A Message From God

Have you ever heard that God answers all prayers, sometimes the answer is no and sometimes you just don’t like the answer? Well, America, we have been praying a lot lately.  And if you do believe that God answers all prayers, you have to be wondering.

The list of tragedies in our country is growing rapidly. The media is being stretched thin as they send their reporters to dueling tragedies, both natural and man-made, across our nation…

Perhaps God is angry. Fires, floods, mass shootings. Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Las Vegas, Northern California, Puerto Rico, Oregon… we are being hammered from all sides… Maybe Trump isn’t ‘God’s Man’ after all… maybe God is sending us a message.

But, heck, the stock market is up

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Don’t Make It Easy

If you live in Oregon you know this… we can not buy Sudafed at the pharmacy.  We can’t buy it here in Oregon because some people misuse the ingredients to make meth.  If you have to go to work and you have a cold, Sudafed is the best way to kick it for the day.   We have outlawed a medication because a few people can’t be responsible. We don’t want to make it easy for drug dealers.

Years ago my mother was running late for work.  An animal like sound came from across the street… it became a tortured scream.  The neighbor boy had tried to kill himself with one of their family’s guns.  He was lucky, my mom was there and he lived. Years later, in the early morning my phone rang. I sat in my kitchen as my boss told me that my coworker’s 16-year old son had committed suicide with his father’s gun. Then there was an early morning meeting to tell us that a student had accidentally shot and killed his brother.  Of course there was Columbine, Sandy Hook, UCC and many, many more… but those were the big ones… The small ones are the ones we, as a nation, never hear about.  They are the hunting accidents, the suicides, the accidental shootings, the children picking up guns and the sudden bad decisions made in anger that take only one or two lives.  

As a nation we are willing to do whatever it takes to keep our people safe.  We have laws about wearing helmets, wearing seat belts, using a phone in the car, how much medication a person in pain is allowed to receive at once, where we are allowed to carry our glass of wine or bottle of beer in public, how high we need to make a railing, and the age we are required to send our children to school.  

We may never be able to foresee the acts of a mad man or the lengths he is willing to go to do harm… but we can prevent accidents, curb successful suicides, and stifle something done in the heat of the moment (think road rage), and make it extremely difficult to commit mass murder… either way we don’t have to make it easy to hurt someone.

If you own a gun you and your family are far more likely to be injured by a gun. Period. If you own a gun you have to realize that YOUR gun may be used to commit a crime.  A gun really has one purpose: To kill something. You can say it is for protection, for hunting, for target practice, for sport… but it really is just to kill.  We need to care more about keeping our society safe than about owning guns.  Owning a gun does not make you safe… it makes you part of the problem… I know that is harsh, because no one wants to admit that something they believe is a right may need to be restricted or even eliminated…  Let’s not make hurting each other easier than it has to be.

Quick To Anger

Many of us are jumping up and shouting that ‘those people’ are what is wrong with America.  I would argue that it is not ‘those people’ it is their attitudes.  Our town is very conservative, very Republican, and very Christian.  Our town is making changes, improvements as it were, to roads, bridges, streetlights and our downtown. Our local leaders are trying to revive and improve our little corner of Oregon. We have several Facebook pages where new ideas are shared with the community.  

 

If you have taken a look at any of these public forums you have seen the barrage of ugly comments left by our neighbors. They are comments that are filled with such anger, hatred and vile language that seems so out of proportion to the idea or statement that spurred them on.  If someone said even the more mild of these hate comments out loud, to my face, I would be fearful for my safety.

 

Somewhere along the way we have lost our respect for one another, a filter of decency, and the ability to control what we say and do.  It seems that we are looking for things to be outraged over, reasons to swear at hard working people, and ways we are being wronged by anyone who crosses our path or looks to change the status quo.

 

Our local government has been implementing road improvements for the past couple of years, and the roads and bridge to our downtown have been under construction for that long. Perhaps it has taken 5 minutes to get through that area rather than the one or two it usually takes… on a really busy day it took ten.  There were road workers helping with traffic during this time. I usually smile and wave because…why not? Those road workers received so much verbal abuse from members of our community. It was sad and they couldn’t wait to get out of our town.

 

The improvements are not perfect, they make it more dangerous rather than less dangerous if you are riding a bike across the bridge and into downtown…but I don’t need to yell or get angry about it. I don’t need to call names or send hateful messages to our city planners. I can write an intelligent, helpful letter offering ways to fix the problem and offer suggestions.

 

We need to step back and think before we jump to anger. Our town is a microcosm of what is happening in our country.  We need to seek to understand what is happening and why it is happening. We need to respect each other before we join the conversation. That is what will make America great again… lack of respect ~ that is what is wrong with America. If you don’t have respect for others, you don’t need to get out, you need to open your mind and better understand the situation.

Where You Stand

Facebook is full of opinions. The angriest right now are against those football players and teams who are making a political statement and exercising their first amendment rights by kneeling during the national anthem.  They are unpatriotic, anti American,  against the military and veterans.  Facebook is filled with loving couples posting sweet pictures of themselves with the slogan like: ‘I stand for the anthem and kneel for the cross.’… sweet.  They are proving that THEY are not only real patriots but real Christians.

Showing respect for the flag and our anthem is the way we show we are patriotic.  If you don’t stand you are sending a message… but wait… I think you should have your hand on your heart… take off your hat… know and sing all the words… maybe even have a small flag tattooed on your body somewhere… oh, and donate a small percentage of their earnings to a local VA.  When the anthem is played on t.v. are you standing at home? Are you pulling over and removing your hat if you hear the anthem in the car? THAT would show you are a REAL American.

And those people kneeling for the cross… they should actually be prostrating themselves, kneelers are not really devoting themselves… they should be saying the Lords Prayer… going to church every Sunday and a bible study on Wednesdays…. they should have a cross in their front window… and maybe donate a percentage of their earnings to their local church… and that tattoo… hmmmm…

Maybe we should publish in the paper the names of people who donate their time and money to that VA and local church… then we could really see who is patriotic and Christian.

Is that going too far?

Once we begin to decide who is patriotic and what people need to do to show that patriotism we are taking away their freedom to speak out against injustice in our country.

I don’t care if the men on the field are making 100 times more than I make, many of them probably are… they are also 100 times more likely than I am to be pulled over for driving in the wrong neighborhood… they have to talk to their sons and daughters about how to behave when the police stop them on the street… they have to endure people locking their car doors with their elbows when they are seen walking by with friends on the sidewalk …

Protesting systemic injustice to black Americans was where this protest began BUT people are upset that this protest is against the lashing out of our current president against those who protested last season.  Our current president thinks that the NFL is a government run program that he can influence… take that in… OUR PRESIDENT WANTS TO DECIDE HOW AN INDIVIDUAL CAN PEACEFULLY PROTEST

Really? He is deciding what is respectful and patriotic? He who name-calls with the best of any 10 year old, he who grabs women, he who rates women on a numerical scale, he who tweets at 3am, he who says he likes people who don’t get captured… he is your moral compass?

I am only bringing up the religious aspect of this because of those pictures on Facebook… their message is clear… ‘Good people are standing for the anthem and kneeling for the cross… good people are patriotic and religious.’ They tell me that you must prove to others what is in your heart by making a public display that they recognize and agree with.

If you ask many Veterans, who actually fought, they may say they did it for our country, but they didn’t fight for our flag, or for our anthem… they fought for our freedom.  And Jesus didn’t die on the cross so that you could kneel… he died so that you could live, giving YOU the choice… FREE WILL, people!

For me, I stand with the people who are kneeling… it is not about being unpatriotic, or disrespecting our flag and anthem, it is about exercising our freedom to disagree with how our country is being led, it is about the first amendment, it is about injustice, AND it is about those pictures on Facebook of loving couples who think that by standing for the flag and kneeling for the cross they are proving something… they are… they are proving that they don’t really understand what our country and those protests are all about.

 

 

 

Day One

For the past 17 years fall has been all about our boys. Soccer, cross-country, refereeing, and marching band have taken up Tuesdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and some other days.  We used to joke, some evenings, when we were trying to tell each other about our prospective days, that we would talk in 10 years… today was DAY ONE.

We are officially empty nesters. I almost didn’t know what to do with myself today… but I (we) ended up cleaning the kitchen, throwing out and setting aside a give-away pile of the multitudes of crap we have held onto forEVER, and went on a 26 mile bike ride.  I know that people suffer this syndrome when their last child leaves home, this empty feeling… for us, we breathed a sigh of relief.  WE DID IT!  They both survived their upbringing.  Of course they both have their battle scars that will some day send them into therapy, but if we are being honest, we did a pretty okay job.  We are not yet grandparents, no one has gone to jail, they are relatively drug-free, they both can make breakfast, lunch and dinner,  they both subscribe to the beliefs we raised them with, and they say thank you.  We should be opening a bottle of champagne!

This has been the goal of the past 21 plus years, the culmination of sleepless nights, making beds on the bathroom floor, screaming fights, trips to urgent care or the ER, watching soccer in the pouring rain, kvelling at parent conferences, and anguishing over the injustices of coaches and friendships… To be honest there have been some very difficult times, times where we thought the world had gone mad (we still actually think that). But through it all we knew we were heading in the right direction, that someday we would be sitting here, just the two of us, thinking… ‘Well, that went pretty well….what’s next?’

We are here, this is what is next, just us, DAY ONE… starting a new adventure together…  🙂

White Lines and Getting Buzzed

Getting Buzzed… it happens almost every time I go on a ride around Douglas County.  Most people give me three to six feet of space, even on a narrow road… but there are always one or two people who feel compelled to get dangerously close. Sometimes they yell to get off the road or lay on their horn in anger.  It is as if I am riding my bike to ruin their day… I am actually riding my bike as recreation and exercise, and I try my best to be as close to the side of the road as is safe.  Often from your car you can not really see what the shoulder looks like.  Knowing the roads around Roseburg, as only a cyclist can, I know where the shoulder is covered with gravel, glass, large cracks, or is eroded away.  To me it is better to maintain a fairly straight line then jolt out abruptly when these obstacles appear.

That white line has nothing to do with where I should be riding.  The road belongs to me as well as any motor vehicle.  The white line is just the edge of the road, it is not a bike path. I pay my taxes and should be allowed to use the roads without fear of angry motorists.  I am less likely to need medical care as a result of weight, blood pressure, or heart issues. My rides benefit my health, my family, my students and my community because when we take care of ourselves we are taking care of all those who depend on us.   If I can safely ride to the right of it, I will… but if not, I am not doing you, as a motorist, any favors by being unsafe.

When I rode yesterday not one person buzzed me!  People gave me so much space, smiled and waved… maybe they knew that, like them,  I had been waiting for some smoke free air.  I was able to enjoy a ride, and maybe seeing me out there made them appreciate the clean air from a different perspective. Perhaps they even considered celebrating the smoke free air that same way.  If we all grabbed our bikes and went for a ride our community would be healthier and happier…

Give it a try and maybe we won’t be getting buzzed so often.

The Gift of Mother Nature

Harvey and Irma are wreaking havoc on millions of Americans. They are losing property, pets, piece of mind and family…  humanity is being tested and celebrated in the media, and EVERY news station is poised to witness the devastation caused by the strongest storm to hit our country in recorded history.

America is consuming the coverage of this tragedy unfolding in our own living rooms.  And, Trump is the sole beneficiary of this new news focus.  No longer are his tweets a source of commentary, no longer are his Russian dealings part of the news desk banter, and no longer are we obsessed with his odd commentary and decisions that seems so uninformed.  He is benefiting because, for once, he is the president of a UNITED America looking to governmental support led by HIM.

In the next days,  months and years to come I hope that the people in areas that are affected by these storms are able to recover… and a big part of that recovery will be how well they are supported by our government. Let’s hope they get what they need!

Trump’s test will come in the aftermath of these tragedies (fire in the west and floods in the south-east)… we already know that he likes to be the center of attention, will he be able to harness the storms’ power to propel him into the good graces of America and erase some of his hateful decisions?  I don’t think so… all I know is that, for Trump, Mother Nature has given him a couple of weeks of good press – a gift really.  Maybe he’ll return the favor and make some decisions that protect her, and the storm victims, as a thank you…maybe not.