Friday, April 22, 2016

Full Circle

When Jesus resurrected from the dead, everything came full circle. His disciples finally understood what he had been alluding to for the previous three years or so. The One who raised others from the dead now was risen Himself. The One who healed so many in physical form would now allow a great multitude whom no one can count see that it is He who heals.

So it is no coincidence that in the twists and turns in our own life eventually come full circle, too. As I'm "resurrecting" this blog, I am calling to mind such events in my own life.

With Sister Pamela Catherine
Photo by Joni, our awesome hostess! We just loved her!
This past March, I attended the Idaho Catholic Youth Conference with Sister Pamela Catherine. We had a wonderful time and were inspired by the amazing teenagers we encountered there, as well as the preteens we gave a vocation talk to at one of the local Catholic grade schools. The presence of the Holy Spirit was strong at the conference...the talks, prayer time, and music continue to have a positive impact on my spiritual life.  Sister Pamela Catherine and I just loved it. I heard earlier that it was a life changing conference for the teenagers who are able to attend, and I can see why. What was extra cool about it was that my Life Teen youth minister happens to be in charge of it. Chris Kreslins ran an excellent program in Grand Rapids and I am so grateful that he is able to minister to teens on a larger scale. It was wonderful to spend time with his family them!

With Chris Kreslins
Photo by Savannah Amyx
Savannah Amyx Photography
Another thing that has come full circle is that I have had my first season as the assistant coach for the track and field team at our school. I have been coaching the JV Runners as well as the varsity and JV throwers (shot put and discuss). Tomorrow is the district finals and Jackie (the head coach) and I are absolutely thrilled to have a number of the people on our team qualify for it! What started as a rebound sport after getting cut at tryouts from the high school softball team turned into throwing for a season and then running long distance for the following two seasons.....and now as a coach, I have a whole new perspective on athletics and competitions. We want to see our runners and throwers experience success, and we rejoice with them when they do, but success comes in many forms and at the end of the day, as long as they are giving 100% effort, we're proud of them.

There certainly are a lot of twists and turns in this life, but He has a way of bringing things together. I am so grateful that I didn't make that softball team!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

I Thought You Fell Off the Face of the Earth

My journey out of the blogosphere and back to it has been an eventful one.  

1. I packed up my life and left Hawai'i, a land whose culture and people I came to love and adore.

"Aloha ʻoe, Aloha ʻoe,
The charming one who dwells in shaded bowers
One fond embrace,
'Ere I depart
Until we meet again"
-Queen Liliʻuokalani
Photo courtesy of Andra Drake
2. I spent the summer at our Motherhouse and had a fantastic time! Sister Mariella taught me how to do calligraphy and I got to be a pallbearer in a good friend of mine's funeral. Sister Cecilia Marie was 106-years-old. Amid my tears of loss, I was also grateful to the Lord that I was home when she passed, and got to sing to her while she was on her death bed. Sister Cecilia Marie, lover of music, pray for us.

Photo courtesy of Mom.

3. I have been busy teaching, having fun with my local community, taking Bible classes and loving life in Tucson, Arizona. 
We enjoyed watching the eclipse from the bell tower. Photo courtesy of Sister Mary Ann.

So there's a quick, brief timeline. It's good to be back in the blogosphere. Meanwhile, we are enjoying watching the Packers beat the 49ers on the Feast of St. Francis. It has been a wonderful celebration. Yesterday, I went on a daylong pilgrimage to Magdalena de Kino in Sonora, Mexico with some of my friends from the Tohono O'odham nation. It was a day full of graces. We made it back in time for the Transitus and a special procession in the Church. Mass was just as special this morning.
Happy Feast Day! Photo courtesy of Manny Martinez.

Monday, April 6, 2015

An Unofficial Spiritual Aid for the Morning

I am a coffee lover. Outside of Dunkin' Donuts, and of course, the Speedway gas station, my favorite coffee is Kauai Coffee. (Don't knock Speedway coffee until you've tried it!) I remember drinking Kona coffee and thinking it was alright, but Kauai coffee is so ono!

In an earlier entry, I wrote about visiting a coffee shop to learn about fair trade coffee and I remember thinking it would be cool to go to a place where coffee is actually grown. Jesus said, "Ask and you shall receive..." (Matthew 7:7). I don't think I bothered to ask though.

As a local community, we decided to go on an outing to the Kauai Coffee Company for their free guided tour and coffee tasting. Since Kauai Coffee is fully grown in the United States, there are no fair trade issues.

This is one of the Gardenia blossoms. They were all over the trees and will later be replaced by coffee cherries.
The cherries have already been harvested but they left some unpicked for us to see. The coffee bean is inside the cherry. It's the seed/pit of the cherry.

These machines drive over the trees to collect the cherries. They don't need to hand pick the cherries.
The cherries go into this structure. There is water in it. The cherry surface is weakened and the beans get separated. The poor quality beans float and the good quality beans sink. This allows easy separation and removal.
The beans are then dried. You know they are done with the drying process when they resemble peanuts like what you see here. Now they are ready for roasting!
The longer you roast coffee the less caffeine it has.
Dark roast has more body and medium roast has more caffeine!

To get decaf coffee, the beans are sent to Canada where there is a water treatment process. One of our Sisters tried their decaf vanilla macadamia nut blend and loved it! (So, Elmer, if you are looking for gift ideas...)
I took this picture for Sister Caritas. :)

This was my favorite sign!

If you are still reading this, you might have an interest in how things are made. My students and I highly recommend this Mister Rogers video on how crayons are made.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Sledding on Kauai

The year 2015 started off with a "bang" for me. I spent time with some friends here, lighting off fireworks. (See what I did there?) It was great fun...and then the fun did not stop from there. I felt like I was a kid again, being pushed by one of my uncles so that I could go flying down "Big Toe" a mammoth-sized hill in my late Grandma Beechnau's backyard. The weeks and months have blurred together as I've soared across the hill of time. 

Updating this blog has always been in the back of my mind, albeit buried under a stack of papers, so to speak. 

Our school was awarded an awesome grant that enabled each child to have a Chromebook to be used at school. While we have had a lot to learn, I am a computer geek by nature, so I have loved using them in the classroom, and more importantly, our students have, too!
Father Arnel held an all school blessing, so we could pray for the holy, safe, and good use of the Chromebooks. We were celebrating St.Valentine's Day on the same day, which is why you see all the pretty clothes!

We have also spent time celebrating the Year of Consecrated Life by giving vocation talks and by inviting people to our convent to encounter our life in a deeper way than they usually do. 
Sister Janet enjoyed taking our visitors to our chapel in Saint Theresa Convent

I had a chance to spend a weekend in Wisconsin for the annual Initial Formation Weekend. This year was extra enjoyable because we were there the same time as an discernment retreat! I loved getting to know the women who were coming to see what our Franciscan life is all about!

A selfie after breakfast with Sister Natalie. She's our Community Director, but she was also the novice directress for Sister Pamela Catherine (perpetually professed), Sister Regina Rose, and me. It was nice to catch up with her!

I am always praying for those who are discerning their vocation, so if you are discerning, know that you are in my daily prayers. Actually, you are in my mom's daily prayers, too. :) 

Speaking of discernment, I have a good friend, Amanda, who I spent time discerning with before entering the convent. We would get together frequently as she was preparing to marry her husband, David, and I was preparing to join my Community. Everything came full circle as Amanda, David, and their youngest child, baby Mercedes came to spend a week with us Sisters in Hawai'i. We loved having them, and Amanda did some really awesome performances! 

You might have heard her speak or perform if you attended Catholic conferences where she has been at. If you are unfamiliar with Amanda Vernon's music, you can visit her website at I personally cannot stop listening to her acoustic CD!  She travels all over the place giving concerts, so don't hesitate to contact her if you would like her to come to your parish or venue! 

The following is an interview she did on EWTN's "Life on the Rock":

What else? Lent has been amazing for me. I love this time of renewal and extra time for prayer. Well, there isn't extra time per se, but I allow myself to devote extra time. One of my favorite stories of my Confirmation Saint, Mother Teresa, was of her Sisters informing her that they did not have time for the required hour of personal prayer. Their duties to serving the poorest of the poor were simply too great. Mother Teresa responded by increasing the personal prayer time to two hours daily. In fact the Missionaries of Charity still commit to two hours this very day! There is so much wisdom in that! I can tell you time and time again, that whenever I've felt like I didn't have time to pray, after praying anyway, God has increased my productivity to where I accomplished more than I thought possible! He cannot be outdone in generosity! 

If you are looking for some spiritual resources, my mom has been telling me about some amazing talks that she has gotten to listen to at our home parish for their Lenten Mission. I trust her judgement, so I am posting the links to the recorded talks before I get to listen to them myself. You might beat me to them if you listen to them before Friday! Their visiting priest was Fr. Patrick Martin, and his theme was "Mission Possible."

Once you click on the the links, scroll down to listen to the podcasts: 

At St. Theresa, we had our own visiting priest, a Capuchin Franciscan named Fr. Bob Udulutsch. He helped us to develop our understanding of the models of the Church and reflect on them as well as grow in prayer. We will miss him. 

I suppose that's about it. God bless you as we enter into Holy Week. 

Friday, December 26, 2014

Unlocking the 54 Day Novena

There is an event on Facebook called 54 Day Rosary Novena beginning January 1, 2015 and ending February 23, 2015.

A novena is traditionally 9 days. It comes from the Latin word novum, which means nine.

You need to mark the dates on your calendar (or keep checking the event page on Facebook). 9 traditional novenas times 6 equals 54. If you divide 54 in half, it equals 27 (9 traditional novenas x 3).

So it looks like this:

First half = 27 days (the length of 3 traditional novenas)
Second half = 27 days (the length of 3 traditional novenas)

Each day, you pray the rosary. There are no additional prayers. However, while you are praying it, you are focused on a particular intention.

The first half of the 54 Days is a prayer of petition. Focus on expressing this need or desire to God and asking for Mary's intercession.

The second half of the 54 Days is a prayer of thanksgiving. Whether things are turning out how you wished or not, you thank God for all He has done and for all He continues to do, as well as Mary for her faithful intercession. This can be where the rubber meets the road, because things may appear to be getting worse. It's a prayer of surrender.

Novenas are not magical and I believe that the 54 Day Novena illustrates that in a beautiful way. We come before the Throne of God, turning over all that we need and desire to Him.
I will put my spirit in you that you may come to life, and I will settle you in your land. Then you shall know that I am the LORD. I have spoken; I will do it. -Ezekiel 37:14, NAB
In the description on the event page, there are specific prayers provided, so if your prayer style is such that you prefer praying from what has been already written, you can find those prayers there. If your prayer style is more free-flowing, or if you struggle with scrupulosity, then simply follow what is written above.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Preaching in the Parade (No Words Necessary)

This past Saturday, our school participated in the 20th Annual Waimea Lighted Christmas Parade. In previous years, I was a spectator. It was fun to march in it this time. My arm got really tired from all the waving but I loved seeing many people I knew as we walked through the streets. Most critically, the children were very excited about being in the parade!

Our Float

We had four boats that represented the four evangelists (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) as well as the four weeks of Advent and their themes (hope, peace, joy, and love). In the middle, you can see our lighthouse sculpture and banner. To find out how we became a Renaissance Lighthouse School (an academic award) click here. As a Lighthouse school, we are guiding others to their own achievement. Our ultimate goal, however, is something that cannot be measured. We want to become saints in heaven. We are on our way and hope to bring many others along for the ride!

The littlest ones got to ride in the boats while others pulled them through the streets!
Father Arnel, Santa Claus, teachers and lots of parents were there to help! One of our preschool teachers, Kacie Pratico, is on the far right.

We had such a wonderful time and I am especially grateful for all that the parents did to make everything go so well. I continue to be edified by people. Sure there is evil in the world but there so much more that is good in it! So much aloha. I am frequently humbled and inspired.

Mele Kalikimaka!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Review of the Sisterhood: Becoming Nuns, Episodes 5 & 6

Left to Right: Francesca, Claire, Eseni, Christie; Stacey

The fifth episode began with people at a bar commenting to the women, "You're too hot to be nuns." I was so grateful that the young women replied back that a calling has nothing to do with how someone looks. When someone says that to me, I don't know what to think or feel. I'm flattered that they find me pretty, but even more so, I feel like a mama bear for Sisters everywhere. Obviously, they haven't seen many Sisters.

Again, how someone looks on the outside has nothing to do with one's vocation. I don't even know how those two things relate to each other. It's not like married women are still available, so it can't be "a waste" to give your life to God.
"For the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart." - 1 Samuel 16:7b, NRSV
The remainder of that episode as well as the finale had a central question of "What is authentic discernment?" The answer is not so simple that a person just needs to follow a checklist. Every person's journey is different. Some people have been in romantic relationships before entering religious life. Some have not. Some have visited a variety of Communities before deciding on one. Some only needed to visit one or two. Regardless, when you know, you know.

As I watched the final two episodes, I was so excited for Christie and Claire! I saw so many parallels to finding my own Community and I could not be happier that they discovered where to begin formation. Not everyone can say they found their Congregation on a reality TV show, which is another wonderful example of God calling people in different ways! For those who could not watch the show, Christie discerned to enter the Daughters of St. Mary of Providence in Chicago, Illinois, and Claire discerned to enter the Sisters of St. Joseph the Worker in Walton, Kentucky.

Eseni discerned that God is calling her to be a wife and mother. She also decided to go back to school to become a pediatric nurse. She was glowing in the last episode! I was just as happy for her as I was for Claire and Christie.

As for Francesca, their discernment will continue into the future, but she seemed to get a lot out of the process and was able to inspire others. She had a warm connection with the Carmelite Sisters for the Aged and Infirm in Germantown, NY and said that she would continue to keep in touch with them.

Stacey had probably the biggest turn of events, because on the show she had said she might join Christie in Chicago, but she just tweeted the following:

This even came as a surprise to Francesca who had been discerning alongside her on the show:

Only God knows how things will turn out for these five women. Even Christie and Claire are free to end the process if they feel God calling them elsewhere. A person who enters a convent does not sign her life away and she most certainly is not brainwashed into doing so. All God asks of us is that we are faithful to Him and to love with the fullest sense of the word agape.

In my final analysis of The Sisterhood: Becoming Nuns, I believe that it was a worthwhile program and a good introduction to the Year of Consecrated Life! I have enjoyed covering the episodes, and I am looking forward to continuing the discussion of living religious life through future blog entries.