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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

What I Believe....

A dear friend of mine writes a column for the Salt Lake City Tribune and recently wrote the most thought provoking column I have read in a long time.  Ann Cannon is one of those writers that brings emotions you love to feel.  Find her column here.  She wrote about the concept of beliefs and the ongoing "This I Believe Project" (  Ann inspired me to think about what I believe in....

I believe being surrounded by books is more comforting than macaroni and cheese

I believe the sound of my children laughing together is the best sound created.

I believe dogs are the best barometer of our worth, if your dog loves you then you are OK!

I believe hugs should be at least 9 seconds long and several times a day.

I believe older people have the best wisdom.

I believe a drum line at a football game could make you forget all your problems.

I believe good feelings from a sweet memory should be brought out and worn often.

I believe in learning, whether a formal education or simply living life, it equals the same.

I believe winning is wonderful, loosing is educational, and having the right attitude about both is inspirational.

I believe Frankincense is a miracle essential oil.  Or maybe magical...whatever, it is amazing, and it works.

I believe the things you should never be without in the kitchen is a great olive oil, fresh herbs, onions, garlic and celery.  With that you can create anything.

I believe you should never make excuses for wanting to set your table with the "good stuff".  Your grandmother will be happy you did.

I believe knowing who "your people" are is important.  Know where are your grandparents and great-grandparents are from and celebrate them!

I believe having a hobby and making time for it is imperative.

I believe lipstick and a strand of pearls help you feel pretty.

I believe prayer is the greatest power on earth.

I believe sitting by a fire in a comfortable chair, with a great book, watching it rain or snow is the essence of comfort.

I believe in having a favorite blanket and a favorite bathrobe.

I believe in the magical powers of a donut you bought while no one was looking.

I believe furniture finds you...

While I believe in the intelligence of order, keeping a few odd things does not clutter make.

I believe some books are holy and are filled with truth.  They make us better for having read them.

I believe God talks to us, and if we are willing to listen, our lives improve.

I believe we are all entitled to our own beliefs and deserve the respect of others as we follow the "dictates of our own conscience"

I believe making assumptions about what people are like will rob you of the potential of a great friend.

I believe the causal effect of forgiveness is intelligence.  Anger literally halts our progression and keeps us from finding the answers that are always there.

I believe in the power of words, be careful how you use them.

What are your beliefs?

Monday, October 19, 2015

If I was questioning Mrs. Clinton About Benghazi

My state department credentials are honestly acquired. I watch Homeland and Madam Secretary. Not to mention I have read spy novels my whole life. From "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" to all of Nelson DeMille, everything Leon Uris, most of John LeCarre, and of course Tom Clancy. I wanted to be a spy but aversion to pain precluded any serious involvement, I would have been more agent 99 than James Bond.

As you can see this resume qualifies me as a Benghazi committee member. Because of my extensive background any questions I have about the attack are appropriate and should be answered. Understand this is all very partisan....if you love Mrs. Clinton then you think this is much ado about nothing. If you are running against Mrs. Clinton then you think this is a way to derail her candidacy.

And if you are a frustrated spy like me you have questions, just actual questions. None of which have been answered because the other members engage in sound bites for the folks back home.

Let's start with my assessment of the situation. Libya is of course incredibly dangerous, but the United States has to have embassies everywhere. The Ambassador of Libya, Chris Stevens, asked for more security sometime during the summer as he could see things were deteriorating. At this same time President Obama was involved in his re-election campaign. Part of his platform was terrorism is on the run. The state department is like any bureaucracy, lots of maybe Ambassador Stevens request never made it to anyone who could really help him because the lower levels wanted the illusion of safety to continue. Could be. September 11, 2012 comes and the embassy is overrun with Islamic terrorists. The people inside were boxed in for hours and eventually the Ambassador and 3 others were killed. There are tons of details I am not privy to but I doubt a whole lot of people really know what occurred anyway. My sketchy explanation is about what you usually hear, right? I don't know how long the attack lasted, for some reason none of the people who were there have said a word. Not a word, and there are a lot of survivors. That seems odd. We have never had a clear idea of what really occurred there. Like a "Black Hawk Down" eye witness kind of thing.

Then it gets political.

Someone makes up a story that never sounded right to me. A cartoon like video mocking Mohammed made by a low level criminal (who is still in jail) stirred up some religious folks in Libya and they protested outside the embassy where it got out of hand. That was the story. Some guys walking by, got agitated and ended up burning down the embassy and killing the ambassador. No one I know believed it was a video. Or that it was a spontaneous riot. Not a person, not a democrat not a republican, no one.

That's my only question, "Why did you stay with that story, the video story, when you knew it wasn't true right from the start?"

I felt terrible for Susan Rice who got the short straw and had to go on every Sunday morning show and repeat the exact same "it was the video" story. I have told you what my credentials are, I can barely get dressed in the morning and I didn't believe it for a second.

Having an American Embassy overrun and the Ambassador killed looked bad during an election.
And it seemed most folks chalked it up to, "this is the way things are done".  Mrs. Clinton saying "what difference did it make?" at the first hearing is more true than not.

In fact what difference does it make? Does it matter to you that the entire Obama administration sited it was a video for weeks when they knew immediately it wasn't? Maybe not, what would have changed? What difference would it have made if they said it was Islamic militants?

It didn't matter to Mitt Romney who could have used it in his debate.

Several Republicans have proven "it doesn't matter" to them by admitting they see the committee as a way to disrupt Hillary Clinton's presidential bid and not really a way to find out what happened that night.

The only people this really matters to are the families of those men who were killed.

If it turns out Ambassador Stevens asked for more security and was turned down, that needs to be addressed. Protocol needs to be altered....right? No politics, just fix it. Danger occurs in every administration. Lives are lost all over the world in every administration. Ambassadors understand what they do is dangerous.

But why this crazy story when they knew it wasn't true? That is my only question.

I guess, the folks in power want to stay there and the folks out of power want to get there.

Is this about right?

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The Trouble With Rants

So this morning in an "I-Hate-this-endless-summer-heat-and-it-will-never-get-cooler tantrum" I struck out on Facebook at the 6 eighteen wheelers parked next to my house ready to scoop up dirt. The project next to my house has taken over a year and the dust and noise pushed me to my limit. I was looking to make everyone else feel as badly as I did.

So I took a picture and put it on Facebook....along with a rant about how put out I was.

The responses from my friends humbled me to my bones.

I have wonderful, gracious, intelligent friends.

One of my friends recently had a crane fall on her house, destroying most of it. They are 40 days into repairing it. She mentioned it would be wonderful to have trucks and noise be the only things to worry about.

One reminded me of the school they built next to her, not only did she have the construction, but the traffic ever since.

Another friend reminded me I have approved countless projects that have brought the same kind of construction near their homes.

Another friend reminded me of all the workers and truck drivers working on this project who have families they are supporting. They probably wouldn't be happy they have disrupted our lives either. He said I should take cookies to them.

And then one rogue friend sent a picture from Maui of an amazing view, green hills, ocean, and then in an offhand way remarking that was what she had to look at each morning. I did say my friends were in Maui is a pretty smart thing to do.

Another friend agreed change was hard....

Here is the one wants to listen to a rant...unless it is a funny, tongue in cheek rant that is directed at yourself. That's comedy. Facebook and Instagram is supposed to post was a root canal of words. Not helpful at all.

It is so embarrassing to react that way....I could have been so....Zen. But I made a whole different choice. I am that crotchety old man yelling at the kids to get off his lawn, the neighbor who won't give your kids balls back that go over  the fence.

In short, today would have a great day for "a little less human reaction" to kick in.

Tomorrow's another day?

I hope so...

Sunday, October 11, 2015

See Thou Tell No Man

I recently read an article exploring problems in Christianity. The author made some very valid points which caused me to ponder what she had written.

Because I am a Christian.

I am also a wife, a mother, a writer, a plant lover, a rabid football fan and a self styled philosopher. My present thinking is formed, as yours, by my own history so I own it.

My religious views came to me by experiences encountered over a long life. I was not raised in a religious home so I found my way alone. Well not really alone, but it was a very personal journey.

The article pointed out things about Christianity that bothered her, fair enough, they  bother me also. I think of my Muslim friends who are devoutly religious, and yet must endure the consequences of the actions from those followers who distort a beautiful family centered religion. My heart was broken for my Catholic friends as one scandal after another came to light in their church. A church and religion they love. I am also saddened by leaders of churches who do not follow the pattern of the Savior as they stand and condemn those of other faiths or political persuasions. Their intolerance is in direct conflict of the Savior I know. But that is their choice. They lead their churches and it is the choice of the congregate to attend and follow or not.

People will let us down because we are all imperfect and fallible. That is why men and women are not who I worship. I listen to the leaders of my church, but it is still my responsibility to pray about what has been said and receive my own witness of the truthfulness of the teaching. The Lord does not want us to blindly obey.

I cannot offer defense for those who contort the Saviors teachings. However I am personally aware of many examples of kindness and service from people who do follow the Savior. The reason you don't hear much about or perhaps any of these things is simple. They follow the Savior's example.  After the Savior had cleansed the Leper he said, "See thou tell no man" (Matt. 8: 2-4) That is the pattern of peaceable followers of Christ. They go about their Father's business without anyone knowing or expecting anything in return. The peace from the service they provide is all they require. I have been privileged to watch such service up close over and over again.

In prayer I have gone to the Lord brokenhearted for many things I have done wrong. I wouldn't condemn anyone else because I have made so many bad choices. Daily repentance is part of my life and I am grateful for the ability to seek forgiveness, to say I'm sorry, to receive it and then to start over. The relief is life giving because nothing feels as wonderful as forgiveness and a clear conscience. Equally important is giving forgiveness, it is possible to forgive with God's help to soften hearts and then remember we are all damaged, all broken.

My step mother was quite damaged and broken, she had a complicated life and felt there were few choices for her. Because of that frustration she was angry. One voice she listened to was Billy Graham. I believe he was just a preacher from a small town who loved the Lord. Not pretentious, no need for fame, he lived a simple life.His message resonated with her and brought her much needed peace. She was a better person for having listened to Reverend Graham.

Freedom to choose is God's way. He provides very clear instructions as to what will make us happy and successful in this journey through life. Ultimately it is up to us to seek out those teachings and then make our choices. Each morning I pray for strength, guidance and a clear mind. I pray to make good decisions and to find someone to serve. At the end of the day I "return and report" spending time pondering the blessings from the day, just being grateful then I ask for help to repair mistakes, at the end of my prayer I listen. I listen for a still small voice reminding me tomorrow is another day, all is well and everything will work out. This prayer might be your meditation, your quiet time in the car. What we title it isn't is the time we give to ask for help to bolster ourselves in this world that is important.

It is not my job to judge, only to love. And that is what I have learned from the Savior. I know I fall short, we all do. But with His help when I fall, I can get up again, start over, nd be optimistic that everything will work out.

This is the Christianity I know.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

My Favorite Martian

My favorite Martian has to be Matt Damon.

I am not a movie critic nor am I a movie reviewer...but if I was a reviewer I would give all my stars (excuse the pun) to "The Martian".

I felt a lot smarter having watched the movie because my favorite Martian explained along the way what he was doing to solve a problem.  Not that I understood it, but hey, I was impressed someone was listening in all those science classes I did so poorly in. Good for him...

Think of gun fights, no rapes, no violence of any kind. Add to that, people of all races cooperating to help this one astronaut get home. There is some strong language in places (I feel I must warn about that) but concentrate on the enormity of the problem and how no one gives up, or says it can't be done.

I love a movie that inspires me instead of terrifying me.  I mean besides the whole stranded 30 million miles from home thing, that could be terrifying, but you know what I'm saying, right?

How handy was it that is was the botanist left behind? A genius botanist, and listen to this, he made water! California take note...who knew you could do that?

Also - note to self; do not attempt space travel without duct tape. It seems to be the universal go to product, and the only thing in the movie I completely understood.

Problem with the thieves at the movie theatre...not only is popcorn and a coke $14 but matinee prices end at 4 on Saturday. There are quite a few people at Century Theaters I shared my disappointment with.  Thieves...