Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Lat week, one of the Christian radio stations that I listen to, K-LOVE, held an event called "Thanksgiving 4 Africa." The pledge drive was collecting money to buy food for the people of Niger or other countries suffering from a severe drought in western Africa. There are hundreds of thousands of people who are literally starvin to death. There were donors who agreed to multiply every gift given by 4. I saw this as a great opportunity to give and to make a difference. One of the listeners wrote to the morning show and criticized Thanksgiving 4 Africa. Her point was that there are plenty of people who are hungry and struggling in America, so she did not think that it was right to be sending money and food elsewhere.
I have to tell you....this issue has bothered me ever sense. I've struggled with it and prayed about it. I certainly understand her point. There are people in the US who need our help, and we all too often turn our backs. But I understand the fact that there are people dying in Western Africa every day as well. Who should we donate our money to? Who do we help? Whose life do we save? Is there a right answer?
I think that maybe God leads us to where it is that he intends us to help. So maybe the woman who feels so strongly lead to donate only to people in the US is intended to give and help people here. Maybe people who feel strongly called to reach out to people in other countries are intended to do that as well.
I think that the bottom line is that God loves everyone, regardless of where they live. So it seems to make sense to me that God would call people to help everywhere. I have written before that it is my prayer that God will break my heart for the things that break His. Maybe if everyone prays this prayer, and then follows their hearts, God will provide help to people everywhere.
By the way, the quote for this blog came from a wonderful song....check it out!
Monday, November 29, 2010
She met the wrong one, who we'll call Pancake Boy (you'll understand in a minute), while at a bachlorette party in Texas. He was a nice, southern, ag boy from southeast Texas. They hit it off right away and started talking on the phone. Long story short, he decided to come and visit ND Friend in Chicago. It didn't take Pancake Boy long to strike out.
Because ND Friend is the sweetest person on earth, she was worried that this guy might not feel comfortable in the big city. So she went all out---she made him a cd of Texas Country songs so that if traffic or whatever got too overwhelming, they could play it in the car. She drew him a map of cool places within walking distance of her apartment that he could go see during the day while she was at work. She even bought him little gift cards to some of the places she suggested. He, however, never left her apartment while she was at work. For 3 days. Not once. Strike one.
And she tried to think of all of the great places to take him so that he could really experience Chicago. When she took him out to see Lake Michigan, his response was, "Well, it's okay, but Lake Jim Bob Whatever in southeast Texas is pretty darn neat too." (It wasn't really called Jim Bob Whatever, but it was a lake named after some random person.....compared to freaking Lake Michigan!) Um.....okay.....strike two.And then, the defining moment came when she took him to Bongo Room (you read about this place last week). So off they go to what must be one of the best brunch places in the world. She suggested all sorts of fun entrees for him to try. His response? "Well golly, I just want regular eggs and bacon." (Okay, I don't know if he really said golly, but this is my blog and I can embelish a little when necessary.) ND Friend didnt' say anything when he ordered that and she ordered her amazing pretzel pancakes covered in white chocolate and carmel drizzle.
When their food arrived, ND Friend tried to get Pancake boy to taste her pancakes. He refused. She asked, "You won't even try them?" He said no. And that was when it was clear to her that he was the wrong one. She told me later, "You know, I didn't care at all about the stupid pancakes. But it was clear that this dude was just not fun!" Yea....he was out. WAY out.
So I think we all need to take a lesson from Pancake Boy. We have got to be willing to try new things and to have new experiences. You have to get out of the apartment, so to speak. And when you do, you have to appreciate the experience you are having. Even if you prefer lake Jim Bob Whatever to Lake Michigan, appreciate the beauty that is Lake Michigan.
You might not like the new thing you try or the new place you go or the new person you meet...but at least you tried it. Maybe Pancake Boy would have hated the pretzel pancakes (only if he had no taste buds). But you know what? He never had to eat them again and could have gone back to Texas with a great story to tell his buddies next summer on lake Jim Bob Whatever. Intead, he left with nothing.
And, like ND Friend explained, it's not about the pancakes, or him being a recluse, or Lake Jim Bob Whatever. It's about so much more. It's about being a person who is fun and adventurous and who loves life. It's about taking a chance and making a memory. It's about living life to the fullest. No one wants to be with someone who isn't going to do that.
So, to sum it up: Try new things. Especially if they are drenched in chocolate.
And Pancake Boy, just in case you are reading this.....your closed-minded un-fun-ness cost you an amazing girl. Big mistake. Big. Huge!
Friday, November 26, 2010
I read that going to a football game at Notre Dame is one of the 101 things every sports fan should do in her life. I couldn't agree more.
My Notre Dame trip was one of the coolest experiences of my lifetime. And I was lucky to share with with several lifelong friends. So, I think those two concepts summarize my Notre Dame Trip: Lifelong Dreams and Lifelong Friends.
Going to a football game at Notre Dame had been a dream of mine since I was a little kid. I remember watching the games on tv. I remember hanging a pennant in my room, while most other little girls had pictures of princesses. I remember crying my eyes out watching "Rudy." So, understand that for me, this weekend wasn't just a great trip. It was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream.
And I'm not the only one. ND Friend said that she was on campus a few weeks ago when a man asked her to take a picture of him and his two kids. Somehow, my friend managed to get her thumb in the way of the photo, but didn't realize it. She told the man to look at the picutre to see if it was okay. He asked her if she would mind taking it again. Of course, she said would. Then the man said words that sort of give me chills. "I've waited 57 years for this picture and I just want it to be right."
I get that. And I got mine after waiting 27.
I'm sure that going to a Notre Dame game is cool for anyone, whether you are 7 or 27. But I think that it's even better when you have waited for it, dreamed about it, worked hard to save up the money to go.
And you know what? I think that's true for just about every dream. Part of what makes dreams great is the waiting and hoping and working towards them. So even if your lifelong dream has nothing to do with Irish football, I hope you are still somehow motivated to act on whatever it is after reading about my Notre Dame experience. Dream it, work for it, and do it!
A huge part of what made the trip so amazing was getting to share the experience with several lifelong friends. ND Friend, High School Buddy, his dad, Mr. FFA (and The Bride in Chicago!) are all people who hold special places in my heart.
ND friend and I met through FFA when we were both in high school. After she graduated almost 10 years ago, we sort of lost touch. There was the occasional facebook message, but that was about it. But last weekend when we got together again, it was like nothing had really changed. We had the best time and have vowed that there will be no more 10 year spans of not seeing each other.
High School Buddy and I (obviously) went to high school together. Not only did we have that connection, but our families became really good friends through showing pigs for years at all of the fairs. Our families have been through good times and bad times and pretty much everything in between together. So getting to see Notre Dame with him and his dad was like seeing it with family!
And here is your "Family Farm Friday" tie in. I've written before that I think that growing up in rural America creates a type of family. Well the Notre Dame trip was a prime example of that. ND Friend and I went to school 2 hours apart, and we probably never would have even met had it not been for FFA speech and judging contests. Mr. FFA and I would never have met through Little Brother had they not both been State FFA Officers together. And High School Buddy and I might have known each other, but I would not have been nearly as close to him and his dad had it not been for showing.
When you grow up in a small school (blogged about this before) and are involved in FFA (blogged about this too), I don't think you even realize the lifelong benefits of being raised this way. It's only years later that you really start to appreciate them. The Notre Dame trip game me a great opportunity to be thankful for the lifelong friends that I have been fortunate enough to make.
Fulfilling a lifelong dream with lifelong friends. It's pretty hard to beat that!
Thursday, November 25, 2010
"She thought about everything she wanted to say to God, and it always started with, "Thank you."
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
We had awesome seats on the 50 yard line. We were at the very top of the stadium, and I honestly think that those were the best seats in the house. Not only did we have a great view of the game, but we could also see the Bascilica steeple, golden dome, and Touchdown Jesus. It was like a movie. For the pre-game at the stadium, the band played the Notre Dame fight song again....Da na na na na na na na na.....you get the point. The bagpipers marched. The Leprechaun danced. I ate it all up. Then they had Senior day presentations where each of the Seniors was recognized with his parents on the field.
And then.....it was time. The gold helmets started to emerge from the tunnel. And then, the moment I had been waiting for.......the announcer says......"HERE COME THE IRISH!" and they burst onto the field! You'll notice that the pictures are blurry. I was so excited, my hands were shaking!
Many went to the end zone to say a quick prayer. (And this is why I need to marry a former Irish football player....they love football, gave flowers to their mama's on senior day, and pray before the game! Sigh.) Now I won't play by play the game for you (although I could!), but let me just tell you that Notre Dame KILLED Utah. It was a huge upset. The first time since 1996 an unranked ND team beat a ranked team. High School Buddy and I like to think that we are the luck of the Irish. We'll be informing Coach Kelly of that in hopes that he'll see it necessary to buy us season tickets.
The Irish won in extiting fashion. There was a great blocked punt, an interception that led to a touchdown, a fumble recovery on the first half kickoff.....it was just amazing! Utah only scored one field goal (which was in the first 7 minutes of the game) and the rest of the afternoon was all Irish!
Oh, and one final thought. There were several guys sitting near us who had terrible attitudes the whole time. When ND had a good return on the opening kick off, the guy next to ND friend said, "It'll all be downhill from here." The guys next to me hated every play call. Anything that Notre Dame did that was good was "lucky" and anything that they did that was bad was the dumbest move ever made on the field. If you are going to have that attitude, stay home. Gripe at your tv. Be lucky we didn't smack you in the head, because it was discussed. Instead, we settled for ND friend looking at the guy next to her and responding, "So that wasn't really downhill now was it?" at the end of the game. Jerkface.
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
You know how sometimes when you are so excited about something, you build it up so much in your head that it can never live up to what you expect? Well, I was really worried that 27 years of dreaming about game day at Notre Dame would ruin the experience. I was so wrong....it was better than I could have ever imagined!
ND Friend and I woke up super early and made the drive from Chicago to South Bend. Then we arrived, and I got my first glimpse of Notre Dame! I tried to keep reminding myself to breathe so I would not pass out.
Anyway, even though we got on campus around 8:30, there were already a lot of people milling around. Our first stop was the bookstore, where I loaded up on Notre Dame gear for myself and the family for Christmas (family: at surprised when you open your gifts). You will notice a quick wardrobe change in the following pictures...I purchased my official ND hoodie at the store, but in the end, I think I like the one the ND friend lent more more. Go figure....buyer's remorse!
Then we just walked around and toured the beautiful campus. The campus itself is smaller than I expected, but is more beautiful in person than on tv. The buildings are all made of a yellow-ish brick color. It's surrounded by trees and two lakes, St. Mary and St. John.
This tour even included a stop at the building where Rudy lived while he was in school...which brought another reminder to myself to "keep breathing!"
I think my favorite place on campus was the Grotto. If you've seen Rudy, this is the outdoor area where Rudy goes to light a candle and pray to get accepted into Notre Dame. It's very peaceful and quiet and moving there. There are two quotes that I think bear sharing.
First, Father Hesburgh said, "Every university has a place where students hang out for their social life, libraries where they study, and playing fields where they play sports, but how many have a praying place?" I love this idea. While I was there, students would come in from running around the lake and stop in quickly to light a candle, say a prayer and be on their way. People come as they are---in running shorts, in suits, in football jerseys.....none of that matters. They simply come to pray.
If you ask me, we need more Grottos in the world.Second, there is a plaque reciting a beautiful letter from a former student, Tom Dooley, who wrote from his death bed: "But just now . . . and just so many times, how I long for the Grotto. Away from the Grotto Dooley just prays. But at the Grotto, especially now when there must be snow everywhere and the lake is ice glass and that triangular fountain on the left is frozen solid and all the priests are bundled in their too-large too-long old black coats and the students wear snow boots . . . if I could go to the Grotto now then I think I could sing inside. I could be full of faith and poetry and loveliness and know more beauty, tenderness and compassion." After lighting my own candle and kneeling to pray myself, I understood this letter much more. After the Grotto, we headed to the Bascilica of the Sacred Heart. It was absolutly beautiful. The football team all comes over for Mass prior to heading to the stadium for games. Love that!
One of the most recognized landmarks at Notre Dame is the Golden Dome that sits atop the Main Building. Definite photo op on my list!
As we walked around the crowd started to build. But what was different than crowds at OSU on game day was that these people were as excited to see the campus and take pictures at various places as they were about the football game. It was like being in Times Square or some sort of tourist attraction rather than at a tailgate. The bagpipers and the band wondered around campus and played for all of the visitors. It was awesome.
We grabbed a quick steak sandwich for lunch (we're all ag kids from cattle ranches you know!) and headed to watch the Notre Dame band plan on the steps of Bond Hall. Turns out this was a game day tradition.