Forgiveness In A Place Where Camera’s Can’t Go

I witnessed a powerful moment in the halls of juvenile court today. It’s a place where cameras aren’t allowed. So I wanted to share it with you in writing.

I sat in on a trial this afternoon for the 10th teen charged in the Kroger attacks. I heard the 17-year-old victim speak about what happened to him that night, how he has nightmares when he thinks about having pumpkins the size of soccer balls thrown at this head.

Then I heard the teen suspect’s mother take the stand. She told the judge that she didn’t raise her son this way. And that he deserved punishment. But she didn’t want to see him be thrown under the bus.

Then the 16-year-old suspect took the stand. He admitted to kicking the victim to the ground. And said that he kicked him in the head because others were doing it and he was trying to impress girls.

Then the judge found him guilty of aggravated assault and turned him over to DCS for rehabilitation.
After all that you would think emotions would be high.

As we all walked out of the courtroom the victims father, Mark Sauser, was stopped the two mothers. They were in tears, saying that they are sorry for what their boys did to his son. That had their son been attacked they would be very upset.

After a hug one mother said “I wish my son was here to say he is sorry.”

“I tell him I forgive him,” Mark said.

At this point I was holding back tears.

It’s been a rough couple of months in Memphis. Fights, attacks and people saying horrible things on social media. When you cover the good and the bad in Memphis, it’s hard not to get a little emotionally invested.
Mark Sauser’s words, spoken in the hallway of juvenile court, may be the most powerful words I’ve heard in awhile.

Something to think about as we move forward from the Kroger attacks and remember there is so much more good in this city than bad.

Off Camera Beat(s)

Very little of what happens in my daily job ends up on TV or in any of my reports.

It’s sad sometimes because the people I meet, the conversations I have, and smiles I share are, on some days, more telling than the stories I tell.

Today was one of those days.

Last week, while visiting the Carpenter Art Garden in Binghamton, I met a young boy named James. He was holding a pair of drumsticks that he had decorated with blue tape.

“Are you a drummer?” I asked.

“No. I play the snare.” He said.

“Well that makes you a drummer, silly!”

Then I asked him all about being a drummer. The seemingly shy kid suddenly came to life when I asked him about it.  He said he used to play in the band at school before the program was cut. All he had was a pair of drumsticks but no way to practice. He answered question after question.  Did he know traditional or standard technique? His favorite beats? Did plan to keep playing?

Then the organizers of the Garden asked him to show off his art work. You see, James is talented. He took something as simple as pipe cleaners and produced art. He creates them at the garden and then sells them to help raise money to keep it going.

After James left, I learned even more about him. When he first came to the garden he didn’t talk. His response to a question was barely a mumble.  He wasn’t social and he didn’t fit in. But then he discovered his artistic abilities. And loves it.

pipecleaner1 pipecleaner2

Over time he’s become one of the most social kids and is constantly creating something.
I left the garden and couldn’t help but think about how he might use a drum practice pad. You know, the kind that allow you to play without annoying everyone but also rock out for some real practice without setting up a drum.

This weekend Scott and I went to Memphis Drum Shop in Cooper Young and got James a drum pad and new sticks.
Tuesday, with an intern shadowing me, I asked my photographer to stop by the Garden for a few minutes. I told our intern that this has nothing to do with our story but that it was important to me. And as long as it didn’t impact my assignment, I needed to get it done.

I took the drum pad out of the box and then showed him some of my (rusty) beats.  James was very excited, for a shy introvert. Though he wasn’t quite sure how to react, the smile on his face said it all.

“Now it’s your turn!! Play me a beat!”

“I don’t play beats. I play snare solos.” He said

“Well, play me a solo then!”

James took to the drum pad.

Dut-Dut-Dut-Dut.
Dung-a-dut. Dung-a-dut. Dung-a-dut.
Buzzzzzzzzzzz.

He did it over and over again. Each time bouncing the sticks higher and higher. I wanted to take a picture but I knew if I took out my camera is would ruin the moment. Instead, I just enjoyed it.

His excitement grew.  I have a feeling he won’t stop playing tonight until someone says it’s time for bed.
This short moment out of my day reminded me what really matters. And, hopefully taught my intern one of the greatest lessons she’ll learn on this internship.

Most of the time, what happens off camera is the real inspiration for who you are on camera.

Ready Christmas Card

2013

Our Christmas/News Years Card For 2013

Greetings from Memphis, TN!!

That’s where Lauren and Scott moved in January 2013. We say this every year but it’s been an incredible journey. Another year of big changes. We moved to Memphis, bought our first home and both have new jobs.

To start, the move to Memphis happened fast. We got a call on January 3rd, by the 6th we had accepted and by January 25th we were packed up and on our way to Memphis.

Lauren accepted a job at Action News 5, WMC-TV in Memphis. It’s the same station where she interned in 2007. It’s been a goal of hers to get back to Memphis and when the opportunity presented itself they couldn’t pass it up.

In her short time at Action News 5, Lauren has covered a lot of ground. Starting with a road trip to Michigan with the Memphis Tigers for the NCAA tournament. Then, a trip to the White House to cover a Memphis Soul Concert and several days in Moore, Oklahoma covering the tornado aftermath. In a few short months she’s quickly fallen into place as a member of the team and is now focusing on community interest stories and in-depth investigations.

Scott was able to keep the same job through the move, working from home for John Deere. After 18 months at home (12 in Omaha, 6 in Memphis) Scott got a little cabin fever and decided it was time to put away the slippers. He took a new job with International Paper in May. Scott is also preparing to go back to school to get his MBA. He has applied at Christian Brothers University and will start classes in Spring of 2014.

This summer they also bought their first home. It’s walking distance from the “world famous” Beale Street…hint hint. Visitors are welcome. It’s been fun exploring Memphis and making it home.

We’ve also gotten involved in the St. Peter’s Young Adult Group, Memphis Iowa Club, Catholic Young Adult Commission, a kickball league (see Christmas card for photo) and several service groups. One of those is the Urban Bike Food Ministry (hence the helmet photo on our card) They are a group of bicyclists that go out EVERY Wednesday night (rain or shine) and deliver food to the homeless people of Memphis. It’s been an eye opening experience for us both. We’ve also met some great people in the process.

It’s also been great being close to Lauren’s family. In fact, this year we all ran in the Race for the Cure together for the first time in several years. But we’ve also made a few trips back up the Midwest for weddings and Ready family events. Iowa is ALWAYS in our hearts.

Check out our 2013 RECAP VIDEO:

2013 was an amazing year. We are grateful that God has guided us through all the adventures. And can’t can’t wait to see where he leads us in 2014.

Wishing you and your family the best this year. Maybe a trip to Memphis is near?!?

Seeing God (and Good) In Everything

Disclaimer: this blog is very different from my last. Well maybe not very…just a different topic. 🙂

So I started reading a new book a few months back. I know what you’re thinking (if you know me)…what Lauren started a new book and she still hasn’t finished it? Yea, welcome to my life. I don’t have a long attention span.

BUT this one is really interesting. It’s called “A Jesuit Guide To (Almost) Everything” and it’s really interesting so far. It keeps me coming back. Even if its been a few weeks.

It is written by a Jesuit priest and explains their perspective on faith. I find a lot of their perspectives to be very helpful for me, a modern day Catholic.

First and foremost I love this line: “God can be found in the everyday events of our lives. God is not just out there. God is right here, too. If you’re looking for God, look around.”

I think that is so true in today’s world and as a journalist, I find this so true in my everyday life. I meet new people everyday. Many of them inspire me. I have the opportunity to tell their stories with is often very humbling.

What’s even more humbling: knowing that god puts people in our lives and vice versa. There is power in that. And of course tremendous responsibility. Something we can easily fall short of in our daily grind.

Still I find hope in striving to see God in everything and everyone. And if you’re reading this and don’t believe in God, lets change it to “see GOOD in everything and everyone”.

Pass it on!

Life Moves Fast

Yep, the title of this blog certainly describes our lives right now. It seems like just yesterday we moved to Memphis. Come to think of it, it was only January!! Since then we’ve had job changes, made new friends, explored the city and purchased a new home!

So in just about 6 months our lives have pretty much never stopped moving. I accepted the job in early January, in three weeks time I was down here beginning my work.

In May, Scott accepted a job at International Paper here in Memphis. So he made the transition back into the office. He’d previously been working from home for 18+ months. It is taking a bit of getting used to for both us. Him having a regular commute to work. Me not having someone home all the time. Yes, he worked while he was home, but it was very convenient to have him home. I also saw him a lot more.

But his job is going great! And he is enjoying being back in the office.

My job is going well, though it’s been busy and hasn’t seemed to slow down much at all! I’ve been a traveling machine. Started with the NCAA tournament, then the White House and finally Moore, Oklahoma after the tornado tore through. You can read about those experience in previous blogs.

It’s been an absolute blessing to be back in a station and job that I have a renewed passion for again! Seriously, I feel like God has put me exactly where I’m supposed to be right now. Though I wonder what he has in store for Scott and I in the future, for the first time in a long time I TRUST that I’m in the right place, for the right reasons. Excited to see what doors are opened and where God calls me next.

We’ve also gotten involved in the Catholic Young Adult ministry here in Memphis. It’s been a great way to connect with fellow Catholics and I think it’s strengthened our faith together!

Not to bury the lead here but WE BOUGHT A CONDO. And move into our first home in a week. That’s super stressful but exciting. Closing and preparing to move again is a lot of work BUT we are exciting to call a place HOME and known that we’ll be there for awhile. It’s right off South Main Street in the arts district of downtown Memphis. A lot going on and a lot of walkable attractions. We also feel like we can expand in the condo. Yes, we can start our family. But not for awhile. Just nice to know we have a place. 🙂

So there’s a quick Lauren and Scott update…life is moving fast. It’s crazy but it’s a fun adventure. And we’re not doing it alone.

Here’s to more of life! And more updates about our adventures in Memphis and beyond.

What We Can Learn From The Memphis Grizzlies

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It’s late, which is often the time of day I have the most thoughts. But I don’t often take the time to write them down. So here we go…

Tonight the Memphis Grizzlies won game 4 of their NBA playoff series against OKC. Wednesday they could take the series with a win on the road.

I just moved to Memphis in January, so I’ve only been here long enough to be a bandwagon fan. But I have experience the magic that comes with cheering on the Grizz. And I’m starting to buy into what they stand for.

You see, the way I’ve always seen sporting events and teams is this: They are fun to follow. They all have stories and they are all examples of hope, hard work, diligence and commitment. And I think we can learn a lot from them. Professional athletes are PROS, they work hard to get where they are and they prove that hard work and sacrifice can pay off.

For me, they are a parallel to OUR faith. No I’m not saying we worship sports (though some do) and I’m not saying that everything is all about sports. What I’m saying is there are several things we can learn from following a team. Much like following Christ and our faith, there are ups and downs. But sticking through it all, we learn something. And it’s usually something we can pass on.

We can also learn A LOT from the Memphis motto: Believe. You see if we BELIEVE in the team, we start to hope for success, we start to come together for a common cause and it spreads. City wide…I see it. Everywhere you look people post BELIEVE MEMPHIS. We chant “Don’t Stop Believin'” and we hold hold up our growls towels with pride. It brings everyone together, from all walks of live, from all parts of the city. From all backgrounds. From all beliefs and perspectives. They fill FedEx Forum, they crowd into bars, restaurants, homes, churches and businesses to share their love for the team. They instill pride in all that we do.

I feel that pride and it’s contagious.

But what if that pride, that belief, went beyond supporting a professional basketball team?

What IF we all believed in something BIGGER than the score, the success and the thrill.

What IF we acted on that BELIEF? Volunteered our time? Took time to clean our city? Said thank you to people who make a difference in our city? Helped others experience the good in our city? Worked hard to maintain our neighborhood? Mentored our children? Spent time with the less fortunate? Gave back to the place we love? Worked hard to keep the positive going?

What IF we payed if forward? Spread the LOVE, JOY, PRIDE and BELIFE beyond basketball season?

You see, this is a GREAT CITY! We’ve got so much to be grateful for and when I see everyone come together to support the GRIZZLIES it inspires me to do more for this place. It makes me happy to be here. It gives me reason to act. It inspires me to BELIEVE in something much bigger than basketball.

And I hope it does the same for you.

In fact, I challenge you this week to do something for someone else. No act too small. Pay it forward, give back. Make a difference. Inspire someone else. Believe. Come together. Learn.

As we follow the Grizzlies (hopefully to the NBA Finals) let us remember to say THANK YOU. Be kind to those around us. Take pride in where we live. Do good. And BELIEVE in something more.

April 15th, 2004

For most, April 15th is tax day.  It’s the day we all hope we’ve already done all the paper work for our taxes, many of us wishing and hoping we’ll get a nice return.  For some it’s a sign of adulthood, the first time you have to file.

But for me, April 15th is a day I’ll never forget. April 15th changed my family’s life forever. It’s a day I grew up fast…and it began my adulthood.  It changed my view of life…forever.

It was April 15th, 2004.  I was a senior at Xavier High School.  I was working at KCRG-TV as a production assistant.  We had just finished up the 6 pm newscast when my dad called and asked me to come home for my dinner break.

I drove home, it was the longest 15-20 minute drive of my life.  When I got home both my parents were sitting on the white couch in our living room.  They asked me to sit down and then they utter words I’ll never forget. “Lauren, your mom has breast cancer.”

You see, my mom found a lump during a routine monthly self-exam.  She wasn’t going to do anything about it until after my graduation but my dad insisted she get it checked. We had just lost her mother in October 2003, so it was important to be proactive.

I remember feeling like my whole world was crashing that day.  I wondered how bad it was, if my mom would live to see my graduate, get married, etc.

Little did I know, the next few years my family would push through the cancer battle.  We’d use our Catholic faith to get us through the good and the bad. We would rely and depend on God and the Eucharist every Sunday. It would be our signal of strength and suffereing. My mom would become the rock on the family. She would become our inspiration for living life to the fullest. My parents love for each other would grow deeper than anyone could imagine.  And it would lay the groundwork for so much more to come.

9 year later I’ve learned that so much good can come from bad.  That day my whole world came crashing down.  But it wouldn’t stay that way forever and I would come out of it stronger than ever. April 15th, 2004 would teach my family to BELIEVE.

momToday, my mom is happy and healthy.  Cancer free for 9 years…this October we’ll be running in the 10th Breast Cancer Race since she lost her mom.

And I will continue to hope and pray for a cure.

Color Me Rad: The Most Colorful 5K In The World

There are few times in life when we get the chance to go against everything we’ve ever learned. Sunday, July 9th, Scott and I got that chance. I’ve never been one to completely and willingly destroy my clothes, shoes and possibly hair. Color Me Rad 5K is what they call it. There are others similar, on called The Color Run. But Color Me Rad is pinned “the most colorful 5K in the world” and it’s pretty awesome. The idea is you run a 5K (wearing all white) with no real attention paid to just how fast or slow you’re going. Every so often you come upon a color station and the Bomb Squad throws color at you. By the end of the race you’re covered in color. It’s like human tie dye or community art. Either was a blast and it was all for a good cause. In this case it was for Special Olympics. And the crowd proved to be generous. They hoped to raise $15,000 and according to Facebook, they went through 3,000 pounds of color.


At the end we were covered in all kinds of color.  The picture give a little perspective.  You’ll notice Scott has a GoPro on his head. Well, as you can imagine, we don’t go long without documenting the adventures we have, so there was a video from our day:

If you’re wondering how it all came out, because let’s face it, it kind of looks like we’ve been dyed with permanent ink, their website says its: “non-toxic, non-rash-inducing, Kroger branded, colored corn-starch. Subsidized by the government and processed in the good ol’ US of A, these blasts of starch will change your color, and your demeanor, but never your level of wellness.”

It came out of everything. Though our white shirts are less white than before. And we haven’t quite figured out how to get it out of the shoes, we decided to run in old shoes anyway.

All in all, it was the most fun 5K we’ve ever ran. It didn’t feel long and even though I think it took longer to run because we stopped to get color, it didn’t feel long. The best part was the end, not because we were finished but because everyone gathered together and threw color packets into the air to make one giant COLOR BOMB.

So whether you’re a runner, a clean person, or looking for an adventure, I recommend you check out Color Me Rad or Color Run nearest you. I’m all about adventure and I’m all about letting loose every once and awhile. And I can’t explain entirely how amazing it is to run through a race and come out a piece of art. It left both Scott and I feeling happy…and we had a blast in too.

The challenge of telling compelling stories…everyday…

I’ve been working in this business for a short 8 years.  And over the last 8 years I’ve learned so many different techniques in telling a compelling story.  It’s changed over time too.  When I started as a production assistant, reporters at that station barely had cell phones, didn’t use Facebook and the station website was managed by one person.

Today we met with the station consultant about storytelling, compelling live shots and demonstrative stand-ups.  I always walk away from sessions like today, with a new inspiration on how to tell stories.  Though I don’t always agree with everything that’s suggested, I usually walk away with something that I can work on.  Today I was told to shoot more stand-ups in my stories.  He said viewers are home watching the story and they are waiting to see me.  For me, this is hard to do because sometimes I feel like I am taking away from the story by putting myself in it.  Take my soldier homecoming story for example:

This story captured so much of the moment. It took the viewer to the moment of a surprise homecoming. I felt like seeing me in that story would actually take away from the story. But I guess it depends how you look at it.

But this story definitely needed a stand-up in it. I needed to be in it to demonstrate something:

Bottom line, I walked away from today with a new focus on how to make my stories more compelling. I walked away with a reminder about engaging the audience in a conversation and telling a story that appeals to them.

I leave you with a quote I have on my desk:

“Great stories hang in the viewer’s ears and catch the viewer’s eye. Great stories aim for the viewer’s heart.” Al Tompkins

Back to Blogging

A book of my first professional blog "Squires Scribbles" from my job at KWWL in Dubuque, IA

I’ve done it again!  I’ve decided I’m going to start blogging again.  Part of me says it’s a great chance to document the things that are happening in life.  Another part of me feels like it’s a chance to have a creative outlet, when I feel like I have no where else to get it out. I’ll post everything from wedding preparations, to story reflects and everything in between.  Obviously keeping it professional, while giving you a glimpse into this woman.  It turns out there is a whole different side of me…that doesn’t get shared enough.

I’ve had several blogs through out life.  I think the first ever blog was hosted by Xanga.com.  I was in middle school and used it to write about my friends.  I complained a lot and wrote about things most middle schoolers deal with.  You know, boys, dating, drama and probably some self-esteem issues.  A few months ago I signed in the Xanga account and laughed at most of my posts.  A lot of them were hopeful for the future and constantly ended with some sort of optimistic thought about life.

My second blog was in college, I started writing one at the end of my last year at Loras. It’s primary focus was on the trip to Washington D.C. to see Pope Benedict’s first visit to the United States.  I was very grateful, spoke a lot of my Catholic faith and the life lessons I was learning.  Just recently, after signing into WordPress, I found a post I put up the night before my first ever TV job interview.  It was in Evansville, Indiana.  I was nervous, hopeful and had no idea where live would lead me.  In fact, I ended up getting offered the job.  But I didn’t take it.

Which leads me to my third blog, Squires Scribbles.  It was affiliated with my first on-air TV job at KWWL.   I was to write about my adventures as a reporter in the Dubuque Bureau.  I was young and eager.  The first six months I posted a blog almost everyday.  I was so observant and very optimistic about my career choice.  I was constantly feeling inspired and always wanted to share something with the world. But the funny thing is, you can see when things started to change a bit.  I stopped blogging as often when I met Scott (my fiance).  It’s funny because then I started blogging about him and our adventures.  I’d continue to incorporate extras about stories I’d shot and things I had experience in Dubuque.  Then I got engaged and moved to Omaha.  As a birthday present Scott got my entire KWWL blog printed in a book (see photo above).  It truly was one of the best gifts I’ve gotten. And the other day I was looking through it, thinking about how much I missed sharing memories and writing in a blog.  Because it’s not really about who reads it.  I mean afterall…who says I have anything valuable to say.  But what I love most about it, is it captures thoughts, moments and memories in a way that video and pictures can’t.

And so I have decided to start the fourth blog of my life.  This one will likely evolve.  In fact, I’m not even sure about the name just yet.  We’ll see what I can come up with over time.

So enjoy the journey with me…comment and read as much as you want.  But mostly, let this be a chance for me to capture some memorable moments in this precious time in life.