Hello again, everyone!

It's been a few months since my last post. My first semester of sophomore year of college has ended, and it's hard to believe how fast it went by! I have to admit that the song "I'll Be Home for Christmas" has never held as much meaning for me as it does this year. I am, at the same time, happy to be home on break and saddened that the semester went by so quickly.

cortes-island-christmas-88336-oLooking back at the past few months, I have definitely had my fair share of ups and downs, challenges and graces. Each day has been filled with little experiences that have blessed me by either making me smile or helping me grow. I am so grateful for everything that has happened!

By far, the greatest way I have grown over the semester is in my faith. How could I not, when Jesus is so present at the college I'm attending? Opportunities for Mass, confession and adoration are a part of daily life on campus. Every class begins with prayer. Not only that, but the dorm I live in has a chapel in it: by far my favorite part of life on campus. It is so wonderful to have Jesus residing in the very building that I sleep in!

The friendships I've formed are also a great grace for which I'm thankful. From late night Veggie-Tale sing-alongs, to random dance parties, to "studying" together, to sharing favorite movies or songs, to pranking, laughter, serious conversations, and just plain silliness, I am so grateful for the people I have met over this semester and I'm so glad for their friendship.

The semester has definitely not been without its challenges, however. At the beginning of the semester, especially, it was difficult to adjust to life on my own, hundreds of miles away from home, without my family or support group. Establishing new relationships and getting to know the people I met was difficult, especially since I missed my home, my family, and everything that was familiar to me. Being in a completely different region of the country and in a strange city was also very difficult to me, despite the beauty of the campus.

It was all for the best, however. The daily challenges I faced over the course of the semester drove me to seek out Jesus and to lean on my faith. I grew stronger because of them. The friendships I've made have also helped me to grow, and I am so blessed to have met so many awesome people! Not only that, but now that I'm home, I realize how much more I appreciate everything I love since I have been separated from it for so long. Even tiny little things I never fully valued before, like the stone walls in the woods that line the roads of the region I live in, or the sight of cranberry bogs through the trees, make me realize all the more how much I love home and how grateful I am for it. Perhaps that is truly one of the best consequences I've experienced from this past semester: I have received a greater appreciation for the little things of home. I think that, this Christmas season, that is something we can all benefit from.

Have a very Blessed and Merry Christmas!
God Bless!
Emily McMahon

Copyright 2013 Emily McMahon