Please share a little about yourself – feel free to include a fun fact!
I grew up mostly in a small town just west of Wichita, KS with a big family of three brothers and two sisters. After attending college in northwest Kansas I knew I desired to travel and experience more of the world, which led me to saying Yes to the Lord’s call to be a missionary for four years. After my deeper conversion to the Church during my sophomore year of college, I felt a clear invitation from Christ to serve the Church with my whole life. This call led me to 3 different states and 5 countries. I most recently returned from directing a pilgrimage to walk the last 100km of the Camino de Santiago.
Describe your professional work. How were you led to this? What are you passionate about?
I have worked in college campus ministry my entire career. I experienced a deeper conversion in the Catholic faith my sophomore year and I felt this draw to encounter young adults and invite them to a fuller life than the one that they are settling for. In my own college experience it was clear to me that I was never more myself than when I was encountering the heart of Christ and sharing that with others. I knew that no matter what I did with my life, I could not ignore that call.
The first four years post-grad I was blessed to work as a missionary for the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) across the country. After FOCUS, I felt the desire toward fundraising for college ministries in order that money may not be an issue that withholds a student encountering a life-giving relationship with the Lord and others through His Church. I have just begun a new role working as the Assistant Development Director for the St. Thomas More Newman Center which serves the students who attend The Ohio State University – Buckeye Catholic.
What are the personal strengths that you’ve been given and how do you utilize them?
I believe the Lord has given me the strengths of seeing the potential of others and organizations and the skills to help them achieve their maximum potential. I have always enjoyed discerning big goals and visions for the future and then implementing them in such a way that brings glory to God. I see this play out in my professional work as well as my personal life. Many times we all settle for far too little of what the Lord actually wants to bless us with. He has called us to be a light to the nations that his salvation may be made known to all. My strengths revolve around asking and acting boldly in the call of the Lord, in hoping to live confidently in to the promises the He has made to us.
What women inspire you, and why?
I am in awe of the beauty of the Feminine Genius and how different aspects of it come out in different circumstances and lives of the women around me. Watching my older sister, Keri, become a mother has been so beautiful. Especially seeing the confidence and joy she has instilled in her own daughter, my niece Blaire. Seeing my sister-in-law, Emma, be an incredible mother to Josie and work as a student as she attends PA school shows me inspiring resilience and determination. And lastly, all of the women that I have been blessed to walk alongside throughout my adult life. They have shown me how receptivity, grace and mercy are practically applied in the small, hidden moments. I have been the most moved by the women in my life who have struggled with infertility and shared that cross with me in ways that are so holy in their vulnerability. They have taught me what it looks like to bear hidden crosses with deep surrender and trust.
Are there friends and mentors that you depend upon? How do they support you?
Absolutely. My best friends and mentors are constant sources of grace and mercy for me. They support me in a myriad of ways. These are the women I lean on when the hardships of Christian discipleship reveal my weaknesses and parts of my heart that still have not allowed His love to penetrate. We support one another by studying scripture together, sharing songs and articles of encouragement in the faith, intercessory prayer and inspiring one another in the ways we choose to live our daily call to holiness in our state of life through the struggles it brings. Gabby, Emily, Rachel, Anna, Kendra, Megan, Paula, Natalie, Christina, Jessica, Meredith, Melia, Angel, Alyssa, Rachel, Breanne, Zoe, Shelby, Sr. M. Karolyn, Sr. M. Gemma, and so many others are my inspiration and hope. They have taught and continue to teach me how to live into my daughterhood and belovedness.
Prayer is essential for everyone, but especially for women who are active in the life and mission of the Church. Do you have any favorite devotions or prayers?
The devotions that have been and continue to be particularly impactful for me is the Surrender Novena, the Litany of Trust and devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. All of these in their own way reveal to me the nature of my littleness, but in turn the nature of the Lord’s unfathomable love and desire to be my everything. The deep trust that it takes each day to surrender my own plans and desires so that I might rest most fully in the secure refuge of His Heart is something I always desire to lean into and grow in on this side of Heaven. The one who made the promise is trustworthy. He just asks that we surrender to the purifying love He has for us uniquely and trust enough to say “you take care of it” so we can rest in His most Sacred Heart.
Do you have a favorite inspirational quote?
“God has created me to do Him some definite service. He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have my mission. I may never know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next. I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons. He has not created me for naught. I shall do good; I shall do His work. I shall be an angel of peace, a preacher of truth in my own place, while not intending it if I do but keep His commandments. Therefore, I will trust Him, whatever I am, I can never be thrown away. If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him, in perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him. If I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him. He does nothing in vain. He knows what He is about. He may take away my friends. He may throw me among strangers. He may make me feel desolate, make my spirits sink, hide my future from me. Still, He knows what He is about.”
– St. John Henry Newman
What were your key takeaways from the GIVEN Forum?
My key takeaways from the GIVEN Forum were that I was created good, endowed with gifts and talents meant to glorify God and serve others. I learned that it is useless to compare how I am called to the ways in which the women who are my peers are called. My gifts are meant to be shared with exactly the people that need them. My sphere of influence could seem small and insignificant in the eyes of the world, but it is not small at all to those who I am called to be with and share Christ with at this particular time in salvation history and in this particular way. There is also nothing more powerful than a gathering of women who are uplifting and inspiring one another to be exactly who they were created to be.
What was your GIVEN action plan? Describe its mission, audience, and impact.
My action plan is called TakeHeart Accompaniment.
The vision of TakeHeart was crafted in light of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, who exhorts his followers numerous times in the Gospels to “Take heart, it is I, don’t be afraid” or “Take heart, daughter, your faith has saved you.” Take heart is an encouragement to his disciples who were suffering or struggling to understand His ways. Another word for heart is COURAGE. To “take heart” means to have faith and trust in the Lord in unexpected and undesirable circumstances.
My plan is directed to serve single Catholic young adult women who experience a variety of health issues related to their menstrual cycle. The mission is to provide accompaniment and a listening ear to the women who suffer, most times silently, as they struggle to understand and manage health issues that are nuanced and frequently misunderstood. It is oriented toward providing a space to hear these women and say “I see you, that is hard.” It is a place to connect with other young women who may be experiencing similar things and rest knowing that they don’t have to over explain themselves. These women just get to come and be received in the hidden cross of cycle issues. This group is not composed of medical professionals, but rather other young women who are sharing in the journey, encouraging one another to stay the course and trust the Lord admits the hardships that these issues bring about.
What motivated or led you to develop this action plan? Was this something that you had on your heart prior to this past year or was it something you developed through the GIVEN program?
Honestly, I had no idea that this group would exist before I attended the Forum last summer. I went in with a completely different idea. While at the Forum, the Lord brought about many conversations about my own unique journey with cycle issues and how badly I desired someone to talk to that understood and heard me, rather than someone who just wanted to give me advice or ignore the issue altogether.
Last year (2022) I had two medical surgeries related to cycle issues. The first was a diagnostic surgery to confirm that I had endometriosis, which is one of the leading causes of infertility in women. The second was meant to remove the disease, ideally giving me the best chance to have children someday. Endometriosis is incurable and can eventually come back, therefore I am on a fairly restrictive anti-inflammatory diet in order to give my body the best chance of fighting regrowth. I felt unseen and confused, until I was able to talk to another woman who had the same surgeries. It was such a relief to not have to explain it all and just be received and encouraged by her. That was the motivation behind starting this group.
How did you grow throughout this year as you worked with a mentor on your action plan? Were there any moments where you had doubts or felt like you had taken on too much of a challenge? If so, how did you overcome them?
Developing this action plan was such a graceful and spirit-led adventure with my mentor Christina. Every time we met we just prayed for the Lord to direct it to what He desired and it ended up being much smaller than I initially thought. I am a big dreamer and got overwhelmed by the sheer potential of providing this service to other young women. I completely doubted that I could be the one to start it and see it through. Christina encouraged me to start small, just to do a test group and see where it led. Taking it to a smaller scale at first provided me the freedom to evaluate and tweak the group to be what the women I am serving need, rather than what I want to give them. When I finally relinquished control of the bigger vision and focused on what I could feasibly provide, the spirit and freedom of the Lord was palpable. Little by little, one step at a time.
What were some of the fruits you saw from your action plan? What did you find most fulfilling in this process?
During the first beta test group there were 6-8 women who attended the weekly group throughout lent. They were from all over the country! It was amazing to see their interest and joy at coming to a group that connected them through a particular hardship. It was so beautiful to see them all connect with one another, be seen and heard, and be encouraged in their journeys. I have started a Summer Accompaniment Group because I enjoyed it so much and wanted to continue to provide the space for these women to continue being encouraged.
What is most fulfilling in this process was the reality that no one is alone in their struggle. The most incredible thing I continue to see is the relief in the eyes of a woman when she hears, “I totally understand. You are not alone. You are good. We are here for you.” Never underestimate the power of listening and the power of witness to a life transformed by this truth. We are seen and we are loved, period. No suffering or hardship removes the love of Christ from us, but it is how we take this truth and allow it to transform our worldview so as to receive the Lord’s love even in the midst of circumstances we have little control over.