Gratitude is a Gift where Hope Dwells

It has been a long time since I posted a blog–December 1, 2017. So much has happened. On  December 7, I was evacuated from my home to escape the path of the Lilac fire. As the fire was at the end of my driveway, I did not expect my home to survive. By the grace of God, I was able to return to my home. Several houses near me were in the path of the fire. These fires really do create their own climate, their own path. They are truly wild. They are a terror. I am grateful that our children were all evacuated safely and our schools escaped.

 

Christmas followed with the celebration of the greatest gift–the birth of Jesus Christ and the wonderful sounds and sights that herald Emmanuel. The knowledge that God is always with us. 

 

Hope and gratitude filled my heart when I saw Dr. Carson say a prayer at the beginning of President’s Trump’s Cabinet meeting. God and the idea of Divine Guidance at our founding and the necessity for it now are back in our public discourse. I am hopeful when I see more and more people willing to promote the values inherent in our Christian Heritage.

 

I am grateful and hopeful when I see and hear more support for our founding principles and founding documents. I am sad that disdain remains in the hearts and behavior of some. As a veteran and proud citizen patriot, I hope to see total respect for my flag and my national anthem, your flag and your national anthem. 

 

It is with great hope for my republic and the world that we are willing to talk about the exceptionality of America . In that exceptionality lies great good.

 

If you find an error that I missed editing in the blog, know that my macular degeneration continues to progress. Know too, that I am grateful for what I can see, rather than miserable about what I can’t. There is great hope in gratitude.   

 

 

The Discrimination of Privilege

Every day there’s a new scandal. The news is so scintillating because it is about sex. Now sexual harassment is on the front edge of texts and tongues. It is horrendous. It is evil. It is prevalent and it certainly is not new. Much of it is new to our ears now. But it has been going on in large and small circles. It is dominant in the news now, and we ask ourselves the question: Why didn’t these women come forward before?

I believe the answer is a simple one: Privilege possesses power. The price to expose power and privilege is  often a price too high to pay. For many who have worked years, sometimes their lifetime, to acquire jobs, achieve positions of prominence, or perhaps have achieved their dreams or goals, to stand alone against power and privilege may seem futile. How does a young woman rebuff the advances of the most powerful in their industry or institution? How does a career woman rebuff a Senator or President? Name any uneven relationship relative to power and privilege and the price of exposure of harassment and sexual abuse is often turned on the abused. When women see what has happened to other women who have said “no, they are reluctant to enter that dominion.

When you witness discrimination without privilege and secrecy it is heartbreaking. When you have been witness to blatant gender discrimination and you have experienced it yourself, it is much easier to understand what the addition of privilege and power add to the situation.

Power and privilege are like a secret club; they have their own protectors and protection.

Our Flag Waves Over the Brave and the Not So Brave

 

The stadium is packed; the Army Navy game is ready to start. The public address announcer has to turn the volume up for the announcement. “Ladies and gentlemen: Please stand for the Invocations and remain standing for the National Anthem.  The crowd grew silent, and the Chaplain’s voice filled the stadium. He delivered an amazing Invocation. The cadet and midshipman choirs were lined up on the field to sing the National Anthem. It was a beautiful sound and a beautiful sight. The stands were filled with reverent people, people who were showing respect for our Christian Heritage and our flag. What a wonderful moment.

As I watched this scene with butterflies in my stomach and pride in the total representation of the best of our great nation, I couldn’t help but remember another scene witnessed several times recently. That was the scene at several professional football and basketball games, and I suspect many others that I don’t know about; when Colin K. and other athletes failed to stand, took a knee, or used other ways to protest their view of social injustice or something they think is wrong with their great country. But I guess they don’t think it is so great. It only allowed them the opportunity to become very rich. It only allowed them to stand up in protest because of the great documents that give them “free speech.” It allows them the freedom to dishonor the flag and the national anthem.  

Then my mind shifts back to the Army Navy game. Wow. What a sight. The young men and women who carry the flag to the far-flung corners of the world, who fight and die for the things that flag stands for, and who pledge their allegiance to that red, white, and blue beauty, were still standing with dignity and respect as the last sounds drifted away. They will give their life, if necessary, to protect the freedom of those who dishonor it. They will climb mountains, march in mud, sail in stormy waters to plant that flag as a declaration of freedom. 

Oh, say does that Star Spangled Banner yet wave, O’er the Land of the Free, and the home of the brave–and the not so brave? Fortunately for all of us, Yes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Free College–A National Nightmare

There was a time when a college degree really meant something. There were great publications about the value of our investment in education. Many years ago the U.S. Chamber of Commerce had a great publication delineating clearly the return on an investment in higher education. It was clear to me as a young person making decisions about my future, that I had to “go to college” if I wanted to “better my circumstances and change the direction of my future.” You see, there were not too many opportunities in a small town in Northern Iowa.

So, off I went with enough borrowed money for tuition, very few clothes, and one pair of shoes. My American Dream was within  the walls of Iowa State Teachers College, my energy and will, and the angels along the way. The only thing free was the opportunity.

Fast Forward! Now we have many college students saddled with enormous debt and no prospect for decent jobs because they have majored in a curriculum that is almost or totally “careerless.”  As long as students can borrow more and more to stay in the womb of our colleges and universities, they will do so. It’s a great place to spend wonderful years. But the money they “invest” in their future is not theirs. There is no thought about whether one class is more valuable than another to them personally. There are all kinds of values that we gain from our college experiences, but how it fits into the mix of how we finance our futures ought to be among them somewhere.

I can guarantee you that when you work two or three jobs to get through college, you even question those “required.” You come to understand the “fight of the disciplines” in our educational system, particularly in higher education. I have listened to it and participated in these discussions ad nauseum–how much of what creates “an educated person.” They are usually devoid of the question, “What will help me get a job?”

It makes me sad and sick when I hear the words “free college.” They are the words of the transformers, those folks who want to change our great nation from one of freedom to slavish dependency. Free college would allow unneeded and not useful courses,  disciplines, majors, etc.,  to prey on young minds as they entice, indoctrinate, preach and sell their wares. We will have more unprepared young people leaving our colleges and universities; they just won’t have to carry and be responsible for the debt they created; we will.

Why should they care. It’s not on their credit card. Free college is a horrible idea for our nation and a destructive idea for our youth.

Freedom Requires Vigilance, Courage, and Action–Lessons from Pioneer Ladies

         Watching the political happenings lately, I was drawn back to some very courageous pioneer ladies who lived in Yoncalla, Oregon.

          In 1920, the gentlemen of Yoncalla had a “gentlemen’s agreement” tnat the incumbents would not hold an election for any of the town offices. They would just skip the formality of an election.

         The women of the town decided, “No, No.” They took matters into their own hands and produced a an all-female slate for all the city offices. The slate included Jennie Lasswell who was the wife of the mayor. Can you imagine the conversations at the breakfast table and other places in the Lasswell household when the mayor became aware of the election?

         It seems that enough folks in the town agreed with the ladies. The entire slate was elected. Mary Goodall Burt became the town’s first female mayor. Mary was a PacificUniversity graduate and a former teacher. Teachers played a prominent part. Council members were: Jennie Lasswell, also a former teacher; Bernice Wilson, a teacher; Nettie Hanan, a community activist; and Edith Thompson, active in women’s organizations and community work.

         I wanted to name them for you because so many pioneer women remain nameless in the history books. I’m hoping someone who reads this  will carry a name or know someone who might know the area or a name. These ladies stepped forward just a year before I was born. And it was a big step. But they knew it was not right not to have an election. They were living in the struggle for equal right and the difficult movement to gain the vote. This was just not a Yoncalla Affair. These wonderful women were ordinary women living a pioneer life in Eastern Oregon who stepped up to do what was right. .

         I am grateful that the baby girl born in New Albin, Iowa a year after this successful campaign is able to tell the story. It is one of the wonderful stories of pioneer women of the Northwest that I honor in “Pioneer Women of the Northwest.” 

         When I think of these women, I don’t dare say or think that I cannot make a difference. I am one, but I am one who has had \the opportunity to follow incredibly brave, courageous, and strong women. I hope that I have helped to clear some brambles from the path of those following me. It is still a journey that requires courage. But I am determined to do what I can to make it better for my granddaughters and my grandsons. Freedom alwasys has and always will require vigilance, courage, and action.

Proud Label–Made in the USA

 

        My label, Made in the USA, will always be worn with pride. I am the daughter of a long line of proud Americans. I rest on the backs of all of those who braved the storms of oceans and those who assembled around St. Louis to prepare their wagons for the long trip west.

My label reads: Made in the USA

                                    Fabric is tough, but soft

                            Made with American products only

                            Made with all new materials

                            Crafted from old truths

                            Made with love

                            Wear with pride

                            Keep clean for best results      

            I rest on the firm foundation of the great heritage of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. I rest on the struggles of those who fought and died to attain the freedom with which I was born. To be born in America is a blessing I will always be willing to talk about and share, not with envy but with gratefulness. I will always want to help others understand how it feels to be free to worship, free to have an opinion and be able to express it, free to write my blogs and say what I believe, and free to pursue my dreams.

            I was taught that work is honorable. Working was the way to get  what I needed and wanted; it was expected. I was taught to use the talents I was given. I felt the joy and exhilaration of accomplishment. To expect others to do my work was not acceptable. The dignity and honor of work are in my fabric. I wear the label proudly: Made in the USA.

            My growing days were spent exploring, finding the limits of who I was,  gaining strength in the things that I could do well, and discovering ways to learn new things. It was a time spent learning problem solving. The threads of self-reliance and personal responsibility are woven into my fabric. I wear the label proudly: Made in the USA.

            I learned to respect and love all people. I lived in rural Iowa, but I had the good fortune of growing up with wonderful diversity–black, Native American, disabled, disadvantaged, Christian and Jewish, and almost any professional person you might name. And the diversity has continued throughout my life. Tolerance, acceptance, compassion, and love add strength to my fabric. I wear the label proudly: Made in the USA.

            It has been my pleasure to travel to many places in the world. I have always believed in the exceptionalism of this great republic. No matter where I have gone, I have always carried gifts of American flag lapel pins with me. I have been told on occasion that American flags were not a smart gift. I have not been able to find anything better to share with new friends. It represents who I am because of where I was born and, a land founded with Divine Guidance and exceptional people at the helm of our founding. No one has ever refused my gift of a flag. Why would they? I always gave it with love and pride. I wear the label of patriot with pride: Made only with American materials.

            The threads of love, integrity, honesty, generosity, and gratitude are woven into the fabric of my being. The golden thread of faith was given to me by my Creator at my birth. The threads of service were as varied as the colors of a magnificent sunset; they changed with the same rapidity. I had to be aware, lest I miss the opportunity to make the fabric stronger. I am proud to wear the label–all threads of this product made in America.

            No, I have not forgotten that my ancestors came from Germany and Luxemburg. It is because they chose to come to this country, that I can proudly say: Made in the USA. 

                  

                  

Barach Obama and George Washington–A Comparison

          It is both interesting and alarming when you compare the first President of the United States of America with the current President. After the Revolutionary War, George Washington was so popular that he could have been king of the new country that was created as a result of independence. This new country was so appreciative of George Washington’s efforts in the War, that he would have been an acceptable monarch. But aren’t we fortunate that he did not want to be king? He did not want a monarch for this new land. He wanted it to be free of the tyranny or potential tyranny of a monarch. He wanted this new land to be the bastion of freedom that he fought for. He knew that for religious freedom to exist, there had to be political freedom. He chose to be President, an office with limited powers.

         On the other hand, our current President, Barach Obama, was elected President, but seems to prefer monarch status. Every day there are indications that he has decided to create new law with an edict. He has been true to his promise that he would use his pen and phone when the lawmakers, the Congress, failed to enact his agenda. He seems to think that he is exempt from Constitutional restraint that the President is to faithfully execute the laws of the land. When he picks up his pen and signs an executive order that changes a law passed by Congress, he is in fact, creating new law. When he, or his departments, write regulations that change or alter existing laws, they are in fact creating new laws.

         George Washington, who could have been King, just wanted to be President. Aren’t we grateful that he created that legacy for us.

         Barach Obama is President, and it seems he wants to be King. This is unfortunate for us and our children and grandchildren. Freedom eroded is not easily made to shine again. Dim lights on the “shining city on the hill” are not the heritage we want to leave our children; it is not good to dim the beacon that has meant freedom for so many in the world.

         George Washington wanted a free people with as little ?government as possible; he wanted the citizens to understand and participate in their government to make certain that it always served the people and not the opposite. He and the other Founders believed you should be able to keep what you earn, and taxes should be limited to the amounts necessary to do what the federal government needed to do under the Constitution. Decisions were made to keep the people free, independent, and self-reliant.

         President Obama has increased dependency of our people on the government to staggering heights that many are frightened for the future. Food stamp recipients , numbers of disabled receiving aid, Medicaid, college loans, welfare payments, free phones, and so many other entitlements have increased to such proportions that the fabric of our entire society is changing. Some laugh at those who continue to work hard. Many believe it is their “right” to get free stuff from their government. Many believe it is proper to take from those who have much and give it to those who have little even if they choose or refuse to work or help themselves. These are all attitudes and behaviors contrary to those that made us the exceptional nation we grew to be. Even exceptionalism has become a negative concept to some.

         It doesn’t matter what your political party. Freedom or serfdom does not pick sides. When each exists, it covers us all. It covers the just and the unjust, Republicans and Democrats, and yes, the Independents. When shackles come, they come to all but the few who hold the keys, the few who built the chains of serfdom a link at a time.

         We still have a Constitution and a Bill of Rights. They require a President, not a monarch in the President’s office.

George Washington–Lest We Forget His Real Birthday

 

George Washington was born in Westmoreland County, Virginia, February 22, 1732. He was the eldest son of Augustine Washington and his second wife, Mary Ball Washington. They were among the prosperous gentry in Virginia. George spent his early years on the estate on Pope’s \Creek along the Potomac River. His father died when he was eleven years old, and soon thereafter he went to live with his older brother, Lawrence at Mount Vernon.

 Not much is known about his early years or his early education, but he was probably schooled at home as was the case with many of the gentry. The typical subjects were mathematics, reading, the classics, rules of civility, and practical subjects like surveying.  His mother taught him the Bible and how to pray. She taught him from the Anglican book of prayer. She also taught him from other godly books. One of the books, titled Contemplations: Moral and Divine by Sir Matthew Hale, was kept by him his entire life. When it was found in Mount Vernon after his death, it had extensive underlining. He used it all of his life. Because of his training, he became a man of great faith in the Divine.

 Revisionists may even admit that Washington was virtuous, a man of high character, perhaps even religious, but quickly say he was not a Christian, but a deist. They must eliminate evidence to the contrary and distort and lie to disparage this great man.  In 1891, a collection of his personal possessions was sold at auction. Among them was a small manuscript book containing 24 pages of prayers written by Washington when he was young, perhaps 20 years old. They are witness to the depth of his faith and his religious beliefs. In one of the prayers he states:

 O most glorious God and Jesus Christ, I acknowledge and confess my faults in the weak and imperfect performance of the duties of this day. I called on Thee for pardon and forgiveness of sins, but so coldly and carelessly that my prayers are come my sin and stand in need of pardon. I have heard Thy holy word, but with such deadness of spirit that I have been an unprofitable hearer…Let me live according to those holy rules which Thou hast this day prescribed in Thy holy word…Direct me to the true object, Jesus Christ, the way, the truth and life. Bless, O Lord, all the people of this land.    

   George Washington is often called a Deist, one who believes in a god who got it all started and then stepped back from the creation, but there are many anecdotes and happenings that show his great faith.

One such instance is his resignation address before the Continental Congress at the end of the war.

 Happy in the confirmation of our independence and sovereignty, and pleased with the opportunity afforded the United Stats of becoming a respectable nation, I resign, with satisfaction, the appointment I accepted with diffidence; a diffidence in my abilities to accomplish so arduous a task, which, however, was superseded by a confidence in the rectitude of our cause, the support of the Supreme Power of the Union, and the patronage of Heaven.

 The successful termination of the war has verified the most sanguine expectation, and my gratitude for the interposition of Providence, and the assistance I have received from my countrymen increases with every review of the momentous contest.

 The Continental Congress stood and shouted, “Long live General George Washington! First in War! First in Peace! And First in the hearts of his countrymen!”                                                         

 

 

George Washington–Lest We Forget Who He Was

From the time that his mother sent him off to war and commended him to the providence of God and reminded him to private prayer, Washington continued to give testimony to his belief in the providence of God. He became a legend, as a warrior, even to the Indians; it seemed impossible to kill him. He believed that he “was protected beyond all human probability and expectation, for I had four bullets through my coat and two horses shot under me, yet escaped unhurt, although death was leveling my companions on  every side of me.”                           .

There is too much in Washington’s own pen and those who were close to him, for the revisionists version of him to have any credence. He prayed regularly. Each night at nine o’clock he would go to his library to pray; people who had to seek answers in case of an emergency would find him on his knees praying in front of his open Bible. He did the same thing early in the morning. Washington also kept the Sabbath; he attended church, he did only those things that were absolutely necessary. He was a pious man

 Washington even conducted worship services for his troops when there was no chaplain assigned. During the French and Indian War when he was in charge of the troops defending the country, he led the troops in religious services. He was a man of such honor, he conducted a burial service for General Braddock who died in the French and Indian War. Washington was just a Colonel, but he carried a small Anglican book of worship and prayer. Washington would retire to his tent each night for prayers, or go into the woods if he couldn’t get away from people.

 Washington believed in Divine Providence. When Washington became commander in chief of the American forces in the Revolutionary War, an order to the troops confirmed his belief.

 The General most earnestly requires and expects  a due observance of those articles of war established for the government of the army, which forbid profane cursing, swearing, and drunkenness. And in like manner he requires and expects of all officers and soldiers, not engaged in actual duty, a punctual attendance of Divine service, to implore the blessing of Heaven upon the means used for our safety and defense.

 This was a most remarkable man. He was a noble and pious gentleman. Assassination of character would seem impossible as you come to know this man. Perhaps it is because his life was lived in such a devout manner to religion and civility, that the efforts to destroy him are so brutal and untrue. He must become know again to our young, those in the middle who have learned the distortions, and a reminder must be given to those of us who are seniors lest we forget.

                          

 

 

Food Stamps–A Blessing or a Curse

          Could it be both?

          Like so many issues, we are not willing to sort out the issues to answer that question. Political views focus on the politics of the situation, rather than the problem.

          It is easy to see the blessing for those who are truly in need. We all can advocate for the mother who needs food for her children; we can empathize with those who have lost their jobs. We know people who experience temporary misfortune. There are those who are not able to make to the end of the month. There are folks who need help. But I think when we reach the level of one of every five families receiving food stamps, it is truly necessary to “find the problem.” We must ask what is happening in our America.

          We all have seen the frauds, those who are happy to take the government aid whether or not they need it. There are those who see others getting a food stamps so they want to get theirs. And then there are the politicians who profit politically from the subsidies and aid that they can secure. I worry most about the insidious nature of those who believe that the folks who become dependent and believe that it is their right to be given  “free” stuff; will create a permanent voting block and therefore, give them control.

          There are so many pieces to the puzzle, and the more who get food stamps, the bigger the puzzle becomes. We nibble at the edges to put the easiest pieces in place much like we start with a jig-saw puzzle.  The larger the puzzle, the more difficult it is to sort out the pieces, but we can find those pieces if we are willing to identify what fits together. We take identifying colors or shapes or hints of similarity and create a manageable situation.

          We can do the same with the food stamps puzzle. We surely must know that not one in five families should be receiving food stamps. We surely know when we make it easier and easier and easier to get food stamps, more people will do so.

           We have plenty of evidence that feeling comfortable with one lie, one fraud, makes the second easier. We know that the farther from the source of the money received, the less personal it is and the easier to accept; it’s that big government pot–that rainbow of government gold.

          So what do we do? ”Tune in tomorrow.”