The first Newman Center to serve our community opened this fall to residents and students. The dormitory and gathering spaces have been a huge blessing to the students and campus ministry. While we have been so grateful for the space the Newman Center offers, we were also eagerly awaiting the completion of the chapel which we originally expected to be ready last fall as well. In God’s perfect timing, the St. John Paul II Oratory was dedicated on the 12th anniversary of our beloved pope’s passing into eternal life. It was such a special day and we feel so blessed to be a part of this community. Join us in praying for all those who will encounter our Lord Jesus Christ at the St. John Paul II Oratory and Newman Center. ❤
It seems that I read more when life is stressful. When I’m tired from packing, or other details from the Big Move, or when life with four little kids is more crazy than usual… It’s so great to be able to run into an imaginary world for a while. Besides reading the late great Flannery O’Connor for book club, I’ve also been enjoying these good books.
This is the story of a young actress trying to make it in New York. But it was so relatable. It could have been me and my friends, just after college, trying to figure out what the heck we were doing with our lives and who we wanted to have along for the ride. This was the book version of the favorite romantic comedy that you could watch every day. Loved it.
I checked out Eleanor and Park from the library last week. I think I read it in a day. It’s the story of two misfit high schoolers who give love their best shot. The characters were so real. I think we all knew Eleanor and Park in high school. Well, that, or we were Eleanor or Park in high school. I loved the story, the characters, and all of the music references.
I had seen The Rosie Project mentioned a lot over the last few months and decided to give it a try. It’s the story of Don Tillman, a quirky professor who sets out to find his ideal match. Instead he meets Rosie, who is all wrong for him, and she sidetracks him with the project of finding her biological father. I thought it was clever and fun to read.
If you’re up for something with more drama, I recommend this debut novel by Celeste Ng. The story opens with the death of a sixteen year old girl. It goes on to portray all of the family secrets and struggles that led to that point, and that threaten to tear the family apart. I thought it was excellent. As soon as I finished reading it, I texted a friend to recommend it.
**Updated because whoops, I meant to include links to the books on Amazon. I am not an Amazon affiliate. I just meant to do that as a courtesy. Sorry I didn’t get to it sooner!**
What have you been reading lately?
Every spring FOCUS missionaries eagerly (and sometimes anxiously) await news of their placement for the coming school year. It can be nerve-wracking and very exciting to find out where you will live, who will be on your team, and what students you will be mentoring.
We were excited to receive news of our placement just in time for the end of this semester. After two years at Wayne State College, next year Alex will be serving as the FOCUS team director at the University of Nebraska- Omaha! We have friends in Omaha so we are really looking forward to the change. We move in one month from today!
Please pray for us during this transition. Packing and moving (again) with a family is challenging and we’re starting to feel the stress. Please pray for the rest of the FOCUS missionaries as well!
Here’s 7 Quick Takes on life around here this week…
1. Cute Baby Picture
That’s my little Joseph Karol. Sleeping? Not sleeping. But so cute.
Joseph is a little over 3 months old now and is starting to be awake for longer stretches of time. I spent much of the last couple days *trying* to put him down for his usual long naps. Never happened. Now we will really see what life is like around here with 4 kiddos.
3. Around the House
I got a little project done that I’ve meant to do for 3 years! Allie got a keepsake box from her godparents on her Baptism day. It holds her Baptismal candle and a few little gifts she received that we want to keep in a safe place. I wanted to make one for Joshua when he was baptized and never got around to it. His keepsakes all got stuffed into a random shoe box “just for now” until I could do the box properly. Fast forward three years and two more boys and I finally decorated some boxes! They’re super simple (we’re talking about putting pretty stickers on boxes here!) but this is the kind of thing I always want to do and just never get around to actually accomplishing. I’m happy about it.
4. In the kitchen
I’ve got a new favorite nap time ritual. Namely, make Earl Grey Lavender tea with cream and honey and then enjoy. It’s just wonderful. It has really made my afternoons more lovely.
5. What I’m reading
I have been on a reading streak lately. Just last week, I read all of the Giver quartet. Before that, I read Anne of Ingleside and The Secret Keeper. Next up is The Dean’s Watch which I’m excited to read for a book club.
6. Weekend Plans
There’s a homeschooling moms retreat on Sat that I get to attend. My spiritual director is giving a talk in the afternoon so that is a bonus. She is so wonderful. I will also need to get ready for my “big boy” Joshua’s 4th birthday on Monday. I can not believe it.
7. Clicking around
The Question Every Pro-Lifer Needs to Ask Themselves – by Sr. Mary Gabriel
Today is a Day of Penance and Prayer – by Leila M. Lawler
Have a great weekend!
P.S. I’m not an affiliate of anything. I will get nothing if you click the links above. They’re just because.
Back on campus shortly after Christmas break, I (Alex) ran into Harrison, one of men in my grad student Bible Study. While catching up with him, he introduced me to his friend Mike. A few days later, Mike accepted Harrison’s invitation to join him for Mass. I was overjoyed that he later agreed to attend Bible Study. Mike came to Bible Study that week and asked some good questions. We then decided to meet for coffee to talk more.
We had an amazing conversation. It was obvious as we talked that God’s loving hand had brought us together. I shared how, after college, I had been through the bad breakup of a really bad relationship, and for a long time I turned to alcohol to forget my problems. But the Lord plucked me out of my sin, and turned my life around. This story resonated with Mike and he shared that he had just gotten out of relationship and had been hiding his drinking problem for years. He came back to the Newman Center with me and allowed me to teach him how to pray! A few days later, feeling the weight of his own sin, Mike asked me what he should do. I told him about confession and he met with Father Scott! God is really working in Mike’s heart. By God’s grace, he has now learned how to pray a Chaplet of Divine Mercy, is visiting Jesus in the chapel frequently, attending my Bible Study, and praying 20 to 30 minutes a day. He has entered RCIA and is meeting with me regularly to learn more about the Catholic faith.
I used to live in the future. When I was a little kid, I wanted to go where my big sisters went. My parents were very strict about the kinds of activities we participated in… unless (we figured out) the activity or event was at school or church. It wasnt very long before my older sisters were involved in the school choir, the church youth group, cheerleading, and anything else that could get them permission to get.out.of.the.house! So as a 5th grader, I desperately looked forward to junior high and high school.
In junior high, I wanted to be in college. I kid you not- as an 8th grader, I paid a visit to our local state university. I eagerly asked questions about campus life, scholarships, and degree plans. After all, I would be in college in ‘just’ four more years, so I needed to know all about this stuff.
Of course, in college, I just wanted to graduate. When I was single – for what felt like forever… I just wanted to get married.
Fortunately, some time after my many failed attempts to marry myself off, I began to learn about living each day exactly where God has you in that moment. This lesson is certainly still in progress, but it has already made a tremendous impact on me. More on all that another day. And then, God did bring me to my vocation. I was finally exactly where I always really wanted to be. A wife. A mother. And as quickly as the days go by, I strive to just really be present every day so I don’t look back and wonder where my little babies went.
In any case, since November of last year, I have known that our lives would be changing in a big way. In May, we officially received our assignment to serve at the University of South Dakota. So for months and months and months, we have been in transition, preparing to begin this exciting missionary work that God has called us to.
Yet, it has been really important to me that we continue to live here in CO as long as … well, as long as we live here in CO. I dont want to check out early. I dont want to miss any precious time here with our family and friends. This community has been a tremendous blessing to us, and darn it, I want every ounce of blessing God wants to give us here.
But still the time does come when it is time to say goodbye. After almost a year of getting ready, moving away is not something that is happening in the future. It’s happening now. I have declared a week with no dish duty and brought on the paper plates and plasticware. My cupboards are bare.Rooms are overflowing with boxes. We all have about 4 options on what to wear this week because our wardrobes are otherwise packed. Our house is a crazy mess… even more so than usual, that is!
AND. This weekend we said goodbyes. Our dear pastor Fr. Daniel gaves us a special blessing for missionaries. Our friends at the parish gave us a farewell potluck party. We topped off the weekend at the annual parish picnic – which was just too too fun. (Have you ever stayed at a parish picnic for 4 hours?! Those Peruvians know how to throw a party!)
Then it was time to leave the party… I was really doing fine. Really. I’m excited for this adventure. But then I had to say the actual real goodbyes and it was all over. Tears streamed down my face and my eyeliner went right along with it. We tried to dab tissues on the mess but it may have actually made it worse. ** Sigh **
It is very hard to say goodbye. … But it is very very good to love people so much and to have people love you back.
The following words from a friend were a consolation, and a reminder to allow nothing to steal away my peace. I hope they are good for any of you who are experiencing changes in your life.
“Be at Peace: Do not look forward in fear to the changes in life;
Rather look to them with full hope as they arise, God, whose very own you are, will lead you safely through all things;
And when you cannot stand it, God will carry you in His arms. Do not fear what may happen tomorrow;
the same everlasting Father who cares for you today will take care of you today and everyday.
He will either shield you from suffering or will give you unfailing strength to bear it.
Be at peace and put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginations.”
~ St. Francis de Sales
The highlight of FOCUS training – for Allie, anyway- was definitely the opportunity to play with many new friends she has made. We spent a lot of time playing trains together, taking dolls for walks in baby carriages, crafting works of art, and otherwise being toddlers.
One day after lunch, we were outside enjoying the sunshine and playing with friends. There was a group of kids playing catch with a large rubber ball, and another group building a campfire out of wooden orange blocks. The youngest children, such as our little Joshua, were sort of milling around checking out the action.
At one point, the game of catch became very ‘intense’ and one young boy was dead-set on getting the ball. He crashed into Joshua, knocking him over into the grass. Allie rushed up to the rescue and scolded the young boy, saying “You don’t knock him over! … Because… because… I LOVE him!”
Now doesnt that just warm your little heart? Allie is a wonderful big sister. Unless of course she is the one who wants to knock the baby over! ;)