On September 11, 2000, I was a young airmen stationed in Germany with the United States Air Force. I
had that day off and was doing laundry in the barracks. In the common room, their was breaking news
on the big screen TV showing the planes attacking the twin towers and the planes that followed with the
attack on the Pentagon and the diversion of Flight 93 in Pennsylvania. My heart sank. Selfishly, though,
I was thankful that my family was on the other side of the country and were safe. At 20 years of age, my
immaturity didn’t allow me to think that these attacks would be personal. Oh, how wrong I was. And
how fast I had to grow up.
As soon as I called my family back in the U.S., I was summoned with other airmen into the main hall. We
were told that we had one hour to grab our war gear and Kevlar. We would be departing to an
undisclosed location. At that time, I was trained to work on the weapons systems of F-16 fighter jets,
and I was the only female who could do this in my squadron.
I deployed. What I witnessed at 20 years of age was the horrors of war. I witnessed fear. I witnessed
the insane loss of life. I witnessed my friends losing their own life in service to our great country. I
witnessed Hell on Earth.
I was diagnosed upon my return with survivor’s guilt. I was also injured and retrained to a desk job as a
JAG paralegal. I was honorably discharged in late 2004 and went home to complete my college degree.
Looking back, the attacks on 9/11 were utterly senseless. Yet, our government seems to have forgotten
who did those attacks, because the Biden Administration has been negotiating with the Al Qaeda
terrorists. Since my time in the USAF, the military has gone woke. When I was in the USAF, there was a
“don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. Now, the military openly allows for men who claim to be gay to use the
women’s locker rooms. As if that wasn’t enough, when Roe v. Wade was handed down to the States,
the Veteran’s Affairs Administration interfered and allowed themselves to become an abortion mill.
This is not the military that I had signed up for. This is not the military that my friends died for. The
Biden Administration is slapping us in the face and spitting on our DD214’s by allowing this wokeness to
Never forget the men and women who fought the terrorists.
Never forget the victims that died at the hand of the terrorists.
Never burn our flag – it stands for peace, victory, and freedom.
Never forget that in the United States, we don’t negotiate with terrorists.
This article was originally published on American Briefing.
As states move to enact stronger abortion laws with the Supreme Court’s recent decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, the abortion industry has turned to promoting dangerous and deadly abortion pills, including through a dark and dangerous online market fueled by overseas abortion pill mills. There are over a dozen websites that sell these illegal murder pills without a doctor’s prescription. Since the tightening of abortion laws, there has been an uptick in demand for the questionable and costly abortion pills. Multiple websites list their sources in India or Vietnam.
Abortion pills are not only costly to the pocketbook; they are costly to the woman who is so desperate to obtain them that she orders them from an unapproved website that sells pills not approved by the FDA. It is unconscionable that rather than supporting pregnant women in crisis in carrying their babies, the abortion industry has promoted illegal and reckless do-it-yourself abortions by mail, even from unapproved and unregulated sources. In a statement to the Wall Street Journal, the Food and Drug Administration noted that these illegal abortion pill mill operations threaten women’s safety: “Drugs that have circumvented regulatory safeguards may be contaminated, counterfeit, contain varying amounts of active ingredients, or contain different ingredients altogether.”
Read more at ProLifeUpdate.com
"Discernment" is common Catholic vernacular. But what is it? Over the past few years, I have learned what it really means to discern. Discernment helps us to make good decisions, whether they be big or small. As Catholics, the discernment process includes prayer, understanding, and action. Discernment helps us evaluate the dreams we have and, more importantly, God's plans for our lives.
Read more at Radiant Magazine.
Integrity first, service before self and excellence in all we do. These are the three core values of the United States Air Force. But I added a fourth, dedication. Without dedication none of the other core values would be achievable. I enlisted in the USAF fresh out of high school in 1999. My first assignment was at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany. I turned 19 years old in Basic Training.
In 2000, the world changed with the attacks of 9/11. I remember being gathered in the common area of the dorms and being briefed by First Sergeants on what to prepare for and who was going into combat. There was an eerie silence on what was normally a rambunctious base filled with F-16’s and the crew that came with them. But those F-16’s left and so did I. We were in combat.
Over the years I have never forgotten those years of service. For the past 13 years I have been married to my amazing husband and we have three children who are 11 years, 8 years and 3 years. I credit my years of service during combat to being able to serve and fight on behalf of my family. God blessed me with a steadfast heart. Over the past 21 years, I have known that Jesus stands right next to me as we battle storm after storm. Each and every time, there is always tribulation after the storms. And I am thankful for this.
When Andrew was prenatally diagnosed with Down syndrome, I viewed it as a storm to navigate with Christ at the helm of the ship. But, oh! Andrew having Down syndrome was NOT the storm! Instead, it was the doctors that wanted to abort him JUST because of this prenatal diagnosis. When Andrew was born, it was another storm to navigate because he needed to have surgery on his intestines when he was a mere 15 days old. But the tribulation was his recovery.
Now, Andrew is a hurricane running around the house and tearing it apart just like any other toddler would do. He delights in going to school each morning and his days are made brighter when his brother and sister come home from their school days. (Sometimes I think that Andrew likes Alexander and Abby more than his mom and dad, and that’s totally okay!)
Integrity first, service before self, excellence in all we do and dedication. These core values that I learned during my years in the USAF certainly still apply. If I could go back in time and talk to my 19-year-old self, I would tell her that these core values will continue to play a role in the vocation of being a wife and mother. Without integrity, I would fail to raise my children in the image of God. Without having learned the value of service before self, then our days would have been incorrectly centered. If I don’t strive for excellence and teach my children to do the same, then I am not serving them well. If I am not dedicated to these values, then our days would unravel.
As special needs parents, we hold onto various values to fight for and defend our family in the best way we know how. But we are not fighting alone. I didn’t serve in combat by myself, I served with others. Now, the Down syndrome community and my parish community are my new “brothers in arms.” Christ was at the helm of my ship 21 years ago and he will remain there. He is there for you, too. Let him take control.
Happy Veteran’s Day to all the veterans who have paved the way to the freedoms that we now enjoy.
I watched as my 11-year-old son took away a small piece of napkin from his little brother so that he wouldn’t choke on it. Little brother is Andrew. Andrew is 3 years old and has Down syndrome. Andrew did a fake cry when Alexander took the piece of napkin away from him. He then immediately smiled and hugged his big brother tightly around the neck. It was pure joy to watch my two sons smile out of love for each other.
This interaction reminded me about Dia de los Muertos. We are not from a Latin American family, but I greatly admire their customs and culture. Dia de los Muertos celebrates the feasts of All Saints Day and All Souls Day by teaching about the communion of Saints and the souls in Purgatory. On All Saints Day and All Souls Day, families will place photos of loved ones on a small altar called an offrenda. The deceased loved ones are honored when their photo is placed on an offrenda. So, what does Dia de los Muertos have to do with my two sons hugging after big brother rescued little brother from choking on a napkin? Plenty.
Dia de los Muertos encompasses honoring the saints and praying for the souls in Purgatory. But what if every day was Dia de los Muertos? When we celebrate this great feast, we celebrate the love of deceased loved ones. In doing that, we can also honor our living relatives. When my children hug each other and smile out of pure love, then they are honoring each other and the God that created them. The saints that have gone before us consistently preached the message of the importance of love in the family.
On All Saints Day, we remember and honor the triumphant saints in Heaven. It is trouble that always proceeds triumph. Each saint had their own bit of trouble to overcome, leading to their triumph in Heaven. Alexander stopped Andrew from choking on a napkin. This was the trouble that led to the triumphant hug between brothers.
On All Souls Day, we pray for the souls in Purgatory. We remember that our prayers and participation in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the sacraments can be used to help the poor souls in Purgatory. By consistently doing a daily Examination of Conscience, we recall our words, thoughts, and actions in hopes to make reparation with God and thus join him in Heaven when our time on Earth has come to an end.
As Catholic special needs parents, we know that our patience can be tested at great lengths. May we make a good Examination of Conscience at the end of each day and participate in frequent confessions so that we can find internal peace. May we be strengthened and renewed by the saints who have gone before us, paving they way in overcoming lack of patience while setting the example of overcoming trouble with triumph. May we remember our deceased relatives and honor them with fervent prayers during these days of Dia de los Muertos, all while never forgetting to pray for the souls in Purgatory.
In one month, this little angel will be three years old. Oh, what a journey it has been and continues to be. I have shared our story countless times bringing awareness to the medical community that pressures women to abort just because of a diagnosis of Down syndrome. Now, we leave that story behind and look towards the future with full hearts.
Almost three years ago, I was heavily pregnant in the summer heat that Northern Virginia is known for. I was preparing a nursery with Alexander and Abby. Alexander helped to assemble most of the furniture and Abby designed the layout. Jason and I had our hospital bags packed.
Looking back, so much has happened. Our lives pivoted. I left my beloved teaching job only to find that God had an even bigger audience to share my story with. No… to share HIS story with. For it is in living as one with Christ that we realize our true freedom and our true joy.
Andrew taught me that. Yes, he has limited vocabulary, but his smile, hugs and snuggles says it all. I wouldn’t change a single thing about the past three years.
I am working on a great-big writing project right now and the blog will be on the back burner for a little while longer.
However, I am STILL available for speaking engagements and am booking into Spring of 2021. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Please know that I continue to pray for all of you. Please keep me in your prayers as I endeavor on this writing project. I hope to see you at speaking events in the coming months, be it virtual or in-person!
May God bless each of you.
The other day, I was giving a practice spelling test to my 10 year old. He had to spell the words, "cease" and "seize." To differentiate the sound, I used them in a sentence. "Seize the day!" and "Pray without ceasing." Alexander asked, "what does it mean to pray without ceasing?" I embraced the parent teaching moment! (I love these moments.)
However, I was stumped. How do I explain what it means to pray without ceasing? I began by explaining how we had already built prayer into our lives: before meals, on the way to school, and praying a Hail Mary every time we go up or down stairs. Then we brainstormed ideas on how we could add more prayer into our lives. I told him that this meant we would 'pray without ceasing' because we prayed throughout our day.
"Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus." -1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
When I look at this verse, I am struck not just by the constant necessity of prayer, but by the emphasis on giving thanks. I graduated high school over 20 years ago, but I still remember my high school teacher teaching us to pray in ACTS.
A - Adoration (praising God),
C - Confession (confessing our sins/admitting that we are a sinner),
T - Thanksgiving (giving thanks to God), and
S - Supplication (asking God for what we want/need in accordance with His will.)
This form of prayer is one that can guide even the weariest of souls to build prayer into their days. In Luke 11, one of the disciples asked Jesus how to pray. This is when Jesus taught the Our Father. "Praying without ceasing" can seem daunting, but if we build it into our routine, then it will become manageable and bring an unparalleled sense of joy and peace, removing anxieties.
During this time of Advent and Christmas preparations, let us not forget to acknowledge our established routines of prayer - even if it is only praying before meals. I challenge you in these last weeks to brainstorm new ways to add prayer into your day. Joy and peace will come out of prayer, and isn't that what we all need a little more of these days?
One of my favorite parts of Advent is celebrating the lives of the saints! Below is a list of some of the saints - we celebrate them in just one week! - that help to enrich our time of preparation and inspire us to live our lives in a holy way to bring honor and glory to the coming of the newborn King of Kings!
December 6th - St. Nicholas Feast Day. St. Nicholas is the patron saint of children and merchants. One of his legends is that he had heard of a family with three daughters and no money to pay for their dowry. Around the time of 300 BC, this means that the daughters would have been sold into slavery. St. Nicholas didn't want to see the girls sold, so he tossed bags of gold coins through the window of their home - legend holds that the gold coins landed in their shoes or stockings! Now, we lay out shoes the evening of December 5th. Children will frequently find gold (chocolate) coins and candy canes in their shoes the next morning. This is a wonderful and fun way to celebrate the virtue of generosity!
December 8th - The Feast of the Immaculate Conception. This is the day that we recognize our Blessed Mother as having been conceived in the womb of her mother, St. Anne. Mary was conceived without sin and we celebrate her Immaculate Conception nine months before we celebrate her birthday in September. We honor Mary's conception because we honor the life that she led and the "yes" she gave to the Archangel when she agreed to be the mother of Jesus. The Feast of the Immaculate Conception is a Holy Day of Obligation.
December 9th - The Feast of St. Juan Diego. Juan Diego was a Mexican convert to the Roman Catholic faith. In fact, he is the first Roman Catholic indigenous saint from the Americas! Juan Diego would walk long distances - over Tepeyac Hill - to receive religious instruction from Franciscan missionaries. On his hurried way to Mass on the feast day of the Immaculate Conception, he had a vision of a radiant woman. In native tongue, the woman explained that she had the honor of being the mother to Jesus and would like a chapel built on Tepeyac Hill where a pagan temple once was. St. Juan Diego went to the Bishop and relayed Our Lady's message. The Bishop was hesitant and asked for a sign. Days later, St. Juan Diego appeared to this Bishop with flowers in his tilma (cloak). When he opened his tilma to present the flowers to the Bishop from Our Lady, the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe was reflected on his tilma as the flowers dropped to the floor.
December 12th - The Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe. It was the evening of December 11th St. Juan Diego delivered the flowers in his tilma as a sign for a new chapel to be built in honor of Our Lady of Tepeyac Hill. It was the same evening that the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared. The image of Our Lady of Guadalupe is recognized by over 8 million Native Mexicans. Her gown is adorned with stars and at her feet is the crescent moon. Millions of Native Mexicans converted to Catholicism because of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Millions of pilgrims from around the world travel to Tepeyac Hill to honor Our Lady at this Marian apparition site. On October 12, 1945, Pope Pius XII declared Our Lady of Guadalupe to be the Patroness of the Americas. Fun ways to celebrate our Lady of Guadalupe are to listen to Mariaci music or Mexican Christmas music, feast on Mexican food for the day and celebrate with a piñata and Mexican hot chocolate.
December 13th - St. Lucia's Feast Day. This day has always been a special day to me, but it became even more special just over two years ago when my little niece, Lucia, was born. Happy namesake day, Lucia Kathleen! St. Lucia, also called St. Lucy, lived in the early 4th Century; she was a martyr due to the persecution of Christians in Syracuse. There are a lot of legends surrounding St. Lucia. One thing, however, remains constant. She loved God more than anything and was burned at the stake because of this. Lucia means "light," as such, she is known as the patron saint of light. Some traditions are to have the oldest girl in the family deliver breakfast to her family, while wearing a wreath of light. This is because it is told that St. Lucia used to wear a wreath of candles around her head so that she could see as her arms were loaded down with supplies for the poor Christians hiding from persecution in the dark catacombs. My family celebrates St. Lucia's feast day by waiting until this day to light some of of Christmas lights. It is also a day that we donate food to the poor and deliver gifts to our neighbors, all in honor and remembrance of St. Lucia.