This has been a busy week, what with Daddy doing surgical rotation, and Mommy feeding a newborn every couple of hours. We still managed to find time to do some fun things.

We had a get together at Auntie Diana’s house.

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It went spectacularly until Ellie pooped all over Diana’s bathroom, and Evie, not to be outdone, pooped her undies.

But I digress.

There was a Chinese lantern display at the Puyallup fairgrounds. We went to go see it, and it was pretty neat. Some of the lanterns were pretty spectacular. The tickets were courtesy of Ben and Christine. Thanks guys!

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We got rained out of it after we had been there about 40 minutes or so, but it was okay. We had an umbrella and Ellie was in the baby wrap bundled up inside Daddy’s jacked, so she stayed nice and roasty-toasty, and Evie was a trooper as usual.

Uncle Adam and Aunt Maryanne came over to meet their new baby niece.

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Adam is Ellie’s godfather, so he brought her a gift for her birth.

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A rosebush and a Chimay Grande Reserve Belgian abbey ale. Because he is classy like that.

Evie and Edmund got to have tea together (chamomile vanilla tea cut with eggnog).

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Edmund loves dipping. Belvita breakfast crackers for the win!

Daddy and Evie made 3-dozen chip-chocolate-oatmeal-raisin cookies, using the recipe Grandma used to use when Daddy was little.

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Evie didn’t want to be in this picture.

They were quite delicious, but someone ate them all.

Other than that it has been mostly family time, with Evie being goofy.

 

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The ocean chose me for a reason!

 

Playing hide and seek.

 

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Oh hi! How did you find me?

Story time.

 

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Oswald says, “Yep, that’s exactly how I did it with my brothers when I was a pup.”

 

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I don’t think there is room for another one on this pillow.

Of course there has been lots of tiredness. We have been so tired that even Evie has been feeling snuggly.

 

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Weekend mornings are the best, when there is time for family snuggles.

 

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They are already starting out being best sisters.

And lots of this.

 

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It’s hard being a newborn. It’s also hard feeding one.

We will try to have some baptism pictures next week, but that’s all for now.

Merry Christmas, and God Bless!

 

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This is Deedee and Papa’s tree. Ours is not even close to being up yet, LOL!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So much Family, this Friday! So much! It’s like an explosion of family! Literally. More family is just exploding into our lives. But we’ll get to that.

Daddy is doing rotations again, this time closer to home, doing a surgical rotation at the local army base. It is a good learning experience, but not very interesting. Ryan has no interest in being a surgical PA. Still, it is important to know the basics of operating room protocol, as well as indications for surgical consult, and implications of post surgical care.

Mommy has worked her last week at work for a while. For the next few months she is going to have much more important work to do at home (we’ll get to that later).

Winter is coming in like a drippy nose-cold, and we love it. You can tell those who are cut out for life in the Pacific Northwest, by their enthusiasm for chilly, gray, damp, drizzly blah.

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Evie and Edmund built a structure. Evie says it is a tent, Mommy says it is a fort, Edmund just crashes through it.

There is plenty of fun to have inside with books and tea and drawing and making forts out of sofa cushions.

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Evie likes to help, but she doesn’t like to get her hands muddy.

But working out in the drizzle has its charms as well.

Evie is growing up very fast. Her new favorite phrases are “Why?” and “No, I can do it my only self!”

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“See Daddy? I put my jammies on all by my only self!”

She is developing a very stubborn and independent personality.

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“What, Daddy, is it not right?”

Last week we all went to Mass as a family, and Evie found Sister Han locking up the doors at the back of the Church after Mass. She grabbed Sister Han by the hand and said, “Come with my, my sister, come see my Mommy!” She pulled the good Sister by the hand all the way to the front of the church (Sister Han left her keys dangling in the lock) to find Mommy. But Mommy had already gone out by the side-door, and Evie couldn’t find her. So she showed Sister Han Mama Mary instead, and they said a Hail Mary together.

Family Friday 131-132 (15)Then she introduced herself to Sister Han, “My name is Evie! My baby sister’s name is Ellie. This is my friend, Daddy. My friend Mommy is outside. We are all friends.”

Sister Han is a good sport, and she was tickled pink, and promised to pray for us as we embarked upon our next big adventure which was…

Going to the hospital 😮

Papa came down to pick Evie up. Then Ryan and Kathleen went in for a scheduled C-section, and out popped…

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An Ellie!

That’s right, she’s finally here! Eleanor is here. She’s a teeny tiny little thing, 7 lbs 3 oz, only 18 inches long.

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It’s okay, Ellie, Mommy is still right here.

What follows is a collage of shamelessly adorable newborn pictures.

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Being born is hard work. As soon as she had her first breastfeeding snack she had a nap with Daddy.
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Later on in our room she opened her eyes to see her mommy.

Of course lots of people wanted to meet her.

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“This is my new baby sister Ellie!”
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Ryan: “If I slept with my neck like that I wouldn’t be able to walk for a week!” Kathleen: “Well, neither will she, so…”

 

 

Ellie Birth Family
Evie was happy to have her Mommy back too, even though she was worried that Mommy had an ouchie.
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Ellie is Great-Grandma Betty’s 11th Great-Grandchild.
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Deacon George and his wife came to bring Mommy Holy Communion in the Hospital, and Ellie got to snuggle with him, right up next to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.
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Ryan thinks she is such a cute little Gerber Baby, he would buy any multi-tool she cared to sell.

Being a newborn is a hard job.

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Daddy got worn out just watching her!

Finally it was time to come home.

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And settle down to the serious business of eating, sleeping and pooping. She takes all three of those very seriously.

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Ahhhhhh!! Relaxing in the mid-afternoon sun.
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Daddy teaching Evie how to hold her baby sister.

 

 

Evie was feeling a little frustrated and upset with the disruption to her schedule, and not enough Mommy and Daddy time. She loves her new baby sister, but she also misses having Mommy and Daddy all to herself. 

On Monday morning after breakfast she had an ouchie tummy and she needed a “Band-Aid around her tummy to make it feel better.” So Kathleen made her a Band-Aid out of snuggle blankie and a paper towel, which looked enough like Mommy’s bandaid and girdle that it actually did make her feel better.

 

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She has a tummy Band-Aid just like Mommy.

That is, it made her tummy feel better until about five minutes later when she threw up… on Ellie’s face… while Ellie was breastfeeding.

Well, we have been asking God to help us grow closer as a family… 🙂

After a quick bath she was right as rain. No more ouchies and no more throwing up.

 

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It’s important for her to have some special Mommy time all by herself, even if she is the Big Sister now.

 

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“Mommy, what are those? Can I have them?” “They are called books, and yes, you can have them as soon as you learn how to read.”

Mommy and Daddy spent the first few nights sleeping upstairs, since it is hard for Mommy to get in and out of bed until her incision heals up a little more.

 

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So that’s where Evie joins us for early morning snuggles.

 

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“I am going to be the best big sister!”

 

Thursday was Thanksgiving day, obviously.

 

 

Family Friday 131-132 (12)As it turns out, Evie is pretty much the best big sister ever. We came upstairs today to find her (Evie) sitting at the coffee table, quietly coloring pictures with her colored pencils. When we looked over at Ellie, we saw this.

 

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“Here you go, Ellie, you can draw too!”

But Ellie did not hold the title of youngest Kraeger cousin for very long. Only a couple days later we got word from the East Coast (via carrier pigeon) that Uncle Ian and Aunt Melissa had just welcomed a new little boy!

 

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Welcome to the world, John Paul Kraeger!!!!!

 

Yesterday was Thanksgiving, and we have a lot to be thankful for.

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Early morning family snuggles.

 

It was Ellie’s first trip to Jesus house, where she met Uncle Adam and Aunt Maryanne and Cousin Edmund. Then we went up to Enumclaw to spend it with Aunt Dude and Deedee and Papa. As usual the spread was amazing.

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And there was more food than we could possibly eat. (Thanks to all the farmers out there who work on Thanksgiving and every other day to keep the food coming).

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Once we started digging in, everyone quickly became envious of Kathleen’s maternity jeans!

Everyone wanted to get their Ellie snuggles in.*Thanksgiving 2017 (5)

 

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That’s all for this week. I feel like we have just done about a month’s worth of Family Friday in one week!

Happy Thanksgiving from the Kraegers!

 

 

*Yes, the furniture in these pictures was purchased in 1959, and it still works.

 

61vmyhdipkl-_sx258_bo1204203200_A long time ago, (by which I mean probably about a decade) a book by Rick Warren entitled, “The Purpose Driven Life,” was topping the bestseller chart. It had already taken the evangelical Christian world by storm, and even topped the New York Times Best Seller List. I was on active duty at the time and I remember chaplains handing out copies by the crateful, and book study groups forming at every base. You could find copies flying off the pinewood shelves in the major FOBs in Afghanistan, and even on offer in any of the smaller FOBs that sported a chapel.

I never read the book.

I am not sure why, since I was reading probably well over a hundred books per year in those days (I could kick myself when I recall how I took that ability for granted) but I just never was that interested in it. I suppose I thought the title said it all.

Life should be about a purpose. I had a purpose (becoming Special Forces) and I was ordering my entire life around that goal. Or rather, my purpose was to become a consummate warrior-poet-mystic, triple-role which Brad Miner would dub “The Compleat Gentleman,” and Special Forces was the path I was following to pursue one arm of that purpose. 4153dpdpwpl-_ac_ul320_sr214320_

In the regular Army I was an anomaly, but not so terribly much of one as I thought I was. I was one of the very few who not only wanted, but intended, to become Special Forces, but I was not the only one with a purpose. In fact, most of the guys had a purpose higher than themselves. They had long term goals for themselves, for their families, for their careers,. One of my best friends, Mike, was thinking about going Special Forces with me, but he was then the age that I am now, and he had met someone, and he was feeling the need to settle down and raise a family. As he put it, “At some point you have to decide whether you want to go on being John Rambo, or whether you need to become a good Christian husband and father while you have the chance.”

Perhaps it was our closeness with mortality, but the few in the unit who had no purpose other than making it back to the civilian world so they could smoke weed again, were actually in a minority.

Then when I got into the Q course I was surrounded by purpose driven men day in and day out. Those who were not so driven didn’t last long.

Now I wonder if I might not have done well to read Warren’s book. Being an evangelical Christian he might have pointed out the error in my thinking, namely, that my purpose was not high enough.

Wedding eucharistThis is the great truth of Christianity that I have slowly come to learn, that God has created each human person specially and intentionally and for a purpose, and that our purpose, (your purpose and my purpose) is to exist in relationship with Him.

That’s it.

It is really that simple, no other purpose will satisfy. No career, no family, no retirement, no American dream, no vacation, no adventure, no mission, no glory, no achievement… nothing will satisfy except relationship with Him.

“For you have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you,” as St. Augustine says in his “Confession.”

Or as Saint Paul would say, “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” 1 Corinthians 13:1-3.

This purpose is the beginning and end, the alpha and omega, the source and summit, the starting point and the goal of every choice, every thought and every affection.

But on the other hand, the fact that this is our only purpose as Christians does not negate other, lesser purposes. To the contrary, it places them in context and gives them their true meaning. It is because God has called me to be a husband and father that it has transcendental and essential meaning, rather than merely accidental meaning. It is because He has called me to pursue the path of the warrior-poet-mystic that my training takes on an enduring and spiritual significance, rather than being merely a hobby.Ruckmarching

In the light of the One purpose, everything matters. I will offer one example, the thought which triggered the writing of this blog, that is, the placement of my cellphone charger.

For me an important part of pursuing that relationship with God is starting the day with an hour of prayer. I make exceptions for emergencies, (such as staying up all night with a newborn) but in the main I try to pray for an hour every morning.

In order to do this, I need an alarm to wake me up in the morning. That alarm is provided by my cellphone, a recording either of Josquin de Prez’s “Ave Maria for Four Voices” or of Trope’s “Kyrie – Virginitatis Amator.” By a sort of operant condition, it is enough to wake me from even the soundest sleep, despite being very quiet and beautiful. But if I can reach it without getting out of bed, then I can hit the snooze button (or worse, the “stop” button). I have done this without even waking up a couple of times. Or, if I am not quite asleep enough for that, I can argue myself into setting a backup alarm for an hour later, and going back to sleep.

Then that second alarm goes off an hour later and I wake up, realizing that I have now missed my prayer hour, and I have a terrible choice ahead of me. You see, immediately after my prayer hour is my workout time. Training is still a duty for me, and I don’t like to miss my scheduled workout. But, if I haven’t said my prayers, then I am faced with the dilemma. Should I skip them and try to make up a rosary or something in the car, and get on with the workout? Or skip the workout, and do my prayer time, instead.

Or maybe I will just go back to sleep and not do either. That has happened more than once.

So I keep the phone in the bathroom down the hall, on top of my gym clothes on the sink. In order to turn it off I have to get out of bed and walk into another room and pick it up off the stack of gym clothes. If I had to I would put a bottle of cold brew coffee next to it.

That is what I mean by purpose. It is the choice to hem yourself in when the purpose is strong in you, against those moments when the purpose is weak.

That’s what St. Thomas More was talking about, which means that one may think of getting up in the morning as a sort of preparation for martyrdom.

It has been a long two weeks, friends. Daddy has been working at a clinic in Whidbey Island Monday – Thursday and then he had National Guard all weekend, and went straight back to work. So we didn’t have a lot of family time since last Family Friday.

Since then, Mommy and Evie have had a lot of Mommy-Evie time. They did Halloween at Deedee and Papa’s house.

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She looks like she’s ready for First Holy Communion

Evie was a bride. At first she wanted to be a “bride-doctor,” but as soon as she saw the beautiful fluffy white dress, she forgot all about the doctor coat. It just couldn’t compete.

We did some gardening too. Mommy and Evie cleaned out the flower beds and hedges on the front lawn.

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Evie likes to help dig.

 

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For being nine months pregnant, Mommy can sure get around.

Daddy really liked Mommy’s working-outside-shirt.

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Ryan said, “You look like one of those green Christmas candy canes. You know the ones that are mint and chocolate. The ones that taste pretty disgusting… But you’re not disgusting!”

Kathleen: “Nice recovery.”

The weather has been getting wetter and more wintery. It has even snowed more than once.

 

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“Mommy! It is snowing at the neighbor’s house!”

This means a lot more staying inside for Evie.

 

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I think this is a picture of hail. But you can’t see the hail, because pictures are never as good.

But you can have fun inside too.

 

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Learning to play Candyland.

 

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Evie has glasses like Mommy does!

 

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Evierella is going to the ball and her Fairy God-Mommy waves her off with her magic wand!

 

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And sometimes it is nice just to sit by the fire and watch it snow outside.

But Daddy came home yesterday night. Mommy had to work today, but Evie and Daddy had a lovely day of adventures together.

We started out going to Jesus’ house together.

 

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“Here you go Jesus, here’s a Band-Aid.”

Then we went and chased the geese and ducks at Point Defiance Park.

 

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This never gets old. She never gets tired of trying to catch them.

Then, when the zoo opened, we went in and saw the fishes and animals.

 

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“This fish is as big as Evie!”

There was a lot of area we couldn’t go into because they are building a new aquarium and an environmental learning center.

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But we still got to see some of the animals.

 

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It’s a Tiger!

And of course we rode the Carousel. That is Evie’s favorite part.

 

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She had to borrow Daddy’s hat.

We even rode it twice.

 

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She rides like a cowgirl.

Then we went home for a very much needed nap, and even had some time to clean up the lawn a little bit, and Daddy taught Evie how to plant grass seed. She got the hang of it pretty quickly.

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Sort of.

 

She is better at dumping it than sowing it, but that’s okay. It’s just grass.

That’s all for this week folks. Keep is in your prayers.

God Bless!

 

 

 

 

Life is simpler with a sword in hand
Because the sword is simple
Focused
Tapered
Narrowed.
And when I drive it home
Wielding legion molecules of steel
Forged and forced into ordered
Patterns of interwoven strength
By the heat and the hammer and the heart
Of the burly smith (broad with bulging arms
And a poet’s eye
Visionary,
A technician’s eye
Critical,
A boy’s eye
Young enough to believe in heroes)
Fiercely leap and drive like fire behind
One
Single
Mathematical 
Point,
Which my sluggish soul pursues.

 Hate has no place in a warrior
For only love can forge a worthy sword.
At such moments my flowing body
Takes on the nature of the blade.
And I imagine my mind too is 
Focused
Simple
Quiet
At peace.

 I always come home from the mission,
The deployment,
Or the war;
The office,
The gym,
Or the dojo.
Sweat-stained,
Weary, 
Bruised,
I eat an apple and shower
And sit beside the crib 
To watch my bright-haired baby breathe
And all of me reaches out to seek her cheek
And touch tenderly with just one fingertip
Lighter than a butterfly
Softened with a kiss.

 I get into bed next to my wife
And slide close and stretch to take her hand
And all my body and soul
Reaches
Searches
Touches
And loves with the same totality.
All of me.

920x920In the wake of yet another shooting of dozens of innocent people, we are once again surrounded by shrill, desperate, angry questions:

“What can be done to save lives? What is wrong with our lawmakers in Washington? Why won’t they take action to stop the violence? Why is it so easy for deranged people to get guns? Why is there no political will to limit the death toll? Why is mental health service so hard to come by in America? Why did no one arrive to stop the murder until it was too late?”

These are important questions, but not the most important one. They are tactical questions, with tactical answers, and they don’t keep me up at night.

During my last mission in Afghanistan an  Afghani man blew up a car loaded with >300 lbs of explosives, with himself in the driver’s seat, in an attempt to kill American soldiers. I remember picking up one of his shoulder blades with part of the arm still attached, a few hundred yards from the crater, and wondering what drives a man to hate so deeply that he will spread himself out across the landscape just on the slightest chance that it might kill an enemy.

That was seven years ago, and I still ask the same question: what drives a man to hate so much that he will go to his death for no higher purpose than to kill as many innocent people as he can before the police or someone else catch him?

Where does such reckless hate come from?

image-adapt-960-high-auschwitz_13a
I did this.

 

Only now I know the answer.

It comes from me.

I am the sinner responsible for that man’s hatred and despair.

This world is all connected on a mystical level, and it is a battlefield. The fortunes of each tiny hidden battle here may influence the outcome of a physical battle separated by all of time and space but united in the mind of God. As Dostoevsky put it, “All are responsible to all for all,” and I have failed in that responsibility.

To put it more explicitly, every act of virtue opens this sorry world up to a little more grace. Every act of vice closes it a little bit more to grace. When I wash dishes, or change a diaper, or get up at the crack of dawn to say my prayers, I am cooperating with the grace of God, with the prompting of the Holy Spirit, with the Sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. I fulfil the hopes of all the Saints and Angels in Heaven, and I form a little spiritual gateway to allow them access to the battlefield.

But I have not often done this. I have spent years of my life living mainly in lust and sloth. I have spent time and energy on filth and vanity in the forms of pornography and video games. I have neglected prayers, and I have prayed neglectfully. I have turned away from people who loved me because I didn’t want to be bothered and been proud of it. I have turned my back on people in need. I have used my words to hurt people with sarcasm and contempt. I have done so many evil things, and worse, I have left so many good things undone, and every one of those sins of commission or omission was a door closed to grace.

In the darkness behind the doors I have slammed shut or refused to open, evil has festered, and it has spread silently through the mystical pathways of our spiritual battlefield, weakening, sapping and corrupting other human souls in ways I will never understand until I see them revealed in purgatory.

That is why I must heed the command of Our Lord, and the constant warning of Our Blessed Mother, and of all the Saints of all our history: I must repent, pray, and do penance.

And it is not enough to do penance for my own sins only. I may not “offer up” some “sacrifice” for the sins of other people far away and think that I have done something quite fine. I have not. Doing penance for the sins of others is not an extra, it is just being honest about my part in those sins. I have not even broken even. I have not even begun to make amends for my own sins.

Only the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross, and His Mercy poured out upon me can ever do that.

When I heed the call to repentance, to prayer, to penance, I am opening myself up to the Divine Mercy, and allowing it to flow into me and begin the long, painful work of cleansing me and making me whole. It can also overflow me, for I am a very small vessel and the stream of Mercy is infinite, and again flow silently and secretly out through the mystical pathways of this spiritual battlefield, strengthening, healing and making whole other human souls, in ways I will never know until they are revealed in Heaven.

The first step to peace in my heart and in the world is to know myself a sinner, and to fall upon my knees and beg forgiveness. After that comes Mercy.Divine+Mercy+Jesus

 

417bk1a6bfl-_sx306_bo1204203200_The following is from St. Thomas More’s “The Sadness of Christ,” a meditation on the passion and death of Christ which he wrote while imprisoned in the Tower of London awaiting his own trial and eventual martyrdom. The immediate context is his thoughts about the apostles falling asleep in the garden of Gethsemane after Jesus had already asked them to stay awake, and what that means for us, who also have a tendency to fall asleep during our prayers:

“Nevertheless, such is God’s kindness that even when we are negligent and slumbering on the pillow of our sins, He disturbs us from time to time, shakes us, strikes us, and does His best to wake us up by means of tribulations. But still, even though He thus proves Himself to be most loving even in His anger, most of us, in our gross human stupidity, misinterpret His action and imagine that such a great benefit is an injury, whereas actually (if we have any sense) we should feel bound to pray frequently and fervently that whenever we should wander away from Him He may use blows to drive us back to the right way, even though we are unwilling and struggle against Him.

Thus we must first pray that we may see the way and with the Church we must say to God, “From blindness of heart, deliver us, O Lord.” And with the prophet we must say, “Teach me to do your will” and “Show me your ways and teach me your paths.” Then we must intensely desire to run after you eagerly, O God, in the odor of your ointments, in the most sweet scent of your Spirit. But if we grow weary along the way (as we almost always do) and lag so far behind that we barely manage to follow at a distance, let us immediately say to God, “Take my right hand” and “Lead me along your path.”

Then if we are so overcome by weariness that we no longer have the heart to go on, if we are so soft and lazy that we are about to stop altogether,  let us beg God to drag us along even as we struggle not to go. Finally, if we resist when He draws us on gently, and are stiff-necked against the will of God, against our own salvation, utterly irrational like horses and mules which have no intellects, we ought to beseech God humbly in the most fitting words of the prophet, “Hold my jaws hard, O God, with bridle and bit when I do not draw near to you.”

But then, since the fondness for prayer is the first of our virtues to go when we are overtaken by sloth, and since we are reluctant to pray for anything (however useful) that we are reluctant to receive, certainly if we have any sense at all we ought to take this weakness into account well in advance, before we fall into such sick and troubled states of mind — we ought, in other words, to pour out to God unceasingly such prayers as I have mentioned, and we should humbly implore Him that, if at some later time we should ask for anything untoward — allured perhaps by the enticements of the flesh or seduced by a longing for worldly things or overthrown by the clever snares of the devils — He may be deaf to such prayers and avert what we pray for, showering upon us instead those things He knows will be good for us, no matter how much we beg Him to take them away. In fact, this is the way we normally act (if we are wise) when we are expecting a fever: we give advance warning to those who are to take care of us in our sickness that even if we are to beg them, they should not give us any of these things which our diseased condition makes us perversely long for, thought they are harmful to our health and only make the disease worse.”

I have been reading this passage over and over, meditating on the combination of dogged faith and hope with cagey realism about his own human frailty, redeemed by his absolute trust in the providence of God working all things out for good, even imprisonment, public disgrace, sickness, false accusations, mock trial and death. This confidence was his, I believe, because he prayed for it. Unfortunately it was not shared by his wife or most of his family, but I sincerely hope they came to understand eventually.

St. Thomas More, pray for us.

Another week of not much Family-ing, because Daddy was away on clinical rotations. So most of the pictures are from the weekends.

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“Here Mommy, these will make you all better.”

Evie really likes playing doctor, these days. She always wants someone to “be sick” so she can make them “all better.” Mommy makes a very good patient because she will lie down on the couch any time Evie asks her to.

Daddy, on the other hand, is a terrible patient, because he never follow’s Doctor’s orders.

 

Evie got to stay over at Deedee and Papa’s house a lot this week, because Mommy is on a new work schedule for a few weeks. She has to work every day, instead of just three days, but she only works eight hours instead of twelve, so she gets home earlier, and no nights.

Daddy got to come home from Oak Harbor early this week, but he still had a ton of Army stuff to do online, so he wasn’t able to pick Evie up until Thursday night. Deedee dropped her off at the bank where Daddy was conducting some boring business type stuff. Evie was immediately enthralled by the “puter” they had that was just her size.

 

Family friday 128 (3)
“This is my ‘puter! I’m typing!”

So much so that she didn’t want to leave the bank.

 

Family friday 128 (4)
“No, no, I am doing my work!”

We had to have a talking-to about that. It’s okay to be sad, and it’s okay to be mad, but even when you are sad and mad, you still have to do what is right. Which means when Daddy says it is time to leave, you can cry if you feel you must, but you still have to put the toys away.

Another thing that Evie really likes nowadays is the word, “Why?” Daddy loves it because it is one of his favorite words too.

On Friday, Daddy and Evie went to early morning Mass, and then to the park for some ninja training.

The library was hosting an event for kids, and the police came to show off one of their cars.

Family friday 128 (5)

 

 

Evie thought the police car was the coolest thing ever. She was all ready to get buckled in the back seat and drive away.

 

Family friday 128 (6)
“This is my seat, and this is the baby’s seat.”

Fortunately, Daddy didn’t let her stay in the police car. She did get to go down the slide with the police man a few times, and had a picnic with Daddy.

 

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Daddy is not very good at taking selfies.

And that’s all for this week. We are just working on getting done what we need to get done while still having at least a little time for what matters most.

And, of course, counting down to our next little big adventure!

 

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Not long  now!

God Bless!

 

 

 

 

This week has not been a great week for Family Time. We had some together time on the weekend, but then Daddy had to go up to Whidbey Island for a clinical rotation. So we spent a lot of our family time on FaceTime.

Family Friday 127 (11)
Mommy reading Evie a bedtime story before goodnight prayers.

 

On Saturday before Daddy left we did some work in the garden. Daddy rototilled it and then mulched the rest of the leaves and some of the shrubbery and plants and spread the mulch in the garden. Evie helped a good deal.

Especially when it was time to put the wheelbarrow away.

Family Friday 127 (2)
“Weeeeeeeeeeeeee!”

We wanted to have a fire in our fire pit, but Mommy had to go to the Baby sale again, and Auntie Maryanne was working. So we had Uncle Adam and Edmund come over for dinner.

Family Friday 127 (4)
Edmund ate all of Evie’s bread and Evie ate all of Edmund’s beans.

It’s good to have cousins.

 

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Really? You’re taking a picture of me eating food?

 

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The lake of fire! Actually, it’s more like a puddle of fire.

 

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It isn’t Uncle Adam’s fault it’s such a small fire.

 

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If he looks a little like a pyromaniac, it’s only because he is.

 

Family Friday 127 (9)
Relaxing times like this are too few and far between.

We went out for breakfast with some friends on Sunday morning.

 

Family Friday 127 (10)
She has a tank, and she’s not afraid to use it.

Then Sunday afternoon Daddy drove up to Whidbey Island to begin his next clinical assignment.

But he only has to work Monday through Thursday, so it isn’t too bad. He gets to come back home for Friday, Saturday and most of Sunday.

Family Friday 127 (3)
She’s getting ready for her new job. 

Fall time is in full swing here. That means that it is gray and rainy most of the time, but we don’t mind. As Kathleen likes to say, it’s good snuggle weather.

 

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And this Japanese maple is particularly gorgeous this year.

Hope you all have a great weekend. God Bless!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ruckmarching
Training must be about more than personal development in order to be a path to Holiness.

A little over a week ago Kathleen and I were sitting on the couch having a date night. We had already folded the laundry and finished watching Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, which meant that the festivities were winding down towards bed time. (Do we know how to party it up or what?)

 

I switched on my Relevant Radio app on my phone and we listened to a short, two-minute podcast from Father James Kubickia. I cannot for the life of me remember which saint he was talking about, and I cannot find the podcast now. I have tried quite a few times since then, because he shared a quote which shocked and challenged me, and which I have been trying to place ever since. Apparently, whichever saint he was talking about once said in a letter:

“Your desire for suffering has grown sluggish.”

If I had been tracking at the time, that quote would have stopped me in them. It reminded me of something a Special Forces guy said in my hearing when I was at Fort Bragg last year for “leadership” training:

“Our Special Forces ancestors spent years living and fighting in the swamps in Vietnam, and we can’t even get up at 5:00 AM to go work out in an air-conditioned gym.”

Both ideas get at something that has long eaten at me, the idea that we Americans, especially American men, are the lesser sons of great fathers. I thought about both these quotes later that week when I was at the gym in the morning, after finishing my squats and deadlifts. The next thing on my schedule was sprints, and I had planned on doing them outside on the track, but it was in the low 40’s and I really wanted to let the sprints go, and just do a couple miles on the treadmill instead. Half of me couldn’t believe it. “Really? It’s 40 degrees out and you are whining about it being so cold!? What a wuss.”

The other half of me wasn’t listening. It was just complaining: “It’s chilly out and my throat will hurt, and I don’t want to sprint because my legs are tired, and I have to work today and…” yadah, yadah, yadah, yammering uselessly.

I did go out and do some sprints. But I am not what I used to be. There was a time when I had a goal (being Special Forces) that consumed my waking and sleeping and made me hungry for suffering. That desire has grown weak and sluggish, crowded over by the cares of civilian life and an unhealthy attachment to comfort, routine and convenience.

It is right and just that Special Forces should fade out as my reason for getting up in the morning. As a life goal it was always small potatoes, looming large in my mind only because of the smallness of my mind at the time. Being Special Forces would have been a fine goal, if it had been more about taking care of the team and protecting people than about my personal program of self-improvement. Nowadays I have my family, a higher, nobler and worthier goal than SF could ever be. I have medicine as well, which, as long as I think about care of patients rather than the medical detective novel I have running constantly in my own mind, is likewise a worthier goal. And I have more of a relationship with God than I used to, which is the noblest, highest and ultimate goal.

The problem is that these are only intellectual goals. I acknowledge them as projects on my to-do list, and check them off every day, but I do not love them, in the sense that I do not forget myself in pursuit of them. Or at least, I don’t forget myself very often. They don’t draw me so far as to desire suffering in order to be like Jesus.

When whichever saint it was said, “Your desire for suffering has grown sluggish” I think he was using that desire as a measure for love, and what he was really saying was, “Your love has grown sluggish and it no longer drives you to make sacrifices for God or neighbor.”

His accusation rings true in my soul. WOF crucifixion