The name of this post is also the name of a Disney Channel Original Movie released in 2000. In this particular movie, Disney does its best at tackling a clash of cultures and apartheid.
The story centers around two young girls: Mahree, a young white South African, and Piper, the black daughter of a U.S. Congressman. When Mahree arrives in D.C. as part of an exchange program, she is surprised to find her host family is black. Piper isn't too happy to have Mahree around either. And this all happens right after the arrest of activist Steven Biko (to put this in historical perspective).
("The Color of Friendship" starring Lindsay Haun and Shadia Simmons/Wikipedia Commons)
As with any movie that tackles such a sensitive subject, Piper and Mahree learn from each other and become friends. Apartheid still remained and events in the United States went on. But that's not the point of the story. The point is to show what can happen when children put aside the hate they have learned from adults and learn to love again.
While the world mourns the death of former South African President Nelson Mandela, I can only say that upon his release from prison and election as President, I was too young to truly grasp the world-changing importance. As I became a student of history and eventually earning my BS in History, I began to understand, with a global perspective, how these events, and the history which brought us to this point.
No culture, empire, or person in the history of the world, save Jesus Christ, is perfect. The world and I will miss Nelson Mandela. I can only hope and pray that we can all gleam something from his life that will help us make the world a better place for all people. Can we do that? Can we bring some social justice back in the world? Can we learn to work together?
I called this post "The Color of Friendship," because, sometimes, we have to be like children. Jesus said that, remember? We can take something like this Disney movie and use it as a jumping off point to teach ourselves and our children how to love again.
December 06, 2013 09:36
By Wendy Stewart
As I've heard about more and more stores opening early, especially on Thanksgiving, for shopping, I took a hard-nosed stance in opposition.
I said it was unfair to employees for cutting into their family time when their wages are already low. And I blasted the rampant consumerism wrapped up in the idea of shopping so early.
Then something interesting happened: I watched two specials where eight extreme couponers shopped last year on Black Friday and I saw something I didn't expect. I saw 13 friends brave the crowds to bring gifts to needy children. And I started to see good things can be achieved on such a hectic day.
I started to look at my Christmas gift list and budget and thought shopping the really good sales would be a terrific use of money. Isn't that what stewardship is about? Being responsible with what God has entrusted to us?
Target ad can be found here.
So, regardless of where you fall on the Black Friday shopping debate, I hope we can all find a way to be good stewards of God's resources! Leave a comment below to weigh in on Thanksgiving/Black Friday/Cyber Monday shopping! And for more money-saving tips, check out my other blog here.
November 26, 2013 03:37
By Wendy Stewart
While many reflect on the 50th anniversary of the assassination of JFK or the 50th anniversary release of the book, "Where The Wild Things Are," many of us have been enjoying a year long celebration of Whovian proportions.
What's this great celebration? The 50th anniversary of the popular British science fiction show, "Doctor Who!"
Yes, 50 years ago, the world got it's first taste of the Doctor, his TARDIS (which can travel through all of space and time) that is bigger on the inside than it is on the outside, and the first in a series of many adventures.
As a science fiction show, it was not unusual to see aliens. But because the Doctor could also travel through time, there were quite a few historically set adventures as well. What "Doctor Who" fan can forget the time when the Doctor made the TARDIS invisible and landed in President Nixon's Oval Office? It was crazy, funny, and totally something the Doctor would do because he showed up to help.
That's the thing about "Doctor Who;" it isn't just a show and it isn't just mere entertainment. It does what a good show, lasting this long, should do, challenge the ethical and moral values of the characters as well as the viewers.
In order to keep the show going with different lead actors, we know the Doctor (an alien who looks human from the planet Gallifrey) is the last of a race known as Time Lords. And, although they can die, they usually regenerate into a different person but with the same memories. That regeneration and introduction of a new actor, gives the audience a new way to see how the Doctor handles invasions and not letting anyone die today.
His character is a fierce protector of the planet Earth, but of all life, really. When dealing with evil he must choose the path of violence and annihilation or finding a witty way to outsmart the enemy.
Though the world of the Doctor is fictional, it has always caused me to pause and think of real-world ramifications. That's the beauty of the show and one of the reasons it's lasted for 50 years.
While "Doctor Who" may not be for everyone, it is worth noting that there are still programs that can entertain and challenge the mind. That's why I keep watching and eagerly anticipate the 50th anniversary special airing tomorrow around the world.
So, while not a pivotal moment in American history, "Doctor Who" has a place in TV history and the hearts and minds of fans past, present, and future.
(Eleventh Doctor, actor Matt Smith, and Tenth Doctor, actor David Tennant, in "The Day of the Doctor" 50th Anniversary special
November 22, 2013 05:15
By Wendy Stewart
There are two times each year when the country is focused on thanking veterans: Memorial Day and Veterans Day.
And while there are 363 other days in the year, we choose these holidays to throw support behind veterans. What many would be surprised to know is that there are tons of organizations working year round to help active duty men and women as well as veterans thrive and make a successful transition to civilian life. You have heard of many such as the Disabled American Veterans (DAV), the American Legion, USAA, Navy Federal Credit Union, and the Wounded Warrior Project.
But two organizations, Semper Fidelis Health and Wellness
and Repay Vets
, help veterans in new ways. At Semper Fi, the focus is health and wellness. That’s good for everyone, but it has been such as huge part of our lives on active duty, that it only makes sense to offer a way to continue that in civilian life. Repay Vets capitalizes on the growing crowd-sourcing movement to get veteran campaigns funded.
Come Monday there will be discounts and free meals (I will definitely have my free Starbucks coffee and meal at Applebee’s), but Veterans Day, and every other day, isn’t really about that.
I would be remiss to say, as a veteran, I don’t appreciate the efforts businesses make at this time of year. I appreciate it and I’m sure my fellow vets do as well.
But what I appreciate the most, even more than a free meal, is a simple “thank you.” Really! That’s it! After four years at the Naval Academy and 3 years on active duty, a simple thanks means to me that the person thanking me may not know all of the sacrifices or difficulties, but they appreciate what I volunteered to do for the sake of something bigger than myself.
So, whether it’s today, Monday, or another day when you come across a veteran or someone still on active duty, give us a hearty hand shake and a “thank you.” Those actions are a bigger blessing than you know!
A war veteran waves a U.S. flag as he marches up Fifth Avenue during the Veterans Day Parade in New York Nov. 11, 2012. The holiday honors all veterans of the U .S. armed forces. (CNS photo/Carlo Allegri, Reuters)
ESPN’s Hannah Storm and Kenneth Negandhi broadcasting live from the Naval Academy Nov. 8, 2013
November 08, 2013 02:34
By Wendy Stewart
About a month ago I got my yearly flu shot. Never missed one since getting to the Naval Academy in 1997. That is, until 2004. Silly me didn’t know I could get my shot for free at the VA hospital as I was still new to the process. But I thought I would be fine.
Famous last words!
In January 2005, while substituting a middle school math class, I knew I was sick. A quick trip to the school nurse confirmed I was sick with the flu.
Yes, the one and only time I’ve had the flu and I was out for two weeks.
You might be asking, what happened this year to make me want to write about it?
I got the flu shot only a couple of weeks before I tend to experience my usual fall sinus infection.
Yes, I’ve got those some times as well!
I decided to make this year different, so I pulled out all the stops I had in my bag of tricks. Hopefully, these tips will help you brave the season!
This should go without saying, but, we must keep drinking water. As the temperature drops and we turn up the heat, we also dry out the air, thus drying our bodies. You don’t have to drink cold water. Hot water is good for you as well (but an acquired taste). Room temperature is fine as well. Just drink the water!
2. Care for some tea?
My top two tea recommendations are ginger and peppermint. The ginger helps with upset stomachs and other digestive issues, while the peppermint can help soothe the stomach and clear stuffy noses. You can make your own tea with pieces of ginger root and dried mint leaves. Or you can buy pre-made tea bags. Try this before you reach for that next bottle of ginger ale!
3. Get some sleep!
I know, there’s work to be done, meals to cook, kids to care for and tons of other demands on our time and energy. But if you aren’t getting sufficient shut eye, you’re setting yourself up for a lower functioning immune system and illness is right around the corner. You’re no good to anyone if you’re sick, so please take care of yourself! I know it’s hard, and it may require saying “no” to some things, but it will be better for you and everyone else in the long run.
Using the above tips, and a few others, I have managed to stave off the October sinus infection and I am still flu-free.
But that brings me to one last reminder: if you’re sick, do your best to stay home, especially if you don’t know if what you have is contagious. You get excused from Mass for that!
Leave a comment below and tell me what you do to stay illness free!
For more tips, click here.
October 25, 2013 05:56
By Wendy Stewart
never been a very politically charged blog. However, it would be naive and
without basis to say I have no political feelings in the days since the federal
government has been shut down.
post isn't about pointing fingers at one party or another. It's about the very
real fallout facing military families and disabled veterans such as myself.
take a look at the active duty side first.
government shutdown, four U.S. servicemen and women have died in combat. Here
is what usually happens for the surviving family:
benefits include $100,000 to each family; a 12-month basic allowance for
housing, usually given in a lump sum to survivors commensurate with the rank of
the service member; and burial benefits. The benefits are also being withheld
from the family of Lance Cpl. Jeremiah Collins Jr., 19, a member of the Marines, whose
death on Saturday in Helmand
Province is being investigated by the Pentagon."
none of the benefits are going to happen while the government is shut down. If a family wants
to meet the plane in Delaware with the body of their loved one, they must pay
their own way.
Marine carry team carries the transfer case containing the remains of
19-year-old Marine Jeremiah M. Collins Jr. of Milwaukee, upon
arrival at Dover Air Force Base on Oct. 7, 2013. Because of the shutdown,
the family of Collins, who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom in
Afghanistan, did not receive the death benefits to which they are entitled,
according to NBC News. (Via huffpost.com)
tragedy, and one that no one on Capitol Hill thought would happen when they ensured
active duty military members would get paid. It's sad that something as
important as this has fallen through the cracks.
As for me
and my fellow disabled veterans, there is a lot on the line. Many services were
shut down as soon as the government shutdown. Others, such as the Vocational
Rehabilitation and Employment Program and claims processing, can only continue as
long as funds are available. Education services have already been disrupted.
means is those who are training for new occupations through school and other
programs may have to stop. It also means veterans with new and existing claims
will have to wait longer for benefits because no decisions will be made during
the shutdown. This is all according to the "Veterans Affairs Field guide to Government Shutdown," updated October 7, 2013.
longer the shutdown, the more services are interrupted - including the
possibility of no disability compensation paid out at the end of the month.
That essentially puts many of us in the same category as the furloughed workers
as we may have little to no money to pay bills.
How do I
feel about all of this? Admittedly, I'm a little stressed out. I know that
better saving and planning on my part would have been a good and prudent thing.
I also know that my God will supply all my needs.
and the short of it is I wanted to draw attention to a group of people of whom
I am a part and mean a lot to me. These people also fall under our call to help
the poor and marginalized. Hopefully, by adding my voice, I can encourage
prayer and action (not all of us can do both). Pray everyday for those in
authority and look for ways to help your neighbor, military or not.
October 09, 2013 02:36
By Wendy Stewart
a lot going on in the world and here at home. For some of us, the effects are
felt more deeply than others. Truly, we all feel the impact of a crisis in some
way from those we know who suffer and from out own sufferings.
So how do
you find peace amongst all the chaos? You already know: take it to God. Take up
your cross and follow Jesus. Spend time in prayer and, when possible, in
(Eucharistic Adoration at SS Philip and James University Parish/Wendy Stewart)
things you already know, but it's good to have a reminder. In that same spirit,
I will leave you with the words of Jesus on worry and anxiety.
I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat or what you
shall drink, nor about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life more than
food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they
neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds
them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious
can add one cubit to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing?
"Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin;
yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of
these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and
tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of
little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or
'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the Gentiles seek all these
things; and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first
his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.
"Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious
for itself. Let the day's own trouble be sufficient for the day." (Matthew
October 01, 2013 04:21
By Wendy Stewart
We know Ariel Castro as one of the men who held three women captive in Ohio for 10 years. After being caught and sentenced to 1,000 years in prison, he was found dead in his cell on Tuesday
(Ariel Castro. Photo by Tony Dejak/AP Photo abcnews.com)
Why is this sad news?
Many people are still so outraged by his crimes that mercy for him has been lost. Perhaps they thought death was an appropriate punishment after all.
But if we accept that, and are happy to hear that he is dead, what does that say about our view of humanity and the sanctity of life? Any loss of life is to be mourned because all life is sacred.
Regular readers of my blog know that I always push for more merciful treatment of people with reminders of respect for the lives of all, regardless of their actions.
I do this because I firmly believe the ability to love and forgive (because we will never forget) is fundamental to the survival of our society. We cannot continue to be a great nation if we do not submit ourselves to the commands of Jesus, “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31, RSV)
As Catholics, are we taking the time and making a concerted effort to live out lives in this manner? Or are we too busy with our own problems that we are quick to condemn?
I can’t say that I’m perfect. In fact, the more I write and pray on these matters, the more sensitive to them I become. Meaning, what I see when I look at many people are people who want to know they are loved and worthy of existence. If we can just show one person that each day, with acts of charity, then how can society not experience the love of God?
Sound too good to be true? Well, we live in a broken and sinful world. That doesn’t mean we abandon all hope to live lives of cynicism and contempt. We must be better than that because we know God and experience His grace.
I challenge anyone who reads this, including myself, to be charitable to just one more person each day; a person you might normally ignore or a person you don’t normally get along with. Each day try to see them as God does and notice the difference it will make in your life!
September 04, 2013 12:44
By Wendy Stewart
This past Thursday night was the last preseason game for our SuperBowl Champion Ravens. That only means one thing, everything really counts from now on.
But, in a sense, the training camps, practices, and preseason games did count for something. After all, as I always tell my brother, an athlete improves in the off season. So there are players all over the NFL wondering if they improved and are good enough to make the team.
I bet you didn't know there was another preseason going on. It happens all over the world at different times. This preseason isn't about sports, it's about vocations to the religious life. And my preseason is almost over.
You see, I've wanted to be a sister before I was even Catholic, back in 1994! I didn't get confirmed until 3 years ago, but I had that goal in the back of my mind the whole time as I learned more about the Church and my place in it.
I like sports, so I think of these years of preparation for confirmation and researching different forms of consecrated life as my preseason. Even my acceptance into the Servants of the Sacred Cross still meant time preparing because I have been waiting over a year to start my formation as a postulant.
On the evening of September 7th, I'll leave Baltimore bound for Canada on the Greyhound bus. When I return on the 15th, I'll bring with me the spirit of new sisters, a new community, and all of those other awesome feels we get on a new journey. Much like this journey, each new sports season begins with high hopes and expectations. And so will my season.
I know everyday will not be easy (no one is promised that), but I know God has something wonderful in store.
With that, I will close with the words of our Blessed Mother, "And Mary said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word." (Luke 1:38, RSV)
September 03, 2013 09:25
By Wendy Stewart
After a few days of letting the craziness die down over Miley Cyrus' VMA performance this past Sunday, I decided to take a different point of view after watching the performance for myself (I recorded the show and didn't watch it live).
There's probably been no shortage of people calling for Ms. Cyrus to keep her clothes on and seek some help. But all that talk and coverage serve to focus only on what we believe she did wrong.
But what did she do right?
After all, there must be something redeeming from the show and her performance, right? In the first 10 minutes we saw Lady Gaga strip down to a tiny bikini and Taylor Swift cursing One Direction from her seat next to Selena Gomez.
While I won't rehash the details of the performance that when on for about 6 minutes with Robin Thicke and rapper 2 Chains, it was clear from the audience that One Direction was not impressed and Miley's mother thought it worthy of a standing ovation.
Given all of that, what could Miley have done right with her performance?
1. We're still talking about it.
From a pure business standpoint, it's great for her and MTV (who has always pushed the envelope) for people to keep talking about the show and her performance. That equals airtime, YouTube hits, and a social media frenzy.
2. She reminded us that this is nothing new.
At 33 years old, I've seen a number of VMAs and this performance has not been the worst of them by far. Call it a Madonna redux or a younger Lady Gaga, but Miley is far from outdoing any performance on that show. I wonder what Madonna thinks of all this?
3. She reminded us that the face of rebellion is different.
You see, Miley Cyrus, and other performers like her aren't really rebelling. Not anymore as there are too many others like them. If everyone is shaving their heads, getting tattoos and running around half naked, where is the rebellion?
Miley has succeeded in showing us that true rebellion is about staying true to who you are (and since she's only 20, I doubt she has a grasp on that) and not being afraid to go against the flow.
Right now, her antics seem to be the status quo. So, rebellion, in this case, would call for a rejection of that behavior. Modest dress, deliberate choices in music and entertainment and showing respect for yourself are now counter-culture. Rebellion is no longer about being the loudest and flashiest person in the room. Too many people are doing that anyway.
So, if we are to follow Miley's lead and rebel, let's do it in a way that makes ourselves better. Don't we love ourselves enough to do that? And, maybe, we can take a break from criticizing MTV and Miley Cyrus long enough to pray for them. Crazy thought, right?
August 28, 2013 09:43
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