Will We Let Him Heal? Acts 16:11-15

Over the last 3 and a half years, I’ve had the privileged of babysitting for a sweet family in my neighborhood. I’ve been watching their 3 year old, Sophie, for the majority of her life. Watching her grow from a tiny fragile baby into a tumultuous and unafraid 3 year old has been a beautiful experience.

 

Last week I took Soph to the park. She swung on the little kid swing for an hour and a half. She would have continued to swing for the remainder of our time, if it were not for another child who wanted his turn on the swing. Soph got off the swing without a fuss, however, she still wanted to swing. She ran over to the second swing set, and began to swing on the big kid swing. To my surprise, she did really well. . . .until she said “I’m done” and proceeded to hop off the swing mid air.

Immediately tears filled her eyes and she let out a scream. I scooped her up, and tried to sooth her. She wasn’t hurt, she was more or less startled and uncomfortable from having those dreaded wood-chips get all in her hair and clothes.

After trying to sooth her for 5 minutes with no change, I set her down to get all of the wood chips out of her pants and hair. However, little Soph was so hysterical I couldn’t touch her without her squirming and kicking away. I tried to fight her and get her to sit still. I explained that I was trying to help, but nothing I did calmed her down. She kept yelling “The pokey chips hurt! The pokey chips hurt!”

So I stopped, took a step back, looked her in the eyes, and said calmly “As soon as you stop moving and calm down, I can make the pokey chips go away.” To this she screamed and screamed and screamed. I sat there and waited for several minutes, until she suddenly stopped. She looked at me with her big tear filled brown eyes and said “pwease help.”

As I meditate and look at the example of Lydia from the first reading today, I think back to my encounter with little Soph and how it reminds me of my own disposition before Jesus. In times of uncertainty and trouble, I approach the Lord thrashing, crying, and screaming. I demand that He helps and yell for Him to come save me.

My Lord, rich in love, slow to anger, and ever so tender, comes to me in my need at once. He sees my hurts and my sorrows, and His heart breaks at the sight of my pain. He whispers reassuring words to me and lets me know He is there. .  but just as I could not get rid of the “pokey chips” until Soph settled down and let me help her, Jesus will not attend to my wounds and my needs until I have settled down and remain still.

The example of Lydia, in the first reading from Acts, reminds me that my disposition before the Lord is imperative to the saving of my soul. If I want healing from Jesus, it is not enough for me to just come before Him. That is a great first step, but if I truly want healing and care, I need to cooperate and compliant. I need to have a Spirit that is ready to let Him actually heal me. I need to let Him be my God, my Savior, my Lord, my Healer.

Often times we can be so consumed in pain, we fail to see our Lord standing before us waiting to heal us. But He is there my brothers and my sisters, standing right in front of us, waiting to pour out His love. My question to you is will you let your Lord give you healing? Will you approach the Divine Healer with fear and defiance? Or will you be like Lydia, who approached God with an open heart and open soul, ready to receive the fullness of His love and life?

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I Will Sing Psalm 57

I have a big personality and a very loud voice. . . I have two volumes: loud and louder. I seem to always find myself on stage and asked to play the role of the leader or spokesperson. I’m an extrovert, so naturally I enjoy being in the spotlight and sharing my heart with others

I’ve been this way my whole life. For as long as I can remember, standing out has been my thing. As a child, I never had a problem with being the person front and center, especially when it came to faith. At my youth group, I was always the one leading the skits, volunteering to public speak, and frequently the emcee for events. For me, I felt like standing out was the special gift God had given me to share with the world.

However, when I got to college, I quickly realized that standing out was not always fun and games. Being an outspoken Christian in an environment that was adamantly against any sort of morality, caused me to be bullied and teased. I thought that all the games and drama ended in high school. . . turns out I was wrong. Being a faithful Catholic put a target on my back and subjected me to a lot of criticism.

So many times throughout my years in college, I asked God to make me “normal.” I asked Him to make me quiet and let me disappear into the crowd like every one else. But I found that the more I asked to Lord to let me fade in, the more He put me in situations that made me stand out. At the end of the day, no matter how much I wanted to sit down and shut up, the truth of Christ was bursting out my mouth and I was exploding with song.

“I will give thanks to you among the peoples, O LORD,
I will chant your praise among the nations.
For your mercy towers to the heavens,
and your faithfulness to the skies.” Psalm 57

Jesus changed my life. . . He gave me new life through His cross. Therefore I cannot be like everyone else. I cannot fade in with the crowd that shouts “crucify Him!” I cannot pretend that injustice does not bother me. I cannot sit back and watch others fall into sin. I cannot be silent when I hear people denounce His name.

The truth is that I’m not like everyone else. I’m a child of God, by nature of my baptism, and a disciple of Jesus Christ. If I believe that I have new life in Christ, then I actually have to live that new life and be obedient to the Father. This means that my life has to look different from those of the crowd. My love for Jesus & belief in His truth must be evident in the words I speak, the way I act, and how I treat others.

God put a song on my heart when he set me free from sin & shame. He gave me a new life filled with abundant joy and hope! Therefore I will sing His praises and shout His name. Through every trial and tribulation, Jesus has been and will always be faithful to me. . . how can I not be faithful to Him?

 

Give Me a Sign Jn 14:6-14

The words of the Apostle Phillip are words I have voiced so many times throughout my life. From early childhood to young adulthood, no matter how mature I am in my faith, there is always a little voice inside of me that speaks the same words that Phillip spoke to Jesus:

“Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.”

 

It does not matter how many times Jesus pulls me out of the pits of despair, and saves me from whatever horrible sin attempting to steal my soul. There is always a part of me that wants a sign, because in my mind if I just had a sign everything else would be easier. I wouldn’t have to wonder. I wouldn’t have to do anything because that sign would be there.

But the reality is, the constant need for signs and reassurance is not the foundation of a steady and lifelong relationship. In my own relationships, friendships and romantic relationships alike, I know a good relationship requires mutual trust. Without trust and without complete confidence in the character and intentions of one another, you cannot have a stable and life giving relationship. The same can be said with Jesus. At some point, we have to look at ourselves and ask, what more could we possibly want from Him?

He has already given us a sign. . . actually He’s given us MANY signs. The Resurrection, the Eucharist (I could really stop with just these two), Peter and the other apostles healing the sick & driving out demons, the lives of the saints, Marian Apparitions, Eucharistic Miracles. . . The list goes on and on.

When I think about all the miracles and signs Our Lord has given us throughout the history of the Church, I cannot help but ask myself “at what point are you going to stop questioning, and just believe?” Jesus’ response to Phillip reflects the intimacy and relationship they share. Jesus is not soft and sweet. He doesn’t have a sugar coated response. He is firm and clear. When I read His reply, I can imagine the frustration and hurt Jesus must’ve felt, as His friend doubts His character and intention. He says to Phillip:

 “Have I been with you for so long a time
and you still do not know me, Philip?

I ask this same question to myself and to you my brothers and sisters. At what point will our faith and love for Jesus be bigger than our desire for control? At what point will we realize that Jesus doesn’t doubt us, so why should we doubt Him? At what point will be desire a lifelong relationship built on trust, rather than a momentary spiritual high?

Our God is the same. Our unstoppable and never failing God, is the same God He was yesterday, 2000 years ago, and 2,000,000,000 years ago. He’ll be the same God today, tomorrow, and every day that comes after that. We can rest easy in His love, and know that His love never fails and never will fail. We don’t need signs to deepen our faith in Him. We deepen our faith in our Lord by submitting ourselves to His will and remaining in His infinite love.

I’m No Different

It’s Holy Week once again, can you believe it? Lent just seemed to sore by this year, but then again I feel like I said that last year. . .  It’s Holy Thursday, and the Church is calling all believers to meditate and pray about the most important 3 days in the history of Christianity. The night before Christ’s death (Thursday, the last supper), the day Jesus was crucified and died (Good Friday), and the day Jesus conquered the grave (Easter Sunday, the Resurrection).

I just got home from my holy hour at Church. I began my holy hour very focused on prayer. I set out to pray the Rosary and the Divine Mercy Chaplet (DMC). I love both of these prayers, and I pray them often. However, late at night in a dim room is not really the best condition for me to pray those prayers. I try to say my prayers in the morning or late afternoon, because I find that when I pray at night I’m so tired I can’t focus. So I try to pray the bulk of my prayers during the day, and then just have a short prayer before bed to thank God for the day. I’ve learned over the years that there is a difference between saying prayers and praying prayers; true prayer involves meditation, attentiveness, and focus. I don’t want to just mindlessly mutter to God, I actually want to converse with Him and be attentive to Him. So when you pray and where you pray matters!

Prior to this year, I never came to church after Holy Thursday mass for a Holy hour. During high school late night adoration on a school night was not allowed, and during college my parish didn’t offer adoration all night following Holy Thursday mass. So this year I was dead set on coming to church for a holy hour, and having some solid prayer.

I started off strong with the DMC. I was saying the words slowly and intentionally, thinking about what I was saying and meditating upon the Passion. Towards the end though, my back started to hurt, then my knees, and before I knew it I couldn’t stop thinking about how much I wanted to sit down in the chairs behind me. I opened up my eyes and collected my thoughts. I told myself “Allie, you will kneel and you will pray. Jesus endured the pain of the cross, you can endure the pain of kneeling on the tile floor of the Parish Hall.”

I started my Rosary, and man oh man was it a struggle. Every time I began a new decade, the only thing I could think about was how many decades I had left. The entire prayer felt like a fight. I would start a prayer and then find myself thinking about stupid things to distract myself from my discomfort and tiredness. This is what was going on in my head (btw I pray the rosary in Spanish):

Dios te salve Maria. . . 

Should I wear the purple dress or the white dress for Easter?

llena eres de gracia

Did I lock my car? I wonder how long I’ve been praying

El Señor es contigo, bendita tu eres entre todas las mujeres y bendito

It’s really hot in here, how is that lady wearing a coat?

Should I go to the 9:30AM workout class tomorrow or just go for a run? 

FOCUS ALLIE, FOCUS JESUS IS RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOUR FACE

I finished up my rosary and sat down feeling defeated and pathetic. I started to think about the disciples and the readings from the mass earlier that night, when the Holy Spirit dropped a humility bomb right in my lap. I can remember in years past thinking that the disciples were pathetic and dumb. How could they have failed Jesus? HE WAS LITERALLY RIGHT THERE WITH THEM!!! Yet, they fell asleep, while Our Lord contemplated and prayed about his passion and death. They deserted him when he was arrested. Peter denied him not once, not twice, but THREE times. None of the disciples yelled to release him when Pilate gave them the chance. Judas turned his back on Jesus for money.

I always thought to myself, “I would not have fallen asleep on Jesus, I would not have deserted Jesus, I would not have denied Jesus, I would have shouted ‘crucify Barabas,’ and I most certainly would have never chosen money over Jesus.”

But as I sat in the humid parish hall, with my knees aching and my eyes drooping, I realized that I am no different from the disciples. I would have done the same exact thing as them. . . even worse. . . I do the exact same thing they did in my daily life.

I find myself distracted or drowsy when I pray, or sometimes I go through the motions when I’m at mass. I desert Jesus every time I fail to serve the people in my life and in my community who need love and care. I deny Jesus when I fail to extend mercy and forgiveness to those who have done me wrong. I sometimes care more about what others think of me and blend in with the crowd, instead of being my authentic self and being a voice for the truth. I often think of myself and my comfort before I think of helping others. I settle for temporary pleasures instead of investing in eternal treasures. 

I’m no better. I’m just the same as the original 12 ragtag bunch of sinners. Yet, Jesus died and rose for me. He never stops pursuing me, even as He sees me falling asleep during prayer. He sees me for who I truly am, even when I am oblivious to His presence in my daily life. He claims me as His own, even when I am silent about being one of His own. He stands by my side and keeps up with me, even as I try to run away from Him in fear or yell at Him to go away. He chooses me, even when I don’t choose Him. He never dishonors, disowns, or disrespects His own. He is the Good Shepherd, who doesn’t leave His sheep at the sight of wolves or danger, and will not leave even littlest of His own behind.

You died for me Jesus, and You rose for me. You defeated death, and You rose above sin and shame to show me that I could too. To prove to me that I didn’t have to be ashamed about not always being brave in the face of fear, positive when everything is falling apart, perfect in every situation. I am not defined by my sins and shortcomings. I am not a slave to fear. I am a child of God, who can rise above my sins just like my Lord Jesus did and be the person I was created to be.

In the words of Saint John Paul II “We are not the sum of our weaknesses and failures, we are the sum of the Father’s love for us and our real capacity to become the image of His Son Jesus.” 

Who Am I?

A friend of mine has a Catholic blog called En Fuego, where he talks about how he is living out his Catholic faith. It’s a great blog, and I highly recommend you check it out if you are a Christian looking for some examples of what faith in action looks like! Recently, my friend Randell has taken En Fuego beyond the blogging world to the world of podcasts. He’s just starting out, so you should totally go and follow him on social media and give his content a listen and a rating on iTunes.

Last week he interviewed me about my time as a Student Athlete, specifically how I lived out my Catholic faith during my time as a Division 1 College Athlete. Now I could have talked a lot longer than an hour about this subject. But have no fear, this blog is here and you shall see some post in the future about my time as an athlete student. I played soccer for 16 years, so you could say it was a big part of my life.

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PSA: My Cactus’ name is Pete

One of the things I mentioned in the podcast was a folder I made before I entered college. The summer before I went to college was a really low point for me in my faith. It was the first time since my reversion, back to my Catholic faith, that I had purposely lived my life away from God. For most of the summer, I had this teenage angsty attitude with God. I was mad at Him, because I felt like He was holding out on me and purposely making things more difficult for me. . . I thought my life was totally unfair! (I know typical self-centered teen!) It was weird because there was no event or circumstance that made me feel slighted by God. I guess pride just got the best of me and I thought I knew better. Anyways, the Lord pursued me through this time and brought me out of my teenage angst stage.

A couple weeks before I was scheduled to leave for college, I started to prepare. I knew that although God had saved me from darkness, the darkness would not rest and would continue to try and steal me away. After much prayer and reflection, I realized that the reason I walked away from God that summer was because I forgot who I was. I forgot who God was. Instead of taking those big life question of “Who am I?” and “Who is God?” to the Lord, I decided to leave them unanswered and rough it on my own.

I knew that navigating college on my own in college would be dangerous for my faith and personhood. I would argue that student athletes face much more temptation to sin than your normal college student, and I did not want to fall into sin. So the last week before I left for college, I took a manila envelope and stuffed it full of things that would remind me of who I was. I filled it with scripture, letters and notes I was given throughout high school, saint quotes, and other personal items. This folder, known as the who am I folder, stuck with me through that first year and through the rest of my time as a college. It was my touchstone, and it was one of the first things I would grab if I was ever feeling afraid or confused. This was a great exercise for me to do before college, and a great tool to have with me through my time as a college student. It not only provided me with joy and hope through dark times, but it also held me accountable and helped me remember that the Lord is the one who can answer all those big questions of life.

From time to time, all of us go through periods of confusion where we wonder who we are, where we are going, and where is the Lord as we journey through life. I’ve gone through the valley of darkness a few times in my short time here on this earth, but I have never gone through it alone. Through my struggles and through my darkness, God has been in tireless and fearless pursuit of my heart and soul. Today is the feast day of my homegirl and favorite Saint, Mother Teresa. I could blog about her for ages, but I’ll save that for another post. For now, I’d like to leave you with a beautiful quote by her, and also challenge you to never forget who you are and who God is. . . Who are you? A worthy child of the Lord God Almighty. Who is God? He is your loving Father who want to be apart of your life and sustain your life. If you feel confused or forgotten or hopeless, God to the altar and spend some time with your God. Let Him remind you or who He is and who you are.

“Jesus wants me to tell you again . . . how much love He has for each one of you—beyond all you can imagine. I worry some of you still have not really met Jesus—one to one—you and Jesus alone. We may spend time in chapel—but have you seen with the eyes of your soul how He looks at you with love? Do you really know the living Jesus—not from books but from being with Him in your heart? Have you heard the loving words He speaks to you? Ask for the grace, He is longing to give it.”

In His love,

Al

To check out my interview with my friend Randell, visit his blog En Fuego or search En Fuego on the podcast App! Make sure to give it a rating if you use the podcast app!

Barcelona Eats & Treats

 One of my biggest passions in life is cooking and baking. Just like my momma, I could spend all day in the kitchen. During my travels this summer, I was very interested to see and taste the cuisines of the places I got to visit. I love learning about the cuisines of other cultures, so I made sure to go out of my comfort zone and try all the major dishes and foods in every country I was in. Out of the three countries I visited, Spain, France, and Italy, I liked the food in Spain the least. In my opinion, food from other Spanish speaking cultures are much more rich and flavorful. The food in Spain is more simplistic. The Spanish cooked mostly with olive oil, salt, and oregano. In my opinion they seem to prefer the flavor of the fresh fruits, veggies, meats, and fish, rather than use a whole lot of seasoning and spices. When I would cook for the kids I was au pair for, I used some spices I bought from the store to try and expose them to some of the classic rubs and marinates we use and the USA. Although they would eat the food I prepared for them, they always said they were not used their meats and vegetables being flavored.

I did a lot of research beforehand to see what foods and dishes were important for me to try. There are TONS of restaurants throughout the city, so you do not need to stress about finding a place to eat. There were a ton of buffet style places and tapa bars, where you can grab a quick bite while you’re out site seeing. Most restaurants offer “menus,” which are basically combo plates where you get an appetizer, entrée, and dessert. Combo plates are very common in Europe. I found that in all three countries I visited, their meals were more structured. Dessert is always apart of the meal, whether it is a small espresso or a plate of fruit.

Here are some of the plates/foods Spain is known for, and that you should try while you’re in Barcelona:

  • Paella: You can basically get this famous dish anywhere, however, if you are traveling alone you might find it difficult to order. The majority of restaurants require at least 2 people to share it because it is a big plate. This was a huge bummer for me because when I would go to the city I was alone, so it was way too much food and way too expensive for just one person.
  • Tapas or “little dishes” are essentially appetizers. Most people rave about the tapas. However, in my opinion the tapas you find at restaurants, especially around touristy sites, are overrated and overpriced. Every tapa I ever got taste old, as if it were prepared earlier in the day or the day before. I much preferred ordering an entrée, because they were often more filling, fresh, and affordable.
  • Seafood is available everywhere in the city, especially tuna and squid. Barcelona is a coastal city, so there is a huge supply of fresh seafood that is AMAZING. I loved getting tuna steaks and grilled squid, it was a lot cheaper than you would find in the US and you can’t beat that freshness man! My only critique of the seafood is that, like most dishes, it was fried. I try to stay away from fried food, because of my sensitive stomach, so this might not be a problem for you. Olive oil is a cash crop and a staple in Spanish life and cuisine, so naturally they use it to fry a lot of food. Fried squid and octopus is very very common.
  • Cured ham is all that it is cracked up to be. Europe in general has access to some amazing cured meats. Spain is known for jamón serrano, which is cured ham made from black Iberian pigs. It is really something you need to try and available everywhere. I recommend getting melón con jamón, which is cured ham wrapped around green melon. The combination of the salty ham with the sweet melon is out of this world and a perfect summer treat! This plate is very common all over Europe as well, made with different melons depending upon where you are. You can also find great cuts of cured ham and regular ham at the many supermarkets all over the city. You can easily pick up a package of deli style meats, some bread, and fruit, and have a lovely picnic at Montjuic, Park Guell, the park in front of Sagrada Familia or in the many plazas around the city!
  • Fruits & Juices are the real deal in Spain. I found the fruits and produce available in Europe in general to be much sweeter and fresher than in the USA, however, I think out of France, Italy, and Spain, Spain has the sweetest and most exotic (not to mention inexpensive) fruits. The best place to get fresh fruit is Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria, known as Boqueria. The market itself is a site to see. The mountains of fruits vegetables, juices, meats, seafood, nuts, and other products available are unreal. You’ll need to hold on to your bags as you are walking through because it is very crowded and pick pockets are a real threat, however, the market is a definite must see! You can pick up groceries to go, or they have little bar style restaurants that you can sit down and have a quick bite to eat at. I recommend trying the many juices for sale, they are so sweet and fresh! A great refreshment on a hot day for sure. I recommend trying papaya, coconut, figs, mangoes, watermelon, and the green melon. Protip: if Boqueria is a little too crowded for you (it’s located on Rambla, the most popular street for tourists!), then check out Mercat de Santa Caterina. It is right down the street from the Cathedral of Barcelona. You’ll see it’s wavy multicolored roof from a distance! It’s a smaller, less crowded version of Boqueria. They also have some great sit down restaurants there that have great seafood. Just be careful because some restaurants will close or only sell tapas in the late afternoon, around 4-6. So don’t get caught up sight seeing and forget about lunch!
  • Sangria is an alcoholic beverage that is made of wine and chopped fruits, so it is essentially alcoholic punch. Spain is known for red sangria. I just recently turned 21, so I do not know much about alcohol. However, in my opinion Sangria was way overrated. The locals I talked to even said that the Sangria in the city was not that good. They recommended trying Sangria in the islands of Spain like Ibiza, Majorca, or Menorca. Nonetheless, when in Spain it’s always a good idea to try it. I enjoyed white sangria more than the red, however, I highly recommend trying the mojitos in Spain. They are minty and fresh, and very refreshing during the summer.
  • Tortillas in Spain are not like Tortillas you would find in the US or other Spanish speaking countries. Tortillas Españolas are essentially really thick omelets. They are usually made with patatas (potatoes) and onions, and sometimes red and green bell peppers. I have omelets all the time at home, so I was not enamored with them.
  • Olives and olive oil is very important to all Spanish cuisine, Spanish life, and the economy. Spain produces the most olive oil in the world, and let me tell you it is the real deal! I recommend buying Spanish olive oil in the USA as opposed to Italian, because it is better quality. While you are in Barcelona, you’ll find many olive oil shops, especially in the gothic quarter. They have oil for cooking that is inexpensive, especially for the amount you get. They also many beauty products that are made from the olive oil that are just fantastic. The olive oil beauty products can be pricey at specialty shops, but at grocery stores like Carefour you can find inexpensive cremas and moisturizers. There are also tons and tons of olive bars available at markets like Boqueria and Santa Caterina, however, I do not care for olives very much so I cannot vouch for their flavor!
  • Tomatoes. I’m pretty sure I ate more tomatoes this summer than I have in my whole life. Between Italy and Spain I had tomatoes almost every day. They use tomatoes in many dishes in Spain. The tomatoes were so sweet and plump. I ate them for every meal some days! Tomato and mozarella salad is on almost all menus, and make a tasty and refreshing, yet filling lunch. A very popular tapa called pan con tomate (bread with tomato), is also sold at almost every tapa bar and restaurant. I use to make it for my kids a lot as well when I worked as an au pair. It’s very simple, just bread, the inside seedy part of a tomato spread on one side of the bread, seasoned with oregano and salt, and then drizzled with olive oil. It’s so simple, but so so tasty! 
  • Crema Catalana is basically a more runny version of crème brûlée. It’s a great dessert to try while you’re in Barcelona, and very typical dish of Cataluna.
  • Coffee. The coffee is AMAZING in Europe. I have digestive problems, and typically cannot drink coffee in the USA, especially from Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, or any coffee grounds you can buy at the grocery store. I’ve been told the USA has low quality and over caffeinated beans. I’ve also heard that coffee beans are some of the most highly sprayed with pesticides. So I’m not sure if the combination of pesticides and over caffeination cause me to have stomach problems or what, but I can only drink coffee from certain places in America. Most of the time only from expensive craft coffee shops, unfortunately. So I was thrilled to be able to enjoy coffee all summer while I was in Europe. Coffee in Spain, Italy, and France is cheap and very good quality. I honestly never paid over 3 euros for coffee, and I was actually insulted when I walked into a cafe and it was over 2 euros lol. While I was in Spain I enjoyed cappuccinos, cafe con leche, and cafe con hielo.

So there you have it. Next time you find yourself in Barcelona, I definitely recommend trying all the dishes and foods Spain is known for. This was my opinion on all the foods and drinks I tasted, but everyone has different tastes and preferences. So taste these things for yourself and develop your own opinion. My opinions and preferences are not law, and you don’t have to agree with them. Comment below if you have tried some of the things I mentioned above or have any questions. Below is a list of restaurants I really enjoyed while I was in Spain. If you take me up on my advice and go visit any of these places let me know!

XOXO,

Al

Restaurants:

  1. Mercat de Santa Caterina. A great place to try fresh seafood!
  2. Boqueria
  3. El Racó is located on Rambla close to the Passeig de Gracia. I loved their Orange salad. It was made of arugula, citrus, tomatoes, and goat cheese, all tossed in this honey dressing that was SO SO good. I found this kind of salad at a lot of different restaurants I went to, so I’m not sure if this is a common salad combo there, but the best one was at Racó! I recommend asking for the dressing on the side though because it was a little too much for my liking. They also have savory crepes and pizza. I got a crepe with caramelized onions and an egg and it was so flavorful and delish! You could definitely share a salad and a crepe with another person! I also got red sangria from here that was very refreshing.
  4. Pizza Emporio was a little restaurant right next to La Sagrada Familia. The pizza was thin crust and had a delicious tomato sauce. I split a pizza with the little girl I was an au pair for, but I wish I would have ordered one just for myself. The thin crust was not super filling, so I recommend getting a whole pizza or appetizers.
  5. If you are vegan or love healthy eating check out Teresa’s Juicery, Flax & Kale, and Teresa Carles Cocina Vegetariana. Their vegan desserts and nut mylks are AMAZING, and their avocado toast is on this thick grain free bread that is SO good! I believe all three of these stores are owned by the same person, and are located in the Gothic Quarter of the city. There is also a small location above the big H&M close to the Passeig de Gracia.
  6. I highly recommend picnicking for lunch while you are in Barcelona. Like I said earlier, you can easily pick up meat from small local markets or Carefours located all around the city. It’s really nice to see where the locals shop, but also a very cost effective way to eat. Grab a loaf of bread, some cured ham and sausage, some fresh fruit, and then get going! You’ll save time this way too, and if you get a little hungry along the way there are plenty of gelato and crepe places to grab a sweet and quick bite to go!
  7. Step into a pastelleria or coffee shop! You can find them all over the city. They have great chocolates and candies, but also some really good croissants. Although France has the BEST croissants and pastries in the world, I thought that the croissants in Spain were definitely very good as well. They are flakey and a great compliment to coffee. They are bigger and heavier than your typical french croissant or pan au chocolat, but a great way to start your morning!

 

Lessons Learned: My Summer in Europe

Hey Y’all!

I am finally back in the USA after spending over 3 months in Europe. For those of you who don’t know, I went to Spain this summer to work as an au pair in Barcelona. I ended up leaving my job a month early, because my job situation turned out to be a threat to my safety and well-being. After leaving my job I went and stayed with some family friends in Lyon, France. Then for the last 2 weeks I’ve been on vacation in Italy with my family. It was the longest, most incredible summer yet.

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I saw the most beautiful churches in the world, ate some of the sweetest fruits, walked easily over 1,000 miles, met some of the kindest most loving people, improved my Spanish fluency, and swam in the most beautiful oceans and seas. But most importantly, this summer abroad has really helped me come into my own as a woman of God. Being a young adult can be awkward at times, and before my trip I was still trying to come into my own. Through my experience as an au pair, specifically leaving my job as an au pair, as well as traveling by myself, helped me grow tremendously in my faith. I’ll blog more about that in another post, but for now I want to share 10 things I learned during my travels. Some of these things are serious and some of these things are silly, but here are just a few things I have figured out. . .

  1. Do not work for people who do not respect you. Not everyone has to like you, but especially in the work place, respect is a non-negotiable. 
  2. Navigating through a city without a phone/internet is one of the most satisfying experiences EVER. 
  3. My boyfriend, family, and friends have BIG love for me… So big that it reached across the Atlantic ocean, and comforted, supported, and cared for me in some dark times. God has blessed with a special community, whose love knows no limits. 
  4. La Sagrada Familia is the most beautiful and magical church I have ever been to. It is truly larger than life, and a place where God took my breath away.
  5. The fruits and vegetables in Spain are INSANELY DELICIOUS. I’m still dreaming of fresh figs and coconut from Boqueria! 
  6. Sunday mass is not enough. Frequent the sacraments as much as you can. They are our lifeline, and empower us in ways we cannot even begin to fully comprehend. 
  7. My idea of a perfect morning includes mass, a quiet stroll through a small town, and French pain au chocolat with a cappuccino. 
  8. Life is better savored with others. 
  9. Tuscan sunsets are dreamy and romantic 
  10. Sometimes things do not turn out the way you think they will, but God brings light and goodness out of any situation, any season, any circumstance. 

Stay tuned for more content about my summer abroad, as well as other updates on my life!

 

XOXO,

Al

Let’s Get Started

Hello everyone! Welcome to my blog!

I’m so glad you decided to stop by and check it out! Now this post might be a little long, but I’ve got some splainin’ to do! I’ve wanted to start this blog for a while now. I’m pretty sure all bloggers say this, and like many of the guys and gals out there sharing their thoughts and lives on the internet, I asked myself “what are you waiting for?” and decided to just do it. If you want to know more about me, head over the the menu and check out my bio & then keep following this blog!

When I was in high school and for the first part of my undergrad career, I had a blog called Life of a Cathlete. It was a sweet little blog where I talked about how I lived out my Catholic faith as Division 1 college athlete. I kept up with it in high school, however, in college I was so overwhelmed with the student athlete life I eventually stopped blogging. It wasn’t the best blog in the world by any means, but it helped me grow in my faith and share the gospel.

I decided to abandon that blog because I’m not an athlete anymore. So operating under the Cathlete doesn’t apply to me. More than that, I’m also a real adult now (well working on that one still), so I wanted to start something new.


This blog is going to be a lifestyle blog of sorts. I want to talk about everything and anything. Faith, fashion, travel, my soccer career, culture, family, my current shift into the real world, and everything in between. My goal here is to be real with y’all and to share the things that excite me, enchant me, and challenge me. I’m always on the look out for the ways in which God’s grace is working in my life, and finding the joy in whatever season or circumstance I am in. I hope that this blog will be a way for me to share the ways in which grace is working in my life, and subsequently open your eyes to God’s grace working in your life.

I am by no means a professional blogger, I’m not even sure that exists. I’m going to have typos, spelling mistakes, and I can guarantee that my posts will not be perfect. Here is what I can promise you though: I will always do my best & I will always do me. I hope you stick around and to get to know me and what’s going on in my life.

In His Love,

Al

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