Tag Archive | America

A Flag, a Nation, and What it Means to Show Respect

OuterbridgesRecently, a close friend of mine experienced something that appalled me and caused me to rethink the meaning of respect.

My friend Collin is a young, tall, good-looking man of color. He is married to Stacey, a petite, lovely white woman. Unimposing, articulate and well educated, Collin is currently pursuing his Ph.D. He is the father of 4; 3 biological children and 1 adopted son who is white.

Recently, Stacey shared an incident that happened when their family went to a restaurant they frequent. Their toddler, being, well, a toddler, was having a meltdown before their food arrived because he was hungry. In order to stave off further screams, Stacey asked Collin to go to the counter and get a cookie.

chocolate chip cookie

Collin didn’t have cash with him, so he pulled out his credit card to buy the $1.50 treat. The cashier asked for his i.d. He didn’t have his i.d. with him. It was in the car and it was pouring rain. The cashier proceeded to tell him that she would not sell him the cookie.

Thankfully, their food arrived shortly thereafter, so further meltdown was avoided. But Stacey wasn’t done.

Fully believing that she would not experience the same thing if she went to the cashier and attempted to purchase the cookie, Stacey, with Collin’s credit card in hand, approached the counter where the same cashier waited on her. She was able to buy the cookie with no problem.

But there would be a problem for that cashier as Stacey asked to speak to the manager.

To her credit, the manager was appalled and apologized profusely and said that was not the way they did business. But Collin and Stacey simply chalk this up as another example of experiences they have way too often.

Something needs to change.

So when I saw that Major League baseball player Bruce Maxwell took a knee during the National Anthem in Saturday’s Oakland Athletics game against the Texas Rangers, I saw his side. When NBC noted it on their Facebook page, I commented that one can love one’sbruce_maxwell_national_anthem country while not agreeing with everything they do. I actually thought Maxwell’s stance was very respectful. He had his hand and his cap over his heart and he was looking at the flag. He wasn’t disrespecting it in any way. He was acknowledging and bringing attention to the fact that things need to change. Click the link above and listen to his short statement. It’s very thoughtful.

Of course, by making my thoughts known in a pubic forum, I opened myself up to the haters. Although more than 100 people liked my comment, there were several who labeled me as “liberal” and “sick.”  Which is totally laughable if you know me at all.

I love my country, but by no stretch of the imagination do I believe that everything going on is right and good. We’re always asking our famous people to use their platforms for good, so why, when some of them do, are they then vilified?

Blind nationalism isn’t loyalty. I have been married to my husband for more than 26 years. I’m loyal to him and I love him with all my heart, but I’m not ignorant enough to think that he has no faults. I wouldn’t be much of a wife if I didn’t encourage him to be the best version of himself that he can be. Does that mean I don’t respect him?

I want America to be the best version of herself that she can be. Does systemic racism need to be rooted out and destroyed? Do people need to be made aware of their prejudices and educated about how to rise above them? Do we all need to be more willing to lean in and listen to people’s stories?

Yes, to all of the above. That is what respect looks like. It’s not about a country and a flag. It’s about people and how they are treated by others.

light-in-darknessIn just my one little comment on Facebook, I became a target for haters to label me. It doesn’t feel good, but I know that they are speaking out of ignorance. Will I condescend to name calling myself? No. I will pray for them, because Jesus alone can bring light where there is darkness. And He has tasked us with shining that light ourselves. “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matt. 5:14-16, New International Version, emphasis mine).

I will let my little light shine.

 

photo of the Outerbridge family courtesy of Stacey Outerbridge; cookies from bettycrocker.com; Bruce Maxwell from complex.com; candle from friendsofjustice.wordpress.com

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We The People, part 1

There’s a burneIMG_6773d-out house on a quiet street where I often ride my bike. It’s been empty for months, with just plywood over windows and a dumpster in the driveway. What caught my attention was the American flag still flying by the front door. The house is going to need major overhauling, but the flag still flies.

It reminds me of our country. The mess becomes more and more evident during an election year.
But patriotism is still evident. Americans still love their country. Sometimes they just don’t know how to express that.

I am a registered Independent. I am a compassionate conservative. I am an American. But most importantly—and this is what should make all the difference—I am a follower of Jesus.

I am not in favor of big government. I think it has come about because the church has failed to do its job of helping the poor and loving the downtrodden. I think this big government has created a state of dependency and has not encouraged hard work.

In order to come to some sort of conclusion about what I believe and for whom I will cast my vote in November, I began to ask myself what the role of government is. I took a look at the preamble to our Constitution:

“We the People, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity do ordain and establish this Constitution of the United States of America.”

I tried to define what each of those meant and how that looks today. I am not a Constitutional lawyer. I am not even a Constitutional historian. But I’d like to share what I came up with in a two-part post.

In order to form a more perfect union, a government must

Establish justice: A country must have laws. We’ve seen what happens when lawlessness reigns. Businesses are vandalized, property is demolished, barbarism comes out of the depths of dark hearts. But people need to be able to trust the system. Man’s justice will never be perfect, and there will be those who are corrupt, no doubt about it. But even man’s imperfect justice has got to be given a chance. In order for people to trust the justice system, everyone regardless of age, ethnicity, gender or affluence, must be held to the same standard. Corruption in our court system must not be tolerated.IMG_6772

Insure domestic tranquility:  I see the need for the rule of law in order to insure domestic tranquility. But I also see a need for compassion and caring. I see a need for the underprivileged to be given a voice and an opportunity to improve their circumstances with dignity. But I don’t think that’s the government’s job. It’s the job of the neighborhood church. Government is impersonal. It’s people who need to fill this need. There are so many non-profit agencies right now devoted to helping those in need. Instead of disallowing and discouraging faith-based organizations from pursuing such endeavors by enacting laws against them or threatening lawsuits if they don’t comply with restrictive guidelines, the government should embrace those who are trying to help insure that domestic tranquility. Laws only insure domestic tranquility if they are helping the people be more content and happy. Laws that are enacted to stifle anyone’s voice, be they faith-based or not, are an over reach of the rule of law. If the marginalized are heard, peace is much more possible.

Provide for the common defense: I believe in a strong military, which I think aids in providing for the common defense. I believe it is the government’s job to protect its people from its enemies, foreign and domestic. Some people call that being nationalistic. I think it’s called being the government. A quote that has been ascribed to several different people including Donald Rumsfeld, Vladimir Putin and Bobby Jindal is, “Weakness is provocative.” In order for a government to protect its citizens and its union, it must be strong. The weakest in the pack is the one that gets eaten.

My next post will cover the last two points: Promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty. Hope you’ll stick with me!

 

We The People, part 2

img_6772I rode by that burned out house yesterday that I mentioned in Part 1, (read that here before you continue: We The People, Part 1) and there were workmen there and they had the front of the house torn down to the studs. The word that came to mind when I saw that was “rebuild.” Seems apropos.

As promised, here is the second part of my examination of the Preamble to our Constitution. Previously we looked at establishing justice, insuring domestic tranquility and providing for the common defense. Use the link above to read that post.

Promote the general welfare: To me, this is one of the biggest issues. I see the need for compassion in order to promote the general welfare, but not entitlement and dependence.  Allowing for the killing of unborn children,  attacking the traditional family, legislating parenting rather than encouraging faith-based organizations to help teach good techniques doesn’t promote the general welfare. Promoting the general welfare means doing what’s best for everybody. I think the role of government is to ensure that everybody has the ability to prosper.

Making sure quality education is available to everyone helps promote the general welfare. Giving handouts does not. Arresting parents who let their kids play in the park a block from their home does not. Policing in such a way that people of color are afraid to have an encounter of any kind with law enforcement does not. Encouraging anger when those angered don’t know what to do with that emotion does not.

But again, if man is sinful and separated from God, and people’s views of what is best differ, then hearts need to be changed before the general welfare is going to be achieved.

Secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity. Liberty. Freedom. We have a Bill of Rights. I think the role of government is to ensure that those rights are upheld. Once those rights start being revoked, the blessings of liberty fall by the wayside. I fear that our bent toward not offending those who are utterly too offendable is trampling on those rights. When we have freedom, we actually look out for each other better. Or at least that’s how it should be. The Bible says, “Don’t use your freedom as license to sin.” Oh man, those are good words. There is no blessing in a “me-first” attitude.

People need to be heard and they need to believe that they are cared about, and they need IMG_6771to be taught to stand on their own two feet. That’s a part of the government’s job. But that’s also the church’s job. The two entities absolutely must work together instead of being poles apart. People have so misrepresented the idea of the separation of church and state that the church has become a shell of what it was intended to be: a force for good in society. The separation of church and state was enacted so that the state didn’t take over the church. That’s why the Pilgrims left. The free exercise of religion is essential. If only the government would see the good that the church could do, and not be so afraid of it. If only the church was bolder and less concerned about popularity and more concerned about being the hands and feet of Jesus.

Nothing short of a revival is going to heal our land. I don’t think our nation can be great again without it. The question is, which leader is more likely to lead us in that direction? And who is willing to give the church a kick in its collective butt to do what it’s called to do?

Rebuilding. That’s what we need in our country.

And revival in our own hearts.

God bless America.

I’m open to civil discussion on any of these matters. Feel free to comment, but keep it civil.

With Liberty and Justice For All

Gavel-and-scales-of-justiceBy now, everyone has probably heard about a couple of things: the shooting by police of a black man in Louisiana and the escape from prosecution for one very privileged white woman who also happens to be running for President of the United States.

It appears that justice was not served in either case.

Granted, I wasn’t in on the FBI investigation, nor was I present when Alton Sterling was shot, but sometimes appearances aren’t deceiving.

From what FBI Director James Comey said, the evidence they found while investigating Hillary Clinton would be enough to warrant charges in many other cases. She was extremely careless and could very well have caused secrets to be discovered by foreign agents. Why they didn’t press charges against her is purely a matter of conjecture at this point. But it certainly looks like favoritism was shown. Had this been some underling, they would be gone. Where was the justice for America?

In the terrible case of Alton Sterling, it certainly appears that the police officers did not hold back. I understand split-second decisions have to be made. I understand when an officer tells you to do something, whether you think you’re in the right or not, you just have to do it lest something tragic happens. But I also understand that deadly force is something that should be handled very, very carefully. Where is the justice for Mr. Sterling?

The news this morning nearly brought me to despair. But I have been reading in the Psalms these days, and I am assured that God is still in control. “He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken” (Psalm 62:2). “Those of low estate are but a breath; those of high estate are a delusion; in the balances they go up; they are together lighter than breath” (Psalm 62: 9). And verse 11: “Once God has spoken; twice have I heard this: that power belongs to God.”

Justice only comes when God is involved. The world will never satisfy our need for things to be right. It’s built into us because we are made in the image of God. Alton Sterling was made in the image of God. Hillary Clinton was made in the image of God. As are the members of the FBI, as is Attorney General Loretta Lynch, as are the Louisiana officers involved in the shooting. “. . . to you, O Lord, belongs steadfast love. For you will render to a man according to his work” (v.12).

We won’t see it in our lifetime. Only God’s justice is pure. Anything we see on this earth will fall vastly short.

Praying for the Sterling family. Praying for the officers. Praying for Mrs. Clinton. Praying for America.

Happy Dependence Day

in·de·pend·ence [in-di-pen-duhns]

Noun; freedom from the control, influence, support, aid, or the like, of others.

american-flagToday we celebrate Independence Day. It’s an important day in our nation, of course, because it signifies that we won our freedom, at great cost, from another nation that was subjecting us to laws to which we did not want to be subject. Nobody denies our right to our independence. No one  denies us the right to be a sovereign nation.

For a country, independence is desired, sought after, fought for.

For people who need a Savior, it’s not such a good thing.

Think about it. Look at the definition above. Do we want to be free from the control, influence, support, aid or the like of the Holy Spirit? Our country said to England, “We don’t want you to control us anymore!” But if we were to tell our sovereign God that we don’t want His influence or support in our life, we would fall apart.

One of the pastors at my church prayed something one time that I have never forgotten. He said this: “If You took Your eyes off of us, we would be undone.”

Happy Independence Day, America!

Happy dependence day for me. And may it be so for the rest of my life.

In Memory Of Those We’ve Lost

american-flag

Because I believe that freedom is not primarily for the privileged, but for the oppressed, and because I believe that the strong are obligated to take up the cause of the weak, and because I believe that those whose voice has not been silenced are duty bound to speak for those who have no say, I will fly my flag proudly today and say thank you to those who have given their lives not only to protect America, but to fight for freedom all over the world.

From Sea to Shining Sea

August 4th finds us back at home for our second full day. We actually arrived on the 2nd, but there was too much to do to find time to sit and write. I haven’t had too much time yet to gather my thoughts, either, but here are a few things:

We traveled 9,197 miles, used 417 gallons of gas, visited with about 48 family members and friends, saw license plates from 49 states (missed only Alaska, which Nathan swore he saw, but we couldn’t verify on the speeding car that passed us by), ate at about 27 restaurants (it would have been more if not for picnic lunches packed at the benevolence of our friends), traveled through 24 states and slept in 19 different beds, only 6 of which were in hotels.

We saw elk, bison, buffalo, deer, a little coyote, a chipmunk, squirrels, various birds, dogs and cats. Those were the live ones. The roadkill was way too numerous to count.

We have one ding in our windshield from a rock thrown up by a passing semi in Idaho (I think), a tweak to our front bumper from a blown tire on another semi (in one of the Carolinas), and road dust that all has something to say about our journey.

Only a few small things were left behind: a small container of shampoo, a hairband that went with Morgan’s wedding outfit, a beach towel purchased in Huntington Beach, a comb, a bracelet, one charging cable and a library book that is required reading for Justin. That one will be mailed by the hotel in Georgia. Not too bad for living out of a suitcase for 31 days.

We experienced a terrific rainstorm in Wyoming, blazing heat in Arizona and chilly drizzle in Washington that cleared for the big wedding day. Our temperatures ranged from the low 50s in Washington to 113 through the California desert. But the van’s a/c stayed reliably in the mid-70s.

For being stuck together 24/7 for 31 days, the kids did remarkably well. They had their moments, of course, and I was thankful for the DVD player, but they’re all still friends at the end of the day.

As are David and I, as evidenced by the kisses from sea to shining sea:

Ormond Beach, Fla.

Newport Beach, Calif.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thankful today for:

510. a reliable washer and dryer

511. winners who give glory to God

512. smoothies

513. dvr

514. choices

515. memories

516. a nice camera

517. a happy family

518. a healthy trip