Monday, December 18, 2006

Urgent Prayer Request

I am asking for prayers for my sister-in-law, Kristin. On Tuesday, December 12 she collapsed because her kidney failed (she only has one). She was flown to the Mayo Clinic and is intensive care. She has had three transplants. She is not doing well and time is very much of the essence. She has no definite matches for a kidney and the only possible ones are from her mother and her sister. However, the doctors will not be certain for another two weeks. Time is very short.

Furthermore, Kristin needs a perfect match this time, something that her mother and sister are likely not. The doctor informed her today that she has to find as close to a perfect match as possible because she will not be able to be operated on anymore. If her kidney fails again, the doctors can't do anything and she will likely die.

I am asking desperately for prayers. She is married to my twin brother, Drew. Furthermore, my brother cannot be up there with her due to unforseen circumstances. He is frantic and she is not doing well.

Also, if any of you are interested in possibly donating (for which we would be eternally grateful), you can shoot me an e-mail at I will get back to you as soon as possible. Also, shoot me an e-mail if you want updates. Please pass the word on to anyone willing to pray. Thank you all and God bless.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

My Big, Fat, Italian Thanksgiving

As I recall last year's Thanksgiving, I am overcome with a bittersweet emotion. While the holiday was happy, since my father had finally gotten a job outside of Kansas and we would soon have a house, beds, and clothes again, Thanksgiving also came with its losses. The family was split up all over the United States, we were moving over the holiday, and we had lost a very dear pet. Times were still tough, but we made the most of it. My sister and I joined my parents and two younger sisters for the Holiday weekend, but both of my brothers could not make it out.

Justin and Molly were experiencing hardship on thier end, as well. Having just lost a baby and Molly's job, the two were tight on money and spent the weekend with Molly's family in South Dakota. We would not see them until Christmas. Too, Drew and Kristin spent the holiday with her family. The brothers were noticeably absent during our moving weekend. But, we made do.

This year, however, will be completely different. For months, have been anticipating the flight home on Saturday. My sister Emily and I will be skipping three days of school to go home early. This year, instead of a small gathering on plastic tables with disposable dinnerware in a barren and borrowed home, Thanksgiving will find my family, all eleven of us, surrounding the dining room table, adorned with real turkey and china. Instead of only the eight of us (Mom, Dad, and the six children), the table will have additions. This year, our brothers bring home wives...and Justin and Molly bring home Lucy.

I could never have imagined how wonderful this year could have been. As I think back to last year and the drastic changes that have occurred in my family, I am amazed at God's loving mercy and blessings He has unquestioningly showered upon my family. Not only do we have a home and the basics, I will be holding a new niece. I will watch my brother and his wife finally marry in the Church. I will sit around the Thanksgiving table next week, amazed at the beauty God has put in my life. I have so much to be thankful for this year.

I wish everyone the happiest of Thanksgivings! And remember, no matter how dreary life seems, one can always find something to be thankful for. And life changes an awful lot in a year! May you all have a blessed and Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

I have been anticipating this day for several weeks, now. Planning and praying, waiting and thinking, I practiced patience to a great degree. When I mentioned to my room-mate my excitement concerning the fifth of October, she expressed confusion. She was silent for a moment and then spoke, "Why October fifth?" I do not expect a lot of people to remember, but the crime would be abominable if I did not.
A year ago today, I was waiting anxiously for a phone call from my father. I had been waiting all week. My sister and I had been praying a great deal that week for God's will and for patience.
My family was living in Kansas and for a year, our lives there were tortuous. From losing a large amount of money, to being homeless and having my father's job in peril, I had begun in May of 2005 to pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy and read Saint Faustina's diary. Every night, I faithfully hit my knees and prayed with great faith. "Anything you ask in Faith will be granted." I clung to that and fervously prayed. Fast foward five months. Dad had been on two interviews within one week of each other and both looked quite promising. The week of October the fifth, 2005 was when we were expecting an answer. I continued to pray.
On October the fifth, I had no idea who's feast day it was. At workstudy that morning, I looked up the information online and found it was Saint Faustina's. For a mere moment, I enterained the idea of how awesome the situation would be if my father got hired that day. I immediately pushed it out of my mind, not wanting to get my hopes up. However, at four o'clock that afternoon, my father called me.
He had recieved a call at three alerting him he had gotten the job in Texas. The screams that emanated from my sister and me on our tiny Catholic campus in Virginia would have raised hairs on anyone's neck. Jumping up and down, we cried tears of absolute joy and relief. A year later, my family is no longer homeless. We have a home and beds and food. We have friends and support. My father has an incredible job and my family is happy.
"Anything you ask in Faith will be granted." Indeed, this is true. Saint Faustina, who spoke to Jesus as a child, helped my family recieve the miracle we so desperately needed. As I look back and see how much more we have this year, I am so grateful to that humble and powerful Saint. Not only do we have a home and happiness, but I have a new niece (another petition I made to Saint Faustina). If we make of ourselves little children and ask with great faith, we shall receive a hundred fold what we ask. God is good and so is Saint Faustina. Today, remember her and thank her. If not for yourselves, then thank her for me. I shall never be able to thank her or God enough.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Love Notes

There are those moments when, I believe, that if you closed your eyes and thought hard enough, you could live in them forever.

Last night was a friend of mine's birthday. Being of age and sick of our theses, we all decided to go out and get drinks. We had planned to head over to the Gryffin Tavern, but due to a snag in the plans, we ended up at the Royal Oak. See, this didn't matter to me. I have so many (good) memories from that place. We sat around for a little while, but had to leave much earlier than we had planned because they were closing. But, it wasn't this moment I wanted to make eternal.

When we left the Tavern, we had no idea what we were going to do. We knew we didn't want to go back to campus: our schoolwork ws there. But, Front Royal being the strange town that it is, everything was closed. Then, one of the girls suggested it: "Let's go to the Park!" Of course, you can imagine the rest of the girls followed this suggestion up by many affirming screams. Ten minutes later, we were walking into one of the parks in Front Royal.

I actually don't know exactly where we were last night, and it doesn't matter. All that mattered was that the nine of us had the time of our lives. I must confess, it's been a good two years since I've been on a swing. As soon as we arrived, I jumped on and one of the guys began pushing me. I was flying high. Soon, all the guys joined in suit. As we soared higher on the swings, the more it seemed our ages were falling. Suddenly, there weren't eight thesis-writing college seniors, but eight twelve year old children screaming and yelping as the swings went higher.

And then it happened. One of those rare moments were it feels like the world suddenly stops moving and there's nothing wrong in the whole world. With as many Crosses with which I've been struggling over the last few weeks along with my thesis, I've been very bogged down. At that moment last night, however, they all disappeared. As I soared higher on the swing, I could feel my heart getting bigger and seeming to free fly in my chest. My head cleared and my sould began to glow. I was so happy. With people I cared about laughing and giggling around me, I knew I wanted to live in that moment forever.

My Philosophy: It's all about the swings and playgrounds, about the company of friends and family, ice cream and sprinkles, roasting pumpkin seeds on a chilly Fall day and picking flowers in the Spring, it's all about the Little Things. Because these are God's little love notes to us, litte reminders of how much He loves us. And He wants us to milk every moment. I do.

The older I get, the more I have to worry about. Someday, God willing, it will be a husband and children to worry about. Things in life way us down, especially as we climb the proverbial hill. In the next year, I have to worry about a thesis, graduating, finding a job, a place to live. And more worries will come with those territories. With these, come wisdom, a blessing that is necessary to life. But, as I grow older, I hope to never lose the love of the little things. They are so important and so very dear. Because it really is the little things we value most.

I wish the same for everyone else. I wish that people never let pride or reputation stop them from doing fun things, like running towards a swing or having some ice cream with chocolate sauce. That people never feel inhibited to let the child out of themselves. I hope, instead, that people take the most out of these little blessings. I think there's a little bit of Heaven in all of God's love notes. They are treats to lead us Home.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

God's funny. I say that in the most loving way, but honestly His ways are so funny. By funny, I mean comical, in a hidden sort of way. I guess this is because He is so obvious about what He wants for us, but we are stupid enough to make it more complicated than His will really is.

I returned to my old stomping grounds last Thursday on the 18th of August. To be perfectly honest, I was petrified about returning to school. Many pressures were awaiting my return and I was quite intimidated. From the commencement of my senior thesis to many missing friends, I knew returning was going to be difficult and strange. Had I known the first week was to be as difficult as it was, I would have running the other way screaming.

When I got back, I didn't find the first week hard or good. I wouldn't at all use these words to describe the feeling. The only adequate word is weird. I found it quite strange to be a senior, with all that this implies, and found it stranger still not to have most of my (now) alumni friends returning with me. The first week was filled with much prayer and anxiety, but I clung strongly to Christ's hand. He guided me through what turned out to be more than what I imagined was in store. Without Him, I would not have made it.

And then He sent me another reminder. "Stop focusing on yourself, Adrienne. You're not here for you. I put you here for everyone else. You know this, I've told you many times before. Do as I ask and everything will fall into place." So I did as asked and everything fell into place. And I am happy.

How often we get sucked into our own problems and issues that seem so giant. And yet, God willing, when we are in our Eternal Home someday, we will look back on all the things we stressed so much over and laugh. Most of what we worry about doesn't matter. It does not have any bearing on our salvation. So, why do we worry about it? Because we are selfish creatures. And moreover, if we did need these things over which we stressed so badly, Christ would give them to us. He knows, more than us, what we need.

We all are called to be where ever we find ourselves at the present moment with the tools we already have. If Christ knows this is enough to Fight the Good Fight, then experience and Scripture tell us it's true. So, let's not waste time yearning for what we don't have. Instead, take what we do possess: our faith, friends (those around us and those far away) and our family and fight God's fight. After all: I do all things in Christ, who strengthens me.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Tell me this is not a vision from Heaven sitting in my brother's lap? Finally, I am able to get a picture of my new little niece on the blog! I love her so much. I am so proud of my brother and sister-in-law.

I wanted to share this with you all. See most of you soon!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Lucy Margaret Smith

On July 22, 2006, a miraculous and amazing thing happened. And when it happened, it affected so many people. Tears were shed, screams echoed, and laughter ensued. Hearts were stirred. For a moment, the world stopped moving for two very happy people while their families waited for news and pictures. "For a moment the whole world revolved around one boy and one girl." At 12:17 pm on July 22, 2006, Lucy Margaret Mary Smith was born.

I have the priveledge of calling Justin Smith my brother. Despite the teasing and the trouble he's been known to get me in, that guy is one heck of a man. I am so very proud of him, and he has done so much for God already. Back in 1999, Justin left home and travelled from a foreign country to go to college. I was there for his first weekend. Braving all, he dove into a world completely foreign to him. And sitting behind him at Mass that Sunday was a girl whom I thought was absolutely beautiful. I had, as silly girls do, thought it would be wonderful if my brother fell in love with her. Except on that point, God and I agreed. Four years later, Justin graduated, dating the only girl I've ever felt deserved my brother.

He went on to Law School, with Molly's unwavering support and the two held a long distant relationship in the most mature fashion I've witnessed. It went from one to be proud of to two. Justin made waves at law school, never abandoning his faith and earning more awards than I could ever dream of winning. And Molly stayed patient and faithful to God and Justin. I was swelling with pride.

I'll never forget the day that I realized suddenly that Justin was not a boy anymore. It was after his second year of law school and he was coming home from his internship at a law firm. Three weeks before his wedding, he climbed the front steps in his pin stripe suit and greeted my father with a handshake. For a second, tears welled in my eyes. I was proud, but also a bit sad.

Two years later, Justin and Molly united in Holy Matrimony. It was on that day that I became acutely aware that things were going to be very different. No longer was Justin going to be coming home on his breaks, no longer were Justin and Molly just dating. God had united them together forever and Justin didn't belong to us anymore. I never told my brother, but I was the happiest girl on the day of their wedding. I can count very few moments when I've been that proud. And Molly, I was so happy to finally be able to truly refer to her as a sister. But the day after the wedding, I went home as one selfishly sad little girl. Justin and Molly were gone.

How wrong I was. I've seen more of Justin and Molly, especially Molly, than I did before thier wedding. And I was prouder still. Through the hardships of losing one baby and a job, Molly and Justin held onto each other and God. They truly became what all married couples should dream of becoming. And they made it through. They deserve all things happy.

And now they have that. Little Lucy gives me another reason to be so very proud of Justin and Molly. What wonderful parents the two of them will make. And how happy a family they will be! As I've grown up behind Justin, he has left a legacy that I have given up trying to live up to. Instead, I just sit in the back and watch the couple truly live the phrase, Restore all things in Christ.

I watched two very special people fall in love with each other and with God. From that simple, yet profound love has come a child. How amazing this is to me! And what a proud aunt I have already become. And it's not just my niece of which I am so proud. It's her parents, whom I hope know how much I dearly love them. As they build their family, I will only increase in reasons for my pride. May God bless that family always. And God bless my little Lucy.

Friday, June 30, 2006

The Vocation of Love

When I left school in May, I had no idea that life would be more eventful than Christendom. I honestly never thought that was possible. Among many things this summer, I was deeply honored and blessed to be asked to head up a young Catholic girls' group. My first night was Sunday. After much prayer and deliberation, I focused my scripture lesson on the passages about Jesus and the little children. I finished my talk with the reason why children are so special.

We all have lights, I told the young girls. Confused, one of the girls piped up. "What are lights?" I answered that she had brought me to my next point. I read the passage about not hiding one's light under a bushel basket. Suddenly, the girl's hand flew madly into the air and her eyes were shining brightly. After I called on her, she said something quite profound that consequently covered the rest of my carefully chosen points. "Oh! Our lights are our talents and those are gifts from God and we should use them to bring Christ to others." Why was it that I thought the young girls would have such a hard time grasping the concept of Christ's love, light, and maintaining the faith of a child? Because I'll admit openly, I was wrong.

Actually, I think adults would have a harder time grasping the simple profoundness of this idea. After all, adults have been so jaded and hardened that most have forgotten the crux of childhood. Simplicity and love. For everyone. My stress could not have gone unnoticed Sunday when I begged the girls not to lose this important virtue. With adulthood comes jealously, callouness, skepticism, and conditional love. Independence comes, too, and adults will often forget how to depend on their Father.

Children never see negative and evil. They only see the potential good in others and some lucky few even have the ability to sense the need for love in others. Children have this strange talent of being able to look through your eyes all the way into your soul. Adults never look at you long enough to do that. Some adults see the faults and they judge. Viciously. Children never lose the love for the beautiful. Sunsets, ice cream, dreaming. Most adults don't have time for the beautiful.

There are a select few with the vocation of maintaining that childhood inside themselves when they turn twenty-five, forty-five, even ninety-five. We are the people who have something stronger than a desire to love others, regardless of the choices they've made. We can't see the evil. We walk through airport and see God's creatures and can't pick out who's gay and who's a single mother. We are the people who God sends to those desparately lost and those who are panicking. He asks us to pick up these people, His lost sheep, and bring them back to Him in the most personal way. He asks us to give our heart to these people who have no idea what that entails. And it's these people who appreciate it so much.

We are the people who, because we have a dire need to love the unloved, hurt more than anyone will know. Stabs, insults, and rejection hurt more in us than in other adults. We feel it in our stomache and in our hearts. We never forget the hurt, but we instantly forgive the injurer. Our utmost desire is keep people in our light. And it is because He asks us to.

For some adults, childhood ends around eighteen years old. For others, it never ends. We always live in the world of happy sunsets, melting ice cream, and terrible pain. We hold our arms wide open for all of God's creatures while we are frightened to death of inevitable abandonment. We think about others first while we feel the ache of the lost and lonely. We are adults only in mind. We are children at heart.

And it is this that Christ calls out of all of us. But He orders it directly from a select few. A bittersweet vocation, it is full of happiness, but always causes pain. Child-like faith and love is a beautiful vocation. Not something to be hidden under a bushel basket, but set on a lampstand. Not to be hidden under our bed, but placed gently on the table. Through sharing it with others, we share it with ourselves. And Christ lights ours a little brighter each time.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Thank You

I take things for granted. I'm very bad about this. It takes me seeing how much it cost others before I understand how lucky I am. Unfortunately, these opportunties don't come very often. For any of us. And I know that I am not the only one who takes blessings in life for granted. Every person in my life does the same, to one degree or another. We live our lives, complaining about every little cross and weight, never giving one thought to what it is we do have.

Like Freedom and Life.

I went to eat lunch with my father two days ago (June 14). My father is deputy director at the Veteran's Association Hospital, a huge facility that serves many of our country's veterans. One need only take a walk through the wards to see the cost so many paid unquestioningly. For me, all it took was a walk through the dining hall. In line for my weekly hamburger, my mouth was watering. They can make some wicked hamburgers there and I had been working hard all morning. And then, it took just a minute too long to get up to the counter. I began to get impatient. As I was switching feet and grumbling, my eye caught something behind me at waist level.

It was a man. Confined to a wheelchair, he was prematurely old. Nothing was left to him, but sagging flesh and bones. Even his mind was no longer here. His patient wife stood beside him. "Honey, over here. We have to wait over here. We need to get you off the morphine. It really makes you sleepy." The man was slowly dying and his wife was having to watch him go. What a painful vocation. As I tore my stare from the man, I had to fight back tears. The tears weren't only because of his illness. He wore a hat. Vietnam Veteran, it read.

My God, I thought, this man fought in defense of me. He once marched valiantly off to fight a War, one in which he was never supported. He went off proudly, leaving his wife behind, and was the pinnacle of manhood: brave, strong, courageous, valiant, and sacrificing. And what was left of him. Nothing. He was slowly wasting away. He sat in an electric wheelchair completely incognizant of everything around him: his wife's loving beckons, my saddened stares. The soldier was gone.

It's a little late for Memorial Day and a little too early for Independence Day, but maybe it's better that way. We should always remember. Those soldiers who gave their lives lie in graves and those who gave less lie in wheelchairs. They unquestioningly gave what they were called to give and didn't think twice. Yet, when I can't have my food or see my friends, I complain. I have done nothing to deserve the every thing I have. Yet these men and women gave all and have nothing left.

Thank you to all the veterans who unquestioningly sacrifice everything for me so that I may be greedy and impatient. And for those still fighting overseas and their families, thank you. Thank you for being so kind as to lend your loved ones to such an incredible cause. God bless the soldiers: all those who have gone, those who shall go, and those to come. May God bless you and America.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Omnipotent Scandinavian

I speak English fluently, speak Italian almost fluently, and have a smattering of Korean in my vocabulary. After having moved all around God's little green globe, I would hope I would have picked something up besides the wonderful cuisines I've also tasted. If lost in America, I could ask the local cop for directions and be on my way in no time. If lost in Italy, I could easily find my way to a telephone and an english speaking person (a cute young man, preferably). In Korea, I could sound like I was answering a telephone and tell the nearest passer-by that I "would see him later". I think I'll stick with getting lost in America or Italy.

But for the life of me, everytime I get lost in my own little world, I don't know how to understand God. I can easily ask God for help. It involves quite a simple process. First, you stand alone in your room (college or at home) and look up to the ceiling. After making a half attempt to hold them back, you let the tears run. And then you start screaming at Him like you are His three year old torment. Hey, He made me. I have other tactics, too. I also try kneeling and praying. I do try this one, first. But inevitably, I have to resort to the former plan anyway. And I know He's answering. I can hear it and feel it. But, I can't understand.

It's kind of like walking up to a Scandinavian who understands English, but can't speak it. "Excuse me, kind and all-knowing Scandinavian Uncaused Cause. Can you tell me what in the world you are trying to tell me? I would be much obliged." However, instead of making it perfectly understandable, His response is something like, "Folketingets Web er udformet sådan at både øvede og mindre øvede brugere nemt og hurtigt ." You kind of stare blankly at Him, pretend you understood everything, and continue on your merry way.

Sometimes this works. This is because you guessed right; in His gibberish He was saying, "Yes, my half-witted, ambitious creation: you are doing exactly as I have laid out." But, sometimes, you run into the fifth brickwall of the week. This is because He was not motivating you. "No, my ignorant, over-reaching corporeal being." He tried to tell you, but you cannot speak Scandinavian. Normally, if you cannot understand a foreigner's speech, you must resort to body language. This does not work with our Scandinavian Uncaused Cause. In all His causing, He did not cause Himself a body ergo the lack of body language. We resort first to guessing, and when this does not work we resort to the three-year old temper tantrum.

Eventually the omniscient Scandinavian will pull out His pocket translator and slowly reveal His plan for the present moment. What it is that makes Him wait until you've slowly and deliberately performed your tantrum ritual five times in a week is beyond my knowledge. But, He does. And we have to wait, which is easier said than done. We scream and we cry (I'm the most guilty) and refuse to wait. And all the while we have been waiting, just not the most patiently. And then He reaches into His proverbial lederhosen and pulls out His Heaven Mall (corporate owner of Sky Mall, found on most airlines) pocket translator. He pulls us into His lap and tells all.

One day, I will learn to speak God's language. I'm finally understanding how I can begin to learn. Like any language, it takes much patience, more so with this one. An open mind is a plus because chances are, we're going to learn phrases and passages we don't like. And Love is always required. The language is full of this, which is flowing from Faith, another requirement for the language. I have to get these seemingly simple things before I can hope to understand what my God is trying to say.

Until then, I will develop my patience and hope Scandinavians have plently of their own. He is going to have to put up with a lot of mistakes and frustration before I can speak fluently. And one day, before too long, I'll wake up and suddenly be fluent in Scandinavian. I will finally be able to converse. Then, suddenly, I'll come to the realization that God actually speaks a different language, He wanted to play a wicked practical joke on me. This horrific thought will lead me to realize that I'm dead, in Purgatory, and must learn Mandarinian before I can even entertain the thought of entering into Paradise with our Uncaused Foriegner.

Monday, May 15, 2006

And Then It Came...

It's easy to avoid reality. You can distract your self in a multitude of ways and most of the time it works. Pretending things aren't really going to happen is easy, too. You just pretend life isn't going to happen. But, it is not fail proof. When you're all alone and have nothing to distract you, when you're in Mass in the Chapel, when you're falling asleep at night or waking in the morning, the truth will weave it's way into your mind like a worm. And it will explode a thousand images of the impending reality. And you want to run. Suddenly, too, the dreaded thing does happen. In my case, it did.

For a year and a half, I have been dreading the weekend of May 13, 2006. For a rather large group of people that are very dear to me, this was a happy weekend. And in that sense, I was happy, too. It's always nice to see your friends beaming. Especially when it's because they are graduating from College. They spend four long years studying, growing and learning in and outside of the classroom. Along the way, they suffer hardships, achieve grand accomplishments, and forge some incredible friendships. Most of these friends are in their class. But not always.

I, too, am blessed with some awesome friends. Over the last year and a half, I have made some deep ties with some very incredible people. But, over that last year and a half I have been dreading the good-bye of May 2006. At first, I could brush it off. I had a year and a half, then a year, then two semesters which quickly went down to one, then I had a few months, then a few weeks. Suddenly, before I knew it, I had one week left to make as many awesome memories and spend as much time as I possibly could with my friends.

And then we said good-bye. I have never felt quite so strongly and distinctly that my heart had been ripped from my chest, torn apart, and place back inside to heal on its own. But, that is how I feel. Saying good-bye to Ted, Kelly, Niki, Michele, Beth, Pat, A.J., and Larry (and others) was one of the most painful things I have ever had to do.

Being a military brat, it's hard to believe good-byes are still hard for me. But, my sister aptly put it. It doesn't get easier with every good-bye, it only gets harder and more frustrating. But, I wondered why the good-bye was so much harder with these people.

And then it occured to me. When I met these people and, a few months later, began working to make friendships with them, we seemed so very different. While one came from a large family in the mid-west, another came from a small family, loves to hang with boys, and was very sick once upon a time. Another had lived in California and now in North Carolina and he is very tall. She came from Virginia and was an excellent irish and swing dancer. He was completely phlegmatic, but if you tried hard enough, he would open up and was very kind. She was Italian and choleric and loved to mother her friends. He was a chivalrous guy and was proud of his Thai background. She was Polish, fun-loving, and very sensitive to others. And suddenly, after this eclectic group pulled together, another girl pushed her way in. She was short, loud, and loved to love others. And they let her in. And they were happy.

But what was it that kept us all together, through all the good and all the bad? It was unselfish love and complete giving of each other to each other. It was selfless sacrifice, spiritually, emotionally. But all of this stems from the passionate love each of us friends shares in Christ. All of what we have, feel, know, and care for stems from our strong faith. And when it wavered or faltered, another of us was there. We shared our flame and lit the other's love again. It was unquestioning support of this Christly love that brought us all together in that tiny campus in Northern Virginia. It was also that love that took them all away.

They go, now, to follow God's plan for them. I am so very proud. It makes me stand so very tall to think that my friends have left the stability and safety of Christendom College to seek the lost sheep and bring them back to Christ. They are going to all corners of the earth, some to Georgia, some in Virginia, one all the way to Italy. They will be forever in my prayers.

I have one more prayer, too, that I have been saying over the last few weeks and will continue to pray for a very long time. I pray that these incredible people never forget each other, the tall ones and the short ones. For it is through each other that we have been allowed such a pure and undeserved gift of friendship. We have grown closer to Christ and been allowed to see His love through each other.

Congratulations to the Christendom College class of 2006, especially my friends. May God always shine His light so you all may see where you are going and allow you to look back and remember from where you came. Never forget those lost sheep Christ asks you to love and never forget those who have loved you unquestioningly. God bless you always.

Friday, April 28, 2006

When Life Knocks You Down...

Sometimes, Life is fun. There are times when it seems as though life could never have been so good and it can't get any better. Memories are made and life is enjoyed. You relish the moments like this and thank God for them, because you never know when it is going to end or when another one will come along.

And sometimes, life hurts. There are times when it seems as though things are particularly dark and you don't want it to get darker. Memories are made then, too, but life isn't so much enjoyed. It seems rainy and you pray for the sun. Sometimes, it's a little rain and sometimes it's a lot of rain. But no matter how hard the rain, when it rains it does indeed pour. It's enough during the rainy seasons to take life one day at a time, and sometimes you feel ever so lonely.

At mass the other day, a priest said something very interesting during the homily. It's stuck in my mind. Whenever life gets you down, and things are going really poorly, life hurts. Especially when life throws things at you that you can only deal with yourself. There's no one that can understand your hurt. When your heart is breaking and you worry about those you love, and your friends are busy. No one is there. That's what it feels like, anyway. But, it's when you feel the most alone that Christ is the closest to you.

In such an unstable, constantly changing period of time -- life -- it can be hard to pick up and move on. But, to know that, no matter who won't support you, who hurts you, no matter who defends the other guy, God is always there. He knows the truth. He knows what happened and He always understands. He is the only one who you can depend upon. God won't leave you to go to work, He won't not talk to you, and He won't defend the person who hurt you.

As much as I love people, they can be so frustrating. God isn't. He always knows me. He cries every time I cry. He picks me up when I fall and holds me when my heart is crushed. And when I feel better, my Father will put me down again. And I will jump back into the ring and fight the good fight.

It's just such a comforting thought to know, no matter how we feel, we are never really alone. God is with us always.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Nothing Ever Stays the Same

There's an old Country Song that I am quite fond of. The lyrics are,

"I watch my best friend Janey slippin further away.
I keep waving, til I couldn't see her, and through my tears I ask again why we counldn't stay.
Mama wispered softly, time will ease your pain,
Life's about changing, nothing ever stays the same.
And she said, how can I help you to say good-bye? It's okay to hurt, and it's okay to cry.
Come let me hold you and I will try. How can I help you to say good-bye?"

These last few days, this song has danced through my head frequently. And I am sure as the next few weeks slip by, the song will come more often. Right now, it seems, that saying good-bye to those I love is about to become perpetual.

Tomorrow, one of my dearest friends is to make the great walk down the aisle. After dating a wonderful guy for a few years, she is going to make her vows. Quite a beautiful sacrament, her friends are delighted for her. And she's been engaged for about a year and half. But, quite honestly, the truth of the matter didn't hit me until the other night. About seven of us girls were out celebrating during her bachelorette party. We had dinner and then went to D.C. for a play. What a lovely night! And in the middle of all the excitement, it hit me. I have to say good-bye on Saturday.

While it's nothing permanent, one thing's for sure, I won't be seeing Christy nearly as often as I have been. Instead, she'll be down in Norfolk taking care of her husband and starting a family. Life with and for Christy is about to change drastically.

And I have to go through the tears again in a few weeks.

Never have I ever been able to say that I have real friends. Until the last year. I have been blessed to make some incredible friendships since last January. Confidences have been told, memories made, tears cried, and laughs exchanged. It's been incredible having people who care about and love you so much. Friendship is a gift. And while, I have had a year and a half with these special people, I have been dreading this May the whole way.

And now it's just around the corner. I never realized how much I was dreading it until the last few days. I am terrible with good-byes. I don't like them. Leaving for long breaks have never been fun for me, becuase I have to say good-bye to those I care about around me, and then when break is over the fun happens again when I am forced to part with my family. But, May is going to be much different. Not just because it's a three month vacation. That would be enough. No, this time, a few of my dearest friends are graduating.

Oh, but how proud I am to see them go and fulfill the vocations to which God has called them. From FOCUS missionary and getting a Master's in Evangelization to teaching young children, my friends are going on to do some incredible things. In that sense, I am so excited for them. They will leave here and leave such a mark on the world- share God and love with so many people.

But, as they are off, bringing the lost sheep to Christ, I hope that every now and then, they'll stop and remember that somewhere in Virginia, there's someone praying very hard for them all.
And I know that I will see most of them again. This is the one thought that consoles me. But, it won't be like now. Now, where all I have to do is go across the hall to see Niki and Michele or run up the three flights of stairs in Campion to see Kelly and Ted. I won't see them everyday, nor once a week. It'll be a long time between visits and possibly phone calls. There won't be dinner meals or the "Breakfast Crowd". There won't be anymore Monday night Bowling or Friday night Frisbee. Skyline and George Washington Park are going to be strangely empty.

So, right now, as time flies quickly, I am milking every moment I can with my Senior gals. Most of them have been awesome about remembering to schedule a little time for me, even among those ten-page papers. I see most of them a lot. I don't know if it's because they know it's important to me, or if maybe they are beginning to feel the coming of the end, as well. But, it's coming.

And when May comes and I am cheering my gals across the Graduation stage, dancing with them at the Dance, and eating the last few meals together, I hope they don't mind a few tears. I hope when Ted drops me off at the airport, she'll understand the crying and maybe do a little herself.

And then I'll go home, leaving my gals behind for awhile. And Mom will whisper softly, "Time will ease your pain. Life's about changing, nothing ever stays the same. And she'll say, "How can I help you to say good-bye? It's okay to hurt, and it's okay to cry. Come, let me hold you, and I will try. How can I help you, say good-bye?"

Monday, April 10, 2006

God Hugs and Head Tousles

They say that you don't have perfect happiness in this life. Now, if I set out to dispute that, I would be essentially buying myself a one-way, first class ticket to the Hot Place. I am not intending to intentionally condemn myself to Hell. Not my way to spend an afternoon. While we don't have perfect happiness, I think that God does allow us brief, intense moments where we experience almost perfect happiness.

For some reason, I get a lot of these Heaven samples during Spring and, consequently, during Lent. I get them in the Chapel an awful lot. Father Heisler put it perfectly. It's kind of like God is reaching down and rubbing your head. But, maybe that's what He does for His guys. For His girls, it's different. Girls don't respond well to tousling of the hair. It disrupts our order. Who would know this better than God?

No, God does not mess up His girls' hair. He gives us God hugs. What wonderful things these are, too! It feels as though God is sweeping you up into the air and into His arms where He holds you as long as He sees fit. These are lovely little things. I once asked Father Heisler if he gets God hugs. "No," he answered. "God just kicks me." Ted very aptly put it, "I think God kicks His sons and hugs His daughters." I agree. Men respond better to abuse.

I mean, think about it. Put two brothers in the same room. What do they do? Promptly break everything in the room by wrestling. For those of you who never had brothers, I pity you. You never had quality enjoyment like my four sisters when we sat watching my two brothers fight to the death. It was violent, but it was somehow an expression of love.

It's probably the same with the guys and God. Why would God hug guys if guys rarely hug each other? No, instead God tousles their hair. This is exactly why when exiting the church most guys' hair is messed up. They need some love from their Father and He gives it to them in a way that boys understand best.

It' the same with the girls. We come out of the Chapel beaming because our Daddy has just held us for a moment or two. He kind of comes up behind you and and gently puts His arms around you. You can feel it because you suddenly feel surrounded by Happiness and comfort. God is there, and He's loving you. It's amazing.

It's during these moments that we feel incredibly close to God. He makes Himself close. When we are suffering or just had a rotten day, God understands. He wants us to come to Him in our lonliness and dejection. This is humbling ourselves before Christ, which is something that is essential to our salvation. And when we do put ourselves at Christ's feet, He'll reach down to His boys and tousle their hair and hold His little girls. He will comfort us. He is comfort.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The Great Race

Life has a funny way of proving a person wrong. For most people, this smackdown on pride only comes once in a while, popping out of nowhere to remind them that they are only a puny human running around on Earth and that there is something greater behind the controls.

For me, however, these pricks in pride have to come several times a day. I haven't figure out why. I am not arrogant in the least (and you if mistakenly take me as arrogant, you may go and talk to Sophie or Ted, who will tell you quite the opposite.), and I always make sure to remind myself of my spiritual puny-ness. But, I firmly believe I am God's sitcom.

Take, for example, yesterday. It all started off at 8:30 in the morning. I had been preparing for three weeks for my Marshner Presentation. I put in good, solid hard work! And I was scared to death. This surprises many people, but I hate presentations. I have issues with them. The last time I did a presentation was my Junior year in High School. For my English class, I had to recite a Robert Frost poem in front of the class. When I stood up and walked to the front, I began reciting. Just for the record, it helps life when you breathe. I suddenly realized I was not breathing. Then, the my world began to go black. Thanks to my Guardian Angel, I didn't pass out. But, I came darn close!

So, you can't blame me for having like five panic attacks before this presentation. These happened as early as four days before the presentation, and I would just drop my stuff and start walking up and down the hall, breathing deeply. Poor Ted was there during at least one, when we were leaving to attend mass in town at 7:45. At 7:15 in the morning (two days before D-day), I was shaking like a leaf stammering out incoherent sputters, while Ted was holding me by my upper-arm, telling me gently to breathe. It was quite a cute picture.

The morning I walked into Marshner, after talking things over with my best Friend God, I felt strangely calm. I think I was in denial and that God was pouring spiritual Ridalin into my body. When my term came to present, I stood up on my shaky legs and went forth to my fate. Thanks to a friend, I never had a chance to talk too fast, because she would tug on her ear before I had a chance to speed up. It was like giving a speech to Carol Burnette, on Purgatory. When I finished and went back to my seat, I fell into it triumphantly. I had done it! I hadn't passed out! And it went well! I felt victorious. And then it came.

"Umm...Miss Smith?" Doctor Marshner's voice rose from the opposite side of the class. From the time my presentation ended until I left class he told me what he thought about my presentation. I was mortified. Most of what he was saying was shocking. Especially since he had fallen asleep at least four times during my presentation. Why me??

I had workstudy after class and, to get away as much as is possible on this ant hill of a campus, I sat on the stairs in the library. I don't know if they planned it, but it seemed like everyone of the Apologetics students in my class decided to come to the library that morning. And they all had to put in their two cents. One of them even told me what grade he would've given me. Another prick, ouch!

So, after a calming afternoon (I had to unwind after a very stressful week), after dinner I went over to the Student Center with Ted, Beth, and Sophie to play air hockey. Now, let me just say that I love that game. Until last week, I had never played. But, I discovered that I had a knack for the game, because out of a million games, I had only lost two. But, God felt I needed yet another prick after that morning.

Kelly showed up at the Student Center. All of a sudden, we locked eyes, glaring each other down like cowboys-er, girls- from the Old West. One of those flute songs that play during Western gunfights suddenly echoed through out the room. Everything went quiet. We sidled across the floor, each taking a side of the air-hockey table. Dust and sand swept across the room. We each took a slider. Another glare. More music. The game began...and I got creamed. Once wasn't enough for me. I had to get creamed twice. But, it's ok. Kelly doesn't know this, but I let her win. I just didn't want to make her feel bad.

So, the day from...heck...finally ended and when I crawled into bed last night, I had the comforting thought that the worst of the stress was finally over. No, it wasn't. More was piled on my little plate again this morning and afternoon. I realize over and over again that it never stops. The stress just keeps coming, but I think it's easy for us all to forget that.

And with stress, comes God's pin pricks. He wants us to remember that we are not just us out there floundering to get things done. He's there with us, trying to tell us how to do it. We just don't always listen. We do it our own way. And then, He pricks us. And I always laugh, right along with God and the whole Communion of Saints, who are watching me on Heaven's television. Being God's little sitcome is fun. But, I just can't help but wonder: the actors on Earth get an off-season, why can't I? I think it might possibly be due to the fact that these are actors. I am not acting. This is my real life, and there is no break. But, so as not to depress myself, I try not to focus too much on that. After all, it's a tough job to be God's sitcom, but someone's gotta do it!

Thursday, March 30, 2006

My CEO Rocks!

Ok, so I worked on my Catholic Apologetics Presentation over Spring Break. This is our final and I signed up for the first day of presentations, wanting to get it out of the way. I thought I was being responsible over break, spending at least two solid hours at the computer (most days, it was three to four hours) every day. I all but finished it. The only thing left is to organize and tweak it. I came back, feeling quite good about myself. And then humility stepped in.

I arrived back from break on late Saturday. Sarah asked me if I was ready for my Marshner mid-term. Why the heck would I be ready for that test? It's wasn't for a couple of weeks. I knew I was wrong when she gave me a look of dread mixed with pity. It was in four days. And I hadn't even started. I was way behind the power curve.

Sunday found me furiously typing the answers to the study guide. I was not making progress at all. I was having trouble hammering out the answers and proving my points. I began to freak. Monday, one of the girls on my hall split the study guide with me and we finished it. Upon a quick run through my notes and a glance at the study guide, I realized I still had much work to do.

I spent all my free time in my room studying for the test, not seeing much of anyone. For a social butterfly this is quite hard. I thrive on seeing and talking with other people, so it's quite a sacrafice to lock myself in my room and deny myself my friends. But this time, I was so busy that I hardly noticed. I wonder if my friends did.

Wednesday night, the night before the test, I had a mandatory Junior class test. The only thing that consoled me was the free pizza and wine. That was really good. I ran back after that test and began again madly studying for Marshner. I was getting horribly worried. I wrote out essays, memorized definitions, pasted to memory scripture quotes and pieces from Saint Ignatius letters. I ran over and over my notes about Islam and learned how to spell various Muslim names and terms. Nothing was sticking. I was not going to do well.

In the middle of it all, I made time to go and talk to my CEO. He's a really cool guy: He's always there to give advice and He gives really cool bonuses. I went into His Office and just poured my soul out to Him about my current dilemma I didnt' give Him much time to answer because I was rambling an awful lot (nerves will do that to you). He looked quite concerned and looked like He had everything in hand. I went back to work.

This morning, after a panic attack at breakfast, I went to my impending doom. Much to my nerves' pleasure, Marshner was ten minutes late. This gave me one more chance: I ran upstairs to the office of my CEO again and pleaded with Him to help me. Again, He didn't have much to say, He just looked quite concerned. I was very afraid.

I went back downstairs and Marshner arrived. When he placed the test on my desk, I sent a quick text message to my CEO. Once again, no words, just concern.

I looked at my test: I was appalled! I knew most of the objectives. Two of the four essays were ones which I had memorized. We had only to pick two essays. I was able to fudge on most of the objectives that I didn't know. There was one that was not coming to me. I was worried. But, in the middle of my second essay, the answer flew into my head. I wrote it down. I finished my test and was the first one to leave.

I love my CEO! I know why He looked so concerned, too. He was worried about me! Imagine: a big, important CEO being concerned and worried about little me! I was quite flattered! He was also probably a little hurt that I didn't trust Him enough when it came to my job. He's not a mean boss; He obviously has my best interests at heart and, being my boss, knows exactly what I need. I think I forget about this too much.

So, my CEO saved the day again. I love having little conferences with Him. Especially, when He tells me about His worries. Sometimes, He even tells me other people in this big corporation who need love or help. I am so glad that I belong to this organization and have such an incredible, caring, and loving CEO. He's perfect!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Home is Where the Heart Is...

So, I made it home -- and in one piece! The fates tried to stop me, but they could not. Are there even fates? Am I being non-Catholic in saying that? Ooops.

See the girls? Aren't they the cutest? Those are my two little sisters, Laura and Kathleen respectively. They are also the only two children left at home. As sad as it is, home is getting smaller and smaller and I feel more and more like visitor everytime I do come home. I hate that.

Justin and Molly were here for the first 24 hours that I was home. It was so wonderful to see them again. Molly is getting huge! It's all so very exciting and I can't wait until the baby is born! It is going to be adorable!

Texas, by the way, is beautiful. It's been "cold" according to my parents, topping out in the 60s and 70s everyday. The sun was finally out today. The last few days had seen terrible storms. They were actually a God-send, though, because of the awful wild fires that had been tearing across the Lone Star State.

And apparently, my room has been pranked. I don't know why I was made the victim, since Ted was the one making various types of kissing the conversation of the morning breakfast table last Friday. However, it has happened...and will not go unretaliated. But, I forgive them. The boys just couldn't resist me. And, after all, Ted was only discussing a subject about which she is very passionate.

I look foward to seeing everyone back at school on Saturday. I have missed everyone and all have been in my prayers, especially the mission trip people!

Monday, March 13, 2006

If a Tree Falls in a Forest...

If a tree falls in a forest and no one is in said forest, did the tree make a sound? And if you insult your friends on your blog to see if they actually read it, and no one reads it, does that mean you insulted your friends?

Ok, I know the answer for this, I've taken Moral Theology and Doctorine (and yes, to clear up the confusion, I am a full junior!), but I have come to wonder how many of my friends actually visit my blog to read it anymore. And in their defense, they may read it, but the last two articles have been quite insightful (yes, I had my humble pie for dessert at lunch -- why does that pie taste so bitter?), and yet no comments. If they are so good, then why are they not leaving comments? Do ever feel like you're screaming into space and no one is there to listen. I'm screaming in Cyber space. AAAAGGHH! Actually, that's kind of fun, I highly reccomend it to anyone with a blog. Kelly, scream away. There are no quiet hours on the internet! Isn't that a cool thought...

Anyway, I'll get off of my proverbial high horse and brag about my weekend, just because I want to.

It got off to an excellent start just because Friday is a great day to start any weekend! After my American Novel class, I skipped my hour of workstudy and went shoe shopping with two very dear friends, Sarah and Lola. What fun we had! I was not at all intending to buy shoes, because I had no money with which to buy them. But that is the worst attitude to go into a shoe store with, because you will buy shoes. If you truly do not want to buy shoes, convince yourself that you do and suddenly every cute shoe in the store will be too small or too big! I bought a new pair of shoes. I was very upset with myself. But the personal wrath went away in like thirty seconds. And they are cute shoes!

On Saturday, I went to the Career Reception and had to sit in Dress Code for three hours listening to people talk about why they chose their career. It actually ended up being an excellent talk, because I found some ways that I could start working on publishing my writing right now. And, as if that wasn't exciting enough, I had my first rum and coke! Please hold your applause until the end. Following the reception, I had just enough time to run back to my room and freshen up to go to the Scarlet Pimpernel. What a wonderful performance! I thought it was exceptionally well done and we do have some talent here for musicals. Good job, Bree! I had a phenomenal time at the play, and the company was good, too. I got to hang out with friends and meet some friends' families! It was very lovely evening. And, yes, I behaved as well as could be expected (although, I think some of my friends would disagree!).

Sunday, I studied all day long and was very close to running out in traffic to end the boredom and sleepiness, until suddenly, my prayers were answered. (Yes, what I am about to reveal, I did pray to happen. Laugh if you wish.) I was sitting in Laura's room, who wasn't in there, and suddenly Ted came up. She wanted to hang out! Well, you can imagine I was quite excited! She had some free time and she wanted to spend it with me?? I must confess, I was quite flattered. We decided on a walk, and ended up scaring people in the cemetery by Kevin's. Now, that was funny! We talked and reconnected, something we hadn't done in a couple of weeks. God is good to me always. So, we were out there until almost midnight, teasing each other and confiding secrets in the spring air. The stars were out and I taught her how to wish on them to the Angels. She's a quick learner!

So, the weekend ended on a very bright note, I must confess. It was busy and I got no studying done, but sometimes God will have us put off things like that for more important things, like the evening play and spending spring nights with friends. I love it. I love life!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Love and Be Loved

I have realized in the last two weeks that, if you really want to annoy people or scare them, you don't have to stand behind doors until they pass by. You don't have to pull gigantic pranks in thier room. You don't have to plan elaborate hoaxes. All you have to do is love them. It never occured to me how scared and annoyed people get when you love them. And, conversely, I don't think these people realize how much it hurts when they don't respond.

My philosphy on life is quite simple. I love to love people. If I can take away someone's hurt and make them smile for just a fleeting moment, I feel that I have conquered the world. Mother Theresa once said that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only love. How true! In a time when suffering and pain is so prevalent, it's easy to find people who are hurting inside. They don't show it, most of the time. And you don't have to step out of the confines of Christendom to find these people.

We are taught here at Christendom that we are all called to evangelize and bring people to Christ. This doesn't have to wait until we all graduate from here. Yes, there are people out there who need love and God, but we aren't out there yet. There are people around us right now who are hurting and lonely and who desperately need love. They don't show it. It's hard to see. And it may be that our nieghbor on the hall is the one hurting the most. These are the people to whom we should be reaching out most. These are the people who need prayers, hugs, and love.

I think that people underestimate the power of love. Love is such a simple and beautiful thing. It's so selfless and giving. That's the point of love: to give, as Mother Theresa said, until it hurts. And sometimes it does hurt to give, especially when people respond with coldness or annoyance. But, it's also probably many of these same people who need the love.

It's humiliating to admit to pain and dependence. We are creatures of habit, and one of our most fundamental habits is the desire to be in control. We are not. God loves to make that painfully obvious. But, when people are hurting, sometimes these people find it very hard to let someone love them. They don't want to open up; they might get hurt. I know people who have this attitude. These same people get annoyed when you go out of your way for them or for others. They look at you funny and they respond negatively. It's called rejection. Not on a grand scale, of course, but all the same it's rejection. And Christ dealt with it constantly in His life. He died a violent death just to get people to love Him, and people still responded coldly.

So, I come to two conclusions. First, a command. Love! This comes not from my lips, but His. He said so many times in His life, "Love one another as I have loved you." When you are walking to class, say hello to the person walking by. When you are in Mass, pray for the guy sitting behind you. When you see someone upset, at least tell them you are praying. Love is at the same time an emptying of yourself and a filling of your soul. While emptying your self of sympathy for others, God is at the same time filling you with immense and powerful grace.

Secondly, another command. Be Loved! It's okay to let people love you. The people who want to poor themselves out for you do it because they want to show that they care. But more than that, these people want you to feel love. It's a fundamental way of communicating -- probably the most fundamental way of communicating. You can't see it, but when you refuse love, that cuts deep. So, accept the hugs and little acts of service. The giver just wants a smile.

"Love one another as I have loved you." Let go and reach out. Accept the reaching out. When you reach out to others, you are reaching out to the Christ in them. And when you accept love from others, you are accepting Christ in those people. Love and Be Loved!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Happy Ash Wednesday

This morning was, mostly, like any other morning. My alarm went off and I pulled my limp, tired body from the bed and headed to the shower. It wasn't until I was in the middle of my shower that I remembered what day this was. A smile flew to my lips. I have been looking foward to this day for several weeks.

Upon my arrival at breakfast, I saw that Sarah and I were the only Juniors at our table. Usually, a huge group of juniors dine together in the morning, bonding and laughing before our 8:30 classes. Actually, it suddenly occurred to me that almost no one was at breakfast and anyone who was had quite a frown upon their face. I couldn't figure out why, but a Sophmore cleared up the confusion. As he wearily pulled his bagel out of the toaster, I wished him a Happy Ash Wednesday. He looked startled. "Happy?" he asked. Suddenly, it was all clear to me.

I think I am one of very few who actually look foward to the season of Lent. At first glance this may seem absolutely insane. I mean, we spend forty days and nights suffering with out things we absolutely adore, such as chocolate or warm showers. This whole season starts out with a day of fasting and abstaining. So, we are a bunch of half cognizant people who are on the verge of fainting and some energetic girl wishes one of them a Happy Ash Wednesday? I don't think so.

But, try and look beyond the bodily sufferings for one moment. I mean, we Catholics are very lucky. We are encouraged to become like Christ in order to get to Heaven. For this purpose, we have the saints' lives we can imitate and one heck of a Mother praying for us up there. Beyond this, we have a season in the calendar, an entire forty days, devoted to stripping ourselves of our bodily vices. Habit is a hard thing to make and break. That's what this season is all about. Breaking the bad habits and making better ones. So, initially, Lent is a time of hardship and penance, but if one is willing to look beyond this to the results to be attained when Easter comes, its gets a little easier to bear.

I enjoy a good challenge. It's this drive in me to try to outdo whatever is stopping me from completing my tasks. This is magnified in Lent. This is the one Season when we can look at oursleves, find what's deterring us from attaining perfect happiness with God and strip it from our bodies. This, of course, is no easy task. But once we win the smaller battles victory is closer to being ours. By ridding ourselves of our bodily faults, slowly, we can feel ourselves becoming closer and closer to Christ.

And no one said that it would be easy. Lent is one of the most difficult times, too. Often, the end of Lent has found me failing in some aspect of my little promises. However, Christs expects this and He loves it. As long as we are remorseful and try again, He is forgiving of our faults. After all, during His long walk to Calvary, He fell three times. This wasn't because He wanted to be face down in the dust. It was because He wanted to show us that it was ok to fall, as long as we get back up again. He doesn't expect us to be perfect, only diligent.

Lent is no easy Season, but if we suffer with Christ in the desert, the rewards at Easter will be great. They will not be external rewards, unless you gave up sweets. These rewards will be so much deeper. They will have a profound effect on your spiritual life and life in general. You will feel so much closer to Christ and be amazed at the graces He pours upon you. When the going gets tough, keep in mind that you are always right there under the cross with Him, in and outside of Lent. When things seem impossible, just lean on Him. Yes, it's humiliating to have to depend on someone else for strength, but you will feel His love radiating against your side. It is only through this humiliation that we can come to know Christ's love for us. This will motivate you. And if you fall, Jesus falls with you. You are never alone.

So, Lent is not a time to be sad and weary. It's a time to enjoy a unique closeness with Christ, a closeness that we can only enjoy during this time. And like Christmas, it only comes once a year, so take advantage of it. Challenge yourself. Change yourself. And when things seem tough, as they inevitably will, lean on Him. He is stronger than you will ever know. He dies for you, He also wants to carry you.

In closing, I wish you all a Happy Lent. May the Season be productive, life-changing, and humiliating. And I hope that, instead of walking around moping, you are taking full advantage of such a wonderful season, full of possibilities. Happy Lent!

Monday, February 27, 2006

Baby Smith

Meet the first of the next generation of Smiths. This is my niece/nephew, Justin and Molly's baby. I got these pictures Friday and it basically set the mood for the rest of my weekend. I am not sure if I have any friends that haven't seen these pictures. Tell me that this is not the cutest little person you have ever seen! The baby is due July 15 and, thanks be to God, so far everything is going really well!

Molly said that when they were taking the ultrasound on Friday, the baby wouldn't stop moving. Also, everytime the screen slid past the baby's face, the mouth was going. Sounds like it's taken after the Daddy's family. But it did get Molly's long legs, so the baby will probaby be tall. That's really good! At one point during the ultrasound, Molly felt a really strange sensation and the nurse quickly put the ultrasound on the spot, only to see the baby, who was apparently getting a little stuffy, stretch its leg straight out. The nurse got an adorable picture of the baby's foot!

Molly and Justin are so excited. Although, I must say that it didn't take the ultrasound to get my brother excited. He's been very diligent about keeping me updated in regards to feeling the baby kick! Apparently the baby's been doing a lot of that.

The profile of the baby did make me think. I mean, look at that picture. The lips, the nose, the ear. You can see so much. It's so obviously a baby. How, then, does a doctor look at that and say that it's not a human? How does a doctor look at a picture like that and then destroy the baby? I don't understand. For me, I looked at that picture and tears welled up in my eyes. What a miracle that is! A little person in Molly. Molly really put it in perspective over Christmas when she said, "It's two souls in one body." How simple and profound...and so true! But, I guess that's what so perverted about evil is that it doesn't make sense.

I do ask you to keep the family in your prayers. While it's good that things are going so well right now, it's also good to keep them that way!

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

I am alive!

Ok, so why is it that God makes us get sick when we have the least time for it? I think, in my case at least, that He does it to spice up the sitcom in which I star. Whatever the reason, Friday afternoon found me in bed, finally admitting defeat against the current plague which until then I had been "fighting off."

You have to at least praise my optimism. I mean, many of my friends who also caught the plague immediately admitted defeat and thus lost several days' time in the process. I, however, stubbornly (as only my friends can tell you) refused to fall under the strain of a flu. I failed. But, I made a valiant strike against it. From Tuesday through half of Friday, I stood strong, looking illness in the face and scoffing. But I think I got too close because I ended up getting ill, anyway, For safety reasons, when scoffing in the face of illness, stand at least five feet back. Germs can jump.

And it's not like I had time this weekend to get sick. On Friday night, I was planning to go to Christy's lovely event at her home with most of my dearest friends. I was so excited about being able to just get to spend quality time with my favorite girls in the whole world. And despite my loss against the plague beast, I was planning on going anyway. But, alas the voice of my dear mother in my head told me to stay in bed.

It's a good thing, too, because when I woke up the next morning, I could swear the plague monster had burned me over a roasting fire and then promptly shoved a lighted torch down my throat. This would have been quite enough to take under my metaphorical belt, but I also had to host Saint Genesius Night later that evening. I could barely function, and I had to perform? But, by the grace of God, I was able to. Apparently, I did a good job. I can't remember most of the evening.

The rest of the weekend and all day Monday, I lay in bed. I was a very good girl...and very lonely. I hate being sick because, being such a social being, I have to hide myself away and become a recluse. During sicknesses like these, I am grateful because they remind me of two things. First, that people, despite how annoying some of them can be, are nice things to have around. They are fun to talk to and interaction is vastly under-rated. It also reminds me where I'm not called. While God hasn't completely clued me into where He eventually wants me, I do know that He doesn't want me in the cloistered convent.

So, despite hacking my lungs out and sometimes wondering if my head looks like the faucet that it is acting like, I am up on my feet and carrying on. That nasty monster may have wrecked my weekend, but I stand strong. And next time I will stand five feet away when I scoff...

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

A Defense of Journalism

I have often been skeptical of journalists in one respect. They all are very stubborn, nosy people. They push and ask and talk until you think you'll get sick. I often wondered what in the world fueled this hunger. Now I know.

I love how God does sends several things, which at first glance seem completely unrelated. But once started upon, these tasks or events suddenly have some common purpose. This semester I have decided to be a staff writer and proof-editor for the Rambler. An avid writer, I'm always looking for ways to practice my first love. This seemed like such a clear way to do this. And then, I was drawn to clean the Kevin's cemetery. Two completely unrelated tasks? No, because not only is the cemetery clean and lovely (thanks to five wonderful people who are named in my article), but I have written an article for the paper on this very topic.

I hope to post it on my blog when I mail the article to John on Thursday night. I was thoroughly interested in what the story was behind the couple in the graveyard. I had an insatiable hunger to find out everything I could concerning their story. I can't even begin to count the people with whom I spoke about the Wrights. After numerous searches on the internet and many conversations with faculty and staff, I finally found their story. And what a beautiful story!

But that is not my point. I could suddenly see why journalists seems like such pushy people! I mean, I was so interested in this that my poor friends must have heard me talk about the article and story hundreds of times. But I was fueled by a strong desire to find the story of these forgotten people. I yearned to find their story and bring it to the poeple. I wanted to share the lives of a past time with today's students.

And I did. The article will be in next week's Rambler. I am so excited about all of this. From the help with the cemetery to the awesome story I found, I can see why journalists get so excited. So, read the my article in next week's Rambler and go pray for the Wrights. It's quite a nice little spot, if I say so myself.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

The Joy in a Freak Out

I have decided that life is more fun when you intentionally try to freak people out. Now, it's important to stipulate what kind of "freak out" I mean, as there are several kinds. Obviously, you don't want to go over the top, as this might cause someone to have a coronary. These coronaries are not God's way. However, as long as you do not cause any lasting damage as regards to the reaction, any kind of freaking a person out can be quite an enjoyable past time.

For example, I really freaked my sister out last night. Upon some advice from Ted concerning recurrent nightmares I've been having, I borrowed a bottle of Holy Water before bedtime to bless myself. The kind lender suggested I also sprinkle some on my bed. Well, Emily had no idea what I was doing when I promptly went into my room and began dousing my bed with the lovely stuff. She stopped typing on the computer and looked at me like I was the latest exhibit at the zoo. "What are you doing??" she asked. I told her about my nightmares, which only served to freak her out more, and slowly she looked away to her paper and began typing again. I think she's worried that I'm possessed or something.

I was on the recieving end the day before. At lunch Wednesday, I had asked Ted if she wanted to work out that afternoon. She was going to come up and get me after her adoration. Well, I was diligently cleaning room and, since no one was on the hall, I was alone. On my way into the bathroom to throw some trash away, Ted came up the stairs. A pretty normal activity, I must say. But, I was so startled that I sank to the ground. Kudos to Ted, who didn't even have to try

A key tenet of this pastime is the phrase which my dear mother taught me. If you ask stupid questions, you deserve stupid answers. I am a firm believer in this philosophy. When we were leaving Kansas, the packers had to park the truck right in front of the house. Now, the whole time we were there, I thought we were the sole populators of Kansas, which worried me about what was going to happen after we left. But, low and behold, as we are leaving, suddenly there were other human beings. They all took great pleasure in skipping over to the house to excitedly ask us if we were moving. Now, think about the circumstances. A huge moving truck parked outside of our house and our yard covered in boxes waiting to be put on the truck. Were we moving? No, we told them. We just wanted to see how our stuff looked on the truck.

Earlier last semester, Emily and I pulled off an excellent stunt. One night, when we were in our room, we plotted. Knowing that Ted was in Niki's room across the hall watching a movie with her, Emily worked up some tears and went tearing into the room. Niki and Ted became instantly concerned. Emily took Niki out into the hall and began crying to her about how she couldn't live with me any longer. I was too overbearing and played my music too loud. (At this point, due to our telepathy, I turned my music up louder, which only served to add to the grand effect). At this moment, Ted came into the hall to see if everything was ok. Hearing her arrival, I picked up Emily's suitcases in the room, tore my door open, and chucked them out the door, yelling that she was no longer a member of that room. Emily turned and began yelling, too. I have never seen quite those expressions and colors on Niki's and Ted's faces. Emily and I burst into laugher. You can imagine their reactions. It was glorious.

So, this is why freaking people out is one of my favorite hobbies. Not only does it give me a lasting joy, but it brings smiles to those around me. The victims aren't always smiling, but the surrounding people always find the event quite amusing. And so far, I haven't caused any damage. I'm tame compared to my older brother, who, during his time at Christendom, had a girl sobbing outside his window while he gave an evil laugh inside his room. Maybe it's genetic. But, whatever it is, it's great fun and I highly recommend it. Hearing other people scream, shreak, and run after you is a great stress reliever, for them and for you. Just watch out, sometimes the bruises take awhile to heal. And don't say I didn't warn you.

Monday, January 30, 2006

The Road to Monday is Paved with Good Intentions

So, the weekend started out with all good intentions to do lots of homework and relax a lot. I promise. But, I should not make promises like that because then Life stands in the way. However, this time it was life being kind and charitable because obviously Life knew that I needed a fun and random weekend with no homework. (I'll have my grades mailed to Life at the end of the term.)

Saturday found me at the National Forest, hanging out with the guys and gals and Justin, who was leaving the next day. It was really good to be able to just leave everything behind and go up to the mountains. How beautiful it is up there! I miss camping so much! Yes, I am an avid camper. I love the outdoors! It is God's way! Anyway, Larry made some excellent hamburgers, so excellent in fact that when I got back to my rooom later, I realized that I was wearing some of the hamburger juice on my shirt. Thank you, Larry! :o) After we ate, we just sat around while AJ playing the guitar and we just sang. I was so happy during those few moments. We were sitting on the side of a mountain after the sun had sunk behind the peaks and we all were just singing together. It was so peaceful. I am going to be one sad little girl come May.

Sunday was awesome! After Mass, the girls piled into Niki's car and headed to Manassass for Christy's surprise Bridal Shower. It was a success. She had no idea and we spend the afternoon playing Bridal Bingo (which I won) and watching Christy open her gifts. I had, again, all good intentions to leave straight from the Shower and head back to study. But, God knew I needed some fun. After having held a two minute coversation with Kelly and her mom, I realized I had just said yes to an invitation to dinner. My conscience tried to ruin my plans, but I stubbornly ignored it. I am very glad that I did.

I have not had that much fun in a long time. It was so good to be with Kelly's family for an evening. Nora had me laughing almost non-stop and Bridget was kind enough to show me her beautiful Irish dancing dresses, which I had never seen before. I also had real Cow's milk for the first time in my life. It was delicious! I had such a good time and Mrs. Mulhern was an excellent hostess! It will be a memory I will cherish for a long time.

So, while I know that the road to the hot place is paved with good intentions, I also know that God sometimes has us not fulfill our intentions for better reasons. I had an awesome weekend. And now, I get to go cram for class! :o)

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Those Nearest and Dearest

I know I don't speak for myself when I say that I am blessed to have so many people in my life who love me. I am blessed with many beautiful, holy, and fun friends who care for me because I'm me. I have a large family who, as well, cares a great deal for me. And believe me, these incredible and fundamental emotions do not go un-returned. These people in my life, family and friends, are greatly valued, so much so that many of them have no idea quite how grateful I am.

My mother always says that each person's life is a stage and the people in our lives, actors. God puts all those actors in our lives for a reason. Some people flit across the stage and pass out of our lives in a short time. Others, however, play a lead role in our lives. Friends are a good example, but even deeper is family. These people we call Mom and Dad, Brother and Sister have so much value in our lives. They affect us in so many ways and leave a lasting impact, so much more than that of our friends.

But, sometimes don't always return this huge favor. Sometimes, we take for granted the presence of people in our lives. We appreciate them and we love them, but we don't work hard enough to show them how much they mean to us. Sometimes, we dont' even bother to try to reach out to them when they need us most.

And then, one day they're gone. It's too late. You had your chances to hold them a second or two longer or to spend a little extra time with them. They have left our stage. And as desperately as we call out to them, they no longer can hear our cries.

I see, at home and at school, people ignoring and taking for granted the people in their lives. Friends don't fully appreciate those lives God has place so generously in thier world. But, even deeper and more fundamentally than friends, siblings even make this fatal mistake. Brothers will ignore each other and spend more time with thier friends. Sisters will pass up the awesome love of each other and replace each other with friends. What a travesty!

These people will not be around forever. They go away and sometimes, they go away in a way that was never imagined or expected. I am not just speaking of death, because there are so many things that can happen to someone you love. And you'll try to call and keep up with them, but they don't want to hear from you. Your e-mails will go unanswered. You'll get so angry with yourself for not appreciating them, not reaching out enough. This situation is not at all uncommon.

So, while you still have your brother the in the dorm or your sister down the hall, reach out. Love them. Inspire them. Hold them. Because there may come a day when you can't reach them at all. No one can ever fully appreciate the love between siblings. Until they are gone.

Friday, January 06, 2006

What's That Smell?

Ok, so a thought struck me while I was shopping yesterday. While my mother was looking through the meat case ("Something from the meatcase, Linda?" I hope some of you know from where that quote comes...) I happened to, while glancing around during a moment of boredom, see a can of air freshener. It was a typical can, Glade was the brand if my memory serves me right. I looked down to see the scent. Glistening Snow, the can read. Suddenly, a thought struck me. What the heck does Glistening Snow smell like? I mean, for those of you who live in a normal place where it snows at this time of year (because it's been in the seventies here), could you kindly go outside the next time it snows and shove your face into the white stuff and inhale really hard. Then promptly call me. Last I checked, glistening snow, itself, does not have a particular smell. And if it does, would one really want their living room or bathroom to smell like Glistening Snow?

I found a similar case in the laundry aisle. One of the detergent claimed to smell like Sparkling Ocean. I, for one, happen to have this detergent at school. The detergent smells very wonderful, and my clothes always smell quite fresh. However, it does not smell like sparkling ocean. Why in the world would one want to smell like stale salt water? I prefer smelling fresh, but that's just me.

When we made our way into the cleaning agents aisle, I knew I had found quite possibly the dumbest items inwhich to put scents. Toilet bowl cleaner?! There were three scents. Now honestly, and I may regret asking this question, but who really gets close enough to the inside of their toilet bowl to know what it smells like. The only possible candidate that I can think of is the family dog, if you have one big enough to complete this task. Would your canine friend (although, I don't think it would be my friend if he spent his time in the toilet bowl) really care if the bowl smelled like Pacific Ocean, Country Air, or Country Apples?
Maybe I was thinking too much, but I just couldn't get over the principle of it all. I mean, really.

So, for me I'll just stick to Original, but who's to say that's any better? For the rest of you, it is my hopes that your living room, laundry, and toilet bowl all smell really...good. Whether good is defined in glistening snow, pacific ocean, or sparkling ocean is totally up to you. Just keep it to your self. Especially the toilet bowl stuff.