Thursday, July 26, 2012

No Greater Love: 3 Heroes from Aurora

(As posted at Austin Catholic New Media:)

When I was sixteen, I had a boyfriend. My young heart was madly in love. I had also spent some time reading the Bible, inspired by my Baptist friends. One day, I came across this verse:

“No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”  John 15:13

In a fit of romanticism, I wrote it out on a pretty piece of paper and gave it to him. “I love you this much!” I said. He looked at me like I was crazy. We were an emotional dicotomy (as most 16 year olds are) and the relationship fizzled over time.

But, that verse came into mind again today, as I read the news story of three brave men who gave their lives for their loves in the Aurora movie theater shooting: Jon Blunk, Matt McQuinn and Alex Teves.

I do not like to pontificate on national tragedies. I do not like to blow things up into grandiose ideas or gloss over horrible deaths to make a point. I am not trying to do that here. I am, however, profoundly touched by what these men did for their loves. In a split second, without thinking twice, they threw their bodies on top of their girlfriends, cramming them under seats, pushing them down, and taking the bullets to preserve their lives. They did not contemplate. They did not consider the consequences. They did not take one more look at the girl’s face to decide if she was worth it. Instead, they were all-in and shielded the ones they loved from definitive horror.

I do not know these couples from Adam.  From their photographs, they look like any young couple I might see around this college town. One decked out in formal attire, one couple in swimsuits smiling on a rocky ocean shore and another posing in front of a webcam, numerous piercings decorating their faces. I don’t know what kind of relationships they had, if they held the door open for their ladies, if they said please and thank you or had promising careers. I do know that they did not hesitate to do the good thing.

This gives me hope.

In the midst of such strange horror, God does allow a little peak of light. In the midst of so much confusion and sadness many are asking why, those three girls are still in shock, and so many are hurting. But, I think it’s okay for us to take a glimpse at this little light of goodness and consider it for just a moment.

What more random sampling of people can America pull together than a group going to the premiere of a Batman movie. Really? A nice selection of the American public, all in one room, enjoying their free time. And then one walks in to shatter everything. We have tears. We have confusion. We have anger. We have questions about society, about reality, about media, about safety. But we also have this grand bravery left behind.

Life is not perfect. These men were probably not perfect. Our world is not perfect. People struggle to make the right choices, fight to keep jobs, to make relationships work, to find love. And sometimes, it seems that today’s society makes attaining these things even harder than it used to be.
But, I’m forever an optimist. I refuse to think that it is all over. I’m not a quitter. And these men show me that I’m not alone. We really do want what is good. We really do want to be brave. We really do want to have someone save us. Or save someone else, at all cost. Don’t we?

I pray for all those victims who lost their lives. I pray for those who mourn. I pray that we all, in our gut, without a moment’s hesitation, will have that courage to love with all we have.

“No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13

This verse was read as the Gospel at my wedding. My true love meant it with all his heart. And today I know three men who lived it.

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Thursday, July 12, 2012

{pretty, happy, funny, real}

~ Capturing the context of everyday life ~
Every Thursday, at Like Mother, Like Daughter!


I love downtown Bryan, Texas. This wall, across from a cafe where I go sometimes to work, has an old, weathered, once-painted Coca-Cola signed. The colors just can't be recreated. I love this wall!



I've started blogging regularly at Austin Catholic New Media, which serves our diocese, the Diocese of Austin, Texas. So far, I've written 2 posts. I'm wondering when I will run out of ideas. But, so far, I've enjoyed it very much. The site is an exciting project, with a group of around 25 laity from all around the area. I look forward to meeting them in person!

Yesterday, Colleen rolled around in Jonathan's old tonka truck, pretending it was a wheel-chair. She has a great-uncle in a wheel chair and imagines that he has great fun wheeling around the world. 


We were shopping for Katherine's reading prize (I finally have a child who needs major motivation to sit down and read. I once found her with her book on her head, spinning in circles in her room). We found Target Barbie. On clearance. With an orangey-red basket and a target credit card in her hand. 


Yesterday I also backed into a car. A sixteen year old's brand new silver Mustang. I didn't do much damage, just 2 dings. But, as I got out to talk to the girl, I noticed the car behind her. An old, rusty, beat up sedan with literally plastic bags taped over all the back and passenger windows. And the bumper hanging half-off. But, I hit the new Mustang. 


And, while at Target mulling over Target Barbie, we also walked past what used to the the 'summer aisle'. It is now the 'school supply aisle'. And I was sad. And I was so thrilled that I was sad. I'm not ready for them to go back yet. I resist!

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Thursday, July 5, 2012

{Pretty. Happy. Funny. Real.}

~ Capturing the context of everyday life ~
Every Thursday, at Like Mother, Like Daughter!


Fireworks are always pretty. After a strange day where my husband worked instead of taking the day off, it all ended well. We joined the rest of the Bryan/College Station area at the George Bush Presidential Library for the annual 4th of July celebration. A symphony, a breeze, friends and fireworks made it all end well. Very sleepy children and dreams of bursting stars. 


My oldest daughter has begun taking French Horn lessons in preparation for joining band next year. She enjoys it, but begrudgingly practices. Last night, we had the privilege of listening to the Brazos Valley Symphony Orchestra. Live. Sitting on the pavement smack in front of them. Watching the conductor ferociously lead his people on, flags blowing in the wind, some sheet music escaping the stand, to be caught by a swift tympani player. In the very back row sat the three french horns players. Emelie snuck to back to watch them perform Copland's Hoe-down and Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture. She tried to unobtrusively
 take a photo of the first chair french horn player - a blonde female, just like her. She was caught! Nevermind, the kind lady smiled for her photo, her hair blowing in her face, and Emelie is practicing her horn as I type....


Spunky little girls are always funny. These two have been friends since they were born. They push and shove. They tattle like their preparing for war. They finish each other's sentences and stand, hugging while waiting for their mommies to stop talking. Like a pair of kittens. I think they'll be friends for quite a while yet. It should be fun!

Zack and Curt, way back in something like 1994 or 5?
Our friend Zack passed away 9 years ago last month. He suffered from Cystic Fibrosis, as did his sister, who passed away the year before he did. Yet, when I remember him, I remember his laughter. How he liked to quote the old testament often, reminding us to "gird our loins" with his raspy chuckle. He was a brilliant mathematician, and a brilliant friend. He was a most faithful Catholic. He prayed for his wife through his last hours and fought beyond hope to make it till their 5th wedding anniversary before moving on to heaven.  When he could no longer work, he would sit in front of Planned Parenthood in a folding chair with his oxygen tank and pray.  His last meeting with a close friend, just a few days before his death, had nothing to do with him. He wanted to know when he would finally become Catholic. Did he have any questions about the Eucharist that he could help  him out with? He was my husband's best friend. He stood up at our wedding. We miss him, but will always remember his laugh and his joy for life. 


sleeping, sick boy. I gave him a mohawk while he slept. 

My boy has been sick with a fever. Too tired to watch a movie, that's how sick. His cheeks turned red and his eyes glassy and he just wanted to lay his head in my lap. Flashbacks to when he was a little tiny boy. Those sweet eyes are still the same. 

Jonathan and his counselor, Jorvis.

Same boy. Not sick. 
Recently, he participated in Camp Adventure, a camp offered by Texas A&M. Quite pricey, but worth every penny.  His counselor, was, well, simply wonderful. One night, after a busy day of camp activities, my husband tucked Jonathan in bed. He stayed in the room for a while, talking. When he finally came out, he dropped onto the couch and said, "That Jorvis. He's a good man."  Me, being the meddling type, asked "Why?  What happened?!" And he, being the man-of-few-words type, simply said, "He's just a really good guy. He and Jonathan had a good talk today..."  And that was all. I was content to let it remain. I'm thankful for Jorvis, thankful for good role-models. Because, as much as we love them, as much as we can tell them everyday that they are wonderful and amazing and talented, sometimes they just want to hear good words from someone else. Who's NOT their mother. Someone with no strings attached. Someone who's just a really good guy with eyes to see and a heart to share. 

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