Musicals, comfort zones, and other things that scare you

“Do one thing every day that scares you” -Eleanor Roosevelt

Can you believe Lent is here already?! I can’t believe how much it has snuck up on me. It feels like yesterday we were putting the Christmas decorations up!

I have been spending the last couple days really praying and trying to figure out what I am going to give up and do for Lent. One word that keeps coming to mind is “different.” This Lent I want to be different.

The song “Different” by Micah Tyler explains this perfectly:

“I want to be different, I want to changed, ‘til all of me is gone and all that remains is a fire so bright the whole world can see, that there’s something different, so come and be different in me.

I don’t want to spend my life stuck in a pattern, I don’t want to gain this world but lose what matters.”

Something that I have been trying to do lately and I am going to do throughout Lent is stepping out of my comfort zone to do things that scare me. A perfect example of this occurred just this past weekend: performing in front of over a hundred people each night in our performances of the musical “Guys and Dolls”! I never would have imagined myself in a musical if I am being honest!

St. Peter’s Church put on the show and my sister Nikki and I were asked to be in it. I immediately wanted to come up with an excuse as to why I couldn’t do it, but I felt a nudge to go for it, and was cast as General Cartwright. Even though this opportunity was incredibly out of my comfort zone, it was such a rewarding experience. Not only did I meet some awesome people and gain life-long friendships, but I also realized how capable we are of things we put our mind to. Our comfort zones are just that—comfortable—but comfort can often keep us reaching our true potential. Like St. John Paul II said,

“This world offers you comfort. But you were not made for comfort; you were made for greatness!”

So this Lent I am going to try to step out of my comfort zone and be different. I want people to wonder why I smile when things aren’t going my way and why I am excited to go to church. I challenge you to be different this Lent and to do one thing every day that scares you.

-Tricia

Tricia and Nikki Walz are proud Minnesotans who were born and raised in the heart of St. Cloud with their younger sister Briana. Read more about them on the “Meet Our Bloggers” page.

Most People are Good

17 dead. When will these senseless mass shootings stop? Parkland Florida, Las Vegas, Orlando, Sandy Hook… the list goes on and on.

When I heard another shooting took place, I immediately got super angry. How can someone think they have the right to end someone else’s life? Or was it a mental illness that went untreated that caused them to act this way? As I have been reflecting the last couple days on not just this shooting but all the past shootings, I thought about the shooters, how lonely, angry, or hurt they must have been to do something so horrible. I thought about each of the victims’ families and how horrible that moment must have been when they were told they would never see their son/wife/sister/etc. again. Then I thought about each of the victims and the split-second decision they had to make to be either selfish or selfless. In a moment when they could have been just victims, so many of them stepped up to be heroes.

  • Aaron Feis was the football coach and security guard at the school in Florida. He died shielding students from bullets.
  • Sonny Melton was killed while covering his wife during the Las Vegas Shooting as they were celebrating their first wedding anniversary.
  • Firefighter Steve Keys was shot while performing CPR on a woman in Las Vegas.
  • Fire captain Mark McCurdy carried his sister-in-law to her hotel in Vegas after she was shot and ran back into the danger zone to see if any more help was needed.
  • Jonathan Smith, 30, saved about 30 people before he was shot in the neck in Vegas.
  • First grade teacher Victoria Soto from Sandy Hook hid her students in closets and cabinets. When the gunman entered her classroom, she convinced him the students were in the gym so he killed her and left.
  • Jose Martinez was saved by Christopher Hansen and Carlos Rosario in the Orlando shooting. One held onto Martinez’s rosary while the other stuffed a knotted bandanna into Martinez’s two gunshot wounds to save his life.

As hard as it is to focus on the positive in situations like this, it is very comforting to know that even though there was one ‘bad’ guy, there were countless selfless and generous people involved. These situations show us that in the times when the worst of humanity comes out in its cruelest form, the best of humanity is sure to emerge in its wake, stronger than ever.

“I believe this world isn’t half as bad as it looks;

I believe most people are good

I believe if you just go by the nightly news,

Your faith in mankind would be the first thing you lose.”              – lyrics from the song ‘Most People Are Good’ by Luke Bryan

-Tricia

Tricia and Nikki Walz are proud Minnesotans who were born and raised in the heart of St. Cloud with their younger sister Briana. Read more about them on the “Meet Our Bloggers” page.

The Strength of a Woman

I came across a blog by Abby Johnson a while back that really struck a chord with me. It was titled “7 Things I Learned at the Women’s Convention About Feminists and Abortion.” There were a lot of crazy things she encountered at the convention as a pro-life feminist (in the truest and best sense of the word), but the truth that has been resonating in my heart since reading the blog was this: that the abortion industry, now more than ever, is playing on women’s fears and insecurities in order to convince them that they’re not strong enough, not ready enough, to be a mother. Abby wrote:

To them [the abortion industry], being able to kill women in the womb is totally pro-woman. Being able to exploit women’s fears of not being strong enough to be a parent is empowering. But pro-choice feminists know nothing of women’s empowerment.

“Oh, you are pregnant and in school? Well, there’s no way you are strong enough to finish your educational goals and be a mother. We will capitalize on your fear, make you feel weak, and give you an abortion.” Or maybe, “Oh, your boyfriend just left you and you are pregnant? Well, there’s no way you are strong enough to be a single mother. Let’s just get this abortion taken care of so we can keep convincing you just how weak you are.”

Pro-life feminists refuse to choose. We can be mothers and have careers. We can finish our education with children in tow. Is it a challenge? Yep. But women are made for challenges. We are strong enough to handle the challenges presented to us. It’s what we were made to do.”

Women are made for challenges. Can I get an amen?! This article has really made me start to think about what it means to be strong as a woman. What, at the very core, is the strength of a woman?

I think the feminist movement (in its worst form) has distorted what it means to be a woman so horribly that “strength” is often be equated with physical power or intimidation or ‘lording it over’ men, or even just trying to be like men and proving that we can do everything they can do. But if God made us male and female, He obviously had a reason!

Women weren’t made to live for ourselves—we’ve been given such an ability and desire to nurture in a maternal way, even if we’re not physical mothers. The feminine heart wants to love intensely, even when it’s hard and scary and there’s the risk of that heart being broken by loving broken human beings. But we were made for this challenge, for the challenge of loving with everything we are.

I think of the strongest person I know—my mom. She’s physically strong, born and raised a true farm girl, but her deepest strength lies in her love, giving herself totally to others and allowing her heart to be broken out of love. I think of Mary, the ultimate example for all women, allowing her heart to be broken by love, courageously suffering the incomprehensible agony of watching her son die the worst kind of death. The strength of a woman lies in this kind of love—giving ourselves completely and risking the pain and demands of love. I once heard that our capacity to suffer is in direct proportion to our capacity to love, because when we love another person with everything we are, their suffering becomes our own. What a beautiful gift— and a daunting challenge! It reminds me of a quote by C.S. Lewis from The Four Loves that pierces to the heart of what it means to authentically love:

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”

This is true strength. This is the strength of a woman. It’s not “strength” to abort a child in order to avoid the messiness and demands of love. Selfishness is the antithesis of strength. Let’s stop trying to convince women otherwise. You are strong, you are beautiful, and you are enough. Don’t be afraid to let your heart be broken for others—It’s what you were made to do.

–Nikki

Tricia and Nikki Walz are proud Minnesotans who were born and raised in the heart of St. Cloud with their younger sister Briana. Read more about them on the “Meet Our Bloggers” page.

Wisdom for the Best Year Yet!

It’s that time of year when we all start making our list of New Year’s resolutions. We feel super optimistic that THIS is the year we are going to change our lives! Making it to the gym past Feb. 1, paying off student loans, and catching up with old friends are common occurrences on my list.

This year I started thinking about my resolutions, and they started to look quite similar to past years. So instead of just repeating last year’s list, I decided to talk to some people I look up to in my Catholic faith and ask for some help. I asked each of these people what advice they would give a young person in college, or in their 20s or 30s, so that we can live our lives more fully and make this year’s resolutions more meaningful than the usual vague goals we have set in the past. I never expected to be touched as much as I was by their advice!

Here is some of the wisdom that was shared with me:

“Take your faith seriously and have a personal relationship with Jesus.”

 “Value your relationships and health; don’t take it for granted.”

— Linda, 70

“The best gift you can give is your presence.”

 “Write down your dreams and the things that mean something to you. Use those things to remind you of who you want to be.”

 “Giving is like receiving twice; it’s the best gift you can give yourself.”

 “Read good things, even a little quote frequently; feed yourself like you do lunch and supper. Feed your soul and it will change how you think.”

 “Stop criticizing, condemning and complaining; find something good in every negative experience you encounter, and you will never be upset again.”

— Diane

“My dad’s uncle told me as I was going into the service in 1955 just three words: ‘Pick your company,’ and I have lived by that rule my whole life.”

 “Do as your parents ask because after they die it’s too late.”

 “Learn the hard way to forgive and forget.”

 “Learn what you can before it’s too late.”

— Gene, 83

“Make sure you find your servant’s heart because every day there is someone that needs a random act of kindness.”

— Karen, 62

“Enjoy life and follow the Ten Commandments. Keep your faith strong; stay active in your faith.”

— Father Greg, 80

I think the greatest thing as I reflect on these pieces of advice is that these people actually live this out, which touches my heart in more ways than I can put into words. I truly hope I can be like all of them one day — giving advice that I actually live out. These holy people inspire me to make real progress this year and I hope they inspire you as well! I encourage you to pick one of these and make a specific concrete goal for this upcoming year. Happy New Year!

— Tricia

Tricia and Nikki Walz are proud Minnesotans who were born and raised in the heart of St. Cloud with their younger sister Briana. Read more about them on the “Meet Our Bloggers” page.

The Power of a Gentleman

“A guy is a boy by birth, a man by age, and a gentleman by choice.” -Vin Diesel

This past weekend I got to attend a beautiful wedding in Texas. The wedding was for the brother of one of my best friends, and the whole weekend was just so great. I not only got to meet Catherine’s family, but I also learned a valuable lesson while in the warmer weather!

One thing I immediately noticed was how gentlemanly the men are in Texas. I was a little skeptical that this was true all the time, thinking maybe it was just a good day, maybe a good hair day?! 😉 As the weekend went on, I realized that there was a culture of respect in Texas in a way that I had never experienced before. I rarely opened my own door the entire weekend!

When we were on the shuttle bus from the airport, it was incredibly crowded. People were standing and an older couple loaded onto the bus. Instantly, the young man sitting to my left got up and tapped the older lady on the shoulder and said, “Excuse me, ma’am, would you like to have a seat?” She was very appreciative and took the seat. We also went to Whataburger for lunch and a young boy, who must have been around 7 years old, held the door for us as we walked out. I thanked him and he smiled really big with a couple teeth missing, and said, “My brother and I try to hold the door open for the ladies.” Not only did these instances melt my heart, but it also gave me hope for our next generation.

Another great example of these gentlemen was my friend’s brother, Samuel. Samuel is 14 and from the moment we got there he was very attentive to our needs- if we needed a plate he would grab one for us, or if we were all leaving the house he would stop dead in his tracks and tell us to go ahead. When we went into the kitchen for breakfast, all of the men immediately stood up so the women could take the limited seats around the table. Samuel also put together a cot for us so that we would not have to try to figure out how to put it together ourselves. If more 14-year-olds acted like Samuel, this world would indeed be a better place!

Since I got back to Minnesota, I have seen gentlemanly behavior but, sadly, I’ve seen more of the opposite extreme. In fact, in the airport a guy shoved his way to get out of the door before me. These extremes amaze me, that some men can treat women with so much respect while others don’t make any attempt to act like gentlemen. Talking with Nikki about this, she remembered seeing a quote from Jason Evert that mentioned this problem in another way.

“Authentic femininity is a combination of class, tenderness and virtue. When a woman possesses these traits, a man will naturally want to be more of a gentleman around her.”

-Jason Evert

We as women obviously don’t have total power over how men act, but we do have more power than we think we do. We can help men to grow in virtue by being women of virtue ourselves, and from our example we can help them to want to rise up and treat us with the dignity we have! It’s a two-way street; both men and women need to be respectful of the opposite gender and expect to be respected as well. How beautiful is it that we as women have the power to help men become all they’re called to be?! Women- I challenge you to live out Jason Evert’s quote and raise the bar for the men in this world today, and men- never forget that there is nothing more attractive than a true gentleman!

–Tricia

Tricia and Nikki Walz are proud Minnesotans who were born and raised in the heart of St. Cloud with their younger sister Briana. Read more about them on the “Meet Our Bloggers” page.

“Every Mile Mattered”

Have you ever heard a song that speaks to your heart so clearly that it’s almost as if God’s using a megaphone to grab your attention? Recently I heard the song “Every Mile Mattered” (click to watch the video) by Nichole Nordeman, and it was definitely one of those moments! It spoke into the fears and worries that have been on my heart lately in a powerful way. It speaks of messiness and confusion in our lives, and it reminded me that there’s a reason for everything that has happened, whether I can see those reasons now or not. Here are some of my favorite lyrics:

It’s history,

You can’t rewrite it

You’re not meant to be trapped inside it

Every tear brought you here,

Every sorrow gathered

It’s history,

But every mile mattered

Those last words are pure gold—“Every mile mattered.” A friend recently lamented to me after she broke up with her boyfriend, “Now I’m back at square one.” But this song helped me to realize that nothing could be further from the truth! Every experience, every hurt, and every joy we encounter changes us, and God uses all of those things to shape and mold us into who He wants us to be. What a crazy and beautiful truth! When things don’t turn out as we had hoped and we feel like that job or relationship or project was a waste of time, what if we held on to this reality of God’s patient molding of our hearts rather than giving in to frustration and regret?

It’s so easy to fall into the “Why, God?!” trap, doubting His love and His plan, doubting that He is good and that His plan is what’s best for us. It’s good to be honest with God with the questions and hurts of our hearts, but sometimes we need to take a step back and remember what an amazing and powerful and gentle God we serve. At the Encounter Milwaukee young adult conference this past weekend, we prayed the words of a praise and worship song, “You are good,” and at one point the priest had just the ladies sing it, asking the men to pray for their sisters in Christ as we sang those words, that we would know the goodness of the Father and His intimate love for each of our hearts in a deeper way. It was such a beautiful moment, as our brothers prayed that the Father would remind us of His love. The priest also reminded us that praising God isn’t the same as thanking Him—we praise Him for who He Is, while we thank Him for what He’s done for us. Even when we don’t understand why God is doing what He’s doing in our lives, and we fall into sadness and anxiety, we can praise Him for who He Is, because we know that He Is good and He will never change or let us down!

So this Thanksgiving, the raw prayer of my heart is that we would each be given the grace to take our lives—past, present, and future—and lift them up to the Father, praising Him for Who He Is and thanking Him for what He’s done in all the winding paths of our lives, even if it doesn’t all make sense to us right now. He’s not done writing our story, but we can trust that when we look back someday, we will see that His plan was beautiful—and every mile really did matter.

–Nikki

Tricia and Nikki Walz are proud Minnesotans who were born and raised in the heart of St. Cloud with their younger sister Briana. Read more about them on the “Meet Our Bloggers” page.

I have finished the race

“I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith.” -2 Timothy 4:7

As I type this blog, my muscles ache and my toes hurt, but it is all worth it because I completed my first ever 10-mile race! A big run like this has been on my bucket list for quite some time, but I was not sure if I would ever accomplish it. I am the furthest thing from a runner but I wanted to prove to myself that I was capable of doing it.

I started this 10-mile run with thousands of other people- young and old- at a little after 7 in the morning in the pouring rain and with the sun just starting to make an appearance. It would have been incredibly easy to have thrown in the towel right off the bat. Really? Rain? It was only barely above 50 degrees. But the support from the fellow runners and the spectators was something I will never forget!

The first 4 miles were easier than I ever could have imagined. I had never run 4 miles straight in training and I doubt I could do it again right now, but as a group it didn’t seem like quite as big of an obstacle.

The whole run I thought about how a race such as this is so similar to our journey in life. There are hills- some that seem too high to climb- and maybe we can’t sprint but have to walk it. There are obstacles that try to shift our focus, toes and muscles that hurt, or unexpected downpours. Finally, there is always the devil putting thoughts into our heads like “I can’t do this” or “it’s too far” or “I am only halfway?”

The 9th and 10th miles were the hardest for me. My muscles were so stiff and my whole body was exhausted. There were extra fans cheering us along this part of the race. There were people with funny signs that got us all laughing, and kids that were dressed up giving everyone high fives and yelling “keep running, you’ve got this!”

At times I did not have the energy to run like I did the first couple miles, but I knew I had to keep moving, so I would walk as quickly as I could until I could run again. I think this is exactly how we have to take life- when we think the obstacle we face is too steep to climb, sometimes we have to take a slower pace so that we have the strength to make it to the top, because each and every obstacle we are faced with can be conquered.

My challenge for each of you is to create the best possible support system to run this race with, and when you see others struggling up the hills of life to cheer them on and run it with them. You may never know how much strength a simple smile or high-five can give someone who may be contemplating giving up.

-Tricia

Tricia and Nikki Walz are proud Minnesotans who were born and raised in the heart of St. Cloud with their younger sister Briana. Read more about them on the “Meet Our Bloggers” page.

Facing our Weakness without Fear

I’m sure most of us can relate to this experience: you go to Mass, find yourself refreshed and rejuvenated by God’s goodness and grace, go home, and before you know it you’re yelling at a family member or complaining about some inconvenience or insignificant problem. When you take the time to reflect, you’re angry at yourself, and lament the fact that even though Jesus literally just came into you in Holy Communion, you just as quickly turn away from Him and fall into the same sins.

Defeated. That’s how I feel every time I give in to my own pride and say things I don’t mean, or argue my point needlessly. That’s how I feel when I give in to my own selfishness and spend my time only on myself, and get frustrated with those around me for interrupting ‘my’ time. I think to myself, How can I receive such incredible gifts of God’s love and grace, and then fail to live those practically in my own life?

As I mentioned in my last blog, I recently began a 10-day self-directed retreat called ‘Lift Up Your Heart’ by Fr. John Burns, based on the 10 meditations of St. Francis de Sales in the Introduction to the Devout Life. It’s been so, so good for my heart so far, because it’s made me really reflect on my own life and grow in self-knowledge, which is something that’s always been hard for me! I just have to share this part of one of the meditations, because it gave me a new lens through which I see my own weaknesses and sinfulness that I think is so incredibly helpful!:

“In quiet reflection, name your own limitations. Admit them—as many as you can recognize. Then, with a deep breath, hold them up to God’s gaze and simply ask for help. Hear God say to you, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness’ (2 Cor 12:9). Then you can say with St. Paul, ‘If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness’ (2 Cor 11:30). At first it sounds foolish. Consider this: if you were not weak, you would not need God; because you are weak, God can work in you. This means, surprisingly, that the places in your life most attractive to God are the places of greatest weakness, because in those places He can most easily undertake the work of making you whole” (Lift Up Your Hearts 9-10).

That last line has really stuck with me: that the places of greatest weakness in my life are the most attractive to God, because that’s where He can work the most powerfully. He’s not scared off by my struggles with selfishness and pride and laziness, but those are exactly the places He wants to come into most!

There’s a Christian song called “If We’re Honest” by Francesca Batistelli which says, “I’m a mess and so are you/ We build walls nobody can get through/ It may be hard, but the best thing we can ever do/ is Bring your brokenness and I’ll bring mine/ His love can heal what hurt divides/ And mercy’s waiting on the other side/ If we’re honest.” I don’t know about you, but I don’t really like to admit to myself that I’m a mess. In fact, I just don’t like messes in any shape or form! Even my room has to be neatly organized and clean, or it drives me crazy. I want my life to be a tidy little package where everything is ‘just so,’ and nothing is out of place. But I know that nothing could be farther from reality! And the truth is, that’s the reality for each one of us. But that’s where Jesus wants to meet us—in our messiness, in our woundedness, in our brokenness. He wants to meet us there so He can heal us most profoundly.

Fr. John goes on to say, “God sets the terms and timelines for healing and wholeness, but nothing can begin until you show the sickness to the Divine Physician” (Lift Up Your Hearts, 10). We can’t wear masks with God. He knows our weaknesses better than we do, but that’s exactly what He wants us to bring before Him, with humble and docile hearts. How freeing that is, that God doesn’t expect us to be perfect! He just expects us to be honest. He’ll take it from there. God will do the healing, but we first have to bring our wounds and weaknesses to Him to be healed. It might be a slow process, but God knows how best to sculpt our hearts in order to make us into the masterpieces He desires us to be, the kind that can most clearly reflect the genius of the Divine Sculptor. What a beautiful truth, that takes away our tendencies to hide behind our shame and distrust of God rather than humbly bringing them before Him with the faith of a child, completely confident in the love of the Father. So we don’t need to be afraid of our weaknesses, because it’s precisely in our weakness that God wants to meet us, to show us His power and love.

-Nikki

Tricia and Nikki Walz are proud Minnesotans who were born and raised in the heart of St. Cloud with their younger sister Briana. Read more about them on the “Meet Our Bloggers” page.

Sweet Encounters

Do you ever watch an interaction and your heart just melts?! Well I have seen a number of these moments recently so I figured I would share a couple of my favorites!

My mom has an in-home day care and the kids are always so fun and full of energy. We have two brothers, Noah and Cole, who stole my heart the other day.

After lunch, the kids take a nap; some of the older kids do not need to take a nap and play until their friends wake up. Noah is at the age where he does not necessarily need a nap, but Cole is still a bit young. Cole likes when Noah takes a nap with him so every day Noah lays down next to him so he knows he is there. This particular day my mom told Noah he had the choice again, he could either stay up or take a nap. Noah came over to me and said, “I really want to have an up day so I can play with my friends but I will go talk to Cole.”

Out of curiosity I followed and listened to their conversation. Noah very gently asked Cole, “Hey Cole, can I have an up day or do you want me to take a nap?” Immediately Cole says he needs to take a nap. You could see the disappointment in Noah’s face and he was quietly sitting there thinking. I jumped in and asked Cole if Noah could just come down and check on him every so often or if he could sleep with a toy Noah picked out. He shook his head and his eyes filled with tears. I will never forget Noah’s next move. He took a deep breath and looked at me with such compassion in his eyes. “It’s okay Tricia, I will just take a nap with my brother.”

He then gave Cole a big hug and reassured him that he would lay next to him so he wouldn’t be sad. My eyes were filled with tears as this kind of love for our brothers rarely exists anymore and it was so neat to see!

The next day I was helping with a brat sale and there was an elderly man walking ever so slowly with his cane across the parking lot. A middle-aged woman was walking into Coborn’s [grocery store] and hollered at him, “Slow down there, sir!” And he stopped dead in his tracks and pretended like he was hitting the lady with his cane and they both laughed and laughed.

These two stories show me how much love and unselfishness there still is in this world. It seems like the people you typically hear about are filled with hate and selfish desires. I think if we all put a little more effort to highlight the love and unselfishness that we see on a daily basis, we would constantly be reminded of our focus in life- and that is to love as Christ loves.

–Tricia

Tricia and Nikki Walz are proud Minnesotans who were born and raised in the heart of St. Cloud with their younger sister Briana. Read more about them on the “Meet Our Bloggers” page.

How I am Learning That God Can Be Trusted

“O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

This line in Scripture from the account of Peter walking on the water always makes me laugh, because I can only imagine what my reaction would be if I were in Peter’s place: “Look around, Jesus! Have you SEEN these waves? Isn’t it a bit unfair to call me ‘you of little faith’ in this kind of a situation?!”

Hearing this line in the Sunday Gospel a few weeks ago, I was struck by how matter-of-fact Jesus’ question is. He asks Peter why he doubted because it should be so clear to Peter that Jesus can be trusted. This was an epiphany moment for me, because trust in God is always something I’ve struggled with. In fact, almost every time I pray, Jesus at some point says to me, “Trust in Me, Mija (My daughter).” It’s easy for me to look at Peter and recognize his lack of faith, but I quickly realize that it’s just a mirror of my own.

A few weeks ago I had the incredible privilege to see my best friend, Sr. Anne Thérèse (formerly Mary Wilder), make her final vows as a Dominican Sister of St. Cecilia in Nashville! It was one of the most beautiful things I have ever had the joy to witness, as she laid down her life completely for her Beloved, for the rest of her life. But it was also a poignant moment for me to reflect on all that God has done in my own life. You see, seven years ago I thought I would be there with her, at that altar, making my vows to Jesus as His Bride, alongside my best friend.

Sister Anne Therese as a postulant with Nikki Walz

To make a long story short, Mary (Sr. Anne Therese) and I met my sophomore year of high school, when my mom signed me up for a ‘nun run’ with Fr. Greg Mastey (even though I had absolutely no desire to go and even begged to stay home!). On that trip, we visited the Nashville Dominicans, and Mary and I absolutely fell in love with them. I can honestly say I have never experienced more joy and genuine beauty than at the motherhouse of the Nashville Dominicans. They radiate Christ’s love in a way that I had never seen before, and it’s hard for me even now to put into words just how beautiful they are!

Mary and I became close friends on that trip, and a few months later while we were having a sleepover at her house, she confided in me that she felt like Jesus might be calling her to be a Nashville Dominican. I was stunned, mostly because I also was feeling like I might have a calling, but I hadn’t told her yet! I am so incredibly grateful that God let me meet her and that we were able to walk that journey of discernment together.

Sister Anne Therese with Nikki at her profession of first vows.

The October of our senior year we went on a retreat at the motherhouse together to continue to discern our call. She later admitted to me that on our way there she felt like one of us would leave overjoyed, positive that she was called there, and the other one of us would leave devastated, knowing that Jesus wasn’t calling her to enter. In her own words, “I know it was selfish of me, but I was praying I wouldn’t be the one to leave deastated!”

Nikki with Sister Anne Therese at her final profession.

On that retreat, I was filled with a restlessness and lack of peace that penetrated deep, and Jesus made it clear to me that it wasn’t where He was calling me, even though I had already told my family and friends that I would be joining and had even started giving some of my things away! It was hard for me to accept at first, and I struggled with the feeling that God had rejected me. But now, looking back after seven years, I know it’s because He had greater plans for me than I ever could have imagined for myself!

This past year while I was leading RCIA for the parishes where I’m blessed to be a Faith Formation Director, I told my story to the group as we discussed discernment, and one of our sweet candidates said to me, “I can’t claim to know God’s plan, but it sure seems like God has you exactly where He wants you!” These words have stuck with me, because as much as I doubt God’s plan, He is constantly proving to me how faithful He is, how incredibly trustworthy, and how true those words are!

I’m currently in the middle of a 10-day self-guided retreat, and yesterday I read these words which made me smile, because I knew they applied directly to me:

“We misunderstand the goodness of our present state, and in turn, we fail to see the goodness of the process by which God is leading us into the future.”

I so easily forget that life isn’t a race. Sure, I’d love to be married right now, have kids, and “get into my Vocation already”, but God keeps reminding me that He wants me right here, right now, and He is working on my heart in my present state.

To be honest, I still don’t understand what He’s doing in my life most of the time, but I know I can trust that it’s good. He’s a faithful Father, and I can rely on Him with crazy, reckless abandon. He never reveals very much of the path at a time, but I’ve learned to concentrate on the next step- not the whole journey at once. If I had known then everything these last 7 years would bring, I really don’t think I would have been ready to receive it—my sickness and surgery on my stomach the summer before my freshman year of college which led to endless ER visits, the beauty and suffering of college and grad school, my job as a Youth Minister and now as a Faith Formation Director, the sickness of my mom, and everything else that God has brought our way in these past few years. He only shows us what we need to know right now—and then asks us to trust Him with the rest. And you know what, I think I prefer it that way! The more we get to know the heart of the Father, the more we learn that we can trust Him—we can walk out on the water, not because of how great we are, but because of how great He Is. He’ll never let us down.

– Nikki

Tricia and Nikki Walz are proud Minnesotans who were born and raised in the heart of St. Cloud with their younger sister Briana. Read more about them on the “Meet Our Bloggers” page.