Monthly Archives: March 2011

I (don’t?) pledge allegiance…

I watched “Restrepo” on Sunday night. It’s a feature-length documentary that chronicles the deployment of a platoon of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley (arguably one of the most dangerous places to be as a US soldier).

I was nervous. My cousin was in Afghanistan when he was in the Army. I wasn’t sure I wanted any insight into what his life was like while there. I was scared.

But I watched the whole thing and it was really good.  I’m thankful I watched it because it really was insightful. But it was also one I don’t ever care to see again. It’s real. When a soldier is shown laying on the ground after being shot dead in gun fire, it’s not an actor. It’s a real person.  Who is dead.

The movie made me think a lot about war and this country I live in. And I’m thankful for those soldiers trying to keep the United States safe. I believe that’s the point – to keep people safe. I think. (I struggle with this too, since so many innocent people in Afghanistan aren’t safe because of the US invading their land.)

And while I’m completely unsure of where I stand on war, I do know that there are people risking their LIVES every day “for the country.” Honestly, I don’t understand why.

It makes me think of the Pledge of Allegiance that I recited each day in elementary school while saluting the flag. 

“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

Why should I pledge my allegiance like this? I don’t know why I’m supposed to be loyal to the country I live in. Is it supposed to be more special than any other country? Am I supposed to feel some bond or connection to this nation?

Because I don’t.

And it confuses me.

I don’t know why people chant “U! S! A!” or why we sing the National Anthem before football games.  I don’t understand it one bit.

I can’t figure out what I’m missing. Why am I not as patriotic as the other 65,000 people chanting at the football stadium? Is it generational? Or is it just me?

I connect with the people of my nation.  I love the people.  But I connect with and love people of all nations. So I don’t feel that’s where the disconnect is. 

My husband and I discussed this over dinner last night. (While I was drinking my way too big mango margarita, so the words were flowing a bit more than usual.) The discussion didn’t help. It just made me question even more this patriotic allegiance that I’m supposed to have, that I don’t.

I am grateful to live in a country where I can share these thoughts, believe and worship how I desire, have rights as a woman, etc. But this country’s got crap too, just like Afghanistan and Libya. We have an ego so big that we think it’s our duty to intervene in the crap of other countries without their request or approval. How does that make the US any different from Afghanistan? Because we’re “right” and they’re “wrong?” I’m sure they feel the same way.

I’m not sure that I’ll come to a conclusion about any of this. What I do hope is that the dialogue I’m hopefully starting with my cousin and another friend will give me some insight into their choice to enlist in the military and a certain peace with my thoughts.

Maybe this will spark dialogue between you and me too.  I’m game.

Book Review: Mere Churchianity by Michael Spencer

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Author Michael Spencer blogged as the Internet Monk (www.internetmonk.com) until he died in April 2010. I had never read Spencer’s blog so I was new to his beliefs and writings.  (And actually, when I requested this book, I misread the title and thought I was getting Mere Christianity.) While I agreed with many of his statements and findings on the modern day church in Mere Churchianity (those about people leaving many churches to in fact find Jesus, rather than religion), I felt the book was written with an almost bitter tone. I had a hard time getting past the extreme generalities and assumptions made of groups of people referenced in his book (and I’m not even one of them!).

I struggled reading this book primarily because I was not the right audience.  Spencer states in the introduction “I’m writing to people on the inside who are about to leave or have already left (the church). I’m writing to those who are standing in the foyer of the church, ready to walk out, yet taking one last look around… for people who have come to the end of the road with the church but who can’t entirely walk away from Jesus.” Fortunately, I worship/live in a community of believers who focus on Jesus rather than religious people taking away from who Jesus really is.

I do believe this book would be good for church administrators to help understand the exodus of members from traditional churches. And to bring church members (and administrators) back to “Jesus-shaped spirituality,” as termed by Spencer. I just think it could have been written in a less abrasive way.

Thoughts for a new momma.

When Baby Jedi was born, #1 was 8 and #2 was 4. It’s almost like starting over again.  Four years is a long time when life keeps moving on and your memory starts getting worse. (I’m not getting old, I’m not getting old, I’m not getting old…)

So I thought I’d put down some thoughts about how things are and how they change when a new baby is born – for those embarking on this mommy thing for the first time and those, like me, who wait more than the standard two years between kids.

  1. While breastfeeding is the “natural” (and FREE) way to go, it sometimes feels anything but natural. For me, my babies latch on quickly and rigorously. And they don’t want to stop. The trade-off? It hurts. A lot. And I have to remind myself to breathe for the first couple of weeks at each and every feeding and during every shower until the “girls” are broken in. (Do NOT face the shower when you are a new nursing momma unless you are sheilding those bad boys with your hands. You have been warned.) And then again when ducts are clogged and painful. Breastfeeding takes committment.  And it’s okay to think it sucks sometimes.  But for me, it’s totally worth it. (And again, it is FREE.  Have you seen the price of formula?!)
  2. Hormones are crazy for the first month. Imagine pregnancy and PMS all at the same time. Warn your husband. And talk to your friends. Tell SOMEONE all the junk in your head so you know you’re normal. And so that if by chance that junk isn’t normal, you have someone to help you through it.
  3. Even though I lost all my pregnancy pounds, my body is not the same as it was pre-pregnancy. How could I weigh the same but not be able to zip my jeans? (Answer: Your belly, Katie, was stretched to fit a BABY. And you don’t do sit-ups.) And why do all of my shirts fit differently? (Answer: Your girls, and I don’t mean babies #1 and #2, aren’t the same as before. Therefore, your shirts don’t quite hang the same way. Just like your girls don’t quite hand the same way. Oh, and you’re wearing a nursing bra, not that nice push-up Victoria Secret one you bought right before you got pregnant.)
  4. Sex? What’s that? (Yes, it’ll return. I promise. In due time. And you’ll like it.)
  5. Take as many pictures as you possibly can and from angles that you look at your baby right now as she’s sleeping in your arms. Because you’ll forget what a cute and precious baby she was when she’s 8 and I’m sure when she’s 15. And you’ll need to be reminded how much you loved and wanted her.
  6. Most importantly, I finally understood, truly, the way God loves me, when I held #1 for the first time. And then reminded after #2. And again after #3. It’s pretty amazing.

There’s more, so much more, but I have kids who will be up early in the morn and I need my sleep. Help me add to the list?

I’m not a quitter.

I’m not running the Indianapolis Mini-Marathon in May.

There.  I said it.

I’m not even walking it.  And I’m okay with it.

I ran the mini in 2007 in my attempt to get into shape after #2 was born.  I started training when she was 5 1/2 months old and ran the race when she was almost 11 months old. And I said I’d never do it again.

Jump to 2010. While I was pregnant with Baby Jedi, I told a good friend that I’d run it with her this year. I thought it would be a great way to again get in shape. Baby Jedi would be almost 6 months old by race day. Must have been the hormones making me feel invincible.

But I’m not invincible.  And trying to train to run 13.1 miles on a newly babied and nursing body is a LOT harder than I thought it would be. 

I struggled with this decision for weeks.  I didn’t want to “quit” (as my husband believes I’m doing), but more importantly I didn’t want to let my friend down. Thankfully, she’s pretty amazing and doesn’t hate me for dropping out on her.

BUT, (oh yes, there’s a but, and it’s got 2 tt’s that you cannot miss bringin’ up my backside) I’m not going to let this stop me from getting in shape. Even though I’ve lost all my baby weight, my body is looking sad, just as it has for the last 9+ years when I gained those “Just Married!” 15 lbs that I can’t seem to get off.

I’m going to start yoga (thanks to Living Social and CITYOGA) and I’m committed to running in a 5k for Run for Congo Women the first weekend in April.

I’m also committed to not feeling like I’ve quit by not running the mini. I don’t have space in my head for more bad vibes. I have plenty of those to deal with already.

So Emily, fork over $62.05 friend.  The golden ticket is yours for the taking.

Um, no thanks.

Ever thought you were forging a new friendship and then realized that is was not at all what you thought?

A few years ago I was struggling to balance a new, stressful and time-consuming job with my non-work life.  I was posting about it regularly on Facebook.

Then an acquaintance took a (seemingly innocent) interest in my life.  She was replying to my FB posts, offering verbal support, even asking me to have lunch with her.  I was excited at the thought of exploring a new friendship, so we made plans to have lunch the next week together.

It was a beautiful spring day, so we sat outside at the restaurant. I noticed she brought a bag with her, but didn’t think anything of it.  (At this point, I didn’t know what she did for a living.)  We start talking about our lives.  And this is where I start wondering why we’re really here.

She was asking me lots of questions about my job and lifestyle, what I really wanted in life.  Then she pulls out these binders and starts telling me about how her involvement with “Company” has changed her life and has enabled her to work from home, etc.

I quickly realized that my desire for a new friend was being taken advantage of.  And I wondered how I missed it.

That lunch ended awkwardly.  For me at least.  I went in hoping to leave with a new friend, but left with a free product and some pamphlets instead.

And then I had to tell her, again awkwardly, that I really wasn’t interested in her pitch.  That I loved my job, I was just trying to figure it all out.  (If she would have wanted to be my friend, she would have listened to me say those things at lunch.)

Wanna know what’s even more awkward?  I still see her a few times a month.  And she probably has NO idea how I felt about that lunch and our (non-existent) budding friendship.