At then end of a long day, when you just came inside from playing in the dirt with your brothers you just get SPUNKY!
I love my kids....this is just all part of loving the moments on the high ground of life.
At then end of a long day, when you just came inside from playing in the dirt with your brothers you just get SPUNKY!
I love my kids....this is just all part of loving the moments on the high ground of life.
Time flies and it lies.
It seems like yesterday I went out for an easy five mile run with my cousin David, showered up and put on my blues ensured these rings were tucked in with my brother Karl and we went off to the church to meet two priests (who are like brothers to me) to get married before God and family. I remember the door swinging open and my soon to be Father-in-Law smirking at me saying "I loved her first." The whirlwind day of photos, holding hands, being the focus of attention wore my bride and I out. I remember thinking of the marriage being about the two of us, swearing fidelity to each other before God.
Today I started with rescuing John Paul (child number five) from his crib at 4:55AM, resting a few more minutes and then going for a laborious 2.9 mile run (every tenth counts now). On coming home I see three boys doing chores and enjoying each other's company. Two girls and a momma fast asleep...and I think...wow a lot happened in eighteen years. Soon we'll make a doctor's visit and I'll be off to work for the rest of the day.
Nothing could symbolize the massive change and frozen time better than our wedding bands. Nicked, bumped, worn smoother, worn 24/7 and still as strong as when new. If possible, they might even defy the laws of physics and be stronger now than ever before. It is almost like the rings adapted with us to experience, trial by fire, success, failures, responsibilities and the love of children we're blessed with.
I love my Carrie Anne, and I truly think no one else in the world would put up with me like she does. Her wisdom is sound, and heart warm. This warm heart powers our family, and keeps us on track. The self sacrificing love Carrie displays with each child she carries is simply heroic. The nine month sickness and long recovery she fights through each time has to count for something good when see meets our Lord one day! She is pretty cute too!
More than loving her alone, I love the "us" our marriage creates. Our constant lessons of agape love, brought by the opportunity to be a family, allow us to bring Christ into our family everyday. Mastering these lessons provides the spark I see in couples married and happy at 25, 40 and 50 years. This is the love which should inspire us all to holy matrimony for life, grows healthy families, and shows us how to claw our way towards heaven through better and worse a fallen world provides.
I know we have so much more to face in our lives. The world is right now in a tremendous crisis of faith, and needs Christ more than ever. I write this not to boast, but to help others see the way to heaven through Holy Matrimony and its foretaste of heaven. I had a friend who said he was surrounded by friends with failed marriages, and was scared to become married out of fear generated by those failures.
I told him what I now know is true...seek out those who succeeded. Learn the lessons of the happy 40-50 year marriages, and put them into your heart. Learn sacrificial love, and seek one who wants to give of themselves without limit as your partner. Pray over everything, and keep Christ front and center in your family life...he will guide you through the tough times which will come.
So today pray for us, pray for your marriages, and pray for those who need to find peace in self to make either a vocational commitment to marriage or holy orders. It is the best gift we could give the world!
In the magic of a moment we can see glimpses of heaven on earth. On this day when John Paul sat with his DjaDja (his Grandfather), I enjoyed watching this scene play out over 45 minutes. John Paul was content to sit right on his DjaDja's lap and listen to the rhythm of tapping hands, the touch of a hand on his head, or to reach for his grandfather's face and feel the texture of his elder.
When their eyes met, it was magic to see the connection grow between them. It appeared John Paul could tell innately DjaDja was family without the need of an adult logical thought process. Maybe evolutionary smell, facial similarities, or voice recognition causes this. I think there is also somewhere in here a gift of the spirit letting us enjoy the gift of multi-generational family.
I hope one day to hold my grandchildren, and watch my children bring them to know the Glory of God. These would be gifts worth more than the finest gold and food. It is a shame so many people today across the world think so little of a gift like this. Or worse, succumb to despair and think bringing children into this world is hopeless in making it a City of God.
In the magic of this captured moment, I hope and pray grace will flow to help others receive a gift of the spirit calling them to join in the act of creation built into our nature by God himself. Then we can all help build a City of God one loving glance at a time.
The beauty of Holy Thursday never escapes me Last night as even more beautiful because of the lessons taught to me by so many God seeking people over the last year. Lessons from people who past over 1800 years ago, and lessons from those living amongst us now filled my mind, heart and warmed my soul as we heard the liturgy of the word and celebrated the liturgy of the Eucharist
Father Tri, of St Brigid Catholic Church, reminded us the story of each life is what makes the church breathe the world. The story each life brings to the church helps pass on its's lessons and beauty from generation to generation These stories allow the priesthood of the family to connect with the priesthood of the Church. To make this occur we all must listen, observe and react to the wisdom of God as it works its way into our lives throug everyone around us.
The Holy Eurcharist is the foretaste of heaven, the perfect mana, needed to nourish our souls with the grace to navigate e challenges of a fallen world. When taken in concert with reconciliation it enables us to stay on the path to heaven. It keeps Christ within our very blood...commingling a bit of heaven with our life here on earth..as we go about our day. So when we say take Christ with you wherever you go, if we partake of this holy nurishment we can do exactly that. No other God before or since offered such a gift to mortals. In fact no other God offered to make lowly man part of himself, and join in perfect communion in heaven, for all eternity if we choose to do so.
Pray for our priests that they may lead all souls to heaven. Pray for our priesthood in the family, that each man will be willing to lead their family to the best of their ability to the altar of God. Pray each mother makes their home a place where the stories of old, new and the future will enable The word of God to reach fertile ears and move those souls to Christ. Pray for the religious, that by their concerted life they make offerings the rest of us cannot for the salvation of the world.
So let us begin our Triduum journey, and honor the sacrifices made to bring us all the way to heaven.
Merry Christmas from Capturing His Glory Photography!
The First Lego League's first elimination round starts on Saturday at 7:30AM. Our Regina Caeli Darebots will be there, and ready to compete. Under the direction of Coach Les Levergood, Assistant Coach Fred Bunn and myself they grew a great deal...or maybe in spite of our coaching they grew! If you want to catch up on their adventures you can visit them at the website Regina Caeli Darebots.
The team practiced two to three times a week since late August. Now after the long series of rehearsals they are ready to compete....for the first and possible last time! Coach Levergood ran a tight ship this year, and Coach Bunn brought excellent programming instruction to the kids. Solving the mysteries of the gyroscope was an incredible experience for the kids. I helped them build out their presentations.
The team will do three presentations to judges Saturday morning. The first will be their sales pitch for ways to improve collection methods of depleted uranium on test ranges and battlefields. They will then explain how they grew as a group using the lessons from Core Values. Finally, they will discuss robot design and programming methods. In the afternoon they will run their robot Penguin through the course several times using different teams of Darebots. At the end of the day, they will find out if they are in the upper third of 40 or so teams. If they are they may move on to regionals in January!
Tomorrow Coach Levergood will guide the seven of them through six and half hours of final rehearsals! So pray for Coach L and then the team!
Proverbs 22:6 Catholic Online
Good fathers remain indispensable to every child on the planet. A father is the person God entrusts to look at each child he gives them, and call them into adulthood. Fathers should take the faith filled heart a mother forms, and steel it like a blacksmith works metal. The steel must withstand every tempest the world will throw at it until our bodies fade to dust. I am blessed my father did this for me, and I accepted his molding to form the man I am.
From an early age I remember my Dad as a pillar of strength and determination. He still gets up before dawn, works long hours, deployed at our nation's call for forty-five years, learned things from diverse resources way before the birth of the internet, demands honesty and gives it unfailingly, requires common sense be applied to all critical thinking, expects you to know a fact based history on what you speak, and displays a dogged determination to achieve which puts a bulldog to shame. My father steeled my heart to respect my mother and her core values. He then slowly built a frame around my heart to carry me into adulthood.
My father's greatest wisdom, in forming his children, was to ensure we knew how to think. My father knew our world would be as different from his as his world was from his father's. As a result, he knew his children needed well rounded educations grounded in those family core values. This frame protected us, gave us limbs to build new futures, and a head to seek the wisdom of the Lord in new faraway lands when he was not there to guide us. My father trained our character traits to last a lifetime.
After meeting many people with dads who failed to accept their duties as fathers, I know I am a blessed child. I also believe this is why I am committed to do the mission my father does, but often shields from view of his own children. My father throughout the years tended to lost sheep, and got them better prepared to meet the world. He gave these lost sheep the blacksmithing their fathers should have given, or the sheep rejected out of the pride of youth. Some responded well, others did not. In any case he tried, and willingly gave of himself without desire for acclaim or fortune.
I am blessed with a Dad who embodies God's call for father's to follow.
Some of my favorite meditations during the Rosary focus on the Holy Family. I find many lessons in their lives, mostly unsaid, which help us understand how we need to live our lives in this fallen world. When God gave them each a unique mission for our salvation, each member of the family did as requested. Take in a bride and adopt a baby as your own...St Joseph check. Flee to Egypt and leave EVERYTHING behind in the MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT...Check. Watch your child die on the cross, innocent of everything except being our just and holy savior...check.
In our faith community of Regina Caeli Academy we had two mothers pass away during the past month in Texas. One from cancer, and the other suddenly during delivery of her third child. Each woman left behind a family lead my faithful men of the church. For them I pray the example of the Holy Family provides a path to continued holiness, and reunion in heaven. These husbands had strong families of faith, and now face a period where they may feel the heat and cold of a desert journey until they reach safety of peace in understanding the will of God. In some ways it reminds me of Joseph and Mary as they carried their child Jesus to from Bethlehem to Egypt and back to Nazareth. A long journey which must occur under the guidance of faith to succeed.
As we gather for Thanksgiving, remember families like these two around the country. Pray the light of Christ stays strong in them and their children. May it be lit by their desire to obtain the graces of heaven, and rejoin their mother in eternal life. It should be a prayer for all of us as well. God wants us all to come home.
It is an interesting week in our house. Most of the normal home life continues. Dance, Robotics, and letting the kids play outside....normal life. After a few months being under so many guns it was nice to also have friends over and see a movie with them...and eleven kids had a pizza night! Then there was the opportunity to just for a few minutes enjoy John Paul getting to settle down on my chest for a nap...after a few minutes of ear piercing complaining!
Life is still crazy, but it needs living and sound of worship to abound for it to have meaning.
I will simply say last night was glorious.
A day full with early diaper changes, management of an energetic three year old, four hours with 10-13 year olds working on Lego Robotics, too much work not done around the house, and a still recovering Momma ended in an evening of riches and thanksgiving to God.
Why? Because after years of fighting the thought I am finally putting nails, locks and fittings on the lid of the modernism heresy in my life. I still like fast cars, the best house, fast computers, new cameras and fancy dresses for my girls. I just know the true rewards in a fleeting life meant to work our way to heaven are the moments where God's love shines through us. I'll work hard to get the tools needed to survive, but not to the detriment of the mission of unity with God.
So when John Paul fell asleep on my shoulder before dinner, just brining him to the table nestled there with the rest of the family was a joyful moment of God's plan for heaven peeping through. I could almost imagine the four babies we lost with us at the table as well...the whole family was there in a moment of peace. It is almost a moment one would hope could be eternal.
I am finally following Jesus guidance by accepting in my heart, my true kingdom is not of this world. This world is a passing moment in our eternal lives. The eternal is the reward. What a wonderful table that will be.
As with most newborn families, we continue spending time letting Momma recover and John Paul his rest. We are now at the beginning of a period I look as magical. It is the time a baby can see further than his fist, shapes take on meaning, and eye contact begets social reactions.
In between common household chores with my four big kids, a quick reward trip for donuts at Mr. Dunkin's, and making an indoor BBQ we got time with the new son as his world expanded once again. This is the reward time for Dad's and family members. Facial gestures, words and coos get replies from this intelligent creature of God's creation. I also find this is when we start to get a fuller assessment of a child's personality.
So as we head off to church this is a typical slow, family oriented weekend in my home. Yet it is one I am fully thanking God for, because this is what the rewards of putting family life first is all about.
"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."
Today we fulfill our first of many parental tasks as Catholic parents, the baptism of our son John Paul. The family gown gets one more run into the church, and we will celebrate the moment our son is washed clean in the water of life. There are few moments as special to me as the first sacrament of a child's life, and the solemn promise a parent makes to provide a Catholic home. These two thoughts humble me. I would be overwhelmed if I did not know, the grace John Paul receives today is the same grace which sustains all of Christians when we submit our will to God's.
Kevin: "Dad was I this small?"
Dad: "Yes son you were once that small"
The joy of teaching a culture of life to your children is that even when the baby gives a yelp, the older kids know this is part of respecting life from conception to death. You know you succeed in reaching their souls with with this understanding when they have such great awe for the new members of the domestic church...and all people created in the image of God around them.
My older children saw the trials Mom went through for nine months to get John Paul to birth. They understand more than ever the depths of love she had for each of them before they were born. Each of our children, at the age of reason, now understands this baby was their baby brother from the moment of conception in the womb (even if they haven't had "the talk.").
The big kids will soon will associate what Mom suffered as part of her agape love for each of them, when only our God knew their name and destiny. The older kids now also understand in a larger sense why abortion is decidedly agains the commandments of God. John Paul was never a bunch of harvestable organs and stem cells. John Paul was John Paul when two halves became one whole.
As crazy as the calendar is now these are the good times. As crazy as life will get it the coming days, months and years if we get the concept of agape in their heads and hearts I think we have a good chance of succeeding as parents. I hope we raise children who fulfill the Lord's two great commandments: To love the Lord with all your heart mind and soul. To love your neighbor as yourself.
I pray to God we, and parents everywhere, achieve this noble goal as well. For there is no other option than this if we are to form a civil society where peace can reign.
This boy will be looking down on me in a few years. He probably grew two inches in the last four months. His feet are ripping through his shoes as well! He is working hard to be a good boy everyday and just finished up his first job this week! Great news for an eleven year old!
After dinner and having fun on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Playing with some light in a corner near the front door. The hardest thing is to get the three year old to look up at the same time the bookworm is pulled out of her library book!
What is an anniversary without flowers for your beloved? Thankfully after 17 years of marriage I can tell by sight what she would like....I just wonder if she noticed I put some roses in this one for a change. Red roses at that! That was the sneaky item this time.
I know you all wanted a portrait of my lovely and dear wife for my project! No better time than an anniversary or Father's Day to get such an achievement done! If your wife is at week 34 of pregnancy, feeling achy, nauseous, and reminding you it is all your fault than you should probably wait a little longer for a portrait opportunity. it is best for the health of the photographer. I am sure I can get a fabulous photo, but I don't know if I could live long enough to develop it.
So until the better opportunity appears, you get a little memory of the flowers I picked up for my wife in the late summer sun on our front porch.
Just a reminder...if you have art needs please let me know. I would be happy to help capture your special day, a portrait or make some special art for your home. Ten percent of your final purchase price will go to charity..right now Regina Caeli Academy our family educational and spiritual home!
Today my bride and I celebrate seventeen years of marriage. The rings you see above display the weathering, scratches and soil of living as a couple. These years included ten moves, five home purchases, four children (14, 11, 8, 3), one baby on the way (34 weeks thank you God), four miscarried babies in heaven, hundreds of friends across the country, illnesses galore (some very scary), tears of joy for children's achievements, arguments, resolutions, and deep religious growth granted by God's grace of faith to both of us inside the sacrament of marriage. We each fear the premature loss of the other more than ever. Just the thought takes our collective breath away.
We now, through the years of experience, understand the deep commitment required to maintain this relationship. We learned of the complex interaction between all the forms of love: agape (self gift), philia (friendship), ludus (playful), and eros (physical). At this point of our marriage we can only say we are starting to to keep them all in proper perspective. We find our marital joys multiply when we use these tools God built in us while building his kingdom here on earth. This understanding is right on time. Little kids normally only provide little problems. Big kids have the big head hurting problems to deal with. The next seventeen years should be more interesting then the last seventeen. Therefore we have a lot more work to do on our relationship.
My wife and I lamented the Supreme Court ruling yesterday. It was wrong on a matter of states rights and morality. More importantly it gave into the concept that everyone deserves happiness and love as they personally define it at this moment. The concept of love people throw around in common speech today, has a diluted definition resulting from poor catechesis by churches and schools. I also venture to say the concept comes from a lack of self reflection. The constant bombardment of noise in our brains from so many media sources provides no silence in which God can be heard. If our marriage followed such a fluid metric, we would be a separated wreck of humanity by now.
We will pray our country does not continue down this manmade path of tyranny. This is of course the inevitable result in any country refusing to subordinate itself (and its rulers) to Natural Law principles. This couple will continue to trust in God's compass, not our internally flawed guidance systems subject to radical narcism. We will need it to navigate the scary world now before us.
Thank you God for making my wife, and revealing yourself to us through the graces of his son Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. I am grateful for the journey you gave us to travel together. Amen.
As I continue to grow in my faith I strive for constant learning of new devotions and receiving apologetics. Just before Easter, Catholic Digest arrived at the House. I read it on Palm Sunday. During my readings I saw a few in depth articles about the Divine Mercy Chaplet and Novena. I found myself impressed, and desired to say the novena starting on Holy Thursday. I was doing other missions over the Tridium and started late...so instead of culminating my novena sunday I finished my novena yesterday.
Yesterday I left on a trip. I was not enthused about this trip, too much to do both at home and the office. As is my custom, I took my camera to see what I could capture for his glory. As my stomach growled, and light started to wane I quickly searched the map for the keyword Catholic. Right down the street was St. John XIII Catholic Church. I set off to visit. I asked the office if I could take some pictures of the church, and they said yes but to please not bother people in the Adoration Chapel...of course I agreed. I am sure the lady thought I was crazy, but most people do!
The photo above was what I first saw when I entered the church. It is a stained glass version of the Divine Mercy image commissioned by St. Faustina. I went into the Adoration Chapel to complete my novena for the day. Around the chapel I found great comfort. I saw images and traditions from Mexico, Poland, Italy, and Western Europe. I was at home away from home in the arms of my Catholic faith.
I know many may not think much of my little reported miracle. I recently read a set of comments by people about how they could never give themselves over to belief in God. They said the science just was not there. I will pray for them to receive the grace of Divine Mercy, so they too can see the little gifts of God's love all around them . The hug of a child, the kindness of a passer by, the sacrifice needed to preserve true freedom in this world all are things I want and will capture here on this blog. I hope through these little miracles I see and record using the science of light others may come to accept the Grace of God and live in his glory.
Somehow Valentine's day came and provided us a good bit of time together, while we all worked a number of projects simultaneously. Of course the Daddy was able to distract a few with donuts for a while! While three kids got a donut with Daddio (who only drank a cup of decaf)...the big girl enjoyed some peace and quiet with her mother for two hours.
I know some may say we're crazy for having all these kids, and I have to admit when I look at the daily calendar I almost think they are right. When you have children you know who runs the house calendar most days of the week.
Then I look at these photos. I remember the smiles, heartaches, experienced frustrations, lessons going both ways, and the love spelled agape. The moment I work through the memories and reach the agape though I must pause in awe.
See the agape moment is the connection I have now with my parents and in-laws. My Mom just sent me a note telling me she made my Dad's favorite dinner...meatloaf...and I remembered meatloaf dinners she made for my birthdays. I know the stories of my in-laws scrapping pennies to save up for a nice trailer, and camping trips with their family they never forget. Those are moments of selflessness we are meant to live for. Those selfless acts are what connects us from one generation to the next with fondness. I have yet to see a selfish act do the same.
In that agape moment His Glory shines through...and I must capture it with a click of the shutter. I hope you can see His Glory in these captures of time as well.
P.S. Fujifilm XT-1 with electronic shutter enabled...and a whole lot of experimentation going on! Processed in Capture One Pro 8
The greatest challenge in life is fitting everything you have AND want to do inside the few minutes we get each a day. It is just not possible to do everything. So this little blog suffers from time to time. This is one of those stretches in time where the blog suffers for many good reasons.
This past month we've had a few challenges at the house. First it was crunch time for the Darebots, the Regina Caeli First Lego League team. Four seventh graders and one fifth grader (my boy Kalen) make up the team. I'm an assistant coach. I don't know much about the whole process, I just take my cues from my good friend and head coach, Les Levergood. My job is to back him up. He did a great job with the kids by mentoring them along the way. They won the programming award at the qualifier round. This got us invited to super regionals on January 17th in Athens, GA. You are invited to see their blog (which I administer for the kids who provide most of the entries using this link: Regina Caeli Darebots
So what do they do at practices? Build a robot, program the robot and then prepare what amount to basically sales presentations to judges on a special project they had to research. In their briefings they must demonstrate cooperation, teamwork, workflows, cost estimates, and a dozen other items. There is also a wildcard game the kids must work on, to which they must demonstrate their teamwork to solve a complex problem under some sort of constraint (Like giving directions with your back to your partner!) Practices run two to three hours each, and the kids will tell you we still need more time!
But that is not all! I continue to help with youth and parent evangelization at church. So we continue on with Blue Knights, when I am the lead parent for right now. I handle the scheduling and planning. Other Dad's pitch in to get the work done. Since I am working, very little time for photographs there!
Then there is the matter of chaperoning my daughter's first upper class dance at school....oh talk about a heart attack moment! Yep after I swapped out with a family friend as chaperone...three boys asked her to dance. I had to hear about it after the fact.
Then there was the other work I did, like photograph our first mass in the new St Michael the Archangel Chapel at our school...
And of course finishing the Shelby Cobra Project!
Throw in a few family moments at Thanksgiving and Christmas, taking two weeks to clear the flu bug from the family, fixing computers, learning new lessons to get software working right for you in this ever changing world and I am whooped! You heard me right! I said I am whooped!
Some would think that I should slow down...well I will in some ways in the coming year. In other ways I need to keep living and enjoying the moments I get. Life is precious. Caring for others through coaching, evangelization, praying for them, expanding your personal relationship with Christ, defending the country, and being a better Dad/Husband all make life worth living. I still have a long way to go in all those areas. When I get all those things figured out, I think it will be time to rest with the Lord. Until then...I'll try keeping Proverbs and the Sermon on the Mount in my actions a little better everyday.
An one personal request from me to you (if you made it this far). Please keep both the unborn and those wanting children but not so blessed in your prayers. In our journey through the year we had two miscarriages. We met families enduring three, four, five miscarriages on the road to making their family and understood their pain and joys. When you are done praying for those two groups...please pray for people to embrace their role as parents to raise their children in the light of the Word made Man Jesus Christ.
This is a little personal because see we are praying hard that we get to meet a little someone in about 30 weeks...and this is one of the award winning photos of the year right here that I did not even take!
God Bless and Happy New Year!