Be present in the moment

Reflecting on this past month, I am filled with an incredible number of amazing memories. So many fun things took place that this blog could easily be made into a book!

Here are just a few of the highlights from the last month of my life:

At the end of June two friends of mine were ordained to the transitional diaconate and will become priests in just one short year!

 

 

 

 

July 1st my little sister, Briana, married the love of her life! Of course, we had the bachelorette party, Grooms dinner and the other festivities that come with a wedding!

 

 

Nikki and I were also given the wonderful opportunity to chaperone a group of high school students to Rochester for the Steubenville retreat!

 

 

I have learned so much through these experiences. First off, I never realized just how much work goes into putting on a wedding! But as much work as it was, I would wish we could re-live the day and do it all again because it was such a blast!

As hard as it was at times throughout the last month to be present in the moment and not anticipate the next fun thing, I learned that each day goes by so quickly, and to enjoy everything that comes your way, good or bad.

On the wedding day we started getting slightly behind schedule. There was a misunderstanding between the bridesmaids and the bride, so we showed up for pictures at the wrong place which put us even further behind! One thing I admired greatly from my sister was how she handled this little misunderstanding. Most brides, heck probably me, would have been anxious about getting things going and getting to the church, but Briana took things as they came. She was truly living in the moment and just embraced everything that came her way, never letting that smile leave her face! It would have been so easy to be so focused on getting to the pictures that we would have missed the fun of getting ready; or so focused on the reception that we missed the beautiful ceremony.

Overall, I took from this past month that focusing on the future will guarantee that you miss opportunities in the present!

“The present moment is never intolerable. What’s intolerable is what’s going to happen in the next four hours. To have your body here at 8 pm and your mind at 10:30 pm, that’s what causes us suffering.”

Anthony de Mello (1931-1987), Jesuit priest, author and speaker.

–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.

Prayers for Aaliyah

Walking door-to-door handing out “missing person” flyers in the pouring rain was not how I expected to spend my Wednesday evening [May 17]. Ever since the 17-year-old Aaliyah [Kazimer] went missing last weekend, I had been following her story. Something this big, happening so close to home, really struck a chord with me.

I had never met Aaliyah; all I knew is that she was clearly a very gorgeous girl that had so much more of life to live. Yesterday I came across an article saying they needed more people to help with their search efforts. I didn’t think twice when I rounded up two of my cousins to go see how we could help.

When we got there tonight we were given a pile of fliers and told to go from house to house and ask if they had possibly seen this girl or knew anything that could help us find her. The people that answered their doors surprised me with their sympathy and their promise that if they see or hear anything they would call 911 immediately. It definitely showed me that there still is compassion in this world even though we maybe don’t see it as often as we should. After a couple hours in the rain we made it back to our car and headed back to the search headquarters.

When we walked into the shelter there was a different type of energy than when we had left. I immediately got a phone call from my dad that they had found her! Everyone in the shelter was so happy!! There was supposed to be a prayer service at 7pm and instead, it turned into a celebration that she had been found-ALIVE! We were talking to two girls from Aaliyah’s high school and they were saying how sad everyone was that she would potentially never see the day she got to graduate, but now there was a chance she would be able to graduate, this Friday.

Ever since I got home this evening Aaliyah has been on my mind. Just how rare this type of ending is. How lucky she is to be alive. And just how great of a guardian angel she has!! This opportunity has made me realize just how much I take my own life for granted. Every day is a gift, and we should not let a single day go by without telling our loved ones just how much we love them, and God how grateful we are for the day we have. I think it is also so important that we all continue to pray for Aaliyah as she processes and heals from most likely the scariest and most life-changing week she will ever encounter.

Our Lady of Good Remedy, pray for us.

–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 rosary – a powerful weapon

Since May is the month of Mary, I have a special blog post in her honor! My family and I made St. Louis de Montfort’s consecration to Jesus through Mary when I was pretty young, so I have always felt a special connection with our Blessed Mother.

Now normally I am hesitant to put personal experiences in a blog for just anyone to read, but I feel like if people were more open to sharing their experiences in life this world would for sure be a different place. So here I go!

Back in high school… many years ago…(Yes, I’m that old!), my mom signed my sister and I up for a Steubenville retreat. This group was going to travel to St. Louis, Missouri, for the conference and had a couple fun stops on the way. I wouldn’t say I necessarily really wanted to go, but my mom signed me up so I went!

Growing up I struggled with anxiety and an overall uneasiness. I would worry myself sick. I had ulcers way more than any kid should. If I thought I offended someone I wouldn’t be able to sleep until I worked it out with them. My grandma had surgery and I remember being beside myself, so worried something would happen to her. I also had a lot of dental work done as a kid and I would worry about that appointment months before it came, dreading the day with such a fierce passion.

When we were at the Steubenville Conference, we were faced with a lot of encounters with the devil. Now I have been to many Steubenville conferences and I have never experienced another one like my first year. The devil definitely knew we were at a crucial point in our lives because he was trying everything to make us doubt God and leave the conference.

During Adoration, I kept seeing snakes in the curtains, slithering around, but I refused to take my gaze off the monstrance. When I would glance to the side, I would feel anxious and nervous, but when I kept my gaze on Jesus I felt such peace. Later that night, Nikki and I were supposed to go to bed but we were both uneasy and sort of scared. We both laid on the bottom bunk hugging as we tried to sleep. When we said goodnight and closed our eyes, less than a minute later we both shot up and both instantly started bawling. We both saw the same image: a beautiful picture of Christ that turned into the ugliest face of the devil. Terrified, we ran out of our room to our mom’s room. As she consoled us we told her that we saw the exact same image. I will never forget my mom’s calmness as she hugged us, smiled and said, “Girls, I know exactly what we need to do. Where is your rosary?”.

As we prayed the rosary, the terrified, anxious, uneasy feelings I was filled with slowly drained out. With each Hail Mary I felt lighter and happier. When we finished the rosary, we went back to our rooms with smiles on and slept like a baby. From that day on the devil has not scared me. I think I finally realized that what we have is so much stronger than the devil. We have Mary, the saints, and Jesus Himself. And what better way to ward off the devil and the evil that this world possesses than with one of the most powerful weapons we have- the rosary.

–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.

 

This Is Us

After many outstanding reviews from some friends, I finally caved and started watching the new show “This Is Us.” People had been telling me that it was “actually deep” and a “real” show, unlike most of the ones we see while flipping through the channels nowadays.

I was hooked after the first episode. Whoever came up with the plot is just plain brilliant. I knew the characters for only 30 minutes and I was already crying! Now of course, like most shows, there are some decisions the characters make that are not in line with Catholic teaching, but the show portrays real life issues and struggles that we all face. You either like what you see or you learn from it, as my mom would say.

“This Is Us” is about a young couple who’s pregnant with triplets and the struggles they face on their journey as first-time parents. That’s all I will say regarding the plot because I don’t want to be the one to spoil it for you!

Now I am only nine episodes in, but something has really stood out to me from this show. As they go back and forth from present to past, slowly you start putting together the pieces to a much larger puzzle. You begin to see how every decision a character made affected everyone else. You get to see how someone giving up their baby affected another couple’s struggling marriage, and how someone mourning the loss of his wife can affect a young couple who lost a baby.

From reflecting on this show, it made me think about how intertwined my own life is with so many others and how each of my actions affect so many people in ways that I will never know on this side of heaven. Our smallest actions, whether positive or negative, can change the entire future of another person.

I am a firm believer that God puts everyone in our lives for a reason and, like this show, we may not be able to put together all the pieces of the puzzle, until we are seeing it played back with Jesus by our side. Only then will we be able to finally see how we have affected every other person that we have encountered. Every one of our words and actions have a ripple effect.

So, the question we should ask ourselves is this: What kind of waves are we making on this earth?

–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.

 

 

“Without Wax:” Living the Authentic Life!

Chocolate bunnies.

Okay, okay, I know it’s not even Lent yet, much less Easter, but chocolate is already on my mind! Do you ever remember as a kid taking a bite out of a chocolate bunny, only to find out that it was just a shell rather than solid chocolate? Nothing was more disappointing than to find out that nothing was in the middle— even though the chocolate on the outside was good, the bunny was hollow!

I started re-reading “Rediscover Catholicism” with an RCIA candidate a few weeks ago, and one thing in particular has really intrigued me—the fact that we’re called to live authentic lives. To live authentically is to be real, sincere, genuine, hiding nothing. Our culture is largely based on appearances, which ultimately are superficial and don’t show what’s on the inside. Matthew Kelly points out, “Our hunger is not for appearances, nor is it for the fleeting and superficial; it is for something of substance. We are hungry for truth. The people of today are starving for the authentic, thirsting for the tiniest droplet of sincerity, aching to experience the genuine.”

We’re hungry for something lasting, something real. When other people meet us, is that what they find? Or are we like the chocolate bunny, attractive on the outside without anything of substance within?

I heard a story once from a Catholic speaker that in the Greek and Roman days, some column makers who wanted to save a buck would fill their columns with wax and sell them as genuine marble columns. They looked good on the outside, but the buyers soon discovered they had been scammed—the columns they had thought to be pure marble were really just hollow shells. Some etymologists even trace the word “sincere” back to the Latin “sine” + “cerus” which means “without wax”!

As we prepare to enter into this season of Lent, it’s the perfect time to take a good, hard look at ourselves. Are we sincere, “without wax”? Are we filled with Christ, Who makes us genuine and real? Or do we fill ourselves with a cheap imitation, with our own selfish wants, material things and money and TV and smartphones and a million other distractions? When we fill ourselves with wax, we sooner or later find ourselves to be hollow, and the state of our hearts soon starts to show on the outside, through selfishness and pride and resentment and other vices.

This week for me is always crunch time for figuring out my Lenten penance. Maybe the best way to figure out what God desires for me (and you!) to do for Lent is to start with this question: How can I become more authentic this Lent? How can I surrender more completely to what God wants to do with me so that He can fill me and be the center?

The more authentic we become, the more others will be able to see Christ in us. This is the most powerful thing we can do, before anything else—to become the person we’re called to be. Only then can others be drawn to that beauty, that goodness that comes from God alone. What our world needs more than anything else are authentic witnesses, people who have surrendered to God and strive to be sincere disciples!

“At every moment, the entire modern world kneels before us, begging, pleading, beckoning for some brave man or woman to come forward and lead them with the example of an authentic life.”

So what’s holding you back? What do you need to give over to God this Lent that’s keeping you from taking on this challenge to become an authentic disciple? Christ is calling YOU! Join me this week in taking time to ask him how you can become more authentic, more sincere, and more genuine than ever this Lent. I’m praying for each of you as we start this Lenten journey together! Come, Holy Spirit!

— 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.

God, the Ultimate Driver

Photo courtesy of St. Peter and St. Paul parishes.

This past week, the parishes of St. Peter and St. Paul in St. Cloud hosted a parish mission where Father Peter Schavitz gave different talks throughout the week.

One thing Father Peter did incredibly well was correlate our faith with real life stories. If you are like me, stories you can relate to and visualize tend to stick with you! Father Peter told one story in particular that really stuck with me:

A couple was stopped at a light and there was a car in front of them. This was in the time period when there was just one long seat and not individual seats in the front of the car. The couple in the first car were sitting so close it was hard to tell which one was even driving. The wife in the car behind pointed it out and laughed, looked at her husband, and said, “Do you remember when we used to be like that?” Her husband smiled and nodded. The wife pointed to all the space between them and asked her husband, ‘What happened?’ The husband smiled, looked at his wife and replied, ‘Honey, I haven’t moved!’

Father Peter related this story to our relationship with God. At times, we can get frustrated with God and ask, “Where were you?” or “How did you get so far away?” but God’s answer would be similar to that of the husband: “I haven’t moved!” He has always been in the same spot, but we are the ones moving away from Him!

At the times in our lives when we are stagnant or lukewarm in our faith, we are actually creating more distance between ourselves and God. Instead, we should be doing things to help us grow in our relationship and help bring ourselves closer to God, the ultimate driver of our lives. Think about your life at this very moment – are you scooting closer or further away from our driver?

–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.

Why so loud?!

Picture this: the entire United States (including Alaska) stacked 7-feet high with thick paperback books. Sounds like our college reading assignments.

But actually, that’s how much information we Americans consumed as a whole in 2008. Can you imagine how much more that must be now eight years later?!

According to that same study, the average American consumed about 34 gigabytes of data and about 100,000 words of information each day — an increase of about 350 percent over nearly three decades. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, texting, TV, video games, radio, billboards — information is being thrown at us from all angles whether we like it or not.

Information is obviously important and even vital in our everyday lives. But the near extinction of silence in our world is starting to take its toll, like a toothache that when left ignored turns into a much more serious and painful problem.

You may have heard the song called “Noise” by Kenny Chesney which highlights this crazy new reality in our world:

Twenty-four hour television, get so loud that no one listens.
Sex and money and politicians talk, talk, talk.
But there really ain’t no conversation,
Ain’t nothing left to the imagination,
Trapped in our phones and we can’t make it stop, stop

 We’re just as guilty as the next person when it comes to relying on our phones, Facebook, Instagram … the list goes on and on. But lately we’ve really been noticing that the lack of silence has cut down our conversations with God and has left us completely exhausted and stressed out.

The song goes on to say, “We didn’t turn it on but we can’t turn it off.” But even if we can’t stop the craziness and busyness of our incredibly fast-paced world, we do have control over how we use our own time. It’s extremely hard for us to say no sometimes, but we must make time for silence in order to hear the voice of God, truly connect with others and just be.

St. John Paul II (our favorite!) said this perfectly: “This is what man needs today; he is often unable to be silent for fear of meeting himself, of feeling the emptiness that asks itself about meaning; man who deafens himself with noise.”

So what better time than the present to give this a shot? Don’t be afraid to turn off the noise and listen. What does God want to say to you today?

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.
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 Seventh Day of Christmas

The Ideal vs. The Real

Seven.

The number of perfection.

I’ve found myself being reminded a lot lately of something a Catholic speaker, Jeff Cavins, talks about—the clash between our ideal vs. our real life. We’re starting a brand new year today, and all of us have expectations of what 2017 is going to look like. Especially with my little sister’s wedding coming up and a trip to see my college roommate in Washington this year, there’s a lot to look forward to! But my ‘ideal’ vision of what this year is going to look like is conveniently missing one thing—suffering. We never like to think that suffering will be a part of our lives, so when it does come it almost takes us by surprise. We think, that wasn’t part of my plan! But that’s because we live so often in our ideal lives, planning what our days are going to look like, that when our real lives hit we immediately feel cheated and frustrated.

We’ve all been there—we have a long-awaited free day and immediately start to plan all the things we’re going to get done around the house and the errands we’re going to finish and the relaxation we’re going to get in, and then everything starts to go wrong. Suddenly our ideal life very quickly clashes with our real life, and that clash can make us quite irritable and angry!

I think the heart of it is that suffering, disappointment, frustration, or sickness isn’t something we can plan for—it’s completely out of our control. And being a bit of a perfectionist myself, I understand the need for control! We want to be in control of everything, and when we encounter suffering all that control over our lives is suddenly taken away.

Suffering ultimately is the tool God uses to get our attention and to remind us that our lives aren’t about us. Our lives are a gift from Him, meant to be given as a gift to others. Even our suffering can be redeemed as a gift for others by uniting that suffering to Christ’s Cross; then the graces of that suffering can pour out on those who need it most! When we live in our ‘ideal’ life, we face suffering with anger and resentment, thinking we’re owed good health and an easy life. But when we face our ‘real’ life with an attitude of trust in God, that’s when we can be truly happy. That’s when we remember that God would never allow suffering unless He knew He would bring a greater good out of it. And we not only know that intellectually, but we experience it in our lives through encountering Him in our suffering.

There was a time in high school when I had just had stomach surgery and had to be re-admitted to the hospital in Minneapolis because I couldn’t eat or drink anything and was becoming too dehydrated. My dad, at the same time, had major heart trouble and was admitted to the St. Cloud hospital over an hour away from where I was. My family was running back and forth between the two hospitals for different operations we had to have, and I remember it as a time of intense suffering for all five of us. But I also remember it as a time of coming closer as a family than we had ever been; we all learned the meaning of self-sacrifice in a deeper way that week and had to completely rely on God to take care of us. I was able to offer up my suffering for my dad, and I know he was doing the same for me. And when we were all finally back home under one roof at the end of the week, we just held each other and cried tears of joy to be together again. Even though the suffering itself was so hard to endure, we saw God bring so much greater good out of that pain than we ever could have imagined.

The word ‘perfect’ in Greek is ‘teleios,’ which can also be translated ‘complete,’ ‘full grown,’ or ‘finished.’ God knows what we need in order to be made perfect, just like the gold that needs to be put in the fire to be tested and purified! We know that God only wants good for us, and we can rest in that promise even when our ‘real’ lives are not at all what we thought we wanted. So as we stand at the beginning of this new year, let’s surrender 2017 to God’s providence and ask for the trust of a little child in order to embrace the life He wants for us. Because it’s only through embracing our ‘real’ life, rather than clinging to our ‘ideal’ life, that we can encounter true joy.

–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.

The Sixth Day of Christmas

And then there were 6…

Being 25 years old, the last number of years have brought some pretty drastic changes in my life. Moving to Kansas for college, moving to Wisconsin for my first “big girl” job, and then moving back home with my parents to help them out, you learn so much about yourself and your family in these vital formation years.

This year has brought a different kind of change that I had yet to experience- a brother.  For as long as I can remember there have always been 5 people in my family- my parents, my 2 younger sisters and I. As much as I demanded a baby brother as a child, I never understood why my parents wouldn’t just give one to me!

From left, sisters Nikki, Tricia and Briana Walz with Steven.

Briana, my youngest sister, met and started dating Steven at Ave Maria University in Florida last year. As soon as she told us about him, we knew there was something different about this guy. The way she talked about him and how giddy she was after hanging out with him made us realize they were more serious than we had ever thought!

Steven treats Briana the way anyone would want their baby sister treated. When Briana is having a rough day he shows up with roses and chocolates, or if she has to work until late he will drive her so she doesn’t fall asleep on her drive home. One thing is for sure – I know for a fact that Steven has Briana’s back and will be there for her when she needs it, which is incredibly comforting as the wedding date approaches.

Even though I always expected to get married first since I am the oldest, and as much as I assumed Briana would stay young forever, God has really shown me that He allows things to happen for a reason and that things will happen in His time, when they are supposed to. So even though things are not going the way I had originally ‘planned’ I am learning how much better I like (and trust) God’s plan! As much as I am looking forward to being married and having kids one day, I am grateful for this time to focus on my relationship with God and to be there for my family and friends!

–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.

A Thanksgiving Prayer

Loving God,

Is it seriously Thanksgiving already!? I can’t believe how fast time goes. I want to take a minute to thank you for everything I have in my life because without you I would have nothing!

First of all, thank youPetition so much for my wonderful family and for giving me such great friends. You know that when I am struggling in my faith journey I really rely on these people to lean on. So I appreciate all the great examples you have given me to learn from and model after.

I would also like to thank you for the roof I have over my head and the food I am fortunate enough to eat. I pray that no one has to go without food, this weekend especially. Thank you for keeping me safe as I commute to work, especially in the snow and rain we have been having lately!

As you know, the past year has been tough one, but I appreciate all of the Thanksgiving Celebration Tradition Family Dinner Concepttrials you have given me and for making me prove that I trust you. Through each trial this year I have learned so much about myself and I feel closer to you and my family each and every day. A special thanks for helping mom get healthier and stronger each day. Thank you for helping us learn so much about Lyme disease and be able to guide other people struggling with the same thing!

Last but certainly not least, thank you for giving me this day, my eyesight, the clean air I breathe and for the most amazing gift of the Catholic Church! I pray for all those searching for truth and peace that they will find you this holiday season to make it the most joyful yet!

THANK 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.
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.