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

Showing posts with label Patriotism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Patriotism. Show all posts

March 4, 2013

Proud To Be An American

     I just have to share this moving tribute to our great country by a young man who fled the aftermath of the Viet Nam war as a child to become a proud naturalized citizen of the United States.  His story came to me from a very good friend, who like me, shares the pride and love of being an American.  But when you read what it means to someone who was not endowed with God's favor of being born as an American; then it makes you realize, even more, how blessed we are.  Please read the remarks of Quang Nguyen, as he spoke in Prescott Valley, Arizona at a 2010 Freedom Rally honoring Veterans:

     "Thirty-five years ago, if you were to tell me that I am going to stand up here speaking to a couple thousand patriots, in English, I'd laugh at you.  Man, every morning I wake up thanking God for putting me and my family in the greatest country on earth.
     I just want you all to know that the American dream does exist and I am living the American dream.  I was asked to speak to you about my experience as a first generation Vietnamese-American, but I'd rather speak to you as an American.
     I am a proud US citizen and here is my proof. It took me 8 years to get it, waiting in endless lines, but I got it and I am very proud of it.  I still remember the images of the Tet offensive in 1968, I was six years old.  Now you might want to question how a 6-year-old boy could remember anything.  Trust me, those images can never be erased.  I can't even imagine what it was like for young American soldiers, 10,000 miles away from home, fighting on my behalf.

     Thirty-five years ago, I left South Vietnam for political asylum.  The war had ended.  At the age of 13, I left with the understanding that I may or may not ever get to see my siblings or parents again.  I was one of the first lucky 100,000 Vietnamese allowed to come to the US.  Somehow, my family and I were reunited 5 months later, amazingly, in California.  It was a miracle from God.
     If you haven't heard lately that this is the greatest country on earth, I am telling you that right now.  It was the freedom and the opportunities presented to me that put me here with all of you tonight.  I also remember the barriers that I had to overcome every step of the way.  My high school counselor told me that I cannot make it to college due to my poor communication skills.  I proved him wrong.  I finished college.  You see, all you have to do is to give this little boy an opportunity and encourage him to take and run with it.  Well, I took the opportunity and here I am.
    This person standing tonight in front of you could not exist under a socialist/communist environment.  By the way, if you think socialism is the way to go, I am sure many people here will chip in to get you a one-way ticket out of here.  And if you didn't know, the only difference between socialism and communism is an AK-47 aimed at your head.  That was my experience.
     In 1982, I stood with a thousand new immigrants, reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and listening to the National Anthem for the first time as an American.  To this day, I can't remember anything sweeter and more patriotic than that moment in my life.
     Fast forwarding, somehow I finished high school, finished college, and like any other goofball 21 year old kid, I was having a great time with my life.  I had a nice job and a nice apartment in Southern California.  In some way and somehow, I had forgotten how I got here and why I was here.
     One day I was at a gas station, I saw a veteran pumping gas on the other side of the island.  I don't know what made me do it, but I walked over and asked if he had served in Vietnam.  He smiled and said yes.  I shook and held his hand.  The grown man began to well up.  I walked away as fast as I could and at that very moment, I was emotionally rocked.  This was a profound moment in my life.  I knew something had to change in my life.  It was time for me to learn how to be a good citizen.  It was time for me to give back.
     You see, America is not a place on the map, it isn't a physical location.  It is an ideal, a concept.  And if you are an American, you must understand the concept, you must buy into this concept, and most importantly, you have to fight and defend this concept.  This is about Freedom and not free stuff. And that is why I am standing up here.
     Brothers and sisters, to be a real American, the very least you must do is to learn English and understand it well.  In my humble opinion, you cannot be a faithful patriotic citizen if you can't speak the language of the country you live in.  Take this document of 46 pages - last I looked on the Internet, there wasn't a Vietnamese translation of the US Constitution.  It took me a long time to get to the point of being able to converse and until this day, I still struggle to come up with the right words.  It's not easy, but if it's too easy, it's not worth doing.
     Before I knew this 46-page document, I learned of the 500,000 Americans who fought for this little boy.  I learned of the 58,000 names scribed on the black wall at the Vietnam Memorial.  You are my heroes.  You are my founders.
     At this time, I would like to ask all the Vietnam veterans to please stand.  I thank you for my life.  I thank you for your sacrifices, and I thank you for giving me the freedom and liberty I have today.  I now ask all veterans, firefighters, and police officers, to please stand.  On behalf of all first generation immigrants, I thank you for your services and may God bless you all."

      If this doesn't make you take a moment and thank God for placing you in this great land, then you must have a heart of stone.  WE MUST NEVER TAKE OUR COUNTRY FOR GRANTED!  As Quang Nguyen stated so passionately, "America is an ideal"; and we must buy into the concept of liberty and freedom that she represents.  Most importantly, we must fight and defend this worthy ideal.  America did not let Quang Nguyen down; we must not let his vision of America be destroyed.  

If you would like to hear this moving speech, you can watch it on YouTube.

Psalm 40:2    "He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand."

February 13, 2013

In Honor Of A Hero

     On Monday, family, friends and fellow heroes honored slain Navy Seal Chris Kyle in Cowboy Stadium in Dallas, Texas.  At his funeral, his life was celebrated and recognized by those who loved him best: his wife and children who shared him with his country, and his brothers-in-arms who shared his life of sacrifice for the rest of us.
     Yesterday, along a 200-mile stretch from Midlothian, Texas (where Kyle resided) to the Texas State Cemetery in Austin, thousands of "the rest of us" paid their respects to a man who gave it all; and gave it from his heart.  It was raining in Texas yesterday, but that didn't prevent Americans from showing up to let Chris Kyle's family know that they acknowledge and appreciate the sacrifice he (and they) have made.
     All along I-35, flags were lining the route as military personnel, first responders and the Patriot Guard escorted the procession.  In case you are unaware of who the Patriot Guard is, they are a diverse group of motorcycle riders from across the nation, who volunteer, out of respect, to attend the funerals of fallen American heroes.  They have two objectives:  1) to show respect for the fallen heroes, their families and communities; and 2) to shield the mourning families from interruptions by protesting groups, such as the Westboro Baptist Church.  Yes, they would try to make their disgusting presence known.  But the Kyle family requested the presence of the Patriot Guard and they responded, coming from all over the country.
     But it was the faces of the men, women and children who lined the route in the cold and the rain that told of America's deep admiration for Chris, and men like him.   It's the only way we know how to say "thank you."  We realize that he is, in so many ways, better than us.  He's willing to stand in the gap for us, to face evil men who wish to kill us, our families, and our way of life.  And in doing so, he is willing to lay down his life for us. Then, when by the grace of God, he is able to lay down his arms and come home to his family, he continues to sacrifice for others.  Once again, he steps into the gap to help fellow soldiers who suffer from the ravages of war that prey on their minds and souls.  He sells his own story of incredible exploits and accomplishments, and devotes all the proceeds to fellow soldiers.  These levels of sacrifice are beyond what is demanded or expected from any of us.  Yet, Chris Kyle did them without fuss or fanfare.  He modeled his Christian faith and put his fellow man first.
     Can you say you would do the same?  I cannot, and I dare say, neither can most of America.  And so they line the highway, expressing their gratitude with a show of our flag; the symbol that Chris Kyle fought for, sacrificed for, and loved so well.  Thank you seems too shallow, and Respect  is not a big enough word for what we want to express.  Perhaps we want to say to Chris, "You will never be forgotten, and your death will not be in vain.  As of this writing, Glenn Beck's Mercury One organization has raised over $600,000 from Americans like me, who have pledged to stand in the gap for you, and take care of your family's needs, as well as continue your efforts to help you help soldiers with PTSD.  It's the least we can do."
     After the procession passes, the flags will be stored, and people will return to their lives.  But Chris Kyle will live on in the hearts of those who stood in the driving rain yesterday.  His story will burn in the memory of every child present, and they will know what it means to stand for something and offer their talents and their love of freedom on behalf of others.  Chris Kyle loved his family, his home state of Texas, and America with the full force of his personality.  God has welcomed Chris home, and I pray that his sacrifices will result in unparalleled honor for this man and his God.
Psalm 112:8-10      "Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear; in the end they will look in triumph on their foes. They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor, their righteousness endures forever; their horn will be lifted high in honor."

February 9, 2013

Me and Sam Adams: A History Lesson

     You have heard it said that our Constitution and our Founding Fathers are irrelevant to the modern age.  But if you've read my blog for any length of time, you know that I am obsessed with this time period in our nation's history.  I am in such awe of how this country came to be, and admire the men and women who stood up to a tyrant king and fought to establish something that had never existed before ... a country based on "the natural rights of man".  I hope to show you today that those sentiments are just as pertinent as they were nearly two and a half centuries ago.
     Perhaps you are familiar with the fact that the Founding Fathers were fond of using the terms, "natural rights", "Laws of Nature" and "unalienable rights", but aren't really sure what they mean.  Let's start with "unalienable". It figures prominently in our Declaration of Independence: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights ... 
     I would venture to say that most Americans have a distorted idea of what "unalienable" means.  I would further conclude that they think it takes its meaning from the word "alien", signifying that these "unalienable" rights were unfamiliar or foreign to men of that time.  That is a wrong interpretation, and we actually mispronounce the word altogether.  In 1776, when the Declaration was written, this word was not pronounced as un-alien-able; the correct enunciation was un-a-lien-able, as in "a lien", a form of security interest granted over an item of property to secure the payment of a debt.  For instance, the bank holds a lien against your car, until the note is paid off.
     So now you can see the true meaning of this most important phrase in one of our most important founding documents:  the natural rights that have been given to us by God are not subject to a lien by any king or ruler; they are ours to possess outright.
     And just what are those "natural" rights?  We're all familiar with the language of the Declaration, which says "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness".  But my favorite Founding Father, Sam Adams, expands on this idea and gives us a fuller picture of what our rights from God are.   In 1772, he wrote, "Among the natural rights of the colonists are these: first, a right to life; second, to liberty; third, to property; together with the right to support and defend them in the best manner they can. These are evident branches of ... the duty of self-preservation, commonly called the first law of nature. All men have a right to remain in a state of nature as long as they please; and in case of intolerable oppression, civil or religious, to leave the society they belong to, and enter into another.... Now what liberty can there be where property is taken away without consent?" 
     Can you see how far off track we have gotten?  CNN reports that one in six Americans receive some form of government assistance.  They have abandoned "the duty of self-preservation", and in doing so, no longer possess liberty to pursue their lives as they might dream.  In addition, they have become slaves of the State, their Life and their Happiness is at the whim of a benevolent Master.
     It seems as if America is splitting in half ---- those who are content to receive what the government will hand out; and those who are desperate to live their lives as free men, unencumbered by the heavy hand of an oppressive authority.  I am reminded that it was so in 1776 America, as well.  Only one-third of the colonists believed strongly enough in the "radical" notion of these God-given rights to battle the despotic King George III.  The other two-thirds either could not see the value of living their lives unfettered and unchained, or believed wholeheartedly in the Nanny State and the inability of citizens to rule themselves.   They were content to receive whatever was handed out, or placated with money and power from the "system".  Either way, they were at odds with the fire of free will that burned in the hearts of men such as Sam Adams.
     Mr. Adams was something of a firebrand, and was not afraid to confront his fellow countrymen over their subservient nature.  What he had to say to them in 1776 is just as relevant today.  Ponder his words:  "If ye love wealth better than liberty, [and] the tranquility of servitude [better] than the animated contest of freedom -- go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains sit lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen!"
     We are at a time in our nation's history when you must choose your path.  Are you willing to crouch down to those that promise to feed you?  Or are you willing to stand for something more honorable and noble?  Will you depend on the iron fist for your crust of bread, or will you make your own loaf?  Sam Adams was among a unique corps of men who understood that the right to make of themselves what they wished could never be compromised.  It was a truth they understood as "self-evident".  And they were willing to sacrifice their very lives for it.  Are you?

Psalm 119:44-47    "I will always obey your law, for ever and ever.  I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts.  I will speak of your statutes before kings and will not be put to shame, for I delight in your commands because I love them."

January 30, 2013

Would James Madison Be Considered "Subversive" Today?

     Last week The Washington Times ran an article on a report issued by the Combating Terrorism Center at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.  According to this report, titled "Challengers from the Sidelines: Understanding America’s Violent Far-Right", there are three movements within our society that they consider important enough to include in their assessment.  Normally focused on such outside terror threats as Al-Quada and other Islamic extremists, the Center has turned their attention inward, pinpointing three domestic movements it identifies as “a racist/white supremacy movement, an anti-federalist movement and a fundamentalist movement.”
     This study has already been criticized and condemned by many Constitutionally-minded support groups such as Oath Keepers, along with retired military personnel and Americans, in general.  The author of the study, one Arie Perliger, is the Director of Terrorism Studies at the Combating Terrorism Center, and is also a graduate of the University of Haifa Israel in Jerusalem, where he has studied and written extensive papers on the Politics of the Far Right in Israel.  He has also been published by Columbia University Press and Chicago University Press.  Now that we have established his obviously biased political leanings, it becomes a little clearer why his "report" is prefaced with the following disclaimer:  The views expressed in this report are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect those of the Combating Terrorism Center, U.S. Military Academy, Department of Defense or U.S. government.
     So why give it so much significance and publish it under the auspices of West Point?  This misleading paper attempts to lump such fringe groups as the Neo-Nazis and Skinheads (that would be your racist/white supremacy groups) with nut jobs who bomb abortion clinics (there's your fundamentalist group).   Granted, these movements have exhibited violent tendencies and their actions are abhorred by all moral segments of society.  But the most spurious and fraudulent aspect of this report labels an "anti-federalist" movement as sharing the same goals and actions as these criminal elements.
     Just how does the Mr. Perliger describe a member of the anti-federalist movement?  He describes an advocate of this movement as a person who "tends to have strong opinions about the federal government, believing it could be corrupt or tyrannical; that the federal government has a natural tendency to  intrude on individuals’ civil and constitutional rights.  Finally, they support civil activism, individual freedoms, and self government. Extremists in the anti-federalist movement direct most of their violence against the federal government and its proxies in law enforcement."  (Of course, he fails to cite specific instances of this so-called violence).
     But he doesn't stop there.  It's just a tiny leap of his twisted logic to connect the mainstream conservative ideology to his fabricated anti-federalist movement.  Of course, in his (wink, wink) impartial opinion, he chooses to describe liberals as “future oriented” and conservatives as "living in the past".  He sums up this conclusion by stating,  “The far right represents a more extreme version of conservatism, as its political vision is usually justified by the aspiration to restore or preserve values and practices that are part of the idealized historical heritage of the nation or ethnic community.”
     So since the values of our historical heritage are embodied in the Founding Fathers, I can only surmise that Mr. Perliger would classify such Patriarchs as John Adams, Patrick Henry, Samuel Adams, James Madison, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson as the forefathers of the "Violent Far-Right", and worthy of inclusion in his report.  After all, it is no secret that they all viewed limited government, individual rights, and freedom from tyranny as the bedrock of our Republic.
     Unfortunately, as all Progressives tend to do, he could not disguise his disdain for "far-right groups’ [whose] ideology is designed to exclude minorities and foreigners.  The liberal-democratic system is designed to emphasize civil rights, minority rights and the balance of power.”  There you have it!  He has allowed us to see his political bias front and center.
     What has happened to the study and research of the blatant foreign extremists that wish to commit violence against this land?  Do any of these "experts" at West Point think it might be more productive to determine what mayhem and bloodshed they plan against the Homeland?
     But what is so upsetting and dangerous about such "studies" is that they are promoted from within the sacred halls of our most venerated Military establishments and accepted as Truth!  How many law enforcement agencies will receive this spurious report and develop policy based on the bogus facts and research that was conducted?  Why are our Military leaders silent on this publication?
     Perhaps even more disturbing and long-reaching is that Mr. Perliger teaches at West Point.  How many minds is he poisoning with this bitter attack on Constitution-loving Americans?  It is a sad day when our political heritage and a love for a free and independent citizenry can be painted with such a broad and black brush.  We must not let these aspersions define us.  As James Madison said, "The citizens of the U.S. are responsible for the greatest trust ever confided to a political society".  We have been entrusted with the Republic they left us, and it is our duty and our responsibility to safeguard it.  I will not be deterred by false labels or phony provocations.  There is too much at stake.

Psalm 27:11-12     "Teach me your way, Lord; lead me in straight path because of my oppressors.  Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes, for false witnesses rise up against me, spouting malicious accusations."

January 9, 2013

Finding Our Place In This Time of Fear

     I would imagine that those who read my blog are well aware of the state of our country and the precipice upon which we teeter.  I have my personal opinions as to where the strategies behind the new health care guidelines, economic policies and proposed gun legislation will lead us.  And it is not pretty.  I can feel the palpable fear that is taking hold among our fellow countrymen; there is good reason for it.
     Bloggers such as Matthew Bracken and Bob Owens have spelled out what history has shown to be true and what they see coming.  I invite you to read their honest and outspoken hypotheses.  They are not afraid to represent the voices of millions of Americans who vow to honor our heritage and the sacrifice of those who died to safeguard our liberties and the freedoms for which this country stands. Yet, in the midst of their resolve, and that of the countless citizens who have commented on these posts, I still sense a sadness that we have come this far.

     It is to this point that I wish to write my thoughts today.  I spent yesterday morning in a Bible study about the life of King David.  Our study was interrupted, due to the holidays, and I found myself a little disconnected as to where we were in the storyline.  To be honest, the events of the last few weeks have occupied my mind with serious questions about our future, and the hard decisions that we might soon have to make.  I wasn't sure my heart or my head were in the right place to give God's Word the attention it deserves.  But I knew that, as always, I would receive guidance if I just listened.
     Our Ladies group is engaged in a Beth Moore video study and, as always, I find her perspective inspiring and thought-provoking.  As it were, we were at the point where God spells out His covenant with King David, and the Shepherd-Boy-Turned-King asks, in wonderment, "Who am I ... that you  have brought me this far?"
     And it suddenly dawned on me, that I, and every other red-blooded American, could ask this same question!  Instead of surrendering to our fears and apprehensions, we should be asking ourselves, "How is it that, I, among mankind's long history, should find myself at this turning point in civilization?"  How is it that I have been given this awesome responsibility and this task of representing the rights given by God to all men through the founding of the United States of America?  Therefore, there should be no sadness or fear that we have come this far; instead there should be a sense of privilege and pride that we have been appointed to this place and time.
     As Beth Moore pointed out, at no other time in history, has man been more armed with the Word of God than in this generation.  So, why aren't we using it?   Evil is desperately trying to stamp out the last vestiges of individual liberty and replace God with the false idols of sexual immorality, social equality and dependency upon Authoritarian rule.   Through the internet, through the missionary field and even through visions and dreams, more of the world knows who God is than ever before.  So why are we seeing the decline of this once great country, founded on His principles and promises?
     Could it be that we have failed to discover our place and role at this crucial time?  And that's where the fear comes from?   Should we not embrace the truth that God has brought us into existence at this time; each with particular gifts and specific work to do for His kingdom?  And in undertaking what we have been called to do, we will not only be fulfilling His will and purpose for our lives, but fighting to preserve the goodness of this great nation.  
     Make no mistake!  We will need warriors, for the fight God calls us to will be ferocious.  But we won't all be called to the front lines; there are many battles in which we can serve.  Whether it be parenting and teaching Godly principles to our next generation, modeling the pride that comes from self-sufficiency, or offering hope and encouragement through a helping hand; we all can find our place in His plan.
     This is no time to give in to Fear.  There is no reason to listen to Fear's seductive whispers.  You have a place to stand and a purpose to fulfill.  As for me, I am in awe and filled with wonder that I might possibly bring honor and praise, not only to my country, but ultimately to my God.  Whatever role He calls me to, I will approach it without fear and in full confidence that this is where I'm supposed to be.

Psalm 118:5-6     "From my distress I called upon the Lord; The Lord answered me and set me in a large place. The Lord is for me; I will not fear; What can man do to me?"

January 5, 2013

Daughters of the American Revolution: Fairly Criticized or Falsely Accused?

    Earlier this week, a Fox News contributor reported that the venerable Daughters of the American Revolution have attempted to remove Jesus Christ from their 2011 publication of their Rituals and Ceremonial Missals (Convocations and Prayers listed as a guideline for Chaplains).  My first reaction, was "How dare they!"  Then I remembered that nothing can be taken at face value where the Media is concerned.
     I could not imagine that this patriotic service organization for women who are directly descended from a person involved in the United States' War for Independence would ever consider denying the Christian foundation of this nation.  After all, they work primarily to promote historic preservation, education and patriotism; and removing Jesus from that equation just would not be accurate.  Yet, here is a "conservative" reporter supposedly outing one of the lynchpins of American nationalism. Starnes reports that members told him that the DAR leadership made the changes to be politically correct and to accommodate new members of other religious beliefs.
     For their part, the DAR initially made no comment, and then a State Chaplain released this statement:  "The newly updated Missal and Ritual was written to reflect the desire to be considerate of other belief systems.  The Chaplain General uses scripture from both the Old and New Testaments and prays in the name of God without referencing Christ. Chapter and district chaplains need to follow the example set by the National Society.”
     I decided to do a little research myself and see just what all the fuss was about.  At first glance, the latest publication of the Rituals and Missals available online, lists an impressive directory of Rituals, including the Pledge of Allegiance (in which "under God" is recited), the American's Creed, the Preamble to the Constitution, and a multitude of benedictions and prayers.  Throughout the prayers, the Chaplains call upon "the name of the Lord", and they end prayers "in your Holy Name".  They pray to "Our Heavenly Father", "God Almighty", "Gracious Lord", "Eternal God" and other variations.  At first glance, this seems to be in line with Christian traditions.
     Then I decided to do a little comparison between publications from different years.  I took a look at "George Washington's Prayer For His Country."  This has been included in publications down through the decades and I wanted to see if there had been any considerable changes in the substance of this prayer.  Here is the prayer as stated in the latest 2011 publication:
     Bless our land with honorable industry, sound learning, and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord and confusion; from pride and arrogancy and from every evil way. Defend our liberties and fashion into one united people the multitudes brought out of many kindreds and tongues. Endue with the spirit of wisdom those whom in Thy name we entrust the authority of government, that there be peace and justice at home, and that through obedience to Thy law, we may show forth Thy praise among the nations of the earth. Amen.
     I then decided to take a look at this same prayer as illustrated in 2001.  It was printed exactly the same, word for word.  But I was still curious to see if our Founding Father's prayer for his country had substantially changed within the last quarter century.  So I took a look at their Centennial 1991 publication:
     Almighty God, we make our earnest prayer that thou wilt keep the United States in thy holy protection; that thou wilt incline the hearts of the citizens to cultivate a spirit of subor­dination and obedience to government; and entertain a brotherly affection and love for one another and for their fellow citizens of the United States at large. And finally, that thou wilt most graciously be pleased to dispose us all to do justice, to love mercy and to demean ourselves with that charity, humility and pacific temper of mind which were the characteristics of the Divine Author of our blessed religion, and without a humble imitation of whose example in these things we can never hope to be a happy nation. Grant our supplication, we beseech thee, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
     Aha!  There it is!  And if you are capable of any kind of critical thinking you can see a change in the meaning of our First President's prayer.  Over the last twenty years, the value of George Washington's prayer has changed from a Biblical overtone of cultivating the hearts of individual citizens in justice, loving mercy, charity and humility towards a collective multitude that lives in peace and harmony at home and among the nations of the earth.  Furthermore, in 1991, the Chaplain would have asked for these blessings through Jesus Christ.  Not so in 2001 and 2011.  An unnamed God was asked to bestow the more secular blessings of hard work, education and freedom from violence and pride, which have become the hallmarks of American arrogancy among the Left.
     I then decided to visit an earlier time in our country's history and read through the 1953 DAR publication.  There was an abundance of invocations that Chaplains had at their disposal.  They overwhelmingly called upon the name of Jesus.  This is just one example:
     Dear Heavenly Father, we come before Thee humbly seeking Thy forgiveness for our many shortcomings. We are not able to comprehend Thy great power and love for Thy children, but we feel that whatsoever we ask of Thee through Jesus our Lord Thou cans't give it to us if it is Thy will. We thank Thee for the many blessings we enjoy daily. We thank Thee for our beloved country which is in such peril at the present time. 0 Father, give to the men and women elected to lead us wisdom and understanding and a willingness to ask Thy help that right and Christianity may prevail, and be an example to the rest of the world. In Jesus' name. Amen.
     And if you desire, you can go all the way back to the 1903 publication of the DAR Rituals, which reads like an evangelical revival and Fourth of July celebration all rolled into one!  But in the end, I come away from this controversy with the sad realization that even the Daughters of the American Revolution have slid down the slippery slope of political correctness.  While they maintain that they are in keeping with the original intent of the organization and honoring freedom of religion, which was one of the most important facets of American independence, I find the statement by the President General of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution to be of a compromising nature:

"The Executive Officers feel that the revised Ritual and Missals can be used by members of any faith, substituting words as they wish, changing the prayers to suit the needs of the meeting in which they are being used. At our Executive meetings, knowing that we are all Christian, we pray in the Name of Jesus. When those are present whose faith is unknown, we pray in God’s name. However, we all recognize that when Christians pray in God’s name we are, indeed, praying in Christ’s name because the Christian faith believes in the Trinity of God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We also understand that our Jewish members know God as Jehovah or Yahweh, Muslim members use the name Allah for God and there are those whose spirituality may have a still different higher power or none at all."
     Were there Muslims fighting in the Revolutionary War?  History tells us that one Peter Saleem was a slave from Africa who fought bravely at Bunker Hill.  I am sure there were others, not of the Christian faith, who took part in securing our independence.  But it is a fact that the majority of patriots were of the Christian faith.  While I cannot disagree that the faiths of all Revolutionary patriots should be honored, I find it disgraceful that the name of Jesus Christ has slowly been eliminated from all official ceremonies.   The DAR is adamant that they are not censoring prayers.  On the surface, that is a correct statement.  But they are insincere if they claim Jesus Christ is still a part of stated prayers and devotions.  Chaplains are allowed to insert His name whenever they deem it "appropriate for the occasion and the audience."  My question is this:  Since when is His name ever inappropriate?  And why has His name been removed from the historical prayers and benedictions of the organization?  It is one thing to be inclusive of a patriot's different faith.  It is heresy to exclude the Founding Father's stated faith in Jesus Christ.

1 John 3:23     "And this is His command: to believe in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as He commanded us."


January 1, 2013

A New Year & A New Slant On Gun Control

     I could not end the year and begin the New Year without recognizing the shattering effect that the violent acts in Aurora, Newtown, and now Rochester, NY, had on our American soul.  The nation mourned as innocent lives were lost to the actions of mentally unstable men who chose to use a gun to murder defenseless victims.

     As we expected, there followed a national (and governmental) debate over gun control.  We've heard all the arguments, both pro and con.  And now it seems that in just a couple of days, Senator Feinstein is set to introduce what amounts to the most iron-fisted and oppressive limitations we have ever seen on our Second Amendment rights.  
     Taxes, registration of gun ownership, and all-out bans on many firearms appear to be just the beginning of the government's campaign against gun-owners.  I don't have to tell you that this means each legal gun owner has some decisions to make.  In that vein, I want to share an email that I received from an anonymous reader.  I think it brings a unique point of view to the discussion.  Here is the email in its entirety:

Dear Belle,
     I thought you might like to hear a different angle on the current gun control debate.  As was expected after the recent string of gun-related deaths, the public rushes out to buy every gun and box of ammo they can find.  The shelves are literally empty!  Frankly, I am growing weary of the paradigm battle that starts with every ammo sell-off.  
     I also know that the media will never look at these "active shooter" events for what they really are.  They like the sport of stoking the fires of the moronic 51% of the country that can't think in a critical capacity.  Conspiracy theories orbit around this new brand of "crazy", and I'm inclined to jump on board any number of the crazy trains, but the truth is, at this late stage, it doesn't really matter.
     The current administration is pushing the outcome.  The 51% who have no skin in the economic game or the Fiscal Cliff, don't really care about your gun rights.  As long as they continue to get more free stuff, then let the Second Amendment disappear.  Then you have patriots like the NRA, who are standing relatively silent and dumbfounded, offering no solutions to this outright attack on our rights.  Consequently, we have seen the fear-buying start, and the sell-off cycle repeats itself.
     When retailers like Dick's Sporting Goods and Cheaper Than Dirt folded and removed their inventory from shelves, the response from Gun Culture 1.0 was swift.  This portion of the citizenry who has grown up around guns made their opinion known: "You'll get no more of my business."  But Gun Culture 2.0 is where the real influence lies.  These are new people to "the gun game"; a high percentage of them being women who recognize the importance of being able to defend themselves.  Both of these groups need to pull together and yield nothing to this latest gun grab.  
     Americans need to understand what is at the heart of this Feinstein Bill:  High capacity rifle magazine bans lead to high capacity pistol magazine bans.  Assault Rifle bans lead to every other gun you own being banned.  Even Michael Bane (the head of the Outdoor Channel's gun show line-up, and  most listened to gun podcast) had to endure a waiting period of sorts.  His weekly podcast, which normally airs on Wednesday was pushed back to Friday, so corporate brains could pick the appropriate footsteps in the minefield of public opinion.  No doubt his intentions are good, but he needs to realize that whatever Gun Culture 1.0 was in the past, it won't cut it in this new dynamic.
     2013 is going to be a brawl that our currently intact Second Amendment rights might not survive.  These latest shooting episodes have rocked the world of preppers, shooters, and anyone who is a self-thinker.  And thus, the fear-buying has begun, because I surmise that the writing on the wall just got a whole lot clearer.  The truth is, we can't deny these are pivotal events, and whistling past the grave-yard isn't going to work this time.  

     The NRA fired a weak salvo, that in my mind, hit nothing.  We better get some leadership, and fast, on this issue.  I see the beginnings of a hemorrhage that the NRA is moving too slowly to address.  I can't help but think that if the money we, as a collective, threw into P-mags just these past couple of weeks had been channeled towards a real message, with real leadership, then Mr. O would have to put a cork in Biden, Feinstein and the Moron 51 crowd.  Here's a thought:  Let's say Feinstein gets her $200 tax and registration on every gun you own.  All those who lay low will become instant felons.  There goes the voting rights of the cornerstone of the country.  Can you see that Obama and the Progressive Left are playing 20 moves ahead, and the patriot with his M-4 is no factor at all?
     So we better realize that we have some decisions to make.  Are you willing to risk a felony to maintain your Second Amendment rights?  Because if you are, you better wake up to the fact that a felony will take away your license or your credentials; and if you need a license to conduct your business, well, there goes your livelihood.  Attaching a felony to even 5% of the gun crowd will devastate the Conservative Right.  You can bet that there will be someone at that voting place making sure, that as a felon, you don't get to cast your vote.  
     Could you decide between becoming a felon and keeping your unregistered M-4?  Stop and run the logical argument in your head; look at where the Supreme Court numbers will be in the next four years.  Will the possibility of a felony on all gun owners change their ability to put food on the table, make a living, change our lifestyles?  You damn right it will!  The gun crowd needs to put this possibility into their hard drive and let it compute.  
     I'm beginning to feel as though we are at Bracken's first chapter in the yellow book.  If you don't know what I'm talking about, it's time to get off your butts and start entertaining some very ugly possibilities.     (Check out www.enemiesforeignanddomestic.com).  Yes, I will agree that it's time to buy more food, ammo, P-mag-30s, and a Belgian Malaois named Spike.  But all that won't preserve our rights.  The time to stand is now.  If not now, when?

Old School

     This email really hit home for me, and made me see the Big Picture.  There's been a plan to rid this country of the Second Amendment for quite awhile, and we are seeing it play out before our very eyes. We have been complacent, thinking that the anti-gun lobbies were not strong enough to defeat over two hundred years of tradition and the overwhelming number of lawful gun owners.  But threaten our livelihoods, our voting rights, and the fear of a criminal record, and how many citizens would be willing to throw in the towel?  Old School is right.  Each of us have some decisions to make.  And those decisions could profoundly change who we are as a free citizenry and the future of our republic.   Where will you draw the line?

Jeremiah 6:16     "This is what the LORD says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.’"

December 19, 2012

Christmas at Fort Sam

     As you know if you are a faithful follower of this blog, I have a heart for ministry to our Wounded Warriors.  This past year, it has been a blessing for PLW and myself to become involved with the Angel Chefs ministry.  Four times a year, this group goes to Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio and serves three meals a day, for an entire week, to our soldiers and their families.  It's a way for us to fuss over them and serve them, as they have so valiantly served our nation.
Chicken salad croissants, Caesar salad, and
home-made cookies expressing the joy of the Season.
     This past week, we made a one-day trip to bring some Christmas cheer and good food to these families we have come to love so much.  As always, God showed up to play His part.
     But first a report on some of the people I have introduced to you in the past .... We were able to see Crystal and Robert, the newlyweds, for whom PLW and I were happy to be their stand-in family at their wedding last fall.  I am happy to report that they are moving out of Fischer House and into their own apartment.  They have also secured a used car, which will make it easier for them to accomplish the things they need to do.  They still need our prayers, as Crystal reported that Robert's PTSD is still a struggle for them.  But they seem happy and content.
     PLW was thrilled to see Bo come wheeling through the kitchen with a big smile on his face.  His father shared that reconstructive surgery has allowed the doctors to give Bo an optimistic chance that he will be able to get the prosthetic legs that he so badly wants.  You see, hunting is Bo's passion and being a double amputee made it difficult for him to imagine ever hunting again.  But the doctors have given him hope, and that is what keeps him moving forward.  His father seemed to have had a weight lifted from his shoulders, as well.  In the near future, I will be telling you about a project that PLW has in mind; one that he hopes will make Bo's dreams come true.  I'll keep you updated.
Isaiah and his soldier dad share our
Christmas offering
     Each trip to Fort Sam and the Fischer Houses results in stories that tear at your heart strings.  We met beautiful Tiffany, whose husband, Steven, is suffering from a severe brain injury.  He is having to learn everything all over again; to walk, talk, eat.  I told her we would pray for her, and she thanked me, saying, "I am really beginning to see the power of prayer.  I know it works, so please don't stop praying for us."  There was young Isaiah and his parents who have been facing the endless frustration of military bureaucracy, including lost paperwork and missed deadlines, in their attempts to get off-post housing.  And now with Christmas upon them, that means another delay as office personnel take off time for the holidays.  Each day is a struggle for patience and progress.
     OK, now for God's hand in this trip.  Each time we make the trip to Fort Sam with the Angel Chefs, we renew old acquaintances among our ministry team, and meet new volunteers.  This time there was an entire contingent from the Flint Baptist Church in Tyler, Texas.  They were a large group and I never did catch all their names.  But during our devotion time that morning, we all gave a few minute description of ourselves and why we were drawn to do this volunteer work.  Each of the ladies seemed to have a connection to the military, or just felt strongly about giving back to these young men who have paid such a heavy price.  There was one woman, who brought her grand-daughter along because she wanted her to experience giving back, and because their family had paid a dear price, too.  I will call her Nancy.  As she told a little bit about herself, we learned that her first husband had been listed as MIA in the Vietnam War and ultimately, did not come home.  You could see a sadness about her, and she said she thought maybe she could relate to some of the family members somehow.  She just wanted to give something of herself to them.
     As it turned out, as we finished our meeting, we noticed a beautiful young black woman who seemed to be gathering things together to move out.  Inge, the Fischer House Manager, informed us that her husband had died the day before --- not from battlefield injuries, as we might have expected, but from a rare blood disease he contracted in Afghanistan, and which the doctors did not detect until it was too late.  As the rest of Fischer House was preparing for a week of Christmas activities, including parties and the receiving of gifts from various volunteer groups, she was having to prepare to move out of Fischer House.  Her name was Joy, and it was obvious that she was feeling anything but that.  She was distraught and looked lost and confused.
     The rest of us began preparing our lunch meal for the residents, and when I made a pass through the dining room, I noticed Nancy and Joy in a tearful embrace.  They must have spent an hour talking, hugging and crying.  We left them undisturbed, knowing that this was a connection that was meant to happen.  After lunch, Nancy rejoined us, clearly emotional and spent.  She said, "I just thought, 'God you've put me here in this house today for this reason.  Just tell me what I need to say to her.' ".  Whatever it was, I'm absolutely certain that it was what Joy needed to hear.  God had brought these two women together.  They were from different backgrounds, eras, and wars; yet they shared a common loss and pain that only they could understand.  I pray that this chance encounter will help them both heal.
     While it is our plan to try and bless these soldiers and their families, there are always those injured warriors who go out of their way to thank us and bless us more than the simple meal we provide them.  One young man, made a special effort to come through the kitchen and hug each one of us, and tell us how much he appreciated what we were doing for them.  Can you believe that?  They just don't seem to get that we are there to thank THEM!
Smiles for a patriotic quilt
     And that afternoon before we left, Connie, the founder of Angel Chefs, was able to present a hand-made patriotic quilt to a Wounded Warrior.  This young man was a triple amputee and had not smiled all day.  His mother shared with PLW that he was really in a dark place. But when Connie presented him with this quilt, you could see that it meant something to him.  I don't know his name, but if you pray for him, God will know His child.
     It is always good to spend some time at the Fischer House in San Antonio.  It is the only way that I can offer some small service in return for the sacrifice these men and their families make for us.  The fact that it was at Christmastime made it all the more poignant.  There is oftentimes an element of darkness in the eyes and faces of these soldiers.  But this holiday reminds us that God sent the Light of the World into this dark place to give us hope.  And that is what I wish for these warriors..... Hope and Peace so that there is never a need for another Fischer House.

Luke 2:14       "Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom His favor rests." 

December 7, 2012

A Tribute To A Hero

     You know that I take every opportunity I can to honor those who have protected our freedom and our liberties.  Seventy-one years ago today, our nation was struck with the horror of Pearl Harbor.  The Imperial Japanese Navy attacked the U.S. naval base with 353 fighters, bombers and torpedo planes in two waves, launched from six aircraft carriers.  Four Navy battleships were sunk, and the remaining four were badly damaged.  The U.S. suffered 188 destroyed aircraft, and 2,402 Americans were killed, plus 1,282 wounded.

     But this post is about more than the statistics of that tragic day.  Less than 2700 survivors from that infamous day remain.  The Pearl Harbor Survivors Association, founded in 1958, was dissolved at the end of 2011.  It was just too difficult for the aging members to continue their affiliation.  So in honor of them, I want to dedicate today's post.  Maybe the survivors no longer have an official organization, but it is the least we can all do to remember their legacy.  And this is one man's story:
     Sam Maynor, Jr., grew up in a little town in South Carolina.  He was one of the survivors aboard the destroyer U.S.S. Reid.  Maynor and his shipmates had to smash the lock off a mounted machine gun after the sneak attack, because the guy who held the key was on the beach.  But they successfully manned the guns and even downed one of the enemy planes.
     Because, you see, Sam had the stuff of a hero.  He was like thousands of the rangy and lean and rawboned mill-town boys who came from such poverty that they had no shoes and no chance to go to school.  Like millions of boys, including my own father, he lied about his age to get into that war.
     Maynor was in battles at Coral Sea and Casablanca, and while on ship, he endured five typhoons and everything the sea could throw at him. He was gone five long years.  And apparently he didn't write home often enough.  His mother wrote a letter to the President, and it wasn't long before young Sam was ordered by the captain of the ship to write to his mother.
     But there was a beautiful young girl, who worked in the local dime store, that waited out those five long years for her sailor to come home.  Sam and Mildred were married for 60 years before her death.  By all accounts, he was a good husband and father, and was a humble and generous sort of guy.  He came home from the war and worked as a brakeman on the railroad, and then worked in the textile mills.  He even helped found a church.
     All those years, he didn't talk much about the awful battles and the death; about American sailors fighting with pistols and rifles as ships sank under their feet.  He had the memories alright.  Ardrey Hasty, a kid he grew up with, died at the age of 18 at Pearl Harbor.  Bill Lovelace, another childhood friend, lost a leg that day.  But as the years past, friends at church and his grandchildren began to coax the stories out of Sam.  He began speaking at schools, so that children could have first-hand accounts of Pearl Harbor -- not some watered down version, or politically correct interpretation of history.  Sam was the real deal.
     Sam would stand at the front of the room and tell his story, and you wouldn't hear a peep out of those kids.  He stood tall and thin, and his hands were leathery.  He might not have looked like Hollywood's version of a hero, but after each time he spoke to a group of school children, they would give him a standing ovation.  They knew a real live hero when they saw one.
     Sam died last week, and now there is one less hero to honor his fellow heroes who died that day.  We are losing our WWII vets each and every day; these men who deserve a special place in our history -- a history that is rarely acknowledged or valued these days among our younger generation.  
     Sam Maynor would not have considered himself exceptional or out of the ordinary.  He was just a South Carolina boy from the mill towns, who answered the call of his nation when it needed him.  But it is the likes of the thousands of Sam Maynors who didn't give up seventy-one years ago today.  They saved not only our nation, but the world.  Rest in peace, Mr. Maynor ..... and thank you!

2 Samuel 22:40-41    "You armed me with strength for battle; you humbled my adversaries before me. You made my enemies turn their backs in flight, and I destroyed my foes."

November 26, 2012

Red Dawn: A Review And Reflection

     I suppose, like many of you, that I have been awaiting the release of the re-make of Red Dawn with both curiosity and dread.  The original has become a cult classic, and how could Hollywood do justice to both the story and iconic actors such as Patrick Swayze, Ben Johnson, Powers Boothe and Harry Dean Stanton?  Yet, in the 28 years since Red Dawn first appeared on the screen, the premise of the movie doesn't seem quite so improbable anymore.
      Don't worry, I won't ruin the movie for you, if you haven't seen it yet.  But if you want my recommendation ... I give it two thumbs up.  Without giving anything away, let me just say that I was impressed with this version.  The producers were smart enough not to try to re-create an exact replica of the movie, but instead chose to revise the storyline just enough to make it seem new and fresh, while giving proper respect to all the things we loved about the original version.   My biggest concern, was that Patrick Swayze was so identified with the lead character, Jed, that anyone else playing that role would diminish the impact of all the character interactions.  Not so.  Chris Hemsworth not only makes the role his, but possesses the same strength and spirit as Swayze.  This new version made me feel just as proud to be an American as the original, and that's all I'm going to say about the plot and movie.
     But, the new Red Dawn left me with more doubts about how we would react than the first one did.  In 1984, I felt we were all like Jed and Mattie.  Foreign troops falling from the sky?  While it was a great movie plot, and sent a shiver down my spine, it wasn't really anything I considered as likely; after all, Ronald Reagan was President and America was feared and respected around the globe.  And if this scenario did play out, we were the sons and daughters of WWII vets, and we knew what America stood for and that she was worth fighting for.  We stood behind our nation.
     I asked PLW if he thought we would really react and fight against foreign attackers if, today, we saw parachutes in the sky.   Unfortunately, neither one of us could answer that question with any kind of confidence.  Another generation has passed since the first Red Dawn, and based on the news coverage of Black Friday alone, we seem to be all about fighting for ourselves and could care less about defending the nation.
     I absolutely think that there is a segment in this country that would die fighting to save this blessed land.  And I'm not talking about the military.  Hundreds of thousands of ordinary citizens would rise up and defend the homeland that they love and revere.   But just as many would sell out their neighbors and give up our nation's sovereignty without so much as a second thought.  Promise them a phone and rent-free space in the refugee camp, and they'll deny the Constitution all day long.
     This leads me to the questions that haunted me throughout the movie .... How many people are willing to conceive of a cause greater than themselves?  Would individuals really be willing to sacrifice their own safety and comfort to ensure that our nation remains free?  Do people even know the real meaning of freedom anymore?  By freedom, I'm talking about more than not being subjected to a foreign domination or despotic government, although that is certainly a valid definition, and present in the theme of this movie.  But, to me, freedom is much more individual;  it's not being enslaved by a system, and it is having the ability and the will to self-determine the quality of your life --- both of which the characters in the movie embody.
     But when you take into account that Americans who depend on the government for subsistence has risen from 30% at the time of the original Red Dawn in 1984, to 49.1% in the first quarter of 2011(Wall Street Journal), you have to wonder if Jed and Mattie and their friends would find enough people to rally around their cause.  With those kinds of statistics, does it appear that more of our fellow countrymen have sought to bind themselves to the system?  Do they value self-determination, or are they simply more interested in handouts?   Would this generation of Americans have any "fight" in them, or would they choose to surrender to the enemy in favor of "global unity"?  I submit to you that the answers to these questions define the character of America today.
     I pray to God in heaven that I will never see foreign troops parachuting into our cities and countryside.  And I'm one of those people (you can call me a nutcase) that can't quite dismiss the thought that Hollywood forecasts our future through subtle innuendos in their film projects.  If there's any truth to that, then maybe all is not lost.  I'm happy to report that the Wolverines are still alive and well in 2012!

Psalm 33:10-12     "The Lord foils the plans of the nations; he thwarts the purposes of the peoples. But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations. Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people he chose for his inheritance."


November 9, 2012

Where Do We Go From Here?

     As the days pass, we try to grasp the dynamics of the American people and what values they voted for during this Election.  We're beginning to hear all the different explanations and excuses:  we are changing from a society of workers to a nation of victims; there was widespread voter fraud; people saw no clear-cut choice between the two candidates -- if you actually studied the records of both, they were eerily similar; both have embraced Big Government; therefore people stayed home.  The actual turnout for 2012 was less than that of 2008.
     But the time for dissection and analysis is over.  It is the time to regain our center of balance and plot our way forward.  This is not a time to feel defeated or dejected.  We are at this point, whether we like it or not, and we need to make the best of it.  Make no mistake, I'm not spreading a "lollipops and roses" outlook.  Things are going to get unpleasant, to put it mildly.  This will mean rising costs in everything ..... taxes, food, utilities, housing, commodities.  There will be more regulations on everything .... our businesses, our healthcare, our retirements.  Our Constitutional rights, especially the 2nd Amendment, will come under extreme attack.  The religious freedoms of Christians will be restrained, while we will be forced to accept gay marriage, abortion and Sharia law.
     I am not pointing out these troubling implications from the Election to further depress you.  These are not new issues --- we saw them coming over the last few years.  So now that these issues are more than likely going to be our new reality, we must steel ourselves and create a shield against further encroachments on our beliefs and standards, and ready our spear to defend the last bastion that is our God-given freedoms.  If we won't stand now, then when?
     I heard an excellent commentary today that pointed out this interesting aspect:  what we do during the coming years, and how we regard the changing culture of our country, will determine our success in overcoming this hostile environment in which we find ourselves.  If we have a chance of recapturing the essence of America, then we must figure out a way to navigate the coming "wilderness" and become an advocate for reform.
     Just like Jeremiah warned the Israelites just before they were taken into captivity and marched to Babylon, the re-building of America will be neither short-term, nor easy.  We already see a divided populace; we are far apart on so many issues, with neither side willing to compromise their values.  Indeed, as Christians, we cannot compromise our Biblical principles and beliefs.  So what do we do when finding ourselves facing such a foreign and alien landscape?
     I referenced Jeremiah in a post, way back last December, with this specific Scripture about God's plan to give His people in exile hope and a future.  Reread this quick post.  It is most applicable in our current circumstances and was echoed in the commentary I heard today.
     In a nutshell, here is where I think we go from here .... we continue to do what we know is right; what we have to do to survive exile in our own country.  We strengthen our families.  We reinforce our Christian roots and fortify our Churches with God's Truth, not the world's.  We begin taking our schools and educational systems back.  We stepped away from our duty to safeguard our history and our Judeo-Christian principles, and let the likes of Madelyn Murray O-Hair and godless Communistic influences dictate what our children are taught.  We build up our communities at the grass-roots level; teaching and modeling a strong work ethic and pride in self-sufficiency --- teach our citizens how to achieve, rather than how to receive.  We also need to toughen up and become bolder in representing our conservative values; we can no longer sit on the sidelines.  Get involved in everything from your School Board to your local elections to joining an activist group.  Speak up and speak often.
     As the commentator stated this morning, "It took the Progressives 100 years to accomplish their goals.  They were patient and picked away at our institutions while we stayed silent and let it happen."  Do not get discouraged!  The Tea Party didn't exist just four years ago, and they made dramatic inroads on the political scene.  Let's not lose this momentum.  Let's play it smart and play it for the long-term.
     But I want you to be clear on this concept:  we are in for a long period of repair and reconstruction.  This erosion didn't happen overnight, and our liberties will not be restored quickly .... perhaps not even in my lifetime.  But we can begin to build on the foundation and vision that have been reawakened in the American psyche.  We can instill in the next generation a respect and hunger for what our God planted on this continent over 230 years ago.  And we can show both our misguided countrymen and our enemies that we don't give up.  We believe in fighting for freedom, and recognize that while our God has allowed us to continue along this path, He will toughen us and temper us into a people who will one day reclaim our heritage.   Let's begin today!

Psalm 80:7     "Restore us, God Almighty; make your face shine on us, that we may be saved."

October 31, 2012

Fisher House Day 2: A Heart For Each One

     I think I fell asleep within one minute of my head hitting the pillow after that first night.  That couldn't really be the alarm clock going off at 5:15, could it?  It was still dark as we made our way to Fisher House to prepare a pancake and sausage breakfast.
     PLW and I started cooking sausage at 6:30 and usually the soldier residents of Fisher House and their families start stirring around 8:00, but there are some who have children to get off to school, so we like to have a breakfast waiting for those early risers.
     But this morning, the smell of sausage brings them at a steady rate.  This second day, they are getting used to seeing us in their world, and they smile and open up, talking to us about their injuries, how many surgeries they've had, and their rehab.  The one thing I notice is that they all want to talk about what happened to them .... in detail.  PLW, being another man, is quick to engage them and ask them about their injuries, where they were, and the circumstances of their traumatic wounds.
     When I voice their willingness to talk about their missing limbs, and the details of "The Day Their Lives Changed Forever", PLW is quick to tell me, "If you had made such a huge sacrifice for your country, you'd want someone to know about it and acknowledge it.  You'd want it to count for something."
     So we hear their stories:  Dan lost his leg from an IED in Afghanistan; Richard was shot 3 times by the Taliban who entered his FOB in Afghan army uniforms; and there was Bo, who lost both legs and one arm to a roadside bomb.
     They don't shy away from showing us their scars, and telling us about their successes and setbacks.  And to a man, they want to return to their unit.  Period.  They count the days between medical assessments, always keeping their eye on the prize:  when they can be released and get back in the fight.  You can see that longing in their eyes.
     But there are also personal stories of the wives that support their husbands through this traumatic time in their lives.  One of the most moving episodes this day involved Lauren, one of our Angel Chef volunteers, who had just arrived and struck up a conversation with a young girl who was going to be getting married this next weekend.  It was going to be a quickly arranged wedding on post, as her fiance was getting deployed.  She didn't have time to get a dress or plan a proper wedding, let alone afford it on such short notice.  So Lauren, (in the true spirit of all of us who love this military family at Fort Sam) took this young bride out today and shopped at David's Bridal for a wedding dress.
     Most of us were unaware of her story until she came in to the Fisher House beaming and saying she had experienced the most wonderful day of her life.  She was carrying her dress, and it didn't take much coaxing to talk her into modeling the dress for us.  We all told her how beautiful she looked and congratulated her on her wedding.  Her smile said it all!
     But it's not only the injured soldiers, and the women who love them that capture my heart.  It's their children.  There are the preemie babies born to women soldiers, and the precious 3-month old that was airlifted from Korea where his parents were stationed because he is suffering from epilepsy.  It's nice to know they are returned to the States for the best medical care available.  But the older children are heroes, too.  They are supportive of their dads, and adapt to a disrupted family routine, never complaining.
     I have to share the story of two precious little girls that make their dad, Dan, very proud.  They were sharing dinner with PLW and their dad at one table, while I was talking to another young family.  Before I knew it, Gracie and Kaylee were coming over to my table to discuss what colors I wanted my paracord bracelet to be.  I soon discovered that they made these beautiful bracelets and charged $5 apiece for them .... $1.00 for the cost of the paracord, and the other $4 they donate back to the Fisher House Foundation.  Of course, PLW bought several bracelets to support their charitable enterprise.  Even the children of wounded warriors know the meaning of sacrifice!
     So, as I contemplate tomorrow, which is our last day of service to these heroes, I am already getting emotional about leaving them.  I want to just adopt everyone of them, and I want to know that they will all be OK and reach their personal goals.  PLW and I have already let it be known that we want to return in December for the Christmas trip.  There will be no better time to celebrate the gift of freedom that they make possible for all of us.
     The best way I can share my day with you is to display it in photos.  I hope they give you a sense of what a blessing my time here at Fisher House has been.

PLW and Bo share some pancakes, sausage and early morning conversation

The new bride was so happy to show us her dress!

Our devotion time where we discuss those we need to pray for.

Kaylee (left) and Gracie dressed as pirates.
They were leaving for a Halloween party at the Family Center on Post.

Beautiful baby that we all loved on! We couldn't resist her!

Ephesians 4:15-16    "Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work."