“Send Her Back”

I don’t want to “send her back.” I want her to appreciate the many opportunities that this great country which I love as provided to her. I want her to love this country that has allowed her to become a congresswoman. For 98 years I have enjoyed the fruits of my founders; I have enjoyed the freedom given to me by the constitution and our founding documents. I was born wrapped in the red, white, and blue of our magnificent flag.

Perhaps a return visit to the two places she left would be a stark reminder of why she became an refugee. As an educator for decades, I wonder how someone who has achieved what she has can seemingly hate this country so much. Behavior and words need to match in this respect. Wanting to transform this country to a place for “opportunities that exist for all” denies recognition of the opportunities that she has been given and used freely.

What other country in the world would this be possible? To rise from refugee status to a member of one of our deliberative bodies, the “House of Representatives.” What other country in the world would allow her make the comments she is making about her new land? No, I don’t want to “send her back,” I want her to appreciate one of the reasons for our founding, religious freedom. I want her to appreciate her ability to follow her faith as I have been able to do. I want her to feel wrapped in the flag. No, I don’t want to “send her back,” I want her to share all the positive things that have happened to her in this great land. Surely she must know deep inside that this divinely guided experiment, this awesome Republic, is one of a kind. It is unique. I want her to tell the world, including the countries from which she fled, what this great land provides for all of its citizens and so many others. Most certainly it has been provided to her in a short period of time. No, I don’t want to “send her back,” I just want her to be as grateful as I am for all this country means, all it represents and all of its values.

I have been questioning how someone can become so absolute and sure of her philosophical base in such a short amount of time. What other country does freedom ring to the extent that this would be possible?

My almost-century perspective has allowed me to experience all the positive things and also things I have worked extremely hard to change. I know that unless we retain the principles and practices of our founding and live through our founding documents that our country will be something quite different. Unless we remain one nation indivisible under God with liberty and justice for all, we will our lose freedom.

God’s Creations Revisited

I want to share with you a document I wrote when I had nearly-full sight and had the mobility to walk greater distances. Now I cannot see some of the things I talk about in the article below; I do not take the extensive walks I used to take, but as I reread about God’s creations and the magic palate, I found that I was just as grateful now with the memories as I was when I first experienced them. Now let me share with you what I experienced in May 2014. The beauty is the same; I see it differently.

What a beautiful day. The walk to the end of the driveway is always an adventure. It is one I take everyday in my trek around the house. While it is the same driveway, the walk is always different. The blossoms are at a different state in their journey. The birds and their songs are different at different hours; their flight patterns vary with the tasks of the hour. The palm fronds are greeting the sky in different ways as they meet the morning breezes. The sun greets me at a different angle. The shadows cast their magic with the path of the sun. The breezes say hello with a gentle brush across my face.

            The sky is its own study each morning. This morning it is a blue dome with white, fleecy clouds covering it like a white lace covering a blue tablecloth. Yesterday it was a beautiful, clear, blue dome. The silhouette of the palm fronds against the blue is an impressive piece of nature’s artistry. The mountains across the valley stand majestically as they lend their beauty to the horizon.

            The yellow iris proudly present themselves as they add their beauty to the scene; it seems each is proclaiming it is the perfect blossom. The  bronze day lilies vie for attention as they stand among the iris. Nature mixes in the red, pink, and rose colors of the geraniums that trail along the driveway and sometimes climb the palm trees. God’s artistry creates amazing pieces of art in nature.

            As I proceed around the house, I can smell the last vestiges of the perfume of the orange blossoms; they are rapidly pursuing their journey. In a few days there will be little green nubbins, the first sign of the next piece of their destiny. They, too, will soon mirror the mature fruit left on the trees. An orange tree, like so much of nature, is a beauty to behold. And how magical when you can see the evolution day by day. How can one not be grateful?

            I never cease to be amazed as I turn the corner. I leave the fragrance of the orange blossoms; I know in just a few feet the roses will start  to share their varied perfumes. They have to share their beauty with the vastness of the view across the valley. As I look across the valley, the avocado trees in the foreground add the incredible greenness of their foliage to the scene. But in a few more steps, the roses send out their calling cards. A rose is something special. And each of the many that I have sends its individual greeting card. The beauty of the buds, the fullness of the blossom, the attempt of each petal to last as long as possible–all magic. The colors an variety are unbelievable.

            And that’s just some of the plants. Now add the glory of a hawk, the pride pace of a road-runner, the scamper of a ground squirrel. or the tail of a rabbit scurrying away. The sound of the music from the many birds that love their nests in my palm trees, add the symphony to the scene. Even the crows add their base notes to the sound.

                 How could I not be grateful enough to understand that tomorrow my walk will be looking at another artistic rendering of God’s magnificent creations? I hope your grateful walk today was as beautiful as mine.

Continuing College Woes – Debt, Irrelevancy, Entitlement, Etc.,

As I looked across the countryside from my patio. I marveled at the beauty. How could a country girl from Iowa be so fortunate? Somehow my mind went back to the first school I attended on the Sand Cove, a country school near New Albin,Iowa. I was just four, but I didn’t know I was too young for the first grade. I loved it. I found a gold mine. I had a teacher and big kids to answer my many questions about my world.

I rather quickly traversed my early school experiences; my teacher’s faces had the same smiles; the wonder of the books and maps and the globe was still vivid; I could place my finger on the globe and dream. All held memories of excitement. High school in Lansing, Iowa, where my coach, Eddie Albertson, and the other wonderful teachers worked their magic, was small. The superintendent had a sign in his small office that read: There is always room at the top. It just added confirmation to what I already knew. I wasn’t staying on the bottom rung of any ladder–my own or any ladder placed in front of me.

And then I went to college. What an opportunity. I had no money; I had no job. I certainly did not have a college wardrobe. I didn’t have any idea what that might even be. But I never allowed those facts to cloud my screen of opportunity. I had the most important ingredient. I had faith. I did not have to see the entire path before I took the first step. And my experience and heritage taught me that hard work produced answers to dreams.

My mental journey stopped. I was back in the reality of today. I listened to the news while I was eating my breakfast. There were the college audiences gathered to hear the campaign rhetoric. These young voters are being trained better each year to believe that a college education is their right. But that’s not where the entitlement stops. They want grants. When there are no grants available, they are convinced that they are entitled to loans. They are convinced that the money they borrow is a good investment for their future. They get deeper and deeper in debt. Each loan, they think, will get them closer to the pay-off of their investment.

Colleges set a great table of choices; students can feast at the table no matter the cost since most are not spending their money. Tuition costs have risen sharply. College debt of students has become enormous. Young people finish a degree or two or even the terminal degree for a profession, and find themselves with staggering debt. They remove their cap and gown, say goodbye to their college buddies, and head out to collect on their investment. They have the piece of paper that says they’re ready. And maybe they are, but for what decade.

Educators have a thing about relevancy. We spend vast sums of money to make curriculum relevant for our students. But somehow while we fiddle with the same set of stuff, we haven’t noticed that the music is the same. We have the same disciplines in our colleges, the same teaching methods, the same kinds of classroom, and professors with tenure and their disciplines to protect to keep it that way. I hate to say this, because I love books and I have a lot of them, but our libraries are filled with books that will never be used again.

But back to our college students who are campaign targets. So far what I have heard is what they are entitled to have, including current talk of forgiving student loans. They are being trained to become permanent members of the culture of entitlement.

I want to hear some talk about students being responsible for their choices. I want to hear some straight talk about jobs. Tell them to be careful about their choices; check the economy. Tell them to ask the professor or advisor who is recommending  college majors to them, to give them the name of five recent grads of the program so they can check out where they work and what their pay is. Tell them to keep track of technology. Ask the young people who graduated in the last couple of years what the future holds for them. Ask them if the field they chose has any relevancy in this decade. Ask them if they need the expensive degree they have to do the job they are doing. And what about parents who held two jobs so their kids could get not only an irrelevant education but also were probably taught values that are contrary to parental values and to our founding principles.

In the past couple of years, I have talked with so many of my friends who have children or grandchildren with expensive college educations who are working for minimum wages in retail or fast food places. They have no chance to pay off their debt  with minimum wage.They feel cheated, deceived, and discouraged. Their hope is for change.

Don’t misunderstand me. I still believe in the value of a college education. And I have respect for the degrees people earn; I am proud of my doctorate from UCLA.  And if someone wants to study one of the great disciplines for enjoyment and knowledge, that’s great  But if they hope that their education is directly job-related, there needs to be more “truth in lending,” and colleges and universities need to have more job-relevant majors. If colleges and universities are to exist in the future, they must serve this generation and the generations of the future rather than the tenured professors who occupy their hallowed halls. I mean no disrespect for those many great and noble professors at our universities; I was a tenured professor at major universities. But I truly believe that our colleges and universities must become relevant, and they must be totally honest about how they fit into the future of this great republic.

Trumped by Trump Who Couldn’t Win

The election of Trump was not possible, the transformers thought. This political novice could not win. He was not schooled in the political process.

This television celebrity and New York businessman was clearly outmatched by the Clinton and Obama schooled and well-funded machines. They pretended to  be of the people and for the people. The astounding and unexpected outcomes proved otherwise. Donald Trump was elected as the man who really cared about the people.

 He cares about their lost jobs, their declining life style, the fewer dollars they had in their pockets, the drugs on their streets and the lack of assimilation of new immigrants. They believed that he cares about our military people and our veterans. They believed that he cared about our laws and those who enforce them. He talked directly to the people. He turned out to be the candidate most willing and most skilled with new technology. He used the social media. He fooled all the pundits; successful predictors of elections were not even off track; they were in the bushes.

President Trump speaks of our Heritage. He speaks of our Founders and their founding principles and their belief in Divine Guidance in the founding or our republic. He openly invokes the blessings of our Creator. He believes that our rights come from that Creator and not from our government.

He believes in smaller government; he wants to drain the swamp in Washington D.C. He has signed executive orders that will help veterans to be assured of better care, create greater energy dependence, and reduced regulations that have been intruding in our personal and professional lives. His actions continue to give more power back to the people; that is what our Founders intended; it is what they pledged their all to create. Their very lives were in jeopardy when they gathered on that Hot Philadelphia day to sign our Declaration of Independence. So many of our young and old do not know when it was signed, or certainly they have no idea of the fifty-six brave men who risked it all to give us the freedom we enjoy, abuse and in so many ways do not understand.

Our fight and founding for religious tolerance has been turned upside down. It has been used to create “tolerance” for all other religions and a lack of tolerance and respect for our Christian Heritage. Our country was founded on tolerance of various Christian differences. We still have vestiges of those difference in our various states.

The transformers have been eminently successful up to now. I have hope that we have not slipped over into the abyss of diminishing freedoms. I see our President invoking the blessing of our Creator. I see him fighting again for many of our founding values and principles. I see the work to make America First, Again.  I see a President who is proud of our Heritage and potential. I see a President acting with strength and energy to return our country to We the People.

The transformers have gained too much. They have shown that they are well funded by those who would destroy who we are and what we stand for. As we fight to help people become more independent and self-reliant, they will fight for more free things and entitlement rights. As we fight to live by the rule of law, they will fight to create chaos, even violence. As we fight to return power to the people, the transformers will fight for bigger government on all levels. As we fight for an educational system that is locally controlled  and is awe inspiring and creatively individualistic, they will fight for federal control, especially through the money channels.

As we continue to restore the manger scenes to our Christmas pageants and city and community displays, the few who disagree will find company with the transformers.  As we fight to make certain that the pulpit in our churches and synagogues stand as beacons of religious freedom and not bastions for “social justice”–code words for so many intolerant attitudes about marriage, gender, race, ethnicity, abortion, and so many others. But perhaps, most of all, Christian attitudes about real social justice.

I have watched all of these happenings. I just finished my sixth term on a local school board, believe it or not. I live in a small rural community; but it’s not like small towns of most of my life. I watched the mighty Mississippi roll by my small town–Lansing, Iowa. The mighty Mississippi still rolls by unaware of Moore’s Law (overall processing power of computers will double every two years) and the tremendous advances in technology. So much is the same; so much has changed.   

When I did my doctoral work at UCLA, the computer I was privileged to use filled the room. Not all of that and much more is on a smart phone. The source of all of this information is in the “cloud.” Will our humanity be able to change enough to “catch up” to the pace of technological change. Will robots be making decisions for us or  will we be telling the robots what to do?

Excerpt from America First, Again Second Edition – Chapter titled “Trumped 2017”

The Signers- 56 Brave Men

It was on July 4, 1776, that the church bells finally started to ring over Philadelphia. The Declaration of Independence had been adopted. There had been much secrecy surrounding the meetings of the brave souls who risked everything, including the charge of treason, to be in that room that day.

The 56 men were lawyers, pastors, merchants, physicians, and farmers. There was a printer, a musician, an inventor, and more. They were men going about their lives, fulfilling their dreams, and playing with their children. Then, as now, lawyers made up the largest group; there were 24. Pennsylvania had the most signers with nine. Benjamin Franklin was the oldest; he was 70. John Rutherford was the youngest; he was 26. Eight were born in Europe.

John Hancock’s signature is the largest and most prominent. He was the first to sign and the signature rests in its own white space. The name became synonymous with “signature.” “Give me your John Hancock,” or “Put your John Hancock here,” means your signature. His signature was as flamboyant as was his reported life style.

Have you ever wondered what the derivation of “gerrymandering” is? I have, but I never have taken the time to find out. When I read the short biographies of the signers this week, I learned so many interesting things. Among the signers was Eldridge Gerry, a man from Massachusetts. Eldridge was a graduate of Harvard College, a merchant, governor, he opposed the federal constitution, and taught us about redistricting. He was soundly criticized for redistricting to advantage his political party for re-election. “Gerrymandering” has been with us for awhile.

All these men were so very interesting; but they were much more. They were extraordinary patriots. They pledged everything to the cause of freedom, and they risked everything. And most of them gave everything. They saw their land and homes destroyed, and the men with fleets of ships and merchants with successful businesses saw it all destroyed. Their families as well were targets.

The bells rang in Philadelphia and our freedom was born. We got up this morning in this free land. Conversations and the news quickly turned to the celebrations of the day. Fireworks displays, band concerts, parties, patriotic parades, flags waving, and families and friends gathering. Hot dogs at the baseball game and barbecues at the park, or maybe a swim party. This is our fourth of July.

When I took my grateful walk this morning, I took a little extra time to be grateful for my freedom. It was foggy at 6 o’clock, and I could see very little just a short distance from me or just the shadows of the buildings below me by the stream at the bottom of the slopes. In a short hour or so, all would be visible. When the fog cleared, it would all be there as it was yesterday when the sun broke through. All this to be grateful for in a free land.

When the signers woke up on the morning of July 4, 1776, they still had work to do. It would be well into the afternoon before the bells could ring over Philadelphia.

We still have work to do; freedom is not free nor is it sustained with fireworks and holiday parties, picnics, and parades.

Keeping the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave

It behooves us to understand what is going on around us. I know the news gets really monotonous and totally confusing if you change from channel to channel Where is the truth?  It’s not fun to watch violent protests. It’s annoying to see demonstrated how little our people know about their Christian beginnings in this great nation. It is disconcerting to see our young indoctrinated away from most conservative and Christian values and principles in our schools at all levels.

I believe if we are to survive we must embrace our successes without apology. We must restore our founding values and principles in our people, particularly the young. We need to restore personal responsibility, self-reliance, work ethics, true compassion for others, integrity, honesty, joy, tolerance, self-respect and respect for others. These are gifts of the Spirit.  Our laws were time-tested through the ages before they were ever put into our legal structure. Sharia law or any other attempt at law must not be tolerated as substitutes for our legal system. Other legal systems must not be tolerated in the name of religious tolerance. Our very founding depended on these time-tested ideas for living together in peace and harmony.

Recently I heard a commentator say that America First was a racist slogan. I do not know how that is even possible as a concept, even semantically. I  believe President Trump feels that wanting American to be First Again is founded on the humble idea that when America is First, it has more to share. It’s light casts a broader and brighter spectrum. It is a better model for people who need hope; it is a better friend to those in need. Only if we grow arrogant, forget the Divine guidance we received at our founding, and think we did it ourselves, can it be otherwise. I believe that we have the choice of  being America First, Again, or not being the republic that our Founders gave us.

We must ask ourselves if we are willing to fight tyranny with the same commitment that our Founders made. They gave us documents to follow and guide us. We must not allow them to become transitional, situational, or modernized.

I love America. I have traveled the world. I did not find any place on any continent where I wanted to live. I found beauty, uniqueness, discovery, celebration, wonder, respect, protest, war, compassion, and love. But each time I stepped back on American soil, I found my home–land of the free and home of the brave.

My flag flies proudly every day; I see it wave gently in the soft and gentle breezes. I see it hanging like a wet noodle, limp and its beautiful stars and stripes not visible. Some times it seems to be sending me messages about how it is being viewed by many. I have seen it tattered and torn as it survives the storms. I am reminded of those brave men who looked for it “over the ramparts” that fateful morning. It was flying just as my flag made it through the storm. I gently take it down, and I replace it with a new one made in the U.S.A.

God is first in my life, and my America is first in my heart. As long as my heart pumps, I will do what I can to make America First, Again. As long as I can speak or see to write, I will share the importance of Christian Heritage of America.

Our Founders knew.

We must know and teach our children to know.

We the people must know. We the people must be the lamps in the dark corners of tyranny; we the people must protest the squandering of our taxes; we the people are all we have to keep this incredible experiment, our republic — the “land of the free and the home of the brave.”

Excerpt from America First, Again Second Edition – Chapter titled “Trumped 2017”

A Second Letter to My Young Friends: Your Freedom is Slipping Away

Now that we’re back in the election season for 2020, we are again at work capturing the minds of the young. So much of the political jargon is used to accomplish this: cancel the college debt, free tuition, free healthcare, free housing, guaranteed job and income, or a check whether you work or not. All of these are the additions to political discourse to the young from 2012. The following excerpt is from a blog published in 2012.

“There is such a push in this political season to capture the vote of the young people. Of course, there is always a push to capture the minds of the young. And I chose the word capture very carefully. That is what I mean. If you can be indoctrinated to hear only one side of an issue, to think in only one direction, to believe the passionate message of a speech or presentation, and if your education does not help you to become an independent, critical thinker, the task of the politician becomes relatively easy. You are a life-long this or a life-long that.

Last night I heard soaring and passionate rhetoric about working hard, moving forward, not back, about opportunity and the American dream. I heard about love, compassion, grace, about health, and education. My goodness! The filing cabinet in my mind is full of this utopia that is yours with the right decision on your part when you vote.

This morning as I sat at the end of my driveway, I cleaned the files. I cannot push the save key when things don’t make sense. When I see the national debt at 16 trillion and I’m hearing about all the things my government must provide, I cringe. It seems like a ball hit out of the park when we talk about hard work; I call foul ball to all that jargon when I know that almost half the population of this great land is on welfare and the work requirement tied to a welfare check has been altered. And many continue to collect unemployment for weeks on end .

I definitely have to remove the files about honesty and integrity and promises kept. Promises broken are promises broken. Trust is gone; I do not know many young people who act like ostriches with heir heads in the sand. My young friends, do you trust your parents, your teachers, your friends if they lie to you?  Why would you trust politicians who have broken their promises?  Those broken promises are lies.

You may be young, but I know that being young does not prevent you from knowing truth from falsehoods, honesty from dishonesty, joy from anger, hope from despair, and a hand-up from a hand-out. Truth should be the currency of your politicians who become your leaders. You must not continue to elect people who are bankrupt–their  truth currency has all been spent.”

Today June 2019, the debt is much higher, the student debt is much higher, the push for free things is much higher (health, income, jobs, housing, etc.,), but the purpose is the same – capture the vote of the young. My real worry is that we are transforming a generation or two to believe that there is real potential of socialism. We are creating class envy; an entire youth culture of ungratefulness, entitlement, unfairness to the extent that they are experiencing nothing else. Our young do not experience our true history; many do not know about our Constitution, Bill of Rights, and other founding documents. When it becomes all you hear, all you see, and all you experience, a diverse way of thinking is no one where in your life. The conversation is largely about the free things and the entitlements that are our rights – not even an addendum on responsibility to maintain our Great Republic. Unless we change, we will surely lose the Republic our founders gave us. I believe the transformation of the culture will be evident on the stage tonight in the first political debates.

My Field of Dreams

Watching a WNBA basketball game the other day brought back all kinds of memories. What fun it would have been when I was playing basketball in my high school and college days to have known that there was a career possible in the sport that I loved so much. And of course, my mind wander back to those early days in that small high school gymnasium in the basement of my high school in Lansing, Iowa.

My first games were played with the floor divided into three parts. Two players played guard in the back third, two played running center in the middle third, and two played forward in the front third. While I was still in high school, the rules changed and the court was divided into two parts. Three played guard in the back court, and three played forward in the front court. I tried to play with the boys sometimes because I loved having the whole court for play. And I loved being able to dribble on the whole court. We could only take one dribble. It was a challenge to see how far you could make that one dribble take you. But we played our one-dribble-two-court game with passion. We felt lucky in Iowa because not many states had girls basketball at all.

I loved basketball; I still do. I love to watch my granddaughters play. I loved playing enough to sneak out of the house for school the morning I woke up with a rash on my face and, of course, in other areas of my body. I knew something was amiss, but we had a game to play that Tuesday night, and I wasn’t going to miss it. Of course, I got no further than the first teacher I met at school, my coach. He saw me and recognized that I had measles. I really didn’t feel ill, but I obviously was sent home. My mother was not happy. I think probably she was more embarrassed because the teachers might think she sent me to school with the measles. She was pretty strict about right and wrong. Going to school with measles was wrong, but sneaking out was like lying. That was really bad.

The girls played the first game of the evening and the boys games followed. We were always pleased when we could draw the crowd to our game. We had tournaments just like the boys. Boys and girls in our school had the same coach. Eddie Albertson was a special guy. He was not only my coach; he was a mentor, my math teacher who gave me advanced math books for the summer because we didn’t have the classes in our small high school, and he was my friend. We played “HORSE” after we finished practice. He believed in me; he never “let” me win. When I did, it was pure accomplishment. He helped me to understand my athletic and academic gifts. He pushed me to find my own “yellow brick road.”

So many memories. Harpers Ferry had the biggest pot-belly stove I have ever seen to heat their barn-like gym. It was nice and warm within fifteen or twenty feet of the stove. The rest of the gym was freezing as was the classroom where we changed our clothes. Wow. I can still feel that cold. Sometimes we would stop on our way home after games out of town to have a snack. Mother always managed to have a little change for me. We never ate out so these little restaurant visits were pretty special. Waterville had sisters who were amazing shooters; Gronna sisters, I think. I envied them because they had a basket on the side of their barn and they practiced all summer. I didn’t have a barn nor could I afford a basket or a basketball.

The coach helped me buy a pair of leather basketball shoes; it was such an amazing luxury. Do you know how proud a little girl can be of a pair of leather basketball shoes? We had a little shower in our locker room; some places we went did not. I earned letters all four years in basketball and kittenball (softball). Those letters meant I earned a great deal of respect from my peers, but more importantly, I knew I had been given great physical and mental gifts. In my small town, those gifts often languished into submission to mediocrity. As each year has passed, I realize how fortunate I was to have Eddie Albertson as my coach and to work for the Superintended who had a sign in his office that read: There’s always room at the top.

Those were the days of three-court basketball, short basketball pants, cold gyms, cold showers, getting to the game with very cold hands and feet after walking to the game and wondering if they would ever warm up. They were times of listening to the cheers, seeing the pride on your parents’ faces, getting the accolades of the teachers the next day, being elected captain of the team, and loving the coach. They were times of walking into a market and having the owner say, “Great game, Sylvia,” when normally they didn’t know I existed. And they were times when I had to walk home after practice and sometimes it was pretty scary. I could choose to walk through a pasture where there was a bull, or I could walk the road past the city dump. But my dad always told me I could run faster than anything chasing me.

They were times of expectation and happiness. I was very good at this game I loved. I learned there how to excel. I learned how to outthink my opponent. I learned the value of every minute; a game has only so many minutes. The importance of one minute on the outcome of the next, taught me life lessons. I would try to live my life like I played basketball. Give it my all, play fair, solve the problems at hand, listen to advice from those who cared about me, discard the criticism of those who envied or were trying to hurt me, play with passion, and learn from each experience. I learned that I  had been given by my Creator everything that I needed to play the game. Yes, I had been given gifts, but I knew that gifts unopened were of no value. They needed to be used, expanded, shared, and utilized to serve others.

Basketball was a field of dreams whether it was three or two courts. I was quick and very fast; I can only imagine the fun I would have had playing the whole court. But believe me, I play full court in all that I do at 98.

When I was a Little Girl: The Lessons I Learned

I walked to school in snow that was occasionally quite deep. When I got to school my feet were cold, my mittens were wet, and my hands were very cold. The schoolhouse was nice and warm, heated by the pot-bellied stove that the teacher had started a fire in much earlier. I don’t know what time the teacher had to get there.

Now, when I was your age or when I was a little girl are statements that can produce the closing of the ear passages. The words can bring a sigh or at least non-verbal behavior that indicates disinterest. Or it might even bring the statement, “Well, would you like to go back to those horse-and-buggy days?”

No, I don’t want to go back to freezing hands and feet. And I don’t want my grandchildren to have to walk in deep snow to school, or run behind a horse-drawn bus to keep warm, or sit on the cold wood seat with a bag of salt or a hot brick to moderate the cold just a wee bit.

However, I wouldn’t mind going back to some other things I learned.

I appreciated the heat because I knew the cold. I appreciated the snow and the warm summer days because I knew both. I appreciated the teacher who went early to light the fires for her kids; I never heard her say it wasn’t in her contract or that her day started fifteen minutes before the kids arrived. I never heard one of my teachers say she had to go home when I wanted to stay and read a book; she knew I didn’t have books at home. She would just put more wood in the stove.

I learned character from my family and from the great stories with a message in my readers. I wasn’t separated from the concepts of our Founders that have made a great nation because of the “establishment clause.”  I read about our history as it really happened. I learned about the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. They were there to guarantee the freedoms that people fought and died for. It was presented as the lasting document that it must remain if we are to survive as a republic. No one suggested modernization to “fit the culture and the times.”  I learned from the writings of the Founders that they sought Divine Guidance in their work.

Yes, I learned to appreciate, to be grateful for the opportunities, to love my country and understand what has made it great. And I didn’t expect anyone to shovel a path in the snow to make my trek easier. In the process of it all, I learned to serve, to shovel paths that make it easier for those who follow.

 

Refusing to Let the Negatives Enter Body, Mind or Soul – Modeling a Non-Stick Pan

I marvel at my non-stick frying pans. For years I have heard the praises of Pam. Spray it on a casserole dish and the clean-up is so easy. Spray it on a cookie sheet–no more residue on the cookie sheet when you remove the cookies. Pretty easy way to not have to get rid of what you didn’t want to happen in the first place.

There is a great lesson in the can of Pam or the non-stick pan that makes even the use of Pam unnecessary.  Prevent unwanted things from happening. Prevent unwanted words from cluttering your mind. Prevent negative stuff from sticking to your psyche, your soul, your mind, or your heart.

When you get up in the morning, step in the shower, let the water cover you with a non-stick film. Let the Pam mentality in. Let it clothe you with non-stick potential. When the negative comments come, when the top 100 reasons are given why something can’t be done or won’t work, don’t worry; your personal non-stick covering will shed it all. And when someone assures you that the sun didn’t come up, stand in their shadow for just a second. When someone tells you the day is horrible and their bubble of negativity is reaching to engulf you, rest assured; your non-stick bubble will be secure.

When I was in high school, I was called a “hay seed.” That was meant to be a derogatory remark about farm kids from some of the town kids. I’m not certain when or how I became clothed in non-stick material. Pam wasn’t around as a model; non-stick pans certainly were not available. But somehow I knew that I could not allow myself to spend time trying not to be what someone called me, or tried to make me be. I was embarking on my own path, the one that was mine alone. Somehow I knew that each one of us had a path. If this were not so, why were we each created to look different? No two alike unless it was my twin cousins. But knowing two could look alike didn’t dissuade me from seeing the evidence before me that we are all different. Knowing this, I had to spend my time on my own path, not trying to stay off of someone else’s path, or a path someone else had created for me.

I would avoid the brambles of doubt and the rough terrain of fear and envy. My non-stick coating would repel any waves of negativity that tried to wash gullies in my path. I believe that I was created with a path that is mine; there may be other travelers on the same path. I welcome them.

Others who are not sure of their own path seem to be the most prone to suggest new roads, detours, or alternate routes for mine. But my path was designed by greater powers. My path is as individual as my being. And I will follow it.