27 November 2007
This last year has been interesting. It began on my Golden Birthday (turning 27 on the 27th). This was my first full year of fighting an illness that I didn’t know I had until 17 November 2006. That was when I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (a.k.a. PCOS). At the time of the diagnosis, I also had another little health scare which required me to have a minor surgical procedure right after Christmas. Fortunately, all was well when the results came back negative, and subsequent exams have confirmed that relief. It’s interesting learning that you “have” something. I spent a lot of time determining how things were going to go. The medication I was put on made me violently ill for about 10 weeks, but then my body acclimated to it. I could see how easy it would be to become, mentally if nothing else, a “sick” person. When you have a diagnosis hovering over you, it is a conscious choice to not let that be who you are, and it is a struggle, initially. I’ve learned though, that nothing or no one can dictate to you who or what you will be without your active participation. Nothing outside of me, other than God, will tell me who or what I am. So, today, I am well. I am healthy. I do what I need to do to protect my body and my health, but I will not let some ICD determine how I feel or how I think of myself. After that, I moved, my car broke down, I sprained my ankle badly, I lost my job, my refrigerator broke down, I encountered a bunch of bills that I wasn’t planning to have, etc. etc. etc. It was a very full year.
Twenty-seven has always been my favorite number, and I looked forward to it as a favorite age, as well. I don’t know that it was my favorite of the years in my life, to this point, but it was a very good year (despite the “negative” happenings…). I think I’ve grown more as a person in this year than perhaps any other year. My faith is deeper. My belief in myself is stronger. My walk with God is closer. My relationships with my parents are fuller. My friendships (some of them, anyway) are better. All around, I feel as though I know me more fully and I am becoming who God plans for me to be. I truly believe, for the first time in my life, that I am where I am supposed to be on my walk of faith.
So now, from this point of clarity, I am looking forward to the coming years. I have no idea what they hold. I’ve always had some idea of the future in my mind, but here I am looking at a blank page. It’s not that I don’t have any desires or goals or hopes for the future, but it’s that I don’t really have a plan. That could be very scary for a type-A personality like me. I don’t know where I’ll be when I turn 29. I don’t know what I’ll be doing, or with whom. I just don’t know. I’m not really concerned about it, though, because I know that God’s plans for my future are so much greater than mine could ever be. I’m living now in the solid belief that my future is bright, because my present is bright. My God will supply all my needs, according to His riches in glory. I’m not saying that because I THINK He will. I’m saying that because right now, in this moment, He is actively providing for me. I may not have some of the things I’d like to have, but He knows my heart. He knows my desires. I believe that He gave me those desires and that He will either fulfill them or He will replace them with the desires for the things He intends to provide.
Last January, I thought that by 2008 I would probably be in a relationship with my future husband, but that doesn’t look to be the case. As another year is gone, I find that I’m really not anxious about it. I’ve watched friends get upset about being single, or worry about being a spinster (or whatever you kids are calling it these days), but I have absolutely no desire to speed through my life. I’m not even “waiting” for Mr. Right to come along, now. I wrote a blog entry some months ago about being found, and I really do feel that way. I have NO desire to chase after a man because I THINK he might be right for me. I know that (whoever he is) God will guide him to me, and I know that he will pursue me, when the time is right. If a guy isn’t coming after me, then he’s not meant for me. God has a real man for me, if I am to have a relationship, and that man will want me, romance me, pursue me, and love me. He won't be able to resist me. But here’s the thing. God won’t bring a man into my life until both he and I are ready, so even if I am where I need to be, my husband may not be. Who am I to rush something like that? If God isn’t fulfilling the desires of my heart, it is because the time is not right. I would rather have the very best than the good. If I’m not to have a home and a family, then it is because those things are not the very best that He has for me. I want nothing less than His very best. I will not put my faith in anyone but God. I will not divide my heart from being wholly His. I am where I am today because THIS is where I’m supposed to be. I will not second-guess my Creator, Author, Protector, and Provider. I may look forward to those things, but I will not lust after them or long for them to the point that I am miserable in this moment.
Twenty-eight, huh? It’s not so bad. Maybe this year will be even better than last. Maybe I’ll move somewhere far away. Maybe I’ll meet exciting new friends. Maybe I’ll find new ways to serve those I love. Maybe my heart will change and I’ll see the will of God leading me another direction. Maybe. Regardless of what it brings, I am safe; I am well; I am whole. My God will continue to supply all my needs…
19 November 2007
Mark Steyn: World should give thanks for America
MARK STEYN Syndicated columnist
Speaking as a misfit unassimilated foreigner, I think of Thanksgiving as the most American of holidays.
Christmas is celebrated elsewhere, even if there are significant local variations: In Continental Europe, naughty children get left rods to be flayed with and lumps of coal; in Britain, Christmas lasts from Dec. 22 to mid-January and celebrates the ancient cultural traditions of massive alcohol intake and watching the telly till you pass out in a pool of your own vomit. All part of the rich diversity of our world.
But Thanksgiving (excepting the premature and somewhat undernourished Canadian version) is unique to America. "What's it about?" an Irish visitor asked me a couple of years back. "Everyone sits around giving thanks all day? Thanks for what? George bloody Bush?"
Well, Americans have a lot to be thankful for.
Europeans think of this country as "the New World" in part because it has an eternal newness, which is noisy and distracting. Who would ever have thought you could have ready-to-eat pizza faxed directly to your iPod?
And just when you think you're on top of the general trend of novelty, it veers off in an entirely different direction: Continentals who grew up on Hollywood movies where the guy tells the waitress "Gimme a cuppa joe" and slides over a nickel return to New York a year or two later and find the coffee now costs $5.75, takes 25 minutes and requires an agonizing choice between the cinnamon-gingerbread-persimmon latte with coxcomb sprinkles and the decaf venti pepperoni-Eurasian-milfoil macchiato.
Who would have foreseen that the nation that inflicted fast food and drive-thru restaurants on the planet would then take the fastest menu item of all and turn it into a Kabuki-paced performance art? What mad genius!
But Americans aren't novelty junkies on the important things. The New World is one of the oldest settled constitutional democracies on Earth, to a degree the Old World can barely comprehend. Where it counts, Americans are traditionalists.
We know Eastern Europe was a totalitarian prison until the Nineties, but we forget that Mediterranean Europe (Greece, Spain, Portugal) has democratic roots going all the way back until, oh, the mid-Seventies; France and Germany's constitutions date back barely half a century, Italy's only to the 1940s, and Belgium's goes back about 20 minutes, and currently it's not clear whether even that latest rewrite remains operative. The U.S. Constitution is not only older than France's, Germany's, Italy's or Spain's constitution, it's older than all of them put together.
Americans think of Europe as Goethe and Mozart and 12th century castles and 6th century churches, but the Continent's governing mechanisms are no more ancient than the Partridge Family. Aside from the Anglophone democracies, most of the nation-states in the West have been conspicuous failures at sustaining peaceful political evolution from one generation to the next, which is why they're so susceptible to the siren song of Big Ideas – communism, fascism, European Union.
If you're going to be novelty-crazed, better the zebra-mussel cappuccino than the Third Reich.
Even in a supposedly 50/50 nation, you're struck by the assumed stability underpinning even fundamental disputes. If you go into a bookstore, the display shelves offer a smorgasbord of leftist anti-Bush tracts claiming that he and Cheney have trashed, mangled, gutted, raped and tortured, sliced 'n' diced the Constitution, put it in a cement overcoat and lowered it into the East River. Yet even this argument presupposes a shared veneration for tradition unknown to most Western political cultures: When Tony Blair wanted to abolish, in effect, the upper house of the national legislature, he just got on and did it.
I don't believe the U.S. Constitution includes a right to abortion or gay marriage or a zillion other things the Left claims to detect emanating from the penumbra, but I find it sweetly touching that in America even political radicalism has to be framed as an appeal to constitutional tradition from the powdered-wig era.
In Europe, by contrast, one reason why there's no politically significant pro-life movement is because, in a world where constitutions have the life expectancy of an Oldsmobile, great questions are just seen as part of the general tide, the way things are going, no sense trying to fight it. And, by the time you realize you have to, the tide's usually up to your neck.
So Americans should be thankful they have one of the last functioning nation-states. Europeans, because they've been so inept at exercising it, no longer believe in national sovereignty, whereas it would never occur to Americans not to. This profoundly different attitude to the nation-state underpins, in turn, Euro-American attitudes to transnational institutions such as the United Nations.
But on this Thanksgiving the rest of the world ought to give thanks to American national sovereignty, too. When something terrible and destructive happens – a tsunami hits Indonesia, an earthquake devastates Pakistan – the United States can project itself anywhere on the planet within hours and start saving lives, setting up hospitals and restoring the water supply.
Aside from Britain and France, the Europeans cannot project power in any meaningful way anywhere. When they sign on to an enterprise they claim to believe in – shoring up Afghanistan's fledgling post-Taliban democracy – most of them send token forces under constrained rules of engagement that prevent them doing anything more than manning the photocopier back at the base.
If America were to follow the Europeans and maintain only shriveled attenuated residual military capacity, the world would very quickly be nastier and bloodier, and far more unstable. It's not just Americans and Iraqis and Afghans who owe a debt of thanks to the U.S. soldier but all the Europeans grown plump and prosperous in a globalized economy guaranteed by the most benign hegemon in history.
That said, Thanksgiving isn't about the big geopolitical picture, but about the blessings closer to home. Last week, the state of Oklahoma celebrated its centennial, accompanied by rousing performances of Rodgers and Hammerstein's eponymous anthem:
"We know we belong to the land
And the land we belong to is grand!"
Which isn't a bad theme song for the first Thanksgiving, either.
Three hundred and 14 years ago, the Pilgrims thanked God because there was a place for them in this land, and it was indeed grand. The land is grander today, and that, too, is remarkable: France has lurched from Second Empires to Fifth Republics struggling to devise a lasting constitutional settlement for the same smallish chunk of real estate, but the principles that united a baker's dozen of East Coast colonies were resilient enough to expand across a continent and halfway around the globe to Hawaii.
Americans should, as always, be thankful this Thanksgiving, but they should also understand just how rare in human history their blessings are.
15 November 2007
Like trust, hope is a solid thing. Hope is a sunny sky and an expectant smile, but it’s more than just a passing mood. Hope is the knowledge that the future, like today, will be wonderful. Hope is expecting that the trust I have now will not be broken. Hope is seeing past the immediate storm to the flowers that bloom after the rain. Hope is knowing (not wishing) that from every moment comes a lesson. Hope is the knowledge that there is little that may be considered true adversity, because character is not borne of the carefree moments. Character is forged in the victories, both small and large, of life.
It’s easy, sometimes, to grow discontented. As they say, “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.” There’s a song that states it well, in my opinion. The words are “I have moments when I curse the rain, then complain when the sun's too hot. I look around at what everyone has and I forget about all I've got.” It’s really true. It’s easy to forget about all the blessings, when we’re focused on the things that we don’t have. But, how can we demand that God provide for us in the way WE choose? How can we presume to know more about how life should look than its Author does? Perhaps the reason you haven’t gotten that promotion is that it comes with a hefty responsibility that would make it impossible for you to be there for your family. Maybe he isn’t interested in you because he isn’t what God has for your life. Suppose that God knows more than you, just for a moment. Suppose that He has your best interests at heart, and He wants to weave you into a beautiful picture that you just can’t see.
Imagine that you are a thread. Just a piece of string. Imagine that you’re supposed to be part of a beautiful tapestry, and imagine, just for a second, that the only way you can add to the beauty of it is to be tied up in knots, used in ways you don’t understand, and attached to other threads about which you know nothing. Now, imagine that you decide to stand up for yourself and untie all those knots, unravel yourself from your spot in the design, and move yourself to another place that’s outside of where you should rightfully be. Imagine that your decision to do as you please mars the design entirely. So you picked yourself up, unknotted your world and moved outside of where God intended you to be. You disassociated from the people who were made to surround you, and you left a hole where you should have been. That’s the moment when a human would say, “Enough!” and cut you out entirely. However, God is still weaving. He is able to take you where you stand and weave you into His design. He’s able to re-arrange everything so that, once again, you fit. You aren’t a spot on the tapestry. Instead, you’re an integral part to an intricate piece of art, because God had grace for you. God chose to use you, wherever you decided to stop fighting. Now suppose that there are many millions of threads, and they are all different lengths, sizes, colors, and textures, and they ALL have their own plan for how they’re going to be. Imagine them ALL getting up and moving around and not allowing Him to weave them where they belong. Sounds like chaos, eh? Isn’t it amazing that God can weave all these errant threads together and keep recalibrating the plan to accommodate all their erratic behaviors?
This all sounds beautiful in the hypothetical, doesn’t it? Well, the real test of faith comes in those moments when you feel small and unimportant. That’s when you choose trust and hope. That’s when you make yourself pliable and available to the will of the Weaver. Or, that’s when you undo His work and move off in another direction. He’ll make it work, because He always does. But, when you look back at the end of your life, it may not be as beautiful as it could have been had you simply trusted.
I’m in that moment. “Wait on the Lord,” said the verse in Psalms. For those whose hearts are anxious, that verse is hard to read. For the type-A personalities among us (guilty, as charged), “Be still and know that I am God” reminds us that not all flexing of the muscles is visible. Sometimes the action we need to take is an act of trust, an act of hope, an act of faith. Sitting is an action verb. So is waiting. So is resting. Trusting. Hoping. Believing. These are things we DO. When we feel as though we need to DO something, maybe it’s just flexing THOSE muscles. So here I am, sitting, unsure of the future. My God is actively supplying my needs. So my action words for today are both nouns and verbs. They are trust and hope. I trust God today, and I hope for my future, secure in His will.
09 November 2007
On Thursday, 8 November, several Eagles (Gathering of Eagles members) joined Freedom’s Watch to help film a Support the Troops commercial. It is currently in editing and is due to begin airing during the week of Thanksgiving. This national ad campaign is set to air on cable news networks, including Fox News and MSNBC, through the "holiday" season. Once the edit is complete, the commercial(s) will be posted online, and I’ll make sure to get a link on here so everyone can check it out. We may even be able to see a schedule of when they’re scheduled to air. When you start seeing the commercials, keep an eye out for familiar faces!
For those who participated, it was a pleasure to meet and spend time with you! For those who weren’t able to come, I’m sorry you missed it. It was an absolute blast!
24 October 2007
Here's the link. (For those of you who need sources.)
Here's what the story says, for those of you who don't like links.
By Aseel Kami
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Violence in Iraq has dropped by 70 percent since
the end of June, when U.S. forces completed their build-up of 30,000 extra troops to stabilize the war-torn country, the Interior Ministry said on Monday.
The ministry released the new figures as bomb blasts in Baghdad and the
northern city of Mosul killed five people and six gunmen died in clashes with
police in the holy Shi'ite city of Kerbala south of the Iraqi capital.
Washington began dispatching reinforcements to Iraq in February to try to
buy Iraq's feuding political leaders time to reach a political accommodation to
end violence between majority Shi'ites and minority Sunni Arabs that has killed
tens of thousands and forced millions from their homes.
While the leaders have failed to agree on key laws aimed at reconciling the
country's warring sects, the troop buildup has succeeded in quelling
Under the plan, U.S. troops left their large bases and set up combat
outposts in neighborhoods while launching a series of summer offensives against
Sunni Islamist al Qaeda, other Sunni Arab militants and Shi'ite militias in the
Interior Ministry spokesman Major-General Abdul-Karim Khalaf told reporters
that there had been a 70 percent decrease in violence countrywide in the three
months from July to September over the previous quarter.
In Baghdad, considered the epicenter of the violence because of its mix of
Shi'ites and Sunni Arabs, car bombs had decreased by 67 percent and roadside
bombs by 40 percent, he said. There had also been a 28 percent decline in the
number of bodies found dumped in the capital's streets.
In Anbar, a former insurgent hotbed where Sunni Arab tribes have joined
U.S. forces against al Qaeda, there has been an 82 percent drop in violent
"These figures show a gradual improvement in controlling the security
situation," Khalaf said.
However, in the northern province of Nineveh, where
many al Qaeda and other Sunni Arab militants fled to escape the crackdown in
Baghdad and surrounding region, there had been a 129 percent rise in car
bombings and a corresponding 114 percent increase in the number of people killed
While the figures confirm U.S. data showing a positive trend in combating
al Qaeda bombers, there is growing instability in southern Iraq, where rival
Shi'ite factions are fighting for political dominance.
Police said six gunmen were killed in police raids in Kerbala, 110 km (70
miles) southwest of Baghdad.
Some 50 people were killed in Kerbala in August in fierce clashes between
fighters loyal to Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and local police, who are seen
as aligned to the rival Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council's armed wing, the Badr
After the clashes, Sadr said he was imposing a six-month freeze on the
activities of the Mehdi Army, increasingly seen as beyond his control, so that
he could reorganize it.
In Baghdad, three roadside bombs killed four people, including three
policemen, while in Mosul one policeman was killed when a blast hit a police
© Reuters2007All rights reserved
17 September 2007
Two groups of vastly differing character met in DC, Saturday. One was a boiling cesspool of all that I would wish my children never to encounter. A disjointed collection of hateful people, who could agree on little but the poisonous epithets they spewed, and the hapless numbers they ensnared and infected with their lewd vitriol. Claiming to be a “peace” rally or an “anti-war” demonstration, several of the most notorious organizations in the country (with their notoriously deep pockets) gathered in front of the White House, and then wandered down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol building (two-and-a-half hours late). As the scummiest portions of society tend to do, they collected groups of mere children to join them, clueless as to the purposes of hatred at work in the groups with whom they stood. Most of the junior high, high school, and college students were receiving some sort of class credit for their presence. Many of them were there without the knowledge or approval of their parents. Most of them errantly believed that they were there for “peace”, but when questioned individually, they were unaware of the affiliations of the groups that had sucked them in. They were unaware of the bent toward communism, the desire to so demoralize our troops that they become ineffectual, the blood money passed under the table to terrorists to kill our soldiers, the lies, the fear-mongering, and the true goal: the defeat of America, her soldiers, her values, and her existence. They were unaware that the blood that purchased the first amendment right for them to stand with traitors was on their hands and heads. One may hope, though, that they were NOT unaware of the fact that the colors of our democratic republic were not represented in their midst, but among the group that stood in opposition to their vile language, their flippant disregard of true character, their debasement of the flag, their dishonorable and illegal use of the names, images and memories of our heroes, and their ignorance of the realities of this issue. I have one thing to say to these horribly misguided people. You cannot claim to support our troops if you’re marching with the organizations which are paying for their deaths.
And then there were the veterans, the blue star and gold star families, the patriots. The difference between the two gatherings was striking. This group was characterized by unity, by respect, and by a fervency of demeanor borne of true character. Each of these knew why they attended. They shared the same cause, and they bore the colors of the country. The flags waved luminously, and the unified cries were bursts of patriotic songs or chants of “USA, USA, USA.” The very air crackled with the certainty that the only right place to stand was in support of those men and women who choose to stand and fight. It would have been more festive, had there not been the somber note of having to stand in opposition to those who desire nothing less than the defeat of our nation.
For there are some who have seen the horror that is war, and those who have been made wiser by it do not welcome it, nor do they embrace it’s squalor. However, while not desiring it, they value its necessity. They are aware that while mankind lives, there will be times when war is inevitable, and they do not fear its teeth. Those who have faced the beast see it with eagles’ eyes. They have been in its jaws, and yet escaped, though not unscathed, and they are able to see it for what it is. They are able to look down upon it with a grander view, and they are able to see the path ahead, beyond the monster. For this reason alone, they are willing to risk the lives of their young heroes, knowing that the ravages of war will be bitter from the loss, though slightly sweetened by the deepening of character, hard-won in strife.
They do not take these sacrifices lightly. With each, they recall the grief they carry from days gone by. They feel the wounds afresh, and they bleed again, with the young warriors. These, the eagles, will continue, year after year, to carry these men and women of character through each ordeal, until they, too, gain the vision to see beyond the beast. And the Eagles welcome all who would join their ranks. They support one another and draw others up to soar the heights, and they carry those who are finding their wings. These will not rest, will not nest down and fold their wings, because they see the ones on the ground who are in the fight. They have stared down death, and they will hearten those who still must. While the battle rages, the eagles fly.
14 September 2007
I have a dear friend who works as a security guard in the facility where I work. He helped me move, he shows a genuine interest in my life, he's very kind-hearted, and I count myself blessed to know him. He's a good man. Anyway, when he saw me come into the building with my brand-new white cast and my tricked-out crutches, he began to talk to me about these "scooter" things that someone in the other building uses, since she, too, is in a cast. I had never heard of such a thing, but apparently, this is a somewhat popular crutch-alternative that is made by several medical equipment companies. He suggested that it might not be as exhausting as the crutches.
At some point, shortly thereafter, he spoke with the young lady with the scooter, and she sent me an email. Her email said that she had gotten the device through her insurance company because she's in a hard cast (non-weight-bearing) for fourteen weeks as she recovers from ankle surgery. (Eek!) She said that the one they sent her didn't fit her properly, as it was slightly too tall for her, even on its lowest setting, so she had them send her another, smaller one. She said that I was welcome to use the first one, since she didn't have any use for it, for as long as I need to. She brought it to me the following afternoon. (It was pretty funny, because she was on her crutches, and her co-worker was wrangling the scooter, and I went to open the door for them on my crutches. We were a circus. haha)
She and I are about the same height, but she said that she was able to use it just fine, that it was just less comfortable than the new one. I have been using it to putter around the unit, since it frees up my hands to carry paperwork, etc. I brought it home for the weekend, because I haven't decided whether it is a better option than the crutches, and I thought it deserved further experimentation.
One of the benefits of using it to get around is that when I sit, I can use it to put my foot up, or I can sit on the little seat, if necessary. In truth, I'm not sure that it's the best choice for me, because when I put weight on my leg on it, it mashes the cast into my shin, which becomes uncomfortable, and with the atrophy in my injured leg, I'm finding it exhausting to use those muscles again! (Yes, it's true. Atrophy begins in the first few days that you stop using a muscle, and already there's a visible difference between my left and right legs' muscles.) Beyond that, if I need to go up a step, get on a bus, or remain stationary on an incline, I don't feel particularly stable. While it does have a brake (cute, eh? How fast do they think I'm gonna be going??), it doesn't have steering capacity. I can go in a straight line REALLY WELL, but I gotta stop and pick up the front of the thing and re-position it in order to change directions.
So, I brought it home for the weekend. You should have seen me coming home with crutches and the scooter. I'm sure I was quite the sight. I was thankful for the help and sympathy of both bus drivers (one of whom actually parked the bus, came over, and helped me onto the bus and situated, and took my fare card to scan so I didn't have to get up.) and a couple of kind-hearted passengers. I did make it home in one piece. :D Wish me luck in my experimentation!
P.S. Yes, the picture was taken on the diagonal to get the whole thing in the picture. If you just cock your head to the left, it'll make more sense... :D
08 September 2007
ANYWAY, I'm thoroughly curious and doomed to disappointment. (I thought about cutting the cast off and then hauling my cookies back to the doc for a new one, just to see my pretty colors, but that seemed like too much work.) So here's the picture of my current condition, blackening piggies, and cast with a star on it. I'm gonna have to start getting some decorations on my cast, or I'm going to feel unloved, soon. :D
06 September 2007
How would you get into a tub without putting your feet in?
I'll let you ponder that for a few minutes. Go ahead. I'll wait. I'll just hum quietly to myself, for a moment. Don't mind me.
OK. Do you have an answer? Well, here's what I came up with. Sit on the edge of the tub, and tilt backward until you fall in. Simple. Easy. To get out, just repeat the process in reverse (which is much harder than it sounds).
So, last evening, when I got home (FINALLY!) from work, I decided to take a bath and get my hair washed so I could be clean. I had gotten overly-warm hauling myself around on my crutches, taking the wrong bus (another story for another blog entry), etc., and I thought it would be nice to get out of those clothes and take a nice bath. Once I was in, it was nice, to lie in the bathtub with my cast (in a trash bag, of course) propped up against the wall... until I decided that I actually needed to get clean, shave my legs, wash my hair, etc. None of that was as simple as you'd think it might be. Try doing any of those things with one leg sticking straight up in the air, without drowning. Good luck. I didn't drown, no. I did keep the one leg straight up in the air, yes. I also managed, at one point, to get stuck perpendicular to the length of the tub while trying to spin around so that I could rinse the shampoo out of my hair. That was fun. I was actually glad that I live alone, because no one heard me giggling about being stuck with my legs sticking out and my head under the soap dish.
It has been suggested to me that, perhaps, I should do sponge baths during the week, so that I don't endanger myself in a slick tub any more often than necessary. I've discovered that it would be a very simple matter to break something ELSE trying to protect my wounded wing.
I'm quite tempted to go to the salon downstairs to have the nice beautician lady wash my hair for me on Saturday, as I seem to have not quite gotten all of the conditioner out of one little section of my hair, while trying to rinse my hair without sliding back so far that the faucet would run directly on my face.
The fun of bathing aside, the toughest thing about being on crutches is all the stuff you normally do with your hands that you don't even think about until you don't have them available anymore. Since it takes both hands/arms and my good leg to get me around, I don't have my hands available for things like opening doors, carrying things, moving things, etc. For instance: drop something. While standing on one foot and trying to control 2 crutches with one hand, squat down on that one foot (without using your other foot/leg-- no cheating!) and reach down with the "free" hand to pick up the thing that is 2" farther than you can reach, because you misjudged the distance because you forgot that you can't use that leg. Then try to scoot or hop, without standing all the way up again, because heaven forfend that you have to do TWO squats, or lean without tipping over, to reach the item. Success! You picked it up! Now stand back up with your one leg (remember one-legged squats in gym class/aerobics/tae bo?) Now what are you going to do? You need that hand, in which is the item you so precariously grasped, to use the crutches, and that item is still a room away from where it needs to be. Depending on the size/shape of the item and the size/shape of your bra/shirt or waistband or pocket, you may just tuck it between your boobies, under your waistband, or into your pocket and lurch over to where it goes, on your crutches. Now think about trying to figure out how to get a glass of water into the next room without any hands. Right.
My diet has been reduced to whatever is in the fridge that I can pick up and eat without having to move it anywhere. If it requires heat, you can forget it. If it requires a utensil, nope. But, if i can balance on one leg in front of the open fridge and put it in my mouth, that's what I'm having for dinner. Lunch today is the last of the left-over bacon from Tuesday's breakfast (which my wonderful mother made) and some almonds. I have become a scavenger. haha. I'm going to have to break down and order pizza or chinese or something. Of course, when they deliver it, they'll have to carry it over to the table and stand there and wait for me to eat and then throw the trash away for me and put the leftovers in the fridge. I wonder if they charge extra for that...
This may be a gift, straight from the hand of God, though, in that it will force me to bless others by allowing them to help me. I am not able to take care of myself. That much I know. This is when I have to start making those pride-swallowing calls. "Hi, friend. I need help. Could you please come?"
04 September 2007
03 September 2007
We met a very nice lady at church on Sunday (Day 2 of my ankle saga), who suggested that I might get some sheepskin to wrap the tops of the crutches so that they'd be softer. Off we went (my mother and I) to the fabric store, and we found this BEAUTIFUL piece of fabric that I *HAD* to have, and I used a very small portion of it to "pimp out" my crutches. First I wrapped the armrests in cotton batting, then I made the little sleeves to go over the batting, and I sewed them on. Then I decided that I wanted the hand grips to match, so I made little covers for those, too. I'm actually really pleased with how they turned out. :)
I don't believe I got into this in my earlier post, but here's the story of what I did to my ankle.
Mom and I got up Saturday morning and decided to go for a walk before it got too hot outside. We hopped in the car and drove over to a beautiful trail that I use (have used) often, and we decided to walk about 4 miles. At one point we decided we should jog a little, toward the end, on the way back to the car, so we did. And then we walked some more, and then we decided to actually run for a little bit. Well we took off, and I was a little faster than mom, so I stopped after a bit and waited for her. We walked a little more, then we decided to do one more run before we reached the car and the end of the walk. I was staying with mom, this time, and I was exaggerating my movements a little, to get to run while going slowly enough to stay with her-- yes, I was clowning around-- and I quite firmly planted my right foot just off the edge of the pavement. The inside of my foot caught the pavement, and the outside of my foot crumpled downward. I heard an audible *CRACK*, and I folded. Fortunately, we were within about 100 yds. of the car, so mom helped me to the end of the path and pulled the car up, I excruciatingly fell into the car, and she drove me to the hospital.
When we got to the hospital, it was beginning to swell, but I didn't want to take my shoe off until I got there, because I knew I wouldn't get it back on, and it was keeping some of the swelling down. The ankle swelled over the top of my shoe, and it looked like I had a baseball glued inside my skin, by the time they took my shoe off me. By the evening, my foot was beginning to swell, too, and it was kinda funny looking, with a dimple below the ankle. (See the picture in the previous post.) The next day, Sunday, it swelled MUCH more, and it began to discolor. Today, it looks like a fat sausage with 5 little sausages (with blue toenails) sticking out of it (which I can't think of as toes, but they're cute, so I'm calling them my "piggies"). I didn't take any pain medication, yesterday, but last night, it was waking me, and this morning it was ratcheting back up to the excruciating level, so I did break down and take one, today.
I will be going to the Orthopedic Surgeon, tomorrow morning, to have it re-evaluated. They took a bunch of x-rays at the hospital, but there wasn't a visible fracture on them. The PA said that it certainly looked and acted like a break, though, so she was unwilling to call it a sprain, especially since I heard it crack. She told me that I needed to get in "first thing Tuesday morning" to the specialist for re-evaluation. I bent down to pick something up this morning, and accidentally put some weight on it (which is verboten) and it crackled, which wasn't pleasant. I'm doing my best to stay off it (believe me, I want to stay off it), but it certainly gets old, lying still with it elevated and putting ice on it. I have almost no motion in the ankle, and my toes are so swollen, at this point, that they're difficult to move, as well, though not painful.
So, that's the story. I'll post something once the other doctor has seen me, and I'll let you know how it's going. What should be most interesting is the getting mom to the airport and me to work thing, tomorrow. I walk a fair distance from my bus stop to my office, and that might prove difficult, for the time being.
02 September 2007
I broke my ankle. On doctor's orders, I am to stay completely off it. I have crutches and a brace, and I have to go see a specialist on Tuesday. Crutches aren't much fun, so I've taken to hopping around the apartment on my "good" foot (which is quickly wearying of the ordeal), which makes my mother (who leaves on Tuesday) call me "Hopalong" or "Hopalong Cassidy" while she laughs at me. She has been a tremendous help, though. She's been waiting on me hand and foot and driving me around, since it's my right/"driving" foot... I'm not much looking forward to either her departure or my return to work.
More updates as I find out more.
15 August 2007
08 August 2007
a. The number of physicians in the U.S. is 700,000.
b. Accidental deaths caused by Physicians per year are 120,000.
c. Accidental deaths per physician is 0.171.
(Statistics courtesy of U.S. Dept. of Health &Human Services)
Now think about this . . .
a. The number of gun owners in the U.S. is 80,000,000.
b. The number of accidental gun deaths per year (all age groups) is 1,500.
c. The number of accidental deaths per gun owner is 0.000188.
Statistically, doctors are approximately 9,000 times more dangerous than gunowners.
Remember, “Guns don’t kill people; doctors do.”
FACT: NOT EVERYONE HAS A GUN, BUT ALMOST EVERYONE HAS AT LEAST ONE DOCTOR. Please alert your friends to this alarming threat. We must ban doctors before this gets completely out of hand!
Note: Out of concern for the public at large, I have withheld the statistics on lawyers for fear the shock would cause people to panic and seek medical attention.
20 July 2007
The basic premise of the book is that there are five primary ways in which people give and receive love. Not everyone is familiar with all five ways. Most have one way that means more to them than the other four, and if you don’t speak to them in their “love language” they won’t feel loved, even if you’re speaking to them in yours. Sometimes the love language they use to receive love is different from the one they use to give it. Knowing all five makes it easier to learn to communicate your love and appreciation effectively to everyone. The five love languages are Quality Time, Physical Touch, Gifts, Words of Affirmation, and Acts of Service.
By way of an example, I’ll use my family. My mom’s primary love language is Acts of Service followed by Physical Touch. She feels most loved when we do things for her. She expresses love by doing things for others. She’ll drive cross-country with her steam-cleaner in her car (something she’s done many times for many people) to go clean someone’s carpets. That’s a classic way (if you’re looking for it) that she says, “I love you.” If you don’t speak that language, you might not catch it, though. My dad’s primary love languages are Quality Time and Physical Touch. Something that he might do to say, “I love you” is take me on a motorcycle ride. I’m right there with him, spending time with him, and he can reach back and pat me on the knee, or feel my hands on his shoulders, so that speaks both of his love languages. My brother’s primary love languages are Words of Affirmation and Acts of Service. He needs to hear, “I love you. I’m proud of you. You’re the best big brother in the world.” If I step in to help with the dishes or something, while I’m staying with them, that’s another “I love you.” Having been raised in this environment, I am fluent in all five love languages. I can usually comprehend that when someone is speaking their own love language, it’s their way of telling me they love me, even if it’s not how I’d choose to hear it. I’ve learned that to tell my mother that I love her is nice, and to spend time with her in conversation or in person is wonderful, and to send her cards or give her gifts is fine, but if I really want her to grasp how much I love her, I will brush her hair, clean her kitchen, cook her meals, drive to Missouri in the middle of the night and be there while she’s in the hospital, pluck her eyebrows, fold her laundry, wash her car, shop for her groceries, etc.
A friend of mine and I have had some discussion about it, recently, and the conversation stimulated my thought processes. My primary love language (just barely, by 1 point, from the quiz) is Gifts. One point behind Gifts are both Quality Time and Physical Touch. I had an “aha” moment, this morning, because of the conversation about love languages.
I moved to DC from the MidWest about 2 years ago. All my life, to that point, I had been surrounded with many, many, many sources of Physical Touch. Most of my friends and family are very touchy-feely people, and I think that’s much more common in the MidWest than it is here in the Middle East. I had been used to receiving Physical Touch on a daily basis from many people. I had close friends that would hug me, pat me, fix my collar, brush off lint, play with my hair, etc. My family could SMOTHER you with the amount of personal-space-invasion that we do. While I’ve always had an independent streak a mile wide, it was just part of life, that the people who love you touch you. Hugging, kissing, tickling, wrestling, poking, prodding, bumping, holding, snuggling, cuddling, pinching, elbowing, tapping, patting, nuzzling, and all that kind of stuff just reminds those around you of your affection.
I’ve tended to think that I don’t have many friends out here. If you ask me to name my friends, it takes some thinking on my part to come up with people to populate that list. Here’s my “aha” moment: it’s not that I don’t have friends out here, it’s just that the friends I have don’t touch!
I’m serious. This was a huge thing for me to figure out, because I’ve spent the last two years of my life feeling absolutely lonely and starved for affection. There is literally no one in the DC area (or east of Kentucky, for that matter) that I can go to for a hug. Period. That’s why I’ve been so lonely! It’s not that they don’t love me in their way, it’s just that they don’t love me in MY way. I have noticed that, while most of my background in love is in the areas of Physical Touch and Quality Time, the way most people out here express love is in Acts of Service and Words of Affirmation—neither of which are ways that I would choose to receive love.
When I long for “home”, I think of the physical proximity of people. I think of my church, where people greet you by shaking your hand and patting you on the shoulder, or with a big, tight hug, or with a kiss on the cheek—where it’s not uncommon for friends to sit closely together with arms around each other, and where hand-holding isn’t reserved for significant others. I think of my friend, Kelsy, who gives the best hugs ever. I think of Nellie, who helps me get dressed and puts on my make-up and plays with my hair. I think of Karrisa, who came over one time just so we could take a nap, and who would invent some excuse to drop by the bank where I used to work to see me. I think of my friends who stand too closely, until we burst into fits of giggles, or who hug me and kiss me and groom me, or who drive across town just to be there and hold me when my heart is broken, or who make excuses to stop by where I work to just say hello and get a hug. I think of my beautician, who hugs me when I leave. I think of my “surrogate moms” who treat me alternately as a peer and as a daughter. I think of my Aunt Polly, and lounging on the couch with her, nestled into her side. I think of my family—none of whom have any concept of “personal space”—who think nothing of coming and climbing in bed with you, who sneak up on you to hug you or “get” you, who tumble over each other, even in large, open spaces, who are equally likely to pinch your earlobe or pat you on the bottom as they walk by, who issue your wake-up call in the mornings by climbing over you or snuggling up to you, who touch, touch, touch, touch, touch, because that’s what you do to the people you love.
When I’m asked how I like living in the DC area, my response is inevitably, “It’s a really beautiful city.” It’s not that I dislike it here, it’s just that it’s much less friendly. It’s not that I don’t have friends, but the friends I have here are different, less warm, on the whole, to my way of thinking. No, it’s not because they like me any less (or I like them any less), but it’s just because they don’t speak my language. After awhile, you begin to grow tired of speaking OTHER people’s languages, and you wish you could just have a conversation in your native tongue. For two years, I’ve felt lonely, starved, deprived. My only salvation was a trip to Kansas or Missouri, or a houseguest’s arrival. For two years, I haven’t been able to grasp the depth of the friendships I have here. Now I know why.
Coming soon: How Starvation Helps You Grow.
19 July 2007
She said, "I don't know. She must've done some feng shui crap to him."
I said, "You mean she rearranged his furniture??"
And the word you were looking for there is Voodoo. haha. :D
So now, threatening to rearrange someone's furniture is code for performing black magic.... Shhhhhhhh-- don't tell anyone!!
I'm very glad that, in this age of e-commerce, I'm able to do most of my business online, because I'd seriously be pooched without DSL. I'm able to do all of my banking (funds transfers, bill payments, deposits, check orders, insurance, etc.), some of my DMV stuff (tag renewals), and the vast majority of my shopping without leaving my home. However, I'm convinced that all of this convenience-- by way of the internet-- has contributed to the mindset, among employers, that the employees' needs don't even make the priority list. Having unhealthy, unhappy, unproductive employees is fine. Whatever. (Now if they could only invent a way for employees to send their teeth to the dentist, their eyes to the optometrist, their bodies to the doctor, unaccompanied, and lose the reproductive organs altogether so that no one would ever have families or a need to see an OB/GYN, the employers would be THRILLED!!)
Anyway, let me get to my true gripe. (Yuck. Starbucks rice crispy treats are not good.) In the process of preparing to move, I am busy from the moment I drag my tired, sorry rear end out of bed in the morning until the moment I drop it wearily back into bed at night. The tasks I normally do, and the unforeseen, and the seasonal, have all got to be jammed in there somewhere, too. I got up an hour earlier, this morning, so that I could clean my kitchen. (Being my mother's daughter requires me to NEED to have a clean kitchen. Yes, things all over my apartment are a disaster as I sort, toss, and prepare to pack all of my worldly belongings, but the kitchen is what matters. If the kitchen and bathroom are clean, I can deal with the rest-- controlled chaos though it is.) I love sleep. I need sleep. When I'm well-rested, everything is well, or at least I can deal with everything if it's not.
I'm not going into the politics at work, right now, but I have determined that, had I not HAD to come into work today, I could have both gotten that extra hour of rest that I wanted to get, and gotten my kitchen cleaned. I could have also taken care of a whole PILE of things on my list, because eight-and-a-half-plus hours is a long enough time to make a SERIOUS dent in my to-do list.
All that to say: I'm tired of my job.
Much love and blessed rest,
09 July 2007
Something I found myself pondering was this: Our brokenness, sinfulness, filth, unfaithfulness, and all of the worst parts of us are not revealed to us in their entirety, all at once. I am VERY glad about this, because I think that, had all of my misery hit me at once, I would have been crushed by the weight of it all.
Instead, God chooses to enlighten us in pieces. He allows us to work through/past all our painful experiences and choices in shards, and when we’re ready for the next piece, it’s revealed—in HIS time. This is a blessing of immeasurable worth~ that God knows our weaknesses and our humanity and He makes concessions for the limits we carry. He could choose to just strike us down in our sin, our pride, our pain, but instead He lovingly holds us until the sobs and the lashing out and the bitterness subside. All He asks is that we step ever closer to the image of Christ in ourselves, and never does He chide us for not being where we think we should be on that path. Instead, He offers us all the love in existence, in each moment of each day, no matter where it finds us, and He allows us to be romanced by our Creator at the speed our frail forms can handle.
Wherever you are on your journey, know that the Eternal God longs to romance you as His precious love. Know that He desires a relationship with you that would make your heart skip a beat and your spirit blush with pleasure. Know that His touch is more fulfilling than any human touch can be, and know that He longs to draw you close to Him, as His beloved. From someone who is only beginning to understand: there is a child-like wonder in knowing even a portion of how dear you are to the heart of God. Please be open to Him, to His touch, His voice, His love. Know that with every heartbeat, He longs for you to share your pain, your past, your pride, and He longs to provide for you in ways that you may never imagine. He is all the healer, provider, protector, lover, father, friend, counselor, and comfort you will ever need, and the very heart of Him longs, with aching desire, to be the fulfillment of you, in this and every moment.
12 June 2007
Do you ever get flashes of insight into Who God is? I had one of those flashes, while I stood on the balcony, almost in a storm. I saw God as the precious child who runs to a close friend and says, "Can you come out to play?" The problem is that so many other voices are drowning out the still, small voice of the God of the universe, and so often, the answer we give Him, when we take the time to answer at all, is "Not right now, I'm busy." How very sad! He created us to be in relationship with HIM and with each other, but we're too busy, running our lives, to hear His calls. He does call to us. He seeks us where we are. He invites us to join Him in an adventure that would blow our socks off. And when we say, "No, not right now, God." He simply says, "Alright. I'll wait. I'll wait until you hit crisis mode and you need me. I'll wait until you think the time is right. I created time, and I can put you on a schedule that is much more productive, but I understand that you don't have time for Me. You don't have time for me? OK, then." And we go about our busy days... staying busy, struggling to be productive, wondering why everything doesn't fit the way we think it should, getting frustrated, wearing down, burning out.
And every once in awhile, God gently interrupts. He softly whispers into our hearts, "Hey. I'm still here. Would now work for you?" And if we hear Him at all, if we've not drowned Him out for so long that we can't even hear His voice any longer, we say, "I'm sorry, God, but I'm on deadline. I have to finish this report before COB, and then I've got to get to a doctor's appointment, run 3 errands, get home and get supper on the stove while I'm putting laundry in the dryer..." and our mental list takes over, and we cease to speak to our Father as we transition back into busy. He knows. He understands. He sees the strain on us, and He longs to take it from us. He longs to help us carry the load. He longs to flex His power over time and task to help us do all that's important, but instead of intruding, uninvited and unaccepted, into our daily lives, He simply waits outside, and calls to us to "Come out and play!"
Perhaps you've heard Him. It may not have been today, and it may not have been in the rain on your window, but perhaps at some point, you've heard the gentle voice in your heart inviting you into a relationship, inviting you on an adventure. You see, little children have big imaginations. They were created in the image of God, and they haven't learned yet that they need to grow up in the image of the current Cosmo girl or GQ guy, model or sports hero, pop princess or superstar... they haven't learned that yet. What do they do with these imaginings? They make up "imaginary" friends or "imaginary" siblings. My three-year-old niece has a "big brother" named Archibald. (Where was she when I named my "imaginary" friends? I'm not even going to share what I came up with...) What do they do with these friends? Well, they go out and play. They make up adventures, and then they go on them. There is nothing too outlandish that they cannot imagine it to be so. Where do they get these amazing imaginations? Could it be from the One who Created us all to be in relationship, to answer the call to come out and play, to step outside of the little comfortable boxes we create for ourselves and let Him accompany us on the greatest, most amazing adventures that HE can dream for us? Possibly... Maybe... Perhaps.
And you say, "But God wouldn't ask me to forsake my priorities. He wouldn't tempt me to enjoy the weather instead of working in a cube when I have an obligation to work. God doesn't work like that. He wants us to be serious and be grown-ups. You can't 'play' with God. You have to go to church or pray or something with God. You can't just 'be' with Him." If that's your answer to this, then I'm very sorry, but we aren't serving the same God!! My God created beautiful weather, and it wasn't to tempt us away from important things. Who says that what you think is important truly is, anyway? If you died tonight, tomorrow someone else would finish your reports, because you are expendable at work. My God created work, and He provides us with the ability to create priorities. Are your priorities straight? Have you checked with HIM to make sure He thinks so, too? What on your list outweighs your relationship with Eternal God? What is more important than answering His call? Certainly not the phone conversation, the email, the paperwork, the deadlines, eating, drinking, or sleeping... What is so gall-blasted important that you have the nerve to be too busy for GOD? You see, God created laughter and tears. When was the last time you laughed out of uninhibited joy? When was the last time you cried an honest tear? If He created us in His image, then shouldn't He understand? Shouldn't He get to weigh in on your priorities? Shouldn't He get acknowledgment every once in awhile? When was the last time that you noticed, appreciated, and thanked God for the weather? When was the last time that you watched the sun set or the moon rise? When was the last time that you shared your lunch with your "imaginary" friend and giggled over something that no one else would understand? When was the last time you answered the call to "come out and play"?
My prayer for you, today, is that you will hear the voice outside your window, and that you will make it a priority to "come out and play" with God when you do.
14 May 2007
(OH-- Side note. There was this really obnoxious bird noise coming from the trees in front of the hospital, when my family came out in the evening, one day last week. It was the most incredible thing. Dad said he hadn't heard anything like that since he was in Africa. Turns out it was just a recording to scare the birds away from the parking lot, but I thought it was pretty nifty. I want one on my balcony. I also want a remote-control, dive-bombing bird so that I can inflict terror into the hearts of the smokers that stand outside and blow carcinogenic smoke into my apartment. :D )
So, what is romance, anyway, and why do we want it? What is it within us that cries out for someone to pick us out of a crowd and shower us with candlelight and roses? (Or daisies and a picnic, or granola and a hike, or whatever variations thereof) I have some theories, but I want to hear from you. Faithful readers, please enlighten me with your views. :)
19 April 2007
The media is propagating this cycle. Essentially, the media is telling every nut-job that has nothing to live for and wants his 15 minutes that he can go out in a blaze of media glory by committing a gruesome act of violence. They're also telling him that the best place to commit his murder/suicide is on a school campus, because there will be much more hype, and very little resistance. (I'll save my thoughts on "gun control" and security for another time... or you can read the post from 10 April, entitled On Sheep, Wolves, and Sheep Dogs.)
My problem isn't that they're reporting the story, it's that they're salivating over it. The war is on to see which network can out-hype the others, and whatever pathetic attempts at emotion they show are obvious plays for viewership (and preferably awards) and not anything genuine.
I think it's great that we live in a country where we have a free media. I think that it's the American way, and I think that it's good and right. Media outlets must self-govern, however, and they don't even try to do it, most of the time. Just because you CAN make everything into a circus doesn't mean you SHOULD. Somewhere, someone should have the good taste to say, "Hey, not only are we stomping on the memories of those who lost their lives, but we're also making the whole thing much more likely to happen again." Unfortunately, "media" and "good taste" don't belong in the same sentence.
Here's my message-- because I KNOW you want it so badly... haha-- turn off the TV and internet, put down the newspapers and magazines, and actually spend some time with the people you'd miss if they were suddenly removed from your life. Call home, just to tell your family you love them. Thank a soldier for the freedoms we possess. Be more kind to those around you. Give someone the benefit of the doubt, even when your first instinct is to assume the worst. Stop living in a virtual maze, and go outside to get some fresh air. Don't take life for granted. It is ALTOGETHER too short, whether you get shot or not. Ultimately, you're not going to wish you'd spent more time playing video games. Make an impact in someone's life-- a positive one-- so that when you die, they will have benefited from the fact that you decided to really LIVE.
16 April 2007
“Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the Lord.”
“Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies. The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.” ~Proverbs 31:10-12
I think that those two scriptures bring us to a point that most women miss. That we are to be FOUND. Flushing out game is not the same thing as being found by it. Trussing up a man and throwing him over your shoulder to fireman’s carry him down the aisle is not the same as being found by him.
Too often, women get impatient and decide that “NOW is the time that I need true love, so I’m going to go out and hunt down some poor sucker to marry me”… and then they wonder why their husbands resent them and their marriages don’t work. She’s unhappy because she has to do all the work in the relationship, and he’s unhappy because he didn’t get to be the one to pursue her—in fact, he’s not even sure that he would have pursued HER. She denies him the blessing he would receive for having found a good thing, and she is something less than the virtuous woman of Proverbs 31.
Psalms 37 says “Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday. Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him:”
It’s fairly clear that God has our best interests at heart. Unfortunately, our culture bombards us with messages about Mr. Right and Mr. Right Now. It teaches us that we have to look out for ourselves. It tells us that women are “equal” to men, though by “equal” it means that women should do anything that men do with utter disregard for the fact that women and men are completely different. It tells us that it’s OK for the woman to be the pursuer in the relationship and that it’s “old-fashioned” (this term is usually spat out, as though it’s a swear word) to allow yourself to be wooed by a man of valor. Of course, this is the same culture that teaches us that now isn’t soon enough, that immediate gratification takes too long, that relationships shouldn’t take any effort, and that if you get tired of the one you’ve got, you should just throw it away and get another one. Give your body to whomever you choose, but share your heart and soul with no one. Babies are “in” this year, but once they get over the cute baby stage (or once they start interfering with your career or social life), you can send them off to day care where they can be taught values you don’t share by total strangers. Good plan. Is it any wonder that the American family is broken, bleeding, and dying?
It begins with a guy who never learned to be a man and the woman who hunted him down and mounted him over the fireplace as her trophy, and it ends in a lack of trust and respect, disillusionment, children who know their teachers and day care providers better than their moms and dads, pain, unhappiness, and divorce. Where is the blessing of God on the families of America? It’s stolen by the women who refuse to allow men to be men and FIND them, as God intended.
13 April 2007
Perhaps this is a judgement of my character, but the way I feel right now is a mixture of sadness, relief, sorrow, and joy.
Lord, please touch the friends that are friends no more. Reach into their lives and show them Your plan for them. Please, bless and keep them and provide them with influences that will bring them closer to You and make them stronger. Protect them from the influences that seek to destroy them, and guide them in the Way Everlasting. Thank you for protecting our hearts, even in the ends of long-time friendships. Amen.
May your friends be close to you today, and may your relationships be blessed with love, understanding, and, most of all, kindness.
10 April 2007
By LTC (RET) Dave Grossman, author of "On Killing."
Honor never grows old, and honor rejoices the heart of age. It does so because honor is, finally, about defending those noble and worthy things that deserve defending, even if it comes at a high cost. In our time, that may mean social disapproval, public scorn, hardship, persecution, or as always,even death itself. The question remains: What is worth defending? What is worth dying for? What is worth living for? - William J. Bennett - in a lecture to the United States Naval Academy November 24, 1997
One Vietnam veteran, an old retired colonel, once said this to me:
"Most of the people in our society are sheep. They are kind, gentle, productive creatures who can only hurt one another by accident." This is true. Remember, the murder rate is six per 100,000 per year, and the aggravated assault rate is four per 1,000 per year. What this means is that the vast majority of Americans are not inclined to hurt one another. Some estimates say that two million Americans are victims of violent crimes every year, a tragic, staggering number, perhaps an all-time record rate of violent crime. But there are almost 300 million Americans, which means that the odds of being a victim of violent crime is considerably less than one in a hundred on any given year. Furthermore, since many violent crimes are committed by repeat offenders, the actual number of violent citizens is considerably less than two million.
Thus there is a paradox, and we must grasp both ends of the situation: We may well be in the most violent times in history, but violence is still remarkably rare. This is because most citizens are kind, decent people who are not capable of hurting each other, except by accident or under extreme provocation. They are sheep.
I mean nothing negative by calling them sheep. To me it is like the pretty, blue robin's egg. Inside it is soft and gooey but someday it will grow into something wonderful. But the egg cannot survive without its hard blue shell. Police officers, soldiers, and other warriors are like that shell, and someday the civilization they protect will grow into something wonderful. For now, though, they need warriors to protect them from the predators.
"Then there are the wolves," the old war veteran said, "and the wolves feed on the sheep without mercy." Do you believe there are wolves out there who will feed on the flock without mercy? You better believe it. There are evil men in this world and they are capable of evil deeds. The moment you forget that or pretend it is not so, you become a sheep. There is no safety in denial.
"Then there are sheepdogs," he went on, "and I'm a sheepdog. I live to protect the flock and confront the wolf."
If you have no capacity for violence then you are a healthy productive citizen, a sheep. If you have a capacity for violence and no empathy for your fellow citizens, then you have defined an aggressive sociopath, a wolf. But what if you have a capacity for violence, and a deep love for your fellow citizens? What do you have then? A sheepdog, a warrior, someone who is walking the hero's path. Someone who can walk into the heart of darkness, into the universal human phobia, and walk out unscathed
Let me expand on this old soldier's excellent model of the sheep, wolves, and sheepdogs. We know that the sheep live in denial, that is what makes them sheep. They do not want to believe that there is evil in the world. They can accept the fact that fires can happen, which is why they want fire extinguishers, fire sprinklers, fire alarms and fire exits throughout their kids' schools.
But many of them are outraged at the idea of putting an armed police officer in their kid's school. Our children are thousands of times more likely to be killed or seriously injured by school violence than fire, but the sheep's only response to the possibility of violence is denial. The idea of someone coming to kill or harm their child is just too hard, and so they chose the path of denial.
The sheep generally do not like the sheepdog. He looks a lot like the wolf. He has fangs and the capacity for violence. The difference, though, is that the sheepdog must not, can not and will not ever harm the sheep. Any sheep dog who intentionally harms the lowliest little lamb will be punished and removed. The world cannot work any other way, at least not in a representative democracy or a republic such as ours.
Still, the sheepdog disturbs the sheep. He is a constant reminder that there are wolves in the land. They would prefer that he didn't tell them where to go, or give them traffic tickets, or stand at the ready in our airports in camouflage fatigues holding an M-16. The sheep would much rather have the sheepdog cash in his fangs, spray paint himself white, and go, "Baa."
Until the wolf shows up. Then the entire flock tries desperately to hide behind one lonely sheepdog.
The students, the victims, at Columbine High School were big, tough high school students, and under ordinary circumstances they would not have had the time of day for a police officer. They were not bad kids; they just had nothing to say to a cop. When the school was under attack, however, and SWAT teams were clearing the rooms and hallways, the officers had to physically peel those clinging, sobbing kids off of them. This is how the little lambs feel about their sheepdog when the wolf is at the door.
Look at what happened after September 11, 2001 when the wolf pounded hard on the door. Remember how America, more than ever before, felt differently about their law enforcement officers and military personnel? Remember how many times you heard the word hero?
Understand that there is nothing morally superior about being a sheepdog; it is just what you choose to be. Also understand that a sheepdog is a funny critter: He is always sniffing around out on the perimeter, checking the breeze, barking at things that go bump in the night, and yearning for a righteous battle. That is, the young sheepdogs yearn for a righteous battle. The old sheepdogs are a little older and wiser, but they move to the sound of the guns when needed right along with the young ones.
Here is how the sheep and the sheepdog think differently. The sheep pretend the wolf will never come, but the sheepdog lives for that day. After the attacks on September 11, 2001, most of the sheep, that is, most citizens in America said, "Thank God I wasn't on one of those planes." The sheepdogs, the warriors, said, "Dear God, I wish I could have been on one of those planes. Maybe I could have made a difference." When you are truly transformed into a warrior and have truly invested yourself into warriorhood, you want to be there. You want to be able to make a difference.
There is nothing morally superior about the sheepdog, the warrior, but he does have one real advantage. Only one. And that is that he is able to survive and thrive in an environment that destroys 98 percent of the population. There was research conducted a few years ago with individuals convicted of violent crimes. These cons were in prison for serious, predatory crimes of violence: assaults, murders and killing law enforcement officers. The vast majority said that they specifically targeted victims by body language: slumped walk, passive behavior and lack of awareness. They chose their victims like big cats do in Africa, when they select one out of the herd that is least able to protect itself.
Some people may be destined to be sheep and others might be genetically primed to be wolves or sheepdogs. But I believe that most people can choose which one they want to be, and I'm proud to say that more and more Americans are choosing to become sheepdogs.
Seven months after the attack on September 11, 2001, Todd Beamer was honored in his hometown of Cranbury, New Jersey. Todd, as you recall, was the man on Flight 93 over Pennsylvania who called on his cell phone to alert an operator from United Airlines about the hijacking. When he learned of the other three passenger planes that had been used as weapons, Todd dropped his phone and uttered the words, "Let's roll," which authorities believe was a signal to the other passengers to confront the terrorist hijackers. In one hour, a transformation occurred among the passengers - athletes, business people and parents. -- from sheep to sheepdogs and together they fought the wolves, ultimately saving an unknown number of lives on the ground.
There is no safety for honest men except by believing all possible evil of evil men. - Edmund Burke
Here is the point I like to emphasize, especially to the thousands of police officers and soldiers I speak to each year. In nature the sheep, real sheep, are born as sheep. Sheepdogs are born that way, and so are wolves. They didn't have a choice. But you are not a critter. As a human being, you can be whatever you want to be. It is a conscious, moral decision.
If you want to be a sheep, then you can be a sheep and that is okay, but you must understand the price you pay. When the wolf comes, you and your loved ones are going to die if there is not a sheepdog there to protect you. If you want to be a wolf, you can be one, but the sheepdogs are going to hunt you down and you will never have rest, safety, trust or love. But if you want to be a sheepdog and walk the warrior's path, then you must make a conscious and moral decision every day to dedicate, equip and prepare yourself to thrive in that toxic, corrosive moment when the wolf comes knocking at the door.
For example, many officers carry their weapons in church. They are well concealed in ankle holsters, shoulder holsters or inside-the-belt holsters tucked into the small of their backs. Anytime you go to some form of religious service, there is a very good chance that a police officer in your congregation is carrying. You will never know if there is such an individual in your place of worship, until the wolf appears to massacre you and your loved ones.
I was training a group of police officers in Texas, and during the break, one officer asked his friend if he carried his weapon in church. The other cop replied, "I will never be caught without my gun in church." I asked why he felt so strongly about this, and he told me about a cop he knew who was at a church massacre in Ft. Worth, Texas in 1999. In that incident, a mentally deranged individual came into the church and opened fire, gunning down fourteen people. He said that officer believed he could have saved every life that day if he had been carrying his gun. His own son was shot, and all he could do was throw himself on the boy's body and wait to die. That cop looked me in the eye and said, "Do you have any idea how hard it would be to live with yourself after that?"
Some individuals would be horrified if they knew this police officer was carrying a weapon in church. They might call him paranoid and would probably scorn him. Yet these same individuals would be enraged and would call for "heads to roll" if they found out that the airbags in their cars were defective, or that the fire extinguisher and fire sprinklers in their kids' school did not work. They can accept the fact that fires and traffic accidents can happen and that there must be safeguards against them.
Their only response to the wolf, though, is denial, and all too often their response to the sheepdog is scorn and disdain. But the sheepdog quietly asks himself, "Do you have and idea how hard it would be to live with yourself if your loved ones attacked and killed, and you had to stand there helplessly because you were unprepared for that day?"
It is denial that turns people into sheep. Sheep are psychologically destroyed by combat because their only defense is denial, which is counterproductive and destructive, resulting in fear, helplessness and horror when the wolf shows up.
Denial kills you twice. It kills you once, at your moment of truth when you are not physically prepared: you didn't bring your gun, you didn't train. Your only defense was wishful thinking. Hope is not a strategy. Denial kills you a second time because even if you do physically survive, you are psychologically shattered by your fear helplessness and horror at your moment of truth.
Gavin de Becker puts it like this in Fear Less, his superb post-9/11 book, which should be required reading for anyone trying to come to terms with our current world situation: "...denial can be seductive, but it has an insidious side effect. For all the peace of mind deniers think they get by saying it isn't so, the fall they take when faced with new violence is all the more unsettling."
Denial is a save-now-pay-later scheme, a contract written entirely in small print, for in the long run, the denying person knows the truth on some level.
And so the warrior must strive to confront denial in all aspects of his life, and prepare himself for the day when evil comes. If you are warrior who is legally authorized to carry a weapon and you step outside without that weapon, then you become a sheep, pretending that the bad man will not come today. No one can be "on" 24/7, for a lifetime. Everyone needs down time. But if you are authorized to carry a weapon, and you walk outside without it, just take a deep breath, and say this to yourself...
This business of being a sheep or a sheep dog is not a yes-no dichotomy. It is not an all-or-nothing, either-or choice. It is a matter of degrees, a continuum. On one end is an abject, head-in-the-sand-sheep and on the other end is the ultimate warrior. Few people exist completely on one end or the other. Most of us live somewhere in between. Since 9-11 almost everyone in America took a step up that continuum, away from denial. The sheep took a few steps toward accepting and appreciating their warriors, and the warriors started taking their job more seriously. The degree to which you move up that continuum, away from sheephood and denial, is the degree to which you and your loved ones will survive, physically and psychologically at your moment of truth.