Monthly Archives: August 2014
Chicago… what an amazing city! Although it felt like the cold windy air was constantly slapping me in the face with a sheet of ice, I had an amazing time! This was the first time I met Mariah’s family AND the first time the “L-bomb” was dropped. <– More to come on that event.
I flew in early in the morning for the New Year’s Eve weekend. Mariah invited me to spend New Year’s with her family since she spent Thanksgiving with mine. I was picked up by a beautiful woman who I hadn’t seen in person since my random Louisiana trip for work…
(Quick side note on that and how God set this up: The first time we met was at Thanksgiving 2013 and when we were both leaving my parents’ house that Sunday to head back to Baton Rouge for Mariah and for me to Montgomery, we told each other that we wished we could spend some more time together the upcoming week and that we didn’t have to wait until we’d see each other in January at AdvoCare Regional Success School in Atlanta. Well, I NEVER in nearly 6 years of practicing law at that point have had to cross state lines for work. Well, that Monday morning I got into work and was told that I had to drive to Louisiana, of all places, to interview two witnesses. WOW! I couldn’t wait to call her and let her know and she was as blown away as I was when I told her the news and as equally as excited.)
Back to the trip…We had a long list of sights to see and saw many that weren’t on our list as well, but before that we had to go get a rental car, which was da bomb diggity! We immediately fell in love with the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee.
From the airport we headed to Portillo’s for an early lunch. I was starving at the time because I had to get up at 3:45 a.m. to make it to the Birmingham airport on time. – By the way, at 4:25 a.m. a man at the gas station a couple miles from the airport opened my passenger door, began to sit down, and proceeded to tell me I was taking him to the airport too. Negative. Ain’t happening at 4:25 especially when he didn’t ask. – Portillo’s was awesome and “Chicago cheat meal #1.” We had the chance to catch up and plan out our weekend activities.
After dropping off everything at Mariah’s parent’s and meeting her family, we were still hungry. So we decided to have a late lunch too. Mariah’s favorite past time restaurant is Top Notch Beefburgers, A.K.A. “Chicago cheat meal #2.” 😉 It was worth it. We both ate very clean leading up to this hyped up event. All I heard about this place was how great it is, and it didn’t disappoint. It was delicious! After our meal I understood the story Mariah told me of when she ate an entire burger one time and then ordered another burger to-go “for her dad,” which she then confided in me that she devoured it.
We weren’t there too long before it snowed… and when it started, it didn’t stop until we left. It was UNREAL! We watched the tables on her back porch stack up with snow each day. Driving in that snow was quite eventful. It was funny to see how everyone in Chicago drove normal with piles of snow on the road as if it weren’t there when people down south would’ve caused a 1,000 car pile up on the interstate from 1/10 of the amount of snow. We also unload the shelves of grocery stores down here when we hear there’s a chance of light snow because it’s clearly Armageddon when that happens down south. I also blame the snow for making my shoes wet, which caused me to slip at the top of the stairs taking both myself and Mariah out on the way down. #embarrassing That’s not a good way to impress your future wife.
Our first long trip through the snow was to see The Blue Man Group for a date night. If you’ve never seen them then you’re missing out. Whichever big city they’re performing in near, get there and watch the show. They’re incredible! They’re also hilarious! I saw them once in New York, but Mariah never had. It was a great date night!
Our second long trip through the snow was after we picked up Candice to head to the Chicago Cultural Center. Mariah’s Dad was working there at the time and brought us in to show us around. To sum it up… that place has some serious culture! The pictures below are all from the Culture Center:
The Chicago Cultural Center was followed by The Bean at Millennium Park and lunch at Ditka’s. The Bean was soooooo cool! It’s so big that it’s hard to take a picture and capture the entire exhibit unless you’re pretty far away from it.
This all lead up to New Year’s Eve at Navy Pier! That place is HUGE!!! Once we got inside I felt like we were walking forever! Mariah and I went a couple night’s earlier to catch The Hobbit on the IMAX screen, but hadn’t walked through the entire building as we nearly did on New Year’s Eve. That was one of the best night’s of my life and was also the night that Mariah broke her near silence of her feelings for me. Again, I’ll explain that story later… you’re forewarned that you’ll want the tissues for it.
We had such an awesome night at Navy Pier with Candice and Blake and even hit up a photo booth before we left to head back to the hotel downtown. I couldn’t imagine the trip going any better than it did.
This may be the last you hear from me because I’m pretty sure that Mariah is going to kill me for releasing these statements. As most of you know, she’s absolutely HILARIOUS! I have been secretly writing down just a small bit of her funny comments for everyone to get a good laugh. If you all don’t hear from me for a few days, it’ll be because she didn’t take it to well and I’m in the dog house. Either way, I think once you read how funny these comments are that you’ll know it was worth the trouble I could get in and the punishment I may suffer. 😉
August 21, 2014
This morning Mariah told me:
“I had really crazy dreams last night again! I dreamt about Captain Planet and this key that I had to get to that was in the foot of a Care Bear.”
August 20, 2014
Mariah called me this morning and said, “I just want to let you know that I am a really good mood this morning. I don’t know if it was the meal replacement shake I just had or what, but I am so happy right now. If I had a theme song it would be a mash up between Pharrell’s “Happy” and The Muppets’s “Life’s A Happy Song.”
August 19, 2014
MARIAH: “I’m really freaked out right now.”
MARIAH: “I don’t know. I looked at my arm too long and started thinking about the skeletal system.”
August 18, 2014
Mariah and I were talking about an old funny story of mine from law school and she said:
“You were a bully. Here’s the thing. You’re not going to bully me.”
ME: There is no “thing.”
MARIAH: “Yeah, that’s the thing. You’re not gonna bully me because I’ll throat chop you. You better watch yourself mister.”
August 17, 2014
Pulling into church…
MARIAH: “Awe man! Don’t they have a reserved expecting mother spot!?”
Leaving the gun range…
“I’m telling you, I will learn how to shoot a crossbow. I want to be ready for the hunger games. This whole world is like the hunger games. The ones that aren’t prepared as victors are the ones that die. I’m going to teach myself to climb a tree… with my bare hands… with no branches.”
July 27, 2014
ME: “What is that smell!? Is that your feet?
ME: “It smells like vinegar! It is your feet!”
MARIAH: “Yeah, I clean my feet with vinegar.”
June 27, 2014
MARIAH: “When are you going to give me a million dollars?”
ME: “A million dollars?”
MARIAH: “Yeah. We’ve been married a month and a half. That’s my monthly rate. So I’m actually giving you a break.”
June 26, 2014
ME: “Did you eat chocolate?”
MARIAH: “No. That’s from the car (hour ago). I had that AdvoBar.”
ME: “I smell it.”
MARIAH: “Acid reflux for the win!”
June 22, 2014
MARIAH: “Sometimes I find the best defense is to go on the offense and let you kiss me.”
ME: “What? That’s not an offense.”
MARIAH: “I don’t know. I don’t know what either of those terms mean.”
JUNE 20, 2014
MARIAH: “If anyone tries to kidnap me I’m going to eat my own hair.”
MARIAH: “Yeah, so they’ll think I’m crazy.”
JUNE 19, 2014
MARIAH: “You’re a good man Charlie Brown.”
ME: “We’ve already been over this. It’s James.”
MARIAH: “Sorry. Short term memory problems. You’re a good man James Brown.”
JUNE 8, 2014
As Mariah gets ready to get out of bed, I wanted to show her something on my phone and said:
ME: “Wait, I want to show you something.”
MARIAH: “I want to show YOU something! You are wearing the shirt I went to bed in.”
ME: “You mean MY shirt?”
MARIAH: “COME AT ME BRO!”
I hope you all enjoyed Mariah’s hilarious comments! I’ll be keeping a list of the upcoming ones (and I’m sure they’ll be more) so that I can share them with you all. I’m certain now that I have the funniest wife known to man. Like i said, this is a list of just SOME of the funny things she has said since I began keeping track. Half of the time I’m laughing to hard to remember to write them down. Make sure you FOLLOW this blog by subscribing on the right so you’ll get her funny comment updates!
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I consider myself very blessed to have as many friends as I have. Because I have a lot of friends, I know people on both ends of the financial spectrum. I know people who are doing well financially, or so it seems, and I know people who are struggling financially. For people on both ends of the spectrum… LISTEN UP!
No one would’ve guessed how poor my financial situation was 21 months ago, not even my best friends or family. I had over $200,000 in student loan and credit card debt. I was living less than paycheck to paycheck because by the time I paid my student loan payments I was having to put necessities like food and gas on credit cards, which soon led to hitting the maximum balance on each of them. So I was on the struggling side of the financial spectrum.
There are many people that are in similar situations and then there are those that are nowhere close to it; however, the ones that are nowhere close to it and can be there in a flash. I’ll give you a few real life examples in a moment. You never know what the future holds for you and your family. So the best time to prepare for it was yesterday. The next best time is now. There’s a phrase that I heard my friend Jon Butler say that made a lot of sense to me. He said, “the best time to fix a leaky roof is before it starts raining. If you try to fix it while it’s raining, it’s nearly impossible.”
“The best time to fix a leaky roof is before it starts raining. If you try to fix it while it’s raining, it’s nearly impossible.”
Here are some real life examples of fixing the leaks of the metaphorical roof before it rains:
1. I have a friend that was doing well for himself. He didn’t have much debt, had a nice job, had a good bit of savings, and decided he just wanted to earn a little extra income on the side as a “Plan B.” So he began to build an AdvoCare business in January as an extra source of income. He very quickly began to earn about $2,000 a month. In mid April, the company that he worked for eliminated numerous positions and his was one of them. Being out of a job, he would’ve burned through his savings quickly, but because he decided to fix the leaks before it rained, he didn’t stress the elimination of his position.
That reminds me of the unforeseeable 18,000+ layoff that Microsoft announced in July. I bet that wasn’t in those employees future plans. I hope they didn’t sign a contract for a house or big purchase based on their salaries.
“As long as you are an employee, you are at the mercy of your employer to provide for your family.”
There’s a phrase I heard a friend say that gave me a sick feeling of disgust in my stomach because of how true it is. He told me, “As long as you are an employee, you are at the mercy of your employer to provide for your family.” That’s not something I want to live with… EVER! Your employer can pull the plug and flip the switch on your income stream in a matter of seconds. How comfortable does that make you feel? For me, not comfortable at all. It actually makes me sick to think about being at the mercy of someone else.
2. I have two other friends that are very dear to me that were in a similar situation financially except they altered their situation right before I spoke with them about earning extra income. My friends Jason and Rachel Robinson had no clue what was about to happen to them a year down the road. Rachel had just left her job and was looking for something to do to earn extra income while she looked for a new job. She quickly stopped looking for that new job after they began building their AdvoCare business. It only took a couple months to replace what Rachel was making at her old job, which allowed her to be a full-time mom to their three children. They didn’t realize how big of a blessing that was until several months down the road when they found out that their youngest son was diagnosed with autism, which required their constant attention. They are also incurring a lot of extra costs to provide for the extra training and schooling he requires. They fixed the leaks before it rained/poured.
3. Many of you now know my situation; however, no one foresaw, not even I, what my future held. I have said this before in a blog post and I said it again in front of over 300 people: “What woman would want to marry the man I was that couldn’t even take care of himself, much less someone else?” That gave me a level of disgust and drove me to fix my situation. A year after turning things around, God surprised me. He introduced me to Mariah. If anyone would’ve told me a year ago that I’d be married in May, I would’ve thought they were crazy. I didn’t foresee being married in May 2014. I would’ve thought they were even crazier if they told me I’d be having my first child in March 2015, but I guess being married and completely open to the blessing of a child that could’ve been expected. Weddings and children are accompanied with huge blessings. Unfortunately, they are also accompanied with huge costs.
The good news for us is, we didn’t have to hold off on getting married to save up for our wedding and we also are not stressing the extra costs that a child is going to bring because of a decision I made 21 months ago. That decision allowed for us to pay for our wedding in cash. That’s right… CASH. We didn’t go into further debt to get married like many couples do. We are also not stressing the financial changes a child is going to bring. We cannot wait for our little blessing to get here! We cannot thank our friends enough for introducing AdvoCare into our lives. Thanks to AdvoCare, Mariah doesn’t have to get a job and both of us have the opportunity to be full time parents when our child is born.
“AdvoCare shows up well before the need.”
I’ve heard my friend Danielle Butler say this before and it reigns true, “AdvoCare shows up well before the need.” In our case and in the ones I mentioned above, that couldn’t be more true.
DISCLAIMER: Before you read this post, I’m going to go ahead and clarify a few things for you. This blog post is about what my wife and I believe and the way we choose to live our lives. You don’t have to agree with us. Your beliefs are your beliefs. This post is not to condemn or persecute anyone. It is about our beliefs and the way we choose to live our lives. If you feel conflicted about this post, I would love to have a healthy discussion with you about it. When I mention “The Church” I am referencing to The One True Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. The one Jesus started with Peter. I am not a theologian, nor am I an official spokesperson for the Catholic Church. (You’re thinking of this guy.) If you read anything on this blog that is contrary to Church teaching, please consider it my error (and let me know!). I’m not a doctor or an expert on anything in particular. I’m just one person with a desire to share my joy in marriage and my faith. (Thank you Kendra for additions to my disclaimer)
After my last post regarding birth control, I received both positive and negative comments, but mostly positive. I even received positive comments from dissenters about how well it was written and how the Facebook commenting was all handled. So even though some may have disagreed with our view on birth control, they still had positive things to say.
Well, after speaking with a friend of mine, I have decided to clarify a few things by mentioning the Church’s stance on this issue and clarify that when I was referring to “birth control” that I am talking about artificial/unnatural methods. I also have decided to clarify my comments regarding the non-denominational minister.
Topics that won’t be discussed here are as follows: In Vitro Fertilization, same-sex relations, barrenness, abortion, non-married chaste individuals (nuns & priests), welfare, the stance or lack thereof that some denominations take on this issue, etc. I do not like getting off topic and the topic is what form of child planning The Church does approve. For the same reasons, I also remove comments on Facebook and this blog for confusion of the issues. I do not like to have issues that are not originally discussed in my post interjected into the conversation.
BIRTH CONTROL (CONTRACEPTIVES) METHODS:
In my last post I mentioned “birth control.” I should’ve clarified what I meant each time I mentioned it instead of just once by writing birth control/contraceptives that I meant artificial forms of birth control. Artificial birth control encompasses many types. Here is the list…
- Abstinence Birth Control Implant (Implanon and Nexplanon)
- Birth Control Patch (Ortho Evra)
- Birth Control Pills
- Birth Control Shot (Depo-Provera) (CHECK OUT THESE WARNINGS)
- Birth Control Sponge (Today Sponge)
- Birth Control Vaginal Ring (NuvaRing)
- Cervical Cap (FemCap)
- Female Condom
- Fertility Awareness-Based Methods (FAMs)
- IUD (BECAUSE THIS LOOKS NORMAL)
- Morning-After Pill (Emergency Contraception)
- Sterilization for Women (Tubal Sterilization)
- Withdrawal (Pull Out Method)
THE CHURCH’S STANCE ON BIRTH CONTROL/NFP:
The Church’s stance is that using artificial means to space out childbirths is wrong. Period. That’s as simple as it can be put. The list above contains all of the artificial methods that prevent childbirth. That being said, there were many questions regarding not having children because of financial or medical (life threatening) reasons that stemmed from my original post. I intend to touch on those topics below.
First, I would like to point out that The Church does not condemn spacing out births or the number of births you have, but it does take a stance as to how you should do it and when. Let us to take a look at what The Church has said on your motives for spacing out births:
If, then, there are serious motives (WHEN) to space out births, which derive from the physical or psychological conditions of husband and wife, or from external conditions, the Church teaches that it is then licit to take into account the natural rhythms (HOW) immanent in the generative functions… [Pope Paul VI, Humanae Vitae 16]
THE WHEN: In our opinion, “serious motives” do not entail some people’s motives not to have children such as not being able to travel, choosing to live life for a while without the responsibility of children, or being able to afford having materialistic things of this world instead of using our funds to raise and provide for children. If those seem “serious” to you then you may want to pray about your priorities in life and what you value most. I know we did before we came to this resolution. Those motives are out of selfishness, not responsibility, which will be discussed below.
THE HOW: Please take note that the terminology used is “natural” rhythms. As I stated earlier, the methods for birth control listed above are of artificial means. Well, what’s the definition of “artificial?”
Artificial: 1. not of natural or real : made, produced, or done to seem like something natural. 2. not happening or existing naturally created or caused by people 3. not sincere
Using deductive reasoning, hopefully this point can be made clear. The Church only approves of natural methods to space out childbirths. Artificial is not natural by its very definition. Therefore, The Church does not approve of artificial methods to space out childbirths.
We’ve covered “serious motives.” Here’s some more terminology from The Church… “just reasons” and “selfishness.”
For just reasons, spouses may wish to space the births of their children. It is their duty to make certain that their desire is not motivated by selfishness but is in conformity with the generosity appropriate to responsible parenthood. Moreover, they should conform their behavior to the objective criteria of morality. [Catechism of the Catholic Church 2368]
THE WHEN: Here again we are discussing the “motives” and as stated above in our opinion, the term selfishness is included. Not only can you not have selfish motives, but they must also be fueled by motives of “responsible parenthood.” You must have just reasons and you have to do some serious prayer as to what fuels your motives. If it’s selfishness, then your motives are wrong. Again, we share the views of The Church. If they are not your views then we love you all the same. We just disagree with your motives and decisions.
The devil wants us to be selfish. He’s put it in our minds and we have become institutionalized to believe that using contraceptives is natural. He’s a plagiarist and has taken something that God created for our pleasure and purpose and has made it his own: unnatural, selfish and not giving fully of oneself to your spouse, and creating barriers to life and love.
Now, let’s look to the heart of NFP’s (Natural Family Planning) methods…
However, profoundly different from any contraceptive practice is the behavior of married couples, who, always remaining fundamentally open to the gift of life, live their intimacy only in the unfruitful periods, when they are led to this course by serious motives of responsible parenthood. This is true both from the anthropological and moral points of view, because it is rooted in a different conception of the person and of sexuality. The witness of couples who for years have lived in harmony with the plan of the Creator, and who, for proportionately serious reasons, licitly use the methods rightly called “natural,” confirms that it is possible for spouses to live the demands of chastity and of married life with common accord and full self-giving. [Pontifical Council for the Family, Vademecum for Confessors Concerning Some Aspects of the Morality of Conjugal Life, 2.6]
The Church goes on:
Serious motives, just reasons, proportionately serious reasons. The Church teaches the necessity of just or serious motives or reasons for couples to use the infertile periods of a woman’s cycle for the purpose of spacing births. In doing so she is trying to insure that the natural methods of spacing children are used in a virtuous and loving way, i.e., unselfishly. Serious reasons mean important, or non-trivial, reasons, deriving “from the physical or psychological conditions of husband and wife, or from external conditions” (HV 16). Just reasons are, likewise, reasons which correspond to the truth of marriage and the situation of the couple. It is the nature of justice to correspond to the truth. Both terms, serious and just, presumes there can be selfish, trivial or unjust reasons for using NFP, reasons not in keeping with the nature of marriage as a community of life and love.
The Church does approve NFP ONLY after serious prayer has been made and the motives are not out of selfishness, but are out of responsible parenthood and for serious reasons. Please note that still, The Church and Mariah and I hold that you should ONLY use NATURAL methods.
“Unfruitful Periods”: As summed up as much as I possibly can, I will explain what they mean by “unfruitful periods.” NFP involves having sex with your spouse (a husband and a wife – a male and a female) only during the “unfruitful periods” (when she’s not ovulating) and abstaining from sex when she is ovulating. That way, when you’re having sex, it is natural and not artificial. We hold strong in our belief that changing the natural chemical makeup of a woman, the way God intended her to be, by using artificial methods to make it to where she is never ovulating is wrong.
“Selfishness” and “Responsible Parenthood”: Here’s something else you should realize when discussing responsible parenthood and being able to financially provide for your children: YOU DO NOT HAVE TO GET THEM THE LATEST GREATEST MOST TOYS IN THE WORLD! So many parents today think that they aren’t doing enough for their children if they don’t have the best and newest means of entertainment for their children or materialistic methods for their growth process. I had video games when I was young, but the majority of my childhood was spent outside in the woods literally swinging from trees, building pine straw forts, and making up games to play outside such as obstacle courses which involved running and jumping. Guess how much that cost my parents… NOTHING. You are not an irresponsible parent if you can’t provide more than the necessities for your child.
HOW WE LOVE:
Pope John Paul II’s Theology of The Body holds some very good points on how we should love:
The human body is the expression or manifestation of the human person. John Paul II speaks of the body as revealing the person and when we express God-like acts through the body, the body is actually a physical image of God. Pope John Paul II goes so far as to say that the human body speaks a language. (Theology of the Body series, as well as Familiaris Consortio.) Since we are created to act as God acts, and He LOVES, we are created to love as He does. Since we have bodies, and we express our acts in and through our bodies, God gave us a means of expressing love physically. Since true, authentic love is THE most God-like act possible for human beings (because it is the most God-like act), and since the body has the possibility of expressing this love, the study of those powers of the body through which we can express an intimate self-giving love will reveal more about the person and even about God than the study of other aspects of the human body.
THE INCEPTION OF ARTIFICIAL BIRTH CONTROL:
Some of you don’t even know how artificial means of birth control really became popular and I thank a friend of mine for reminding me about it by commenting on my last post. Birth control became popularized because of a woman by the name of Margaret Sanger who was also a huge proponent of negative eugenics. What is negative eugenics? It’s the study of or belief in the possibility of improving the qualities of the human species or a human population, especially by such means as discouraging reproduction by persons having genetic defects or presumed to have inheritable undesirable traits. As part of Sanger’s efforts to promote birth control, she found common cause with proponents of eugenics, believing that they both sought to “assist the race toward the elimination of the unfit.” (Wiki) She is quoted here in April 1932 Birth Control Review, pg. 108 as saying, “Birth control must lead ultimately to a cleaner race.” And when referring to “blacks, immigrants, and poor people” she is quoted referring to them as “human weeds,’ ‘reckless breeders,’ ‘spawning… human beings who never should have been born.” Margaret Sanger, Pivot of Civilization. In essence, she believed wholeheartedly in the effect and purpose of negative eugenics used by the Nazi regime. She just used different methods. How’s that pill taste now? We were blown away when we learned of this.
CLARIFICATION ON THE MINISTER CONVERSATION:
For clarification purposes, I will revisit my conversation with the minister. He is only one of hundreds of thousands of people that use what we and The Church believe are improper methods of birth control. He stated that he and his wife use an artificial use of birth control (a kind that stops fertilization before it can occur). It could be the pill, condoms, the shot, etc. To be honest, the artificial form does not matter to me. Our view? All artificial forms are wrong. For all of the reasons stated above, they’re wrong. It strips the very nature of giving one’s self to the other and the natural way God intended for us to show love to our spouse. I have no clue what financial struggles a third child would bring to their family and if by “struggle” he meant not being able to provide as a responsible parent or even if that’s something they prayed about. So I won’t pretend that I do. All I am saying is that his method is incorrect. I’m not taking anything away from how great of a father, husband, or man that he may be. I’m not saying that I dislike him or that he’s stupid, irrational or an idiot for believing what he believes or anything of the sort. I am simply saying that we believe he is wrong in his choice for artificial birth control.
For those of you that previously asked questions stemming from my original post such as “what about people that can’t have children because if they do they may die, have serious health issues with the mother or child, etc.?” The above post should have answered those for you. You use NFP. That’s the answer. It’s still intimately natural and there’s no risk of death or a serious health issue. You may also want to read this blog post in response to a very similar question: Catholic All Year: Mailbag: Do I Still Have to do NFP if My Life is at Risk?
I hope this helped to clear up anything that may have been cloudy or misconstrued in my last post. If you have comments, please feel free to post them by clicking “leave a comment.” You can also follow my blog to see later posts by clicking the “Follow” button on the right. Have a blessed day.