13 December 2012

Expect the Unexpected

... should be the motto of the Christian life.

Isn't God always asking us to go way outside of our comfort zones? Sometimes I get frustrated that my life isn't the fairytale I thought it'd be, but as I've been pouring over Scriptures, I have not found anywhere that Jesus said that following Him would be easy! Go figure! At least He's honest!!

This Advent, He has been preparing my heart to receive Him in radical new ways.

I've been able to see a lot of my past failures in a new light. Instead of being disappointed with myself for not achieving some ridiculous standard I set for myself, I'm asking the Lord to show me how I've disappointed Him. I'm learning that the line between relativism and being judgmental is very fine, and I've fallen on both sides at different times.

I'm learning about how universal our Church really is and how beautiful it is that God works through all people at all times to draw us near to Him. I've always been comfortable with His love for me, but I'm learning to love His love for humanity as a whole. How reckless and beautiful is His Love?!

I've found in myself a deep longing for Heaven. Sure, the Earth is great and all, and for the most part, I like it here ;) but I know that it's not what I was made for! I think the idea of eternity is incomprehensible for us who are in mortal bodies (how can a three dimensional creature conceive of a fourth dimension?), but C.S. Lewis and many other authors describe it as more real than our current reality. That's comforting for me, especially in modern times when reality is often scripted and fake. Truth always wins though!

I hope that my heart and yours can truly be a resting place for Him this Advent Season!

In the new calendar year, I plan on being a more active part of the blogosphere, and my blogs will probably be more interesting, so stay tuned!

Our Lady of Guadalupe, Queen of the Americas, and Saint Lucy, pray for us!

10 November 2012

Suffering and Sacrifice

In light of Veteran's Day, I've been seeing a lot of commercials on television encouraging the American public to support our troops. They show moving clips of soldiers training, working on the front lines, and even coming home and surprising their families. In one of the World Series games, a veteran threw out the first pitch. As the announcer told his story, I was actually moved to tears.

I think about how grateful I am for the men and women who literally risk their lives for my freedom. I am so humbled by their sacrifice.

On the other hand, I think of the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross, and how often when I glance at a crucifix, I am filled with no emotions at all. I've become accustomed to the bloody suffering of Christ's Passion and Death.

I hope that Jesus will recognize that even when I am filled with no emotions at all, I choose to love Him by just showing up, day in and day out, to do His mission. When I am moved by the sacrifices of U.S. Vets, I pray that Jesus will unite their sacrifices to His.

St. Jude, Pray for our troops!

03 September 2012

Hanging by the Thread of His Grace

Well, ladies and gentlemen, "they" were right. "They" told me that Florida Gulf Coast University is an extremely difficult campus to serve on, and "they" were right. "They" also told me that I could handle it, so let's hope "they" are two for two!

I have been a resident of Florida for a few weeks now, and while I feel settled in, it hasn't been an easy adjustment. I'm learning my way around, meeting new people, and beginning Bible Studies and Discipleships THIS WEEK! Discipleship is the absolute heart of our mission (because it was the heart of Christ's mission), and I am excited to have some sense of normalcy back in my life. The women I will be discipling this year are great and I can't wait to grow closer to our Lord with them.

The thing I've learned repeatedly since I've been here is that God doesn't want any small part of me. He doesn't want the good, the great, or the exciting. He doesn't want the things I'm good at or the things I like. He wants all of me. All the bad, the ugly, the attitude, the indignant, and the pride. I'm trying to give Him what He wants from me: everything. I've learned that He doesn't need me! Nothing I do is good unless He makes it good, and sometimes He can use my failures better than my successes. This is a hard lesson to learn.

Last week, one day when I was praying my Holy Hour, I came before Him, yet again, having royally screwed up, realizing once again that my pride had taken a complete hold of me. I told Him I was sorry and that I didn't want to do things my way anymore, only His.

I used to honestly think that I could stand up by myself, that I could walk and even run on my own. Now I realize that if I can stand it is ONLY because I am lifted up by the Cross of Christ. I am literally hanging by the thread of His grace.

St. Gregory, pray for us!

20 August 2012

First Impressions

Last week, I moved down to Fort Myers, Florida to serve the students at Florida Gulf Coast University.

It is definitely a culture shock and a big change. The humidity doesn't do much for my hair, but that's alright. (All things are vanities! Ecclesiastes 1:2)

I have a feeling God is going to show me a lot of new things about Him and about myself this year, so please keep me in your prayers.

St. Jude, pray for us.

11 July 2012

New Staff Training: Unloaded

You probably (maybe?) know that for the past six weeks I have been in Illinois.
Have you ever wondered, 'what exactly does it take to train someone to be a FOCUS Missionary?'
Haha, I didn't think so. But I'm going to tell you anyways.


Among the missionaries, there is incredible excitement and hype surrounding our arrival to Champaign Illinois to begin NST. Everyone gets excited to see the friends they spent every waking moment with the previous summer and to hear about the work that God is doing on different campuses through our students! It is a time of great joy and anticipation.

This summer, I was just as excited as everyone else to reunite with my fellow missionaries. As I got into the groove of our strict schedule at NST, I experienced a tremendous amount of spiritual warfare. A "plague" (24 hour stomach bug... AWFUL) was going around, and I was blessed enough to avoid it, but the devil was prowling about like a lion, and his presence was felt by most, if not all, of the missionaries. Last summer, one of the Salesian sisters who has the gift to see spirits said that she'd NEVER seen so many evil spirits in one place. Woah. God must want to use us in radical ways if satan is so scared of us!

After a brief identity crisis and a lot of alone time, eventually I learned to deal with the daily battles through prayer and fasting. That's when the fun began, and looking back, I really do miss it. Every year it will get crazier as we hire more and more laborers to go into the harvest of the college campuses across the country, but we all have the same mission, sent by God, and for that reason, we are family.

In my last post, I mentioned how I need routine. Let me tell you just how scheduled our routine was at NST.

1. Holy hours- Because there are so many missionaries, we can't all fit in the chapel at the same time to pray our holy hour each day, so there were two groups who alternated times. One group prayed HH at 8am on Mondays and Wednesdays, and at 6pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and the other group was the opposite. (We all prayed a guided meditation together during holy hour on Fridays at 8am.)

2. Classes- 9:30 to 12:30 and 3:00 to 5:00, everyday. Honestly, I spent more time in class at NST than I did when I was in college for the last three semesters! Fortunately, most of our classes were fascinating and were taught by the best of the best in Catholic Theology, Philosophy, Social Teaching, and Culture. We are blessed abundantly in this area.

3. Mass- 5:15, everyday!

4. Evening Activities- Tuesday, College Night, Wednesday, Rec Night, all the rest of the nights, MPD (fundraising). These activities were typically from 8 to 10ish.

5. Dinners- Once a week, each college would have dinner with their brother or sister college. It was always hectic and lots of fun. (The college system, based off of the Collegiate Program at Oxford University, ensures formation on various levels, not just academic, and in our case spiritual, but helps us to become well-rounded missionaries by living, working, and playing together.)

6. Weekends- you never know what you're going to get during the weekend at NST. One weekend you may be driving 22 hours for awedding in Alabama, and the next you may enjoy a relaxing afternoon in the quad with some adult beverages and your book of choice, while even the next you may be floating down a river in an inner tube or dancing the night away at a L'Angelus Concert or an Etiquette Dinner.

7. The Best Part- without a doubt- the people! NST is a fantastic time to meet some of the best people you will ever know. Everyone is so committed to holiness and serving our Lord through the Great Commission.

I AM SO BLESSED!


St. Therese of Lisieux, Patroness of Missions, pray for us!

10 July 2012

Young, Wild, and Free.... and Catholic.

I think I've finally processed (unpacked, in FOCUS lingo) New Staff Training 2012 and I am mentally moving on to bigger and better things... like fundraising!!

I've been home for almost a week now and am happily working away at my fundraising. I have a lot to do, in a very short amount of time, but Jesus Christ resurrected from the dead, so I can hardly complain!

I feel as though I am in a constant state of transition lately. It is great to learn detachment, but it is difficult to be away from a routine.

This past weekend I attended a young adult conference. In the past I have been reluctant to attend such events because I felt like their only purpose was to help young Catholics find other young Catholics with the intention of dating/marrying (read: awkward). To my pleasant surprise, this conference was pretty great. I met a lot of young Catholics who really care about pursuing a relationship with God and are faithful to the Sacraments of the Church, who are looking for a way to live out their faith in the midst of college, new careers, and the transitions of young adulthood. I went to the conference with the intention of proclaiming Christ to the attendees, and while I got to talk a lot about FOCUS and what God is doing in my life, I was much more encouraged by their stories. My faith in this generation becomes stronger every day! The Church may have been down, but don't count Her out! Seminaries are bursting at the seams and the renewal of family life is right around the corner.

It is a good time to be a young person in the Church!


Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, pray for us!

24 June 2012

Fail, Fail Again

I'm sure you've heard it said: What would you do if you knew you could not fail?

For Christians, I propose another question: What would you do if you remembered that failures are God's method of sanctification?

Side note: Did you know that today, the Church celebrates the birth of Saint John the Baptist? St. John's nativity is one of only three celebrated in the liturgical calendar (in good company with the nativity of the Blessed Mother on September 8 and Jesus Christ the Lord on December 25)!

Saint John the Baptist, Pray for us!

19 June 2012

Encounters on Campus

My job as a FOCUS Missionary, but firstly as a Christian, is to share the Gospel with those around me. In FOCUS, we do this in various ways. Most of the methods we use are relational: we meet people, get to know them, and introduce them to the Man who changed each of our lives in radical ways. One of the "scariest" ways that we share the Gospel is through Barehanded Evangelization. We go out onto campus armed with nothing but the love of Christ in our hearts and we talk to people about Jesus.

It can be scary for a few reasons.
1. Satan doesn't want us to do it and will try various intimidation tactics to make sure we don't.
2. It's not "PC" to talk about Jesus.
3. College students can be just plain mean!

Last week, my new teammate Katelyn and I went "barehanding." We only had half an hour so I prayed that we'd be able to find one person to talk to in that short amount of time. We walked the quad here at U of I for a few minutes and everyone was wearing headphones or was already talking to the other missionaries out there.  We walked over to the engineering quad and saw a girl sitting by herself talking on the phone.  I wanted to talk to Katelyn about some evangelization techniques before we jumped into anything so we discretely sat on the bench next to the girl on the phone, waiting, of course, for her to finish her conversation. Katelyn and I talked and I told her I prefer a more natural way of starting conversations (rather than the missionary favorite: "We're taking an informal survey.") and I'd lead when the girl got off the phone.

She got off the phone and I struck up a conversation about her hair color. (It was pretty, so I asked her the awkward question: Is it natural?... Heaven is worth the awkwardness!) We got to talking about U of I's campus, we learned that she grew up not far from Champaign, she is studying English, works on campus in the Library, and doesn't have a church in Champaign, but she goes when she's home with her parents. Right as I was about to invite her to come to Mass, she had to go back to work because her break was over.

It was a really good humbling and teaching moment for both Katelyn and I. We learned that the opportunity does not always present itself to do a full presentation of the Gospel, and the person we're talking to isn't always going to be receptive to a relationship with Christ. We learned that success isn't measured by our opinions on how the conversation went, or if we get the girl's contact information. We did something radical in our culture: we talked to a stranger! And sometimes, that is all that it takes! God plants the seeds and God reaps the fruit. Sometimes, all people need to know Christ is to have someone to listen to their story.

Saint Bernard of Clairvaux,  Doctor of the Church, pray for us!

08 June 2012

Ordering Faculties

Well, things are looking up here at FOCUS New Staff Training. We are nearing the end of week two (of five), finally "settled" into the schedule, and the second year missionaries are LOVING Dr. Sri's lectures on the Gospels and Acts!

Please keep the first year missionaries in your prayers, they are overwhelmed in these beginning stages of fundraising an entire salary (go figure!!) and could really use some extra prayers. Pray for their trust in the Lord, their potential mission partners, and their families, especially those who are struggling with the idea of this radical mission. I would love your prayers as well; I, too, will be spending a significant amount of time fundraising this summer. All for the Kingdom!!

Last week we discussed our faculties in class. I'm sure most of you know the four faculties: intellect, will, emotion, and appetite. Now that I'm out of the little funk I was in, (I had a REALLY tough week last week) I can see how my emotions were totally controlling me. I've decided to feed my intellect so as to have it rule over the other faculties. I have done this by a more intense devotion to the Liturgy of the Hours, my daily Rosary, reading, and having intentionally intellectual conversations. Right now I am reading Part IV of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (on prayer), True Friendship (John Cuddeback), Total Money Makeover (Ramsay), and my must-have fiction, Father Elijah (O'Brien). They are all SO great and I am learning so much. Though I'm fairly certain I will never go to graduate school or "continue my education," I am quite sure I will never stop learning. I LOVE IT! One of my dorky goals is to read all of the books in the curriculum for the Masters of Great Books at St. John's University in New York. (The reading list is online!)

I am getting excited about being in Ft. Myers this fall. How can anyone contemplate the ocean without contemplating the God who created all things?!!

Also, check out this little gem I found about Jesus Christ while meditating on CCC 2666:
His name is the only one that contains the presence it signifies.

It's time for Night Prayer and my Rosary! Do you have any intentions I can pray for? Leave them in the comments!

Our Lady, Seat of Wisdom, pray for us!

01 June 2012

And then God had other plans...

I'm pretty sure that I mentioned a while back that this Fall I would be serving FOCUS at the University of Kentucky in Lexington.

God has been doing some crazy (seemingly wreckless) things in my life the past few weeks and I am excited to officially announce that I will instead be serving FOCUS at Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers, Florida.  I'm still getting used to the idea, but I know God has big plans in store, and I'm ready to see what He's got for us there! Please pray for me and my new teammates, Mario, Nate, and Kaitlyn.

Please offer up some additional prayers for me as I attempt to love and serve God better. Sometimes it is difficult to see the big picture when you're stuck in the day-to-day.


Saint Jude, pray for us.

28 May 2012

Bad Days and Good Opportunities

Today I had a bad day. Not just a "not good" day, but an actual bad day. It's been a while since I've had one, so I'm sure I was due for one.

Bad days are good opportunities in disguise. Opportunities to grow in love, holiness, and humility. Today I failed at these things, but I'm sure that the God of Second Chances will give me another bad day sometime soon in which I can practice these virtues.

I'm so glad that when we die, the Judge is also the Defense.

Saint Justin Martyr, pray for us!

26 May 2012

Holiness... and a Lack Thereof

Have any of you figured out how to be holy? I've been working on it for a while but I think I'm doing it wrong. If anyone has any suggestions, PLEASE share!!

I'm going to go to the Source and see if He'll tell me.

Blessed be Jesus Christ, now and forever!

Saint Philip Neri, pray for us!

23 May 2012

Evangelization Gone Wrong

Sometimes I worry about how the things I do (or fail to do) accomplish the opposite of my goal. I used to believe that only pride would allow someone to feel responsible for pushing another person away from God. (You're not important enough to be able to completely push someone away from God or His Church.) I still hold to some aspects of this line of thinking, but I also know that God entrusts our souls to one another, and I know that I'm a sinner and have fallen short of the glory of God. Sometimes I fail to pray adequately for and love well the souls which have been entrusted to me.

One of the people who receives my quarterly newsletter has recently written me to tell me that she has officially left the Church. I must admit, I wept at this news. I do not know this woman very well, in fact we have never met face to face. But this letter emotionally overwhelmed me.

I will use this as a sort of wake up call. I think God is asking me to pray more vigilantly for the souls entrusted to my care, and to bring to them the Good News of the Gospel and the saving grace of the Sacraments of Christ's Church.

Saint Francis de Sales, Patron of Humility, pray for us!

10 May 2012

New Direction and the Mercies of God

For the past year, my blog posts have been mostly my prayers and things I think about.  I think one of the reasons for this is because as a sanguine (my dominant temperament... if you don't know about temperaments check out The Four Temperaments by Dr. Stephen Montgomery or The Temperament God Gave You by the Bennetts) I sometimes feel pegged as shallow. Because I'm loud and outgoing, people in the past have failed to recognize that there's more to me than just a charming personality and a contagious laugh. ;)   Anyways, I actually prefer intellectual conversations over boring small talk and I love learning.  You, as my faithful blog readers, know that there's more to me and that prayer has transformed the way I see the world.

All that being said, I want to begin to use this blog as an outlet for me (and you) to see how God is using my life to change the world, and I feel like I need to take a step back from posting about my interior thoughts to recognize the ways in which He is doing so. From now on, my posts will probably be shorter, hopefully more frequent, and more filled with my day to day happenings (especially for my sweet Auburn Tigers who want to know about my life post-Auburn). Starting after this post.

Lately I've been meditating on the phrase my brilliant Team Director Katie O'Donnell would say so often in morning prayer: Thank you Lord, that your mercies are new every morning.

Woah. Every morning?! New?

Heck... the only good mornings I have are when they're spent in bed in a cold dark room. I can't even begin to imagine new mercies every morning!

And yet, it is true. His mercies are new every morning. But don't they have to be? If there's any chance of my poor soul making it to Heaven, his mercies for me must be new each day.

I've been asking the Lord to allow me to see His people as He sees them. And let me tell you something... be careful what you pray for!

You know that feeling you feel for someone when you see them sick and dying in the hospital? Or elderly and unable to get around? Or mentally disabled? I think that's how God sees us. So helpless and in need of Him. Yes, we are culpable for our sins, but because God is outside of time, He sees us eternally at our hour of death, and I can't imagine the love He feels for us in that moment.

Today, I saw a little old hispanic woman in Mass. During Communion, she held her daughters arm as they walked up to receive the Lord. She attempted to cross her arms over her chest, and the Priest gave her a blessing. I thought... what on earth could she have done that would leave her unable to receive the  Eucharist? (Normally I close my eyes during Communion so I don't think these types of thoughts... I'm too judgmental!) But today, I thought, Lord, there's no mortal sin that this sweet woman could have committed, I wish she'd just receive You! And that's when it hit me. I don't know this woman's soul at all...  but I think it pleases the Lord for me to assume the best of people. I've said this a few times, mostly to myself: instead of being offended for God that His people don't keep His commands, He desires that I beg Him on their behalves to have mercy on their souls. Maybe this is something I should have figured out and put into practice a long time ago.. seeing as I am, by occupation and vocation, an evangelist. But sometimes God has to tell me things a few times for me to really get them!

I hope that I can learn to see the best in everyone... to see how desperately the world needs the love of the Savior, Jesus Christ. The holiest of saints thought they were the worst of sinners, and if I want to be a saint I have to both recognize the severity of my own sins, and look with eyes full of mercy on others.  Even Christ Himself said to the Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.

Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me a sinner.

25 April 2012

Lasts

As I've mentioned a few hundred times in this blog, I hate change. I'm trying to learn to embrace it, and I thought I was doing well, but I was wrong!

Today was the last day of classes for our students at Auburn. I'm packing up my room, and honestly all the change and thoughts about changes to come are emotionally wearing me out!

For those of you who don't know, next year I will (most likely) be serving FOCUS at the University of Kentucky in Lexington. I'm REALLY excited about all that the future holds!

The good news is that lasts always bring a lot of new firsts... I'm ready for those and I can't wait to share them with you!

St. Thomas More, Patron of Religious Freedom, pray for us!

09 April 2012

Peace

I've been meaning to write a blog post about all of the new things God is doing in the hearts of His faithful. I would love to tell you all about His work in me, but I still can't seem to find the words. All I know is that I've been having a lot of trouble sleeping and my mind has rarely been at rest these past few weeks. So much is going to change for me in the next month, so most of the thoughts in my head are related to all of the things I need to do before I move away from my home of the past four years. I'm so sure that my future is in His hands, but it doesn't make saying goodbye any easier! Sometimes I really feel like I'm going crazy, I much prefer some peace and quiet inside my mind. I don't know how the melancholics of the world don't lose their minds!

Please pray for my heart and mind to find rest in the Resurrection of the Savior!

Happy Easter!

Queen of Peace, pray for us!

25 March 2012

Upper Room

Today is our Upper Room for the month of March.

Once per month, we get all of our student leaders together for formation and fellowship. We talk about different things each month, all pertaining to their mission as students and evangelists.

Today, we are talking about Redeeming the Culture.

Here's a quote to ponder:

This generation of the Church will have to atone for its failure to use the media of social communication to spread the Gospel of Life. - Blessed John Paul II

What do you think?

Blessed JPII, pray for us!

21 March 2012

Wrongful Birth?

So I'm sure you've heard of wrongful death lawsuits. A few weeks ago, I read an article that made me stop and think about the direction in which our culture is heading. I am SO thankful to be working on the front lines to bring about a culture of life! Praise God!

I would post the article for you to read for yourself, but it's been taken down.

A brief synopsis of the article:
There was a couple in California who is suing a hospital for wrongful birth. During this woman's amniocentesis (a procedure where a needle is inserted into the woman's uterus to gather amniotic fluid to do pre-partum tests on the baby), the doctor somehow got fluid from the woman's body that was not amniotic, and therefore the tests were for her body, not for the baby. The tests came out normal (because she was a normal woman) and when the baby was born, the parents were shocked to find that the baby had Down's Syndrome. Fast forward to four years later, the couple is suing the hospital because they say that if they had known that their child had Down's Syndrome, they would have aborted her.

I can not imagine holding your child in your arms and telling someone you would have aborted her, given the chance.

I hope and pray that one day, the parents of that little girl can feel the way that the parents of these children in this video feel. Watch and enjoy, and praise God for the gift of life in all forms!


Saint Joseph, pray for us!

15 March 2012

Mission Update

I apologize once again for the lapse in posting. I've been thinking about my blog very often but I just can't put my thoughts into cohesive writing at the moment. I suppose my prayer life has been much like this recently. God is doing HUGE things, I'm just not quite sure what they are, and I'm definitely at a loss as to how to communicate this to others.

For the past few weeks, my teammates and I have been praying for and discussing the future of FOCUS at Auburn. This is super exciting, and we trust that God is guiding our plans and goals. You're probably not all that interested in the numbers, but if we cooperate with God's will and discern it correctly, Auburn's campus WILL be on fire for Christ and will be a place where students choose to attend college because of AU+Catholic.

This is especially exciting for me, as I draw nearer by the day to the end of my time here. I am humbled by the fact that God will do all of these things without my help. It's obvious that He doesn't need me, but He chooses to use my weakness for His glory anyways. Praise God!

Lent is halfway over, have you been to Confession yet? Don't forget to seek His healing forgiveness in this beautiful sacrament during this Lenten Season.

Saint Monica, pray for us.

26 January 2012

Teammate Profiles

I have often been guilty of posting this as my facebook status: True Life: I'm obsessed with my teammates. For those of you who are unfamiliar, True Life was a show on MTV a while back and they'd snapshot a few people who have a certain trait. (True Life: I'm a Textaholic, True Life: I Have Annoying Parents, True Life: My Favorite Color is Yellow, etc.)

God is so great and knows so me so well that He put me on the perfect team, for me. They're not perfect, we as a team are not perfect, but I think (hope) they feel the same way as I do when I say we're perfect for each other, right now.

I wanted to let you, my faithful blog readers, get an insight into my amazing teammates, so I've captured a few facts here for your enjoyment.

We'll begin with Katie O.





She is the Boss, the woman in charge. (This image pretty accurately describes her!) I've known and loved Katie for over two years, but team life brings knowledge of a person to an entirely new level. Katie is FIERCE. She can shoot guns and she loves debating about politics. Katie is an amazing Team Director. She epitomizes servant leadership. One time, I was having a bad day and Katie sent me a copy of her favorite novel to make me realize that I wasn't alone in the battle for souls. (Come Rack! Come Rope!, check it out!!) Words can't describe the awesome things Katie is doing for God's Kingdom. She is so great at encouraging and challenging and guiding our team so that we can be holier, more virtuous, and more Christ-like as we aim to serve the students on Auburn's campus.

Next we have Katie Sanders.




Katie discipled me last year and now we're teammates! SO cool! (This picture is before I knew her, but definitely shows Katie's silly side!) We've known each other for about a year and a half and we've basically been best friends since the day we met. Katie is a shopaholic but she's so virtuous that she keeps her shopping habit in check. She keeps me humble when my pride tells me to go nuts and is one of my favorite people to laugh with. Katie loves with EVERYTHING that she has and she has taught me so much about seeing people the way Christ sees them. I lean on Katie when I'm in any sort of bind and she holds my hand when I need her. She knows my flaws and loves me despite them. She has an incredible zeal for the souls of the women God has entrusted to her on this campus, and she wants EVERYONE to go with her to Heaven.


Now for the boys MEN!


Meet Brian!



HAHA! This picture was taken last weekend in Baltimore at the Student Leadership Summit (More on that to come soon!) and yes, those are banana runts. Brian and I are about to have our one year friendaversery in February! This summer, Brian was a last minute addition to our team (most placements were given at the end of week one of New Staff Training, and we found out Brian was coming to Auburn at the end of week four!) and we were beyond excited to have him! Most people would describe him as quiet, but they'd be wrong. He's kinda quirky and often hard to read. (I'm still not completely sure if he thinks I'm just plain obnoxious... I do tend to go overboard on the nicknames I give him.) Brian loves Nebraska (Go Big Red!) and EVERYTHING about it. (He even knows the state grass.) He also likes corn and I think that when he daydreams, he's dreaming about cornfields. (I project a lot of my thoughts onto him and I often tell people what he's thinking... and I'm nearly always completely wrong.) I tried to get him to side with me in the prank war against Michael, but his loyalty was too strong, so he's often collateral damage when I prank Michael. (Sorry I'm not sorry?) Brian is really holy and he is a GREAT missionary!


Last.. (but not least... fine!) is Michael!



One of my favorite hobbies is giving Michael a hard time. I'm not sure when we became arch enemies, but it happened sometime between Team Offsite in August (where we were basically olympic swimmers) and the Catholic Student Organization's Camping Trip in October. In this picture he is dressed up like a basketball player (for the Halloween Hop, we were the FOCUS 5. We BROKE IT DOWN on the dance floor to NSYNC's Bye Bye Bye and we were voted the second best group costume.) Michael is forgetful when it comes to little things (pens... backpacks... books... the list goes on) but he puts a lot of effort into the things that matter. You can find Michael spending an inordinate amount of time prepping for Bible Study... but it's only because he wants to make sure that the men in his studies get the most out of their time together. He's a nerd... (if you can't tell from this picture) and an engineer (although I haven't seen his degree with my own eyes.) He is energized by relationships which is why this job is perfect for him. Michael will probably become a priest... and if he hurries up (and if I'm called to marriage) I might let him concelebrate... or at least be the altar server. He's a great brother!

So there you have it; that is my team. I LOVE THEM!

Here are a few pictures (and a special surprise at the end) for your enjoyment!

Saints Paul, Timothy, and Titus, pray for us!


















video

17 January 2012

Shenanigans

Sometimes I like to convince gullible people of silly things. I think my friend Raf has rubbed off on me a little bit (although my deceptions are clearly jokes while his are borderline stretchings of the truth.)

Once in college, I convinced my sweet friend Kristin (Duck) that one side of the soy sauce containers (you know, the ones on every table in any Asian restaurant) was no sodium soy sauce and one was regular. I invented some fabulous story about how there was a film over one side that was semipermeable, but the NaCl molecules were too large to fit through, so the soy sauce came out without sodium. She asked how you know which side is which and I told her that it was common knowledge that it was the right side.

The other day, I convinced my friend Lindsay that I had downloaded this new app on my phone that was like a "smellovision." I told her that if you google image search any fruits or vegetables, my phone screen would smell and even taste like the image. It wasn't until after she licked my phone that I told her I was full of bologna.

In addition, I enjoy playing pranks on my sweet teammates. A few months ago, I antiqued Michael and Brian while they were sleeping peacefully on a camping trip. If you don't know what "antiquing" is, google it. I'll try to figure out how to post the video soon. (They will be thrilled.)

Also, when Michael texts me, I often respond "The Verizon Wireless user you are trying to reach is no longer available." I find this quite funny.

The bottom line is that I LOVE good, wholesome, fun.
and... I still have a few tricks still up my sleeve :)

Saint Philip Neri, pray for us!

12 January 2012

Tithing

Recently I have been thinking and praying a lot about tithing. One reason for this is because I am here in Southlake fundraising. Being a missionary with FOCUS is a blessing in many ways, and one of them is that I get to rely completely on the generosity of others for my wellbeing. In a culture where independence is so highly acclaimed, I find joy in the true virtue of dependence. We are all, without a doubt, dependent on God. We are dependent on His mercy which grants us eternal salvation and we are dependent on His constant love, without which we would cease to exist. All Christians (and most other people as well) recognize their need for God, but do we all recognize our need for each other? The first key point in the kerygma (the core of our faith) is that we were made for relationships. Praise be to God!! He created us, not only for relationship with Him, but He desires that we live in communities where we take care of one another, build each other up in the faith, and hold each other accountable.

Reliance on others takes something that our individualistic culture is in serious need of: the virtue of humility. As I've said before, I'm no expert when it comes to this virtue, just a sinner in need of Christ's transformative love, and especially in need of grace to cultivate this virtue. The good news is that God isn't a god of punishments, He is a God of second chances.

Anyways, I'm sure you've heard it said: Christ has no hands and feet on earth but yours. Of course, God is omnipotent and can do anything that He wills, with or without your compliance, but it is good for each of us to feel that responsibility. If God's work is everyone's responsibility, then it ends up being no one's. What if someone told you that Christ has no wallet on earth but yours? Once again, God is omnipotent and can do what He chooses with all of the money in the world... but what if God has a plan for the money in YOUR bank account?

God has made this promise to man: if you give to Him ten percent from your first fruits, you will never go without. WHAT?! Not only has He promised us eternity in Paradise, but He wants to bless abundantly our earthly lives as well. The Lord multiplies everything that we give to Him and blesses us beyond our wildest dreams.

I feel blessed to know the importance of tithing and to be able to give from the first fruits, not just what is left over after everything else is gone. It is much easier to develop this habit now, to give ten percent back to the Lord now (when the amount is only a few hundred dollars per month) than it would be later when the amount is larger. In good times and in bad, I will give first to Him who has given me so much. This is a great habit, so for this and the many other lessons you've taught me, thank you, FOCUS.

As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord. Joshua 24:15

Saint Matthew, pray for us.

07 January 2012

I Will Go Through The Valley

Suffering is funny, isn't it? When things are going well, I pray that I may have a little taste of Christ's suffering so that I may unite myself more fully to Him and so that I may grow in holiness. When it comes, I beg for the Lord to remove it from me.


Never doubt in the darkness what you knew to be true in the light.

Holy Infant of Prague, have mercy on us.

04 January 2012

Home Away From Home

Happy New Year!!

I hope you all have had an amazing holiday season filled with God's many blessings.

Today I have been thinking about the concept of home. I am "home" in Southlake, finishing up some last minute fundraising and preparing to head back to my other home in Auburn. I long for Auburn like a child on Christmas morning who lies in bed waiting for some sign of life from among siblings and cousins so that they can all rush down the stairs to see their gifts under the tree. I'm waiting patiently (outwardly, anyways) to go back, and my soul is excited to see what God has planned for this semester. Inwardly, I am anxious about many things. (To me, Martha, the Lord has said, "You are in need of only one thing.")

Knowing that I have been blessed with just one more semester at Auburn, I want to make the best of it. After May, I will scarcely be able to return to my Alma Mater, my "home away from home" of these four years. At first this made me nervous: how can I move again and find a new home? After some thought and prayer, I have concluded that my longing is a result of God's will for me to serve there. Home is where the mission is, and for me, right now, the mission is Auburn's campus.

Happy Feast Day to my beautiful friend/roommate/disciple/teacher/sounding board etc., Allison.
Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, pray for us!