I seem to be in slow motion today.  I ate my breakfast.  I attended church, and I even got a haircut.  But, underneath it all, I just seem to have an underlying moping feeling.  I think it is today’s tragedy.  Should we mourn their loss?  Yes.  Should we pray for the families?  Yes.  As an evangelical Christian, my prayers may not follow the same path as those who are secular Christians.   I believe God weeps at times like this as well.  He has a plan B….but he only developed plan B because human kind failed to abide by the conditions of plan A.

When people who are American die (regardless of what sexuality they may claim), we should be angry.  When red-blooded Americans see senseless murders, they want to be the ones who have concealed carry licenses to try and help stop these things.  When blue-blooded American see these type of tragedies, they want to blame the guns and make it more difficult to be a gun owner.  The important thing is both sides of the political aisle are going to demand action.

When I look at the situation, I think of what might have motivated this individual to want to commit this tragedy.  If he witnessed a gay couple kissing and was driven to this (I read this this morning), then he obviously overreacted.  But, if he is someone who follows the Muslim faith and claims the kiss was the catalyst, then maybe this type of possibility should force us to screen for radical Muslims when guns are sold.  This is not denying them their right as citizens to buy guns.  But, maybe we should be more willing to use words that have been banished from our vernacular, like Islamic terrorist.  It is clear they are in our country and willing to die to execute their plans.

Taking away the rights of the innocent is not the way to protect this country.  Taking away the rights of the those who have chosen to consider Anti-American activities needs to get more focus.  If Washington DC was a place that made sense, then we would look for solutions that inconvenienced the fewest number of people possible.  We would attempt to resolve the issue without adding additional hurdles to further complicating a small businessman wanted to make an honest living.

While I know this issue has two sides, I find the need to further limit gun rights as an issue the will end badly because the media and the loudest mouths in the room will keep blinders on.  They don’t care about the truth. They care about the concentration of power.  As Christians and as Americans who honor the Constitution, we need to make a decision–how are we going to vote and how are we going to mute the noise of the those who make decisions based on the minority being served rather than the majority?  And, maybe sprinkle into that question a bit of, “What is their motivation?”

Would You Like A Paper With That?

Happy Thanksgiving to all!  Do you have your ads yet?

As my wife and I got up this morning, she made the coffee while I wondered out to Walmart to get the paper.  (I do feel badly they are working today.  However, due to a dispute with the “Fort Worth Star Telegram” over their vacation policy when subscribers “hold” their paper, we are not getting a paper over the past few weeks.  It is my hope my wife and I will come to a resolution before Thanksgiving arrives next year.)  As I drove the mile or so to acquire our paper, I found I was not the only one on a similar trek.  As I walked through the doors, I quickly looked to the right where the papers are usually stacked.  With the “paper” area completely clear, I quickly glanced to the left.  Fortunately, a space on the left was full of papers! I grabbed one, used the self checkout to pay when I found the bar code, and after a couple of “Happy Thanksgivings”, I was out the door and heading home.

As I pulled into the garage, I noticed a small problem with the paper–it was “The Dallas Morning News”.  The shrunk wrap bag of ads was still prominent, so I was pretty sure the presentation of the paper would be well received.

Me (to my wife):  Do you want the good news or the bad news?
Wife:  They were out of papers with ads?
Me:  No problem with the ads; I just grabbed the wrong paper.  I just hope you like their puzzles, too!

After looking over the  ads, eating our crockpot pumpkin oatmeal w/ coffee, and doing some initial shopping strategizing, the food prep continued.

Our little re-purposed, brightly wrapped tissue box is waiting to gather all of the Thanksgiving notes (What are you thankful for?  Write it down and stick it in the box.)  today’s attendees deem worthy of the effort.  As we set down at our meal, we pass around the contents so they are equally distributed to all who share our table.  You may or may not get your written contributions to read from the box, but you will hear your “thanks” read to those you are sharing the table with.

Regardless of how you express “thanks” in your home, please make a special effort to be thankful for the abundance of blessings – both appreciated and under-appreciated.  May all of our lives be richer for this “holiday pause”.  May we look across our lives and find some area where we struggle to be thankful and commit to trying a little harder.  May we look across the table and commit to be nicer or more patient with someone with whom we are sharing this meal.  And, since we are Americans, may we forget what we don’t like about our country for a few hours.  May all of our eyes be open to see the blessings that are daily all around us!

I Am Not A Veteran

As another Veterans Day is nearly upon us, I am forced to look back at my brief military service and try to determine if I meet the criteria.  Although, technically, I did go through basic training and participate in a number of weekend warrior activities, I was given an honorable medical discharge before I completed my enlistment.  (The wrong broken bones in an infantry unit can be devastating.)  Whenever they ask for veterans to stand at church or in other places where they honor veterans, I cannot with clear conscience stand and have my military achievements in any way be compared with those of real heroes.

As a National Guardsman, I:

  • was never gone from my home for more than 2 weeks (with the exception of Basic Training)
  • never served in an actual war zone. (While going through Basic Training, the drill sergeants threatened sending us directly to the Faulkland Islands once we graduated.)
  • joined the National Guard for very selfish reasons-to get college paid for.  (When I signed up, the Ohio National Guard offered to pay 4 years of tuition at a state supporting school OR a certain amount of it at a private school.  They also paid a bonus for signing up.)
  • never saw a friend die or be injured while on active duty. (At Basic Training, someone in our company got spinal meningitis and they threatened to quarantine all of us and not let us go home, but I didn’t know the guy.)
  • memorized my 3 general orders.  I still remember them now using the acronym GOR. (Since I still remember them now, I must have memorized them well!)
  • went through Basic Training in a buddy platoon.  So, I didn’t go into my first platoon with complete strangers.  I went through with my brother, a couple of high school friends, and some others I met prior to arriving at Fort Benning, GA.
  • joined the National Guard in a program called “split-option”.  This program allowed high schoolers going into their senior year (like my brother who came home from basic training to play football) and college bound students to complete basic training during one summer and finish their advanced training the next summer.  Before I went back for my advanced training, I broke my elbow (I was a little careless).  I then broke my wrist playing flag football.  Because I was not able to complete my advanced training within the designated time, I was given an honorable medical discharge.

Regardless of my ability to get discounts on military insurance or the other things I may share with those I consider true Veterans, I am not worthy to wear the title because of how minimally inconvenienced my life has been due to this service:

  • I don’t have PTSD.
  • I have all of my appendages.
  • I don’t have overwhelming guilt because of a decision I made that got someone else killed.
  • I didn’t miss the birth of any of my kids or the death of any of my family members,
  • I didn’t have to overcome ridicule for doing something my country asked me to do.

At best I am a “veteran” (little ‘v’).  I truly honor the Veterans who willingly or less willingly fought to protect this country.  May I never be to rushed to pause and thank a Veteran for what he has done.  May God have special mercy on Veterans. May heaven be full of Veterans who are completely restored with all physical, emotional and psychological scars removed.


Politically Incorrect Voting

Although some may think early voting is unpatriotic, I find it a great way to thumb my nose at all of the ads that will continue to air for almost another 2 weeks.  It is my way of taking back some of my TV time from those who think they can buy my vote–my mind has been made up for quite a few weeks now!

To vote, I wore a t-shirt featuring “Noah’s Ark”.  Our church has used this as its “Summer Spectacular” theme a few years ago.  So, the church and ark were both pretty prominent on the shirt.  As I walked up to get myself identified, I presented my ID.  (I am in Texas so an ID is required)  The following conversation followed:

“I like your t-shirt.”, said the 60ish male with a few tattoos on his arms.  His arms were not covered, just a couple.

“Thanks.  I wasn’t sure if it would be allowed in the voting area.”, I replied.

“You still live in America, don’t you?”, he countered.

“Sometimes I am not sure.”, I reflected.

“I divorced my wife a few years ago.”, he attempted to change the subject.

“Well, at least that’s not politically incorrect.”, I said with a smile.

After getting my 4-digit code to punch into the machine, I voted on the two issues and then chose the “straight ticket” option.  I was done voting prior to the 2 people who started ahead of me.  As I walked out, I gave a thumbs up to one of the people representing the school issue.

As it turned out, my attire was far more politically correct than my mouth.  I was worried about my shirt while forgetting to attach a “muzzle” to my mouth. I am not saying the voting booth is the place to give some clues to your political colors, but there are many places where we need to stop being fearful.  If everyone buys into being “PC”, then the course is laid out for our country.  If our conscience is allowed to be trumped by a culture, then we might as well enter a sealed chamber prior to voting (or any other activity citizens of our country are supposed to engage in) and have our conscience sucked out of us.  If we are afraid to use our personal moral barometers to direct our daily decisions, we should say our daily prayers as we face Washington DC.


Voting On Primary Day

I haven’t voted on “election day” in quite a few years.  Sometimes, there is nothing on the ballot to even vote on.  Well, this year being an even numbered year, Texas re-elects everything but President and one of our Senators. (I put myself somewhere between President Obama and Senator Ted Cruz politically.  I recognize the two extremes, but it won’t take much work to figure out which one I am closer to.)

As I voted today, I voted early for the first time at the library. (At the other early voting place, they are pretty sedate.  Before I even signed in today, I was warned to watch what I say to “these guys”.  Normally, I would have rubbed my hands together in anticipation.  But, with the need to be so careful what you say when voting, I felt a little paranoid.  They realized my apprehension and made jokes about knitting and drinking too much coffee.)  As I put my code in and pulled the ballot up, I was all good on the first few candidates.  Out of the first 10, I had a cheat sheet covering 8 of them.  Once I got past the “big” candidates, my cheat sheet lost its effectiveness.  (I tried to do some Google searches to find all of the candidates I would find on  my ballot, but the list was not easily available.)  When struck with this predicament, I fell back on my most basic rule:

If they are of my political persuasion (its a primary election, so my respective ballot mostly met this description) and I don’t know anything about them, I will vote for the woman or the person with the “non-white” sounding name. (i.e. a minority)

There are too many white men in politics!  I believe my party (and the other one as well) would benefit by having a less stereotypical politician.  Our demographics show we are becoming less white, so I used my finger to make the voting booth dial more minority friendly.  I realize my little voting game has losers.  I also realize the whole country wins if my politicians in Washington have more mascots of many different minority groups.