Monday, July 29, 2013

Monday Smiles Volume 6

Now that I am back home and learning what my new normal will be like, 
I am beginning to feel the bittersweet-ness of closing a lengthy and familiar chapter in my life. I love Notre Dame for all that it was meant to be, is for me, and can be in the future. I would be remiss if I ended my student career at Notre Dame without a post dedicated to one of my favorite campus features.
So without further adieu, I give you:

The Benches of Notre Dame

As you tour the campus of Notre Dame, you will notice the Golden Dome, the basilica's spire, the attention to architecture in many of the buildings, the height of the stadium, the solemnness of the memorials, the statues and modern art between buildings, the mosaic on the library, and the prayerful of devotional places. The beauty of these features rightfully grabs you.
But what you might not notice on campus is the little details and the multitude of benches accenting the pathways and buildings.

These benches captivate me.

I realize the novelty of a place to sit is not that exciting, but the thought of what could happen when someone sits there can occupy the imagination for hours. So many different people have sat on these benches at various stages in their lives.Just the knowledge of how many moments have occurred is enthralling. Each bench has a story for which it is merely a backdrop, but still integrally important. Professors have taught students. Friends have chatted into the wee morning hours. Kisses have been stolen. Men have knelt on one knee before them. Children have dreamed of pirate ships. Prayers have been said. And the universe has been contemplated.

Other stories connected to the benches are of the names inscribed on them. Many of them posses a nameplate and each offers a tiny glimpse into the story of so many lives. Dedications of friendships. In memoriam of fallen soldiers. Honoring professors and club presidents. Love notes of sweethearts. In thanksgiving for blessings of life.

Each time I sit on the bench I take a moment to read the names it holds. I often wonder about the people mentioned, what their story is and why it compelled them to immortalize it. I have a deep desire to know those stories and the stories of others that took place on the spot.

I know my own stories that take place on those benches. Small and insignificant in some ways, but stories that are woven into my life and cannot be replaced. One bench has always stood out in those memories. Oddly, most of the moments were ones of solitude. It sits by the reflecting pool outside the library. From it you can see bits of the landmarks on campus: the stadium, Dome, and Basilica. My sophomore year I would sit and read between classes, as it marked the halfway point between the buildings. I would read and watch my professor walk to class, and then my classmates. Other days it was a remote spot to run away from the studies in the library and talk on the phone or just be for a minute.

I do not know the story behind the bench, someday I hope to know. For now; however, it is just a little part of mine.

For some reason I cannot seem to find my pictures of benches free of snow. 
Trust me, they are pretty then too.
Because the ultimate cure for the Monday blues is 
something that will make you smile and grateful for what you have.  
These things make me smile and hopefully they will make you smile too.
What makes you smile today?

Friday, July 26, 2013

7 Quick Takes or Too School for Cool Volume 15

It’s been a good while since I have joined in on Jen’s linkup and it’s about time I’m back.  My month long hiatus from Friday’s posting was full of studies and little breaks to spend time with family and friends.  This past week, on the one hand, has not been too eventful in the fact it can be summarized by my nose being in a book.  But on the other hand, it has been full, not of events, but of the simple daily occurrences leading up to one big special event.


Saturday, after a day of studying and packing, my ever faithful summer school roommate and I caravanned to school and moved into our dorm room home for the week. By the time we got things situated we both were exhausted and lacked all motivation and desire to pick up one of the many books taunting us from the bookshelf. Being the dedicated students we decided to lounge in bed and talk and being nerds we eventually came around to our studies before we fell asleep.

A view from my study spot of my old dorm on campus.

Completely unrelated, but then somewhat, this scenario reminds me of a statement a friend of mine made in undergrad. After staying up till the wee hours of the morning debating some theory or such, this lovely pair of roommates decided they had come upon a key difference between men and women. Men, they posited, were thinkers and would stay up till four a.m. without hesitating to discuss philosophy. Women, based on my saying that my roommate and I did not stay up late discussing the topic, did not. Women on the other hand would only stay up that late to talk about frivolities such as boys and shoes. I am sure you can guess that this theory of theirs was not graciously received by most of the table and was debunked in a quick stating of the fact that they could not base an argument about the entirety of masculinity on themselves.  Dear boys were far from the norm. Well, boys, now my roommate and I do stay up discussing theory. And now, dear reader, you know as well.


Come Sunday morning the pressure of the impending written exam was in full force. To make matters worse, I had caught a cough and sore throat from B and felt horrible. We woke up early and made our way to the campus Starbucks for breakfast and studying. It is weird, but I have always enjoyed studying in a way.  I love the sense of accomplishment as you outline information and realize how much you really do know and understand. Not to brag, because it’s such a coveted trait, but I have a unique talent for making study guides. Combined with my great ability to stress out, sleep in awkward places and positions, and take notes while having a conversation in the margins, I can be a student when I am all grown up. But I digress. Knowing my tendency to just keep studying and stressing, my roommate proclaimed that I had to start getting ready for bed at midnight whether I wanted to or not, she was going to make me go to bed. Thanks to her and my cold I was happily in bed reading my notes one more time by midnight.


Monday morning we dragged each other out of bed and to the showers. Got dressed and headed to Starbucks for the necessary caffeine to get through the morning. At 8 a.m. we picked up our folders at the Theology building and walked over to the computer cluster. We made a pact not to look until we were seated and ready, we took deep breaths, said a quick mental prayer, opened the folder and began.

I was not surprised by the questions asked. Of the five I felt that I could have if necessary answered all five, but I had to choose three.  The questions on marriage and culture were a given. I knew my material on them both well. The question on the connection between the Old and New Testaments of the Bible was calling to me, one chapter I decided not to read because time was running out held some supportive information that I thought they would notice was missing. So I skipped it and struggled a bit in writing about Pope Benedict XVI’s theology. I have often wondered why it takes so long to write a paper and yet, given the restraints of a test and a time limit, I can pound out more in an hour than normal. Four hours and thirteen pages later it was time to print this labor of love off and hand it in.


Promptly after handing in our written exams we met up with my roommate’s boss at the Log Chapel on campus. 


This chapel is a replica of the original Log Chapel that was among the first buildings on the site of the Notre Dame campus. It also is the burial site of Father Badin, the first priest to be ordained in the United States. The Chapel is rarely open to the public. In undergrad I had attended mass there often, but never had the opportunity to walk around it and enjoy all the treasures it holds. 



Father said Mass for us, which was a beautiful experience. It was so intimate and the homily was geared just to us. It made me think of what it must be like on your wedding day to have the priest speaking directly to you about this step in your lives.
After we went to a favorite Italian restaurant for pasta and gelato, took some well-deserved naps and discussed the idea of studying for our oral exams.


Tuesday brought more studying. The unique part of this studying was that with knowing what was on the written exam you kind of had a hint of what the professors may want to talk about.  Such as the questions you did not answer on the written exam and clarifying the things you may have written in a state of panic and therefore are so deep that they are unintelligible even to yourself. So I read the chapter I skipped when studying for the written and brushed up on the doctrine of grace.

Roommate: Define grace.
Christina: Grace is what got me through four years of graduate school without going insane.
Roommate: You pass!
Together: Yay!

The other unique part of studying for the second half of an exam is feeling like you know you are going to pass the exam, but doubting that feeling means anything. After the written exam, I knew I was in a good spot. In fact, if it had been for any other test I would have sat back and felt like I had secured my A, but there was that dread that I would walk into the oral exam and they would ask me something that I could not answer. There also was this dread because my advisor had told us in the preparation for the exam that if you get to the oral and they start asking you questions that were not on the written test, you can sit back, relax and enjoy the fact that they think you have passed and just want to have some fun and see how far you can go. This having fun part and having to speak off the cuff about things I had not studied for was almost more terrifying than answering the questions about the written exam.


Dress for the job you want.
So getting pedicures was not a completely superfluous thing. Right?

Enjoy your breather from these rather long takes? 
Now it’s back to the books.


My oral exam was scheduled for Wednesday afternoon, so after lunch and explaining all my topics to my roommate as I straightened my hair, I walked over to the Theology department’s building. As usual I brought my study guide with me so I could look at it to calm my nerves while I waited. I stopped in the restroom and before I could place my study guide in my purse for safe keeping I dropped it right into the toilet. I was done studying.

Waiting is nerve wracking. The couple professors telling me not to worry and wishing me well did not fully ease my nerves. Even when the professors on my panel started off by asking questions that were not on my exam did my nerves settle down. In my head I kept telling myself, they are going to pass you, they are doing just what your advisor said, they are going to pass you, RELAX, just relax. Some of it was fun conversation and some questions were ones that I had no clue how to answer or I had never thought about before in my life. Unfortunately they wanted to talk about my least favorite topics and I never did get to answer the question on Scripture, but it was all ok. After the exam they asked for me to go into the lounge across the hall and they would come and get me. Oddly enough I do not remember everything the chair said when he came to see me.  I just remember, “Not only did you pass…quite articulate.”

I passed!

I wanted to cry right then and there but I kept it together to thank the panel for everything and get B on the phone. And then I couldn’t help it. The tears came. It was such a hard experience and now it was over.

My roommate and I packed up our room (she passed too!) and I stopped by an old friend’s house to visit and meet her newborn daughter before heading home. She was so very right; nothing adds to joy like holding a newborn. That and having your little brother bow before you declaring you, “Master,” and making so many people you love proud.

It is so good to be done.

Have a blessed weekend!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Magister Artium

I passed my final exam for my Master of Arts!

It is such a huge relief to be finished. I am not quite sure what to do with myself right now. It's been so long since I have not had studies looming over my head and the stomach wrenching guilt when choosing to not study.  I am looking forward to spending more time with those that I love, growing my jewelry business, fixing up my place and yard, making home made meals, working out and dancing more regularly, discovering new interests and seeing where this little blog can go.

I do not know what this new normal will look like or what the future will hold. 
For now I am going to bask in the joy of summer, simply being,
and waltzing in beauty.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Questions of the Heart; Answers of Real Women Edition 7

Today is the second and final part of my exam for my masters degree in theology. It only seems fitting to have a special guest who shares my love for theology to talk about another favorite topic of true beauty. 

Lindsay and I met a few months ago in the bridal party of a dear mutual friend.  I knew she was amazing when her R.S.V.P.  for a bridal shower was impeccably written and signed "With Joy".  Her signature suits her so well; she is full of it!  She has a story for everything and cannot be beat in line dance knowledge. :)

It was so fun getting to know Lindsay throughout the wedding festivities and I am happy that we can continue our friendship via social media and now blogging.  I hope you enjoy her insight and get to know her over on her own corner of the web at Lindsay Loves.

Questions of the Heart; Answers of Real Women

By Lindsay

What makes a beautiful woman?

A beautiful woman radiates with joy. I sign all my cards and emails "with joy," because I honestly believe the joy of the Lord is what gets me through my days. Joy can manifest itself as confidence and peace. Sometimes I'm having a fantastic hair day. That makes me feel confident and attractive, which makes me joyful. Other times, I'm home sick with no makeup and a grumpy attitude, but if I can rest in that abiding joy, then I can still feel beautiful.

What makes you feel beautiful?

Good hair days, of course! I also feel beautiful when I create something beautiful through writing, fashion, or (rarely) visual art. And I feel beautiful when people compliment me on my clothes or hair. For the record, I also feel beautiful when people compliment my personality traits, but that kind of compliment doesn't come nearly as often—it can be awkward to work into conversation. I try to minimize awkwardness whenever possible.

What has had the greatest impact on how you view yourself and encouraged you to be yourself?

The support of my parents means a lot to me. I don't think I'm quite the person they expected me to be, but they've been supportive of the bold life choices I've made so far. Knowing that they're behind me is really encouraging. On a more superficial level, I participate in the What I Wore Sunday meme at Fine Linen and Purple (, which specifically helped me realize that I don't actually wear the same thing all the time. Even my fashion life has variety, and I have hard evidence of that.

What is your beauty go-to for the days when you feel anything but beautiful?

It's funny you should ask that. I was having an "ugly day" once, where I just didn't feel beautiful at all. I was walking through Target and stopped in the hair tools aisle. I noticed a bright blue ribbon flower clip. It looked so pretty, and I felt so not. So I bought it. I didn't wear it for a few days, but when I did, I felt like I'd ruffled my feathers—in a good way. Something as small and simple as a hair clip made me feel like the beautiful person I'd forgotten I was.

What would you like to share with women to encourage them to recognize their value and to be beautiful?

God doesn't make junk. Whether you are tall or short, have love handles or no hips, wear hipster glasses or have perfect vision, can't run or can't sing, your beauty is unique to you. If you were just like someone else, you wouldn't be you. If you're having trouble finding your beauty, get a close friend to help you take a good look. Play up your best assets and learn to manage what you can't change. Be patient—good always wins in the end.

Thank you for sharing the joy, Lindsay! 

For more Questions of the Heart you can visit my own answers to Questions 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and those from  Monica, Melinda, Emily, Anna, Tess, and Rachel.


Monday, July 22, 2013

Monday Smiles Volume 5 Guest Post

Happy Monday everyone!

As this goes live I will be preparing to take the first part of my final exam.  The second and final part will take place Wednesday afternoon.  While I am busy typing away, Emily, over at Raising Barnes, graciously accepted to fill in for this week's edition of Monday Smiles.  I am so happy to have her as a guest again, especially since she supported me so wholeheartedly when I mentioned the idea for this series way back when we started blogging.
Thanks Emily!

Because the ultimate cure for the Monday blues is 
something that will make you smile and grateful for what you have.  
These things make me smile and hopefully they will make you smile too.
What makes you smile today?

The Frog

Hello to Christina’s beautiful readers!  I’m so happy to be joining you here at Waltzing in Beauty today as our fearless leader gets her last minute cramming in before she begins her grad school exams.  Join me in saying a little prayer for her - we’re all cheering for you, honey! 

I was so honored when Christina asked me to contribute a Monday Smiles post.  I know this undertaking has been important for her as a way to learn to embrace the things we like the least, especially Mondays.  So, I took a good long time to decide what I could contribute.  Finally, I settled upon The Frog.  

Now, I’m sure you’re thinking, “Wow, this chick is crazy.  Christina has weird friends.”  I’m not going to deny that I am a bit weird, but I promise you that there is more to this little plastic guy than meets the eye.  Let me tell you his story.

It all started one spring evening, when I decided my husband and I needed a date out of the house.  So mini golf and arcade time it was!  At the end of the evening, it was time to take our tickets to the counter and pick out our prizes.  My pick was colored gel that tries to be play-doh, but is never as cool.  When we got home, we realized that there was a little animal figurine hidden in the middle of the pile of goo.  That’s when we first met The Frog. 

For a long time, I forgot about that frog.  But, every once in a while, he would make an appearance in odd places - usually my bathroom counter.  Soon, it became a game between my husband and I.  And, now that we’ve moved into our house with a nice big bathroom, the game is on full force.  

Here are the rules: When it’s your turn, you hide the frog somewhere, preferably some place sneaky, within the confines of the bathroom.  Of course, you have to hide it with the hope that the other person will eventually find him.  Sometimes, it’s somewhere obvious like the hand soap pump.  Other times, it’s some place more sneaky, like hidden within the hand towel. 


We never really talk about The Frog.  He’s just a part of our routine.  Even typing it out now, it sounds pretty ridiculous.  But, that’s okay.  It’s something cheesy and fun that my husband and I do “together.”  And, honestly, anytime that little guy shows up on my side of the bathroom, he brings a smile to my face.  

Thanks, Emily! 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Five Favorites Volume 9

 Happy Wednesday! 

Hallie beat me to the idea of five favorite blog posts for the link up today.  Imitation is the best form of flattery, so I’m sticking with my plan.  Here are five posts that put a smile on my face this week.  

Conversations withJulia 
by Grace at Camp Patton

If you have never read one of Grace’s Conversations with Julia posts you must head to the Camp right away! Sorry for adding to your distractions for the day, because you can’t just read one. Like a preview?

While Simon was watching her ...  
Julia: tantrum tantrum tantrum tantrum  
Julia: tantrum tantrum tantrum tantrum  
Julia: (walks away) I just havin' a tough time

And there’s trouble in River City. 

Grace, you have one smart cookie on your hands! 

--- 2 --- 

Ugga Mugga! (with aside of Peach Kuchen)

 by Monica at A Beautiful Mess

My dear friend Monica writes such fun posts about what is going on in her household and wraps them up with a great recipe.  I want to try everything she posts about, but currently my cooking is more impromptu and in the form of cookies (yes, Monica, I’m back to cookie making to deal with stress or run away from it…).  Her post this week about deciphering her son’s growing vocabulary was so sweet. I was not sure how the Peach Kuchen would fit into the story at first, but I loved how she tied it all together. 

--- 3 ---

Of Peter Pan and Captain Hook

 by Natalie at Nat the Fat Rat

Natalie’s writing is an inspiration to me.  True to her abilities her book announcement is full of great tidbits.  I love children’s books! And have a special place in my heart for Peter Pan.

Clap your hands if you believe in fairies! 
Oh to be able to capture the beauty of childlike faith in such a way! 

Her use of quotes from the book and description of her own love of children’s literature touched me.


Stop Guarding Your Heart and Start Paying Attention to Reality

 by Christina at The Evangelista

Christina makes some great points about being open to love while staying in touch with reality.  From personal experience and/or the experiences of ladies I love, her tips on boys are one hundred percent right on.
A truly interested guy will not let wild horses drag him away.
Sausage, Egg & Biscuits Recipe 

by Natalie at The Busy Budgeting Mama

I would be remiss if I did not share my cousin’s post of a family favorite recipe.  This recipe is so easy! You can have a batch of warm fluffy biscuits on the table in twenty minutes tops.  Of course, the biscuits and gravy never taste as good as when they come out of my grandmother’s kitchen. 

Five Favorites, hosted at

Monday, July 15, 2013

Monday Smiles Volume 4


Instinctively I looked over my shoulder as if someone had tapped me there and found the drop of water that had made itself at home. 

"Really?  Today just needs to be over.  Where did you come from?"

I looked up and sure enough I had made camp with my mexican comfort food on the leather couch right underneath the air conditioning vent covered in condensation.  Frustrated, I scooted over a spot.


I sat down to write about something that would make me smile on a long, tiring Monday.  If anything I could write about something happy and leave the frustrations of the day behind.  But all I can muster is that thought that one more drop in the bucket of today and the water won't just be falling from the ceiling.


The phone rings and Daddy comes to the rescue helping where he can.


And then I remember this from earlier today.


At least they are feeling loved tears.


Because the ultimate cure for the Monday blues is 
something that will make you smile and grateful for what you have.  
These things make me smile and hopefully they will make you smile too.
What makes you smile today?
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...