Notre Dame

Let's Talk about College Party Life: Problems and Solutions

My friends my friends. I'm posting this picture from the Notre Dame Football locker room to spare you an image of my drinking time at Notre Dame. Boy was it fun, but it's not who this girl is anymore. 

This blog post, video and song are a major shout out to all you college students out there - Notre Dame or elsewhere who may do something stupid (and your friends) (and the alumni who go back and still do something stupid).

This is here to encourage you and remind you that you are NOT alone if you mess up, and that no matter what happens or what you do, you ARE completely embraced by a loving God.

Now, why do I say this....well, I was one of those kids in just about this first week of school starting for many - who ended up in a hospital on my very first weekend at Notre Dame. I was walking in the halls of our classroom building DeBartolo when a guy shouted to me while I was still in the third day of a hangover, "Hey! How you feeling? I took you to the hospital!" Yeah, not so cool. My roommates, who I barely knew had to pick me up at the old St. Joe Hospital so I could go back to the dorm in the middle of the night. All I remember is walking out to my friend's Volvo station wagon, her dropping me off at Main Circle and handing me a plastic bag while I said, "Oh My Gosh they dry cleaned this for me?!!!!" We laughed about it for ages, and it's still funny to think about my drunken escapades. But how I felt DURING those drunken escapades? Was not so funny. That wasn't the only incident in college. There were others and with each one I felt a little more shame. But I had nowhere to put it. 

If you didn't drink at Notre Dame, you didn't fit in. That's at least how I felt. People wonder why you are trying not to drink. You feel like the major odd-man out and nobody wants to be that when you are trying to make it in college. SO! I took my drinking skills and used them to make friends (nobody does that, right?!).

 On top of that, my eating got out of control and with each occasion I seemed to feel worse about myself not just physically but mentally and emotionally. Looking back, I know I was drowning fears and insecurity that I was too blind to see. But even more powerfully, I can see a girl that was missing something huge.

I was missing a spiritual solution - a relationship with a God who loved me, not one I had to hide from by drowning in fears. This did not come by performance or behaviors or anything I could do myself. It came when I had enough of myself, and I needed to reach out to God for help. That moment happened when I was back at Notre Dame as a grad student over 7 years ago. It was not easy, but it was absolutely life changing. My life was transformed not by some degree, or workout or diet, or earthly solution - but by finally finding that spiritual solution. I needed to find that God wasn't who I'd known. He was completely the opposite, and the journey ahead would show me that.

Why do I say all this?

Because it's the first week of school for many. In three days, here in South Bend there is about to be one of the biggest games of the century, Notre Dame vs. Texas. I don't even know if I'm going, but what I do know is there will be a lot of kids who do something really stupid. Things will happen. Kids will get hurt either physically or emotionally. Crazy stuff will happen as a result of behaviors with drinking, drugs, and sexual assault and none of us will be able to stop it. The idea of that completely stinks and I am continually praying for minimal casualties. 

But the more important thing to realize - is that this will keep happening if we don't do something, if we don't change the course of history on college campuses and literally PIVOT. When I say pivot, I mean stop blaming the establishment for not sanctioning this or that, but focus on what we can do. We can be real. We can share our pain and our hope, for those of us who've overcome that world. We can reach out for help. Sometimes reaching out for help doesn't come in the form of campus police, friends, campus counseling or even our parents. It comes from turning to that loving God who's like, "Hey, I love you and I've never stopped loving you. You don't have to do this to yourself. Let's get help." I promise. He WILL show you the way. But it won't come through works, it will come through something so beautiful as GRACE. 

So if you come to this point with yourself as a student either this week or in the coming weeks, months or years in college - know this: You're NOT alone. God is WITH you. All you've got to do is reach out to Him. Not only that, there ARE people who can show you a different way. You just gotta pray for Him to put them in your path. In the meantime, come back to this post. Read the blog with a little caption of my story. Watch the video. Watch the music video. Read the Word. Whatever you do, don't let the enemy keep you in His grasp.

The solution DOES NOT have to come from outside of you or through what you do. It CAN come from a spiritual place, just trust that God wants you to know He is RIGHT there next to you and wants to show you a better way.

THIS is the song I was jamming to while I was getting ready for this message. It will be on repeat. I hope it helps you!

A Tribute to a Man who Influenced Hearts from Students to World Leaders: Father Ted Hesburgh, C.S.C.

For anyone who was intrigued by this man and doesn't know him, he is a legend. He not only impacted the Civil Rights Movement and changed the course of history for the University of Notre Dame, he has graced the cover of Time magazine, carried the Olympic torch, and received the Medal of Freedom; the nation's highest civilian honor from Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964 and the Congressional Gold Medal in 2000. Here's more if you are interested.

Here in South Bend, IN on Notre Dame campus we know him to be an iconic symbol of the spirit of Notre Dame that will be truly missed by all. Many of us know him from the countless hours we spent at the library, that just so happens to be named after him and it's the place where he resided.

While some people got to know him personally through visits to his suite, others like me got to be graced by his presence in the lobby. If you just so happened to be there the same time he was coming in or going out, you were met with a big smile. He was like a beacon of light on those long nights where you felt like the studying was never going to end.  He'd be waving at everybody, with his cute little hat and coat; so friendly. Every once in a while you'd get lucky enough to have a little chat. \ He'd always say something to the effect of "How you doing? You are doing great! Keep it up! Keep working hard!" (Man it makes me think of my Dad, "Isn't this great?!) He made every person, no matter who they were, feel like a somebody.

On the world stage, he's known for his impact on the Civil Rights Movement and a photograph capturing a powerful moment of solidarity alongside Martin Luther King. He's also known for not being intimidated by the Oval Office, which I think is one of the coolest things.

Having worked at the White House, I was fortunate enough to be behind the scenes  bringing leaders and small groups into that room to meet with the President. I know how intimidating it can be.

Just getting your picture taken and shaking the President's hand leaves many people speechless. But this man had a presence I can just imagine commanded a dignity and respect not seen on a regular basis.

There are many people who meet the President and many of them get a picture to put on their wall. But I can see Father Hesburgh being a force for good. Snapping a picture to him was just an afterthought, not a claim to fame. To me I can see him just believing there was work to be done for the good of humanity.  

His passion for people was evident. The fact that so many people have come to town, dignitaries, alumni. Thousands of students have stood in line.

What an impact.

It's the kind of impact that only comes around once in a generation. In fact, it reminds me of the passing of a President. Another thing I was lucky enough to do was pay my respects to the late President Ronald Reagan.

June 5, 2004 he passed and the day of his wake in the Capitol my friends and I walked out of the White House, walked down to the National Mall and literally stood in line for hours through the night to pay our respects.

I thought my legs were going to give out. But, I didn't care because  this was a moment to say goodbye to a man who changed the course of history. This man Father Hesburgh may not have carried the title of President but he sure had such an influence. 

I didn't get to go over to campus to pay my personal respects to Father Hesburgh. But I feel like I had a moment on a spiritual level where I got to just say, "Godspeed," and it came at such a surprise. 

 It was the morning after he passed last Friday. Things came across social media. Then there was this one image...


It was this one below of a flock of deer on the iced over lake with the golden dome shining in the back. He passed around 11:30 apparently and this was taken just a few hours later....

Now -  you may think it's just coincidence, but I don't. I am one of those people who believes that God shows his presence in nature and often times in animals. But this time it was uncanny. Let me tell you why....

The day I found out my Dad died, it was about 7:30 in the morning. After spending hours processing, praying, grieving and talking, I needed to get out of my house.

So my husband and I walked over to campus from my condo nearby. As we came upon the grounds, we were walking towards the twin lakes by the grotto and stopped to pray at a statue in the woods of the crucifixion. After we were finished, we stood up and I just said, "Mike, look."  There in the trees was a doe staring at me. Behind that doe were two other deer which I imagine to this day to be like my grandparents.

That doe and I locked eyes and stayed there for what felt like 10 minutes and I just knew it was my Dad. It was the most moving, beautiful moments I've ever had in my life. 

So when I saw this image, I thought to myself, "Yeah, that's right. There's heaven ready to take him home." The golden dome shining in the background and everything. It's like whoever took it was just meant to be there (not sure who you are but happy to credit you!) to capture that momentary glimpse of heaven on earth for those who loved him. It was just like that moment I locked eyes with that one doe, hours after my Dad passed. What timing. 

All this to say, I felt compelled to write because I wanted to mark this mans life in the way I know how to tell a story and reflect, and that's my writing. So I pray for all those who will mourn him and have been influenced by his life in big or small ways, and I'm sure God's got some pretty fabulous plans for him in eternity.

So today, at 2pm when the Notre Dame family says goodbye to Father Ted, I'll be thanking heaven for such a presence on this earth and hoping he gets to meet my Dad. How lucky heaven is to get him! I can just image what God's got for him to do in eternity....

Godspeed, Father Ted and thank you.

One last note to all my fellow Domers - as if you can't get more ND sentimental, I just wrote this with the Rudy soundtrack in the background....