6 Months and Counting

Posted: November 16, 2010 in Uncategorized

It’s official, I have lived here in Iowa for over 6 months. To me it is strange that a place that was so foreign to me (yes Iowa can be foreign) is now home. I am coming to find beauty in things I once found boring and friends where once I had none, and I’m not getting as lost in the grocery store any more. 🙂

Life here in Iowa has changed my prospective on a lot of things. I’ve gone from being a fledgling just leaving college, trying to stand on my feet to a respected member of the church community. I’ve learned who people are, given advice to people twice my age and tutored people who are trying to start themselves anew.

I’ve been touched mostly by the enormous generosity and care the people around me have shown to me. If you have ever seen the Music Man, they talk about Iowa stubborn. It’s not lie, they can be that stubborn. I’ve just somehow wiggled into their hearts a little bit.

In six months I’ve grown up quite a bit and I hope to be updating you more frequently. Especially if people comment.

Until later, peace!

What is Age?

Posted: October 14, 2010 in Uncategorized

In my position I have the opportunity to do many things. I work with all ages of people as teacher, counselor, administrator, creative director, spiritual guide, and the list goes on and on. I have a distinct disadvantage. I am 24. I am a woman who will admit my age, and often to my dislike thought to be much younger than I am. I look at it as a welcome challenge and a major frustration.

I could actually be in the only field where being older and more experienced works to your advantage rather than disadvantage. Last night I was working with a group of adults where I was the youngest person in the room. While this does not bother me, when I’m the one that is teaching, and being looked to for experience, they look at me and go “yeah right.” Truth be told, I have 10 years experience in Catholic Catechesis, but who is really going to believe a 24 year old that a parish was willing to enlist the aid of a 14yr old who hasn’t been Confirmed.

I gave my little mini lesson as one of four speakers. People genuinely thanked me for my lesson. It felt good but also a bit daunting looking at a group of married professionals that most could either be my parents or grandparents.

On the other end of the spectrum I work heavily with adolescents. After 15 hours of running around with kids, I find myself exhausted but still wanting more. Many people when they look at Youth Ministers see the active part of it and after a long day like that, I rarely want to be found in my office the next day. Sometimes I act like the adult I am and make it in, other times I just say yes to my blankets and sleep in. *Disclaimer* I usually have it approved that I can take a day off if I say yes to my blankets, given notice and they know I’m not coming in.

On those dates I do take off, I ask myself, “When did I get old?” I was in the shoes of the students I work with not too long ago and just got out of college. When did I finally say no to late nights with early mornings and bouncing off the walls continuously without the help of caffeine? I never liked coffee and now the allure is there. I have yet to cave in and buy a coffee machine. I’m proud of myself.

But to the shock of finally hitting the in between stages of my life I am finding comfort in two separate sections of the Bible. The first comes from the prophet Jeremiah. Jeremiah even had some problems realizing that he was being called to a life of service to God. Jeremiah struggled with his age in a very patriarchal society. God instructed him “Say not, ‘I am too young’ to whomever I send you, you shall go; whatever I command you, you shall speak. Have no fear before them because I am with you to deliver you says the Lord.” Jer. 1: 7-8

Although God doesn’t fill me in so succinctly as He did Jeremiah, I still take heart. Although I may not have the most experience or have a couple of extra years under my belt. They will come and I will earn respect. Until then I will be working hard with the youth and my peers. Just don’t expect me to be keeping up with the Jones’.

Pax

Prayer

Posted: August 20, 2010 in Christian Life, Prayer

Many people view prayer as a way to get something for very little effort. But prayer is just so much more than that. Since I’ve moved to Iowa, I’ve left my comfort of being able Monstrance blessed by Pope John Paul IIto go to Eucharistic Adoration on a whim. For those that are not familiar with the practice of Eucharistic Adoration, simply, it is the practice of placing a consecrated Eucharistic Host on display so that it may be venerated since it is the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. Just as Catholics believe that Jesus is truly present in the Sacrament of the Eucharist during mass, this is another host that has been consecrated during mass for the purpose of Adoration.

In Northern Minnesota I was able to frequent Adoration whenever I wanted to be in the presence of Christ. Once I moved here, the parish I attend is quite small and it wouldn’t be viable to have Adoration all through the night, but we do have it for an hour a week. The turnout isn’t the greatest but there are many people who come just to have a small bit of time before Jesus in the still of their hearts.

I admit, there are times I do not want to be at church after I’ve worked a long day in the office, on a Friday, but there are many times I don’t want to be there that I need to be there. This brings me back to what I said at the beginning of my post, many people see prayer as a way to get something with very little effort. My response to that is, get over it, God is not a vending machine.

Mathew 7: 7 – 11 says this,

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Which one of you would hand his son a stone when he asks for a loaf of bread, or a snake when he asks for a fish? If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him.”

This quote is often misquoted frequently as a way to say prayer is a hoax. The attitude I hear most often is that, “If I ask God for something, I should get it.” While it is true that the “wicked” (also read as sinners) know how to give good gifts to their children, why wouldn’t God give us something bigger and better?

We live in a world of instant gratification. When I want something I get it now. Here’s the thing a lot of us forget, we are sinners, we don’t always know what’s best for us. So in our prayer lives when we ask for something that is harmful to ourselves, do you think God is just going to hand it over to us? I think not.

Prayer in essence is the uniting of our Free Will to that of God. Sounds easy? In my experience it’s actually quite hard. There are four categories that all prayer can be placed into. ACTS is an easy way to remember it.

A – Adoration – These are prayers that directly worship God.

C – Contrition – These prayers are those that show sorrow and repentance for sins.

T – Thanksgiving – This one is pretty self explanatory, these prayers thank God.

S – Supplication – These are prayers that ask for the needs of others and ourselves.

Whether our prayers are spontaneous or formal, they fall in one of these four categories.

Personally when I remember the four different forms of prayer, I try to ask myself, have I adored God today? Have I realized when I have sinned and repented of them? Have I thanked God? What can I bring forward to God for my family, friends and then finally for myself. I find it’s a dose of much needed humility. Think about it, pray about it, and stop looking to God as a genie or vending machine.

Time

Posted: August 14, 2010 in Christian Life, Iowa

My name is Amanda, and eight months ago, my life changed. I’m not saying that something horribly drastic happened, like cancer or loosing my best friend, but something changed.

As of January 1, 2010, I was working as a low rung manager at a large retail chain, in large city in Northern Minnesota.

Three weeks later, I lost my job.

Two days later, my boyfriend proposed.

One month later, I found a job posting. In two weeks I had applied. One weeks later I had a phone interview. Three weeks, I was being flown for a personal interview and returned home in 36 hours. The next morning, I was being offered a position. I had a choice to make and I accepted the position. One month later, I moved to rural Southern Iowa.

That was three months ago.

I am living in a small town in Southern Iowa that is also the county seat. I work with three other people on a regular basis, and for the most part I’m in charge. I work as the Director of Religious Education and Youth Minister for a small Catholic Parish.

Now let’s clear up a few small details. I am a young woman, getting married, working for the Catholic Church. I do not find it to be hierarchical or patriarchal. I have no hidden agenda to promote women being ordained or homosexual marriage, I want to teach and live out an authentic Catholic life. I also have no desire to “change” a 2,000 year old institution beyond what my pastor and bishop direct me to do so.

In three months of work I have had to learn quite a bit about my surroundings, the people I serve, and the programs I am running. Me in charge, it is a very new position for me to be in. I have also had the chance to learn more about my faith and fall in love more deeply with it.

It’s a new sensation to not have to have everyone of my actions checked before I complete them. My employers and I have gotten the chance to learn and grow with each other. The greatest compliment that I have received is that in three months I have challenged everyone in the office to grow and enhance their faith. Coming from Minnesota to Iowa has been an eye opening experience. The folks down here can be quite stubborn, but they have acknowledged me with open arms. I’ve been changing systems and leading people by my own example and something bigger than me is brewing.

Iowa has been a change. I’ve gone from untamed northern wilderness to tamed rolling cornfields. Oak trees gnarled with ivy and storms like nothing I’ve ever seen. This is life for me now. I am still engaged and set to be married in January. I’m preparing a place for my future husband and I to live together. I’m constantly educating myself and debating getting my Masters in Catholic Theology or Divinity Studies. I have learned more about myself in these past three months and I refuse to stop growing.

Let’s see where these next three months will take me.

Pax ^_^