Goodbye, twenties. Gulp.

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I took this picture one week before my twentieth birthday—probably for MySpace to announce my upcoming 20th birthday, if I’m being honest. I was entering a new decade and had no idea what was in store. I was a confused teenager taking class after class at my local community college trying to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up.

A decade later and I’m still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. But this time I’m moving from one decade to the next with far less confusion (…I think).

My twenties were, as they are for everyone I know, a transformational decade. I tried new things, I made a lot of mistakes, and I started discovering and pursuing the things I’m passionate about.

With that in mind, as I prepare to enter my thirties—gulp—I thought I would share a few things I’m glad I did in my twenties. Continue reading “Goodbye, twenties. Gulp.”

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Hola, Papa Francisco.

I, like many Catholics, remember where I was when Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio was named the 265th successor of Saint Peter. I sat in a work meeting with anticipation,  compulsively checking my phone for any sign of news from Rome. Although I had my “re-conversion” in 2007 with the teachings of Pope Benedict XVI and I had a special love for Pope John Paul II because Polish, this moment in history felt new and exciting. This was the first papal conclave I cared about. I knew I would be meeting the first Pope I could claim as my own. He would be the first Pope I’d follow from his beginning. The first Pope in whom I would see a shepherd chosen by God instead of just a cultural icon.

When I got word our new Pope was elected, I was filled with a joy and comfort I couldn’t articulate. We learned he chose the name Francis. Oh, how I loved St. Francis. I had my moment of re-conversion in a Franciscan Friary. My grandmother was a third order Franciscan. Franciscan spirituality greatly influenced, and still influences, my faith life. I knew this would be a man from whom I’d learn and who would inspire me to go deeper in my relationship with God. That night my friends and I celebrated the only way we knew how… with prayer and cake.

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Pope Francis has inspired me, just as I knew he would. From his love of mercy to his joy for evangelization. From his profound and prophetic words to his simple gestures of love. Naturally, I was excited when I found out he would be coming to the United States. When I found out there was a ticket to the Papal Mass in Washington DC with my name on it, it took everything in me to refrain from a fangirl frenzy.

My friend, who invited me and was also excited to be there, referred to our tickets as the “cheap seats.” I referred to them as, “Ohmygosh I can’t believe I’m at a Papal Mass.”

Continue reading “Hola, Papa Francisco.”

Senkyèm vwayaj nan Kay Mari.

Again I’ve been home from Haiti for two months. Again it has taken me two months to sit down and write about the trip. Each time I lead a team of missionaries, I instantly fall into routine in Haiti and then it takes weeks to months for me to adjust when I return home.

This trip was no exception to that pattern.

But this trip was a beautiful time of processing my love for this little piece of the world, building relationships, and prayerfully turning to the Lord in gratitude.

First, I had a team of missionaries who were very open to sharing how God was speaking in their hearts. Each evening ended with prayer on the roof, which reminded me why I was there and the One who called me to this place. On the canter ride to the orphanage, driving through Port-au-Prince, I asked one of my team members, “So, what do you think so far?”

His response struck me. He shared about the despair and absence of hope he felt. And then he said, “I feel like we’re going to the wrong place. All the pictures you share of the children and the orphanage… they look like a slice of heaven compared to what we’re driving through. I feel like we’re going to the wrong place.”

I sat with his comments for a few moments, allowing myself to process what he shared. And then I said, “Yes. It might feel like we’re going to the wrong place. But where we are going was a place of despair. Many of the children who now live at the orphanage lacked hope. Yes, it might look like a slice of heaven compared to what you’re seeing. But the reason it’s a slice of heaven is because people like us are willing to sustain their work. People like us  are willing to sacrifice many things to demonstrate to these children–many of whom lost their parents or were abused or were neglected or were abandoned–that they are loved and they are worth it.”

And that’s how my trip began. With that reminder.

Let’s go over some top moments from this trip, shall we? Continue reading “Senkyèm vwayaj nan Kay Mari.”