a book I highly recommend. Another good one is Choosing Joy: The Secret of Living a Fully Christian Life by Dan Lord (a quicker read).

Peace for me is about letting go. It’s taking a deep breath and recognizing that it’s okay if things don’t go according to plan. When they don’t, it’s often better than I would imagine. So give it a try, will you? Try along with me and let me know how it goes!

[Linking up with Britt Leigh to talk about what brings us peace as part of the Not Alone Series.]

And my last parting words:

“Listen, put it into your heart, my youngest and dearest son, that the thing that disturbs you, the thing that afflicts you, is nothing. Do not let your countenance, your heart be disturbed. Do not fear this sickness…nor anything that is sharp or hurtful. Am I not here, I, who am your Mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection? Am I not the source of your joy? Are you not in the hollow of my mantle, in the crossing of my arms? Do you need anything more? Let nothing else worry you, disturb you.” – Our Lady of Guadalupe

To Life,

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P.P.S. My Amazon links are affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase after clicking through, I’ll make a few pennies. Thanks for your support!

20 Tips when considering abortion

Dear women considering abortion,

I know there’s a lot going through your mind and heart right now. And I know there are lots of opinions out there about what you should do. When Madeleine Roe recently shared 20 Tips for Your First Abortion, she offered ways for you to (at times lightheartedly) cope with the reality of going through an abortion procedure. Here are my own tips, in no particular order, for you:20 Tips When Considering an Abortion by Laura @ A Drop in the Ocean1. Know that you are not alone. If your support system of family and friends have deserted you, know that there are workers and volunteers around the country who dedicate their time to walking with women during this critical time. You can connect with a center where there are people to support you by calling 1-800-712-4357 or texting “Helpline” to 313131 at any time.

2. There are many sources of information about abortion and pregnancy, but not all sources are created equal. You can view scientific-based information regarding your health and prenatal development at the Endowment for Human Development. Here are side effects and risks of abortion from the American Pregnancy Association, something to consider for any surgical procedure. Allow yourself to explore the reality of what is happening inside you, and what abortion does. Here are different types of procedures explained by the American Pregnancy Association.

3. You have time to be fully informed and educated decision. Do not allow anyone to tell you that you must make a decision quickly. Nobody should coerce you into making a decision. You have a lot of information to process, and many details to work out. You need time to talk to different people and look at the risks of each option.

4. Speaking of options, you have three: parenting, adoption, or abortion. Not all options are equal. Take a critical look and the pros and cons and consequences each option has for you and your baby. Parenting gives a child the gift of their biological parents, but sometimes the situation at home means it’s not the best environment for raising a child. In that case, making the courageous and sacrificial decision to give a child the gift of an adoptive family might be something to look into. You can reach out to organizations like this one to learn more about adoption.

5. Adoption might be the last thing on your mind and that’s okay. Any decision you make at this point will be hard on some level. And making the decision of adoption is not always the best decision for everyone. I know it might feel like a betrayal to your child to carry them and then give them to an adoptive family to love and raise. So know that I look up to biological moms who make the courageous and sacrificial choice of adoption. They give their babies an intact family when their situation makes parenting unrealistic. How courageous is that?

6. People do care about you, and this choice matters. Choosing what to do when you’re pregnant in a difficult situation takes time and support from other people. It will affect many lives, not just yours. So take time to lean on supportive people in your life, whether it’s your family or local people you found from #1.

7. Take care of yourself. Your life has drastically changed since getting that positive test. Whether this was planned or not, you’re now a mother! Contrary to what Madeleine suggested, binge drinking is not a great way to cope. Take some deep breaths and connect with people who can help. A massage might be a better option. Or treat yourself to a girl’s day and go get your nails done. Take a walk. Start a journal. Find a way to process your emotions in a constructive way instead of masking them.

8. Don’t assume the worst of your friends who are against abortion. Some of them might be jerks about it. If they are, they should read this to better understand what you could be going through. But anyone who truly cares about you and your baby will be there for you no matter what.

9. When weighing the prospect of raising a child during a difficult time, remember the joys of being a parent. Instead of just thinking about the snotty noses, costs of schooling, lost sleep, and inevitable back talk, remember the smiles and laughter of children. Think of holding your very own baby in your arms – the one you made sacrifices for to bring into the world. What an honor to be given this opportunity! So don’t don’t forget the costs. But also remember the benefits. Remember it’s worth it. Every person deserves to be loved in the way only you as a mother can love this baby.

10. Be honest with yourself and your support system. Parenting might seem ridiculously unrealistic to you. Say that. You might be scared as heck about adoption. Say that. You might only be considering abortion because it seems like your only option. That’s why it’s a good thing you have time to talk with other people and come to a conclusion. Get to the heart of why you’re considering abortion, and let’s see if there’s another way to solve that.

11. Science and technology are so advanced that you can actually see what’s going on inside you. But I bet you already knew that, because you’re smart. A heartbeat starts at around 21 days after conception, shortly after you found out you were pregnant. Isn’t science truly stunning?! Check out the Endowment for Human Development for an interactive prenatal development timeline.

12. In some states, you are required to be given the option of seeing your ultrasound. This is not a political agenda being forced at you, but science. There is a living embryo or fetus (depending on your stage of pregnancy) inside of you, and you deserve to know the facts. In fact, those are just scientific names referring to the little human that started off as a single cell. All that will change about them is their size, level of development, environment, and degree of dependency on you.

13. Pay attention to the little things. Does seeing babies inflict feelings of guilt or shame? Are you noticing families while you are out? There are so many emotions going on right now. Recognize them and own them. Little things matter as well as the big picture.

14. Some ordinary things will never feel the same. Whether it’s the metal bowl Madeleine mentioned or something else, many women will experience symptoms of PTSD after going through the sometimes scarring or traumatic experience of having an abortion. And that’s not just my opinion. Lots of women have shared their stories. You can go through all sorts of testimonies here.

15. Think long-term. Often times when parenting seems scary, it’s because your resources or support systems are limited. But depending on where you live, there should be resources to alleviate any difficulty you’re experiencing. Find a place by calling 1-800-712-4357 or texting “Helpline” to 313131 at any time.

16. The fact that we have articles telling us abortion is normal tells us it’s not normal. We don’t have articles giving us 20 tips for a hit and run or tips for your first rape. We intuitively know that some things don’t need to be justified.

17. Some abortion clinics could endanger your health. A couple summers ago, Planned Parenthood protested a bill that would make their clinics (where they perform surgical abortions) meet the same medical standards of ambulatory surgical centers. They didn’t want to be legally compelled to meet medical and safety standards. If I was having surgery, I’d want to be at a safe clinic. I don’t know about you.

18. If you end up going to an abortion clinic, there might be people on the sidewalk to support you. There might be rude people who yell at you too (and I would ignore them if I were you). But I’m talking about the nice ones. They have information about the best local resources. If I were there, I would have a flower for you and give you this letter I wrote.

19. This is a roller coaster. Stifling your emotions or refusing to confront the hardness of your situation won’t help. Allow your tears to fall. It’s okay to be mad and scared. It’s okay to not have everything perfectly figured out. That’s the beauty of people who love you. They’re there no matter what.

20. You deserve better than abortion. I’ve seen too many women hurt by abortion to consider for a moment that it’s just another routine medical procedure. You deserve to be loved by people who will see you through this. And you can do this. An unexpected pregnancy is that: unexpected. But people have gotten through the hardest of times and thrived. And you can too. Because you’re stronger than you think.

You are braver than you believe

And if you haven’t found a support system yet, you can always contact me. I am more than happy to walk with you for those first scary steps and help you find that support system. You deserve only the best.

To Life,

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When trust changes everything

When TRUST changes everything by Laura at A Drop in the Ocean

It’s kind of funny how trust changes everything.

I’ve been thinking about the future. A lot. But what’s new? With senior comps (ie. “what you do instead of a thesis”, “a test of everything you’ve learned for your degree”, or “no pressure”) later this month and graduation impending, saying the future is on my mind would be an understatement.

As many soon-to-be-graduates would say, it would be SO nice to have everything set in place right now.

But I don’t.

It’s not that I don’t want to. It’s not for lack of trying. And I’m kind of dying to know what’s in store.

Being in this position is somewhat terrifying as someone who tries to have my life put together. My heart rate does sometimes go up a little bit thinking about OH MY GOSH WILL IT ALL WORK OUT?!?! And yes, I’d like to ask God to swing WIDE open the door he’s guiding me to instead of leaving multiple ones cracked open just a little.

I’d like that clarity, please and thank you.

But clarity is not my prayer right now. Because in reality, I don’t think we often know for certain exactly what we’re supposed to do. We might have an inkling. Sometimes a choice does seem obvious. But mostly life is about learning to take the next step when God calls us to, even if we’re blindfolded. It’s choosing to step out on the tightrope, even when we know we could fall.

It’s learning to trust that no matter what happens, God’s got our backs.

This Lent, I’m not giving up coffee or Facebook. But one of the things I am doing is reading through Rediscovering Jesus. Because that’s what I want to do. That’s what I need to do. I need to remind myself that there is a purpose in life, and that purpose is to get to heaven. If my life isn’t ordered toward that, then other stuff doesn’t matter.

One line that stuck out to me this morning was “God is always waiting on us. Sometimes we may think we are waiting for him, but that is never true.” BOOM.

So this Lent, I’m not thinking about all the things I’m waiting for (okay, trying not to do that), or what I can get out of it, or keeping a checklist of every single thing you must do to make it the best Lent ever and be a good Catholic. I’m trying to focus on the transformation of Lent, better conforming my life to God’s will, and asking myself what things I’m still holding on to that I need to let go. That’s the goal after all, isn’t it?

Kathryn’s reflection this morning is much of what’s in my own mind. Lent isn’t about the checklist and seeing just how penitent we can force ourselves to be.  It’s about reminding ourselves of our need for God and changing our lives to reflect that. As the first reading tells us today:

“Even now, says the Lord, return to me with your whole heart”

That’s what I’m up to: trying to return my heart to the one who created it. I’m praying for trust, and for all the intentions I’ve been given – that we all would learn to find that peace of surrender. That we would remember the beauty of our faith, of God who created us, and of this season. If you have any intentions I can remember, comment below or contact me. How has your Lent started out today?

Here’s to a new beginning.

To Life,

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