Monday, February 27, 2006

And the Verdict is . . .

I won't know for two weeks. But meanwhile, here's a quick update on the FOCUS interview weekend.

It was challenging but so awesome. The 17 applicants that joined me for the Eastern Region interview weekend were from every background imaginable. It was awesome to hear their stories throughout the weekend and their testimonies on Saturday night. The missionaries are amazing people too. They are full of energy and joy and all love what they do. I had three 20-25 min. interviews with questions about how I would react in certain situations, ways I viewed things in the faith/life/interpersonal interaction, how to bring the knowledge I have to someone who hasn't shared my background and training, etc. The missionaries are not afraid to just ask you things straight out. One day, a bunch of us were sitting around and one missionary asked, "So, what's everyone sacrificing for Lent?" Not your average chilling out conversation, but one that I learned from and one that challenged me to be open. We also spent time playing games, singing karoke, bowling, and having fun. In a funny way, that's all a huge part of evangelization too--just being able to hang out with people and be encouraging and a good sport and getting to know people better.

It's funny, I always considered myself a fairly open person, yet during this weekend, I realized so many things I was telling this group of strangers that my close friends didn't all know. For instance, only a couple friends have ever had me sit down and systematically tell them the testimony of how God's worked in my life. I've never really asked those questions of others either. I'm not saying that now I'm just going to go around blurting my testimony to everyone and following it up with, "So, what's your story?" But, this weekend has reminded me to ask real questions, to have real conversations, to participate in real fellowship, and to be unafraid to challenge and be challenged in my close friendships. It's easy sometimes to slip into the everyday mumbled greetings and cordial, "How are yous" without actually engaging the person themselves--without seeking to reach out to them, serve them with your concern and interest, and be willing to be vulnerable/open on your side and establish a real relationship/friendship with them.

Please continue to keep this all in your prayers. If they're going to offer me a job, they'll call in the next two weeks. Meanwhile, I'm praying hard to St. Paul--an amazing missionary himself--for guidance and discernment. :)

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Ora Pro Me

Dear Friends,

This Friday through Sunday, I'll be attending the FOCUS interview weekend. I'll have three interviews on Saturday plus a testimony presentation. Please pray that God will guide me & those interviewing me. If God wants me to do FOCUS, it could be an amazing opportunity to serve Him. But, I know that whatever His plans are, they are more beautiful and perfect than I can imagine now, so all I need to do is trust and try my best to leave doors open for Him to work. :)

God bless you all,
Kelly Jo

Monday, February 13, 2006

Snow Day

There is something positively breath-taking about a snowy day, and it's not just the bone-chilling air! God graced us with about half a foot of perfect packing snow on Saturday. At school we had the traditional Valentine's Dinner for the ladies, and the guys did a lovely job serving us and writing poems, as usual. Afterwards, the girls all headed back to start getting ready for the Valentine's Dance that night. I, on the other hand, went back to my room, played guitar, and was bumming around thinking about how I should be getting dressed up but didn't really want to at the moment when Beth burst in the door exclaiming, "Hey! Wanna tramp through the snow with me?" I offered a few of the most pathetic excuses ever out of habit and then promptly donned snow gear and sallied forth with my dear friend. The snow was as yet untouched and glistened in the early twilight. Beth and I ran, slid, and tromped off towards Kelly's Field. Poor Fred and AJ happened to be in our way and left our company slightly frostier than when they entered it. As Beth and I continued, we realized that Kevin's dorm was only a few yards further--great minds think alike. We walked up (well, after ditching under a tree as Larry drove by), threw a snowball at the window, and asked, "Hey guys, wanna play?" Larry, Pat, and Geoff immediately came pouring out the door and commenced a 20 min. or so guys vs. girls fight (it was mostly fair b/c they didn't have gloves). It was a blast--reminded me of freshman year a bit. At the end, the guys went back in to try and remember what it feels like to know that you have hands and we ran back to get dressed up. Oh yeah, the dance was fun too. :)

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Growing Pains

Someone once told me that "growing pains" were an old wives tale. I don't believe them--why? because I'm an American post-enlightenment woman and my empirical/experiential data tells me it hurts to grow. So there!

Seriously though, when speaking of growth on the spiritual, "Gaudium et Spes #22" level, it is amazing how much God thinks we're capable of. It is also astounding how often He is right, when we let Him take over. He's been teaching me so much these last few months--so much about myself, life, and my God. I was sharing some of the insights I've gained with a friend last night, and thought I'd share them with you as well. I know some of the most helpful bits of advice I've read or other people have given me were things they learned and were brave enough to pass on, so here's another peek under the basket . . .

"Kelly, when you go back to school, you can't just run every so often, do a couple push-ups and stomach crunchers and expect to stay in shape like you have over break. You have to be consistent and always do the extra 5 reps. that you don't think you can do if you really want to improve." My sister's encouragement transfers so well to the spiritual life too. We'll be able to say we "exercise" if we do the above, but we can't really call ourselves a true "athlete" and no one will think we're an "Olympian" if we don't keep pushing until it hurts. Similarly, I'll be able to "do the Christian thing" if I go to Church and pray here and there. But, I won't really be a good "Christian" or "Catholic" and I certainly won't become a "Saint" unless I'm willing to go the extra mile. Good challenge!

When you get to the pearly gates and God asks you, "Have you read my book?," what are you going to say? "Kinda, you know, on Sundays and stuff." [excerpt from a Matthew Kelly talk] I'm almost ready to say I have finished it. A teacher challenged me to read a chapter a night in high school and I have ever since. I'll be done with the whole thing sometime this Spring. I would recommend it to anyone--it's the most beautiful love letter ever written. It has given me so much encouragement and solace in the rough points of my life. If you can't get past Genesis, don't read it in order, the Psalms, Proverbs, Sirach, Wisdom, the Maccabees, etc. all rock.

"In Humility is found perfect freedom." [A holy card in my Bible] So hard but so true. When we look at ourselves compared to what others think of us, what we think we should be, or what we think we are, etc. we place ourselves in a box. "I'm like this." "I'm not like that." "She thinks I'm like this." "I'm bad at doing that." Those all confine you to a small cage. "God knows me as I am, loves me as I am, and He has a plan for who I can become and am becoming that is beyond my wildest imagination." That phrase dissolves all boundaries, limits, and debilitating inhibitions. Humility is seeing ourselves as God sees us in all our perfections and imperfections. Christianity is wanting to do something about it and asking Him how. It's not the easy path, but I hear the view from the top is gorgeous.

Lastly, know that you have the potential to change. So many people I run into have never had someone tell them that they have the ability to rise above the things that depress them or frighten them. God will always give the grace sufficient as long as you're trying to be honest with yourself and you're going out and doing what is necessary to try and become the best version of yourself. I look around at my friends and see the potential for so much good. They are already awesome people, and they have a whole lifetime ahead of them to become even more saintly and to do so much more to further God's Kingdom on earth.

If you made it through my musings, congrats. your level of patience has probably already scored you a spot in Purgatory. Feel free to contribute thoughts of your own on things God has taught you.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Up-date

Ok, here's a quick blog on my last few "up-dates" (you know, days [date part] where you're just really happy to be alive [up part]). *insert canned laughter*

Last weekend was a blast:
--Katrina came up, so I couldn't be a total hermit and study 24/7.
--AJ asked me to sing with him for Cup O'Coeli. We performed "Danny's Song," "Sunshine on Your Shoulders," and "Time of Your Life." Lots of fun (and I tried not to obsess too much about not being perfectly prepared and not having a monitor, etc.)!
--I spent an evening working out with some of the girls on my floor--they're such cool people & I love working out with other people (I know, typical sanguine) because it makes it more fun. (Though the people who I usually offer up the little bits of suffering, extra exertion, and sweat for probably get forgotten more.)
--A bunch of us chilled out in Coeli last night singing, talking, eating ice-cream, and rebuilding a fire. We need to do that more often. There's something irreplaceable in a scene of good friends just comfortable in each other's presence and happy to be together.
--Saturday night, I went up to Adrienne's room for an all-out 30 min. game of Twister (Sophie and I tied once we became too entangled to move) and a thoroughly girly dance party. I love having girl only dorms--it yields so many great pictures. :)
--Last night was Ted's half birthday and the guys all came and serenaded her at the window in the freezing cold. You guys make us feel like such princesses when you go out of your way to serve us like that. The little things you do speak so eloquently to the strength of your character. We girls are very spoiled to have such gentlemen for friends; you help us in turn to live according to a higher standard and to expect that out of the other men we meet outside of our wonderful little "bubble."
--I watched the "Exorcism of Emily Rose" last Friday. I wouldn't recommend it for anyone, and it was pretty scary. However, the scare scenes were not gratuitous and were very tastefully done (no gore for the sake of it or immodesty). Though it was pretty jarring (a good reminder to keep up a good relationship with my guardian angel), it was rewarding to see yet another movie that makes it hard to ignore questions like, "Is there a God? Does the devil exist? And if it's all true, what does that mean for me and for my life?" The media could do so much good in America. I only pray for the support of the people who are trying to help it to actualize that potential. I love true art.

Be Prolife: Use Google-ish

As a huge Google user, I thought this was an awesome idea!

Instead of using Google as your search engine, use http://www.prolifesearch.com/
It's powered by the same Google engine, so you'll get the same results, but every time you search, a donation is made to various Pro-Life organizations, including Priests for Life, Children of the Rosary, and the Women's Center of Chicago. You can even recommend a charity, and if it meets the criteria, they'll add it.
Here are the criteria:
An “approved pro-life charity” is defined as one that:
1) Performs, or donates to groups that perform, activities that directly support a “culture of life” as that term is defined in the moral teachings of the Catholic Church.
2) Does not partake in, advocate or suggest violence as a means of supporting a “culture of life.”
3) Is preferably an organization with a Catholic credo.
So far, they've donated over $8000 to these fine organizations! Spread the word. We can do much better, and I'd have been using it all along if only I'd known.