A Modern Woman's Perspective On The Kingdom of God on Earth

Showing posts with label Pariotism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Pariotism. Show all posts

October 9, 2015

A House Divided

     I recently ran across an archived article from Hillsdale College, written by its President, Larry P. Arnn.  Hillsdale is a Liberal Arts College, founded on two principles: academic excellence and institutional independence. The College does not accept federal or state taxpayer subsidies for any of its operations.
     Hillsdale is an exceptional institution of learning as one can attest by reading its mission statement:  Founded in 1844 by men and women “grateful to God for the inestimable blessings” resulting from civil and religious liberty and “believing that the diffusion of learning is essential to the perpetuity of these blessings", it pursues the stated object of the founders: “to furnish all persons who wish, irrespective of nation, color, or sex, a literary and scientific education” [that is] outstanding among American colleges “and to combine with this such moral and social instruction as will best develop the minds and improve the hearts of its pupils.”
     The College considers itself a trustee of modern man’s intellectual and spiritual inheritance from the Judeo-Christian faith and Greco-Roman culture, a heritage finding its clearest expression in the American experiment of self-government under law.  Hillsdale College prepares students to become leaders worthy of that legacy, and by publicly defending that legacy, it enlists the aid of other friends of free civilization and thus secures the conditions of its own survival and independence.
     As you can see, this College seeks to teach this nation's founding principles of freedom, self-government, and the pursuit of virtuous leadership -- without relying on partisan funding.  Needless to say, its goals are not shared by too many other college across the land.
     But it was the December 2012 interview with Hillsdale's President Arnn that sparked some interesting historical comparisons of our nation's history.  The title of the article was Time To Give Up, Or Time To Fight On?  It was written right as the nation was coming to terms with the results of the 2012 Presidential election.  At the time, it was quite clear that the nation was becoming divided; especially in terms of political ideologies.  The gap between Conservative and Liberal, Right and Left, Socialist and Capitalist, Big-Government entitlement programs and Small-Government policies  never seemed greater.  The ensuing years have done nothing to alleviate that chasm.  (And now the latest news is that there seems to be a real fight within the Republican party to determine if the House of Representatives is going to really represent the people of America, or continue with "business as usual".)  Is it possible that we might actually be seeing the dawn of a new era, and a return to our true national roots as a republic?
     Yet the warning that President Arnn issued back in 2012 against those who might be looking to retreat from the political arena still holds true today.  He cautioned against those who might think we have passed the point of no return.  He pointed out then -- and it is ever more vital today -- "that the cost of [retreating] is overwhelming. If you don’t live under good laws, life becomes shortened and less happy, injustice becomes customary, civilization is compromised. And one cannot acquiesce to that. One has to be involved. And since politics is natural to us—man is essentially political, as Aristotle says—and since we do live in the greatest modern country—founded that way at least—we owe it a lot. And many of the people who have seen the republic through to where we are today have gone through things that are worse than this."
     Of course, we in modern Babylon -- we spoiled, soft, and selfish Americans in the 21st Century -- are likely to think that no one has had it as tough as us.  But if we could quit thinking about ourselves for just a moment and focus on the future of our nation, we might realize that we need to stay in the fight.
     Because it was what he said just a few short paragraphs later that has got me to thinking:  "The country is still a house divided against itself, and that’s dangerous. But it doesn’t mean that there’s been a resolution. It means, in fact, the opposite: there is not a resolution. That resolution still has to be made, and the making of it lies ahead of us, and not behind us."  He said that in 2012!  How much more relevant is it today, just three short years later?  We have seen new divisions that were merely hinted at when the last election was decided... division between the races; a division between the faithful and the secular; between Christians and Muslims; between the rich and poor; and a widening gap between the middle class and the elites.  But does it spell the end of the republic?  Are we past the point of no return?
     Surely, at the founding of this nation, the division between the independence-minded colonists and the ruling class in Britain spelled sure defeat for the growing American spirit.  And as Dr. Arnn points out, the crisis that President Lincoln faced definitely threatened to divide the nation and destroy it.  The nation had to decide between two polar opposite philosophies ... either slavery was the right direction to take the nation, or complete freedom for all men was the right path.  Lincoln clearly understood the Bible's warning that a house divided against itself, will be unable to stand.  So, which of these conflicting ideologies was violating America's principles?  A devastating war was fought to resolve that issue.  As Dr. Arnn writes, "There’s almost an exact parallel today, because the people who founded our country believed and wrote—and established a Constitution to provide—that there must never be unlimited rule by any man or group of men over other men. And our government is getting to a place where it threatens to become limitless."  Remember, that was written three years ago.
     So, I guess the question becomes this: will this generation of Americans [who face this century's threat against our inherent belief in individual rights and limited government], be up to the challenge or not?  Will we retreat and submit to what looks like an insurmountable opponent, or will we remember that this nation has survived other attempts by enemies, both physical and spiritual, to conquer and divide us?  And, perhaps an equally relevant question is, will our leadership rise to the occasion and the growing demand for change and accountability?  Will they even give us a reason to vote?
     I think we would do well to consider what Dr. Arnn proffers as a valuable historic lesson from Winston Churchill.  When Great Britain appeared to stand alone against the onslaught of Hitler's evil Nazi regime, Prime Minister Churchill still believed he could win.  In fact, he believed free men were morally obliged to believe they could defeat evil, and to go down fighting, if necessary.  Do we still "hold that truth to be self-evident" within our American DNA?  They did at Bunker Hill and Concord; and on the battlefields at Gettysburg, Vicksburg, Shiloh, and Antietam.  Those Americans felt this republic was worth fighting for.  Now, we find ourselves on the world stage in our hour of crisis.  What will it be?  Retreat and let this nation further divide -- or fight to maintain our original purpose, and rely on the Providence of Almighty God to bring forth a worthy leader to keep this land a little longer for His Glory?  It's time to make your decision.

Psalm 77:11   "But then I recall all you have done, O LORD;  I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago."

March 13, 2015

What Constitutes A Traitor These Days?

     According to Webster's Dictionary, a traitor is: a person who is not loyal to his or her own country, friends, etc. : a person who betrays a country or group of people by helping or supporting an enemy.  Pretty serious accusation, wouldn't you say?  And treason, what is it's definition?  Again, according to Webster's, it is "the crime of trying to overthrow your country's government or of helping your country's enemies during war".
     I bring up these definitions because that is what The New York Daily News has called Senator Tom Cotton in, what I consider, is a libelous front page editorial.  It appears that Mr. Cotton, who spearheaded a group of 46 fellow Republican Senators, took his job seriously as a representative of the people of this great nation, and wrote a letter to the leaders of Iran, informing them of just how our Constitutional system works when it comes to ratifying any treaties -- in case they were thinking of pulling any end-around play in gaining U.S. approval for their nuclear proliferation.
      What is it about Tom Cotton's letter that has the political world in such an uproar?  First of all, I don't think it is actually his letter that is the problem.  After all, in essence, all he did was paraphrase Article II of the Constitution, by informing the Iranian regime that any deal cut with the President without Congressional approval would be subject to alterations by Congress and revocable by future presidents.  And for that, his actions are labeled "bordering on treason" by a former Democratic politician.  But does that simple letter meet the qualifications for the definition of treason?  It hardly appears to be an attempt to "overthrow the government", or of "helping our country's enemies during war".
     Like I said, the letter and its contents aren't the problem.  I believe the real problem is Tom Cotton, himself.  You see, Mr. Cotton is representative of a new breed of elected Congressmen who actually have the credentials, and the experience, to back their positions.  Mr. Cotton is the youngest member of the Senate and a graduate of Harvard and Harvard Law School.  But it is his military demeanor and record that I think offends the political establishment the most.  He served as an infantry officer in the 101st Airborne Division in Iraq in 2006, arguably one of the bloodiest periods of the war. 
      Like many of his military counterparts, he has returned home from serving his country on the battlefield, and has answered the call to serve in the Halls of Congress.  From my perspective, who better to lend their voice to the ongoing debate over our interventionist policies in foreign wars?  For me, whether he is a hawk or dove isn't the issue -- I would rather have someone involved in developing our country's policies , who has "walked the walk", than all the career politicians who are there because they can "talk the talk" better than the next guy, or have a bigger campaign chest.
      No, I believe the Establishment in D.C. is none too fond of the likes of Tom Cotton, who after facing our enemies on the front lines of war-torn Iraq, is none too intimidated by our domestic enemies, who would defeat us through diplomatic channels.  In fact, I don't think the Establishment knows how to deal with Tom Cotton, who is known for his discipline, and his fearless defense of his principles.  While at Harvard, he wrote a 92-page thesis on the Federalist Papers, showing his keen interest in how government works.  After the attacks on 9-11, he joined the Army and spent almost five years on active duty, including as a platoon leader on combat patrols in Baghdad.  He is also known for his unwillingness to compromise, even if it means going against party lines.  (You've got to admire him for that!)  And because of his bold and defiant schooling of the Iranian leadership, there is now an attempt to invoke the obscure Logan Act to censure him.
     What is the Logan Act?  Enacted in 1799, the Logan Act is a United States federal law that forbids unauthorized citizens from negotiating with foreign governments. It was intended to prohibit such negotiations after Pennsylvania state legislator Dr. George Logan traveled to Paris to enter into discussions with the French during a period of severe tensions between our two governments.  His actions were labeled "semi-negotiations", and although his efforts appeared to result in a positive avoidance of all-out war, it angered his political rivals who sought "to curb the temerity and impudence of individuals affecting to interfere in public affairs between France and the United States."  Sounds like the Logan Act was the result of political jealousy and was meant as a slap on the wrist of a political upstart.  Nothing has changed in American politics.
     The use of the Logan Act for political punishment is nothing new.  In 1803 the Act was procured against a private citizen who wrote a letter to a newspaper, advocating a separate U.S. nation in the west that would ally with France.  The subsequent purchase of the Louisiana Territory caused the separatism issue to disappear.  In 1941, it was suggested that the Logan Act could apply to former President Herbert Hoover because of his negotiations with European nations over sending food relief.   In 1975, Senators John Sparkman and George McGovern were accused of violating the Logan Act when they traveled to Cuba and met with officials there.  In 1984, Jesse Jackson traveled to Cuba and Nicaragua to negotiate for the exchange of political prisoners.  Again, the Logan Act was dusted off and implied.
      And I'm sure you all remember the little political trip that Nancy Pelosi took in 2007.  Representative Steve King introduced legislation that would prohibit then-Speaker of the House Pelosi from drawing on Federal funds to travel to foreign states which the U.S. deems to sponsor terrorism. King claimed that Pelosi's dialogue with the Syrian government violated the Logan Act. The amendment was not adopted, of course.
     So, does all this sound like political grand-standing?  Yes!  Political sour grapes?  Absolutely!  Senator Cotton and 46 other Senators did not violate the Logan Act.  There were no "negotiations"; just stated facts about the Constitution.  And to insinuate that he is a traitor to his country, or could be dangerously close to committing treason is absurd.  I, for one, am impressed with his forthrightness, his loyalty to the Constitution and his country, and his unflinching attitude in defending the American people from what he thinks is dangerous policy.
     I think we can actually go back to the original intention of the Logan Act ... "to curb the temerity and impudence" of men like Tom Cotton.  How dare he stand up for the American people and the United States!  May the courage he displayed in the midst of war carry him through the battles he will face in the belly of the beast that is Washington, D.C.  And may he remain steadfast in his determination to defeat those who would defeat us; and avoid the failure of being compromised as so many before him have done.  We, the American people, watch and wait for someone to defend us.

Proverbs 13:6   "Righteousness guards him whose way is blameless, but sin overthrows the wicked."


July 5, 2014

The WWII Memorial Prayer Act

     It was nice to see that the Congress, in its entirety, could agree on something.  Early in June, the Senate unanimously passed a bill called The WWII Memorial Prayer Act (S1044).  Just a few days ago, the House of Representatives passed it by a bipartisan majority.  The essence of this Bill is its' commemoration of the prayer that President Franklin D. Roosevelt spoke on the morning that troops were landing on the beaches of Normandy.  The purpose of this legislation is that this Landing Day prayer will be added -- at no cost to the American taxpayer -- to the WWII Memorial in Washington, D.C.
     The history behind this worthy legislation is that seventy years ago, on the morning of June 6, 1944, as Allied forces were landing on the beaches in Normandy, President Roosevelt went to the airwaves and prayed with the nation for God's blessing and protection upon our brave fighting men. He prayed, "Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity… With Thy blessing, we shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy. Help us to conquer the apostles of greed and racial arrogances. Lead us to the saving of our country, and with our sister nations into a world unity that will spell a sure peace -- a peace invulnerable to the schemings of unworthy men. And a peace that will let all of men live in freedom, reaping the just rewards of their honest toil.  Thy will be done, Almighty God. Amen."  (For a full rendition of FDR's prayer, click here.)
     Senator Rob Portman, a sponsor of the bill, said, "Every day, countless Americans volunteer to serve our country. Many more before them have made the greatest sacrifice of all, giving their lives to defend our freedoms. On D-Day, our nation mourned our men overseas who fell while combating tyranny. President Roosevelt asked us to come together to pray for these courageous heroes, and his words provided strength and comfort to a grieving nation.  At no cost to the taxpayer, my bill will immortalize this extraordinary prayer on the World War II Memorial so it becomes a permanent reminder of the sacrifice of not just those who fought in World War II, but also of the men and women who fight for us today and all those who lay down their lives for the cause of liberty."
     It should come as no surprise that the ACLU has filed a letter of opposition, in which they state, "Religious freedom is a fundamental and defining feature of our national character. Given our robust, longstanding commitment to the freedom of religion and belief, it is no surprise that the United States is among the most religious, and religiously diverse, nations in the world. Our religious diversity is one of our nation’s great strengths.  
     This bill, however, shows a lack of respect for this great diversity. It endorses the false notion that all veterans will be honored by a war memorial that includes a prayer [which] proponents characterize as reflecting our country’s “Judeo-Christian heritage and values.”  In fact, Department of Defense reports show that nearly one-third of all current members of the U.S. Armed Forces identify as non-Christian.  Likewise, many of our veterans and citizens come from a variety of religious backgrounds, or have no religious belief; thus, it is inappropriate to honor the “power of prayer” in a national memorial.
     Memorials are designed to bring our country together in a unified reflection of our past. Indeed, the WWII Memorial’s stated purpose is national unity.  Instead of uniting us as we remember the sacrifice of those who served, the inclusion of this prayer on the memorial would be divisive: It would send a strong message to those who do not share the same religious beliefs expressed in this prayer that they are excluded and ‘not full members of the . . . community.’      
     "Well .... let me just say this:  This is a memorial to WWII veterans and their experience.  It's about them, and for them.  I do not have the precise statistics, but I would venture a guess that a vast majority of those serving in our military THEN, probably checked the box "Christian" on their enlistment papers. So, it's not about the "nearly one-third of all current members of the U.S. Armed Forces", as the ACLU alleges.  And it is not about changing history, as it certainly appears to me is the desired result of this opposition.
     For God's sake (literally)!  On June 6, 1944 the President of the United States proclaimed this prayer in our hour of need.  He properly reflected the spiritual nature of our country at that time.  Just because individuals and organizations such as the ACLU want to project "exclusion" and "divisiveness" upon this memorial prayer, doesn't make it so, or take away its historical importance.  I am so tired of these dissenters trying to claim we are not, nor have ever been, a Christian nation.  When you read the entire prayer, it is obvious President Roosevelt was speaking to a nation of people who had faith in the Christian God.  I'm sorry if the ACLU doesn't want to accept that truth.
     This bill has now been sent to the President's desk for his signature.  Will he sign it?  As far back as 2011, when this bill was first introduced, the Director of the Bureau of Land Management at the time, Robert Abbey, said any plaque or inscription bearing the prayer would “dilute” the “elegant” memorial’s core message and therefore “should not be altered.”   Nonsense!  I hope that this bill doesn't languish on the President's desk; pushed aside until Congress takes its summer recess, and then to be forgotten upon resumption of official duties.  This prayer, spoken by an American President, is an important part of our national experience, our history, and our spiritual consciousness.  Let it be forever memorialized.

Jeremiah 29:12    "Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you."


July 4, 2014

Fourth of July Reflections

     This Fourth of July feels different.  In the past, I've always felt our liberty and freedom were assured; that the soul of 1776 was still recognizable in our nation.  But for the first time in my life, our future seems ....  fragile and vulnerable.
     The one thing I know for certain is that I still believe in the "Spirit of 76".  I am well aware of how this country defies all the odds; that the freedom and independence we have known for the last 238 years is not a natural state of mankind in the world.  In fact, this country broke all the molds when it came to men and what rights they possessed.  "Natural and inherent" rights became a new philosophy that challenged the old order of kings, aristocracy, and the elite.
     But what did our Founding Fathers mean when they claimed that "all men are created equal ... and endowed with certain unalienable rights...."?  I think John Adams explained it quite well:  ""I say RIGHTS, for such they have, undoubtedly, antecedent to all earthly government; Rights that cannot be repealed or restrained by human laws; Rights, derived from the great Legislator of the universe."
     It seems to me that our Founding Fathers believed in the concept that we are not all created with the same talents or circumstances, but we are created with the same rights to become all that we can be; all that God has made us to be.  I believe that they defined a "right" as something endowed at birth that cannot be taken away.  They expanded that philosophy to include property rights and economic freedom as integral and essential parts of man’s natural rights.  They developed this unique ideology from the example of their ancestors; the Puritan work ethic valued hard work, providing for one’s family, and the right to keep the fruits of one’s labor. That was then .... do we still hold to that principle?  Or, does our government see its role as making us all be the same, and leveling the playing field, regardless of efforts and accountability?
     It seems to me that Government is increasingly deciding which rights people and groups are "endowed" with.  And if they are the "giver", then they reason that they can also take those rights away.  Hence, our property rights are no longer sacred nor protected.  In fact, the "natural" rights that our Founding Fathers so authoritatively manifested have been redefined as government-guaranteed economic opportunity and security.
      I truly believe that the group of men who convened in July of 1776, were Divinely-inspired.  For the first time in history, the idea was born that men could be free of the restraints that repressed them. But the Founding Fathers understood that men were not perfectly good so they needed to form some sort of government to secure their natural rights. But just as important, they needed a government constrained by the consent of the people.  James Madison expressed it eloquently:  "If men were angels, no government would be necessary."
     But they also new that this never-before-tried form of government would be fragile and subject to corruption.  That's why, at the close of the Constitutional Convention of 1787, when asked if the Founders had crafted a Monarchy or a Republic, Benjamin Franklin replied, "A republic.  If you can keep it."  And my, how difficult it has been to keep it!  Down through the nearly two-and-a-half centuries this country has existed, malevolent forces have battered our walls of freedom.  The Republic has managed to survive threats from Communism, Socialism and Progressivism; although all have managed to erode the original vision of those inspired men.
    If you can keep it .... Did they know we would let it slip away?  But could they also conceive that there would be those of us who would recognize that what they accomplished was worthy of fighting for; and that their vision would still burn in the hearts of patriotic souls?  I think Franklin's reply was a subtle warning ... our freedom was not, and is not, guaranteed.  The Founders knew that men and governments would endeavor to increase their power and control at the expense of our individual freedoms because freedom is not the natural state of the world.
     That's why President Ronald Reagan's words sound so prophetic today:  "[Freedom] must be fought for, protected, and handed on [to our children] for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free."
     How do we protect these fragile freedoms; these freedoms that we are on the verge of losing today?  Has this erosion occurred by "the consent of the governed"?   We certainly seem to have fallen asleep on the job.   How do we change direction, and is it too late?  There are many Americans who would tell you that we failed Benjamin Franklin -- that we've lost it.  I refuse to believe that!  As Reagan eluded to, we must reinvigorate ourselves; know how remarkable and rare are this country's founding principles and teach that fact to our children.  Then we must make sure that we take advantage of the extraordinary system that has been instituted and elect honorable men who will preserve those principles.
     We must return to being a moral nation; not adopting moral relevancy, but a moral code of conduct that breeds responsibility, accountability, and recognizing the rights of others.  Finally, we must renew our efforts as watchmen of our freedoms; guard them and fight for them.  If we cannot return to a knowledge and recognition of the unparalleled freedoms that were established in this country, as well as stand up as moral men and women, and vow to protect our rights, then I'm afraid we may have nothing to celebrate next Fourth of July.
     But, if, as I suspect, the "Spirit of '76" still exists in our DNA, then I set my sights on the day that we can once again proclaim, as did Oliver Wolcott, a signer of the Declaration of Independence 238 years ago today, "It is most evident that this land is under the protection of the Almighty, and that we shall be saved not by our wisdom nor by our might, but by the Lord of Host Who is wonderful in counsel and Almighty in all His operations."  Amen!

2 Corinthians 3:17    "Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom."

February 24, 2014

Glenn Beck: THIS Is What The Flag Means!

     For the most part, I applaud conservative talk host Glenn Beck for his political and social views.  We share a dismal view of the direction of the country, and the world, for that matter.  We are both troubled by the rampant moral decay and the corruption.  We abhor abortion, hate the intrusion of Big government in our lives, and champion the Constitution; especially our Second Amendment Rights.
     Sometimes I think he's on the wrong side of issues; not so much ideologically, but because he hasn't done his due diligence on the subject.  Take his love for Nikola Tesla and his disdain for Thomas Edison, for instance.  Or consider his recent sarcastic scorn over Area 51.  If you are like me and some very close friends who have done a deep, deep, deep Biblical study into the implications of these topics, then you know what I'm talking about.  Otherwise, let's just leave it as one of my tin-foil hat conspiracies.
     But back to Glenn.  Last week he went on a righteous rant about the state of America.  Right Wing Watch, a decidedly left-leaning website, was only too pleased to report on Mr. Beck's tirade.  While they gave an obviously one-sided review, picking and choosing his most inflammatory comments, I would like to issue my own statement about some of the most provocative remarks.  I heard the entire segment, and while I agree on his overall assessment, there was one aspect that I would especially like to address.
     "I'm an American, and I still know what I believe.  But, I will tell you this," he observed, "the country, the institution, what that flag, those buildings that the flag flies over, what the flag is becoming, what it means to the rest of the world, I DON'T KNOW! I don't care!"  He was just beginning ...  "I'm not about the flag, I'll burn the flag every day. In fact, I'm really considering burning the flag. I may do a show really super soon where I burn the flag. And if you don't like it, then maybe you should figure out what the flag means."  While he vowed to defend the Constitution to his last breath, Beck said "I'll burn the flag every day of the week".

     Well, Mr. Beck, I, too, am an American and let me tell you what I believe; especially about our flag.  I would refer you to an eloquent essay on the meaning of our flag, by Henry Ward Beecher, an early 19th-century abolitionist and clergyman.  He articulates the significance of our flag far better than I ever could.  Among his statements are these:
•  [The flag] means the rising up of a valiant young people against an old tyranny, to establish the most momentous doctrine that the world had ever known, or has since known, - the right of men to their own selves and to their liberties.
•  Our flag carries American ideas, American history and American feelings … in its glorious insignia, it has gathered and stored chiefly this supreme idea: Divine right of liberty in man.
•  This American Flag was the safeguard of liberty...  It was an ordinance of liberty by the people, for the people. That it meant, that it means, and, by the blessing of God, that it shall mean to the end of time!
• … Accept it, then, in all its fullness of meaning … It is a whole national history. It is the Constitution (my emphasis) … Forget not what it means … be true to your country’s flag.
     Now let me share with you what happened this past week, and why the flag has special meaning for me.  After being a part of the Chris Kyle Memorial charity event, it became clear that a lot of Americans are still patriotic and still believe in what this country has stood for. ( I will agree that our national identity is changing, both abroad and at home -- and not for the good.  But that doesn't mean that I associate the flag with how someone else is misrepresenting it.  The flag STILL stands for those same ideals that Henry Ward Beecher expressed in the mid-1800s! )
     Back to my story -- after paying tribute to our valiant warriors who defend this nation -- and its flag -- we were surprised and honored to receive a special package in the mail from one of those warriors.  Inside the box was a carefully folded flag, with a hand-written note that read, "Hopefully, you can find a home for this flag.  I carried it in combat.  Enjoy!"  Along with this treasure was a certificate from the Special Operations Command that stated this flag had been flown during a successful mission in Afghanistan, resulting in the capture of insurgent forces responsible for terrorist activity.  The final inscription on the certificate read, Cherish this flag and your freedom.  Much has been sacrificed for both.
    To say that we were choked up, is to put it mildly.  So, I would say to you, Mr. Beck, that I feel sorry for you if you no longer know or care what the flag means.  Because I can tell you that every person who has gone into battle carrying it --- from the Revolutionary War to the current wars --- knows what it means, and desperately cares about what it stands for.  The flag we received as a gift was the banner of freedom that accompanied those willing to fight for our liberties.  To say that you would consider burning it is a disgrace to the memories of all those who died holding it aloft.  Perhaps you should speak to your friend, Marcus Luttrell, the Lone Survivor, how he feels about your remarks.
     Finally, I would like to remind you that a flag, or banner, has great significance as a symbol in the Bible.  In fact, one of the names of God in the Bible is Jehovah-Nissi, the Lord-Is-My-Banner.  (In Exodus 17, you can read how God, as the Israelites banner, insured their victory in battle).  In ancient times, banners were often a bare pole with a bright shining ornament which glittered in the sun; but it was more than that.   It was an ensign or standard carried in the midst of battle to indicate the line of march, or the rallying point, and, as such, is closely aligned with victory.
     I would venture that the flag holds that same meaning to millions of Americans today.  It is our symbol of liberty against tyranny; it is our ideas, our history, our faith and our freedoms; it is the symbol of our Constitution --- it is our rallying point.  It doesn't matter what it means to the rest of the world; I don't care about that, and therefore agree with you on that point.  But it does matter what it means to us Americans, and I know what it means to me and all those who have died for it. 
     Our leaders can drag it through the mud and even try to make it mean something different, but it is at the heart and soul of who, we as true Americans, really are.  And they can't change that.  So I will chalk up your attack on the flag as a lapse in judgment during a moment of impassioned indignation.  You didn't really mean you'd burn the flag every day of the week .... did you?

Isaiah 11:10     And in that day there shall be a Root of Jesse, Who shall stand as a banner to the people; For the Gentiles shall seek Him, And His resting place shall be glorious.

October 11, 2013

Shame on Government; Hooray for Humanity!

     After my visit this week to the Fisher Houses in San Antonio, I was thrilled to see that the Fisher House Foundation was there once again for our military.  As I'm sure you know, the ridiculous ramifications of the government shutdown were elevated to a new low when "death gratuities" of $100,000 for the families of fallen soldiers were halted.
     I know they are trying to make life as painful as possible for the American public so we will fall for the crap that is political propaganda; but it is absolutely unconscionable to deny military families this money which helps pay for travel to receive the bodies of their loved ones, for funerals, and for immediate expenses after a soldier's death.
     But it came as no surprise to me that the Fisher House Foundation has stepped up to fill the gap and will supply this much-needed payment to these worthy military families.  The Fisher Houses are a dream project of humanitarian and founder, Zachary Fisher, and his wife Elizabeth.  Designed as comfort homes that enabled family members to be close to a loved one at the most stressful time -- during the hospitalization for a combat injury, illness or disease -- these homes are built on the grounds of major military and VA medical centers nationwide and in Europe.
     I have seen first-hand how the Fisher Foundation, through private donations and support, show honor to our military, and affect the lives of our soldiers and their families in ways that bureaucratic government can't even envision.  In fact, this latest blow to military morale by the government is just one more example of the burden they are putting on our military.
     During my visit to Fort Sam Houston, my latest fears were substantiated during a casual conversation with one soldier.  I asked about the injury to his hand and how long he would be receiving treatment and rehabilitation at Fort Sam, and followed that up with where he was deployed.  With a slight acknowledgment of weariness, he relayed the history of his injury and then said he would be returning to Africa!
     So folks, while the "official" language of this administration is that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are winding down, it is clear that we are far from disengaging in war.  It appears that Africa will be our next theatre of combat.  To what end?  A staging ground for Syria and the Middle East conflict?  Or are we supposed to believe that we now need to defend freedom in all of Africa, amidst the rising jihadist threat?
     Before you think that I am making mountains out of molehills, this supposition was verified during the always impressive tour of the Intrepid Center, where our soldiers receive the latest and greatest that technology has to offer in rehabilitation and physical therapy.  As a retired Army Colonel was giving us the tour, she explained that they were seeing less patients as a result of the winding down of our two wars.  I took a chance and asked her point-blank, "Is it true that we are now deploying to Africa?"  She didn't hesitate and gave us a definitive answer .... "Yes."
     So, I guess I'm just trying to figure out the endgame here.  What is the purpose of stretching our military so thin?  Why the deliberate "poke in the eye" with the halting of the "death gratuities"?  Why intentionally harm the military by creating resentment among the federally paid physicians who are working "pro bono" during this shutdown?  (Believe me, I heard the grumbling while at Fort Sam).
     And another thing I witnessed ... a growing tension among the military members as they begin to realize that the government is not looking out for their best interests.  I seem to detect more awareness and questioning about their care and their future, rather than the robotic acquiescence that is desired by the top military brass.  Perhaps our troops are beginning to see the truth for themselves.
     Mind you, I know that everything is being done with a purpose and a goal in mind.  After the Fisher House Foundation announced they would pay the military families the death benefits they are due, the Pentagon released a news story in which Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced the Fisher House Foundation had agreed to make the payments from its own funds.  Hagel went on:  "At the end of the shutdown, the Defense Department will reimburse the foundation for the costs it has incurred."  How like the government to try to claim they were part of the solution!
     But I have personally witnessed what is at the heart of the Fisher Foundation, and it is the welfare and care of our wounded veterans and their families.  This Foundation has proven that private donations from compassionate citizens are capable of taking care of those in need... and better than the government bureaucracies.
     So thank you to the Fisher House Foundation for taking care of our military families, and shame on the political games that caused these heartbroken families to suffer during this painful time.  The three words on founder Zachary Fisher's tomb continue to be manifested in the leadership of his Foundation by his grand-nephew and CEO, Kenneth Fisher .... Builder ... Philanthropist .... Patriot.   This is one more reason that the private citizenry of this country gets it, and the government doesn't.

Isaiah 1:17    "Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow's cause."

July 4, 2013

It's Independence Day!

     I prefer to celebrate today as Independence Day, instead of Fourth of July.  I want to recall the true meaning of this day, instead of observing the fa├žade.  We've made it all about a day off from work, fireworks, hotdogs, and a day at the beach.  We've forgotten what it MEANS!
     Independence:  free from outside control; not depending on another's authority; not depending on another for livelihood or subsistence; capable of thinking or acting for oneself.  Those who established this great nation certainly fit that description.  Two hundred and thirty-seven years ago today, fifty-six brave men made a bold Declaration, in which they "mutually pledge[d] to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor."  And what was so precious to them that they were willing to make those sacrifices?  INDEPENDENCE!
     They were very clear about how they wanted to live their lives, and were able to enunciate the "repeated injuries and usurpations" of their unique American rights and liberties.  Indeed, the Declaration of Independence lists a long inventory of the Americans' grievances against the Crown.  The bottom line was this: they were not willing to live as vassals of the king's government.  They knew that their natural rights of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness were being restricted and they were willing to stand up to an oppressive and dictatorial regime.
     As Americans of the twenty-first century, are we still capable of recognizing when our independence is being threatened?  Are we made of the stuff our ancestors possessed?  I believe we are!  I have seen a renewed patriotism and loyalty to our founding principles, and a desire to return to the self-sufficiency and self-determination that were the hallmarks of our forefathers.  In 1776, Americans were ready to stand on their own and throw off the burdens of exorbitant taxes, regulations and unjust laws.  They yearned to be a free people, responsible for their own successes and failures; not subjects of a despotic tyrant.  King George III underestimated this hunger for freedom, independence and liberty.  And he underestimated their firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence.  
     I still believe that God can guide the future of this country, just as He shepherded its founding.  If you have read a historical account of the eight long years of our fight for independence, you will see His hand at every turn.  From the first shot at Bunker Hill, to the last one at Yorktown, there was no way we should have ever defeated the great fighting force of the British Empire!  But God had a plan for America; He chose us to show mankind that they were designed to live in freedom.
     So as we celebrate the historic signing of the document that changed the world, let's not forget that the brave citizens of those colonies did not accomplish this on their own.  They could not accomplish it on their own.  And let's remember that the country was divided among their loyalties.  Historians think that only about 40-45% actually supported breaking away from Great Britain, while 20% were counted as Loyalists, and another 35% remained neutral.  Just like today, they were not a cohesive populace.  We can sometimes become discouraged that we are no longer a "united" nation.  But God can still work His miracles and use His power and authority to re-establish us as His beacon of light to the world.
     That's what I choose to celebrate today!  I am proud of our history, and proud to be an American.  I commit my strength, influence and energy to preserve what God and those amazing 56 men set into motion so long ago.  God Bless America!

And I invite you to watch this emotional video that celebrates those who help ensure that we remain independent and free.  They need our prayers and our support.  Bless them, Lord!

Galatians 5:1    "For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery."

February 6, 2013

Chris Kyle: The Best of the Best

     I am still reeling from the shock of Chris Kyle's murder.  No matter what you thought of his outspokenness or brash personality, the man had the creds to back it up.  No one can dispute his title of "the most lethal sniper in American military history," with 160 confirmed kills.  His Wikipedia profile gives you his "official" resume:  He served four tours in the second Iraq war, and was awarded the Bronze and Silver Star medals multiple times. Iraqi insurgents dubbed him the "Devil of Ramadi" and offered an increasing bounty for his head. He was shot twice, and was involved in six IED attacks. He separated from the U.S. Navy with an honorable discharge in 2009 to spend time with his family. He remained in the spotlight, and wrote an autobiography, American Sniper, which became an instant best-seller.  Chris donated all the proceeds of his book to the families of his fallen friends.
     This is the Chris Kyle the MSM will now exploit, along with the manner of his death.  We are in the early days of this tragedy and I'm sure the story and the details will change with time.  He was reportedly shot and killed, along with a friend, Chad Littlefield, as they allegedly tried to help a fellow soldier suffering (again allegedly) from PTSD.  That story now seems to be morphing into one of simple robbery as a motive, or perhaps something even more sinister.  (I will let the conspiracy theorists prove whether there is any truth to these claims).  The intentions of both Chris and Chad, along with the location of the murder threaten to obscure the legacy of this American warrior.  For me, the story is not about the danger of guns in the hands of alleged PTSD-sufferers, or the fact that Chris and Chad had gone to a gun range to provide help for a troubled veteran.
     What you really need to know is that Chris Kyle had a heart as big as his reputation.  According to his brother, Jeff, his personal motto was "It is our duty to serve those who serve us."  He died living up to that credo.  Both Chris and Chad were described as loving fathers, husbands, sons and friends, who believed in God and country; they didn't just believe in those tenets, they acted on them.  They put their fellow man before themselves and were patriots and heroes in every sense of the word.
     I cannot stand by as I hear former Presidential candidate Ron Paul so callously tweet his political bias.  Yes, Chris Kyle "lived by the sword", but that wasn't the reason for his untimely death.  How dare his military career and patriotism be called into question, because Mr. Paul sees an opportunity for one more salvo against America's "unconstitutional foreign wars."  As for it not "making sense" to go to a range to offer assistance to someone suffering from PTSD, anyone who knows the gun culture in Texas and in this nation as a whole, sees nothing amiss.  That's what Chris Kyle did; what he was comfortable with.   That's where he could best reach out to a fellow comrade-in-arms.  Soldiers and civilians alike go to gun ranges for recreation, camaraderie and relaxation.  There are those who like to share a round of golf, or shoot a few hoops.  Shooters go to the gun range.  Period. End of Story.
     Yet, I don't want this to be the end of Chris Kyle's story.  He stood for so much that is good about the American Patriot Warrior.  He loved this country, went to war when the nation called on him, and became the best sniper he could be.  It is a testament to his loyalty and commitment that Kyle never received the Purple Heart, even though he had been wounded.   He refused to allow the paperwork to be submitted because it would have caused automatic separation from his unit for a minimum amount of time. Instead, he did his job without losing his soul, and then came home to dedicate his life to his family and to those who shared his love of country.
     Chris Kyle's story need not become mired in the ugliness of his death.  We can honor him and all the other special operations warriors who are willing to put themselves in unimaginable danger to safeguard our liberties.  They are a different breed of men; called to the sound of battle and willing to put themselves between us and the enemy.  PLW and I have had the honor to meet Marcus Luttrell, another former Navy Seal from Texas, and author of Lone Survivor.  And I can tell you that these men deserve our utmost respect and veneration.  Yet they are humble; never seeking glory or praise.  They have a special bond among themselves, that we in the civilian sector cannot discern and will never share.  We can only admire them from afar.
     But we must never forget that we owe our freedoms to men such as Chris Kyle.  And how do we best honor his memory?  By promoting that love of God and country; that "warrior spirit" in our sons.  As long as there is a Chris Kyle or a Marcus Luttrell who are willing to put themselves through rigorous training and in the line of fire, then we stand a chance of remaining a free nation.  If we allow his achievements and his sacrifice to become lost in the media blitz, then the ranks of our heroes will disappear.  Let's not let his death be used to further an agenda that Chris vociferously challenged.  Instead, let his life symbolize what it means to be an American Patriot and Hero, and let us encourage more Chris Kyles.

If you would like to donate to the Chris Kyle Memorial Fund to help support his family and foundation, click here.

Zechariah 10:5    "Together they will be like warriors in battle trampling their enemy into the mud of the streets. They will fight because the Lord is with them, and they will put the enemy horsemen to shame."

November 6, 2012

My Prayer For Election Day, 2012

Dear Heavenly Father,

     You know this ongoing conversation you and I have been having about this country over the last few years?  You know --- and I realize --- that we are in deep trouble.  I know this election will determine if we remain the country that I grew up in.  I also know we are a far cry from the nation that you predetermined us to be.  For that, I have repeatedly asked your forgiveness as I witness us continuing to neglect you and reject you.  It has been my hope that you would not turn away from us, but continue to bless us, as long as there were enough of us who have the original vision of America, and who still believe in glorifying your Name.
     I know we don't deserve it.  We've been lazy about preserving the unique rights that you granted us ... Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.  I guess we took them for granted, and forgot that they are derived from you, the Sovereign Creator.  We forgot, along the way, that we are special.  No other nation in history has enjoyed the freedoms that you instituted through our Founding Fathers.  They relied on your Divine Providence for protection of this new form of government.  We grew apart from you; arrogant and disobedient, separating ourselves from the principles that sustained us through good times and bad.  The result has been greed, materialism, moral relativism, idolatry, social and moral decay, and a loss of our true identity.

    But, Father, I am just one of many who want to restore our relationship with you and return to the foundational truths of our nation's infancy.  We recognize how far off track we are, and I hope you see how desperately we are trying to get back on course.  We are trying to reclaim the Biblical standards of good citizenry and put you back at the center of our lives, our laws and our government.
     Father, I know that you are already cognizant of who will win the election today.  I am aware that the result will either be your Judgment or Grace.  I pray that you will hear our petitions and pleas for another chance.  We have not earned it ... I am aware of our national sins and they weigh heavy on my heart.  I am aware that we are a divided nation, and that, too, is not who you designed us to be. I am aware that we have fallen from the pinnacle of a once revered and respected nation.  But I am also aware that, with your help, we can renew our covenant with you; revive our ideals and principles; rebuild our relationships with each other and our allies; and restore the American character.
     So, I'm sure you can see me down on my knees, Father.  You know it is my desire to rely on your wisdom and plan.  No matter what the results, I will abide in you, because you are my refuge.  Your will be done.
     And, God, because my words are neither adequate nor remarkable, I would like to borrow a prayer from someone whom I'm sure spoke to you just as fervently in his hour of need.  Allow me to plagiarize a prayer from our beloved Thomas Jefferson:

Almighty God, Who has given us this good land for our heritage; We humbly beseech Thee that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of Thy favor and glad to do Thy will. Bless our land with honorable ministry, sound learning, and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion, from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way. Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people, the multitude brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues. Endow with Thy spirit of wisdom those whom in Thy name we entrust the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that through obedience to Thy law, we may show forth Thy praise among the nations of the earth. In time of prosperity fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in Thee to fail; all of which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Washington D.C. March 4, 1801
1 Kings 8:49-51     "... then from heaven, your dwelling place, hear their prayer and their plea, and uphold their cause.  And forgive your people, who have sinned against you; forgive all the offenses they have committed against you, and cause their captors to show them mercy; for they are your people and your inheritance ..."


November 2, 2012

How Sequestration Will Affect The Military

     I am sure it will come as no surprise to you that I am extremely interested in the upcoming Sequestration.  In case, you're not exactly sure what it is, let me try to explain.  I did a lot of research, reading articles at USA Today and Christian Science Monitor, while trying to find sources that weren't politically-based or biased.  I finally decided that the National Military Family Association (NMFA) offered the most factual analysis of what Sequestration is and how it will affect our military families.  Here is their description:
     The 2011 Budget Control Act (P.L. 112-25) set up a “super committee” to recommend ways to lower the budget deficit by $1.2 trillion over the next 10 years. The committee failed. The law requires $1.2 trillion in lowered spending – half from defense and half from nondefense. Lawmakers have until the end of this year to reach a deal that would avert a budget sequester. Sequestration is a mechanism built into the 2011 Budget Control Act that will trigger an automatic additional half-trillion-dollar cut to defense spending over the next 10 years if Congress doesn’t otherwise identify spending reductions.

     According to the law, on January 2, 2013, the President must issue an order cutting government spending by the sequestered amount. This would mean almost $55 billion from the Department of Defense (DoD) alone.
     And after spending time with our Wounded Warriors, I wanted to know what kind of an impact these massive cuts in defense will have on our military.  According to a 400-page White House report,  "the cuts would result in a reduction in readiness of many non-deployed units, delays in investments in new equipment and facilities, cutbacks in equipment repairs, declines in military research and development efforts, and reductions in base services for military families."
     The NMFA seems to concur, stating that DoD funds that are not committed to contracts by January 2, 2012 would be subject to sequestration, along with possible cuts to funding for war operations in Afghanistan.  But they also admit that there is a lot they don't know, because the Department of Defense has not been forthcoming on how they plan to implement Sequestration.  Some of their quite legitimate questions include:  Will all programs be cut equally across the board or will whole programs be cut?  Will there be a downsizing of personnel?  Will weapon systems be cut?  How will this affect the economy and unemployment rates?
     According to The Military Times, a spokesman for the House Armed Services Committee revealed that if all programs were treated equally, every account would be cut by about 8 percent in January, 2013.  While military personnel are exempt, every defense program faces a 12 percent cut, they stated. And among the cuts will be $3.3 Billion in health care to the troops and $17 Billion to maintain and operate our nation's military services.
     Of obvious concern to me is that our military, who have sacrificed so much for us, are not denied benefits that they deserve.  Cuts in health care and family services are just not acceptable!  Then there is the issue of national security.  Millions are due to be cut from Aviation security, and programs and departments that protect and secure our borders.
     It is apparent to anyone with half a brain, that our nation is in deep financial trouble, and that we are going to have to suffer some pain in order to dig ourselves out of this debt debacle.  But raising taxes while cutting defense spending is not the answer!  In case anyone in the Government and the Pentagon has noticed, the Middle East is on fire, and the United States is dead center in the sights of radical extremists.  Sacrificing national security and weapons programs in favor of social entitlement programs is a path to national ruin.
     Perhaps the most distressful aspect of this whole situation is the uncertainty of it all.  No one in the Government is forthcoming about details.  Which can't be good for us, right?  Is this just another "You'll just have to wait to see what is in the Bill" moment?  The readiness of our armed forces should not be in question.  Nor should their medical care or family support programs.  But the bottom line is this:  it's time for stability.  The military forces need to know how they will fight their battles; their families need to know they will be taken care of; and the citizens of this nation need to know our leaders will stop at nothing to preserve this country.  Let's pray that character and honor have not perished among our elected officials.

Proverbs 3:21     "My son, do not let wisdom and understanding out of your sight, preserve sound judgment and discretion..."

November 1, 2012

Fisher House: It's What Makes Us Americans

     Driving away from Fort Sam Houston last evening, I had such a jumble of emotions .... I felt heavy-hearted, inspired, joyful, angry, and like I was leaving someone I loved behind.  My feet hurt, I was exhausted and all I wanted was a hot shower and my own bed.  But the nearly two-hour drive home was spent in thoughtful silence.  PLW and I both had our individual thoughts and impressions, and we contemplated them for awhile before expressing them.  Now I'd like to share these special memories with you.

     The next morning after the spectacular visit by the first Commander-in-Chief, one of the Fisher House residents named Travis couldn't wait to come down to breakfast to share his news.  He had posted the picture of him and George Washington on his Facebook page, and had heard from an old high school friend.  He was almost breathless as he told us, "My friend said, 'Dude!  Did you know that that was the real George Washington?' "  Apparently, Travis's friend has seen the multiple movies and documentaries in which Pastor Mark Collins has portrayed the Father of America.  Travis continued, "And did you know that George Washington was a Freemason?  So am I!  That was just the highlight of my whole year!"  It's nice to know that soldiers still honor what George Washington stands for.

     And speaking of George Washington, when PLW escorted Pastor Mark Collins to the Wounded Warrior Family Center, the Purple Heart celebration was just ending, so there were quite a few high ranking officers still milling about.  They were duly impressed with seeing George Washington, and one of the commanding officers of Fort Sam asked the President if there was anything he could do for him.  Keeping in character, Pastor Collins stood at his full 6'4", pulled his sword out of his scabbard and pointing it at the Commander, said, "You take care of my Army!"  I believe that is one command that officer will never forget!

     Yesterday afternoon we took a tour of the Center For the Intrepid, a state-of-the-art rehabilitation center to help these severely wounded heroes accomplish their physical goals.  No expense has been spared in providing them with the latest technology, including highly developed prosthetics, training equipment, indoor running tracks, wave machines, swimming pools, etc.  The center proudly displays images of our brave soldiers competing in kayaking, marathons, wake-boarding, bobsledding, rock climbing, the Paralympics, snow skiing, and any other sport you can imagine.

     My heart cannot let go of Bo.  First of all, I mistakenly identified him as a triple amputee.  Bo would be quick to point out that I got it all wrong and be happy to show you that his fabulous tattoo is still intact!  Our last afternoon, he was just coming out of his shell and letting go of his anger and coming to trust us.  He was beginning to share his slightly twisted sense of humor with us and I didn't want to leave him just yet.  You see, his impatience at the pace of his rehabilitation doesn't serve him well.  He lashes out at those trying to help him, and withdraws into a dark place where no one can reach him, resulting in a state of isolation.   The seesaw of emotions must be exhausting for him.  I am haunted by the question that I can't answer ---- what will happen to Bo?

     At the opposite end of the spectrum is a growing friendship with Dan and his family.  Dan and PLW really struck up a friendship and we have invited him and his sweet daughters, Gracie and Kaylee, along with his wife, Jeannette, to come visit us.  I didn't get to see Jeannette this trip because she was back at their home in Cleveland packing up the moving van so that they could move out of Fisher House and into their new home on Post.  Her flight had been delayed due to Hurricane Sandy, and she was anxious to get their belongings on the road and catch the next available flight home.  She was arriving late last night after we had left, and the family was excited about reuniting again.  Ten-year-old Gracie informed me that she was "Daddy's girl" and she cried for five hours when he left for Afghanistan.  I can only imagine how she felt when she learned of his devastating injuries.

     Yesterday at lunch, a striking young woman came in to Fisher House #3, where we were serving lunch, and announced that she was with the Department of Defense and was hosting a number of foreign NATO members who were meeting about how to improve the cases of extensive hearing loss among international soldiers.  Apparently, soldiers of all nations despise wearing the foam earplugs to protect their hearing.  They interfere with their ability to hear what's going on around them, and they would rather suffer hearing loss than be unable to cover their brothers' six.  Hence, there is a tremendous amount of hearing loss among all combat troops.  This NATO group was meeting to brainstorm how to remedy this frustrating situation.  (PersonaI aside: I find it incredibly hard to believe that with all of our available technology, we can't create some type of ear protection that allows soldiers to hear a conversation or a call for help from a brother-in-arms).
     This young woman said she had been told that there was a group supplying meals at the Fisher House, and they had about 10 people who needed to grab a quick lunch and get back to work.  Would it be possible for them to partake of what we were serving?  They would be willing to pay for their lunch.  I told her that we had plenty of food (at no charge), and absolutely, bring her group over --- we'd be happy to serve them.   Well, she came back after their afternoon meeting had finished to let us know that the NATO members (from the Netherlands, Germany, France) could not believe that our little group of Angel Chefs would come in and supply free food to our wounded warriors, and then offer to provide lunch for them, too.  She explained that they all came from socialistic countries, and could not understand why we Americans would offer to do something without strings attached.  They asked her, "They aren't being paid?"  "They aren't getting a tax write-off for this?"  "What are they getting out of this?"  They told her that they always thought of Americans as greedy and arrogant.  They now have a better picture of just who we are.  We are freedom-lovers who take care of our own, expecting nothing in return.  The DOD representative wanted us to know what an impression we had made on these foreign dignitaries.  We would have loved to tell them that there are millions more just like us!

     And I guess the lasting memory that I will take away from this trip to Fisher House is that 99% of these guys have a "never give up" attitude.  Despite the missing limbs, devastating burns, and severely altered lives, they keep pushing forward.  They never complain, and they don't let setbacks discourage them.  I can tell you that all my aches and pains, and minor complaints, pale in comparison; and I feel inferior when it comes to contrasting my paltry efforts with their courage and determination.  They should be an inspiration to all of us!  We have no excuses for not seeing any circumstance through.   So the next time some little setback makes you want to give up, or you're telling yourself, "I can't do this" .... stop and think of them.  Then quit your whining and cowboy up!  If they aren't afraid and never give up, why should you? This is the lasting impression I am left with, and I can't wait to return!
     That being said, I also want to express my deep sadness at what this nearly decade-old war has cost this generation of soldiers.  I'm afraid I can't see the price they and their families have paid, and not question, "Was it worth it?"  And why didn't we do everything we could to win this war and bring them home?  I want to stress that I am not speaking for any of them.  We never talk politics or opinion while we are serving them.  And they wouldn't tell us what they thought if we asked them.  They are honorable men, and we are there to support them.  I just want to believe that their sacrifice has stood for something.

     So I will leave you with some images that will undoubtedly give you your own lasting impression of our brave Wounded Warriors.  Let their stories and their faces inspire you, and when you see one of them in public, please don't hesitate to walk up to them and shake their hand.  They will appreciate that you acknowledge what they have experienced and endured on behalf of each one of us.  God Bless our American military!

Reading cards made by children to show their appreciation.

General Washington greets a Warrior's awestruck daughter.

A beautiful, quiet place near the Warrior Family Center

The pool at the Center for the Intrepid 

Contemplate the words of this plaque and give thanks for our heroes.

Dan and his favorite part of lunch,
Betty's chocolate peanut butter rice krispi squares

Sergio and his scary Halloween eyes!

The contentious and beguiling "Bo with an O"
 and his unique sense of humor
P.S.   I have one last story that I will share with you on Monday.  PLW and I will be involved in something this weekend at Fort Sam Houston that will be a tremendous blessing for us.  Tune in and find out what it was!

Ephesians 5:1-2    "Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God."

August 25, 2012

Saturday Morning Commentary: A Link to the Past

     I'm not really sure why, but this Saturday morning finds me both contemplative and impassioned; more than usual, for some reason.  Perhaps it has something to do with the silly little belated birthday card that a friend sent me.  Let me explain .... inside the card was a note full of trivia, listing all the people throughout history that have been born on my birthday.  You've seen those, right?  Out of curiosity, I perused the note to see if I had anything in common with those who made the list.  As I perused the categories, I saw the familiar names from our modern culture .... Patrick Swayze, Robert Redford, Shirley Temple, Denis Leary, Roman Polanski; all known for their flair of the dramatic and love of the spotlight --- characteristics that do not describe me.
     Then there was Caspar Weinberger, former U.S. Secretary of Defense; and Timothy Geithner (picture me holding my nose), current U.S. Secretary of the Treasury .... I definitely don't have anything in common with him!  I may not be an ex-Federal Reserve Bank President, but I know that whatever he's done to "fix" the financial crisis, it ain't working!
     There were the various athletes, singers, and artists.  Anyone who knows me well, knows that I wouldn't be the first one you picked for your dodgeball team; I only sing well in the shower; and only got an A in Art Class because I turned in a 40-page term paper.   So, if you believe like I do, that God is the Creator of the Universe, and there is perfect order and symmetry in His work, then I must possess something in common with someone on this list!  And then I found them!  No wonder they weren't at the forefront of the checklist.  You have to go back centuries to find them, which only goes to show what I have always felt.... I was born at the wrong time.
Virginia Dare's baptism, August 24th, 1587
     The first one, I had actually forgotten about; she was someone that I had been made aware of during my childhood fascination with the founding of our country.  Virginia Dare was the first European Christian child born in America.  I can remember reading the exotic story of her birth in Roanoke, Virginia, the first English colony established in the New World.   Her grandfather, the Governor of the colony, returned to England for fresh supplies and was unable to return for three years due to English ships being confiscated during a prolonged war with Spain.  Upon his return, he found no sign of the nearly 120 people he had left behind.  The mystery of the "Lost Colony" remains unsolved to this day.
     But I've always felt an affinity, and an unusual pride with the fact that Virginia and I share the same birthday, even if they are 366 years apart.  As a young girl, I felt a bond with this little child who died before her third birthday.  She holds a unique honor; she was there at the beginning of what I perceive to be a glorious and noble accomplishment --- the founding of a country like no other; a country that celebrated independence and self-rule; a country that believed men could worship their God unimpeded, while living their lives unrestricted, and free from tyranny.  She represents adventure and courage; promise and potential, all the things that I believe our country symbolizes.  She holds a distinctive place in our national history and I am proud that I have a link to her.
     The second person was someone whom I knew well, but had no idea that we shared the same birthday.  Captain Meriwether Lewis was the leader of the Lewis and Clark Expedition of 1804-1806, which just happened to launch from Wood River, Illinois, the town I was born in.  Lewis may have been born 179 years before me, but he embodied everything that excited me about our history; he answered the call of his nation and was willing to put his life on the line, charting unknown territory and braving unknown and dangerous perils.  How I longed to live during the dawning of our country; during those years when the American "experiment" was raw and new.  I used to dream of being able to contribute something as worthwhile as the patriots of the Revolution and those who increased our boundaries to the far-flung frontiers of the North American continent.
     Unfortunately, Captain Lewis died far too early.  At the age of 36, he died in what is still a contested  manner.  For years, his death has been considered a suicide, but there are those who maintain that he was murdered, perhaps due to an ongoing dispute with the War Department.  Throughout the intervening years, there have been attempts to exhume his body for forensic analysis; even as late as 2010 (the Department of the Interior rescinded an earlier 2008 approval).  Regardless of the reason for his early death, no one can take away his contribution to our nation.
     And there you have it.  Of the 158 people determined to have been born on August 18th, ranging from the year 472 to 1992, (that's a span of 1520 years!) there were only two that I feel any connection to.  Maybe I'm just sentimental, or maybe I'm just envious of the impact they both made on the country that I happen to think is the best in the world.  I love the passion and the devotion with which both of these American icons depict the American spirit.  Virginia Dare's parents braved the New World and set the precedent for a new breed of people; those that accepted neither fear or defeat in establishing a new nation.  And Meriwether Lewis showed unrivaled courage, spirit and heroism in accepting the challenge to explore and claim an unsettled land; going beyond the boundaries established by those who wished to limit the inherent American desire for "more elbow room."
     As I sip my morning coffee, I am deep in thought.   Is there anything I can, or will, ever do that can come close to having the impact that these two predecessors have left on our nation?  The answer is an emphatic, "NO!"  I've wasted too much time.  But now as I see my country; the nation they helped define; gasping for a new breath of God-endowed "Life, Liberty and Pursuit of Happiness", I am committed to re-kindling their spirit and purpose among my fellow countrymen.
     God intended for this country to reflect the Good that man can do when given the freedom to reach his unlimited potential; being guided by God-fearing principles and prayerful petition to his Creator.  Somehow, we have lost the confidence that allowed Virginia Dare's parents to make that long, dangerous ocean voyage to a land unknown.  And we no longer possess the daring determination that motivated Meriwether Lewis to push beyond the boundaries of civilization.  These character traits require action and faith.  It's my time to exercise both.

Psalm 40:4-5      "Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, who does not look to the proud, to those who turn aside to false gods. Many, Lord my God, are the wonders you have done, the things you planned for us. "