Happy Easter!! This Easter was like many previous, but yet was so different. This year at the Easter vigil (aka the most beautiful Mass of the year!) One of my best friends, Geena, I have met here in college joined the church. To help welcome her home, I decided to stay in my college town instead of going home for Easter. This weekend was the first holiday I have spent away from my family at home, but let me tell you how at home I truly felt.
Welcome home Geena!
One of my favorite parts of Easter vigil has always been starting in the dark and then providing light by candles. Last year, God blessed me with a beautiful reflection on how we are the light of the world. This year, as the server lit my friend’s candle, he lit mine, and I lit my friend on the other side…
I’ve used this quote in at least one other blog post, but it truly is one of my favorite quotes, mainly because I am so lucky.
“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard,” —Winnie the Pooh.
Tonight is my last night at home. I leave for my senior year at Chadron State College tomorrow, and although my parents and brother are going with me to help me move in, I’m sad to be leaving. And I know I’ve talked about home in another blog also, but it’s important for me to say it again.
Chadron is a beautiful town and a wonderful school and I have lots of friends there to help it feel like home, but nothing truly compares to the home I grew up in.
My parents growing up didn’t let me do everything I wanted to do, but they definitely were loving and caring. They were always looking out for what was best for me and my future. They instilled hard work, courage, faith, and love in my character.
My younger brother is my biggest role model and inspiration. I’m so proud of everything he does and I love watching him accomplish all that he has in his short 17 years of life.
The town I grew up in was supportive and encouraging. I didn’t personally know everyone in this town growing up, but I did recognize everyone in this town.
This town and this house will forever be my home, no matter how far away I go later in life. This town, just like my parents, created my personality and character and I know I would be a different person had I grown up anywhere else.
Leaving my home is never easy, especially when it means leaving my family, but I am excited to get back to school and finish out my final year.
So this is just a short blog post, just like my short stay at home (only 2 weeks, boo…), but I just wanted to once again acknowledge how lucky I am because it is hard to say goodbye.
So to my family (and this town), thank you, I love you, I’ll miss you, and see you on my next journey home (probably when I come watch those Wildcats play some football).
After completing four weeks of teaching Totus Tuus, the teams were rewarded with a week break. During this break, it’s time to relax, so we can really do whatever we feel like doing. So my teammate Alec went home to spend time with his family, Ryan went out camping with a bunch of friends from high school, Kendall went home to visit her family (specifically her 3-year-old brother and nephew), and I took a road trip to visit six wild and crazy kids.
The last four weeks have been crazy yet amazing and I’ve met a lot of wonderful people and kids who make my heart full of happiness. But these six kids—Xavier (13), Marcus (12), Valerie (10), Max (7), Israel (4), and Lydia (1)—will always hold a special place in my heart.
The Jirak family came into my life when I was a freshman in high school but truthfully it feels like they’ve been in my life for forever. Angie and Jeremy are like a second set of parents to me, but also like a set of best friends who just happen to be older than me. And their kids feel equally like my siblings, best friends, and even my own kids because I love them so much.
I have been babysitting kids since I was about 13 years old, but this family was the first family I babysat consistently for years. My friend Cleo and I started babysitting these wonderful kids together and we would both agree that there was and is something special about this family, and we would have said that after the first time we babysat them.
I only got to spend three full days with them but those three days were jam packed with adventure and fun. Anytime you have six kids together ranging from 1 year old to 13 years old, you are bound for adventure.
Saturday morning we went to a parade and then went out to a mountain lake for kayaking and fishing and for supper.
Sunday we went to a beautiful Mass, picnic in the mountains and out to the Teton National Park and hung out at one of the lakes where we also had a picnic supper, and we finished the day with river fishing.
Monday, the 4th of July, we went to another parade, well the back end of the parade, enough to get candy anyway. Then we bought some fireworks, went home and lit fireworks, ate lunch, took naps, lit more fireworks, had supper, and lit more fireworks. All of which seems simple and calm, but remember six kids… And then the worst part of the entire trip happened, I had to tell all six kids goodnight and goodbye and it broke my heart. Izzy (Israel) has been my little buddy since he was born, we just have a special bond, and his sad little face when he found out I was leaving literally tore my heart into shreds.
There’s a quote from Winnie the Pooh that says, “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” And I am certainly lucky.
I couldn’t be more grateful that this family walked into my life when Angie dropped Xavier into my 1st grade CCD class about 7 years ago. And I couldn’t be grateful for the past three days spent with the Jiraks. But I also couldn’t be more grateful for my next adventure of going home to see my wonderful family who I also miss terribly and to relax before heading back to Totus Tuus.
Praise God for blessing me with all these wonderful, amazing people in my life.
So truth is I started writing this blog on June 3. It was the last day of training and I was going to write a blog about Totus Tuus and how training went.
Then I went home and fell asleep. And after I woke up, I was in Totus Tuus mode and haven’t had any time to relax and write since then.
But, it’s been amazing.
For more information about what Totus Tuus is, see my previous blog post.
It’s now at least 16 days later and I’m still not sure about a few things: 1. Where I’m actually going with this post, 2. When I’m actually going to finish this post, 3. If I’ll ever get more than five hours of sleep ever again.
The thing they tell us each year at training is that this summer will be the hardest, most rewarding summer of your life. And that statement is easily the truest way to explain my summers of teaching Totus Tuus.
The grade school kids see us in the daytime for six hours, for five days, and the high school kids see us for two hours, for five days, which means we see kids for eight hours a day, spread across six days. We have two hours off between the grade school kids and host family suppers and this is our time to either lesson plan, make phone calls, nap, or apparently write two sentences of a blog. And we have a total of about 24 hours off on the weekend, but about 18 of those hours are spent catching up on sleep. There’s not a lot of free time this summer.
My first week of Totus Tuus I was able to go to my home parish in St. Paul and it was amazing to see all the kids I’ve watched grow up in my church, to see how they’ve matured, and how they have changed from just last year.
Being in St. Paul two weeks ago, and Spalding (another great place with amazing people I will never forget) last week, I’ve noticed a few lessons I am going to learn this summer:
Faith. I obviously learn more about my faith and grow in my faith because I spend all my time with people who have much more inspiring faiths than me, and I spend all my time talking about the faith and being a witness to the faith.
Patience. I’m learning how to be with people. All the time. I learn how to act polite and hospitable in all situations, even when I’m tired and crabby. Because I don’t get a lot of time on my own to relax and de-stress, I’m learning how to have more patience with all the people I come in contact with. With kids I’ve never had an issue with having patience, but I am learning how to have patience with the adults I come in contact with.
Empathy. I learn how to have empathy for other people. There are three other people on my team who come from completely different lifestyles than me and I am learning how to manage conflict with them and learning how to teach kids with them as a cohesive team.
Perspectives. I’m learning to interact with a variety of people. This year’s team is a completely different make-up than last year’s team and I’m learning how each of them are different and how to handle different situations with them. I also come in contact with many different people at each parish we go to and I’m learning to make sure I really know where these people could be coming from before I start judging them.
Flexibility. I am learning how to go with the flow and not be super worked up if
everything doesn’t go the way I think it needs to. I am rem
inded that my idea is not always the best option. I’m also learning that sticking to a schedule is still important, but it’s not the most important part of the day. I’ve even learned how to teach a class and keep the attention of the class while the building next door was being torn down.
All five of these things, among others are some of the lessons I’m learning that will stick with me for the rest of my life. Totus Tuus is an amazing experience and it’s an experience that I wouldn’t trade for anything. It takes a lot of energy, I have to keep up a good attitude (or at least appear to have one) at all times, but it’s also one of the most fun summers I’ve ever spent.
So there you have it; 16 days later and I’ve finally finished a post. I’m hoping it all makes sense, but after two weeks of Totus Tuus, you never know where my mind is going next. Just remember, God is good; all the time.
“In baseball as in life, all the most important things happen at home.” This quote is on the back of the fan shirts for the St. Paul Legion baseball team this summer. This quote is also one of my favorites because it relates two of my favorite things—my home and baseball.
1. My home (aka where my mom is)
For the past two weeks, I got to come home. I finished out my junior year of college (wait, wasn’t I just in high school….), thankfully successfully, and I came home for a few weeks.
I love where I go to college (the town, the atmosphere, and the people) but there’s nothing that compares to being at home. I live in a small town of about 2,000 and I love going anywhere in town and being able to talk to anyone. And no matter how far away I go or how long I stay away, this place will always be home. And like that quote says, the most important things in my life happen here. My baby brother was born here. I met my best friend here. I went to school here (preschool through 12th grade). I learned how to ride my bike here. I learned how to drive here. I learned how to love here. I learned how to be sad here and I certainly got mad a few times while I was here. In my 15 years in this house and town, my parents, and the town, taught me how to have emotions, how to act when everything is going in your favor, and how to act when everything is going wrong. This place is where I learned where true happiness comes from, and this place is where I felt true sorrow and pain. I learned about God and family while living here, so I learned all the important things in life at this home.
And now…later this afternoon, I’m leaving home again (basically for the summer). I’ll be teaching a church camp called Totus Tuus and will be traveling all summer (literally until August). Leaving home has never been easy for me (I already admitted to crying every time I leave for college), and it won’t be easier today, but I am excited for my second year for this amazing “camp.” (See future blog posts for more about Totus Tuus.)
2. Home plate (aka where all the action happens)
So, my second topic has to do with baseball. It’s pretty obvious why the most important parts of baseball happen at home plate. This is where all the scoring happens, it’s where the offense happens, it’s where every play in the game begins.
As a player, I played a lot of different positions, but my favorite was always catcher. I loved being right there in the action, being the wall behind the plate, and being able to see the whole field at any time. (I believe the best view of a ball diamond is through a catcher’s mask.)
On Sunday evening, I watched two Legion baseball games—a juniors’ game and a seniors’ game. During the games, my mom and I were talking about the position of catcher and how important it is to be humble when playing this spot. It is an honor and a privilege to be a catcher. It’s a lot of work and you will get blamed when something goes wrong, even when it’s not your fault. But in the catching position, you are in a position of leadership. You are the only one on the field who can see the entire field and all of your players at any time and you control a lot of the game atmosphere. In my years of playing and watching baseball and softball I’ve noticed that when the pitcher on any team gets down on him/herself, the entire team gets down on themselves. It is the catcher’s job to pick up the pitcher and encourage the pitcher. This means when you make a mistake, you’ve got to shake it off quicker than anyone else; when your pitcher makes a mistake, you are the one saying, that’s my bad, I’ll take that one, it’s on me; and when something goes wrong, you set an example of how you want the rest of your team to act.
Being a catcher is a huge responsibility and it should be played by someone who is willing to work and respect the game of baseball and the position of catcher.
“In baseball as in life, all the most important things happen at home.” “Home is where your heart is.” “Home is where your rump rests.” “Home is the starting place of love, hope, and dreams.”
No matter how you choose to describe it. Home is a pretty important place. Home is the place you learn all the important lessons in life, whether it’s at your physical home, or if it is at home plate. Home will always have a special place in my heart.
I remember when I was about 10 years old, my family and I were visiting some friends who live in Iowa and when we left and I realized we were leaving them, I didn’t stop crying, for like hours, if I remember correctly.
Every time I leave my home to come back to school, I cry, for like hours.
When my friends leave to go home from college at the end of the semester, I cry, for like hours.
I cried my entire way through my senior year of high school knowing I was going to leave my classmates.
I am the first to cry at weddings, the first to cry at graduations, the first to cry at funerals, the first to cry at movies (happy or sad), and the first to cry during Mass.
So, you get it. I’m a cry baby. That is the truth, but not the point of this post.
I have always had a hard time saying goodbye to anyone and everyone, and I’ve always been pretty emotional. I used to be better at hiding it, but now it’s like I have no control over the tears.
In two days, there are at least five of my most important friends graduating from college, (plus a few others who will be going away to student teach) and then they are moving on, and who knows if I will see them again. I mean we all say we are going to try and we all swear we will visit, but will we really?
That’s what makes me cry.
My friend and I the other day were randomly talking about funerals and he told me that funerals are really just selfish events. Those people who died are in a much better place that we are so there is really no reason to be sad for them. And when you think about it, he’s right. (He’s a pretty smart guy.)
Crying for people who have died is selfish. They are in Heaven. Crying for my friends who are graduating is selfish. They accomplished a huge task.
But, if those people were important to you, those who died or those who are graduating or whatever, it’s ok to be sad and it’s ok to cry. You are going to miss those people, and that’s ok to miss them.
“Sometimes people have to cry out all the tears to make room for a heart full of smiles,” One Tree Hill quote.
So, I cry. A lot. Big deal. Sometimes it’s necessary to let all the tears out to release the pressure. So that’s why I cry.
“It’s hard when you miss people. But, you know, if you miss them, it means you were lucky,” another One Tree Hill quote.
I’m lucky beyond belief. And I just wanted to thank all those people who make me cry when I leave them. Thank you to my family for making it hard to leave home, to my friends for making it hard to leave school, and to everyone for making me feel supported and welcomed no matter where I am.
And, congratulations to everyone graduating from college this weekend. I couldn’t be prouder of you. And to all my friends leaving me today and tomorrow for the summer, I’ll miss you, and I’ll be super excited to see you again in the fall.
I’ve been told a few times by a couple people I admire in my life that I should start a blog. And many of my friends have started blogs that I LOVE to read.
But I’m a communications arts major with an emphasis in journalism and blogs are basically ruining editorial content in newspaper.
So I wasn’t going to start a blog.
But… here I am.
I’ve been debating with idea of a blog for about a year now and have finally come to the conclusion that a blog is just another platform to get my name out in the writing world, and that’s not going to hurt me, I hope.
Putting yourself out into the world with something like a blog, where feedback can be so immediate, is terrifying. (So terrifying that I’ve only told two people in my life about the possibility of starting one because I’m scared of the idea.) But I talk about the virtue of courage often in my life and want to live it out.
So, I have two goals for this blog:
I want to share my faith in a bigger way. (Right now, I write a monthly column for The West Nebraska Register and will continue to do that, but this will be another avenue to share my faith.)
I want to be able to use this blog to share my thoughts and opinions on various topics. (Is this a selfish goal? Probably, but I’m not settling on that answer for sure yet.)
So… I got into journalism originally because I wanted to be a sports reporter, because I simply love sports. But my topics for my writings have expanded since going to college and I’ve decided there are three things I love to write about most:
My Catholic faith
Still sports, especially baseball/softball
You can probably expect one of those three things to be in almost every post I make.
So…basically this is where I’m at in my life right now…
But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect. -1 Peter 3:15