Tuesday, October 29, 2013


Carol and I are in Florida at a Meeting Planners Conference. We're here for professional development, to network, and to represent FOCUS to the meeting planning world. It's been a great past two days, but now it's time to get down to business. I won't be able to post because of that this week (expect a conference themed #7QT on Friday), but follow our adventures on twitter via #CandMtakeFL or #rejuv13!

Friday, October 25, 2013

7 Quick Takes: Delight, Fall, & Christmas Music in October [4]

Last Saturday my friend Holly and I went to the Colorado Ballet to see their performance of Giselle. The dancers were beautiful and so impressive, even though the story was a little weird. My favorite part of the whole experience was the old man sitting a seat away from us. He stinkin' loved the ballet. When the dancers would do something particularly impressive he would cry out, "bravo!" We would hear him say things like, "beautiful!" "oh wow!" and "wonderful, just wonderful!" My personal favorite was when he exclaimed, "Ah! I'll be damned!!" after a particularly impressive lift (seriously - Giselle was 100% above the man's head and completely flat. They did this like 3 times). 

Although this man's exclamations were cute, I really appreciated how much he delighted in the whole experience. He was not afraid to show his appreciation for the art and he was real in how he expressed it. It made me think deeper about the concept of delighting in something beautiful and how God delights in us.

On Wednesday, I mentioned that I really like The Walking Dead and other things about Zombies. And that's weird for me. But...I find it fascinating to think about. Maybe my brain is weird, but when I watch/read things about post-apocalyptic societies (like The Hunger Games or The Walking Dead or even Harry Potter), I always think about where would God or the Catholic Church be if this was reality. Like, what if you really had to live on the run in fear that Zombies would attack you!? And that was your everyday reality? How would that effect your view of Jesus? Hard for me to fathom...but I always think about it. Last year when I first encountered the Walking Dead we would have some sweet conversations about the morality of killing Zombies and what the Church would teach. I think those conversations were what got me hooked on the show.

October has been all about birthdays and celebrations in our office. Carol and Christina both had birthday, and Oct. 16 was boss' day. Our team does celebrations right...Thai Food, drinks, pink sparkly crowns, baked goods, and decorations. Maybe because we're all event planners.

Last weekend, Carol and I hosted the first of our (hopefully monthly) parties: FALL DAY. This day was just so much fun! We started at the pumpkin patch, came home for dinner (Carol & I made butternut squash mac & cheese), played a riveting round of Things, and ended the night with a great discussion about the first time we all said "I love you" back to Jesus.

UNL had fall break this week and a few of the missionaries and students came out to Colorado. While the group went up into the mountains on Monday, I snagged my good friend Emily for the day. Emily is my mentee on staff and oh my gosh I just love her. She has an incredible story about how she ended up as an affiliate missionary at UNL for the year. It was so great to be with her in person and just be friends. We talked for hours about the things that are going on in our lives, and had our formal mentorship in person for the first time. I am so honored that she has asked me to guide her in her journey as a missionary.

Emily came into the office with me so she could see FOCUS Headquarters and talk to her Regional Director for a bit. We were asked by almost everyone that we met, "Are you two sisters!?" A few even did double takes because they thought she was me.

Last year my teammate Logan insisted that I was identical twins with Caitlin (a student at UNL last year and now a FOCUS intern at UNL).

We didn't see it. However, at the beginning of this year I received this text:

Logan had finally figured it out. My roommate, Melissa, confirmed this assumption when she told me Emily & I had the exact same mannerisms. We'll just have to get a picture of the three of us and see what happens.

Next week Carol & I are going to a Christian Conference Planners Conference to meet with vendors, learn more professional skills, and hang out in Florida. I'm excited to get a deeper look into what it means to be a professional event planner and to bring back everything I learn to further the mission of FOCUS through events.

I will say, these vendors are insane. Look at this invitation to dinner that I got yesterday:

SO FUN, right!? But I want to know how many people they sent these to and was it really worth the $8.75 shipping cost!?
So I may or may not have listened to Christmas music in the office on Wednesday. I had Let It Snow! stuck in my head, so I decided that was fine because it's not technically a Christmas song. Then the Glee Christmas Album showed up on Spotify and it was all over from there...People had some fierce opinions on the matter:

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Zombies, Community, and Stuff

Monday night I went to my first Denver Catholic Young Adult Event. I had been interested in going, but for some reason, I just hadn't made the effort to go out. However, when I heard that two of my favorite podcasters would be speaking at Theology on Tap about ZOMBIES, I knew I had to go. Why?

1. Fr. John & Deacon Nathan are hilarious. They are the main podcasters of Catholic Stuff You Should Know. Basically a podcast where they just chat about random, sweet, Catholic stuff. It's usually very insightful and they typically blow my mind with all the things they tell us.

2. ZOMBIES. I never, ever, in a million years, thought I would be into Zombie things....like Zombieland and The Walking Dead. But oh my gosh what a great movie and a great show.

3. The talk was titled "Zombies and the Thirst For Communion," so I assumed it was about the Eucharist. Which...I was wrong.

4. Jesus & zombie shows have been the base of some of my new friendships out here in Colorado (weird, I know). So we all just knew we had to go together. And obviously end the night with some Walking Dead.

In typical CSYSK fashion, this was not what I was expecting. The basic gist of the talk was that Deacon Nathan was watching The Walking Dead and after he went outside and realized how alone you would feel if your whole life was simply about survival. You would feel alone because you wouldn't have anyone to really communicate yourself to. They then talked about true friendship and how we are made for communion with God and communion with others.

We have a desire to know and be known. This can only be fulfilled by Jesus, and Jesus was all about being incarnate, in the flesh (can anyone say Eucharist!?). He created us for community with others so that we can be known and really understood. Community is about getting deep and real into the lives of others so you can support each other and build one another up.

One of my favorite things that Fr. John said was that this so called Young Adult Community is not a community. We don't have the capacity to be in true communion with the hundreds of fellow believers that are around us. But we do have the capacity to know and be known by a few. We need to invest ourselves in a few people and very intentional with them.

If you feel alone in your pursuit of Christ and you feel as if you are not really being known, there is hope. We can look to Jesus and model what he did with community. He was open and available to all, but He closely invested in 12, and then built up 3 even more within that 12. He had a core community that He was intentional with, He connected them to each other, and He worked to build them up so when He was gone they could be sent out. He did this by praying with them and living His ordinary, every day life with them for three years.

We can do this too. 

We can be intentional, like getting together with a friend or a small group each week and share where we are at with Jesus and our faith. If you don't have friends in your area that can support you in this, you have the ability to build. Gather some peers, open the Bible, and dive into who Jesus is to each of you. Be intentional about fostering and maintaining the relationships that you do have - especially the ones that lead you closer to Jesus.

I love that FOCUS does this each day on the college campus. Missionaries and students are being intentional about having a community that builds them up - people who they can be known with. At the same time they are being intentional about being that for someone else in their lives. This model of close, connected living is changing lives, changing The Church, and changing the world. It is so beautiful because it is so simple.

Fr. John ended the night by saying, "We have to change the way we're living if we want to become saints. Otherwise we'll just become zombies."

This week, I'm being intentional about being open with my friends about where I really am at with Jesus. I am grateful for my friends here in Colorado and all across the country who help me connect to Jesus, and for those I can be an agent of communion to.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

JPII & Wombats

2 Great Things About Today

1. It's wombat day! 

What!? I didn't know either. Due to our team's extensive research, you must eat chocolate to celebrate this holiday! Enjoy this drawing of a wombat.

2. It is Blessed John Paul II's feast day! Hooray!

Oh man, I love JPII. On Sunday I gave a talk to the high school kids about what it means to be a missionary. In the middle of my talk I jumped off the bleachers to grab a giant picture of JPII so he could be praying for me during my talk. It was so great. This man is the reason for my job and for the direction so many young Catholics are headed. Due to his receptivity to the Holy Spirit, we have so many great insights on what it means to be a disciple of Jesus.

In honor of him, here are 3 of my favorite JPII things.

Favorite quote:
"I sense that the moment has come to commit all of the Church's energies to a new evangelization and to the mission ad gentes. No believer in Christ, no institution of the Church can avoid this supreme duty: to proclaim Christ to all peoples." - JPII, Redemptoris Missio, #3

Favorite picture (guys, I'm obsessed with pictures of JPII & Mother Teresa. ahhhhhhhh!):

Favorite internet fan song (you're welcome.):

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Deuteronomy 31:8

"It is The Lord your God who goes before you; He will be with you, He will not fail you or forsake you; do not fear or be dismayed."

I'm so blessed to have holy friends in my life like Shelby. 

I was lucky enough to mentor Shelby last year when I was a missionary at UNL. She is now a missionary out here in Colorado and is changing lives each and every day. When my team was on site in Dallas, I received a text from her telling me she thought I would like this scripture. And did I ever. What Shelby didn't know was the following few days Jesus would be asking me to really trust this.

The people of Israel have been delivered from Egypt, but they have been prevented from entering the promised land due to their lack of trust. Here, Moses is sending Joshua to lead all the people into the land God had promised them. Exciting, right? Wrong. The last time the people went in to scope out the land, they were terrified of the giants that lived there. So much so that they refused to trust God. Which didn't really work out for them because God then prevented them from going in due to their lack of trust. 

It is scary because no one who originally left Egypt could go in. These people had been led by Moses for the last 40+ years. Moses was the primary communicator with God, and he would not be going with them. So as he is sending him out, Moses speaks these words of encouragement to Joshua, reminding him that God is with him.

I've been trying to work on my awareness of God in all parts of my life. Last week, I told a friend that I feel like I'm on the cusp of something. God has been building me up and building me up, and I just feel like something big is about to happen - like Joshua must have been feeling as he is finally about the enter into the promised land. Excited, yet incredibly terrified. 

Why the fear? For the Israelites it was a fear of the giants - a very real fear of death. For me, it is a fear of the unknown. Like the Israelites, it is a fear of vulnerability. 

The theme of my prayer lately has been protection. The Lord is my Shepard. He protects me with His victorious right hand. Yes, I know this intellectually, but when I was on the discernment retreat, Jesus showed me that I wasn't really believing it. "I will not fail or forsake you." Do we really believe, deep in our hearts, that The Lord has our best in store? Do we trust Him enough to acknowledge the deep desires He has put on our hearts? Last weekend I realized I was masking my desires and not really believing that Jesus would fulfill my longing. So I refused to acknowledge what I really wanted. 

So I mustered up some boldness and courage and starting asking Jesus for something very specific. And on Thursday, Jesus told me no. First I was sad. Then I was angry. And now...peace.

Yesterday in Kindergarten Religious Ed we talked about promises and what they mean. I wanted my kids to walk away know that our God is a god who keeps His promises. As I was preparing this lesson, all I could think was, "ugggggghhhhh this is more for me than for the kiddos." Jesus has promised to protect me and has promised He will make me prosper. Even though I didn't get what I thought I wanted, these promises remain. He will fulfill the desires of my heart, just not in the way that I expect. And this gives me peace.

Jesus, you go before me in all things. In my work at the FOCUS office, in my mission fields, and in my relationships. You have prepared the way, and you will be with me. The thought of you preparing my future fills me with gratitude and joy! I do not deserve this. 

I want to keep working on being aware that Jesus has prepared the way for me and He is with me. I am praying for continued peace, and the grace to walk through these recent events in light of God's promise to me. 

Friday, October 11, 2013

7 Quick Takes: Exhaustion [3]

This has been a weird week. I haven't caught up on my sleep from my trips to Dallas and Connecticut so I have ben super exhausted. Example: on Tuesday I drove Carol to work and when we arrived at the office we noticed that there was Nutella everywhere.  What!? Why!? SO weird. I mean, I had it on my toast that morning, but not that much! That is pretty much how my week went. This week was just about playing catch up from my travels - I think I'm finally there.

Wednesday night I finally got to see my good friend Dana. She is married, has the cutest baby ever, and lives about an hour and a half from me. Dana was my FOCUS discipler my senior year of college and oh boy do I love her. We skyped for two hours (it barley felt like one!!!) with our good friend Megan from Drake. This night was just what I needed to take my mind off of how busy and tired I was. I am grateful for Dana and her witness to life with Christ. I hope and she I stay friends for a long time.

I am overwhelmed by the positive response from Carol and my post yesterday. We had so much fun writing our responses and are hoping to write together again. Thank you to everyone who took the time to read or skim through our longwinded thoughts. Our intention was to bring Jesus into the picture and to shed some Truth in there as well. I think we did a pretty okay job of that.

This buzzfeed post about tourist defying the government in the midst of the shutdown is hilarious. 

The past five weeks I have been gathering with some great FOCUS friends for dinner, fellowship, and Fr. Robert Barron's, Catholicism. We've finished for now, but I am going to start a campaign for us to keep getting together. I love how intentional friendship can build people up and bring people closer to Jesus. The women in this group have really become my friends and I hope we can keep going.

This morning I am grateful for my friendships here in Colorado, and my two friends who answered their phones so late last night, listened to my heart, and showed me Christ's love in the midst of a struggle.

Speaking of said struggle, when I started blogging again, I said that I wanted to be more vulnerable about where I'm at. Now that my heart and silly little plans have been flipped on their head, it's harder to put into practice. Granted, this all happened at 10pm last night, so I haven't had much time to process where I am at. My goal is to be open about this

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

A Response from Two Catholic Women who Survived College.

I am proud to welcome guest contributor, Carol Anderson, from Plan for Surprise, as together we tackle this article from a Catholic organization arguing against the higher education of women.  Our commentary is admittedly lengthy, but worth it!

A Response from Two Catholic Women who Survived College.

Dear Raylan Alleman of Fix the Family,

Thank you for stepping up and trying to fight the death of something that our culture is very slowly killing: the family. You said it yourself, 50%+ of marriages end in divorce, leaving both parties and the children broken, wounded, and feeling abandoned. Our culture is one of death and tries to stick its head in the sand further each passing day. We share your hurt that our culture, our families, and our faith seems to be falling apart.

Please, before you read further know that we want the same thing. We want a world full of individuals and people who are passionately committed to and in love with Jesus Christ and His Church. We want hope, we want healing, and we want to see an end to this darkness. We want it so much that we both have given up a minimum of two years of a stable career and have fundraised our salaries with the conviction that Christ is the answer to our problems.

Raylan, though we may agree on those fundamental issues, we wholeheartedly disagree on the position Fix the Family has that parents should not send their daughters to college. In your September 8 blog post you stated that “the rejection [you] receive is always emotionally charged and ends up insulting.” As fellow laborers for Christ, we don’t want to do that. We hope you will indulge us, as fellow Catholics who are striving to bring about a culture of life, in our response to your article. We promise to try not to “[run] out of substance and…hurl insults.”

Here are your 6 (+2) reasons to NOT send your daughter to college followed by why we respectfully, yet wholeheartedly disagree.

1. She will attract the wrong types of men.

Carol: My initial response to this claim is simply, “So virtuous, moral men ignore college-educated women?” Of course there are lazy men out there. I’m sure everyone could probably name a few they know. But if your goal really is an ambitious, driven man with dreams, I couldn’t think of a better place to find one than at a higher education institution.
However, I would actually argue that this is all honestly beside the point.  I didn’t go to college to meet men, nor do I think we should perpetuate this as the reason women go to college. Let’s put more emphasis on the fact that college education does produce “responsible, organized, [and] smart” women, just like the article states. So what if lazy men are attracted to them because they can care for people?  That doesn’t mean said woman has to decide to marry him and doom herself to a future role as the primary caregiver. A woman’s education cannot be the source of blame as to why a man will not “man up” and work for his family. There are obviously deeper issues at work in the whole scenario of a lazy husband—it’s not simply because he has an educated wife.

Michelle: I am reminded of a quote that a very wise Missionary gave to my Bible Study my junior year of college:

“To a great extent the level of any civilization is the level of its womanhood. When a man loves a woman, he has to become worthy of her. The higher her virtue, the more noble her character, the more devoted she is to truth, justice, goodness, the more a man has to aspire to be worthy of her. The history of civilization could actually be written in terms of the level of its women.”

- Fulton Sheen, Life is Worth Living

You speak of how there are many lazy men and how women marry them and allow their husbands to become dependent on them. This may be true, but do we not lower our standards for the desire to be loved? I remember a very wounded time in my college career when I made impulsive decisions because I just wanted to be loved and to experience love.

But here’s the thing, no matter what, I will not ever be fulfilled by a man. Even if he is a perfect and model Catholic. The only man whose love will ever fulfill me is Jesus Christ. In order to attract a man who is good and, as Fulton Sheen says, worthy of me, I must attach and conform myself to Christ. The higher I hold myself, the more I am able to see my dignity and worth, the more likely I am to find a man worthy of my love. This principle remains true whether I am in high school, a college student, or a single woman in the world.

2. She will be in a near occasion of sin.

Michelle: “You have a heavy concentration of young people all living together without the supervision of parents at the most sexually charged state of life they will experience.” Yes. This is true. Yet, I have to flip this question around: What about the men? At college, they too are living in this “heavy concentration of young people” and therefore are also being tempted at every moment. If it is not okay for our young women to be in this situation, why is okay for our young men to be in this situation?

Jesus told us to “go therefore and make disciples of ALL nations.” This includes the darkest places in the world – the college campus. We cannot simply pull ourselves away from this culture because it is uncomfortable or too worldly or too hard. We must continue into battle and bring the light of Christ onto the campus. We must find (or build) a community that can support us in our faith and help us to grow (that’s what Newman Centers are for!), and then we must go out.

You ask, “is it prudent to willingly put oneself there?” But let’s look at what Jesus did…He put himself in the midst of sinners and tax collectors and prostitutes. Jesus ate and drank with those who were so lost and shunned by this world. He put Himself in situations where He could have been in a near occasion of sin. Yes, He was perfect and therefore would not fall, but He calls us to follow Him and do the same. If we remove our young Catholic women from the college campus, who will be there to witness to the other women? You can’t say men. There is a depth and beauty to female friendships that allows for true openness to Christ that would be lost if we did not send our Catholic women to college.

We must be willing to get uncomfortable and put ourselves out there for the sake of the gospel.

Carol: I found this point particularly degrading. Are women really so weak that we cannot possibly be expected to handle the temptations of college? How could “anyone expect” us to? I know a good number of women who are in fact proud of the decisions they made in college. I’m not the most holy person —so, seriously, if I can make it through without any huge regrets, I really think a lot of women stand a good chance.  And allow me to share a secret; my free will is in fact my free will. At 18, 19, or 20 years old, a woman is going to exercise that will independently—whether she is at home or in a dorm room.

There is no need to lock your daughters away until they are married. Support the women in your life. Build up their self-worth and empower them to grow in virtue. I do know plenty of women who have fallen, some deeply, into sins in college, and self-identity is at the core. So be loving, supportive, disciplinarians and help your daughters learn this before they leave the nest.

3. She will not learn to be a wife and a mother

Carol: Now this point contradicts the first.  Point one stated that “lazy men who are looking for a mother figure in a wife” are attracted to these responsible, college-educated women. So are they or aren’t they mother figures?
Living on one’s own is a major step in learning how to handle all that life can throw, and there are basic domestic skills that are learned in college out of necessity.  College does not mean domestic skills are neglected.  I am a master with my laundry, I bake, I knit, I am at my most creative when I am experimenting in the kitchen. You can foster these skills and earn a degree at the same time.

It is not just the lifestyle that has the potential to gear towards domesticity. What we learn in college could actually prepare a woman to better manage a household—Baking is chemistry. Caring for the sick and bringing life into the world is biology. Household budgeting, family financial planning, and investments are all finance. Teaching your children is education.

Michelle: I majored in psychology, so maybe my response is biased. Here is a list of courses I took over my four years at Drake that will 100% for sure help me be a mother and run a household one day.

  1. Introduction to Psychology
  2. Understanding Emotions
  3. Information Systems
  4. World History
  5. Social Psychology
  6. Abnormal Psychology
  7. Introduction to Management
  8. Child Development
  9. Psychological Assessment
  10. Adolescent Literature
  11. Personal Finance
  12. Adolescence
  13. Leadership and Personal Development
  14. Research with a professor on self-compassion
  15. Psychology of Aggression
  16. Personality

Maybe I didn’t learn how to cook a gourmet meal or clean a house, but do you know what I did learn? I learned how to write. I learned how to analyze an article, a book, a movie, a blog post, and put it up against what I know to be True and critically analyze it. I learned to make decisions for myself. I learned to compromise with others, how to communicate, and how to analytically solve a problem. I learned how to be informed and how to make a difference in this world.

My liberal arts education helped me become an intelligent, independent thinking woman who can process, analyze, and address the world around her. As a mother, all of these skills I gained from my education will help me to raise intelligent children who can also make decisions, think for themselves, and influence the world around them. My children, my relationship with my husband, and my family will all be better and stronger because of my Drake education.

4. The cost of a degree is becoming more difficult to recoup.

Carol:  Yes, yes it is.  I have student loan debt, as does my fiance. And whether I continue in my career or choose to stay at home, the years of experiences, knowledge, friendships, and struggles will have all been worth those payments. Always. I chose to attend a more expensive school than I needed to; I was searching for quality educational programs, hands-on learning experience, and top extracurricular activities. I went into my education knowing that I may want a fast-paced career, or that I may want to stay at home; there was nothing that I did not consider when making that decision. I do not regret all that my education has brought me, in spite of my loans.

Michelle: Yes. This is true. However, I would argue that you can be equally frugal if both husband and wife are paying off loans. It’s about being smart, planning, and being willing to compromise. Read Dave Ramsey.

5. You don’t have to prove anything to the world.

Michelle: Christ calls us all in so many different ways. Yes, some women and men may not be called to college. However, we need holy lay people of both genders in all professions if we are to convert the world (which Jesus told us to do)!

One of my favorite saints is St. Gianna Mola. St. Gianna was everything that a Catholic mother should be: intelligent, loving, devoted to her family and to Christ. She eventually sacrificed her life for the sake of her child. And here’s the kicker: St. Gianna was a working doctor. Not only did she go to college, she went on to med school! She is an excellent example of a female lay woman who changed the world with her college education. St. Gianna is a rare saint: she is a lay person. We need more lay saints. We need more examples of how we can be in this world but not of it, of how we can be educated women who are making a huge difference in this world.

Helen Alvare is another example of one of my favorite educated women. She spoke at SEEK this past year and holy cow was she an inspiration to me. Helen is a professor of law at George Mason University, the editor of Women Speak for Themselves, an attorney and consultant for the USCCB, a wife, and a mother. Helen spoke to us on what it truly meant to be successful and on things like the HHS Mandate and the pill. I could go on and on about her and this topic for hours, but I won’t (maybe a future post!?).

For other holy, educated, Catholic women, check out Colleen Carroll Campbell, Dorothy Day, Flannery O’Conner, and St Edith Stien.

Carol: No, you do not have to prove anything to world.  But you may want to prove something to yourself.  You may want a challenge, an adventure, an exciting experience. But with “society being so fixated with the feminist idea of women having to have a job and provide an income to have worth,” it is actually a good idea to examine the motivations.  Why do we want to go to college?  What the Fix the Family article refers to much in this section is taking so much pride in one’s collegiate choice, and placing one’s worth there, it is a good idea to try to keep focused on the real educational goals.
But no, it is not a harmful thing for a woman to be working. What if she doesn’t get married? She will need to find some means of providing for herself. And I for one am glad that I have been at least somewhat supporting myself with jobs since high school.  It keeps me from waiting around for someone to please take care of me. Too many Catholics today veer away from the term feminism.  But feminism is like anything else—the virtue is in the middle.  We cannot be so extreme as to say that women have no place in the world other than in a domestic role, but we can also not go so far as to reject our intrinsic nature and dignity by shoving our feminine qualities out the window.  Bl. Pope John Paul II writes in his letter to women, Specifically to women who work, that they are an “indispensable contribution to the growth of a culture which unites reason and feeling” (Letter to Women, para. 2). There is happy medium where you can both be feminine and professionally successful.  

6. It could be a near occasion of sin for the parents.

Carol:  You would choose not to allow your daughter to attend college for your own sake?  Parents do not have to be financially involved if they so choose, but parents cannot stop an 18 year old from attaining a higher education.

Michelle: When your child becomes an adult at 18 years old, you are no longer legally responsible for them. From the Church’s perspective, they are past the age of reason, they are confirmed, and they are adults in the Church. It is their choice whether or not to go to college.

7. She will regret it.

Michelle: She might also regret not going to college. However, just because you possess a degree does not mean you have to have a career. You have spoken a lot about being “trapped” by a degree, but we are called to true, deep freedom in Christ. Freedom is not about being able to do what you want, when you want. Rather, it is about knowing Jesus and what He wants for you, followed by the ability to respond to that call. If you know Jesus, you have the freedom to leave a career to respond to a call to exclusively raise a family. If you’re really responding to God’s will, you won’t regret the positive experiences you’ve gained from pursuing a college education and a career.

Carol:  I am sure there are women who do regret their time in college. My guess is this is mainly because of the choices they made. It is difficult to imagine a woman who worked hard in college, learned a substantial amount, bettered herself, and then replied, “I really wish I hadn’t have done that”! When you go to college to learn and study what is interesting specifically to you, there is very little regret because you grow in ways in which you can be proud.

As far as restricting childbearing years, I for one am quite thankful I did not settle down and have a child at 21. Looking back I can easily say I was not emotionally or intellectually mature enough to do so.

8. It could interfere with a religious vocation.

Carol: I know several women who have found their religious vocations after college, and time at the university is actually what got them there. I have seen some of these same women pay off large amounts of debt in a timely fashion in order to enter.  My roommate aids women who wish to enter with a religious order in organizing fundraising techniques to pay off their debt.  In doing so, these women gain a powerful prayer network, sometimes of strangers, that helps provide significant support in the rest of their vocational journey.

Michelle: Like Carol, I know many women who have been called to the religious life and who have had student loans. There are many beautiful organizations that give grants and forgive loans so that women may follow the call of the Lord and enter the convent. If the Lord calls, He will make it possible.

Personally, college allowed me a freedom to discern my vocation that would not have been possible if I had not gone. Through campus missionaries, a mission trip, and my Newman Center I encountered so many different beautiful religious sisters who inspired me to draw close to Jesus in all aspects of my life. If I had not gone to Drake, I don’t know if I would have ever truly encountered religious, and therefore I would not have been open to the possibility of a religious vocation. We must also remember that there are orders that do not accept women without a college degree.

Last Thoughts.

Carol: Thinking that the choice to attend college is black and white issue is not taking the entire paradigm into consideration. It will be right for some women, and for others it will not, for a variety of reasons.  But no woman should ever be told that she frankly should not attend college because of her gender. When we enclose virtuous women in a bubble, what happens to everyone else? Who is there to witness to the world the beauty of true womanhood and encourage fellow women in their dignity?  

I recently heard an interesting take on our Mother. Mary is often times depicted crushing a snake--with her bare feet! What a boldness! We are called to be the kind of women that stomp out the sin in this world--women who do not look away from the evil we see, but who name it and defeat it.  Being a modern, Catholic women leaves no room for timidity.  It is time to be strong.  It is time for us to show the world what beauty and virtue truly look like--in all forms.  The world, the college campus, is in more turmoil than ever before, and backing away does not solve that problem.  We need a center, in Jesus Christ and His Church, that continually builds us in virtue.  But as women in particular, we have a gift to nurture.  And this hurting, broken world needs us to exercise that gift now in all ways possible. So women, if you choose to go to college, then learn, grow, become a better person because of it, and let the world know that Catholic women are force to with which to be reckoned.

Michelle: It seems to me a lot of these reasons come from a place of fear. We fear how we could be living with regret, have too much debt, get into a bad relationship, etc. Yet as Christians, we are called out of this fear! We can rejoice because Christ has won and He is victorious over death. He has redeemed all things.

I look back to the girl I was at 18 and compare her to the woman I am now and I see so much growth. It's only been 5 years, but your twenties are what we call the "critical decade." The decisions you make at this point of life will shape the outcome of the rest of your life. The college campus is a place where young women can go to find themselves, have their minds be formed more fully, and figure out who they are and what they want to be. Yes, it is a dangerous place, but we cannot let fear of sin, fear of debt, or fear of getting stuck keep us from this place that provides so much opportunity for empowerment and growth.