Memorial Day 2011

*A repost from last year, because a year later, I still find these words to be what I want to say.*

Photo Courtesy of U.S. Army (with permission as stated here).

I've always known that flags are placed at the more than 260,000 graves in Arlington National Cemetery every year to honor those who are buried there.  What I didn't know is that from the time the flags are placed, members of the 3rd Infantry patrol the grounds 24 hours a day to ensure each flag remains standing until they are removed.

Today, I pray for the souls of the departed soldiers.  I thank them for their sacrifice (and those words seem so small).  And I pray for those who wear a soldier's uniform on this Memorial Day; that one day, on Memorial Day, we only have departed souls to pray for, that there are no longer men and women in harm's way.

Saint Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray;
and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host -
by the Divine Power of God -
cast into hell, satan and all the evil spirits,
who roam throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls.


Quick Takes

1.  So, The Man keeps asking what people said about his book review.  I tried to explain that book reviews don't really necessitate comments, but he keeps looking all sad when I say that.  So, I'm shamelessly asking if you'll go to this post and leave a comment :).  Even if you just say 'hi'.

2.  Have I mentioned that Mei Mei is cute?  But that she is also B.A.D.?  Besides chewing shoes, power chords, and stuffed animals, she has now decided that the end table in front of our living room window is perfect for her to stand on.  Yes, I said stand on.  I mean really.  I thought climbing-and-somersaulting-over baby gates was bad enough.

3.  And how is Kali fairing lately?  Well, twice in the last two weeks I've petted her face and my hands ended up covered in blood.  Yes, the little dog is making the big dog bleed.  Not out of any type of aggression, just some serious rough-and-tumble pup play.  I'm still amazed that Kali lets this type of stuff happen.  Love her.

4.  I don't think it has hit me yet that it's a 3-day weekend.  Monday morning about 8:00 when I'm still in bed it will though :).  Besides Confirmation on Sunday and a picnic at my Dad's house on Monday, we are looking at a quiet weekend at home.  Ahhhh :).

5.  I realize I haven't updated on my Godfather in such a long time.  It got worse before it got better and he's still facing triple bypass surgery, but for now he is at home (with a defibrillator vest on in case his heart needs a jolt) and will go to the doctor next week to schedule the surgery.  Thank-you all for praying for him and if you would continue to do so if you think of it, I would be very grateful.

6.  Do you see (the counter on the left side bar) that we are UNDER 100 days until Mountaineer football?  It's almost too good to be true, except it IS true!!!!  I need some football in my life.

7.  Don't forget to visit Jen for more Quick Takes and have a great weekend!


The Hidden Gifts of Helping

When the opportunity to review this book presented itself, I thought it once again sounded like a book The Man would like.  I was right, so I give you a review by The Man of The Hidden Gifts of Helping:  How the Power of Giving, Compassion, and Hope Can Get Us Through Hard Times by Stephen Post.

The Hidden Gifts of Helping by Stephen G. Post is a much needed book in today's egocentric world. Stephen relives many of his own difficult experiences in hopes of helping others in similar situations. Each of the six chapters, includes many scientific facts and findings to support many of his statements. Although sometimes I couldn't help feeling as if there could have been a better layout for his many ideas.  While the information is extremely important, I believe less specific examples are easier and quicker ways to express these ideas that can quickly become irrelevant in the unique contexts of peoples lives.  It seemed sometimes as if he was trying to convince me that helping others is a good thing for myself.  Isn't this contradictory to the idea of helping others without thought of reciprocation? Yet I suppose there are many people in this world that may need the comfort of numbers and studies to prove what is the right thing to do.  As I said in the beginning, a much needed book.  I just hope there aren't too many that do. It did help open my eyes to a whole new branch of research that I never knew was so extensively studied.  The academic in me does enjoy the concreteness of the numbers and percentages, yet my spirit wants to bypass them. 
Thank-you again to the B&B Media Group for the free book and to The Man for reviewing it!


Quick Takes

Please be sure to visit Jen for more Quick Takes!
1.  Last week, I had a collection of quotes in my head that I was planning to turn into a Quick Quotes edition of Quick Takes.  Then blogger went crazy and took my quotes with it.  Some of them were really good to, so I hope they come back.

2.  Apparently the world is ending tomorrow, at 6:00pm.  What will I be doing?  Recovering from running a 5K - hopefully with a glass of wine and a foot rub.  Not a bad way to go I guess.  Wait, is that 6:00pm Eastern Daylight Time?  Hmmmmm....

3.  Speaking of running a 5K, I've done 3 so far this season with #4 scheduled for tomorrow.  I've surprised myself at how well I'm doing.  Please don't misunderstand, I'm in no danger of winning any races or breaking any records, but I am finishing each race and getting a tiny bit faster each time.

4.  I've surprised myself so much that I'm going to run a 10K on the 4th of July.  In the middle of the afternoon.  It probably won't end up being my greatest plan ever - but I'm determined to cross the finish line with my running feet.

5.  As I was researching 10K training programs, I was pleased to find that most recommended some cross training at least once a week.  I'm looking forward to jumping back into the pool.  I have no excuse as to why I've not been swimming in so long, but it's time to quit being lazy and use my non-running days as swimming days.

6.  And, while I'm loving running and looking forward to swimming again starting Sunday, I'm also determined to lower the number on the scale.  I almost cried the other day when I weighed myself.  And all pictures taken of me lately make my stomach turn.  I have no one to blame but myself, so there will be no whinning, just running and swimming and not eating junk food.

7.  So since I'll be swimming and running, what are your favorite songs to work out to?  And since I'll be eating healthy, what are your favorite healthy quick snacks?

Have a great weekend!


Intrinsic Evil and Grace

While The Man and I were in Texas for our NFP Teacher Training we learned so much and so many things stuck out to me, but one has given me more pause for personal reflection than any of the others.  When talking about how NFP and contraception differ, Joe used the phrase 'intrinsic evil' to describe contraception.  And it was either the look on my face that clearly told him he'd used a word too big for me or his need to drive the point home that prompted him to explain further what 'intrinsic evil' meant.  Something that is intrinsically evil is evil all of it's own doing or existence and will cause harm regardless of intention.

It was a huge AHA moment for me.

I had never stopped to consider how using contraception had harmed our marriage until that very moment.  And how using NFP has healed our marriage.

You would think with the financial issues we've had, that if we were going to fight it would be about money, right?  I mean s.ex surely couldn't be a reason for argument for a couple using contraception right?  "The Pill" is freeing and allows for anytime intercourse.  But, we actually didn't fight too often about money.  It was always a point of stress, but one that more appeared as shared frustration, disappointment and embarrassment.  Not so much blame or arguing.

What we did fight about was s.ex.  And by the time we decided to throw the pills away, we were both wondering if maybe there was something wrong with us.  Not only were we each wondering if there was something wrong with ourself, but the wondering if there was something wrong with the other had started to creep in as well.  There was more hurt and were more tears shed on this issue than on all other issues combined.

And then, without fully understanding the moral reasons, one day we decided that there would be no more pills.  And took a leap of faith that would lead us down a road of 4 months of abstinence.  By choice.  And since that day?  There has not been one fight or argument about s.ex.  Not. a. single. one.  For 5 and 1/2 years, it was the one area of our marriage that we both agreed needed to be better.  And for 1 and 1/2 years it has been better.  Much. better.

I once heard God's grace defined as 'God doing through me what I am unable to do on my own.'  This journey from contraception to NFP has been easy for us.  Easier than we ever expected.  It has been grace filled.  And I see now, that God's grace was keeping us together and fighting for our marriage even while we fought with each other; even when we brought evil into our lives.


The World is Different, Again

"Osama Bin Laden, as is known, claimed responsibility for grave acts that spread division and hate among the peoples, manipulating religion to that end. A Christian never takes pleasure from the fact of a man's death, but sees it as an opportunity to reflect on each person's responsibility, before God and humanity, and to hope and commit oneself to seeing that no event become another occasion to disseminate hate but rather to foster peace."
 ~Vatican Response to the Killing of Osama Bin Laden

I went to sleep last night before the world changed.  And when I woke up this morning, I blinked my eyes and did a double take as I read my Twitter Newsfeed.  And then I just let it sink in.  I wondered what the rest of the story was.  I told The Man the news and noted that there wasn't happiness in my voice.  I didn't have the words to say how I felt, so I didn't say anything else.

Almost 10 years ago, the world changed.  Forever.  And today the world is changed again.  Forever.

But to celebrate the killing of another human being is just something I cannot do.

What I can do is thank the Navy Seals and service men and women who've been fighting the war on terror.  They leave their families and put their lives in danger, something I have the freedom to choose not to do.  I can put my American Flag outside as a symbol that I am proud to be an American.

And I can be proud to be Catholic.  On a day when it is 'cool' to celebrate death, the Church gave a beautiful example of just what being Christian means.

This world is different.  Again.  God is not.

So, I join with Maggie (and many others of you) and I pray for Bin Laden's soul.