A Woman's Perspective On The Times We Live In

April 23, 2014

"Everybody's A Winner" Is a Losing Proposition

      So, every child at the White House Easter Egg roll was declared a winner by the Leader of the Free World.  The kid that busted his butt patrolling the grounds and worked his plan to collect the most eggs, is declared equal to the kid that was happy to let others do the work for him... after all, there was always the chance that the eggs would be redistributed equally, right?  And if not, he was still held in the same esteem as the over-achiever.  Why sweat it?
      And that's what has landed this country's kids a dismal 36th in the world rankings for education.  A global exam was given last year to 15-year-olds from around the world.  U.S. performance was extremely low, with our kids scoring average test results in reading and science, and well below average in math. We failed to reach the top 20 in any of the subjects tested. America fell notably below the United Kingdom and well behind most of our Asian counterparts.  That's not surprising.  As we approach high school graduation next month, take note of the last names of the Valedictorians and Salutatorians of the Senior class.  I would be willing to bet that a majority of them are Asian names.
     Education Secretary Arne Duncan contributes the poor results to stagnation.  "The problem is not that our 15-year-olds are performing worse today than before...the problem, instead, is that they are simply not making progress. Yet, students in many other nations...are advancing, instead of standing still."  Might I suggest that students in other nations are rewarded for making progress?  Could it be that there is honor, pride, and yes, even encouragement to excel beyond others?  Why would our kids today make the effort to do better, when achievement is not worth your while?  When underperformance is celebrated the same as success?
     I can remember how important it was to me, as an elementary student, to be the winner of the spelling bee.  Do they even have them anymore in school?  Or is there a fear that a child who didn't do the work might be made to feel inferior?  And I worked hard for that National Honor Society sash in high school, and the Dean's List in college.  That's when learning was measured, and superior knowledge was a sought after goal.
     Secretary Duncan just wants to lay the blame on lack of innovation, resources, and good teachers.  How about taking government out of education and returning it to the trusteeship of parents and teachers?  Like everything else, too many people are entrusting the government to do the job that is their responsibility.  The dumbing down of American children is no accident.  An unmotivated, unchallenged, and unrewarded population results in a submissive and unresisting proletariat.  Being a winner doesn't get you anywhere, and everybody's happy with mediocrity.  It's time for a new vision; before it's too late and we find ourselves at the bottom of world creativity and productivity.

1 Corinthians 9:24   "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it." 

April 22, 2014

"This Land Is Your Land, This Land Is My Land..."

     That familiar refrain may soon become the anthem of Westerners who are seeking to regain poorly managed lands under the care of the Federal government and the Bureau of Land Management.  Long displeased with the way the Feds have handled the operation of the lands, both environmentalists and ranchers are lodging complaints.
     According to The Christian Science Monitor, a group of environmentalists recently filed a notice of intent to sue the BLM for failing to report impacts to the desert tortoise and similarly threatened and endangered species from off-road vehicles, cattle grazing and other activities in California.

Federally controlled lands are in red.
      Meanwhile, for the last three or four decades, Western states have long argued that taking back control of parts of wide tracts of federal land means the land would be managed better, and their state  economies would improve.  In fact,  The Salt Lake Tribune reported last Friday that political leaders from nine Western states convened for the first time to talk about their joint goal of wrestling control of oil, timber and mineral-rich lands away from the U.S. government.  As evidence of this, Idaho Speaker of the House Scott Bedke argued that Idaho forests and rangeland managed by the state have suffered less damage and watershed degradation from wildfire than have lands managed by federal agencies.
     Just consider these facts as outlined by the Congressional Research Service:  If you include the US Bureau of Land Management, the US Forest Service, National Parks, and military bases, then the Federal government controls the following percentage of lands in Western States ... Nevada - 81%, Alaska - 62%, Utah - 67%, Oregon - 53%, Idaho - 62%, Arizona - 42%, California - 48%, Wyoming - 48%, New Mexico - 35%, and Colorado - 36%.  All we have to do is look at how well they manage our Federal budget, the welfare system, and the healthcare system, and we get a pretty good idea how conservatorship of our land is being administered.
     Here's the deal ... our land is important for supplying our food and energy needs.  The stability of the country depends on it.  And when the fate of a spotted owl or some rare species of desert vegetation comes before the nation's prosperity, then something is wrong.  So now the governing officials of the Western states are getting serious about demanding the releasing of titles to certain lands that exclude national parks and wilderness study areas.  The Deseret News,  out of Salt Lake City, reports that the “Transfer of Public Lands Act,” signed into law by Utah Gov. Gary Herbert in 2012, has set the stage for a formal showdown with the government by demanding action under threat of lawsuits.  And the recent meeting of officials from the other states probably means more will be signing on to this form of protest.
     There is an even more rancorous situation brewing on the border of Texas and Oklahoma.  Breitbart.com reports that government has turned its focus on 90,000 acres along a 116-mile stretch of the Texas/Oklahoma boundary. The BLM is reviewing the possible federal takeover and ownership of privately-held lands which have been deeded property for generations of Texas landowners.  What is scary is that the government is going to use a decades-old case to prove preeminence in doing just that.
     In 1986, rancher Tommy Henderson lost a case where the BLM attempted to seize some of his land. Henderson sued the BLM and lost 140 acres that had been in his family for generations. Now the BLM is looking at using this prior case as a precedent to claim an additional 90,000 acres.
     And there's a bit of interesting history that accompanies this unique situation.  Using the Red River as the defining boundary line between the states of Texas and Oklahoma has been surrounded in controversy for generations.  The various forms of movement of the river have caused no end to the conflict.  Currently, the Texas Farm Bureau asserts the State of Oklahoma believes that whenever the river shifts south, the state line moves south. But when the river moves north, the line remains in place. Now, the BLM seems to want to settle the matter by simply confiscating the land.  So how do you think that's going to go over?
     I pray that cooler heads will prevail and the Government doesn't try to force this issue.  The sad thing is that, in no way, can bureaucrats understand the relationship between a rancher and the land.  Since the mid-18th century, the great stretches of largely-arid territory west of the 100th meridian, splitting the Dakotas and running down through Texas, have been home to hardy pioneers, farmers and ranchers who have done a pretty darn good job of taking care of one of our most precious resources ... the land.  All the federal government seems to have done is contribute bad policies, politicized scientific and environmental theories, and severe budget cuts that have all served to cripple the land's production. For the foreseeable future, I tend to stand with Utah State Representative Ken Ivory, when he says, "“It’s simply time [to take back the land]. The urgency is now.”

Isaiah 40:8    "The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever."

April 21, 2014

Disruptive Environments: My 3 Days With Travis Haley & Why Failure Is A Good Thing

     I want to begin this post by saying that I have been so fortunate to have some of the best firearms training in the country.  Arrowhead Firearms Training in Victoria, TX has given me a strong platform from which to propel me from fundamentals to finding my own shooting style.  Because of their dedication to beginners and women shooters, I felt I was ready to tackle the next rung on the ladder... shooting in disruptive environments.  
     That's where Travis Haley comes in.  Travis definitely knows what disruptive environments are.  He is a veteran Force Reconnaissance Marine who spent 15 years experiencing every kind of chaotic situation you can imagine.  As a trainer, a Disruptive Environments class with him is exactly what it sounds like ... he drastically alters the structure, surroundings and conditions during a particular shooting scenario; all with the intention of emphasizing your failure points.  Sounds like fun and good for the ego, right?  But, believe it or not, it is exactly what you need to become a better shooter and to effectively defend yourself in any situation.  Let me explain...
     Along with my husband, I have taken fundamental handgun classes with Travis in the past, and his unique ability to apply science, biomechanics, and logic to the basics of handgun manipulation and shooting have helped me to progress in my three short years of shooting.  Part of the reason is that he pushes you to your failure points; he teaches you to self-diagnose and self-correct so that you can continue to train on your own.  Another reason that his classes excel above all others is that you get to know yourself better, both as a shooter and a person.  It's hard to explain, but Travis makes you want to surpass your limitations, whatever they may be --- and to do it for you, not to please him.
     So let's get down to the specifics of this class.  Disruptive Environments:Handgun/Vehicle/Darkness was three days of using critical thinking skills, along with honing weapons manipulation skills and applying them to not only changing positions while shooting; but shooting inside and outside of a car, both during the day, low-light situations and at night; and with and without flashlights.  Let's just say that very few people in the class had trained with all these goals in mind.  Under these circumstances, it wasn't hard to recognize your failure points... lots of failure points.  Some of them involved equipment.  We quickly learned which flashlights were user-friendly in a tactical situation.  Failure points also came in terms of abilities to search, identify, adapt and move when confronted with a threat.
     This class helps you move beyond static shooting and assumes you know how to effectively manage your firearm.  Your brain is required to work in a completely different manner.  How are you going to react with flashing lights in your peripheral vision?  How will you respond when people are shouting and shots are being fired all around you?  It is no longer a matter of focusing only on your pistol and proper manipulation, but how to continue to do that while your brain is distracted with secondary stimuli.  I quickly realized that I will have to train to use more of my brain to stay tuned in to my surroundings and the changing environment.
     Our class was filled with a wide variety of shooters.  There were federal agents who were trainers themselves; Grand Master match shooters, Special Operations soldiers, law enforcement officers, and civilians.  No matter what your level of expertise, or your number of years of shooting, we all found our failure points.  It was interesting to see that even those who shoot for a living have something to learn.  And if you can't let go of your pride, then learning from those failure points will be harder to accomplish.
     Everyone is there to reach a failure point and to advance their skills.  As my husband, whose name literally means Peace-Loving Warrior, often reminds me, "It's better to be the little fish, surrounded by the big fish.  You learn more that way."
     One thing I want to make clear: I don't want to discourage anyone from taking this class. Even if you are new to shooting, like me, you will gain so much from being willing to be in an uncomfortable environment in order to learn.  Don't be intimidated by the calibre of shooters around you.
     And my brain is so full of all that I learned.  Personally, this class was physically difficult for me.  I was the oldest in the class and the one with the least experience... but no excuses; my failure points were epic and evident.  But I signed up for the class, knowing it would be challenging, and wanting to push myself.  If I was going to be able to effectively defend myself in any situation, I had to put myself out there and fail.  And I did.  But I also knew that Travis Haley is the best at helping me find those failure points and showing me how to overcome them.  And he did.
     But I can't lie; the first morning after the class, when I pulled my exhausted body and mind from the shadows of sleep, I spent about an hour crying.  I was embarrassed over some of the mistakes I had made, and disappointed in my performance.  I knew I would have to work out some problems; it just seemed like there were so many.  As I sat in silence, collecting my thoughts, my husband asked, "What are you thinking?"  I looked at him, and through swollen eyes, I said, "I want to start preparing right now for next year's class, and take Disruptive Environments: Handgun/Vehicle/Darkness again."
     And that, my friends, is why I continue to train with Travis Haley.  He challenges you to inspire yourself.  He helps you find your failure points so you can become a better you.  I have bought my Bosu ball to begin perfecting my balance and conditioning, and I have an appointment tomorrow to begin rehabbing my knees to gain the flexibility and strength I need to run, drop to a knee and move quickly to a new position.
     I may no longer be "a spring chicken", as Travis so delicately reminded me, but that doesn't mean I won't come back next year stronger, more determined, and with increased effectiveness.  I know what I have to work on physically and in my training, and I will spend the next year doing what I have to do to fix my failure points ... and ready to have him show me new ones.  Thank you, Travis!

Philippians 3:13    "Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead..."

April 20, 2014

1 Corinthians 15:20

But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

     Today, millions of Christians worldwide will be celebrating our risen Lord and Savior during the Christian holy day of Easter.  I prefer to celebrate His resurrection as foreshadowed during the Lord's Feast Day of Firstfruits.  Please don't misunderstand me; I do not judge anyone who celebrates Easter; I know that they are celebrating Jesus's conquering of Death.  But I doubt that any Christian could show me where, in the Bible, God or Jesus refers to a holy celebration of Easter.  (In fact, I would challenge them to study the history of Easter).  For me, I just find that the Resurrection has so much more meaning when reflected upon through the context of God's commanded statutes.
     The regulations for Firstfruits were outlined by God in Leviticus 23.  I would venture to say that most Christians skip this chapter of the Bible, labeling it as laws that pertained to the ancient Israelites; too restrictive; too discriminatory; or just plain unnecessary for the modern Believer.
     But if you do a deep study of the Word, you will find so much significance for this season of worship.  Firstfruits was essentially the beginning of the grain harvest in Israel, and on this particular day a specific sheaf of barley, which had been marked for this occasion, was to be brought to the priest at the Temple, who would wave it (or exhibit it) before the Lord for acceptance.  It was representative of the barley harvest as a whole and served as a pledge or guarantee that the remainder of the harvest would be realized in the days that followed.
     Accompanying this time of worship were other offerings to the Lord ... an unblemished male lamb, a drink offering of wine, and a meal offering of the barley flour mixed with olive oil (an unleavened bread).  Are you starting to get the picture?  During this holy season of worship, Jesus, our High Priest, can be seen in all the pictures of the Passover week ... as the sacrificial lamb; in the wine offering which represents His blood spilled for us; in the unleavened bread (leaven represents sin in the Bible and Jesus was without "leaven"); and as the climactic event, He is the First to be raised from the dead.  He is representative of the harvest of Believers as a whole, and His resurrection serves as a guarantee that all those who believe and trust on Him will be harvested to resurrected glory as well.  He is the beginning (Firstfruit) of God's final harvest of all mankind.  
     And if you still can't grasp the prophetic meaning of this holy day, consider this: after his death and burial, Christ rose again on the third day of the Passover season, on the very day of the Feast of Firstfruits.  Do you think that this was coincidental?  I am just overwhelmed with "the picture" of His salvation plan that God has given us through His Feast Days.  If we truly meditate upon them, we will realize that they are more than just ancient rituals.  They point to Christ at every turn.  
     I am eternally grateful for Jesus's sacrifice for me; and I take the Lord's Supper with an eye towards the multi-level significance of the wine and bread; and most of all -- today -- I eagerly look forward to the Father's reaping of souls and I thank Him for showing us the picture of what that harvest will look like through the resurrection of His Son ... the Firstfruit of all who will follow Him.

April 19, 2014

First, They Came For the Jews ...

     I was extremely alarmed to read in the New York Daily News that Jews in the Eastern Ukraine city of Donetsk were slapped with orders to “register” with the pro-Moscow militia that has taken over the city.  The leaflets distributed outside a synagogue during Passover warned that any Jew who refused would have their citizenship revoked “and you will be forced outside the country with a confiscation of property."
     Now sites like the New Republic are quick to denounce this as false and accuse the Western press of spreading vicious rumors.  But just because this order is not an official one from the Ukrainian government does not mean it is any less frightening.  And they do not deny that the fliers were distributed; just that it was done by a small "fringe" group.  Does that make it any less threatening?
     It was just this mindset in pre-war Germany that concluded with the deaths of over 6,000,000 Jews. Study your history ... Hitler was once part of a small "fringe" group, too.  The Holocaust Encyclopedia reports that during the first six years of Hitler's dictatorship, from 1933 until the outbreak of war in 1939, Jews felt the effects of more than 400 decrees and regulations that restricted all aspects of their public and private lives.
     It began with a Civil Service Law that stated civil servants and employees of Jewish descent were to be excluded from state service.   Then German law restricted the number of Jewish students at German schools and universities. In the same month, further legislation sharply curtailed "Jewish activity" in the medical and legal professions.  A year later, the "Nuremberg Laws" excluded German Jews from Reich citizenship and prohibited them from marrying or having sexual relations with persons of "German or German-related blood."
     Next, the Jews lost their political rights and their participation in elections; Jewish patients were no longer admitted to German hospitals; Jews were barred from all public schools and universities, as well as from cinemas, theaters, and sports facilities; and all Jews were obliged to carry identity cards that indicated their Jewish heritage.
     In the middle of this madness, Jews were required to register their domestic and foreign property and assets, a prelude to the gradual expropriation of their material wealth by the state.  Sound familiar?  It is suspected that the leaflets are the product of anti-Semitism coming from the pro-Russian activists in Ukraine.  But it doesn't really matter who distributed them;  it is serious business and could fan the flames of anti-Semitism that is sweeping across Europe.
     I think the thing that I fear the most is that the Jews will once again be used as a pawn; this time between Russia and the West/Europe.  Will history repeat itself?  Will they once again become a scapegoat for a despot to begin his campaign to rule the world?
     Right now, this is just a minor story, buried amid bigger ones of Hillary's grandbaby and swarms of earthquakes... and that's the scariest part of all.  This kind of persecution goes unnoticed until one day we wake up, and the Ukrainian Jews are living in pogroms again!  Dear God, please protect Your people and don't let Evil control the world as it did in 1933.  I am praying for all the Ukrainian people.  They are at the center of a high-powered game of chicken, and as their future transpires, it will definitely affect our world.

Proverbs 16:12     "It is an abomination for kings to commit wicked acts, For a throne is established on righteousness." 

April 18, 2014

The Liberty Movement: What Does It Mean To You?

     When Patrick Henry declared "Give me Liberty, or give me Death!" in 1775, we all pretty much know where he was coming from.  The British colonies in America were declaring themselves independent and free of the oppressive actions of the British Empire.  The word "Liberty" has been burned into the consciences of Americans ever since.
     In fact, over two and a quarter centuries later, the desire to be free of an oppressive government is still alive and well in the American DNA.  So much so, that I daresay the word "Liberty" has even inspired its own movement.  I wonder if you've given any thought lately to exactly what that looks like, and what it means to you.
      The incident at the Bundy Ranch in Nevada is still very much in the news and has generated quite a bit of conversation from the varied groups of people I am associated with.  Of course, there are still those within my sphere of friends that don't have a clue what the whole thing was about, so they don't have any real opinion on the dynamics of the Liberty Movement.
     But of those who are tuned in to the situation, I have been surprised at the diverse points of view.  First of all, let me say that each opinion is backed up by a love of liberty.  Each group lays claim to a love for this nation and what it stands for.  But each has a different take on what happened in Nevada last week.
     To start, there are those who have a strong military background; who have served this nation in uniform and know, not only the meaning of Liberty and Freedom, but have fought on our behalf to maintain it.   But they also have a distinctive position about the course of action that was needed and taken here.  They have been trained in procedures adopted to deal with a particular situation, and in their minds Federal agents did the right thing in attempting to bring Cliven Bundy to justice.  They look at it through a black and white lens ... he broke the law, and those Federal agents were ordered by their government to enforce the law.  They did their job.
     Furthermore, they were scornful of the militia groups and "Patriots" who showed up in full force to defend the Bundy family.  They laughed about the photo of the Bundy supporter on the bridge with his rifle trained on the conflict below him.  These trained military personnel saw him as a dangerous component to the whole picture.  They claim that there were snipers that he didn't even know existed all focused on him, and if he was foolish enough to start a gunfight, there would have been lots of innocent victims killed by his irresponsible actions.  They simply felt that spilling blood over cattle was not only ridiculous, but absolutely unnecessary.
     And although I don't know anyone who is in a militia group, I have read their statements about the confrontation in Nevada.  I tend to agree with the military position, that some of these groups are potentially dangerous by not contemplating what they will set in motion, should they decide to ever act.  I understand their passion about a government that has become too regulatory, too much about maintaining their own power, and not enough about securing our individual liberties.  While I fear that some may become too anarchist; and even suspect that there are those within this subset of people who would love to take advantage of the Nevada conflict to instigate a violent reaction, I do not doubt their love for our country, nor their desire to see true Liberty established in this land.
     Finally, there are those like myself, who do not attach themselves to any "group", but are becoming increasingly leery of more government control over our lives.  However, I believe that my Liberty does not come from the Federal Government, but from God.  Like Pastor Chuck Baldwin said, as he prayed with the Bundy supporters in Nevada, "If what we do here does not honor and glorify our Creator God, then it is all for nothing.... Government did not give us our liberties and freedoms, God did."
     Thomas Jefferson made that clear in the Declaration of Independence ... We are endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights; Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of happiness.  I just want that life -- the one intended for me by my God, and free of the burdens placed on me by an overbearing bureaucracy who has forgotten that they work for us.
     But what about those who also believe in Liberty but not in God?  I would venture that I might be at odds with them on how to keep our Liberty.  Not that I believe God expects us to be pacifists in all things, but that if we follow and glorify Him, He will let us know when and how to protect the Liberty He has bestowed upon us.  Make no mistake!  I want the Liberty and the Freedom that comes from keeping the government out of my life as much as the next person.  That being said, violence is the last measure that I would ever desire.
     So, who really defines the Liberty Movement?  And can all of us find common ground?  Together, can we keep this big ship called America afloat?  And can we do it without coming into conflict with each other?  Peaceful means are always preferred over those that involve violence.   Perhaps we all need to contemplate on the meaning of Liberty ... the state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one's way of life, behavior, or political views.  The question is, "How do we get there?"
     Finally, wouldn't it be a shame if these three groups found themselves in conflict with each other?   It is my prayer that all three groups of liberty-minded individuals will give serious thought to any law, order, or temptation that would call us to battle each other.  We can all get on the same page and defend  the precious liberties that have been a hallmark for this great nation.

1 Peter 2:15-16    "For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men -- as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God."

April 17, 2014

We Looked On It In Amazement

     I will be away from my computer for the next few days, but will post some passing thoughts, as I view our changing world.  I know I should probably just announce a brief "break", but it's hard not to stay in contact with all of you.  So, please excuse the shorter dialogue and I'll be back in full swing at the end of the week.
     If you were one of the lucky ones who got to witness the blood red moon in the wee hours of Tuesday morning, then I hope it struck you with awe and wonder.  I know if you watched this spectacular sight from Salmon, Idaho, you might want to view it with a new perspective today.  An earthquake swarm that included hundreds of low-level and medium-sized earthquakes have struck central Idaho since last month.  According to the news report I saw, the latest seismic surge, including 100 small to moderate quakes on Monday alone, has scientists perplexed.  Apparently this swarm doesn't appear to be on the big, active fault in the area that ruptured in 1983, which was the largest earthquake to hit Idaho in modern history.  Hmmm, scientists can't explain it ....
     And if you live in Ukraine and saw the blood red moon, you must be wondering what it portends for your future.  On Tuesday, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev announced that Ukraine is on the brink of civil war.  Is this a thinly disguised excuse to "go in" and restore order, while at the same time, instigating the very reasons for the unrest?  While you might think this is a regional matter, Ukraine is at the heart of an event that could impact the entire world.  Hmmm, wars and rumors of wars ...
     Then, if you observed the blood red moon from West Africa, you might have seen a connection between its appearance and the rapidly spreading ebola virus.  Having moved from the jungle to a densely-populated urban area in Conakry, the capital of Guinea, this deadly virus has the potential to spread worldwide.  Passengers are being screened at airports in an attempt to keep the virus from becoming a global epidemic.  With the death toll rising, let's pray that health officials can accomplish this task.
     Droughts in California mean less fruits and vegetables for market and higher prices; while droughts in Texas are doing the same thing for the price of beef.  When you can't feed your cattle, they usually end up at the slaughterhouse, which results in fewer calves being born, and eventually less beef at the grocery store.  All this results in the highest price for beef in almost three decades.  Hmmm, disease and higher costs for food .... does "A quart of wheat for a denarius" (that would be a whole day's pay) take on new significance?  And is it coincidence that we are seeing only the third series of blood red moons in nearly 500 years?
     I know I keep harping on the possibility that the headlines of our day are showing us moving towards prophetic, Biblical events.  But I do not want you to dismiss these seemingly chance occurrences.  They are happening simultaneously and sure feel to me like they are leading up to something BIG!  If you've never opened your Bible, I urge you to take a look at the Book of Revelation.  And if you do read your Bible, take a closer look at this prophetic book.  Yes, I know it is the most difficult Scripture in the entire Bible, but for those who will hear and see, I think it will make our daily headlines come into clear focus.  The blood red moon may be gone until later in the year; September to be exact, but keep your eyes aimed at the heavens.

Revelation 6:8    "So I looked, and behold, a pale horse. And the name of him who sat on it was Death, and Hades followed with him. And power was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword, with hunger, with death, and by the beasts of the earth."

April 16, 2014

A Good Old-Fashioned Schoolin' in the Constitution

     I will be away from my computer for the next few days, but will post some passing thoughts, as I view our changing world.  I know I should probably just announce a brief "break", but it's hard not to stay in contact with all of you.  So, please excuse the shorter dialogue and I'll be back in full swing at the end of the week.

     Just some continuing thoughts on the fight for Liberty in Nevada.  I listened to an interview yesterday between Cliven Bundy and a well-known conservative talking head ... I'll just go ahead and reveal who it was -- Glenn Beck.  I was astounded at Beck's lack of knowledge about what was behind Mr. Bundy's protest.
    First of all, he took calls from several ranchers and neighbors of Mr. Bundy before interviewing Cliven himself.  They were well-spoken and able to express the mindset of all those who stood in support of the Bundy family.  They gave eye-witness accounts of the events and tried to convince Beck that at no time did the crowd of supporters get out of hand, and that they had handled themselves lawfully and appropriately.  It soon became clear that Glenn wasn't comfortable with that assessment, nor does he really understand the Western mind.  I do.
     You see, my husband has spent nearly 19 years painting the iconic modern American cowboy.  We have spent many weeks in hot, dusty cattle pens in Arizona and Nevada with these men and women.  As I saw those brave cowboys on their horses approach the BLM and federal agents, tears were in my eyes, because I know they are men of honor, integrity and rock-solid values.  I'm sure that some of them were people who have touched our lives.
     Then I felt Beck demeaned the Nevada rancher by explaining to the audience, prior to hearing Cliven, himself, speak, that we must understand that he is an "old man".  As if somehow, his explanation of what he stood for may not be quite persuasive or eloquent.   But it was obvious to me that Beck doesn't understand a thing about what drives these people to live the hard, noble lives they do.
     Glenn was so worried about what other news outlets were doing; claiming that they were fomenting "conspiracy" and violence by sending their reporters in.  He felt their coverage showed that the Bundy cause was uncooperative with the Feds, and he questioned Cliven about that.  First of all, we all know the "other" news agency is Alex Jones, and InfoWars.  I'm getting a little tired of the ongoing feud between these two -- mostly on Beck's part.  From my perspective, at least Alex had reporters on the scene covering what was happening.  What kept Glenn from sending his own?  How can you throw stones, if you aren't there evaluating the situation yourself?  But that's just my two cents worth on the pettiness.
     Back to the interview with Mr. Bundy.  Glenn tried over and over again to get Cliven to admit that he was wrong in not paying his grazing fees, and to perhaps admit that the conflict with the BLM was at least partially justified on the part of the government.  But "old" Cliven then began to school Glenn on the Constitution and the Tenth Amendment.  It quickly became clear that Cliven knew his stuff and the law, and that Glenn has formed his own uninformed position on this matter.  He had made up his mind what happened and why, and he was hoping to prove his point by getting Bundy to admit to a false argument.  But Mr. Bundy stood his ground and made Glenn look like a fool.
     Maybe I'm a little prejudiced about this interview, but I also know that having 26 cows on some piece of property in the West that you lease to cattlemen for their herds does not make you "a rancher", as Glenn likes to call himself.  I would also like to suggest that he perhaps get out of his comfortable chair in his corporate offices and go meet with these people personally and analyze the situation for himself, instead of casting aspersions from his ivory tower.  OK, I've vented my anger over his insulting interview, and now I feel better.

2 Timothy 2:14    "Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers."

April 15, 2014

The Headlines Tell It All

     I will be away from my computer for the next few days, but will post some passing thoughts, as I view our changing world.  I know I should probably just announce a brief "break", but it's hard not to stay in contact with all of you.  So, please excuse the shorter dialogue and I'll be back in full swing at the end of the week.

     I woke up this morning still reveling in the sweet taste of victory that the American citizens won through our brethren in Nevada over the weekend.  I'm not naive or foolish enough to think that the battle for Liberty has been won; I know that it may become even more difficult to hang on to now. And I realize that freedom and security are not just American ideals.  That became especially clear as I perused the headlines of just one single website early this morning .... 'Dangerous' Escalation in Ukraine Crisis ... Boko Harem Islamists in Nigeria Kill 68 in Village Attacks ... China Seizes More than 10,000 Illegal Guns in Crackdown ... Rockies, Midwest Brace for Wintry Blast ... MI6, The CIA and Turkey's Rogue Game in Syria ... Satanic Temple Launches Campaign to 'Protect' Children and Allow Them To Pray to Satan ... and on and on.  I didn't even have to leave the page to read about all this chaos!
     It seems as if the seams of safety, stability and reason are unraveling faster than we can repair them.  And it's not simply in one area, or even in one nation --- it's worldwide!  It makes the Scripture "the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time" come alive, doesn't it?  The pains of childbirth are a "building up" process to a momentous event; and the frequency and intensity of these kinds of headlines are showing us that we are escalating towards some kind of earth-shattering cataclysm.
     And I'm not sure why, but you and I have been chosen to live on the earth during this crucial time. If you are reading this blog, then you know that you are not simply to "trespass lightly" during this temporary stay.  You intuitively understand that we all have a purpose and we are part of "the grand plan."  Whether you are religious or not, we are entering the season of redemption, when the action of regaining or gaining possession of something in exchange for payment is made apparent.
     We have been fortunate enough to be born in the United States of America; a land which has allowed more self-determination and civil liberties than any in history.  The question has become, can we hang on to it?  And what will be your part in preserving these freedoms; freedoms that have been bought and paid for by others before us.
     Take another look at the headlines from today.  It is clear that forces are growing which will threaten all the peace of mind and confidence that we have known in our lives.  Now is the time to determine how you will respond.  We can let our hearts linger for a moment on the win for the "good guys" in Nevada this past weekend ... but only for a moment.  I have a strong feeling that each day from here on out is going to determine our future.  We must strengthen our courage, our principles, and our faith.  Stay strong!

Joshua 1:9     "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."

April 14, 2014

Liberty Wins In Nevada!

     As I was sitting here contemplating my thoughts on the confrontation between a Clark County, Nevada ranching family, and the overzealous Bureau of Land Management, the news came on the TV that the BLM was ceasing its operation of confiscating the family's cattle.
     If you've been following this contentious situation, then you know that there has been some controversy over the grazing fees that the government has been charging Cliven Bundy and his family.  But first, you might like to know exactly how this arrangement works.
     The Bureau of Land Management administers about 245 million acres of public lands, and manages livestock grazing on 155 million acres of those lands, as guided by Federal law. The terms and conditions for grazing on BLM-managed lands (such as stipulations on forage use and season of use) are set forth in the permits and leases issued by the Bureau to public land ranchers.
     Supposedly, all this regulation was necessary due to the degradation of the public rangelands.  So the government became in charge of how many head of cattle or sheep ranchers could graze on their allotted leases.  In government speak, it sounds like this:  the Feds balance forage demands with the land’s productivity (“carrying capacity”).  You might think that's a good thing, until you realize there's more to it.
     In the 1960s and 1970s, Congress decided they needed to "manage" these public lands even more strigently.   So they passed such laws as the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, the Endangered Species Act of 1973, and the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976.  And in 2014, this over-regulation by the Federal government came in direct conflict with a Nevada rancher, whose family had ranched that land since 1870, and he had had enough.  For him, it is the 10th Amendment that is at the heart of the argument.  For the BLM, it is Bundy's unpaid land use fees, totalling more than $1 million. Bundy said he doesn't have to pay because he has no contract with the federal government.
     As reported by SHTFPlan, Bundy said, "The first thing we need to make clear is – who owns this land? That’s really not clear. We have a federal judge that says the United States owns this land. We have the United States Constitution that says Nevada owns this land.  So this is where I’m at… Let’s talk about my grazing fee… who am I supposed to pay my grazing fee to? Constitutional sovereignty of Nevada that owns this land?  No. The one I get the grazing fee bill from is the United States government.  I don’t recognize them having any jurisdiction or authority over this land.  I do not have a contract with the United States government.  …I urge you, read the Constitution. Those Founding Fathers laid out how we’re supposed to act. They have all the answers already laid out for us. Why don’t we live that Constitution and be happy in America?"
     After days of a tense stand-off in which one of Bundy's sons was arrested, another tasered by Federal agents, and protestors were surrounded by snipers, all I could think of was, "Please dear God, not another Ruby Ridge!"  But technological developments since 1992 assured that no sneak attack would happen this time.  Cell phones and video cameras were recording every minute of this tense exchange.  And I guess Clark County Commissioner Tom Collins has never heard of Facebook... or else he would never have called those who travelled from Utah to stand with the Bundy's "inbred bastards"; or advised them "to have your funeral plans".  I wonder when his re-election is coming up?
     As protestors and supporters from across the West joined the 67-year-old rancher and his family, I feared the worst.  Was this being orchestrated so that the government could show its muscle?  It was clear from the beginning that Bundy and his family were not going to back down, and those that joined them were equally adamant that this was a fight they did not want, but would not concede.  They did not, and the Feds wisely decided to end their operation of coercion and leave the area.
     But that's not the end of the story.  As always, we must "look behind the curtain."  While the 10th Amendment and personal liberty were front-and-center in this showdown, it is alleged that something more was at stake than overdue grazing fees.  Oh, yeah, it was EPA's concern about the protection of the “desert tortoise.”  They really expected us to believe that?
     If you just peel back enough layers, you will usually find the ugly truth.  InfoWars posted an article in which they said that a BLM document was removed from the BLM.gov website, in which it was stated, “Non-Governmental Organizations have expressed concern that the regional mitigation strategy for the Dry Lake Solar Energy Zone utilizes Gold Butte as the location for offsite mitigation for impacts from solar development, and that those restoration activities are not durable with the presence of trespass cattle.”  Guess whose cattle “impacted” solar development and are viewed as "trespassing"? More specifically, they are standing in the way of the construction of “utility-scale solar power generation facilities” on “public lands.”
     It has also been alleged that none other than Senator Harry Reid and his son, Rory, were heavily involved in plans to build a $5-billion solar plant on public land in Laughlin, Nevada.  And, Rory Reid, was the chief representative for the Chinese energy firm building that plant.
     And if that's not enough to get your goat, the BLM director, who would have been involved with purging the above document entitled "Cattle Trespass Impacts" was Senator Reid’s former senior adviser!  (I guess I have a hard time understanding why this scoundrel continues to get re-elected!!)
     So what happens, going forward?  Is the BLM really going to throw in the towel and just walk away.  Is this really a win for Liberty?  There is still the question of what has happened to the Bundy's cattle that were removed?  The BLM has refused to say if they had been euthanized after the removal.
     While the government maintains that Bundy still owes over $1 million in grazing fees, and said they would “continue to work to resolve the matter administratively and judicially,” that probably means continued long court battles for the Bundy family.  For now, I am grateful to those who had the foresight to avert what would have most certainly resulted in violence and tragedy.  I am also proud of those Westerners who stood their ground and exhibited the courage and tenacity that their pioneer forebears instilled in their DNA.
     Unfortunately, I fear that this will not be the last of such showdowns between citizens and our government.  It is obvious that the Constitution is still revered among many of us, although it is certainly being tested and torn apart.  I pray that God sees that there is still a remnant that cherishes our "God-given rights", and that He will seal us and protect us from the future trials that are coming our way.  We avoided a huge tragedy this time.  May His hand ever guide us.

Psalm 1:1-2    Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law he meditates day and night.