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Showing posts from November, 2010

Advent: Preparing for Christ

He is Coming! Turn on the radio, visit any shopping place, and you might be misled into believing that the Christmas season has already begun. Christmas music and decorations assault us throughout our shopping and preparations. However, the official Christmas season does not formally begin until the first Mass celebrated on Christmas Eve. Ironically, when the retail world deems Christmas over, on December 26, it’s really just beginning! The formal Christmas season continues through the Epiphany on January 6. Yesterday Catholics celebrated our New Years Day, the beginning of the new liturgical year, with new missals, new songbooks, and new readings. This season that kicks off our year is called Advent and it’s a very special time where we prepare our souls for the coming of Jesus. Remember when you were a child how the anticipation of an event thrilled you. You couldn't concentrate on anythine other than what was coming - a birthday, a vacation, some exciting event? You went ove

Blessings of Thanksgiving for Families

Our national holiday of Thanksgiving takes its origins from a feast held in 1621 by the Pilgrims and Wampanoag to celebrate a successful harvest, offering thanks, gratitude, and appreciation to God. Our family includes one particular tradition to remind each of us that Thanksgiving Day isn’t just about the food, family and football. Before our meal, we gather in a circle to listen as each person shares what they’re thankful for, and then we pray together as one family.  This has always been my favorite part of the holiday, to hear everyone, young or old speak from their heart, and you can always count on two things during this circle of Thanks – tears and laughter. When our Thanks have been offered, we are led in prayer. One year, my Aunt read this prayer to our family.  Though I don’t know whether she found it somewhere or wrote it herself, I kept the copy she read from because I found it strikingly beautiful to be prayed aloud in the presence of my family. Lord, bless

The Pope, The Church and Condoms

Though we have been a little quiet here lately on Of Sound Mind and Spirit , we couldn't head into the holiday without a post about the recent controversy over the Pope's statements.  The mainstream media's reaction to the story would have the casual reader believe the Catholic Church has contradicted it's longtime position on human sexuality.  Pope Benedict's comments are much more nuanced and complex than that. First thing we know is to not accept any story from the AP at face value.  So when you read a headline screaming, "Pope says some condom use 'first step' of morality" you should immediately want to find the Pope's actual comments on condoms and read them for yourself.  You may also want to read the Vatican's clarification . Then head over to read Thomas Peters at CatholicVote.org for an in-depth discussion with links to others including Archbishop Chaput .  In "Condoms, Consistency and the Vatican's Crisis of (mi

Be Still and Live in the Presence of God

As we rush headlong into the holiday season, I find myself driving here and there, crossing items off my never ending “to do” list; preparing for birthdays, holidays among other responsibilities. My determination to achieve all things is so great that I risk forgetting the most important item. I need to be silent. To be still.  To spend time listening to God. Sitting in carpool one day, Matthew Kelly’s words in A Call to Joy reminded me of this necessary silence I often neglect.   “ Silence is the best way to remember the presence of God.  When we live in the presence of God, we dance for joy.” Amazingly, when I do take the time to focus on what is truly important, God, my life feels manageable and calm even in the middle of all the madness.  Being silent and still allows me to place God at the center and surround myself with His presence.  Sitting silent, allows me to reflect on all that is good and blessed in my life this Thanksgiving.   As you make your own Thanksgiving “to

Texas Voters Demand Strong Conservative House Speaker

Many of us in Texas take our local state politics for granted. After all, our state legislature only meets every two years for a brief 140 calendar days.   The men and women we elect to serve as Texas Senators and Representatives are typically average citizens with regular jobs who must take a leave of absence during the months the legislature meets.   This keeps our elected representatives from getting too closely involved in Texans lives and business affairs.   Unlike many other states, the Texas Speaker of the House holds a great deal of power in appointing the committee chairs and ultimately controls what bills and issues will come before the House for a vote. Before the last legislative session, in January 2009, 11 Republicans with a majority of Democrats formed a coalition to oust the staunch conservative Speaker of the House, Tom Craddick .   This bipartisan coalition then elected Joe Straus R-San Antonio, a moderate Republican who pledged to not show favoritism to his own

Support Veterans through The Lone Survivor Foundation

After yesterday's stunning post from Matt about Veterans Day , we thought this would be a good opportunity to highlight a new Veteran's organization.  Three years ago our family took turns reading about Marcus Luttrell and his Seal Team in Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10 .  A few years ago, I had the honor of meeting Marcus.  A humble hero who survived to share the story of his fallen brethren, he is now focused on creating and developing the Lone Survivor Foundation in order to serve other wounded warriors.  Their first event on October 20, 2010 brought out 600 people and raised over $250,000 to formally launch their project, and they have future events planned to raise awareness and volunteers.  When I learned one of my sorority sisters, Meghan McDermott Roth, works for the Lone Survivor Foundation , I offered our blog to help them spread the word.  After running 3 miles yesterday in her "boots" as part

What Does It Mean to Be a Veteran Today?

To Honor Veteran's Day, we asked my friend Major Matt Rhees to share what it means to him to be a veteran.    You can go here to read a little about Matt . Thank you Matt for your sacrifice and continuing service so we might remain a free country. **************************** I was asked to write about what it means to be a veteran today and how best to support our returning veterans from overseas. The first is a hard question for me to answer. I still consider a veteran to be an old dude wearing one of those tall old man caps who served in World War Two, or Korea, or Vietnam. I’m not old enough to be a veteran: in my mind, I’m still a foul-mouthed 20 year old punk who loves serving his country and putting on the uniform every day. I’ve never done what I do for a special day of recognition, I do it because I ‘m not afraid to do what many others are not able to do. I do it so that others don’t have to do what I do. I’ll attempt to convey what I think and what my peers and I talk

Introduction to a Guest Post for Veterans Day

To honor Veterans Day, Shelly and I asked the questions: What does it mean to be a veteran in 2010? What can we, as patriotic Americans, do for our returning Veterans? For an answer to our questions, I reached out to Army Major Matt Rhees, a friend of mine from my teenage years. Matt and I became friends while waiting tables together at a steakhouse in Tulsa, OK during high school. While we kept in touch through our college years living in different states, it wasn’t until joining FaceBook a few years ago that he and I got back in touch. Matt enlisted in the US Army in 1996 and served for several years before returning to Graduate School at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. Commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in January 2000, he joined the Arkansas Army National Guard as a Field Artillery Officer. He mobilized in June 2005 and deployed to Iraq in November as Company Commander of 151 officers and men, where they conducted missions of convey escort and area security north of Baghd

Blesseds and Saints: Clarification

Last week in our review of 39 New Saints You Should Know , I stated that I found the title slightly misleading, since those beautified are not officially Saints. Over the weekend, the author, Brian O'Neel, graciously emailed us to clarify this very common misconception. We have his permission to share the clarification: "There is no difference between blesseds and saints as such, as if one is before the Beatific Vision and the other not. Both are and are thus "saints" in that technical sense. It's just that saints qua saints are proposed for universal veneration, whereas the veneration of blesseds is usually reserved to a particular region or nation. (Or it has been this way traditionally; with the explosion of communications and the media, blesseds are increasingly universal.) This is why Pope Benedict has directed that beatification ceremonies no longer take place in Rome but in the blessed's native area. But in terms of their place in heaven, much less t

Heaven

I usually prepare my CCE lesson early in the week, preparing handouts or activities Thursday night or Friday, and then do a quick re-read/refresher on Saturday. But for one reason or another, I left this week's lesson until the last minute – taking my first look at it on Saturday night. After praying, I opened the book and began my outline for the lesson on Grace and Heaven. As each student arrived in the classroom, they received a blank piece of paper and were asked to draw a picture of heaven. Once they were told that there is no “right” answer, just draw what they imagine heaven is like, they settled down and got right to work. One student drew God sitting in a beach chair at sunset, several drew houses, castles in the clouds, a kingdom, God with their pets or other loved ones. All students drew a happy place with bright colors. Their work reminded me how the Bible describes the vision of heaven in similar ways… the “kingdom of God,” “a paradise,” “my Father’s house,” “a banque

Historic Election...Now the Hard Work Begins

Waking up to these historic election results felt great this morning. Overwhelmingly, Americans came out in support of pro-life conservative Republican candidates. Even in states that are considered true blue, conservatives were elected in many House Districts. It was a great night for conservative Republican Governors with most of the gubernatorial elections going red. Last year, Time magazine proclaimed Republicans an endangered species, assuming like so many others, that Obama’s election signaled a mandate for big government in our country. However, t he message sent by American voters yesterday remind us that our nation is still a center-right country that believes in our nation’s founding principles. I realize that there are pundits and talking heads downplaying the significance of the election results, focusing on specific Senate races not won in the conservative wave. Don’t listen to them. Just look at the facts. Republicans picked up 65 House seats Biggest wave of

VOTE - Today's The Day!

Today's the Day!  For almost two years average Americans have been waking up, pushing back from the kitchen table, and paying attention to the direction our government is taking. We've attended Tea Party rallies, called our Congressmen, attended Town Hall meetings and discussed current political issues with our friends and neighbors. Many of us say we want Washington to hear us, to understand us, to finally get our message of smaller, more responsible government. Today's the Day!  Turning out to vote today will send a message to not only Washington, but also to the media, political pundits and our fellow Americans.  We will tell them that commonsense is alive in our country. This is it.  The first step in getting our country headed back in the right direction.  To save our children and grandchildren from insurmountable government debt.  To head back to the First Principles our country was founded upon.  Today's the Day! Take Pride in the Freedom and Rights o

If I ... I Will - An Interview With the Author

If I ... I Will Book Shelly and I were invited to be a stop on a Blog Tour in support of a new Christian book, If I ... I Will about the suffering woman in Mark 5 whom Jesus healed.  Through personal experiences, the author, Debbie Sutton Covington , does a good job exploring the story and suffering of this woman in Mark 5 to help the reader step past our own suffering and reach for Jesus' hand to be healed.    As part of the Blog Tour, I had the opportunity to interview the author, Debbie Sutton Covington, via email. What inspired you to write about this topic? The word “if” jumped out at me one day in study and The Spirit spoke to me about how you have to be willing to take a step and that is the “if.” You will receive healing, but it is an “if” until you do something.   The Spirit prompted me to share with others about taking “the step” - The Step of Faith by writing this story. What drew you personally to the story of the suffering woman in Mark 5?