Tuesday, June 6, 2017

You're just a big...Fat...PANDA!

I LOVE the Kung Fu Panda series!  Just love it.  Yes, I'm a grown woman who watches children's movies.  So what?  HA!  Go ahead and laugh...but when I'm done explaining why, you'll never be able to see these movies again without a deep appreciation for them.

Po is a panda (duh, April).  A big, fat, flabby, clumsy panda. He's not always real bright and he has the patience of a five year old.  That's ok...because what he does, he does with joy!  Real joy.  Unhinged joy.  Blatant, out loud joy. We could all use more joy in our lives.

In the first movie Po is chosen to be Dragon Warrior.  Everyone thinks Master Oogway is nuts.  Po has no training, is unheard of, and certainly is not anyone's image of the Dragon Warrior.  Master Shifu does his best to make him quit because Po does not fit the mental image HE has for who and what the Dragon Warrior should be.

Is this starting to sound familiar?  Doesn't this totally sound like real life?  Po is about as different as you can get.  He's adopted...by a goose.  He's nothing like his adopted dad.  He's out of shape with a dream to be this amazing martial arts master.  He plays with dolls...sorry, action figures...as a grown man...I mean, panda.  If we are going to be stereotypical, this man panda should never be anything more than a big kid who works in fast food and lives with his dad. 

But he's got a dream and no matter how foolish, or how many people tell him he will never make it, he never gives up.  "Because a real warrior never quits!" How can we not want to emulate this goofy panda?  Even when his dad tries to discourage him (probably because he doesn't want him to get hurt, and probably a little bit because he's used to having him help in the restaurant), he still, politely, presses on. 

The secret in this movie is that "there is no secret ingredient".  YOU ARE ENOUGH!  No, really, you are enough!  You, just the way you are. You with the flabby arms and saggy tummy...you are enough.  You with the GED working in an auto repair shop...you are enough.  You with the two kids and no spouse and two jobs and never ending pile of bills...you are enough!  How awesome a message is that??  Po...flabby, clumsy, and mostly untrained Po was enough to beat the bad guy.

What's interesting is that this, for me, is the same message that God gives us.  I am enough to do what He has put me here to do.  I am enough for my kids.  I am enough for my husband.  I am enough for my church.  I am enough for the people in my neighborhood.  I am enough for my friends.  I have to remind myself of this, over and over again because the world is often like Shifu...telling us that we aren't right for the position we are in.  We aren't enough or right or what's needed.  What nonsense!  If God put you there, you are enough.  I love that Po is able to prove him wrong and defeat the bad guy (who really is just a big kitty who has lost all joy in life).  And I love that Po tries to help Tai Lung understand what he is missing.  Too bad he wasn't willing to listen to a panda. 

I could go on and on.  There are two more movies, and maybe later I'll pull apart the other two.  However, I'm just going to mention one more thing. Po is always joyful.  Po loves kung fu.  Po loves training, even when it hurts.  Po loves being able to hang out and learn with his heroes. Po just plain loves life.  He might not be able to do all that stuff that those professionals do, but it sure doesn't stop him from getting in there and trying.  He's not afraid to start at "level zero" and while he doesn't want to show off his mad skills in front of the masters...well, he works his way up to it!  Does he embarrass himself?  Sure.  Does that make him quit?  Nope.  Does he take some pain?  You know it!  Does he quit?  Nope.  In spite of all this, Po still takes joy in being able to train with the Masters.  He doesn't get bitter, and every time a new piece of kung fu is revealed to him, he gets as excited as a toddler with a candy bar.

I love Po for this!  We all start at level zero.  We all fail.  We all fall.  We all embarrass ourselves.  We all know and have others who are better than we are.  But not all of us carry on any way.  Not all of us keep our joy.  I wish we would.  I wish we who are Christian would remember that the joy of the Lord is supposed to keep us going.  We can reach people through our joy.  We can accomplish so much if we just keep our joy.  Not our happy...even Po wasn't always happy.  Remember the sacred peach tree? He had his downs.  But he never lost his joy.  He knew that he still got to do what he always wanted to do.

I should hope that we should have always wanted to serve the Lord and be a part of His miracles.  I should hope that we should have always wanted to serve others and be a part in bringing some light to the dark.  I should hope that in spite of our ups and downs in this life, that we take joy in remembering what comes next.  We are the children of God.  Heir to the throne with Christ Jesus as our brother.  We will inherit the Kingdom of Heaven.  And we are bringers of light in a dark world. 

Whenever you start to lose your joy, think of Tai Lung.  Was he great at Kung Fu?  You bet!  That kitty was beating people up left and right.  He took on all challengers and won...right up until he went against that "big, fat panda".  Then he lost.  Ever notice that Po smiles and giggles when he's fighting Tai Lung.  Even against this opponent who might kill him, he's joyful. 

Don't let us be the Tai Lungs of the church.  Don't let us lose our joy.  Don't let us be ashamed of where we are in life, and don't let us listen to those Master Shifus who tell us we aren't enough.  Whenever you are feeling down about your journey with God and you need a silly and quick lift...watch some Kung Fu Panda.  I promise it will make you smile...and remember that YOU, yes YOU, are enough in God's plan.

My favorite quote:  "Yesterday is history.  Tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift.  That is why they call it the present."  Master Oogway.

Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.”  Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.  Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”  James 4:  13-15

Monday, February 22, 2016

Let's be less than perfect

I was looking back through my Facebook posts from over the years and I've noticed a trend.  I've noticed that my posts have become less and less real.  I've started posting funny sayings, recipes, a few pictures here and there...most of the time I really censor what I'm thinking.  I don't let out what I really want to write.  I find myself thinking...why?

Why have I suddenly become this person who won't vent to friends and family?  Why don't I put out there my failures, frustrations, or just general thoughts?  I look around and notice many of my friends doing the same thing...if they even post at all!

I miss hearing from my friends so far away.  I miss being able to commiserate with them...I miss being able to joke about the blunders of life.  I miss seeing my friends' kids grow up...and I miss learning that they are going through the same craziness that my kids are going through.  I miss feeling a real connection to those people I was once closest too.

It's a nasty trend, really, this need to be perfect.  It's a horrible habit to indulge in, this need to show the world only the good.  And while we are at it, why are we showing the "world" anything?  Shouldn't our social media be for those people we actually like and want to hang out with?  Shouldn't it be a personal experience where we can talk and show and BE ourselves because we know that we are among friends? 

I don't know how it started, but somehow our social media is no longer about keeping up with friends and family, but it's this weird networking thing where we have to constantly be aware of someone "watching" us.  Heaven forbid we put something out there about how we want to run away from home, or how our husband was an ass that day, or how our kids were horrible little heathens!  Someone might judge us!!  Sheesh.

I want to go back to the real.  That's right...I went all Morpheus on you.  I want to go to the real.  That place where I know my friends are going to totally understand that I'm not an alcoholic, but it was a rough day and I want to be able to sleep that night.  I want to be able to say my husband is a jerk because he bought himself a book and didn't think to bring me home a Starbucks's coffee.  (seriously...that is kinda jerky!)  My friends and family will know I'm not going to divorce him and they know I still love him...but man, if I can't vent to friends and family, who can I vent to?

Research is showing that this generation of social media is doing some damage.  It's making us anti-social and depressed. More and more people are feeling like less because all that stuff out there that's all happy, and pretty, and perfect.  All these people are totally content in their lives, have perfect kids, and bake the world's best cookies.  Sure, sure...some people might think they live a blessed life and that's great.  FOR THEM.  The rest of us need more of "the real".

I think we need more people to put out there the times when they felt like God totally ignored them.  Or that time they were pretty sure their kid was going to be in the 3rd grade forever.  Or that other time when their kid pitched an absolute fit because you refused to buy the purple socks because they were $3 more!  We need more honesty in the world.  Tell about those times when you were lonely.  Tell about the time you hated life and wanted to move to Brazil.  Really.  Tell us!

Why should you?  Because it will help you and me.  You will find more than one ear willing to listen, hands willing to fold in prayer, and more than one person out there is going to make you feel normal by saying "been there, done that".  It will help me not feel alone.  OH, Hooray!  I'm not the only one with kids who might not see their next birthday.  Really, your husband forgets when you have an appointment scheduled too?  Awesome. 

Seriously...let's consider being more open and honest with each other.  Are you afraid?  Why?  I'm not saying that to be snarky, but to really ask...why?  Are you worried that the people who read your Facebook page or Twitter account are going to think less of you?  Are you worried you are going to spoil some image of yourself? 

There are some pretty easy remedies to those fears.  No one says you have to keep people on your social media...bump those people that drive you nuts.  Delete those who won't support you.  Are they family?  That one can get touchy...but if it's really driving you nuts...out they go!  You are a big girl (or boy) now!!  You are so allowed to be your own person. If you are worried about your image...well, maybe you need to ask why?  If you have to have this image of perfection out there for the world to see, you might have some issues that need tackling.  While no one likes screwing up, or being broken and down...I think we will all be surprised to find out that UN-perfectionism is actually more attractive to other human beings than we thought. 

So, there you go...there's my rant.  If you actually made it all the way to the end...Thanks!  You stuck with  me!  And I hope when I post on FB that I need a glass of wine...again...that you won't call Child Services, because you will totally understand where I'm coming from!  (and no...I'm not drinking the wine so I can use the bottle for some Pinterest craft...that bottle is going in the recycle when I'm done with it!)

Friday, April 3, 2015

Dear Outraged Christian

Dear Outraged Christian,

I am a Christian too.  By that I mean that I believe that Jesus was born as the Son of God, He lived a blameless life, died on the cross, endured hell for us, and then rose from the grave.  He is the reason we are able to speak with God.  He is the reason we are forgiven.  He is the reason we are able to attain heaven.

That being said, I am also a watcher of news.  I see the struggle Christians are facing - the choice to serve or not serve gays.  Homosexuals.  Sinners.  Flaunters of God's law.  Evil.  Bad people.  SINNERS!

Wait...did I go too far?  That sounded pretty extreme, didn't it?  It sounded a lot like hate.  Last time I looked God did not command us to hate, but to love.  Read an excerpt from Matthew 5:46-48.   46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

So you see, this is the problem that I have with these outraged Christians in the news.  This cry that has gone out to be able to deny service to someone because they have sinned has such a large following it seems.  I'll even go so far as to say once I was one of you Outraged Christians.  Why should we bake wedding cakes for a sinful wedding?  If we do this thing, are we saying we support this sin?

So I ask you, when Jesus allowed a fallen woman to wash his feet, did He support prostitution?  When He called Zacchaeus, the tax collector, out of the tree, was He supporting those who rip people off?  When He washed the feet of Judas, was He giving the thumbs up to those who sell people out and get them killed? 

We as Christians are called to love everyone.  Not just those people we are comfortable with, not just those we are easy around, but everyone.  We as Christians are NOT called to point out the sin in all mankind, but to love and support all and correct those who are in the church with us.  We as Christians are called to look to our own sins, before we point out anyone else's sin.  Matthew 7:3 says Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?

So, you might ask, would you have us support this most heinous of sins??  Here is what I say to that:  Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. 24You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.  Matthew 23:23-24  Is it justice to condemn those who are not Christian, or those who have been led astray?  Is it mercy to cast people out for their sin?  Is it faithfulness to believe we must do the punishing for God?

I also point out to you this:  Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” John 8:7  Jesus points out to us that who among us is worthy to condemn another human being.  We each have our own sins.  We all have our problems and we ALL need the forgiveness of God.  Are we really worthy to stand in judgment of those who's sin is simply different from our own?

But what about supporting sin, you ask.  Here's my question to you:  how many people have ever asked you if you think their lifestyle is pleasing in the eyes of God?  How many people have ever asked you if you think a certain act is sinful, according to God?  I bet you can count those people on one hand.  I bet you don't even have to use any fingers when you count.

I've NEVER had anyone ask me if I thought they way they lived was pleasing to God.  I'm pretty sure, if their mind is on God, then they will already know the answer to that question.  I've never had anyone ask me if a certain action, like homosexuality, is a sin.  I'm pretty sure they already know they answer.  I'm also pretty sure they don't want me to tell them the answer. 

If someone ever asks you those specific questions, by all means tell the truth.  If anyone ever asks you a question about the Gospel, then answer true.  Anything else is as good as denying God. 

Until that time, serve others with love.  Until that time, BE grace.  Until that time, look not for sins in others, but look instead to find God in your heart.  Pray and really be willing to listen to the answers the Holy Spirit gives you. 

Try to be a little less outraged.  It really doesn't do any good.  After all, our God can take care of Himself...He does not need us to be outraged on His behalf.  But He does need us to LOVE on His behalf. 

The world doesn't have enough love.  We, as Christians, can change that.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Parenting Lessons

Parenting, I have come to find out, is a constant learning process.  In spite of the fact that my school years have longs passed, I still am having to gain new skills.  Today I had to do another one of those learning lessons...or maybe I should say several of those learning lessons. 

Today, my youngest was in tears as we worked on piano together.  Now really why she was upset was because she had just been chastised about being more grateful for what she had, but piano got to take the blame for the moment.  As I sat holding my sobbing child, it occurred to me how much I wanted to run away at the moment.  Just get out and leave.    I then realized that we hadn't left our house to do anything fun in a long time.  No field trips, no fun exploring, nothing.  So we went bowling today.  But since I'm a kill two birds with one stone kind of mom, we stopped at the bx and the girls got hair cut first.  That didn't turn out so well either. 

My oldest daughter has hair cut issues anyway, but I have the rule that hair cannot be in the eyes.  She was sad because she had been trying to get her hair to go to the side, but it's so heavy it just falls down.  She was insistent that she get to keep trying.  But I didn't listen.  I had the lady cut her bangs above her eyebrows.  My girl sat down next to me when it was done and we were waiting for the youngest and was quietly in tears.  Once again, I wanted to run away.  Just leave.  I couldn't understand how a girl's identity could be so tied up in hair.  I've never cared that much about my physical appearance.  I still don't.  But my girl did, and really, in the end, I guess that was all that mattered.  My girl cared about what her hair looked like and I should too.  It's hard to adjust a 34 year old mindset.  It's hard to be understanding about something that I just didn't understand...but I figured it couldn't be any harder than looking at my girl's crumpled face.  So, we talked about how we were going to work on her bangs growing out and then we went and bought her some clips to help her keep her bangs back.  Just that quick all was right in the world again. 

So, off to bowling we finally went.  We had lunch, and surprisingly everyone actually ate without me being a nag.  (In this house, that is cause for celebration)  After that we are all off to bowl, when I stick my foot in my mouth.  I challenged all the kids to bowl without bumpers and to score 50 or higher.  While the older two readily accepted the challenge, the youngest...not so much.  How I didn't cave for those first five frames is nothing short of a great mystery to me.  God bless the woman with the little kids playing in the play place next to us.  She called Emily over to encourage her and give her a few pointers.  I'm not sure if it helped, but it surely didn't hurt.  Finally, finally by the ninth frame...she knocked a pin over.  Without bumpers.  All on her own.  I could have wept with joy.  The look on her face was one I will never forget.  She was so proud of herself.  After that there was no stopping her.  Her score didn't really get any better...but she kept on trying. 

My kids are getting older now and I can't just do the because I said so thing any more.  That thing about homeschooling is that I have finally become teacher and my words seem to finally have weight.  What I think about them, what I say to them, how I act towards them and others...it all matters now.  I used to get so frustrated because someone else's words weighed more heavily than mine did on their hearts...but now, I get frustrated with myself because I seem to so often not do the best things, and now what I say does matter to them. 

I've got great kids.  They aren't loud, rude, or pushy.  They don't bounce off the walls in public, and they aren't harsh to other kids.  They willingly volunteer their time to help others.  I look at other kids and I wonder so often why mine aren't like them.  I look at so many other kids and am grateful mine aren't like them.  I guess I can't have it both ways.  I know my kids have fun and play and do all those kid things and I probably shouldn't worry.  But I do any way. 

Friday, August 29, 2014

Do Your Job!

I don't do politics.  I don't get into arguments about the President, or Congress, or even local government.  I just don't.  I personally think that everyone has an opinion about politics, and just like everyone has a bum...they all stink. 

I'm going to break my rule of just not saying anything.  Watching the news has just lit me up.  I know, I know, the news is not always reliable.  It's biased (no matter what they claim), it's not always accurate, and again is mostly filled with talking heads opinions.  However, when the same thing is said over and over and over again by news stations who generally speaking can't agree on the day of the week, much less anything political...I tend to take notice.

First, either deport illegals or make everyone legal.  For pity's sake, PICK ONE!  If you make them legal, then make them get a social security number and pay taxes, Obamacare fees, and everything else we legal folks get stuck footing the bill for.  If you are going to let illegals get a license, go to public schools, utilize hospitals, ect. then good golly, let them help pay for it!  If you don't want to legalize everyone, then kick them out.  Make the hard decision, and dump them back over the boarder.  Take the money we would be using for licenses, schools, and hospital care, and beef up the border.  Neither decision will be popular with everyone.  Neither decisions will come with out any consequences.  However, the president gets paid big bucks because those decisions are hard and often suck.  Do your job!

Yes, I know...neither of those above choices are simple.  Yes, we have to worry about those companies that employ illegals on the down low and that makes it so we can afford fresh fruit.  Yes, we have to worry about ticking off those countries below us.  I get it.  I really do.  However, this passing the buck on to the next sucker who gets elected really needs to stop.  Sigh.

Second, there are bad, bad people in the world.  Those bad, bad people beheaded an American.  Those same people will do it again because they want to and because they have not been stopped.  Some of these bad, bad people even come from our own country.  And we HAVE NO PLAN.  Seriously.  No plan.  Awesome.  We, or more to the point our president, announced on world wide TV that "yeah, we got nothing".  Way to strike fear into the hearts of those who intend us harm.  I can see Isis shaking in their booties.  NOT.

Ok, sarcasm aside, something needs to be done.  While some people have the desire to make the Middle East a parking lot via dropped nukes, I'm a supporter of something a little less extreme.  I know we can't fight all the wars.  I know we don't have an inexhaustible supply of men and women who bleed red, white, and blue.  I also know, not too many of our military would not be a supporter of kicking some serious Isis butt.  You know, our saying in the US used to be "Walk softly, and carry a big stick".  We didn't go out into the world starting stuff...but we were known for finishing it!   Nowadays, not so much.  We are seen as weak, ineffective, and just plain inept.  It's a shame and it's disheartening, and really...it just makes me mad.  It makes me mad because those who are set up to represent us, aren't.  They just aren't.  Americans are not cowards.  They do not back down from a fight.  They certainly don't let fellow Americans die in an act of terrorism without a single sound. 

Finally, our education system.  Ok, I have to take a deep breath in order to be able to do this one.  Who in their right mind creates a new education system without using EDUCATORS to do it??  Who decides that a test is a measure of what a child is completely capable of?  Who decides that it is best to teach each and every child the exact same way??!!  Somewhere along the way our leaders lost their ever lovin' minds.  This is not ok.  We are killing the love of learning in our children.  We are teaching them that a test is the end all, be all of their lives.  We are teaching them that they are all exactly alike and to be different is wrong. 

The outcry and outrage of educators and parents alike is not enough to encourage our leaders to do something about it.  The blatant evidence that we are failing and falling behind other leading countries of the world is not enough to make our leaders do something about it.  What will it take?  How much damage must be done to our children before change (or better yet, let's just go back to the educators from the 60's and 70's...look at all the innovators that came from those eras) becomes a priority?

UNITED STATES REPRESENTATIVES, TO INCLUDE THE PRESIDENT...DO YOUR JOBS!!  You are paid to represent the American people.  The American people are pissed!  Do your job.  Make the changes that need to be made.  Make the sucky, stinky, hateful decisions that need to be made.  Be unpopular with some people...it won't kill you.  Do what is right, not what makes you  money, gets you more votes, or makes you look good.  Look at the country you are supposed to represent, love and serve, and do your job.  If you can't do it, step down and let someone else who can, do. 

I hate politics....and I'm edging towards hating politicians.  Hate is not good...I get that, but  man, oh, man...it is past time for a change.  The American people have plenty of backbone.  Too bad those represent us to the world seem to be missing theirs. 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Gender Ministry

I read an article today that struck a chord in me.  It talked about a woman who hated, or at least really disliked, women's ministry.  This woman started talking about how she wasn't a tea and beauty kind of girl.  She was tired of hearing how beautiful she was through the eyes of God.  She was tired of being shown the "perfect Godly" woman.  (See article here)

I have to admit, I'm not a girly girl.  I feel awkward and out of place at those tea parties that get hosted so often in women's ministry.  I feel like a bull in a china shop when we do a "beauty tips" lesson.  Even worse, I feel loud, and pushy, and un-woman-like when I declare my dislike of certain books of the Bible.  (My least favorite is Esther...I know, I know how can I not like that book?  I'm weird, I admit it.)

I have attended women's Bible studies for the last 7 or 8 years and can honestly say I've never felt like I fit.  Why in the world would I keep going for that long if I was never comfortable?  For a long time, I couldn't figure it out.  I'm really not a glutton for punishment.  I don't enjoy being uncomfortable, nor do I enjoy being on the outside of a group looking in. 

I had thought that women's Bible study was a part of being Christian.  You know what, I still think it is.  Once a week I may have been uncomfortable, out of place, and more than a little lost.  Once a week I stated my unpopular opinions, feelings and thoughts.  Once a week I drug my Bible and my kids down the street to church and braced for the worst. 

I'm better for it.  I know I am.  Since I steadfastly endured the opinions and thoughts of others, I have become more understanding of those whose situations in life have differed from mine.  I have learned patience...and I've learned to shut my mouth.  I've learned to stand against wrong thoughts and to state the unpopular Biblical facts.  I've learned that God does not ask me to be comfortable, nor does He expect me to be silent when truth is needed.  God often asks me to curb my own instincts and fight my own nature. 

I still don't like the book of Esther.  I'd still rather study the WHOLE book of Proverbs rather than just Ch 31.  I still don't like beauty sessions or dress up tea parties.  I'm not sure that will ever change. 

So, while I understand the above mentioned woman, with her dislike of "women's ministry", and I understand her need to study the WHOLE Bible and not just the parts that apply to women, I also hope that she keeps going to those women's studies.  You see, there are people at those studies who need her...they need her frankness, her lack of vanity, her intensity in reaching God, her determination to focus on GOD and not self.  However, she needs them too.  She needs to remember that women are beautiful, that they do play certain roles in life, that God does call on us to improve our "womanly ways".  If those things were not true and necessary, they would not be written about in the Bible. 

Ladies, don't give up on your women's Bible study groups.  There is a balance and while it is not always going to be comfortable or fun, it is going to grow you and change you.  God asks that of us...stagnant growth is as bad as stagnant water.  No one wants that. 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Divided We Fall

Today in Korea we will celebrate the Independence of America.  We will do it with all sorts of traditional things, like BBQ, bounce houses, face paint, singing, dancing, and of course, fireworks.  It promises to be a great day...if it doesn't rain, and no one gets hurt.  A big if!

However, my day hasn't quite started yet.  I haven't woken up the kids to get ready for our fun run and I'm still in my pj's drinking coffee.  I'm pondering.

Over 200 years ago we fought so hard to be free from oppression and tyranny.  We shed blood to own the right to be called our own nation.  Some perished, some mourned, some showed extraordinary courage, and some...some just lived.  When the smoke cleared, when silence finally reigned, we found ourselves free.

The road to freedom was bloody and hard, but the road through freedom has not been any easier.  The fight to pull together and become a country is probably little known.  The States did not want an overseer and fought a central government hard!  The fight to add to our nation caused us to war with other countries, some might even say we stole land from another country.  The entire middle section of our country was technically purchased illegally.  The fight to recognize people as human beings, despite skin color, tore this nation apart. 

It amazes me that people look to America as a beacon of hope, because we are constantly fighting with one another over SOMETHING.  We are expected to save the world because we call democracy our way of life and yet...we fight with each other.  Even today with certain issues, we fight each other.  There is no calm discussion of rights or ideals.  There is no walking away from a disagreement thinking "what a fine fellow that was.  Too bad we don't agree.".  No.  Instead there is division and hatred, meanness and cruelty towards fellow man. 

There is a saying "United we stand.  Divided we fall."  I look at the place I call home and I wonder how much longer it will stand.  I wonder how long it will be before civil war breaks out again in my own home.  How much longer will it be before MY home is war torn? 

I see so much discord and anger.  I see people fanning the flames of hatred.  No longer are we allowed to politely express opinions if they go against main stream.  No longer do the people govern.  No longer are we strong, hardy individuals.  No...now we are a pampered society with #firstworldproblems and fear lurking in our hearts. 

I'm afraid for my children growing up in this America.   I'm afraid because the government keeps secrets, neighbor turns against neighbor, and the need to fit in has become paramount to success.  I'm afraid because the wealth gap is huge and because greed has taken over, no longer concerned about supporting our local area, but concerned about the bigger profit margin.  I'm afraid because I have raised my children to speak up when they see something wrong, and sadly, I'm afraid that will make them outcasts. 

I love America.  I served her for 5 years.  I am proud that my family has a military background.  Attending my father's retirement is a highlight of my life.  I love what this country stands for and what it is supposed to mean to oppressed nations everywhere.  I love the diversity and variety one can see all across this great land.  I just love it.  And I'm afraid for it.

This Fourth of July I wonder if we are thinking about freedom and the price paid...or if we are thinking about firing up the grill.  I hope you all take a moment to THINK, and maybe start looking for ways to  make our country stronger.

Happy 4th y'all!!