One of the things that is almost always constantly on my mind is making my boys into good men. Whether it’s deciding what to do or revisiting something I may have done, it is something that I am constantly weighing. Making these boys into men, good men, is my number 1 goal in life. I have been chosen to parent them and have been entrusted with caring for these two amazing, bright, beautiful children. I understand that it is my responsibility to guide them into adulthood as best I can.
OH.EM.GEE. Seriously. No SERIOUSLY. Taqueria Yolandita is a hidden treasure.
I first found out about this place last year when looking for a good place to eat on the (lower) west side of Cincinnati. The part of the West Side that only mildly makes me want to rip my hair out while driving. Luckily, I can usually stay pretty focused in this part of town since most of the commuters are usually unaware that their lanes are a few feet too narrow for modern cars. I’m sure the streets worked just fine when the Model T was putting up and down these streets, not so much now. When I first tried to go to this place, it was not at the location that the internet search told me and I assumed it was no more. I didn’t give it another thought until a couple of weeks ago when another internet search brought it up again. After a bit more research, I discovered that it had moved a couple blocks down Queen City Ave. I had planned to spend most of my afternoon in this part of town and so I decided to give it a shot.
I’m sure you’ve heard the saying regarding veterans. The one about writing a blank check payable to the United States of America up to and including your life.
When you decide to join the military, especially during wartime, you are basically saying that you are willing to die for your country. It doesn’t matter if you are joining to be a cook or if you are joining to be a sniper. It is just something you understand is a possibility when you make this decision. I previously mentioned that during my years in the Marine Corps there were no major conflicts. The Iraq war did start at the end of my time, but I had spent so much time away from my original trade that I was no longer of use without any additional training in that field. I remember once when a fellow MSG (Marine Security Guard) at my post in Bamako got mad and stormed out of a meeting when he felt that I had received two “unearned” combat leave days after spending a week in Skopje, Macedonia. I had gone there to support the State Department in guarding then Secretary Of State Colin Powell and his wife while they were there for peace talks during the Insurgency in the Republic of Macedonia.
I swore into the Marine Corps on my 17th birthday in 1997. Two months and 7 days later (a week after I graduated high school early) I was boarding my 3rd plane ever, heading to Parris Island, to stand on the yellow footprints. I spent approximately 6 years serving in the Marine Corps. I got out in August of 2003. Therefore, I served pretty much right smack in the middle of any wars or conflicts. I also spent pretty much spent my entire time overseas. I always figured that I’d let the government pay me to travel and see the world. The first half of my time (after training and schools) I spent in Okinawa, Japan. The second half I was serving as a Marine Security Guard in Sofia, Bulgaria and then Bamako, Mali.
Sometimes He speaks so loudly that it stops you in your tracks. It shakes all of your insides. His voice is so pronounced that it’s all but an outwardly audible voice. Sometimes I look around to see if the people standing around me heard it, but of course they didn’t. It was directed at me. This happened to me several weeks ago.
I’ve been a believer my entire life. My parents baptized me as a young infant, we went to church every Sunday and recited our prayers every night. I’ve never once in my life doubted His existence. I’ve never once had a period of rebellion in my beliefs. I, however, have failed to listen to that loud, striking voice (usually a warning) more times than I can remember. My failure to obey has always got me into a big amount of trouble. I heard this voice with every step that I took walking up the aisle to marry my ex-husband, and the hurt and pain that came with that choice lasted 8 years directly and I still deal with the scars indirectly. Most recently I heard this voice 3 weeks ago. It was so loud that I actually hit the brakes while I was driving. I had been tossing around an idea and had made a choice, He was telling me it was the wrong choice. I didn’t listen. And while the consequences of this choice didn’t last but a couple of anxiety and worry filled weeks, I think it finally sunk in that while He will forgive us and stand by us when we make mistakes, immediate obedience is so much more rewarding (and less painful!).
This is how the slightly morbid, sometimes pleasant but mostly awkward discussion about “life after death” started with my 4 year old son.
(Before I begin, let me preface by saying that I am not a theologian and am in no way, shape or form qualified to have a discussion regarding this topic with even my 4 year old son)
“I’m not sure, kid”
“I love bacon”
“So do I, kiddo. And so I’m not sure we’d be forced to spend an eternity without access to the pure joy that is bacon”
One of my favorite things to eat as an adult that I avoided like the plague as a child is “Sopa de lentejas”. I remember my mom making this when I was a kid, and being forced to eat it was nothing dissimilar to torture. At some point in my adult life I ran across a non-Mexican version of this (you know, just not accompanied by tortillas), tried it and loved it. It is such a warm, hearty and incredibly simple soup to have on a sub-zero day like today.