March on, March on!

Goodness gracious, I apologize it’s been so long since I’ve posted anything! Time has been flying by so fast! I don’t want to write you a novel, but there’s been so many things that have happened. I’ll give you a run-down of the semester highlights so far month-by-month… I figure it might be easier that way.

JANUARY

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Well, I’ve definitely gotten to experience enough winter weather this year to make up for all the lack of it in Texas! Haha. This is a common sight I would walk outside to find, and I’ve gotten quite adept at clearing the snow from my car and shoveling the sidewalk/driveway.

SEMESTER KICK OFF!

We opened the semester with a casual pot luck at the SPO men’s household, which was fantastic. Somehow, we managed to fit 17-20 people in the upstairs area and had some great food, several different games going on, lots of good conversation. It was wonderful to have so many new faces there too! I’m encouraged to see some fruit from the work we put in last semester, and it’s just continuing to become more solid and expansive. Ryan has taken charge of a program we call “Street Evangelization” – we go up onto campus and engage in conversations with students passing by about their perspective on life, and any experiences with faith and what impact its had on them. This can often be challenging and daunting to go do, but what opportunities the Lord provides! I have had some incredible conversations with students all across the board – a vast diversity of beliefs, convictions, views, and questions. It has been incredible to share my own story with a few who have asked “Why do you choose to be Catholic?”

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Oh, I’ve also learned to crochet – quite a valuable skill and helps me stay warm too! I made this scarf/ear-warmer set while being stuck inside on the many days we were snowed in! I was very pleased!

SMALL GROUPS!

I’m excited to share with you that because of the new influx of students coming around the Newman Center, I’ve been able to put together 3 separate women’s small groups! This is a BIG DEAL! For women, small groups are the place where the wheels really start turning. The small group environment allows for really deep discussion of the material, the ability to be both vulnerable and honest because of the level of trust already established, and a place to make commitments and have accountability with them. In one of the groups, we are going through Matthew Kelly’s book The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic. (I highly recommend you to read this! It’s fantastic!) These 4 things are Prayer, Study, Generosity, and Evangelization. Over the semester so far, we have been figuring out how to establish a daily prayer routine – What time of the day works best? Where have you seen the Lord working throughout your day? What are challenges you face to having prayer time each day? What is working well? How do you see your relationship with God developing through your prayer time? ….We’ve had some awesome discussions on this! I’m so proud of all these young women and I’m blown away by watching what the Lord is doing in their lives!

MARCH FOR LIFE

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We travelled to Washington D.C. again this year for the March for Life. It was about -15 degrees the whole day, but it was so worth it! This is our SPO team, all bundled up and ready to go (with coffee, of course)!

FEBRUARY

DISCERNMENT RETREAT

The first weekend of February, I had the wonderful opportunity to take a student to visit a religious order for a Vocations Discernment Retreat. We drove up to Ohio and stayed with the Fransiscan Sisters, T.O.R. I think the Religious Life is one of the beautiful riches of Catholicism that people my age are so unfamiliar with, so it brought me a lot of joy to bring someone to understand more fully what the lifestyle of these women is actually like. We had such a powerful weekend! The retreat schedule provided us a lot of silent prayer and reflection time to slow down and actually listen to what God had to say. It was a blessing to be around the Sisters too – they are so lively and full of joy. We got to visit with them over the meal times and hear stories of what their life is like both inside and outside the convent, and how they discerned that this was what God had made them for. I enjoyed the weekend thoroughly and hope to take more students to another retreat later in the semester!

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This is the Crucifix behind the Altar in their chapel. Absolutely stunning.

BIRTHDAY WEEK!

As the end of February drew near, it brought a whole bunch of birthday celebration! A couple student’s birthday were on the 24th, Courtni’s is the 25th, and mine is the 26th. Their friends, Mike, Ryan, and a bunch of our students planned a surprise party for us all! It was so wonderful and sweet of them to do!

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Some of the lovely gifts I received!

TWO KINGDOMS RETREAT

In addition to our normal schedule of staff meetings, supervision, preparing for & leading small groups, household dinners, Street Evangelization, Jacob’s bible study, Men’s/Women’s nights, individual meetings with students, and attending daily mass, we also had a spring retreat to put on! Whew! All the time spent in preparation paid off well, and the retreat was awesome. Once again, I got to see firsthand the power of God working in these student’s lives; giving them healing and freedom from things in their past, and boldness and confidence to commit themselves to Jesus. What a great weekend!

MARCH

So, with March also came the beginning of Lent! This year, Lent has been a bit radical for me. I had already thought about and made the decisions of what I was going to do in the areas of Prayer, Fasting, and Almsgiving. On Ash Wednesday, I went to support a friend who was participating and helping put on an event for St. Baldrick’s Foundation, which is a charity that promotes awareness and raises funds for Childhood Cancer. My friend had approached me earlier in the semester about participating in it, and I told her I would think about it. Well, I was convicted that it was indeed something I should do – and it was quite perfect that it was at the beginning of Lent! So, I signed up and got in line…

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Yep, it’s been quite a semester so far! I hope your year has continued along smoothly! Y’all are in my prayers in a special way during this time of Lent – so if you have prayer requests, please don’t hesitate to send them my way! God Bless!

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Adventures bring in the New Year!

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I pray you had a wonderful Christmas and a joyful celebration of bringing in this new year of 2014! The Lord blessed me abundantly over the last several weeks, and I’d love to share several of the ways He’s done that. So, I read the above quote by Pedro Arrupe earlier in December and was deeply struck by how straightforward and simply it put my life into perspective. I thought a lot about the challenges I faced and the ways I’ve grown spiritually over the last semester. I recognized that I approach situations differently, and the way I use my time has changed as my relationship with God has continued to deepen. Truly, what we are in love with affects absolutely everything in our life. This knowledge has prompted me to ask myself the question frequently, “Camille, what are you captivated by today; what is affecting your approach to this day?”

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A fresh blanket of snow to begin the Christmas break…

We left West Virginia and spent a few days in Columbus, OH for semester evaluations and some staff time before heading to our homes. I was so excited to get back to Texas and away from the cold winter that had been descending on us, beautiful as it was. I was also very much looking forward to spending time with close friends and catching up on the past several months with everyone. It was such a wholesome time; so much laughter, wonderful conversations, sharing meals and stories, lots of coffee, some thrifty discoveries, and many nights staying up way too late! Here’s some photo highlights from the couple weeks in San Marcos:

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A great joy – music and laughter with friends

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A beautiful view and a classy time – wine tasting

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I couldn’t have come across a more perfect sign!

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Christmas Eve Mass!

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Catching up with Josue and hearing about his first semester in seminary!

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Jaclyn and I found a new coffee shop!

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Mandatory – Lolita’s breakfast tacos. 

The time seemed to fly by, of course! After celebrating the New Year with much more music, a campfire, shooting off a canon, and a few games of rock-stack, I packed up my suitcase again and headed to the airport for our SPO Mission Staff Retreat in Kansas. Thus began quite an adventure of traveling… oh my goodness! I flew with 3 other SPO missionaries from San Antonio to Houston, where we were joined by 3 more. While en route from Houston to Kansas, our plane was emergency landed in Oklahoma City because of some issue with the plane. They never told us exactly what the problem was, but we made it safely to the ground and eventually boarded another aircraft to finish the journey to Kansas City. The staff retreat was so incredible – getting to see the other missionaries I haven’t seen since August, hearing what was going on in the other SPO chapters across the nation, and coming together for several powerful talks and discussion sessions. Then, due to the inclement weather that was coming our way, those of us traveling to Ohio left early Sunday morning to get ahead of the storm for the drive back. Well, at least that was our intention! The car I was traveling in got caught right smack in the middle of it! The 4 of us (John, Will, Alissa, and I) certainly had an adventure that day! The roads weren’t plowed very well, and visibility wasn’t the best either – but we were going along quite smoothly for the first 6 hours of the trip.

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Then, the real fun began! HAHA! It was around 1pm and we decided to exit for lunch. The other vehicle we were in a caravan with had gotten ahead of us about an hour, and we knew we weren’t going to catch up with them to eat together, plus we were all hungry. So, we got off the highway and pulled up to the stoplight, behind a semi… who happened to be stuck. We backed up to let a snowplow in ahead of us to push the semi through the intersection, and then we pulled up to the light. It turned green, and we went forward… for about 10 feet. The 3 of us (all except the driver) immediately jumped out to push the car through, and we were in the clear. Much to our disappointment, practically every food place was closed but we finally found an open Wendy’s, which was only available to order by drive-through. On our way through the parking lot to order, we got stuck again, and got out for the second time to push the car. We got our food, all was good, we were on our way back out to the road, and guess what? Yep, we got stuck again! This time, some very nice people helped us get back on the road, and thanks to the awesome skill of our driver, we made it to our next stop: the gas station. After filling up, we realized the snow in front of us was too thick, so we pushed the car out yet again. Maintaining momentum is key when driving in town, going through stoplights, and getting back on the highway… which our fabulous driver accomplished well! All were in very good spirits, and we were laughing about what an adventure this trip was so far. Oh, little did we know…

Shortly thereafter, the low tire pressure light came on showing the rear left tire at 21 PSI. That’s not good! We stared at the dashboard as the numbers dropped to 20…19…18…17 in the span of about 5 minutes, as we’re all searching for the next exit and gas station to pull into. Well, none of the exits had been plowed recently, so we couldn’t get off the highway. Time seemed to move in slow motion in my mind; we are all running through various options and figuring out what we can do.  We slowed down in hopes that a snow plow would catch up to us, allowing us to pull over onto a cleared shoulder. Traffic was steadily passing us by, our hazards were steadily ticking through more minutes, the tire pressure steadily continued to drop. At 6 PSI, there was nothing left to do except get out of the way of traffic as much as possible and stop the car.

So, there we were on the side of the road making a plan of action: as fast as we could, transfer all our luggage from the trunk to inside the car, then John & Will would change the tire. OK, go! Alissa and I gave our gloves and hats to the guys, since their winter gear was mostly packed in suitcases. The wind was howling by, snow was swirling everywhere, and I think it must have been close to negative-40-something outside with the wind chill. Yikes! Inside the car, we started making phone calls to ask for prayers and let other staff know what was going on. Then, Alissa and I didn’t know what else to do except pray – for the traffic going around us to go slower, for the safety of the guys out there, for the weather to calm down, anything we could think of. 15-20 minutes later, the guys transfer the luggage back to the trunk, jump in the car, and crank up the heater. What’s the update? The lug nuts are frozen on the wheel, and there’s no possible way to change the tire. Alright, new plan: call the closest towing company. For the next hour, we were pretty much on the phone constantly… with towing places, people who were calling us back for updates, the car rental company’s roadside assistance, our mission directors, looking up nearby towns, possible hotels, etc… At one point, there was a lull in the communication, no progress was being made, the towing places were either booked or only responding to semi trucks, and Will noticed an OnStar button on the rearview mirror. We laughed, ‘Are you serious!?’ and pushed the button.

The automated voice came through the speakers, “Welcome to OnStar, your services are not currently activated. Please press the button again to continue.” So, we did. “This vehicle is not registered for OnStar services. In case of an emergency, we will not be able to assist you.” Boy, we laughed for a while after that.

Back to all seriousness though, we finally secured a tow truck to come get us, but the roads in their town were only just getting plowed, so it would be another hour before they could reach us. Well, nothing to do but wait, and make more update phone calls and texts. The other vehicle in our caravan had planned to stay where they were and get a hotel, but there was no way we would make it to where they were, so we searched for any lodging close to us. John found a sweet deal on Hotwire and booked a reservation. True to their word, the tow truck, flashing lights ablaze, pulls up around 4:30pm. After quite a bit of trial, the car finally got pulled atop the tow truck platform. Apparently, the wind had packed the snow so tightly in the wheel wells during the time we were sitting there, that the car wouldn’t budge forward. But, it eventually gave way, and we were headed to the shop!

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The towing company also happened to operate a tire shop, so they had the powerful tools necessary to get the tire off, find the puncture, pull out whatever was in there, patch it up, and put it back on. This was the massive chunk of metal that had caused our afternoon of adventure:

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Good to go, we begin heading to the hotel. We turn off the road, we are so close now, we can see the glorious sign of Best Western, and we come upon 2 stuck vehicles and a snowplow blocking the road. Well, here we go again! The 4 of us jump out to push a stranded car with Tennessee plates and with much effort, get it into the clear. The snowplow goes towards the hotel and we follow behind in the freshly cleared path, only to see a line of headlights coming towards us down the one-car-width road. The snow plow begins to turn around to plow another lane, and we see it sink as it rolls over the corner of a curb. Oh dear goodness, what’s next? After 10 minutes, we applaud as the snowplow gets free and we can continue on our way. We come upon the Tennessee car, which has gotten stuck again… so 3 of us jump out to help it get loose. They start to go forward again, and we get behind our car to help it along too. By this time, we are close enough to the hotel that we just ran behind our moving car, raising our fists into the air with shouts of victory and cheering. It definitely felt like we had just accomplished a great feat!  But, alas our windshield had frozen almost completely and our driver couldn’t really see the distinction of where the road was drive-able or not. Going around a little curve landed our car in a nice drift, and we see the Tennessee car is stuck again, but so so close to the parking lot. John, Alissa, and I run up to push it through, then they head in through the welcoming doors to check in to the rooms. I jog back over to our car to start rocking it out of the drift, and the Tennessee guy comes running up to help. We successfully free it, and the journey comes to an end!

Pulling our luggage out of the car, we realize that none of the restaurants in the town are open,  and we only have what’s left of the snacks from that morning to eat for dinner. The whole situation is simply comical to us. Oh well! We chow down on some fruit, granola bars, and donuts, watch Star Wars, and are all glad that the day is finally done. Woohoo!

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I’d just like to bring this quote back, because it ties in completely to being aware of  how the Lord affects everything. God’s providence was so evident through every aspect of our traveling adventures: We had just filled up with gas and were able to have the car going and the heater on while we were stranded for those few hours – everyone  had just eaten lunch – a tow truck was available and did get us out – the tire got fixed easily – we got a great deal on the hotel – there were no injuries to anyone – our spirits stayed high through the whole adventure. The Lord is so good!

I am very much looking forward to this coming semester, and I am excited to continue to share with you all the ways God is changing the lives of these students! God Bless y’all!

Advent

Advent is upon us! This has been a liturgical season that’s always been challenging for me to enter spiritually, and I’m not sure why. So, I’m approaching this Advent with hope of growing deeper in my understanding and experience. I recently came across a wonderful list of scriptures to go through each day of Advent, so each week I’ll post them, if you’d like to join me!

Dec. 1 – John 1:1-5

Dec. 2 – Isaiah 9:2-7

Dec. 3 – Isaiah 11:1-10

Dec. 4 – Jeremiah 33:14-16

Dec. 5 – Luke 1:5-10

Dec. 6 – Luke 1:11-17

Dec. 7 – Luke 1:18-25

I also was thinking, and it seems curious that it’s not the norm to focus on prayer, fasting, and almsgiving – similar to what we do for Lent. In order to help me live these next 24 days as a time that is very special to us, I will be increasing my attention to these 3 areas. For prayer – I will go through the above scriptures using Lectio Divina. For fasting – I will give up eating out. For almsgiving – I will use the money I would have spent eating out, and help those in need have a better Christmas.

God bless you all this Advent Season!

’tis the season… for new and wonderful things!

Hello dear friends, I pray you are well! A couple weeks ago we had the first real snow of the season! I woke up, looked out my window and saw a beautiful sight:

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What a great way to begin my day!

Well, I am excited to share with you the wonderful things the Lord has been doing over the past several weeks. A couple days after my last blog post, we had Women’s night to talk about community and share the vision of SPO Households. At least, that’s what Courtni and I had planned. We did begin with our prepared intro – loosening up the atmosphere by playing a game we call  ‘fishbowl’… it’s a ton of fun! Then we dove into the content of the night, presenting the reality that the people you are surrounded by significantly influence the direction you are traveling in. We had a bit of time to share about our experiences of this – who our ‘groups of friends’ were in high school or college, and how we adapted to these different groups based on the ‘flavor’ each had. Courtni put forth a couple questions to the women:

– What kind of woman do I want to be?

– Who is the woman that God wants me to be?

– Are those around me either helping me or keeping me from becoming the woman I was created to be?

These questions sprung forth a discussion of character qualities, virtues, struggles, challenges, and a variety of stories and experiences. We divided the women into 4 smaller groups to facilitate talking about it further and ended up spending the rest of the evening deep in discussion! So, our intention of promoting Households didn’t exactly make it into the evening, but it seems the Lord had other plans. The women I was in a group with were very interested in meeting on a weekly basis to continue the conversation! Thus, my first small group here has begun! It has been such a blessing to me, let me tell you! The girls are interested in talking about the situations they face as college students and how to respond. They want to learn more about their faith and how to live it out. They are seeking others to hold them accountable to the areas they want to grow in. It’s great! We have begun meeting every Tuesday, and after grabbing coffee and talking for an hour or so, we head back to the Newman center to work our way through Fr. Robert Barron’s 10-part ‘Catholicism’ video series… it’s so wonderful!

A ‘Theology on Tap’ series, geared towards the ‘over 21’ crowd has finally started! One Friday night out of the month, we head to a local restaurant, order a round of beers and some nachos and discuss some pretty awesome aspects of our faith. This past one, the topic was Angels & Demons, and we had a monk from the nearby Benedictine Monastery come to lead the night. The spiritual realities of our world that we sometimes forget about don’t just go away when we don’t think about them – and it’s shocking to have that ‘reality check’ every so often to be reminded of the things we can’t always visibly perceive. Whew! It was cool. I’m not sure of the next topic, but I’m looking forward to our next Theology on Tap night!

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The chapel on Fridays; a beautiful place to pray! 

On a personal note, the Lord has also been giving me so much grace through my times of prayer. I’ve found that there is such a chasm between intellectual knowledge and experienced understanding when it comes to prayer – let me elaborate a little. This will probably be a rabbit-hole tangent, but bear with me! A while back, I was struggling with the wide variety of structure in my day-to-day schedule because I am a person who very much thrives in routine. I took my frustration to the Lord, asking what to do about it, how to know which things to focus on each day to propel me through the different areas of responsibility I have as a missionary: leading Household, investing in the individual women I meet with, inviting students to take on leadership and building them up to do so, planning events, writing talks, staff meetings, professional development, personal growth in holiness, relating well with and serving the parish by leading music at mass, lectoring, being a Eucharistic Minister, etc… Well, God  allowed me to see things from quite a new perspective: the actions and events of my day hold a certain level of priority, and rightly so, because this is my full-time job. But far above and beyond the things that are color-coded and typed into my Google calendar is the priority of the time I get to spend with Jesus in prayer. I have been well aware of the necessity of daily prayer for years, but my awareness fluctuated mainly around the understanding of ‘personal prayer is essential and important to have in my life as a Christian.’ Don’t get me wrong, I valued and desired daily prayer very much with this understanding, and it has been crucial to my spiritual growth so far! However, this new perspective that the Lord gave me completely opened my eyes to see my priorities in a whole different way. I’ve known, intellectually, that it is absolutely key to have prayer be the center and driving force behind everything I do – to ask the Lord’s blessing upon the staff meetings we have so they will be effective, to ask the Lord for insight before meeting with a student so that the conversation will be directed by Him and not by me, to bring to Jesus the needs of those who have asked for me to pray for them, and on and on. The new aspect that I did not expect was discovering that my personal prayer time; whether it’s early in the morning, or the afternoon hour that I slip into the silent chapel, or late at night when my back-to-back day is over – that time I get to spend with God is the most precious and glorious part of my day. It’s no longer simply a block of time set aside in my schedule, because I know that it is important… now, my daily personal prayer time is what I look forward to most of all. I have difficulty articulating it accurately because it isn’t just knowledge that prayer is right and good, it’s getting to have moments in the presence of God Almighty, who created the universe, and loves us with a love we can barely begin to understand, and provides for us everything we could possibly need, and patiently listens to us wheedle and complain and pour out our frustrations and hopes and dreams! God, who is our firm foundation, solid and unchanging! WHEW! That is what propels everything else in my day, and provides the platform to do the work God has asked me to do! Yes, that was certainly a long tangent… I hope I didn’t lose you along the way!

Back to more tangible happenings; we collaborated with the Newman Center on their fall retreat, which took place Nov. 1-3. There were about 30 students from WVU who attended and we had a fabulous time. We were joined by many incredible guest speakers – Leah Darrow, Fr. Joe Freedy, the TOR sisters, Chris Bray, Fr. Boniface, and an organization called Generation Life. Two weeks ago, the Bishop visited us for our “Mountaineer Catholic” night, and we had Vespers (evening prayer), dinner, and a time for Q&A with him. Starting this week, a student-led bible study has sprung up on Monday evening, as well as an apologetics group that meets Tuesday at 8am to discuss how to explain various parts of Catholicism that students have been asked about. It has been quite an exciting few weeks, but I think we’re all ready for the upcoming Thanksgiving break – it will be nice for life to slow down a little and have the chance to relax and recuperate!

Also, I realize I hardly have any photos this time around… I apologize! Sometimes I get caught up and forget to take snapshots!

Have a wonderful week and a relaxing Thanksgiving! God bless, y’all!

Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will – Ps. 40:8

“Each day, every day of our lives, God presents to us the people and opportunities upon which he expects us to act. He expects no more of us, but he will accept nothing less of us; and we fail in our promise and commitment if we do not see in the situations of every moment of every day his divine will.” – Fr. Cizek, He Leadeth Me

I continue to be astounded by who God is, and what mighty works He does all the time, if only we would pay attention. How easy it is for me to be caught up in too many things, consumed by the fast-paced lifestyle of today’s society, and completely overlook the details of God’s handiwork or the opportunities he sets before us. I know I’ve definitely fallen into this time and again, only to have the abrupt reminder to slow down and take notice of what has slipped by in my haste. Finding balance in this is something I constantly wrestle with, and I think that’s a good thing! There are still many events, planning times, meetings, and preparations that go into each week, and I’m not discounting the importance of being well organized or the reality of having a full schedule. I must, however, be aware of the times in-between and not be too focused on the next agenda item that I miss out on the simple moments that God provides.  When I do slow down, I see these moments everywhere. For example: taking a Saturday afternoon to hang out with a new friend at the Buckwheat Festival!

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The past month has been full of adventures, deepening friendships, meeting new people, and being restored. The Lord has presented me with numerous opportunities to invest and be a part of the student’s lives. Diving into these relationships, really getting to know the students; their aspirations, their families, their struggles, their relationship with God… this is at the core of how Saint Paul’s Outreach is able to have the depth of effect on the campuses we are placed. To share our life with them as well; to have a vulnerability about my flaws and the areas and ways I am challenged to grow in – this is sometimes hard because we are prideful and wish to appear without fault. But the Lord is so good, and when we desire humility, He gives us the grace to be honest and open with others. In July, I wrote about my desire to continue to grow in maturity and as a disciple of the Lord. In August, we were challenged at SNE with the questions, “Are you living a life worth imitating? Are you ready to say, follow me, as I follow Christ.?” In September, I read a massive amount of books, absorbed as much as I could from them, and worked to understand how to put them into action. In our staff development reading, many phrases have jumped from the pages and stuck on my heart:

“what is not believed or lived cannot be transmitted…” (referencing our faith)

“Our parishes need to become places where it is normal for adult Catholics to ask, ‘what is God calling me to?'”

“Those who want more of the Lord will receive more of the Lord”

“…we have met thousands of lifelong Catholics whose faith, lives, and priorities were utterly transformed when they responded to an explicit call to discipleship.”

Here in October, the Lord has set out the path for that action to take place. Much self-examination of what my daily life is like has been happening – am I putting forth my best effort into everything I do?  Am I going about my day with sincerity in all my words and deeds, intentional about growing in virtue? If not, I’m aware of it and working on it. Through the depth of friendships that have been developing, I am recognizing to seek the Lord’s guidance – am I supposed to extend a call to discipleship to this particular student at this particular time? In what ways am I proving to be a trust-worthy person, that these students will know I care? Jesus gives me many small ways… one was simply being able to support a student at her induction to nursing school, since none of her family were able to attend.

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A huge event that we were able to participate in was Project Planned Parenthood, co-sponsored by the Students for Life and Mountaineers for Life organizations. What an incredible day it was, y’all! We went on campus to provide facts and engage in dialogue about the reality of Planned Parenthood’s vast participation in the abortion business. All of the numbers and figures came from Planned Parenthood’s annual report, and it was shocking to see how much revenue they make from abortions. With so many issues vying for our fired-up attention, it’s not hard to let one shocking thing be replaced by another, as our focus is drawn to each new event in the news. This subject isn’t going to disappear though, and I was actually surprised by how little the majority of students actually knew about Planned Parenthood’s abortion business. However, I was grateful for the opportunity to have respectful conversation with so many people of diverse opinions – it’s something you don’t find very often anymore. I was able to share my pro-life stance and listen to their viewpoints. Though we didn’t always agree, simply having the chance to talk about this very real issue with maturity was refreshing and engaging. I stayed out there from 9am – 4:30pm and was thoroughly exhausted by the end of the day! I hope we can bring this event back next semester.

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Then… a most restorative adventure took place! West Virginia University has a fall break, and I was able to travel back to Texas for several days! IT WAS WONDERFUL! I got to surprise many dear friends by showing up unexpectedly, and had a fantastic time!

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Blue Water Highway Band! Their album just came out… so you should go get yourself a copy! If you’re not in the San Marcos area, it’s available on iTunes!

IMG_1309The trip wouldn’t have been complete without catching up and eating some tasty Mexican food!…

IMG_1315…or going to tailgate before the TXST game and having some ribs!

It was such a good time and flew by way too fast, of course. I arrived back in Morgantown on Tuesday evening and turned right around to drive to Columbus, OH early Friday morning for our monthly staff days! Whew, it seemed like last week didn’t even exist! Now, we get to gather our mid-semester momentum and begin preparing for next year’s Households! Last year, I literally flew by the seat of my pants as the Lord directed everything to fall into place so we could have both Men’s and Women’s Households this year. Because the leases are signed in late November for the following year, we have to be totally on top of applications, interviews, house-hunting, and lease signing in order to continue the Household program. Come Lord Jesus! It’s going to be a whirlwind!

Thanks for keeping me in your prayers! Y’all are definitely in mine! God Bless!

oh, sweet September!

Hi friends!

Gosh, I’m sorry it’s been so long! I pray y’all are doing well! We are definitely into the routine of the semester, and my calendar is color-coded and organized so I can keep track of everything! So, what’s been happening over the past month, you ask? LOTS! Let’s start at the beginning of each week….

Monday! We have meetings galore to get ready for everything that will happen throughout the rest of the week. Beginning at 9:30am is our team meeting with Mike, Ryan, Courtni, and I. We begin with prayer and then launch into discussing plans, details, responsibilities, and events. Courtni and I split off at 11am to talk about things on the women’s side. I get a quick bite of lunch and then have an over-the-phone meeting with my supervisor in Ohio at 1:30pm. At 3pm, I head out to do the grocery shopping for our house for the week, then head to the church at 4pm to pray before daily mass at 4:30. Then it’s back to the house for dinner at 6:30. By 8pm, my day is usually finished and I can take some time to relax outside on our porch, read a little, or just sit and listen to music. Whew! I’m really enjoying the writing of C.S. Lewis right now. So far, I’ve gotten through The Great Divorce, The Problem of Pain, Till We Have Faces, and The Four Loves. 

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Tuesday is probably my favorite day of the week. We begin with morning prayer at 6:50am in our household, which is such a great start to the day. My morning and much of the afternoon is set aside for individual meetings with students… I love this part so much! Through these “grabbing coffee” or “let’s get lunch” times, I’ve gotten to know many wonderful women, and have the opportunity to encourage them, challenge them, learn about their lives and talk about the relevance and importance of faith. In the evening, we have a series titled ‘The New Rules of Love, Sex, and Dating’ that dives into the reality of dating in the culture today, how to approach dating in a way that will help our generation succeed in long-lasting relationships, what “love” really means, and much more. At the end, we have a short time for Q&A and I’ve been so impressed with the level of maturity in questions and discussions that have ensued. A student who came decided to incorporate the series into a project for one of her classes and I had the chance to meet with her later in the week to be interviewed for the project. Of course, we ended up just talking for a couple hours about the whole topic. It was great! After we wrap up ‘Love, Sex, and Dating’, we drive back downtown to St. John’s just in time for Adoration and the Lux et Tenebrae Mass! This is what makes Tuesday my favorite… spending time with Jesus in prayer, in the silence, illuminated by the flickering candles. It is so wonderfully peaceful. We finish the night together with Compline (night prayer) and finally get back home around 10:30!

IMG_1205Wednesday is my somewhat non-predictable day… I never know quite what to expect. Household morning prayer gets my day going and then I pack up and head to the Newman Center for the day. It is important for us to have a visible presence there, and we often get the chance to strike up conversation with whoever wanders in. Every other Wednesday, we meet with the Newman Center campus minister to share ‘what’s going on’ from Newman and SPO, and how we can help each-other out. We have a really great relationship and collaboration with them and it’s great to combine our efforts and events to reach and impact as many students as we can. When 12:30 rolls around, we gather up whoever is in the Newman lounge and head up to campus to eat lunch together. What conversations we have! (Side note here: I’ve noticed how much I talk about having conversations! They’re really important! One quote that’s stuck with me is conversion happens during conversations about commitment. It’s so true!) Then, it’s over to St. John’s to pray before daily mass at 4:30 and head home to cook household dinner. These dinners are an excellent way to invite the women into the community and connect them with others. We have 1 or 2 guests a week over to our house, and it’s always a good time! Sometimes the best and silliest part is when we are all washing, rinsing, drying, and putting away the dishes afterward. I love it!

Thursdays are usually big, long days.  We begin again with household morning prayer, then Courtni and I head to the Newman Center to meet up with Mike and Ryan for Staff Administration Time. It is important for us to have time to touch base, update our contact lists, send out invitations and emails, etc… On Thursdays, we have Mountaineer Catholics – the large event of the week. At 6:15, there is ‘Dinner for a Dollar’, provided by volunteers from the parish. It’s always delicious. Alternating every week, we either split up and have Men’s and Women’s nights, or stay all together. The turnout has been incredible, and the students have been ready to dive into whatever the topic is. The past 2 women’s nights have blown me away – we’ve talked about some really challenging things and they’ve been engaged, sincere, honest, and open to sharing their experiences and opinions with the group. Last week, we made pro-life posters to use when we go on campus with Mountaineers for Life. Yesterday, we chalked the sidewalks with affirmations and inspirations to encourage everyone on their way to class.

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IMG_1264  IMG_1265We had a blast, met some new people, and laughed a lot while plastering the campus with many encouragements!

Friday lets us slow down a little bit. The SPO team gathers from 9:30 to 11 to spend time in prayer in Adoration. The rest of the day is open to have more individual meetings with students, run errands, and get done anything that hasn’t been tackled yet. For example…writing a blog that’s long overdue!!

Each Saturday has been completely different. We had our first Lord’s Day Celebration at the Women’s Household on the 14th. It was great. Courtni & I spent pretty much the whole day cooking, cleaning, and preparing for it. Then, 20 people showed up and somehow we fit them into our house! Last weekend, Courtni & I participated in a walk to promote awareness for a medical condition called Chiari, then we drove up to Ohio for our Staff Retreat with the missionaries up in Columbus.

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Lord’s Day Celebration  –  Chiari Walk  –   Fishing at Staff Retreat

Sundays are a day of rest… as they should be… and as we need, because by the time Sunday gets here, I’m totally wiped out! We have gotten a good response for the Student Mass at 9pm. There are many students without cars, so we coordinate and provide rides for them to be able to get to church. After Mass, we entice them with donuts and invite them next door to the Newman lounge to socialize a bit! It works rather well! And thus ends a normal week for me.

I do get to keep up with my music as well… it’s very restorative for me, and I’m glad to have the ability to take some down time for myself. Last Friday, I had a date night with Beethoven and had a wonderful time.  There is an open mic tonight at Newman, so I might take my violin over and play a bit!

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Whew! Week 1 – done!

OK!! The first week kicked – off to a really great start! In collaboration with the Newman Center campus ministers and student leaders, we had root-beer floats after the 6:30pm Student Mass on Aug. 18th. There were so many new students to get to know and it was wonderful to meet them all! One of our visions for this year is to really have more of a visible Catholic presence on campus, so we brainstormed what we could do to promote effectively. Well, we tossed around a couple ideas and decided to continue with a catchy phrase that the previous chaplain had contrived: “Get your a** to Mass!”  With WVU coming in at the #1 party school in our nation, we figured that if we were going to grab these students attention, we would have to be bold. Now, I’m aware that it’s a bit controversial, and opinions differ widely… so bear with me. Yes, it does rock the boat, and that’s exactly what we need – initial shock value! There is a donkey on there too, so we can keep a sense of humor in case it got too rowdy. We headed up to the “Free Speech Zone” on campus with Ryan and Mike (the rest of our SPO team), our sign, and flyers to hand out. It was certainly a gamble to see what kind of response we were going to get, and well, check out what some of the students thought:

On Thursday, we had our Mountaineer Catholics event – there was a ton of free food, a corn hole tournament, a few students jammin’ with their guitars, a campfire, s’mores, and a whole bunch of new students! I began to experienced the reality of the scripture “Although I am free in regard to all, I have made myself a slave to all so as to win over as many as possible…I have become all things to all, to save at least some. All this I do for the sake of the gospel, so that I too may have a share in it.” (1 Cor. 9:19-23)  There is a much greater diversity of students this year than last year, and I was struck by how easy it is for me to unconsciously drift towards those who are similar to me. It was so good to realize this, get outside of my comfort zone and strike up conversation with anyone I happened to be standing close to. Was it hard? Um, yes! Was I socially awkward sometimes? Definitely! Was I wiped out by the end of the night? Completely! It was great!

Friday, Courtni and I finished some last minute preparations and then headed out to Lake O’Woods for our Women’s Household retreat! What a superb weekend! I am so so excited about being part of a household again this year. Last year, I really missed the community life that household living provides. Also, the women I get to live with this year are awesome!

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View of the lake on Saturday morning! So gorgeous!

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Got to spend some time in the water, too!

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It was very relaxing.

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Our Household!!!

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Till next time, Lake O’Woods…

So, as we move on into week 2, I’m getting settled into more of a routine and schedule. I’m grateful for this because I definitely function better when there’s consistency! The calendar is filling up with things to do, and I love it! Tonight is the first Lux Et Tenebrae Mass on campus, which is a candle-lit night service at 9pm. I really enjoyed attending this last year, and I’m so glad they are continuing it. I might be able to play violin for it sometimes as well, which would bring me so much joy! I’ll keep you posted!

God bless y’all!

Oh! By the way… here’s my address this year:

330 Wilson Ave. #2   –  Morgantown, WV 26501