If You Feel Detached This Memorial Day… Read This

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Memorial Day poppies, Symbolized in 1915

If you feel detached this Memorial day, unable to really connect with the kind of sacrifice that is given by the men and women who have died for our country, I have some movies to suggest to you.  Movies that my husband has forced me to watch (:) ) the past few months with him, and it’s been riveting.

It’s hard to connect sometimes with things we haven’t experienced or don’t fully understand.  We see the other side of war, the beauty that comes from when it succeeds or ends.  There is an old story of the Memorial Day poppy, the symbolic flower of remembrance, began with in the Spring of 1915, when the fields of Belgium, France, and Gallipoli were covered with the tiny red blossoms.  It was after a long, cold winter of war, the ground and soil were broken up and torn enough to initiate the poppy seeds into germination.

Desolate battlefields of red flowers became fraught with clusters of delicate, bright poppies.  Death, horror, and loss of brave soldiers fighting in war, were then remembered, marked, with the poppies that came from their fight.  Beauty from pain.  Beauty from ashes.  Beauty from hopelessness.

Sacrifice.

It’s hard to understand the depth of their sacrifice unless you’ve been in the situation yourself, have seen your friends die in combat, or have lost one of your loved ones.

My husband and I watched these movies with the same theme of war, love, and sacrifice.  I’m not the kind of woman who actively seeks out dramatic, fight scene kind of movies, but let me tell you… these movies, are AMAZING.  You will come away feeling at least a little more appreciation for the men and women who have died for our country, and the families that supported them.

Act of Valor

In Act of Valor, there are frequent disturbing, but necessary, scenes of a woman being brutally tortured – she is the package they must receive and rescue.  It is a movie that transports you into a place you likely have never been, and never want to be.  The life of a Navy Seal.  You are the woman the terrorists have captured and who are drilling holes through her hands, dragging across the floor while she’s covered in blood and in chains, you are the men who know exactly what she is enduring, and are on a race against the clock to try to recover her before she gives up the will to live, or is killed.  You hear her screams echoing through the rain forest, as you’re going through the necessary tactical commands and movements in order to complete your operation.  This movie showed me the horror that goes on without us even knowing as we live our cushy lives filled with blatant ignorance of all the terrorists in the world craving to do us evil.  It was amazing, intense, and horrifying.  It showed the bravery of the men and women by putting you in their place, in their thoughts, in their very emotions.

Zero Dark Thirty

This is the movie about the inspiring dedication and perseverance it took to catch Osama Bin Laden.  It is produced by the interesting and elusive Gen-Y rebel and heiress, Megan Ellison (29).  It follows the true story, with its real life heroine and characters, however, it has the disclaimer that it is only a movie, not a documentary.  I found it riveting and fascinating… brutally hard to watch, and yet, I was filled with desire to know what would happen next, sitting on the edge of my seat, muscles completely and utterly tense.

No matter one’s beliefs on the political overtones of the CIA using torture methods on terrorists, and this film deliberately showing that they worked, it is an intriguing movie that will make you all the more thankful to be protected by people who dedicate their entire lives, looking every waking second for the evil that hunts us.

 

 End of Watch

A movie about police sacrifice, although they are not Veterans coming back from, or giving their lives in war, these men and women serve in a different kind of way.  I talked with a Marine who has been on 3 tours, and he assured me that the Police Officer has to constantly be on watch, he will never get to be a “Veteran” until he hangs up his vest and puts away his gun.  He is always “deployed,” even though he gets to come home at night.  This movie was a humorous, beautiful, tear-jerking look inside what a real police life feels like.  The main character and his humor reminded me so much of my husband it made it very hard to watch in some respect.  Even as I write this post, one of my husband’s friends just had to deal with a violent drunk, in a thunderstorm of our flooding city, and then drive him to jail as he took a shit in his car.

But they would take that over a boring desk job any day.

 

 

Thank you to all who sacrifice.

May we always remember.

Summer Foods for Your Health & Body

So I’ve been a health-food nut for awhile now….  I grew up eating pretty healthy, my mother was the one who cooked, and even though she worked a full-time job she still made sure we ate low-fat, non-greasy, mostly homemade foods.  But because she was working so much, about half the food we consumed was packaged and processed foods – foods that are low in nutritional value and protein, but high in salt & fat (making them addictive and easy to over-eat), additives, and preservatives.  Now that I’m a wife and mother, I’ve managed to largely cut out most of the processed foods we eat daily.  Sure we still have some crackers in our pantry, I still sometimes cook with flour, and we let our son eat white bread, but the majority of the food we eat is as close to homemade or natural as we can get or make.  We eat this way because our health is a priority to my husband and I.  We are an active family, constantly going, and I want to be active even in our old age together, and that starts with what you take into your body.

We are also that family that eats healthy regularly at home, but doesn’t think twice about eating a donut every week, or eating out at our favorite fast food places sometimes.  When eating healthy is simply your lifestyle, you aren’t worried about ordering a pizza, or eating a high fat, high calorie burger with fries sometimes.  So we are those people who look really fit, but who you’ll see eating out and enjoying ourselves regularly, we don’t believe in sticking to a super strict diet.  This means that around the holidays, we do tend to indulge in those incredible comfort foods more often than not, and then modify our exercise and diet lifestyle come January.  Our love is to enjoy the seasons, and we’ve embraced that the holiday season in particular, is one filled with foods that we normally don’t eat year round.  We embrace the tastes, the pleasures of eating those gustatory delights, but we equally embrace eating clean again come the New Year on.

Europeans (especially the French) tend to live that way.  They aren’t as obsessed with cutting out all carbs or certain food groups, wine, or doing insane diets for short periods of time, because the way they eat daily is beneficial to their bodies – they aren’t gaining weight because they typically just don’t over-eat.  They also stick to natural, mostly unprocessed foods… even their chocolate is healthier because it typically has no high fructose corn syrup, modified starches or milk products, and more cocoa %).  When French women in particular, do happen to notice they might be gaining weight, they simply step up their daily exertion – like taking the stairs instead of the elevator when they feel a shirt or dress becoming tight.  They self-moderate their weight because they are in tune with it and their bodies, they eat slower as well, which helps them feel when they are full.

Summer is the season when our food lifestyle starts to be really harrowed down to the necessities for survival, however, we still eat so that we don’t feel deprived.

Here are some of the snacks or sides we use during the year that help us eat clean:

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1) Fresh cut fruits …. The best way to ensure that your fruit won’t go to waste in the basket is to, as soon as you get it home from the market, find some time to slice and dice it into portions that are easy to pull out for a snack or for the lunch sides.  It saves so much more time and will keep you from reaching for packaged snacks like goldfish that are just empty calories.  Make sure you have a variety of fruits and veggies stocked up and sliced each week so that your family doesn’t get bored.  We do bananas (obviously no need to slice except for smoothies if you use them that way), apples, kiwis, peaches, oranges, watermelon (we cube it – also easy for smoothie throw-ins), and anything that piques our interest while out at the store.

2) Ready to bake Veggies fries or chips …. Same principle as the fruits, cut them into slices or fries or “chips” as soon as you can so that they are ready to go.  This works well with sweet potatoes which are one of the super foods for your body, zucchini, butternut squash, or kale (kale chips).  When they are cut like this and are ready to go, it makes getting dinner on the table so much easier – and rather than reaching for some prepackaged or processed dinner side, you’re getting something natural and raw.

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Coat fries in olive oil lightly.  Bake until crisp.  Use Kosher salt (lower Sodium content) while still hot

Coat fries in olive oil lightly. Bake until crisp. Use Kosher salt (lower Sodium content) while still hot

3) High protein snacks, lunches, or side dishes ….  Two words, Greek Yogurt.  I usually grow our own yogurt during the Summer when it’s hot (I do it a med-evil way… I suggest you buy a yogurt maker!!), and separate out the whey so that it becomes the “Greek yogurt” sold in the stores. It is INSANELY cheaper to make your own yogurt (I make about a half gallon for $3 every week) rather than buy the individual cups they sell at the store.  I once had a woman trying to sell me the store brand of their yogurt, and I told her I had started making my own.  She was excited, asked me how to do it, and told me that when she used to live in Italy, a family next door used to do that, and it tasted incredible.  More proof in my mind that Europeans understand how to eat better than Americans.

Another plus about homemade yogurt, you don’t have to worry about the preservatives added, high fructose corn syrup, dyes, or fillers.  If you do have to buy it, make sure you buy it plain, as close to natural as possible, and try to avoid a brand that has High fructose corn syrup.

Greek yogurt is delicious and one of the super foods because of the high protein and fat busting properties it has… eat 1 to 2 cups a day replacing one of your normal snacks to see a noticeable difference in your body fat % (it will mysteriously go down) :) .

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The way my son eats his nutritious, protein packed Greek Yogurt… with a little chocolate sauce, and dark chocolate (anti-oxidant) chips! Dress it up however you like… I usually make a vanilla kind or black cherry yogurt (sooooo delicious). You don’t even know you’re eating healthy, it’s like eating ice cream. Limit it to one cup though, and that’s your dessert.

How I eat my chocolate Greek yogurt?  With apples to dip ;)

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Another great high protein snack/lunch/side dish is tuna or chicken salad… I simply avoid using the fattening sauces when making them and typically opt for 1 tbs of mustard, or for chicken salad… 1 tbs of yogurt to substitute for mayonnaise.  The tuna or chicken salads are great for lunch by themselves, or in wheat pita pockets, or as snacks served on crackers.  Huge boost of energy if used as a snack!

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Super Delish!

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4) Handy veggie snacks …. Cut carrots or baby carrots, celery sticks, etc… the key again, is to keep these things cut and sliced, ready to go in your fridge so that you are more motivated to actually eat enough of them during the week before your next trip to the market.  We also do use dips, you can create your own easy yogurt dips or just use 3 tbs ranch… a little ranch is great if it will help you or your kids to get down some veggies they’d otherwise never want to eat!

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Our family’s secret weapon???  The Super food smoothie. Say good-bye to fat as it melts off of you!

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You get SO MUCH energy from these simple, cheap drinks you make in your own home!  This was berries blended, carrots, and peanut butter.

5) Frozen fruits and spinach, kale, and carrots for drinking in smoothies ….  This is probably the most unsuspecting thing our family regularly does in the Spring and Summer months.  We drink loads of fruits and veggies in smoothie drinks (water or yogurt based), it is kind of like juicing except we really do blend the fruits and veggies.  It is hard to describe what it feels like to drink these icy cool concoctions… when I’ve been doing it regularly (daily), it’s like my veins themselves feel cool and refreshed.  The fat in your body melts away, your energy is magically increased… it really is our family’s best kept “secret” of the one thing you should be eating (or drinking) in the Summer.

Blueberries, Sweet Pineapple chunks, water, and protein powder, 1 tbs sugar

Frozen Blueberries, Spinach, Sweet Pineapple chunks, water, and protein powder, 1 tbs sugar

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Green Drink…. not as tasty haha… but still so good for your body!  

Another thing, these are not the high-fat, sugary smoothies you’ll find at Smoothie King or other smoothie shops.  These are no-fat (unless you use an Avocado base or yogurt base – good fat), they have no cream and very little (1 tbs tops) sugar added.  They are pure fruit, water, and vegetables.  You can make them into a meal replacement for lunch or dinner (or breakfast – I like hot breakfasts so I usually don’t) by adding the recommended scoop of a high quality protein powder.  We use Muscle Milk Protein Powder, but there are many good brands out there.

You can do so many different kinds of healthy smoothies… “chocolate, spinach, berry blend (my favorite),”  or a “berry blend, carrots, and peanut butter (really delicious)”  you just have to get creative and try different ways to drink your veggies and fruits.  Strawberry, banana, kiwi, + protein powder…  Chocolate, peanut butter, spinach/kale blend.  The possibilities are endless.

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Our homemade pizza - making the dough from scratch.

Our homemade pizza – making the dough from scratch.  It’s nice to eat bad food in a healthy way (homemade)

What we ate tonight... Chicken cooked with onions and garlic, mixed with veggies

What we ate tonight… Chicken cooked with onions and garlic, mixed with veggies

And then just make sure to create healthy dinners of low fat (lean) meats, use noticably less starches like rice and corn meal,… use more protein-packed sides like chickpeas, beans, legumes, and grains like quinoa.  And eat 1/3 to 2/3 of your dinner in vegetables for a healthy, rejuvenated Summer.

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For Tracy Anderson’s chili burrito recipe (above)

I love this tiny woman, and this chili recipe was amazing.  I altered it to add my own black bean recipe because in my mind, they taste amazing together in a wrap or burrito.  We use those large spinach tortillas since they are our favorite, but you can also get tomato or even jalapeno tortillas to go with this and any kind of wrap you’d want!

CHILI INGREDIENTS

  • 1-1/2 lbs grass-fed ground beef

  • 3 cups chopped fresh tomatoes

  • 1/2 jalapeño, seeded and minced… (CLICK HERE)

Israeli Couscous

Even though it’s been rain off and on, flooding in various areas, and muddy shoes galore, we found some time to get to the store to do our weekly shopping this week.

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I’ve always wanted to try out a recipe with Israeli Couscous… and why not in a celebratory way of kicking off a hopefully scorching summer?  This was easy, quick, and full of wonderful aroma and taste, amazing if you’re in any kind of rut emotionally or sensually.

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First, find a good, economical brand of Israeli Couscous.  They typically aren’t expensive by any means, and the minute extra price is a good bargain for adding different flavors and experiences to your children’s repertoire of foods at the dinner table.  My son was wide-eyed to see the pearlescent balls of noodle-like flavor!  Eating can be exciting!

The littlest tomato came from our garden!  Ha!  We were proud :)

The littlest tomato came from our garden! Ha! We were proud :)  It’s flavor was more intense!

Dice about 1/2 or 3/4 of a cucumber, and about 3-4 Roma tomatoes.

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I save the extra cucumber slices for sandwiches or quick salad options, putting them a separate ziplock bag from the diced

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From our garden!!! Basil, Thyme, Oregano leaves

From our garden!!! Basil, Thyme, Oregano leaves

It was fun to stop the cooking, run outside to our garden and pick the necessary herbs, it reminded me of living in the country.  Cooking with fresh grown spices and herbs or vegetables is a different experience, the flavor of the herbs, the sheer aroma is overwhelming while your cooking.  It is incredible for the senses, and the taste is wholesome.

Cilantro from our garden... be sure to plant it in an area where it only gets partial sun.  Cilantro is tender and fragile, I've mistakenly had it scorch when it was planted in full sunlight.

Cilantro from our garden… be sure to plant it in an area where it only gets partial sun. Cilantro is tender and fragile, I’ve mistakenly had it scorch to a burnt crisp when it was planted in full sunlight.

Next, saute in Olive Oil, some chopped onions (I keep some handy in the fridge or freezer for quick need like this), add garlic, and your garden herbs to taste.  Cook on low heat, and enjoy the breathtaking aromas that fill your kitchen.

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The couscous should be done by now, add in the cooked & fluffed couscous, the diced tomatoes, cucumbers, and the torn cilantro leaves.

Bring to boil 2 cups of water, add 1 cup of Israeli couscous, turn OFF the heat, COVER the pot, and allow to sit for 10 minutes

Bring to boil 2 cups of water, add 1 cup of Israeli couscous, turn OFF the heat, COVER the pot, and allow to sit for 10 minutes

Mix it all together off the heat

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And it is incredible!  Eat hot or cold, by itself or in a lettuce leaf.  I chose for us simple pita pockets

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It was the most beautiful day yesterday to be outside!  We spent a lot of time during the afternoon in the garden, getting dirty, removing more weeds, putting down some top soil in places that needed it. We’ve had a couple of weeks of rainy days off and on, sometimes with the occasional flood warning.  When it rains… it pours here, so we were more than happy to experience a bright, sunny day.  Even as I write looking out into our patio & backyard, the rain has returned yet again overnight, bringing with it a deep gray color, as everything looks damp and darkened, with only the greenery of the grass and plants heightened – the silver lining to the dark clouds.  It is incredible how diverse one day can be from another.

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Another rainy day… at least it makes the sunny days all the more bright.

Summer White

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We love summer!  I found this white hat with a navy blue ribbon at Target this weekend!  Aside from sunscreen or sunblock, a hat is absolutely necessary in the scorching heat of Texas, and since we spend a lot of time in the water all summer long, a hat protects from age-spots.

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I’ve always been pale… and have at times, fallen prey to the temptation to use a tanner lotion or self-tanner cream.  The best one I’ve found is St. Topez, in Medium to Dark, I’ve used it almost every summer for a few years now, and it creates a natural looking bronze.

This summer, however, I’m going to embrace the pale!  Enough with the fake tans… I really like my white skin haha.

White is in this summer right?

Behold, the summer white! :)

The Art of Travel

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I have a friend that is incredibly and amazingly the most adventurous girl I know.  Her love, her passion?  Travel.  I came across an essay in the book, The Art of Living, that drew images in my head of her and her journeys around the world.  She doesn’t just take time off a busy schedule to go on some two-week vacation, this girl orchestrates complex legs of her journey of life where she is working in a different country as a nurse (Nepal), or on an extended stay in Bali, Indonesia.  She’s been to several places in Europe, Asia, and America, while she grew up and lives in the arctic circle.  Allow me to present my friend, a beautiful woman who inspires me, challenges me with her capacity for bravery, and truly embodies the poetic essay, The Art of Travel.  I adore her… enjoy her pictures of her journeys!

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When you pack your bags to explore the beauties of your own country or to travel around the world, consider these keys to a happy journey.

Travel lightly.  You are not traveling for people to see you!

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Travel slowly. Jet planes are for getting places not seeing places; take time to absorb the beauty and inspiration of a mountain or a cathedral.

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Travel expectantly.  Every place you visit is like a surprise package to be opened.  Untie the strings with an expectation of adventure.

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Travel hopefully.  “To travel hopefully,” wrote Robert Louis Stevenson, “is better than to arrive.”

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Travel humbly.  Visit people and places with reverence and respect for their traditions and ways of life.

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Travel courteously.  Consideration for your fellow travelers and your hosts will smooth the way through the most difficult days.

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Travel gratefully.  Show appreciation for the many things that are being done by others for your enjoyment and comfort.

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Travel with an open mind.  Leave your prejudices at home.

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Travel with curiosity.  It is not how far you go, but how deeply you go that mines the gold of experience.  Thoreau wrote a big book about tiny Walden Pond.

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Travel with imagination.  As the Old Spanish proverb puts it:  “He who would bring home the wealth of the Indies must carry the wealth of the Indies with him.”

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Travel fearlessly.  Banish worry and timidity; the world and its people belong to you just as you belong to the world.

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Travel relaxed.  Make up your mind to have a good time.  Let go and let God.

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Travel patiently.  It takes time to understand others, especially when there are barriers of language and custom; keep flexible and adaptable to all situations.

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Travel with the spirit of a world citizen.  You’ll discover that people are basically much the same the world around.  Be an ambassador of good will to all people.  <3

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The Warriors

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Yesterday, I stood up in front of a group of men who sacrifice everyday, put their lives on the line, to protect innocent lives, protect the helpless, and fight against evil, and tried to express to them how much our city appreciates their service.  It was humbling to stand before these officers and honor them, to offer them my gratitude; they so are often discouraged, beaten down by the weight of serving a hateful, thankless society.  They hear more insults in a week than one might in a lifetime.  Several men came up afterwards expressing their gratitude for my speech… but this is National Police Week, it is us, the benefactors of their service, who should be expressing our gratitude.

My son and I spent time this week in between chores and our cave trip, to make some cards and put together treats to try to show our appreciation.  I love this time of year, we love bringing them lunch, treats, cards, etc. but it felt even more necessary this year, after all the political unrest.

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Five days after I had our new baby, and a day after Christmas day, Daniel Greenfield wrote an article on 2014’s Person of the Year.  An avid reader of his, I found myself reflecting on it that cold December night, while my husband and his friends were out working (and I was staying up… waiting for that text or call), and taking in again, the immense sacrifice our men and women give, and how our society is set up to see to them fail, never even bothering to understand what they face daily.

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From Daniel Greenfield, Israeli born author and blogger and Journalist, featured on various popular sites such as Front Page Magazine, Truth Revolt, as well as his own blog, Sultan Knish.

As we sit here in our homes with our families and loved ones around us, tens of thousands of children wonder if their parents will come home tonight.

Their fathers and mothers aren’t stationed in Iraq or Afghanistan. They’re on duty in places like Englewood in Chicago where there are 2 violent crimes for every 1,000 people in one month, Columbus Square in St. Louis or Bedford-Stuyvesant in New York City where two police officers were just murdered.

The men and women of law enforcement are on the front lines of the war at home. From the mugger on the block to the terrorist on the hijacked plane, they are the first ones there.

41 law enforcement officers were shot and killed in 2014. That’s in line with the number of Americans killed by hostile fire in Afghanistan. There’s a reason that Chicago has been nicknamed Chiraq. Some parts of the country are a war zone and after the latest shooting of two police officers in New York City, a statement circulating among cops states that the NYPD has become a “wartime police department.”

The war at home has been going on for a long time and by some accounts has claimed the lives of 20,000 law enforcement officers. Since 2001, more than 700 officers have been killed by gunfire. During the Gulf War, more officers were killed on the streets of American cities than in combat against Saddam.

Even as the murders of NYPD cops Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu fill the news, Officer Charlie Kondek has been shot while pursuing a suspect in Tarpon Springs, Florida.

Officer Kondek had been a former member of the NYPD. He leaves behind five children. His killer, Marco Antonio Parilla Jr, had been repeatedly arrested for the possession and sale of cocaine before being released just this August. Officer Kondek and his children paid the ultimate price for his release.

All three police officers were casualties in the war against human evil that never ends. It’s an even dirtier and more unglamorous war than Iraq or Afghanistan. And police officers are hated in a way that it’s still socially unacceptable to hate soldiers. Ramos and Liu were the latest casualties of that hatred.

The police officer is the handyman of the welfare state. His job is to put his life on the line to plug the social leaks that the sociologists, consultants and social planners who made this mess had not foreseen. It’s his job to be there for a domestic violence complaint in a Florida motel at two in the morning or a failure of multiculturalism between two warring gangs in Oakland. He goes to places that the politicians don’t like to think about and deals with issues that the welfare state created and walked away from.

Progressives don’t believe in evil. It’s the beat cop who has to believe in it and clean it up.

The planners and politicians who allocate funds for new housing projects don’t have to patrol them at night. They don’t have to walk down a narrow concrete block hallway lined with dirty doors any of which can open at any minute with a gun behind it. The drug sentencing reformers have never had to carry a deranged screaming figure through the rusting doors of an emergency room. They have never had to get their soft shoes dirty walking through puddles of blood in an alleyway.

When liberalism fails, it’s the cop who gets the call. And when he does get the call, it’s the liberals who will be the first to call for his head.

It’s not enough that the cop has to clean up for the welfare state. He also has to be its scapegoat.

The chants of “Black lives matter” aren’t aimed at the gangs and drug dealers who rack up an astronomical number of black deaths; it’s aimed at the cops who put their lives on the line saving black lives. It’s the very people whose messes they clean up who hate them the most.

The police officer has come to embody America, abroad and at home, the nation that risks its lives to free peoples only to be despised for it, the nation that extends every benefit and privilege to its own criminals only to be shot and stabbed, raped and robbed for its endless generosity.

The American police officer was never supposed to be venturing into neighborhoods where no one speaks English and the locals see him as a member of an occupying army or patrolling in communities where gang members number in the thousands and could take down the entire local police force.

He was never supposed to be a social worker, a mediator, a medic and the commander of an invading army negotiating truces and treaties with the local tribes. And yet he is expected to be all these things and more. Every time he goes out he knows that he may face a choice between his life and his career.

If cops seem touchy, isolated or out of control it’s because they have been left hanging by a system that uses them to dam up the breakdown of a society without ever acknowledging that this is their job. Many urban police officers operate in environments where crime is not an aberration, but the norm. Like the American soldier, the police officer is better trained and more effective than ever before, but like the soldier he is also haunted by the sense that his work and his sacrifices are futile and unappreciated.

The police officer isn’t spending years in Iraq or Afghanistan; he’s spending decades in Chiraq. When his time ends, there will be no victory parades. Just the knowledge that he tried to make a difference and that unlike many brother officers, at least he made it to retirement.

Officer Daryl Pierson was shot and killed leaving behind a wife and two young children. Pierson had been an experienced officer. His killer, Thomas Johnson III, had been paroled after serving three years for an attempted armed robbery.

Officer Justin Winebrenner tried to get Kenan Ivery to leave a bar. Ivery drew a gun and shot and killed him. Officer Winebrenner was a second generation police officer. He left behind a 4-year-old daughter.

Officer Perry Renn responded to shots being fired and encountered Major Davis Jr. who was carrying a semi-automatic rifle. Davis Jr. had an extensive criminal record. He fired killing Officer Renn who had survived twenty-two years on the force.

Patrolman Jeffery Westerfield responded to a fight between Carl Le’Ellis Blount Jr. and his girlfriend. He never even got a chance to draw his gun or leave his squad car before Blount shot him in the head.

Deputy Sheriff Allen Bares was off duty when he saw a gold Lexus crash into a ditch. He approached the vehicle and was shot and killed. The two men inside, Quintylan Richard and Baylon Taylor, stole his truck and took off.

The police officers in all these cases were white. Their killers were black. But the police officers in many of these cases were trying to protect black people and black communities.

The killings all took place in a matter of months in 2014. And their numbers will only continue to grow.

While the wars abroad expand or contract, this is the war that will go on. Its soldiers will serve their tours of duty for decades on the streets of our own cities without having anywhere else to go home to. And when their time is up, they will never receive the thanks that they deserve because most of us will never understand the difference that they made.

When the left took over, it was the police officer who kept everything from going under in our major cities. It was not the politician or the planner, the sociologist or the social worker who kept the crime and chaos from sweeping everything away. It was the man in blue who did what had to be done.

Under Obama, when the criminal is king and the progressive planners are changing the country in ways unprecedented since the seventies, it’s still the lonely figure in the squad car that does his duty and holds the line in a thousand dark and dirty neighborhoods where gunshots and screams sound in the night. The American police officer has become the soldier of civilization fighting to keep it alive.

And somewhere a family wonders if their father or mother will come home tonight.

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This was on the Men’s Locker Room

Adventure Inside a Cave

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Today was the perfect day to venture inside a cave… it was raining cats and dogs, gloomy, a little cool, and perfect for our family field trip

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It was raining constantly, but the baby stayed dry under a blanket, and tucked into my Bjorn (like a Snugglie) carrier… venturing down into a cave wearing a baby was a little difficult at times (extra weight on a decline then incline anyone?), but it added a whole new element of excitement to our family adventure.  I loved holding him close and at the same time getting to hike inside a cave!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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We headed down into the cave with a tour guide and our group, the total descent was about 18 stories down.  Water was rushing down the walkway into the cave… and we imagined what it’d be like to get flooded in!  We’ve clearly watched too many Magic School Bus episodes, but I thought it’d be great to spend the night in a cave!

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It was dark and majestic inside… our oldest had never been inside a cave before, so learning it through real life experience awed him.

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This was the view directly above us (photo below)

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The discovery crawlway, found in 1960, was just so awesome… everywhere we turned, every new room we entered was just breathtakingly majestic.

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There was a beautiful pool of green-blue water, so ethereal….

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We were already incredibly deep, but you can see the crevices where the cave just keeps going and going, further and further into darkness.

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And then we started the long ascent…

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And finally, made it to the surface, with it’s oval shaped ceiling at the very top

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We spent about 3 hours there, their ropes course and zip-lining were closed because of the rain, but their maze was open.  My husband and our oldest did the maze – and it was my husband’s favorite part because of how much fun it was with our son.  Next time we’ll have to do the ropes course together for a date!

The beautiful rain and hill country

The beautiful rain and hill country

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Submission… Is it really a dirty word?

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When my husband and I were first married, we had a major problem… we had one car (his truck), and I couldn’t drive it.  It was a manual – a stickshift – something both my parents knew how to drive, but I hadn’t a clue.  My car that I drove while living with my parents and in college had been an automatic, they saw no value in my going out of my way to learn how to drive a stick.  So that first year, my husband took it upon himself to try to teach me how to drive his truck, there was much laughter, some choice words, lots of screaming as the truck seemed to take on a life of it’s own, bucking like a bronco, lunging forward or peeling out only to come to a bracing stop!  It was so wild.

We would practice my driving in the parking lot of a nearby mall where my husband worked security late at night after it had closed.  His security guys would sit and watch the show, laughing at the tragedy.  It took months for me to really understand how to drive his truck, but it was months of flirting, teasing, and moments of near-death experiences (ok… kidding… well, almost) that bonded us through the whole experience.  It was horrible, and yet so fun!  His teaching me how to drive his truck really cemented that we were in this together… for the long haul!

After only a couple of weeks of marriage, I started working down the street from the mall at a bookstore.  There was a man there about my husband’s age that was newly married as well, and had just celebrated his first year anniversary.  They also had a standard car, but his wife refused to let him teach her drive it.  I was surprised and asked him if he wanted me to talk her into it, the whole experience had been difficult, and I still didn’t have it down yet, but I was confident my husband would be able to teach me eventually.  We really had no other choice.  It was either I learn how to drive his truck, or I wouldn’t be able to get groceries on my own, run errands, or take over driving in case of an emergency.

I was confident that he would also be able to teach his wife how to drive their car, and tried to encourage him to get it done like we were doing, but he explained that she wanted nothing to do with it, and that it was no use.  When I met her a few months later, I was dismayed at the way she treated her husband in front of all of us at work.  Emasculated, disrespected, or disregarded are words that don’t even begin to cover what I saw her do to him in less than 5 minutes of watching them interact.  She was flat-out insulting towards him, there was no pretense of sweetness or kindness, even in public in front of his colleagues.  She humiliated him.  For just celebrating their one year anniversary, I couldn’t imagine what the future held for this couple.

This is a dramatic example, I don’t think most wives treat their husbands with such obvious contempt, but I do think that, in the privacy of our homes, women are much more apt to “refuse” to honor our husbands, to submit to them and what they desire for us and our marriage.  Is submission really that big of a deal?  Do wives that are Christian really have to submit to their husbands’ leadership?  Yes, and yes.

Submission is that big of a deal.  Even in the little things.  With every time that we don’t submit or take into account what our husbands want, we insult him.  Yes, insult.  We send him the message that we don’t think he should be our leader, that we don’t think he is mature enough, that we don’t believe in him, he isn’t intelligent enough, trustworthy enough.  Even if we say we believe he is all of these things, when we don’t honor him or try to correct him, we send the subliminal message that we know better – that we should be the leader over him, that he isn’t capable, we undermine his God-given ability to lead.  As long as our husbands aren’t using drugs or alcohol, have untreated mental disorders, or are abusive, submission is crucial to maintaining the fabric of a beautifully woven tapestry that is marriage.  He is the leader God’s given you, and you are the helper God’s given to him, both roles cannot be done without the other, they are equally as valuable, but equally distinctive from one another.

There cannot be two followers, two helpers, there has to naturally be one leader.  And likewise, there cannot be two leaders, that has to naturally be at least one follower, or there will be constant contention and strife as they argue or fight about who has the right to lead and to where.  Just like how we serve God, He alone is our Master, we cannot follow two Masters because they would have different goals, different ideologies or paths.  We would end up following one a little more than the other, so that following them equally would be impossible.  God’s design for one leader, the husband, in marriage is for the purpose of a marriage working smoothly, beautifully, the way He intended it should.

So what does submission really look like?

Submission is letting your husband know that you love him, that you trust his guidance, that you believe in his capability in leading you both in the right direction.  Submission is allowing him to have the final word, even if you disagree, think it could be a bad decision, or dislike his idea.  This does not mean that a wife must stand idly by and let him make, in her opinion, a bad decision without interjecting any of her thoughts; it simply means that she gives the ultimate answer, the final word to him.  Wives are important in helping their husbands in decision-making, their opinions are usually of great value to the men they’re married to, but wives have the responsibility to be led, and to do so in a way that honors her husband, because she honors God.  Making it hard for him to lead her is dishonoring not only him, but God who has set him before her.

Wives really are called to submit to their husbands, it is God’s plan and design for marriage.  When we aren’t trusting our husbands enough to lead us, to submit to their decisions or plans, we are ultimately not trusting God and His leadership.  If we want to obey God, we will make every effort to treat our husbands with respect, and shift our attitudes to that which God wants us to be.

If your husband desires that you learn how to drive standard because that is your only option for driving, and he cannot afford to buy you another car at that moment, honoring him is obeying him, and making every effort to learn how to drive that car.  If your husband desires that you help him get ready for work, make him his lunch so that getting out the door is easier, submission looks like the wife willingly packing his lunch, filling up his water bottle, and ensuring she gets everything ready before he needs to head out the door.  Honoring him cheerfully, giving lovingly.  Letting him know that he is worth it to her, that she looks up to him, even when she would rather not.  If she really wants to let him know how much she loves him, she’ll do a little extra – pack in a couple of his favorite sweets for a surprise, add in a handwritten love note for him to find at work.  Submitting to her husband is doing all of this, even when she’d rather focus on the kids eating their lunches, or take a nap, or “let him make his own sandwich. Submission is having an attitude of love shown in action, through making him his lunch, not because he isn’t capable of doing it himself, but because you think highly enough of him to make his life easier.  

Honoring him means showing him through tangible, everyday actions of sacrifice, the same that he does when he gives up being single, taking on a wife that he will work to support for the rest of his life.  He sacrifices everyday, every year, when uses almost the totality of his paycheck to support his wife and children, gives up his old hobbies and pleasures so that he can work extra hours for that vacation, or be a great dad in the evenings or on the weekends attending soccer games and family functions that are meaningful to his children and his wife.  Marriage is fulfilling, but only when it’s done the way God designed it.

To finish the story of our truck driving escapades, I ended up falling in love with driving stick… the feel of the road, the feel of the car – it was so much better than driving automatic, and I couldn’t imagine going back.  Because I was willing to learn even though it took a few months, we were able to wait on buying another car for the next 3 years of our marriage when we absolutely had to because we had our first son and needed space for a carseat.  I ended up choosing a stick, and we found that for cars, it was actually a couple thousand cheaper.

Trusting him to teach me to drive was a good decision, and one that still brings us joy when we look back on those wild, exhilarating rides in that abandoned parking lot late at night.  My husband often would tell me he thought it was sexy that I could drive his truck… and you know… it kind of is!  :)

Mother’s Day Reflections

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To my boys…. Sitting here, alone in the dark as I type this and reflect on this Sunday being Mother’s Day, I’m overwhelmed with joy at being your mother.  Both of you boys, both of you, are so wonderful, and give me so much joy.  I watch you both sleep, so peacefully in your beds, and I’m amazed and so humbled that God has given you both to me.  It brings tears to my eyes to know how much God has entrusted me with, and I don’t want to fail you.  I want to be the best mother I can possibly be, and I am sorry for all the times I fall short.  I promise to always admit my mistakes, to let you know that I’m human, too, and to treat you both with fairness.  You are both my treasures, and I want you to feel it in the way I interact with you everyday.

To my mother, thank you… we may not have always agreed in the past, but you were and still are, an amazing woman.  I find myself thinking about the things you said when I was a child in your house all the time since I left 8 years ago.  You single-handedly planted so many words of wisdom, so many biblical truths that I still cling to in my heart where they took root, and have blossomed into a garden of wisdom that has guided me so well in these past years.  You planted those seeds, you nurtured them when they were tender young shoots, and watered them for years – never giving up on me, even when I was rebellious and pushed you past your limits, you still loved me and always fought for the best for me.

You helped me become the woman God is making me to be, the mother I want to be to your grandchildren.  You were able to admit your mistakes, you were always ALWAYS so honest with me about every question I had concerning life.  And I am SO GRATEFUL to you.  We still don’t always see eye to eye, but I am so much more in love with you than I’ve ever been, and the love just keeps growing for you.  You did so well, Mom, and I am so proud that I can call you my mom.  Thank you for setting such a wonderful, godly model, even in your imperfections, you were able to teach me humility and wisdom in knowing that I will never be the perfect mother.

To my husband, thank you!!!  Thank you for making me your wife, and giving me these children to raise!!!  You have given me so much joy in being your wife, in getting to support you emotionally and be there for you physically, I absolutely love being your wife, and try to never take it for granted.  You bring me so much happiness everyday with your carefree atttitude, and addictive, teasing playfulness.  You bring happiness to our boys as they simply adore you!

I’m so honored to have had your children.  You were there with me the day an Ob-GYN told me I would likely never be able to have children.  The shock of hearing those words at the young age of 22 was jarring.  But she was wrong.  So very wrong.  God’s blessed us with 2 healthy, beautiful boys – thank you for being the kind of man I want them to grow up and become.  You are already teaching our oldest so many things about being a man, about true masculinity, you set such a great example for him to walk in your footsteps.

Thank you for your sacrifice, for providing so well for us that I am able to stay at home with them for this short time….  Because of you, I’m able to see every smile of our babies’, every milestone they hit, capture it on camera or video for you, and really enjoy this time with them before they go to school.  So thank you, again, so much, for this gift of being the mother of your children.

It really is, such a happy, happy Mother’s Day. <3

Children are a heritage from the Lord,
    offspring a reward from him.
Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
    are children born in one’s youth.
Blessed is the man
    whose quiver is full of them.
They will not be put to shame
    when they contend with their opponents in court..”

Psalm 127:3-5