It Might Have Been Easier in Florida

Saturday, September 12, 2015

In Florida, I had a terrible time in the faith; I felt like I was drowning. I was questioning why I was in Florida, why I was a missionary, and what God was doing in my life.

And I have a lot of similar feelings now.

In Florida, I didn't have anyone local. Which was easy to dismiss, since I had just moved there and was surrounded by retirees. And here it feels like I don't have anyone either, which is not quite true. I know I have my family, but sometimes I just want a minute to myself, and in Florida I definitely had that.

In Florida, I had mandatory Jesus time. And people noticed if I didn't show up. And try as I might to be angry, when I sat in front of Jesus everyday for months, eventually I had to let go of the bitterness. In Florida, I knew I was united in mission with my fellow missionaries, far away as they might be. In Florida, I knew I only had to endure 9 months, and I was done. In Florida, I had mission partners praying for me and supporting me. In Florida, I had a staff mentor who called me every week.

So it might have been easier in Florida.

I was vulnerable and my friend was better for it.

Monday, August 31, 2015

I caught up on the phone yesterday with a good friend. Good enough that she has a pretty realistic understanding of my life, meaning: she has a good idea of the ugliness in my life, as well as the more pretty part that shows up on...snapchat (no other social media for me!).

After recounting the exciting and interesting weekend she had resuming her public ministry after hiatus, she asked me about my life. And I was vulnerable enough to admit the ugly things: the things I was upset about even though I shouldn't be, the chasm I feel between me and Jesus, my classes, and more. I sobbed and sobbed.

My friend, who I know relatively well, would not describe herself as a nice person...and I would generally agree. She is strong, she is beautiful, she seeks the truth and speaks it into life. She makes big decisions. She's hilarious. She is not a sticky sweet person I go to when I want to be comforted.

In the midst of my crying and whining, I saw (heard) a change. I heard, "Aww, Katelyn, I'm sorry." I heard, "I know it sucks and nothing I say can make it better." I heard empathy. I felt genuinely cared for. I experienced kindness out of my friend who is not nice. I felt nurtured and heard.

Maybe it's a leap for me to say she's better for the conversation. If I hadn't been vulnerable, however, she wouldn't have gone beyond herself and cared for me in that way. So I think she's better for it.

When was the last time you were vulnerable with someone?

Does FOCUS Even Work?

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

If you're big on the New Evangelization, that is, trying to see how we share the Gospel (the good news of Jesus Christ-that He is God, and that He came to save us, He did save us, and He is saving's easy but complicated) to a post-Christian world (this is becoming a huge run on sentence. can't stop. won't stop.), you've probably heard of FOCUS.

FOCUS, the Fellowship of Catholic University Students, is the largest Catholic outreach program in the United States. They put missionaries on the college campus here in the U.S., where they form real relationships with college students, share the Gospel, and invest in them so they can do the same with others.

I was a FOCUS Missionary for 2 years, what I sometimes consider the best and worst 2 years of my life. During my first year, I was super homesick/very confused about God's plan for my life/amidst a team with a lot of challenges. I had a hard time making friends (the second most important part of the job). And I often wondered if FOCUS really did or could work.

Now I know.

The answer is YES. I've been off campus for a year, and in many ways, it's like my first year on staff. I have few friends. It's hard to pray. I'm not sure what God's doing in my life.


I have been so encouraged by the fruit, or what Jesus did, with my two years on staff. I have REAL RELATIONSHIPS with my friends from FOCUS. I talk to all my teammates/roommates from Georgia. My teammate Brittany and I are probably better friends now than we were in Florida. I spoke with one of the women I discipled (mentored) in Florida, and I was so excited to hear about her upcoming third year as a missionary.

I was really really close with two students from Southern. And we're still close! It's a funny kind of close. Close in the way that both of them missed my birthday...but I coincidentally received "just because" notes in the mail from each of them the same day or a day before...and I did the same to them. Isn't that the best kind of friend? Birthdays seem obligatory, but sending mail just because is a more real act of service. It's a bigger sacrifice.

The other crazy thing?

The roles have reversed! Or maybe leveled out? I went from being their missionary to needing their support to start praying again, to living a more virtuous life. And they are CHAMPS. It's been beautiful and humbling to have the women I've served invest in me.

So, does FOCUS work?

It did for me.

Being Single Requires Selflessness

Monday, August 17, 2015

I hear a lot about how marriage requires us to be selfless. And it does! I'm sure. I mean, I wouldn't know personally, but everyone really seems to talk about it.

I think being single requires selflessness, too. Maybe it's a different type of selflessness, but it's definitely there.

As a single twenty-something, I'm constantly bombarded by the suggestion to give of myself during my "single years" when I "have a chance" or "am free to give" or whatever mushy (albeit sometimes true) quote you'd like to substitute. I'm challenged to avoid Netflix and leave my little clean apartment and cat and go out and visit my parents, or attend an event, or drop a letter in the mail. For people who aren't standing right in front of me.

As a single twenty-something, I give of myself in seemingly normal ways that require much inner strength. I attend weddings. I help my friends plan them. I've grown a lot a lot in this area, where I used to cry at weddings in mourning instead of glistening with happy tears. I tended to show shock that I was losing another friend instead of joy that another one of my friends had found her vocation. While I know intellectually that other people finding their vocations doesn't set me any farther behind in the journey of my own, emotionally I struggle with it. And it requires selflessness to give and give and give of myself and to exude joy during those weekends, and especially in the following weeks, I fight (mostly not very well) to be joyful as I see my friends grow in a new relationship, as I see my life lacking in the friendship that I had. It takes selflessness to find the balance of asking about others' lives without being completely nosy and wanting the details that should be saved for their spouses. It takes selflessness for me to maintain friendships just to maintain them, and not because I need friends desperately.

When I was in high school, my employer asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I acknowledged that I was going to college, but admitted that I just wanted to stay at home with kids. It takes selflessness for me to view dating as helping someone else get to heaven, instead of a way to fulfill my deep desires and longing.

It takes selflessness to be generous with God. When I don't have a team or students or a spouse or child that depend on me, it's easy to depend on myself and ignore my joyful duties of being a Christian. When no one relies on me, it's hard to ask God what He wants of me. It's hard to live the Christian life without a partner to support me. It takes selfishness to ask God to form me. Because I want to ask Him to form me so I can find my vocation NOW. But I should really ask Him to form me so I can be more like Him and serve Him now. It's a fight to find the goodness in doing things for the sake of doing them, and not using them as a means to an end. My singleness is not an obstacle course I need to fight through to reach the prize of my vocation.

But it often feels that way.

And right now, that's okay. It's a huge area of growth. Which means it is a huge area for me to invite in Jesus. It's a huge area of grace. Because in weakness His grace abounds. This is the area of sanctification for me right now.

Single ladies, what do you think? How do you fight the temptation to be selfish? How do you decide between self-care (saying no) and giving of yourself?

30B430: Another one bites the dust

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Today is Day 31 of my Whole30.

What does that mean?

For the last 30 days I've had no: grains, legumes, sugars (artificial or natural, like honey),

For the last 30 days I haven't: stepped on a scale (except for last night), counted my calories, or felt deprived.

In the last 30 days I have: felt like my skin was clearer, gained confidence, and felt better about myself.
In the last 30 days I've had physical achievements: ran my first ever mile, dropped a size in jeans, and lost about 16 lbs.

Was it hard?


But once I decided to really really really do it, it wasn't terrible. There were definitely rough days: the first week when I didn't have power for 3 days, Day 18 was the simply the worst. The night before vacation feeling very overwhelmed about working all day Friday, driving Friday night and all day Saturday, and then trying to eat clean outside of my kitchen.


And now I have no excuses. I know I can do it. I actually DID it. Through travel and clinicals and finals and a date and no power, I did it.

I'm planning to continue eating mostly paleo...except for Saturday when I'm having a bagel with Brittany.


Sunday, July 26, 2015

This weekend I should've been studying for finals, and instead I went to Kansas City.


Okay, I was going on a date? A meeting? Hanging out with friends? I'm not sure what you call these things nowadays, but I ended up calling it a double date. With my friends Aly and Dom, parents of the sweet baby above.

The date? Wellll we won't really get into that here, but basically I'm realizing I'm a really "intense" person (this has been a realization over the past year), and I think that affects a lot of my life and relationships. But I don't really know how to rein it in yet (because that's who I am) or how much I even want to rein it in because...well, I've been working hard on learning to LIKE ME. So.

The more interesting part of the weekend was how encouraged I felt leaving. Post-formal-missionary life has been difficult for me (as we all know). Since school has started I've done a great job of taking care of myself physically, but not spiritually. The irony that I'm a former campus mish turned college student with a weak sauce prayer life is not lost on me. And I often feel confused about my life since I'm currently 25 and a sophomore in college (again!). My life feels weird and strange and unlike everyone I know.

I was so encouraged to be a fly on the wall at Alyson and Dominic's house and watch them take care of their little one, do family routines, pray together, and eat meals. I did normal stuff with Aly all day on Saturday and it was great. I heard snippets about how committed both she and her husband were to prayer. And I was encouraged. I was able to witness a couple radically living for Jesus Christ, in small normal everyday things and in big lifestyle family things. And it was beautiful. At one point I heard Aly say, "I just know that God loves us. And takes care of us. I'm not worried."

I'm so quick to forget and wonder and doubt and it was so encouraging to see my friends-real people-quietly working out their salvation with fear and trembling.

Also I really love being called Aunt Kate, taking selfies with that sweet little one, and teaching her tricks.

Whole30 Update

Sunday, July 19, 2015

It's DAY 7!! I made it through the first week!

And it was a doozy.

On Monday night (my day 1), a huge storm came through, wiped out power and trees, and put our city in a state of emergency.

Tuesday my classes were canceled and I still didn't have power.

Wednesday my clinicals were canceled and I still didn't have power.

Whole30 with no power was, what shall we say, challenging. I imagine camping would be challenging, but maybe less so. Life without power was not chosen by me, and I was hoping it would come back on and save my food in the fridge.

Instead I ate eggs at the hospital, and I ate out with my parents a couple times. Usually just doing a baked potato (plain or with mustard) or steamed broccoli and some sort of steak.

Thursday morning I found out I had power, and I got to start cooking again on Friday! It was THE BEST! I'm so excited to have my kitchen back and my fridge stocked full of healthy options.

Despite the storm, I didn't cave! Not one bite! Or lick of the finger. Even in the hotel room with my mom and brothers with nutella and swiss cake rolls. I made it.

I even found some almond milk yesterday that is Whole30 approved.  Today I think I'll put some in chai tea. YUM YUM.

I'm almost a third of the way in, and every day I don't want to quit, because if I do I'll have to start allll over.

The Whole30

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

I'm starting the Whole30!

It's another item on my 30430..and although THIS food challenge in particular isn't listed, it's the one I was hoping I'd get to complete.

My first day (7/13) is...going... I'm mostly wondering if I've made a massive mistake and I'm thinking about all the things I want to eat in the cafeteria that I am *choosing* not to eat.

After working on my BMI goal and have mixed results, I'm excited to work on a goal that doesn't involve any counting-cals, carbs, or otherwise-and I'm excited to see how my body feels in a few weeks.

30B430: An Update

Monday, July 13, 2015

Well, my first year doing the 30430 is flying by.

And I have accomplished...close to nothing on my list.

I DID complete another item at the end of April/beginning of May:


I spent a week in Georgia, and I practiced Helen's recipe, with her on standby for limited questions. I played and tweaked and finally didn't know where to go. I brought her the guac (and maybe a chip?) and she said, "It's good, Kate. I wouldn't change it."

I DID IT!! Only 28 more items left on my list...

And Some Days You Want to Quit Nursing School...

Monday, June 22, 2015

Last week one of my classmates was having a rough day. She wasn't her normal bubbly self. She wasn't jumping in to class discussion. I could sense she was stressed. I just wasn't.

Tonight it all hit me. Yesterday, as I realized I have done homework every day for 4 weeks (maybe save 1 or 2 days that first week of class), I got so overwhelmed. Overwhelmed because there is no end in sight. Yes, the summer ends in about 4 weeks, but that is far far too far to think about right now.

Tomorrow I have a midterm, a presentation, and clinical prep paperwork. The paperwork should take about 4 hours. I'll be on campus from about 8a-7p.

I know lots and lots of other people have it worse and harder than I do.

But right now it is overwhelming.

I keep thinking about the long days I had as a missionary.

I keep thinking about the long long days I had in Slovakia. The days when we were on the bus at 6:30a. When a night of sleep on a mattress from Communist Czechoslovakia just didn't seem enough. Days when I didn't like breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Days when I longed for home. Days when I missed my teammates. Days when I missed my students. Days when I just wanted to go to mass in English. And maybe eat a salad.

I knew the only way out was through. There wasn't a solution through the hard days that didn't involve getting up and bracing them head-on.

And I don't think nursing school will be any different.

So I'll study another 30 minutes. I'll get up early and study some more. I'll make a big breakfast and bribe myself through the long day with coffee. I'll pray my scrubs miraculously dry overnight tonight.

I'll put one foot in front of the other.

The only way out is through.

How I Failed a Pharmacology Test and Remembered What is Means to be a Disciple

Saturday, June 6, 2015

I just completed my second week of nursing school.

It was kind of awful.

I was feeling okay about everything until we had our first pharmacology class and I became completely overwhelmed.

Today I took my first pharmacology test online. And I failed it. Like bombed it.

I cried. I emailed my instructor. I texted some friends. I questioned my decision to go back to school.

I went to noon mass. I was reading This Tremendous Lover beforehand and learning about how Christ is our food and supplement. The author explained that Jesus completes us in whatever way we need, but that the saints asked for more-they gave themselves entirely, good, bad, or in between-hoping to have the Eucharist in place of themselves. Instead of holding on to what was "good" and asking Jesus to fill the rest, they saw that only Jesus mattered, and in their "nothingness" they asked Jesus to be theirs totally.

I thought about my pharm test. I prayed an honest, genuine prayer. "I can't do this." This is probably the prayer I prayed most frequently as a missionary. "Jesus, I can't do this, but You can."

When I was fundraising my salary, it was extremely evident that I could not do it. I knew there was no way that I, on my own, could convince people to financially support the biggest adventure of my life. But the Holy Spirit could work in their hearts as I spoke in their living rooms. When I met with students from before breakfast until after night prayer, it was clear that I had nothing to give. I needed Jesus to do it. And the full days when I knelt before the Tabernacle before bed, empty, with nothing left to give were the most satisfying.

Working at Panda didn't really make me realize how much I needed Jesus. I have been blessed with a hunger for learning and the desire to succeed my whole life, so school has always been my thing. It is easy for me to think about how I have things under control and know what to do.

So today when I went to mass, I put everything on the altar. That pharm test that I failed. The lab quiz that I aced. The girls I'm friends with. The girls I'm not friends with yet. When I was a missionary, I didn't want to do anything that didn't belong to Jesus. And I'm learning that nursing is going to be the same way.

At the end of the day, whether I'm a student or an RN, I hope to be empty because I have given everything to Jesus. At the end of the days, all that matters is that being a disciple means union with Christ-doing everything with Him and for Him.

When I Grow Up....

Sunday, May 17, 2015

In high school I was a nanny for a family who had their act together.

I remember my senior year, the mom asked me what I wanted to do with my life. I told her that really I just wanted to be a stay at home mom... It seemed it wasn't a sufficient enough answer, and I had always been on the college path.

For a brief 18 months it seemed like I was on track to make my goal... I was in a serious relationship, headed towards marriage, planning my wedding. And we broke up. And that is okay.

I'm 25 and I surely thought by now I would be married with kids. As the last of my college friends settles down this summer I try to stand quietly and rein myself in. I try so so so so hard to be happy every time I hear a girlfriend is engaged or pregnant. I try so hard to be as nice as possible and not to wish I was them instead. I try so hard not to look at my life and question. I try not to wonder what is wrong with me or why I haven't followed the path everyone else has-the one thing I have always wanted for my life.

I'm 25 and I'm going back for college round 2. Short-term goal: work on labor and delivery, have some initials following my name, BSN, RN. Long term goal: become a midwife. I finally figured out that if I can't have my own children delivering someone else's might be a pathetic replacement.

I know that God's plan for my life is supposed to be sanctification. That whatever is happening or whatever He is asking of me is supposed to make me holier, supposed to make me more ready to live with Him forever in Heaven. I have zero percent of an idea of what He is doing with my life, because being single does not seem to bring out the best in me or even begin to lead me towards virtue.

When I grow up...maybe I'll be a wife and mother... If not, I'll help the women that I'll never be.

Slovakia on My Mind

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Currently using my Slovakia backpack as my school backpack.

I took a very limited amount of items with me to Slovakia, so my backpack feels like a friend to me.

Currently in one pocket of my bag:
-2 sleeping masks
-3 rosaries
-one power cord for my computer (post-mission addition)
-one power cord for my camera
-one pair of headphones

I miss Slovakia.

30 for 30: An Update

Thursday, April 2, 2015

It's been almost 6 months since my 30 for 30 made its world debut.

Theoretically, 30 things in 5 years would be equivalent to accomplishing one item every 2 months. Sooo I should have 3 items crossed off my list.

Annnnd I have one! I have one item! That's better than zero, right?

I really thought that my BMI would be the first item crossed off my list. I lost about 40 lbs from June to November so it seemed like I was right on track... and then I jumped off the bandwagon.

I made a commitment to really look for a parish (church) here in January. I had been attending a parish that celebrates the mass in Latin. And while I don't really understand everything, I enjoyed that it was reverent and that the focus was on Jesus. Confession available twice a day, everyday.

I had a bit of a falling out with my one friend here. And I met her at that parish. And since I'm a (not) very responsible and well-adjusted adult, I chose to deal with it by just going to a different parish.

I went and went and felt okay but never fully integrated.

And then a few weeks ago I renewed my consecration to Jesus through Mary, AKA, I re-committed myself to love Jesus in a deeper way and entrust myself to Him. I wanted to go to confession and mass after my 33 days of preparation. I went to the parish I had been avoiding for a couple months... and I surprisingly felt very at home. Throughout mass I just felt at peace...and somewhere deep within me I decided and knew: this is where I belong.

I spent many months hemming and hawing over choosing a parish home. How do I find a place I fit in? How do I find a parish that is faithful to Church teaching, loves Jesus, and is docile to the Holy Spirit? How do I find believers that are striving to share their faith and read and listen to Hillsong?

Well the answer is easy: I don't know.

I'm not convinced that the perfect parish is out there. We are all growing.

At the end of the day, I found a place where people love Jesus and want to follow Him more closely. Do I feel like I totally fit in? No.

But I feel at home.