Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Mission Accomplished.

Yesterday, I tweeted "I just realized that I literally have nothing to do tomorrow."
So my friend Sarah posted this on my facebook wall:

"you have nothing to do today! (wednesday) 
let me propose some options

1. surprise sarah mooney somewhere
2. write an old camper a letter
3. blog
4. go to a church somewhere and just sit for awhile inside
5. treat yourself to starbucks
6. watch a lot of tv
7. make a brandnew craft
8. make up a devotion for one of the new songs we like
9. see how many people's facebook walls you can write on in 4 minutes
10. walk around with a camera and videotape your friends."

Game on.
1. Surprise Sarah Mooney - I stopped by Sarah's room to start off my adventure. She was not there, so I left her a little surprise in note form (it's sititng on her door handle)! 

2. Write an old camper a letter - Ashlyn, who I had in Ojibwa this past summer weeks 1 & 2.
3. Blog - Doing it right now!
4. Go to a church somewhere and just sit for awhile inside - I went to St. Kates to practice singing for TVP tomorrow & went to mass & sat and prayed. It was great :)
5. Treat yourself to Starbucks

6. Watch a lot of TV - I finally finished Greek. It was so good, and so sad.
7. Make a brand new craft - NEWS PAPER BASKET. Some of my friends work really, really hard on our campus newspaper. So I took the big "Relays Edition" and made them a little basket!

8. Make up a devotion for one of the new songs we like - It's titled "Personal Mission Statement Devotion" and it has to do with this song:
9. See how many people's facebook walls you can write on in 4 minutes - 7
10. Walk around with a camera and videotape your friends - I have more videos but I was told not to put them online.

Mission Accomplished.

"How Good and Pleasant It Is When God's People Live Together In Unity."

Last year, my friend Beth Ann started a bible study in DG. This year, Emily and Anna are continuing it. I love DG small group because it has become a place where I can go with my sisters to talk about life, Jesus, and what he wants for us. I love this group because we all come from very different christian religious backgrounds. We're Catholic, nondenominational, Lutheran, have very religious family, had no religion as a kid - just a big mix of backgrounds. But what is so great about DG small group is we can put aside the differences we have in our beliefs and focus on the thing that we have in common - we want to pursue a relationship with Christ.

At Drake, there are three big Christian organizations on campus. The idea of us all coming together had crossed my mind before, but I never thought that much into it or thought about doing anything about it. However, when I got back from spring break this Christian unity was really on my heart. I asked my friend Emily, "How cool would it be if all of the Christians on Drake's campus could set aside their differences and come together to worship God?" We both thought it would be SO COOL and spent some time talking about it. I made her promise me that we would make this event happen, at least once before the end of the semester.

The next Friday, we went to an InterVarsity Women's Night and told Amy, the IV missionary, about our idea. She introduced me to Ann and told me that Ann had recently expressed a similar vision to her. Amy then laughed and told us to just do it, because if we left it up to the leaders, it would never happen. So Ann and I became facebook friends. And started a planning group. Then, after three weeks, two meetings, and many emails, our vision became a reality.

At 9:00 p.m. in the middle of the biggest party week at Drake, 120+ students of different Christian denominations and campus groups came together for a night of worship. They broke out of their comfort zone, and didn't just stay with their friends.

They played human knot with students they had never met before, and followed up with real conversation about what the team building experience was like for them. They talked about how the activity relates to living your out faith out on campus, and what they think it means to be a Christian at Drake right now.

Afterwards, we all talked about what brings us together. About how when it comes down to it, Jesus died for our sins to save us. And how this fact should bring us unity. We talked about how community and intimacy with others is a reflection of what our relationship with Jesus should look like. Finally, we talked about what it means to be a light of Christ and the salt of the earth on Drake's campus.

Then, we turned to those around us and prayed. We prayed for Drake, for each other, and that our unity as a large Christian community would grow. After, we came together and worshiped our God. It was beautiful to have worship leaders from all three groups come together and play for Jesus. It was obvious they were pouring their hearts out to Christ.

I was floored by how quickly and flawlessly this event came together. I think it spoke to the hunger we have as a campus for this type of unity with each other and with Christ.  Everyone I talked to afterwards told me they were so glad that we had this event, and that it came at the perfect time. There is talk of doing at least one night like this a semester, maybe even once a month next year. And I think that would be great. Like Ann spoke about tonight, we are called to be lights to this world. Our world right now is Drake University. As an individual, Jesus can shine through us. As a group, we can change the world. Let's show Drake how brightly we can shine.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

I'm Coming Home

There's something relaxing about the drive from Des Moines to Kansas City. It's a quick and easy shot, straight down I-35. I always use this time to call friends I haven't talked to in awhile. I usually just get voice mail, but that's okay because I at least get the opportunity to let them know I'm thinking of them.

I've been really worn out these past few weeks and it is refreshing to come home and just be with my family. Like I wrote about on Tuesday, it's been easy for me to loose faith in the things I love recently. That's why I am so happy I am home right now. It's so good to just sit with the people I love and who love me back. It's also been good to get things checked off of my to do list!

I like my family. We're a little weird and not like other families, but when it comes down to it we are there for each other. I've grown to appreciate and love them so much more as I've gotten older, and I hope my siblings will have that same revelation as they grow up. I am so grateful to God for blessing me with these five people, and the relationships we have with one another.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Sometimes, we need a little reminder.

I love greek life.

I really, really do. But sometimes it's easy to forget why I do this. It is frustrating to swim upstream against the status quo. It is frustrating when I feel like no one sees what I see and that no one else supports what I am doing. So it's easy to forget. Which makes it easy to have a negative attitude about things.

But today, I was reminded why I do what I do, and just how to succeed.

At 7:00 pm, after a very frustrating conversation with a friend about why they don't like Panhel, I headed over to Olmstead for our weekly exec meeting.

We started with highs and lows as usual, which lead into some much needed venting and sharing our mutual frustrations about risk management in the community. This is a reoccurring conversation at our meetings, and it can tend to get us all down. It is hard to have the same conversation about rules over and over again.

We moved into discussing last minute details about our upcoming event, and worked on some recruitment PR programs. We solidified dates for the new member retreat in the fall and made sure we had the rooms that we needed reserved. On a normal Tuesday, our meeting would have been over. But today was not normal. It was about boosting morale and having fun.

First, we did an activity that I did at UIFI this past summer. It's about reevaluating how we fit into a group, and what roles we play. We marked what we thought we were, and then put on notecards what we thought everyone else is. We then saw what our matches were. On Panhellenic, I am mostly an initiator/contributor, commentator, encourager, and elaborator. It was fun to see how what I thought about my role as President matched up with what the exec girls thought. I think having this knowledge about ourselves will help us see if we need to change anything, or keep doing the great job that we are!

But the fun didn't end there! I then revealed the secret activity I had been hiding all evening...crafting! Everyone loves crafting and it really was much needed for us. Everyone cheered when they found out we'd be painting picture frames for a mystery person.

Before we turned on the music, Leigh had one last surprise for us. She whipped out an old favorite children's book, The Spyglass by Richard Paul Evans. It was beautiful. It was about how if you take the time to see how great something can become and have faith, you can make it happen. My favorite quote from the book was the reoccurring, "you have seen what it can become, now go and make it so."

The story reminded me of how important it is to share your vision with others. Communicating in an honest, vulnerable way with others helps them relate to what you want to do. While the going may get rough when you are trying to accomplish your goals or on your walk through life with Christ, if you have faith, you will get through.

I loved being able to sit and paint with these women for a half hour at the end of our meeting. I believe art is therapeutic to the soul. Painting for one another and listening to Leigh's story helped boost our spirits in this time of stress, and reminded us that we truly do love what we do on Panhellenic. It is important, and we are truly making a difference.

It was so apparent that tonight was much needed. We left the student center together laughing, and talking about plans to hang out in the future. I needed tonight to remember why I love Panhel. So thank you Leigh, Sarah, Rachel, Crystal, Emily, and Brittany (we missed you Liz!) for being my friends and reminding me that I truly do have faith in this community and that I love greek life for what it could be.

Monday, April 18, 2011


Being sick is not an excuse to lay around and sleep. Especially in April. What you've got to do is drag yourself out of bed, and start feeling better. Here's how.

1. Take a really, really, really warm shower. Like borderline hot.
2. Take Tylenol. Make sure it's children's because you can't swallow pills. Also, that makes life more hilarious (and complicated).

3. Put on your sweet nikes.

4. Drive to a starbucks far, far away from campus.
5. Order passion tea. Yum.

6. Take pictures of yourself in starbucks. Make conversation with the man next to you about why you're here. Don't act too sad when he won't take a picture with you.

7. Blog about the experience.
8. Get off the internet and write your 12 page paper.

Here's to feeling better! And soon!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

People I've Lived With

It's easiest to be closet with the people who are physically closest to you. I think that's why who we live with is so important to who we are as people. Looking back, those who I've lived with has shaped me in so many ways...

1. Stephanie
Photo Credit
Steph is my little sister. Well, she's not so little any more. Not only has she been taller than me for years, but she is 18 and headed to college in the fall. We lived together in the same room when we were kids - from the time she was born until I was 12. I don't remember what it was actually like living in the same room with her, but I've lived with her forever. It's sad because we don't get to see each other very often, but we have been talking a lot more recently, and I like that. Growing up alongside her has allowed me to have a sister to fight with, to share hopes, dreams, and frustrations with, and have someone who will always be there.I pray that she is loving her last few months in high school and that we will stay close through life. Love you so much.

2. Claire
Claire was my randomly assigned roommate freshman year. We got along immediately and took this picture right away to hang on our door. Claire is loud, full of energy, and hilarious. Claire and I adjusted to college quite differently, and I moved out at the end of first semester. While the situation seemed awful at the time, I think living with Claire was good for me. I was able to evaluate how I was adjusting to college and was able to make my first grown up decision on my own.

3. Alyson
I moved in with Alyson after living with Claire. She was the perfect roommate for the second half of my freshman year. I wish we were still in contact, but it's good to see her around campus occasionally. I loved laying in our room, me in my bed and Alyson in hers,watching Pride & Prejudice. She was so chill, and pretty much let me come in and take over the room: I re-arranged the furniture, put tons of pictures up on the walls, and brought my friends along with me. Alyson taught me how to be flexible and open to those who come into your life. She was the greatest, and I am so thankful our lives had the opportunity to overlap for a short while.

4. Molly
Not only did I live with Molly, but I worked with her, cried with her, acted completely ridiculous with her, played with her, ate with her, and prayed with her. Molly and I went to the same high school, but were never friends until we were partnered together in 2009 in Cayuga cabin. This is the first picture we took together as friends. That summer I spent with Molly changed me in so many ways that I can't even describe. I know I would not be who I am today if I had not lived with her. I learned so much about myself and she will always have a special place in my heart.

5. Emily, Nicole, & Jillian
These girls were my best friends sophomore year. Living with them in GK253 was fantastic. Living with Jillian taught me how to live with someone I was different from without having to move out. It also taught me to clean up after myself a little bit more. Living with Emily taught me there is a difference between being roommates and best friends, but it is possible to do both - you just still have to make friend time. Living with Nicole was always fun and she was always there to talk to. Or star in my movies for class. I miss the days of GK253 sometimes, but I am grateful my sophomore on campus living experience was so fabulous.

6. Sarah
Crowuga neighbors in 2009 and best friends, I would have never thought I would get to be partners with Sowens. Living in Ojibwa with Sar was something I never even considered possible. We made a great team, and it was great to have her around. Being partners with Sarah allowed our friendship to grow in a way it wouldn't have been possible just being co-workers. Living with Sarah I learned about our (okay, mainly her) great ability to make up stories, how to be a better counselor, and how to be a better leader.

7. Emily, Jessica, Adrea, Caitlin, Katelin, Emily, Nikki, Carley, Autumn, Robin, Allie, Andi, & Jessica (Big Dorm Girls)
When I tell people I live in a room of 12 girls, they think I'm crazy. If I said living with 11 others was easy, I'd be lying. But living in big dorm has been so much fun. I could live up here again next year, I so would. Not only has living up here given me to opportunity to get to know all of those amazing women, it has taught me how to be conscious of others at all times.

This summer, I'll be living with another camp person. And then when I get back to Drake I'll be living with Carley and Emily. I'm excited to see where life will take me when I'm living with then.

It's crazy to think how different I would be if I had not lived with one of these women. One thing I have not done a good job of is keeping close with those I don't live close to. So next year, I am going to have to try super hard to stay close with my DG sisters who still live in the house. Yes, it will mean that I actually have to put time into my relationships, but I think that is a cause worthy of a lot of my time.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Guinness Book of World Records.

On Friday, April 8, 2011 students at Drake University took on an epic feat. We tried to break a Guinness World Record. Starting at 10:00 pm, the Student Activities Board, Pahellenic Council, Interfraternity Council, Residence Hall Association, Student Senate, and countless other organizations put on an awesome event called Dogtown After Hours. Drake students stayed in, raised around $700 for Peak 4 Poverty, and participated in a bags tournament, danced their hearts out at the headphone disco, listened to the vocal styles of the "Brochal Chords," played "The Price is Right," and much much more. A core executive group of us had spent months planning this event and hoping for the best.

At 1:30 am in the misty, cold rain, students lined up outside of our student center to take on this immense challenge of breaking a world record. We needed 672 people to break the record. 
Panhellenic Exec Before the Fight
There were so many rules: each student had to have two pies, pies had to be thrown one at a time, the fight had to last for a sixty seconds, no one could touch the pies before the fight began. Failure to comply with those requirements would mean disqualification. Amazingly enough, no one wanted a single person to mess this chance up for us. Chants of "don't touch the pies!" could be heard across Helmick commons and down into the freshman quad. I was standing with Rachel, our VP: Programming and Panhellenic's representation on the Dogtown Executive Committee. We were so nervous. What if we didn't have enough people? Suddenly, students began cheering and running around the enclosed area sharing the news - we have more than 672 people here. We were then all told to pick up a pie. Everyone spread out across our fenced in area. A countdown began. "10...9..." I was cold, and had overwhelming thoughts of not wanting to get dirty and not wanting to get pie in my hair. "6...5...4..." But whatever. How many times do we get to have an actual pie fight? How many chances do we get in our lifetime to break a world record? It was time to throw some pies, and do it full out. "3...2...1!" All of a sudden, we went crazy. There was screaming, laughter, and pies flying everywhere. After pieing two of my council friends in the face, we bent down and picked up chunks of pie, and threw them at whoever we could find. At the end of our minute long fight, cheers erupted and paper plates were thrown into the air. We (unofficially) did it.

I really like my life list of goals because it's full of hopes and things that I want to do. But I think it's equally important for us to remember the things that we have done and where we have been. These things in our past have shaped who we are and they hold precious and beautiful memories. I have helped our student body band together to spend an entire night foregoing the bars and to do something crazy. I hold a world record, and I had a lot of fun in the process.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Do Not Be Conformed To This World

April is a busy, busy month. It's full of bipolar weather, the Drake Relays, tests, papers, Easter, figuring the summer out, figuring next year out, planning last minute events, and just stress and craziness. April is a weird month. Camp is getting closer, but it still feels so far. Everyone gets stir crazy and just wants to be outside. School work is tortuous and everybody really just wants it to be summer.

For some reason, I really hate April. Which is weird, because it's the first time I've seen the sun and felt heat in 6 months. I think it's because last April was really awful, and was a really hard time. Because everything gets so busy and so political during this month, it is so easy to get bogged down and not feel like myself.

Last Friday, I went to a Drake InterVarsity night with Emily and Sarah. It was at a church near campus, and the atmosphere was very serene. There were candles all around the worship space and fun little cheesecake deserts for us to eat.  That night, we listened to two beautiful women share a part of their walk through life with Jesus and where they're at now. I saw a lot of myself in both of those women's testimonies, and was so grateful to be able to hear them speak.

After their stories, we went into prayer and worship. Sarah and I sat and sang together for a bit, but then I went to the back to pray. One thing that's neat that InterVarsity does is they allow for opportunities for people to pray over you. That's not something I've had much experience with.

But on Friday, a DG Alumna was with us. Beth Ann is someone who I wish I would have gotten to know more when she was at Drake. This girl loves with every force possible, and is truly beautiful and inspirational. I walked to the back of the church to Beth Ann and just broke down crying. About how I'm getting so worn out from some of my greek leadership positions. About how I feel like I am so defined by my job titles and how people hate me for my job. It was a beautiful moment where I cried, let everything that hurting out, and just gave it all up to Jesus. Beth Ann prayer over me, prayed with me, cried with me, and said some incredible things that I really needed to hear.

So this month I am really really trying to remember that this world does not define me. I may be a junior studying psychology who happens to be a member of Delta Gamma and the Panhellenic President. But that is not all. I will not all this world to tell me that as council president, I am officially the "fun hater,"that I will forever have this scar on my heart from my term as social chair. Because that's not who I am. I am a child of God, a woman who was made beautiful in His image. He decides who I am, and where my worth falls. He can and He will make me whole where I am empty. He is strong where I am weak, and that is where I am beautiful.

I didn't do so good with those revelations this week. But today at our chapter retreat, I think some of it began to reconcile and heal further. And through the grace of God I will be able to recognize that those things will not weigh me down forever. Jesus has taken them away, and He has made me new. He will forever define who I am and who I will become. I pray that I can be transformed by the renewal of my mind on a daily basis so that I may truly walk side by side with Christ.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

5 1/2 Weeks Left

In the fall, Carley & I made a bucket list. I just found it today. We accomplished most of it, but there are some things we still need to do. Here's a list, combined with a little more things I want to do before the year is over.

10 Things I want to do Before School Is Over
1. Figure out where I'm living next year
2. Order a pizza to Carley's truck (or a tree)
3. Star Spin in the front yard of DG
4. Go Camping
5. Finish Megan's Scrapbook
6. Make Stephanie an AWESOME graduation present
7. Complete a scavenger hunt during Relays
8. Read a book for fun
9. Earn my Starbucks gold card
10. Spend as much time with the seniors as possible

Saturday, April 2, 2011

"But I don't have any embarrassing moments!!"

Meet Ted and Mike.
They are FOCUS missionaries at Drake. For approximately two months they have been asking me to invite them over to DG for dinner. On Thursday, our schedules finally matched up during dinner time.

This is what happened:
1. I answered the door. They were matching.
2. We walked inside. They were shocked at how nice our house was. I think they thought I lived in a fraternity house. Or a pile of dirt based on Mike's reaction.
3. We walked downstairs for dinner. Rachel had to go tell the seniors that it was okay and that we didn't invite crazy people over for dinner.
4. We ate a delicious meal at our very own table.
5. I gave them a tour. Big dorm blew their mind.
6. We had a photoshoot:

I think this was the high of their entire Drake career. Later that night we went to Goodson's where they have chalkboard tables. My hypothesis about their visit to DG was high was confirmed when we drew our highs and lows of the day on the table.

On Tuesday, we had our FOCUS student leader's monthly meeting. We drew cards and had to share a story based on the question on that card. Mine was "What is your most embarrassing moment ever!?" Now, I don't really like to dwell on "embarrassing" things that I do/happen to me because I think it's better to just laugh at yourself. I ended up telling a story about Kenevil from camp (if you want to hear it, ask me!) When Mike & Ted left DG, they told me I can no longer say I have no embarrassing moments. 

*Disclaimer: Though we joke, no actual embarrassment occurred during these events*

The Emcees.

On Monday and Tuesday of Spring Break, I went to the Missionaries of Charity's (the MC's) convent in the Bronx.
These women are everything that I think nun's are. They wore sari's just like Mother Theresa. They pray slowly and intently, they are quiet, full of love, are gracious, and are very humble. As we were working they would ask, genuinely and excitedly, "do you want to pray a rosary?" And so we would pray as we worked, offering our work up to Jesus and making the time go so quickly.

We painted over 100 folding chairs for their soup kitchen on Monday. On Tuesday, we scrubbed the entirety of the basement in St. Rita's, always working in quite prayer alongside others from our group and a sister and a postulant.
Honestly, I was frustrated a lot during this working time. I didn't see how painting an old chair to make it shiny and new was serving the people. I couldn't see how scrubbing the smudges off of an old stage would feed the homeless. We had minimal interaction with the sisters and with the people they were serving.

Don't get me wrong, I had fun singing with the other students in our group and getting to know them.
But I had come to serve the people. This was a mission trip after all! How was scrubbing in funny aprons and fixing up some paint serving God?

When we finished on Tuesday, Sister Josepha started telling us about all the good that we did. Having nice chairs in a "fancy" soup kitchen respects the dignity of the homeless people they serve. The basement we scrubbed is used for summer camps, religious education, and little parties for the homeless men that they serve on holidays.

It's funny because when we think of service, we usually think of directly helping people. We think of instant gratification, of being able to hear the "thank you" and see the smile of the face of the people. But what Monday and Tuesday of spring break taught me was how important this indirect service is. What took us two days would have taken the sister's weeks and it would have taken away from their ministry. Because we got down and dirty with the oil based paint and the bleach, the sisters were able to devote more of their time to the people. Sister Josepha was so grateful for our work. She told us how much the people she serves would appreciate it.

So while I won't be at the MC's summer camp or at the soup kitchen's Easter party, I can smile knowing that my prayers, sweat, and love went into cleaning that room and painting those chairs made those people's experience with the MC's a little bit better. While I didn't feed them physically, I was able to help feed them spiritually, by helping to respect their dignity as a human person and a child of God.