Responding to “The Call”

Hi, my name is Julia and I am a cradle Catholic.

I’ve been Catholic all of my life. I’ve never left the Church. I’ve never “experimented” with my faith. I’ve always been Catholic and because of that I think I have really taken it for granted. But I’ll get back to that later.

As a Catholic with over 12 years of private Catholic education under my belt, I grew up hearing that God calls all of us to respond to a vocation. This vocation could be anything, but I always most associated it with being called to the religious life. I mean, how often do we hear an amazing, inspiring story about a priest or sister and how they knew they were being called to religious life. And, oh, how I wanted that neon sign call, that obvious “Hey, God wants you to do THIS” call.

Of course, not every priest or sister or other religious person had that kind of call. Not even every saint had that kind of sign from God. But that’s what I wanted. That’s what I felt like I needed. “Hey God, please just hit me over the head with whatever it is you want me to do so I can just know. Thanks”.

From middle school all the way through college, my favorite subject in school was English. I love all things literature. I even love grammar. I went out of my way to take extra English classes in high school and college any chance I could. It made sense to me senior year that I would pursue a degree in creative writing. Then one of my best friends at the time told me a story about her sister, who is a Speech-Language Pathologist. And wow. It changed everything. Without even learning more about what it would entail, I applied to be in the Communication Disorders program at Truman State University. I enjoyed my classes, made amazing friends, and learned more than I could have ever imagined. After a while, though, I began to wonder, is this really what I’m “called” to do?

I hadn’t really put that much thought into it. Being an SLP would pay way more than a freelance poet. I valued financial security. I knew that was something I wanted for my future family. But had I really thought about it much more than that?

My great-grandfather passed away during finals week the first semester of my third year at Truman. It hit me hard and I felt a lot of guilt leaving family behind when I came back from winter break, so after three years at Truman, I transferred to Fontbonne University. And what did I do? I stayed in the same major, even though I had already been questioning it for some time, and a painful meeting with the head of the Communication Disorders department at Truman probably should have steered me in a different direction, but I was stubborn. I started this thing, I ought to finish it. Besides, how many more years of loans could I really stand? As an SLP, I could probably pay them off.

While at Fontbonne, again I had that nagging feeling. I stuck with the SLP program. I took the classes, worked in the clinic, did my observations. But every chance I could, I took a class on education. Was I being called to something else? Had I been mishearing God this whole time? I couldn’t possibly start over. Student loans, though.

I graduated from Fontbonne University in May of 2017 with a Bachelor’s of Science in Speech-Language Pathology. I am proud to say that. I’m not proud of the loans, but hey, I graduated! Am I going to grad school? No. Am I working in the Speech-Language Pathology field? Again, no.

Before I graduated, I started working at a daycare center, where I still work part-time. I have found that there is nothing I love more than watching little ones grow and learn. While this job doesn’t quite pay the bills like I wish it could, it is incredibly rewarding. That being said, I still needed to figure out what on earth my “vocation” is. “Hey, God. Still waiting”.

I took another part-time job, this time at a school. As of this week, I have been working at St. John Paul II Preparatory School for a year. Last year I was the 2nd grade teacher’s aide. This year I will be aiding both 3rd and 4th grade. The first week or two of this job, I didn’t know if I was going to like it at all. By the end of the first semester, I loved it. I love the kids, the teachers and staff, the families, and possibly most importantly, the faith.

Something I hadn’t realized I was lacking in was a faith community. Truman had an amazing Catholic Newman Center that kept me going in some of the darkest times, but I lost that when I left. JPII also have something special about it that Truman’s Newman Center didn’t have.

JPII is a very classic and traditional faith community, something I hadn’t really had since elementary school. Even then, the “old fashioned” tradition didn’t go much beyond the hymns and the few old ladies that still were veils to mass (something else I will be coming back to). At JPII, we teach the kids Latin and sing the mass parts in Latin. We even have a Latin mass once a year. We have mass every other week. Several of the teachers wear veils to mass (even young ones). We kneel to receive communion on our tongues. There is this incredible sense of reverence at JPII that honestly can be hard to find these days. It was something I didn’t even realize I was missing, something I was desperately needing.

Since one of the first masses I attended at JPII, I have been fascinated by these young women wearing veils. That seemed like such an outdated thing. Why were they doing it? Like I said before, growing up I was used to seeing a few older ladies wearing them at mass, but I always thought it was just because they were old, and old habits die hard. But now I was in a totally different realm. Women who grew up in a post-Vatican II Church were veiling at mass.

For months, I honestly only really thought about it when we were at mass. Beyond that, it was out of sight, out of mind. Until last week. The teachers had a special mass, in preparation for the new school year (that starts tomorrow!!). Again, I was in a room with women wearing veils (even one near my age). I finally started to get the picture. “OK, God. I’ll Google it”.

And so I did. Immediately I found Veils by Lily. I found the FAQ page and read every word. I downloaded the free printable fact sheet. I scrolled and scrolled through the site. Read the blog posts. Less than 24 hours later, I found myself doing something I never in a million years would have seen myself doing. I bought a veil. A veil to wear to church. What?!

OK, OK, what does this have to do with “Responding to ‘The Call'”? I think the kind of obvious theme here is that I’m not very good at listening to God. Or even hearing Him. I don’t know what I am doing with my life. Honestly, no idea. But a little less than a year ago, God began calling me. No, it wasn’t the “What is my vocation?” call I had been hoping for (well, I don’t think it was, but I’ve learned to never assume I know God’s plan). God was calling me to take a step outside of my comfort zone (nice and vague, thanks, God).

OK, so what does that mean? Where does that take me? I had already taken on a new job in a new place with new people. What else do You want from me? Well, a few months after starting this new job, I learned about a direct sales company called Color Street (which I wrote about here). Could this be it? I thought about it for MONTHS. Could this really be what God is calling me to do? Well, it couldn’t hurt to try. I took the leap. I joined an awesome company with an awesome product that I love. I met awesome people, built a community, and I had fun. But it was also hard. And I struggled. And I felt like I was doing everything wrong. “OK, God. Really? What am I supposed to be doing right now?”

Well, after almost 5 months with Color Street, I came to the conclusion that while, yes, God was definitely telling me that I need to step out of my comfort zone, this was not what He meant. Last night I decided I need to take a step away from Color Street. I do hope to some day go back to that awesome team I got to work with, but for now, I need to walk away.

That call to step out of my comfort zone. It wasn’t a vocational call. It was something much smaller and more personal. It was a call to wear that veil. That may not seem like a huge leap from one’s comfort zone, but when you are as reserved and introverted as I am, it is kind of a big deal. It is something people will notice, which means (gasp) people might actually want to talk to me. While the thought of being questioned about my decision to veil at mass does make me a little nervous, ever since making this decision (and purchase), I have felt this overwhelming sense of peace that I have been searching for, for years. I am excited about veiling at mass. I am embarking on a new spiritual journey to bring me closer to God, and maybe even bring others closer to Him, too.

I would like to ask that you pray for me as I take on this new journey. If you have any questions about my decision to wear a veil at mass, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I am still learning about it myself, but am happy to share what I know and what lead me to this decision more in depth.

We are all called to something. Yes, I am still trying to figure out my true vocational call. But some of the things God calls us to are much smaller than that. It may be hard to hear Him, but with an open heart, eventually all things become clear.

Detoxing

We all need a good detox from time to time.

Body, mind, and spirit.

This week has been a tough one. I started off the week with bronchitis (insert “ain’t nobody got time for that”) and ended the week with my husband in the hospital with kidney stones.

The medicine I’ve been taking has depression and anxiety as side effects, both of which I’ve been feeling. The stress of my husband having kidney stones (yet again) has been emotionally draining.

All these factors put me in a bit of a sensitive place, so when someone I have met maybe twice was rude and insensitive online, I was hurt a little more than I usually would have been. It sent me on a bit of a spiral first thing this morning.

So I’m detoxing. I deleted my Facebook and Twitter apps. I’ve spent the weekend taking care of my husband. Tomorrow I am going to focus more on myself. I want to clean our apartment top to bottom. Bake a cake. Do laundry. Read a book. Go shopping. Pray.

Social media can be a real downer sometimes. I know how toxic it can be for me personally. I plan to do another detox like this in the future. Probably a longer break than just the weekend.

Strive for positivity.

Stay happy.

Losing Steam

Hey everyone!

Ugh, is it Spring yet?

It’s been a while since I posted, so I felt compelled to write a quick update. I haven’t disappeared! I’ve just been hit hard with lack a motivation. I’ve been in a bit of a slump, mood wise, and finding it hard to push myself to do things, not just blog-wise. I don’t know if it’s the weather, or the way I’ve been eating, but I am trying to push past it. Life has it’s ups and downs, and now it’s time for me to push myself up, above and beyond!

I still plan on writing a post on Lent. This is an important time of year for me and I would like to share what it means to me with all of you. I will push myself to start posting B&W pictures daily again. I can’t wait for the weather out here to clear up so I can take my DSLR outside and capture some nice shots with some natural light. I also recently purchased a lens ball and a prism, so I’ve been dying to try both of them!

Thank you, readers, for sticking with me! Let’s welcome March in like a lion!

PS: Please comment any tips you have for writing posts even when you really don’t feel like it! TIA

Another Day, Another Bookstore – Half Price Books

Another bookstore haul!

This one isn’t as big – I only got three books (I honestly don’t know where I found the self-control). This was only my second trip to Half Price Books, but this time I got to spend more time looking around. I will definitely be going back, though! There were countless books I wanted to get (next time I need to remember to make a list!)

Starting from the right: I chose this book because what’s better than reading about how much authors love books?! I thought it was cute, and I’m thinking about sharing a quote a day from it.

The middle book I grabbed because I love C. S. Lewis and I love the book of Psalms. I’ve been wanting to read some of his non-fiction work, so I thought this book would be the perfect place to start.

The last book I grabbed because I have a weakness for clearance books. I saw the movie when it came out years ago and liked it, and you know what they say, the book is always better.

Once I get into one of these books, I’ll do another Currently Reading post. If you have any suggestions for books I should look for at my next bookstore trip, please comment and let me know!

February Update – Thank you!!!

I just wanted to post a quick little update!

First, and most importantly, thank you so, so much to my followers and everyone that has liked even just one of my posts. It always makes me feel good to see a notification after posting. I recently reached a small but exciting benchmark:

I officially have over 100 likes on my blog! It’s not much, but it’s benchmarks like these that really motivate me.

With Lent coming up soon, I hope to get some longer posts on here. In the Catholic Church, Lent is a very important time of year. It can jokingly be thought of as a second chance at those failed New Year’s resolutions, but in reality, it can be a time of great spiritual growth. Sometimes it takes a lot of work and guidance, but it can be an amazing time of year.

When I have a chance to sit at my computer, I will write in more depth about my experiences with Lent and what it means to me. This year, I plan to work on my gratitude, an often forgotten about virtue.

Again, thank you for being a part of this blogging journey with me! I hope my followers are enjoying the trip thus far. I look forward to hitting some more benchmarks this year!

Currently Reading

For the most part, I read fiction novels. I am a big fan of Stephen King in particular. As much as I love his books and stories, however, I’m finding my TBR pile continuously growing and myself not branching out much. One of my goals this year is to change that and expand my literary horizons. As I read new books, I will share my experiences and opinions here. I think this will be a good way to push myself to read more and to critically think about what I’m reading. Plus, it’s always fun to share new books with people.

At the beginning of the school year I started a new job at a Catholic school as a grade school assistant. All of the grade school teachers were talking about a book by Immaculée Ilibagiza, a Rwandan born Catholic. It was a big deal because she was coming to host a retreat at the home parish of the grade school dean. I kept hearing them talk about how impactful and amazing her story was, and after the retreat, the dean couldn’t stop talking about Immaculée and how much meeting her impacted her. I wanted to see what all the talk was about for myself, so I borrowed the book, Left to Tell, from my mom.

This book is about how Immaculée survived the Rwandan holocaust that took place during their civil war in 1994. She and several other women were hidden and locked inside a tiny bathroom for 91 days, not allowed to speak or move, barely surviving on tiny scraps of food and sips of water. Throughout those three months she held tightly to her father’s rosary and her faith in God. All of her family save one brother were murdered. She now travels the world serving others and telling her story.

I’m only about halfway through the book. She is still trapped in the tiny bathroom. Each page is more heartbreaking than the last, but her hope in God is inspiring. When things go wrong, it can be so easy to turn away from a lifelong faith. It isn’t always easy to find comfort and peace in scriptures that are thousands of years old. Immaculée held true for 91 miserable days; days most of us can’t even begin to fathom suffering through.

I know there is at least one other book she has written and I plan to read it when I finish this one. It is heartbreaking and full of hope at the same time. As I’ve read this, I’ve felt joy, sorrow, pain, and even angry. This emotional journey will take you through it all. If you enjoy any kind of religious testimonials, this is a book for you.

Again, the title is Left to Tell and it was written by Immaculée Ilibagiza with Steve Erwin. A portion of proceeds from her book sales go to her Left to Tell Charitable Fund, which supports Rwandan orphans.

Post-Christmas Bookstore Haul

First of all, Happy New Year! Kicking the year off with a late night blog post!

Second of all, I could totally live in a bookstore. Barnes and Noble has it all: Harry Potter, board games, crossword puzzles, and Starbucks. What more could one need?

Anyway, the day after Christmas I treated myself to a trip to the bookstore and I just wanted to share what I got!

Now tell me, how many husbands out there will agree to letting this come home? Mine did! 12 months of adorableness. 2018 is already looking great.

So of course I had to get a cat ball point pen to go with the cat calendar. The second pic here also gives a peak of the other items I got. There is a large print Sudoku book I got for my grandma and a book light I’ve been desperately wanting for ages now.

Now this book is what I am most excited about! My sister got this for my brother for Christmas and I knew I needed to get one for myself. I keep telling myself I need to write more, but we all know how difficult that can be. This book provides story prompts to really get the creative juices flowing. Here are a couple examples:

Some of the stories are serious while others are totally outlandish. If any of these turn out any good, I will definitely post them up here.

That’s everything I got on this trip to the bookstore, but I’m already itching to go back!

Hope you enjoyed this post! Again, Happy New Year! Let’s make 2018 the best one yet!

Welcome to December

It’s barely past 8 pm and I am so ready for bed. Instead, though, I thought I’d say hello to the people of WordPress!

It is only December 5th, but it seems like Christmas has been in full swing for about a month! December really came roaring in for me – there were three birthdays to celebrate the very first weekend. I do not have a single weekend not already filled in on the calendar. It is going to be nonstop for the next 5 weeks or so. The weather has been uncharacteristically warm, which just makes this whole month even more confusing. I’m not complaining about that, though! There’s nothing I’m dreading more than having to do recess duty in anything below 40°.

December is also the start of Advent, an important time of year on the Catholic Church Calendar. As December is such a busy time for me, and Advent is a time of waiting and reflection, I hope to use my free time to blog about what Advent means to me and to Catholics across the world. I wasn’t able to post last weekend, but maybe I can make it an every Friday thing. I’m also setting a goal for myself to post a photography blog by Wednesday.

I want to thank all of those that take the time to read my posts. I know I haven’t yet really found a direction in mu blog, but so far I’m really enjoying. I started this with the main goal to just get back into the habit of writing. While it’s not quite yet really a “habit”, I am definitely thinking about it more.

Stay tuned for another post soon and thank you for stopping by! Happy Holidays!

Thanksgiving

Happy Tuesday! I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I didn’t get a chance to post last week because Wednesday I was home sick, and then, well – Thanksgiving! A lot has happened.

The Sunday before Thanksgiving I had the amazing opportunity to photograph a baptism service. I witnessed 13 people make a commitment to their church and to Jesus, and got to witness some beautiful testimonies. It was a beautiful way to start the Thanksgiving week.

Monday and Tuesday I went to work as normal. Wednesday I stayed home sick and (FINALLY!!) had internet installed at our new apartment. Since we have wi-fi up and running, I will be able to start posting some photo blogs. I’m really excited to start sharing my photography. I will also be able to write some more in-depth posts, since I can write from my computer instead of my phone.

I know it’s silly, but in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I really am thankful to have wi-fi! I am thankful to have this blog and for those that read it. I am thankful and excited for the future of this blog. I will try to post some photos soon!

Until I can post again, please enjoy these pictures of the turkey I made! This was the first year I ever made a turkey and I am so thankful for how amazing it turned out. Life tip: Stuff your turkey with citrus fruits and cook it in an oven bag, it will be amazing.