steubenville ohio

5

Franciscan University of Steubenville Youth Conference- June 24-26, 2011

I apologize if this is very long. But if I will ever written anything that is important, this is it.

Text from Rich in March or April: “Steubie retreat. wanna go?”

Thank God I said yes. I didn’t think I needed this retreat. I thought it was just going to be a fun weekend with some friends where we would sing Jesus music. But God works in such mysterious ways. I needed this weekend so very badly. I didn’t know that I was still holding on to stuff that I needed to let go so that I could start a new relationship with God and a new life I think.

When we first walked into this huge field house, I was shocked at the number of people there. There had to be at least 3,000. And just hearing everyone sing about God together, there is absolutely nothing like it. But people were getting really into it. Like dancing and raising their hands. At first I thought it was really really strange. But I tried it. And if you just close your eyes and raise your hands in surrender to God and sing, God really speaks.

I can’t decide if adoration or confession was my favorite part. When they first said on Friday night that confession was going to be offered, I automatically thought no. Because I just haven’t gone in a while and I feel like I always say the same thing and I didn’t get what the big deal was. But then a girl got up and spoke about how confession changed her life. And then this one sin came to mind for me. It was something I had been sorry for, and I know Jesus had forgiven me. But I couldn’t stop thinking about it all night and all the next day. I mean it wasn’t just I disobeyed my parents; it was bad. So I decided to go to confession. I was thinking that I wouldn’t actually say my sin, I would just kind of hint at it. But then I realized how much it was weighing me down. I had to say it. I had to say the words out loud. It was the only way that I could be freed. And 15 minutes into confession (after just sitting there sobbing for 13 of those minutes), I finally said the words. That was literally the most painful thing I have ever done. I was so ashamed and disgusted with myself. And I just sat there sobbing. I had done this to myself. And the priest was quiet for a minute and said, “That took a lot of courage. But just know that Jesus is so happy right now. He is smiling and welcoming you into his arms.” And I was like, how could he be happy? I did this horrible thing, why would he be happy. And then I kneeled down and closed my eyes. And literally I felt this huge weight just lifted off of me. And I smiled. Jesus had forgiven me. Every time in church when we say that Jesus is merciful, I never realized it was true until that moment. Jesus knew I was sorry, and he forgave me. And that was the start of my new life and relationship with Him.

Right before adoration that night,  Ennie told us to close our eyes and imagine being in a field with Jesus. He said to let Jesus say what He had to say to us. And I closed me eyes and had a, vision I guess? dream? of Jesus walking up to me. I was literally holding my sins and burdens, and I handed them over to Jesus, and He took them, and He smiled. And He said He was so happy. And then He held me in His arms as I cried and told me He loved me. Then He placed His hand on my heart and told me that He was always right there, within me. And then I opened my eyes and saw Him in the monstrance that was being brought down the aisles. And I just sat there and cried because Jesus, the Savior of the world, died for me and my horrible sins, so that we could live together forever. And he was right there in front of me. And we receive that, we put it into our bodies every week at Church. Jesus is in us! That little host inside that monstrance that was making people cry and faint and fall asleep, we eat it every week at church. Like come on, that’s cool.And that was the start of my new life with Him.

If I can give anyone any advice about anything in this life ever, I would say GO TO THIS CONFERENCE. Even if you don’t believe in God or you kind of believe in God or you believe in God so you think you don’t need it. Trust me, you do need it. I didn’t think I needed it at all and I did. Very badly. One of the chaperones on the trip was talking to us about the Bible and the Mass. He was sooo cool and knowledgable and He told us so much. He had a lot of non-Christian friends He would try to teach Catholicism to, but he told us you have to experience Jesus. You have to. It’s the only way you can find Him. So just pray. Just ask Him to show His presence. And I promise you He will answer. If anyone has any questions about this feel free to ask me. The link below is more professional pictures from the conference’s website. You can actually see Christen Sarah and Rich in the background of one of them. God loves you. Sorry this is so long.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/franciscanuniversity/sets/72157627071223586/show/

I was Confused and...questioning...

The Steubenville Conference healed my relationship with God on levels I never knew were broken, let alone existent.  For a long time I had been unhappy, but I was unsure as to why.

Why.

It was a question I had been asking myself a lot at the time, but never came across any answers. And I felt guilty for it. I thought that perhaps questioning led to losing faith. So I suppressed the nagging questions floating in my head. I was under the impression that I was simply in a rut, a funk, whatever you’d like to call it. But because I was ignoring my questions about my spiritual life, I was beginning to put my faith in people, and I was coming up disappointed every time they inevitably failed me.  But at the time, I was unaware of what I was doing to myself, and therefore very confused about my feelings. With so much good around me, how could I be so unhappy?

I had no idea that so much of my spiritual life, which I had believed to be so good, could be changed in just a short weekend. In Steubenville I was called to question. Question my beliefs, values, the people around me, my faith, my God, and even myself. There was nothing wrong with it. By questioning in Steubenville, I came up with deeper answers I never dreamed existed. I learned that questioning did not mean having a lack of faith; it meant a desire for a deeper understanding. Above all, I learned that despite my imperfections, my jealousy, my anger, my self-consciousness, my mistakes, my questions, and yes, even my doubts…Jesus loves me. He loves me so much that even though He knows of all my flaws, He still feels I am worth dying for. Ultimately what I learned in Steubenville was that if you seek you will find (though it may not always be what you are expecting), and no matter what you do in life, you will always have inherent worth, given to you by Jesus Christ himself. 

Welcome Home, I love you. - God

I went on a religious retreat at Franciscan University in Steubenville Ohio. It was the most emotional, revealing, freeing weekend of my life. I learned so much about my faith, my God, and myself. It was truly amazing. When I was on the bus coming home I was anxious. I didn’t want to lose the passion in my heart that Steubenville had helped place there. I was afraid that when I came home I wouldn’t be able to see God the way I did during the retreat. I prayed to God asking Him to continue to reveal Himself to me even when I was at home, surrounded with my every day troubles, anxieties, obstacles, and fears. He answered me with this sunset that was occurring just as I came home. It was like a welcome home present. It was nine o’clock at night and the sky looked like this. It was as if God prolonged the sunset that night just for us. It was a beautiful sight to behold. All I could see was God in it. There are lots of aspects of my religion that I doubt, that I am confused about, and that I even disagree with. But what I will never refute is the existence of God. He is here, there, and everywhere. We just need to open our eyes and see His glory. We need to open our hearts and let Him in.

NEED COUCH - Steubenville/Pittsburgh

Hello my friend Lee, a trans man from Steubenville OH, has just left his abusive home and has no place to stay. He has no car, no license, no money. He’s staying with a friend tonight but may be out in the cold tomorrow. If you have or know of a place where he will be safe, please contact me through tumblr or send an email my way at calebrenger@gmail.com. 

Guys I’m sorry to be spamming you all with Steubenville posts, but I’m sincerely, utterly seething with rage. 

There’s so much wrong with this whole thing. The obvious fact that two little precious darlings (*eye roll*) raped and sodomized an unconscious girl and gloated about it on the Internet and had their entire town on their side because they’re star football players. 

Then, as of yesterday, they get one to two years in “juvenile detention facilities” because they’re “not adults” and they have the audacity to cry and attempt to apologize to the girl’s family for “putting [them] through this.” Plus, as a result of these slaps on the wrist sentences, everyone– including CNN news!– is talking about how poor it is for them. 

All of this is disgusting. But what scares me the most is knowing that something like that could happen in Bethel. The high school sports are pretty highly revered, and in the school, athletes are a pretty big deal: they have a lot of freedom and get to bend and break the rules. I sincerely think that if word got out that two of the basketball players or wrestlers raped a girl, they would get the same protection the rapists in Steubenville got, and I fear the general attitude of men around here, that women are beneath them, would mean that that protection would spread to any rapist(s) in Bethel. 

Frankly, as a human being and as a woman, it scares me. All of it, but the cavalier attitude people are taking in regard to the shits in Steubenville frightens me more than anything in the world. 

flickr

IOOF, Steubenville, OH by Robby Virus
Via Flickr:
Odd Fellows Building, Steubenville, Ohio. I wonder why the windows were bricked up.

Fucking Ridiculous
I am so disgusted. This is a country where a rapist can be turned into a victim. I really hope life fucks them over. And for the girl, the true victim, I hope she can rise from the ashes and accomplish everything in life she has ever wanted without the fear of pigs like them taking advantage of her.