Be Joyful: It’s Not That Complicated

This morning I was a guest on Iowa Catholic Radio’s morning show with Jon Leonetti, Jeanne Wells and Dowling Catholic Hall of Famer Mark Amadeo.  I’ve been on the show several times in the past and really enjoyed it. We talk about various topics from time to time but this morning it was all about faith in the workplace.  Something I think, it’s fair to say, many of us struggle to approach properly.  After the show this morning I decided to put my thoughts down and provide a few tips for ANYONE (not just Catholics) who are trying to find a balance of sharing your faith in the workplace and not offending or overpowering someone else’s belief.

In a world that often seems so complex, or a world that we make so complex let me keep it simple here:

It starts with being JOYFUL.

Yes, it’s that simple.  In the workplace, at home, in the community and with your friends. Be a joyful, forgiving and generous person.  You see, JOY is contagious and inspiring.  And it’s something Christ gives us too.

If your joy is apparent to others, it will be clear the source of your happiness and will likely start a faith conversation. Bottom line if you’re joyful and kind, someone is going to wonder where you get it.

I often thinks of Matthew 5:13-13 (well honestly I usually have to look it up because I can’t remember it very well – insert Catholic joke here)

“You are the salt of the earth. You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.” Matthew 5:13-14, 16.

I don’t know about you but that message is clear as the light of day (no pun intended).  But let’s be honest, as clear as that is, it’s not always easy!  That’s where prayer and intentions come into play.

So beyond being JOYFUL – what else can we do? Below are a few tips:

1. Don’t judge: It’s not your job.  I know that bible verse says you are “city set on a mountain top” but that doesn’t mean you’re better than others. Instead of preaching and judging, be loving and sharing.  People will relate better to the “hope you have” and/or the “joy within you”. That may even spark curiosity and start a conversation.

2. Don’t act like you’re perfect: Because we all know you’re not. Just because you go to church ever Sunday, attend bible study or faith sharing and donate your time and talent to your church, doesn’t mean you’re perfect.  If you are, I’d love to meet you!!! 🙂 Instead be honest, show you’re human.  Honesty is always better than pretending to be someone you’re not. The more relatable you are the better.

3. Remember ACTIONS speak volumes: They are often better than words.  St. Francis of Assisi said “Proclaim the gospel, when necessary use words.”  So stop talking and start acting.  You don’t have to talk about God to be and see Christ in others.  Reach out to someone everyday with kindness and JOY.  That opens the door for more and often challenges everyone to dive deeper.

4. Don’t forget to pray: for strength, for growth and for OTHERS not just yourself. Without prayer we are lost.  It’s important.  And I think we’ll find that prayer can really make a difference in how you approach your faith in the workplace.

So how can this be applied to your life today?

Take a few moments to talk to someone at work.  Ask them how they are, how their weekend went and what they’re up to this week.  Take some time to show that you care about them beyond the cubical in your office.  Get to know them, BE JOYFUL now.  I think you’ll see the impact.  I see it everyday.  In the good and the bad. The people who have the most influence in my day and inspire me to see god, are full of JOY.

Try it and let me know how it goes.

God bless.

Breaking News And The Faith Of A Child

It’s been quite a week for breaking news in Memphis.  Sunday night an officer involved shooting in Mississippi, officer flown to the MED. Tuesday it was a helicopter crash that killed THREE people.  Thursday, an active shooter at National Guard Armory in Millington, then a homicide and a house explosion.  Saturday a deputy involved shooting in Tipton County.

It was a BUSY week and a reminder that we are all human.  And that sometimes it’s VERY hard to report on the events in our city.  But it also reinforces the importance of news media.  People often give us a bad rap for covering “bad news” but this week was a classic case of the need to cover it anyway, to be the first and sometimes only people relaying information back to the public.  At one point, even national media outlets were looking to us for INFO.  It’s important stuff, even if it’s NOT good.

BUT that’s not the point of this blog, the point is to talk about one story I did this week, in the midst of the chaos, that shows the simplicity of a child and how much we can learn from their words.

One of the breaking news events was a helicopter crash that killed three. Hospital Wing pilot Charles Smith, Pedi-Flite nurse Carrie Barlow, and Pedi-Flite respiratory therapist Denise Adams were on their way to pick up a patient from a hospital in Bolivar when the helicopter went down near Somerville, TN.  They all died on impact. 

Charles Smith, was 47-year-old pilot and began his career at Hospital Wing in 2012. He retired from the aviation unit of the Memphis Police Department in 2012, after 25 years of service. He left behind a wife and TWO kids.  They attend St. Ann’s Catholic School in Bartlett. FAITHOFACHILD

I got wind that the school was making cards for the family. Thursday morning I went to a 4th grade classroom while they were making their cards.  The words of wisdom were so full of faith I had to pass it along:

“I hope your family won’t be that sad after you read this, we are always praying for you.”

“We are all saying a prayer for you.”

“I know how you feel. I lost my dad, too. Just know God will always love you and your dad will always love you, too.”

“Just remember God is watching over your family.”

“We will keep you in our prayers.”

“We love you and we’re praying for you.”

Keep in mind these kids are in 4TH GRADE!! Their words were so genuine and heartfelt. It brought a tear to my eye.  And then made me think about how much we could learn from their words.  If we had the faith of a child how easy would it be for us to trust God and follow his will?  Sometimes growing up makes life complicated and the more we learn the more we lose the gift of simple faith.  Luke 18:17 says: “Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”

This week, these kids reminded me to keep it simple when it comes to faith.  Trust God, know I’m not alone and keep going back to him for comfort and guidance.

It was a crazy week, with a lot of tragedy.  But I can only hope that everyone hit by the tragedies can remember what I learned from these 4th graders.

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!

33 Days of Morning Glory And Other Things

It’s been awhile and for good reason.  Life has been busy. Since the move into our first home we haven’t really stopped.  At all.

But if there’s one thing you know about Scott and I, it’s that we’re always on the go. Always doing and going and seeing and in my case capturing.  It’s been a great summer for that.  We traveled up to Iowa for my best friend’s wedding.  We’ve seen Memphis and really started to feel connected.  In fact, it’s hard to believe we’ve really only been here, technically, 8 months.  Because it feels like a heck of a lot longer!

You can expect a video update of our summer adventures soon!  Trust me when I say we’ve captured it all!

I’m writing this update though, mostly to physically start a new.  Everything is going really. WE’ve found a faith community, friends that we’ve already developed deep relationships with, places to visit, good routine and for the most part a very productive and happy life here.

But I’ve been struggling a lot with stress and unhealthy habits lately.  Well really since I got here.  I give it my all at my job, or at least try, and sometimes it wears on me.  Then I take things too personally or get too worked up about things and carry it with me.  Add to that the fact that I have had horrible eating habits since we moved here and I’ve gains about 15-20 pounds.  NO, I am not proud of it, and quite frankly it’s wearing on me too. I feel horrible about myself and how bad I’ve let it get.

So, for the record here are some things I’m doing:

1. Following the FOUR AGREEMENTS, a book written by Don Miguel Ruiz.  It’s a book of wisdom that challenges me to think differently EVERYDAY.  The four agreements are: Be impeccable with your word, don’t take anything personally (I suck at this one). don’t make assumptions and always do your best.

It argues that if you follow those four agreements everyday you’ll be happier, healthier and experience life more freely.  I’m striving to do this DAILY.  And on the days I succeed, I find myself feeling much better about everything.

2. I’m starting Nutrisystem.  I’m not one for diets in fact I’ve never been able to keep the weight off when I do them.  But I’ve reached a point where I’ve got to do something before it gets out of control.  I’ve purchased the meal plan that helps me plan out everyday, everything I eat and how much.  That’s what I need in my busy fast paced life, is a way to have everything planned for me.  The downside, I must eat everything I order and NOTHING else.  The upside, it should help me get to a manageable weight.

3. I’m going to try to give up beer for a while.  This will be hard but beer has a lot of carbs and I believe aside from my eating habits this is a major reason why I’m struggling with weight loss.  I love beer.  NO I’m not giving up drinking, I’m just going to find a drink that less carbs.  I love barcadi and diet.  SO I may switch to that or wine.

4. I started a self guided retreat with my mom and some folks at St. Peter’s Catholic Church. It’s called the 33 days of Morning Glory. It’s a bit of a spiritual challenge for me and I’ll be honest, so far I’m struggling.  But it gives a new fresh perspective on Mary and following her.  I think it will challenge me and hopefully allow me to dive deeper in my faith. The best part about it is that I’m doing it with my mom.  I’m her godparent and we have a special deep bond.  She told me the last time she pray specifically to Mary, was when they moved to Memphis and she had another cancer scare during a routine scan. She prayed a novena and it worked.

YES…this is a LOT all at once…but I am in need of a change.  I need to get balanced and find a way to not be so stressed.  The four items above will ALL lead me to greater things. Hopefully make me a better version of myself.

That being said, this week is a big week in the Squires-Ready household.  September 11th marks the one year anniversary of my dad’s triple bypass.  I still remember driving down to Memphis when we lived in Omaha.  Feeling so much uncertainty.  And turning to God so much.  When I was here I visited WMC and planted a seed about a possible job someday.  I didn’t expect someday to be January 2013.  But that’s how it worked out.  It’s crazy to think it’s been a year since his surgery and even more of a blessing to be sharing little moments with him everyday now that we are down here.

Much more ahead…much more great things.  In the meantime, I hope I haven’t rambled on too much and I hope I haven’t set expectations too high for myself.

Here’s to success…

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.

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.”