Wednesday, January 23, 2013

A Reason To Be Thankful

It's been bitter cold these past few weeks. Bitter cold. The "this makes me not want to ever go outside" kind of cold. Temperatures in the low teens every day, sometimes dropping into the frigid single digits. It's all I can do to make it from the door to my car that is parked in the garage. I'm just glad there is never a significant windchill here in Utah.

The severity of the cold triggered a distant memory that I had all but forgotten. It was one of those moments in life when you sit back and think, "Thank God that I'm blessed with what I have."

In March of 2008 we were driving back from a family vacation and we made our way through scenic Wyoming. It was getting pretty late and after fighting with some severely tired eyes we decided that it would be a good time to stop at a motel for the night. We found some cheap, musty hotel just off the freeway and I ran inside to book the room. The freezing air whipped all around me as I jumped back in the car with room key in hand. We found our parking spot and I jumped out to unload the kids and the necessary bags for our quick night's stay.

I opened the back door of the car and lifted up my 4 year-old boy who was fast asleep. We had to climb some stairs to get to our room, and their were lots of bags to haul in, so I needed him to stand up and walk by himself. When I placed him on the ground he stumbled drowsily and the howling wind left him even stunned and confused. He began to cry because of the unbearable cold, and feared going up the tall staircase all by himself.

As I bent over to put his coat on, I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude that I had a coat for him to wear. In a way like never before, my heart literally filled with a powerful emotion of gratitude as God made an impression on me by communicating, "You are blessed". I caught a small glimpse of what it must have been like to take my poor children and travel with them across the plains in the severest and most dire conditions as did the early pioneers* and settlers. I had something they didn't, I had the luxury of putting a coat on my child, and a nice pair of shoes. Most importantly, I could tell my little boy with certainty that he would shortly be in a warm place.

Can you imagine the heartache and pain of having your children exposed to the harsh and frigid elements and not being able to do anything about it? Not being able to place a warm jacket on them, or bring them into a nice cozy home warmed by a nice modern heating system? Those dear pioneers who lost children due to exposure - my mind and heart can't even comprehend it.

God bless all those who are out in the cold. God bless all those children who need a blanket, a nice meal, and the assurance that they will soon be somewhere warm. I'm thankful that my children have all this and more.

*Interestingly enough, one of the earlier pioneer companies had set up camp very near to this spot in Wyoming where we were, and more than 200 people died from starvation and cold in the fall of 1856.

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Monday, January 14, 2013

Welcoming Dad

This is the best part of my day, by far! Is there any wonder why? Not many people have this kind of reaction when I come into the room. This is just one reason why this angel baby has stolen my heart.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

My Child Is Worth More Than Yours

What price would you put on a child? What price would you put on YOUR children? How about those of Sandy Hook Elementary? What about children in other countries, are they worth less than us?

It appears they are, according to the viewpoint of some. How can we justify the killing of hundreds of thousands of children in war? Take a view of this 0:23 second clip and let me know your opinions of then US Secretary of State Madeline Albright. Look into her face and eyes, where is the love in them? If you read the description of the video, you will see General Richardson say the same thing. That the policy allowing 500,000 innocent children to die was the right thing. Why does the policy that allows 20 children at Sandy Hook to die need to be changed, while the policy that kills half a million doesn't?

I'm sad to say the answer is because our children our more valuable than other people's children around the world.

But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.

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Friday, January 4, 2013

Les Miserables at the Movies

I have yet to see the movie Les Miserables in the theater, but was expecting to. I then came across this article from "The Catholic Wife" and now I'm not as excited to go. Here's what she said. What are your thoughts?

Les Mis – A Drop of Poison Spoils the Cup

I think it’s important to protect your own soul from impurity – crude or mean lyrics in music, excessive violence, and the ever over-sexualized media in TV, ads, and movies. It’s not easy to do since it calls for withdrawing from social norms and allowing others to label you as an extremist, but it’s worth it. For example, we used to watch The Office all the time – hilarious, right? we never missed an episode; but somewhere along the line, sexual humor was pretty strongly woven into the dialogue and plot. Sure the show’s hysterical, but when it comes down to brass tacks, general disrespect toward sex and its sacramental purpose is unacceptable. We don’t watch media with sexual content; movies with scenes of sexuality in them are ruled out because it’s just not pure and holy to watch other people, acting or not, and we don’t want to invite such content into our home.
What you accept/watch/read reveals the inner on-goings of your soul, what you value, and what you don’t. I haven’t always subscribed to this approach – there was plenty of music and media that I won’t encounter again because despite a good beat, plot, or lesson involved, it came at the cost of purity of heart; which, according to Christ, is the ability to see God (Matthew 5:8). And I excused myself from this rule saying that I wasn’t been corrupted or compromised.
image from
image from
Let me say that I’m not commenting on Les Miserables by Victor Hugo or the stage production, but rather the most recent movie release. Truth be told, I haven’t read the book and it’s been 10 years since I went to the production. I was over the moon for the movie to come out and anticipated its release for months and months. Since seeing it on stage, I memorized the soundtrack, shouting “2-4-6-0-1″ from my room in high school and blaring “One Day More” on repeat in the car. Sitting in the theater the other day, I breathlessly awaited the main theme once Jean Valjean tore up his parole papers and knew I was in for an amazing experience.
I saw Les Mis this weekend and I don’t think it’s worth seeing – at least in-theater.
The music and actors have nothing to do with it, neither does the general story because all were sublime. There’s no denying the rush of the score and the fervor in the lyrics, both of which were powerful. I don’t recommend the movie because, at least while it’s in theaters, you can’t skip over the gross sexuality on display, and on such a huge scale.  In addition to the general sexuality within the first part of the movie (completely through “Master of House”), there were two sexual scenes/shots – one could have been cut entirely and the other didn’t have to be nearly as explicit as it was. If you’ve seen it, I’m referring to the entire “Lovely Ladies” scene including Fantine’s first “client” as well as the general behavior in “Master of the House,” which includes the “Santa shot.” [Spoiler alert] –> Silly me, I didn’t realize how involved the on-screen adaptation would be once Fantine sold herself into prostitution, especially once Hollywood got a hold of it; even setting her tragic situation aside, the blatant immodesty among other characters (both main and chorus) was already too much, but was then further emphasized by cinematography. How many shots of overly revealing attire do you need??
Les Mis, as a movie, was poisoned by both significant and subtle exploitation of sexuality and the human body; and what could have been a beautiful story purely portrayed left a bad taste of “it was ok, but…” It’s a genuine tragedy since so many Catholic themes are presented throughout the rest of the film, including God’s saving grace, the welcoming charity among religious communities, the difference between allowing your heart to be softened by faith versus hardened within it (Valjean vs. Javert), and a monsignor who shows remarkable compassion and mercy. Thank God I can find this actualized elsewhere.
So what, you’re going to write off the whole movie based on 2 brief scenes and some low-cut dresses? Yes, I am. We live in a time when too often people do the opposite by writing off sexuality in media for the sake of a good story, a funny sitcom, or a drama that gets you hooked. But at what cost am I willing to be entertained? Is it worth letting my soul’s guard down to see “A Heart Full of Love” so sweetly performed? No. Please note that I’m well aware that this film could and will draw others to God, to Christ, to the Church, but my suggestion is that, for those of us who already hold dear the aforementioned Catholic themes, seeing the movie in-theater is inadvisable because the sexuality is unavoidable. 
The bottom line and my own concluding 2 cents is that life can be lived better without seeing Hollywood’s adaptation of Hugo’s novel – at least in theater. My thoughts have nothing to do with the story itself or the difficulty of the historical age, but rather speak to Hollywood. If you must see it, wait for the DVD or Blu-Ray release so you can skip the trashy scenes. In hindsight, I wish I had stuck to the soundtrack and production in my memory.
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there be any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8 RSV)

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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Demand a Plan - Sandy Hook Elementary

Have you seen this latest public service announcement that includes a huge list of celebrities all pleading with us to "demand a plan" of action to stop gun violence.

In my opinion, "actors speak louder than words." Check out this video which includes the celebrities words and works as well.

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One Of My Secrets

Many of you don't know that I'm an avid boxer. Here is me with my gloves on.

Here is a video of me in action.

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