Profile in the Gap: Marie Kelly

Profiles in the Gap

Marie Kelly

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Marie Kelly is an accountant who lives and works in Northern Virginia.

Did you expect this time of singleness?

For me, “expect” is the wrong word. Since I have never been technically part of a couple, I have been in a season of singleness for a long time that I did think would end earlier. I am glad it isn’t over quite yet, if I am honest.

When I was 7, my teacher asked her class to draw a picture of what they would like to be when they grew up. My understanding of that question was framed in a vocational reference by my parents. I only knew 3 options: marriage, single life or religious life. I thought through the 3 options for the first time ever, reasoning that marriage didn’t look fun. I knew nothing about singleness so that left only one option: I drew a picture of a nun in her Dominican habit. When the rest of my class showed off their pictures of firemen and ballerinas I realized I felt gypped! I didn’t know those were options since I understood the question differently.

In high school, my angst centered around desire for freedom and independence. I longed to make my own decisions, go where I wanted and explore the world on my own. My time as a single has afforded me those opportunities. I have grown deeply as a person these years and now have accumulated both knowledge and wisdom to share. As a teen, I hoped to avoid being “trapped” by marriage too soon. Often, this struggle seems unique to my experience.

Do you seek or find fulfillment in your career?

Yes to both! I selected accounting early on for its unique match of my interests and abilities before I ever knew what accounting entailed. Although I struggled at jobs where I found little purpose in my work, I find great meaning in working for the Church as an accountant. I love being a Catholic accountant. It’s such a unique skill set I can offer in a ministry setting. Often I feel I am helping serve Christ’s physical needs through proper stewardship of donated resources. I feel my job is on the pulse of the Church, as I see the lifeblood of ministry flow through my desk. I love it.

How does faith play a role in your actions and your outlook as a single young adult?

Faith is crucial to me. Without Christ sustaining me day in and day out, my walk would be unbearable. It is so easy to compare, become bitter, just not have a light to offer the world without Jesus. I am very at peace with where God has me today. I passed the 30 milestone and life continued. I see God’s Providential care for me each day. I know He loves me. When He needs me to serve Him in a vocation of love, He will give me the graces for that time of my life. Until then, today is enough.

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Profile in the Gap: Blanca Therese Morales

Profiles in the Gap
Blanca Therese Morales
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Blanca Therese Morales is a freelance writer and photojournalist. Check out her blog! Also, be on the lookout for her to appear in EWTN’s new series, “Extraordinary Faith.” She’ll be featured with some friends in an episode later this spring. 
I had always expected to be married by my early twenties. I knew many women who had married out of college, becoming stay-at-home moms in a nice little towns. It always seemed ideal.  However, God had other plans for me.
Since marriage was not to be had, I planned a glittering career in broadcast media. I saw myself living a glamorous life in either California or New York, rubbing elbows with celebrities, attending VIP events and feeling “free” of commitment or obligations.
But God got to me before any of this took place. He let me see that a life without Him would have no meaning, no purpose and no merit. I decided to offer my future plans to him, including marriage. From that point on, every decision had to include Him. I would live my life for Him.
As I offered up a career on TV, God offered me a better career alternative: writing. I had always liked creative writing but never saw myself working as a writer. God led me to news writing and photojournalism, where I learned to hone this skill through experience.
While I had never planned this for myself, God knew what He was doing. This new path helped me to grow so much as a person, and also as a Christian.
I now see that this season of singleness was a blessing in disguise. I have been able to do things I would not have been otherwise been able to do, had I done things according to my own plan. I have had the time to travel, go on pilgrimages, have a career I enjoy, attend retreats, and to learn and grow in so many ways.
God has humored me even further, by letting me go in front of the camera as I had originally planned, except this time the opportunity came not to give myself glory, but to speak about the things that give Him glory.

Profile in the Gap: Marian Keiselbach

Profiles in the Gap

Marian Keiselbach

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Marian Keiselbach is a nurse in the Northern Virginia area.

Did I expect this time of singleness? I don’t know. Depends on when you asked me. When I was eight, I thought that the end of the world would come well before I was 21. When I was 16, I thought I had my whole entire life completely figured out and therefore how could there possibly be gap time. And when I was 21, and my life plan of 16 had fallen through and thrown me flat on my face, I thought the rest of my life would be an unending limbo of fog and unfulfilled desires. I’m 27 now and this “time of singleness” is well upon me, so there is nothing to expect or not expect, there is only the day behind me to be reflected upon and the day ahead of me to be embraced and lived. 

Married, celibately consecrated, or in the grey in between, I seek and hope that l will continue to seek to find my fulfillment in my relationship with… you guessed it…. God. I also can’t help but wonder if I really will feel more fulfilled once I’ve “minded the gap” and entered the train. I know that I’m crazy restless right now, and some of it is from the evil one driving me to despair and some of it is from the Lord urging me toward the Father, but I can’t really imagine that getting married or joining a convent will all of a sudden provide the magic cure for my restlessness. Surely the only true fulfillment will be in heaven. Maybe I will feel dissatisfied and unfulfilled in a different manner or a little less, but I think until I’m face to face with God forever I’ll always be searching. And for me this is one of the greatest consolations of this between time. My angst (I think) is not because I’m in the  wrong place or doing the wrong thing or not doing enough, its because Eve ate that damn apple and Adam stood by and watched.  

That being said, I do love my job. I’m a nurse and I thank God daily for my work. (Although last week when my patient vomited all over my new sneakers,  I believe I may have been a little less appreciative.) My work challenges me, pushes me, makes me more generous, gives me structure and discipline, and provides an outlet for my desire to serve. I’m also fulfilled by my many relationships, and I rejoice that I have time to make new friends and to love and grow with my old ones.

Finally, the life of the mind is another truly satisfying aspect of the single life. If I was married with children or caught up in the responsibilities of communal life, would I have the same luxury of free time to study my Spanish, visit the many museums in the area and of course read, read, and read some more? Probably not. So, although I think it’s about time the Lord revealed His will for grown up me, and if He would move it along a little I would be very grateful, I nevertheless daily thank Him for the wonderful and satisfying things He has given me, and I strive to continue to have as much fun as I possibly can in the meantime.

 

 

February Profile: Mary Powers

Profiles in the Gap

Mary Powers

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Mary Powers lives and works in Washington, D.C., and is a graduate of the University of Dallas.

Did you expect this time of singleness?  

I did not expect this time of singleness, though I didn’t know what I would expect either. I thought I’d marry just after college (at 25) like my mom. I  kept waiting expectantly when I was in my early twenties for “the one.” While I’m still waiting, there hasn’t been a dull moment yet. If I had had gotten married earlier, I wouldn’t be able to do all that I am doing now, so in the end my singleness has been a blessing. It’s funny, for a while I kept praying for my husband thinking, “There must be something that he’s working through that God hasn’t brought us together yet”…and then a couple of years ago I realized I also had  things to work on, too. So maybe I’m the one God’s still working on! Either way, I know it’ll happen in God’s time.

Do you seek or find fulfillment in your career?

Yes, definitely.

I work in the pro-life movement in DC, so there’s always something happening that I can help with or work on within the movement. I began working with pro-life students and now work in pro-life politics. Within each area there are such important groups of people to reach with the beauty of the pro-life message. It truly is the human and civil rights movement of our day, fighting for mothers and the rights of their unborn children. Both students and politicians are on the frontlines of the pro-life movement in different ways. Students are working to help their peers choose life on campus, reaching the most vulnerable in their community to show them the love and acceptance they hunger for. Politicians are on the front lines as leaders in their communities, in Washington, D.C., and the media as candidates and legislators working to protect Life at all stages. Each requires unique resources and constant encouragement and support. Even though I’m stuck behind a computer for most of the day, I’ve still assisted them in obtaining those resources in a small way.

I also volunteer in my parish by teaching CCD. I started by teaching 1st grade for two years and then moved over to the 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders who will be receiving their sacraments this year. Even though it’s difficult to give up beauty sleep on Sunday mornings, it’s so fulfilling. Seeing their excitement when they understand a piece of the faith or watching them recite prayers that they’ve memorized in front of the class is just so awesome. The first year I taught, there was a boy in class who was so difficult. My co-teacher and I were pulling our hair out every class trying to get him to sit still and not play with the toys in the classroom while he was supposed to be listening/reading/working on projects. But then, just after Christmas, we took a trip to Church to look at the manger, and as all the kids were battling to view the manger scene, I looked over and saw this trouble-maker peacefully praying in front of the Blessed Sacrament. I thought, “Wow! Who would have thought?” Ha! God is so good. I never cease to be amazed at the progress each class makes and the knowledge they soak up. People you think aren’t listening the whole year end up answering questions in the end that surprise you. It’s great. It makes the challenges that much more tolerable.

I also sit on the National Alumni Board at the University of Dallas and help coordinate UD activities in DC. It’s so fun to help continue the UD community here and foster relationships between the wise alumni in the community and those who are new to the area looking for work or internships. It’s also great to meet UD alumni doing amazing things—and meeting them in the most random places! I love hearing their stories. It’s always like meeting a friend at the Capp Bar on campus. I will never forget being new to DC, looking for a job, and connecting with a UD alum on the Hill who was a Chief of Staff for a Senator. He was so kind. His door was open and we chatted for 45min about UD and then had a brief conversation about jobs and his thoughts on what I should do. After that, with each new job, his door was always open and I constantly received invitations to his bible study or lunch on the Hill. He has since passed on, but it is my goal to continue his “open door” and be the person that people can go to for help—even if my connections aren’t as big as his. After UD gave so much to me, it’s nice to be able to give back.

How does faith play a role in your actions and your outlook on your life as a single young adult? 

Faith plays a major role in my actions and outlook. Following God’s plan and doing what He wants me to do is paramount. He seems to know exactly what I need all the time! It’s wonderful. I once read a letter in Flannery O’Connor’s Habit of Being where she described the Church as a Mother and said that, because of faith, we can sleep peacefully in our Mother’s arms. This is exactly how I view life. Even in the darkest and most turbulent times, we can sleep peacefully with the knowledge that God has everything in control. We are called to not only live and preach the Gospel, but also to trust in His will. We have so many wonderful resources to use and share as Catholics that it’s hard to stay silent. You just want to keep talking about how awesome life is!

And as hard as it may be, our faith helps us to see life in a different way. It helps us never give into the darkness that secularism often brings. I often feel that Winston Churchill’s “never give in” speech explains that well: “Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never–in nothing, great or small, large or petty–never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”

Why shouldn’t we give in? Because we have something so much better…and an unimaginably wonderful place to look forward to.

Profile No. 25: Travis Rinn

Dear Readers, 
It has been such a privilege to receive so many profiles over the past month and a half. I never expected this project to turn out so well…and to be so rewarding! I’ve enjoyed reading the stories and reflections of other people living in the gap, and I hope you all have too. While the regular profiles have come to an end, I still have more…and I will be posting them over the coming months. If you haven’t been profiled yet but would like to be, please send me an email (single dot lifeinthegap at gmail). I’m always delighted to get new profiles, and eager to share them. I would also still love to receive good, thoughtful guest posts. Guest posts can be about anything related to life in the gap, as long as they’re told from your personal perspective and describe something from your own journey. 
Starting this week, we’re back to regular postings from yours truly (a.k.a. “Mabel), and maybe we can convince Virginia to share her thoughts with us now and then as well…
The theme for the rest of this month will be seeking the face of Christ, especially in the most vulnerable. With Christmas past and the March for Life almost upon us, it seems like a good time to explore that seeking that should shape and inform our lives. 
I’m looking forward to a great 2014 with this blog, and thank you as always for reading. 
–Mabel
Profiles in the Gap
Travis Rinn
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Travis Rinn is a software developer living and working in Austin, Texas. 
Did you expect this time of singleness?

I always thought I would be single at this age. I had the notion that I should establish a career before marrying.

If so, is it what you expected it to be? If not, what did you expect, and has the change been exciting or disappointing?

I thought that if I chased wealth first, then the girls would come, and after that I would find a Catholic one and worry about all this God stuff later. As it turns out, the Holy Spirit bonked me on the head in the middle of amassing that wealth, and now my plan is all out of order. So no — it’s not what I expected at all, but what I expected wasn’t what I should have been going after. I guess you could say the change is pretty exciting.

Do you seek or find fulfillment in your career? If so, can you elaborate? If not, where do you seek / find it?

I did seek fulfillment in my career, but I have come to realize that it is only part of fulfilling the role that God has for me. I’ve tried to take a more balanced role since coming to that conclusion.

How does faith play a role in your actions and your outlook on your life as a single young adult?

For a while, it didn’t play much of a role at all. I was the guy who skipped Mass to watch the NFL pre-game show. Later, through the meddling of the Holy Spirit, I came to realize that it was in fact the most important thing and should inform everything I do. I try to put my Faith first in everything now. It makes all the difference.

Since you have this time, what are some challenges you give yourself? If you didn’t have to worry about failure, what would you do with this time that you might be putting off out of fear?

I use my time to benefit God. And in particular, I have given a lot to the young adult community as a leader and coordinator of various groups and projects. I have some software ideas (games and Catholic apps) and no time to write them, and if I didn’t have little concerns like bills and a mortgage, I would love to take a few months off to build one of them. Maybe some day…

Profile No. 18: Claire

Profiles in the Gap
Claire
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Claire is an anonymous Catholic blogger in the UK. She blogs at Everything Is Grace. Follow her on Twitter, @CCGraceBlog.
Did you expect this time of singleness?
When I was a kid I had a lot of plans and expectations as to what would be happening in my life at the age of 25. I had envisaged a big beautiful house, a lovely husband and at least one bouncing baby on my knee… The actual picture of my life is vastly different from this. If you must know, I recently moved back in with my parents, I don’t drive, I don’t have any prospective boyfriends, and I work two part-time jobs in a city that takes me three hours traveling to and from everyday. This was all very unexpected. I may have had a little crisis moment before my 25th birthday where I thought, “Where have I gone wrong?” But I realise that I am probably the happiest I have ever been in my life. Nothing is perfect, nothing is the way I want it to be. But this is what God has made it, and it is the best thing ever.
What did you expect, and has the change been exciting or disappointing? 
I did not expect this time of singleness. I completely assumed that my life was going to go along the same path as everyone else I knew and looked up to. I am not going to lie and say that I am over the moon that I have not fulfilled my goals, but as a priest friend reminded me of this week, it’s not about my goals. My plan is not the plan, His plan. Jeremiah 29:11 is something I try to learn from on a daily basis. God does have a plan, and it could be similar or completely different to the plan teenage Claire had, but whatever it is, He will be executing it in His own time. Meanwhile, what’s happening right now is keeping me with a smile on my face. I am safe, warm, well-fed, nourished by the Body and Blood of Christ, surrounded by people I love, and growing into such a beautiful relationship with Christ.

Do you seek or find fulfillment in your career? If so, can you elaborate? If not, where do you seek / find it? 
Ahhh the career question. I work for two different charities – a non denominational pro-life charity and a Catholic charity. All things aside I love what I do. I love the people I work with and for. I love the potential of the places I work in, and what they could do in the future. I love being part of the journey. But I can honestly say this is just a moment in time for me. I dream of bigger and better things. I want to work with people. I want to own my own business. I want to make people happy. I want to bring people closer to Christ. Again, these are a lot of things I want! But it all depends on what He wants.
How does faith play a role in your actions and your outlook on your life as a single young adult? 
My faith essentially forms everything about me. I am a very optimistic person, and I believe that this optimism stems from a knowledge of the life God has built for me, and the promise of life with Him forever. I know that anything that goes wrong is not really the end of the world, and I know He looks after me. Having faith means I look at everything very differently — from what I eat, to what I do, who I hang out with, the situations I can get myself into…. down to random things like the charities I can support and the people I vote for. People look at faith as something restrictive, but I see it as something incredibly freeing. Having a life of faith has opened so many doors for me, created so many opportunities and made me who I am today. It definitely reassures me as a single woman. I look at my peers who don’t have faith, but who are single — they throw themselves at every man/woman with a pulse, they crave attention, they crave love, and they look for these things in all the wrong places. I know that Christ loves me more than any man ever could, and I learn each day that this love is enough for me, and anyone that comes along will have to slot in with that love.
Since you have this time, what are some challenges you give yourself? If you didn’t have to worry about failure, what would you do with this time that you might be putting off out of fear?
Faith is a challenge and a half; anyone who says it’s easy is talking crazy talk! Picking up the crosses of my life and dealing with them is a challenge. Praying — having a daily conversation with Christ — is a challenge. Blogging is a bit of a challenge for me… and trying to find time to blog is a challenge in itself these days.

If I didn’t worry about being a failure… I would start my own business. I don’t know what it would be though, so some thought would have to be put in that…. I would also put videos on Youtube because I really admire Youtubers (Shaycarl, CTFxC, Datev Gallagher, HeyKayli) and how they inspire many people. But a realistic thing would be to put a photograph on my blog and show it to people I actually know “in real life.” That is a huge challenge to me. But until I get the courage for that…. it’s anonymous blogging all the way.

Profile No. 15: Kara Eschbach and Janet Sahm

Profiles in the Gap

Kara Eschbach and Janet Sahm

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I had the privilege of chatting earlier this month with Kara Eschbach and Janet Sahm, the founders of Verily magazine, who kindly agreed to be included in the December profiles on Life in the Gap. In particular, I asked them about what motivated them to go after the things they were passionate about — to take the risk and launch their own business — and how we can view this time of singleness as an opportunity, not a burden. (-Mabel)

What was the catalyst for launching Verily? Did being single affect your decision to go for it?

Kara: I was in a lucrative, comfortable job in finance, and while I was happy there, I wasn’t exactly passionate about it. I actually moved to New York City to take that job, which was definitely exciting. But I wanted something more meaningful. So when this idea for a startup came up, it just sort of made sense. I quit my job in finance and switched to magazine. I’d been doing a lot of writing in my previous job, and the financial background really prepared me to run a business.

And yes, I think being single did play a role. I realized it was one of those “windows” in life – the right time to do something like this, when I had no other things tying me down. I had no kids or family commitments, no mortgage…nothing saying I couldn’t take a pay cut and work really hard to make this a success. But there are windows like this throughout life – like older adults whose kids have all moved out, life is just full of times when it’s possible to make a decision like this. So why not go for it?

Janet: I was working a good job as an assistant in New York. I mean, it paid the rent! As a new graduate I was privileged to gain some experience in the fashion industry at Elle, and I quickly saw that to become a fashion editor in that kind of publication, I’d have to devote myself to 10 years of slave-driving work. I wanted a well-rounded life, not to become the typical obsessed career woman. Still, fashion is  my love.

Even while working my assistant job, I was thinking and praying about starting my own magazine. I wanted to start a publication that had more meaning, and let me be myself. My 9 – 5 job actually gave me a lot of freedom, too … outside working hours I could write and focus on honing my talents. It really gave me the freedom to be creative.

You two launched Verily together – and it’s been a big success! Does having friends on the journey with you make it easier?

Both: Yes! We were casual friends when we first started throwing around the idea of launching a magazine, but after working together on this project for the past couple years, we’ve definitely grown closer. We’ve definitely found that friends, especially for those of us who are single, become surrogate family. They’re the people you have meals with and celebrate holidays with when you can’t make it home to see your family. A community of friends is so important to living a happy, fulfilling life. Granted, that community is always changing as people get married and move on to other opportunities, but that’s part of the beauty of it, too.

What advice would you give to other young adults in the gap who are struggling with what to do next?

Kara: It’s typical to sit around in “the gap” just waiting, instead of figuring out what it is we really want to do. So often we’re waiting for things to be obvious, or for the perfect scenario, or we feel like we have to have a plan. I took a job in New York, not because I’d always wanted to go there, but because when it came up I thought it might be interesting, and a good platform for other things. Only once I got here did I discover other things I was really interested in, that got me to this point.

My advice for anyone in the gap? Walk through open doors. Even if they don’t look like what you thought you wanted…you never know where they might take you. Expand your network, meet people, and see what comes of it.

What if discovering and pursuing my passion just isn’t an option right now?

Janet: Even if you find your job monotonous and you don’t love it, there are endless possibilities for living a meaningful and fruitful life. Get involved. Start a discussion group to talk about controversial issues. Get involved in your church. Volunteer – and do it regularly. Use this time of freedom to become a more integrated person. Join dance class, a sports team, or a language class. Get friends together regularly to teach each other skills you already have, like photography or cooking.

Push yourself. There’s so much to read, to learn, to give. The more you can go outside yourself, the better. You learn to give of yourself and to love.

So often we take our identity from who we were in high school or college. We forget that we’re still growing, that we’re always growing and changing. Don’t throw away chances to grow and develop your character and yourself.

Kara: Don’t discount your current job just because it isn’t your dream. You’d be amazed at what you’re learning and developing that you don’t even realize. And much of it will come in useful down the road. My finance background prepared me to run a business. Janet’s background gave her lots of professional development, which she is able to use now, along with her creative talents. So many skills are transferable – so don’t write anything off as a waste of time!

Profile No. 13: Joan Nagel

Profiles in the Gap

Joan Nagel

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Joan Nagel is a Registered Dietitian and grad student living in North Dakota. She blogs at Everything is Yours. Follow her on Twitter at @rdgal37.

Did you expect this time of singleness?

Yes and no. Now I realize that a question technically shouldn’t be answered with both yes and no, so I’m going to do my best to explain myself…

I say yes because I’ve dated quite a bit over the past few years and have yet to find “the one” who is “my one.” I’ve sometimes wondered if “the list” of qualities I’ve concocted for my future husband might be impossible to find in one person. But when I listen to the advice of strong, married, Catholic women who stress and stress and stress, “Never settle,” and “Never lower your standards,” I am so thankful that I’m not married yet because I truly haven’t met someone that embodies everything that I’m looking for.

But are there days when I think, “Gosh, will I ever get married?” Definitely! I just have to keep reminding myself that God’s plan is always better than my own, so when he thinks that both me and  ”my one” are ready, it will happen!

So on the flip side, I say no because I have always and probably will always be a very “planny” (please excuse my feeble attempt at trying to add a word to the English language) person. I love making lists (task lists, grocery lists, lists of lists), so when my mental plan of “go to college, graduate college, get married, and have kids” didn’t happen in that order, the “planny” part of me went a little crazy.

Thankfully, I’ve finally learned that it’s okay to keep “get married” on my to-do list, but I’ve realized that this can only happen if and when God decides to check it off of his list, too.  

Do you seek or find fulfillment in your career? If so, can you elaborate?

Absolutely! In September 2011, I got my first “big girl” job working as a dietitian at a hospital in my hometown. It was such an amazing learning experience, as I was exposed to so many aspects of clinical dietetics, but it really drained me emotionally. Since I’ve always loved school and learning — I was that little girl who maxed out her library card during the summer months — I started praying about whether or not I should consider going back to school for my M.S. in Dietetics in hopes of landing a job better suited to my personality.

After feeling a great deal of peace about pursuing grad school, I started exploring my options and eventually found myself enrolled in an online program which allowed me to take courses from 9 different universities. The online option appealed to me because I wanted at least one year’s experience in the hospital setting before looking elsewhere. 

I started to pray feverishly for a new job once I hit that monumental one-year mark, and my prayers were answered after being offered a position from the diabetes clinic where I had interned as an undergrad. Although the position was full-time, it was also just a maternity fill, but I felt confident that another opportunity would present itself after if it was meant to be. Thankfully, I was right, and several dietitian opportunities have fallen into my lap since moving!

Currently, I am back at that same diabetes clinic working a few days a week, facilitating a diabetes prevention class, teaching two college-level dietetics courses, and taking a full load of grad courses with plans of graduating in May. I absolutely love helping patients reach their diabetes and weight loss goals in the clinic setting, but I’ve discovered that I also really enjoy teaching! I’m hoping to take and pass my Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE) exam this coming June, so it will be exciting to see if any new opportunities come my way once I have M.S. and CDE after my name!  

How does faith play a role in your actions and your outlook on your life as a single young adult?

One of my favorite things to hear is, “Joan, you’re always so happy!” Now I’m not going to lie, I definitely have those days when I’m not feeling like this ball of sunshine, but for the most part, I always try to greet people with a smile or simple hello, even if I’m feeling stressed or crabby.

Why? Because a smile can brighten a person’s day. A hello can let others know that someone in the world cares about them. I absolutely believe that a simple act of kindness can go a long way, so that is one example of how I try to allow my faith to influence my daily activities.

As far as my outlook on life as a single young adult goes, it breaks my heart to think of how many young adults are living their lives. I believe that the main reason why many young adults are filling their lives with alcohol, parties, addictions, and promiscuity is because they are trying to fill the gap in their hearts that only God can fill. I know how it feels to have that gap. And I know how it feels trying to fill that gap with things that aren’t from God. It doesn’t work. I know that God can fill that gap. And I know that it can take time to fill that gap, but it can be done through prayer, attending Reconciliation, and more prayer! 

And so it is my hope, that my “cheery disposition” may be contagious or heck, even obnoxious enough to at the very least get someone thinking, “I wonder why Joan always seems so happy?”

Since you have this time, what are some challenges you give yourself? If you didn’t have to worry about failure, what would you do with this time that you might be putting off out of fear?

During the last few years, I’ve developed a love for running, so I have been trying to run at least a few races each summer. This past summer I ran a half marathon and a 15 K, and I’m toying with the idea of signing up for my first full marathon next summer. Go big or go home, right?!

Another challenge I’ve given myself is in trying to spread the Catholic faith via my blog. I started the blog ~1 year ago coining myself an “online missionary,” and this blog has honestly been such a blessing in my life. Blogging has become my new favorite verb, and it’s safe to assume that I can be found sitting at my kitchen table, overhead lights off and candles lit, most nights of the work week (okay, sometimes on the weekends too!) as I blog to my heart’s content.

I’ve really enjoyed connecting with other Catholics and non-Catholics in the blogosphere and have felt my love for the Catholic faith grow leaps and bounds with each post I’ve written. I recently started a series on the Fruits of the Holy Spirit and am hoping to feature more series in the future as well as to host more guest posts to include a variety of perspectives from both girls and guys!

What would I do if I didn’t have to worry about failure? Gosh, good question! Well if money wasn’t an issue, I would quit school, quit my jobs and fly to Rome in hopes of attending a Pope Francis-led Mass. And then after I’d toured every church and museum and tasted the finest coffee and gelato, I’d travel to India to work with Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity! A girl’s gotta dream, right? 

 

Profile No. 9: Angela Lademan

Profiles in the Gap

Angela Lademan

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Angela Lademan is a youth minister living and working in Northern Virginia.

In my 26 years of life, I have learned one thing: Never. Make. Plans. The Lord always changes them. I don’t know if this is true for everyone (maybe most other people are more in tune to what God wants for their lives and plan accordingly from the beginning), but for me, I have rarely made a plan that ever worked out according to “the plan.” And you know what, it’s okay. God’s a little more creative than I am, and He has more confidence in me than I have in myself. So, it’s made for a much more exciting life than I could have dreamed up.

Six years ago, I studied abroad in Austria. The last day I was there, the Student Life Director said something I providentially needed to hear. He asked me what I was going to do once I graduated, and I told him that I didn’t know, I would just see what God wants. He gently but firmly replied, “But Angela, you need to do your part and let the Lord do the rest.”

This conversation has often replayed in my mind as I pick up the pieces of broken plans and gear up for another turn in the road. Sometimes I want to just stop walking and say, “What the heck, Lord! Fine, you pick me up and put me where you want me. I’m done and not contributing to this journey anymore.” But, Mark’s advice keeps me walking down the road and rolling with the punches. I have to keep moving in order to encounter the world, and to meet the new and unexpected people and experiences the Lord throws in my direction.

In the last four years of my life, according to the plan (you know, the nice little Catholic girl plan), I would have gotten married out of college and started a family and would be sitting at home all day in my perfect house in my perfect 50’s housewife outfit with my perfect “Leave it to Beaver” children (because those exist). Sorry, I know, can’t any of us women be a little more creative with the story we write for ourselves? While this is a beautiful story, what I think most of us women don’t realize is that in order to have this “perfect” little “Leave it to Beaver” family, you have to be ready to be a real woman, a real wife, and a real mother. Otherwise you are just playing house, and when the hardships come, you don’t know what to do with them (’cause, heck, nothing bad or unpleasant ever happened in “Leave it to Beaver”). Now, I still don’t know what the Lord is preparing me for, but I think there is no better boot camp than having a few years of singleness.

I wish I could say I’ve spent these years embracing every moment. I haven’t. It’s hard to detach from the plan. But even if I haven’t appreciated every moment in the present, I am looking back and am so grateful for every difficult experience, every unknown move, and every unexpected friendship. Every experience makes me ponder who I am, why I am doing what I’m doing, and what I want for my life. While I haven’t figured any of these things out completely, I have more and more opportunities to discover and become that woman the Lord wants me to be.

Highlights of the last few years: European travel and the Bahamas; missionary work with college, high school, and grade school students; living in four different states; deciding on a Friday morning to run away for the weekend (just because I can); speaking to large groups of teens and seeing them completely engaged; walking down the aisle in front of several best friends; letter-writing to close friends as they journey through discerning God’s will for them to be priests and religious; realizing that my workday consisted of listening to and praying with a young adult or teen who came into my office crying over something; finding myself in front of over 100 8th graders and bursting with joy to tell them that God wants so much for them; running around like a crazy person with paint all over my face followed by 10 2nd-4th grade boys because I was “Chief” for the week at camp; a half marathon; flying in a private jet; and the list goes on… But at the end of it all, finding myself in adoration and realizing that nothing else in my life has been constant except for the Eucharist, and realizing that at the end of the day that’s all that matters.

So, if one day I find myself in my perfect little “Leave it to Beaver” life with healthy children and a happy husband, it will be because I’ve had a few years to learn to persevere through struggle and hardship, and because I learned that most things are actually a gift, and that faithfulness, no matter where it looks like it is going to bring me, is the only way God can bring about the most and best in my life.

Profile #7: Jen Cox

Profiles in the Gap

Jen Cox

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Jen is a school nurse in Southwest Florida. She blogs at Jumping in Puddles. Follow her on Twitter, @Jen_CoxRN

Just getting back from Spain (!!), and a recent quick trip visiting my brother and his family, planning to fly up to visit family for Christmas and New Year’s, has had me thinking about how awesome my life is these days. In the hum drum of daily life, I don’t always see it, but let’s be honest: my life rocks.

I have this freedom to do what I want, when I want to. Which mostly consists of traveling and visiting all the people I love. Because, let’s face it, that’s all I ever really want to do in the first place. And, I love to travel. So it’s perfect for me! 😉 I can sleep in on the weekends or not. I can go to whatever Mass I want. I can leave my dirty clothes around, because, hey! Who is going to really see them?!

Someday (I hope!) all of this travel … all of this visiting the people that I love the most … all of this “me” time will not be so easy. My focus will be completely different. And when that does happen, it will be hard, I’m sure, but I will be so thankful to be there. But right now: I love it.

Now, this doesn’t mean that I don’t have days where I long for my future. The days where the ache of waiting and wondering are really tough. The closer I get to the age of 29 (a little over a month, people!), I question and worry. I struggle with letting my mind wander to my ideal future. This was the age my parents got married, so I have always had it in my head that until then, I was ok. I’ve had to work hard to realize that no matter what plans unfold for me … it’s ok. I’m not the One creating them. I’m just the one trying to follow the best way I know how.

This is the cross that God has given me to bear right now. Do I understand it? No. Do I love it? Obviously not. Do I want to be done with this part? Um, YES! But He is asking me to stick it out and to trust Him.

So, I am. Or, rather, am trying. Really, really hard. I am taking risks (ya know, moving to Honduras a couple years ago, moving to a new state far away from family, etc). I am trying new jobs (school nurse, anyone?!). Trying to make new friends (which has been REALLY hard! Can we talk about what that process is like as we get older? Or is this just me?). Volunteering at church (Eucharistic Minister, youth group). Blogging (I have to include that. It’s kind of a thing in my life now!). Spending as much time as I can with my sweet, sweet goddaughter, and any other little kiddos for that matter. Praying. Going to adoration. Learning to love myself better.  

The desire to be a wife and mom is so deep on my heart, that there are days where I think I am crazy or weird for not having it happen yet. But I brush those thoughts aside, because I know they are not from the One who loves me most. As cliche as it sounds, everything will play out JUST as it’s supposed to. Even if/when it doesn’t fall in line with my own plans. Things will be even better.  

Until then, I am going to just revel in the joy of my life now. I challenge you to do the same! 🙂

Thank you to the ladies of Life in the Gap for giving me the opportunity to reflect. It seriously came at such a wonderful time for me. 🙂 Thank you, also, for this awesome blog!