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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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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“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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San Francisco part 2: Lead me

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Note: This is part two of a three-part description of my first journalism assignment, covering the Walk for Life in San Francisco. You can read part one here, where I show how God answered my prayer to guide me in the right direction.

Lead me to the people I need to speak with

Instead of staying at a hotel, I was able to lodge with other members of Sister Paula’s religious community. Sister Anne showed me to my room for the night where I unloaded my stuff. Friday night’s agenda meant attending an interfaith prayer service followed by a trip to a different church offering all-night adoration. My goal was to talk to a few participants. Since the rally and Walk for Life weren’t until Saturday morning, I left behind my interview notes and questions for those speakers. No sense in bringing everything with me.

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My break into journalism took me to San Francisco

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This is the detailed version of one of the most incredible, pivotal moments of my life. An experience where I can truly see God working through me rather than it being on my own accord. I’ve shared pieces of it to people in talks and different ways, but this includes everything. It’s a long write-up, so I’ve broken it up into three parts. I’ll share part two tomorrow and part three on Friday.

By January 2007, I had been volunteering with The Tidings for about 3 full months. I learned about the third annual Walk for Life, a similar event to the March for Life in Washington, D.C., but this would be in San Francisco. I asked the publisher of the paper if the San Francisco event is something they planned to cover. I told him I was interested in being part of the experience. Maybe to help out in some way.

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Finding peace in prayer

Photo by Matt Cashore/University of Notre Dame

There was a 24-hour period while I was in Los Angeles when I got some distressing news from three different people that just weighed on my heart. I didn’t know how to react, what to do, what to say in response. My words seemed so inadequate.

I learned someone I worked with at the paper had lost her sister. A friend I met in college shared that her cousin had committed suicide. And I received an email from another friend who shared about how he was going through a very difficult time.

It was a lot to take in and process. I didn’t know how to handle it. I didn’t know what to do.

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Getting settled into the volunteer community

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View of MacArthur Park, with downtown Los Angeles in the background. This park was a few blocks from where I was living.

The adventures to California began with a cross-country road trip with Mom in my little Honda Civic. Not exactly the kind of transportation I would recommend on such a long drive, as it got cramped very fast, but we made it!

Mom drove with me and then flew back to South Carolina so that I would have a vehicle with me. She didn’t want me to have to make such a long trip by myself. I was strongly encouraged to arrive in Los Angeles with transportation.

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Poem: The Lost Unknown

I wrote this as a junior in high school after participating in a Life Chain event in town. It’s a silent, prayer-filled protest against abortion while also offering a public witness of people who want change, other options. I had been joining my parents in these events for many years, even if I didn’t always fully understand what it was about. But it meant standing on the sidewalk along a busy stretch of road and holding signs, like these.

I knew abortion was wrong. I had some stereotypical ideas in mind of what might prompt people to choose to go through with an abortion. As I got older, I would come to understand more and more of why this decision is such a struggle for many.

After attending the Life Chain event this particular year, I felt inclined to write about it. I remember reaching for pen and paper on the short drive back to our house.

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