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America the Beautiful

July 3, 2017

While you walk, you can spend a lot of time with a single person, and you get to talking about some pretty fascinating things. Once I started talking with a fellow walker about the meaning and definition of beauty. We tend to think of beauty as something that is visually pleasing, but we realized that beauty is that which draws our mind to God or draws us closer to God, because everything of God is beautiful. Pope Emeritus Benedict defines real beauty as “the Truth itself”, and God is all truth. In light of this, I’d like to share with you some of the beautiful things we have experienced thus far while walking across the country.

There’s more than one way that beauty can manifest itself. Some of these things are beautiful to see or hear, and others are acts of kindness or even events or times in which we find ourselves close to God. All of them made us praise God for His loveliness and brought us closer to Him and his beauty in their own way.

-The grace given to us through daily Mass and through the prayers of others

-The humility we experience as others entrust us, of all people, with their prayer intentions

-The sound and sight of wind through the fields we pass by

-Two butterflies flying around each other in front us of while we walked early one morning

-Far away from cities and lights, the innumerable stars like diamond dust scattered onto the navy blue sky

-My team members. They’re inspiring and fabulous ❤

-The hymns we sing together sometimes before morning and evening prayer

-The sunrise and cool air in the middle of June as we offer it up for the babies

-The occasional bad pun we see on billboards for local businesses

-The families and hosts who give all of themselves and what they have to give us a home for the weekend

-A trio of gourds in a store window that were painted to look like swans

-The vivid pink and orange masterpiece of a Nebraska sunset, followed by throngs of fireflies in the warm air and fireworks on the horizon

-Shards of the morning sky reflected in the rainwater collected in rumble strips on the roadside

-Praying with the local community at daily Mass

-A bed at the end of a long day

-Puns!

-The daisy we got for the RV to brighten it up, and the walking shirt we made for this plant so that it could be a part of our team

-Singing loudly before and after we walk to motivate us and to celebrate

-The acts of service within our group. For example, when someone gets up and joyfully washes the dishes after meals, or when we make each other drink water, and when we choose to spend time with each other even when we really want to take a nap.

-The car window between us and a swarm of mosquitos

-When our local Australian touched snow for the first time

-The Coloradan cliffs and mountains

-The many inside jokes that are a definite sign of the familial nature of this group

-The suit and eyepatch we made for a Happy Meal toy. There was no reason not to, so we did

-The pains and inconveniences we are blessed with every day that we give to God in love

-The afternoon full moon over a lonely highway through the Nevada desert

-A giant American flag flapping majestically on a cool breezy day

-The car honks and even the occasional train honks that initially startle us but give us a boost for walking

-The view of the California Bay Area from atop Mt. Tamalpais

-The sound of eggs being whisked for omelettes

-Our team banding together each day to pray for others, and the knowledge and trust that others are praying for us

-The small but infinitely kind things that strangers do for us. Just one example, and one that meant a lot to me was when I tripped and bashed my knee while going up church steps, right in front of a couple going inside for Mass. The lady did not hesitate to offer me a Band Aid and make sure I was ok.

God is so good to us and he gives us so many beautiful things that make us happy to be alive every day.

~Lara

Central Walk ’17

Loneliest Road in America (Nevada)

June 12, 2017

Greetings from the Central Walkers! Currently we are in Utah. This morning we left our host family’s home in Ogden, UT where we enjoyed wonderful hospitality and delicious meals. This past Saturday we went to the Cathedral of the Madeleine in Salt Lake City which is such a beautiful church and was much needed as Nevada was sparse when it came to daily Masses to attend. God has truly blessed us this past week.

Prior to Utah, we walked through the beautiful and peaceful state of Nevada. Walking along the “loneliest highway” in America (HWY 50) through the desert and mountains.  It was such a unique experience in many ways. Firstly, Nevada is full of wonderful people who were very supportive of our mission. The parishes what we attended were extremely generous! They provided us with donations (food/water and financial help) and shared stories with us. Recalling one in particular: we met one woman after Sunday Mass who told me that her two nieces had been saved because of the Crossroads Pro-Life walkers witness when they came through the area many years ago. Also, while out on the road during the week, there were, countless times that people stopped to check to see if we needed assistance. The police officers were awesome and looked out for us.  For instance when a wide load truck was coming through, the police came through first and warned us to stay far to the side of the road. There was also another time that we met one individual who was also biking across America. The gentlemanon the bike was doing it to raise awareness for health care. He even instagramed with us! While we were talking to this gentleman, a few cars stopped, creating a 3 car back up. The people in the cars asked us what we were doing and thought it was awesome once we explained the Crossroads mission.

Throughout the state of Nevada one could expect to see cows, wild horses, an occasional rattle snakes here and there.  The sagebush, which is Nevada’s state flower, can be seen everywhere you look, as well as numerous tumble weeds. The wide open spaces, which occurred a lot in Nevada (Fallon, Eureka, and Ely), reminded us that there is a God and even though we may have been walking on a road where there is not a lot of traffic, we always have an audience of ONE (God).  So a couple of us may have suffered through blisters this week, but God saw that we can be “walk stars” and the sacrifice will prevail always. God is in the boat always and HE will work through us no matter what. A few years ago a professor of mine told me, “When the day is over and you have done your best….wait the results in peace.” Let’s remember that with each little step, the positive results will triumph.

Minnesota

July 8, 2016

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Walking into a new state is always so exciting, and the state of 10,000 lakes didn’t disappoint. My first memory of Minnesota was the warm welcoming of a giant sign on the side of the road with the statement “Born to Love” and a cute little baby, sponsored by Pro-life Across America. To most passing by, it’s probably just another sign, but to me it was a beacon of truth. The truth that we are all made in the perfect image of God, no matter our size!

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We attended a communion service in Lake Crystal at Holy Family Church. After the service, Deacon John Rudd and the parishioners kindly invited us to breakfast with them. They were so thankful for the work we are doing this summer to promote the culture of life. It’s always such a blessing to be welcomed into a parish community and supported in our mission, all glory to God.

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Holy Family parishioners at breakfast

New Ulm was a town we had the opportunity to pass through. We made a side mission to the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity where we walked through a Door of Mercy. I had read about them and what they meant in this Year of Mercy, but I didn’t think I’d have the chance to actually walk through one. It was an experience I’ll never forget.
The weekend quickly approached and we stayed in the beautiful town of Chanhassen (home of Prince!) with the Yanta family. Their home was on the lake and gorgeous, but the kind of family they are was the best part. Throughout the entire house there were so many devotions to Mary, countless rosaries hanging in each room, and a picture of the Pope blessing their marriage! We didn’t get to meet everyone, but their home made me love them. The way they express their love of Christ was absolutely inspiring. #lifegoals

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Of course being in the Minneapolis area we visited Mall of America, Minnehaha Falls, and even attended a Twins game of the 4th.

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Minnehaha Falls

Minnesota was a beautiful state filled with generous folks, and I’m happy to say I saw 32 of the 10,000 lakes. This was put halfway point of the summer. I have to admit, I got a little emotional, okay really emotional, thinking about our time winding down to fewer weeks. It’s not everyday that you can find a group of college kids that will have dance party with you in the kitchen, and the next day peacefully pray outside a Planned Parenthood for the end of abortion. I’ve been able to celebrate this precious gift of life with these people, and in return we stand together to fight for all to celebrate this joy.

Sharae
Northern Walk 2016

BABY’S FIRST WEEK

June 29, 2016

I’ve always been pro-life, and usually I keep quiet about it, (especially on social media), because the last thing everyone needs is a noodle-armed 20-year-old white girl shrieking at them about women’s rights. But over the course of this walk, I’ve realized just how valuable and important life issues truly are, and through that realization, have ~challenged myself~ to speak up, even if it means getting shot down with negativity and an army of middle fingers.

So, why is the pro-life movement so important, especially to the young people of this generation? Millennials, let me tell you something: We are currently living in a society that’s not merely tainted with evil, but drenched in it. We have taken the most vulnerable and helpless members of our society, de-humanized them by labeling them as nothing more than “a clump of cells”, and have told women that the new age of Feminism includes the freedom to kill the aforementioned vulnerable and helpless members among us, because, after all, “it’s MY BODY; it’s MY CHOICE.”

It appears as though we have a misunderstanding on our hands. First of all, what is “Freedom”? Currently, we view freedom as the ability to make whatever choice is most convenient without having to accept any negative consequences. But this is not what freedom really is. Freedom is the ability to choose what is right. Freedom

is the ability to give your child the same freedom that your mother gave you.

Secondly, “abortion” is almost too gentle of a word to describe the brutal dismemberment, crushing, vacuuming, and throwing away of the human fetus (which, by the way, is a word that describes a particular stage of human development), that harbors its safe place inside of us women.

“Oh, but Olivia, don’t say it that way – it sounds bad when you say it that way.” Here’s a news flash for you: Abortion sounds bad because abortion is bad. We’ll fight for equality and the rights of every minority under the sun (as we should), yet we discriminate against people that are under 9 months old and/or happen to still be in the womb. We’ll call them something other than “human” so as to mask the reality and horror behind what we’re doing. In short, abortion is genocide. The mass killings of these individuals is terrifyingly parallel to the relationship between Hitler and the Jews in concentration camps less than 100 years ago.

And to all the teenage “feminists” that are sooo boldly standing up for women by re-blogging an “I Stand With Planned Parenthood” post on their tumblr feed and not wearing bras: Let me be the first to tell you that you’re not doing a single gosh-darn thing. By standing with Planned Parenthood, you are in no way fighting for equality or “f***ing the patriarchy.” You’re actually discriminating against other people. Because if the baby you abort is a girl, then where’s her right to choose? And if you think that access to an abortion is going to liberate and empower you from the bondages of men, then think again, and realize that by telling men that they can do whatever they want to you whenever they please without consequences for their actions, you’re making yourself nothing more than an object to satiate their desires. If you want to empower women, if you want to stop the patriarchy, if you want equality for all people, then start by ending abortion. Start by defending life; life for all people, regardless of their size, race, gender, sexuality, economic status, or ability. Start by choosing what is right.

But then again, what do I know? After all, apparently I’m just a conventional, non “progressive”, religious bigot that thinks that the only thing women are good for is making babies and bowing to men. You can roll your eyes at the rosary in my hands as much as you want and be offended by the blatant honesty of my t-shirt. But have you ever stopped to think that maybe there’s a reason why people are so adamant about this cause? That maybe there’s something more that we’re fighting for?

Our message, “PRO LIFE”, implies that there is some sort of overarching meaning and purpose to our lives. And what is that meaning, that purpose? The answer is simple: To love.

At what age in our lives did people start telling us to love one another? At what age did we first hear that word? Most likely, it was mere moments after we had been brought out of the womb. Our mothers probably held us close to her chest, exhausted, teary-eyed, and smiling as we did nothing but cry, kissed our foreheads, and gratefully said, “I love you.”

When did we learn something as simple as, “sharing is caring”? Most likely it was preschool, if not prior.

When do we feel the most happy? Not in giving to ourselves, but in giving to others.

As humans, love is the greatest thing we are capable of. Although love isn’t always easy, and sometimes we have to consciously make the choice to sacrifice, we are never happier than when we love. It requires nothing of the other party member. It only requires that we give ourselves up for the betterment of others. We all desire love, because we all need it. And I dream of a world where a woman’s success and happiness isn’t measured by the degree she earned or how much money she makes, but by how much she loved.
Being pro-life is more than just a religious standpoint; being pro-life is to be consistent, it is to be ethical, moral, all-inclusive, hopeful, optimistic, and most of all, loving. It is pro-baby, pro-woman, pro-everyone, because it offers everyone the same opportunity to celebrate life and build a culture of love.

So the next time someone tells you that women need abortion, that it’s the only thing there to empower them, that a woman’s life and livelihood is just going to be completely obliterated and ruined if she doesn’t “terminate the pregnancy”, stop and ask yourself: Is it really? Is killing the smallest members of our society really the most empowering thing to do? Or is love the thing that is going to bring us the most happiness? Because for me, love is something I’d walk across the country for.

Olivia
Northern Walk ’16

 

Twenty-Five Days

June 22, 2016

Twenty-five days. That’s how long I’ve been on the road with Crossroads. I walked on to the team in Spokane, Washington. I was with new people, nervous, and definitely missing home. In this time, I had been through five states I could only dream of visiting. I had the chance to meet so many generous people that welcomed us into their homes like we were their own kids visiting from college. I endured blisters and sore joints from walking. Most importantly, I have been a witness to the beautiful Gospel of life with some pretty cool peeps from all over the country and even Australia.

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In these twenty-five days I’ve been blessed to walk through one of the most beautiful parts of America. I have this group of friends now that as I get to know them more and more, I see how God’s hand chose us. He’s called us to be His hands and feet this summer to spread the message of life.

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Sharae
2016 Northern Walk

Northern Walk: Blog 1

June 19, 2016

The Northern Team, along with all of the other CrossRoads walks have just finished our fourth week of walking, and are ready to relax over the weekend in our varied host cities. For the NorWal (northern walk), that means spending the weekend in the breathtaking Black Hills, South Dakota. Over the past 4 weeks, we Northern Walkers have waltzed our way through 4 states: Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and now South Dakota.

As today, June 19, 2016, marks our 33rd day since embarking on the crazy, thrilling, beautiful, hectic journey that is CrossRoads, it is only fitting to recap how the last month has treated us. If anything, this past month has reminded me in such an obvious way that being ProLife is so beautifully defined as being ProLiving in every aspect of our lives. For CrossRoads walkers, that means constantly putting other before ourselves, accepting the fact that personal space is a nonexistent concept, treating everyone (even those who oppose our beliefs) with the utmost dignity and respect, preparing dinner for our team, washing dishes, cleaning up a mess that may not be mine, waking up at 4:30 AM with joy, putting someone else’s bagel in the toaster, making coffee for everyone in the morning, grabbing a friend an energy bar, sweeping the RV floor, folding someone’s laundry, a “good morning” at the crack of dawn, and constantly relaying the same message to strangers: “yes, we really are walking across the US”. As lengthy as this list may seem, I wouldn’t want to spend my summer any other way. To be ProLife is to be ProLiving, and that is so beautiful. Just in the past month the Northern Team has run into countless strangers who have felt the call to share their stories with us. While praying outside of a Planned Parenthood in Billings, Montana, an elderly woman named Anisa pulled over to pray with us, and even gave each of us precious feet necklaces. At the same abortion mill, a woman and her daughter stopped to share their testimony with us. From sharing touching and emotional experiences with each other and strangers, to visiting historic sites with people we had just met hours prior, the Northern Walk has definitely had our fair share of once in a lifetime experiences; and I can’t wait for the many more to come. Here’s to the NorWal, croshin’ it, great company, and to the Good Lord for watching out for us.

  • Gracie- Northern Walk 2016

Geronimo

June 15, 2016

While the title may be a bit odd and seemingly off topic, to be frank, I had no idea what to write here. It wasn’t until I was listening to music and the song “Geronimo” came on that I realized what I would write about. So, here we go, Geronimo.

As week three has come to a close and we have just finished day two of week four, I write to you exhausted, but in a way, even more energized for the weeks to come. While the blisters may be something Darth Vader himself would be appalled at, they give me motivation to keep walking. I am routinely reminded of my purpose when I run into people like Fr. Haffey, Anisa, and countless others who go out of their way to welcome myself and the other walkers. Anisa in particular is an elderly woman who came and prayed with all of us outside of the Planned Parenthood in Billings, MT. Side note- Anisa also informed us that the Planned Parenthood has been sold, and will be closing down in July!! Praise God, he is so, so good.

To explain the title, this week has taught me more than ever to rely totally, fully, and completely on God. I knew coming into this trip that I would need to relinquish much of the control that my micro-managing self yearns for. While this has been much easier than I thought, I still struggled with putting all of my faith and trust 100% in God. In retrospect, it seems so easy to give myself totally to Him, but things are much easier said than done. However, week 3 in particular has taught me to trust in him with all my heart. I have come to develop such a greater appreciation for the quote “lean not on your own understanding”. Coming into Crossroads, we were told not to ask many questions, that we would be told details when need be. At first thought, I pictured myself struggling with this immensely. To my surprise, it has not been that difficult to relinquish the control that I lov(ed) oh so much. Maybe it was the walking, or maybe it was the countless prayers we pray while walking. No matter the cause, I found myself totally, and willingly giving all control over to God, and quite literally saying “Geronimo”. I can so clearly see that there is no hope in worrying, and there is no sense in stress. If we have faith, we have hope; and if we have hope, we have faith. Worrying / stressing over things we cannot control is pointless, and trying to plan out our lives is equally as ludicrous. Hopefully you all are not as stubborn as I am, and hopefully you will find a way to put all your trust in God in an easier way than I did. It took me 19 years, countless hours of stress and worry, and walking across 3 states to realize that faith is the ultimate stress reliever. It is so easy to think to ourselves “why do I worry, I know God has my back”, then to turn around 5 minutes later and continue to bite our nails. While I am sure I will still struggle with this in the future, I find immense comfort in knowing that God is eternally present, and he is always with me. There is so much truth in the saying: “there is freedom in surrender”. Once we swallow our pride and acknowledge the extremely simple, almost humorous fact that the one who created our entire being has total control, we will truly be free. Freedom is trusting in God.
So thank you, Crossroads, for allowing me to finally say “geronimo”.

Gracie- Northern Walk 2016