Tuesday, September 30, 2008


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


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


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!