Monthly Archives

January 2012


FOCUS SLS and March for Life

January 31, 2012


This past weekend Jonathan and I embarked on an adventure with nearly 1200 others to Baltimore, MD for the FOCUS Student Leadership Summit 2012 and annual March for Life. We had an amazing weekend listening to speakers such as Curtis Martin, Dr. Ted Sri, Dr. Tim Gray, Father Michael Keating, Dr. Jonathan Reyes, and many FOCUS staff members! This Conference was unique in the fact that it was directed toward students who are leaders within FOCUS on their respective campuses. Every talk or activity was not only geared to inspire them but to equip them to be Catholics with a lifelong mission in The New Evangelization. We don’t want them to see their involvement in FOCUS as a college club but rather a training ground to get ready to launch into wherever God calls them in life to continue the work of Evangelization and Discipleship.  This is a very difficult task to get students to grasp at times with all the distractions, fears, temptations, and lack of Christian friendship in their lives after college. I know this weekend greatly impacted the lives of students from University of Illinois, and I hope and pray this weekend bears fruit for years to come.

Besides listening to speakers, we had time to share meals, pray with one another in adoration, worship the Lord in Holy Mass, engage in uplifting conversations, see old friends, and have some good clean fun. I didn’t sleep as much as I should have but I now have a deeper gratitude for God’s gift to his children via coffee 🙂

Jonathan and I actually got totally blessed since we are Hyatt Gold Passport members and the Summit was at a Hyatt hotel. We tried to get an upgrade to their Regency Club floor with a free certificate we’d gotten. That floor was closed for the season so they gave us their breakfast package (giant breakfast buffet every morning!!) for FREE! God loves us and constantly spoils us…we know we don’t deserve all the crazy ways He provides but boy o boy do we thank and praise Him when it comes!

Below are some pictures that capture various moments from the SLS 2012:

 Jonathan with some U of I students


The Holy Spirit totally descended on the crowd the last night of the Summit! After over an hour of adoration and confessions, we ended with praise and worship music. There were 2 encores because no one wanted to stop praising God! It was so beautiful.

Jonathan found the “vesting room” and had to take a picture, since he was wearing a vest that day 🙂

Students listening intently during a session at the SLS 2012.

We found a pic of me on a FOCUS advertisement. Jonathan made me re-inact the pose in front of the pic. I think I did a good job! 🙂

Monday morning we were off to the March for Life in Washington, DC with over 200,000 others who gathered to protest abortion in our nation. It was a cold and drizzly day, fitting for the somber day. Outside of EWTN  and a small FOX news van, I didn’t see any media coverage…which isn’t surprising. I really don’t think the majority of Americans are truly pro-abortion. Even Jane Doe, from the Roe v. Wade court decision is now pro-life and a Catholic! Huge abortion doctors have had conversions and left their practices, and the latest book unPlanned by Abby Johnson is revealing more and more people leaving the pro-abortion industry. I think they get a loud voice via the media and that tampers perceptions on life issues. I thought of this quote by Mother Theresa throughout the day, “It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish.” I pray for the day when we will have justice for every human life in America. We cannot truly proclaim to have freedom for our nation until that day arrives.

Jonathan and I with our signs. Note that Jonathan is now wearing Husker apparel, thanks to Mom and Pop Nissen’s Christmas gift!

We are at the end of the March near the Capitol building. Despite the somberness of the day, Jonathan is in a great mood 🙂

The March is serious is it’s efforts to abolish abortion in our nation but in the same respect it’s also incredibly joyful since Catholics from all over the nation show up. It’s not uncommon to run into people you haven’t seen in years, friends in religious orders, people from your home parish, etc. It’s the one day that it feels like I live in a Catholic city and there is so much charity and joy in the air, it’s amazing! It reminds me of the John 13:35 where Jesus says “they will you are my disciples by your love for one another.”

Intentional Living

2012 Goals: Making a List

January 19, 2012

This is part 1 of a series of posts about turning hopes and dreams into mission accomplished.

The new year is upon us, and with it, our New Year’s resolutions. Let’s be honest, we’re almost three weeks into the year:
Who’s broken their New Year’s resolution?
Who’s given up on it?
Who hasn’t started yet?

On one hand, I love New Year’s Resolutions. On the other, I can’t stand them. I love how everybody gets into the mood to look at their lives and want to change for the better. I can’t stand that this happens only once a year. If we fail, we’re apt to wait until the next year instead of the next day. Spoiler Alert: there’s nothing special about New Year’s. Every day is a chance for renewal. Of course, time is divided into days, and weeks, and years, etc. So yes, the beginning of the year is a great time to start something new. No matter when it is, let’s do it!

This year, I made a list of things I’d like to happen in 2012. Not necessarily resolutions, but hopes. As I look at my list, it’s a mix of tasks, ideas, projects, hopes, and dreams. Some items could be considered a part of my 2012 “bucket list” (make a ukulele case, build something, etc.). Some are specific (compete in a 5K), while others are generic (read more). One is a big goal (be debt-free).

It doesn’t matter how specific the goals are right now. The important part is thinking them up and writing them down. We’ll get to specifics later. Step 1 is making a list. Here’s my list (in no particular order):

  1. Keep in better contact with my family
  2. Be debt-free
  3. Build something
  4. Figure out pizza crust
  5. Read more
  6. Compete in a 5K
  7. Pray better
  8. Write letters
  9. Play more ukulele
  10. Make a ukulele case
  11. Have needed conversations
  12. Run a half marathon
  13. Write more
  14. Record old stories

Will all these things happen in 2012? Let’s hope so. If they don’t, it’s not a big deal. The next step will be looking at goals and making plans.

Even if you have/had New Year’s resolutions, I encourage you to make a goal list. Write it down. And look forward to a post about how to get specific and start making things happen.

Intentional Living

Sugar-Free Start to 2012

January 1, 2012

This decision to go “sugar-free” (no processed or refined grains or any added sugars) is a long time coming… It is actually a pure coincidence that the choice is now being firmly made upon the brink of a New Year. I am not one to make “New Year’s resolutions” since I typically am a very driven and disciplined person who enjoys trying and starting challenges all throughout the year. Sugar has been my Achilles tendon though and I’ve struggled to say goodbye to my long-time love affair with it, despite the fact I have a degree in Nursing and know exactly what I am up against genetically. I first read the book “Sugar Shock” by Connie Bennett about two years ago. I then read the book “Suicide by Sugar” by Nancy Appleton. I’ve researched thoroughly on this topic and found a great website about doing a 30-Day Sugar Free Challenge. I have poured over the research, attempted my own brief sugar-free stints, and gotten hyped to finally pull the plug and CUT SUGAR!


Five years ago I was diagnosed with a “pre-diabetic” condition and placed on the drug Metformin to keep my blood sugar levels normalized, so I did not develop full blow Type 2  diabetes. I don’t fit the typical profile for a Type 2 diabetic…since it’s not caused by the normal triggers. I have PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) which can mess my hormones up and since insulin is a hormone that breaks down sugar, mine was not working properly. I wanted off the drug eventually but if nothing changed in my lifestyle, I would have to take it FOR LIFE! I know that even on the drug, unless I cut sugar, eventually (years down the road), I will likely develop Type 2 diabetes unless I do something different NOW!

 Well, for all the times I got close to the decision of finally going sugar-free and a couple good weeks, I would get weak (duh! I shouldn’t be surprised by this…) and fall prey to sugar laced goodies and carbs in any existing form I could find. See, I am what they would call a “sugar addict”. I’ve read some research that sugar is about as addictive as cocaine to some people…I fall into that category. I don’t even like candy…I am a pastries, corn chips, potato chips, cookies, cakes, rolls, breads, pizzas, pastas kind of girl. Heavy refined and even at times complex carbohydrates that act like sugar on my body are my largest weakness. But I have had enough. I am sick of feeling sick all the time because of the damage sugar is doing to my body.

How can I say no to these?!?!?!

If you haven’t read any of the research of the effect of sugar on our bodies, check out the 141 reasons sugar is killing us – . The cutting edge research is saying that sugar is the new cigarette. Just like nobody knew cigs were bad for their health and in old movies even doctors smoked in their offices, nobody knows now what sugar is doing to our bodies. It’s a silent and slow killer. Just like the Tobacco industry used to be major lobbyists and yield heavy influence in food and drug policies, it’s the Sugar Industry now holding that power. Looking at sugar research that is coming onto the health scene by Doctors, I predict Sugar will finally be declared an enemy to our health within the next 20 years. We’ve finally gotten to a place where kids being born today have a lower life length expectancy than their own parents, since in their generation, kids are expected to develop Type 2 Diabetes more than any generation before. What’s killing Americans? Mostly it’s heart disease and cancers – two diseases oftentimes preventable by our lifestyle choices (mainly diet and exercise). Type 2 Diabetes can also contribute to developing heart disease.

I’ve watched sugar hurt my own health and I am watching it hurt people around me. I don’t think sugar in moderation would cause so much harm but since the average person is eating nearly half a pound of sugar a day and not even knowing it, I would say moderation has long been thrown out the window. I am filled with a desire to honor God with my body and my health. I want to bring Him glory by feeding my body with foods that will truly nourish it, not simply taste good and make me feel good, ultimately damaging my body slowly and likely more addicted to it. This blog is devoted to any true, good, and beautiful things in the world…and the truth is that sugar does more harm on our bodies that anyone likely knows since it’s damage is seen slowly over time. God is the one who designed our nature. With the Holy Spirit dwelling within us, St. Paul says our bodies are “temples”. The temple in the bible is known to be a sacred place, to be revered. With His grace to help me in my weaknesses, I want to make this change here on earth and offer it to Him. I DO NOT think every single person on earth must do “sugar-free” since some people aren’t as susceptible to it. I am not that extreme! HOWEVER, I think sugar consumption is way above a moderate level for anyone out there in America, so hopefully this inspires everyone to rethink about how we are fueling ourselves and taking care of the body given to us. I am confident that if there is food in Heaven, Jesus will have the best tasting cookies, chips, muffins, pastries, cakes, pizzas and pastas awaiting me, and they won’t even hurt me then! 🙂 For now, with the limitations I have in my body, I will accept them and go SUGAR FREE! Here’s to a New Year and hopes for change.