I have come to fall in love with teaching in Catholic schools. What are YOU in love with?...

"Nothing is more practical than finding God, that is, than falling in love in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you will do with your evenings, how you will spend your weekends, what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything." - Pedro Arrupe

Saturday, October 22, 2016

The Art of Pumpkin Carving

As I've likely mentioned before, I grew up in a family that practiced non-traditional pumpkin carving. So, after all those years of haunted houses, college mascots, favorite characters, and more being on display in your front yard for all the neighbors to marvel at, it makes me realize I will never be satisfied with a regular old jack-o-lantern.

To illustrate my point, here are the past few years of pumpkin carving (in order starting at the top left and going clockwise - Arizona cactus, my church, Olaf (from Frozen), and Mickey Mouse):

This year, I probably should have carved the Cubs logo for Halloween. (Or, I could have "flown the W".) Then again, maybe that would have given rise to the "curse." 

Since I am just slightly obsessed (if you didn't already know) with the musical, "Hamilton," I decided to not throw away my shot to capture the iconic cover art.

So, I made my (rough) sketch...

And I searched all over Trader Joe's for the perfect canvas - I mean, pumpkin.

I tried to be as symmetrical as possible...

And I made some pretty ugly sketches on the pumpkin...

Until I finally got the ideas I wanted translated onto the pumpkin.

And then, as much as I wanted to carve it right away, I decided it was better to wait for it because otherwise it might rot before Halloween.

(Alexander Hamilton, we are waiting in the wings for you...)

Finally, at one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine... there are 10 days till Halloween, I grabbed a few kitchen knives, newspaper (thank you, Chicago Tribune), and got to work. So messy, yet so wonderful!

My hands were covered in icky pumpkin slime, so I didn't get any pictures along the way - just before and after. As you can see, I was planning to cut out the individual Hamilton letters, but they were too small, so I made some minor tweaks.

And lights, camera, action!

The A.Ham pumpkin hasn't made it to the window yet, but I've been watching it burn while grading and while cheering on the Cubs, so it's served its entertaining purposes so far.

It's far from perfect, but it was really neat to be able to bring my idea to life. (Sometimes in the classroom, things look a lot better on paper and then completely flop...you know how it goes.)

Now it's time to sign off and get ready for some friends' wedding celebration.

I have the honor to be your obedient servant, KMF

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

On being a saint

A prayer used in one of my classes last week really stood out to me, so I wanted to pass it along - it's an entry from the journal of St. John XXIII:

From the saints I must take the substance, not the accidents of their virtues. I am not St. Aloysius, nor must I seek holiness in his particular way, but according to the requirements of my own nature, my own character and the different conditions of my life. I must not be the dry, bloodless reproduction of a model, however perfect. God desires us to follow the examples of the saints by absorbing the vital sap of their virtues and turning it into our own life-blood, adapting it to our own individual capacities and particular circumstances. If St. Aloysius had been as I am, he would have become holy in a different way” (Journal of a Soul).

Have a beautiful day!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

One word: Joy

It's a great day for the Irish - well, it would have been a better day if we could have "flown the W" like the Cubs (holler!).

But talk about game day picture-perfect: amazing weather, plenty of time to tailgate hop with friends (it was a night game, after all), and lots of beautiful expected (and unexpected!) faces.

One word: JOY!

On Facebook, I posted these photos with a quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson: "I didn't find my friends; the good Lord gave them to me." This could not be more true! Days like yesterday remind me of this, and I have to pinch myself.

Now, as Sunday night is upon me, I look back with gratitude over my weekend experiences (except the part where I had to turn around after getting to the grocery store on Friday to get my phone I had left at school - ah!) and look ahead with hopeful anticipation. Let us keep one another in prayer.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Who is the one being ministered?

It had been far too long - over 4 months since I'd visited the nursing home to bring communion. But last Tuesday night as I was dropping my friend off after Bible study, he asked if I was going to start coming along again on Saturdays. With football games, weddings, shows, and other events taking up a lot of my upcoming Saturdays, I hesitated before saying yes. Even if it would just be for this week for now, it would be worth it.

I'm so glad I went. First, I did not feel pressed for time, which was largely due to the fact that I have a three day weekend due to the Columbus Day holiday. (And it's a good thing I wasn't in a rush because from the time we left the neighborhood, went to church to get the hosts, visit at the nursing home, and wait before returning hosts to the tabernacle after the 5pm Mass, it had been about 3 hours.) Second, I saw some old friends, some who remembered me and others who did not. But all were lovely and eager to receive Jesus. Third, one woman emphasized how privileged she was that she did not have to go "clump, clump, clump" all the way to church and instead we came to her. What an amazing perspective!

It's quite incredible - we are the ones called "ministers of care", but it is often the people at the nursing home who minister to us.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Itching to get back at it

It's a slow process, getting back out on the path for a run.

Today, I walked for a half mile, ran for a mile, walked for a half mile, ran for a mile. And I was huffing and puffing. And for the rest of the day, I felt extra pain in my foot.

Guess I'm still not ready.

But with the Chicago marathon tomorrow, I was itching just to get out there and try.

Baby steps. REALLY SMALL baby steps.

More physical therapy. More stretches. More massage. More pain.

End goal - think end goal.

All will be well. I will heal.

I just have to wait and work for it.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

How do you like them apples?

Overcast with a touch of fall temps: 60s - not too hot, not too cold...(all you need is a light jacket...)

It was a perfect day for apple picking!

With apples and fresh donuts in hand, we made our way back to the city, and I now find myself staring at my computer screen, wishing these grad school readings and papers would take care of themselves. Since I know they won't, I have a lot to do before Mass tonight.

Hope you've been enjoying your Sunday!

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Grading, Preparing, Football, and St. Therese

Where on earth did September go?

I know I'm not the only one thinking that because I've asked around.

I haven't been out of the house much today (which is good because the rain was really coming down earlier) - I've been watching college football, grading, and making slides/videos for the upcoming week of Religion classes. It was a lot of work, but I feel confident that I'll be getting the week off on a strong foot through the preparation.

"Exhibit A": my students' books on prayer with ND playing in the background...

(Tomorrow I will need to catch up with grad school stuff - and by "catch up", I really mean "get ahead so I don't get behind." Story. of. my. life.)

Last night was a ton of fun - I hung out with a few friends from church and also ran into some familiar faces (mostly other ACErs/ACE grads):

No complaints from the weekend so far. And with apple picking (and Mass) tomorrow, life is pretty darn sweet.

But before I close, I would be remiss to ignore the October 1st feast of St. Therese of Lisieux (better known to some as "Therese, the Little Flower" or "Saint of the Little Way"). Happy Confirmation Saint day feast to my sister and me!

St. Therese is such a great model of faith for so many reasons, and this year I joined others in praying a novena to her for vocations - it was helpful to have a way to hold myself accountable (even if it was through coloring):

St. Therese, pray for us!

One more day of the weekend before a short week with students - yay for professional development on Friday!