Monday, March 16, 2015

A Great Cloud of Witnesses: Give Away Winner [2]

Wow. Thank you to everyone who shared this project, filled out the survey, emailed me, texted me, and commented on facebook. I'm really excited about where this is going to go and how this is going to help people. Together, I really think we're going to create something beautiful.

I'm going to keep the survey open so that you all can continue to submit suggestions of women to speak to and questions you want to ask them.

I'm excited to announce the winner of the giveaway: Erica! Erica won for tweeting about the project, but she also filled out the survey. Congratulations, friend. Thanks for sharing and reading!

I'm going to spend this week reading through the survey results, talking to other friends with ideas and contacts on the phone, finalizing my interview questions, and reaching out to some of these women. I'll keep you all updated on the status of this project, but know that we're getting started!

Friday, March 13, 2015

7QTs on Camp Reunions, Running into People on the El, and Cats on Ottomans

I've lived in Chicago for 6 1/2 weeks now. Can you believe it!? I hardly can. This has been such a great move for me. It has been so great to be in the city for so many reasons. The weather is getting nice here (it's going to be 60 today!!) and in a very short amount of time it will be nice enough to play on the lake! 

Tuesday was an AWESOME day for mail. I finally gave in and ordered an Erin Condren Planner and it showed arrived in bright and shining colors along with Shauna Niequist's new devotional!! I am loving the blank spaces in the planner to organize what I need to get done each day and just how colorful and fun it is! I can hardly wait to crack open Shauna's book. I'm waiting to start until I turn 25 next week. 

When Maggie and I met up when I first moved to Chicago, she said "my favorite thing about camp is that you constantly have friends around no matter where life takes you." Adding truth to her comment, I ran into these two wonderful girls on my way to work on Wednesday. I was lucky enough to have Pria as a camper for three weeks in 2010. I got to know her sister Shreya those three weeks two. It was the perfect start to my Wednesday.

Wednesday was a day full of CT love. Maggie and the Evoy's organized a CT Chicago alumni reunion. What's great about camp people is that even though I didn't know a lot of the girls that were at the reunion, by the end of the night we were all old friends. We played a game where you won fake points for each phrase from a camp cheer you could work in to normal conversation. Costigan won by a landslide - my favorite was when she exclaimed "Oh a day lay!!!!"

I'm so excited to stay close and connected with these friends I already knew, and even more excited to continue to get to know these new camp friends. We're going to make these reunions a monthly thing. It's going to be so great.

Pathfinders & Braves are best friends. 

My new boss, Danielle, had a birthday last week and mine is this coming Tuesday. We got out of a staff meeting yesterday, and I made a comment that I was hungry and wanted a snack. Lupe said she thought our Event Service Workers might have had a snack downstairs, so she was going to go check. She came up with a cake! Moral of the story: if you say you want a snack, someone just might show up with a cake. 

I have this little blue ottoman in my apartment that Kateri has claimed for herself. Doesn't it look like her Cat Throne?


I'm really excited about where this project is going and the enthusiasm I've received from readers. Thank you so much to everyone who has responded to the survey with suggestions and to everyone who has shared the initiative. The survey and raffle entry are open through the end of the weekend, so you still have time to make suggestions and share the launch of the project. Check it out here

For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain't the Lyceum.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

A Great Cloud of Witnesses: A New Project

I truly believe one of the greatest gifts Christ gave us in the Church are the saints. I know I struggle when I try to run after Him alone, but when I have someone cheering alongside me I am encouraged, motivated, and propelled deeper into the Heart of Christ. 

This is definitely one of the reasons why I'm so big on community. This is also one of the reasons why I love Hebrews 12:1 so much:

Since then we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.

Man, was I surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses in FOCUS. These incredible people gave up so much to pursue Jesus wholeheartedly. 

FOCUS' mission is on the college campus, but it's real mission is to launch people into lifelong Catholic mission. But now that I'm working in the "real world" (as real as a college campus can be), I really have to ask - what does that even mean? 

I know what it looks like in a Parish, and thanks to the many Catholic mom's that I stalk whose blogs I follow, I think I have an idea of how to do it once I start a family.

But what does life long Catholic mission mean for me as a single 20-something professional young adult? Heck, what does being Catholic even look like as a single-20 something professional young adult?

Honestly, I don't know. I don't have much experience with it, and my cloud of witnesses is looking small.

I know you're out there. You are the warriors, the white martyrs, the saints of tomorrow. You love Jesus with your whole heart, and you inspire your co-workers and your friends to be better people. I want to talk to you, to learn from you, to add you to my cloud. 

And so today, I am very excited to announce my new project: A Great Cloud of Witnesses. 

I will be talking to professional Catholic women that you and I know, and asking them about their faith. After we chat, I will be sharing what I learned here so that we can unite as the one body of Christ and be strengthened in our faith.

This project is meant for us to lift one another up, to inspire one another in our journey towards heaven. It is to remind us that we are not alone as we try to pray and figure out how to honor Jesus in our work. Most of all, it is meant for us to learn from our sisters who are running after Christ.

Before I start, I need your help! What do you want to know from these women? If you could sit down with them for coffee, what would you ask them? What about being a professional Catholic is hard for you?

Who do you know that you admire as a professional, Catholic or Christian woman? I have a list started, but I want our cloud to grow. 

Tell me what you know or who I should talk to by filling out this survey. As a thank you for your assistance, you'll be entered into a raffle to win Shauna Niequist's new devotional, Savor, and a $25 Amazon Gift Card. You can enter the Raffle by tweeting this link to share this project with your friends, and by filling out the survey. 

Please pray for me and for everyone that will be involved as I venture out on this journey. I'm so excited to begin and I pray that together, we will be inspired to run the race that is set out for us.

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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Hunger Pangs

I didn’t prepare my kitchen for Ash Wednesday. The only things I had in my possession this morning was bacon, chicken, a box of uncooked pasta, and an enormous box of chocolate covered almonds – things that don’t work well for a day when I am abstaining from meat and a lent where I'm basically giving up all of that. Thankfully, living in the city is awesome, so I popped into a grocery store on my way to the Red Line to pick up two meals for the day. I grabbed a smoothie for breakfast and some soup for lunch.

Four o’clock hit and I realized I was hungry.

Out of nowhere, the Holy Spirit reminded me that these little hunger pangs are nothing compared to the hunger my soul feels for the love of Christ. And that desire is so small compared to the hunger Christ feels for me to know and follow Him.  

So throughout lent as you feel the pangs for the ice cream you gave up, for the ability to Facebook stalk, or for a juicy steak on Friday, I pray those little aches remind you of how deeply Christ wants you to know His love for you.
Happy Ash Wednesday.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Wait, It's 2015 Already?

I rang in 2015 sitting in the fifth row of chairs in Ryman Hall C at the Gaylord Opryland with John Paul, Mike, & Chris Stefanik (cough name dropping cough cough). We were pouring over the SEEK programming timeline, making sure every detail for the opening of the conference would be just right, making sure it would set a tone of fun and openness so the Holy Spirit could begin to work in the hearts of the 9,500 college students that would be in attendance.

At 12:03 AM, Mike noticed the time. "Hey guys, it's 2015." Chris suggested we pray a Hail Mary. We did, and then got right back to work.

The next six days were a blur of conference production and coffee, followed by a blur of moving and adjusting. When I finally got a chance to process that it was already 2015, I was tired. I spent a lot of 2014 tired and lonely. It was kind of a crap year that I don't really want to repeat. I wasn't focused, and I wasn't purposeful.

I've never been any good at keeping resolutions. So instead, I'm going with two words to set the tone for 2015. I want them to be my mantra, my rally cry, and the motivating force behind all that I choose to do. Be intentional.

I turn 25 in March - quarter of a century old. For most of my life, I've lived in that relativistic, do-what-feels-good mindset. And even though I'm aware of it now, it can still creep into my habits and my daily choices. So this year, I'm going to combat that by being intentional.

I want to ask myself "how can I be intentional" about all the different priorities in my life: my faith, my relationships, my career, my time, my health, etc.

I think this 2015 mantra could mean big things for my year, especially as I focus on it day by day.

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Friday, January 23, 2015

7QTs on 38+ Goodbyes in 7 Days

Woof. It has been a whirlwind of a two weeks. I have packed up my entire life, driven it to Kansas, and found place to live in Illinois. More importantly, I have listened to Serial in it's entirety and am obsessed. I cannot wait for season two, or to start listening to This American Life on my new public transportation commute.

But I digress. Since I waited to tell anyone I was moving until I told the Events Team after SEEK, my last week in Colorado was packed back to back saying goodbye to my favorite people and my favorite places. So today I give you 7QTs on 38+ goodbyes in 7 days!

The day after I got home from SEEK, my housemates and I had our last dinner. It was awesome to sit around the living room with Carolyn, Mary, Jenna, & Matika talking about life and eating Swing Thai - Colorado Bucket List Item!


Last Thursday, I met up with my favorite Camp Tecumsehites who live in Denver. It has been a huge blessing to have Holly, Arielle, and Molly living in Denver while I was here. We ate at Trattoria Stella's and talked about our lives and our hopes for the futures while drinking delicious wine. Eating here was a Colorado Bucket List Item!

On Friday, we had an Events Team Send Off. JP is getting married and moving to LA, and I'm moving to Chicago. I love these people fiercely and already miss them so much. When I joined the Events Team, I didn't realize how great of friends these people would become. As I continue to grow in my life, I hope to become more like them in their professionalism and their faith. 

Saturday was a road trip through Colorado. In the morning I met Shelby in Boulder for brunch. After some great catching up, I made a quick stop at Celestial Seasonings, then drove north to Fort Collins to meet baby Pierce and say goodbye to the Sebastian's. Miles and I are finally best friends, right in time for me to move. Dana was my missionary at Drake and it has been such a blessing having her and Derek so close. They are a beautiful example of a fun and holy family could look like!

On Sunday I got to hit a few of my favorite Denver spots. It started with Mass at the Cathedral, followed by brunch at Fork and Spoon with Sophie and Lindsay.

Then I got to do some writing at The Book Bar. I ended the night at St. Jude's

The girls in my discipleship group are so sweet - I'm going to miss them so much! It's crazy to see how much they've grown and matured in the last 1.5 years. We read through Luke ch. 4 and Jesus talks about now it is time for him to go to a new place to preach. It was the perfect passage to end my time with these girls on.

After youth group, the leaders went and got a drink. I have a special bond with these people. It has been awesome to work for the same mission alongside them and have some good, old fashioned fun with them. Pray for Megan, Ramon, Alexei, Terri, & the Candler's as they continue to show the teens at St. Jude's Jesus' love.

Bible Study is on Monday's, so we had a big party this week. These women have shaped my past semester in such a profound way. I seriously don't know how I would have survived without them. It is incredible what God does when a group of people get together with the intention of growing closer to Him. They are going to keep Bible Study going and that just makes my heart so happy!

On Tuesday, I got dinner with the newly married Stephens and got to catch up with them. It had been awhile since I'd seen them, so it was cool to see how married life was treating them!

Wednesday was my last day in the office. It was filled with Beau Thai and many bittersweet goodbyes. 

Finally, Mom and Tommy arrived Wednesday night. We rounded out the goodbyes to my friends by grabbing dinner at Beau Jo's Pizza with Steph and Joanna.

The next day we crossed off "appreciate the mountains" and "pray at the Mother Cabrini Shrine" off my bucket list. 

In the end, the only two things I didn't get to do on my Colorado Bucket List were skiing and visiting the 16th Street Mall. I'd say it was a pretty successful week of goodbye's!

For more quick takes, check out This Ain't The Lyceum.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Moving On & Identity

SEEK2015 is over. I'm sitting at my kitchen table, drinking coffee, with Penny & Sparrow playing in the background thinking about how strange that is. Every waking second for the past four months have been consumed by this conference. This past year has been spent pouring over preparations to make this conference for 10,000 a reality. And now it's all over.

Sure, there are bills to pay, wrap up meetings to have, and summary reports to write. But for the the vast majority of the world, it's over. On to the next thing, right? Now it's time to pour into NST and into SLS and wrap my mind around the next big event FOCUS will be hosting.

That's what I thought the plan was.

Instead, I will be packing up all of my things and moving away from Denver and away from FOCUS to a fresh start in a few days. I'm terribly overwhelmed, excited, and sad. These people I've had the incredible honor of working with these past 1.5 years have shaped me so much. I look up to them in their faith and in their professionalism, and I hope to be like them one day.

Though it is hard and though I am sad, I am at peace. Jesus' hand is upon my shoulder, mourning FOCUS with me, but turning my head towards the Chicago skyline as we take this next step in the journey together.

What is scariest for me is what the answer to that daunting question of "who are you?" will be now that FOCUS Events is in my past. I remember a moment at the very beginning of the second semester of my senior year of college when I first confronted this question. I was stumped. For the past 3 years when someone asked me who I was, I was able to list a paragraph of positions and titles that made me important on campus: Panhellenic President, VP Greek Programming, Director of Special Events, etc. When I was a second semester senior, I no longer held those positions, and I didn't know how to define myself anymore. I was asked the question, "who are you," and I didn't know how to respond.

Now here I am, three years later, when my defining role is gone again and I am left with just me and Jesus. I don't know how I will respond when the question is asked. I thought it would terrify me. Instead, the future is exciting.

On the plane to Nashville, Holly & I sat by Sr. Amata of the Servidora's.  Out of no where she started talking about how when we work in the Church, we have a higher risk of attaching our consolation and identity to our work instead of simply attaching it to Jesus. She said that when people leave their work in the Church, they are uncomfortable for a bit as they stretch and learn how to just be with Jesus, but God usually calls them out so they can learn in a deeper way that their identity lies solely in Christ.

That's what I want for myself. Identity has always been my core issue, as it is for so many. For years after my conversion, I pretended that I no longer struggled with attaching my identity to what I do and the titles I wore. But as I walk away from FOCUS, I know it is still my biggest struggle. So as Jesus and I drive the 1,111 miles to Chicago, I pray that He can begin to chip away at who I think I am and replace that idea with who He wants me to be.

So pray for me as I move to the city, and pray for me as I wrap up this chapter of life in Denver. Though I do not know what the future holds, I know it is bright, because I will face it with Jesus.

Monday, January 12, 2015

The Farewell Colorado Bucket List

The Task: Visit all my favorite Denver/Colorado spots before I move.

The Challenge: I move on Friday and most of my time will be spent wrapping things up at the office and packing up.

Also, I care more about saying goodbye to people than I do saying goodbye to these places. So I'm sure most, if not all, of these places will not be visited. But I'm up for the challenge!

Farewell Colorado Bucket List

Eat at Trattoria Stella. Best. Restaurant. Ever. It's in an adorable old house and it has the best food ever. If you haven't been here, you need to go now!

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Completed 1/8 with my Camp Tecumseh friends.

Appreciate the Mountains. I'd hypothetically like to do something in the mountains, but I don't really know what I want to do in the, I just want to appreciate the mountains before I can no longer see them out my window and on my drive to work every day.

As excited as I am for the the train, it won't look as good as this.

Buy Colorado things on 16th Street Mall. The cheesier, the better.

What even is this thing?
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Go to Celestial Seasonings. Definitely got to stock up on the tea's that they don't sell in stores: AKA the extra caffeinated black team. #caffinefordays

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Completed 1/10.

Pray at the Mother Cabrini Shrine. I've actually only been here once, right after I graduated college. But overlooking the mountains and the city with the Sacred Heart of Jesus seems like a good way to end my time here.

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Drink Coffee, Buy a Book, and Write a little at The Book Bar. I'm obsessed with this little place; it's a coffee shop, bar, restaurant, and bookstore all mixed into one.

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Completed 1/12.

Eat with my team at Beau Thai. Delicious Thai food, but more importantly, this place is filled with memories of my team bonding. I'm hoping we'll grab lunch here on Wednesday...actually I'm going to set us a meeting for this now.

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Get take out from Swing Thai. Mary & I recently discovered this thai place around the corner from us and it is so good!

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Completed 1/7 with my roommates.

Eat Beau Jo's Pizza. I mean, just look at that pizza.

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Go to Mass and pray at Basilica Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.

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Completed 1/12 with Lindsay and Sophia.

Bonus Item: Go Skiing. This probably will not happen. But, I've never been, and I'd love to go before I move.

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Well, there it is! What else would you visit before you moved away from Denver?

Friday, January 9, 2015

7QTs on Anything Other than SEEK2015

I titled my first #7QTs post after SLS14 like this, and I like it, so I'm doing it again. Like last year, I get one quick take on SEEK. It's over and that's crazy. I don't know how to handle it. The team got back late Tuesday night, and I've taken the past two days off. It's actually be great relaxing and gearing back up to launch into real life.

JP is moving to LA to get married this weekend, so we're having a big team dinner and party tonight to say goodbye. I've had the privilege of working with JP very closely on AV, sponsorships, and production these past few months. He's a great guy and I'm going to miss staying at the office really late at night watching movies in the background with him.

So, I have some news. I have a new job and I'm moving to Chicago a week from today! I don't think I've had much time to process this information until yesterday. I do not have a place to live, but I'm headed there very soon!

Verily Magazine has a great article about how to move to a new city, so I have officially made a "goodbye Colorado" bucket list. I've gotten calendar time with almost everyone I want to see, so now I just need to add calendar time to visit those few last place I want to say goodbye to. Also, I really, really want to go skiing before I move. I've lived here for a year and a half and I still haven't been skiing or snow boarding. I think I need to take care of that before going to the mountains become a long trip.

I arrived home on Tuesday night to many Christmas Cards, so that was pretty fun! Thanks to everyone who sent me a card.

Have you guys started playing Trivia Crack? My sister and brother got me hooked while I was home for Christmas. I can't stop playing.

My teammate from Nebraska, Steph, is getting married in four months! I'm super pumped. However, I have to order my dress soon (like today), and I can't decide between these two...any thoughts on which one!? The left is the Poplin Dress and the right is the Marilyn Dress!

Head back over to This Ain't The Lyceum for more quick takes!