Moving Forward

By | September 7, 2013

Tomorrow is the first anniversary of my being ordained a Deacon in the Catholic Church. I’m the second generation of Deacons (that’s my father behind me, who was ordained many years ago).

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After five years of formation, I was blessed to have the indelible mark of Holy Orders imparted on my soul.

Has this made being a Christian, a God-fearing man, a husband and father, a member and servant of our community any easier?

No, quite the opposite.

Clerics have it the worst. Constant affronts to our sensibilities, constant temptation to abandon service, constant temptation to concupiscence, and constant temptation to renounce it all: to hell with it.

Had I known then what I know now, would I have continued in formation?

Absolutely. I am pressed to do whatever is necessary to ensure my salvation, and the only way I really know how to do that is to serve others, however that comes about.

The important thought here is continuing in formation. Over the past year I’ve read numerous books, gravitating towards zombie fiction but including some commentaries on Aquinas for good measure.

We hear often that “we never stop learning”, but this isn’t really true. Laziness, complacency, and busyness all contribute to getting stuck in the place one is most comfortable. At the beginning of this year, I decided to set the fleece before the Lord and applied to graduate school, at only one school in the country (a conservative Catholic college), just to see if I would be accepted and given a scholarship, without which there is no way I could afford the very expensive tuition.

I’m happy to report that I just finished my first week of graduate school. I’m enrolled at the University of Dallas’ School of Ministry with the intent to obtain a Master’s of Theology in a few years.

My first classes are a study seminar, Liturgy and Sacraments, and Church History. The reading I’ve done so far is fascinating (early Christianity, Sacrosanctum Concilium), but challenging. It’s been more than a decade since I went to college, and the five years of formation consisted of one weekend a month, and were abridged classes.

What do I hope to achieve with an MTS? I have no idea. At the moment I’m focusing on personal edification and an enhanced understanding of Mother Church, which will both hopefully translate into more powerful homilies, better service to others, and most of all, better service to my family.

The state of the diaconate in the Church seems to me to be “unknown” at the moment. Upon its reinstatement after Vatican II, the intention was to ordain younger men with children who were pillars of the community, in order to administer a limited number of sacraments to their peers (or at least it seems to me that was the intention).

However, it’s played out in a much different fashion. In my class of thirty-three, I was the absolute youngest. There was only one other couple that had very young children; everyone else either had teenagers or grandkids.

I’m very interested in discovering more and deepening my understanding of the diaconate during these next few years, and hopefully come to some sort of conclusion about what it is us deacons are supposed to do, and where we stand in the grand scheme of things.

 

Paradigm Shifts

By | September 5, 2013

My best friend died one month ago.

To say that the loss of someone to whom one is close is “difficult” only scratches the surface, especially when that person is only 41 years old, and we, the residual, are not far behind in age.

But with sadness comes joy, with sorrow comes blessing, and with anxiety comes peace.

I’ve heard over the years about the “five stages of grief” and, although they make sense, are not something to which a Catholic Christian is subjected.

I never denied my friend was dead. I found him in his bed after texting him two days prior, then arriving back in town and having a gut feeling that something wasn’t right (since he didn’t answer when I invited him over for beer and pizza). It was apparent when I entered the apartment that he had departed early that morning, in his sleep.

I have never been angry at God, nor anyone else for Brian’s passing. I understand that this is the way of things; we have a certain time on this earth, and that time is given to us to do with what we will. If we choose to spend it on video games and drinking beer, so be it. If we choose to spend it enhancing others’ lives (no matter the method, even playing video games and drinking beer), so be it. The important thing is that we are not an impedance nor detriment to someone else’s salvation. Rather, we as Christians are called to bring them to salvation.

It’s pointless to bargain with God, the same as it is pointless to bargain with nature. With quantum physics. I often hear the accusation that if God were a loving God, he wouldn’t subject humanity to suffering. I maintain that it isn’t God who subjects us to suffering, it is us. Just look at the decisions people make that they think will make them happy and, in turn, make them miserable. Sad sacks. Do we really have any doubt that the human condition has not changed from the inception of humanity? Other than technological advances, I have no doubt it has not. We may as well bargain with gravitons and ask them to stop, er, “gravitatin'”.

Depression. This is a tough one. Is being sad the same as being depressed? I would say that depression goes deeper and affects one’s life adversely for an extended period of time. I still tear up at random times (hint: writing a blog post or asking my son if he has spoken with my wife about it), but that doesn’t mean I can no longer function. Instead, I have used this as an opportunity to examine just what exactly sadness and depression are. It turns out that I and my family (my entire family) are extremely blessed, happy individuals. There’s no place for sadness nor depression in our lives. Of course sadness comes ’round every now and again – that’s part of life. It’s when we dwell upon events to the detriment of our relationships with those around us that depression takes hold. In the love and embrace of our Christian community, however, that transition is more difficult.

Lastly, there is acceptance. My relationship with Jesus Christ led me to this one immediately upon finding Brian. Death is what it is, and we all must pass through the veil. The only questions that remain are how one is remembered, and where one will end up. Even a devout atheist can identify with the former, as one’s legacy was of paramount importance to Pagans. The question for Christians is the latter: did one live a life of virtue, of attention to the least of our brethren, of service, of love, of peace?

It’s much easier to accept the passing of a loved one when the answer is “yes”.

Why have I entitled this post “paradigm shifts”?

Sometimes it takes an extreme event to wake one up. Sometimes it’s a loud noise, sometimes it’s a child crawling into bed, sometimes it’s nature calling.

For me, it was nature calling, but not in the way we typically think. Rather, it’s the constant drone of my death sentence. Do I wish to be remembered in a bad way, or a good way? Do I wish to end up in heaven, or in hell? Above all, do I wish to cherish each and every passing moment I have with my wife, my children, my friends?

Old folks always say to “enjoy the moments, because they pass quickly”.

Wise words.

Mommy Ideas

By | April 12, 2011

I had a friend of mine tell me that I must be wonder mom. I completely dismissed her and even gave her the “are you serious” look because I knew full well what I have not been able to do as a mother. I have had a few things that I have learned really well (and plenty of others that I am still learning) and thought I should share them just in case there were mothers out there that had not heard of these bits before.

1) clothes are replaceable – don’t stress over keeping them “nice” because you will make yourself and the child unhappy. Let the darn kids play and have fun, those are the memories you want them to have, not some clothes that will be out dated for their kids anyway.

2) it is okay to tell your kids no and stick to it – I have taught at schools where the kids don’t get told “no” enough as little kids or they did but mom and dad finally broke down, those kids were the hardest kids to be around. You are not supposed to be their friends, you are training little adults!

3) a cheap pizza cutter doesn’t work for pizza but is GREAT on pancakes and waffles – this is not an original, stole it from another mother somewhere that learned this lesson before me. I am almost to the point of taking one with us next time we head to IHOP! 🙂

Those are just a few things I feel that I have pretty good control over and that I “know” what I am doing. (Trust me the list isn’t much longer than that, and I can’t always explain how to make #1 and #2 work, but I have #3 nailed!)

Things I don’t have under control or feel like I know what I am doing all the time.

1) How to keep the kids from fighting with one another – sibling stuff I understand but there are some things that I think are just plain mean and I don’t understand how to get this one of my children to stop being ultra mean to one of the other siblings. :\

2) Giving my children regular baths – I read something while pregnant that said that children under the age of hormone influx do not require a bath every day and that it will make it harder for their bodies to figure out how to properly adjust to the environment and oil production. I took this to heart a little too well. I sometimes can’t remember the last time they had a bath (mostly with the babies, the bigger ones are starting to carry a smell if it is too long). I just don’t enjoy the 1.5 – 2 hours it takes to get them all washed. Should finish the second bathroom with the tub so that this chore won’t be such a chore. 😉

3) Clipping the kids finger nails – I used to be really good at this one. I would sit down with the kids once a week with my little bath basket with the clippers, combs, detangler, etc. and we would clip once a week. I didn’t have so much on my plate then and I only had 4 kids instead of 5 but this one even bugs me! Their nails get soooo nasty! Making a point to fix this one, for them, me and others! 🙂

Okay, so there are a few confessions, advice, ramblings, whatever you want to think of them. Praying that this finds everyone in a great place in their lives! Or maybe just makes you appreciate the point you are in better because “at least I am not in her place”! 😀 God bless!

Note and Schedule Making

By | January 6, 2011

I have always been a list maker. I found an old diary from my youth and it even had a list of how to clean my room. Adam has poked fun at me for making them and sometimes even leaves a funny little addition to my list of stuff to do. I have decided that I would stop trying to keep my list hidden (mostly because I am a bad speller and frequently find Adam’s marks from editing), and start using my list making talents for the whole family and to make a routine in the house so that daily stuff stops being a chore and feeling forced to what is expected from everyone in black and white. I know from watching all of the bad movies and tv shows that you are not supposed to have a routine that was predictable so that a killer can’t find you easily but I am throwing caution to the wind and praying that Lubbock/Slaton are safe enough for my growing family to form a daily routine. 🙂 Some of the posted list are as follows, what has to be done to play the new Wii, what you need to take to school, what to ask the kids when coming home from school (where is your lunch box, jacket, homework, etc.), what it means to get ready for bed, what it means to get ready for the day, and so on. I have many more for the kids and myself. I am hoping that this will help me with some of my new years resolutions and help my kids to fully understand what I expect of them. Here’s praying for the positive! 😀

Side note. – I have added baskets and buckets to the family closet. I now have 2 baskets for each kid (one color for tops, another for bottoms), and the bucket for the undies and socks. I even had them label them so that they know which basket is for them and also to help daddy out on those days when mommy is not available. 🙂 A bit messed up on the folding jobs but overall a great addition to this little house!

Family Closet Project

By | November 17, 2010

Ok, so a good friend from my past have been having lunch together before our daughter’s dance class and she suggested that I look at blogs and check out all the info they have on them. One in particular she thought I would be interested in was one about a family closet. Immediately I was interested and started thinking about the area in our living room next to the washer and dryer in the new house. Adam and I have been discussing how the laundry is the largest and constant job in the house that eats up most of our project time. This seemed to be coming at me like a flood on how I would accomplish this without a massive expense and when would I move forward with it. I have a lot of ideas and projects that I would like to get done with the house, in the house, and with the kids so this one seemed to go back into the pile of “when I get to it.” I realized that this project would make a huge mess in the house that Adam could not handle on a daily basis after working hard all day so it made sense to wait until he left. So that is exactly what I did! The day Adam left for his few days of vacation in Germany before working a week in France, I tore into the project! I pulled out all of the craft/game closet and threw it all into the office. I pulled out the shelves and started cleaning it out. I was armed with measurements, sketches and ideas and not much else. The rest of that week consisted of drawing on the walls the placements of coat rods, shelves and the such. I had in mind to use all of the materials in the boys closet so that I could move my nice large wire shelves into their, now empty, closet. I tried not to go into town on Saturday but did anyway and spent enough time in Lowes hardware store that the shopping cart collector commented on the fact that I had been there for a looonnnnngggg time. I got the rest of the parts I needed and felt armed to get this done! I was so energized to finish this that I even pasted up a night with friends, game and drinks to work on the closet. I should have gone because by the end of the night all I had was one shelf up and two very large holes in the wall. 🙁 Sunday started off another disaster by making a fool of myself in mass but fixed my problems with the closet after the meeting at the school. The more I worked on the project, thinking that I would have to go back into Lubbock or over to OD Kenny’s for more parts, I started to realize that I had all the parts I needed! I was able to find screws, nails, anchors, and wood to finish the project just today! I even finished in enough time to move all the current hanging clothes in their new home before getting the kids from school. After school we drove by and got some laundry baskets (and Sprite for Sarah, who was sick) for the kids to collect all of their clothes out of their present dressers. After all is said and done the closet is now finished and I am so excited. I know, sad for me to be excited about laundry, but mothers of small children will understand. There are some fine tuning details that will have to happen, but what is nice is that now I can do those after the kids are asleep! 😀 Today is a happy day for me, now I just need prayers that I did quality work and won’t have to fix anything when/if something falls off the wall! 😉

Fresh Start

By | November 15, 2010

So I (April now not Adam) that the last post was our anniversary 2009. I started thinking about it and decided that there have been a TON of things that have happened in our family since then and we have not put any of them on here. We were busy after our anniversary preparing to host around 12 people for mission work, leave South Africa, vacation in Germany for a couple of weeks and then head back to normal life in Slaton, Texas. We survived all of that and even found out in the Lubbock airport that Pat and Leroy Behnke had moved out of their own house to allow us to live somewhere while we were looking for our own place! (great for us, and for them ;). Upon our return in the airport we also made it public knowledge that we were expecting baby number 5! About a week in the in-laws house we found a house to buy in Slaton that had 4 bedrooms, 2 baths, a 1 car garage with carport out front, and fenced in back yard and all that within our price range! We closed on the house on October 4th, 2009. (This was the best picture of the front of the house that I had on hand, this is a few of our friends before a nice dinner for The Nurturing Center in Lubbock. The far right couple are the Hybners with whom we lived with for many a months!)
We then had the huge task of finding all of our stuff to put in the house. We had the luggage we had taken with us and had been living out of for a month, stuff in storage at Pat and Leroy’s house, stuff in storage at our friends the Hybners, and the room we had been staying in at the Hybner’s also had a large amount of our stuff! We finally got everything in the house and started the task of finding a home for everything (either in our home or someone else’s home). Adam has been back to South Africa many times and brought back jewelry every time to sell for the benefit of the ladies that made the piece. Theresa Irene was born in March of 2010 to the delight and disappointment of her older siblings. The disappointment was purely because of the fact that we no longer have a pattern! Man, kids are crazy! 🙂 She has seriously been one of the happiest children I have ever met in my life! The kids started school late last year but finished up strong. They have started another year and Vincent joined them this year. Sarah and Theresa have enjoyed their days together with mommy and have been great while mommy is volunteering at the school. Adam’s company is trying to get new contracts, which is good for us because that would mean he still has a job, and so he is traveling this week in Paris, France to show them what GBSD has to offer! The house is slowly, and I mean slowly, coming together and getting organized. We are loving life in our happy little community and excited about the future we have with our growing family and friends! Now you have a quick catch up about our lives, from now on I will try to post more details more often. 🙂

7/27/2009: Thirteen Years of Wedded Bliss

By | July 29, 2009

Today is April and my thirteenth wedding anniversary! Wow, I can’t believe it’s been thirteen years already (actually 16.5 in all). Crazy. For this occasion, we went to Montecasino to eat at Coco Bongo Latin restaurant. We went to the casino because they have a “Bambino” area that will watch kids for three hours for around R340 – cheaper than a babysitter believe it or not!

Here is my beautiful wife! Doesn’t she look nice?

Here is Graham Beck’s Railroad Red 2007. It was very woody but good (it was a blend).

And here is April’s dish – fillet of beef on a skewer! Isn’t that cool?

Afterwards April and I went and played some blackjack. We walked away dead even thanks to April’s excellent keeping-track-ability. Was fun, free entertainment, as the dealer was coaching us and was very personable, as were the four South Africans sitting at the table. All in all a very nice night!

7/25/2009: Potjiekos!

By | July 29, 2009

Today we got up early so that we could rush through the Irene Market to pick up a few last things – only one more market until we leave, wow!

The kids, as always, rode a camel.

We got home in enough time to welcome Craig, his wife Monica, and their two children Cameron and Kaitlyn to the house. They are probably some of the most pleasant people one will ever meet, really. They brought with them the traditional South African “potjie” pot as well as the food goods to be cooked in said pot.

This is a very traditional South African thing, called a “Potjiekos”. Basically a group of guys stands around a cauldron-style pot drinking beer and cooking a meat stew. The biggest no-no is to stir the stew once it gets going, as everything has a different cooking time and temperature.

First, Craig got some oil hot and cooked some onions. Then he put in the meat ingredient – oxtail. This is actually the first time I had tasted oxtail (it’s good).

The kids got in on the action of putting the oxtail in as well as stirring it while it precooked.

As the oxtail was cooking the kids started saying they were hungry, so we busted out the skewers and the cheese grillers. The started cooking them over the coals, but that didn’t work out so well, so we eventually got out the grate (although they left the grillers on the skewers still).

The kids had a blast cooking their own food!

Here we have a couple of visitors – Gareth and Cara (she didn’t stay for the food, she just stopped by to say ‘hi’). Gareth, however, stayed the whole night!

Here we have Craig adding in the little corn cob things (they get mushy if they cook too long). He has already added in the potatoes, baby marrows (zucchini), butternut squash, and little yellow squash things that look like small bells.

Craig’s daughter guarding the potjie.

Last ingredient – mushrooms!

While and after eating it was beginning to get chilly, so we started a bonfire. Plus, the kids wanted to roast marshmallows.

Potjie finished, bonfire going strong!

It was very delicious and we sure appreciate all our new South African friends for coming over and sharing some tradition with us! I gotta get me one of them pots so’s I can cook chili!

7/24/2009: Store Names

By | July 29, 2009

I had to go up to Vodacom today to work on some new, exciting, cutting-edge project, so there isn’t much to update. However, whilst sitting in traffic (for two hours, from Midrand to Menlo Park, about 20km), I snapped this pic of Shoosh store. I have no idea what they sell, but it reminded me of playing with Texas 114 and everyone saying, “shoooooossss” all the time.

7/23/2009: Beef Olives??

By | July 29, 2009

We were shopping at Pick ‘n Pay at the Doringkloof mall today and came across some interesting items – beef olives. Seems most colonial countries have them, but we’d never heard of such things. It is basically a thin steak pounded down even thinner with a stuffing of rice, bread, more meat, and spices. It tasted remarkable similar to my mom’s stuffed cabbage, but wrapped with meat rather than cabbage leaves! We might have to try this when we get back.

Oh, and they have nothing to do with olives other than olives are stuffed as well. Crazy. April whipped up a brown gravy sauce and we baked them in the oven after braising them in the broiler. Add a side of olive oil and herb pasta and voila!

We picked up some snacks for desserts as well – this is a bag of Juicy Twists – orange flavoured Twizzler looking things. I took one bite and decided they were nasty, so I flipped it over and read the back. First ingredient – corn syrup. A little farther down? Made in USA. Corn syrup in everything makes me very annoyed.

That is one thing that I will definitely miss about being outside the US – things are actually made with sugar and will make you sick if you eat too much, unlike US candy. Ugh.

7/22/2009: Phillemon Drives

By | July 29, 2009

Africa gives one many opportunities to do works of mercy, and it occurred to us back around Lent that we had two people that actually live and work under our roof that could use our help, so we have tried to find opportunities to help them since they won’t actually ask for it unless it’s an emergency.

Phillemon is a perfect example – over the last few months he has been telling us at dinner that he is learning to drive and is going to go take his driver’s exam to get his Learner’s Permit. It seems we were rather thick in our interpretation of what he was actually speaking of – he wants to take his test but doesn’t have the means – it is more of a goal and dream for him. He doesn’t want to be a gardener forever, and having a Code 10 license would allow him to drive lorries (large trucks) and earn more money.

Once we figured this out, my big mouth opened and I told him we would teach him to drive and schedule his driver’s exam (since he also had no idea how to do this either). As always, April gets to reap the fruit of my big mouth – Phillemon got really nervous driving with me (seems I’m intimidating), so I asked April if she wouldn’t mind driving with him, and she obliged (she’s a keeper).

In any case, he’s doing quite well – he even drove her to Lyttleton today, which involves crossing under a highway as well as some busier streets. He will be taking his Learner’s Exam on Friday the 31st!

I’m sure everyone has been quite surprised that there haven’t been more pictures of beer on this blog – actually I’m quite surprised as well! To tell the truth, I haven’t drank much beer here because it is just terrible. SAB Miller was a match made in heaven (because almost everything they make is bad), but Miller Lite is actually the best of all SAB Miller brands and they don’t sell it here! When I’ve wanted a beer with dinner rather than wine I’ve had to resort to the very, very limited imported selection such as Guiness, Kilkenny, Beck’s, Paulaner, etc.

Here you can tell that Kilkenny is made by Harp in Ireland, the same company that makes Guiness!

Lastly, Sarah’s new game is to hide in between the fridge and the cupboard until someone says, “where’s Sarah?”, at which point she jumps out and yells and expects everyone to act surprised. Hilarious.

7/21/2009: Four Weeks Left!

By | July 29, 2009

We are really on the downhill slope now! Mike comes into town on August 5th, so being four weeks away is actually not accurate. When folks are visiting us time seems to fly even more.

So, that said, we have limited time to sample more South African wine! We’ve actually had this one before, but it was on sale and I remembered liking it, so I got it – Raka Spliced Red.

Here are random pics of meal time at the Behnke house. Not much out of the ordinary, although Phillemon (there are two “l”s in his name it turns out) got moved to a different chair because of arguing children.


Sarah is quite the ham. Is she a Behnke?!? Really?!?

7/20/2009: One of the Last Mexican Nights!

By | July 29, 2009

The kids like to come show April or I whenever Sarah does something real cute. She wants her picture taken, so here she is with her ultra-hip pink sunglasses!

We only have about four weeks left here in South Africa, and next Monday is our 13th anniversary, so April won’t be cooking Mexican food. Therefore, there are only a couple more Mondays left without visitors and with us still here, so this night was significant. April used the corn tortillas my mom had sent over to make enchiladas! It seems that corn tortillas don’t freeze well, though, so some were hard, some broke, but the ones that remained were delish!

Since it was Mexican night, April was still going to make flour tortillas to freeze and give to Lydia and Philemon, and the kids “helped” by making their own tortillas!

They actually didn’t do a bad job.

I broke out a bottle of Tall Horse Cabernet 2007. Pretty woody, but definitely a good value! Notice we are trying to branch out of the Pinotage since none is available in Texas?

Here are the resultant enchiladas, beans, and Mexican rice. Oh, I didn’t mention that April made her own enchilada sauce as well! It was excellent – just enough spice to make it interesting!

7/19/2009: Plumb Wore Out!

By | July 20, 2009

Kids can sleep in the most interesting positions! When I laid John in bed he immediately shifted his head over to lay on Mary’s buttocks. HA!

7/18/2009: Craig’s Birthday Party

By | July 20, 2009

One of my colleagues from Vodacom invited us over for a birthday party today, so we spent pretty much all day out there. They were nice enough to provide beverages for us – including, you guessed it, Dr. Pepper!!! They found it at a Spar grocery store in the area – seems it was imported from Great Britian. We were agasp!

To see all the pics, head over to Facebook!

7/18/2009: Craig’s Birthday Party

By | July 20, 2009

One of my colleagues from Vodacom invited us over for a birthday party today, so we spent pretty much all day out there. They were nice enough to provide beverages for us – including, you guessed it, Dr. Pepper!!! They found it at a Spar grocery store in the area – seems it was imported from Great Britian. We were agasp!

To see all the pics, head over to Facebook!

7/17/2009: Fruits of the Garden

By | July 20, 2009

It’s been a busy week, so we decided to hang out and relax today. The kids and I watched a movie on the laptop…

…then they went out and picked a bushel of carrots! Oy!

7/16/2009: Mary’s Birthday

By | July 20, 2009

We started Mary’s birthday out with her requested breakfast – pancakes with vanilla custard, toffee custard, marshmellows, syrup, and chocolate syrup. Yes they are nasty. She opened her gifts there at the table before we drove to Menlyn Park Mall Galaxy Arcade.

All the pictures are over at Facebook! Go there now!

At dinner we helped ourselves to a bottle of Tall Horse Shiraz 2008. April actually liked it because it was very smooth and not too tart! Yay, something other than Pinotage – everyone take note – April likes mild Shiraz wines!!!

7/15/2009: Power Returns!

By | July 20, 2009

April and I were awakened early, early this morning with the outside lights coming on. Power has returned! We got up and drove to the Bird Gardens at Montecasino – there are way too many pics, so head over to my Facebook page where I’ve uploaded them all.

After we returned home, I opened a bottle of Diemersfontein Pinotage 2008. It was quite tasty, but a little heady for April. She thought it was OK nonetheless.

Here is Sarah “helping” with the cork:

April was preparing for Mary’s birthday party, so she busied herself in making the cake:

7/14/2009: Waking Daddy Up

By | July 20, 2009

This is how the kids wake daddy up after he’s been up talking until 1 a.m. This doesn’t even have John in the picture yet – he likes to come tickle feet and put his extremely cold feet (remember – no heat, we still had no power) all over me.