Tuesday, December 16, 2008

ring pop proposal


Yesterday I wasn't feeling well as I have had a cold for the past few days. But I decided to brave the illness and drive up to Ames to visit Ryan. He asked if I had any grocery requests, so I asked for beef and vegetable soup, bananas, and cherry juice.

After going to the store he called to let me know that he had purchased a few extra prizes for me.

When I got there he presented me with two cans of soup, two cartons of juice, bananas, beautiful yellow roses, and a ring pop.

It was so cute. I exclaimed, "You bought be a ring!" And he said yes. Then I said that he had to get down on one knee and ask me a very special question. So he gets down on one knee, holds the ring pop up to me and asks,

"Would you do me the honor of consuming this ring pop for me?"

To which I replied with an enthusiastic "You know I will!"

Best proposal ever!

engaging

This was probably the 3rd most embarrassing moment of my life...

The most embarrassing moment is too shocking, even for the internet.

The second most is when I happened to pass gas (really bad) during my chair placement audition for the All-State Honor Band in high school in front of my three 20-something year old male judges.

And now for #3...

This past Friday Ryan and I attended a Christmas dinner with my dad's antique car club. My dad has been the president for the past two years and is one of the youngest members. (Everyone else is at least 70). When we walked in, one of the first comments made was "Well this room just got a whole lot better looking!" And an older gentleman began to chat with us for the next 30 minutes. After meeting several of the car club members (there were about 100 people there), it was time for dinner.

As I was returning to my seat with dessert, I was stopped by Dean, the man who was going to be the next president of the car club, starting that night, and his new fiance, Linda. I talked with them for about 10 minutes, they were very nice, and one of the couples that was still under 60.

Then Dean said, "So, I hear that you are getting married!"

Me: "Well, I'm not engaged..." I didn't want to gush about Ryan to them because I knew they would regurgitate everything I said to my father.

Linda: "Oh...but are you close to it?"

Me: "We've talked about it but I think it will be a few months until we are."

Linda: "Have you looked at rings?"

Me: "We haven't gone yet..." Then my dad began giving a speech, so I sat down, glad that I'd clarified that I wasn't engaged before things got back to my dad.

My dad introduced Ryan and me to the crowd and told a little bit about each of us. So everyone knew where we were sitting and who we were. Then my dad introduced Dean as the new president. Dean gets up to give his speech and the first thing out of his mouth was:

"So Mike, I hear your daughter is getting married soon!"

One hundred 70+ year old faces turn my direction, each with an anticipatory grin. I could feel myself turning bright red, the kind of red where your face feels like pins and needles and you want to crawl under the table. I didn't dare look at Ryan, but my dad's face was a combination of shock and annoyance with Dean as he stammered "Well, I think they're still working on it."

I hid my hands under the table because all of the prying eyes were looking for my non-existent ring.

When my dad got back to the table I sheepishly giggled "Surprise!"

It was pretty embarrassing. The woodwind trio that played Christmas carols for us after the speeches informed us that they also play for weddings. And as everyone was leaving, Ryan and I got several congratulations on our engagement from well meaning 70 year old women.

So apparently I'm engaged! Just what I've always wanted!

Saturday, December 06, 2008

binary

I had one of my favorite text-message conversations ever today with Ryan's cousin Sean. Sean is a PhD sudent in computer science at Iowa State University. He lives with Ryan and I get so excited every time I get to chat with Sean!

Here's our conversation:

Kathleen: Can you write in binary?

Sean: 01111001 01100101 01110011 00100001 (yes!)

Kathleen: Does that mean yes? You are so cool!

Sean: That's a deinite yes, but hex is way more efficient than binary! 79 65 73 21

Kathleen (after consulting Ryan to find out what "hex" was): I can see that! Is that because hex is base 16?

Sean: Yes it's 1000 times better (1000 in binary of course)

Kathleen: You're a genius! I'm so excited to be your cousin!

Sean: Is it official then? Did you set the date?!

Kathleen: I wish! I'll be sure to tell you when it's official! Hopefully sometime next year.

Friday, November 21, 2008

best ever



This is probably the coolest thing I've ever made! It's a birthday cake for Christina's dad, Jim, on his birthday! She asked me to make a dachshund cake because they have two of them: Otis and Shatzi!

I'm not going to lie...I'm pretty proud of myself!

Happy Birthday Jim! Also happy November birthdays to Adam, Meggan, Dawn, and Jon!

Monday, November 17, 2008

poor ryan


Every time I cook for Ryan I always forget to make meat! I have been so used to eating a diet that consists of fruits, veggies, and cereal that I forget that normal people eat meat.



Don't get me wrong...I love meat...I just never buy it because 1. raw meat is gross and I don't like to touch it and 2. when I cook for just me a whole package of meat seems overwhelming.

So tonight I made Ryan some delicious spaghetti squash. It was really good. Of course after I bought all of the ingredients Ryan informs me that he doesn't like spaghetti squash, but I made it anyway and he liked it!

Halfway through making the dinner, however, I realized that, once again, we would be eating entirely vegetables for dinner. Oh well. It was delicious and healthy! Next I need to work on some meat recipes!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

french

Here's a sample of what I've learned in French class so far. Basically if you want to have a conversation (in French) about names, clothes, descriptions of people, classes, family members, or what you like to do ... I'm your girl.

Bonjour! Je m'appelle Kathleen. Je suis americaine. J'ai 24 ans. Je suis brune, grande, mince, et jolie. J'ai les yeux bleus et les cheveux longs et frises. Dans ma famille, nous sommes quatre personnes. Il y a mon pere, ma mere, ma soeur, et moi. Aussi nous avons un chien. Elle s'appelle Heidi. J'ai un cours de francais cette semestre. J'aime etudier le francais. Aussi parle l'espagnol et l'anglais. J'adore cuisiner, inviter des amis, voyager, et rigoler. Mon petit ami s'appelle Ryan. Nous aimons passer la soiree ensemble.

There you go! That's about the extent of my French 101 converstaional abilities!

Monday, November 10, 2008

for women only

So it's been a while. I think between the trip to Wisconsin and working days again (aka no free time in my life ever) life has been busy!

Just a quick update...Life has been good. Pretty much the same as before.

Really I just wanted to say that a dad and his little daughter just walked by me and it made me smile. He was really attentive to her and she was not paying attention to anything - very distracted. He kept having to re-direct her.

Today I finished reading a book called For Women Only: What You Need to Know About the Inner Lives of Men. Such a good book! I really opened my eyes to how men think and how I can best honor them through my actions. I definitely recommend it!

Have a great day!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

senior choir

Grandma's nursing home has delightful entertainment each day. Today they had a Senior Choir come sing for the residents. Enjoy!

video

last day



Today is my last full day here in Wisconsin. Tuesday was probably the worst day ever. Grandma only had about 3 or 4 hours total during the day where she was not having shaking/pain spells. Joyce and I spent hours at her bedside talking with her, trying to distract her, trying to calm her, and working with the nurses to figure out how to best help her.

Yesterday, she had one episode that lasted 1.5 hours, finally fell asleep, and woke up 5 minutes later totally fine. We also got to go on a car ride to a neurology appointment. It was neat for her to be able to see the outside world. She had a really good day.

Today has been good so far. She hasn’t had PT yet, which seems to be when she gets shaky and painful and anxious. Hopefully she’ll do better as they are trying a new anxiety medication.
It’s crazy that I’m leaving tomorrow. I feel like I just got here. Hopefully Grandma will get better and better…she’s had such a rough time!



Keep up the good prayers!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

ruth



Last Monday I decided that if Joyce needed help this week, I would take time off to go to Wisconsin to help her. Tuesday I cleared this with my French teacher and Wednesday I asked about the possibility of taking a week off of work. We have been kind of slow lately. Last Friday they had 4 people stay home on call, which is very unusual for this time of year. Wednesday night I talked to Joyce and asked her if she would want me to come, and Thursday night she decided that it would be helpful. So, I spent all day Friday (thankfully I’d been called off from work because of low census) calling my fellow employees trying to cover 36 hours of work. I’d gotten all but one 4 hour shift covered, and my manager said that she would just take me off of that shift and they should be fine.

I feel kind of like Ruth to Naomi. Do not ask me to abandon or forsake you! for wherever you go I will go, wherever you lodge I will lodge, your people shall be my people, and your God my God. I am not a part of their family, but I feel like I am. I hope that I can be helpful. All I want to do is lighten the burden for Joyce, even if it’s only in a small way.

So I made the 6 hour trip up to Mosinee, Wisconsin on Sunday with Mike and Adam. We met Joyce and Ryan at La Crosse, WI for lunch. It was so good to see Ryan. I had almost forgotten what it was like to hold someone’s hand! After switching passengers, Joyce and I drove back to Mosinee and visited her mom at the nursing home before heading back home to sleep.

Yesterday was a difficult day. Grandma has been having tremoring episodes but no one is too sure what they are related to. It is so difficult because she cries and asks God to please take her when she is having one (and she had three of them yesterday). Poor Joyce and I were crying right along with Grandma. It seems to be related to her being tired (whether medicated or not) in connection with physical activity. Ryan gave me the idea to keep her talking about something else during these spells, which I tried and it seemed to work pretty well.

So Grandma seemed out of it all morning and early afternoon, but when she woke up from her nap before dinner, she was totally herself. We did transfers with her and arm exercises and hand exercises and she didn’t shake once. We had long discussions where she would crack jokes and be very lucid. It’s crazy what a change not being medicated makes in her.

Keep up your prayers for the Babbitt/Stanek/Polka family. They need lots of spiritual support right now!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

foo-foo cake



My Goddaughter is turning 4 years old on Monday! I can't believe it! I babysit for her family (6 amazing kids) and the last time I was there, Cecie and I discussed her birthday plans. She informed me that she would like a pink and purple Barbie cake!


So, being the cake-making lover that I am, I decided to make her wish come true! I got a doll cake pan at Michael's, baked the cake, and decorated it with fondant frosting. (Making the dress boddice was the hardest part!)


...Probably the coolest cake I've ever made! I thought Cecie's mom was going to cry when I showed it to her. All of the kids really liked to too. Libbie (Cecie's older sister) is already thinking about the cake she wants for her February birthday. What good fun!


God bless my little Goddaughter as she grows! Keep her safe and healthy. May she grow to love and know You intimately. Jesus I trust in You!


Friday, October 17, 2008

stupid ovaries

So tonight while I was making a birthday cake for my Goddaughter, one of my ovaries decided to explode. Not literally, of course, but in an awful and painful way.

Last May I had an ovarian cyst rupture that was 1/2 the size of my right ovary. It was so painful that I fell to the ground screaming. 2 trips to the ER and over $1000 in medical bills (out of pocket) later, they decided that there was nothing they could do about it.

And of course it happened again tonight. When it happened I knew right away what it was. But the cake for Cecie was almost finished, so I had to hobble around my apartment bent in half checking on the cake every 5 mintes. I eventually called my mom crying and she came over in time to take the cake out of the oven.

As long as I kept myself in a motionless fetal position, the pain would begin to subside, but as soon as I moved, it would shoot right back. But the pain was only severe for about 45 minutes and was pretty much gone by 2 hours.

God bless my crazy ovaries!

Monday, October 13, 2008

busy weekend

On Friday I was supposed to work 7am - 7pm. Around 1pm a co-worker told me that she had gotten a message for me two hours before and had forgotten about it. She said that Ryan had called, his grandmother was in the emergency room again, and that he wanted me to call him back. So I called Ryan over my lunch break and he said that they would be leaving for Wisconsin again. Apparently she had been sitting up in a chair and had become unresponsive/barely responsive after breakfast. Back to the ER.


I felt strongly compelled to go to Wisconsin with the boys but didn't want anyone to think I was a stalker. I just wanted to be there to support the family...plus I love them all and wanted to see everyone again. So I asked my team leader if there was any way I could get off work early. She said that I would be able to leave at 3pm. After giving report, I rushed home, packed about 12 days worth of clothes in a bag (Wisconsin is cold, right? but what if it's warm?), and headed to Ames.


On my way to Ames Ryan called and said that the doctors thought Grandma had just passed out and that they may not go anymore. But I decided to keep driving up anyways. When I was almost there, he called back and said they were going. So we all loaded up Jason's van (a cousin) and made the 6-7 hour drive to Mosinee, WI. We finally arrived around 12:30am.


The weekend was full of mixed emotions. It was really good to see Grandma. She was alert and seemed mostly comfortable when we first arrived on Saturday, but by Saturday evening she was having pain/anxiety attacks. Finally she was able to go to sleep Saturday night, but it took a while for her to feel comfortable. Sunday everyone except Joyce was going to leave for home. When we went to the hospital to say goodbye, Grandma was in pain again. It was really difficult to see her like that for me, and even harder for her family.


At the end of the weekend, Ryan decided to stay there for the week to help Joyce. I was so impressed by his generosity. I know he will be a big help!

God bless Grandma Stanek! Continue to help her recover!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

new tv

Last night my dad agreed to go TV shopping with me. I have been trying to get ahold of a TV since I moved into my new apartment, but haven't had success yet. So, we went to Sam's Club, Wal-Mart, and Best Buy. Best Buy's TVs were a bit more expensive, but they had a really good exteneded warrenty, so I bought one of theirs.

Now I can watch HDTV! It is a 36" flat screen 16:9 TV. The screen is matte so I don't have a nasty glare from a light or window while trying to watch a movie (it's always been my least favorite thing about watching TV).

I began my TV career by watching an HD channel of Iowa Public Television. It is a travel/food channel that spurred my interest in traveling again! (As if it was ever gone.) I called Ryan with the request that we go to Tokyo soon!

So I'm creating a places to go list:
Tokyo
Australia/New Zeland,
somewhere in Africa
the desert
pyramids
the jungle

Any other ideas?

My dad also spent our WalMart and Sam's Club time looking at sports sunglasses that can hold a prescription. I suggested the above goggles inspired by middle school chemistry. He suggested I try on the little red ones. What do you think?

interview




One of the funniest and most amazing people I know is Christina. She and her sister Caroline have a blog and wanted to interview their readers. So Ruth Ann volunteered and so did I!

You can read about me on their blog! Also be sure to read about their adventures! Very good!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

bump on the head

Yesterday I found myself at Ryan's house debating whether or not to go home and use my gym or to use Adam's Malibu Pilates chair and videos. I thought about it for quite some time. The pilates chair was in the basement. Pros: I don't have to leave yet. Cons: There are bugs in the basement, I don't know how to hook up the DVD to the downstairs TV, and I was afraid Ryan would laugh at me if I brought the chair upstairs.

Finally I decided to do some pilates, so Ryan helped me bring the chair upstairs and promised not to make fun of me.

It was a nice workout. At the end, being the good citizen that I am, I made the executive decision to carry the pilates chair to the basement by myself so that Ryan could continue to work. He even asked me if I needed help and I said that I didn't. I picked up the pilates chair, took about 2 steps downstairs, and the footpedal flew up and hit me in the forhead.

Unfortunately, the first word out of my mouth was one I don't care to repeat. Ryan rushed over and grabbed the chair from me, returning it to its place as I sat on the steps crying. He got me an ice pack and sat with me until I realized how rediculous it was and then we laughed for a long time. I now have a lovely bump right smack in the middle of my forhead with some beautiful purple tinting.

I made Ryan promise not to tell Adam...yet.

My head hurts.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

laundry symbols

I was looking at the bathroom towels today reading the labels and trying to figure out what symbol correlated to which word. I thought I had a pretty good idea, but then thought that if I had to guess I would probably ruin my clothes.

So...here is a guide to laundry symbols in case anyone has ever wondered!




Thursday, October 02, 2008

autumn treats

-


I am really happy right now. First of all, praise God, Ryan's Grandma is doing well. They are going to move her to a rehab center tomorrow where she'll get 3 hours of therapy (physical, occupational, and speech) a day. She has amazed everyone with her progress! Keep up the prayers!

Secondly, I'm happy because I made myself a delicious fruit smoothie. I've been on a smoothie kick lately but haven't quite perfected it. The first one I made was a total disaster. I don't know if you've even seen the "Magic Bullet" infomercial, but I definitely have seen it one too many times. Very cheesy. Veeeeeeeeeeery cheesy. Anyway...they claim that you can create a smoothie for your kids made up of entirely veggies with a banana or apple in it and the vegetable flavor will be hidden. LIARS! I put in about 1/2 frozen fruit and 1/2 frozen vegetable mix (I think it was asparagus stir fry) and it tasted like onion. It was the nastiest thing I'd ever drank, but I made it, so I choked it down.

The subsequent veggie-free smoothies have been better, but I usually just throw all of the ingredients into the blender and then get frustrated when I have to keep stirring and adding juice so everything will blend.

Today, however, being the genius that I am, I first put fresh grapes in and then added the frozen fruits one at a time. Strawberry, raspberry, and blueberry. It worked so well and I only had to stir once or twice!

What a delicious afternoon snack!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

dating

It's amazing what a little break for a date will do for you! Ryan and I have been dating 6 months now and have probably only been on 3-4 official dates. (And I think I'm being generous here.) Usually we are both so busy with school or work or friends that we don't get a chance to take time out for just the two of us.
-
This past weekend we were going to go on a double date with Adam and Kimberley, but they bailed at the last minute. So Ryan and I spent Saturday night together having fun.
First we went on a walk around the ISU campus. Ryan had several places that he had always wanted to show a girlfriend, so we got a coffee/smoothie and trekked around campus for an hour or two. It was exciting; I felt like I was going back in time to when Ryan was in undergrad. I saw his old dorms and where he ate and played hacky sac with friends.
-
-
After our walk we ate dinner a The Cafe. So delicious! I got fish tacos, which I hadn't had in at least 5 years. We were both a little nervous for dinner. I'm not really sure why because we spend at least 3-4 whole days together each week, but I think we felt nervous to have "forced" conversation. Of course there were no problems at all and we had both a lovely meal and lovely talks.
-
After dinner we went bowling. I had purchased bowling shoes for myself about 4 years ago and have had them in the trunk of my car for 2 years hoping someone would eventually want to go bowling with me. The last game I played (2 years ago) I think I bowled a 67. This time, however, I got 101, 109, and 126! I was pretty excited! The above picutres are Ryan's and my efforts at making intimidating bowling faces...I fail.
-
After bowling we tried to go to Cold Stone Creamery for some delicious ice cream, but there was some sort of sports team in line so we went to Target in stead and got two boxes of movie theater candy and headed to the dollar theater to see Hancock.

The next day after church we went to Center Grove Orchard with Joe, Ruth Ann, and Roman. It was so much fun! I have always wanted to go to a pumpkin patch/corn maze and was glad to have an excuse to go. (Roman would have fun...) They had a petting zoo, corn maze, pumpkin patch, apple orchard, three little pig houses, hay rack ride (minus the hay), and a lot more that we didn't get to.

Roman liked the three little pigs' houses, but wouldn't got inside unless Ryan and I went in there with him. The corn maze was "4 acres of fun and frustration" that had 10 farmyard friends hidden inside. Ryan and I ran around the maze and found all of them (in about 30-45 minutes, I might add). I also picked out a little pumpkin that I plan to make a delicious pie out of! It was so fun. I felt like a little kid, probably because everyone there either was a little kid or had a little kid.
-
Here's some fun photos for you to enjoy!
-

-
So it was a really good weekend. It pays to take time out of your busy life sometimes to just relax and have some fun with your love.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

update

I heard from Ryan today. Apparently his grandma had a stroke in addition to the cerebral hemorrhage and the heart attack. She's lost some of the function on the right side of her body, but is doing pretty well in spite of everything.

Today she was able to eat a little bit and talk to everyone. I'm amazed at how she's doing! God is good.

Thanks for your prayers! Please keep up the prayer warrior work!

Monday, September 29, 2008

family

Today I was at Ryan's house when we got the new that his grandma had been found unconscious in her home. She was taken to the hospital where it was discovered that she had a major cerebral hemorrhage. Apparently she also had a heart attack while in the hospital, so things aren't looking too good. She did regain consciousness, though and was able to speak.

So Ryan, Adam, and his cousins Sean and Jason decided to make the several hour drive from Ames, Iowa to Mosinee, Wisconsin to see their grandma.

When I heard the news I began to cry. She is an amazing woman and I am grateful for having met her. I just kept thinking about her family and how wonderful everyone is. I was able to go to her 90th birthday party in April and felt so welcomed by the entire Polka/Stanek family. I felt as if I had been part of the family for years.


As I watch the boys scramble around the house trying to pack for an unexpected week, I wondered how I could help. When Adam told Ryan that he planned to leave in an hour, Ryan's first response was that he had no clean underwear. I saw my opportunity!

So I headed to Wal-Mart, picked up some underwear, cards, and flowers. In the checkout line the cashier joked "Are those for you?" I was not in the mood for this. "No...they're for my husband." I know it was a lie, but I didn't think it would look appropriate for me to be buying underwear for my boyfriend, and I don't want to promote a negative lifestyle.

"Well, once my ex asked me to buy her some feminine products...I said no..." and he continued to tell me about not wanting people to think the tampons were for him.

Once back at the boys house Adam was home. They were mostly packed and looked like they were getting ready to leave. Then I found out Adam hadn't eaten all day. So I headed back out to Subway with Sean.

"I would like 4 foot longs with..." 15 minutes later we left with the delicious meals. At the boy's house everyone was ready to leave. Jason had arrived, the van was packed, and everyone had made their final potty breaks. I handed each boy a sandwich and watched as they drove off.

Times like this make me really re-prioritize my life. I'm sure everyone had their weeks all scheduled out, having a good idea of what would happen each day. But then something like this happens and we gladly drop all of those plans to be with our family. I had been planning to spend the afternoon at the gym before work but instead spent it at Wal Mart, Subway, and adoration. And I was glad to do so...hoping to be helpful and make the trip easier, even in the smallest ways.

Joyce (Ryan's mom) has written a lot about her family and the amazing lives they've led. I am awed when I read or hear them recounted. It makes me grateful for the struggles that life brings and helps me to see how the difficult times can shape me into a better woman, Christian, daughter, sister, friend.

Please keep Ryan's grandma and his family in your prayers!

Jesus I trust in You!

Monday, September 22, 2008

catechetical sunday

Yesterday was Catechetical Sunday, a day to remember and appreciate those people who dedicate their lives to improving our understanding of the Faith!

So many people have been influential in my faith life. These people have come in many forms: in high school youth group, people from the many retreats I've been to, priests, sisters, parish members, other bloggers, or random people I've met in life. I want to reflect on the person who has made the biggest impact on me, the woman I call my hero, and the reason that I developed a bigger interest in my faith: Margaret Boesen.


My parents were "hippies" as I like to call them. My dad was raised Catholic and my mom was some branch of Evangelical Christian. In college (60's and 70's) they both let their faith fall by the wayside. Eventually they met each other in a bar in Omaha, NE and dated 3 years. My dad's work took them to Des Moines, Iowa but when my dad's job was going to transfer him to Minneapolis, MN, my mom put her foot down and they decided to get married. During the week of parent teacher conferences, they looked up a minister in the phone book, called their immediate family, and got married in their living room. That summer after school was out, they went camping in Yellowstone for their honeymoon.

Two years later, I was born but it wasn't until I was 6 years old that they decided that it would be important to raise their children as Christians. So my mom became Catholic and my sister and I were baptized. My parents, of course, have had a bigger impact in my faith life than Margaret, but she really challenged me to go deeper in my faith. My parents, from the time I was 6 years old, have taken their faith seriously and have encouraged my sister and I to do the same.


I always knew that being Catholic was very important. I took Sunday school and religious education very seriously, but kept it separate from the rest of my life. After 8th grade confirmation my dad gave me the ultimatum to go to the Catholic high school or join youth group. I figured that once a week with people I didn't know was better than five days a week, so I chose to join youth group.

After a few months in youth group, a new youth minister took over. At first I didn't think very highly of her. She took us on a mission trip to El Centro Del Muchacho Trabajador in Quito, Ecuador. I was 14 years old, and there were a lot of cute boys there from Colorado. Of course, all I wanted to do was chase them around. They liked to go to the bars, but (imagine this), Margaret didn't think too keenly on that, so she said I shouldn't go. After that I complained (loudly) about Margaret, making fun of her and being extremely disrespectful with one of the girls in our youth group. Unfortunately, Margaret overheard everything I said. She had been taking a nap on the top bunk in the room we were in. She just prayed for me the whole time and God told her not to confront me about it at that time. (She told me about the incident right before I graduated from high school as a testimony to how God can change people's hearts.)

Two months later, Margaret took our youth group to a retreat in Steubenville, Ohio. There my life was completely changed as I encountered the love of God in a powerful way. Margaret was there for me, prayed with me, and listened as I sorted everything out in my life. From that summer on, Margaret was my hero, and I wanted to be just like her as an adult.


She was there for me all through high school. So many of the decisions I made were influenced by her and her prayers. After high school I traveled around the country with the National Evangelization Teams "challenging young Catholics to love Christ and embrace the life of the Church." I heard about NET because Margaret had given me a promotional video about it. After that, I started nursing school after an inspiration in prayer to be more like Mother Teresa. I also helped Margaret with youth group at St. Augustin's.

I had many friends from high school retreats, but the ones who lived in Des Moines had all gone to college by the time I returned from NET. Through helping with Margaret's youth group, however, I met and became an intimate part of the group of friends I now have. They had all gone to the summer conferences at Steubenville as well, but we had been on different buses (6 buses from Iowa went every year), so I hadn't gotten to know them very well.


Christina was helping another youth minister in Des Moines, so we met at a retreat one day and began to be friends. She invited me to join her girl's Bible study and soon I was an active member of the group. Ryan was one of the people on the other Steubenville buses and in Christina's group of friends as well.


In 2005, Margaret married Charles Statsny and moved to South Dakota. I am so happy for her. She always wanted to be married and have children, but had not found the right man. In January of 2007 she and Charles had a baby, Mary Elizabeth.

God has been so good to me, and I am so grateful to Margaret for saying yes to God in His call for her to be a youth minister. My life is completely different for having met her and I cannot express how happy I am to have had her as my catechetical influence.

God calls people to this ministry everyday and uses them in profound ways. Take the time today to thank those people who have been influential in your faith life. Their lives are not easy and your gratitude will mean so much to them.

Jesus, thank you for Margaret. I pray that you will bless her abundantly for her yes to you. Bless her family as well, may they continue to be an example of Your love to those around them.


Sunday, September 14, 2008

God in the middle

Today Ryan was a Eucharistic Minister at Mass. So when I went up to receive the Blood of Christ he was the one who served me. It was a beautiful moment where I realized just how beautiful it is to have God in the center of your life and your relationship!

Love love love!

Monday, September 08, 2008

getting to know you

I took a nap at Ryan's house yesterday and had an awful dream that my parents got divorced. I woke up to myself hyperventilating and then began to cry. I was really upset. Poor Ryan was trying his best to comfort me but really didn't know what to do. He held me and stroked my hair. Then he got me a glass of water with a straw and kleenex.

All I really wanted was for him to ask me what the dream was about so I could talk about it but was feeling too proud to tell him about it on my own. Finally he asked if there was anything else he could do for me and I replied "Ask me what my dream was about." So he did.

I told him and then I cried ever harder. He said a few comforting things and then said "I really don't know what else to say." I replied that he didn't have to say anything, just listen.

So he continued to hold me and was saying "Shh..." in a comforting manner. Finally I said "Please don't shh me. It just seems like you're trying to make me be quiet." He seemed suprized because he thought that I would want to stop crying.

Evenually I calmed down and he brought me a popsicle. We just sat there and he said "I really learned a lot today. I learned that sometimes you don't have to say anything and that crying can be good." It was cute. He seemed genuinely excited to be getting to know how I work. I am happy to. I have such a great guy!

Jesus, thank you for Ryan and all of his goodness!





Thursday, September 04, 2008

reminders

I just found this blog from when I was a baby nursing student. What a good reminder of the attitude I should have now that I'm a nurse!

Thanks for the reminder, Jesus!

prosperity gospel

Ruth Ann had this on her blog. I also do not know very much about John Piper, but what he says in this video is amazing and so true.



The prosperity gospel has become embedded within our culture. Being Christian is well accepted, but it is not well understood. We hold onto the American dream, that we can be wealthy and prosperous just by living in America. Yet, rather than having a good work ethic, we want everything to be easy. So we pray to Jesus that we may be rich. And this richness, rather than being the beauty of following Him, must be in monetary form.

Being a Christian has become part of the American dream, right along with the white picket fence, 2 dogs that we treat as children, 2 cars, and 1.2 children (if that is convenient for us at the time). The perfect little family goes to church on Sundays and goes to work during the week, bringing home oversized paychecks that we don't need to share with anyone because it's our gift from Jesus.

As John Piper says in this video, "That's idolatry, that's not gospel. That's elevating gifts above giver."

What ever happened to Christianity being about following the example of Jesus, picking up our daily crosses and following Him? What ever happened to suffering being an opportunity for us to rely on God? Our culture today wants everything to be easy, so why would our view of Christianity stay true? It is not easy by any means. Our complacent tendencies should remind us to rely on God's grace...not to conform His goodness to our laziness.

Jesus, help us to hear Your Gospel with open ears and hearts. May we not distort what You are teaching us when it sounds too hard. Give us the Grace to rise to the challenge of Your Word and to follow the example You have given us.

Jesus I trust in You.


Tuesday, September 02, 2008

aa ab laut chalen

...or "Let's Go Back" in English.

Last night (or rather from 1:30am to 5:30am last morning) I watched a movie that Hakim had sent me for my birthday last year. Knowing that Hindi movies last forever, I had waited until I knew I had a good 3-4 hour chunk of time to spare. I had decided to stay up to call and wish Chrissy fairwell before she left her apartment at 4:30am, so "Aa Ab Laut Chalen" finally got played. Read the synopsis here.

It was an intersting movie...the initial portrayal of America was as I imagine many people trying to come to America for work would hold. And when Rohan initially arrived in America, it was an ideal place to be. Life was good. Throughout the movie, however, he began to appreciate the way life had been in India. The more he missed India, the more corrupt America and the American lifestyle was portrayed.
Just an interesting view of America through the eyes of another culture.
God bless Baliwood!

Monday, September 01, 2008

goodbye chrissy


At this very moment my wonderful and generous friend Christina is on her way to Chaclacayo, Peru to work at la Villa Paz Clinic for a month! Words cannot express both how proud I am of her as well as how much I'll miss her. She has been so in touch with God and has a great desire to do His will in all things. Such an inspiration to us all!

I am so grateful to have Christina as a friend. I met her in 2003 and she adopted me into her group. Without this divine intervention, I would probably have no friends and be miserable! I certainly wouldn't be dating Ryan, either, since he's in the group she adopted me in to. She has been a true friend throughout the past 5 years, holding me accountable as well as helping me to enjoy life. I will truly miss her!

God bless Christina on her journey. Keep her safe from harm and help her to touch the hearts of many in Peru, just as she had done here in Iowa. Thank you for the gift of her friendship. I pray that you would bless her work and help her to discover the plans You have for her while she is gone.

Jesus I trust in You!


Thursday, August 28, 2008

well hello again

Remember my blog "the case for settling" about the article "Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough" by Lori Gottleib? Well, I was reading an article called "The Vindication of Humanae Vitae" by Mary Eberstadt and the article was mentioned again.

Eberstadt's article is a very good one about the impact contraception has made in our society. I would recommend it! I just thought it was interesting that Gottleib's article showed up in it as well!

Perhaps the most compelling case made for traditional marriage lately was not on the cover of, say, Catholic World Report but in the devoutly secular Atlantic. The 2008 article “Marry Him!” by Lori Gottlieb—a single mother who conceived her only child with donor sperm rather than miss out on motherhood as she has on marriage—is a frank and excruciatingly personal look into some of the sexual revolution’s lonelier venues, including the creation of children by anonymous or absent sperm donors, the utter corrosiveness of taking a consumerist approach to romance, and the miserable effects of advancing age on one’s sexual marketability.

Gottlieb writes as one who played by all the feminist rules, only to realize too late that she’d been had. Beneath the zippy language, the article runs on an engine of mourning. Admitting how much she covets the husbands of her friends, if only for the wistful relief of having someone else help with the childcare, Gottlieb advises: “Those of us who choose not to settle in hopes of finding a soul mate later are almost like teenagers who believe they’re invulnerable to dying in a drunk-driving accident. We lose sight of our mortality. We forget that we, too, will age and become less alluring. And even if some men do find us engaging, and they’re ready to have a family, they’ll likely decide to marry someone younger with whom they can have their own biological children. Which is all the more reason to settle before settling is no longer an option.”


Eberstadt makes the point that younger Catholics are the generally ones who are more orthodox, wanting to follow the Church's teaching on contraception. She called us the "generation to grow up under divorce, widespread contraception, fatherless households, and all the other emancipatory fallout".

We have grown up with the effects of contraception. We have seen the hurt and pain caused in the lives of family and friends because of it. Unfortunately, because using contraception has been the norm, people my age also expect that it is good to use it. I have been asked more times than I care to remember if I am going to move in with Ryan or if we have sex. People are shocked when I say no. To use Christopher West's analogy, it is as if we have been driving around on flat tires, thinking that this is normal. Yet, when we realize the beautiful plan God has for us and begin to live life on full tires, we can't imagine how we ever thought flat tires were good and normal. Only in retrospect can we see the pain and damage caused by flat tires.

People that I have shared NFP with are generally very receptive. Of course I usually only talk about it when I hear people complain about how messed up the pill is making them. I thought that people would not want to hear about alternatives, but they do. Maybe deep down we realize that contraception is not the way God intended things to be.

It is a problem that we've really worked ourselves into. God is the only one who can change our hardened hearts.

God bless America! Show us the way.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

a useful woman


The previous blog is a quote from Pride and Prejudice, one of my favorite books/movies. I often remember this quote in my quest to become what I have termed a "useful woman."

Far from only painting tables or covering screens, a useful woman has many enviable skills and talents. She is warm and winsome (to quote Kimbery Hahn's Chosen and Cherished), she can cook, sew, clean, host parties, make friends easily, and adds a creative touch to everything she does.

There are several different types of women. You have the career woman, of which my sister is an excellent example. Then there is the studious woman, who is a lifelong learner. And the all-famous high maintenance woman cannot be forgotten. Being a useful woman is much like Austen's accomplished woman.

Having just finished the RN-BSN program I was bored and began to solidify my idea of what it means to be a useful woman. The first weekend that I didn't have school I made some delicious banana bread muffins. Then I decided to learn to cook Indian food. I did that twice. After that I cleaned my entire house, including scrubbing the bathroom floor on my hands and knees. Then I organized the spare room of my apartment as well as the storage unit.

I am trying. Still haven't mastered anything yet. Maybe I'll be bored with it tomorrow...who knows. But at least I'm tyring.

God bless the useful woman!

an accomplished woman

An exerpt from Pride and Prejudice Chapter 8



"It is amazing to me," said Bingley, "how young ladies can have patience to be so very accomplished as they all are."

"All young ladies accomplished! My dear Charles, what do you mean?"

"Yes, all of them, I think. They all paint tables, cover screens, and net purses. I scarcely know anyone who cannot do all this, and I am sure I never heard a young lady spoken of for the first time, without being informed that she was very accomplished."

"Your list of the common extent of accomplishments," said Darcy, "has too much truth. The word is applied to many a woman who deserves it no otherwise than by netting a purse or covering a screen. But I am very far from agreeing with you in your estimation of ladies in general. I cannot boast of knowing more than half-a-dozen, in the whole range of my acquaintance, that are really accomplished."

"Nor I, I am sure," said Miss Bingley.

"Then," observed Elizabeth, "you must comprehend a great deal in your idea of an accomplished woman."

"Yes, I do comprehend a great deal in it."

"Oh! certainly," cried his faithful assistant, "no one can be really esteemed accomplished who does not greatly surpass what is usually met with. A woman must have a thorough knowledge of music, singing, drawing, dancing, and the modern languages, to deserve the word; and besides all this, she must possess a certain something in her air and manner of walking, the tone of her voice, her address and expressions, or the word will be but half-deserved."

"All this she must possess," added Darcy, "and to all this she must yet add something more substantial, in the improvement of her mind by extensive reading."

"I am no longer surprised at your knowing ONLY six accomplished women. I rather wonder now at your knowing ANY."

"Are you so severe upon your own sex as to doubt the possibility of all this?"

"I never saw such a woman. I never saw such capacity, and taste, and application, and elegance, as you describe united."

Friday, August 22, 2008

booster seats



I just saw a commercial for child booster seats. Apparently 4'9" is the magic number. Our Iowa native Olympic gold medalist Shawn Johnson is somewhere between 4'8" and 4'9". I wonder if she's allowed to ride without a booster...

Points to ponder.

never fail novena

On June 29th, the amazing Michelle Hillaker came up to me and asked me how things were going with Ryan. I said everything was great and she asked if we were going to get married, to which I gave an enthusiastic "Yes!"

She said she knew it and asked how he felt. When I replied that he was a bit more hesitant, she said that she would begin her "never fail novena" for me that day. 54 days of praying the rosary for your intention. I decided I would pray it as well. Michelle, I'm sure was praying that Ryan would feel more confident. I decided to pray for discernment for Ryan and I, especially for courage for him and patients for me.

Michelle even came up to Ryan once and announced that he had 27 more days to get his act together!

So I've been praying the rosary daily for quite some time, not really sure how long. Tonight I decided to count and today was day 54! Good timing! It is amazing because, although we are not engaged, or really close to it, I feel much more confident and comfortable with where things are. I am more patient and happy to take things at our current pace, and I feel as if Ryan is feeling more confident that our relationship will indeed end in marriage.

God is faithful!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

stop to smell the flowers


Today Ryan and I were on our way to Thai Kitchen for a delicious lunch when he suddenly stopped and got so excited about a lily blooming nearby. It was super cute.

God bless my boyfriend! Thank you for the spontaneous moments of joy and appreciation throughout each day!


i'm a bsn!


Yesterday I finally finished at Grand View! After a year and a half I can't believe it's all done! The last thing our instructor had us do on Tuesday was to write our names on the board with our new credentials! So fun!

I had gotten my Associate Degree in Nursing from DMACC, which was a 5 semester program. I took state boards, the NCLEX, and became an RN, working at Blank Children's Hospital. Then I decided to get my Bachelor's of Science in Nursing degree from Grand View. There's no pay difference or anything (in Des Moines, at least), but I wanted to continue my education. Perhaps someday I'll return to get my Master's of Science in Nursing. I would like to teach eventually and you need your MSN to do so.


I am pretty proud of myself. I had been working full-time and going to school mostly full-time. Classes were busy and fast-paced as the program was for working adults. I went to school every Tuesday for 18 months from 12:30pm to 10:25pm and had at least one paper due every week the entire time! Classes were eight weeks long, so I really had to be on top of all of my work!

But now I'm done! I thought I would take a little break, but apparently I changed my mind because I now find myself signed up for a French class! Let the learning continue!

Jesus, thank You for the Grace and perseverance to continue to the and and get my BSN!


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

let's be real

Apparently my mind only remembers the fun things about events. This past weekend there was a lot of drama that went on and I remember everyone being in a strange mood on Saturday night.

I feel as if I have gotten far from God recently and the group members I've talked to have been feeling the same recently. I used to go to Confession weekly and Adoration and Mass daily. Now it's been at least two months for confession and probably even longer for adoration. Luckily Mass is a weekly obligation!

Thankfully Christina and Monica are less willing to sit in complacency than some of us. I just had a long talk with Chrissy about the past weekend and agree that we need to get back on track. So we're going to Adoration as a group tonight.

All I want in life is to be good and holy and totally wrapped up in love for God. Yet I find myself being petty and easily distracted from Him. I know that my friends want to live in Him as well. Of course Satan is going to attack a group of people who love God and want to do his will.

Jesus...we need You. Help us to remember that and seek You at each moment!!!


Monday, August 11, 2008

babbitt campout

I have now officially been to a Babbitt campout! The past few years I've had to work when Adam and Ryan invited everyone up to their parent's house to sleep in tents in their yard. I didn't really take priority then for some reason. :)

This year, however, I was able to go! It was great. There were three baby kitties there that I got to play with. We had a bonfire and played bocce ball and went swimming at the lake. We also got to see a meteor shower! Even the rain on Saturday night couldn't spoil the fun! Such a great weekend!



Jesus thank you for the Babbitts and for their generosity to let so many people stay at their house!


iowa state fair


I went to the Iowa State Fair with Ryan and Monica this past Friday. Apparently, Iowa natives though they are, neither of them had been to the fair before. That would not do.


Although I've been to the fair every year, I don't know much more to do there than eat and try to find the biggest animals. We were going to ride some rides at the midway until I discovered that they were at least $5 each! Crazy.


My parents must have spent a fortune on my sister and I when we went to the fair as children! (Although things were cheaper back in my day.)



We ate several foods on sticks; saw the biggest bull, boar, and sheep; watched baby pigs being born; and waited in line a lot. Ryan wasn't too happy about that fact, especially on the drive to the fair. It took us at least 20 minutes to go 2 blocks. Just part of the delights of the fair!



All in all, a very good day. Although I don't know how impressed Ryan and Monica were. I guess you just would have had to have grown up going. Plus they are both rather hard to impress. I remember taking my friend Chris for the first time. He had just moved from Texas and was running around like a small child because he was so excited. Apparently after Las Vegas, the Iowa State Fair is the #2 thing to do in the country.


God bless the fair!