Thursday, December 31, 2009
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Friday, December 18, 2009
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Monday, December 14, 2009
Friday, December 11, 2009
Merciful God, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Reading: Matthew 25:31-40
Jesus said "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'
Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'
"The King will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'
From Fr. T
A few weeks ago, I took my girls to see Disney's film "A Christmas Carol." It is a new animated version of the story shown in amazing 3-D. Perhaps because Disney makes amusement park rides, part of the film felt like being on a roller coaster. Speeding through the streets of Victorian England was pretty fun. That wasn't what impressed me about the film, though. What really stood out is how devoted the script was to Charles Dickens's original novella.
Because most of the script of the film was taken word for word from Dickens, the point of that original story came loud and clear through this secular film: Christians are supposed to care for the poor. That is the point Dickens was making, and the film pulled no punches. While I would argue that a Christmas Carol suffers from a hefty dose of works-based salvation, it certainly made an impression on me and my kids.
Advent is a season in which the Church looks ahead at the great Day of Judgment. On that Day, you and I will not be saved or damned because of how we treat the poor. Salvation is by grace alone through faith alone. But the Lord will judge our works, including the way we treat the poor. We will be answerable for our actions.
In this season of Advent, then, it is important to spend some of our time, energy, and money on those who are less fortunate. Last week I suggested giving to or working at the Family Affair Christmas Store, and I still do. Another way that I recommend is through World Vision's Christmas Catalog. This catalog, available via mail an on-line, allows you to select gifts that will be given to the poor in the name of another person. So, instead of buying a sweater for your sister, you could give a sheep or a goat to a family in Africa. You could provide a month of education to an orphan, or a fish pond for a village, or clothing for the homeless, or a soccer ball for children in Latin America. World Vision will then send your recipient a card, or you can print one off and send it yourself.
You can visit the Christmas Catalog by going to WorldVision.org
Gift giving is part of the tradition of Christmas; I am not suggesting otherwise. I am suggesting that perhaps some of the gifts we give this year could be a blessing to both the recipient and to a person in need. I especially think of those people who don't really need anything else, the man or woman "who has it all." Maybe this would be a good time of the year to feed the hungry and clothe the naked in their name, and in the Name of Christ.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Friday, December 4, 2009
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. (Isaiah 40:3)
From Fr. T
On the other hand, Jesus teaches us to "stay alert" at all times for his coming. (Mark 13:35) Yes, this means that his second coming might happen any time. But it also means that he might show up in our life in new ways at any moment.
During Advent, we are called to pay particular attention to his command to stay alert. So, how will you stay alert for Christ today? I suggest beginning with prayer. Take a moment to ask the Lord to keep you on the alert for his presence. Ask the Holy Spirit to fill you today so that you may be prepared for whatever God might do today. And then watch. Notice if the Lord points out something today. Perhaps you hear him in a brief conversation, see him in an event, notice him in an unusual place. If you don't notice him, that's OK. Your task is to stay alert, he will do the rest.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Monday, November 9, 2009
Friday, November 6, 2009
Monday, November 2, 2009
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Monday, October 26, 2009
On Friday night Cat & I decided to head out to one after she got off work at her weekend job at a new age bookstore. She neglected to tell me that for work she'd been dressed for Halloween...
The result was I probably brought the scariest thing to the nights event.
We arrive and I drive down the long, dark one lane road through the property. I roll down my window when I reach a man wearing a reflective vest who simply tells me to, "keep going and stay right." Okay. I make a hairpin turn on the dirt road and come to a field. I ask the person at the gate where to park. "Anywhere not to close to the road."
We manage to find our way helped along by a scarecrow with an outstretched arm. We both stared for a minute making sure this thing wasn't a real person. A group of people passed us in the opposite direction- girls clinging to one an other's arms.
After paying our entrance fee we waited on a platform for the next hayride to begin. A young boy pointed at Cat and yelled, "Vampire" and walked quickly in the other direction. I laughed and she punched me in the arm.
I followed two people loading onto the hayride, however before we started they got up and moved down the back of the trailer then the guide came along and made us all move down- so I was stuck next to the butt of the tractor and could barely the hear the guide at the back of the trailer. Off we go through the wooded trails of the property while she told us a bit of the history of the house and gentleman who lived there had been hung by Union Soldiers in the Civil War for the being a spy. During their Civil War reenactments the actors have reported seeing soldiers whose outfits are just a little different than their own- men they don't recognize whom disappear before their eyes. One tale of men yelling for another man to join the festivities in their camp only to be ignored and one man decided to go invite the gentleman personally only to have him evaporate before his eyes.
All tales are supposedly true stories of occurrences that happened to either employees, volunteers or tourists.
Then we arrived at the main house and were greeted by a lady in Victorian era dress who led us to the porch. I loved the color of her skirt- which I didn't notice until lit up by the flash from my camera.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Friday, October 16, 2009
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Friday, October 9, 2009
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
The nurse brought him to me some time later (c-section birth) and handed me this baby wrapped up like a burrito under maximum security. And I didn't have a clue what to do with him. I stared at him and thought, 'now what?' My life has never been the same. Funny thing is that I don't remember life before him and yet at the same time it doesn't feel that six years have past. It doesn't seem possible to feel both at the same time.
It took me about a year to grow into Motherhood. We intentionally had WC but at first the reality of being a mom coupled with postpartum depression (I later learned) stole what should have been a better time for me. He was probably about nine months old when the fog began to lift and it wasn't until around his first birthday that I realized how bad I had actually felt. Then I began to truly enjoy him and I haven't looked back.
Yesterday when I picked him up he ran up to me and did a little dance and yelled, "My birthday is tomorrow!"
The parents standing next me laughed. "Boy, birthdays get less and less exciting as time goes on, don't they," I said. And they agreed.
This morning he immediately wanted to open the box that had arrived from Michele & Peter and we had to make him get dressed first. He opens the first package, Transformers sheet set. He holds it up over his head and dances around. Then with eager anticipation he waited on Jay to cut open the box with his knife. He pulls it out of the box and yells, "Transformers....it's a Transformers....What is it?" We explain it's a comforter, it goes on the bed. You can use it instead of your quilt for the winter. His entire bed can be Transformers. "Cool," he responded. I had to make him put it down and eat breakfast.
I have a feeling I'll be running a load of sheets when I get home.
He has his whole evening planned out this afternoon, I've discovered. Yesterday, I gave him the option of attending his usual karate class tonight or going to Friday's class instead. I'm surprised that he chose to wait until Friday because tonight's instructor is Mr. H. his absolute favorite. And we don't know who teaches on Friday. But he wants me to make him tacos for dinner & he knows I don't have time if we go to karate. This afternoon I am supposed to pick him up first and we go to the store for things to make tacos and he can pick out a small cake or other sweet treat (his party isn't until the 17th) before we pick up CJ. I'm going to make every effort to get out of work early today in order to do this. What he doesn't know is that he also has a birthday present from Jay & myself that he will get tonight. A GI Joe, Snake Eyes action figure and because a good guy needs a bad guy to fight a "bad guy" action figure.
I still can't believe it. Today's the 6 year anniversary of the day that changed my life, forever. Right after I looked at him and thought, 'now what?' I said to him, "Hi, I'm mom." And there's nothing else that I'd rather be called.
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
I have a favor to ask of you. Yes, I'm aware that it's rather presumptuous of me to make any requests in light of my prolonged absence, but a favor I ask of you nonetheless.
You might be saying to yourself, "You schmuck! You abandon us, your faithful and loyal readers, for weeks on end and now you want to ask a favor? You're a stay-at-home dad for cying out loud! You should have time to write a stupid blog at least once a week!" and you're right. All I can say is mea culpa. For whatever reason, the inspiration hasn't been there as of late and I don't want to offend your fertile minds by simply writing drivel that's worse than the usual drivel you've come to expect from Steely Dad. Yea, doing so might help with SEO and page ranks but I think it's safe to say those elements hardly provide me motivation.
The favor I'd like to ask of you is to stop reading this post right now. WAIT! Before you do, because I know just how happy you are to oblige, please follow these very important instructions: GO HUG YOUR KID(S). I mean REALLY hug them. Tell them how much you love them, how special they are to you. No, don't lie. I want you to hug them and kiss them and hold them tight and let all that love in your heart spill forth. Don't be afraid; you can't spoil a kid with love. For those of us parents with younger kids, we don't appreciate the brevity of these early years. Parents with older children are often cursed with the wisdom that kids just grow up way too quickly. Never again squander another opportunity to let your kids know how much you love and adore them.
I know this would be the message of Sophie and Tyler Crew, dear friends of the Steely Family, if they could speak to you right now. I know they would love nothing more than to be able to hug their beautiful baby girl, 13-month old Emma, right this very moment. I know they would do anything to be able to hold her, to touch her, to smell her sweet and familiar scent that only they recognize. I know they would do anything to be able to hear Emma's silly giggle and to tickle her to hear it over and over again. Even big sister Ava would love to share her toys with Emma. But they cannot, at least not right now, for their precious little Emma is in a crucial fight for her fragile life after being victimized in what doctors have described as a Shaken Baby Syndrome incident.
Sophie and Tyler are living a parent's worst nightmare. Sometime after dropping off Emma at daycare, they received a call from the facility that something happened to Emma. At that seminal moment, at that singular second in time, their comfortable world was eternally shattered. And even if all prayers are answered, even if the miracle of all miracles happens, nothing for the Crew Family will ever be the same again, not EVER.
After hearing this tragic story, I wondered how anyone could do something like this to a little baby, an innocent child who is not able to defend itself . How could someone turn into such a monster? It seems unfathomable, unimaginable and demonic. And you know what, it is all of these things but apparently it doesn't take much to turn into such a monster. A brief yet uncontrollable fit of anger coupled with several violent shakes in a few seconds is all it takes to steal the life of a child. According to the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome, an estimated 1,200 to 1,400 children in the United States are injured or killed by being shaken each year.
No gun, no blunt instrument, no poison was used. In fact, the person probably started off with good intentions of trying to comfort a crying child. But when nothing they tried worked, the person transformed from caregiver to monster. Hands and an inability to control impulses and the law of physics that would leave adults unscathed but literally shakes the breath out of those much smaller than us were the only weapons used in this case. We've all been frustrated with our kids, when they don't listen, when they cry incessantly and inconsolably for unending hours, and we've wished it to go away, quickly, so we can get back to sleep, get back to work or get back to whatever it was we were doing. The only thing the Crew Family wants to get back to is a normal life.
Sophie and Tyler sit vigil by Emma's side, where they have remained since this nightmare took on a momentum that far exceeds their tolerance. Three hundred and sixty hours have passed since the last time they saw their happy, healthy Emma. Think of all the hugs they would've shared had it not been for a person's, a stranger's, rage.
Mom and Dad, sitting on either side of Emma, read her favorite books, sing her favorite songs, looking, waiting, wishing, hoping for anything that resembles life. A sign, a twitch, a movement, a response, a sound, anything. How do you hold on to hope when doctors say to let go of it? How do you manage expectations when doctors tell you not to have any? I don't know how but I do know that Sophie and Tyler and Ava have not given up on Emma, have not lost hope and have not abandoned expectations. Emma knows this too, and she can feel the love and support and she hears our prayers and she has responded by moving one of her arms and one of her legs. She has opened her eyes. These are small but meaningful signs that nuture the seed of hope. Remember, all mighty oaks start out as tiny acorns. Let me tell you, this little girl has more fight in her than any, save her family, knew she had in her heart. She's not giving up and she wants to let us know not to give up on her, that she's going to keep on fighting.
Emma doesn't understand what losing this fight would mean to her parents, to her sister, to her grandparents. She doesn't know the grief that would descend upon an entire community of people who love and adore her. Yet out of nothing more than sheer life instinct, the genetic code that resolves us to take another breath when doing so presents greater challenge than not taking one, this little girl fights on.
It's easy to think something like this will never happen to us and when we don't personally know the people struggling with a tragedy such as this, it's even easier to take comfort in the emotional distance that frees us from any reminder of the grief being experienced by those hit hardest. But don't forget; instead, think of little Emma struggling for the very existence we take for granted.
I'd like to make one last request. I am asking for everyone reading this story to pray for little Emma Crew. Organize prayer services at your church, synagogue or other place of worship. If you're not comfortable with prayer, then please send your positive thoughts Emma's way. If praying is fine and dandy but you feel moved to do something more "tangible" the family would be most grateful for any financial contributions. Obviously, both Sophie and Tyler have taken an indefinite leave of absence from their respective jobs (Sophie is a school teacher and Tyler works in construction) since Emma's hospitalization. I know we'd all like to lessen the burden that was thrust upon this family by minimizing financial stresses in order that they may focus their energies on little baby Emma. Donations, in any amount, can be made at the Crew Family blog by clicking on the "Donate" button. I hope you will contribute out of a desire, rather than an obligation, to help.
If you're a blogger, have a Facebook, Twitter or any other social media account, please feel free to post this wherever compassionate eyes may read it.
Thanking you in advance,
Todd (AKA Steely Dad)