Full Circle Moments…

I’ll be the first to admit I’ve been pretty exhausted lately.  I have been working 6-7 day work weeks.  Been busy at work, shooting my own stuff quite a bit.  And to add to that my night owl tendencies have me staying up late and sleeping in.  I’m basically eating, sleeping, working and repeating.

That being said this past Sunday I had a full circle reporting moment.  One that happened to occur at the beginning of a 6 day run (following a 7 day run) of working days.

Bottom line, I was less that thrilled to be working.  But my assignment lead me to a home of N. 47th Ave.  It had been nearly lost in a fire two weeks back.  The family wanted to talk only to my station because of how we handled the coverage and how respectful we were at the scene.  It didn’t occur to me that they were talking about me until I pulled up to the house.

I remembered the scene that day.  The fired started at the back of the house. There was a tree in the front and a fire truck parekd by it. It was hard to get video of anything becuase of where it happened. I remembered it vividly.  I was working by myself, headed to shoot a Squires Scribbles story about a team that won their first game since 2008.  I got a call from the station asking me to “swing by” and check out a fire on my way to the interview.  Responding to breaking news by yourself can sometimes be overwhelming because you’re trying to gather information, send a photo back, tweet about it and shoot video.  So I arrived on the scene, parked a block away and walked up to the house.  The family was very upset.  Their cat and dog were inside their burning home. And no one could go in and rescue them without risking their own life.

Then all of a sudden their dog appeared from a neighbor’s backyard.  It had somehow gotten out of the basement, through a burning back deck.  It’s a miracle really.  Her name was Mary and she escaped with just minor burns on her back…mostly hair.

Anyway, I shot the story, got a soundbite from the battalion chief and went on my way.  I was late to my interview with the football team but didn’t think it was a big deal.

Often times when we cover fires or breaking news, they all blend together and we rarely have time to follow-up on every house fire and see how they are doing.

So when I rolled up to this house and realized I had responded to the burning home two weeks back, I felt humbled that they wanted to talk to us and share their story.

It turns out that their cat survived the fire, by hiding out in the basement.  They discovered her at 8:30 that night when they went back inside the house.  They took me through the upstairs, where everything was a total loss.  The teenage girls room was an absolutely and total loss. Everything was melted and burned.  A black charcoal lined her walls.  THe backroom was destroyed, the blinds, the ceiling, everything.

The family will be living in a hotel for the next few months while crews gut the home and attempt to rebuild it. They’ve been living there for 23 years.  And in a matter of moments it was all up in flames.

That’s hard to swallow for most people.  But the point of this story is this: sometimes when we least expect it, God puts us in places on purpose.  There was a reason I responded to that fire that day. There was a reason I had to work a 6th day at work.  There was a reason I had the pleasure to tell that family’s story.  A story that really ends with hope.

The next day a woman called me and asked if she could have their contact information.  She had been a victim of a house fire before and wanted to donate some blankets and towels.

Talk about full circle moments.  Sometimes they are just what we need to remember how each moment can be an opportunity to be present to others…in ways we sometimes don’t even understand.

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The Power Of Eucharist

For those of you who follow me on Facebook, two weeks ago my dad underwent triple bypass surgery.  Thankfully Scott, Shannon and I were able to make it down there for surgery.  I am extremely grateful of the outcome and now more than ever appreciate and respect cardiac surgeons for the work they do to save lives.

If you’re like me, you don’t care for hospitals.  While they serve an amazing purpose, I’ve never been to one for good reason so they aren’t on the top of my list of places to visit.  I knew this trip would involve a lot of time in the hospital with Dad.  Mostly because it’s was the only place I’d rather be during our week there.  But let me tell you what happened Wednesday morning, September 12th.

Somehow, despite our plan to visit and spend time with Dad in shifts, we all ended up in my dad’s ICU room by about 10:00 am on Wednesday morning.  Dad was already up and sitting in a chair by the time we arrived.  It was pretty great to see him doing so well less than 24 hours after surgery.  Still, the room was full of emotion and fatigue. Not matter what anybody says about how routine this surgery is, it’s still hard to everyone to go through.

A few minutes into our visit with dad there was a knock on the glass door.  An older gentleman peaked inside and said “are ya’ll Catholic.” We all responded quickly saying “yes”.  Then the man asked my dad if he would like to receive communion.  Amidst the pain and haziness of the pain medicine, my dad smiled and said “yes.”  I saw a look in his eyes that we hadn’t seen since surgery.  He was filled with a light and comfort. It was as if that was the one thing we all needed at that moment. A reminder of God’ presence and love.

The old man stumbled over to my dad’s chair, he appeared to have a little trouble walking.  But somehow he was finding the strength to walk from ICU room to room.  He pulled out a prayer book and started asking my dad about surgery.  Then he looked at all of us and said “Is there anyone who would like to split this host with him?”  We all pointed at my mom, the convert in the family.  We knew the bond that they shared as husband and wife could only be strengthened by sharing the Eucharist together in the hospital.

So the man began to pray with us.  He said the Eucharistic prayer, we held hands and prayed the Our Father.  It wasn’t your typical church setting, surrounded by beeping machines and hospital furniture; all six of us in an ICU room.  All sharing the presence of God.  Tears filled my eyes and rolled down my cheeks as I felt the love of God and the comfort of the Eucharist as my parents shared it. It took me back to our wedding day, when we shared the sacrament with our guests.  It reminded me the power of it all.

The man finished with the most heartfelt prayer…on that I though sounded familiar:

“Do not look forward to what may happen tomorrow; the same everlasting Father who cares for you today will take care of you tomorrow and every day. Either He will shield you from suffering, or He will gibe you unfailing strength to bear it. Be at peace, then, put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginations, and say continually: The Lord is my strength and shield; my heart has trusted in Him and I am helped. he is not only with me, but in me and I in Him.”

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(Turns out, it was familiar.  It was the same prayer we received from Sr. Bernadine in a frame as a wedding present.  It sits on next to my desk at home.)

As he concluded the prayer we thanked him for his time and he assured us of his prayers.  He walked out of the room to find the next Catholic patient.  We learned he was from Our Lady Of Perpetual Help in Germantown, TN (just down the street from the hospital). Ironically it was the parish we first attended in Memphis when my family moved there.

What I found to be so beautiful about this moment was how much it meant to all of us, in the middle of such an emotional and quite frankly, worry filled time. He was a perfect stranger that was to be a witness to all of us.  And in that, he was the Eucharist.  To see my dad’s deep desire to receive it, reminded me how rooted our family is in our Catholic faith.  It’s what we’ve used as a source of strength, encouragement and foundation through the years. My dad was filled with so much comfort and peace when he received it.

Quite frankly, it’s a moment I’ll never forget. There was a depth I can’t describe. And it further proves the power of the Eucharist from a perfect stranger; that each time we receive the holy Eucharist, we are living the sacrament.  For those who aren’t with us, for those who are far away, for those who are sick, for those who are healing and for those who are hurting.  It’s a unity that proves to be powerful day in and day out.

I have a good friend, Marianne, who always ends her letters or cards with “See you in the Eucharist”.  That moment in the ICU room with my family was exactly what Marianne is talking about.

This Sunday when you go to church, when your receive the Eucharist, think about my dad and the man who visited him in the hospital.  The comfort it provided and the ability it gave us all to remember that God is ALWAYS with us, ALWAYS present.

See YOU in the Eucharist too.

New House “Guest” And The Things I Learned

If you know me, you know I post a lot on social media.  Primarily Facebook, sometimes Twitter.  But always something.  Sometimes it’s deep. Sometimes it’s venting something. Other times it’s witty.  Sometimes it’s just a photo because that’s all.  But last week some one hijacked my Facebook and posted the following:

“It has truly been an honor to host my sister in our apartment for the past month! She has taught me and my husband so much about life, love and the meaning of happiness. More people should strive to be like her. Honestly, the apartment is going to be a much quieter, lonely place without her in it! Thankfully, she will be JUST DOWN THE STREET!!!”

Beautifully written right?  Well the truth is, Shannon posted it.  You see a lot has happened in the last month.  Shannon moved up to Omaha (from Memphis) for a job as a co-manager at Express.  She found an apartment but it wasn’t available until September 8th.  That’s where Scott and I came in.  She lived in our second bedroom for 5 weeks.

I’ll be honest when I say all of us were nervous about this endeavour.  For starters, Scott and I are newly weds.  We’re just getting used to each other and the habits we have.  To throw a “roommate” into that mix would be a challenge no doubt.  Secondly, Shannon and I have not lived together (in the same city) since she was in middle school and I was in high school.  Thirdly, we’ve never been that close. We are four years apart and have always been at different stages of our lives.

That being said, family is family and we embraced her with open arms.

The ironic thing about it all…is that God had a bigger plan.  You see, one week into Shannon living with us we got a call from my parents.  My dad had a heart test and it didn’t turn out like they’d hoped.  He would likely need surgery.  And we’d likely be heading down to Memphis for the surgery.  Fortunately we (Shannon, Scott and I) were all together at the time of the news and we helped each other get through it.  We came to terms with it, talked about the realities of it and discussed how we’d get through it.

For a month we’d all come home from work, talk about our days, digress and swap stories and advice.  I began to see just how talented Shannon is at what she does.  And I think she began to see what I do as well.  We both started gaining more respect for each other. And God bless Scott for helping facilitate and put up with both of us for a month.  But seriously, Shannon reminded us that sometimes we need to stop worrying so much and planning so much. Maybe it’s okay to be impulsive and take chances.  And of course she reminded us to laugh.  We laughed a lot.  Sometimes for no other reason then to get our minds off the seriousness of things.  But we laughed a lot.

And to think how differently things would have been if my dad got his news just a week earlier.  Shannon would have likely not come to Omaha.  Scott and I would have processed all of the news by ourselves, hundreds of miles away from my family. And we probably wouldn’t have learned so much about each other.  God works in mysterious ways.

So when I read Shannon’s hijacked Facebook post, I didn’t change it, or delete it.  I thought about it and realized there is some truth to it.  The lessons we can learn from each other.  The power of life changes and the opportunity we have everyday to embrace situations for the better.  When it comes to life, family it the one thing that we can’t change.  And the one thing that’s constantly there (next to God of course).  In that last month I’ve gotten a lot of perspective on life and what matters.  It’s been a good reminder…that I’m not entirely in control…God is.  And if we remain faithful to his promise and invest in relationships, he will show us possibilities we’ve never imagined.

So…in my own words:

“It has truly been an honor to host my sister in our apartment for the past month! She has taught me and my husband so much about life, patience and understanding.  We’ve grown closer and we are starting to see how lucky we are.  AND HONESTLY…the apartment is going to be a MUCH quieter place without her. Thankfully, she will be close enough to spend time and far enough away that she can truly begin HER life in Omaha.”