All posts by Team RiseUp

Finding Your Calcutta by Rachel Hearn

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So as you all know, or may not know, the fabulous Emily Wilson came and spoke at the most recent Rise Up event. She spoke to us about recognizing our talents and finding our Calcutta, or our mission field, where can we use our talents to love our brothers and sisters?

This is something I personally struggle with…. alot. I have a hard time figuring out what my personal talents are because I get into this perpetual cycle of comparison.

“I sounded pretty good, but not as good as her.”

“Yeah I like my drawing, but its not as good as his.”

” I wish I could speak in front of people as easily as they do.”

It’s very easy to fall into this trap of thinking we are not good enough because we think someone else is better than us.

In a world that is constantly telling us we aren’t good enough, the challenge of finding and using your talents to change it seems monumental. Good news is, you have talents, I promise! As the sometimes cliche bible verse tells you, “you are fearfully and wonderfully made.” (Psalm 139)

The God of the universe created you to have a special mission, a special purpose in your life. A mission that I cannot fulfill, Sally down the street can’t fulfill, only you can. So that’s actually pretty cool.

Now I can’t give you some magical formula that’s going to make the clouds open up and you’ll recognize your gifts (if you find that please share I would appreciate it), but what I can give you is some consolation in the fact that you are not alone. Especially as a senior in high school, the question of “what am I even good at,” pops up in my mind all too often. Here are some questions that have helped me kind of decipher, at least as much as I need to know right now, where God is pulling my heart.

What excites me?
What makes me lose track of time?
What do I long to do?

Chances are theres at least one thing that you answered to all three of these. God can speak to us through our desires, and these desires can usually point us to our gifts and talents. You may have an unusual gift, like maybe you make really good cookies, like the best cookies ever and you LOVE making these cookies you could bake them for hours, and you really just want to open your own cookie bakery. Well, congratulations you have found a talent. Maybe you could make cookies for someone who is having a bad day, or for a poor blog writer who needs motivation to do her homework. There are numerous ways you can use that talent to make someone’s day just a little bit brighter and a little bit better. Congratulations, again, you have found your Calcutta:reaching out to your community to spread happiness and joy and love in the form of your delicious cookies.

Obviously that is a simple example of an answer to a very big question, but it really is just as easy as that. I guarantee you there is a gift you have that you are missing that could help change the world one person at a time.

This isn’t me saying I have this whole thing figured out, because I don’t, but my prayer for myself as well as everyone reading this blog (hi mom), that we all can recognize those special gifts and talents our loving Father has given us to give to others, after all like St. Catherine of Sienna said, if we are who we are created to be we will set the world on fire (with love of course.)

Sarah Heim
Shares Her Story

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7 out of 10 girls believe they don’t measure up, or they’re not good enough concerning their looks, performance in school and relationships. 44% of teens use skipping meals as a way to lose or control their weight. I should know, I was one of those statistics.

When I was 12 years old, I was confident and didn’t really pay attention to how others saw me. Then in 7th grade, my crush told me that I was fat, and I have had body issues ever since. The following summer I tried to convince my family that I was sick and couldn’t swallow so I wouldn’t be questioned for my sudden loss of appetite. In just one week I lost 10 pounds and was almost put into the hospital for dehydration. I quickly realized that I have a fear of needles and an IV just wasn’t worth it, but not everyone has it so easy. Fast forward two years to freshman year and I’m on Instagram where I constantly compare myself to celebrities and my friends. I thought that I needed their body, their nose, and their hair. I convince myself that in order to have friends and be in with a certain group I needed their looks. Fast forward a few years and I continue to struggle with my body image, but I am no longer making myself sick over it. What changed is that I have learned to view myself as God views me. I’ve turned to scripture to help with my insecurities. My favorite verse when I’m not feeling myself is Song of Solomon 4:7 “You are altogether beautiful, my love, there is no flaw in you.” I have learned that I am truly loved and made perfect by Jesus and what others think of me is not my problem. I am truly beautiful in the eyes of Jesus, and he is the one I am trying to impress.

How do you see yourself? Is it the same image that God sees?

“Up To Me” by Maggie Kalka

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Who is God? Who is Jesus? What is the Eucharist or the Holy Trinity? Last year I could give you the textbook answer that the catechism would approve of for all of those questions and more. Thirteen years in Catholic school will do that to you. The answers might have gotten me an A on a religion test, but they wouldn’t be personal.

My personal relationship with my faith was lacking. I found myself comparing my faith to other peoples’ relationship with God. And because I had gone to Catholic School since the age of 5, my family went to church every Sunday, and I was involved with my parishes youth group, I thought I was good. I didn’t have a strong desire or feel the need to get to know God or Jesus on a personal level.

But thanks to college, I was shown that I was so wrong. I knew college was going to change a lot of things, and I figured it would challenge my faith. But I never thought my relationship with God would end up becoming so much stronger. I got involved at St. Francis, the Catholic Church that was associated with the University of Alabama. Thanks to the persistence and persuasion of one of the Focus missionaries at St. Francis, I somehow ended up in a bible study for other freshmen girls that was led by said Focus missionary. (If your school has Focus missionaries, talk to them. They are some of the coolest, most amazing people ever!) I went on a retreat and joined an intermural team through the church. And suddenly, before I had even known what happened I was surrounded by people with a deep faith and love for God. They showed me that there was so much more to the Church and God then what I had studied in religion class. I was being shown how amazing a true personal relationship with God is. I had plenty of role models and resources to look to, to create that relationship. It was just up to me.

Now, I met some of my best friends through my bible study and we get together once a week and grow in faith. I can’t wait for school to start back up in the fall so I can go to Mass every Sunday with my friends and Mass and Meal on Tuesday nights. I’m excited to go and play different team sports with people from Church and know that no matter how awful I am at it, they will still treat me with kindness and compassion. I am still struggling and building up a personal relationship with God, but I have a better idea of what that relationship will look like and who to turn to when I need help thanks to my brothers and sisters in Christ.

Submarine Christian by Emma Kee

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They say faith is tried multiple times in a person’s life; that at times it is easier to hold onto your faith than others. This was my struggle seven years ago. Both my sister and I were transferring from Catholic school, where we were born and raised, into a public school in Ponte Vedra. It was a transition to remember. God had been a part of my school life ever since I could remember. The first couple of months were hard, as they always are for kids in a new school, but I grew to admire it. The thing is, I’d been given the basics of where I could find God, but I realized you could find Him everywhere else as well. Sometimes, life experiences and good works are what make a person truly closer to God.

I am what you may call a “submarine Catholic”. I do not go every Sunday like I should, I surface only at Easter and Christmas and a few times in between. The thing is, my faith in Jesus is now stronger than ever. Public school has allowed me to represent my faith in what I consider a real world setting. In the seven years I have been attending public school, I have met all sorts of people from a wide range of faiths. Some believe in Jesus, and some do not, but they remind me of the Good Samaritan. While many may not believe in Jesus, but in another religious figure, I do believe that they are going to the heaven I’ve learned about because of their kindness. And I believe that for us Catholics, claiming to believe in Jesus is simply not enough. It is not the one-way ticket to heaven. I believe we must grow in faith by serving others in our community. That’s where I find God in a personal way.

My biggest source of Catholic faith has come from Camp I am Special. Camp I am Special has been around since the 1980s and is a camp for children and adults with disabilities. In other words, it has impacted the lives of thousands for over 30 years. At camp, local high school students volunteer as buddies who are matched to each individual camper for their session week. One of my classmates was a buddy this past summer and came out of the experience as a new Catholic. At Camp I am Special, one 30 minute mass is performed on Sunday along with fun and interactive prayers throughout the week. I think this serves as proof that experience and service work to bring young people to our faith faster than any sort of schooling. Believing is only a part of the path, we accomplish the journey by how we choose to act.

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