Friday, March 4, 2016

Conference Recap -- Day 2!

My heart is overflowing...tears of absolute gratitude to God, my Father for blessing me with an incredible day and showing me countless experiences of true, genuine love that my brothers and sisters-in-Christ share for each other. I'm a poor, poor sinner, constantly in need of God's grace and mercy....and He's pouring all these blessings to ME?!? I cannot fathom God's love and oh! If only....if only I can show this kind of love to others. Right now, I'm totally feeling St. Peter's idea during the Transfiguration "let's pitch tents, Jesus! And stay up here forever!" But deep down, I know I'll have to return to my ordinary life in Naperville in just a few days! Aww! But God has me there for a reason. Fortunately I still have PLENTY of excitement left in these final 3 days. Anyways....back to today...Friday!

  • Surprise, surprise! I overslept for the morning Mass, oops! But I had a nice shower and got myself ready for the day, which began with a talk by Jimmy Akin. In all honesty, it was quite informative, but a bit on the dry side since it was about the historicity of divorce, and most of the content I already knew. 
  • During the break after his talk, I met a girl my age sitting in front of me and it turns out not only did we attend the same college, but graduated the same year as each other!! And we're just now meeting all the way out in San Diego! Small, small world! 
  • Next was Dr. Roebuck's talk about the sociology behind marriage, divorce, IVF, etc. Again, a lot of stats and stuff I pretty much already knew, but decent enough talk. 
  • In between talks, I got to meet Timmerie Millington who co-hosts my other favorite radio show, Hearts & Minds with Trent Horn and I gushed about how truly blessed she is to be able to chat with Trent on a weekly basis about all things Catholic/pro-life! 
  • For the first time, CatholicAnswers offered a separate lunch session just for young adults featuring my fave Trent Horn as well as the newest apologist from Cajun Land, Karlo Broussard. They discussed faith & science as well as answering atheism (Trent's speciality). Huge huge blessing right there to have small group time with those two!
  • Then I got a double dose of Trent Horn since he gave a talk right after lunch about the relational & conjugal views of marriage. Love love love him! 
  • Then, what I've been most excited about, the LIVE TAPING OF CATHOLIC ANSWERS LIVE!!! And yes, I managed to get myself a front row seat and more or less lost my voice from my manic screaming lol I even got to ask a question at the end of the 2nd hour and (soberly) admitted to a million-person audience that I'm a CatholicAnswers-aholic...Patrick promised to get me into a 12-step program lol oh how wondrous it was to get to SEE my beloved radio show produced right before my eyes! *spazztime* 
  • The final activity of the day was an appetizers and drinks mixer where I chatted with a few people who complimented me on my enthusiasm. I got to have a heartfelt chat with Rose Sweet, who's been a guest on CatholicAnswers Live several times, then I bantered around with Patrick Coffin and got to meet Chris Check (the president) as well as Karl Keating (the FOUNDER) wow wow wow!!!
  • Throughout the day, my now-good-friend and head of the marketing department, Jon Sorenson helped me get all my CA swag autographed (apologies to Trent Horn who probably now has carpal tunnel thanks to me lol)
Ultimately, the thing that chokes me up and amazes me most is that just yesterday, I was on a plane wondering what it would be like to encounter my beloved CA apologists in person. I'm not as insecure as I used to be as a teen, but my confidence is still lacking...but now, I'm on a casual first name, bantering basis with all these people. Not that I'm trying to put them on pedestals, but I've had such a deep admiration/appreciation of them from afar. I was scared that maybe they wouldn't be as genuine in real life...but they are the real deal! God is so so good!


Trent Horn's large group talk!

Now from San Diego....CATHOLIC ANSWERS LIVE!


Jimmy Akin

Trent Horn's small group young adult talk

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Catholic Answers Conference Recap -- Day 1

WHOOOOO!!!!! What a day!!!! I'm so exhausted yet so exhilarated! Let's start at the very beginning (someone once said that's a very good place to start) And I'm doing this bullet point style because I'm way too excited to put together coherent paragraphs.

  • Plane ride was awesome! I enjoyed some white wine, honey roasted peanuts, and watched The Sound of Music and then listened to Phantom Planet's song, "California here we come" (theme song of my once-favorite-show-now-I-can't-fathom-how-I-watched-it, The OC). SO excited to finally be in California for the first ever!
  • Got my overpacked suitcase from baggage, found the free shuttle to the hotel and was super relieved to this time check in to my room and have time to get situated BEFORE Conference registration (when I went to the FOCUS Conferences in college, it was stand in a loooong registration line with all my luggage then finally get to my room with only a few minutes before the first talk)
    • Listened to both hours of CatholicAnswers Live while getting situated (what's with it being on at 3 PM here in Cali?? I'm sooo used to it being 5-7 in Chicago yay time zones!)
  • Usual-Margo was exhausted and wanted to stay in the super comfy bed plus I had a dumb headache but I pushed myself to go downstairs and get myself registered
    • Met Jon Sorenson (Marketing director) in person; he's the staff member I've gotten to know best over facebook and he's a super cool, chill guy! He showed me the "Vendor/Margo-going-broke-too-much-awesome-stuff" room and I came face to face with Dr. Ray Guarendi; first instance of many star-struck encounters; bought his book, "When Faith Causes Family Friction" and he signed it yay!
  • I was starving so I went to find someplace to eat, ended up at some sports bar place, got a Gilmore Girls inspired drink (one of Lorelai's usual Friday Night dinners -- Martini with a twist) and a bacon-chicken sandwich
    • I totally had a Holy Spirit encounter, where the mid-age guy I was sitting next to asked me what brought me to San Diego so of course that led into discussing Catholicism, turns out he's a fallen away Catholic who never really had any of the reasonings behind the teachings explained (it was just a bunch of rules to him) so I told him about Catholic Answers as well as shared part of my testimony. Praise God! The funniest part was that Trent Horn was sitting at a table nearby with his in-laws and yes, at first I was sooo tempted to call him over to "help me" then I decided to be a grown-up and trust the Holy Spirit to work through me
  • Back to the main ballroom for the Evening talks...I got a seat in the 2nd row....and got spotted by THE Patrick Coffin who was like "'s you...I'm not ready for this!" And I dished it right back "Too bad! I'm here!" and I got a nice hug from him
  • Before the talks started, Pat did some announcements and some weird magic trick thing (cuz he likes to show off his "super cool magician tricks")
    • Oh yeah, one of the announcements was for two award winners: one for the very first person to sign up for the Conference and then the other was for some crazy-obsessed-fan girl who pressed the "like/love/haha" button on Facebook 10 million times for CatholicAnswers and has been slightly excited for this idea who that girl was ;-) 
    • When Patrick called me up to the stage he asked all the single guys to stand up (there was like 2 or 3 and I could barely see them...that wasn't exactly how I thought things would wind up, but whatever)
  • Okay....Dr. Ray Guarendi followed by Fr. Larry Richards = TOO MUCH ENTHUSIASM/ENERGY/HILARITY (especially when they both teased each other relentlessly during their talks) No videos cuz my phone was dying but CatholicAnswers will eventually post the Conference talks online
  • Back to the vendor room where I finally got my selfies with my faves Patrick & Trent
  • Now I'm about to pass out
Thank You, Jesus, for an absolutely epic first day!! Let's see what You've got planned for the rest of this adventure!
In the words of Patrick Coffin - "BE A SAINT...WHAT ELSE IS THERE???"

THE man Patrick Coffin

Trent Horn
Goody basket for my Facebook stalking!

Dr. Ray Guarendi 

Friday, April 25, 2014

Attempting To Face Reality

Recently at the SSPP youth group, we got into a long discussion about how humans often use pleasure to escape from troubling realities. It hit me harder than I was expecting since admittedly, even I fall into that trap. I loathe to admit it, but I suck at dealing with reality; I’ve dug a hole so deep through running out of money and as horrible as it sounds, I don’t know how to live without having money. After I graduated last May, my parents gave me a generous amount of money, which is what I’ve been living off of for the past 11 months. I almost made it last an entire year, but because I lack self control, it’s mostly run out and the job thing isn’t quite working out for me. 

After going on several job interviews now, I’ve become somewhat cynical about the interview process and realize that unfortunately, I don’t have any natural talent for being interviewed. I’ve interviewed for a few restaurants and retail stores and wow! The interviews are MUCH tougher than the actual positions, plus I feel like they don’t really give me a chance to prove my competency. I’m still praying for some employer to give me a chance, yet I realize it’s not about that. I need to hammer down some legit answers to those pesky questions “Why do you want to work at ___________?” “Tell me about a time when ____________” Although to be completely honest, I just need a source of income at this point. It would be nice if I could actually make use of the gifts God gave me, like with typing, proofreading, organizing, filing, using Microsoft Word...

In other news, I went on a discernment retreat over Holy Week at the Daughters of St. Paul motherhouse in Boston. It’s taken me awhile to actually get to blogging about it because I did not receive the clarity which I so desperately sought. I did get a glimpse of what living in a religious community is like and am pretty sure that it’s not right for me (or I’m not right for it?). I still cannot figure out what the heck God wants for me though. There’s still something blocking me from being able to hear Him. Even on the silent retreat day, I failed to get much from Him. Maybe I’m just too caught up in my usual devotions/prayer routines. I think I’m called to marriage? I’m terrified of choosing the wrong vocation; why does my heart always feel pulled in multiple directions??? 

Interiorly, I’m a mess of emotions and frustrations. I am absolutely disgusted with myself, how even after the retreat, I still fall into the same sins/vices. I’m still barely able to be much of a friend to anyone since I can’t snap out of my anxiety and get myself to truly focus on others. There’s a huge pain of regret that I feel about losing track of my Newman friends/not being able to visit Peoria at all. My parents came up with the rule that I’m not allowed to drive myself to Peoria until I have a job. I do miss Newman, yet I know I needed to move on anyways. I am fortunate to have such a wonderful parish, in which I’ve gradually gotten more involved. 

One insight that God has given me lately is how superficial I can be. I find myself questioning why I’m even Catholic in the first place. I have a solid, intellectual understanding of the faith and teachings, but I can’t seem to truly put them into practice. Do I truly love Christ? Or do I just enjoy my prayer routines and liturgy? 

What’s it going to take for me to find peace with Christ? How can I get myself to quit resisting the changes I know I need to make? I do desire holiness, at least I think I do. I just feel so trapped sometimes. Is there any hope for me? It's finally Easter - the season for which I've been longing all through Lent, and yet I'm still not completely joyful. 

Maybe I’ll do more of a day-by-day write up of the retreat later. I just wanted to share my thoughts and where I’m at interiorly for anyone wondering.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Reflecting on Life Again

Whoa! 2 months since my last post?!? Seriously??

So I just thought I'd post some updates about the mixed up life of Margo for anyone who's interested. Overall, life is pretty much same old, same old, still livin with the parents and kinda looking for a job. I'll be going on my first vocation-discernment retreat with the Daughters of St. Paul at their Boston motherhouse during Holy Week in April!! Here's hoping and praying that will help enlighten me as to whether I should seriously pursue religious life.

I'm so back and forth between religious life and married life. There's still a major part of me that desires marriage and longs to be a stay-at-home mother. But, religious life, especially the Daughters of St. Paul is becoming more appealing as well...and I still struggle with trying to get my will matched up with God's will.

I think I have far too many desires, but can't get myself to act on any of them, other than the discernment retreat. Here's just a brief "bucket list"

  • Study for a Master's Degree in Theology at the Augustine Institute in Denver
  • Travel to Rome and explore the Vatican while eating authentic Italian deliciousness
  • Work as a Youth Minister, or Director of Religious Ed, or as a pastor's Personal Assistant, or even just as a parish office assistant, OR as an apologist for Catholic Answers
  • run a marathon (or maybe do another half)
  • Figure out my vocation once and for all
  • Overcome my vices, actually develop self discipline, and live entirely for Jesus, being completely selfless, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind....being so close to Christ that I naturally radiate His love to everyone I meet so then they will fall in love with Him

I'm also starting to go ridiculously stir crazy and am actually getting motivated to get one of those job things, even though I managed to make things hard for myself by taking way too long to get my act together, which means a mostly blank resume (at least I do have some volunteer experience, but I haven't had a legit paid job since December of 2011).

I somehow found a bunch of theological discussion groups on Facebook, which are now what keep me "busy", trying to explain the faith to others (mostly Protestants) while working on that patience virtue. I don't know why, but I LOOOVE discussing theology/morality/chastity...if only I could get paid for that. Seriously, God has given me some pretty interesting gifts/talents, but I can't quite make a living off any of them, *frustration*

I got trapped in my routine of 5:15 daily mass at my parish and for too long, I was afraid of having to give that up in order to have a job. Spending time with Jesus became overly important to me and I'm just now realizing that I am probably one of the most unusual young adults ever. I mean I'd rather spend time with Jesus than have a job?!? It's terribly irresponsible for me and it's probably high time for me to wake up and realize that unfortunately, life costs money. I can't live with my parents forever; I need money for rent, electricity, groceries, clothes...and I am trying to live simplistically, which is way easier said than done.

*Sigh* I really need to get better at this being-an-adult thing...sometimes I feel more like an 80-year-old trapped in a 20-year-old body since I'm SUCH a homebody and super low key about things...why is getting a job and figuring out my vocation so freaking difficult?? (yes, rhetorical question)

May God bless you all :)

Friday, November 29, 2013

An Honest Reflection

I feel as though I have been living a lie since I fear allowing people to see the real me. I’ve heard many times that I should not care about what others think, all that matters is what God thinks of me. Yet, I can’t quite get myself to not care about what other people think of me. Plus, I’ve been fighting an interior battle of self absorption and wish I could just snap my finger and be like Blessed Mother Theresa - serving others without caring what others thought or worrying about herself. I want to be holy and Christlike so badly and hate how much I continuously screw up and give into my weaknesses. 

Anyways, it’s been over six months since I graduated from college. I originally thought that I would find some job within a month or two, start saving up money, and be on my way to moving out of my parents’ house. Maybe I’d even meet my future husband and I would start on the typical life plan of career and marriage. 

As is often the case, God had other plans for me. Instead of pursuing a career, I began pursing Christ (or maybe He was pursing me?) on a much deeper level than ever before. Sometimes spending up to 3 hours straight in my parish’s Adoration chapel, which now feels like a second home to me. Not that I’m super holy, sometimes, I’d go there just as a break from being in my house. 

Recently, I have found myself at a crossroads, torn in two directions. A few years ago, Christ inflamed my heart with passion for the virtue of chastity. Now, it seems like He’s putting a new idea on my heart, one that terrifies me to admit — a vocation to the religious life, specifically with the Daughters of St. Paul, whose charism is sharing Christ through the media, which kinda fits me perfectly! 

As strongly as I desire marriage, after spending countless hours in Adoration, as well as an agonizing job search, I realize that I have an even stronger desire to serve Christ as fully as possible. As I went through the job search, it become ever more apparent how fake I felt, how untrue to myself, how not at peace it has left me. Yet, I kept trying to force myself to ignore those feelings so I could do what my parents expect. 

I wish there were someone who could understand what I have been going through since graduation — the intense interior battle that has left me emotionally exhausted. I crave the Eucharist more than ever, yet, I still persist in sinful habits and I’m nowhere near holiness. I still have emotional wounds that need healing and I greatly need to work on living out my faith, putting it in action. I seem to have the prayer part down and I do genuinely enjoy explaining the faith, but, a major struggle is showing love to others who have no interest in the faith at all. I suck at expressing my care and concern for others, it always seems to come out wrongly as I allow negative emotions to interfere. 

Anyways, I’m just in the very initial part of discernment, I have no idea where it will lead. I do know though that at this point in my life, I am not called to the working world…terrifying thought! I can’t shake the “I need to have a job” thought from my mind. For months now, I’ve been consumed with guilt, thinking that it’s so irresponsible of me to remain unemployed. Maybe it is. Yet, I know Christ is calling me to follow Him and to surrender my desires to Him. 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Clarifying My Purpose

Alrightie, I would like to clarify a few things concerning the purposes of this blog. My intent is to provide clarity and new insights about the Catholic faith and teachings. To that end, I desire to reach out and engage non-Catholics.

I am not writing these blog posts to receive praise from my fellow Catholics or to preach to the choir. I want to draw people in, so everyone will at least walk away with a greater understanding of Catholicism. Please give me feedback on what areas I should focus my posts by voting in the poll on the right side and provide any additional suggestions in the comments. 

So, once again, I want to know if there are any non-Catholics out there willing to read and learn about Catholicism? And what can I do to engage you in discussion? I'm not saying you must become Catholic, but I want to clear up the misconceptions and false stigmas. So, who's ready to open up and discuss? Anyone? Bueller? :)

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Readers' Choice!

First, I would like to extend my appreciation for the two commenters who provided feedback on my blog, I have taken what you said into consideration, and now wish to allow you and others to share what you would like to see me blog about/explain. I added a poll to the right of this page, so please vote for what you are interested in learning about and feel free to leave specific suggestions in the comments section. Vote away, friends & readers and look for the next post in the next week or two (depending on how long it takes to gather results).