Home…. it’s where your heart is

“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.

Be proud to be Catholic

Originally published in The West Nebraska Register newspaper May 13, 2016 (http://www.westnebraskaregister.com/app.php?RelId=6.2.2.2)

One of the most exciting things to me about the Catholic faith is the fact that there are a billion other people in the world we believe the same things as I do. We are all part of one Catholic Church and we all have the same set of beliefs. Sure there might be some that are stronger is some aspects of the faith than others, but at the core, we are all the same.

That fact has always been shocking and amazing to me.

I grew up in a town of 2,000—St. Paul, Nebraska. I graduated with a class of 43 students and went to CCD classes with about 15 other students. Most of the people I knew from the town were Catholic. Those who weren’t Catholic knew enough about the Catholic faith to respect it and not talk badly about the faith or its members. So, my faith wasn’t tested all that much until I came to college.

Since being in college I’ve heard people say Catholics aren’t even Christian, I’ve heard our faith be called a cult, and I’ve heard people say that Catholics are some of the most disgusting people on this earth. Those comments hurt. And it makes being a Catholic hard.

But, there are a billion other Catholics in this world. And thankfully, since going to college, I’ve found what I consider to be some of the best young Catholics in the world, but I’m only slightly biased.

A couple of my friends and I have started what I guess you can call a “Catholic Book Club.”

We all started reading Matthew Kelly’s Rediscover Jesus, and we each have an extra book on the side we are reading.

Once a week, we get together for lunch and talk about the chapters we read and anything else about the Catholic faith or about the struggles we are dealing with in our lives.

These two girls I meet with once a week keep me honest in doing what I said I was going to do. They, not physically, force me to sit down and take time to read and spend time thinking about and talking with God. They keep me learning about the Catholic faith, about Jesus, and about myself.

In the past month since starting our little book club, I’ve dealt with school and life stresses easier, I’m much happier, and I feel much stronger in my faith.

When teaching Totus Tuus this summer we talked about finding virtuous friendships and also about keeping God in the center of all relationships.

Virtuous friends are the people who help shape you into the best version of yourself. Any relationship that has God at the center is bound to remain stronger than relationships without God. I’ve found that if I talk with a friend about God and my faith, that it automatically “friendship levels up” (becomes stronger).

There are literally a billion Catholics in the world. That’s a billion new friendships that can be formed if we take the chance.

There’s no reason to be ashamed of our faith, of our Church, or of our God.

Sometimes we have to take the risk and make sure the world knows we are Catholic. When I let go of my fear and became proud to be Catholic, it let to two of the greatest, most virtuous friends I have in college.

The best advice I can give anyone is to find those virtuous friends and pray with them, talk with them, eat with them, and hang out with them because having those people in your life will make yours better and will help you to remain strong in the faith.

Be proud to be a Catholic.

Here come the tears

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.

 

The Eagle editorial: Keep growing, don’t rot

Originally published in The Eagle newspaper April 28, 2016 (http://csceagle.com/2016/04/28/keep-growing-dont-rot/)

“When you’re green, you’re growing. When you’re ripe, you rot.”

That quote is credited to Ray Kroc, a businessman who is credited with building McDonald’s into the success it is.

This statement has a message that has been passed around the newsroom multiple times through the years. There is a poster in the newsroom that reads, “Oh, that’s good enough.” This poster is hanging as a sarcastic reminder that we should always strive to be the best that we can be, in all aspects of our lives.

We are nearing the end of the semester, and it is easy now to do the bare minimum in order to get by. Admit it, you’ve calculated the lowest grade you could possibly get on your final test or project to still pass your class. But this quote from Kroc reminds us that once we have the mindset that we are the best we can be and we stop trying, that is when we start to rot.

When we take on the mindset that we can do more and we can do better, that is when we will be growing and improving. The other mindset, the “Oh, that’s good enough” mindset, is an easy one to have. It is so much easier to settle for average than it is to strive for great.

Many of you may be preparing to graduate, leave school and move on to the real, adult world, but as cliché as it sounds, this is not the end of your journey.

It is important to go through your life always learning, always improving, always striving to be better than you are right now. Otherwise, you are just going downhill; there is no standstill in today’s world. Even if you feel like you are treading water and maintaining, the believers and achievers are going to be leaving you in their dust, and eventually you will choke on it and find yourself at the bottom of the ladder.

Two weeks ago, the staff of The Eagle took home the “Best in Overall Excellence” in both the newspaper and the digital medium divisions for the sixth and second consecutive year, respectively, at the Nebraska Collegiate Media Association Golden Leaf Awards banquet.

It would be easy to say that what we are doing is good enough and we do not need to do anything more in the next year to improve because we are obviously the best already. But, if we think like that, we will lose next year. That is a guarantee. The other schools in the association are improving, and this year was already the closest competition it has been in years.

If we keep the mindset that we will continue to win just doing what we are doing now, we will rot.

We, as journalists, promise to always give you, our readers, the best we have and always do the best we can, and we promise to always remain green and growing. We don’t want to rot because you deserve better.

In these last few days of the semester, we ask you to take a look at yourself and your mindset and analyze if you see yourself still as green or ripe.

Give all you can in the final projects and assignments for your classes. Strive a little harder to turn that B into an A, or maybe give more on a group project than is required of you.

Always be green and growing; don’t let the final days of the semester rot you.

Confirmation: a step in maturity

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I was born in January of 1995. My parents baptized me in the Catholic Church in May of 1995. They picked two of the best people I know for my Godparents, my aunt Joyce and my uncle Jim. Mom and Dad picked some of the greatest people to help me on my journey through my faith life, which they are still doing.
A few years later, in December 1998, my parents gave me my little brother Jarred. They also baptized him in the Catholic Church.
I confirmed my faith in the Catholic Church in September 2012. During confirmation I was able to pick my own sponsor to continue to guide me on my journey through the faith. I picked Angie, a wonderful lady I babysit for, who is raising six kids and still makes time for her faith, for this task. Anyone who knows me knows just how incredibly important Angie and her family are to me. And all of them are still helping me grow in my faith.
Saturday, Jarred decided to confirm my parents’ decision and he was confirmed in the Catholic Church. Jarred now got his turn to pick a sponsor.
I was honored, blessed, and taken aback that Jarred picked me as his sponsor. When I think about how important Angie is to me, my heart is incredibly full that Jarred picked me.
Picking a sponsor is important because you are trusting this person to help you to question and learn more about the Catholic Church as you grow older. The Catholic Church is big and complex, yet extremely simple, but it can be confusing. That’s why picking a sponsor is so important. You are going to need those people later in life to help you if you ever doubt your faith. (And it’s bound to happen at least once…)
Confirmation is described as the sacrament of maturity and coming of age. This Saturday I watched my brother take a big step in his life and I watched Jarred suddenly become about 10 years older in my eyes. Confirmation is important because now you are looked at as an adult, at least in the eyes of the Church. This signals the time to grow up.
Jarred’s been in my life for 17 years, but I have always looked at him and thought of him as that cute, little, fat-cheeked 3-year-old, but this weekend, he was suddenly a young adult.
Jarred has been through a lot in his 17 years on this earth, and anyone who spends much time with me will learn just how incredibly proud I am of this kid. He’s made amazing progress and success stories in his life, but Saturday, it took all I had to not start bawling in that church. (I did happen to let one little tear fall down my face, but how could you not when you’re helping someone receive the Holy Spirit.)
My confirmation day was one of the most important days in my life and I will never forget that experience, but the more important day was Saturday, when I was able to help Jarred receive the same Grace (God’s life…living within us!) I did.
I want to give a final shout out to all 18 confirmation students at Sts. Peter and Paul’s Catholic Church. I’ve known most of you for your entire lives and I am so proud of all of you. You all made a big step. You confirmed that you want to remain in the Catholic Church. Never forget to keep growing, loving, and serving God and others.
I specifically want to congratulate Amanda, Haleigh and my cousin Zachary, you’ve all made a huge difference in my life, whether you believe it or not, and I couldn’t be prouder of you guys for making this decision as well.
But finally, to Jarred, I love you and I thank you for this amazing opportunity to be your sponsor and to be your big sister. I promise to always help you in your continued journey through the Catholic faith.

Me? A blogger?

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:

  1. 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.)
  2. 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:

  1. My Catholic faith
  2. Still sports, especially baseball/softball
  3. My family

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…