Family, Freedom

Festivities for the 4th

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Hi there, happy 4th of July! We love America & any excuse to celebrate her around here so I wanted to share with you what we did over the long weekend to celebrate Independence Day. There were multiple barbecues, plenty of good music, time spent outside, hanging with family, oh — and several patriotic outfits. I’m all about rocking the red, white & blue.

First, my dad got promoted to lieutenant commander in the Navy. He’s been in the Navy Reserves for several years now, and this was an exciting promotion because his friend came to my parent’s home to promote him right here! My grandma came, my siblings were all there, it was a lot of fun. It was a really nice little ceremony and I’m so proud of my dad for serving our country in this way. Gianna dressed as a little sailor girl for the occasion! It was a perfect way to kick off a patriotic week with more festivities to come.

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On the 4th of July we headed over to Dom’s parents’ house who live only a few minutes away. We spent the day with all Gianna’s grandparents and her Uncle Pete. It was a beautiful way to spend Gianna’s first Independence Day! We barbecued, listened to country music, and spent most of the day outside which always makes me a happy camper.

It was extra special bringing Gianna over to Dom’s childhood home because my in laws are currently in the process of selling it. Dom wants Gianna to see where he grew up, and we took a couple pictures in the front yard so that we can show her one day! There’s been so many parties and barbecues that have taken place at this house, it’s kind of bittersweet to think this may have been the last one.

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The next day we went to another barbecue, this time at my parents’ house. They live right next door to us which makes it really easy to walk over there for family parties. Gianna got a chance to meet some of her cousins and had another eventful day celebrating our country and spending time with family. Family is really important to us, so it’s nice to be so close and have so many opportunities to get together and celebrate.

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Over the holiday weekend Gianna also got fitted for her new casts. If you’re just catching up to this, she has a bilateral clubbed foot deformity and needs casts and then foot braces to help her feet grow in the right direction so she’ll be able to crawl, walk, etc. correctly! She’s been such a trooper and the doctor is really pleased with how her ankles and feet look so far. The casts don’t even seem to bother her all that much, which is fantastic. We’re so proud of our happy & strong girl!

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Going to sign off now to spend a little more quality time with family over the long weekend! We had a busy couple of days but they were really laid back and life giving. The 4th is one of my absolute favorite holidays, and I think it’s now one of Gianna’s favorites as well! She’s an American girl through and through. We’re excited for next year when we can do things like go swimming with her, bring her to the little parade in the next town over, and maybe even watch some fireworks.

Faith, Freedom

Blessed are the Persecuted

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“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.” Matthew 5:10-12 

So, here’s the thing. I don’t want to write this post. It’s not fun for me, and it’s not really pleasant for anyone. I like for this space to be a place where I can share the beauty in my life + in this world that comes from God. I like to share about my family, our farm renovations, and fun things like fashion + food. I still plan on sharing about all of those wonderful and light hearted things, but the reason I started this blog was to share how my unique Catholic faith informs every single aspect of my life. My Catholic faith enables me to have a sense of joy that transcends temporary happiness, and it also allows me to witness God’s beauty all around me. I feel it’s my privilege to share that with you! However, in understanding my faith, Christ’s teachings, and the Catholic Church, it also allows me to see the brokenness of this world and it increases my awareness of true evil that exists among us. I feel it’s my obligation to share this with you as well, even though it is much more difficult. 

Frankly, in the past week I’ve seen several injustices on a national scale that I just can’t look away from and I can’t let go of. The first injustice includes a group of Catholic prolife high school students being wrongfully accused of harassing a man (when in fact they were the ones being harassed) and then attacked by what felt like the entire country. New York’s “Catholic” governor Andrew Cuomo signed a truly repulsive law expanding abortion in New York. This law permits abortion through the ninth month, rescinds a previous New York public health law that protects children born alive after an abortion, allows non-physicians to commit non-surgical abortions, and moves the abortion law from the state’s penal code to its health code—which essentially removes the ability to prosecute abortionists. New York celebrated this sick law by lighting up the World Trade Center pink for a night, despite the World Trade Center Memorial including the 11 unborn children who were killed on September 11th, 2001. Lastly, Vice President Mike Pence and his wife found themselves in the middle of a national scandal when it was announced Karen Pence would be teaching art at a private Christian school that upholds the biblical and traditional definition of marriage. So, in America this week we’re shaming young boys in Trump hats for smiling, criticizing a Christian woman for living her faith and exercising her right to religious freedom, all while cheering for the murder of our own children.

As I said before, my faith informs every aspect of my life. This includes treating all people with equal dignity and respect, which I try my very best to do. The thing with respect is, it needs to go both ways. As a nation, we tout “tolerance” and “acceptance” toward all. However, some of us seem to feel that this only applies to those who share in our views. The second someone is different—maybe because they’re wearing a Trump hat, maybe because they believe in upholding the sanctity of traditional marriage, or maybe because they’re not yet born, suddenly their value is discounted. They don’t matter. We can slander them, ruin them, murder them, it doesn’t matter because they don’t fit into the narrative that is currently trending. 

Well frankly I’m disgusted by it and I’m also tired of it. The boys of Covington Catholic High School did not, in fact, harass an elderly, innocent, Native American man with veteran status. No, in reality they were called anti-homosexual and racist slurs repeatedly by several members of the “Black Hebrew Israelites” and then approached by a Native American activist banging a drum in their face who wrongfully accused them of harassing him on national television. What did these boys actually do? They drowned out the hatred that was being spewed at them with innocent high school chants. Oh, and they smiled, all while exercising what I imagine is an admirable amount of self control for a group of seventeen year old boys. Yet, they somehow became the face of racism in America and were bullied on a national scale from liberals and conservatives, seculars and Catholics, alike. Similarly, I have yet to witness Vice President Pence and his wife treat any individual with anything but incredible respect, regardless of their gender, race, or sexual orientation. Yes, they uphold natural, traditional marriage. You know where they get it from? The Bible. If you have an issue with that, your problem is with the word of God, and not with Karen Pence or the Christian school that employs her. 

Last I checked, this is the United States of America. This is the place where men, women, liberals, conservatives, Native American activists, Trump fans, pro-life marchers, Black Hebrew Israelites, Christians, heterosexuals, and homosexuals are allowed to express themselves and coexist despite their differences. But no, evidently that’s not what America is anymore. 

I was disappointed at the reaction of many prominent Catholics, Christians, and conservatives over the past week. The thing is, I know why the liberal media is attacking boys who are pro-life, Catholic, and support Trump. What I don’t understand is why other Catholics were so quick to jump on the bandwagon, or remain silent on the matter? I know why secular feminists are cheering for an expansion of the law that allows them to kill their own children. What I don’t understand is why others aren’t loudly condemning this law and calling for the ex-communication from the Catholic Church of Governor Andrew Cuomo? I know why liberals are shaming the Pences for being Christian. Why aren’t other Christians in America vehemently defending them and their right to religious freedom? I saw many Catholics loudly condemning those who are freely exercising their rights in a respectful way, while remaining eerily silent as our nation’s leaders continue to allow for and encourage the mass murder of children in their own mothers’ wombs. 

Why is that? Is it because the people I mentioned here don’t align with the popular opinion today? Probably so. Frankly, I love finding myself outside of the popular opinion. It usually affirms my own opinion that much more. After all, 2,000+ years ago the popular opinion was, “Crucify him!” toward our very own God and savior—Jesus Christ. 

I’m writing this because one day I will have to face judgement by God at the gates of Heaven. I know that I’m going to need to answer for unkind acts, harsh words, selfish tendencies, and many sins I’m sure to struggle with throughout my life. I’ll also have to answer for how I treated the least of His people, and frankly—I think the least of His people expands much farther than those who are considered marginalized by the mainstream media in America today. Lastly, when God asks me if I boldly witnessed to the truth, I want to be able to say yes. 

Faith, Freedom

Make America Pro-Life Again

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“Perhaps we are out of line with the rest of society, to which I say – Good. So were the abolitionists, so were the civil rights marchers, so were the martyrs in Rome, and the Jews in Egypt. Righteousness doesn’t have to be popular, it just has to be righteous.” -Ben Shapiro’s words from the 2019 March for Life

Hi friends! I’d like to share a little bit about my experience at this year’s March for Life with you, as well as some important topics that I feel need to be discussed in relation to this critical issue.

We attended this year’s March for Life with our church from New Jersey. We started our day with mass and a beautiful homily by our parish priest. He encouraged us to fight for a change in the law on the books, but to more importantly pray for a change of hearts.  After mass we began our trip to DC! Despite one of our buses breaking down on the way, we were able to make it to DC just in time for the march to begin! We joined in with over 650,000 others to march for the most fundamental right of all, the right to life. It’s amazing what a truly joyful march it is. When you’re fighting for what is beautiful and true, there really isn’t a need for nasty remarks or hateful behavior.

Granted, 61 million children murdered in their own mother’s wombs under the laws of the United States is certainly something to be angry about. As a nation, the blood of these children is on our hands, and any anger harbored over this matter is certainly righteous. However, we don’t allow ourselves to be defined by our frustration with the intrinsically evil, secular law that governs our land and destroys women and children every single day. Instead, we choose to define ourselves by our hope for the future, our faith in God’s power and goodness, and our love for every precious human life.

We had a beautiful day marching for the abolition of abortion and we will continue to fight for the rights of the unborn – who are truly the most vulnerable, marginalized, and abused group in history. Today, we often hear about groups that are mistreated by our government and whose lives are perceived to be devalued. Frankly, some of these concerns are valid, but others simply fit the mainstream media’s narrative and are used to push a certain agenda that ultimately doesn’t value them. No matter what group pulls at your heart strings, there is no group more widely massacred and devalued than the unborn. The March for Life serves to fight for an end to abortion, and this is the original definition of what being pro-life means. While there are other pressing issues that you may feel passionately about, abortion + euthanasia are the sole issue that as Catholics we must agree on. This is informed by the doctrine of the Catholic Church. According to church doctrine, there is room for discussion and even disagreement on matters of economics, border security, immigration, healthcare, and waging war. There is no room for discussion, disagreement, or compromise on abortion + euthanasia.

This is why there is indeed a correct way to vote as Catholics, and there are causes we are obligated to support. While we don’t need to enthusiastically attach ourselves to a specific world leader or political party, we do need to value a candidate’s stance on this issue before and above all others. If you have been instructed otherwise, you have been misled. I encourage you to dig deeper into the Catechism and doctrine of the Catholic Church and search for the highest truth and prayerfully discern who to vote for and what causes to lend your support to. While we certainly treat all human beings with respect and uphold the dignity of all lives, we are called to value the most vulnerable and fight for those who are truly the only ones with no voice at all.

Moving forward, I continue to urge you to always stand up for what is right, and always fight for life. Support the women who are faced with unplanned pregnancies or find themselves in an incredibly difficult position. Be bold in sharing the truth of what abortion is and how harmful it is to women, children, and our nation as a whole. Do your research and remain informed on matters of abortion + euthanasia. Vote for candidates who are pro-life and vehemently anti-abortion. Most importantly, pray for those who are victims of abortion, and also pray for a change of hearts in those who support abortion.

I’d like to end this post with some photos we took while in DC at the march! We spent the day with family, bumped into some friends along the way, and left with such joy and hope from being among this beautiful, huge crowd of people who feel passionately about the right to life!

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Thankful for all of those who spent their time, talent, and treasure organizing The March for Life and for those who are in the trenches every day fighting for and praying for an end to abortion. God bless you & God bless America!

Freedom

Surviving & Thriving In An Election

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I named this blog “Loves Jesus & America too” because of my love for my faith, and also because of my love for this incredible country I get to call home. Most of the time, I share about my faith and how that relates to my lifestyle—my marriage, family, farmhouse, and more. Sometimes God places something on my heart that’s a little different, maybe a little more controversial, to share about. It can be hard to share things that have the potential to be divisive, such as particular views on a topic like politics. However, I really feel that as a Catholic woman in America, it’s important that my voice be shared among the many others that often seem to speak louder.

Something you may not know about me is that I actually love politics. While election seasons can be discouraging and exhausting—I also find them absolutely thrilling. I know, it’s weird. Moving on, I’ve been interested in elections since I first voted in a school election. I remember it well; it was the presidential election of 2004 and I was in fifth grade at the time.  With my dad and brother’s military backgrounds, topics of politics and world issues were always discussed in my family growing up. As I got older, I became more and more invested. I attended my first March for Life in high school, and was captivated by all of the people there marching for change. On my 18th birthday, I registered to vote. During college, I actually created a political blog—but it only lasted for a short time. While I enjoyed writing on the topics of politics, it began to bring me more stress than joy. I’m both proud and embarrassed to say I also incited quite a few political bloodbaths online. Don’t get me wrong—it is necessary to stand up for truth. We need to share our voice with this world, and it can feel pretty darn good to prove that jerk from high school wrong. However, I began to wonder if this was truly how God wanted me to use my voice. It took a lot of self reflection, prayer, and humility to admit that while I must use my voice to stand up for the truth, I also must use it to bear light to those around me, rather than throwing zingers their way and bringing them down. I slowly made a conscious effort to shift my focus from being right to being kind.  While I believe that I may very well have to answer for who or what I vote for at the pearly gates someday, I know that I’m definitely going to answer for how I treated those around me and whether or not I loved as Jesus did.

Please don’t mistake these words for weakness. I am strong in my beliefs, and you should be too.  I share this story because I think that regardless of what side of the aisle we’re on, we can all be quick to be judgmental, dismissive, and unkind. I feel that our generation struggles more than previous ones with tolerating those who have views that are different from our own, and it’s not helpful to any of us.  Recently, there was a controversy in the news and I had privately messaged a few friends on Instagram who posted something that I disagreed with. I wasn’t looking for a fight, I was inviting them into a conversation in order to better understand their viewpoint and hopefully help them to understand mine. Of the several friends I messaged, one wrote back. That friend and I had an extremely fruitful discussion that I think softened both of our hearts and enriched our minds. After I had that conversation, I thought of the other friends who immediately dismissed me for having a different view than theirs. We will never have the opportunity to understand one another better because they chose to not engage with me. If we aren’t able to enter into a discussion with one another, how are any of us ever going to achieve any type of positive change we are searching for? We need to pump the brakes on our emotional reactions in order to engage in productive conversations with one another. The only thing worse than shouting at one another is ignoring and dismissing one another completely. When this happens, there is no relationship, there is no understanding, there is no progress, and ultimately there is no love.

As for voting, get out there and do it! I really do believe it is your duty as an American and if you’re Catholic like me, it’s also your obligation to exercise your right to vote in every election. We need to take our responsibility seriously and value the sacred freedom we have. There are a few things I like to remind myself before I vote. First, take the time to educate yourself and prayerfully discern how you should vote on large and small issues alike. Sift through all the noise (God knows there’s too much of it) and make an educated and prayerful decision. While doing this, I try my very best to pay attention to policy—not personality.  I feel it’s extremely important to allow my faith to inform my choice and to be acutely aware of where the Church stands on important issues. Catholicism is not relativism—there is a correct way to vote as Catholics. There are several issues that are non-negotiable according to the Catholic Church. These issues include abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, human cloning, and marriage. There are also issues that are extremely prominent in our world today such as immigration and healthcare. I feel that not only our nation, but our world as a whole falls short so many of these categories because we do not fundamentally value human life.  For me, it’s really obvious that the right to life is at the core of all other rights. How do we expect our society to value human life while we are killing our children? Whether it is the poor, the marginalized, the elderly, or our very own children, we are unable to see the intrinsic value in each and every human life. I believe that in order to enact change in nearly every arena, we need to shift our mindset and value all human life, especially those that are the most vulnerable. This is where it all begins.

While I encourage you to get out there and vote, don’t stop there! I encourage you to talk to others about the issues that matter to you.  Allow yourself to be heard, and listen to others too.  Most importantly, pray for our leaders. I feel called constantly to pray for local leaders, our nation’s leaders, and our world leaders.  As a Catholic, I believe in the power of prayer, and as I pray for our leaders I ask that God’s will be done in our world. Praying for our communities, countries, and the world also brings my soul immense peace at a time when I can feel restless.  God bless you & the good ol’ USA. Happy voting, friends!

Faith, Family, Freedom

The Fourth

For my first post, I figured we should get to know each other a little better before we dive right on into life + faith and all the messy stuff that comes with it.   Since it’s still July I thought I’d keep with the theme of this blog and  share some thoughts + photos from my favorite holiday – America’s Independence Day!

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Ok – so maybe it’s not my number one FAVORITE holiday (Hello, Christmas!) but it’s definitely up there on the list. There’s nothing like sunshine, summer barbecues, country music, and a dip in the pool.

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Last year my husband, Dom, and I were on our honeymoon during July 4th and while we had so much fun celebrating in the Bahamas, I was super excited to be on American soil this year. My parents’ had a barbecue with all the works – including fireworks! It was a great day. I think I mentioned before that I come from a military family, so it shouldn’t surprise you that my family is just as patriotic as me, if not more so! We are really grateful for the blessing of our great nation and the freedom it offers – so we love to celebrate it together whenever we can!

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Dom and I started off our day doing a little bit of work on our farm (which I promise to get to in many future posts!) and then we walked over to my parents’ which is right next door.  We helped prep for the party and then spent the day eating, drinking, and swimming with friends and family. We ended the night with a spectacular firework show in town and ate some leftovers before going to bed.

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I want to be clear that while I’m incredibly proud to be an American, I would like to emphasize that this is not my identity. My identity is in Christ, and in Him alone. America is not perfect.  Nothing in this world is perfect. We are not meant to be of THIS world. We were made for something much greater and everlasting. That being said – America is pretty dang great! I thank the Lord every night for this country and the men and women in uniform who have fought for our freedom. I pray for our president, leaders, and policy makers. I also pray for all of those who continue to serve our country and for the sacrifices they make daily for all of us back home.

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Thanks for reading my very first post and for joining me on this journey! God bless you & God bless America!