1) Studying abroad - Being able to live in a foreign country for three and a half months and to travel all across Europe pushed me outside of my comfort zone many times. I learned more deeply of my own independence and uniqueness. I learned to trust that the Lord would provide for my needs and I learned to be more vulnerable with other people. Wonder became a constant attitude towards life. Friends were easy to make. Gelato and pizza were the staples in my diet for fourteen days.
2) A summer of service - I spent the summer of 2013 serving families at a Catholic camp. During this time I learned my own leadership abilities. Apparently I am great at directing people and delegating tasks; it became second nature to me by the end of the summer. Stillness possessed my soul during the first weeks of the summer and I came to understand what it is like to be detached from the craziness around me. When my physical, emotional, and spiritual strength shriveled up, I would beg the Holy Spirit to fill me with His strength and He always would. I experienced in a fresh way the weight of intercessory prayer: that God uses our words to heal and listens to our pleading on behalf of others. When I was together with the rest of the staff, I came to understand the power that each person's presence is. If someone was missing, the group dynamics shifted. I learned to maturely confront problems that I had with other people. Finally, I began to learn what it means to reach outside of myself to love others.
3) Household - This past semester was my first full semester in household. Growing in Christian friendship with my sisters taught me to be vulnerable with them. We cannot love and support each other if we do not share ourselves. Communication is key. I learned to share my faith with those around me, by speaking of what the Lord is doing in my heart. Several times over the course of the semester I found myself offering my bed to a household sister who really needed to take a nap and couldn't go back to her room at that particular time for whatever reason, and I learned again to sacrifice myself. Through conversations with my little and personal prayer, the Lord continued to deepen my identity as His Beloved.
4) Christmas with my family - It has been superb to be back with my family over Christmas break. My love for soup, baking, and reading resurged. I developed a love for playing guitar and watching high school basketball. Every single day I get to hug my family and tell them I love them. Even driving places with them is entertaining; our van seems like a clown car because we are all so tall!
5) Friendship - Probably the biggest blessings that came to me during 2013 were friendships with some pretty incredible people. Some were new friendships and some were older ones that have endured. These friendships have taught me that all relationship ought to be rooted in Christ and in Christian charity in order to be truly fruitful. They have challenged me to love other people selflessly, to see people as precious children of God who have the potential to be saints. Thanks be to God for my Alumni Corps Staff, all of my beautiful household sisters, Elyse, Allison, Grace, Yaya, Rachel, Dani, Becca P., Becca C. and Bry. I love you all.