Tuesday, September 11, 2012

What an awesome day.

Nothin' like a study of the CCC at Detroit Lakes.
Today, September 10th 2012, (a.k.a. 9-10), will be remembered as an incredible day for this young lady. It started out with Holy Hour, followed by coffee time with the one, the only, FRC (a.k.a. Fr. James Warren Cheney for those who are not yet acquainted), team development.. yadda yadda...a solid one-on-one with Bryan , mentorship with Kristen Vetter, (a disciple from last year who is now in Duluth as a FOCUS missionary and loving it), mentorship with my actual mentor, cookie baking, tator tot casserole making and serving dinner to the whole team, including padre.

After dinner I high-tail it over to the union only 5 minutes before bible study starts, nervous that I'm the last one to arrive. I walk into the couched area, look around, and see no one. Expecting 12 girls to show up I begin to get a little nervous, but start arranging some chairs to make a circle in my usual area. Within seconds I see Amanda and Nicole walking towards me and breathe in a deep sigh of relief. Soon after Kathryn shows up (and with an incredibly cute new haircut--she just donated 12 inches of long, luscious and thick hair to Locks of Love!), then Kayla, and Josie (who informed me she would be bringing a friend, Erica, and cookies), Sarah and Danie. I start us off with my "Grace of the Day," when Calli shows up, a young woman I met and totally fell in love with (in a very platonic way, of course, don't worry.) at the Delta Tau Delta formal in April.

Things are looking up.

I don't know how much is showing on the outside, but on the inside I am beaming like a fluorescent light bulb and have a cheesy grin smiling from ear to ear. What has just happened is basically every bible study leader's dream come true. Thank you, Jesus.

Melissa, Tatiana, Danielle at D.L I'm thinkin' magazine cover?
What I love most about leading studies is that whenever the conversation flows really well and multiple people respond to questions and Jesus' name is being dropped left and right, the time seriously seems to stand still and the Lord multiplies it for us. After what felt like the entire hour I side-glanced at the clock on the wall to my right and saw it had only been 45 minutes. Fifteen minutes is a lot more time! At this point, I'm super stoked. That's when the conversation gets real good. We start talking about having uncomfortable conversations (ie; confronting people about issues and uncomfortable topics, using Jesus' name in public, as opposed to simply saying "God," fundraising your salary...wink...etc) and what it really means to boldly proclaim Christ's name. Ouch! That's a good conversation right there. It isn't long before I look at my watch and see there are only a few minutes left on the clock and know we still have to take prayer requests, final remarks and say a closing prayer.

After praying us out and sending everybody on their merry way I literally feel like I'm walking on clouds. Yes, literally. I had to look down and see if my two feet were still firmly planted. I know that the Mass is Heaven on earth; this is true and Jesus reveals himself to me in the Eucharist a little bit more each day. [He finds fun ways to flirt with me and tease me, mostly tease. For some reason people have just always teased me, and I guess Jesus is no exception. Luckily I enjoy it.] But after today, the joy building up within me has got to be a little foretaste of what's to come after this life. Because even though I'm exhausted, I don't remember feeling this much joy since my very first bible study at NDSU last fall.

 I know I've blabbed a bit about taking personal time and making it more of a priority this year. Well today was the best Kelsey PRN time ever. Yes ever, and yes the medical abbreviation for "as needed," ask Tim or Jenne. Spending two and a half hours cooking a full meal for the team and for Fr. Cheney has got to become more regular for me. I don't care if the kitchen is smaller than my twin bed, those two hours were so well-spent it's not even funny.

Bryan, Josie, Britni, Zoe, and Sam.
This year what I desire more than just learning how to take personal time or lead bible studies and discipleships and watch college students grow in their faith, is to actually continue to seek personal growth and transformation. At the end of the year last year my spiritual director suggested that I pray for this year to be a "clarifying year" in terms of my vocation in this life. [Uh-oh, caveat: Kelsey's about to get real personal. Watch out, I'm even a little nervous myself.] For the longest time I've desired to just enter a convent somewhere and be married to Jesus for the rest of my life. Sounds like quite the American dream, doesn't it? (Sorry, that's unfunny sarcasm, but blogging this late at night makes all the crazies come out, and it's one of those things that actually is a dream for me...and many other young, devout Catholics that I know.) If you think I'm just saying words, I'm not:  I've visited multiple convents, attended discernment retreats, read books, talked with many sisters from different orders, fasted from dating (although it wasn't as much chosen as it was expected of me as a first year FOCUS missionary) and prayed much about this, and often in hopeful wishing for a call to the religious life.

Now Kelsey, why would anybody want to be called to the religious life?! That's preposterous! All you do is give everything away, wear a funny outfit and pray. What good is that? Well, in my defense I had hardly any experience with what it's like to actually live out the vocation of holy matrimony. Children crying at 2 am, making meals for six rather than one, taking kids to soccer practice, having things come up for your family at inconvenient times for me, but doing them because I love them, running around like crazy...you get the point. And in all reality, the majority of all of y'all reading this are probably moms or wives anyway, so you know exactly what I'm talking about. In fact, you're probably thinking, "Oh that Kelsey, she has absolutely no idea," and you're absolutely right. I don't. But this is my blog, not yours. What I'm trying to say is that I have very little experience in doing normal household, motherly/wife-like tasks, and that in and of itself lends me to fear the vocation of marriage rather than embrace it. But if all I know about a convent is that the nuns wear beautiful habits, live in community and pray often, well shoot, that sounds great to me! I'm trying to detach myself from everything I own anyways, that would certainly be the easiest way to do that! And the best part: no more worrying about the mysterious who I'm going to marry! Sounds great to me, I'll take it!

(And then I get what a friend of mine calls a "Jesus slap.")

After much praying and careful discerning, this year I will be heavily pursuing the vocation of marriage, but not necessarily in a dating fashion (a.k.a. no, I will not ask any guys to go on dates with me). In my own, personal way I will prepare myself for what it is like to be a wife and a mother some day. I deeply desire humility so I can learn how to selflessly love another, seeking nothing in return. It's really hard work! And I'm coming to realize that we all think we are much better at it than we indeed are.  

Serving the Tator Tot Casserole! Fresh outta the oven.
Selfless love isn't the kind of thing you put down on a résumé or brag to your friends about how good you are at it. Selfless love is the kind of thing that as soon as we say, "Oh, yeah, I do this, that and the other thing for my husband every day, I'm definitely a selfless lover," we have to stop ourselves. Why do we actually do all those things? Is it because I am head-over-heels in l-o-v-e and just can't wait to delight in him and show my affection for him? Or is it so I can hold something as collateral later, when he asks me to do something. "Well, honey, I would do that, but I spent all night making you that nice dinner and shining your shoes, remember?"

BAM.The selfless love kicks in right there. 

RIGHT when you're confronted with a task that you don't want to do. That you think you deserve not to do. None of us deserve salvation (Rom. 3:23), but our God is the Father of Mercy and sent his son Jesus to die for each of us so that we might obtain it. In fact, He really hopes we do.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. (Jn 3:16-17)
Therefore, we ought to learn from Christ himself what selfless love really looks like. I am certainly no pro. Just take a gander at a crucifix. Making dinner for the team tonight was such a delight and brought so much joy to my heart, and they all thanked me for it and "Oh Kelsey, this is great, thank you so much!" and "Oh, you really shouldn't have!" when I realized, but wait, I did this for my personal time, I wasn't even doing this specifically for you. I feel kind of like a jerk sharing that, but it's true! Sure, to some I was slaving in a tiny roasting-oven-kitchen for over two hours, but to me I was fully enjoying the gifts the Lord has given me and spending that time I needed to love myself so that I can better love others. And to bring it even more full-circle, I'm hoping that all of these little experiences--cooking dinner for the team, making brownies for a wine and cheese night, hosting bible studies--all of these will not only be a gift to those I am serving, but a lesson for me in selfless service as a devoted wife and mother (...some day....way in the future...).

What a long rant for what was supposed to be such a "quick little post." I'll wrap her up there and call it quits. Thanks for listening. Love you all.

Also, here's a picture Cari took on Saturday that might make you giggle (apparently I need to work on the whole "trust" issue):


  1. Wow! All I can say! Love the apron! Nice touch! And time to do a french braid as well, your talents have never ceased to amaze me. I could tell how incredibly happy you were when we talked last night. Thanks for sharing your joy with me :)

    1. I love you too, mommy dearest. The carrots turned out perfectly, by the way. Thank you for coaching me through it :)