Happy New Year/Farewell 2015


Happy New Year! For a long time, it was my blogging tradition to post a month by month photo reflection of the past year on New Year’s Eve. In light of personal circumstances, I let this tradition lapse the last few years. I’d like to resurrect it tonight. 2015 could well be called my year of the phoenix. Beginning with moments of death and darkness, but resurrecting itself as a year of great triumph, healing, strength, glory, and goodness. I am grateful to be standing on the edge of 2016, transformed by ALL that this past year entailed. When saying goodbye to my grandparents after the holiday, they told me that 2016 was “my year.” I haven’t been able to get this out of my head. Whether it’s “my” year or not, well, who knows, but I do feel an immense amount of hope as the minutes countdown to the start of 2016. I have learned a great deal about myself these past 12 months…here are just a few of the teachable, memorable, joyous, and transformative moments that will carry me into this New Year:

January: Good Friends, Cold Weather, and the March for Life…




February: 30 candles on my Birthday cake, Floridian celebrations, and the sun setting on a very long journey through the legal process…



March: 5k’s, Cirque du Soleil training, and the best moment of all…the birth of my niece, Ava…




April: Easter on the beach and a visit to the convent…



May: May 1st greetings from my niece, taking to the water on kayaks and skis, and visiting my favorite Bostonian family..




June: Convent shenanigans, family reunions, and cousin concert night..




July: Celebrating the Fourth in the District and farewell for now’s to Norfolk friends…





August: God-mothering, my move to Chicago, birthday celebrations with two of my favorites, and precious time with dear friends…







September: TOO MUCH CUTENESS, I got to eat grains for the first time in 3.5 years, and a Browns birthday celebration for my favorite brother…





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October: New beginnings, surprise visits from friends, Nova Vita Designs, pumpkin carving, firing range, and Sandra Dee…








November: Texas travels, the great outdoors, and college football…












AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR! May it be filled with peace, grace, and blessings…Here’s to 2016, my year! May it be your year too!

Bring on the NEW Year

It is that time of year again! I can hardly believe another fantastic year comes to a close. As has become tradition, I will be making my annual post looking back over the last twelve months: the heights, depths, the triumphs and trials. Depicted in the following photographs, these are some of the moments which define my 2012. I hope you enjoy!



Made my way to California to meet Maximus James Clayton and become his Godmother!



My beloved Ludovico (above) continued his rambunctious reign of terror as we welcomed his sweet angelic baby sister Margherita (below) to the light, as the Italians say! How I miss my little Italian gems!? February also held a great many birthday celebrations both in Austin, with dear friends, and in Chicago, with my wonderful family who all drove to the city to share in the festivities, as yours truly turned 27!

Surprise birthday parties, road trips to the coast, exciting life-changing news for Krista, and as always ceaseless good times with dear friends!
REUNION of Most of my Absolute Dearest Friends ALL IN ONE PLACE at THE SAME TIME!?! Enough said. I love these women, their husbands, and their children!
Farewell to Austin, our dear Texan friends and our beloved “Studio…”
Ah Studio! We’ll meet again…It won’t be gaslight in the lane, But just as gentle, only brighter. And Jack on Aslan’s back. We’ll sing His glory Around those two: One Love-Truth. Old world will give one final “crack.” Our hearts could not be lighter. -Dom Julian OSB A Severe Mercy
Did I get out of my car this month? According to the photo above, I must have, but believe me it was only briefly! This month my car carried me from Texas to Tennessee and back to Ohio, from Ohio to Connecticut, New York City and Boston, and finally to Washington, DC (where I would call home for the month of July)!
PS. Photo was taken by Krista on Nahant Island just north of Boston (that’s the city in the background)
How could anyone NOT enjoy a month of nannying for these two again?! Though as much time as I’ve been over the moon blessed to spend with them, I’m still waiting for some of Jack’s super powers and Elise’s princess like radiance to wear off on me! Maybe in 2013?
Maria gets hitched, Krista joins the Convent, and I start a new job! August brought a whole lot of NEW for everybody!
My baby brother gets married to the love of his life and I find that I finally have a sister in the family!
First visiting day for Krista down in Nashville…seems she is absolutely loving it thus far, though of course it is not without its difficulties as she transitions to her new way of life. And, joining a new dance studio in Pittsburgh had me dressing up like a 20’s flapper for the Halloween dance party!
A visit to Boston to see the Birthday King, aka my Godson, as he celebrated his first birthday and…drum roll please…………………….that’s right! I went to my first Notre Dame game! A life long dream since the movie Rudy first occupied my television set as a youngster.
What didn’t December hold? First an incredible trip to France with a dear friend, fulfilling one of her life long dreams and enriching mine in the process. Then my, may as well be, little sister Tori graduates from Graphic Design school! And FINALLY…Christmas!
Wait…is that all? No! Still one more adventure to be had in this twelfth month of 2012 before the ball drops and officially declares our entrance into 2013…a FAMILY CRUISE! I’m pretty sure this is about to be the best ending to a year I’ve ever celebrated as we ALL (four grandparents, two parents, one brother, one sister-in-law, one cousin and me) embark for the Caribbean!
As I prepare to sail south, I wish you all the most blessed belated Christmas and Happy New Year! May 2013 hold more adventure, more love and more joy than 2012 and may we seek always to live lives of Abundant Faith!

A Tribute to the Last Twelve Months

As I greet you on this the first day of the New Year (Ok. So, this was written a few days ago), and the feast of Mary, the young girl chosen by God to bear His Son, I must admit that it seems like only yesterday I welcomed in the year 2011 with joy and anticipation. It seems I find myself almost unexpectedly in this 2012th year since the death of our Lord. Perhaps the rapidity at which this new year has surrounded me is due in part to the many blessings, journeys, celebrations, and sorrows that stole my heart, filled my calendar, and absorbed my very being this past year.

Last Year, on the eve of 2011, I wrote: “…2011 holds the wealth of many unknown gifts and graces and I welcome it with intrigue and anticipation of all that God has in store…” I was not disappointed. 2011 was a blessed year indeed and I don’t believe I could do justice in saying farewell to it without taking a moment to look back and reflect on some of the highlights…

JANUARY: The March for Life in Washington, DC


FEBRUARY: My 26th Birthday, Christina & Joe Bernotus’ Wedding (Phoenix, AZ), Goodbye Old Car & Hello New!

MARCH: Family Visit (Grandparents & Parents) to DC

APRIL: Family Visit (Cousins) to DC

MAY: Farewell to Washington & Fr John Nepil’s Ordination (Denver, CO)


JUNE: Ireland, England & El Camino de Santiago de Compostela (The Way of St. James)


JULY: The Way of St. James cont., Arrival in Santiago de Compostela & Our Return Home to the States


AUGUST: I’m Moving WHERE?!?!?!?! Texas Living 🙂

SEPTEMBER: Our Angel Flew to Heaven- Shelli DeSimone Joins the Lord

OCTOBER: THREE New Jobs, a Pumpkin Patch, My Parents Visit to Austin and Another Beautiful Soul joins the Heavenly Hosts: Simon Peter Truelove

NOVEMBER: NEW LIFE! (Thanksgiving, Tori Hall, The Birth of Maximus James Clayton and Isabella Therese Bernotus, and My Brother Gets Engaged!!! Welcome to the Family, Megan!)

DECEMBER: What Could Top Christmas with the Family!

Unfortunately, my brother was sick this Christmas, so we don’t have a family photo for me to post, but featured above is my new “soon to be” sister-in-law!

I pray the Lord may bless us all this year with grace and many blessings. That our eyes may be opened to see the path He has laid out for us. Trusting always that in His Will alone is perfect happiness.

Month by Month Farewell: 2010

As I sit here on this beautiful winter day, the last day of the year, quite literally on the brink of the dawning of a new year, I am caught up in reflections of times past, contemplation of the present, and thoughtfulness about the future that is to come. Saying goodbye to 2010, is a bittersweet endeavor, as it means saying goodbye to the year that held my final months in New Zealand, a blessed summer full of weddings and family time, new adventures (moving to DC), and finally my first Christmas at home in two years (by far perhaps one of my best Christmases). This has been a blessed year indeed. Pictured below are some of the highlights…

This photo was taken January 2, 2010!! What an incredible start this year had! New Years Day 2010 I was in Queenstown, NZ half way through a 13 day trip around the South Island of New Zealand with four great friends and one 12-seater rental mini van, which we inevitably named John Denver! Such an adventure! My eyes have never seen such beauty!

PS. For a VIDEO of our South Island trip, check out the tap on the side titled “Oh the Places You’ll Go”

I spent the entire day being pampered by Kerstin and Krista (massage, pedicure, mineral spa), had lunch with my dear friends Stella and Anne, and then a blessed Mexican dinner out with all of my dearest friends!

March was the month of “Set Free!” New Zealand’s first ever weekend-long youth conference with international speakers and musicians in attendance from USA, Australia, and NZ! Running that weekend, with such an incredible team and for such amazing teens, was perhaps the most blessed event I have ever been a part of!

PS. For a VIDEO of our Set Free Conference, check out the tab on the side titled “Oh the Places You’ll Go”

My dear friend Mel entered the Church at the Easter Vigil this year and I had the incredible blessing of being her sponsor! I was also privileged to become Chloe’s (one of our youth) God-mother!

In May we welcomed Kelly and Richard Sealy as the new missionaries at St. Thomas More Church in NZ! They and their two daughters took over as laborers in the vineyard. Such a beautifully bittersweet month as we spent our final weeks with the friends and the island we had come to love so dearly over the past two years.

Upon returning to the States, June began the summer of weddings! First off…my beautiful cousin Victoria married her best friend Anthony mid-June in Michigan!

July was spent traveling to be with family and friends I hadn’t seen in years! My trip to Boston to see my friends Melissa and Josh also resulted in my first ever Lobster experience!

Between my dear friend Amanda’s wedding to her now husband Casey, my family’s vacation aka a cruise out of New York to the Caribbean Islands, and then Jamie’s, my close friend from high school, wedding…August was one big continuous dance party!!!

What a blessing that after saying goodbye to them only three short months earlier, Kerstin and I were able to see Fr. Michael (the priest who invited us to come to his parish in New Zealand as missionaries and start youth ministry) and his parents here in the US!

In October, I moved into a house of amazing women in the DC area and prepared to start my next big adventure with the Lord!

Nannying has been such a blessing to me this year. It is continuously teaching me about patience and love! I am grateful for the family and the two beautiful children the Lord has placed me with.

This last month, I have been so abundantly blessed to be able to celebrate my brother’s graduation from Kent State University and to spend the most precious time of Christmas with my family!!

2010 has been blessed indeed! I am so utterly grateful. It is hard to believe that it could be topped, but 2011 holds the wealth of  many unknown gifts and graces and I welcome it with intrigue and anticipation of all that God has in store in this New Year!

May God bless you and those you love in this New 2011th year since the death of our Savior.