Tom Turns 50 | A Tribute

Dreams are a hot topic in my family.

And I don’t mean dreams like the weird ones my dad had when he first quit smoking (which he did have WEIRD dreams when he quit smoking) – I mean dreams like the ones I have for my life, and the ones that Emily has for hers, and Caroline for hers, etc.

And I’m not sure at what point we started talking about dreams, but I’ve always known, for whatever reason, that this conversation started with my dad. For my entire life, if there’s anything Emily and Caroline and I have ever understood about our dad, it’s that he is, and has always been, a big dreamer.

When I was young, he was an immovable force of a man in my mind; there was no obstacle too large, no problem too great, and no threat too dangerous for him to overcome. He was a pillar of strength for me and my sisters and our protector from the outside world. Nothing could touch us inside his castle.

But as time often does, it revealed a lot about him.

Age has exposed me to his flaws. I have seen him in moments of weakness. I’ve seen him in pain, I’ve seen him sad. I have seen him cry and I have seen him fail.

At 21 years old, growing up has revealed my dad to me – but as I’ve gotten to know him better and come to understand him more, my admiration and appreciation for the man he is today has multiplied exponentially. And all the while, it continues to grow – for as a little girl, I reduced him to my mere protector. However today, as a woman, I see his depth.

My dad is a man unmoved by adversity. Although his stresses sometimes wear on him and his anxieties are often heavy, his convictions and his dreams always remain the same.

My dad is a courageous man; as he stands before opportunity, he does not waver. His perseverance is untouchable and his hope for a great life has him constantly driving forward.

My dad is a generous man. The shirt off his back (and his shoes, pants, and socks, if necessary) would be a small price to pay to help another person. He is loving and he is kind – my dad is a selfless man.

My dad is a wise man. He always has advice to offer and more importantly, his willingness to learn and to grow himself never ceases. He is constantly engaging and exploring the world. He recognizes that he will never know enough and there is always more to learn.

My dad is a successful man. He was the first person in his family to graduate from college. He’s had a prosperous career in law enforcement and has built a profitable business to boot. He has raised a gifted family and been a blessing to our household. He has clothed us, fed us, educated us, and taught us right from wrong. He has built a livelihood that allows him the luxury of caring for his own parents.

My father – the big dreamer – has achieved his dreams, plus more. Any man would be blessed to conquer half of what he has and I am infinitely thankful to call him ‘dad.’
Tom Knorr is a good man – and what’s more, he’s an even better father, husband and friend.

And tomorrow, he turns 50.

I think that his mentally 26-year-old self cringes at the thought of being 50, but to be honest, I thank God that he’s so young – I can’t imagine the next 50 years without him.

Dad, you are the standard for every man that will ever enter my life – thank you for setting the bar so high. I love you. Happy birthday!

Frustration & Perseverance | A Brief Thought On Endurance

“Frustrated” is a word I’ve used to describe my mood a lot, recently.

And just acknowledging that one fact alone is frustrating to me because I’ve always resented the thought of becoming the person who’s discouraged, pessimistic, discontented, fill-in-the-blank, etc. etc., frustrated.

But even still, sometimes we are what we are. And I am frustrated.

It has been 7 weeks of exhausting, back-breaking, humbling work, and as if the stress of my present day-to-day duties isn’t enough, I’m constantly reminded that election season hasn’t even really started yet.

I miss my family and my friends. I miss the freedom that allowed me nights out in downtown Iowa City and weekend escapes to home cooked meals and clean laundry at my parents’ house in Joliet.

But week in and week out, I try as best I can to work diligently and efficiently, using my time as productively as possible and exerting every last ounce of energy I can muster day-to-day.
I allow myself the relief—however brief—of daily mass, where I am reminded that my journey is not without purpose and my direction, not unguided.

“He knows what He is about. He may take away my friends, He may throw me among strangers, He may make me feel desolate, make my spirits sink, hide my future from me – still, He knows what He is about. Therefore, I will trust Him.” – Blessed John Henry Newman

And in the moments I’m tempted to throw in the towel and call it quits despite the million things I could do with my last few hours of daylight, I find strength in my faith in God’s providence and His plan.

“Work as if everything depended on you. Pray as if everything depended on God.” – St. Augustine

I cannot see what the future holds, nor can I even begin to fathom its weight. I do know, though, that my head and heart are growing. My life is changing and my views of myself, my relationships, my career—my whole world—are evolving.

Romans 12:12 says, “Be rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer.”
So I try.

I am joyful at this opportunity to be in Florida and all that it could mean for my future and my career. I refuse to be kept down by setbacks, disappointments, or failures—
“Nothing great is ever achieved without much enduring.” – St. Catherine of Siena

And above all else, I pray. I pray unceasingly for guidance, discipline, courage, strength, and truth.

And I pray constantly that my stubborn human heart succumbs to the molding hands of God.

“Grant me, O Lord my God, a mind to know You, a heart to seek You, wisdom to find You, conduct pleasing to You, faithful perseverance in waiting for You, and a hope of finally embracing You.” – St. John of the Cross

Hello Howie!

In the midst of my fast from social media, I’ve been chomping at the bit to share some exciting news with my friends and family—

I’ve adopted a puppy!

Howie is a Labrador/Weimaraner/Husky mix. He is 8 weeks old and mellow as can be chews literally everything within his reach.

For those of you who’re currently thinking I’ve left my sanity somewhere up in eastern Iowa, I promise I haven’t. I mean, really—you’d have to be insane to NOT adopt him after seeing this adorable face!

As you can probably imagine, I’ve had my hands full this past week, but I’ve got another blog post (or two) in the works and I’m hoping to post again soon!

Happy fourth of July, y’all!

Here I Am To Worship | Coming Home To The Catholic Mass

This weekend was a rough one for me.

In addition to missing home slightly more than usual this past week, I suffered pretty severe FOMO yesterday when I missed my best friend’s graduation party and again today when I missed the annual Knorr family flower-planting event in honor of Father’s Day. (You read that right, Dad—I actually wish I could have planted flowers today.)

In an attempt to medicate my homesickness, I spent yesterday afternoon making my mom’s infamous chocolate chip cookie recipe. When I woke up this morning still feeling grouchy (and additionally bloated from all the cookies I ate last night), I called my dad and let him try to make me feel better.

But even still, as I got ready for 5PM mass earlier this evening, I couldn’t help feeling a little bit down.

It’s easy to move through life with a positive perspective and a Jesus-loves-me attitude when everything is going well and the sun is shining in our direction. But when work stress kicks in or money is tight, life starts to feel slightly out of control and we sometimes forget to look up in the midst of our mess.

But as I walked into mass today (just in time at exactly 4:59PM), I was greeted at the door by two members of the parish youth ministry program. I smiled inside for a moment, remembering my own time spent in youth ministry at St. Paul’s in Joliet.

I took my seat and the entrance hymn began to play. It sounded fairly familiar, but it was only when the words projected up on the wall above the altar that I recognized the song.
“Here I am to Worship” is a fairly well-known Christian rock song that has been re-recorded by numerous bands and singers over the past decade. It’s also the same song that St. Paul’s youth ministry has listened to in prayer before every youth mass since before I first got involved with the program 7 years ago.

And just like that, I started to cry. I see you, God. I hear what you’re trying to say.

All it took was that one song to remind me of what I’d forgotten this weekend—that even when I’m lonely, I am not alone.

One of my favorite parts of the Catholic Church (aside from everything, obviously) is its universality. I am exactly 1,312 miles away from home—yet upon walking into a Catholic mass, I’m experiencing the same readings, responses, prayers and—most importantly—the same Holy Eucharist, that my friends and family are experiencing in other Catholic masses all across the country.

So that universality became all the more apparent to me as I listened to roughly a dozen high school students sing the same song that I sung for years when I was in their shoes.
I spent the rest of mass feeling overwhelmingly grateful for my time at St. Paul’s and the deep connection to my Catholic faith that youth ministry gave me. (The recessional hymn was “Blessed Be Your Name” which is also a big St. Paul’s Youth Ministry song, so naturally I blubbered a little bit more at the end of the service as well.)

I left St. Ignatius of Loyola tonight feeling much better than I had the rest of this weekend. Who could’ve guessed that all I really needed was a Sunday mass to make me feel a little bit more at home?

Working Woes | Living For A God Of Labor

Two weeks ago, I sat at a booth in a pub in Iowa City with a handful of friends as we waited on a last round of Irish car bombs before heading our separate, post-graduation ways.

Fast forward through a few more drinks, a little bit of crying, A LOT of packing, and more traveling than I’d ever care to do again in a 48 hour period, and I’m here, in my one bedroom apartment in Palm Beach County, Florida.

I’ve got a bed, a couch, some mismatched furniture that I plan to strip and paint, an old set of dishes from my college apartment (amongst a few other hand-me-down essentials), and a job.

And I’m sure it comes as no surprise to anyone that my new life is somewhat lacking in glamour—my living room is so empty that it has an echo, the temperature in my apartment is kept at a balmy 79 degrees (because I’m scared to death of what my electric bill will look like if I run the AC all day), and I cannot for the life of me get my shower curtain rod to stop falling off the wall in my bathroom.

But I’m working—and that’s a gift.

A priest in the Newman Center at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, Fr. Mike Schmitz, explained in a homily that he gave a few years ago (which is now streaming online here) that our ability, desire, and calling to work are what make us human.

And work (amongst a few other things) is how we’re made in God’s likeness.

Genesis—the first book of the Bible—describes God’s creation of the world. It basically went like this: God made heaven, and saw that it was good. God made water, and saw that it was good. God made the earth, and saw that it was good, and so on, and so forth. Our very first glimpse of God in the Bible is God at work. And what’s more—His work is good.

Fr. Schmitz goes on to explain that as human beings, our perception of work has become distorted as a result of Adam and Eve’s sin. Amidst their fall from the garden, “work was turned upside down. Work became toil”.

And so, because of this, we often see work as something to be endured rather than seeing it for what it is—a blessing.

This work that I’m doing—1300 miles away from my family and friends—is important. Not because it’s for a particular political party or because I’m under the delusion that I’m changing the world from a beach on the west side of the Atlantic, but because this work is changing me. This work will mold me and grow me and—if I let it—push me a little bit closer to becoming the person I’m supposed to be.

So tonight—a Friday night—while my friends back in Joliet are out at a bar (probably), I’ll be here, with my Netflix account and my glass of wine (that I just spilled all over my bedroom carpeting—thank you, God, that my mom buys white). But all the while, I’ll be grateful—because on Monday morning, I’ll get up and go to work—and that is a beautiful thing.

Timing is everything.

For those of us who graduated from college this month, this milestone marks the end of a significant portion of our young lives. Now, as many of my friends and family can attest to, I’m an unusual case in that I’ve been looking forward to post-grad life for a while now—I’ve never been one to turn down adventure, and the unknown future is an adventure in itself.

But for those of us who fear the unpredictability of what’s to come or are simply mourning the loss of adolescent freedoms and college life in general, consider this: timing.

God has created an allotted time for everything under the sun (read Ecclesiastes 3:1-9). So as we travel through life, sometimes gracefully and other times, stumbling, God’s timing is on our side.

In my own life, as I look back on the four years I spent in undergrad, hindsight allows me to recognize the purpose behind my periods of stumbling. My sophomore year was messy, for example—I started my college experience from scratch as a transfer student at a new school in a very different state—but in the midst of my mess, I realized my love for politics and picked up a second major. I got to know (and learned to love) myself that year. Now, as I start my first real job on a political campaign in Florida, I am often amazed at how far God has brought me.

Zora Neale Hurston was famously quoted saying: “There are years that ask questions and there are years that answer.” And in reading that, you might be nodding your head and thinking that this upcoming year is punctuated by a big, fat question mark.

But rest assured, God has the answer.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.” – Jeremiah 29:11

So, be not afraid of what’s ahead—we’re all living on God’s time anyway.