27 November 2007

A Birthday Thought

Here I am, looking back at another year of my life. I’ve been thinking about it, and I don’t think I’ve ever really considered what life would look like beyond 27—at least, not by number. I’ve thought of what I’d be or where I’d live or who I’d become, but I don’t think I’ve ever really assigned an age to things. Well, as of today, I’m past 27. The only real thought in my mind is, “What now?”

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

Thank God for America.

I considered emailing this out, but decided to post it here instead. This is a "must-share" article, to me. We forget so easily our blessings, in the midst of our petty bickering. Sometimes it takes a foreigner to remind us of them. Blessings to all, and happy Thanksgiving!!

Much love.

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.


Link here

15 November 2007

Trust for today and bright hope for tomorrow

I’ve been thinking about the similarities between trust and hope. Trust is a rock. It’s a firm faith that all will be well, that all is well. Trust is the storm cellar during a tornado. It’s a peace within your heart that even though the wind blows, all is well. So the world may be crashing around my ears. So what? I know that all is well. What does it matter if I lost a job, an ankle, a refrigerator, a friend? All is well. All will continue to be well, and my circumstances don’t change that. Trust is strong. It’s steady. It doesn’t ride on the moment, because it’s rooted in something much deeper. If I honestly trust God to supply all my needs, then the fact that my desire in this moment hasn’t yet been met doesn’t make any difference. Just because what I want now isn’t what I have doesn’t mean that my needs are not being supplied. Right? So the fickle winds of the moment don’t move that rock. Trust is a contented sigh. My needs are being met, right now, even if I can’t see it happening.

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.

Much love,

09 November 2007

Friday Night on the Corner

I work a corner at Georgia and Elder in NW Washington, DC on Friday nights. No, this isn't a career change for me (dirty-minded people), despite the recent fluctuation in my job situation. I spend several hours at the main entrance of Walter Reed Army Medical Center visibly supporting the troops.

Around 2 1/2 years ago, some idiot communist came up with the moronic idea of protesting at Walter Reed. (There are a handful of moonbats that stand out on the street, from 7p-9p on the dot, in front of one of the oldest and most prestigious military hospitals in the country to make a political statement by carrying signs that don't make sense.) Well, shortly thereafter, a group of patriots decided that there was no way that this political statement could go unopposed. So, they got together and took up post at all four corners of the main entrance to Walter Reed from 6:30p-9:30p (or whenever the buses show). This has been a weekly event for 134 weeks, now. Rain, shine, snow, sleet, wind, hail (OK so none of those last few exist in the DC area, but you get my drift), Tropical Depression Ernesto, etc.-- that corner is manned EVERY Friday night.

I have joined this group for the last couple of weeks (Click here for the after-action report and pictures from last week), and I just gotta say-- I'm not sure I can quite come up with a better way to end my work week. It's refreshing and energizing to do something for someone else. Even though the weight of the week has worn you down, when you stand in support of these warriors and wave and smile and express your appreciation, you feel lighter, happier, and more effective. I was trying to explain to my mom how much fun it was to stand in the drizzly rain a couple of weeks ago. She said, "Standing outside in the rain and getting cold and wet is not something I would think of as 'fun'..." The thing is, after you get cold and wet, you get to go get warm and dry again. We have soldiers (and sailors and airmen and marines and coasties) out there in weather of all types. They don't get to go home and drink hot chocolate after a few hours on their feet. How hard is it for us to stand in support of them for a little while?? How little that requires!

What we do is this: We gather on all four corners of the intersection. We hold signs and banners. We wave flags. We wave and smile at the cars coming and going. We call out "thank you" to the military personnel driving in and out. We get a lot of support (thumbs up, smiles, waves, honks, thank yous, etc.) from the cars going by. We've been told by several passers that they go out of their way to pass that corner on Friday on the way home, just to see us. I suppose it can be summarized by saying that we step just a little out of our comfort zones to honor those who have been removed from theirs.

On Friday evenings, buses filled with patients and their families go out to dinner. The supporters are standing on the corner when the buses return, and the moonbats have long gone home. When they come up to the entrance, the buses slow down, and the interior lights come on so that we can see the soldiers and families waving at us from within.

Tonight, there will be approximately 100-150 patriots crowding the intersection, due to the Veteran's Day weekend. (I'll post another entry about the weekend.) If you get a chance and happen to be in DC, please come join us! If you'd like more info, please feel free to gmail me.

Much love.

Support The Troops National Ad Campaign

Howdy, all~

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!

Much love.