Saturday, December 19, 2009

Snowy Night

There is something so pure and peaceful about nighttime snow. After I checked on my sleeping son, I peered out of his window and smiled as hearty flakes fell upon our piece of the dream.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

40 Days For Life: Thoughts and Motivations

What an amazing time. 40 Days for Life has drawn to a close and now we give thanks and rejoice in the amazing strides made as a direct result of this campaign. 534 human beings saved! Eight health care providers and staff members left abortion clinics, citing an inability to continue to partake in the wrongdoing. Living proof (literally) of the power of prayer.

So on this brisk November night, we collectively caught our breath, offered thanks, and by candle light, joined together in song and prayer. This vigil has ended but there will be another. And another. You can count on it.

Of course, there was a bit of name-calling. Loser, psycho, freak, woman hater, nut bag, nut job, and whack job all come to mind. Par for the course, apparently. After a while, the shrill verbal assaults become minor background noise compared to the booming voice of prayer. When you know you're doing right, an angry shriek of contempt becomes small and irrelevant.

Still, by and large, reaction to the vigil has been overwhelmingly positive. Passing cars frequently honked as a show of support. Shouts of praise and encouragement were commonplace. It was clear by the number of people offering support that 40 Days participants were appreciated and welcome. We were clearly viewed as peaceful, unyielding opposition to the great evil occurring at Aanchor Health Services.

And let us not mince words. A great evil it is. This so-called "health center" offers suction abortion until 17 and 1/2 weeks gestation. 17 and 1/2 weeks! And it does so in a manner so cavalier, so brazen, it's nearly unbelievable. With soothing verbiage and evasive terminology, they avoid the brutal reality of their trade. I encourage even the most ardent abortion supporter to view their website and justify the unapologetic marketing of this heinous and unthinkable act.

A pre-born child, 17.5 weeks gestation.

As you might expect, many questions have been asked of me these past 40 days...Don't you have a better use of your time? Why are you so extreme? Why don't you people care about born children? Are you anti-woman? What about cases of rape and incest? What if the mother's life is at stake? Are you willing to take care of an unwanted child? Why are you pushing your religious beliefs on everyone else? How are YOU so sure of when life begins?

In summary, here is where I and millions of others stand. The words are my own:

**Human life is valuable, precious, and God given. Its value is not determined by age, ability or lack thereof, productivity or lack thereof, ethnicity, class, sexual orientation, or even by behavior. Life has worth in and of itself.

**Therefore, life begins when it starts. At conception. All other determinations are arbitrary, subject to interpretation and error. The risk of using gestational markers to define what it means to be human is an absurd and arrogant exercise. Obama was correct when he said that asking him to define when life begins was a request "above his pay grade". It is for all of us. Therefore, we take no chances and accept this gift when it is given. If an error is to be made, let it be on the side of life.

**As a corallary, opposition to abortion is not based upon nebulous, vaguely defined motivations. Nor is it a matter of foisting obscure religious beliefs on our fellow citizens. It literally is a matter of life and death. As such, even our opposition must logically allow that we are compelled to act by defending innocents and seeking to end elective abortion.

**Abortion is harmful to not only the infant, obviously, but to all those involved, especially women. The guilt and regret associated with the act is often life long. Despite cultural norms, most women are innately aware of their responsibility to protect children, not dispose of them. Psychological pain is often profound, despite any initial relief a woman may feel in freeing herself from a perceived burden. Silent No More, an organization comprised of women who regret their elective abortions, bears witness to this reality.

**In the rare but often cited instances where rape or incest results in pregnancy, the child is blameless and innocent. One tragedy should not be compounded by another.

**In the equally rare cases where pregnancy puts the life of the mother in imminent, grave danger, she must defer to her conscience and act accordingly. In my opinion, God does not ask that we die in order to bear a child. We are permitted to defend our own natural life when it is truly at stake. Most religious leaders agree with this perspective.

**Adoption is a realistic and loving alternative for those unable to care for a child. An arsenal of resources exist to assist women in the midst of a crisis pregnancy. The Gabriel Project is but one among countless others.

**The right to unfettered access to abortion nearly eliminates the importance of fatherhood and the inherent rights associated with it.

**We wish no harm to those providing abortion. We pray for their enlightenment and for the conversion of their hearts and minds. Most importantly, we pray for their souls. However misguided, they too are in need of our compassion.

**When it comes to participating in this and other pro-life efforts, my time is always well spent.


Watch for the next 40 Days For Life campaign...returning to hundreds of communities across America during Lent, Spring 2010. Please join us.

40 Days For Life

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Monday, March 16, 2009


Written words are at a premium for me these days. Maybe that's why I've gravitated to Facebook. I spout out a few lines and move on. It's the K-Mart version of blogging but it's all I can muster. Sorry to the folks who check-in frequently.

I'm just not in the mood for this right now.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Lent is Here People: Start Suffering!

(I'm semi-recycling a post here. I thought it generally got my point across last year. One more time on this one, if you don't mind.)

If suffering is the objective, we've certainly got that covered with these Lenten staples:

Oh well. So be it. I love Lent, actually. Guilt, suffering, and penance are wonderful filters for a dusty soul. Talk about the ultimate in spiritual spring cleaning! When Easter arrives, you just kinda feel scrubbed and spit-shined. On the inside. Deprivation also gives scale to the bounty and abundance in our jam packed lives. When you're doin' without, you just appreciate things more. Even manufactured fish rectangles. Yum yum.

And by the way, Sister Mary Martha, always true to form, summarily put the smack down on a reader last year for querying if abstinence from sugar, fat, and salt qualifies as high-end Lenten deprivation. On the face of it, Sister explained, the gentle reader's suggestion ranks right up there in the domain of self-induced miseries. As long as there is no personal gain from the offering. In other words, if she's doing without those yummy additives for Lent AND for the purpose of looking especially hot in her slammin' size 4 jeans, it's a no go. Your Lenten sacrifice has to be free of material side benefits and kick backs. Even if you're from Illinois.

So start figuring out which form of deprivation makes you the most miserable, and come tomorrow, start suffering. And for the love of Pete...don't look for Lenten loopholes in order to take a break from your wretched 40 days. Buck up and deal. You'll live.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

P.S...I Love You Too

Goal: Secure protection from under-bed/in-closet monsters, boogie men, and various extra-terrestrial life forms.

Be cool, stay polite, make it casual. Leave note in very obvious place, like on mom's computer keyboard. Close with the three words that are sure to seal the deal.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Lessons Learned: The Pinewood Derby

The Pinewood Derby. A time honored tradition among Cub Scouts and their parents. A chance for father and son (in our case father, mother, and son) to create something out of next to nothing, all in the hope that your certain something ends up being the fastest something to roll down a hill. Gravity is your ally. Your foes...friction and air resistance.

Your standard issue, regulation materials: one 5 ounce block of wood, 4 nails, and 4 plastic wheels. There you have it. The possibilities are limited only by your time, talent, and M.I.T. level engineering capabilities.

In the Chicago area, we don't have the luxury of housing production in garages or outside areas--It's just too cold. So the basement it is. Mom is nervous about paint, glue, etc. invariably landing on hardwood floors but trying to stay in the spirit of the thing. In other words, I shut-up.

Drill/carving dry-run. Note E's intensity.

Now, as you can imagine, there are some folks who just go over the top and once over again when it comes to manufacturing the most aerodynamic, friction free, expertly crafted wooden car known to the derby world.

Others opt for form over function...

And then there is E's, which is somewhere in the middle. Unfortunately, I have yet to snap a photo of it and the cars are still impounded. So I'll have to add that later. Suffice it to say, it was something like this:

The night before the big race, cars are officially weighed to ensure that the 5 ounce maximum is not exceeded. Then the tiny vehicles are impounded. These Cub Scout leaders know a thing or two about Cub Scout parents. Surely these cubmasters realize that if they don't confiscate the engineering marvels, moms and dads across the land will engage in all-nighters to perfect their creations. Worse still, parents are famous for showing up late no matter what start time is indicated. Better to impound the car the night before rather than battle it out with dad as to why little Cooper's wonder machine cannot be included. After all, they were "only 45 minutes late". I digress.

After several qualifying races, E placed a very respectable 4th place. Mom and Dad...jumping up and down ecstatic. E...let's just say his reaction was a bit more sedate...

J and I were thrilled that E not only participated but that he received a real, honest to goodness trophy. And guess what? It didn't say, "Honorable Mention for Those With a Pulse". It really, really said 4th place. E, on the other hand, was going for first and was bewildered by his parents' slacker mentality. To his credit, he held it together. But as you can see, he's also not beaming with pride.

So you see friends, we're still learning. We spent so much time on the car and the design ideas and the plans and the whole whoopity do dang dingle, we neglected the most important, most valuable part here. The fun. The joy. And somewhere along the line, E picked up on it. So for the time being, J and I are on an over-achiever moratorium. Call it a self imposed time out for mommy and daddy. Rehab for the results addicted parent.

Because we sure want to see a lot more of his pre-trophy demeanor:

And less of this:

E is pictured fourth, coincidentally.

Yes siree. We're learning, right along with him.

As for the trophy...well, let's just say E had a change of heart. On his way to bed that night, he retrieved the lesser award from where he had nearly discarded it several hours earlier.

"I guess this isn't so bad, huh?", he asked as he polished the trophy adornment with the top of his PJs.

"Not bad at all my sweet little bear. Not bad at all", I reassured him. And I held back a lump as we marched up the stairs to his bedroom, trophy clenched in his still baby-like, chubby hand. There are so many of these every day lessons in store for my little boy. And for us parents. You can always win another trophy. But you can never relive the joy of that exact, particular moment. You just have to hope that a similar opportunity presents itself. And with God's grace, there will be many more.

Enjoying our blessings as they are given instead of lamenting over the prize or the award not received. A goal for the whole family, apparently. And for many others, no doubt.