Sunday, August 24, 2014

Sunday Night Ponderings

(I'll tell you about my first week of classes and such in the near future, but for now, I just wanted to share something that has been on my heart over the last couple of days. Usually I am fairly resourceful with words and can explain things quite garrulously, but for now, don't mind me while I'm being terse...)

You are needed. Your life has a purpose. You have no idea how much impact your mere presence has on those around you. Your words are more powerful than you will ever realize. You are loved.

God is using you in ways that are far beyond your human understanding. God, who is love incarnate, loves you more than you will ever be able to comprehend. God doesn't expect perfection from us; it's okay to be mad at Him. He longs for you to love Him the way you love everything and everyone else.

Breathe. Things are going to be okay, even if it doesn't seem like it now. Be calm, and don't worry.

Happy Sunday; Procedamus in pacem!

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Last Bits of Summer

Well, here I am, on the cusp of my final year of my undergraduate work! It hasn't been too long since my last post, but LOTS of things have happened in the meantime! Let’s see…

I left off by mentioning that I would soon be meeting our new team of FOCUS missionaries and was excited to befriend them. I am happy to report that I love our new team, especially my new mentor, Sarah! She is very encouraging, kind, and positive, and I have loved getting to hang out with her during the past week!!! We've had lots of great times this past week, and I cannot wait to see what else awaits us as we go through this year! Another fun happening was that my old mentor, Heather, was still in town this week, and it was her birthday on Tuesday! We had a great impromptu surprise party for her that night! She was beyond excited (and momentarily overwhelmed) by our surprise! For the record, I LOVE surprise parties, so this was right up my alley :) I also had a wonderful time getting to see all of my friends who have gradually started moving back over this past week! Lots of excitement, that’s for sure!!

One of the most notable developments of the past week is that I have secured employment for this semester doing what I love most! No, I’m not going back to the quilt shop (although I would always love to do that :) ), but it’s my definite favorite—I get to tutor again!!!!!! Thanks to my amazing old boss at NOC, she got the ball rolling with the NOC-Stillwater math faculty so that I could essentially fall into a tutoring job here!!! I’ll only be tutoring about six hours per week, but I will also be getting a substantial pay raise, so that makes this good deal even better!!! I am incredibly blessed to have had all of these wonderful opportunities come into my life, and I can’t wait to see what else awaits me in the future! As an added bonus, the tutoring facility is right on the OSU campus and I get a free NOC parking pass, which will keep me from having to buy one of OSU’s ridiculously expensive permits! Blessings all around!

Another fun thing: I have been thinking about buying a bike for various reasons. Okay, that’s not fun, but I was telling my friend from church, Ben, about this, because he’s very knowledgeable about bicycles, and he proceeded to tell me that he and William (his roommate, also from church) had a bicycle sitting in their garage at their house that was left in there from the previous tenant that he would give me for free! What a stroke of luck! Okay, so actually, the bike needs new tubes and a little bit of TLC, but Ben offered to do the maintenance, so I’ll just buy parts and pay him for labor, and we’ll settle up that way! I’m super excited about this!

As I’ve been around St. John’s this past week, the lady who is the director of campus ministry informed me that I was chosen to be the Vice President of the Catholic Student Association on campus/peer minister (they are equivalent titles, actually)! This is my first time being in a leadership position at OSU, so I’m excited all around! I’ll get to help plan fun events at St. John’s and help everything run smoothly. I can’t wait to see what we’ll do this year, I’m sure it’ll be great!

Well, I've had lots of great news so far, so obviously something had to have gone wrong in the midst of this…it wouldn't be my life if it didn't happen that way!! I came home on Thursday night and I reached into the refrigerator to get my Brita pitcher and pour a glass of water. The first thing I noticed was that the contents of my refrigerator were all very un-refrigerated…I figured that maybe I didn’t shut the door completely and that it just needed to be closed up overnight, so I turned the temperature control all the way up and went to bed. I did not sleep well at all because the possibility of the refrigerator going out was weighing heavily on my mind. I thought I’d sleep in that morning, but I finally had to get up and check it to see if it worked like how I hoped it would, so I could quit worrying already! Yeah, no such luck…I opened the freezer and was VERY disappointed to see that my meat was on the verge of thawing and that contents of the refrigerator itself were even worse off than they were the night before. Awesome. Of course, my first instinct was to freak out and find a home in a neighbor’s freezer for my almost-thawed meat. After coming to terms with the fact that my refrigerator had probably died, I called my dad and sought his advice on what to do next. He suggested that I call the trailer dealership and go from there. The general consensus after talking to the nice man at the dealership and my neighbors was that my refrigerator was defunct and that finding an actual RV replacement refrigerator would be WAAAY more expensive than just buying a regular refrigerator and going from there. (Think somewhere in the neighborhood of $500-$1500 for a refrigerator not much bigger than a mini-fridge) That was also the point when my mom and I realized that mine was almost ten years old and was probably knocking on death’s door as it was. Thankfully, I hadn’t gone grocery shopping yet so I lost a minimal amount of groceries, but I was still sad to have to throw away so much food.

Yesterday, mom and dad came up and we got everything figured out! I ended up with a new compact refrigerator with comparable space to my old one, a deep freezer to put outside in a storage container (we already planned on getting that, anyway), and I’ll also get a new shelving unit to put above my new refrigerator! All of these things together were much less expensive than the RV replacement unit would have been, and could possibly be much more energy efficient! Even better, I get MUCH more freezer space, which I am really looking forward to, AND I get the extra storage space from the new shelves, which my dad will be building in the near future! In case I haven’t mentioned this lately, my parents are extremely awesome!!!!! For everyone keeping track at home, this is the fourth housing catastrophe I’ve had since moving here. I’m really starting to understand what home ownership must be like, and I now understand why adults are often stressed/sleep-deprived—worrying about stuff can really make a person feel uneasy! I suppose it’s good to know this before I am really out on my own! But now, I’m super excited to have a working refrigerator and freezer!!

A last couple of notes…

I found out on Friday that I passed my OSAT with flying colors and will be free to student teach after finishing this semester and turning in another Portfolio submission! One less thing to worry about!

I can’t believe that school starts again tomorrow. It’s kind of a let-down, if we’re being honest, because I really didn't get much of a summer. Oh well, I suppose it’s a precursor of my future as an adult! Thinking about this, I am very happy that I had the foresight to buy my school supplies a month ago, before chaos descended upon Stillwater and everything became ridiculously picked over! I easily found everything I needed, exactly how I wanted it, without the crowds! I still haven’t put in my order for my rental books, but that shouldn't be an issue yet! (Chegg has quick shipping, and I’m not about to shell out money on books that I don’t need!) Also, I received another scholarship for this semester, so I can finally say that I made it through my undergraduate program without having to incur ANY debt!!! Not many people are this fortunate, so I count myself extra blessed! It also takes quite a bit of the sting out of probably having to take out a loan for my Master’s! (I’m still being optimistic by hoping that I will find a good way to pay for that, too, without being indebted forever!)

Well, that’s about all I have to report right now, so I’ll end it here! Have a wonderful week, and I’ll be back soon to tell you all about my new classes! I’m being extra optimistic right now because I’m afraid that my optimism will end after classes begin, but maybe not! :)

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Senior Year Bucket List!!!

I can’t believe it, but I’m starting my senior year of college! Where, oh where has the time gone? It seems like I was just a bright-eyed freshman who was excited to begin the journey of life after high school! I have been blessed with a relatively wonderful college experience, minus the fact that I am always taking impossible challenging math classes! I know that this year will be full of all kinds of great things, and I cannot wait for it to begin!!!

I (obviously) love lists, so I've decided to make a list of fun things that I want to do with my friends during my senior year! I really hope that I can make them happen, and it’ll be fun to see what other fun things I can add to it in May!

Visit the Shrine of the Infant Jesus of Prague on Pilgrimage Sunday: Fun fact, I have a devotion to the Infant Jesus of Prague! It started back in November of last year, when one of my friends introduced me to it. Basically, my devotion consists of praying a novena prayer for the Infant’s intercession and ever since I have begun praying it consistently, lots of wonderful things have happened, and my prayers have all been answered in the best way possible! Every month, the shrine hosts a special Mass during the time of the month when the novena prayers are prayed. Of course, the shrine is located in Prague, OK, which is also where my Aunt Genevieve and Uncle Joe live, so it would be a two-fold trip! I could go on and on about this devotion, but I’ll just leave the link to the shrine website, where you can read all about the beginning of this devotion back in Prague, Czechoslovakia! (Shrine of the Infant Jesus of Prague Website)

Tie-Dye T-Shirts: Why yes, I want to tie-dye t-shirts! Surprisingly, I have NEVER tie-dyed and I have had an insatiable urge to do so since the middle of the spring semester! Maybe it seems bizarre for a twenty-one-year-old to tie-dye, but I don’t care! :) I’m excited, and I think that I've found a few friends who will want to join me in the fun! Also, they have tie-dyed before, so I won’t be going into it totally blind! On a related note, I've learned how to bleach-dye shirts, and have already made two…I might be kind of obsessed :) But, I’m still excited to learn this method of dying shirts…I can’t wait!

Go Skeet Shooting: This could be the most random thing on my list, because I've never really had any sudden urge to go skeet shooting, but I think that it could be fun, especially if I get a group of people to join me! I’m not entirely sure where I will go to do this, but I’m hoping that it’ll fall into place! An acceptable alternative to this plan is to visit a shooting range in case it’s too difficult/pricey to make this dream happen right now! Either way, I’m sure that it’ll be great, or at least, I hope it is!

Host Wine & Cheese Night: So, I have done this one already, but I really want to do it again! It was a blast last time, and I’m sure that it’ll be just as great the next time! Before I do that, I need to find some fancy-ish new recipes to try that I can easily make for, say, fifteen to twenty people! Also, I’d like to take a few of my wine-tasting classes so that I can maybe have an idea of good wine pairings for the menu! Maybe this time if I have people come over, it won’t be snowy/icy like it was last time, so that we can have double the seating space and use both inside AND outside! (I’m going to have to try to figure this out for some time relatively soon so it isn't terribly cold out!) I’d love any fun recipe suggestions, also!

Visit St. Gregory’s Abbey: I have no real reason that I want to visit the abbey in Shawnee, besides the fact that I've never been, and it sounds like it’d be a fun day trip! Maybe I could squeeze that into my trip to Prague? We’ll see!

Participate in a Campus 5K/Actually Work Out: I realize how lame this might sound, but I HAVE to start actually working out! I’m not going to be twenty-one with a decent metabolism forever and if I stop now, I’ll never want to start again! They always have tons of cool 5K events on campus, including a Midnight Glow Run that I’d really like to participate in, so we’ll see! Rebecca has told me that she would love to have someone to go to the Colvin with, so I’m really hoping that we can make time to make this happen! Now is the time!!!

Learn How to Make Gluhwein: My good friend Andrea (from church, of course) is from Italy, and he always is making all kinds of fun, authentic Italian/European treats for us. In the past, he has made some AMAZING pasta dishes, among other things, but one of my favorites was gluhwein! Gluhwein, in case you didn't know, is a warm beverage that is made from red wine and you cook it with cinnamon sticks, cloves, and oranges, and you finish it off by burning the alcohol off! Technically, you don’t have to burn the alcohol off, but since there were a couple of us who were underage, he did that so that everyone could enjoy it. He has promised me that he’ll teach me to make it, so here’s hoping that we can make that happen!

Here’s to a great year, and lots of fun times! I’d love to hear any other fun ideas you can throw my way! I’m up to the challenge!!!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Summertime Craziness!

Yikes! I realize in my past few posts that I've hinted at impending doom within my life…while my life has been crazy, now that I think about it, I was probably being a tad bit irrational. I’ll quit leaving everyone in suspense (???) and get on with the story!

I’d venture to say that the vast majority of the craziness of my life has revolved around my summer class. Whatever I said about it last time, forget it. This class was just as difficult as my infamous Modern Algebra class from this past semester! I spent almost every day posted up in my professor’s office trying to understand our homework, and I almost lost my sanity in the process. After one particularly trying weekend, I ended up simultaneously failing a homework assignment AND a test. (Not my finest moment, I know.) After lots of crying, mini panic attacks about my future, frantic prayers, and an email to my professor, I came to terms with it and proceeded to work even harder for the last section of the class. I spent even MORE time on homework (and in my professor’s office), and I still didn't feel that confident about the final test, which wasn't comprehensive! By some miracle and LOTS of divine intercession from pretty much all of my friends and family, I somehow made a high B on the final and brought my course grade up to a solid B from what was a very low C!!!!!! Hallelujah!!!! When my professor emailed me about this on Tuesday, I almost shrieked from joy/shock! I could not and still cannot believe it, but it’s officially in the OSU grade database, so it’s for real!!! Wow!!! Praise God!!!!

At least that part of the story turned out well! There were plenty of other trying things that happened…

After the Fourth of July weekend, we received the unwelcome news that my cousin Keith had an inoperable brain mass and by Wednesday of that week, he passed away. He was only forty years old, so it seemed like quite the untimely death. Needless to say, it was not a good week for my family.

That weekend was looking up for me because I was able to attend a Matt Maher concert at Frontier City that weekend! It was the second concert that I've ever attended, and it was probably my favorite! Matt Maher sounded just as good live as he does on every recording I've ever heard of him, and I even got an awesome t-shirt from concert! I ended up seeing quite a few of my friends at the concert, so that was an awesome highlight, not to mention the fact that Isaac accompanied me, and we had tons of fun on the rides before and after the concert! I had a blast, and the whole night was definitely on my short list of the highlights of this summer! As a side note, after some discussion, Isaac and I have decided to hold off on “officially dating” one another for a while because we both have a few things we need to work out that would be better to do if we aren't boyfriend/girlfriend. That’s not to say that we aren't still good friends, because we still are, we’re just not “official”, just FYI. I’d be lying if I said that I wasn't disappointed by this development, but I’m confident that good things will be coming out of this time of my life, regardless of the outcome! (Yes, it was after this weekend that I had the epic fall-out in my class…there’s that, and life obviously goes on and gets better, hence me passing my class!)

At the end of that week, most of my trailer electrical system wasn't functioning properly, which I almost thought was caused from a faulty converter (a part that could cost upwards of $500 and a week or so to order it and have it installed), but turned out to be that I needed a new battery, which was MUCH less expensive and easier to acquire/install! Thank goodness for simple solutions!! It was still a stressful day, but all’s well that ends well, I suppose! Oh, the joys of being a home (or trailer) owner!

Thankfully, everything started looking up from there once I took my second standardized teaching test, the OSAT, which was to show proficiency in my subject area. While looking at the online study guide, I was slightly nervous, but it turned out to be one of the easiest math tests that I have taken in the past two years! I get my results next weekend, so hopefully my hunch is correct and I don’t have to worry about retaking this test so that I can move on with my life and get ready for student teaching! (I can’t be placed for student teaching until I pass, hence my urgency!) I had to drive all the way down to Norman to take my test, which was a bummer when I was expecting to be able to take it in Stillwater like I did for my OGET, but it ended up being a pretty interesting day! After the test, I decided that I wanted to attend Mass down in Norman, so I had an hour or so to kill between my test and Mass, and I had no idea where to go in between! More so, I was considering meeting up with friends after Mass, and had no idea how I’d get there being that I’m not so familiar with the area, so I proceeded to use all of my inner navigation sense to find a Walmart, Target, or even a Best Buy so that I could buy a GPS…why yes, I’m one of a handful of twenty-one-year-olds who does not have a smartphone, and at the time I had no GPS either, so I basically relied on printing off Google maps and hoping for the best! After a while of realizing that Norman has a slightly complex system of one-way streets and a short time of feeling pretty lost, I ended up finding a Walmart off the interstate, where I successfully found my GPS! Maybe there’s more fun in accidentally happening to find specific places, but considering that I've been lost and in stressful situations more times than I care to count, I’m willing to let technology work in my favor!

Work was also interesting through the whole stream of craziness. I’m thankful that they understood whenever I needed to come in later on certain days because of office hours for class. Currently, I only work on Saturdays until Labor Day weekend, when I will be done working here for good, whether that means until next summer or forever, I'm not sure yet! I've also been occupied by a side job for one of Fr. Stuart’s friends who needed someone to keep an eye on her pets. Most people know that I’m not a huge animal person, but I really enjoyed getting to take care of her dogs and cats! I've become slightly more comfortable around animals, so that’s probably a good thing!

The highlight of my past week was that I was able to spend quite a bit of time at home, thanks to the fact that my old boss from NOC invited me to come back and assist her with a one-week intensive study program for students wishing to attempt to test out of remedial math classes. It turned out that there was only one student who signed up, but we still had a blast! I loved getting able to be back in the classroom and gain some valuable observation experience, not to mention the fact that my boss is an amazing math professor! After this week, I was presented with a few opportunities for my future (both near and distant) that could turn out to be VERY fruitful, but I’ll just wait and see how everything turns out! More than that, I have to keep reminding myself to stay in the present and not try to stress myself out over the future! Nevertheless, I’m really excited to see where life takes me over the coming year or two! :)

Let’s see, what else have I been up to? During my time at home this week, I was able to steal away some time and go get pedicures with my mom! We've wanted to go all summer, but things just haven’t worked out the way we thought it would. It was a great bit of much-needed pampering and stress relief that I've desperately needed after my whirlwind summer! I also got a haircut! Fun fact: I think that I’m going to start growing my hair out to donate it to Locks of Love! It’s something that I've thought about for a while, and I think now is the time to do it! I’m super excited to be able to do something big for cancer patients!

Other random fun stuff, Fr. Stuart has always loved the TV show Joan of Arcadia and has had the DVD set of the series (all two seasons of it) in the lounge at St. John’s for any of us to watch. I didn't really have time during the school year to devote time to watching a show, but I decided to make time this summer! Before I started watching it, the last time I was attached to a show was when The Office was still on the air, and I just haven’t been able to get into a TV show ever since, not for lack of effort though! All of my friends were obsessed with shows like White Collar, Psych, How I Met Your Mother, and other shows of the like. I tried to get into them, but honestly, I just couldn't. Not the case for Joan of Arcadia! I've been told that it ends abruptly and in the middle of a big cliffhanger because it was canceled, so I’m trying to prepare myself for the inevitable end! I’m considering getting into Downton Abbey, but I’m not entirely sure that I’ll have time to watch it between all of my other activities that I intend to do this semester, and be caught up in time for the new season in January. (I think that’s when it starts again…that tells you just how much I keep up with things!)

My current excitement revolves around the fact that my dear friend Heather, the missionary, stayed with me last night and will be staying again tonight! She’s on her way to her new campus in Iowa, where I’m confident that she’ll be doing BIG things :) We had great times staying up late and talking about any and everything exciting that has been going on in our lives! We had wonderful chats about God, vocations, boys, friends, (but not boyfriends!) and other fun things…I loved it so much, and I’m really thankful that God brought her into my life when He did last year! She has turned into one of my best friends, and for that, I am eternally grateful! On a related note, I should be meeting the new missionaries for our campus tonight, including my new mentor, Sarah! I've heard nothing but great things about her from Heather, so I’m excited to make a new friend today!

I’m getting really excited about all that awaits me this semester! Here’s hoping it’s a great one!!!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Conversations I Wish I Could Have

The other night, some of my friends and I had an interesting conversation about who we would want to meet if we could. It was quite thought-provoking, really. In our conversation, we decided that everyone we said had to be someone who wasn't related to us, but for a while I could only think of relatives who I’d want to meet! So, I came up with two lists of ten people that I would want to talk to, if I could. The first list is of deceased loved ones who I would love to talk with. So, here goes:

1. Michelle: Yes, my big sister would definitely be at the top of my list. I think about her very often and wonder how different my life might be if she were still here. I’d love to hear her perspective on everything—life, death, and in between. I would love to have a sisterly chat with her just like those that I have with Gina and Emily, and know just what she thinks of our family now, especially Gina and Emily’s boys. I’d just love to get to know my big sister.

2. Grandpa Hladik: I've always felt like I had a soul connection with Grandpa Hladik. He was a WWII Veteran who loved to pray the Rosary, and being that WWII is my favorite historical period and I love to make/pray rosaries, so I think it’s fairly obvious why I feel so connected with him. I’d love to hear his war stories and mostly just soak in his wisdom he gained through his life. I’d also love to talk about God, and, as weird as it might sound, pray with him.

3. Grandma Hajek: Grandma Hajek was Mimi’s mother, and she was my mom’s favorite person in the whole world. I've been told that I have her eye color, so I would want to admire her eyes from the outside in. She was also very opinionated, so I’d love to hear what she had to say about almost anything. I’d love to hear her talk about what Mimi was like as a child, or even what my mom was like in her younger years.

4. Grandpa Rudy: Grandpa Rudy died when I was eleven, so I actually did know him, although for most of my life, he was in poor health, and I was never completely sure what to talk to him about. Now, I’d want to hear his philosophies on life and just listen to him talk about his life. I’d want to ask him about what it was like when he and Mimi dated and why he wanted to marry her. I’d love to know his childhood stories and all about my mom, aunts, and Uncle Larry when they were younger. I’d really just like to get to know everything about Grandpa Rudy!

5. Grandma Hladik: Grandma Hladik also died when I was eleven, so I also knew her fairly well. Like Grandpa Rudy, for the better part of my life, Grandma wasn't in the best health. I’d love to talk to Grandma about when she married Grandpa Hladik, just to hear her perspective on the story I've heard for my entire life. (Grandpa was stationed in Massachusetts before leaving for the war, and he wanted Grandma to come visit him…Grandma told him that the only way she’d come is if they were married, so Grandpa found a Catholic church and an Army buddy/his wife for witnesses, and they were married!) I’d like to hear about what it was like raising seven children, and I’d love to hear her stories about my dad when he was younger, and just learn more about her life!

6. Grandpa Hajek: Grandpa Hajek was Mimi’s father, and he has, what I consider to be, one of the most fascinating stories of all my ancestors. You see, he was born out of wedlock in Vienna, Austria, and his mother left him with relatives when he was a child so that she could immigrate to the United States. When she saved enough money, she’d send for him. The time he spent waiting was terrible, as he was treated poorly for being born out of wedlock, and was often forced to steal so that he could have food to eat. At sixteen, he could finally join his mother in the US and live the American dream. He eventually met Grandma Hajek, got married, had a large family, and ended up owning a service station in Hennessey. Mimi always told me that he would tell her that he never knew what love was until he met Grandma Hajek and had children. I’d like to hear his perspective on all of these stories. I’d love to hear about his impressions of the US and really just know about who he was when he was here.

7. Great-Grandpa Hladik: Great-Grandpa Hladik was my Grandpa Hladik's dad. I’m not entirely certain about where he stands in my family immigration history, but I believe his parents were among my ancestors who emigrated from Czechoslovakia. My dad told me a story about how his family was so poor that they were forced to grind down a type of grain that was similar to milo just so that they could have flour to make bread. Once his mother made the bread, it looked just like any other loaf of bread, but apparently, it tasted TERRIBLE! I would be interested to learn about the resourcefulness he learned have, and what it was like to settle in Oklahoma.

8. Mr. Blakley: Mr. Blakley was a wonderful man whose life was cut short by most people’s standards. He was my high school science teacher, a fellow St. Joseph-ite, a neighbor, and a dear family friend. What I’d really like to talk to him about is teaching. He was very insightful about the ways of students and about knowing how to talk about the really important things. I’d love to get any and all advice he could give me about teaching, because I know that he’d tell me more than just the horror stories that people always tell pre-service teachers to scare them away for fear of seeming incompetent in comparison. He was always good at encouraging new teachers and giving good, practical advice about how to care for students, especially those who really needed some TLC.

9. Fr. Quant: Father Quant just passed away last year, and I still feel the sting of his death. He was a dear friend of mine, and probably one of my best spiritual advisers. He taught me lots about the Catholic faith and was the first person who taught me how to find joy in growing in my faith. I’d just like to talk to him about life and get his opinion on everything happening in my life right now, especially in a couple situations. I would like that more than anything.

10. My unborn sibling who was miscarried: Not many people know this, but my mom had a miscarriage between Gina and Emily. I’d love to meet this other sibling of mine, who God called back before we could ever know him or her. Perhaps this child was the brother I never had, I’m not sure. I’d just love to know and embrace them with all of my sisterly affection. That would also be perfect.

Wow, this is really getting sad/deep, so I’ll move on to my second list, which consists of non-related people I’d love to meet. The main twist on this list is that not all of them are deceased! They’re just famous people I’d love to have a conversation with. This was more along the lines of my conversation with my friends that sparked this post initially! Oh, by the way, we made the initial stipulation that people like Jesus or Mary were givens, so we couldn't include them on our list! So, here goes!

1. Lucille Ball: I've always loved Lucille Ball’s work in “I Love Lucy”. That is one of my all-time favorite TV shows, and I’d just be interested to know the brains behind it. Lucille had quite the interesting life and I’d like to know just what it was like to be one of the pioneers of the TV industry and an American icon!

2. John Krasinski: Honestly, I really don’t care about modern-day celebrities because I already think that they have too much attention lavished upon them. I don’t think that we should put celebrities on such a pedestal, because they’re really just people like the rest of us, and I’m sure that many of them would like to be treated like that. (I’ll spare you the rest of my soapbox, but that is just the tip of the iceberg!) Okay, with that being said, I have a few exceptions—John Krasinski is one of them! :) For those of you who don’t know/remember, he is the guy who famously played Jim Halpert on my favorite show, “The Office”. He is my one and only celebrity crush, and I think that he is quite dreamy! I also think that he probably has a great, somewhat snarky sense of humor, which I would love! I’d also just love to hear his stories about filming the show and all kinds of behind-the-scenes stories about other characters! I’d love that so much!

3. St. Catherine of Siena: Did you really think that I could make it through the list without any saints/Catholic figures? Nope! St. Catherine was my confirmation saint, and I love what little I know about her life. You see, she was highly influential in bringing the head of the Catholic Church back to Rome, and she used her gift of faith to bring about good changes in the Church. I just bought her autobiography and I cannot wait to learn even more about her life!

4. Pope Francis: Maybe this is another cop-out answer, but yes, I would LOVE to meet the Pope! I’d love to just sit and soak in his joy/spirituality/humility. I’d love to get his advice on life, and basically just have a long life chat with him! I’d love to hear his stories from his younger years, especially about how he has grown in his faith throughout his life. I’d love to hear what his initial reaction was to being chosen for the papacy, and just what he thinks needs to be done to better the Church as a whole today.
Pope Francis...with a lamb! I love this so much :)
5. Fr. Stanley Rother: For those of you who have never heard of Fr. Rother, he was a priest from Okarche who grew up as a simple farm boy and never showed any real signs of wanting to be a priest until he was an adult. He struggled all throughout seminary, and I’m not sure that many people actually thought that he would ever make it to his ordination, and perhaps questioned his abilities thereafter. One of his first parish assignments was at a place in southern Oklahoma, where he was moved mostly for the fact that they needed a priest who was handy with carpentry. This was by no means a compliment to him. However, he was later asked to travel to a mission in Guatemala in a village called Santiago Atitlán. During his tenure at the mission, he brought about a profound change in the people’s faith, while working to help them amid the oppression of their government. At some point, Fr. Rother was brought back to Oklahoma out of fear for his safety. He hated to be separated from the people he had come to love, and famously told the Archbishop of the OKC Archdiocese that "the shepherd cannot run at the first sign of danger." Thus, he returned to Guatemala even though the guerrilla army threatened his life. Shortly after his return, he was killed in the dark of night, and is now on the road to sainthood, as a martyr. I’d love to listen to him talk about all that he experienced in Guatemala, both good and bad.
This has always been my favorite picture of Fr. Rother!
6. Pat Monahan: Okay, this is kind of a cop-out. Pat Monahan is the lead singer of one of my favorite bands, Train. I’d mostly like to meet him just so that I could have a private concert and listen to him sing all of my favorite songs! I’d also like to hear the stories behind the songs that he wrote! But I’d mostly like to hear him sing :) 

7. Isaac Slade: This follows from the previous one…Isaac Slade is the lead singer of The Fray, and I just want to listen to him sing their songs and play the piano (He’s a gifted pianist, also!). Yes, that’s pretty much what I would want if I met him. I’m in heaven already!!!

8. Anne Frank: I am particularly fascinated with WWII and the Holocaust. I always have been for some reason, (See my particular love for Grandpa Hladik…) and when I was a third-grader, my mom bought me a book about Anne Frank’s life. I found it delightfully tragic, if that makes sense. I was in awe of the bravery of her and her family as they exiled themselves to a back room of a Dutch lady named Miep Gies while living amid the persecution of Nazi Europe. On the other hand, it was heart-breaking and eye-opening to learn of all the tragedies she incurred at such a young age. Learning about the Holocaust was probably the best thing I could have learned about when I was ten. Although I've read her diary and multiple books about her life, I'd love to just talk to Anne and learn from her young wisdom.

9. St. Thérèse of Liseux: I just finished reading her autobiography, and, let me tell you, it was absolutely fantastic. She always strived to live in a state of holiness and perfection. She faced many health issues from a young age, but lived with the perpetual desire to join the convent where her sisters resided. When she was fifteen, she began striving earnestly to join, even if the rule was that she had to wait a few more years. The priests and leaders of the convent told her that she was far too young, but told her that if she gained the permission of the pope that they would consider it. On a pilgrimage to Rome, she asked the Pope for his permission, and that began her entry into the Carmelite order. She was often very sickly, but in the last few years of her life, it was requested by her sister, who was mother superior of the Carmelites at the time, that she would write her life story. St. Thérèse had excellent insights into suffering and holiness overall, which is much of what I’d like to discuss with her. Also, she just went up and talked to the pope about being a nun, even though she was told not to…anyone who does that is pretty awesome, in my books!

10. Sr. Lucia of Fatima: If you know anything about me, it’s good to know that I have a devotion to the Marian apparition in Fatima, Portugal in May 1917. I feel that I have a deep connection with it, and would love nothing more than to have a conversation with Lucia, one of the three children chosen to receive the life-changing message from Mary. I’d love to know what it was like living in the world after having a profound encounter with the Mother of Jesus.

So, there it is. Twenty people I’d like to meet and talk with, dead or alive. I encourage you to think about this, and even formulate a list like this of your own. Even more, I encourage you to learn all that you can about your family members, living or deceased. As for people who aren't family, I suggest reading about them and learning from their lives! Lots of good things to ponder about!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Four Years of Blogging!

Sorry for the lack of posts as of late! I'll detail the craziness of my past month at some point, but for now I'll spare you the stories of how life has almost descended into chaos. There’s always time for that, but for now, I have bigger, better things to write about!

Today is a pretty big day for my blog, because it marks FOUR years since the day I decided, on a whim, to start my blog! Hooray!!! Truth be told, I’m surprised that I've managed to stick with it this long, but I’m oh-so-glad that I have! Lately, I have read lots of my early posts and I love seeing how my writing and my life has a whole has evolved since then! In the past year or so, I think that I've really started to develop my voice as a writer, writing about what is in my heart instead of what I think that everyone will want to read. I mean, I've always written in ways that are true to my heart, but I've started to become bolder in my writing. Honestly, I think it’s probably a result of me growing up and growing into the person I’m supposed to be!

I've never really written about it, but when I decided to create my blog, it was a difficult decision deciding what to name it! I received lots of humorous suggestions from my family members, which I chose not to use, for various reasons, mostly because their suggestions included embarrassing nicknames! After some contemplation, I settled to give my blog its current name. I think that it has been a good fit and has some serious staying power, regardless of what direction I take in life! No matter where I go, what I do, or who I meet, I will always have humble roots as a farm girl. My blog is really just my reflections on all that I encounter through my perspective as a simple farm girl. In many ways, I’m not like the stereotypical farm girl that most people think of, but when have I ever been one to perpetuate most stereotypes?! :)

Now, for some fun facts that I’d like to share about the blog! Some of the cool behind-the-scenes features of my blog include statistics about my readers. By that, I mostly mean that it tells me which country readers are from, what browser they use, what websites link them to my page, which posts they read, and what keywords they use to find me through search engines. It blows my mind to see that people from all over the world have read my blog, for some reason or another, especially when I sometimes feel like my mom, sisters, and a few friends are the only people in my reading audience! 

So, having written a considerable amount of posts, what has been the most popular one? For reasons I don’t really understand, my post from two summers ago about my roommate Carissa’s wedding in the Holderman Mennonite church has been the most popular by a LONG shot…it currently has over 1,100 views! I find it pretty comical that that many people have looked into Mennonite weddings!!! It’s bizarre and hilarious at the same time, considering that I never expected it to be that popular…apparently LOTS of people want to know about the intricacies of their weddings! This leads me to the best search keyword, and it actually just popped up a couple of weeks ago…surprise, surprise, it was about Mennonite weddings, but wait, it gets better! The keyphrase was “Can I wear my piercing to a Mennonite wedding?” (Umm, what?!?) I’m not entirely sure what type of piercing they were referring to, but I sure hope that my post answered their question!!! PS: If whoever searched for that still wants to know my opinion on the matter, I’d consider removing it if it has caused you to look to outside resources to answer your question! That’s just my opinion, though! :)

I love looking back at how my life has changed from year to year, be it at the beginning of the year, on my birthday, between school years, or even just random days like today! I’m a firm believer in looking back for the purpose of seeing how my perspective, my personality, my relationships, my life as a whole has changed. I love looking back because it helps me to solidify the fact that, as a person, I am constantly evolving into a different person, be it for better or worse. (I hope it’s always better, though!!) It helps me to see that, even when it doesn't seem like it, the little things that occur in my day-to-day life are much more profound and impacting that I give them credit for. It also helps me to see that there really are no coincidences and that EVERYTHING is interconnected in ways that are far beyond my understanding! You see, there are no small choices in the grand scheme of things. These are all interesting things to ponder, but they take on a new level of depth when you realize how God’s hand falls into it all, silently guiding us to new ways to grow in faith and love for Him and our fellow man.

As far as changes go, I can definitely say that the past year has brought about some of the biggest changes for me as of yet, and I can’t wait to see what else awaits me! When I first started writing, I was seeking refuge in the coolness of my sister Gina’s house because my parents’ A/C unit was on the fritz in the middle of a typical Oklahoma August. I was also getting ready to start my senior year of high school and have my wisdom teeth removed! Life was much simpler for me back then, if only I would have realized that! I also think I took myself a little too seriously back then! Three years ago, I was preparing to start my first year of college and move into my dorm room, I’m not entirely sure why I insisted on stressing myself out so much for that process, it was nothing big! Two years ago, I stressed myself out preparing for all that awaited me once I went back to class and began working on all of our PLC activities. (I was still in the time that I needed to learn how to not take myself so seriously! :) Last year at this time, I was reeling from the fact that Mimi just had her bleeding stroke and was otherwise terrified of starting school at OSU. Here I am now, getting ready to start my senior year of college and generally loving life! I’m not stressing quite so much stress this time around…yet ;)

I've loved every minute of blogging, and I have no plans to stop! What a great four years it has been, even with its ups and downs! If you've ever thought about starting a blog, you should! Even if you don’t think you have anything exciting to write about, do it anyway! I rarely have anything of importance to write about, but that obviously hasn't stopped me! If nothing else, do it for your family so they have something to remember you by, or to help you remember when things happened! (Surely my family isn't the only one that takes a group effort to remember the timeline of certain things! :) I've loved it, and so will you!!!

To everyone who has read my blog, thank you! I hope that you have enjoyed it and haven’t grown too tired of hearing about my latest exploits or opinions! If it has made you laugh, inspired you, or elicited any sort of good emotion, I’m glad that I could help! (If not, I’m really sorry, but it’s also my blog, and I cannot control how you feel about what I write. I hope you found something good about it, though! :)

Here’s to the first four years, and to many more!!!