Saturday, March 31, 2012

3rd Annual Greek Gala

Studying defense mechanisms such as denial seems to be quite the appropriate time to update my blog. I have had quite the busy week - I've been working hard to work ahead so next week isn't too crazy with all of my exams.

On Thursday, I attended the 3rd Annual Greek Gala. In 2010 Ryan, Leigh, and I planned the first gala in quite a long time.  Though it was weird not being in charge of the event in some capacity, it was fun to see how the event had evolved. I loved seeing a few members of my old council, friends I don't get to see much of any more.

The slide show showcased pictures of each chapter and their success throughout 2011. We mingled among leaders from each chapter as we ate from the chocolate fountain and celebrated how much we have grown in inter-fraternalism in three short years.

I got emotional as I was walking across campus towards Levitt Hall. Panhellenic has played a huge role in my college career and I have grown so much because of the people who I have met because of it.

This was the first realization that I am graduating in forty-three days. I do not have adequate words to express my gratitude for the opportunities these people have provided me with.

As DG's Greek Programming Representative, I learned that I have a knack for planning events and am passionate about positive programming.The support and encouragement from Peter and Tisleen gave me the courage I needed to run. This position launched every single thing I was able to do on campus and set up an incredible foundation for personal growth.

In 2010 I learned how to balance a ridiculous schedule, how to incorporate DG's values into my everyday life, how to lead with integrity, and how to pull off (seemingly) flawless events. I gained incredible best friends who I learned how to lead from and looked up to more than I could imagine. They were there for me when times got harder than I could have imagined and encouraged me in my pursuit of bettering the community. That year was filled with incredible hardships, and without the women on that council, my programming partner, and advisor, I'm not sure how I would have made it through.

As president I learned how to be a servant leader and how to support the tasks and goals of the women on my council. 

These women turned into wonderful, close friends who I learned so much about being fair and working for a common good from.

These friendships taught me what it means to be a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma, Alpha Phi, Alpha Delta Pi, and Kappa Alpha Theta. I know I more fully appreciate the diversity of the Panhellenic organizations because of these women.

While walking over to the Gala on Thursday, I was overwhelmed with gratitude for these relationships. I was excited to see the friends who would be there, but I wished Leigh, Amelia, Kari, and Ryan could have been there as well.

I was so proud of my sisters who won individual awards that evening, and was proud and emotional when receiving mine. I went through a lot of hard months striving to make our campus a better place, and it was so great to be recognized for those achievements alongside the other incredible leaders in our community.

Congratulations to all who won an award this past Thursday and to those who were nominated. I cannot thank those I have worked with these past three years enough for allowing me to grow alongside you. Thank you for putting up with my rantings, mistakes, inspirations, and long meetings (anyone up for thirty minute highs and lows?). Thank you for encouraging me to keep trying even when it seemed like no one else would ever understand the importance of our values. Thank you for letting me cry with you and thank you for letting me laugh with you.

Most importantly, thank you all for being my friend. I am so proud to be a member of the Drake Greek Community and will value these years and friendships for all my years to come.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Road Trip.

Personal life goal: be more spontaneous.

That is being achieved today. I am about to hop in my car to head to the great state of Indiana. Two days ago while talking to some friends we entertained the idea of me dropping by for a short while before their spring break starts. I had no spring break plans, so I thought why not!? I'll only be there for three short days, but it's totally worth it.

Today, I am praying for safe travels and blessed intentional time spent with friends.

Today, I am excited to listen to the Catholic Stuff You Should Know podcast in my car, to jam out to some new music that I got, and to see my DePauw CT friends.

Today, I am grateful to be able to just hop in the car and go on an adventure like this.

See ya in 8 hours, Indy!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Be Sealed With the Gifts of the Holy Spirit

"Your first vocation is to love Jesus Christ and to share His hope and love with others where ever you go." These were the words Archbishop Naumann ended his homily with at today's confirmation mass. Not only were his words perfect for those 189 eighth graders about to become full fledged Catholics, but they were perfect for me too.

In this time of transition I am fixated on figuring out exactly what God wants me to do. I get so overwhelmed thinking about making the wrong choice that I paralyze myself with all of my options. They are all good, but what if I pick the wrong one? Today's homily and calling down of the Holy Spirit reminded me that yes, what I do is important. But as long as I genuinely seek Christ with my whole heart and bring His love to everyone I meet, I am fulfilling my vocation as a Catholic woman. That is comforting.

I am so incredibly proud of my littlest brother, Joey. After two long years of study, he was confirmed in the Church. I pray he recognizes the significance of this event and takes his commitment to Christ seriously. He chose St. Sebastian to be his patron, as he is the patron of athletes. Joe led his eighth grade basketball team in an undefeated season, so I think it was a good choice.

I pray St. Sebastian's commitment to the Lord inspires Joey. When Joey was telling me about St. Sebastian, it really stuck out to me that though he would eventually be a martyr himself, St. Sebastian comforted those Catholics in prison who were being persecuted for their faith. I pray that like St. Sebastian, Joey can put the needs of others before his own and lead with integrity and humility.

Proud of you little brother! Congratulations.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Sacrifice What Defines You.

Last week's challenge was to sacrifice what defines you. Initially my mind jumped to my positions on Panhellenic, but since I am no longer involved on campus I couldn't really sacrifice something I am not actively involved in. So I began to examen my daily life and tried to see what was constant each day that influenced the definition of who I am. Suddenly I knew what I had to give up. The mirror.

I thought this would be pretty easy as this is not something I typically struggle with. But it was incredibly challenging. I found myself extremely tempted to simply throw my hair into a pony tail and throw on my typical summer outfit (t-shirt & Nike shorts), but even that led me to being a tad self-conscious. Over the course of the week I slowly realized that though I don't consciously process it, I put a lot of stock into how I look. As a senior searching for a job, I generally have a way that I look and present myself on campus. I will never leave my apartment without looking in the mirror and it was a habit that was surprisingly hard to break. Though I realize my worth is not held in my looks and that I am still the same capable and intelligent woman whether I am dressed up and looking "cute" or not, I noticed how easy it is for me to relate how good my day will be with how I look. Why is it that when I am dressed up and "looking cute" I automatically feel better and think my day will be better? It is an interesting relationship between the two and I think it rings true for a lot of young women. 

What this past week reminded me of is this: no matter what I am wearing, no matter how I look, Christ is what defines me. I am a daughter of God and I am loved enough to die for.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

"The Invitation"

by: Oriah Mountain Dreamer

I wrote about this poem yesterday but I just love it so much that I need to share it with the world. Here is the link to the author's website, and since I am a psychology student, my APA style citation is at the bottom.

It doesn't interest me what you do for a living
I want to know what you ache for
and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart's longing.

It doesn't interest me how old you are.
I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool
for love
for your dream
for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn't interest me what planets are squaring your moon...
I want to know if you have touched
the centre of your own sorrow
if you have been opened by life's betrayals
or have become shriveled and closed
from fear of further pain.

I want to know if you can sit with pain
mine or your own
without moving to hide it
or fade it
or fix it.

I want to know if you can be with joy
mine or your own
if you can dance with wildness
and let ecstasy fill you to the tips of your
fingers and toes
without cautioning us to
be careful
be realistic
remember the limitations of being human.

It doesn't interest me if the story
you are telling me is true.
I want to know if you can
disappoint another
to be true to yourself.
If you can bear the accusation of betrayal
and not betray your own soul.
If you can be faithless
and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see Beauty
even when it is not pretty
And if you can source your own life
from its presence.

I want to know if you can live with failure,
yours and mine
and still stand at the edge of the lake
and shout to the sliver of the full moon,

It doesn't interest me
To know where you live or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up
after the night of grief and despair
weary and bruised to the bone
and do what needs to be done
to feed the children.

It doesn't interest me who you know
or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand
in the centre of the fire
with me
and not shrink back.

It doesn't interest me where or what or with whom
you have studied.
I want to know what sustains you
From the inside
When all else falls away.

I want to know if you can be alone
with yourself
and if you truly like the company you keep
in the empty moments.

Dreamer, O. M. (1999). The Invitation. San Francisco: Harper.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Written on the Bus Ride Home.

What I am learning to appreciate about Ignation Spirituality is when you boil it down, it is all about being in touch with your real self, in touch with your emotions, and in touch with the core of who you are. This weekend we pushed past some limits and recognized things that we are attached to and why they are there. The discernment weekend brought up a lot of questions and a lot of things that I never even realized are in the way of my decision making process, and thus in the way of my relationship with God. The weekend really brought to light some things I need to truly sit and wrestle with. Coming away from this weekend I have discovered an intense ambiguity surrounding my future. And I'm actually okay with it. Maybe I will be in Belize, Tanzina, or Micronesia next year. Maybe I will be in Denver, or on a college campus. Maybe I will be traveling around in a van meeting thousands of high school students. Or maybe I won't be doing any of those things. I am working towards that place of active indifference so I can freely give my "yes" to Christ.

On Saturday we read a poem to open our prayer. It is beautiful and there are so many different parts that I love, but I think what I love the most (at least right now) are the stanzas that say:

 "I want to know if you have touched 
the centre of your own sorrow
if you have been opened by life's betrayals
or have become shriveled and closed
from fear of further pain. 

I want to know if you can sit with pain
mine or your own
without moving to hide it
or fade it
or fix it." 

-"The Invitation," by Oriah Mountain Dreamer

When I experience somthing negative I jump to address it and fix it, or shove it underneath the rug. It is how I dealt with negative relationships, how I dealt with my Dad's cancer, and how I deal with a lot of the wrong I have done. But what Ignation Spirituality is teaching me is that we have reasons for these desolations and rather than ignore them, it is so important to name them, sit with them, and accept the fact that they could be a sign from God. I am learning how to "sit with pain" and I am learning how to understand what it means.

It is extremely overwhelming knowing that I have to make some major life decisions within the upcoming month. I am reading Discerning the Will of God: An Ignation Guide to Christian Decision Making by Fr. Timothy M. Gallagher and stumbled across this question: "What growth did God offer this person through the process of discernment?" (p. 131). It is a great question to pose as I am attending these interview weekends and handing my future over to Christ. I think God is trying to teach me something important in each weekend I attend. At the FOCUS interview weekend it was trust. This past weekend was about a real, intense way of living, and being in touch with Christ within me. I want to incorporate all of what I am learning in this process into who I am. This process is long and confusing, but I know at the end of it I will not only know what I am doing next year, but I will also have a deeper understanding of who I am and who Christ is.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Loyola University Chicago

I had a bit of free time between my interview and the retreat so I got to wander around Loyola's campus for a bit. The beautiful weather complimented the beauty of the campus.

This is where I got to pray on Saturday. Incredible.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Sacrifice What Feeds You.

This past week's challenge was to sacrifice what feeds you.

I might have taken the easy way out, but this week I chose to abstain from meat. It wasn't very hard at first, but by Thursday I was sick of pasta and just wanted some chicken. What it made me realize, in the simplest way, was how incredibly blessed and fortunate I am - especially in regards to my access to food. I was choosing to only eat a certain type of food (pasta, rice, etc) while there are millions of people in the world who have no say in what they eat or whether or not they even can eat. My very, very small sacrifice brought me a small taste of solidarity with the hungry and allowed me to recognize my privilege even further. It is a privilege that I can even take on these forms of sacrifice, that I can even consider living simply or chose to abstain from a certain type of food.

I think it is important that I continue to recognize this privilege and what exactly that means. A lot of what I learned this past week was echoed over the weekend. I need to delve deeper into those things as they come up, so hopefully I can be a bit more insightful tomorrow. 

However, I think that I am realizing more and more how much my background and the privilege my family provided me with is ingrained into every single thing that I do. I'm not sure if I would have realized this as profoundly as it is hitting me now if I had not created space in my life by giving up social media. What I love about doing these Relentless ACT:S of Sacrifice challenges is how they beautifully compliment my desire to live simply and my desire to give up social media. I pray that when lent is over I can continue to incorporate what I am learning into my daily life. But before I can do that, it means sitting with what I am discovering, really getting into the hard stuff, and understanding how each of these things play into my every day life.

Friday, March 9, 2012

I'm blogging from a bus.

This is for real. I'm currently on a MegaBus heading to Chicago for an interview weekend. Prayers that I may remain open to God's will & for clarity from the Holy Spirit would be very much appreciated.

This week has been filled with ups and downs, but mainly filled with a lot of anxiety about what is in store for the future. I found a lot of peace in Christ last weekend in Kansas City, but the devil is trying to attack that peace in so many different ways. I know I need to find and cling to peace, but it is getting harder and harder as I am unsure what God's plan is for me. There are so many different great options out there, but I want to pick what is truly going to be the best thing I can do for God. Last weekend one of the missionaries read a quote from Pope Benedict 16 that encouraged us to enthusiastically accept our missionary responsibility Christ has called us to and to accept it as the highest form of service we can do for Christ and His Church. I so greatly desire to accept my call from God without hesitation. It can just be hard to hear Him through the noise of this world. I'm very grateful in this moment that I don't have the ability to text or get on facebook so I can't be distracted by my peers plans for the future and what other people think I should do. There are still distractions and attempts to pull me away from Christ even without social media, so I'm trying hard to "pray without ceasing" and constantly return to that place where I truly desired nothing but Christ's will.

Last night at mass Father Joel gave a homily on what he calls "the scariest gospel." It is the story of the rich man who went to hell for his sins of omission. I know when judgement day comes along I will have to account for all of my sins, but what I am fearing most in this moment is having to explain to God why I didn't do things, why I didn't speak up when I should have, and why I failed to accept my missionary call. I pray that God grants me to courage to accept what He has in store for me so that from this moment on my life can be nothing but an ongoing "yes" to whatever it is that God wants. Even if that means an uncertain summer, lack of support and understanding from people I care about, and a change to my personal plans.

It's hard to admit these fears to myself, and even harder to post them for the world to see. But as Dana told me last weekend, simply naming the fears weakens their hold over. I refuse to let my fears be the reason for a decision about next year. So I am praying hard for God to give me courage to say yes to him, strength to stand by my decisions, and peace when making those decisions.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Parable of the Sower

In prayer on Sunday, I read the Parable of the Sower in Matthew. If you are unfamiliar with the parable, here it is:
"A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering his seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. The other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop - a hundred, sixty, or thirty times what was sown." Matthew 13:3-8
I've read this parable countless times, I've taught it in Sunday School, taught it in devotions, and in chapels. Yet reading it on Sunday was different. What I love about the Word is how you can revisit the same verse or teaching again and again and God can reveal a different part to you with each visit to His life. On Sunday, Jesus and I walked through the times when I have been sown in the different types of soil. We looked at high school where I had no root, early years of college where I was among thorns, and earlier in my life where the seed had fallen along the path.

In Bible Study last night, we read and talked about this passage as well. It was neat to hear what soils people think they are in and where they want to go. We talked about how we want our study to be good soil for one another, how we want it to be a place where we can grow and flourish together as sisters in Christ.

I like to think that I really am in good soil now. But what I think I realized on Sunday was that I am very much at a point where it is possible for me to allow the thorns in my life to "choke out" my plant. I am in the midst of figuring out where I am going to be next year and how exactly I can serve Jesus and His Church. There are some scary things about each option. But what I am realizing is that whatever God wants me to do, I need to do. Not out of fear of what will happen if I don't, but truly out of joy in knowing it is what He is calling me to. The path he has chosen for me is my "good soil." Just because that option will be my good soil and will be the best way for me to grow close to Him does not mean there won't be thorns along the way. These thorns might threaten my ability to choose, but if I truly love Him I will not allow the thorns to "choke" me.

I am so grateful that FOCUS came to St. Kate's my sophomore year. Those first four missionaries laid a lot of ground work and worked so incredibly hard to spread seed in good soil. Two years later our community of student leaders is flourishing and so is our impact. It is incredible to see what the Holy Spirit and Jesus are doing through our willingness to say "yes" to Bible Studies, friendships, and discipleship. None of the original four are at Drake, but their hard work truly is allowing a crop to be produced - a hudred, sixty, or thirty times what was sown. I pray that no matter what happens in the years to come I am able to continue my walk with Christ and sow seeds in good soil.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Highlights of my weekend:

  1. Experiencing Christ's peace
  2. Starting to plan AKPsi formal
  3. Meeting a bunch of other students from around the Great Plains Region who are hoping to share Christ's love in whatever way He is calling them
  4. Mass at Our Lady of Good Council - seriously the best homily I've ever heard
  5. Sharing and hearing testimonies
  7. Seeing my family for lunch today
  8. Country line dancing
  9. 60 degree weather in KC today
  10. This quote from an art museum: "what I am trying to do and has to do with exuberance and hope and joy" - Jose Alvarez
  11. This picture:

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Sacrifice What Surrounds You.

This week, Relentless ACT:S of Sacrifice challenged us to sacrifice whats surrounds you. They challenged us to recreate the walls of our daily life, and to surround ourselves with things that inspire us to act on what we are passionate about.

I decided that this meant more than the walls of my room, so I changed my desktop background. The image on the screen of my computer is the one I see the most each day. Mary gave everything for God when she said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. Let it be done unto me according to Your Word." Mary inspires me to follow Christ and to have courage to follow His plan for my life.

What else surrounds me each day? The answer was obvious: what I wear. I ended up going through my closet and pulling out a lot of my clothes to donate to charity. I still have more than enough outfits to wear, but what purpose does a perfectly good shirt have if I am never going to wear it? These clothes can be loved by someone else, by someone who truly needs them.

Finally, I redecorated my room to sacrifice the walls of my every day life. I rearranged my furniture for a fresh start, I took down some of the cluttering posters and pictures, and added things that inspire me.

This week in my Bible Study, we talked about St. Gianna Molla.

"One cannot love without suffering,
or suffer without loving."
- St. Gianna Molla
Beautified by JPII in 1994, St. Gianna lived until the age of thirty-nine, beautifully balancing her roles as a surgen, mother, and wife. She died in 1962 when she refused to have an abortion and insisted the doctors save her unborn child's life over her own. St. Gianna chose to sacrifice her life for the love of her children. Her image and quote have gone on my wall to remind me that to love is to die to yourself and to sacrifice for those around you.

Mary's quote that changed the world and my consecration prayer are on my wall to remind me to strive to live like her each day.

I love this quote about sacrifice. Blessed Mother Theresa said this. I put it on my door to remind me of her great life of sacrifice.

On Thursday, I wrote about a song that makes me think. Once challenged and come to a realization, I don't want to forget what I have learned about life and myself. God has been showing me the importance and necessity of sacrifice. Having these words and images surround me will hopefully remind me to constantly give thanks to God for all He has given me, and inspire me to act for the good of others.

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Life of a Research Assistant

This semester, I have been finishing up my research seminar with Dr. Allen that I started last semester. My fellow research assistants and I have spent the last month recruiting participants, collecting data, inputing data, and basically living in Olin Hall.

Speaking to the PSY001 Labs

We might have taken over the sign up board... 
Our excel spreadsheet goes out to "JO"
I am so excited because we are DONE collecting data and we are almost done entering our data into the computer. We will finish that process early next week and then comes the fun part - statistical analysis. The rest of our semester will be spent working on our article that will hopefully be published.

I'm very grateful that Drake makes it so easy for students to do research with their professors. This is great experience for an undergraduate to have, and it has opened my eyes to the possibility of eventually pursing a Ph.D. It is good to know that I do enjoy research even if I do not decide to go down that path.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Thoughts Inspired By a Song

Over winter break, I acquired a bunch of new music from a friend. I will generally listen to most types of music and I really like stuff that actually makes me think, so I was excited to hear the songs. Most of it was different from the type of music I normally listen to, but it was good. 

One song I had forgotten about came back up my shuffle tonight. When I first heard it, I immediately hated it because I didn't listen to it in-depth. Lines such as "love is just a hoax so forget everything that you've heard," and advice simply amounting up to living for what feels good in the moment had me cringing until I got to the end of the song. The line changes to "love's completely real, so forget everything that you've heard." Having misjudged the song, I had to listen to it again. After listening to it over and over, I know there are parts that I slightly agree. I definitely do not support everything that it's saying (especially since it encourages us to only seek what it good in the moment), but I appreciate that it got me thinking. 

Overall, it's a good song and it got me thinking about the types of people we surround ourselves with and the types of things that we do. Please forgive my overgeneralizing in the next paragraph, but this is what the song made me think of.

I think in life we want to be comfortable. We like to be affirmed in who we are and in the choices that we make. So we surround ourselves with people that are similar to us. When we talk about controversial things, like politics and religion, we might disagree on minor details, but we generally walk away from the conversation thinking the exact same way that we did before. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but if the reason we do not change our thoughts is because we are not listening, it can become bad. We watch mind numbing movies, TV shows, and read mind numbing magazines and novels. When something real happens to us, we ignore it. We don't challenge ourselves and we don't think. I can name times when I have been completely guilty of this.

So what I think I got out of this song about society and love comes down to is this: I don't want to be the kind of person who never challenges myself in what I believe in. I don't want to exist in what is simply comfortable to me. Yes, there is a time and a place for those things, but I want to live. I want to go outside of myself, get uncomfortable, and serve Christ and His Church. I want to remember who I am, and I want to grow from my experiences and the challenges I have faced. I want to take things that make me think, like this song, and figure out what it means for me. I don't want to be content with a comfortable existence where I am never challenged. I want to keep learning new things, and growing from what I experience.