Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Top 8 Moments of 2013

8. SEEK 2013

I was thrilled to an inappropriate amount to be helping the events team at SEEK. I got to be a Special Events Subcommittee head, which meant I got to pop into all the non-main program meetings and make sure the room was set up correctly, the catering was all there, and the AV was good to go. I was basically a gopher, but I loved every second of it. 

At conference. I had a conversation with my friend Meg about how I really wanted to be an event planner, but I didn't feel like God wanted me to leave the mission of FOCUS just yet. We had some great conversations about the value of all work and the importance of being a light in every field, but neither of us made the connection that the events team could be an actual possibility for me. But being at SEEK confirmed my desire for event planning and laid the foundation for my move to the DSC. 

7. Spiritual Impact Bootcamp

I really struggled seeing my worth as a missionary at UNL. I did a lot of building and sending, where at Drake I was used to winning and building. I felt lost in a sea of 12 missionaries, and I was blind to my own worth.

Enter FOCUS' Spiritual Impact Bootcamp. A 3-day retreat focused on healing and encountering the Holy Spirit. This retreat blew the lid off of my struggles and allowed me to just lay everything out there. While the retreat itself was great, the aftermath was even more incredible.

My favorite experience was after admitting my struggles my entire crazy huge team prayed over me. It was humbling, beautiful, and I felt Jesus' love through all of them. The year ended and I chose to move to Denver. But fast forward to New Staff Training. I was telling a friend about my first year on staff, and as I was describing my struggles, I realized I was describing them from a healed perspective. I realized that since that moment of being prayed over, I had not questioned my success as a missionary. It was cool to see the power of Jesus' healing through the prayer of others.

6. Joining the events team

It's cool to look back and see how Jesus laid those desires upon my heart at SEEK and fulfilled them. It was such a cool discernment process. I was able to tell Jesus what I wanted and He let it unfold very slowly. I love this job so much and I feel so blessed to be able to work for FOCUS in this capacity.

5. Moving to Colorado

Moves are scary, and I honestly didn't want to pick up and start all over again. But I'm glad I did. The people, the mountains, the city...really everything, has been so great. I am glad I am here and hope to be here for awhile.

4. Subbing at Camp Tecumseh

I subbed at Tecumseh again for a week this summer, and this time it was less hard. I love that place and those people. It's crazy to think about what my life might have been like without camp.

I stepped into the staff meeting this summer really only knowing full time staff (I was now that old counselor in a sea of 19 year olds). The weirdest part was my old campers were now day camp staff. It was fun to see them around camp that week, and I spread the word that I wanted to take a picture with them at closing campfire. I don't think I've ever been more overwhelmed with love and gratitude in my entire life. I went to the back of campfire, expecting a quick picture. Instead I had nine Cayuga, Ojibwa, and Teton girls running at me and tackling me. I was quickly picked up. Millions of pictures later, my heart was so full and I thought I would just burst.

In that moment, I realized that as great as my pathfinder staff (they were top notch), my fellow counselors (who will be friends for life), and my bosses (people I look up to and respect the most) were, they were not why I love Camp Tecumseh. It was those kids and the hundreds more who had crossed my path all those summers before. Memories of ridiculous shenanigans, devotions filled with real tears, and the joy of watching kids become serious about connecting to Jesus raced through my head. I am so grateful for these girls and all the others who I was blessed to live alongside for 3 summers. 

3. Joining a parish

My tendency to get over-involved may or may not have kicked in when I first joined St. Jude's...you mean it's not normal to do High School Youth Group, teach Kindergarten RE, conduct the youth choir, and cantor at Mass? Whoops. Regardless of my supposed overcommitment, it has been cool to set into the "real world" of the Church. The goal of FOCUS is lifelong Catholic Mission, and I was just pumped to try it out. 

The more I step into the heart of the parish, the more my love for the new evangelization grows. I am loving my kiddos and the desire that everyone at St. Jude's has for discipleship. I am praying that my zeal for souls continues to increase and that I will be open to the ways Jesus wants to use me next year.

2. NST 2013

Ah, training. The most wonderful or most terrible time of the year. Insert 400 outgoing people who are stressed about where they could possibly be placed, trying to fundraise their salaries, and making new friends into the middle-of-nowhere Florida. Jam pack their days with graduate school level theology classes, community building, and retreat intense prayer, and you have New Staff Training. 

Though I kid about the craziness, NST is intense. It is spiritually, emotionally, and physically (I've never sweated so much) draining. But as challenging as it is, it is beautiful to be striving for Jesus alongside these 400 other crazy people.

I learned so much about who I am and who Jesus desires me to be this summer. I learned to sit with struggle and just let Jesus touch it. It was a great experience, and I'm looking forward to helping run it next year.

1. Pope Francis' election

Everyone loves Papa F, don't they? There's just something about him ...joy ...acceptance ...hope ...love ...Jesus...

Pope Francis challenges me. And it's awesome. And I hate it. No longer can I sit idle and feel a desire to love the poor. I must go. I love that he radiates joy and is drawing others to Jesus just by being who he is. He inspires me to be a better disciple of Christ.

What were some of your favorite 2013 moments??

Thursday, December 26, 2013

"Most" Posts of 2013

I blog-met Sarah through Jen (who I blog-met through my REAL LIFE FRIEND, Carol). Sarah is hosting a "Most" Posts of 2013 link up, so I thought I'd join in. :) Enjoy!

I'm not surprised that the most clicks was Carol & my response to an organization that says you shouldn't send your daughters to college. This was super fun to write, and I'm glad it circulated the most!

Everyone has intense opinions about Christmas music. I'm glad I started in October because I didn't spend a lot of December preparing for Christmas...

This one. Because I made it. And I was super proud of myself and my graphic designing skills.

It was weird to actually admit to myself, yet alone other people, that I don't really like St. Therese. Because everyone loves her and clearly there must be something wrong with me if I don't. But it was the hardest because in the midst of writing it, I realized that I struggle with St. Therese because she challenges me. Dang it. Death to my own pride and selfishness is the actual worst.

I almost put this as hardest to write, because it was really hard. But I really, really like it. It had a lot of emotional significance (haha) at the time, and I really felt the need to share what God was teaching me about my feelings. If you count facebook & twitter comments, this one probably got the most comments too...

Monday, December 23, 2013


Happy 3rd Birthday, My Life (In Lists!)

This idea launched right before my second summer at CT, but didn't hatch until Christmas 2010. 

It's been a great ride, with some struggles and breaks, but I am glad to be back.

Image via.

This blog has grown into more than I ever thought it would be. Thank you, readers for listening to my ranting, for allowing me to process my thoughts and feelings in a public forum, for allowing me to engage in this small form of the new evangelization. 

I'm glad to be here on the internet with you, and I'm glad to keep going!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

7 Quick Takes on SLS [10]

My brain can't think of anything besides SLS right now. The other day Carol, Christina, & I all dreamt of the Summit. I've worked a good 40 hours this week and it's not even Friday yet. So if you're not interested in hearing about the Summit, this isn't the 7QT post for you.

This week I discovered I love play-by-plays. Well, I already knew I loved play-by-plays, but I learned they had a name and they're AWESOME. Basically a play-by-play is the minute to minute schedule of what is happening at every moment at an event and all details needed in that moment. I've been making these for my daily life since I became Director of Special Events for DG my sophomore year of college. I finished the Special Events PBP this week and the Liturgy one should be done tomorrow. They are some of the most beautiful excel spreadsheets I've ever seen.

Today is my last day in the office before the Summit. All I can say to that is AHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!! I can't believe we're only 2 weeks away. Maybe when it's all over I'll have other things to talk about.

Have I mentioned that I love my team? Because I do. We had a informal team Christmas party yesterday after work and it is just so fun to hang out with them and chat about events and our lives. I'm looking forward to our New Years Eve celebration (aka work) when we are in Dallas.

Speaking of play by plays, I may or may not have made one for my time at home next week. Some might call that OCD, but I call it good time management. Seriously though, if I don't stick to this work/family time schedule, I will work 100% of my time at home. And that would be lame.

At work yesterday we had a long team email chain that turned into hilarious pictures of T-Rex. Why? Because Carol told us that she used to have reoccurring dreams of T-Rex's and Velociraptors trying to break into her house. This was my favorite picture:

Image via.

HEY ALL YOU NEBRASKA STUDENTS, DRAKE STUDENTS, & MISSIONARY FRIENDS OF MINE THAT WILL BE AT SLS. If I don't see you while we're in Dallas and you're there, I'll probably cry. So pleaseeeeeeeeee try to find me? And be okay with seeing me at weird hours? Or just waving and saying hi and knowing that I really do love you and I'm not ignoring you? Okay, great. Can't wait to see you.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


I just love this. It's so simple, yet when I stumbled across this little quote, it challenged me. Do I truly trust that Jesus has my best in mind? That in the midst of struggle and suffering, He is actually working for my good and ultimate happiness?

This quote is a little reminder for me to let go of my tendencies to control. Man, I like to grab onto everything. I tend not to trust, I tend to take the reigns, and I tend to forget all the good He has given me before.

So this week, I'm asking Jesus to come into my life and be the source of my happiness. I'm working on trust and surrender, and I'm asking my new friend St. Paul Miki to intercede. 

Come Lord Jesus. Help me be joyful and happy.

Friday, December 13, 2013

7 Quick Takes on Family, Nuns on the Internet, and How St. Lucy is a DG [9]

I am heading to Aspen this weekend to help celebrate a friend's birthday. A bunch of FOCUS friends have rented out a giant house and we are just going to relax, eat, hang out, hike, and be together. It is just what I need in the middle of this SLS craziness.

Lindsay is headed home tomorrow to prepare for her wedding next Saturday, which means she is moving out. :( This semester has flown by. In just a month my good friend Jess will be joining Melissa and me in our apartment. I'm so excited to actually live with a Tecumseh friend. It's going to be nonstop CTlove and I just can't wait!

Maybe we can do theme dinners?
My family got a groupme group. Tommy is the only one without an iPhone, so we naturally named the group "If Tommy had an iPhone we wouldn't need this group." Joey immediately changed his name to "Favorite Child." Five texts in and someone already started being sassy. Typical. It's kind of fun though.

This week has been a bit of a struggle bus. I think my brain has stopped working properly because of all of the SLS prep. But I really, really like it. Carol, Christine, and I spent 5 hours this week working finalizing all the little details happening in every room at every moment to send to the hotel today. I was event planning nerding out a little bit.

I can't stop googling pictures of nuns. Whenever I need a quick break from work instead of hoping over to facebook/twitter/pinterest or getting up from my desk to stop staring at the screen, I pull up google and type, "Sisters of Life," or "Nashville Dominicans," or "Servidoras." I can't help it - they're just so beautiful!

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I think there's something wrong with me.

--- 6 ---
Today is St. Lucy's feast day! St. Lucy is my girl.

Why yes, those are her eyeballs
on a platter.
Image via.
I'm convinced she's a DG - I mean she's the patroness against blindness and for blind people! She would have loved Service for Sight. Aside from Steph's Kirsten American Girl Doll, I first encountered St. Lucy in a homily Father Joel gave on her my senior year of college. I could not tell you what he talked about, but I was struck by her commitment to Jesus. She promised Him that she would be true and devoted to Him, and she stuck it out, despite all the persecution and torture that came after. I met St. Lucy during a time when I was wavering in my commitment to Jesus and her intercession has helped me stay strong in my faith as I've continued growing.

--- 7 ---
With all this SLS prep and extra time spent at work, there's been a lot of team bonding, and I love it. Tuesday night, Christine, Carol, John Paul, & I stayed until about 6:15 just talking and laughing. Curtis even stopped by and told us how fun we are!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Thoughts on Receptivity

I've been thinking a lot about the difference between being passive and being receptive lately. 

I'm all about feminism - True feminism, that is. None of this "let's turn women into men" stuff. But I love JPII and theology of the body and religious sisters and women like Helen Alvare who all inspire me to fully embrace my feminine genius.

One of the more basic teachings of femininity, from a TOB standpoint, is that the man is giver and the woman is receiver. It's expressed in our sexuality, it is expressed in Adam's call to shamar, and woman's desire to be pursued. 

Yet the bold, assertive part of me shutters a little bit at this teaching. I don't want to be receptive...the connotation I hear equates receptivity with being passive. I get this image of a helpless woman sitting around for a man to come find her and rescue her on his perfect white horse. And oh gosh, that just makes me want to gag a little bit. I think this shutter and gag reflex is a reflection that this idea of passivity is not what it means to be receptive. 

I looked up the definition of passive because, well it can be confusing when we throw around abstract concepts. So, according to my friend dictionary.com, here we go:

Passive:  [pas-iv] adjective
1. Not participating readily or actively; 
2. Influenced, acted upon, or affected by some external force, cause, or agency

The definition of being passive hits my thoughts right on the head - this implies that we simply sit and do not respond or react to God or others acting upon us in this life. And God does not want this for us at all! He wants us to actively participate in our lives. That is why he gave us free will. If we sit and react (or worse, don't react), we are not growing or becoming who God wants us to be. 

Receptivity, on the other hand, is so opposite of this. There are similarities between the two, sure. But the difference is that receptivity is all about action. Sometimes this action is more subtle and interior, other times this action is big and bold. 

When I think of subtle and interior receptivity, I think of Mary pondering things in her heart. She did not passively allow things to happen to her. She received each moment and thing that her son said to her with grace, and she spent time thinking about it from there. 

About two months ago I went on a retreat with the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. One of the mornings, we ate breakfast with some of the elderly sisters. One of the old nuns sitting by me kept asking me the same questions and telling me the same story over and over again. The receptive response to this sister was to stay engaged with her, actively listen to what she was saying, and to respond with equal enthusiasm. This type of receptivity shows a deep love for the other, as we put ourselves second and respond graciously to their needs and desire to be known. 

When I think of being actively receptive, I think of the Sisters of Life in New York City, receiving pregnant women into their homes and providing for their needs. I think of my teammate from UNL, Martha, and how she cares for and loves on people with her popcorn and good questions about their lives. 

St. Therese of Lisieux received a call from The Lord to be a religious sister at a very young age. She was deeply convicted of this and knew she wanted to give her whole life to Jesus. Yet, she was too young to enter the convent. So instead of sitting around and waiting (which would have been acceptable in this situation), she took what she had received from God and asked her bishop to make an exception so she could enter Carmel in her young age. Mother Teresa of Calcutta did the same when starting the Missionaries of Charity. She had to push and actively work to get permission to get her new religious order started. Without this perseverance and active response to God, these two holy women might not have had the effect on the spirituality of so many people.

The more I ponder the idea of being receptive, the more I realize that that is the kind of woman I want to be. I want to be present to the lives of others. I want to actively listen and show that I care. I want to sit with Jesus each day and take in what He wants me to know. I want to make my decisions and movements based on what he reveals to my heart. I want to humble myself to allow space for others to grow. 

Being receptive means acting and making decisions to follow God. So let's be bold. Let's listen to the Lord and ponder what He says to us in our hearts. Let's respond with grace to the people He has put in our lives. Let's love loudly and actively. Let's be receptive to Christ and to the world around us. 

Monday, December 9, 2013

When and How?

Guys, my prayer life sucks. And the worst part is, I don't really care. I mean, I care, but I haven't really prayed in a week and I can't find the motivation to start again. Everything is harddddd. Ugh.

Last night my discipleship group was discussing the story of Noah. Two things really struck me:
  1. Noah is all about action
  2. Noah's faith was pretty insane
God told Noah to do something and he did it. Even though it was out-of-control crazy. Like build-a-1.5-football-field-long-boat-in-the-middle-of-the-desert kind of crazy. What faith! Mark Hart asks the video-kids if they would do something like this if God asked them to. When they say yes, he challenges them, "would you really do it? Isn't God talking to you now?" My girls started talking about this and all I could wonder was what God is asking me to do that I'm just not taking action on.

We kept talking about this and after getting really distracted by this strange children's church song, we talked about how none of us are where we want to be in our relationship with God right now because we are being lazy. Regina then hit us with this smack-in-the-face challenge from her uncle about prayer:

"The question you need to ask yourself is, 'when and how can I pray' instead of listing the excuses for why you can't pray."

Yep. I have a half hour of prayer built into my schedule every day at work. Why am I not praying? The holy sacrifice of the Mass is celebrated (almost) every day at the office. Why am I not going to Mass?

To continue my laundry list of excuses, I'm getting sucked into the busyness of Conference season. I think, "well, God called me to the Events Team, which means He called me to a busy state of life right now...I have to answer these 27 emails. I can't go to Mass/pray!" I'm lacking accountability. Nothing happens if I don't go to Mass or prayer (except me continuing to separate myself from Jesus). 

My girls are lacking accountability as well. So we made a goal and we're texting each other each day to remind each other to pray. Some of them are making gratitude lists, some are praying the rosary, some are praying for 5 extra minutes in the morning. I'm going to go to my scheduled Mass and prayer time and just to sit, for ten minutes, with Jesus. That my when and how. No more excuses. It's time to put Jesus back at the center of my life.

Thanks, Dana, for your inspiration.

Friday, December 6, 2013

7 Quick Takes on the Apocalypse Week [8]

I worked until midnight on Tuesday. And it was not as bad as I thought it was going to be. Sure, I was glued to my computer literally all day and my phone did not stop ringing from 9-5, but hey, we got people registered! That was pretty great. To the missionaries I worked with, thank you, thank you, thank you for your patience and encouragement! Your hard work recruiting students on the ground level will allow all of these students to be trained by the best in evangelization and will have an eternal impact.

I've already failed at my December goals. My computer, my work phone, and our registration site are vortexes that suck me in for hours. Suddenly I'll look at the clock and we're way past prayer time and mass. I completely forgot to eat lunch on Tuesday (whoops). Starting today, I am setting an extra notification/alarm on my phone for prayer. We can always restart our goals, right?

To all the haters who hated on Carrie Underwood last night, a few quick things: No one tried to remake the movie. They were intentionally doing a stage production of the Broadway Version. That means the movie was the one to change things because the Broadway version came first. I understand that experiencing things that are different from what you're used to is hard. But if you didn't watch the broadcast with an open mind, you had no chance of liking it. Julie Andrews gave Carrie her blessing, and Laura & Audra (Elsa & Mother Superior - two incredible Broadway stars) have been behind Carrie 100%. So before you start complaining about how NBC changed the Sound of Music, please understand what they were actually trying to do. End rant.

As I was aggressively typing that last quick take, my cat fell off of my bed and hit her head on my night stand and wall as she was going down. I cannot stop laughing. Poor kitty.

My cat falling off my bed reminded me of my senior year in high school when I got a concussion. We were having dance evaluations during Thoroughly Modern Millie rehearsal. In the opening number there was a move where we would step and kick forward and then step and touch our foot to the ground back. My friend Lisa was giving her audition 100% and kicked back. Straight into my forehead. I don't really remember what happened, but apparently I finished the dance and then fell over. The show must go on, right?
I can't believe a week ago I was in Kansas and I will be back there in two short weeks. It was great to spend time with my family for Thanksgiving, and I'm looking forward for a full week at Christmas!

That's all I've got for today. It's time to sign off and go attack SLS planning for the day. Until next time...

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Read the Gospels or Catechism in a Year

Last year, the good people at Lighthouse Catholic Media, Ignatius Press, and Flocknote put together a project to help Catholics learn more about their faith during the year of faith. This project broke up the Catechism (a book that explains the Catholic Church's teachings) into daily readings and sent them straight to your email inbox each day throughout the year. It was wildly successful.

They're doing it again this year, and adding a study of the gospels. You can join 100k+ people this year in learning about their faith. The new cycle of readings start Sunday, December 8. Sign up, learn more about the faith, and grow in your relationship with Jesus this year.

I love this project because it is a simple, hassle free tool that can help you achieve a goal and grow spiritually in the process. I want to read the Catechism because, well it's a requirement for FOCUS, but mainly because I want to continue learning about my Catholic faith. If this book, along with the Bible, outlines the basis for everything, why wouldn't I want to read!? If you've ever wanted to know why the Church believes what she does, sign up for the catechism reading. If you want to spend the year learning about Jesus' life, sign up for the gospels. I'm doing the catechism one. Join me in reading?

Monday, December 2, 2013

3 Goals for December

Oh my goodness, it is December!

SLS registration closes tomorrow, the summit is in one month, and we are at the very beginning of a new liturgical year. As I look forward to this month, I see a lot of busyness and anticipation. Which is fitting, because advent is all about anticipating the coming of Christ. 

Advent is a time to renew ourselves and our friendship with Jesus. This advent, I want to focus on renewing my daily commitment to prayer and ways to overcome excess and selfishness. I want to focus on moderation and look for ways to serve those less fortunate than you.

Here's how I plan to accomplish all of that!

1. Weekly Planning

I am pretty good at time management...when I put an effort into it. With this being the last month before the summit, I know life is going to get a bit hectic. Example: it is Sunday morning and I am responding to emails sent to the summit address. I know I will be giving extra time and energy to work this month, and that's okay! I'm actually excited about it (I wouldn't be in this type of job if I didn't love it)! 

However, I tend to go all in and I can see myself becoming 100% consumed with work. So I want to be intentional about planning my weeks and sticking to that plan. With this comes making time for prayer (it is so easy not to go to mass or prayer while I'm at the office because there's just so much to do)! As I prepare for the coming of Christmas, I want to be free to say "yes" to God, just as Mary did. I know that God has called me to a very busy state of life right now, and in this month, freedom will flow out of structure. I am hoping that this yes to an extra structured month will come the time to live a full advent season. 

I'm really excited to get started on this because I've been trying to successfully implement method for a very long while now, but I've never buckled down and done it. My team has been reading 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and in that book, Stephen Covey talks about the different roles we have in our lives. Once these roles have been defined, our tasks become clear. I am excited to clarify my roles and plan productive weeks that allow me to achieve my work and personal life goals.

2. Moderation

The Holiday's can turn into a time of excess with all the food we eat and all the stuff we buy. This month, I want to focus on doing things in moderation. Whether that's eating, buying presents, or even watching TV or being on the internet. I am hoping this will naturally flow out of of my weekly planning and role clarification. 

3. Service to Others

I love that Pope Francis is so vocal about service to the poor. It is so easy for me to become consumed with myself, my life, and my needs. Yet there are so many others who have so little. I want to push myself out of my selfishness this advent and focus on finding Jesus in others. I want these acts of service to be of all sizes. My roommate was telling me that she is going to try to do a different corporal work of mercy each week - I think that's pretty cool. Maybe I will tag along for a few. 

Thanks for reading! What are your goals for December?