Air Force Officers

May 27, 2009 by  
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I’d like to congratulate all of the young men that I know who were commissioned as Officers last night and who graduated today from the Air Force Academy.  Many of you have been incredibly inspirational in my life over the past four years.  I’ve learned many things from you… and for that I’m grateful.  Here are a couple of the reasons why I honor you, your service to our country and your manliness.

  1. You are men of faith.  Your faith is what governs your lives and it is the compass by which you make your decisions.  That is incredibly admirable and inspirational to many around you.  Keep it up.
  2. You are hard working.  A man is, by nature, a worker.  You have embraced the tasks in your lives and completed them with excitement, fervor and excellence.  Never lose your work ethic.
  3. You have ordered your lives towards service to God and Country.  You do the unthinkable, and give of yourselves (some of you will give the ultimate sacrifice of your lives) for others who you do not know, will never meet and who might hate you.  You are heroes to me.
  4. You have embraced God’s expectations of you to “shamar” your garden.  Unlike Adam, the first man, you have made the conscious decision to actively and aggressively protect and defend yourselves, your families & friends and the Church.  May God bless you for your humble service.

It’s easy to honor men who are deserving of honor.  I am proud to know you.  I am proud to call you my friends.  May God be with you on your newest chapter in life.

Man up!

Memorial Day – Signs and Numbers

May 25, 2009 by  
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Memorial Day – Not Just Another Day

May 23, 2009 by  
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This weekend is Memorial Day weekend… a weekend that typically includes barbecues, picnics, trips, hangouts and lots of other “holiday weekend” events.  Memorial Day, however, is not just another day.  So often we are consumed by our busyness, our schedule, our “to do’s” and we don’t stop and think about others and their sacrifices.  Memorial Day is a day where we should stop and give thanks to those who have and do serve in our military and those who have died for us, our country and our freedom.  We must remember them, for if we forget the fallen, their death is in vain.  POW/MIA/KIA Never Forgotten.

Memorial Day brings to mind many of the sacrifices that I’ve heard about from battle-stories and it reminds me of the many military funerals that I’ve attended as a volunteer member of the Patriot Guard Riders.  Many men and women of our great nation have fought and died for us.  Can you imagine dying?  Can you imagine dying for someone else?  Your death means that someone, or many others,  may have life.  Can you grasp the scope of your sacrifice?  It’s difficult, but important to think about. 

Compare the sacrifice of a soldier to our greatest model and example of a TrueMan, Jesus.  Jesus was a servant of the people.  He gave willingly of Himself and His efforts.  He was a servant-leader, leading by example of how to treat others.  He took time to prepare for the tough times (prayer/fasting), and was always prepared to give an account of His reasonings.  Our military men and women do this on a daily basis.  Thank a soldier today.

I posted this over a year ago on my family blog to my family members and friends… a Thanks.

Most of all, Grandpa Tony. You are my hero Dad. I love you. Thank you for my freedom. You are a wonderful Grandpa to Lily. 30 years in the Air Force is amazing. To me, two tours in Viet Nam is even more amazing. We’re proud of you SMSgt.

Grandpa Gary… thank you for your 20 years in the Air Force. We will always tell Lily about the sacrifices you made for our country. Now, as you ride for the Patriot Guard, I am so proud to call you Dad. I can’t wait until I am able to join up and ride with you to honor our fallen service men and women. Thanks SMSgt.

Major (Select) Uncle Andy… You are a great man. I am proud to call you my brother and my friend. So far, 9 years in Active Duty, 4 years at the Academy. Two tours in Operation Iraqi Freedom and one coming soon. Thank you so much.

Major Aunt Laura… I am honored to be your brother, and for you to be my brother’s wife.  Thanks for your sacrifices. You are setting a great example for your daughters.

Captain Tracy… 20+ yrs of saving lives and property, along with protecting our Marines at Quantico. What an amazing sacrifice you make. Thank you for protecting the American people. You are an inspiration to me.

Uncles Richard, Frank, Bob U., Ray, Randy D. and Roy D.… thank you all for your time of service. My daughters will know about what you did for us.

Shawn O’D… your sacrifice doesn’t go unnoticed. Thank you so much.

Jobe M… I didn’t forget about you. Rick W… You either. Our sailors.

To our friends: Lt Kuetemeyer, Lt. Col. Waller, Chief Laura, Sgt. Ric, Officers Griffiths, Lts. Alberico, Hale, Patino, Valle, Hunt and the others that we know… you are all so amazing. If I forgot anyone, I am truly sorry.

Man up!

Always Being Watched

May 20, 2009 by  
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A TrueMan realizes that he’s always being watched.  He realizes that he’s always in the microscope of someone else… either trying to learn from him or trying to pick apart his actions, words, attitudes, reactions and leadership.  How does a man deal with this pressure?  How does a man cope with the daunting task of never messing up?  The answer, in this case, is not simple.  The answer is a unique answer for each and every man out there, because each and every man has a different demeanor, perspective, outlook and characteristics.

Here’s a few things to remember that might make it easier:

  1. Be yourself.  If you’re really striving to be a man, you’ll succeed here.  Strive for virtue and keep your eyes on Christ.
  2. Be concerned, each and every day, with being better and better.  This might include professionally, personally, spiritually, physically, etc.  If you are always striving for perfection, your mind is always geared towards success.
  3. Think.  Thinking prevents many bad choices throughout the day – do it.
  4. Pray.  A man of prayer is grounded in Christ – this helps you see clearly to make the tough decisions and to always stand strong.
  5. Be humble.  People are waiting to pick apart any little piece of you they can… why give them any reason to be right?  Be relentless in humility.

There’s a reality here that can really bite someone… if you fail in an area of your life, and someone who is watching you sees it, there’s a long road ahead to mend the impression that they now have of you.  First impressions are huge.  Continuing impressions are huge.  Also, please note that “failing in life”, here, means that you took a mistake to the extreme.  For instance: you’re the leader of a group of students against drunk driving and you get hit with a DUI.  Or, you speak about purity/chastity then get your girlfriend pregnant.  These are the types of failings that push people away, that encourage people to use the word hypocrite.  All in all, you can pick yourself up and move on, but the impact you have on others will be lasting.  Be smart, make good decisions.

Man up!

Summer Time Spirituality

May 18, 2009 by  
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Since many of TrueManhood’s readers are in college, I think it’s important to take some time to talk about a spiritual life during the summer months.  Many of you have a strong faith community and spiritual support system while on campus and many of you are heading home (or at least away from your group) for the summer; how do you keep a strong spiritual life going?  Well, it’s easy to get back into old, bad habits when you go back into an old environment.  Some of those old, bad habits might be as simple as forgetting to pray everyday.  They might be more serious (with lasting effects on the rest of your life) like excessive drinking and promiscuous sexual activity.  That said, here are a few suggestions of how to keep your spiritual life going – and growing!

  1. Pray daily.  Take time (whichever part of the day is best for you) to make this a priority.  As with any relationship, it requires that you speak and listen to the other person.  God, in this regard, is no different.  Talk to Him.
  2. Make Sunday Mass a priority, and get to daily Mass as much as possible.  The grace received from the Eucharist will help you fight temptations toward old, bad habits.
  3. Stay in touch with your friends from campus.  (Your good friends – NOT your nasty friends.)  A support/accountability/prayer connection helps a person significantly.  We are relational beings – created to be with one another.  Your friends want to help you, so talk to them.  It’ll probably end up helping them too.
  4.  Do spiritual reading.  Find one or more (good/orthodox) Catholic spiritual books and read.  This might also include taking notes, journaling about what you read and/or about how it applies to your life or talking about it with someone else.
  5. Do your best to keep Christ first and foremost.  I listed this last, but it’s not the least priority, but yet the highest priority.  I write about Christ last so that you remember that it’s all about Him.  Keep Him #1.

Man up!

Saving Money in Big and Small Ways

May 16, 2009 by  
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Piggybacking on my previous post, I wanted to give a few suggestions of how someone can save money, on just about everything.  Please note… these ideas/suggestions/options are merely things that I do, with my wife, to make good, sound financial decisions with the situation we have.  We do not have an abundance of extra funds that allow us to purchase whatever we want, whenever we want.  We don’t mind off-brands, no-names or generics, which automatically saves us money.  So take this advice or leave it if it doesn’t apply to you.

First off, we never pay full price for anything.  When it comes to food, we shop the sales and use coupons.  Since we have young children, we like to switch up the selections of fruits and vegetables that they get.  In order to do this in a thrifty fashion, we wait until the weekly circular comes out (every Tuesday) and shop where ever the best produce deals are.  We also do this with milk, meat and other various staple items.  We never pay more than $2/gallon of milk.  When it comes to clothing, we shop the clearance racks, with coupons and special sales.  I typically find dress shirts, pants, jeans and sweaters for well under $10.  The last two pair of jeans were both $7 each.  The last pair was even lined for winter!  Beat that!  My last pair of running shoes was $22.50 – originally a great pair of Nike’s that were probably around $80 full price.  Why pay $80?  When it comes to vehicles, a big purchase, we always buy used.  Buying new, to me, isn’t practical.  So, I always research what I want, what it’s selling for, what it’s listed at and I go in to the dealership know what I’m willing to spend.  I set a price that I’m walking out on, if it goes below, great.  If not, then it’s not the vehicle for me.  I go in informed and educated and always come out on top because I dictate the situation, not the salesperson or the dealership.  For instance, I purchased my last vehicle, an ’07 Buick LaCrosse CXS, for about $5K below book value.  Why pay full price?

Another thing that we do is we use our credit card to pay for everything that we can.  We receive points towards cash back or plane tickets or other things.  We always pay off the credit card before it accrues any interest, so we’re always getting a great deal on top of our great deals.  We’re using our latest collection of points to pay for two round-trip tickets to Florida! 

Again today, you may ask why I’m writing about this?  It’s simple, really.  A man should be thrifty.  A man should be a good steward with his money.  A man should influence his family to make smart decisions with their money.  Think about it… I often push the idea that if men would lead the way they are supposed to, the world would be different.  The topic of finances is no different.

Man up!

Financial Decisions

May 15, 2009 by  
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Something that has been facing our family over the past few weeks and will continue to be a “hot topic” with us is our finances.  We’ve made certain decisions that have and will lead to certain other decisions which have certain consequences, and so on.  (Being vague… a graduate degree, family vacations over the summer, working part-time, daycare, etc.).  For us, when it comes to finances, we always look at the big picture.  The big picture shows us where we really are and what we really have… therefore, we know what we can really afford. 

If I, as the husband and father, had a compulsive spending habit or made rash and/or imprudent decisions with money, I would be taking away from the welfare of the family.  If this happened, I’d be setting the precedent for my wife and children, telling them that overspending, quick-spending, unnecessary spending, etc. is acceptable.  “If Daddy does it, it must be okay.”  It’s an important role to play in the family, playing the role of the CFO.  The way that I stay sane and “with it” on our finances is that I discuss all purchases, decisions, investments, savings and future plans with my wife.  She and I make up a great team that balances the budget, spends wisely, never has a deficit and has a sizable surplus.  We shop sales, use coupons and use techniques of bargaining to get the best prices possible.  My next post will be about how to save money in big and little ways.

I know many people that have big-time struggles with their finances and honestly, I believe it comes down to one of three things.  Either, they are 1. Ignorant about Money and don’t understand how it works for/against them or 2. they are lying to themselves about what they can afford or eventually pay off or possibly 3. They have an unhealthy idea of what life is about (vanity usually comes in play here).  If you have struggles with money, make today the last day that you make bad choices.  You hold the power.  Get some financial help from a professional until you are capable of making good decisions on your own again.  Make a budget, stick to the budget.  Make a plan for the future, make it happen.  Take charge of your life, don’t let money rule you. 

One belief that I hold very strongly is the belief that “if you give, God will repay you many times over”.  The idea of generosity is becoming so foreign to our culture – where most people in society are simply out for themselves.  I strongly believe that if people were more generous with their spoils, God would be more generous with them and in the end, they’d have more spoils and overall, a happier, more fulfilling life (because of giving and being blessed, not because they have money or “stuff”).  For us, we make serious decisions about who we donate to.  In just about every case, it’s to a Catholic-based organization, parish or group.  Want some ideas of who to donate to?  Check out FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) out of Denver, CO, VirtueMedia out of Arizona, your local parish and/or your local diocese.  If you’re feeling really generous and want to help pay for my master’s, I’d be delighted to accept it! 

Man up!

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