Sunday, September 11, 2011

I remember

September 11, 2011

Yesterday while cleaning out a closet, I ran across a box of old 8mm video cassettes. We haven’t used our old video camera in years because the batteries stopped holding a charge and we could no longer find replacements for it. Since my three youngest girls were fairly young when we used that camera, I knew they had never viewed any of the tapes. We found audio wires and hooked the video camera up directly to the TV. What fun it was to see what the girls looked and sounded like over 10 years ago. We laughed and shared memories that had long been forgotten.

This past week I’ve been preoccupied with other memories of 10 years ago. This is the first time the younger girls have asked questions about what happened on Sept 11, and their questions brought back feelings I haven’t visited in quite awhile. It’s not as if I’ve forgotten. It’s something that comes to mind more often than I probably realize. But as I pulled out the yellowed newspapers and stack of magazines from years ago, a sadness came over me that I thought was long gone. It wasn’t quite the same as it was when the events unfolded that first year. But I felt it again. I remembered being scared. I remembered all the tears I shed. I remember saying goodbye to my husband and not knowing where he was going or if he would come back home. I remember trying to explain to toddlers where their daddy was. I remember not being able to stop watching TV as our soldiers went to war with an unconventional enemy. I remember seeing reports of wives with small children who were burying their soldiers. And I thought, there but for the grace of God go me. We were spared that grief and my husband returned to us. Our country asked us to live our lives and not let terrorism rule us. And so each day for the past 10 years we’ve gotten out of bed every day and tried to do just that.

I am happy that my youngest girls don’t remember how it felt to survive 9/11. It’s a sadness I hope they never have to endure. I will probably answer more questions in the coming years and try to help them understand what it was like. But I think for them it will always be similar to watching part of their childhood unfold on those old video tapes. They know it was real but they have no memory of it.

God bless all of those who died that day on the three planes and in the buildings that were hit, the firefighters and rescue workers, the people of New York, our soldiers and their families.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Disordered Self Love

I was recently saddened and angered by the July 30 article in our local newspaper, The Jasper Herald featuring a lesbian couple raising a child. I was not angered at the two women in the story, but at The Herald who should have never run a story like this. I am proud to live in a city that is primarily Christian and significantly Catholic. This article did not represent the values that the majority of the citizens here hold dear to them. What a shame that our newspaper chose to write a story for the purpose of promoting a sinful lifestyle. I would feel the same had they decided to promote the immoral lifestyle of a man and a woman living together outside of marriage. But that wasn’t the point of the story. The only point was to highlight the same sex lifestyle in our city. The people in the story are God’s children and as disciples of God we are all called to love them and guide them to live a holy life leading to the eternal reward of heaven. But we cannot and should not support this type of lifestyle. My thoughts on this have nothing to do with whether these two women are good people. It has nothing to do with judging them, which is in God’s hands not mine. The article showed that they are happy and feel comfortable here which means that they are surrounded by people who love them. That is a good thing. But that does not make their choices right. In their world, men are unimportant and reduced to sperm donors. How will they convey that message to the child they are raising? It is impossible to create a child without both a man and a woman. This is a fact and in itself is one reason that same sex relationships are disordered and unnatural to the human race. It has nothing to do with how anyone “feels”. It has nothing to do with the right to love whoever you want. It’s the way we are created. The Catholic Church does not condemn anyone who suffers from same sex attractions. But acting on it is always immoral. The Church will always accept them, but in turn explains that in order to walk with Christ they must live a life of chastity. God will give them the grace they need through the gift of free-will to reject a life of sin separated from the one who created them. Jesus never accepted sin. Not once. He loved the sinners but required them to repent and turn away from their sinful ways in order to receive salvation. These two women are choosing to sin because it is easier to be self-gratifying than to do God's will. I wonder if anyone has asked them to consider that they might be wrong. The implications of that are frightening.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Mercy is never easy to understand

Like most people in our country and perhaps the entire world, I am still trying to process last nights news of the demise of the United States number one enemy, Osama Bin Laden. As I watched the details unfold on TV and then the somber speech of our President, I wasn't sure how I was supposed to feel. Was I supposed to be relieved, happy, thankful? As a Christian, who values human life without exception, would I have rather they had captured him alive? Truthfully I don't know how to feel. I just know that seeing newspaper headlines that state "May he rot in Hell" didn't make me feel good at all. My Catholic faith and love for Jesus and all he taught does not allow me to pass judgment. It's gravely sinful to wish eternal condemnation on any living soul no matter who they are or what they have done. I can't speculate on his eternal sentence because truthfully it's very possible that he asked for mercy in the end. It's possible that he received it.

Honestly, when I think about whether the world is better off with or without Bin Laden, that answer is easy. He never stopped planning to kill. He said many times over the past 10 years how happy he was with the outcome of 9/11 and promised more attacks. I'm not sure exactly what evil looks like but that man is as close as I can imagine a disciple of Satan would be. And now that evil has been removed. How could I be unhappy about that?

And yet it saddens me to see so many people rejoicing and praising the death of a human being. I do understand the motivation behind it but I can't join in. Our Lord is never happy to lose a soul, if that is indeed what happened. Jesus loved the sinners as much as the faithful. He came to convert the wicked and forgive their sins. He said that over and over again and proved it in his actions. He would expect nothing less than that from all of us. And so I hope that Bin Laden repented.

I went to Mass this morning and prayed the Divine Mercy Chaplet. I prayed it in honor of all of the souls who were lost on 9/11. I prayed for their families and for everyone affected by the horror of that day. I prayed for all the soldiers and their families who have been affected in the past 10 years because of the actions of one man's hatred. And I prayed to our Lord for the strength to understand the infinite beauty of his Mercy.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Source and Summit

As I was preparing to go to our diocese Source and Summit teen retreat this weekend as a chaperone, I wasn't quite sure what to expect. I had seen the promo video and visited their website for information. But it could never accurately describe how it felt to be there. It was to put it simply, Amazing.

I could say that the very best thing about the weekend was being able to share the experience with my daughter. (She was so excited to finally be old enough to go). But that isn't exactly the experience we had. True we were both there in the same place, but she was not really with me. We rarely spoke to each other all weekend. In fact the kids really did not interact with us that much. We were in the presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament almost the entire time through all the talks and music. The gym became an Adoration Chapel and a place for them to learn about how much Jesus loves them. It was as if God took over and made me see that these kids belong to him. He’s letting us love them and guide them but they are his children first. She didn't need to come to me for assurance or for help with anything at all. She had Jesus and that was all she needed.

Last night she told me that all of the friends she went to Source and Summit with are the kind of kids she needs to be hanging out with. She said she realizes that some of the kids at school are a bad influence and do a lot of things they shouldn’t be doing. It was at that instant that I could see God in her life. I finally understand that I can only do so much and I can't shelter her from everything and everyone. As much as I want to hold her close and protect her, I need to also trust her to make good decisions. My job is to lead her, to set boundaries, to live my faith and listen. God helped me this weekend to see that he will always show me when I need to step in and when I just need to step back and let him speak to her. I could never have forced this experience on her. I can take her to church but I can't make her pray. I can explain how important the Sacrament of Reconciliation is, but she has to be the one to let God take her hand and lead her there not only physically but spiritually as well. I can tell her she should love and honor Jesus but only He can move her to the tears that flowed while being in his presence in Adoration.

This glimpse of my daughters growth in her faith has made me realize that it truly is in God's hands. As much as I'm a mother bear wanting to protect my children from everything that may influence them, I need to let go a bit and trust him with my child, he will take her where she needs to go.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Words with Friends

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted, not because I’ve been busy (well I'm always busy), but because I just haven’t felt like writing about our very long deployment. It’s just been better for me to cope in silence rather than spill it all out for the world to read. It’s not that I’m sad or angry or miserable or suffering. But really, it’s more because, like it or not, people ask me about it all the time so I’m forced to think about it and talk about it more than I want to anyway.

I’ve recently been playing a virtual board game with my sister and my brother’s wife Gloria, through iphone/iPad apps. Word’s with Friends is a Scrabble game app. Gloria and I have had some really close games and trade win’s back and forth frequently. She is a formidable opponent although truth be known, she is better at it than me. So when I win, it’s likely because she got crappy letters that round rather than me excelling at forming high scoring words. But it’s been fun and a nice distraction for me while I wait. The one thing Gloria and I don’t do very much in our games is talk about our personal struggles. We both are dealing with difficult situations in our immediate families. It would be natural to constantly ask about it, be supportive or express compassion. But we don’t. We just play scrabble. I won’t pretend that my situation is in any way as heartbreaking as what she is dealing with. My husband is in a combat zone and we haven’t been together as a family for a year and a half. It’s hard, but I’m not watching one of my children fight for their life. That to me is an unthinkable pain to bear. Gloria never asks me when Mike is coming home, how I’m doing, if he’s done after this, etc. Those are the questions I get almost daily from others. So while I still have to hear them all the time, it’s nice to have one person who doesn’t ask. It’s nice to not have to repeat the answers one more time. We just play Scrabble. And I don't ask too often about Kelly. She knows I care and I know she will send an email out if there is important information to share. We live in different states far from each other and we are enjoying a common love for word games. It’s about as normal as life can get and one way that I get through the longest days yet in this journey we’ve been on. I do understand when people ask me about it, so I answer and it doesn’t upset me. They have no way of knowing that they are the 4th or 5th person to ask me the same thing that week, sometimes that day. I'm sure Gloria gets many questions also and her days of waiting and watching helplessly are also very long. So we'll continue to play a simple board game, something normal in our world that has been anything but normal lately.

So to answer the open questions I mentioned above, Mike will be leaving overseas by the end of the week if all goes as planned. He will make a couple stopovers of unknown length. He could be back in the states within a day after leaving or as many as 4-5 days. He won’t be coming right home but will be heading back to his unit’s mobilization base to unpack, inventory, do paperwork, debrief, and convince the army that he’s not going to come home and go PTSD on us. He should be back in Indiana by mid-April. Yes he’s done for this deployment and will return to his civilian job, but he will continue to be in the Army for a few more years. So yes there is always a possibility of another deployment. Things change in the world every day and we can never be sure of anything. It’s part of the job and we are always prepared for that. It’s unlikely that I will be going to meet him when he returns. Truthfully I’ve been doing everything alone for so long now the thought of driving in a car for 12 hours and then having to leave him behind and drive 12 hours back home is not something I can take on at this point. The logistics of getting three kids back and forth to school, art club, band lessons, religious ed., Girl Scouts, etc. plus making sure homework gets done is not exactly an easy thing to pass off to other people. They need me to be here keeping their lives as normal as possible.

As for me, I am doing fine really. These past few weeks, the closer the end gets have really been the hardest probably for both of us. It’s been a really long journey and every day now drags on. Mike’s work days have basically come to an end there and now he just waits for his return flight. He sometimes goes in to work to help out or give support but he’s handed over the reins to the replacement team. We spend more time now chatting on Skype and he’s been trying to acclimate himself to our time zone here to make the transition easier. The best news of all is that all of his guys are safe and the last of them are also waiting to return home this week. Families will reunite and life will get back to normal. And I will breathe a sigh of relief finally when I see his face and we can pick up where we left off.

I found this poem below and altered it just a bit to fit my circumstances. This is in honor of all military wives


I never wore the uniform,
no medals on my chest.
The band it doesn’t play for me,
I am not among “the Best.”
I do not march in cadence,
I do not rate salute,
I stand among the silent ranks,
our devotion absolute.

If you’ve not worn my shoes,
you do not know my story.
I live a life of sacrifice,
my reward a private glory.
I’ve wept many silent nights away,
and I’ve kept the home fires burning.
I’ve worried and I’ve waited,
as world events were churning.

I’m not asking for your sympathy,
(although appreciation can be nice)
I did it quite on purpose though --
I chose to sacrifice.
I’ll tell you a secret now,
one you’d never guess.
About the one glory that is mine,
it’s enough; no more, no less.

When you and I stand together
as our national anthem plays,
I’ll fill with reminiscences
of how I spent those days.
I’ll know the pain and joys again,
that freedom isn’t free,
I’ll know I’ve helped to pay the price
and the anthem plays for me.