Thursday, September 27, 2012

40 Days of Prayer and Positve Thoughts for the USA

The USA is more than a country, it's PEOPLE, good people. But unfortunately, they are often divided, sometimes hate-filled people, and that's a shame. Disagreeing about things yet being able to discuss it freely is one of the most important things in our country., yet, there are people that can't respect others. Worse, there are people showing disrespect for others by lying and spreading false testimony. 

Most people have a good heart, but some have become jaded. Will you join me in prayer that peace is once again restored, and if you don't pray, how about pausing in a positive thought?

September 28 - November 6, 2012
There are 40 days until the election.  That's one of the significant numbers in the Bible. As you know, it rained for 40 days and nights while Noah was on the ark, the Hebrew people wandered for 40 years, and Jesus spent 40 days being tempted in the desert. It takes 40 weeks from conception to birth - so perhaps in the next 40 days, we can create and give birth to the spirit of unity that makes this country strong, reviving a respect for others and making intelligent choices.

 Dear Heavenly Father,
You have given us this promise: “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14) 

So, we pray to you. We turn from evil and look to you, our God.

There are big decisions to be made concerning a president and members of Congress. We need unity, in hope and in practice. Will you commit to pray daily?

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Welcome Fall

Autumn... That colorful break between the dreadful heat of summer and the bitter cold of winter.  

Today's post is the first part of a 6 week series inspired by Fall, called, "Happy Fall Y'all."  Here's part one, simply called, "Welcome Fall." Grab some apple cider and enjoy

 Click here  Part One: Welcome Fall

Upcoming topics:
week 2: Memories of Leave
week 3: Foods of Fall
week 4: A Sensory Feast
week 5: Seasons of Life
week 6: True Colors

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Beware: There are Terrorists Among Us!

9/11/01 Then and Now  Part 3 of 3 parts
In Part One, we remembered the tragic events of 9/11, realizing how this changed our national mindset forever. No longer complacent, we realized we were vulnerable to attacks on our own soil. Then in part two, amidst all the horror, the American Spirit prevailed, and the good moments were shared. But in the decade since the attacks, many have condemned Muslims, painting them all as terrorists. Is this a fair accusation? Who are the terrorists in our country?

 Beware: There are Terrorists Among Us!

On September 11, 2001, 19 militants, members of the Islamic extremist group al-Qaeda, hijacked four airliners and carried out suicide attacks against targets in the United States. They were from Saudi Arabia and several other Arab nations and financed by Osama bin Laden.

Yes, they certainly did an evil thing, killing more than they even imagined possible, as they had no idea the buildings would collapse. But it was intentional, and not the first time this group has attacked the US, even though not on our soil before.

But it is important to realize that they are EXTREMISTS,  meaning, way beyond the usual. Their actions are not the beliefs of normal followers of Islam. There were members of all faiths killed that day, including innocent Muslims, in the World Trade Center. 

It makes no more sense to blame all Muslims on the actions of these 19  terrorists than it does to blame all Americans for the actions of James Holmes, the guy that killed 12 and injured 58 more at the recent Batman movie.  If his plans had worked out, many more would’ve been killed, but his gun locked up and he had to change guns. His elaborate maze of booby-trapped lines and explosives were supposed to kill the police that he knew would investigate his apartment. There’s a good chance the entire building would’ve exploded, killing or injuring everyone in it.

James Holmes grew up attending the local Presbyterian Church, where his parents are still active. Do we blame all Christians for his actions? Why not? Isn’t that what we do to all Muslims since 9/11?

Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols killed 168 adults and children, in Oklahoma City when he set a bomb off in front of the federal building. I’m still haunted by the pictures of the bloody children they dug out from the daycare center there.

There have been others, including the bombing during the Atlanta Olympics, many school shootings, church shootings, and shooting sprees in shopping centers. People that do these acts are terrorists.

However, since 9/11, the MAJORITY of the terrorist attacks in this country have been by non-jhadist, non al-Quaeda, non-Muslim people! Sometimes they don’t have a particular group they identify with, but when they do, some have been members of white supremists groups.

There are 2.6 million Muslims in the United States Most of them are American citizens that work, buy houses, own businesses that employ others, and pay taxes. The majority were born here. They are peaceful and wish that others realized that the actions of the extremists do not represent them, or their religion.

Recently, there has been a lot of protesting in other countries by Muslims. Some, members of the same terrorist group that is responsible for 9/11, have killed some Americans in Libya. But what they don’t show as much on the news is that there are also Muslim groups that SUPPORT the US, that are mourning the loss of their friends that were killed.

The same people that discriminate against and hate all Muslims for the actions of a few, point to the few that are responsible for the killings and allow it to fuel their biased fire.  People like that are the kind of people that cause many of the problems.

Muslims, world-wide, are reeling at the vicious video created by an American. They are correct to see it as an attack on their faith. He portrays Mohammed in vile sex acts – they don’t even allow pictures of Mohammed, so are completely outraged. His notion of “free speech rights” is no different than yelling, “Fire!” in a crowded theatre, knowing that it would be inflammatory and incite riots. While I can’t condone killings, I understand their outrage.  It is an awful movie, one that everyone of faith, including Christians, should be condemning.
Terrorism is a horrible thing, regardless of who does it. Yet, despite the fact that more terrorism in the US has been done by Non-Muslims since 9/11, Muslims bear the brunt of the discrimination.

Sadly, many of the people that discriminate the most, claim to be Christians. Discrimination goes beyond denying access to facilities or clubs. It also includes not giving someone a fair chance, or spreading the false and slanderous viewpoints with others. A real Christian, one taught by Jesus Christ to love everyone, would not do this. If they do, then they aren’t really Christians. 

Beware of the real terrorists in the country. It just might not be who you expect it to be!

"9/11/01 Then and Now"

I encourage you to view these:
The Sorry Project - a facebook page created by the people in Benghazi, Libya as they express their feelings about the loss of their friend, the ambassador  The Sorry Project
Muslims for America - a worldwide group  Muslims for America 
Libyan Reaction - A report about the arrest of those responsible for the killing of the US Ambassador and  3 members of this staff, in continued support of the US.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Bright Spots: 9/11/01 Then and Now; Part 2 of 3

9/11/01 Then and Now  Part 2 of 3 parts

As we watched in a shared state of shock, the horror was broken by tales of heroism and honor. In the midst of the devastation, there were actually some bright spots. Not to lessen the importance of the rest, it is worth our while, now, over a decade later, to remember some of those bright moments.

The Bright Spots

We sat by helplessly as the planes hit the World Trade Center in New York City, and then circled Washington, D.C. before hitting the Pentagon. There was a 4th plane over Pennsylvania. We'll never know for sure what it's intended target was, but the passengers prevented the terrorists from succeeding!

They’d been delayed leaving, so passengers on board heard from family members via cell phones about the other planes. All planes were directed to return to the nearest airport, but they could tell that they weren’t following that direction.  The crew and passengers realized that they were being hijacked and would be used the same way the other planes were.

Knowing they were going to die either way, they took action in order to prevent even more deaths. They stormed the cockpit and crashed the plane into a field. Yes, it was certain death, but they died knowing that their plane wouldn’t be used as a bomb on whatever the target was.
After the initial reports were shared, countless tales of bravery and kindness surfaced. 

While almost 3000 people died, many times that survived. One positive example is the Morgan Stanley Company. They had 3500 employees, yet lost only 10. 

Survivors shared stories about people going down the stairwells of the World Trade Center, not panicking or fighting, but going calmly. Those that struggled were helped by others. 

People with boats helped countless people get out of the area by water. Some made trip after trip ferrying people to safety. Even days later, people passed out food and water to those needing it. Emergency workers across the country came in the weeks to follow to relieve the weary in the rescue efforts. Some departments even donated equipment to replace things that had been lost.

In addition to the acts of kindness and heroism displayed during the tragedy, there were other stories shared, other bright moments.  Because it was the first day of school, there were fewer people at work as parents came in late in order to take children to school. It was also a primary voting day, so that kept a few people from arriving in time. There were stories of people that overslept, or got caught in traffic, or had other “mishaps” that caused them to be late. Because of this, they weren’t there when the planes hit and were saved.

People all over the country were affected as well. Some communities sent volunteers to help. But another positive by-product was the change in attitudes. Families realized that they were so focused on material things that loved ones might have been ignored. Many turned to their faith again.

The night of the attacks, President George W. Bush said, "Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America. These acts shatter steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve."

One of the most endearing results was the sense of unity and patriotism in the country. Suddenly, political parties were ignored as people worked together on a common goal of restoring our country.

The picture above shows members of Congress singing, “God Bless America,” on the steps of the Capital.  Not Democrats, Republicans, and Independents, but Americans.
I’m glad we’ve survived since then, and even though we were attacked, we showed a resolve as Americans to overcome.  Where is that determination now?  Is it possible for us to ever return to that bi-partisan support?

Hopefully, someday the good things that happened on 9/11 will resurface, as the country moves past divisions of politics, race, religion, and other issues.

Part One:  Loss of an Attitude
Coming up:

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Loss of an Attitude: 9/11/01 Then and Now; Part 1

9/11/01 Then and Now  Part 1 of 3 parts
Nearly 3,000 people, from 58 countries were killed in an organized terrorist attack, including workers, civilian and military personnel, people in planes and those on the ground. Emergency workers including firemen, police, port authority, and EMS workers were among the victims. Suddenly, there was a huge hole in the mindset of the country.

The Loss of An Attitude

As early fall days go, the morning of September 11, 2001 promised to be a nice day, but not one we would ever really think about later. Unfortunately, most Americans alive that day, DO remember the day. They recall what they were doing when they heard what had happened, and also the reaction of those around them.

My memories of the day are almost as vivid now as they were weeks after they occurred. After everyone else left for the day, I went to the computer to work on a volunteer task I’d agreed to do. It was pleasant work, calling every church in Louisville to talk to them about an upcoming youth rally. 

Not long after I got started, Keith called to ask if I the TV on, and I told him, “No.” He told me that a plane had flown into the World Trade Center. We talked about it for a few minutes, assuming that it was a freak accident. Rather than put the TV on, since I already knew what had happened, I went back to my phone calls. 

Not long after, he called back, again asking if I were watching TV. He told me that another plane had hit the other tower. Today, 11 years later, I still get chill bumps even thinking about that call.
Suddenly, everyone realized that this was an intentional attack.  As we spoke, another plane hit the Pentagon and they realized that a plane was missing. Airports were shut down across the country and planes landed at the nearest place they could. As I watched on TV, I saw the video of the plane hitting the tower over and over, the people running away, jumping out of the building, and later, the horror of the collapsing buildings.

Literally out of the blue, life was different. The complacency we had was shattered.  There hadn’t been an enemy attack on our shores since Pearl Harbor. For the majority of us, it was before we were even born.

The next hours were a blur as hours shifted into days. It was at once horrible, yet I couldn’t turn away from the coverage. Working adults weren’t the only victims, as these people had families. Young children lost parents and grandparents. It still haunts me remembering that in some neighborhoods, the majority of the families lost a loved one, in some cases, more than one. Some of those killed in the planes were children, the youngest, only 2 years old.

In addition to the known fatalities, there were many missing people. Images of people wandering the streets and putting up posters looking for their loved ones fill my heart. Makeshift monuments were put up, with flowers and teddy bears. Some families lost multiple loved ones and friends.  I kept checking the posted lists of located people, looking for my friends’ loved ones. It seemed I couldn’t hold on to my own children enough, as I thought of those that no longer had the chance.

The rest of the country stood by helplessly, some touched by loved ones living in the areas affected or in the planes, but everyone touched in some way. The Red Cross was flooded with offers to give blood, yet most of the victims didn’t make it. That night, we all met at church for a community prayer service. It seemed that there wasn’t much we could do, but praying seemed the most logical. 
It was scary sending children off to school. My husband’s work was taking precautions because the word, “American” was in their business name. No one knew whether or not it was safe. Sure, there were no more planes into buildings, but not because the terrorists had been stopped, but because the national air travel had been stopped. People spent more time at home, partly due to reminders about the importance of family, but partly due to concerns about safety. Months later, we still worried about large gatherings of people, from football games, the Kentucky Derby, or the Olympics.

As I remember the hours, days, and weeks surrounding the events of 9/11, I am saddened. Certainly, I am sad because of the deaths of almost 3,000 people, those that were on the planes over Pennsylvania, New York City, and Washington, D.D., as well as those in the World Trade Center and in the Pentagon. In addition to those people, I'm sad remembering the first responders and people on the street that were killed as well.

But being sad due to these deaths is expected. There was a unified national shock, as people dealt with the horror, fear, grief, and confusion.  Some were known to be lost immediately, but there were so many missing as well. I remember regularly checking the lists of victims as friends and I looked for news of missing people we knew.

As sad as it was losing people, that is only part of the tragedy.  The innocence we lost as a country changed us as a people, forever.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

God and the Election of 2012

Politicians have used the name of God as an endorsement for years…  though unfortunately, more as a “He’s on my side” than anything else.  While character is an important trait to consider when selecting a candidate for office, in reality, like it or not, the issue of one’s faith is not.  True, there’s the argument that one’s faith is what molds his character. Sometimes, this is true. Yet you can be a kind, generous, honest person and still be an Atheist. You can call yourself a devout (fill in the blank Denomination) Christian, and steal, cheat, and lie like a rug. 

While there are those that ignore, or even deny, it, our constitution does not endorse or condemn ANY religion, or lack of one, and there’s absolutely no reason to think that one would have to be a Christian, other than by those that are prejudiced against those that are not. Labeling oneself with a religious label does nothing to guarantee you won’t get in office and do things that cause great harm to people.

Newsflash: God loves mankind. Period. He is not a Democrat, or a Republican, a Libertarian, a Socialist, a Communist, nor a member of the Tea Party. Truth be told, I imagine He’d do away with political parties altogether since they obviously have nothing to add to furthering His kingdom on earth and have been the detriment to it in many ways. Yet, there have been claims, “If you are a Christian, you must be a _____.”  Well, I won’t say which party claimed that, trying not to demonize one over another, but you probably know which one it said.

More than in any election I recall, people seem to have gone off the deep end.  In many cases, they’ve lost sight of the reason for a campaign, which is to debate the issues and select the best person for the job, or as it is many times, the person that will do the least harm.

Not to get into mudslinging too much, but while all groups are guilty of spreading bad information about the other, there are some that are not content with this. They sank to the level of, “It’s not enough to disagree with someone. We’re going to completely make up stories and pass it around.” Seriously, some of these stories are so far-fetched, that it is ludicrous. (It's surprising that I haven't read that the president's mother was an alien from another galaxy, but perhaps they're waiting on the big news until just before the election?) The fact that the stories are easily and frequently exposed as lies really doesn’t seem to slow down the most zealous of the supporters. I've never seen such hatred and disrespect.

Over the years, I’ve disagreed with people on political issues before, yet we were able to simply disagree and move on. It certainly never affected a friendship and didn’t change how we felt about each other. Yet this election, I’ve seen some otherwise intelligent (I thought) people passing on rubbish as if they were uninformed lemmings, unable to read and understand facts. Yes, friendships have been affected. Unfortunately, there truly are some people I have lost respect for and most likely, will never again see the person in the same light again. It has nothing to do with disagreeing with issues of the election, but disgust at seeing them on a quest to spread lies.

Yes, I’ve posted many articles and comments on politics in recent weeks and months. I’ve never knowingly posted anything untrue.  If I share something negative about someone, it is using their OWN words and actions, not photoshoped not voice-overed, but legitimate, and especially, not some made up fantasy. While there are some really incriminating quotes and positions made by the candidate I oppose, I haven't posted them, mostly out of respect for my friends that like him. (These would be legitimate things he actually did or said, not rumors or lies.)  More than anything, I try to stick to the actual issues, not the candidates, or have so far.

It is one thing to discuss issues of an election. Those with opposing views are welcome to discuss them openly – it is in this way that intelligent, sane people learn and share information. This ability is one of the things that identifies us as being a civilized society living in a country where we are free to discuss things openly. Neither has to get bent out of shape over it. But it is something else to rant on, spewing false information, and ignoring reality. If you are unsure of something, look it up in a reputable location! Ask others. Challenge them by asking where they got the facts and figures they share so that you can discern whether it is a reliable source.

This is NOT a matter about which candidate you support. It is a matter of personal INTEGRITY. When I said that God was independent and didn’t care about the election, I was wrong. Actually, He DID have something pertinent to say and shared it with Moses to pass on to us. "You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor." Exodus 20:16.  Yes, it is one of the ten commandments.  (reminder: Jesus said everyone is your neighbor.) 
Just food for thought.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Nature's Sounds of Happiness

There are many sounds of happiness, from the contented purr of a kitten, to the contagious joy in the laughter of a delighted child. Wouldn't these make even the grumpiest person sneak in at least a moment of happiness? No matter the mood, nature has a way of calming us, bringing peace to our frantic moments. 

 Sounds of Happiness


  Nothing starts my day off better than to hear birds chirping in the dawn, often before it is light.  When I am awakened by the birds rather than the sound of an alarm clock, I feel peaceful.

While not "a morning person" by nature, the birds gently waken me and I start off in a positive frame of mind.  As the early morning light increases, the birds offer me their own crescendo.  My heart swells and I cannot help but feel grateful, well aware of my blessings. 

In the evenings, as I slide off to sleep, the crickets share a lively chorus, with solo parts by an occasional frog or ow.  If I am lucky, the wind teases the wind chimes into sharing  a few tunes as well.

Another favorite nighttime sound is the rain.  I don't want to hear the boisterous sound of noisy thunder or the crack of lightning ripping through the sky like a dagger.

Instead, I want to hear a gentle rain that smacks against the sidewalk and tumbles out of the gutter, sounding like a mountain stream dancing over the rocks.  We are fortunate to have a covered porch off our bedroom and the rain sings a relaxing lullaby.

Nature's happy sounds are both cheap and priceless.

Today's message is a reminder to slow down and listen, allowing nature to speak to you. It was published in my book, Whenever Possible, Have a Nice Day.  This is a "happy book" of positive thoughts and happy moments. 

Whenever Possible, Have a Nice Day