nurturing thursdays: i am taking care of you…as shared by pat

For those of you not yet familiar with my current undertaking, I am penning the journey of a dear friend and relative, Pat, as she wends her way through a thorny maze on her way to living her best life. 

You might say that Pat is awaiting her Prince Charming. He who will kiss her lips thereby restoring her to the life she knew before Maleficent cast an evil spell upon the unsuspecting Princess.

In real life, Pat is suffering not one but two, rare diseases which are no match for a hunky Prince Charming, let alone a lightweight like Princess Pat. Hunkering down within her, for the long haul, are Multiple Myeloma and Amyloidosis. Both involve an overproduction of amyloid protein cells which are deposited into organs with potentially devastating consequences. 

Pat is undergoing chemotherapy for MM and is contemplating a stem cell transplant at The Mayo Clinic some time in the future. As for AL, she will have to manage its symptoms with whatever resources are available to her. Besides a medical doctor, Pat is seeing a naturopath, an accupuncturist, and a massage therapist. With the approval of her physician she has taken a supplement to reduce the swelling to her tongue. That symptom alone has caused her to lose 20 pounds because she is unable to chew her food. Juices are about all she can manage these days.

Following is a passage from JESUS CALLING by Sarah Young which was sent to Pat by niece Kelli, one of many who are showering our dear relative with loving care and concern. 

I AM TAKING CARE OF YOU.

Feel the warmth and security of being enveloped in My loving Presence. Every detail of your life is under My control. Moreover, everything fits into a pattern for good, to those who love Me and are called according to My design and purpose.

Because the world is in an abnormal, fallen condition, people tend to think that chance governs the universe. Events may seem to occur randomly, with little or no meaning. People who view the world this way have overlooked one basic fact: the limitations of human understanding. What you know of the world you inhabit is only the tip of the iceberg. Submerged beneath the surface of the visible world are mysteries too vast for you to comprehend. If you could only see how close I am to you and how constantly I work on your behalf, you would never again doubt that I am wonderfully caring for you. This is why you must live by faith, not by sight; trusting in My mysterious, majestic Presence.

ROMANS 8:28 (AMP); JOB 42:1-3
1 PETER 5:7; 2 CORINTHIANS 5:7

…we are never alone…

………hugmamma.

(Enjoy other inspirational writings at
https://beccagivens.wordpress.com/2015/01/22/nurturing-thurs-let-it-go/ 

quench your thirst…and make some $$$

Sen. Joe Biden buys lemonade at the 2007 Itali...

Image via Wikipedia

Have you ever sold lemonade from a makeshift stand as a child? I have. Those were the good old days, when making a living was simpler. When I needed some spending money, my best friend and I would just throw together some cardboard boxes, from which we’d sell our freshly-made beverage.

In my time, we probably sold a cupful of lemonade for no more than a nickel. Maybe some kind adult would spend a dime so we could sell out faster, and get down to the real business…of playing. This recipe reminded me of my childhood and some of the fun times my friends and I had. Of course, in those days lemonade was…well, lemonade, made with lemons, water and sugar. I don’t think my mom would’ve pitched in for some fancy, schmancy fruits to add. She’d have probably asked “What are you making? Watermelon Raspberry Lemonade?!?” I don’t think she would’ve followed it up with “Are you crazy or something?!?” But you never know…you never know.

So go help your kids set up a lemonade stand, and do pitch in for the extra ingredients. After all these are not the “good old days,”…these are the “better than ever days.” And have a cupful yourself. Then get out there, enjoy the day with your kids…and play!!! Take the opportunity when you can, for one day you’ll be reminiscing like me…about the “good old days.”

Watermelon Raspberry Lemonade

Raspberries (Rubus Idaeus).

Image via Wikipedia

6 cups watermelon cubes (seeds removed)
1/4 cup raspberries
1 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 lemon juice

Place watermelon, raspberries and water in blender
container; cover and blend until smooth. Strain
through fine-mesh strainer into pitcher. Stir in sugar
and lemon juice until sugar dissolves. Refrigerate
until chilled, about 1 hour. Makes 4 servings.

Obviously you’ll have to up the quantity of ingredients. I don’t think 4 servings is going to make successful entrepeneurs of your children. Unless, of course, they have a little bit of Christ in them. You know, like when he multiplied a few fish and loaves of bread in order to feed the masses gathered about him. Or unless your little ones can pull off some of the stunts I’ve seen magicians do now days on America’s Got Talent.” What am I thinking? If you’ve got budding magicians in your household…forget about lemonade stands…even ones selling fancy, schmancy…Watermelon Raspberry Lemonade!

…save me a cup…oh, by the way…what’s the price?…hugmamma.  

 

“balancing action and inaction,” life

Jesus entering Jerusalem on a donkey

Image via Wikipedia

Today is Palm Sunday, signifying Christ‘s triumphal arrival into Jerusalem. A week from now we will be celebrating His resurrection from death. That is the pivotal point for all Catholics, when we are saved from eternal damnation. And so today begins the holiest week in the Catholic Church, and the busiest. Each day provides us an opportunity to participate in the ritual leading up to Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection.

During Jesus life on earth this next week, Holy Week, unfolded as his own personal hell. He went from riding on a donkey, his followers waving palm branches as they honored Him, to being scourged and made to carry a wooden cross, upon which he would then be nailed, a sign over his head mocking Him as king of the Jews.

The Passion of the Christ

Image via Wikipedia

Actor/Director Mel Gibson‘s movie shown several years ago, was the most horrific representation of Christ’s suffering from the moment He was struck repeatedly with leather straps whose tips bore lead beads, to the crown of thorns shoved mercilessly into his scalp, to the huge nails that were hammered into his hands and feet. I was unable to watch most of the film, and I tried to muffle the sounds by shoving my fingers into my ears. I hadn’t imagined how overwhelmingly gruesome the depiction would be. That is one movie I will never be able to watch again. Never.

I find it difficult to fathom the suffering human beings can endure. After today’s lengthy reading of the scriptures, Father Brian launched into his homily. The contrast was jarring. Somber words one minute, near-shouting the next. A mimimum of movement one minute, bold, sweeping ones the next. He spoke of a friend with whom he visited in Bellingham, a town bordering British Columbia. It was almost as though Father was speaking of Job, the man who couldn’t get a break from the bad stuff life was throwing his way.

Andy, Father Brian’s friend, was married, with a baby on the way. At about the time he and his wife learned of her pregnancy, he was stricken with cancer throughout his abdomen. He was going through chemotherapy treatment, which left him depleted. Advice from friends and loved ones runs the gamut from fighting the disease with all of his might, to letting go and allowing God‘s will be done. Needless to say the ordeal has Andy wafting in and out of depression. Somewhere along the line, the doctors discovered that the cancer has spread throughout his spinal column.

Jesus calls Lazarus to Life

Image by Lawrence OP via Flickr

Wouldn’t it be nice if Father Brian had the ability to relieve Andy of the cancer, by performing a miracle? That’s what the non-believers taunted as Christ hung on the cross. If He was truly the Son of God, then why didn’t His Father rescue Him? That, as we know, was not God’s will.

While Andy’s situation exemplifies human suffering at its worst, Father Brian drew a parallel between his life, Christ’s life, and our lives. Though our challenges may not be as great as theirs, like them we vacillate between agressively promoting that about which we are passionate, to passively accepting our fate and putting our lives into God’s hands. We are constantly seeking the right balance. In doing so Father concluded that we should not only pray for guidance, but that we should also find someone with whom we can openly share our sorrows.  Both will enable us to shoulder whatever burdens we will bear throughout our lives.

a fine balance…this gift of life…hugmamma.   

 

“turn, turn, turn,” a folk song

Joan Baez was a songstress who epitomized the folk song era. She had the peaceful appearance of the “flower children” who grew like wildflowers all over the 60’s landscape. And her voice lulled those who were listening, into believing that life was beginning to replicate Heaven. I wonder what she thinks of the way things have turned out decades later?

To everything turn turn turn there is a season turn turn turn
And a time to every purpose under heaven
A time to be born a time to die, a time to plant, a time to reap
A time to kill, a time to heal, a time to laugh, a time to weep

To everything turn turn turn there is a season turn turn turn
And a time for every purpose under heaven
A time to build up a time to break down, a time to dance, a time to mourn
A time to cast away stones, a time to gather stones together

To everything turn turn turn there is a season turn turn turn
And a time to every purpose under heaven
A time of love, a time of hate, a time of war a time of peace
A time you may embrace, a time to refrain from embracing

To everything turn turn turn there is a season turn turn turn
And a time for every purpose under heaven
A time to gain, a time to lose, a time to rend, a time to sew
A time of love, a time of hate, a time of peace, I swear it’s not too late

To everything turn turn turn there is a season turn turn turn
And a time to every purpose under heaven
To everything turn turn turn there is a season turn turn turn
And a time for every purpose under heaven

 

“trivial pursuit”

I’ve visited another blog site which is great at “housekeeping” and decluttering. Thought I’d try it with my brain. Need to empty it of tchotchkes every so often. So I’m decluttering, in no particular order.

  • Did you know that storing apples with other fruits will ripen the others more quickly?That’s something I need to constantly remind myself.
  • Walking around Seattle yesterday, lunching on a nice, healthy salad, and supping on shared appetizers with hubby, garnered me a weight loss of 2 pounds! Yeaaayyy! At my age, that’s some feat! And my feet didn’t hurt, either. Thanks to great walking shoes, Merrell’s.
  • With 21,082 spams to date, I’ve got a “spam club,” which I’ll gladly relinquish to anyonelse. Sage? Ellen?
  • Received an email that Ellen de Generes
    Ellen DeGeneres in 2009.

    Image via Wikipedia

    is following me on twitter. Not sure how that works. I just click “tweet,” and send it out into internet galactica. Have never visited “twitterville” myself. WordPress.com is mind-boggling enough for me. But I sincerely hope Ellen or her fun assistants have a laugh or two, or cry a tear or two, depending upon which post they’re perusing. Hmmm…just tried to send her a message, but can’t. Will have to delve into the machinations of Twitter. OMG!…more techy speak.

  • Can’t seem to get the hang of blog  buddies, so I’ll just continue to embrace the universe of bloggers. It takes all kinds, after all, and I’m just one kind.
  • Recently saw a segment of HGTV’s “House Hunters,” which featured a home remodel in
    City seal of Honolulu, Hawaii. Image created b...

    Image via Wikipedia

    Honolulu, Hawaii. Since I turned the TV on after the story had already begun, I didn’t see what the house looked like beforehand. Fronting the ocean, with completely unobstructed views, I could only imagine its original price tag. During the process of the remodel, the city, and then the state, prohibited the building process. Denying a permit, FEMA explained its concern about the proximity to the water and flooding issues. Did that stop the property owners? Maybe they blinked their eyes, but they went forward, leveling the house and its accrued $250,000 renovation up to that point. Raising the new house to a more acceptable height, it was completed. At $4 million, the completed home was breathtaking, inside and out. Now that’s my idea of “pie-in-the-sky,” a dream home in Hawaii. But for me, that’s exactly what it is…a dream.

  • A bowl of Bob’s Red Mill Oat Bran with 1 cup of blueberries, 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 1 cup of Silk’s vanilla, almond milk is my new BFF. Love, love, love that it keeps me “regular.”  😉
  •  Heard on the local news recently that sitting for 6 hours or more a day without taking breaks to move around, contributes to increased risk for heart disease, and premature death. According to the report, even those who work out 3 or more times a week aren’t exempt from the threat. And the strain of work puts females at a 40% risk for coronary illness than men. Something to seriously contemplate, and perhaps take steps towards changing one’s routine.
  • Well-meaning friends and relatives also help to clutter my brain. Here are some of their contributions.

How the Internet started 

A revelation with an Incredibly Big Message (IBM):

Well, you might have thought that you knew how the Internet started, but here’s the TRUE story…..

Molnár József: Ábrahám kiköltözése

Image via Wikipedia

In ancient Israel , it came to pass that a trader by the name of 
Abraham Com did take unto himself a young wife by the name of Dot. 

And Dot Com was a comely woman, broad of shoulder and long of leg. Indeed, she was often called Amazon Dot Com.

And she said unto Abraham, her husband: “Why dost thou travel so far from town to town with thy goods when thou canst trade without ever leaving thy tent?”

And Abraham did look at her – as though she were several saddle bags short of a camel load, but simply said: “How, dear?”

And Dot replied: “I will place drums in all the towns and drums in between to send messages saying what you have for sale, and they will reply telling you who hath the best price.

McDonnell Douglas MD-11(F) N273UP United Parce...

Image by Kuba Bożanowski via Flickr

 And the sale can be made on the drums and delivery made by Uriah’s Pony Stable (UPS).”  

Abraham thought long and decided he would let Dot have her way with the drums. And the drums rang out and were an immediate success Abraham sold all the goods he had at the top price, without ever having to move from his tent.

To prevent neighboring countries from overhearing what the drums were saying, Dot devised a system that only she and the drummers knew. It was called Must Send Drum Over Sound (MSDOS), and she also developed a language to transmit ideas and pictures – Hebrew To The People (HTTP)

But this success did arouse envy. A man named Maccabia did secret himself inside Abraham’s drum and began to siphon off some of Abraham’s business. But he was soon discovered, arrested and prosecuted – for insider trading.

And the young men did take to Dot Com’s trading as doth the greedy horsefly take to camel dung.

They were called Nomadic Ecclesiastical Rich Dominican Sybarites, or NERDS.

And lo, the land was so feverish with joy at the new riches and the deafening sound of drums that no one noticed that the real riches were going to that enterprising drum dealer, Brother William of Gates, who bought off every drum maker in the land.

And indeed did insist on drums to be made that would work only with Brother Gates’ drumheads and drumsticks.

And Dot did say: “Oh, Abraham, what we have started is being taken over by others.”

Image representing eBay as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

And Abraham looked out over the Bay of Ezekiel , or eBay as it came to be known. He said: “We need a name that reflects what we are.” 

And Dot replied: “Young Ambitious Hebrew Owner Operators.”
“YAHOO,”  said Abraham. And because it was Dot’s idea, they named it YAHOO Dot Com.

Abraham’s cousin, Joshua, being the young Gregarious Energetic Educated Kid (GEEK) that he was, soon started using Dot’s drums to locate things around the countryside. It soon became known as God’s Own Official Guide to Locating Everything (GOOGLE)

And that is how it all began.
 
 
Truuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuly!!!

The above was courtesy of my friend Sylvia, And the following was shared by my brother Ben.

cid:004d01cba06a$f3b58c10$0201a8c0@user542eef7362

life doesn’t get any better than this…hugmamma.

“comcast comes through!”…again

Great news! Mark Casem of Comcast Corp’s National Customer Operations has returned to save the day! I shouldn’t have doubted him, but this hectic, fragmented world being what it is, one never knows if connections will be maintained, or lost. Beyond that, I’ve always been a “doubting Thomas.” For those unfamiliar with the metaphor, Thomas was a disciple of Christ‘s who wouldn’t believe that He had risen from the dead Easter morning, until he, Thomas, could place his finger in the wounds inflicted when Christ was nailed to the cross, and where the guard had pierced a sword into His side ensuring that He was indeed dead. That’s me to a tee, a “doubting Thomas.”

My friend Sylvia has finally been in touch with Mark, and I’m hoping when I see her later today, her phone issues will have been resolved. As for my daughter’s phone problem, seems it’s gone away on its own. I pray that too will remain in the past…way, way in the past.

Should you encounter issues with Comcast, you should contact Mark Casem saying “hugmamma sent you.” He can be reached at We_can_help@cable.comcast.com, (Note that between “We” and “can” is an underline, as well as between “can” and “help.” They’re not visible because of the underline beneath the entire email address.) Mark can also be reached on Facebook or Twitter at Comcast cares or ComcastMark. He will need your account information and a link to my page. I’m not certain how you link to my blog, that’s why I recommended telling him I sent you.

we “davids” need to face “goliath” together…hugmamma.

“gays,” a rabbi’s viewpoint

Once again I’m reprinting the opinion of another author in my blog. Rabbi Shmuley Boteach interjects a very interesting and compelling argument in support of gays. None of us are experts, but those so inclined can try to infuse some logic and reason to level the playing field for those among us who have been relegated to society’s periphery.

I am familiar with the writings of Rabbi Boteach; I read his book The Michael Jackson Tapes – A Tragic Icon Reveals His Soul in Intimate Conversation. A compassionate man, the Rabbi felt he could help Jackson devote his talents to a greater cause than self-aggrandizement, in the hopes that his life would be more personally satisfying. Unfortunately, the two men went their separate ways, as it was difficult for the entertainer to relinquish his life in the spotlight. He returned to his fans, whose adulation forever defined who he was, even beyond death.

And so I commiserate with Rabbi Boteach’s empathy for gays. They should thrive as we do, for they are also the children of God.

My Jewish Perspective on Homosexuality

Carl Paladino, the Republican candidate for governor of New York, sparked controversy this week by declaring in a speech at an Orthodox synagogue that children shouldn’t be ‘brainwashed’ into considering homosexuality acceptable. He later apologized, saying that he supports gay rights but opposes gay marriage. The Rabbi who hosted Mr. Paladino’s speech then retracted his endorsement of the candidate.

Some people of faith insist that homosexuality is gravely sinful because the Bible calls it an ‘abomination.’ But that word appears approximately 122 times in the Bible. Eating nonkosher food is an ‘abomination’ (Deuteronomy 14:3). A woman returning to her first husband after being married in the interim is an ‘abomination (Deuteronomy 24:4). Bringing a blemished sacrifice on God’s altar is an abomination (Deuteronomy 17:1). Proverbs goes so far as to label envy, lying and gossip ‘an abomination to (the Lord)’ (3:32, 16:22).

As an orthodox Rabbi, I do not deny the biblical prohibition on male same-sex relationships. I simply place it in context. There are 613 commandments in the Torah. One is to refrain from gay sex. Another is for men and women to marry and have children. So when Jewish gay couples tell me they have never been attracted to members of the opposite sex and are desperately alone, I tell them, ‘You have 611 commandments left. That should keep you busy. Now, go create a kosher home. Turn off the TV on the Sabbath and share your meals with many guests. Pray to God three times a day for you are his beloved children. He desires you and seeks you out.’

I once asked Pat Robertson, ‘Why can’t you simply announce to all gay men and women, ‘Come to Church. Whatever relationship you’re in, God wants you to pray. He wants you to give charity. He wants you to lead a godly life.’ He answered to the effect that homosexuality is too important to overlook, as it is the greatest threat to marriage and the family. Other evangelical leaders have told me the same.

But with one of every two heterosexual marriages failing, much of the Internet dedicated to degrading women through pornography, and a culture that is materially insatiable while all-too spiritually content, can we straight people really say that gays are ruining our families? We’ve done a mighty fine job of it ourselves, thank you very much.

The excessive concern about homosexuality that is found among many of my religious brothers and sisters–in many Muslim countries being gay is basically a death sentence–stems from a fundamental misunderstanding of sin. The Ten Commandments were given on two tablets to connote two different kinds of transgression: religious and moral. The first tablet discussed religious transgressions between God and man, such as the prohibitions of idolatry, blasphemy and desecration of the Sabbath. The second tablet contained moral sins between man and his fellow man, like adultery, theft and murder.

Homosexuality is a religious, not a moral sin. A moral sin involves injury to an innocent party. Who is harmed when two unattached, consenting adults are in a relationship? Homosexuality is akin to the prohibition against lighting fire on the Sabbath or eating bread during Passover; there is nothing immoral about it, but it violates the divine will.

I am in favor of gay civil unions rather than marriage because I am against redefining marriage. But gay marriage doesn’t represent the end of Western civilization. The real killer is the tsunami of divorce and the untold disruption to children who become yo-yos going from house to house on weekends.

I have countless gay friends whose greatest fear, like that of so many straight people, is to end up alone. Should we just throw the book at these people? The Bible says, ‘It is not good for man to be alone.’ All I ask from my religious brethren is this: Even as you oppose gay relationships because of your beliefs, please be tortured by your opposition. Understand that when our most deeply held beliefs conflicts with our basic humanity, we should feel the tragedy of the conflict, not find convenient scapegoats upon whom to blame America’s ills.

Wall Street Journal, 10/15/10 (Rabbi Boteach is founder of This World: The Values Network, a national organization that promotes universal Jewish values to heal America. His latest book is ‘Renewal: A Guide To The Values-Filled Life’ (Basic Books, 2010).)

 hugs for the rabbi…hugmamma.

children, “clean slates”

A favorite saying has been that “Children are clean slates, upon which adults leave their chalk-mark.” Although babies are most likely born with individual personalities, it’s also very likely that adults influence their development to a great degree. Our passions and prejudices are passed along directly, or through osmosis. We are human, so it’s impossible to guarantee perfection when raising children. Nonetheless, we should make a concerted effort to guard against leaving a legacy of negativism to future generations. Easier said than done.

Change is inevitable; life isn’t stagnant. But while we can’t stop change, we can  control its direction. Viewing life through a baby’s eyes, it would seem only natural that he or she would want a pleasant environment in which to grow and  flourish. It’s not far-fetched to think that adults would agree.

Unfortunately, life has had a head start, our world seems already “set in stone.” War is waging all around us. Battles are being fought on every front: rich vs. poor, liberals vs. conservatives, Wall Street vs. Main Street, blacks vs. whites, Muslims vs. Christians, U.S. citizens vs. illegal immigrants; big businesses vs. small businesses. On the front line fighting are the stockholders, politicians, consumers, lobbyists, NAACP, Ku Klux Klan, “skinheads,” religious fanatics, families, farmers, pharmaceuticals, health insurance companies.

The fallout from our self-inflicted war is its negative impact upon our society, particularly our children. Many fear they will be saddled with our trillion-dollar national debt; I fear they’re already saddled with a psyche of distrust and dislike for anyone and anything, alien to the world in which they’ve been raised.

Children are “killing” children, as in the case of Tyler Clementi’s suicide brought about because his college roommate and a friend posted pictures on YouTube, revealing that Clementi was gay. Obviously the instigators grew up with a certain mind-set, and felt certain their revelation would be well received by millions having the same mind-set. That way of thinking, “us against them,” has been generations in the making, passed along without thought of the consequences to the most vulnerable among us, our children.

When we become adults I wish we could remember how it was growing up as children. Rose, a black girl at the orphanage where my mom worked, was forever picked on because she was mentally slow, stuttered, and built like an Amazon. With nowhere to go when she graduated from high school, my mom brought Rose into our home for a couple of years, to share what little we had. Another orphan, Fuji, was teased because he was slightly built and had effeminate tendencies. And I can remember telling “white lies” in elementary school to cover up being poor, wanting desperately to be accepted by others. How did we children know that being black, disabled, gay and poor were qualities that set us apart, like lepers, like outcasts? Why did our perpetrators know they could victimize us, and not be punished by the adults? It’s no wonder we grow up doing what was done to us, or by us, as children. Can the cycle ever be broken? I hope so.

I’m still trying to “wrap my brain around” the Human Rights Campaign. While I can’t identify with gays in their perception of life, I know in my gut that they are human beings deserving of the same respect that I demand for myself. Knowing several gay men, I’m aware of their incredible talent for business, and commitment to doing their utmost in their positions, most of them in management. Perhaps because they feel they have to prove their worth above and beyond their straight peers, gays are sensitive to their surroundings and those who cohabit them. Granted, there are those who are jerks, just like there are straights who are jerks. I avoid both, not because they’re gay or straight, but because their personalities don’t coalesce with mine. Period.

Repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is not an easy undertaking, not because it CAN’T be done, but because of society’s pervasive mind-set. Get rid of the mind-set, and I don’t see a problem. As children, weren’t we told to “get along with others?” I don’t remember being told only to play with “straight” boys and girls.

One of my best childhood guy friends, Michael, was very fashion conscious, seemed like one of the girls during sleepovers, eagerly joined in learning new dance steps, and was as heartbroken as me when my boyfriend and I broke up. My brothers referred to Michael as a “mahu,” (Hawaiian for “gay”), but that didn’t deter me from having him as a close friend. My mom thought he was a great friend, my girlfriends liked him, and my other guy friends, sports jocks, liked him as well. In fact Michael wasn’t gay for he had a serious crush on a mutual friend, who felt badly that she couldn’t return his feelings.

I couldn’t imagine the world without the gay men I know, and about whom I care. They’re like me in all the ways that matter. They love, they feel, they bleed. Why wouldn’t I let them defend me by serving our country? Their sexual preference seems to be the only obstacle to military duty. Delete that, and it seems a “no-brainer.” But eliminating historical prejudices, especially ones based upon subjective interpretations of the Bible, seems an impossibility. My one voice can’t “move mountains,” but as Gandhi said “Everything you do in life will be insignificant, but it’s important you do it anyway, because no onelse will.”

For me, those discussed in Eve Conant’s Newsweek article “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,”  are the faces of the Human Rights Campaign, gays who want to serve and, perhaps, die for our country.

Joseph Rocha had always wanted to be in the military. He enlisted in the Navy on his 18th birthday, trained to become a handler working with explosive-sniffing dogs, and found himself part of a small, specialized unit in Bahrain. Banned by law from discussing his sexual orientation, he had a hard time explaining to his peers why he didn’t party with them, or even join their bawdy conversations. He became an outcast. Fellow sailors ridiculed him for being gay. At one point they locked him in a dog kennel. Another time they forced him to eat dog food. In 2007 he was discharged after signing a document admitting his homosexuality. But if “don’t ask, don’t tell” is repealed–as many expect will happen in the coming year–Rocha says he wants to serve again. “You never lose that sense of duty and service and love for country,” says the second-generation Mexican-American from Sacramento, Calif., who will graduate from the University of San Diego this spring. “It’s a unique and beautiful thing most of us feel we were robbed of and would take the first chance to have it back.” …

Lissa Young, 48,…A West Point grad from a military family–her father was a fighter pilot–Young had an exceptional 16-year military career before she was outed in 2002. At that time, she was a Chinook pilot and West Point instructor who had just been selected for promotion to lieutenant colonel. …

To fly commercial planes, Young needed new training, but her financial security–including her retirement benefits–disappeared the day she was discharged. She was in her 40s with $50,000 to her name and no job experience outside the military. … she was hired by Raytheon as a salesperson for air traffic-control systems in the Middle East. But she felt awkward in the corporate world. …She…made her way to Harvard.

Now Young is on the verge of getting her doctorate in education, still hoping to teach at West Point as a civilian if she can’t rejoin the military. As a cadet at West Point, she was the first female to serve as a deputy brigade commander, and she returned later becoming a full-fledged instructor. ‘I’m a product of West Point,’ she says ‘They molded me, I took an oath to dedicate my life to leading soldiers.’ …being in the Army and serving isn’t what I do, it’s who I am.’ She would love to fly again, and if allowed back in, wants to be deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan. …

Bleu Copas, 34, joined the Army after the attacks of September 11. ‘I thought it was the honorable thing to do,’ says the native of Johnson City, Tenn. But after almost four years in the service, the then-sergeant–and fluent Arabic speaker–was anonymously outed. …He accepted an honorable discharge. ‘My commander told me he didn’t want to do this, that I was one of his best leaders,’ …Despite what happened, he says he wants to return ‘for the same reason I signed up in the first place: to serve my country.’

The Army invested a lot of time and money in Copas before it dumped him. He spent 18 months in intensive Arabic training in Monterey, Calif., and had top-secret clearance for handling sensitive documents. These days he works a desk job at the Department of Veterans Affairs back home, helping soldiers transition to civilian life. He doesn’t feel comfortable in a suit and tie, and he’s forgetting his Arabic. ‘It’s very rusty now; I don’t have a lot of use for it in northeast Tennessee.’ He says he’s not bitter, but it’s clear he’d like a change. ‘I’ve been told I’m too forgiving; maybe that plays a role. But if there are new opportunities, I just want to take them.’

After 9/11 ousted gay vets felt hopeful they would be recalled to service. ‘These were high-performing people who knew the nation was in need and couldn’t imagine the military wouldn’t want them,’ says Bridget Wilson, a San Diego lawyer who has represented gay and lesbian soldiers for decades. Yet pilots, linguists, and trained gunners watched from the sidelines as the military loosened restrictions on high-school dropouts and former drug users to boost recruitment for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. ‘It really made us crazy when they waived convicted felons into service,’ Wilson recalls.” 

If my daughter were to go to war, I’d want her fighting alongside soldiers who are the best in their fields. But I don’t anticipate having to worry about my child going to combat, so I’ll leave it to the parents of children who might one day decide to enlist. Would it be better that they be caught in a hailstorm of fire with trained soldiers, gays and “straights?” Or all “straights,” some having been drug addicts or felons before joining? I’m not saying they can’t change, but what’s their proven track record? 

just my opinion…hugmamma.

discipline and community

My mind may wander during Mass, I may glance around looking for familiar faces among the congregation, smile when a friend recognizes me, admire Father Brian’s recently purchased vestments, puzzle over the types of flowers arranged in vases around the altar. But when we sit and Father begins the homily, he has my undivided attention. My husband agrees that our pastor has a gift for public speaking.

I’m sorry to say I’ve no idea what the Gospel was about. I was lost in thought attempting to make sense of the previous reading, the Epistle. The woman seemed not to understand what she was reading so she stumbled over the words, saying “disciple” instead of “discipline.” I’m always impressed by these volunteers who must appear to understand the words set in front of them, even though they may not grasp their full meaning. Some may take a few minutes before Mass to familiarize themselves with their task, but it’s not always possible to do so, I’m sure. So while Father was reading the Gospel, I was probably feeling sorry for the previous speaker, and thanking God that I had not been in her shoes. Unlike her, I would have been blushing to my white roots.

My ears perk up when I hear Father speaking “regular” English for it makes comprehending simpler; narratives in the Bible require that I focus. And as I’ve said, my mind is multi-tasking. When Father begins with some personal anecdote everyone seems to straighten up, and tune in to what he’s saying.

Father spoke of his early days as a seminarian, and how difficult it was to learn discipline. He did not relate well with the first person charged with instructing the novices. He did better with the next person, the “student master,” who would explain the reason for leveling discipline upon those in his care. When students at the UofW Newman Center asked Father Brian to join them for a weekend retreat, the ‘student master” denied the request. When Father asked if he might attend the wedding of friends elsewhere, he was again denied. The explanation given for the denials was that he needed to focus on the vocation he had chosen, and the community in which he lived. He needed to learn discipline, understanding that he could not have his way in everything. As Father’s words washed over me, I pondered their meaning for me.

Over breakfast my husband and I discussed the homily.  I explained that as Father spoke, I could feel myself turning inward, humbling myself as Catholics of my era are wont to do. Talk about “glass ceilings,” I think Catholicism cornered the market on that centuries before it ever occurred to feminists trying to work their way up the corporate ladder.  Throughout the 12 years I was schooled by nuns from Boston, we students were constantly reminded about our need for humility. So I wondered if I was confusing the need for discipline with the need to be humble, as taught by my religion. 

I was interested in my husband’s perspective since, having been a seminarian, I assumed he’d had more theology than me. Ever the pragmatist he replied that his theological schooling had not exceeded mine and furthermore, every person needed discipline within himself, that it had nothing to do with religion. He was right.

Without self-discipline, we usurp the rights of others, including other species which share our natural resources. Without self-discipline, personal happiness eludes us because we are never satisfied unless we have more. Without self-discipline, we set ourselves apart from our community. Without self-discipline, we are unable to teach our children the values necessary for their evolution as good citizens. 

I think having humility might make it easier to learn self-discipline; but having self-discipline doesn’t guarantee humility. Being a Catholic raised in the 50’s and 60’s, I have to be careful not to mistake being humble with self-reproachment. Catholics of my generation bought into the guilt trip, “hook, line and sinker.” So while I humbly acknowledge my gift for writing, I realize that with it comes the need for discipline, knowing that I have a responsibility to my readers in what I say, and how I say it. I think all writers have that responsibility, though some may not think so.

While I paid no heed to God’s gospel, I think I got Father Brian’s homily. I think I’ll need him as a middle-man to gain entrance to Heaven. Father speaks my language, “regular” English.

pray for me…hugmamma.