Getting a hug from my sister

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I was thinking of sharing this post before, and then decided against it. But since April 6 is the day my sister was stillborn and it holds great significance, I thought I’d share. She’s still offering me hugs; they just don’t always happen like this.

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Peace starts with interior change, not external Band-aids

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More school shootings. More bomb threats. More mass killings. More lives lost. More fear and confusion. An ever increasing sense of wondering “How did we get here?” and “Why is our world so crazy these days?”

There is so much pain, addiction, brokenness, fear, doubt, anger, loneliness, depression, confusion, instability, mental health concerns, anxiety, and countless other problems plaguing our country and the world right now.

We need to see people as people. Treat them as people. As fellow human beings. Welcome them. Embrace them. Love them. Open up communication and dialogue rather than increasing the isolation, rather than pointing fingers and ignoring.

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Empowering young women in ministry

Screenshot 2018-02-27 at 2.15.12 PMThe summer before heading to Alabama, I continued to be actively involved with the youth group, slowly becoming more comfortable in that role. We went to a big conference that summer in Atlanta. There were various talks throughout the weekend but then our group broke up into smaller groups for discussion. Leading and facilitating these discussions always made me nervous.

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Living in your head can promote insecurity

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In the months between getting laid off from my job and moving to Alabama in August (I did apply for the fellowship and was accepted), I did a lot of journal writing.

I filled four notebooks (averaging 70 pages each) in a matter of six months. Yes, I lived with pen and paper. So while I’m grateful to have some documentation of what I was going through at the time — what I felt, my worries and fears — what isn’t addressed is also quite telling.

I lived in my head.

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An unexpected twist

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So exactly two weeks after that NET retreat experience, I went to my job as normal. And my supervisor called me into her office. There, I was joined with our human resources representative.

Very matter of factly, my supervisor explained that today would be my last day. I was being laid off. They had decided to dissolve the “new business” sales team, redirecting everyone else into different positions. There was no need for me.

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Hearing God speak

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Being with the youth group was awesome and challenging. I gave a few talks and eventually lead some small group discussions. The talks were scary and I was certainly nervous the whole time, but I got up there and I did it. A few people made a pointed effort to thank me for sharing, no matter how raw the delivery was.

What I enjoyed most was being part of this community, having the opportunity to be involved in some way. I was learning more about my faith, and seeing it in action meant everything. I really reveled in the teens’ enthusiasm.

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An invitation to help with youth ministry

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I had known this woman for many years. She was my P.E. teacher when I was in grade school and always involved in school activities.

During the summer before I left for California, I had helped in small ways with the youth group. It was something to do and a way to be involved. I enjoyed being with this group, but I didn’t have high hopes that I was actually able to offer more than chaperoning assistance.

Yet when I returned from Los Angeles, the youth minister approached me and invited me to join her team. I know I hesitated, wondering if she was asking the right person. So there was a compromise. She invited me to check out the regular Sunday night program. No strings attached. I could come, see for myself, and join or choose to walk away.

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A priest in the family

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My brother being ordained to the priesthood in July 2007.

A few weeks before Easter 2007, I was using the photocopier at the newspaper and the editor came by to check his mailbox. We talked for a few minutes, and he again thanked me for a nice job with my piece for the Walk for Life.

He asked if I had plans to visit my family for Easter. Sadly, I told him no. This would be the second year in a row that I wasn’t able to spend this special time with my family. As a senior in college, I had participated on a retreat during Holy Week in Rhode Island.

I forget how the topic of conversation turned to my family in this way, but the editor acknowledged that my brother would be ordained a priest that summer. And he asked if I was interested in writing a piece about that for an upcoming special section on religious vocations, to write about what it’s like, this idea of having a priest in the family.

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“What’s on your plate?” – A weekend camping retreat

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Not my group, but someone else’s camping experience at the same park.

I’ve shared about how I found a group of young adults in the Southern California area, a group I spent a fair amount of time with. There was one memorable weekend of traveling to Ronald W. Caspers Wilderness Park for a two-night camping retreat. About fifteen people participated on the weekend, but I only knew one person before going.

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San Francisco part 3: Help me

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Note: This is part three of a three-part description of my first journalism assignment. You can read part one here, where I show how God answered my prayer to guide me in the right direction. You can read part two here, describing how God lead me to the people I needed to speak with.

Help me know what to do

There was a Mass bright and early Saturday morning. I was running on fumes at that point, just a few hours of sleep, but I was excited about what the day would bring. I still felt convinced I needed to speak to more people, so as people were leaving I tried to pick out approachable people and ask why they were involved in advocating for life.

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