Happy Birthday

And in the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years.
~Abraham Lincoln

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Happy Birthday to The Man! He lives the quote above - embracing each day with a smile (well, most days). He relishes his birthday birth-month and loves to celebrate. Good friends & family, good food, and good wine are his usual favorites for the festivities - so that's what we will do this evening. And maybe even a trip to the movies, Transformers 2, is calling his name!

I love you man, and I wish you the Happiest Birthday yet!


Music Monday

In Memory of Michael Jackson.
No matter what happened in recent years, he was an amazing performer and changed the face of the music industry.
I pray that he has found the peace he never seemed to have on this Earth.
For more Music Monday, go here.


Can of Worms

Welcome to my First "Can of Worms" Post. To read about "Can of Worms" posts, go here.

Capital Punishment
Did you see this one coming for a first topic? I didn't. The Man and I watched The Chamber last week. It had been a while since I'd watched it and/or read the book. If someone had asked me prior to watching the movie my thoughts on Capital Punishment, I probably would have said I think there are better ways to handle those who break the law, but I'm not completely opposed to it.
Hmmm. What a difference a couple of hours makes. After watching that movie, seeing a couple of news programs on people who were wrongly convicted and exonerated by DNA evidence later, and giving it some thought, I would now have to say I am completely opposed to Capital Punishment.
Because I like lists and bullet points, here is a bullet pointed list of my reasons:
  • I've come to strongly believe that our justice system is extremely flawed because it is run by humans, imperfect humans. Well meaning people can make mistakes; it is really not our place to judge another's acts and determine if they should live or die.
  • IMHO, the justice AND penal systems need complete makeovers. Beginning with education and prevention of crime! Prevention of crime that isn't based on the threat of the death penalty. Obviously that's not working out so well!
  • While, I've never been the victim of a horrible, violent crime and I can't begin to imagine what the victims feel like, I do not feel that by taking another life society, as a whole, has done a good thing.
  • I've certainly said things like "They should do to him what he did to others." Specifically, the cases of Michael Vick (who I think got off easy, but that's another Can of Worms Post) and Scott Peterson, come to mind. But does putting Scott Peterson to death right the wrong he committed? Doesn't Lacy Peterson's family have to live every day with he did regardless of if he lives or dies. And won't the day he is put to death just create a new wound while ripping open another? And won't it just put all the attention back onto Scott Peterson?
  • Doesn't the Death Penalty in some way 'glorify' the violent act. It puts and keeps attention on it. For example, the DC Snipers. Until I started to type this post, I had not thought much about them in recent years (though I am sure those affected directly think if them daily), but you better believe when the shooter is put to death, he (and his actions) will be all over the news yet again. And I'm sure there will be at least attempted copycatting somewhere.
  • We, as Americans are supposed to be progressive, and forward thinking. We, as Americans are supposed to be a good example for the rest of the world. Yet, there are countries who will not release criminals to us because of our Death Penalty laws.
While I don't have a perfect solution - I think we need to START OVER in regards to our system of dealing with crime and punishment and generate NEW ideas - I do think that Capital Punishment is not the answer.

The "Can of Worms" has been opened, what do you think about Capital Punishment?

Can of Worms Info

What is a "Can of Worms" Post?
A "Can of Worms" Post is one in which I leave the 'safe' boundaries of everyday happenings in my life and tread into the territory of politics, religion, education, values, and other 'hot button' topics.

Why a "Can of Worms" Post?
Because I'm intrigued by different peoples opinions on these 'hot button' topics. Either that or I'm crazy. I guess time will tell.

Are there any Rules for "Can of Worms" commenting?
The main rule is to please be respectful of not only me, but of other commenters. Especially of other commenters.
Because these issues are 'hot button', I expect (and look forward to) passionate responses, but remember, we all have different opinions and backgrounds that we are bringing to the conversation.
Feel free to comment directly to the post and/or to the comments left by others (this is the main reason I changed my comment format, was to allow for replying in a thread format).
Annonymous commenting is just fine by me - unless it is disrespectful.
I reserve the right to delete inappropriate and disrespectful comments.

Do I think I know it all?
Absolutely NOT! I will do my best to get my entire view on a topic out in the initial post, but I do not always express myself completely clearly and often find myself saying, I never thought of it that way....therefore, I also look forward to commenting on your comments!
I was once told "You like to qualify things.....It's endearing." I'm keeping my fingers crossed that my need to qualify things remains 'endearing'.

Can readers suggest topics for a "Can of Worms" post?
Yes! In fact, please do!

Will there be a Mr. Linky?
Not at this point. But, please feel free to elaborate on a "Can of Worms" post with your own post. Just remember to link back here AND leave your link for us in a comment.


New Comment Format - Testing

So, MckMama and Angie have this new comment system that looks pretty neat. I like the part that allows me to reply right under a comment from someone else.

So, let's see if this works. If you're reading this please leave a comment below :).


Wordless Wednesday 6/17/09

For more Wordless Wednesday, go here.


Voice of Truth

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Have you ever had a moment when you knew, I mean absolutely knew without a doubt, that God was with you? That you were being held up by Him?

I have. I did. Today.

I've had what I'll call 'God moments' before, when I could feel His presence, but there was just something about this morning. Something different.

Side note: My journey and thoughts on Faith/Religion are for one of my 'Can of Worms' post. Today's experience is just something I want to share.

I want to share it because I don't want to forget it. Ever. I want to share it because it was one of the most profound experiences I've had in my life.

I would have stayed in our church sanctuary all day if I could have. I didn't want to leave God's presence.

The short background is that I've been in the midst of a struggle. I am not ready to share extensively on this struggle, just know it's not been easy. I've found myself clinging to my husband, knowing I can gather strength through him. I've found myself returning to Angie's posts about drawing closer to God. I've found myself listening to, "Praise You in this Storm", the 3rd song on the above playlist, trying to figure out how to praise God in this storm.

Then, I found myself in church this morning, like every other Sunday morning. But today, we listened about Job's trials; about the disciples waking Jesus to save them during the storm on the Sea of Galilee. Then our priest spoke about having faith in the midst of storms; about trusting God, trusting Jesus to guide us through. It was as if he was speaking to me. Directly.

But then, I knew it was Someone else speaking directly to me. Our meditation music during the collection was one of my favorite songs, that I've also been listening to, "Voice of Truth", the 1st song on the above playlist (and if you know anything about Catholic Churches, you know that a Contemporary Christian song is not something you hear in church every week). It was during this, that I knew that God was sitting with me. He was telling me that He is The Voice of Truth and that I can have the kind of faith it takes to weather this storm.

Tears. Of sadness. Of praise. Of gratitude. Of so much gratitude. Rolled down my cheeks.

But it wasn't over. As we prepared for communion, and I turned to our hymn, I smiled. "Be Not Afraid", the 2nd song on the above playlist, was one of the songs at my Pap's funeral, how appropriate to sing it today, Father's Day. But as we sang the refrain, I heard Him again.

Be not afraid.
I go before you always.
Come follow me,
and I will give you rest.

It was then that I realized, God goes before me. He came before me and showed me Himself through the scripture, homily, and music today. He knew that I've felt like breaking; felt on the verge of depression; felt so helpless; and He came before me, and said 'Be not Afraid.'

However long this storm rages, I will praise Him. I know it is for His glory. I know He will give me rest. And I know that He is with me. All I have to do is continue to follow Him.


Can of Worms

When I started blogging, I thought it would mostly be a journal of the happenings in our oh-so-exciting daily lives. I thought it would be a way for me to finally start and keep a journal (albeit a very public one). As I've surfed the blogosphere and made new bloggy-friends, I've found I enjoy lots of different kinds of posts. I like Wordless Wednesdays, I like the 100-things memes for the 100th post, I like the funny tales of children and pets, and I like the glimpses into the lives of others and seeing that we are all so much more alike than we are different. I am also drawn to the amazing stories of strength and enduring faith in the face of struggle. I am drawn to the amazing community of support that exists.

In addition, I also enjoy the 'controversial' topics: religion and politics seem to summarize them well. I have often sat down to write a post on Faith; on Gay Marriage; on Politics; on the Environment; on Gas Prices, etc., etc., etc. I've never finished one of these posts because of a few fears of mine. Fear of: negativity in comments; not being accepted by those who visit my blog (my desire for approval is a whole month of blog posts, so we'll just leave it at that for now); others thinking I'm trying to change their minds or do anything more than just sharing my opinion.

I mostly feel like by posting on these topics, I'd be opening a huge 'can of worms'. Do I want to do this? Or do I want to keep things light and airy 'round here? Well, I think I'm gonna try it out. If I were writing in a journal that no one else saw, my thoughts on these topics would be included, so why not include them here. The conversations The Man and I have on these topics would be included, so why not include them here.

So that said, I'm working on a first post in a 'Can of Worms' series. This series probably won't have any scheduled rhyme or reason to it because it's hard to schedule when something will strike a chord that will need to be filed as such. What strikes a chord with you? What would you want to express your opinions on? What are you passionate about?

I love love love love reading comments (come on, admit it, you do to :)!), but I would like to respectfully ask you to play nice. Feel free to disagree, in fact please do, but do it RESPECTFULLY. My posts are my opinions and your comments are yours. Consider first how you would want to be responded to... Anonymous comments are ok, so long as you 'play nice.' I do reserve the right to delete unnecessarily nasty comments.

Stay tuned...


Wordless Wednesday 6/17/09

For more Wordless Wednesday, go here.


Anniversary and Birth-month Celebrations

The Man's Birthday is coming up on June 30. The Man often always refers to June as his Birthmonth. When we decided to get married in June, he decided that he would wait to begin birthmonth celebrations until the 13th. Well, because I'm such a sucker good wife, I play along with this little game of his. Sometimes.

This year was one of those sometimes. I decided to make plans with some friends of his to start the Birthmonth celebrations on the 13th...with a trip to PNC Park in Pittsburgh to watch the Pirates play. I also decided to book a hotel room in Pittsburgh for the 2 of us on Friday night and then the 4 of us on Saturday. I figured I'd suggest dinner in the 'burgh for our anniversary and then give him the hotel confirmation print out at dinner.

At least that's what I figured.

Well, when anniversary plans came up earlier last week, it became clear that we were each trying to surprise the other. Me with the weekend in Pittsburgh to celebrate our anniversary and the begining of the Birthmonth. Him with a special dinner at one of our favorite restaurants here in Morgantown. We ended up having to each lay our plans out on the table to see how we could make it all work.

Friday night, we had dinner at The Glasshouse Grille where one of The Man's sister is the Chef. Our dinners were perfect and dessert was served with a personal touch! Thanks so much Jessica!

After dinner we headed to our hotel in Pittsburgh, listening to the end of Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals as we drove. Go Pens!

On Saturday, The Man and I lounged by the pool with some Sangria and then 2 friends, Corey and Gigi joined us for the ball game. The Pirates actually won-they are undefeated in games we've attended-and there was even a Grand Slam. The views of Pittsburgh are always great from the Ball Park.


Flag Day

Flying the flag proudly for Flag Day.


5th Anniversary

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If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears.
When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.
Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face.
Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
And now these three remain: Faith, Hope, and Love. But the greatest of these is Love.
-1 Corinthians 13-

Today is the 5th Anniversary of our Wedding Day. Five years ago, our friends and family stood with us as we went before God and promised to share our lives, through good and bad. Our Priest that day challenged us to live up to the promise of 1 Corinthians 13; to never keep score; to be patient; to be kind; and to love.

In five years, we've often reminded ourselves of Father B.'s words. We've worked hard to never keep score and to be patient with one another - and I have to say, The Man has had to practice patience many more times than I have. I know it's not always easy, because well, I'm just not an easy kind of person. I am so grateful for his patience and love.

Before we were married, we agreed that marriage wasn't a game or just something you did. We understood it as a Sacrament in our Faith and as a lifelong commitment to one another. We agreed to never use the 'd' word under any circumstances. We agreed that it was not an option for us, that 'til death do us part' was for real. Our first 5 years have been incredible and challenging. Our commitment to each other and to our marriage has turned obstacles into building blocks and struggles into stronger ties that bind us together. We know that life and marriage aren't always easy; we know that compared to what others have faced, we've had it easy; we know that no matter what life may hand us, it's easier if we handle it together.

We know these things partly, because we had a wonderful example. Today is also the anniversary of my Nan and Pap's Wedding Day. Today they would have been married 61 years. They were married 55. Pap chose to end a 10-month struggle with lung disease, strokes, and pneumonia in January 2004. While he wasn't physically with us 5 years ago, he was with us. I have proof. You see, for every event that was ever planned for me growing up (birthday parties, First Communion, Confirmation, graduations, everything) it rained poured down the rain. And on June 11, 2004 - it poured down the rain. BUT, not on June 12. NOT on our wedding day. It rained a light rain in the morning, and then it cleared off. We had outdoor photos taken on a beautiful, warm, partly cloudy/sunny, late spring day. You see, my Pap couldn't be with us physically, but he was with us. He was in the sunshine that blessed us all day long and we know he continues to watch over us every day.

The music you are listening to, If You Could See What I See, by Geoff Moore, was one of the preludes to our ceremony and is as true today as it was then. God created us for each other and every day I want to honor that creation by being a good wife, partner, and friend.

To you, Man: I love you. I thank-you for the best 5 years of my life. The day you took me as your wife was the best day of my life. The life we have built together has surpassed all of my expectations of what love could be. I look forward to the rest of our lives with the same hope, excitement, and love as I did 5 years ago.

Photos from our day (all taken by Scott Frederick of Genesis Studios):

Our wedding party was made up of The Man's 4 sisters, my 2 brothers, and friends who are an extension of our family.

A little fun before heading into the reception.

A non-posed moment captured by our photographer as we exited the church, a Mr. and Mrs.!

A quick kiss as we head from the ceremony to the reception. We stopped on our way to have photos taken in front of Woodburn Hall on WVU's campus.

The Man before the ceremony.

My favorite photo of me taken all day - taken just before the ceremony.


3 Days with Nan

I just returned from spending 3 days with my Grandmother, Nan.

Nan and her 2 Sisters at her 80th Birthday Party in Nov. 2008

She is 80 1/2 years old; because at this point, 1/2 years are milestones too. I keep trying to get her to promise me that she'll live to 100, but she just won't commit - I can't imagine why.

My 3 days was spent helping her out as she recovered from the latest round of surgery. In 5 1/2 years (since my Pap passed away), she's had 2 hips replaced, a knee replaced, her gall bladder removed, a cataract fixed, a major abdominal surgery to repair hernia's and scar tissue wrapped around her intestines (TMI?), and finally, this latest surgery to close the wound left open from the major abdominal surgery (since August 2008).

She has a 15 1/2 inch scar from her sternum to her privates - her words - it's kinda cute to see her blush a lil every time she describes it, which happens each time someone new calls or stops in to check on her.

But more importantly, these 3 days gave us a chance to hang out. We went to the doctor for a follow-up check-up, but stopped at Panera for lunch on our way and frozen custard on our way home. She had visitors and phone calls. We slept in, ate lunch late, and dinner too. We laughed. We bickered (that's what we Italians do). We watched Moonstruck and ate junk food way too late at night. We went to the bank so she could have more cash on hand - since she can't drive anywhere, she's obviously expecting lots of expenses in her house the next couple of days, hehe. We got her a new TracFone - because every 80-year old needs a good cell phone plan that she doesn't have to pay $32/month to not use. She asked for lessons on her computer so she could check her email and go to all those websites the store clerks ask her to visit to report on their service. We made some of our favorite foods for dinners. We sat on the porch and chatted. She gave directions and I followed as well as I good, knowing that it was killing her that she couldn't do it all herself. We hugged each other long and tight, and tears welled in both our eyes when it was time to say 'see you later.'

Through all this, it was hard to remember that this woman, who I had to REMIND to please not bend over; please don't pick up anything over 5 lbs; please relax and let me serve your guests; etc, etc, etc is NOT the 60-year old Nan from growing up. She's 80. I'm 30. I'm so blessed to have a Nan around at 30 years of age. I'm so blessed to have an 80 year old Nan who still thinks, acts, and talks like she's 60 - and pushes her body to the limits too.

The past 3 days were some of the best of my life. I am so blessed I lived close enough to offer to be the one to take care of her. I am so blessed I have a job I can take with me on the road. I am so blessed to have a Nan who is 80, and going strong. And I'm still crossing my fingers for 20 more years!


Life and Death

Last weekend, I experienced both ends of the journey of life on this Earth through the eyes of 2 friends. I experienced the heartbreak of a mother burying her child and the joy of a mother caring for her newborn. The common thread? Love, like no other.

On Friday and Saturday we remembered my friend, Wendy's son, R.J.. The loss of a 24-year old due to a tragic accident is just so hard to understand. The grief of a mother as she says good-bye is unimaginable. It is hard knowing that Wendy didn't get to see her son one last time; that she waits for the phone to ring and has to remind herself that her son won't call her again; that her heart is broken in ways most of us will never understand. R.J. is in a better place and Wendy will see him again. I know she believes and clings to this now.

To those of you who have prayed for and thought of Wendy, and the healing of Terry and Allison, I thank-you from the bottom of my heart. Some good news was shared on Wednesday that Terry and Allison, are both improving. Please continue praying for their healing and the peace of these families.

On Monday, I was introduced to N.'s baby girl. N. is a natural mommy and knowing all she had to go through, it gave me such joy to see her joy - and her baby girl is perfect. It was so great to see both my friend and her little one. Such tiny fingers and tiny toes; tiny arms and legs; and such a tiny little person. I look forward to knowing her as she grows up.