Monday, September 4, 2017

LETTER IN THE WALL



Don't you just love the books and movies about someone finding an old letter in the wall of a house or in a newly discovered trunk in the attic.  Usually there's a mystery involved, maybe even a homicide, or a dark secret of historical significance revealed.  It's a great story line! How many times have authors used that trick?

Well!  It happened here!  Yep!  Unbelievable, isn't it?

Because we are remodeling our kitchen and DUST is everywhere (that's another story), Honeybuns removed all the cabinet doors and drawers to be painted.  Stuffed under the bottom drawer of the desk was a bunch of papers, a plastic bag, a lone place mat, old stationary AND a large manila envelope addressed to the original owner of the house.  Those "treasures" had evidently been in hiding for many years.  The house was built in the mid-90's and it seems no one but the spiders had checked that abandoned spot for a long time.

I threw away most of the discovery but checked out that manila envelope before it hit the trash bin.

There was a split second where I thought MAYBE, just MAYBE, there was a stash of cold dusty cash, a certificate of ownership of something valuable, or a paper describing some stock in an oil company or the name of who really shot JFK or the location of Jimmy Hoffa's body. Adrenaline was flowing.  (Yes, I read a lot of fiction.)

Inside the envelope was a very long letter to Nancy, the original owner of the house.  It was sent by her friend Karen who at the time lived in BROKEN ARROW, OK.  (Now, that town is in caps because we moved from BROKEN ARROW, OK just three years ago.)   What????
How odd is that???  Do I know  this mysterious Karen??

Here's the scoop.  Karen was writing to her friend to tell her of a new ministry she had just become involved with at the United Methodist Church, BROKEN ARROW, OK.  A group of women gathered together to make and send greeting cards to people that needed some encouragement.
She sent samples of the cards, stories of people that were in distress and some follow-up replies of grateful folks that were on the receiving end.

She stated how she missed her friend, asked about the family, and shared names and news of her friends there in BROKEN ARROW, OK that were also participating.  She named the pastor, administrative people and members of her church.  It was a gossipy sort of letter.

I scoured all the names. Surely, I knew some of those folks. BROKEN ARROW, OK is a large city but I know folks there that attend that lovely downtown Methodist church to this day.

Nope, I didn't recognize a one.  I know, silly to think that I would!

BUT, what are the odds of finding a letter in a house that had been sent from BROKEN ARROW, OK?   Did I say, we'd just moved from there 3 years ago.  It is a LOVELY, WONDERFUL place and the lifestyle is easy and peaceful.  We have some dear friends that live in that area.  It was home for 8 years.

Well, no cash, no homicide, no stock certificate, no fast breaking news worthy of interrupting a football game or sit-com.   I'm going to have to embellish quite a bit to make a best-seller out of this mysterious letter in the wall. (That's what all writers do, you know.) I'll pour over it some more when this remodeling is done and I am no longer DUSTING!

Watch for it! This story may make it to the big silver screen one day!  Or not!

Or maybe I'll put Karen's letter back under that drawer for some future owner to find.  It'll be a real novelty when in that paperless society, some one finds a "parchment" imposed with strange cursive hieroglyphics.  That in itself will be an historical moment.



Wednesday, August 30, 2017

LOOK TO HOUSTON



We're right in the middle of the most devastating natural disaster this country as ever seen.
Hurricane Harvey has sucker-punched the coast of the Gulf of Mexico and is not finished the battering just yet as Port Arthur, TX  is today feeling his wrath.

The pictures we see are awful but cannot even begin to convey the confusion, fear, smell, dampness, darkness, coldness and loss.  The elderly, little ones, pets and livestock are particularly threatened.

After the record rainfall, 52 inches in some places, the flooding still happens.  Once clear streets are now roaring rivers and there is no place for all that water to go. The death toll is bound to rise once cars and homes are inspected for missing loved ones. The nation is experiencing overwhelming sadness as something far beyond anyone's control is raging.

Houston is experiencing a disaster.

Houston is also experiencing and displaying the most incredible goodness!

There are untold stories to be shared, some happening at this very minute.

People of every nationality, political persuasion, sexual orientation, color, ethnic background, size, age, social economic status, education, intellect, and title were forced by an "act of God" to CHOOSE to come together and help each other OR perish.  And the world is watching.

I am watching the miracle of citizen helping citizen with no agenda of financial, political or status gain.  People came out of their houses SEARCHING for a way to help their neighbor with anything that floats.  An army of personally owned flat boats, pick up trucks, dump trucks, kayaks, & blow-up pool toys appeared almost magically.  No government direction of any kind to organize or encourage was needed. And it continues!!  Thankfully!

What a refreshing sight right in the midst of one of the most politically and racially charged cultures of our day!

Help is being organized in other cities and states and is on the way.  Churches, stores and convention centers are open for shelter. And it will be needed for a long time. Huge trucks are being loaded in my neighborhood even as I write this. Supplies of all kinds for all ages and needs are being gathered.

One mattress store in Houston opened it's doors immediately and hundreds of folks are sleeping on that new merchandise. Beds and comfy chairs are filled with wet weary folks. That owner is one of my heroes!

There will be many heroic stories in the days to come.

And there will be a need for many more heroes to step up.  And the beauty of that is:  I have NO doubt that they will.

Americans are good folks! What is happening in Houston is REAL.  What is happening on the internet, & social media is NOT!

Americans know how to love each other. Those folks helping today are the silent strong bedrock of this nation. We are seeing LOVE IN ACTION.

It's IS possible to LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF, regardless of differences.

WHAT A LIFE LESSON!  I'm praying that the hurting, angry, offended, disenfranchised, lonely and violent are watching.  LOVE is available to them as well. There are people waiting and willing to rescue them right out of their disasters, whether self-inflicted OR something beyond their control.

I say to them:  Put down your guns, clubs, masks, hoods, hatred, violent and vile rhetoric and look for it....OR  perish.

                   "When you go through deep waters, I will be with you."  Isaiah 43:2



Tuesday, August 22, 2017

LITTLE WITCH

NO, I'm not endorsing witchcraft, satanic worship or any of those other cultish things.

I'm singing the praises of a darling little book that started my "book lovin' life."

When this story was first published in 1953 it came out in a hardback edition, turquoise in color.

I discovered it on the "library" shelf at the back of the room in our little brick school house in central Illinois.  There were not many students at the school and each room held two grades. I was in the 5th. There were two rows of 5th graders on one side of the room, two rows of 6th graders on the other.

Mr. McAllister, principle and one of three teachers in the whole school, would pull up a chair in front of the youngsters on one side of the room, teach spelling or arithmetic, then take his chair to the other side to teach the older students science or history.  What an arrangement!  The only way that set-up would work today would be at the "home school" classroom.

Our school library consisted of two shelves along half of the back side of the room. (I OWN more books now than was shelved there.)

On a particular afternoon, because I was bored I'm sure, I picked up the little turquoise book and took it home.  I'm sure the color was the reason for my attention.

Little Witch, Anna Elizabeth Bennet, Sky Pony Press, 1953
Illustrated by Helen Stone

I remember that evening as clearly as I remember the monumental historical events of my life. Events such as the assassination of President Kennedy, 9-11 attacks, and the total eclipse of yesterday.

I remember reading the book STRAIGHT THROUGH.  Yep, finished it in one night.

And I learned that words on a page became pictures in my mind and I still love that little 9 year old girl of the story.  Her name is Minikin Snickasnee.  She is the daughter of a real witch and wants nothing more than to go to school and make friends her own age. The feisty little gal learns all about courage and standing up for what is right. The whole town is affected by her innocent antics and eventually enjoys her broomstick.  It's great!

This book was named #7 in a School Library Journal poll of the top 100 Children's Novels.
In 2013 it was published again as a celebration of it's 60th Anniversary.  I'm SO glad. It's now on my grown-up bookshelf and available for any grandchild that also wants to grasp it's magic.

The "magic" that happened for me was a new respect, love and voracious desire to read. Many fabulous books have followed Minikin's story.

That summer after my 5th grade discovery I read about a lending library program at the State Library in Springfield, Illinois.  I think the article was in the Weekly Reader, remember that???
I wrote to the head librarian and asked if he/she would SEND me books to read over the summer. I requested adventure stories.  THEY SENT ME A HUGE BOX  OF BOOKS!  It was like Christmas in July!  I read every one and returned them promptly.  They sent me ANOTHER BOX FULL OF BOOKS.  Go figure!  That would never happen today.

After that summer the program ended even though I wrote and begged for more.  I had to find another resource. And the story goes on.

I've read thousands of books since "Little Witch" some good, some not so good, but ALL enlightening. The summer I read "Gone With The Wind" I woke up on those hot summer mornings wondering why I couldn't hear the canons.  After a few minutes I realized I was NOT living during the Civil War but was actually safe in my own bed.  Call that immersion in the story!

I've also joined others of the same disease in book clubs, discussion groups and book reviews. Only other people that love books understand the addiction!

Let me recommend a FEW that I keep on my many bookshelves.

1000 White Women
The Poisonwood Bible
My Sister's Keeper
First Hostage
Woman of God
Time to Kill (read this one straight through too)
The Bible, NIV, Amplified, NASB, The Living, KJV
The Prodigal God
Small Great Things
Best Little Christmas Pageant Ever (read this one EVERY December)

Oh so many more!

My point?  It is SO important to expose children to good books, to read to them, to encourage imagination, to introduce different ideas, locations and people. Thank you Anna Bennet for introducing me to the magical gift of reading.

Today I will think of Minikin and smile....when I get my broom out of the closet.



Monday, August 21, 2017

ASLEEP AT THE WHEEL



You just never know what you're going to see on the incredibly busy roads in Dallas.

Yesterday we were sitting at a stoplight at a busy intersection in Frisco. The light turned green, the car in front of us did not move.  No big deal.  That's a very common occurrence given that EVERYONE checks their phones at the stop lights these days and do not notice the change of color.

We waited.  Others behind us waited! The light turned red AGAIN....we all waited.

It turned green AGAIN....we all waited.

NOW, everybody in the line got concerned.  The driver in the non-responsive car was well,  non-responsive.  Several drivers and passengers stared. Was he sick?  Was he dead? Was he high?  Was he reading something important on his phone?

I put down my window, waved,  and started shouting....HEY...HEY...are you OK?

A young man in the car behind us jumped out and ran up to the drivers window and knocked on the glass. We wondered if we were about to see an ambush. Road rage?

The drive WOKE UP.  Nodded his head once or twice and remembered where he was.

The light turned green AGAIN....and he motored off.  We all followed!

YEP.  A young man about 35 years old fell asleep while sitting at a stop light, as it cycled through the colors a couple of times.

We've got to take care of each other on the roads these days.  Every slice of humanity, emotion, health problem, etc. is right out there.

How many times have we seen some confused immigrant slice through 6 lanes of traffic as he realized his exit was imminent?  We are convinced that many international drivers in our area are car owners yet not licensed to drive that vehicle.  Many can't read the road signs let alone the drivers test. And there are many countries that do not have "rules of the road." They're just motoring about as they would in their country.

Also, it's no longer legal to text while you're driving down the tollway at 75 miles an hour.  And everybody STILL does it.  The policemen could make a fortune by sitting on the shoulder and monitoring all the texting that is happening. Talk about distracting!

We are constantly amazed at the low number of wrecks and fatalities on the high speed highways in this area. When one does occur you can just kiss your "arrival time" goodbye.  Lines of cars waiting on a stalled car or fender bender could reach all the way to Oklahoma.  But, you know, when you're waiting and waiting and waiting, you have no idea that there are 17 miles of cars ahead of you, also waiting. There's always the hope of "it'll break up here in a minute."  45 minutes later, you realize your patience will not be rewarded.

Sometimes the answer to "backup" is the trusty GPS app.  If there is a red line on that little screen all the way down the tollway, skip it! Take your chances on the stoplights on the side roads.  If you're lucky the 20 min. drive will now take 57 minutes and not the projected 60!

And if someone WAKES UP the driver that is asleep, you might just arrive before dark thirty.

IF I'm on the road during rush hour, I try to always pack a lunch, plenty of water, phone, phone charger, extra can of gas, a good book and a blankie....just in case I need a nap!

Be safe out there!


Saturday, February 11, 2017

THE DIFFERENCE ONE DAY MAKES - November 8, 2016





What a difference a day makes!  The day I'm referring to is Nov. 8th, 2016!
This is how I see it anyway!

On November 7th, 2016, the Democrats were happy, supporting their beloved President and the woman that would fill his seat come Jan. 20. 2017. EVERYONE predicted a landslide win for Hillary Rodham Clinton in the upcoming election. The glass ceiling would be smashed to smithereens and females everywhere would celebrate the historic moment.  A party to out-do all previous celebrations was being organized!  Happy Days were here and also on the horizon.

There was talk of unity for the Democratic party and more progressive measures were being drafted, staff positions were being filled and big plans were being made to cement the Obama legacy into the annals of history.

On that same day, Republicans were described as disorganized and deplorable.  They'd spent the last few years stewing over the progressive agenda path the country was embarking upon but if they voiced their complaints they were met with charges of racism. There was a seething rage right below the surface of politeness. People wondered,  but there was no way of knowing how far and how deep that rage extended.  It was if two foreign languages had been spoken for 8 years and no one cared to take the time to listen to their neighbors.

However on November 7th, ALL predictions agreed that the candidate for the party with the elephant logo was a  major loser that would fade from the national scene the next day. There was NO future for the Republican Party, EVERYONE was speculating that this election would become the demise of the Grand Old Party.  After a number of potential candidates bit the dust, an arrogant, boisterous, blatantly sinful, billionaire ended up at the top of the ticket and no one expected him to do well across America.

THEN.....Election Day rolled around.  The day that changed the course of America.

IT WAS JUST ONE DAY, one 24 hour period!  EVERYTHING CHANGED.

I believe the NY billionaire was just as surprised as everyone else in the country.  HE WON!

California, New York, and Chicago tried their best but had to concede that middle America AND some former "dyed in the wool" Democrats had come out in droves and voted for CHANGE! Both houses of Congress ended up with the majority being Republican which was NEVER supposed to happen. It was a VOTE heard round the world.

And the national dialogue transformed into an UPROAR! Talk about a 180? A flip? A U-Turn?

Unlike previous elections down through America's history, THIS ELECTION was not going to go down as a "peaceful transfer of power."

Vicious, vile, angry words splattered social media.  Protesters lined the streets of major cities carrying signs reading "not my President."  A movement was established called the "Resistance." Major news networks declared war as every move the President-Elect made and every word he spoke was dissected and judged.  Fake news was introduced for the first time in our history and folks lined up to embrace it as fact if it supported their ideas. The new President "tweeted"  and gave the Dems fuel to feed their fire of hatred.  A Women's March was quickly and successfully organized to protest in fear that something MIGHT HAPPEN to demean women everywhere.

NATIONAL FEAR was now in vogue. If you refuse to fear, you are labeled a Trump-ette!

 The new President could do or say NOTHING that pleased the masses. Every bit of air he breathed was despised. Those that voted for him were maligned as complete idiots, friends and family were as divided as the nation. There was the charge, "you rejected our President, now we will do the same."

Half the country was SILENTLY rejoicing at the new direction the government was taking, while the other half took to the streets, the airways, and the internet. Violence broke out, property was destroyed, fires were set and people were paid to protest all over the country.  All those happy, contented folks raised their voices because their hair was set on fire.  ALL THEIR CONFIDENCE had been shattered, in that ONE DAY. How could anyone reject the policies of the present administration?  It was a shocker-roo!

I saw news videos of people weeping uncontrollably in the streets as if life as they knew it was over! The private grief was even more profound.  Hillary's staff members were inconsolable and Hilary went into hiding. "How can we stand to live the next 4 years" was answered without much compassion, "The same way I lived the last 8."  Anger was rampant on both sides of the political battle!

In that ONE day we'd become the UNITED STATES OF HYSTERIA.  And there is no hope that anything is going to change in the near future.  Folks are MAD that their girl lost, they are FEARFUL that their rights are going to disappear, that laws are going to be enforced that will affect them or their neighbors directly, that concentration camps are going to be constructed and FILLED with Muslims, Jews, Mexicans and members of the LTGBQ groups (I've actually heard that from dear, educated friends) and that a wall defending the southern border will keep out every good and decent person that desires to come to the US.  Parents of adopted children fear that their child will be deported!

 Every man or woman presented for a cabinet position is now characterized as a Hitler type or a member of the KKK. Congressional hearings to approve people nominated have turned into shouting matches of lies, innuendos and grandstanding. Past videos have surfaced showing elected officials drastically changing their positions on important issues to ride the tide of dissension. Folks that once praised their colleagues, now trashed them publicly because that old friend was now being considered for the Presidents cabinet. The Presidents son is under unbelievable intense scrutiny and today Trumps handshake is being analyzed as that of a lunatic.  And to top it off there have been calls from formerly decent, hardworking, professional Americans for the new President to be assassinated!!

 Basically half of America does NOT LIKE the President and NOTHING is going to change that.

We've lost our minds! How dare we surrender that much power over our  EMOTIONAL well being to any politician, no matter what the position.!

And we've forgotten our education.  You know, the Civic Classes that taught about the three branches of government put in place so each branch can check on the other from time to time. Legislature makes law, Judicial interprets law and Executive enforces law and if/when one crosses the line there are qualified elected folks in the appropriate position and  ready to call it out.

We've forgotten our history.  There was a time we were shooting each other and selling people on the auction block.  We've fought wars in  Europe, Japan, Korea, Vietnam and the Middle East.  We've experienced the assassination of a President, the resignation of another and the impeachment of another. We survived the riots, murders and sexual revolution of the 70's. We experienced a seismic national change as a result of the Civil Rights Movement and grieved the loss of it's leader. Together we grieved the loss of 3000 innocent citizens in one day on 9-ll.  And the nation survived!

And we've lost common sense. No amount of protesting, sign waving, or vulgar cursing in the streets is going to change the outcome of the election.  It's a done deal.  And I am pretty sure NO ONE called an idiot, deplorable, uneducated fool is going to vote for a future progressive candidate.  Winning friends and influencing people has never happened through violence and vulgarity. Those silent folks that voted for Trump are watching and they will remember all this!

I don't know the solution to this mess. I DO know that the conflict is not centralized in Washington D.C.  It's in the heart of every one of us. We've lost the capacity to be civil.

I predict that ONE DAY  some event will occur that will unite us once again and cause us to pause and think about our destructive behavior.   ONE DAY something will remind us that we have the capacity to love each other and work together for the good of everyone. ONE DAY something will happen and our foolishness will be revealed.

I wonder what it will be, but I do NOT wonder if we will survive until that momentous event slaps us back to our senses.  We will survive, bruised and wounded.



Saturday, February 4, 2017

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NATIONAL PRAYER BREAKFAST 2017

Rear Admiral Senate Chaplain
Barry Black

(I have to document these highlights before I forget!!)

The fancy engraved invitation came months ago, along with a schedule of events.  Andy had contacted the Texas folks that invite Texas people and asked if there was space for his parents to attend.  They said YES. We  RSVP'd, bought airline tickets, new clothes and cleared our calendars.

Andy works with folks in Congress that organize the prayer meetings, Bible studies and weekly prayer breakfast that are held each week for Congressmen when they are in session.  The National Prayer Breakfast is the granddaddy of them all and a huge traditional event since 1953.  I had no idea.  Until last week.....

We arrived last Tuesday, checking into the Washington Hilton (the place where President Reagan was shot years ago.)  It's a literal concrete fortress and a favorite place of the secret service when they are trying to protect someone important. Over 3000 people from 146 different countries descended upon the area. Security was tight, men and women with wires coming out their ears mingled with the guests.

We quickly learned that the theme of the week was "Unity and Reconciliation."  Wow, how appropriate! Unity and reconciliation are words that are rarely used now in the public square, but were repeated over and over again this past week.

There were meetings, prayer sessions, tours, dinners, lunches and private gatherings scheduled for all week long.

We met Andy and were immediately introduced to world leaders, congressmen, and staff people. We walked with him through the halls of the Canon Building where the offices of our Representatives are located.

There we attended a ceremony honoring a member of the prayer breakfast team that was instrumental in starting a prayer breakfast in ALBANIA!  We were introduced to heads of state from the Middle East, brilliant scholars and spiritual giants. My head was spinning.

Rabbi Sacks spoke at the Middle Eastern Prayer Breakfast on Wednesday. What a brilliant man!
Quotes:   "Can you see the image of God in a person that is not made in the image of you?"
                "Live unoffended."
                " If the person you are with experiences anything other than unconditional love, you have
                  failed."
                 "Love the person in front of you."

Oh, my.  I prayed that these words would be written on the insides of my eyelids so that every time I blink I would be reminded.

A well known, highly respect Muslim leader followed.   "We will solve the world's problems when we live the principles of Jesus." WHAT?  A Muslim respecting Jesus.  Yes...I learned that Islam regards Jesus as a prophet from God, unlike no other and that His teachings are the right way to live.

Wow!  We were beginning to understand that this conference would be like none other.

Next I attended a "Women of the States" meeting where Congressional spouses shared their ideas, advice and experiences.  Several wives of senators and representatives stepped up to the microphone and shared their struggles and their deep faith in Jesus.  They attend Bible Studies and prayer meetings weekly and find their support in deep friendships where R and D make no difference whatsoever. They were wise, articulate, and totally dependent on God. They encouraged us to enjoy the week and "take it in."  I was SO encouraged. One of their favorite Bible teachers brought the keynote address.  I came away from that session realizing that there are some terrific people in Washington, praying and trying to do the right thing in leading the country.

 WHAT?  That's not what we see on TV.  I spoke with Caroline Adderholt, organizer of that event, wife of Robert Adderholt, Congressman from Alabama and Andy's good friend, and asked her about that.  Her reply,
"You will see 10 people on TV, there are over 400 hundred of us that you won't see."

(We later learned that between formal breakfasts, lunches and dinners, delegations from the states were also meeting privately.  We heard of one group that took a "prayer walk" through the halls of Congress, praying for all that worked there.  Another group took a "Capital Tour" on a bus and prayed for the folks that work at the monuments, museums, diners, gyms, governmental offices and homes.
D.C. was filled with prayer last week!

 (We squeezed in some time with Andy when we could catch him and he shared his D.C. duties and life. He introduced us to scholars and foreign leaders we never realized we needed to know.  We came away thinking that he knows more people than God.)

Wednesday night was the first Congressional Dinner.  The dining room holds several thousand with 8 people to a table.  We met the most incredible people at each meal.  The conversation always started with introductions and handshakes all around, then polite questions.  Where are you from?  What do you do for a living?  BUT, quickly the talk turned to how important God was in their lives, their devotion to Jesus and how they shared the good news of hope in their ministries. Each person left an indelible mark on our memory. We sat with kings and princes, and  sometimes Baptist preachers whose congregation sold cakes and doughnuts to be able to afford their pastors ticket/travel. We sat next to an aviation investor, a devotional writer, businessmen and women, church planters, folks that run international charities, pastors, moms and dads.

After speeches by Republican and Democratic congressmen (friends and prayer partners for years) the speaker announced,  "Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Vice President and Mrs. Pence." The crowd stood and cheered.  Mike Pence gave the most humble, godly welcome, with tears in his eyes as he shared his faith. What a lovely man.  Incredible!

Thursday morning was the National Prayer Breakfast!  The dining room doors opened at 7:15 a.m. BUT the halls were filled and the lines were formed by 5:30 a.m.  Thousands of  folks had to be seated AFTER going through security metal detectors a few times ending with a physical pat-down. Evidently the streets outside the hotel were shut down for blocks and the secret service had been combing the area for weeks in preparation. There were many heads of state, congressmen, & famous religious leaders in that room besides our own President and Vice-President and no harm was going to come to any of them!

Again, a lovely table set with 8 strangers that quickly became friends. They all shared their life calling as a believer and follower of Jesus.

The co-chairs, a Republican and a Democrat (lifetime good friends) introduced the keynote speaker.  This year, Senate Chaplain Barry Black gave the speech of his lifetime.  I highly recommend you view it on youtube. (Just google, Barry Black's National Prayer Breakfast Speech, it'll pop up.)

Toward the end of his speech all Congressmen, religious leaders, world leaders, and this mom and dad were on their feet clapping and cheering him on as he described the MAN he'd met in the scriptures.  Tears flowed down many cheeks as Chaplain Black poured out his heart. Brilliant and SO inspiring.  (We learned later that he leads a private Bible Study of 12 Congressmen every week complete with pages of questions and notes for each one to ponder when they leave.)

Music was provided by Mercy Me with a solo of  "I Can Only Imagine" by the writer of that song.

Mark Burnett, film producer, gave a delightful introduction of President Trump by relating how he came to meet him, how the idea of "The Apprentice" transpired and the depth of their friendship of years.  President Trump addressed the crowd with jokes and light hearted banter. (His joke about Arnold and The Apprentice were serious headline "breaking news" the next day, as the major networks twisted his comment, disregarding everything else he said. I must add NO ONE in the room was offended, but laughed at his reference to Mark Burnetts story. That made the journalists look like fools to the people that actually witnessed the event.)  Toward the middle of his speech he  grew very serious as he shared that this country would always be "under God" and how he needed God's guidance.  The crowd approved and respected their President and he left the room with a standing ovation.

At lunchtime we attended the Leadership Luncheon.  We had no idea what to expect but after being seated the announcer stated, "Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome King Abdullah of Jordan."
Roaring applause and a standing O!  What a brilliant Muslim man and leader of his country.  He said much, but stressed the need of Muslims worldwide to rise up and end the movement of radical Islam.
Jordan receives more refugees than any other country and participates in the battle against ISIS, often with the King flying one of the fighter jets himself.

(We later learned that King Abdullah received his education in the US and as a prince in line for the throne had to learn Arabic before assuming  the crown.)

Sister Rosemary of Uganda was next up to the mic.  She is the subject of the movie "Sewing Hope" and runs a school for young women who have been abducted, forced to be soldiers, raped and tortured in that country.  When the girls escape they find their way to her and she works to restore them to wholeness and dignity.  Her young friend Josephine told her story in broken English and the crowd was mesmerized. Always smiling, full of life and hope, this chunky little nun is being used mightily by God.

We also heard from a baseball player....from the CUBS! After a lovely video of his team and their accomplishments this year he shared of his love for God and the necessity of humility.  His famous wife sang beautifully for the crowd.

At an afternoon session we heard from a Palestinian Christian that spends his life drawing people from Israel and the West Bank into conversations of unity. His talk was filled with hope but laced with twinges of discouragement at the depth of hatred between people of that area. He prays for peace.

At the closing dinner we were seated next to Joseph and his son Daniel.  Joseph is from the Ukraine and doesn't speak English, his son translated for him.  This kind and gentle 84 year old man shared his story of being held in a Soviet prison for 9 years because he would not recant his faith in Jesus Christ.  After being released he brought his family to America where they settled in California. I asked what he wanted the US to know, he replied, "Socialism doesn't work."  He then proceeded to tell about the shock his family felt when he realized that socialism was being accepted and promoted in AMERICA, the very land where they would be free of such a movement.  We talked about the signs, 1. Overbearing government into the lives of the people. 2. Remove God from the marketplace 3. Tell the church what it can and cannot do.....etc.  He was thrilled that Donald Trump had won the election and felt only Trump could stop the tide of the cultural acceptance of socialism.  He is on a speaking circuit and travels the country with his daughter as a translator.  He has a passion to "tell the world" about the horrors of socialism.

The keynote speaker at that session was Rick Warren, author of "The Purpose Driven Life" and pastor of the huge Saddleback Church in California.  Oh, my....what a story!
He shared of the "worst day of his life" when his tender- hearted, mentally ill son committed suicide.  Pastor Warren did nothing for 16 weeks following that day.  He did not go to work, hold any meetings, write any books, work on the charities he sponsors, or see anyone but his wife.  He told of his becoming a different person during that time of silence and now he's ready to write of his experience of HOPE. He said,"never does the Scripture tell us to share our faith, but repeatedly tells us to share our HOPE in Christ Jesus."  He found HOPE after tragedy.   Again, a standing O.

After spending some more time with Andy, a few more private gatherings and tours the week came to an end.

Our heads are spinning on our shoulders, trying to process all we saw and heard.

Unity and Reconciliation, between political parties, countries, and religious leaders?
Everyone sensed that it's POSSIBLE.....when we PRAY together in the name of Jesus.

Jesus was the MAN of the week, far more important and influential than any other big name attending.

(We left "Unity and Reconciliation" and came home to the news of student protests, private property being burned, & vulgar discourse from people interviewed on the street that cannot articulate WHY they are protesting. It seemed to be other worldly. There is certainly no unity or reconciliation on the streets of America these days.)

The National Prayer Breakfast and the people behind it lift up the person of Jesus.  He's the person for a culture that has lost it's way. He alone is the source of unity and reconciliation.

( He is the ONE hurting and fearful people in our nation are longing for and they have no idea they need Him.)

 We learned and are ENCOURAGED that there's a remnant of believers in our nations capitol and other nations capitols and cultures that look to Him and there they find strength, guidance, comfort and HOPE.


(Thanks Andy!  For this once in a lifetime, life-changing adventure.)






















Thursday, December 29, 2016

THE DAY THE CHRISTMAS TREE FELL OVER




This is is one of those memories that you look back on and laugh about....in about 20 years AFTER the incident.  It'll take that long for me to recover.

Our delightful, much-loved daughter-in-law parents 5 children, holds down 2-3 full time jobs, mentors untold number of young women, volunteers at her church and basically keeps her household running with an all too absent husband.  In years past she'd placed packages around a "Charlie Brown Christmas Tree" and everyone was happy with that!

SO...this past Thanksgiving weekend we were surprised and delighted to see her beautifully decorated 12 foot REAL Christmas tree filling the huge window of her living room. Somehow she'd found the time to put it all together in a big way! Behind the tree was an unbelievable view of the snow covered Colorado mountains.  It was a scene worthy of a Hallmark card.

 She had purchased the living tree, somehow got it to the house, enlisted a little help to get it up the stairs and standing erect.  It was gorgeous!   All the decorations she'd been storing for years were dusted off and meticulously hung on just the right branches to artfully display them.  There were Santa's, glass orbs, framed pictures of her kiddos, snowmen, moose, small lights and more.  Everyone in the family was impressed and she was rightfully very proud of this beauty. It shouted Merry Christmas in that warm lovely place.

She and her husband, (our firstborn) took off for several days to a friends wedding and we were placed in charge of the house, five kiddos, two dogs and one cat, and did I mention THE Christmas tree.  What an opportunity to enjoy the family in the "snow globe" environment of their beautiful 
CO mountain town.

After a couple of days, Honeybuns had to leave to get back to Dallas to his job and I was left for a couple of days, enjoying the kids solo.  Everything was going remarkably well....UNTIL.....

I enlisted Gabby to help me "water" the Christmas tree. She eagerly agreed.

She filled her plastic glass of water and scooted under the tree.  To oversee the task I bent down to help lift some of the lower branches of the tree UP so she would have better access to the container holding that magnificent trunk.

Without warning, fanfare, crack or wiggle....that tree SLOWLY fell away from my hand.  That TALL beauty went down as if a lumberjack had struck a final blow with an ax.

My life flashed before my eyes.  Gabby's eyes flashed out of her head!

There was a tremendous crash as the tree hit the coffee table and then the floor.  Glass ornaments went flying and shattered on the hearth of the wood burning stove.  The tip of the tree was nearly touching that hot iron.

I'm sure I was yelling, OH! NO!   Gabby was just yelling.  Dax was yelling. Others came running, immediately STUNNED at the sight. It was a catastrophe!!

I grabbed Dax by the arm, urged him (not very politely) to stop screaming and help me get the tree upright.  I remember saying, very calmly,  "It's alright kids, this kind of thing happens ALL the time. We'll fix it." ( Thinking to myself, I've NEVER seen this happen in all my years and I had NO idea how we were going to fix this!)

Dax and I pushed and I recall saying to anyone that would listen, "I hope there's not a squirrel in there."  No one present remembered the National Lampoons Christmas Vacation at that moment but ME!!

We got it up, crooked up upright, and accessed the damage.  The front side was pretty smashed, lights hanging out all over, broken ornaments all over the floor and the stunning glass star at the top was hanging about halfway down looking as if it was suffering a hangover!  Oh, No!!

Meanwhile Gabby continued to wail, "MOMMA IS GOING TO KILL US!"

Me, "NO, she will not kill us."   Gabby, "You don't know my momma, she's going to kill us."
Me,  " I DO know your momma and she's not going to kill us."

It went on that way for a while!

Trying to calm everyone down, I said, while smiling, "OK kids, we're going to put on some Christmas music and RE-DECORATE the tree."

Maggie explained that it was no longer in the center of the window and was leaning to the left!
We crammed the Christmas tree skirt under one leg and straightened it, a little!  There was no way it was going to get RE-CENTERED.  And there she stood, looking like a "lady of the evening," trying very hard to be her former elegant self, but in much disarray!

We re-hung the ornaments that had survived the ordeal, fluffed up the branches, and crammed the lights back into the tree.  Nothing could be done about the sad star, it hung limply.

Life continued for the next couple of days and before long it was my time to return to Dallas.  I kissed everyone goodbye and wished them luck.  Gabby's words echoed in my mind all the way to the Denver airport, "Momma is going to kill us."   Thinking to myself, she would be justified if she did.!!

A couple of weeks went by, SILENCE.  No mention from the kids or their parents about the felling of the great tree.

We returned to CO to celebrate Christmas with them a few weeks later.  Andy met us at the airport and I finally got the nerve to ask him,  "Did you hear the story about the Christmas tree?"  He laughed!  Yep!  Gabby and Dax squealed...and "Mom, they threw you under the bus!  All they could say was, BeBe did it, BEBE DID IT!!  It was the cry of desperation, trying to save their lives, no doubt!

I met Jamie at the house and after hugs and greetings, presented her with a box of New special  ornaments I'd carried on the plane.  "This is my peace offering, for wrecking your beautiful tree. I am SO sorry."
She laughed as she hung them on the still discombobulated tree. "The kids had quite a story."

I begged, "Can I tell you my version?"  It was identical!  It WAS my fault.

And I was VERY grateful that she said, "No big deal!"

Really?  (Now I ask you dear reader,  "WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOUR MOTHER IN LAW WRECKED YOUR BEAUTIFUL CHRISTMAS TREE?")

Talk about grace!  What a Christmas gift!!!

Papa got the ladder out and re-positioned the magnificent star.  It was once again BEAUTIFUL!

In 20 years we'll laugh about this.  But THIS year, I'm very thankful for GRACE and a very forgiving daughter-in-law.  She didn't kill anyone!

Isn't that the Christmas story?  We celebrate the gift we don't deserve!








Monday, December 19, 2016

HOW DID DJT WIN THE ELECTION?




Unless you've been living under a rock for the past few weeks, or you've been Christmas shopping or Christmas celebrating, you know that TODAY the electoral college delegates are voting! And it is very likely that Donald J. Trump will be the winner of the Presidential Electoral College election.

 Much ta-do has been made trying to stop this victory by Hollywood stars and the disgruntled, but it's been pretty much an activity of  "blowing in the wind."  Even though the popular vote decided upon HRC, those votes came from CA and NYC and Chicago. IF the popular vote were the determining factor, all those votes in the red states across middle America would be null and void. Candidates would only have to campaign in larger populated cities, leaving out the prairies, north and south.

 Even though you may hate it, the Electoral College works and it's here to stay, folks.

Back to my original thought.  Donald J. Trump will officially WIN TODAY.  HOW in the world did that happen?

I have no reliable hindsight, nor have I ever owned a crystal ball.  I think ALL of America was surprised at the outcome of this election, DJT included!!

The ONLY foreshadowing I witnessed in the past few years was the alarming dialogue taking place in the center of America that vastly disagreed with conversations heard by talk show hosts, news people, politicians and those living on the East and West Coasts, Colorado, New Mexico and Illinois.  I heard for myself MUCH TALK, but it seemed the middle of the country was speaking Mandarin Chinese and the edges were determined to speak pig-latin.  There was NO hearing, no listening, and absolutely no understanding of each others' view point.  I lamented to many people over the last 8 years, "No one is listening to anyone else!"

SO.....I've established a very unscientific, unreliable, questionable POLL.

The question, "WHY did you vote for DJT?" (THE most unlikely candidate in modern history.)  I asked that all answers be given in one or two words or simple phrases. Here are the results in NO order of importance and without explanation.  THESE are the words middle America are/were using over and over again, and these are the words that incited anger and thus a wild-card vote. (I'm sure a list could be made detailing why anyone voted for HRC, but since she lost, I'm not interested.)

Let's title this:  The words of Middle America
Bengazi
Supreme Court Vacancies
Planned Parenthood videos
Red line in the sand
Syria
Apology Tours
Impossible regulations on small businesses
Transgender bathroom law
33,000 deleted e-mails
"What difference does it make?"
Trillions of dollars in debt
War on police force
Ferguson
Loretta Lynch
Lois Lerner
IRS scandal
Supreme Court ruling on Gay Marriage
"Christians will just have to get over it."
White House Rainbow lights
Obama Care Tax and Deductibles
Race Card played by the White House
Bill Clinton in the White House
"I wish she would just stop screaming."
Make America Great Again
VA Scandal
American Flag is offensive
Political Correctness has gone too far
War on Women
War on White Men

Well, there you have it, the language of the "winners."  These words represent all  the conversations that did NOT take place before NOV. 8th. between liberals and conservatives. There was NO attempt to listen, no meeting of the minds, no persuasive debate, just US vs. THEM.   I saw nothing but a very confidant attitude that HRC was deserving of reaching her goal, she was qualified, she was experienced, she was a shoe-in, so why bother trying to discuss anything with a basket of deplorables.  What a mistake!

This one will go down in the history books and political students will be discussing it for years. (The results of my poll are available and free.)

The only thing we had to consider was the character of each candidate, both very public and both severely flawed.

 And now here we are.

Have we learned anything?










Wednesday, November 9, 2016

THE DAY AFTER


The 2016 Presidential Election is in the history books. And  Americans are reeling this day after.

Half of the country is extremely sad and discouraged, the other half is very surprised, stunned and joyful.

But, have you taken a look at the politicians today?  THEY ARE JUST FINE.

Both sides of the race have offered kind, uplifting, encouraging words of reconciliation and forward thinking today.  Yep, THEY'VE moved on.  It didn't take them long did it?

Here's my thought:

A political race to politicians is just that, a race, a game, a challenge and absolutely nothing personal.
These two candidates (and others) have spent a few years  posturing, politicizing, lying, shouting, revealing, and doing just about every circus antic that you can imagine to get attention and air time.

They've called each other horrible names, paid operatives to crash rally's, and blown out of proportion every sin known to mankind.  All in the name of garnering OUR VOTES.

We've watched, cussed and discussed, tried to ignore and tried to understand it all.

Friends and family members have taken opposite sides and said things to loved ones that they would never have said if they were in their right minds.

But TODAY.....the politicians are making nice.  They are being supportive, even praising each others' service.  They've dropped our feelings like a hot potato.

And we are REELING.

It's going to take us a while to recover, while they invite each other to dinner and family gatherings.

That's the way it is when politicians win or lose. They KNOW that each one is saying and doing wild and crazy anythings to GET A VOTE....and when it's all over they shake hands and say, GOOD GAME. She/he fought a good fight and we thank them!!

That's NOT the way it is for we the people.  We remember those words, promises and ridiculous statements.  We took the race to heart and actually believed the words they were saying. We believed the lies and vicious charges.  We were divided along party lines and now look at each other suspiciously.  There is a real FEAR that was implanted by crazy talk and gestures.

We are foolish, we are gullible because we are NOT POLITICIANS and we do not understand the nature of the GAME.

It's over folks.  We have winners and losers.  That's the way a game works.

The politicians have left us in their dust and are moving on to govern and "work together." Behind the scenes they're planning the next GAME. And once again we will be the unwilling participants.

Meanwhile we're trying to sort out how to live together in their wake.

Life is SO much more than what politicians do to us and how we've been manipulated this past year in particular.

  I'm going out to find a river, a beautiful landscape, a creative painting, a good book, or a  sweet friend.  I'm DONE with all of them.











Monday, October 3, 2016

COALITION TO END SEXUAL EXPLOITATION




I arrived home late Saturday night after driving 4 hours from Houston.  During those hours alone on the road I tried to process all I learned at the 3rd Annual Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation Summit,  3rd for them, 1st for me.

I went to the conference because of past experiences with Christians Against Trafficking in Tulsa, OK.  I picked up my Tulsa friend at the Houston airport and we spent 3 days together at this summit.  Reuniting with her, sharing family stories, laughing and eating was the calm before the storm.

And it was a storm.  A storm of information that left me stunned, breathless at times, and very sad at times, very encouraged at other times.  It was a three day storm of lectures by the most prominent, highly educated and respected people in the country in the area of sexual exploitation.  Those speaking were Dr's., lawyers, survivors, ministers, Priests, Rabbi's, Phd's, young, old, recovering addicts, homosexuals, Christians, atheists, authors, nurses, politicians, founders of organizations, film people, and interested citizens whose heart is breaking for the CHILDREN of America.

As we heard on day 1, lecture 1, "When a maniac is at the door brothers reconcile."  The following days revealed the nature of that maniac."  The maniac and the foundation for all sexual exploitation is:  Pornography.   "Dehumanizing a human makes violence against them much more acceptable."

I'm organizing some one liners from my notes.

"Humans have intrinsic worth and the human body is worthy of reverence."

"The only proper attitude toward the human being is love.  If we don't get love right we don't get life right."

"There is some good in this world and it is worth fighting for."

"You can change one persons life without making a significant dent in the industry. But that is ONE persons life."

"The ordinances on the local books are enough to put sex businesses out of business."  (I have a list!
Usually the city fathers do not WANT to close up the shops because of the money it brings to the city.!)

"McDonald's, Starbucks, Hilton, Hyatt, Intercontinental, Starwood and all airlines except American now filter their Wifi and hardcore porn is no longer streamed at those businesses." (Great success stories.)

"Porn in high fashioned magazines and in the mainstream media have created a culture of acceptance of the unacceptable."

"Snuff films are porn films that end with the killing of a life actress."

"Virtual Reality Porn is the next technology in the industry."
    A man can customize a virtual girlfriend: color of eyes, hair, accent, & speech.  (She can call him "king of the world" if that's what he wants.)
    He then places the "glasses" on his face and his dream woman can look right into his eyes.
    He can "touch her" and she will respond.  If he purchases a  footed-pajama type suit, he can "feel" her touching him.
    The Japanese men that invented all this now have "no use for women."
 (Hugh Hefner had no idea where his magazine would lead America.)

"If the church does not address porn it will self-destruct."

"There is no time to pray and wait."  "Pastor silence does more damage."

"Pornography will soon be mainstream in the church"  (Plenty of stats!)

"Porn changes your brain." (Lots of stats, charts, proof!)

"Human trafficking occurs at clubs, bars, massage parlors, strip clubs and nail salons."

"Porn itself is Human Trafficking."

"In Houston, 13 brothels opened in 13 days along Memorial Drive.

"Australia is the rape capital of the world."

"The fact that you may not succeed should not deter you from trying."  Martin Luther

"Destroy men and boys and the culture is destroyed."

"Victims go to the Dr. 15 times before the Dr's. ask the right questions."

"We must create a culture of protectors rather than predators."

"There is no such thing as a child prostitute."

"Children's Hospital in Houston receives 60-80 cases of CHILD sexual assault a MONTH in the ER."

"Internet gaming/video games taps into the "reward" system of the brain, impulse control is not developed until the age of 25."

"A menu of age and preference is available to porn users online,  3yo means "tap" here and porn pictures of 3 year old children will pop up.  The menu lists children's ages down to infants, all for a price of course."

"It is no accident that older models dress as young school girls in advertisements."

"53% of children online have NO parental supervision." (2 books for young children, "My Body is a Gift From God" and "Good Pictures, Bad Pictures."

"8 year olds exposed to online porn are now addicted."

"Sexting to young teenage girls is interpreted as, he likes me."

Porn is our NATIONAL HEALTH CARE CRISIS.  And must be addressed much like seat belts in cars, smoking, and  driving while drinking.

AFTER 3 days of  continuous information from experts, I AM VERY ENCOURAGED.

There are smart, powerful people in places of influences that are taking on the challenge,
"For the sake of the children."  The folks in this fight are young, old, religious, non-religious, highly educated, and highly motivated. They have vowed to stop the maniac in it's tracks.  The law and the moral high ground are on their side.  I believe this fight will be won in my lifetime.

How???  Well......I buckle up my seat belt every time I get in the car,  I do not smoke and I do not drink and drive.  A huge movement equal to those cultural movements now recognizes that pornography is a  NATIONAL HEALTH CARE ISSUE and that movement is  gaining momentum.

This battle will not be won by politicians or Hollywood.  It will be fought and won in homes, coffee shops, family gatherings and everywhere conversation about it's seriousness takes place.  It will be won as people realize the death Porn brings to individuals, marriages, families, children and the society. It will be won when SHAME is attached to any and everyone that participates in it's filth.  It will be won when pornography addiction treatment is common, acceptable and successful. It will be won when decency, respect and reverence for other human beings is a lifestyle. It will be won when the church tackles the issue.  It will be won when ALL good people in this country decide that enough is enough.









Monday, August 8, 2016

WARNING: ELECTION THOUGHTS


What to do?  Vote for the devil you know or the devil you don't know.  That seems to be the question THIS election cycle.  Good grief!  Could it get any stranger?

I'm convinced that either way the vote might take us in November, it won't be long until our political situation will become even weirder, if that's possible!

If the Dems win, we're looking at imprisonment or pardon of the President. (Yes, believe it or not, the law IS "one size fits all.")   If the GOP prevails, impeachment. (I've heard that steps are already being taken, just waiting for some unconstitutional reason to surface.) Either way, the office of the President will be vacant. SO...I've come to the conclusion that the candidates THIS TIME are not the issue.

As much as the media tries to make this about personalities, issues are always more important.
(I'm privately praying that BOTH candidates will voluntarily and safely remove themselves from the race, but I've been told that is ridiculous!)

 We'd better start paying attention to the people that surround the candidates AND their party's platform.  They will be the ones to pick up the pieces after the dust settles.

The Vice Presidential candidates are very important and the Party platform of the winning VP will sway the direction of the country.

I'm very content with Governor Mike Pence, he is a highly regarded conservative, very well spoken, strong, calm and extremely smart. He doesn't hesitate to disagree with Trump on some issues and I'm learning to trust his judgment.  Rudy, Newt, Chris, Marco and Mike Huckabee are also common sense voices heard from time to time in the roar of the campaign and Trumps bombastic personality.

The jury is still out for me on Senator Kaine.   He's a devout Jesuit Catholic with deep moral convictions and that's very appealing to me. ( He believes in the right of the unborn PERSONALLY, but declares that his private conviction will not sway his PUBLIC position.  That's a little disturbing.  YES, he must enforce the present law, but thankfully when slavery was legal there were statesmen that used the power of their position to encourage public opinion to demolish THAT ugly law.  Isn't that the purpose of having and living out a godly conviction?)  Senator Kaine leans to the liberal side which is  being faithful to his party. I'll continue to investigate him.  (Voices that support Clinton trouble me, such as Debbie Wasserman Shultz, Warren Buffet, Terry McCauliffe, Saul Alinkskey, Dianne Feinstein, and John Podesta. Then there's the Clinton "body count" to reckon with and the endless scandals that will return to the national stage.)

As far as the platforms: I found a chart. (In a nutshell)
It's pretty easy to align with one side or the other here..
                                     
DEMOCRAT      higher taxes/more government regulation  
REPUBLICAN   lower taxes, free market sets wages, flat tax

D -social ideas based on community
R- based on individual rights and justice

D -decrease military spending  
R - increase military spending

D - support gay marriage (generally)
R - oppose gay marriage (generally)

D - abortion should remain legal  
R - oppose abortion and Roe v. Wade

D - government regulations protect people  
R - government regulations hinder job growth

D - support universal healthcare  
R - oppose requirement to buy health insurance

D - moratorium on deporting undocumented  
R -  no amnesty for undocumented immigrants

D - little concern for trillions of dollars of debt  
R -  see national debt as security issue

I'm convinced the American government is not great right now, but I'm absolutely positive that the AMERICAN PEOPLE are the finest in the world. In spite of the renegade examples interviewed on the TV regularly, we the people are good and kind and want the best for EVERYONE. We just pretty much ignored Washington for way too long and now find ourselves in this political pickle.

Common sense CAN prevail, but only if common sense is heard.

The voice IS more powerful than the vote these days.  Lies told on both sides are believed by the masses even after they are exposed. (We naively want to believe what people say is true. We're good like that!)  And once a lie is believed, pride keeps us from admitting we fell for it. We march on with signs in hand, supporting a lie meant only to garner votes.  It works.

In three months, the lies, the shouting, the attacks, and the foolishness will be over.  Hopefully, there will be a smooth, uneventful transfer of power.  Then get ready for ROUND 2!

















Wednesday, July 27, 2016

BUILD A WALL?

A fence?  A wall?
Aren't bridges always better??

Because it's part of the national debate, of course I have to add my two cents to the discussion!( I have no delusion that anyone is interested in my opinion, but writing is therapy! And I certainly need lots of  that during this election process.)

The  fence debate continues, gets louder and frankly a little stupid.

Building fences and walls have somehow been labeled racists, unloving and a tool of the isolationists.  Why do we need walls, fences or borders anyway?  Aren't we part of the new global, one world, "let's love everybody" system?

Take a look at the picture above.
This is the newly designed, MUCH HIGHER, fence recently constructed around the White House grounds in DC.  The secret service insisted it be put in place because of recent "fence jumpers" who undoubtedly had evil intent and perhaps wanted to do physical harm to our President and his family or damage to the building and grounds itself.  This fence serves a good purpose. And I've heard not one complaint about the protection this particular fence provides.  Of course, everyone, wants the people's house and it's residents safe. And we have to agree: there ARE some nutcases out there.

And then of course there's this:

This is the fence constructed at the recent Democratic National Convention. No doubt this fence aided the police as they tried to keep the peace and encourage safety for  protesters, delegates, and VIP's

So....I conclude we LIKE fences/walls.....sometimes!

The debate seems to heat up when we turn our eyes to the southern border of the US, not so much the northern border.

The question becomes, why does a nation need a wall?  Why does a nation even need a border?

I heard a politician say just this week,  "If we do not have a border, we do not have a country."

I've also heard very loving, kind, young people say, "Why do we need a border anyway? Aren't we all God's children?"

My thoughts:

A secure border defines territory, jurisdiction and responsibility.

The land and it's people INSIDE a border BELONG to that country.

 The land is owned by the people that purchased it or the government that has declared it belongs to ALL the people of the nation. (National Parks!)
The land cannot be infringed upon, grabbed, or used by anyone other than the owner without that owners permission. It is cared for financially and physically by it's owner. Simple, right?

The people (citizens either by birth or through the legal process of gaining citizenship) of a country have the wonderful privilege and responsibility of governing, voting, serving, and taking care of the land AND EACH OTHER.  They also determine what amount of financial/military responsibility they will assume for foreign nations, who will lead them, how the budget will be spent, how every person will be protected,  & how the legal/business/judicial system will be regulated.

The plan works pretty good!!  In theory! Debates, discussions, and votes are forever refining and changing the way the country does things.

So...let's imagine an area of no borders, no walls, no fences, no immigration system.

If you've traveled outside the US, you have quickly realized the EVERYONE wants to come to the United States to live.  Many risk life and limb to get here. And many give there lives in the attempt to set foot on American dirt.  (Ex...Cuban immigrants to Florida)
People of other nations see the freedom, the prosperity and the opportunity this country offers and desire to be a part of that.  Wonderful!!!  As the statue says, "give us your tired, poor, hungry....."
America has ALWAYS welcomed people from nations all over the world.

BUT.......there is a process to gain entry and citizenship that is now being questioned.  There MUST be a vetting process in place to prevent large numbers of people that do NOT have the best interest of America and it's citizens in mind.  There are millions of people that desire to participate in those wonderful privileges of voting, governing, and enjoying the generosity of hard working taxpayers and government programs.  Who wouldn't??

 BUT.... There are also people that would like nothing better than to destroy our cities, schools, government and citizens from the inside out by USING those same tools of voting, gaining positions of power, and general freedom.  Homeland security warns us over and over again that it's not a matter of IF, but when a large scale, perhaps even nuclear, attack will occur in one of our major cities.

Shall we build a bridge and invite everyone to cross as if everyone has innocent intentions?

When we discuss illegal immigrants should we consider physical, financial and political issues?

How many people that do NOT love freedom of speech, religion, dress, or job opportunity would it take before a city, a state or even a country is changed forever through the voting booth? OR by taking advantage of the generosity of very well-intended governmental programs and plans.

Can't happen?  I have been to Brownsville, Texas and other cities on our southern border. They no longer even SLIGHTLY resemble American cities the rest of the country know.

I have seen the "wall" designed to protect those folks there and it is a joke!  I have stayed with a family that has owned an orchard for generations and their trees are being destroyed by illegals trekking through it at night, sneaking into the area. I have seen the piles of trash, clothing, plastic bottles left behind.  At times dead bodies are found because of the heat, danger,  lack of water. It's tragic,, and no humane way to welcome those that want to come here.

 Home invasions are common there, fear of the Mexican Cartel is rampant.  Texas, New Mexico and Arizona residents have stories that will make your hair stand straight up on your head.

Those Americans by birth want to stay, it is their home.  They are trying desperately to keep their homes and property.

How will removing the partial wall help the situation?  How will building a bridge in the name of loving kindness help?  How can we support ALL the people that want to come here?

(I truly believe there is a tipping point we will reach when the number of people paying into the system to help folks will be LESS than the number of people receiving the financial help. Reminder: we are TRILLIONS of $$ in debt now. Soon the millions of dollars we pay for interest  DAILY on that debt will exceed the revenue coming into the government till.  Who will help thousands of illegal immigrants then?? That's a tough statement for folks who believe money grows on trees. )

Should we welcome struggling immigrants?  YES!  Should we help anyone that needs help? YES!  Should we help  third world countries prosper so their people will want to stay in their own country?  YES! Should we improve our vetting system for those applying for entry? YES! Should we help improve those "ghettos" where many immigrants are forced to live?  YES!

But, as much as we would like to, we cannot feed, clothe, educate, and medicate all the people the world OR even all the people that want to come here to live.  It is absolutely impossible.
As generous as "we the people" are, it is absolutely impossible.

Without borders, we have no country.  Physically, socially, politically or financially.
Without borders, without a wall or a fence, there will be no America for folks to come to.

 We will be a third world country that will be able to help  no one!

It sounds harsh, but a wall on the Southern border is the most loving thing we can do for those folks that live there, for the people that want to come here safely, for the future of freedom and safety for the rest of the country as well.  

Congress voted years ago to build a wall to define our borders.  Funding it is the challenge.
(Could a wall and entry through it be abused? Sure, but hopefully thinking America will take care of that, too. )

The White House fence and the Democratic Convention fence prove the point.   Sometimes they're needed for protection, safety, financial stability and freedom for those that work very hard to make this land the best place in the world for ALL people that want to be part of our democracy.

You think we can get past the 30 second sound bites and really think this thing through?
















Wednesday, June 29, 2016

"YOU DIDN'T BUILD IT"








I'm trying folks, I'm really trying.  Trying to NOT comment on every asinine political statement I hear during this election year.

I'm not being very successful.

I've been holding THESE thoughts in for quite a while now and if I don't let it fly I might just die!

(Is that poetry?  "If I don't let it fly....I might die")

We have heard it several times now, from a couple of different politicians.  I've even heard just "regular" folks quote this statement as fact.

Here is it:    "If you own a business, you didn't build it!  You had fire protection, employees educated by the public school system, police protection, roads to drive on, etc.  YOU didn't build it, others built your business."

That is probably the stupidest thing I've ever heard.  Bear with me, and let me explain.

YES....business owners drive on public roads, take public transportation, enjoy protection from the finest firemen and policemen.

BUT...here's the kicker!  So does everyone else that did NOT or NEVER WILL build a business.
(Think:  stay at home moms, bus drivers, factory workers, bankers, every one in ministry, retired golfers, and SO many more.  ALL fine hardworking, lovely folks, but NOT business owners.)

Small business owners are a RARE courageous bunch.

THEY alone are the ones that take the risk, borrow huge amounts of money, often using their own house as collateral. THEY are the ones that pay the endless taxes and licenses required by the government, endure safety inspections and guidelines that often make no earthly common sense.

 THEY alone are the ones that stick it out for 3 years (statistically proven) before they see $1 of profit.  THEY alone are the ones that rise early, stay late and wrestle with payrolls, often foregoing their own salary so their employees get paid that month. (A 40 hour week?  Unheard of!)

 THEY alone invest in equipment that would make any ordinary persons hair stand straight up and burst into flames.

THEY alone are the ones that had the idea, visited the patent attorney, developed a sample product and perfected it again and again over time. THEY alone are the ones that attend trade conferences and plan changes and cost cuts to keep up with the competition.  THEY alone are the ones that listen to employees problems, and take their place at work when that same employee doesn't show up for work on any given day. THEY are the ones that deal with dissatisfied customers who don't hesitate for one minute blaming, shouting and cursing when something goes awry. THEY are the ones that provide necessary products and services for the rest of us.

Yes, they enjoy public services, but THEY PAY TAXES  to provide for them, too.

IF they didn't build their own businesses, WHO DID?  Those places of employment didn't pop up all by themselves.

A rebuttal to my argument (and I've heard this as well) is:  Consumers build businesses.

Nice thought, BUT....I can't sit in my house and wish for a tire store to appear down the street, a donut shop to magically appear because I long for  one, or a gift shop to pop up nearby as a convenience to me.  A brave BUSINESS OWNER has to take the first step and assume all the risk.

And if he/she does it right, consumers will come.  If not.....a dream is shattered and the business person will start all over again because it's in their DNA. Sitting down, waiting for someone to come rescue them is NOT an option.

And while they are regrouping the rest of us will be driving down the roads, enjoying the protection of the policemen and firemen and sending our kiddos to public schools.  And we'll be waiting for a job!


Monday, February 8, 2016

iPHONE ADDICTION DISORDER


It's rampant, it's addictive, it's contagious.

Yesterday Honeybuns and I went out for lunch after church, our normal Sunday activity.  For several weeks now we've been observing the same behavior amongst our fellow diners no matter where we go for Sunday chow.

We've made a conscious effort to speak to and smile at  children, elderly folks, wives, husbands, friends that are obviously very much  ALONE  and LONELY while sitting across the table from their loved ones.  No matter what the age, the sad look is identical.  A kind word or smile is eagerly acknowledged.

Their loved ones are staring at or playing games on their phones!  You've seen it, too.  It's not just a Dallas disease, but a pandemic across the nation.

We've noticed small children sitting quietly,  being totally ignored, while both parents are intently involved with their phones.  Husbands and wives are totally dismissed while one or the other plays a game or checks their e-mail.  Grandmas and Grandpas are staring out the window while their family members check out the latest games. Usually NO ONE is talking on their phones, that would be rude, I guess.  But they are immersed in whatever is happening on that small screen even though their family members are sitting right in front of them.

Yesterday we watched a father play games on his phone while his teenage daughter politely sat across the table watching him.  She looked very sad, and I wondered when this Daddy would regret this activity.  Her time with him is so very short. I'm sure a day will come when he decides she is or WAS more important than a video game.

EVERY single table in that very crowded, very popular upscale bakery held the same scene.  It was unbelievable.

I saw a quote recently, "Our phones keep us connected with many, but disconnects us with the people sitting across from us."

And another with a picture of a lonely child, "I wish I were a phone so my mommy and daddy would hold ME all day."

It's EASY to catch the iPhone Addiction Disorder.  The symptoms manifest before you know it and before long you've got a full blown case. Compare it to alcohol, prescription drugs, or cannabis.  It's a sneaky, sly bug!

SO......I've made some guidelines for ME!  (You can steal them if you please.)  I'm comparing these "rules" to taking vitamins, exercising, taking a bath, eating lots of greens,  and drinking lots of water.  It's preventative action for healthy relationships.  (Some of these are easier than others.)

1.   When I enter a restaurant with ANYONE, the phone stays in the car.
2.   When I'm driving....its in my purse in the backseat.
3.   When I have company at my house it's turned off and in my purse in the laundry room.
4.   It is never allowed in the bedroom.
5.   When I'm at a meeting of ANY kind, it's turned off and stays in my purse or IF it's church, it's in the car.
6.   When I'm at ANYONE'S house, ditto.

These little technological wonders can control our lives to the point that we are no longer living our lives with the most important people on earth.   A reminder: that isn't a phone you are holding, it is a tiny computer with access to the world and you can also make a call.

 Seriously!  Who needs to play video poker at a birthday party?

We babyboomers remember when the telephone was attached to the wall, so I think I can put this demanding marvel in its rightful place.  When it beeps, it can wait.

And I'll continue to strike up conversations with those lonely folks abandoned by it.





Friday, February 5, 2016

BERNIE MADOFF


Who is Bernie Madoff???

That was my question too, UNTIL I happened upon a two part TV special this past Wednesday and Thursday evening.  I flipped on the show fully expecting to turn it to American Idol after a minute or two, BUT found myself engrossed in this story.

The story of Bernie Madoff is fascinating! Even for a numbers-challenged person like me.

He founded and ran a Wall Street Investment Firm that was very successful for decades.  He portrayed himself as a financial magician!  The "lipstick" building in Manhattan was his world and many people were employed there making legitimate profits for their customers in the ups and downs of that business.  His two sons developed a successful career as traders, and money managers in that place.
The office was modern, slick, and exciting.  People counted themselves very fortunate to work at Madoff's.  He was very successful and president of NASDAQ for 4 years.

BUT...Bernie had a secret!  On the 17th floor of that magnificent building a very different type of operation was whirling.  NO ONE was allowed on the 17th floor without Bernie's permission and he rarely gave it.  There Bernie's old-time and extremely loyal friend, two female morally bankrupt women and a handful of bean counters reported to work daily.  The employees on that floor generated thousands of reports and perspectives and sent them out to some of the richest people on the planet.  You see, Bernie had  artfully and very slyly convinced his clients that only HE could make them successful on the stock market.  Those people GAVE HIM, voluntarily, BILLIONS of dollars for him to "take care of."  His charm, timing, manipulation and sheer bravado won them over.

The secret?  Bernie never made ONE trade with their money.  NOT ONE!  He took their billions and spent it on his very lavish lifestyle which included 4 ka-million dollar mansions, yachts, a collection of  Rolex watches, lavish vacations, fancy cars, extreme parties and "over the top" gifts to his family and employees.  He gave away rare cars, watches, and villas in Switzerland, with the intent of  buying loyalty and friendship.  It worked for decades.

The reports sent to his 17th floor customers were all BOGUS.  Every page, every column, ever number was a lie. Every thing that happened there was illegal with serious consequences. The employees on THAT floor were the only ones in the know!

It went on for YEARS! When a client requested a payout he would offer to give them their money WITH the stipulation that once OUT of his organization there would be no returning. They folded, every time, continuing to TRUST the wizard. He spent their money and they received paper reports in the mail.

Well, to make a very long complicated story short, a numbers nerd caught wind of this operation and was able to look at the books.  After about 5 minutes he declared, FRAUD.

The FBI moved in and soon it was very obvious that MANY investors were devastated. It took years to unwind the mess. Bernie had to confess to his wife and sons that his operation was all a LIE, that he'd been running a PONZI scheme for decades. They were stunned!  The husband and father they thought they knew didn't even exist. He'd deceived them as well.

Many innocent employees were without a job, one son committed suicide, the second died of cancer, his wife was destroyed. A daughter-in-law had to change her last name to be able to function in society once again.  His loyal secretary of 25 years was a key witness AFTER the scam was exposed.  She handed the FBI Bernie's "black book" of phone numbers.  It contained the names of ALL the folks he'd tricked.

BERNIE and several of his inner circle went to jail.  Bernie's sentence was 155 years.  He's living the good life in prison as a hero of sorts and has declared that at last he has no worries and is enjoying life.

Probably the most important line of the whole story was when Bernie (Richard Dreyfuss) looked into the camera and stated....."one phone call would have blown the whistle years ago.  A secretary could have made that call."   (To the government agency that oversees the financial world.)

And another line, "I told them (investors) what they wanted to hear, not the truth, and they believed me."

Wow!  He told them what they wanted to hear, not the truth!  Most of Bernie's victims were highly educated and very successful businessmen and entrepreneurs.  They were good, charitable, smart folks.

Deceived, every one.  Probably the biggest lie I/we believe is, "that can't happen to me."

One morally corrupt evil man destroyed many.

Truth (about anything)  is important, whether we like the sound of it or not.






Monday, January 11, 2016

HOW TO SELECT A PRESIDENT


Talk about confused!  This old lady is befuddled.

This past week I had a conversation with a very intelligent, very YOUNG business woman whom I admire and respect. She works hard, is planning her destination wedding, has many friends and is simply delightful.

We enjoy each other's company and talk about anything and everything!

The conversation turned to the upcoming election, political ads, etc.  I was excited to hear this young woman's perspective and could not imagine how the conversation was going to go.

Well....SURPRISE!

As I listened, she related her ideas on most ALL the candidates now in the horse race for President.
She seemed educated on the most important topics.  But then....she lowered the boom!

She shared with me that HER many friends, the ones in her age group (20- 30), knew nothing about the candidates, their position, history, views, etc.  And they had no intention of investigating the people or issues important to the upcoming election.

Wait for it....................

Her generation would vote for the candidate supported by their favorite CELEBRITY!

(What?  Why on earth would anyone do that? You've got to be kidding me!)

She saw the stunned look on my face and reassured me that, Yes....the young voting block was waiting to see who Katy Perry (and other folks featured in People Magazine) was going to endorse.

Well.....at that moment I had to confess to her that I don't know anything about Ms. Perry, I don't read People Magazine, watch the award shows, never go to rock concerts and rarely see a movie.  When discussing who starred in the latest block buster, old movies or even TV shows with friends, I wait it out until the conversation turns to other subjects.  I just don't know or care and am very surprised that anyone does!

I wish those folks WELL.... AND MUCH SUCCESS.  Pretending to be something you're not, dressing up in costume, learning many lines, and raking in a ka-billion dollars for it is no doubt an honorable profession and I occasionally enjoy the fruit of their labor. Singing before thousands, and managing a successful career is their work.  BUT, care what those folks think about an election?  That is simply mind-boggling.

I don't care what they think about toothpaste, basketball teams, car models, or anything else they might be hired to tout. I don't care about their parenting techniques, diets, or surgeries.

The whole concept of wishing to be like, look like, think like, act like a CELEBRITY is crazy.

I don't doubt my friends assessment for a moment.  Our culture has lifted  many celebrities to a status of idolatry. I'm sure it happened when I was younger, too....remembering the Beatles, Paul Newman,
etc.  But somewhere along life's path we (baby boomers) realized that those folks were just people, putting their pants on one leg at a time just like everyone else and thus failed to be impressed.  

I simply cannot imagine anyone looking to a drummer, model, actor, singer or Kardashian to select a President.

Evidently it's easier than thinking for yourself.  God help us!