"It is you, dear young people, who must show that faith is a personal decision which involves your whole life."
-Pope John Paul II

Saturday, 22 October 2011

7 quick reasons my Friday was AWESOME.

1. Mass. Jesus came to me—physically! He does every time I go to Mass, but that shouldn't make it any less special.

2. Holy Hour with Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen. If you haven't read his book The World's First Love, I highly recommend it. The part I read yesterday really related to exactly where I am in my vocation discernment right now.
Every virgin yearns to become a mother, either physically or spiritually, for unless she creates, mothers, nurses, and fosters life, her heart is as uneasy and awkward as a giant ship in shallow waters. She has the vocation of generating life, either in the flesh or in the spirit through conversion...

On the other hand, every wife and mother strives for spiritual virginity in that she would like to take back what she has given, that she might offer it all over again, only this time more deeply, more piously, more divinely. There is something incomplete about virginity, something ungiven, unsurrendered, kept back. There is something lost in all motherhood: something given, something taken --- and something irrecoverable.
So, we always think the grass is greener on the other side. And finding my vocation is not going to make my life perfect. End of story. Or beginning? Nah, somewhere in the middle, which can be the best part! I mean, honestly, I'm definitely in the "spiritual motherhood stage" right now. And it's great, when I'm actually giving of myself... Sheen has something to say about that, too:
Woman's unhappiest moments are when she is unable to give; her most hellish moments are when she refuses to give.
How does he know?

3. 40 Days for Life. Peaceful prayer with students (and some wonderful old people) in front of the Ft. Myers Planned Parenthood. And one student-aged woman who we connected with, and she's coming on our retreat next weekend! She's quite beautiful, inside & out, and I'm excited to get to know her better.

4. Tropical Smoothie Cafe. Serious deliciousness. And really good conversation with students about pro-life issues and getting the Eagles for Life club on campus going, and going strong.

5. CRAFTERNOON!! Such a good time. This isn't an official count, but I believe there were about 15 ladies that came and went throughout the afternoon. Some fantastic projects were created!

6. Chinese take-out and reminiscing with students about last year. You know, I'd never had Chinese in one of those take out boxes before last night. I think it made the experience. :) That, and the (possibly?) drunk man who really liked my tie-dye shirt and offered us a deal where we got our groceries for half price...we didn't inquire further. We watched a very interesting DVD that someone had put together from some of the baking club meetings last year. Oh jeez. Then more crafts, a game of pool, and listening to girls giggle while laying on my living room floor. Love it.

7. METEOR SHOWER STARGAZING ON THE BEACH. Need I say more? A great ending to a great day. (My toes did get pretty cold, though...It was actually kinda chilly, even for a Northerner who likes to brag a little about how it's not cold at all in Florida right now...)

More quick take Fridays at ConversionDiary.com!

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

FOCUS vision night event: "It's your move!"

So realized I didn't actually tell you about the event I alluded to in #1 of my last blog post, just pseudo-complained about it. Let me fix that for you and tell you about it, because it really was a great event. Each of my teammates and I spoke a little bit on FOCUS—basically what, how, and why we do what we do, and how we want to challenge the students. Brief synopsis:

Tom spoke about the conditions and realities in society and on college campuses—sin is rampant. People are looking for happiness, for joy, and they are turning to all of the wrong places to attempt to find it. And they're failing at finding that happiness, even if they don't realize it.

Steve then talked about FOCUS—a little bit about the organization, and why we are on college campuses. For more on the organization, take a look at our national website: www.focus.org. We're 13 years old and currently on 58 campuses! As to why we are on college campuses, two basic reasons: people are at turning points in their lives, really just starting to make a lot of big decisions on their own—decisions that will have huge impacts on the rest of their lives. And secondly, the future leaders of the WORLD are in college in the USA right now! If we can get them to see how important God is in their lives now, the world will be a different place in a few years! He also spoke about how we're all called to be missionaries, even if we don't think we're equipped to do so. He told a little bit of his story—he was really into the party scene in college, and all that that entails, when God called him by name and turned his life around. It's a beautiful story, but I won't go into it now.

Which leads in to my part of the talk—we are ALL called to be missionaries, to evangelize, wherever we are, and to whomever we are with. I talked about how Christ evangelized. He did some big group preaching, but he mainly just lived with and loved his disciples and apostles who were following Him. In doing so, he taught them how to truly live, and to truly love, and how to share His love with those around them.

I illustrated spiritual multiplication: if you reach out and invest deeply in two people, who go out and eventually do the same for two more people, who in turn teach two more people how to live & love like Christ....it just explodes exponentially. In 10 years you'll have reached 1,024 people. In 33 years, you and those you've touched will have reached some 8 BILLION people. And they'll all have deep friendships grounded in Christ. (P.S. that 8 billion doesn't even take into consideration that most people probably won't stop at just 2 people, if they truly believe that Christ is the Way, they're gonna want to share that with lots of people, and hopefully invest deeply in more than just 2 people.)

Then Melissa finished up by telling the students how they could specifically get involved in FOCUS at FGCU as student leaders. She talked about what FOCUS discipleship looks like, and how we try to live out the spiritual multiplication (or exponentiation, if that's a word...) that I talked about.

But yes, it was a good night. And I know that we really got some of the people there to think. So keep them in your prayers, please!!

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Quick takes Friday!

Hm...seven things. Well, here goes!

1) We (the FGCU FOCUS team) just got done hosting an event. It went well...the Holy Spirit really spoke through all of us, and the students that were there really seemed to respond to the challenges we presented them. All 10 students that showed up. (And that includes the two that left early.) Sometimes events like that are just funny. We personally invited lots of people, we put a good amount of time into planning it to make sure it was well done, we got our message across ...but it seems like no one shows up. But 10 people is NOT no one, even though it may not be the 30 or 40 or 50 we were hoping for. Part of the message we gave was that each of us truly has the potential to change the world, just by reaching out to the people around us wherever we are. And I know the fact that we did have 10 people show up is great, and I'm sure God is going to use the experience (at least in a good number of them) to turn things around and make them more aware that they're called to reach out to their peers. But it's disappointing that others didn't take that opportunity. But anyway. :)

2) It's actually Thursday as I'm writing this. Shhhhh. I will wait to post until Friday, don't worry! (And I'm afraid I might be getting a little loopy...I'm tired. This is your fair warning.)

3) I've been learning about myself again lately. I feel as though being a FOCUS missionary has caused me to really look at myself and learn more about who I am and why I do the things that I do. A lot of times I just blow it off and say, "Well, that's just how I am." But I'm really forced now to look inside and ask, "WHY??" That's not always an easy thing to answer. Ok, it's usually not an easy thing to answer.

For example: I've always been pretty non-confrontational. I just don't like seeing people upset, especially with me, so I try to avoid making that happen. And I think I'm afraid that if I say something that someone doesn't like, they'll hold it against me. Which may or may not be true, but if I'm truly saying something in love that needs to be said, then it really shouldn't matter whether or not they hold it against me if I believe they need to hear it. Sigh. So I've sort of more or less known this about myself, but now stemming from that, I've come to the realization that not only do I not share my opinion sometimes, but I also don't even form an opinion sometimes.... And that blows my mind. And I've been thinking about how I've always done well in school, not necessarily because I know how to think well, but because I'm good at regurgitating information. I honestly can't think of many papers that I've written or projects that I've done where I wasn't simply writing what I thought or believed, but I was regurgitating and/or writing what other people—including, or perhaps especially my professors and teachers—wanted to hear, or how they wanted me to respond. Still pondering...and trying to form an opinion on that! :)

4) Next week is going to be a little weird. My teammate & housemate Melissa is going home for the week. And my other teammate Steve is also going home for the week. So it'll just be me & Tom. Or Tom and I. Or Tom and me. Whatever. Anyway. I thought....it'll be kind of like last year, with just two teammates...only, not at all. So maybe I'll tell you how it goes after the week is over. I don't really think it will be that different in all honesty, I'll still be doing all the same things, trying to meet up with students and Tom & I will still do all of the normal team things we usually do....just minus two.

5) It's now Friday. :) Today has been a good day. After Mass, I prayed for a while, then talked to my sister Shel (which really needs to happen more often...), then picked up a student to take her to her GRE (almost wrote GED...not the same thing...) testing site.
Then I headed over to the Fort Myers Planned Parenthood to pray with students there as part of the 40 Days for Life peaceful protest campaign. Honestly, it really was peaceful. Lots of cars came by and supported us, only a few middle fingers, and no real confrontation. (That might be partly because we were by the road, and not directly in front of the PP storefront in the strip mall. But still, it was cool.) Then I took Melissa to the airport, bought some crafty things at Michael's (!!), picked up the student who took the GRE, hung out with a few students at the pool for a little bit (yep, it's October...but I also miss the leaves), and now I'm typing. :) So in case you wanted a general play-by-play of my day...you're welcome!

6) I was going to go off on a tangent about Planned Parenthood, so this'll be number 6. Shouldn't it be called "Unplanned" Parenthood?? That's what is happening with most of the people that go there. I'd not really thought of it before, but shouldn't the fact that they acknowledge "parenthood" in their name trip a wire in people's brains saying, "That's a BABY!" Just a thought.... Along the pro-life lines, though, I'm going to the Florida Respect Life Conference for Youth tomorrow. Abby Johnson will be one of the keynote speakers. She used to be the director of a Planned Parenthood and is now pro-life (and wrote a book about it... not ironically, titled Unplanned). I'm really excited. And I've got a few students coming along! :)

7) The crafty things I bought? Calligraphy pen tips. And a beautiful silver ink. Now I just need to learn calligraphy. And even if I don't, I guarantee you I will have fun with them!!

Now off to dinner...with a student! She was at the event last night, so it should be a great convo!

7 quick takes sm1 Your 7 Quick Takes Toolkit!

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Short & sweet! (and intense...)

I really need to get past the idea that my blog posts have to be long. I'd update a lot more if I could just get that through my head. Anyway, just had a video....actually two.... that I want to share.

The first is short. It's a promo for the retreat that we're hosting for our students at the end of October. Your prayers for the retreat are extremely appreciated. We've been praying and preparing for it for a long time. I know that the Holy Spirit is going to do some ridiculously intense things in people's hearts. Pray that the students are open to it, and that the students will truly encounter God.

The next one is longer. And it's really intense. It gets me every time I watch it, and I've seen it a few times. But really, what this guy is talking about is one of the things we'd like students to get out of the retreat....a desire, a realization of the need to share their faith. Because we are in the middle of a war.

Friday, 9 September 2011

A few random things...Seven, to be exact.

So I saw this thing called—guess—7 Quick Takes Friday on a really great Catholic blog. I think it's rather awesome. It seems like it will work well with my blog, too. I can tell you numerous (seven, in fact) random things, so I may actually take the time to update the blog. You, my dear reader, in turn, will actually learn something about Jamie and FOCUS at FGCU. Exciting, right? :) Now I just have to think of 7 things....

1. Official Bible studies started up this week! Last week were meet & greet meetings, but this week we started up our studying of the Word. I won't pretend to speak for my teammates, but mine went rather well. I've got a study of returners, meaning I combined my two studies from last year, and a new study, which may end up being mostly freshmen, which is cool. Two girls came to the new study, and they are both really awesome. I'm extremely excited to get to know them better, and to get them plugged into the word of God and the Catholic community here on campus. The other study I had seven girls show up....and two of them are actually new, so it's all good!

2. Last weekend was my first official (albeit spur-of-the-moment) "CRAFTERNOON." It was awesome. Take a bunch of ladies, a bunch of Mod[ge] Podge, a bunch of magazines, a bunch of good conversation, and what do you get? A bunch of sweet crafts, and a bunch of fun. (That's a lot of bunches.) Oh yes, and a really nice wall hanging of Baby Jesus and Mary. Not as crafty, but just as awesome. Check out the photos us working diligently, and all of the finished products.

3. I may soon be in possession of darkroom equipment! (aka stuff to develop my own film...it's getting to be a lost art, seriously!) My uncle just found his old equipment and offered it to me. It makes me a little sad knowing that it's in Indiana while I'm in Florida, but you know, offer it up, right? I've had darkroom withdrawals since college. There's something about film photography that just doesn't cut it with digital photography, I don't care how cool of a digital SLR you have. I'm excited to do more work like that flower to the left. That didn't even use film. Or a camera. Just an enlarger. Try THAT, digitalness! (I guess I could have scanned it...but believe me, not the same!)

4. We have a part time chaplain for FGCU now! His name is Fr. Michal, and he's Polish. He's also young...just 30, I think. He's only been a priest for a few months, and he's excited to be helping us out...we're excited too. His accent is a little thick, but he's hilarious. I'm really excited to see how having the sacraments more readily available to students will grow their faith!

5. Speaking about being excited about students growing in their faith...I'm just excited. It's going to be such a good year. Last year we really laid some foundations, getting to know a lot of students really well, and this year we're really going to get down to what it really is that FOCUS is all about—teaching teachers how to teach. Our prayer is to help get students really fired up about their faith so that they can't NOT share it with their peers. We've been strategizing as a team about just how to do that, and it's exciting. We've got some good retreats coming up about prayer and really getting in touch with the Holy Spirit, and then evangelization and really making sharing your faith a part of your life. Yep, exciting.

6. I put this on my last post, but it's worth another mention. My teammate Steve put together a really great website about FOCUS at FGCU. Also, if you want to keep up with what we're doing on an even more day-to-day basis, you can like our facebook page. And while you're at it, check out the FGCU Newman Club, as well. They do some great stuff that we're involved in. It's good to be a Catholic Eagle, and it's only gonna get better!

7. To finish off, a really cool video for your consideration and viewing enjoyment:

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Long time, no post...

Hello friends! It's been about a year now since I've posted anything on here...oops. This isn't going to be a long one, either. Just an update.

I'm back at FGCU for the 2011-2012 school year, and I'm rather excited about it! It's going to be a great year, especially with all the groundwork we laid last year. To see what's been going on this year, a great resource is http://focusfgcu.com/. One of my teammates has worked really hard putting it together (and will actually update it, unlike some people we know here... :-/ ).

Speaking of teammates, I have a full team this year! Here's a photo from the luau we threw last weekend!

I hope & pray that anyone who reads this is doing well...pray for me & my students too! God has some crazy things in store for FGCU this year, I can feel it...

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Brownies and Bible studies and....banana smoothies! Oh my!

Ok, so the banana smoothie was a bit of a stretch, but I couldn't think of any other alliterations... :)

This past week has been good. Still busy and pretty crazy, but definitely good. We still haven't quite gotten a rhythm down to our schedule (whenever I say "we," I probably mean my teammate Melissa and I). Hopefully getting our Bible studies scheduled will make next week a little more "normal." I put normal in quotes, because I don't know that there will ever be a completely typical day as a campus missionary, but I guess we'll just have to see! :)

Last weekend was our second Mass on campus. FGCU doesn't have a chapel, so we have the service in a meeting room in the Student Union. It's a little interesting sometimes, but I'm glad that we are able to have Mass on campus. One big challenge is that Mass is Sunday nights at 9:00, and the building is supposed to close at 10, so we're supposed to be cleaned up and out by 10. Riiiiight.... Last year they were able to get the closing time changed to 10:30, so hopefully that will be the case again this year. We don't want to cause trouble, we just want to praise Jesus! :) Apparently a lot of the students go hang out at a restaurant after Mass a lot of the time, so we'll have to do that tomorrow.

Monday was the first Devo Dinner of the year. Devo Dinner is the Newman Club's weekly Monday night dinner. They have free food, play some games sometimes, and have discussions or talks. (For anyone with UE Newman connections...I felt right at home having Newman dinners on Monday nights!) The only thing is, again, we don't have a space on campus, so Devo just happens in a common area. We had to share the area with the Tennis Club—because it was raining and they couldn't play out on the courts, they'd decided to come in and play ping pong...I guess that would be table tennis. It was a little crazy, but we still got to play a good "get to know you" game. I learned a lot of names that I hopefully won't forget!!

After dinner I went on a Wal-Mart run with one of the students. Can you believe that the nearest WalMart to campus is 20 minutes away?? And the Target that is a mile away from campus isn't 24 hours... Crazy. I mean, I know I'm not exactly in a college town, but the university does have 12,000 students.

Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday all looked more or less similar. Daily Mass and prayer in the morning. (I don't think I've mentioned that yet, have I? That's an everyday thing, and a really important part of our ministry. It's hard to feed people if you aren't being fed yourself!) Lunch with a student or two or four. (And a Jamba Juice smoothie—with banana in it—with a student...gotta get that in there!) Back to the house in the afternoon to do administrative work—it's really built up in the past few weeks! In the evenings, we had Bible study intro meetings. The idea was to get together all the women who said they were interested in joining a Bible study, have them get to know us and each other better, and figure out times when they could meet on a consistent weekly basis.

Good idea, right? It seemed like it, and I think it was good, but we didn't have a very good turnout. So that means lots more follow up phone calls this weekend. Personal invitation really does make a difference, so hopefully all of the voicemails that I've left in the past week and a half are making some sort of impact! The meetings that we did have went really well, despite the low attendance. We also talked to quite a few people who are interested in Bible study, but couldn't make any of the meetings last week. (Sorority rush takes up a LOT of people's time...) So hopefully we'll have good turnout to our Bible studies that are starting up next week. And even if we don't, I know that God will put the people there that need to be there, and we've got the whole semester to grow and add more students!

Remember the cookie handout we did last week? The same group came together this week in the freshman dorms and baked brownies to hand out to people! It was a lot of fun again. And as hard as we tried to remember to bring everything, we still forgot lots of stuff. Measuring cups? Who needs them? Mixing bowl? That's what that big cooking pot is for... :) But at least we had pans and oven mitts this time! The group is now Facebook official, and one of our friends is working on making it an official registered student organization so we can get money from the school to bake things to hand out! This group has been—and I'm sure it will continue to be—an awesome way to get to know more students and to share life with them and to witness Christ's love to them! And we get to eat dessert while we're doing it!

I actually remembered to document that evening, so here's a look:

I'd bring you a brownie if I could....but we gave them all away!