Hello, avid blog reader, or perhaps first-time visitor. Oh, how I have missed thee in the past few weeks. Certainly I did not forget about thee, but rather have taken somewhat of a mini "hiatus" from the blogosphere. There really isn't any particular reason for the absence, except that there are indeed many reasons, the main two being time and topics. Time, because Thanksgiving through end of the semester have been totally nuts with finishing up registrations for Seek Conference deadlines, bisonCatholic Week meetings, bible studies, discipleships, and other end-of-the-semester doings. Topics, because there have simply been far too many about which I could further develop in the sight of all of you! To put it simply, the Lord has been doing some major work on my heart these past few weeks, and in the time between all of the activities listed above, I've spent wondering what exactly is going on! Good things, I assure you. Many good things.
To cue you in on where I'm currently at in this moment of my short, 23-year life, it involves sitting in my parents' kitchen in lovely small-town Wisconsin, gazing out into our backyard where snow perfectly frosts the grass, trees, and bare bushes. Mom took a half-day at work today due to a tummy ache and dad is downstairs taking his afternoon nap. It's 1:34 pm and I'm still in my pajamas, rocking my favorite Sauk Prairie Eagles basketball sweatshirt (the black one with my name stitched on the sleeve, for those of you who may remember all of the ever-changing SP apparel). You might be wondering to yourself, "Wait Kelsey, you're already done with the semester?!" I would like to assure you, yes, yes I am. The students at NDSU, however, still have finals to take, papers to finish and projects to consume their time (along with ample facebooking to accomplish, phone calls to make, and any other form of procrastination that might creep into their finals week...going through old photos and suddenly having "so much more time to pray" were my personal faves). I already settled into mom and dad's house for the next three weeks because of a wedding this past Saturday. A couple of friends from Madison were married on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception (which, so as not to be confused, is the holy, immaculate conception of Mary, the Mother of Jesus--not Jesus Himself) and although I tried to come back on Friday night so I could make it in time for the wedding, a snow storm along I-94 blocked my path and I turned around at Fergus Falls. This led to me coming back for the night and spending more time with my lovely roommate, Cari, and then heading out again early the next morning.
I didn't make it in time for the Mass (which majorly bummed me out), but I was fortunate enough to get home in time to have a hot beef sandwich with mom and dad, get ready, and boogie down to Madison for the reception which took place at The Madison Club (flossy, flossy). Bryna, the bride, looked stunning and Nico, the groom, happy as ever. Josie and I have been discussing weddings and engagements, and being both single women we've grown so much in what it means to love someone, without actually having the opportunity to practice with our own "special someone!" We have each individually matured so much in terms of our own vocations and being able to celebrate others' joy at getting engaged or married without letting the, "(sigh) I wish that were me" creep in. Needless to say, the reception on Saturday night was a blast and I'll be honest, I felt a little bit like a celeb. Okay, that's enough self-ego-boosting; I just had the opportunity to catch up with a lot of friends that I haven't seen in a long time and who I've missed dearly.
It was funny how the same conversation happened over and over, and over, and over, with person after person. It wasn't tiresome, just funny how it seemed like every single person I talked to wanted to know two things: 1) How the heck have you been in ND?! and 2) What's next??
To answer the first question: I've been doing really well. I am in love with each of the women I have the privilege of working with and could not see myself anywhere else right now. Then insert personal tailoring of the conversation to the person with whom I'm chatting (ie with the girls, I'd spill my heart; with the guys, I'd give basic facts and tell a few jokes). As for the second question, I feel like it's senior year of college all over again! Everybody always asking, "Kelsey, what next what next!?" To which I'd often graciously respond (wink), "no clue, ask me in a month." It's funny how many times I wanted to pull that answer out, but I'm just too darn nice to do so. Instead it went more like this, "Well, I really kinda sorta definitely want to do FOCUS again...maybe apply to be a team director...but if I do that then I'm proclaiming singlehood for at least another year...I don't know...no burning call to the religious life has gripped me yet...I considered packing all my bags and moving to Fargo...I don't think I'll be a missionary there next year...maybe Texas?" So as you can see, the first prayer request on my list at left is still the one that I most need! I have absolutely no clue (with one exception!) as to what will come after May, but I am desperately trying to listen and hear where Jesus is trying to lead me. He's really wooing me this Advent Season, so I have no clue what's up, but I'm excited to find out.
As to the "one exception" I just mentioned, way back in October I applied to co-lead a FOCUS mission this summer and ended up getting one of my top two choices! (Insert girly geek-out here.) During the better part of the month of July I'll be boarding a plane and flying to Spain to hike the Camino de Santiago as a pilgrimage with a group of students! This is seriously a dream come true, and I can't believe the Lord is giving me such a perfect opportunity to do so. If you'd like a little back-story, let me entreat you with a little tale of my history with the Camino...
Back in the winter of 2010/2011 an amazing opportunity presented itself to me: complete this hike with some of my favorite people from Madison (that includes you, padre, Gina and Madeline...) and then end at World Youth Day in Madrid; another dream of mine! I was in a class titled 'Europe' and had just learned about the Camino, along with preparing for the premiere screening of the movie, The Way at the 2011 'Answering the Call' FOCUS conference (which is all about a dad hiking the Camino to honor his son). So needless to say, I was pretty stoked to have the opportunity to go do the same with a group of people that I loved, and have the sacraments available on the way! Literally, a dream come true for this girl. *Un*fortunately, for those of you who read/know my testimony of becoming a missionary, you know that I had no idea what was in store for me at the conference that year. Long story short: I ended up hearing a call to be a missionary with FOCUS and the Lord stirred in my heart and actually gave me the desire to carry out the work--where as before, I had absolutely no desire to do this. I applied, interviewed, got accepted and was so excited! This was the Lord's will for me and I couldn't have wanted anything more than doing exactly that. In my excitement I ended up praying this prayer: Lord, if there is anything in the way of me doing your will, please just take it away and remove it from my life, no matter what. The next week He ever so graciously responded (as any good gentleman would) and removed a few things from my life, one of them being the opportunity to go on the Camino (for which I had already paid my $300 non-refundable deposit...) because it overlapped with the dates of my expected arrival to campus in August. To put it nicely, I was disappointed. However, I did remember my own prayer and decided that I should be thankful rather than resentful because God does answer our prayers! As I witnessed His faithfulness I decided to take it one step further and ask Him to give me another opportunity to go with two conditions: 1) that it be with a group and 2) that there be a priest on the trip. As it currently stands there will be a group of non-determined students and Fr. Jim Chern, the priest at Montclair State, coming along on this trip! Look at the Lord's faithfulness...I am completely blown away.
So now I sit at home, working on MPD, my relationship with mom and dad and spending some time with the new puppy that they got over Thanksgiving.
Not a bad deal!