Live Like You Were Dying

Tim McGraw recorded this song soon after the death of his father. But very few people know that Tim McGraw grew up in “poor circumstances”, never knowing his boyhood hero, Tug McGraw, a baseball superstar, was his father—a father who abandoned him and his mother. He learned the truth at age 11 but his father wanted nothing to do with him. In his 20’s he forgave his father and the two men forged a relationship. In March 2003, Tug McGraw was diagnosed with brain cancer and given a short time to live. His son, Tim McGraw, was now the superstar. He and his wife, Faith Hill, cared for Tug McGraw until his death in January, 2004. Tim McGraw didn’t have to care for the man who never cared about him. But he did. In fact, Tim McGraw says “He gave me something that he might not have ever known that he gave me.” What did he give his son?

Let’s look at the lyrics of the song for possible answers. The lyricist talks about a friend in his early 40’s who receives bad news that he is dying and asks him what he’s going to do. His dying friend tells him he plans to love more, speak well of others, be the husband and friend he should’ve been, ask for and give forgiveness, and read the Bible. He says life is a gift and lastly wishes that the lyricist gets the chance to live like he was dying. I wonder if these are many of the things the elder McGraw shared with his son. Well why else would he have recorded the song?

Think about that for a moment. What would you do if you knew you were dying? I’m sure many of us would say we’d take a trip of a lifetime. But realistically, could you or would you? I had the privilege of being with both my parents as they battled their diseases right up to their last breath. It really didn’t matter to either of them that they never made it to California or Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. What mattered most was family.

I just read the letter slain journalist James Foley “sent” to his family. I put quotes around the word sent because the letter reached the family through another kidnap victim who was released. His captors, Islamic terrorist group, ISIS, allowed the prisoners to write letters but would later confiscate them. The released captive memorized Foley’s final letter because ISIS terrorists had told Foley he would be executed. So he knew he was dying for quite some time.

The letter is heartbreaking and includes fond memories he had spending time with his family, which he said sustained him through the 2-year ordeal. He also spoke about prayer being his coping method of choice (Foley was a devout Catholic). Here is an excerpt of the letter. “I know you are thinking of me and praying for me. And I am so thankful. I feel you all, especially when I pray. I pray for you to stay strong and to believe. I really feel I can touch you even in this darkness when I pray.” Foley’s last words before he was beheaded were, “I wish I had more time. I wish I could have the hope of freedom and seeing my family again.”

Which leads me back to you and me. Think if we all lived like we were dying. Would we really care so much about what was on television? What kind of clothes we wear or what car we drive? When great-uncle Joe asks us to visit would we treat it like an annoyance? When mom or dad asks us to call more often would we grunt and groan? When God asks that we attend Mass for one hour each Sunday or to spend a few minutes with Him in prayer would that be too much to ask?

Let’s look at James Foley’s letter again. He tells his family he is thankful. How many of us, who are not being held and tortured in captivity by ruthless savages and knowing we would die a gruesome death, would say we were thankful. I just read the book, Unbroken, which is soon to be a major motion picture in December. It’s the true story of Louie Zamperini, a POW in Japan during WWII. What kept Mr. Zamperini going? He never stopped thinking of his family and he relied heavily on prayer as did many of his fellow POWs. Dietrich Bonhoeffer thanked his executioner and as a result that man never forgot him—he knew he was different. Corrie ten Boom, after risking her life to save countless Jews during the Holocaust and enduring the deaths of her father and sister in the concentration camps, walked out of the work camp and was thankful to God and forgave her enemies.

Jesus teaches us to live like we were dying. If you haven’t read the Gospels in a while, pick up your Bible and read them. Jesus says in Matthew 7:12-14 “So always treat others as you would like them to treat you, that is the Law and the Prophets. Enter by the narrow gate, since the road that leads to destruction is wide and spacious, and many take it, but it is the narrow gate and the hard road that leads to life and only a few find it.” Read the lives of the saints. What do they all have in common? They lived like they were dying. They loved God with all their heart, soul, strength and mind; they loved and sacrificed for their fellow-man, forgave all, and prayed hard.

Last Sunday at the funeral of James Foley in a packed Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Church, Bishop Peter Libasci said Foley was living his faith by bringing images to the world of people suffering from war and oppressive regimes. He then recited the Prayer of St. Francis and concluded by saying “Jim went back again (Foley had been held and released in Libya prior to his capture by ISIS) that we might open our eyes. That we might indeed know how precious is this gift. ”

That we might indeed know how precious is this gift—the gift of life—and to live it each day as though we were dying.


Video Killed the Radio Star

This was a huge song back in the late 70’s and I remember it well. I can’t say the same for the group who sang it (The Buggles) but I believe it was the first video that aired on MTV. They really believed radio was dead with the advent of the music video. They were more than wrong—MTV doesn’t even air music videos anymore. None of this has to do with my article. I just heard the news about a new video game called Choice: Texas. My first thought was it’s about choice Texas steer. You know like a cowboy kind of video game.

I was very wrong. Choice Texas is an interactive video game based on abortion access in the State of Texas. And why do we need this? According to their IndieGoGo donation site, they wanted to raise $10,500 so they could create the game and fund sex educators so that they can establish lesson plans for high school and college teachers to provide this “game” in the classroom. It was created and funded by abortion activists who of course have your daughters’ and granddaughters’ best interests at heart because, of course, they know better than you.

So I decided to play. Right now there are only 2 characters, Latrice, an African American career woman and Leah, a Caucasian teen-ager. Let’s start with Leah. Leah is a 19-year-old bartender who drives a truck. Her mother frowns on her late nights at the bar. Leah also refers to herself as a “loser” compared to her sister who is in graduate school in Austin. Leah wakes up in the cab of her truck with her clothing off and realizes she was raped and she knows who did it. She has no memory of it but she knows who did it. She does not dial 9-1-1 or report it to anyone. Two months later she learns she’s pregnant. She can’t tell her mother because she knows her mother will never believe she was raped. She thinks about going to her pastor who was always kind but now would probably look down on her. Now the “game” gives you the choice of who to confide in: Mom, Sis or Pastor. Odd since Leah already voiced her concerns about Mom and Pastor. But anyway, I choose Sis, since that’s what I would do. The “video game” so far is nothing but text that reads like a bad novel. There is no live action and no video.

Leah’s sister laments how she could have a baby when she hasn’t even gone to college yet! Oh no—such a tragedy! And she’ll end up living at home with mom and dad forever! *Gasp* A fate worse than death! The sister tells her to come to Austin where there is a good clinic. You then can select which option you’d pick as Leah. 1. Have the abortion in Austin, 2. Give the baby up for adoption or 3. Keep the baby.

If abortion is chosen you are met with more narrative and other choices but let’s get to the point where she’s at the clinic for information. The doctor tells her about the risks but all Leah asks is if she can have more kids. The doctor explains she could get an infection or hemorrhage and about the anxiety and depression she’ll feel afterwards. But Leah thinks to herself she’s been through all that over these 2 months so what could possibly be any worse? Hmmm, I don’t know, maybe depression from knowing you killed a living person? The doctor now wants to tell her about the other options like adoption etc. Nope, Leah wants no part of those. But she’s starting to teeter.

Sister swoops in to the rescue and informs Leah that the risks are very rare. So Leah decides to go for the abortion. She then has a great night’s sleep. Who wouldn’t after being raped and now deciding to murder her baby? The night before the abortion she doesn’t sleep well. She has the abortion—no graphic details—and goes to her sister’s apartment. After 3 days she realizes she can’t go back to work yet and calls her boss who promptly fires her. The whole story ends on a wonderful note with Leah deciding to live with her sister in Austin. The girls call Mom and have her come visit them and bring Leah’s stuff. Her sister hugs her and tells her they’re family and they will take care of each other. I guess her sister did not inform her dead niece or nephew of that. And they all ride off into the sunset.

To be fair the “game” gives you other options so next I chose the option of having Leah tell mom and keep the baby. Her mother is very understanding but her father’s reaction is something else. Leah knows the rapist and so does her Dad. Of course Dad defends the rapist because he’s a nice guy who wouldn’t do that. What? How many fathers do you know would react this way? I’m shocked the creators didn’t keep it in character and have the Texas Dad run for his shotgun. Dad finally settles down and accepts his daughter’s decision. Of course she goes back to work at the bar where she is confronted by the father of her baby. Her boss promptly fires her for causing a scene so now she’s pregnant and out of work and on unemployment. Pages and pages of narrative on insurance and premature labor etc. etc. Finally she delivers a little girl. One month later she’s struggling with parenthood then the hospital bill arrives. Even though they have insurance she has a $1700 bill. Leah now remembers the Safe Haven Law in Texas. Well who wouldn’t? She can drop the baby at her local fire or police station or keep it. I chose for Leah to keep the already named baby that she’s been caring for over a month now. Leah goes to Mom who promptly tells her to get on the hospital payment plan. Then she gets a job, plans to move out of town and start a new life with her daughter. Off they ride into the sunset.

I also played Latrice, the African-American woman. She is a successful “older” career woman who is not sure if she wants children. She’s in a committed relationship with a man much like herself. Her boyfriend/husband, who also has a good job, tells her they could be great parents but they don’t have to be. But then says if she wants the baby, he’s all for it. Still Latrice feels the need to talk to a female—not the man she’s chosen to spend her life with. In the course of the narrative her friend, who knows Latrice never wanted children and continues to keep abortion in the mix, utters this memorable line. “Latrice, this isn’t a job, it’s another HUMAN LIFE.” What?

Who are they kidding by throwing an older career woman into the mix? This “game” is geared toward young girls. The older African American woman has a great career and so does her boyfriend or husband. Any woman who relates to this character is not stupid and certainly would never choose to look at this ridiculous prose, masquerading as a video game. And the adaptation of Leah is degrading. She’s 19, blonde and from Texas so she obviously drives a truck and works in a bar. The avatar of Leah can be construed as “white trash”. She has the option of going to her pastor while the successful career woman does not.

This is what they want to bring into the classroom. I’m sorry; this has no business in any classroom. The “video game” which is not a video game at all is a cold, automated, electronic substitute for real human interaction. Why do girls and young women need a game when they can talk to their real mother, sister, husband, boyfriend, pastor, or friend who they know, love and trust? I think you know the answer. Social media is anything but social. Why work a real farm when you can play Farmville? Why bother interacting with real friends when you can lead a very exciting life with “friends” you’ve never met on Facebook? Why speak face to face with anyone at all? Text me!

The game was created by a poet and video game historian—let me translate for you—these women work in academia. There is nothing poetic about this—this is their way to protest the strict abortion laws in Texas and to further the thought that children do not belong to their parents. You are too stupid to raise a child correctly. Why were they not clear on Roy, Latrice’s significant other? Was he her husband? Because they also dislike men. Why wouldn’t Latrice, who is a successful African American woman, listen to what her equally successful husband or boyfriend had to say? After all, the child is his too. *Gasp* Yes, radical feminists, it’s his too.

The women say the game is based on extensive research and crisis pregnancy scenarios. How many hours of extensive research were conducted on the after-effects of abortion? Did these two women reach out to real women who had real abortions or who had their children placed into adoption? Did they talk to real mothers who opted to sacrifice and raise their children?

The Buggles were wrong that video killed radio, but take note of the song. If you read the lyrics they are blaming us for relying on pictures instead of listening to the music. Fast forward to our future and now they find themselves in an empty recording studio. Live singers and instruments replaced by artificial synthesizers. Time has passed and they’ve met your children. They want to know what you told your children when they asked you, “Mom and Dad—what did you do when they killed radio?” Video killed the radio star and YOU are the radio star. If young women are led to this “game” for advice, and not to their parents, the Progressives and Elitists of this world may succeed where MTV failed.

The Sound of Silence

So my title contradicts itself—or does it? Does silence actually have a sound? Paul Simon wrote the lyrics of his song by the same title to protest oppressed people who had no voice. But the same could be said for a free people who do not exercise their God-given right to speak up against oppression. The results can easily be found in Germany circa 1939. How did Hitler gain his popularity? The Treaty of Versailles and the results of the Weimar Republic left Germans feeling demeaned and helpless. Hitler was a gifted speaker who attracted the unemployed, the young, and members of the lower middle class. However, others saw through Hitler. Many saw through Hitler. So why didn’t they say anything when they had the chance before it was too late?

History has a nasty way of repeating itself. Why do people repeat the same devastating mistakes? George Santayana had the answer in his book, the Life of Reason in Common Sense, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”. No matter how many times Communism has been tried it has yet to succeed. So why do people keep trying to acquire a man-made utopia on Earth?

I have a theory. These people have a Nimrod/Tower of Babel complex. They think they’re gods or they think they know better than God. To accomplish this they need to have Him erased. Have you watched the film The Book of Eli? The villain knew whoever possessed the one last Book (Bible) had the power to control the people. That’s why he wanted it so badly. Why was Pharaoh a god? Why did King Henry the VIII ditch the Catholic Church and the Pope? Why during the French Revolution was it important to destroy the Church? To change the rules and have ultimate power over the people. What God really wants is for man to rule himself. What a beautiful gift. That’s why the American Revolution succeeded and the French Revolution was a failure.

The Founders gave us a republic, not a democracy (mob rule) or a monarchy (king). During the secretive Constitution Convention of 1787 many concerned citizens lined the streets around Independence Hall. When the proceedings finally ended, a lady rushed toward Benjamin Franklin and asked the question that was heavy on all their minds. “Well, Doctor, what have we got—a republic or a monarchy?” To which Ben Franklin replied, “A republic, if you can keep it.”

Franklin and the other Founders knew how hard it would be to keep a republic when men are in power. That’s why we have representation from all 50 states and no one branch of government can “go it alone”. As Lord Acton said, “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” So why are Americans today calling for and embracing a failed concept that is marching us on a path to socialism or worse? President Ronald Reagan got it right when he said of the US, “If we lose freedom here, there is no place to escape to. This is the last stand on Earth”.

Have you heard of the Cristero War or La Cristiada? Chances are you haven’t. I was in the theater with several Mexican Americans in 2012 when For Greater Glory, a major motion picture, debuted regarding this historic event. I watched as men and women voiced their astonishment. Why didn’t their parents or grandparents tell them this happened?

We’re not talking ancient history. The Cristero War lasted from 1926-1929. After the Marxist Mexican Revolution the communist regime did not want the Catholic Church to be a part of any moral teachings to the citizens of Mexico. Instead, they wanted the people to rely on the government for everything. To accomplish this they proclaimed that the Catholic Church was poisoning the minds of Mexican citizens. On July 25, 1926 all public worship was stopped. Priests could not administer any sacraments and most were thrown out of the country. Most towns went without a single Mass being celebrated. Thus a rebellion was born—the Soldiers of Christ or the Cristeros. Most had no military training. 90,000 people were killed, 35 of them were martyrs who have been canonized and 15 others beatified. One of the most famous martyrs was a 15-year old boy, Blessed Jose Sanchez del Rio.

Oppression is what happens when the opportunity to speak up is not taken. If the people of Germany had only spoken up before it was too late. If the Russian people could only have… If the people of Mexico had… and the list goes on and on. Do we really want to add our names to this list?

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction—Newton’s 3rd Law of Motion. And it applies here as well. The sound of silence can be deafening. What does this have to do with us, today? Look around you. The Church is once again under attack. During the Cristero War, marriage was no longer a sacrament but a civil ceremony. The exact opposite of what marriage truly is. Today, in the United States of America, we are seeing the sacrament of marriage being chipped away by those who would rather have the government step in as husband and father. The unemployed, the young, and the lower middle class are again following charismatic leaders who do not have their best intentions at heart and worse believe they are gods.

If you are a devout follower of Jesus you are put up for public ridicule. Look at the treatment of Tim Tebow compared to Aaron Hernandez. It was applauded when Katy Perry left her gospel music roots to pursue a career as a sexy pop star and a cause célèbe when she denounced her Christian faith. Family shows are being replaced by vampires, zombies or sex-riddled reality shows. Who has time to read scripture when you can play World of War video games and be a god?

Do you hear much from the opposition? There are a few out there. But when they speak up they are mocked, ridiculed and in some cases blackballed and boycotted against. Christians are called hatemongers, homophobes and racists. Because so many are afraid of being labeled unfairly, they keep quiet. Perhaps they won’t notice me and I’ll go through life unscathed. The sound of silence. Can you hear it? I can—loud and clear.



You Can’t Always Get What You Want

One of my favorite songs by the Rolling Stones. It’s a fact of life that you will never get everything you want. But so many people, especially younger people, can’t seem to grasp that reality. “It’s not fair,” is the new rallying cry.

Perseverance is a gift. There are many quotes and stories about perseverance ranging from Vince Lombardi to Longfellow. But two favorites are from Dr. Benjamin Carson and Mariano Rivera—two very different men but similar stories. Both raised themselves up from poverty to be the best in their fields: one in the medical profession and the other in major league baseball. “Through hard work, perseverance and a FAITH in God, you can live your dreams,” states Dr. Carson, who started life as a troubled youth in Detroit’s inner-city to become Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital at the age of 33. Mariano Rivera rose from Panamanian fisherman to star closer for the New York Yankees thanks to GOD’S GRACE, perseverance, fortuity, and talent. “God doesn’t accept excuses,” he says. Both men connect God with their success.

If only we could attack our prayer life with such perseverance. Too many people expect answered prayers on their timetable. We want it and we want it now. Well sorry to break it to you but God works at His own pace. My mother always used to tell me, “If you want to hear God laugh tell him your plans.”

Perseverance. For years my husband and I wanted a second child. After all we received our first daughter so quickly. Being a mother was the greatest job I ever had and I was good at it. So, God threw us a curve-ball. For years we prayed. We lived through 3 miscarriages but no baby. Many well-meaning friends said, ‘God gifted you with a beautiful, healthy, daughter. Be grateful for her.’ And I was. But I wanted a second child and I wasn’t going to stop asking Him. Six years later I was pregnant once again. It wasn’t an easy pregnancy, but I received the answer to my prayers when our second daughter was born. I persevered. I may have been a pain, grumbling and asking, demanding for my baby, but it paid off. God heard me and answered on His timetable.

There is a very obscure Jewish story about a man named Honi the “Circle Maker” from first century BC, the generation before Jesus. Miracles were distant memories for the Jews at that time and many stopped praying. Honi didn’t buy that and prayed anyway. During a drought, Honi walked circles around and around the ground, finally stopping after several turns, he found himself inside the circle he had drawn. He offered up a prayer to God stating he would not move until God showed mercy and sent rain. Honi spoke with authority, yet was always humble and never doubting. A few drops fell, but that wasn’t enough. A shower or two, Honi didn’t move. A violent storm came and Honi told God this was not the rains he prayed for. Finally, a moderate rain fell. With that, Honi got up from the circle. His prayer was finally answered. Perseverance.

There is nothing God loves more than answering our prayers. Don’t doubt Him. Remember that parable about the stubborn widow who badgered the judge for justice? She wore him down until he finally granted her the justice she asked for. What is Jesus trying to tell us? Persevere. Keep asking. Don’t give up.

After I had my 2nd daughter, I prayed for another. But God did not answer my prayers—or at least that’s what I thought. However, if I had had that third child, there are many things that I am doing now that could never have happened. So you see, God does answer our prayers. We can’t always get what we want. But if you persevere and keep at it—you get exactly what you need.