Friday, April 26, 2013


The best thing that could have happened to me happened just the other day. Let me explain...

I'm not sure that I've ever told you about my extreme love (perhaps an understatement) for the delightful music performed by Mike Mangione and the Union, but let me tell you:  I love it. I really love it. Theresa Strand (now Krausert!) introduced me to the wonderful sounds back in Freshman year of college when I was still learning how to stand and walk on my own two feet in the college world.

T: "Kelsey, you have got to come to Alpha Omega this Thursday! My brother's friend is in a band and they are sooo good! You just have to see them to understand. I guarantee you'll like them."
K: "Umm, ok."

In all reality, I had no reason not to go so I figured I'd give it a shot. If someone I love suggests something, there's really no reason not to give it a whirl. I remember walking in, sitting down in the pew and watching Mike strum, sing and even tap a foot tambourine, Kristina play the violin like it was her job, and a tall, thin man play a giant bass (the instrument, not the fish, obviously. But wouldn't that be something...) along with the other members of the band doing their thang. I had never heard anything like this music before, and as I sat and absorbed the experience I knew that I would want more. After the show I bought their CD's and t-shirt (which is still my favorite to this day) and signed up for their email list to ensure I wouldn't miss an opportunity to see them live if they came back to Madison. And so, over the course of the next three years I frequented their stops as they came to the same coffee shop down on Willy Street.

Fast forward to this year, and I think I already blogged it up about this, but I have been plotting to try to bring them to Fargo since I got here, there was just never a chance and ND isn't exactly on the way to anywhere else....except Montana and Canada. And from what I've heard those aren't exactly the hottest tourist destinations these days. But anyway, a few months ago Mike tweeted his desire to book more shows and asked for living rooms to play in. I knew it, this was my chance. I tweeted back, telling him Fargo would welcome him anytime and as soon as he responded with, "@kelseymarie1989 ok lets make fargo happen" I knew I was in!! I instantly started scheming ideas with my teammates and before long we planned a slightly but not at all arbitrary date of Saturday, April 20th for them to come play for not only us, but also the other missionaries in the region as we also planned our Great North FOCUS regional gathering for that weekend. That was way back in January and I was already 100% elated for the possibility of a chance. Sharing a CD from MM&U is just not the same as sharing a live, concert-esque experience. I even recall the time Molly and I drove all the way to Milwaukee to see them and couldn't get in because they were playing at a 21 and up venue and we were 19 and 20 years old. Oh, the innocence of the youth.

With plans finalizing of a coffeehouse event featuring my favorite band ever, I began counting down the days until 4/20 months before, and not for the same reasons that some other individuals might if you catch my drift (slight pun, also slightly inappropriate). Cari made some killer signs and we plastered them all over campus and even downtown wherever we could find open places. That included Pita Pit, Spicy Pie, the restrooms (yes, male AND female) at Atomic Coffee, and a few other local gems. I found out after the event that people showed up just because they saw a flyer! How neat is that? Pretty neat.

One of Cari's flyers hanging in an undetermined location :)
Friday afternoon rolls around and the few missionaries actually able to make it showed up for the gathering, and Jenne Forman even came with one of her students, Melissa! Such a huge blessing to have Jenne come, knowing that the next time I leave and come back to Fargo she will already have been living here for three months! I can't believe it. We had a great time socializing, catching up and sharing life on Friday night at my favorite Fargo tavern, Three Lyons Pub. Saturday, however, was the day. I woke up that morning on little sleep as though it were Christmas morning. "Today's the day," I thought to myself. "Mike and crew will be here. Tonight." Without even thinking, the words "Guess what today is! Mike Mangione is coming!!" would slip through my lips at every opportunity throughout the day and the other missionaries started getting a little bit more excited as time went on, simply because I was so beside myself with joy.

We went to Grazies for a big dinner *on the region* (which means we can eat yummy food and FOCUS picks up the tab) but I left early so I could pick up some water bottles (as requested by Fr. Cheney) and still get to greet the band before the show. As I drove all the way back up north from the restaurant I was so excited I was literally shaking and I ran into the gas station--I'll be honest, I'm surprised I didn't hurt myself--left my car running, and couldn't find any packs of bottled water. I snagged 6 large bottles of Ice Mountain from the cooler and clumsily got them to the counter. The clerk gave me a pretty strange look but I wasn't too concerned. I asked for a bag and he shot me a questioning look as if to say, "you got all these bottles up here, I bet you could get them to your car too." Although that's probably not what he was thinking. I threw the bag in my front seat and when I pulled into the Newman Center I reached for the handles and without any hesitation the bottles all tumbled out the bottom through a giant hole in the bag. I laughed to myself but was so excited I just swooped 'em all up in my arms and made my way into the Newman Center to find a 12-pack of Ice Mountain water bottles sitting already on the stage. *facepalm*

After walking in, I noticed Jeff and Mallory already sitting at a table, waiting for others to join them. Jeff and Mal are my friends outside of the "FOCUS world" and it meant so much that they came! The four band members were in Fr. Cheney's kitchen chowing down on some Papa John's 'za. I never
Thomas, Mike, Kristina, and Patrick.
would've guessed that pizza was their pre-show meal, and I've always wondered if musicians had to eat specific foods before performing, but I guess the answer is no. They do what they want.
I was so giddy. That's actually an understatement. TJ mentioned the next day that I "was levitating" although I don't remember my feet leaving the ground. If they did, it was because Cloud 9 had literally enveloped me and swept me away. The social hall continued filling up throughout the course of the night and nearly 150 people showed up, many of whom I personally invited (insert extreme feeling of being loved here). I snagged a seat next to Jenne and the band began to play. As their music filled the large, square room, a certain part of my soul began filling as well. When people affirm me or spend copious amounts of quality time with me, I often refer to my love tank as "filling up." There was a part of me that was so empty I had actually forgotten it existed: a tank that can only be filled
Kristina; she is extremely talented!
with joy-filled, God-centered beauty. I often encounter this beauty at weddings, Italian basilicas and Mike Mangione/other concerts. As my depleted "beauty tank" began filling back up, it didn't take long for my cheeks to be wet with tears. It's hard to describe the moment, really. Something I dreamed about for a long time just, well, happening. Sharing something that has played a huge role in my life with over 100 of my friends. Wow, what a gift.

You might be wondering why I titled this post, "Perspectives" when I have not yet shared my perspective on much, simply that I'm obsessed with this particular band. Well, it came to a certain point in the evening when the Lord side-swiped me with what I shall call a "perspective slap." Jenne still at my left, Marissa had come to sit at my right, Josie and Cari were just in front of me, many of my other friends came just because they love me, and Mike Mangione was singing one of my favorite songs. I desired absolutely nothing else in that moment. This wouldn't have been any better sitting with a boyfriend, a relationship I often desire and convince myself I need right now. As they played 'Wear My Name' I heard these lyrics:
"And I never wanted nothing but that girl to wear my name."
In that moment God shed a simple yet profound perspective into my life. He is not only leading me to my future husband, but simultaneously leading him to me! I often feel a lot of pressure to "find him" (so to speak) and want to take control. Those lyrics encouraged me to trust and abandon myself a little more to God's beautiful and Divine providence. When the time is right I will wear the right person's name, provided that is God's plan for for my life. Now, however, is not that time. Josie and I are reading and discussing a short and powerful book titled, Clean Love in Courtship by Fr. Lovasik, and the other day she mentioned a quote she had read in a different book recently.
"It is better to be single and wish you were married than to be married and wish you were single."
Isn't that the truth? This certainly fits the age-old adage, "you always want what you can't have." But so often we single girls convince ourselves that we just want to be married right now, when in fact the good Lord is giving us the gift of singleness. We have the opportunity to be single-hearted in our love for Him and preparing ourselves for that future someone, while God prepares that future someone for us. We just need to trust Him. What a treasure.

I love these two! Jenne, Marissa and I at the "after-party."
After the concert we had a pretty awesome yet small party with a few people, including Mike and the violin player Kristina (the other two were pooped and headed to the hotel to get some sleep, no judgment there). It ended up being a great opportunity to evangelize for a few missionaries and Josie and I got to hang out with Mike for a solid while just chatting it up on our couch! He even suggested potential people for me to date? Did that really happen? Yes it did. And no thanks, by the way. The last people left at 2 am! That's the latest I've stayed out in a while, and I was in my own home! That deserves a true Fargo "uff-da," especially when the alarm sounded not long after. Let's be real though, even if I would've gone to bed at 10 I would've been so excited I couldn't sleep. I was pretty stinkin' excited.
Genuine joy in those smiles. Ali and I post-concert.
To wrap up, this weekend the Lord said to me through many graces, "Kelsey, I see you. I love you, and you are worth all this and more." He showed me a glimmer of my true worth this weekend, simply with the reception of the Holy Eucharist at Mass on Sunday. After receiving Holy Communion He gently whispered in my ear, "Kelsey, I love you. This was all for you. Even if nobody came, I still would have done this for you."

This is the God I serve and the Father I love! And he loves me too.

Kelsey Marie


  1. You.Amaze.Me......always. Love you!

  2. Wish I could've been there! But I'm so glad Jesus gave you that incredible gift :) see you in a week!