Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Freedom of Speech
Did you know that in some parts of the world, people are thrown in jail, or even executed, for speaking against their leaders? Yes, of course you knew that. Silly question. And I am so glad that I live in a country where freedom of speech is encouraged.
But honestly, I think we cross the line, way too often.
I get tired of people complaining about, and speaking against our president. We think that any time is open season on whoever holds that office, and we bad mouth and we slander and we call him a fool, and we say he is the worst president ever.
If a Republican holds the office, many Democrats do everything possible to make him look foolish.
If a Democrat holds the office, many Republicans do the same.
Then, our words are broadcast all over the world.
And we have the audacity to say that our president has made us look bad, in the world’s eyes. Now, I don’t often get up on a political soapbox. But come on, people. Our president doesn’t make us look bad. We do a pretty good job of that, all by ourselves.
The reason many countries take it so seriously when citizens speak against their leaders is because it shows a lack of patriotism, a lack of pride in one’s country. It undermines what that particular leader is trying to do, and it makes the entire country look bad.
I don’t think that we should be a bunch of mindless, fear-driven robots spouting the praises of our leaders. But I do think that, out of love for our country, out of patriotism, and out of a respect for the highest office in our land, we should be required to exercise some self control. We ought not be allowed to undermine our president’s credibility in the eyes of the world. In my humble opinion, that is downright treason.
With a little self-control coupled with a little pride in our nation’s heritage, we can learn to express our opinions in respectful ways. We can show support for our president, and pray for him, and honor his office, even if we don’t agree with all of his policies.
For example, there is nothing disrespectful about saying, “I disagree with so-and-so’s economic plan, or his foreign policies, or his views about Roe vs. Wade.” But it is just plain wrong to call our leader names and accuse him of being a rotten leader. After all, we’re the ones who put him there. And even if he isn’t our preferred candidate, I refuse to believe that anyone who makes it to that office is unqualified. To the contrary. If he had the fortitude and the perseverance and the desire to be president, and he rallied enough support to put him in the oval office, I think that journey alone separates him from the rest of the yahoos out there who do little but sit on their sofas and criticize.
Yes, I called them yahoos. But they are not my president.
So here, in black and white, for the whole world to read, I’d like to get one thing straight. I think George W. Bush has served his country well during one of the most difficult periods our country has seen. He has made difficult choices, choices that I would not have been able to make, for I would have buckled under the pressure. Every choice he made, every direction he took has been out of the greatest sense of duty and love for country. I am proud to have had him as my president for the last eight years. Mr. President, thank you for the sacrifices you have made, the stresses you have endured, and the criticisms you have ignored. May God bless you.
And no matter who wins this next election, I will be a proud American. I will respect the office of president, and I will pray for and support the office, even if I disagree with the person. I will show that person the honor that is deserving of the title.
Thank you, dear readers, for allowing me to exercise my freedom of speech here. May God bless America.
1 Timothy 2:1 – 3 “I urge then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior.”
Sunday, October 26, 2008
I'm willing to bet that breast cancer has touched us all in one way or another. Someone we know has fought the battle and lost, fought the battle and won, or is fighting it right now. Personally, I know women in each of these categories. In fact, I know too many. Enough to realize that any one of us could find ourselves in the same battle tomorrow or next week or next year.
I'm not going to try to give statistics or pretend to be an expert. With the web at our fingertips, plenty of information is available. I just want this to serve as a reminder for us to be vigilant and proactive where our own bodies are concerned as well as supportive and encouraging to women and their families currently battling breast cancer.
So let me just pose a couple of questions. If you're 40 or over, when was your last mammogram? I'll be due for one in January. How about self breast exams? Are you faithful doing those? I'll admit I'm not. Oh, I've occasionally made stabs at trying to do them monthly, but I eventually end up forgetting about it. Definitely something I need to work on, huh?
Maybe we can help each other. What have you found that works for you where proactive measures are concerned? Any words of advice? How about encouragement for those who may be faced with breast cancer right now? Anything you'd like to share is welcome. I look forward to hearing from you!
"Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you..." 3 John 1:2a
*You might want to look back at this post. It's a review of breast cancer survivor Yvonne Ortega's Hope for the Journey Through Cancer. You can learn more about Yvonne at http://www.yvonneortega.com/.
*Flickr photo by ankakay
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
It took me only a fraction of a second to blurt out "Kelli??!" before I started zigging and zagging my way towards her while thinking, "What in the world...she didn't tell me was coming home!"
When I finally reached them, I swooped in from behind and hugged them both at once, squealing and exclaiming things I can't even remember now :) In the blink of an eye, our day had taken an entirely new turn. We would now be going out to lunch and getting to spend the afternoon with our daughter and her special guy.
As hard as it was for me to do, I had to tear myself away and run on to join the choir. I was already excited because Dave and Sara, old friends of ours who are now missionaries in the North Africa/Middle East region, were going to be speaking in our services. And now -- this surprise from Kelli. On my way to choir, I ran into Teri R., another long-time friend of mine as well as Dave and Sara's. All I could do was speak in breathless fragments while gesturing wildly. Somehow she understood every word :)
After a wonderful service and final hugs from Dave and Sara, our family headed home. As we got out of our cars and walked towards the back door, new thoughts interrupted my personal joy-fest. What kind of shape did I leave the house in? What kind of messes had been left lying around? I usually know when company's coming and make sure the house is relatively clean and picked up. This time I didn't have a chance to be prepared.
Actually, this little surprise visit found us in pretty good shape. Things were fairly clean, if you didn't count the dust. I had almost skipped making the bed since I was running behind, but thank goodness, I had done it anyway. Yes, the trash was overflowing, but this was family so I didn't feel too embarrassed by that. All in all, not too bad.
The thing that bothered me most? Kelli immediately looked on top of the fridge for the usual container of homemade cookies, but a few stale Oreos greeted her instead. Darn! I started apologizing and then remembered some chocolate chip cookies in the freezer. We pulled those out, popped them in the microwave for a few seconds, and the day was saved. Whew! (Boy, do I love my microwave!). My stash of peanut M&Ms came in handy later in the afternoon, too :) After all, how can people play games without M&Ms? :) Yes, we had a great day.
I can think of another surprise visit I hope finds me in pretty good shape. Scripture tells us that Jesus is coming back to earth again "'...at an hour [we] do not expect him'" (Luke 12:40) "to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him." (Hebrews 9:28b). We may not know the exact time He is coming, but we do know He's coming. We have a chance to be prepared.
Have we asked God for forgiveness for our sins and asked Jesus to be our Savior and Lord? If not, that's our first step in being ready. If we've already done that, are we living prepared lives, or do we have messes that need to be cleaned up? I want Jesus to find me ready -- find me watching and waiting for Him, living in a way that's pleasing to Him. I want Him to find me "confident and unashamed before him at his coming." (1 John 2:28b).
How about you? Are you ready? Are you waiting? What a day that will be!
"'Behold, I am coming soon!'" Revelation 22:12a
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Don's never liked needles. I should have realized he'd never be a big help in medical situations when he nearly passed out during our blood tests for our marriage license :) Since then, he's made a point of trying to be out of the room any time needles enter the picture. How they ever talked him into volunteering to run the bloodmobile on campus is a mystery to me. As senior biology instructor, I'm guessing the pressure to prove his biological prowess was pretty intense. I'm also guessing he manages to be busy doing other things when the nurse inserts the needle :) Believe it or not, he's even worked up to giving blood himself the past several years.
Amazingly, Don is also willing to get a flu shot with me every year. Since he doesn't want his students to miss any of his famous (or should I say infamous?) lectures, he does his best to avoid getting a bad case of the flu. We're both big believers in the flu shot in fact. Probably all it takes to make a person a believer is having a full-blown case of it one time. I know that did it for me.
Flu shots are not the only precautions I take when cold and flu season roll around. I keep plenty of vitamin C on hand as well as a supply of zinc lozenges to start taking at the first hint of a scratchy throat or prickly nose. I wash my hands more often, and after being in public places, I reach for a little bottle of Germ-X I keep in the car. And of course, I try to stay away from sick people :) In short, I do my best to stay healthy, and from what I can tell, most everyone else is doing the same.
But what about our spiritual health? Are we taking any precautions to stay spiritually healthy? How do we fight the viruses of discouragement, apathy, bitterness, self-sufficiency, and the host of other things that threaten our souls? Do we ignore them, or do we surround ourselves with plenty of God's Word and a healthy dose of prayer? Are we coming to God for regular cleansing and staying alert to little things out in the world we need to resist at a moment's notice? Are we eager to spend time with other believers who will strengthen and encourage us? In short, are we doing our best to stay spiritually healthy?
I'd say it's time, physically and spiritually, to practice some preventative medicine. What precautions are you taking? Are you a big believer in something in particular? Take a moment and share it with us -- and then go get your flu shot :) "...wisdom is found in those who take advice." Proverbs 13:10b
"...wisdom is found in those who take advice." Proverbs 13:10b
Flickr photo by Daniel Paquet
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
I'm wondering if my girls feel like I've invaded their turf a little bit. I know I used to have the impression that Facebook was for their crowd, the younger generation -- and it may have started out that way, but that's no longer true. For the past couple of years, I've heard more and more of my crowd talking about it. In fact, when one of my sisters opened a Facebook account a couple of months ago, I was almost lured in. I resisted the pull, though, feeling like I had enough to manage just keeping up with email and blogging.
So what changed my mind? Advice. Last month at the North Texas Christian Writers Conference, I attended a session on building platform (a writer's way to connect with readers). The marketing specialist teaching the session said that social networking tools like Facebook (among others) are must haves for writers. And if you've been following my blog, you know that I am, in fact, trying to build my platform before contacting editors or agents about book projects I have in mind. And so, voila -- Cheryl is on Facebook :) One more small step on my journey towards publication (hopefully!).
You know what amazes me about small steps like this? Many times the benefits turn into so much more than I'd anticipated. Already I'm seeing how Facebook will be more than a networking tool for me -- it's gonna be fun, too! I'll get to hang out with my daughters on a whole new level, and I'll feel more in touch with the rest of my family and friends as well. I'll probably end up reconnecting with old friends, and on down the road, maybe even make some new ones.
I'd say that's a small step with big benefits. The same thing happened with this blog. I started it to grow as a writer and connect with readers, and I immediately saw an even greater potential for it -- a ministry potential.
We already know that good stuff comes in small packages, don't we? Well, I think we can be assured that some pretty amazing benefits come from small steps as well. Think about the step of faith we took when we first came to Christ (if you're not a believer yet, you may want to take this step today!). Most of us didn't know a whole lot about God and His Son at that time, but we did know we needed a Savior. And so we called on Him, and He came into our lives. And you know what? Even though we wanted only one thing -- a Savior -- we got oh so much more.
When we came to Him, most of us didn't realize that our Savior could be our closest friend, the one we can tell everything to, the one who will always be with us. We didn't know that Jesus could be our strong tower when we're overwhelmed with fear or hurt or anger. That He would be our protector, provider, and our comforter, or that He would give us wisdom and guidance in our decisions. We didn't know all the benefits our small step of faith would yield. We got more than we bargained for.
Have you called on Jesus to be your Savior? Have you taken that step of faith? In other areas, are there some small steps we might need to take to achieve a goal or grow in some way? Let's do it. Remember, good stuff comes in small packages -- and big benefits come from small steps.
"...'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things'..." Matthew 25:21
P.S. Come on over and become one of my friends on Facebook!
*Flickr photo by Very Inviting
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Yes, I said holly jolly. You're right, I'm talking Christmas! Now don't groan -- I know it's way too early, but today's a day for fun. Let's get merry!
Think about it with me. Not the stressful part -- not shopping lists or crowded malls or too few hours in the day. For a few moments, let's treat our minds to a mini-vacation and think about the good stuff. The parts of Christmas we love. Let's give ourselves permission to slow down and savor our thoughts.
Go ahead and imagine your favorite moments of the season. Picture them in your mind. Drink in the details: the sights, the sounds, the aromas you love. And the people you happily share them with. Softly sing your favorite Christmas carol and feel the contentment...feel the peace...as it permeates your soul.
Feeling Christmasy yet? :) I hope so. I want you to feel relaxed and happy and looking forward to some of your favorite things.
Me? I look forward to the beauty of the season, all the lights and decorations. I look forward to watching White Christmas yet again and listening to Christmas music throughout the holidays. I can't wait to taste a piece of fudge and then balance it out with our not-too-rich, oh-so-delicious Christmas cut-out cookies. And above all this, I look forward to our kids coming home, the excitement of their arrival and the fun we have together. But in all these things, the underlying joy is Jesus. I treasure the worship Christ's birth inspires, the days of celebrating Him.
Aren't you glad I declared this little holiday? Before you settle back into mid-October, why not share your holiday spirit? What are some of your favorite things about Christmas? What are you looking forward to? Come on and leave a merry comment -- remember, today's the season for fun!
*Flickr photo by American Society of Student Governments
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
No matter how we look at, we can't get around the ugly fact that abortion devestates lives. There are the babies, of course, but then there are the mothers -- and sometimes fathers -- who are left dealing for years to come with the guilt and heartbreak of their secret. We as believers need to be ready to point them to the One who can forgive the guilt of their sin and heal their hurting hearts with His love. Who among us hasn't needed His forgiveness and love in our own lives?
Not only do we need to reach out in love to those who are living with the pain of abortion, we need to speak up for the babies yet to come, the innocents who cannot speak for themselves. We need to take a stand for life.
God's Word says, "Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter. If you say, 'But we knew nothing about this', does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who guards your life know it?" (Proverbs 24:11-12a).
In a few weeks when we go into the voting booth, we will have the chance to stand for life. We can do our part to rescue those being led to death, to hold back those staggering toward slaughter. We can help save the babies. And as abortion rates decline, we will be helping untold numbers of women avoid the emotional and spiritual aftermath abortion leaves in its wake.
Let's reach out to moms and babies alike. Be sure to head over to Melinda's blog to sign up for the giveaway -- and be sure to head to the polls on November 4th. Let's be part of the rescue team.
*Flickr photo by limaoscarjuliet
Sunday, October 5, 2008
We never know what project Dad might be at work on or what problem he may be solving when we arrive for a visit. Kelli will never forget the year she and I pulled in the drive and caught Grandpa on the tail-end of a squirrel skinning. He was stretching the hide on some kind of contraption out by the wood pile. The shirt in the garden is tame by comparison but still a sight that made me take a second look and start asking questions.
As some of you may have already guessed, this is Dad's version of a scarecrow. He's been trying to trick some pesky garden-eating deer into thinking someone is standing there -- and it's working. Not just the sight of a potential enemy keeps them away, but the scent as well.
I didn't realize scent was part of Dad's scheme until I heard one of the grandkids announce one morning, "Grandpa's stripping down outside!" Come to find out, it was just his shirt (thank goodness!). He was replacing the one that had been hanging in the garden for a few days with the sweaty one he had been working in. Tricky, tricky Grandpa :) The result? So far, my dad has outwitted the deer (except for the night the shirt got blown away when the remnants of Ike swept through Missouri. Some of his green beans were missing the next morning!).
Too bad deer aren't the only ones susceptible to trickery. The Bible teaches we have an enemy, an enemy to our souls, who is doing all he can to scheme against us -- to keep us from knowing God, to keep us from living for Him. Ephesians 6:11 speaks specifically of the devil's schemes, and 1 Peter 5:8 instructs us to stay alert because "[our] enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." Sometimes he's hard to recognize, though. The apostle Paul taught that "Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light." (2 Corinthians 11:14).
Are we wise to Satan's schemes in our lives? Or is he managing to outwit us with his tricks and his masquerades? What are you doing to stay alert to the tactics of the enemy? How do you take your stand against him? What has God taught you about dealing with Satan? Share with a comment, please. Maybe what you say will be just the word someone needs to hear.
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Cecil is not the only winner in this particular giveaway. I feel like I'm the biggest winner this time because so many of you decided to help me build my mailing list when you signed up for the giveaway (remember, you signed up for my newsletter at the same time). Thanks to all 114 of you who showed your support!
I put out a call for help, and you answered. You lived the Golden Rule: "Do to others as you would have them do to you." (Luke 6:31). I had a need -- to build a mailing list -- and you helped meet that need. And as I think of you, I can't help but recall some other scriptures. Consider these:
"Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ." (Galations 6:2) Also, "Therefore as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers." (Galations 6:6) You helped carry my burden. You did good to me. You have blessed me richly, and "...I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you..." (Romans 1:8a)!
How about you? Who or what are you thankful for today? Give thanks!
p.s. I'll send the first issue of the newsletter sometime in late October or early November. Hope it blesses you!
*Flickr photo by Shorts and Longs The Both And