GUEST BLOGGER: “Two Stories” by Ryan Kraeger

January 30, 2010 by  
Filed under Blog, Faith, Fatherhood

Ryan KraegerRyan Kraeger was born in upstate New York, second of seven children, raised on a farm and homeschooled from first grade to highschool. He graduated at seventeen and joined the military the same week, choosing the MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) of Combat Engineer because he thought the video looked cool (it was primarily composed of explosions). Since then he has done many and varied things in the Army, including loading baggage on planes in Fort Hood Texas, spending a year in the Republic of Korea, patrolling and raiding in Iraq, and building bridges and uncovering IED’s in Afghanistan. Currently he is in training to be a Green Beret, learning his target language, Korean, before going on to the world’s finest and most intensive medic course.  Ryan is also an avid reader and amateur writer, you can read more of his writing at his website.

Two Stories:  Stories bump, stories merge, stories permeate each other. Stories can even unite. Only God can keep track of all the stories and how they interact. It is a vast, complex, multi-dimensional web, a tapestry of infinite complexity and beauty. The work of God in each life is not separate from His work in every life. What He does for me, He is doing for everyone else in the world, through me. Whatever He does for anyone else, He does for me, through them, whether we ever meet or not. It is God’s nature to be a union, and it is His nature to bring about union among His creatures, little by little and partially in this world, and then finally and totally in the next world, where all who are in union with Him will be in union with each other.  We get hints of it, even now.

Imagine a young girl, maybe fifteen or sixteen, who is in a bad dating relationship in high school. Her boyfriend is controlling, orgirl with purple hairverbally abusive, or is pressuring her to have sex or join in with his drug or alcohol habit, or whatever the case may be. She has compromised too much with too many, and isn’t sure how much she has left to give up, or why she’s bothering anymore. She’s not an innocent little girl anymore. She feels tarnished. Her whole life is a scramble to find acceptance, which for her means popularity with the right bunch of teenage girls, and being noticed by the right teenage boys. Her relationship with her parents and siblings has completely unraveled. She is lost, drifting, miserable, empty, and too busy to notice it. All her thought and energy is bent on the one thing that she thinks will keep her head above water, keep her life meaningful and worthwhile, and he isn’t worth the time of day. The preoccupation consumes her, and she doesn’t know what’s wrong, or where she should turn, or what she should do. Now, imagine that one day she is sitting somewhere, perhaps looking out the window of the school bus, or sitting on a park bench, or standing in a group of teenagers on the corner. Purple streaked hair, too much makeup, tight jeans, halter top, book bag and IPod, she looks just like any one of millions of girls her age, but she is not. She is God’s beloved daughter, His Princess, His Darling. I think God sometimes sends parents only one child, as a symbol of how much He loves each one of us, as if I were the only one.

Let’s put our girl on the bus. She’s sitting on her seat, looking out the window, with one hand jealously clutched by the boy who is sitting next to her. She lets him hold her hand, not because she really enjoys it, but just because that is what you do. If you’re in a relationship, you hold hands, you sit on his lap, you argue about how far you are willing to go. That’s just what you do.

Girl looking out bus windowSuddenly, through the window, she sees another couple. They are very old, in their sixties or seventies or eighties or something. To her teenage mind they hardly even register as people anymore. They are like museum pieces, totally irrelevant to her world of hard music, slamming lockers, filthy jokes and innuendo, and constant noise, noise, noise, noise. She has passed by this same couple sitting on their porch a hundred times and never seen them, but her King has a gift for her today. He opens her eyes, for a second, an instant, a heartbeat, just long enough. The old man takes the old woman’s hand and smiles at her. The old woman smiles back. All hell screams in fury, as years of lies, deceit, hate, sneering and malice are threatened all in an instant. They rush around, frantically trying to crush the new thoughts and wonderings and vague, painful longings, and they are mostly successful. They are very good at what they do. Before the bus reaches the corner, their rotten construction is standing in all its ugliness once again. God lets it go, because He knows more than they do. Something has been planted deep in her heart, and though she forgets in a minute, anxious not to threaten the card castle she has so carefully built for herself, she can never be the same again. One old man, on an ordinary day, for no particular reason other than that he just felt like it, did what he’d been doing for fifty years. He loved his wife. He never met that teenage girl, but for ever after her heart will be just a little harder to satisfy. She will want just a little more from the man in her life, her standards will be just a little bit higher. It will cause her no end of grief, because the higher your standards, the easier they are to disappoint, but her heart will have moved one fraction closer to realizing the dangerous truth, that she is more precious than this entire planet, and all the galaxies of the universe. Her Prince came to earth and died for her, and so she deserves more. All hell will stand between her and that truth, but because one old man loved his wife, her heart moved a fraction closer to it, and it can never be moved back.

Another Star-of-a-Commercial

January 28, 2010 by  
Filed under Blog

Carl's Jr Cheater Commercial picCarl’s Jr is at it again, continuing to make smutty commercials. Most of the time when I see a Carl’s Jr commercial, I simply turn the channel. I can see them coming from a mile away, so can you. The latest is terrible. The commercial shows a young male sitting in an auto body shop, watching a crew of workers buff out spray paint on his classic ’60’s Chevelle. The narrator says, “Having three girlfriends is great, until one of them finds out about the other two.” This line is wrong on a number of levels, but highlights the acceptable behavior of a “cultural man”. “Cultural Manliness” is telling even the youngest viewer that “when one of your multiple girlfriends finds out about your other girlfriends, you can just sit around and sneer about it. Just shell out a few extra bucks for a few burgers and laugh as your defiled muscle car gets a rub down to remove the paint from your unstable ex-girlfriend. It’s only a little extra cash.”

The “star” of the commercial sits eating his burger and fries as if nothing happened. He obviously is unscathed from the breakup and could care less about how anyone else feels about what he did.

It’s not okay to date multiple people. That’s not dating, that’s being a swinger. And if a guy’s “just hanging out” with a few women here and there, the women don’t become ravenous and spray paint his car with the words “CHEATER”. Only a (slightly unstable?) woman who thinks her man is committed to her does that. A TrueMan states his intentions clearly to one woman and remains committed and faithful to her. As men, we must demand that other men know what it means to be a man, and then challenge all men around us to act and respond in a manly way.

Man up!

United in Prayer, For Our Haitian Brothers and Sisters

January 28, 2010 by  
Filed under Blog

A young man named Cory has created a profound video, lasting just over one minute. The video captures the magnitudeHaitian Flag of the earthquake disaster in Haiti during the middle of this month, January 2010. As you watch the clip, please pray for our Haitian Brothers and Sisters in their time of need. If you can give financial support, please do.

Tebow in Pro-Life Ad [Pro-Life, Nothing Else Makes Sense]

January 27, 2010 by  
Filed under Blog, Faith, Sports

SB XLIVI saw a Facebook status that mentioned something about Tim Tebow and the Super Bowl ad that he and his mother are going to be featured in on Sunday, February 7th.  The commercial has been funded by Focus on the Family and has an openly pro-life sentiment.  Pam Tebow, when faced with a sickness/disease during pregnancy with Tim (her 5th child), was informed by her doctors to abort the pregnancy for fear of her death, or complications with the baby.  Pam said no, and proceeded with the pregnancy, giving birthTebow to a boy who would grow up and become one of the most recognizable faces in college sports history.

Tebow won the Heisman trophy and a National Championship, and quite arguably, the accomplishments he has made off the field far outweigh his accomplishments on the field.  However, regardless of what he’s done in life, he had the right to life while in the womb!  Pro-Life makes sense, pro-abortion doesn’t.  It simply doesn’t make sense.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find the ad itself, but I have a news conference with Tebow’s response and also one man’s (Larry Murphy, I guess) take on the situation.  (I disagree with the name-calling, but thought some of his quips were justified.)

Please stop calling abortion Pro-Choice.  No one should have the choice to murder.  Call it what it is, Pro-Abortion (Pro-Death).

Man up!

Tuesdays with Daddy – I Just Want to Hold You

January 26, 2010 by  
Filed under Blog, Fatherhood, Tuesdays with Daddy

Dad holding babyI noticed today, that for the most part, my children aren’t interested in being held by me.  It’s not that I scare them, or that I’m too rough, or that my beard is scruffy on their faces, or anything like that.  It’s that they have other stuff they want to be doing.  On occasion, when a head is bonked, or a toe is stubbed, or a toy is stolen by their sibling and just about every 2 hours or so when that hunger thing comes around, then they come running, arms wide open, running to their daddy asking for something in their time of need.

Consequently, I realized, because of my wonderful children, that many of us are that way with our Heavenly Father.  All He wants is for us to be connected with Him, to be united with Him, to love Him and to be with Him.  More often than not, we want the opposite.  We have other “stuff” we want to do, and we don’t include Him.  He’s going to be there waiting for us, the same way I’m always there waiting for my girls, but wouldn’t it be better for us to run to Him in the good times too, when we’re not in need of something from Him?  I challenge all of us, myself included, to give God our first-fruits.  To give to Him the perfect time, upfront, not just the leftovers.

Man up!

GUEST POST – “The Practice of Modesty” by Ashley Crouch

January 23, 2010 by  
Filed under Blog, For Women, Virtue

Ashley Crouch - Love and Fidelity Guest BloggerAshley Crouch is the Assistant Program Director of Love & Fidelity Network, a program designed to equip college students with the resources and training they need to support the institution of marriage, the importance of family, and the integrity of sex on their campuses.  She writes:

US Marine Captain John Campbell recently made National Australian News by boldly speaking out about Australian women’s lack of modesty: “It’s about having standards, ladies,” he said.  “What are standards?  Well, it can begin by dressing in a manner that leaves something to the imagination to say the least…”  Later he said, “Come on, ladies, don’t send us mixed messages.  That’s what you do every time you dress with less than nothing on.”  His voice was an isolated and courageous reminder that women play a significant role in preserving men’s purity; that women bolster men’s’ ability to love authentically.

In today’s culture, our bodies are often treated as instruments rather than as an intimate part of who we are – persons with anmodest dress 2immortal soul.  As a result of this disconnect, there is a crisis of modesty prevalent in society.  Popular trends and fashions come and go with arbitrary ease, without any thought being given to a specific standard.   The virtue of modesty has all but become obsolete, while the few who make an effort to endorse its practice often end up sounding prudish and harping on rules, regulations, and guidelines.

Guidelines are in fact good and helpful, and can be found by doing a simple search online.  Modesty, however, is not just about covering up so guys will not be driven to lust.  Modesty is more and often depends on the context. For this reason, it is often misunderstood.

Properly understood, modesty incorporates who the woman is as a person created in the image of God called to love, while acknowledging that men and women are designed to be attracted to one another. The late Pope John Paul II spoke candidly about the human person “as a creature towards whom the only proper attitude is love.”  Authentic love, however, is not defined by a person’s sexuality; Attraction between sexes is meant to exist between two free, full, faithful human persons and to blossom into fruitful love in marriage. Many women yearn to be loved and seek it through immodest dress or action.  Tragically, the immodest dress and behavior of some women, while intended to foster and secure lasting affection, ironically attracts men for other reasons.  A woman who dresses provocatively distracts men from love.  She sends mixed messages.

Modesty, on the other hand, serves to open the gateway of love between persons by revealing who a woman is as a full person, an individual with dignity, not reducible to her sexual features. When a woman practices modesty, she simultaneously protects, preserves, and presents herself to the world as a person of dignity and self-respect; for through modesty, the beauty of her femininity is highlighted rather than objectified.  Modesty flows from “moderation,” where all the elements of the woman are shown cohesively and beautifully.

modest dressUltimately, modesty is about more than clothes.  It is a disposition of the heart, and a consciousness on the part of the woman that she has an origin in a loving God, who has given her a great dignity and purpose. Each woman was designed to give herself fully as a gift, but if her vocation is marriage, this gift belongs only to one person (not the world.)  The woman’s awareness of her beautiful origin carries over into her actions and dress, naturally and effortlessly.  Her clothes are not a denial of her sexuality, or a suppression of her femininity.  Rather, they integrate her sexuality into her whole being as a person called to love, and open the way for true love to grow.   The practice of modesty encourages men to see a woman with respect, and allows authentic interpersonal relationships to occur, free of distractions, free from confusion, free to love.

So the next time you reach into your closet for an outfit, perhaps remember Captain John Campbell’s words ‘Don’t send mixed messages,’ and consider what message you want to send.

January 22, the Most Devastating Day on the Calendar

January 22, 2010 by  
Filed under Blog

us supreme courtToday, January 22, marks the most devastating day on the entire calendar.  In 1973, the US Supreme Court made a ruling that made legal the destruction and murder of innocent life in the womb.  On that day, abortion was legalized and the greatest travesty against human life was performed.  Please pray for the end to abortion.

Here’s a clip, titled: “January 1973”.

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