The Men in Blue

I can’t say that on some level I didn’t expect it. I just prayed that it wouldn’t happen.

But it did.

People, being (rightly) upset over what appears to be incredible racial injustice and flagrant abuse of power, do the worst thing possible and retaliate.  Five police officers were killed and many more were injured.

They are calling it, “the deadliest day for United States law enforcement agents since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.”

I am prior Navy and have a strong solidarity with the men and women of other uniformed services, including our police force.  I respect the job that they do, recognize their sacrifices, and know that it’s not an easy life.

Note that I said, “not an easy life,” instead of “not an easy job.”  This is intentional.  Some jobs are just jobs.  Others define who you are.  Police work is more like the latter.  I had an opportunity to meet with some of the police officers in my city at the library’s Summer Kickoff.

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I went to each of the areas and spoke with the officers there, asking them what they did and what they liked best about their jobs. To a man (or woman), they all said that public outreach events like this one were their favorite parts of the job. Too often, their interaction with the public is a negative one. Usually when someone encounters a police officer, it’s because they’ve either done something wrong, or something bad has happened to them. It’s rare that people get to see them for a happy occasion.

The reality of their life is a lot different that what we might expect from our brief interactions with them or how they are portrayed on television. I know after the reports of late, most people are tempted to think that all police officers are one bad day away from a horrible abuse of power. But this is grossly unfair. Most officers that I know live a life of sacrifice. They don’t command a great salary. People, even friends, can act weird around them, expecting them to judge their every action for “rule-breaking.” They are not thanked for the job they do. They put their lives on the line every day. They are always “on,” even when they are off. Their personal lives and those of their families are put under closer scrutiny and are expected to live up to higher standards of integrity and moral behavior.

These are our protectors, but so often they are cast as the villains.

Yes, there may be some bad people who abuse their position and do horrible things. This can happen in any profession. But we do not wholesale slaughter an entire group of people based on the actions of a few. Isn’t this exactly what we were trying to say at the rally in Dallas? That treating a group of people differently, and making them fear stepping out their door in the morning, and killing them for no reason, is WRONG and HORRIFIC?

Where is this going to end? What are YOU going to do to end it? How can we fix our broken society?

Certainly, we cannot let violence and persecution continue against black people.

Certainly, we cannot kill the people who work so hard to protect us.

Certainly, we cannot live in a society where there is so much fear and hatred.

What CAN we do? What can YOU do?

I don’t know. But I will listen, and I will pray, and I will love.

Thin Blue Line Peacemakers

#BlackLivesMatter

Okay.

I’m a white female. Or, technically, I’m bi-racial, being both Native American and Caucasian. But I look white and people generally treat me as such, and I typically identify as Caucasian.

So.

Can I even enter into this conversation with any sense of legitimacy?

I don’t know.

I certainly don’t know what it’s like to be black in our culture. Or Latina or most any other minority group. I can’t talk about their experiences, or the prejudices they face, or the struggles that they have, or even the best way to fix these problems.

I don’t have any answers.

What I know is that every person is made in the image and likeness of God, and because of this we are all equal in dignity, have a right to life, and need to be treated as what we are: the holiest thing you will ever encounter in your life apart from God Himself.

Every person.

Doesn’t matter your skin color, religion, able-bodiedness/disability, mental acuity, or whatever.

I don’t spend a lot of time reading the news or catching up on current events, but I have heard a lot lately about cases of suspected [I say this because I think they are still under investigation] police brutality and unjust use of lethal force against some African-Americans.

If this is true, and it seems like there is pretty solid evidence that it is, at least in this most recent case, my heart is breaking.

It’s unimaginably horrible to think that there are people who are afraid of going outside their homes. Afraid of being pulled over or stopped in the street. Of paying for a small infraction with their lives because of their skin color.

While white people who are seemingly guilty of horrible crimes beyond a shadow of the doubt are being acquitted and their good attributes are touted in the media; whereas for the black offenders, every rule they have ever broken since that time when they pulled Susie’s hair in 2nd grade is being published for the masses to see and use to justify whatever was done.

I don’t understand.

It is too easy in our society to marginalize people for the reason of the day.

Right now, it seems to be skin color. But tomorrow it could be Catholics, or Hispanics, or obese people, or whatever.

If I were persecuted, I would be afraid. I would be enraged. I would not understand why every other person in society was not on my side, fighting with me for justice. I would seek out other members of the group is was in which was being persecuted and I would identify with them perhaps even more. There is strength in numbers. There is a voice in numbers.

I am just a white girl. I know nothing. But I do know that #BlackLivesMatter

Love is not a feeling. Love is a choice. You may not like people of other races. You may have prejudices. Your heart could not be where it needs to be. But it’s what you DO, and how you ACT which really matters.

Choose to love people the same.

We are all people.

We all deserve love.

I typically stay silent on matters because I feel that my voice is not welcome. Or that I’ll offend others. Or that it’s not really my place to say anything.

Well, I think too many of us are silent. These are our brothers and sisters. These are MY brothers and sisters. And I am angry, heartbroken, and repulsed by what I’ve seen and heard.

Discussion is welcome. Please comment below.

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Faith Life at Work

Every Tuesday at our church (St. Anastasia), we have a Mass at 7 pm. Every First Tuesday of the month after Mass, we have Young Adult Night. We gather in Meeting Room B and typically have pizza, a talk, and some trivia (or other game).

Since Fr. Jim had forgotten to ask the Catholic Trivia guy to come out this evening, he devised a quick game of Modified Family Feud, using answers from Family Feud episodes from, like, the 70s or something. (Who replaces a TOASTER if it is not broken?)

Anywhoo, after our quick game where we never really heard who won, we heard a talk by Denis Veneziano, our resident Italian architect and part-time language instructor. His topic was “Holiness in Your Daily Work.”

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Disclaimer: This is the cover of a book I have sitting on my desk at work. I’ve been meaning to read it for a couple years now. There is no review of this book in this post because lazy and haven’t read yet.

I jotted down a few notes, then a few more, then decided that I had enough fodder to create a blog post and share with y’all, so here you go!🙂 In bullet points, because my coffee is not working yet.

  • Genesis 2:15 states, “ The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.”  This tells us that work is not supposed to be seen as “a necessary evil,” but something which adds to the dignity of man as being in God’s plan for our lives.  Denis continues to point out that even Jesus worked for most of His life, and He is our example of what it should look like to live a perfected human life.
  • Because of this, we should ask ourselves:  What pride to we take in our work?  Do we see the work that we do in a supernatural light?  As promoting, or capable of promoting, the Kingdom of God and sanctifying ourselves and those around us?
  • Beware of “professionalism” — where your work becomes the end purpose of your life.  It can be important, but it is a means.  Your work is just one part of your life.  You certainly shouldn’t give it inordinate preference over other aspects of your life.  But don’t go to the opposite extreme either and not give it its due importance.
  • How can I use my time at work to sanctify myself and others?
    • I can pray before I start my work — dedicating my work day to God and asking His help.
    • I can dedicate individual hours during the workday for a specific person or intention.  This can make the entire day into something of a prayer.
    • I should show interest in my coworkers and try to help them as much as possible.  Before being a worker, I (and they) am a person.

What are ways in which you bring God into your workplace?

What struggles do you have in showing God’s love to your coworkers?

One final thought:

A holy person is

NOT

a perfect person,

but is one who gets up

one more time

than they fall.

Greektown!

After work, I caught Mass at Christ the King in Ann Arbor, then headed to Detroit to meet up with Allie in Greektown. We snuck into Old St. Mary’s, piggybacking in the building as others were exiting for about 10 seconds of Adoration.

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Allie had already eaten, as I was delayed in getting there, but she graciously had First Dessert while I had some delicious Pastitsio at New Parthenon.

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Next, we went about 2 doors down the street and salivated at all of the desserts and pastries at Astoria’s. Finally, we made our selections (each of us chose a macaroon and one other item) and sat down for more conversation. We ate our French dessert in the middle of Greektown with NO shame. 🙂 We talked for hours and I laughed until my abs hurt.

It was a perfect night: warm, but not hot; no humidity; a slight breeze. There were street musicians and a ton of people walking around. The city was beautiful. I left with my key lime cheesecake as a souvenir to be enjoyed at a later date. (Allie may or may not have had an entire day’s worth of leftovers to take home, including an eclair from Second Dessert.) Allie may be making Old St. Mary’s her home parish, and I definitely think I’ll be returning soon to check out more of what Greektown has to offer.

A Pretty Day at Work

It’s hard, sometimes, working in a building that has (almost) no windows.  I never know what the weather is like outside.  Usually, we can hear the rain (like a thousand cats on a hot tin roof), but whether it is overcast or sunny, hot or cold, is rather a mystery.

The smokers among us escape every so often and go outside, and there are a couple of people who take daily walks at lunchtime.  I tend to eat at my desk and work through lunch and take no breaks.

But today, I decided to order Jimmy John’s.  It was so pretty out, that I went back upstairs to grab my phone to take a couple pictures of the building.  (That and the Jimmy John’s guy was stuck at the gate and I had to call him.)

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The Making of a Salad #plated #KaleYeah

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National Day: Go Barefoot Day

I’m a “planner girl,” if you haven’t yet noticed from my other social media outlets.  :)  I am deep in the weeds of it, using stickers and washi tape and the whole deal.  I love it.  It helps me organize my life, reflect on my life and how I’m spending my time, and has introduced me to an entire community of like-minded women – many of whom I have had a chance to meet in person recently at Geaux Wild (I swear, I will post the Geaux Wild stuff soon-ish).

I have a subscription to Design Pandemonium, which sends me a set of coordinating stickers every month.  In the set, there’s always a sheet of “National Day” stickers. These tell you the unofficial, official holidays for random things.  Like today, which is “Go Barefoot Day.”

I may not do this for every day, but I thought it might be cute to comment on them as they come up.  Because I love random celebrations.  :)

Go Barefoot Day is not a day that I will be celebrating.  I hate going barefoot.  And from my podiatrist friend, I’m told that it’s better if you protect your feet in socks and shoes.  I don’t think my feet are cute, and I like socks.  :)  So there you go!

I’ve Got This Watch

I apologize in advance for the ramble-yness of this post. I have a lot of thoughts and feelings about this, but they aren’t very well organized.

Today’s Memorial Day.

What does that mean?

I guess to most people, it means a three-day weekend, gathering with friends and family, grilled food, openings of pools and hanging out at beaches, and the start of summer. For me, until I joined the Navy, this was my predominant view of the holiday. And while celebrating this American way of life is good, and being with friends and family is important, it’s so much more than that.

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Memorial Day – the holiday itself – is for remembering those who died while serving the United States Armed Forces. I have two in particular which I remember:

Rene LaMourt: He went on his first deployment on the USS Eisenhower and was out at sea for more than six months. When he returned, he took some leave and was going to fly home to visit his family. On the way to the airport, the girl giving him a ride to the airport got a flat tire. She pulled off onto the shoulder of the freeway, and Rene started to change the tire. While he was getting the jack out of the trunk, another car hit him and he was pinned between the two cars. They had to amputate both his legs in the hospital and he died of shock that evening.

Rene wasn’t officially “on-duty” when the accident happened, but he never made it home. And he was serving. He was helping someone else out. Because that’s what military people are: Servicemen. We are broken down in boot camp and trained to give our lives for our country, for our brothers and sisters in the Armed Forces, and for any person who crosses our path who needs our assistance. We are trained to follow orders, to complete the mission, and to disregard ourselves in doing so. We disregard ourselves, but we know that the soldier standing next to us has our back and will give his life for mine. Just as I will give my life for his. So, we can be off-duty, or separated, or retired. But we are still on-duty. We are still military. We will still serve. Because it’s who we are now.

Chris: I’m leaving his last name off on purpose. He went to war in Iraq and Afghanistan. He came back home to his wife and children. A few months later he committed suicide.

PTSD is real. War is hard.

Sacrifice. We sacrifice a lot by being in the military. Some personal liberties. Comforts of home. Family. Friends. Safety, sometimes. Privacy. We also gain a lot: bonds that go far beyond friendship, opportunities to see places we’d never have seen on our own, opportunities for education, growth in strength and character, an understanding of what it takes to be a strong nation, exposure to other nations… Our families sacrifice, too. Military members’ salaries are not on par with people with equivalent jobs in the private sector. We do look after each other so that no one is without a home or their families are not fed, but it is often a very tight budget. That’s okay, we are resourceful, if nothing else. Our families have to be strong while we are deployed. They are without us. Relationships are strained. Some of us never make it home. On Memorial Day, we honor not only those of us who gave all, but also their families, who also gave all.

I was thinking about these things as I got ready for work today. I had to work today. Most of my friends have the day off and are spending it doing those Memorial Day weekend things. I’m seeing lots of posts on Facebook about grilling and being at the beach and the pool. I was invited to a barbecue at my best friend’s house that I had to decline. But I’m okay with it. Because we are remembering the fallen. And the fallen are my brothers and sisters. Because the military makes you family, even if you’ve never met. Even if you’re from a different branch. And if my brother or sister is not able to stand watch, you fill the gap and do the job to carry on the mission. It’s just what you do. You keep on keeping on, as they say. You live for them in a way. You take care of their families. You serve, because they can no longer serve.

I am happy to be serving today, in what little capacity I can.

Rest easy, brothers, I’ve got this watch.

Jennie on a Sub
Rob Dodson and Me

Geaux Wild – People: Cindy Guentert-Baldo

I love Cindy so much!  I didn’t know her extremely well online before coming to Geaux Wild, but I was thoroughly delighted to have met her in person.  She’s an amazingly genuine person, and integrity means a lot to me.  I enjoyed her Llama Lettering talk:  she gave us not only examples of different ways in which to letter, but she showed us how we can make baby step improvements to our natural handwriting in order to create fun lettering in a style which is entirely our own.  She did not make a big deal about her own talent, but let me tell you, her talent is considerable!  I love how fun everything looks.  I love even more how she owned every mistake that she made and admitted that certain letters were not her favorite to do.

Cindy is the type of person to be happy to see others succeed.  She was continually encouraging and praising everyone on their lettering efforts.  I doodled a quick sketch of my name during the practice time in her session and Isa took it over to Cindy, so she could see it.  The next time I ran into Cindy, I got a huge hug! 🙂

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Which brings me to my next point:  Cindy gives great hugs.  :)  I tend to be a huggy person, but I  also tend to hold back a little bit because I don’t want to make non-huggy people uncomfortable.  Cindy goes for it and you can tell that it’s because she truly has affection for you.

Point #2390830498:  I think Cindy genuinely has affection for us all.  And that’s a reflection of her heart.  Which is an amazing heart.  She pulls all of this off with an infectious positivity which is refreshing and contagious.

For all of these reasons, Cindy was definitely a favorite of mine to meet this weekend.  (And I’m sad that I didn’t get a single picture, either of her or with her.)

Bad Driver Award: MI BMP 1724

Dear Young Woman in the Black SUV,

When you are merging onto a highway, the people currently on the highway are to maintain their speed and you are supposed to speed up or slow down to merge into their lane.

You are *not* supposed to get along side someone and try to shove them out of the lane so you can occupy their space.

I understand that it’s rush hour, but that’s a good way to cause an accident.

Thanks!