Turkey Meatballs (Gluten Free)

Ingredients:

• 2 lbs ground turkey
• 1/2 onion (chopped)
• 3 cloves garlic (minced)
• 1/4 cup fresh basil (chopped)
• 3/4 cup fresh parsley (chopped)
• 2 eggs
• 1 1/2 cups gluten free breadcrumbs*

*About 3 slices of bread ground up in food processor

Directions:

Combine all ingredients. Form into balls and place on parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Serve with gluten free pasta and garlic marinara sauce. (I recommend Aldi’s Simply Nature soybean spaghetti and roasted garlic pasta sauce.

Loving Without Judging

I truly believe God has His hands in every moment of our lives to guide us where we are today and has strategically placed certain individuals and situations along the road to help lead us where we need to go. Whether those persons/ situations had a positive or negative impact, their presence most likely shaped our thoughts, motivations, and inclinations toward the decisions that resulted in where we are. We should be thankful for those persons’ impact, and capitalize on their lessons to become the individuals God created us to be.

When we meet people who lift us up, we should be thankful for them. The reason they make us feel good about ourselves is because they choose to overlook our faults and instead focus on God’s presence within us. Ultimately, they choose to love us!

When we meet people who let us down and make us feel that “pit in our stomach” feeling, we should also be thankful for them. Their presence is an intrinsic reminder that our spirits are strong. By not loving us, they leave us feeling weak and make us feel conviction for sin, both theirs and perhaps even our own. But that is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it is an indicator that we are very close to God!

2 Corinthians 12:9 reminds us of this. God promises us, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

Whether we encounter people that love or do not love us, there is a sure-safe method we can follow to interact them. It is something I came up with while reflecting on Mother Teresa’s example. Mother Teresa lived a life loving without judging, trying to change, or convert others. She fed the Hindus living in India and it was not by her pressing nature that people were converted; it was because of the compassion she showed them.

Like Mother Teresa, we should do the same. We need to quit judging people for their personal faults and instead, try to focus on their good. We need to love without judging. We need to hate only sin and not the sinner.

We Become What We Love

St. Clare once said: “We become what we love and who we love shapes what we become,” and it is so true! However, I fear that sometimes the people whom we claim to love are not always God’s best for us, as they may lead us into sin and temptation. I pray that my generation and I have the strength and proper discernment to continue relationships are in fact good for us, and to end those that are not.

Along with this, it is important to guard our hearts against the lies a throw-away culture places upon us. In a world where so much (i.e. materials and innocent lives) are used and discarded, we need to place our hearts in what is lasting, and lead lives centered around faith, hope, and love. In the words of Pope Francis, “We must regain the conviction that we need one another, that we have a shared responsibility for others and the world, and that BEING GOOD AND DECENT ARE WORTH IT”- Pope Francis in Laudato Si’. We need to continually remind ourselves that true love should lead us closer to our goal of heaven and not further away from it!

I hope that whoever reads this realizes what God is calling him or her to do regarding any relationships he or she is involved in. I ask for St. Clare’s intercession to help us love whole heartedly.

Help us, St. Clare, to pursue love that allows us to serve God better together, than we ever could on our own. And help us to do it now rather than later, when it may be too late.

Reflection on St. Joseph

Maybe the most admirable thing about St. Joseph was that he followed his dreams and listened to what God was telling him…And I mean this in a literal sense. He literally had a dream where God told him to pack up his things to move his family to Egypt, and he listened! Talk about being strong and brave. 🖤 In an age of noise and many words, Joseph reminds us that if we wish to hear God’s voice, we must sometimes quiet our hearts and enter into silence with Him alone. Only then can we really decide what He wants us to do about something.

Dreaming on an Empty Stomach 🍲

So the other night for whatever reason, I just wasn’t hungry. I went to bed knowing that I probably should eat something, but decided just to go to bed. I’d eat breakfast in the morning. Whatever.

So anyways, I ended up dreaming a rather hilarious dream filled with two of my favorite foods: chicken corn soup and ham and bean soup. Yes, you’re probably thinking “This girl’s a weirdo” but I promise there is deeper meaning. Just hear me out and read on.

So, in my dream I was at a conference talking to a man who seemed to be a rather celebrated intellectual. Somehow he began telling me about his upbringing and how “There couldn’t possibly be a God” because of all the hard times he had gone through in the past. According to this man “No loving God would allow for such hardship and tragedy in someone destined for great things.”

However, as I listened to the man, a waiter with bowls of soup was passing by. As the man grabbed one, he realized it was ham and bean, rather than the chicken corn soup he desired.

He looked at it with disgust, “Ugh. This isn’t what I wanted.”

In response to his disgust, I looked at him and gently told him that perhaps the reason why bad things were happening to him is because God knows more than he. Maybe his simple grabbing of the wrong soup was in fact a divine way of protecting him. Maybe the chicken corn soup had traces of salmonella, I explained, and he avoided poisoning by choosing the other offering!

The moral of the story is, God has ways of working that are beyond our comprehension and it is our job to trust in Him.

Here’s to a Bright Future

As an update, I am currently finishing the last two weeks of my year-long journey through Bloomsburg University’s MBA program. Praise God! It was by far the most challenging year of my life, as my coursework was heavy and my social life was basically non-existent. Hopefully as a result of the suffering, the end-payoff will be great.

I thought I’d share with you a discussion post I wrote today for my Managerial Decision Making class about a Ted Talk I watched. Essentially, it covers how God has good intentions for our futures and we need to FULLY trust in His wisdom without getting discouraged when things do not go as we necessarily planned. Here is what I wrote:

“It was thought-provoking to hear the speaker in the video talk about how either 1) Our minds are designed badly or 2) Our environments are designed badly.

From a Christian perspective, neither of those statements are correct. God is infinitely good and all his works are good.

But why did God not create a world so perfect that no evil (bad decisions) could exist in it? With infinite power God could always create something better.

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “God freely willed to create a world ‘in a state of journeying’ towards its ultimate perfection. In God’s plan this process of becoming involves […] the existence of the more perfect alongside the less perfect, both constructive and destructive forces of nature.”

When discussing the topic of decision making (moral, financial, etc.), it is important to recognize this reality.

What seems like a failed decision to us, may not actually be. Perhaps the reason why our investments fail at times, or our businesses crash is because God has better plans for us in mind and wants us to draw closer to Him through the hardship.

(For more info: http://www.catholicstand.com/why-does-god-let-bad-things-happen/)

As far as my own mental/environmental barriers to decision making go, I find that when decisions get tough, I often become discouraged and impatient.

Only recently, after my realization that I need to trust in God’s understanding of what is truly good for me, did I start making a conscious effort to control my anxiety caused by “fear of the unknown”.  Ever since, I have viewed decisions (not as punishments), but as opportunities to fulfill God’s plan for me.

Ultimately, I have been trying to choose paths that align with His Word.”

God Exceeds Our Expectations

This is your reminder that God wants the absolute BEST for you. His ways are not our own and if we follow Him wholeheartedly, He will exceed our expectations. It’s when we disobey Him that we cut ourselves short.

So if you want Him to work in your life…to exceed your expectations…to give you the future He has designed for you, here’s an idea: follow Him.

It’s so simple, yet as humans who are surrounded by meaningless noise, we sometimes miss the mark.

So the next time temptation strikes, remember this: choose the right thing. That is, the choice that aligns with God’s commandments. You’ll be surprised by the outcome.

Heavenly Bodies and Pursuing Strategic Happiness

Earlier this year I wrote a post about The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor and explained the 3 paths that one experiences in his or her life. I mentioned how many of us need to find a “third path” and that the most logical way for me to go about finding it, personally, was to focus on being a living-asset to others…Only then would others do the same for me.

Essentially, I decided I would pursue wholeheartedly, a Christian way of living: to be happy, no matter the circumstances. While it took time and practice, eventually I began to believe in my happiness and it began to not only impact me, but others too!

Part of finding a third path involved a realization that life is short. I needed to plan fun activities and not waste the precious time and good health that God has given me on this earth to venture out and explore.

Another part of the path was accepting that some people would not be traveling with me on it… and that is perfectly OK!

I could no longer allow life to pass by without pursuing the things that I dreamed of doing… Essentially, I needed to run with God and trust that He would find a way for those that want to join us, to catch up.

One thing that I dreamed of doing, for instance, was to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination exhibit in New York City.

I had the pleasure of visiting it yesterday with two of my cousins, and can say that it was one of the best pilgrimages I have ever made. I felt so much peace and happiness being there, which is an indicator that it was aligned with God’s plan.

Some of the pieces (especially the first-class relics of some of the saints) stirred my heart and soul to the point of chills. After seeing some of them, I remember feeling such a burning love and whispering to God in my head “I just love you so much.”

The way that the pieces were so intricately and beautifully designed were a true glimpse of what heaven must be like. They definitely served their purpose and turned my gaze toward God and the beauty of living a life centered around the faith.

I am thankful that I was able to visit the exhibit and feel as though it was an excellent point of interest along my third path. For those reading, I highly recommend that you take a chance to visit this exhibit.

I also challenge you to pursue your third path and find a way to fulfill the dreams God has placed in your heart.

Peace and Blessings,

V.

On Independence Day

This post goes out to all the beautiful, independent, and strong young women out there.

Keep on doin’ what you’re doin’ and don’t ever for a second think that being a good girl isn’t worth it. It is! God promises final victory to us.

So let’s keep our pure little hearts focused on Him and trust that when the time is right, He will entrust our hearts to the man He deems worthy to protect it.

Until then, let’s enjoy the healthy relationships He has already blessed us with (like relationships with our friends and family).

Happy 4th, loves!

Video

A Lesson Learned from Brazil

 

There are few times in my life where I can say that I’ve been overconfident about something. However, my first trip to Brazil could be the exception to that.

It was the afternoon of January 1, 2017 and I can vividly remember hopping out of the shower to answer a telephone call from the airline I was currently working for. I was on reserve, which meant that crew scheduling could call me at pretty much any hour of the day and expect me to be at the airport, ready-to-go, within 3 hours. I remember answering the phone feeling so nervous about where they would send me, but was pleasantly surprised to hear that I would be going somewhere new… wherever MAO was?!

I quickly got off the phone, Google searched where I was going, and found out that it was Manaus, Brazil! Never in a million years, would I ever have dreamed of traveling there. To say the least, I was super excited about the trip.

(Fast forward a few hours to departure time) I approached the gate and was happy to see that another young flight attendant was aboard. She and I quickly became friends and planned to go exploring together the next day. We were told by a senior flight attendant that we must go swimming with the pink river dolphins, which we were both ecstatic about! For once in my life I felt like I was finally living the flight attendant dream.

Upon arriving at the hotel, my friend and I inquired about a tour, but were told that tours did not operate on that specific day of the week (Monday). However, the desk agent would call around to see if she could arrange one for us. With our hopes shot down, my new flight attendant friend and I decided that we would just explore the hotel.

While we were sitting by the pool, we were pleasantly interrupted by the desk agent who asked us, “Can you be ready in 5 minutes? I arranged a tour for you!”

Not having much time to consider the offer, my friend and I said “Sure!” In the back of my mind I figured it would be fine… we both traveled to foreign places before on our own: how much different could Brazil be? That is where my overconfidence came in.

We were soon picked up from our hotel by someone in a beat up car that looked like he was off the streets. Considering that we had no money, we had to stop by an ATM on the way to take out money for the tour. Whatever we took out in Brazilian real, it was the equivalent of $60 USD.

We paid the driver the money and he told us that he would walk us to the dock where the boat would pick us up. When we arrived at the dock, he found out that the boat already LEFT! Feeling sorry for us, the driver arranged to have a puddle jumper boat take us to meet the larger boat. Because my friend and I did not speak Portuguese, we had no idea what was going on and thought that this was all part of the tour.

Eventually, we did meet up with the larger boat and got to see real-live monkeys, eat a traditional Brazilian meal, and swim with the pink river dolphins. Things seemed to be all rainbows and sunshine until the tour guide approached us and asked “Did you arrange transportation back to the hotel?”

My friend and I looked at each other and our hearts sank. “We didn’t know that we were supposed to” I said. “We thought that was included in the tour.”

The tour guide shook his head. “It usually is,” he said, “but because this tour was arranged on a day where your hotel is not a pick-up location,” you will have to get a taxi.

At that, my stomach started spinning circles. My friend and I did not take out any extra money to get a taxi! I quickly said a prayer and am so thankful to God that He intervened.

It just so happened that another couple on the tour overheard our conversation and told us that they were flight attendants, too. They had extra money and said that we could go back to their hotel with them. From there, we could arrange for another taxi.

The plan seemed viable, until we were met with opposition from taxi drivers- none of them wanted to drive all of us back for the $12 that we had! Luckily, one driver (with a rosary hanging from his mirror) agreed. To this day, I believe that must have been a sign of divine intervention.

To further complicate matters, when we arrived at the couple’s hotel, I was told that they would not accept credit cards to pay for another taxi and that I needed cash. Again God intervened because I was somehow able to talk to the desk agent in a foreign language and convince him to let me use a card. Eventually he did, and my friend and I made it back safely.

Upon returning to the hotel, I felt weak. I overestimated my abilities and God TRULY intervened to save me. If He had not strategically placed the couple that were flight attendants on the boat with us, my friend and I would have been stranded. It was truly a miracle that we made it back alive.

I remember calling my mom to to tell her about my adventure. Meanwhile, I noticed that she had called me 37 times over the past few hours to tell me that there was a prison outbreak in the area and to get back to my hotel IMMEDIATELY! She was so relieved to find out that I was ok, but terribly mad at me for not answering. (For the record… I did not have cell phone service in the jungle).

When I look back over the whole situation, I still shiver. Although I had fun, I severely overestimated my abilities and had a distorted perception of Brazilian culture. It makes for a good story, but I hope and pray that my children never do something like that someday. I can see how upset my mom must have been.

Ways that I could have prevented this would have been to ask more questions and avoid stereotyping Brazilian customs/culture as being the same as any other Latin culture I encountered.