Silence…

“You told the story?”

“To some.”

“How was it received?”

“Depends on who you talk to, I guess.”

“Mama?”

“Yes, hon?”

“Do you think they understand?”

“Understand what?”

“What it’s like to be trapped inside a screaming mind.”

“I don’t know. What do you think?”

“I think fear controls them as much as as it controls my mind.”

“Tell me more.”

“Fear… fear of having to confront the reality that not everything is as it seems, and we deceive ourselves by not accepting reality.”

“I’m not sure I understand.”

“It’s hard to put into words.”

“Please try.”

“Remember the word?

“What word?”

“Hero.”

“Yes?”

“We create impressions in our mind based on that one word. We delude ourselves into believing an institution is heroic because heroes fill it, but we only allow problems to continue because of the illusion we’ve created, and when we are confronted with the reality that the institution is failing because not everyone is a hero, we immediately reject it.”

“I think I’m beginning to understand, but…”

“Not everyone who wears a uniform is a hero. Not everyone cares. Not everyone who is in the institution has pure motives. Many are selfish, many only care for themselves and take for granted the trust placed in them.”

“What happens then?”

“People die.”

“How does that relate to heros?”

“I can only tell you because if I tell anyone else, they will get angry and reject… confronted with an uncomfortable reality we’ve created false gods of people through the labeling of hero. Just as we’ve created images of people with screaming minds labeling them “crazy,” “unbalanced,” disturbed.” They don’t get it, do they? They don’t see what’s in front of them. They don’t want to confront the ugly reality that they are just as imperfect and flawed as I am, and that I am a product of their creation of false gods, because they don’t want to acknowledge people fail and not all people are good and… my mind… it’s unraveling.”

“No my precious child, I think your mind is clearly seeing what most want to eradicate.”

“Why won’t they try to change?”

“Change what?”

“The entrenched institutions.”

“I don’t know. What do you think?”

“I think they are just as imprisoned as I am… and afraid.”

“Imprisoned? Afraid of…”

“Afraid they will have to accept that they are part of the problem through their silence and acceptance of what they know is broken. What did you use to say… you use to tell me… yes, that’s it. Human nature… when confronted with the ugly part of human nature, people can acknowledge or reject. In acknowledging, they can choose to act; in rejecting, they choose to ignore. What does that say about them, if they know and yet choose to ignore and do nothing? So instead of either, they choose to imprison themselves in denial because then they feel safe in that cell. They don’t have to do anything. They can comfortably believe in the heroes of the institutions they believe in almost as much as they believe in God. They choose imprisonment of denial over the freedom of truth.”

“What can we do?”

“Tell the story… break the silence.”

“I will try. Will you be with me?”

“Always.”

 

 

Different Worldviews: One Choice

Julia Roberts narrated a video for Nature is Speaking (from Conservation International) imagining what the earth, nature, mother nature would say if it could speak. The video is stunning, showcasing the beautiful landscapes that is the earth. The point, it seems, is to get humans to change actions to protect the planet, but does it accomplish its mission? Strip away the superimposed video and the voice, and what is left are the words:

“Some call me Nature, others call me mother nature

I’ve been here for over four and a half billion years

Twenty-two thousand five hundred times longer than you

I don’t really need people but people need me

Yes, your future depends on me

When I thrive, you thrive

When I falter, you falter or worse (?)

But I’ve been here for aeons

I have fed species greater than you, and

I have starved species greater than you

My oceans, my soil, my flowing streams, my forests,

They all can take you or leave you

How you chose to live each day whether you regard or

disregard me doesn’t really matter to me

One way or the other your actions will determine your fate not mine

I am nature

I will go on

I am prepared to evolve

Are you?”

Nature is Speaking


Conservation International website states:

Our Mission

Building upon a strong foundation of science, partnership and field demonstration, Conservation International empowers societies to responsibly and sustainably care for nature, our global biodiversity, for the well-being of humanity.

Our Vision

We imagine a healthy, prosperous world in which societies are forever committed to caring for and valuing nature, for the long-term benefit of people and all life on Earth.

WE NEED NATURE

Nature is life: Every breath you take, every drop you drink, every bite you eat — it all comes from nature. Here’s how Conservation International works to protect it. Conservation International


Again, on the surface it would seem the video, mission and vision of the organization is good, because there is an element of truth to it in that humans do need water and food which comes from the earth. However, the elevation of nature to a god-like status is in the words, “Every breath you take, every drop you drink, every bite you eat – it all comes from nature.”

Stay with me… read it again with a different perspective:

“Some call me Nature, others call me mother nature

I’ve been here for over four and a half billion years

  • How exactly is it known by man how long the earth has been here? Growing up I was taught different numbers, and it seems the “age” of the earth is in a constant state of fluidity. Aside from that, the premise is that nature is god and created itself, and you are a mere afterthought, if a thought at all.

Twenty-two thousand five hundred times longer than you

  • Again, you are inconsequential because nature existed way before you.

I don’t really need people but people need me

Yes, your future depends on me

  • Our future depends on some random coming together of nature; we are subservient to nature.  If nature doesn’t need us, then what does it matter, our actions?

When I thrive, you thrive

When I falter, you falter or worse (?)

  • While I think I understand what they are attempting to say, what they are actually saying is again, humans are subservient to nature. Of course when there are storms, tsunamis, droughts, et al, humans are affected, but does that make humans subservient to nature?

But I’ve been here for aeons

I have fed species greater than you, and

I have starved species greater than you

My oceans, my soil, my flowing streams, my forests,

They all can take you or leave you

  • You don’t matter. Your life, your existence is completely dependent on nature. This poses a problem for individuals who believe humans can destroy the earth (“nature”) through their actions or inactions. How is this? According to this script, nature has been here for aeons (indefinite period of time, or unit to describe billion), and it doesn’t matter what you do, it’s not going anywhere. Nature can take you or leave you, and well… you are inconsequential, as are your actions.

How you chose to live each day whether you regard or

disregard me doesn’t really matter to me

  • Again, how you live each day doesn’t matter to nature. What you do is irrelevant, which contradicts the notion that we have to “worship” the earth, or take any conservation measures because to nature, it doesn’t matter.

One way or the other your actions will determine your fate not mine

  • Again it is stated that your actions – the actions of humans – will have no impact on earth’s (nature’s) future; what then is the point? Whether we do good or do bad, it makes no difference – good or bad – because “your actions” won’t determine what happens to the earth (nature); your actions only determine what happens to you.

I am nature

  •  Notice the “I am?” Seems those words have been used before… Christ said, “I am.” Contrast the two. Nature is saying “I am,” and based on the previous verses, it cares not for you (humans), does not need you, does not consider you. Compare that to when Christ speaks to being “I am.” There are several, but John 8:12 states, “Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” Simply written: you do matter, your life does have meaning.

I will go on

I am prepared to evolve

Are you?”

  • These three lines are incredibly insightful, because it contradicts two prevalent theories: (1) humans evolved; (2) we have to take action now or we (humans) will destroy the planet (earth or nature).
    1. The theory of human existence is found somewhere along the aeons of time, because humans evolved to the state we now find ourselves, but the closing words indicate this is not the case. Nature is declaring it can evolve, but can you? Can you evolve? Based on the evolution theory, of course we can because that is how we got here in the first place, so why would we not be able to evolve in the future? And if we can’t, but nature can, when did we (humans) stop having the ability to evolve… while nature retains that ability?
    2. I’ve read that we have 12 years, 25 years, 50 years to save the planet (nature). The number of years varies depending on the speaker, but the dire warnings are if we (humans) do not take drastic actions now, we will forever destroy nature. But this contradicts not only the last few sentences, but the script in its entirety. Why? How? Because leading up to the conclusion, we are told it doesn’t matter what we do, nature will go on. It is declared nature doesn’t need us, but we need it; that nature has fed and starved species greater than us. Somehow then, we are to believe that nature has been in existence for four and half billions of years, yet somehow we humans are going to destroy it within 12-50 years? Then we are told nature can evolve, so it doesn’t really matter what humans then do, nature will prevail (go on).

I’m left wondering why it matters what I do if nature cares not, and will continue regardless of my actions, and then what does that mean for me? Of what value am I in this world view?


Still with me... read it one more time but from a different world view, one that doesn’t elevate nature to a position of a god, but through the lens of God.

“Some call me Nature, others call me mother nature 

  • “Listen to Me, O Jacob, even Israel whom I called;
    I am He, I am the first, I am also the last.” – Isaiah 48:12

I’ve been here for over four and a half billion years

  • “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.” – Colossians 1:16

Twenty-two thousand five hundred times longer than you

  • “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” – Genesis 1:1

I don’t really need people but people need me

  • “You are the Lord, you alone. You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them; and you preserve all of them; and the host of heaven worships you.” – Nehemiah 9:6

Yes, your future depends on me

When I thrive, you thrive

When I falter, you falter or worse (?)

But I’ve been here for aeons

  • “And, “You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of your hands;” Hebrews 1:10

I have fed species greater than you, and

I have starved species greater than you

  • “The beast of the field shall honour me, the dragons and the owls: because I give waters in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert, to give drink to my people, my chosen.” – Isaiah 43:20

My oceans, my soil, my flowing streams, my forests,

  • “But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.” – Job 12: 7-10

They all can take you or leave you

  • “Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” – Genesis 1:26

How you chose to live each day whether you regard or

disregard me doesn’t really matter to me

  • “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8 
  • “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things  present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 8:38-39

One way or the other your actions will determine your fate not mine

  • “By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.” – Hebrews 11:3

I am nature

  • “By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host.” – Psalm 33:6

I will go on

  • “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” – Romans 1:20

I am prepared to evolve

  • “That men may know from the rising to the setting of the sun. That there is no one besides Me. I am the Lord, and there is no other…” – Isaiah 45:6

Are you?”

  • “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” – Ephesians 2:10
  • “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16

What we have here is a clash of worldviews. One that states humans evolved (but not still evolving); that we are subservient to the earth; that we have no purpose; that we have no future outside of placing earth in an elevated state; and our actions are irrelevant, therefore, we are irrelevant. The other worldview declares we were created in image of God, and He seeks a relationship with us. His love for us was so great that His son, Christ, came down amongst His creation in the form of the created – man – to offer Himself as the ultimate sacrifice, and in so doing, created a bridge to our Heavenly Father.

We do have a choice, and unlike what the video declares, our actions do matter. Our lives matter. Our souls matter. Yes, we are to care for God’s creation because He has given it to us to feed us, to clothe us, to shelter us, but we are not to worship nature because it does not exist outside God. Quite the opposite as nature itself declares God’s existence, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” Psalm 19:1

Let us not create a false god in nature, but instead, worship the very one who created nature, all of it, for our purpose. Let us accept Christ’s love and salvation – by faith, through grace we are saved. Let us love one another while caring for the creation given to us by our God.

It is a choice…  of two worldviews.

Let Me Be Your Shelter…

Each will be like a refuge from the wind And a shelter from the storm, Like streams of water in a dry country, Like the shade of a huge rock in a parched land. Isaiah 32:3

“Like a bull chasing the matador is the man left to his own scheme, Everybody needs someone beside ’em. Shinin’ like a lighthouse from the sea.” Song: “Brother” by NEEDTOBREATH (Link below)

Coming out of the store a few days ago, I ran into a man I know. He asked me how I am. I made the mistake of actually telling him how I am.

“Where’s the Yvonne I know?”

“She was buried with her daughter. You asked me how I am. Don’t ask if you don’t want to know.”

It’s common – or used to be standard fare – for me to answer the “How are you” question with “I’m okay.” But you want to know the raw truth? I’m not okay. I don’t know if I’ll ever be okay. Normal was obliterated on December 24, 2019 at approximately 2p.m. when I discovered my daughter. What I remember is kneeling beside her, praying to hear her heartbeat, holding her hand, kissing her cheek. I didn’t want to leave her. I was there in the beginning, and I didn’t want to leave her at the end. Everything ceased at that moment. I couldn’t tell you how many people came in the shed; I couldn’t tell you what was said. No birds chirping, no wind through the trees, not a sound pierced the tunnel I was in; I don’t know how much time ticked by as I knelt beside her. At that moment, it was just her and me.

Since then many thoughts have barreled through my mind… questions… Did I do enough; did I love enough; did I search enough; did she know how loved she is; did I give enough… so many questions with no answers. For those who know me, my most oft questions begin with “Why.” If I’m told something can’t be done, I respond, “Why?” If someone is angry, “Why?” stumbles out. Why has that been my go to? For me, I always believed if I knew the why, I would know the root cause and therefore, could find a solution, an answer. I ask “why” no more.

Then there came reflection… each person, no matter who they are, wants to feel love, be loved. When we fail to understand that, we lose ourselves to a world filled with ugliness and evil. We find ourselves struggling with life’s storm, tornadoes, hurricanes, tsunamis… We search for a shelter, a lighthouse to guide us back to safety. We search for someone… anyone who knows… yet we so often fail to reach out because we feel no one knows, no one cares, everyone is too busy… Are you that person? Know someone like that? Do you assume that friend, that son or daughter or spouse, that coworker is strong enough because you’ve always seen them as such? That cashier, that person who cut you off while driving; that rival; that person who let their dog poop in your yard; that person sitting in church five rows from you; that person sitting in the theater three seats from you munching loudly on popcorn: that teenager clothed all in black: do you assume they’re not worthy because of the outward actions or appearances? Could they just be jerks and self-absorbed? Absolutely, but that probability doesn’t negate the deeper question: do you ever dive under the surface to learn more? Do you ever consider coming along beside the person to walk the journey of life?

My favorite scene from a movie – my absolute favorite – comes from “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.” The scene finds Sam crawling to his friend Frodo. The pair had been through fire, battles, floods, near-death experiences; the friends were hungry, bone-weary tired. They were so close to where they needed to be, yet it seemed farther away than it ever had. In this scene, after Sam crawls to his friend, Frodo; he takes him in his arms. He begins speaking to him, “Do you remember the shire Mr. Frodo?” Sam then describes how it will be spring soon; he reminds his friend of all the beauty spring produces in the shire. “Do you remember the taste of strawberries,” he asks. “Yes, Sam.” He continues and tells Sam that there is no veil between him and the ring of fire. Frodo is exhausted to the point where he doesn’t think he can make it, or that he can accomplish the task thrust upon him. Frodo is terrified. “Then let us be rid of it, once and for all,” begins Sam with firm resolve. And there it is, the best line ever to be written or spoken: “I can’t carry it for you, but I can carry you! Come on!” Sam then picks up Frodo, puts him over his shoulder and carries his friend, Frodo, the rest of the way up that desolate mountain to accomplish the task at hand. One step at a time, he carries his friend.

That scene is my favorite because it is so raw and filled with love… Sam knew he couldn’t do what had been assigned to Frodo, but he knew he could be his shelter at that moment and carry him.

We all need a shelter, a friend, a light to shine so we can find our way in the darkness. First and foremost, that always includes Christ, but in Him we are given a task to help each other, to love each other, to come along beside each other and say, “I can’t carry this for you, but I can carry you.”

The most treasured words my Shelby ever said to me were, “Thank you for never giving up on me. Thank you for always loving me.” I knew I couldn’t carry her pain, her suffering, but I could come along beside her, take her hand, and when necessary, carry her. Now she is held by the only one who loves her more: her Savior, Christ Jesus.

But have I done the same for others? Have I rejected a person before diving deeper; have I dismissed someone God put in my path; have I done enough to be a shelter for someone else? Please don’t comment on the questions I’ve asked myself, because the questions are for me to answer. Instead, ask yourself the questions.

One of the many thoughts that have blown through my mind as a hurricane wind blowing through an old oak is what now do I do? My precious Shelby always felt so alone, so isolated, as if no one understood, no one knew. Maybe if I had been more open during our journey to family, friends, anyone, she might not have felt this way. I don’t know, because as much as I want to, I can’t go back. I can’t change what was; I can only move forward and pray that I have the strength to be a shelter to all who God puts in my path, and when the opportunity arises, I pray I have the strength to say, “I can’t carry your burden, but I can carry you.”

Who has God put in your path? Who do you know who needs shelter? Who do you know who needs to be carried?

All of us need shelter from time to time. If you can’t find that shelter, message me, I will be that shelter with God’s strength.

https://sofmissions.org/

https://laurenskids.org/

 

 

 

His name shall be…

“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” Psalm 139:13-14.

Twenty years ago… on this day 20 years ago, I was introduced to the most amazing human being. When you meet a person for the first time, you may not like the person and you can choose to walk away from the person. However, when God declares, “This is your child,” the choice is far different. Let’s be honest, sometimes you don’t like your children. You may love them, but you don’t like them. Or maybe, they aren’t the child you wished for but there they are nonetheless. On March 9, 2000, God introduced me to my second child.

Thursday afternoon, after a hard labor, I met my son: 11 pounds, 4 ounces. Being from a family of all girls – five sisters, two nieces and my own girl, this boy was a first. His sister, Shelby, emphatically told me nine months earlier upon learning she would have a sibling, “God is going to give me a brother.” This sweet daughter of mine believed God would give her a brother. I told her the baby would be a girl because well, that’s just the way it was in our family. “No, God is going to give me a brother.” Such faith… so I bet her a dollar the baby would be a girl. When I called her from the hospital, my first words to her were, “I owe you a dollar.” Immediately she knew what that meant and squealed with the delight of having known all along. Such faith…

From that moment, my life was immeasurably blessed with this incredible human being. Moments of sheer joy he would bring me; the way he would make me wonder in amazement; the way he would light up my face with a laugh; the way he would make me wonder at his imagination that was always on full display; the way he would try me sometimes with his stubbornness… he was and continues to be a source of joy and pride. But most of all, I am amazed at the purity that is his heart.

The love he has for his Shelby, never saying a bad word against her, always loving her unconditionally.

The way his incredibly awesome dyslexic mind works… one day driving to an appointment – one of many – when he was a teenager, after the Parkland shooting, he said to me in the car, “This story came across my newsfeed.” First, I was just totally impressed with the fact he had a news feed, and then actually read the article. He told me the story of teenagers who were protesting guns, describing a poster one girl held that read, “Kids shouldn’t be afraid to go to school.”  With a tinge of sadness in his voice, he said, “They shouldn’t be afraid to go to school but they are and not because of guns, but because of bullies.” I was blown away. “This kid gets it,” I thought.

Sitting in his car seat in the back seat, saying, “Play country.” The cue to put on some George Strait. Watching him move his head and hands to the beat to “Blue Clear Sky” always brought me a smile.

When he stood up in the restaurant and started dancing when “Jump” by Van Halen came over the speaker… not caring who saw him, he just had to dance.

The way he would get back up whenever he fell, finding a way to get to where he wanted to be.

The way he took my hand to walk down the aisle with him to accept Christ as his Savior.

The way he would pray for Shelby and peace.

The way he would let me hold his hand, even now, he doesn’t pull his hand away.

The way he can remember stats while I’m still trying to learn positions.

The way he looks up at the night sky with wonder and amazement, even now.

The way he sends me photos of a North Carolina sunset, reminding me of God’s beauty.

The way he honors his future wife by desiring to wait for her while the world tells him differently.

The way he and Shelby would play, talk, watch movies together, creating a bond stronger than steel.

The way he seeks to do the right thing, and when he blows it, tries to make amends.

That smile that graces his face… that smile that brings such happiness in seeing it.

While life downright sucks sometimes, this human being who God blessed to give to me as my son, has brought more joy, more laughter, more silly moments, more pride than I deserve. So on this day, I am forever grateful for Shelby’s faith, for God’s goodness, and for the son he gave to me. His name is Garren Daniel Harper. Garren for his Papa who had only girls; Daniel to stand before the fire; Harper for his Dad. This young man is indeed fearfully and wonderfully made, and such a blessing as declared in God’s word.

“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.” Psalm 127:3

Happy Birthday, my son. I love you bigger than the sky.

 

The Long and Winding Road

In 2013, Shelby asked me to write our story. Although finished in 2017, I was unsure what to do with it until now. Instead of seeking to publish it through traditional means, I have decided to post it here and a chapter will be added along the way. Maybe if I’d been bolder about our story then, we wouldn’t be here now. However, the past can never be changed, only how we choose to proceed. Please share as you feel led. It has not been professionally edited, so please forgive any grammatical mistakes.

Reminder: our story encompasses a brief period of time, and reflects what was being felt at that time by us. It is not a reflection of anyone or anything other than what we – the four of us – were experiencing at that time.

This is the prologue; to read the story in its entirety, click on menu and select The Long and Winding Road.

 

THE LONG AND WINDING ROAD

  By Yvonne C. Harper

Dedicated to Shelby D. Harper

The Long and Winding Road: Keep Walking

It happens in everyone’s life: A moment that sends you crashing to your knees. Not falling… not kneeling… not bowing, but a crash that comes with knowing that you have been thrust onto a path not of your choosing.

For me, that moment came in June 2008.

My daughter was in Florida; my son was at school; my husband was on some ocean sailing on a steel boat the size of several football fields. I returned to our fewer than 900 square feet home in the afternoon. I had worked that morning and so far, it had been a good day. I had about an hour before Garren would get out of school. I sat down at my small desk to email Paul when I noticed the blinking message light on the phone. I pushed the play button. A simple one sentence, “Call me when you get this message.” I looked at the time knowing it was early morning in Florida.  I wasn’t too worried as I dialed the number to Shelby’s best friend’s mom. Those few seconds it took to connect the call, and then for Mary to answer were the last few seconds of peace our family would know for a while. The words that drifted over the miles through the lines of communication shattered whatever normalcy existed in a Navy family. Six words was all it took:

“Shelby was raped when she was 11,” were the words that sent me crashing to me knees.

Paul and I made the decision to send her home for the summer as a reprieve. She was 14, three years after we had moved to Japan in July 2005. Japan: A beautiful country we had lived before and eager to return to given Paul was to be deployed for most of the year. When deciding where to go next, Japan was an easy choice: it was safe… or so we thought.

We arrived in the middle of summer. Upon stepping out of the airport, we were immediately enveloped in a humid, sticky heat that stems from an area brimming with people, cars, trains and industry. The children were tired, as was I having made the journey from Florida to Japan via Alabama and Washington without Paul, as he had left Florida in March. A familiar face greeted us from our days on Guam. Our friend retrieved us, our many bags and loaded us in his van – and unbeknownst to me at the time, the journey into the abyss began.

Had I known the journey that awaited us, I would have turned around and boarded the plane back to Florida, but life isn’t like that… life is taking one step at a time moving forward – so that’s what we did – moved forward to start a new chapter in our lives.

However, at that time I was merely eager to get the two-hour drive to the base done so we could check into the Navy Lodge, find a bite to eat and drift into sleep that I knew would be interrupted at 2 a.m. because my body was still on Florida time. But I was comforted by the knowledge that although we arrived without being able to greet Paul, we would see him soon enough in September.

The days that followed were filled with activities that accompany military life be it across the state, across the country or around the world. Carrying records to medical, dental, schools; sitting in indoctrination; taking a drivers license test that would mean I was the “professional” driver in a country filled with “amateurs.” Buying a vehicle, registering, titling and insuring the vehicle; moving from the lodge to military housing one third the size of the home we’d left; receiving our belongings and unpacking boxes, deciding where it all should go.

I didn’t need much help because I’d been doing this since I was 18 and knew the process. I am also quite independent and stubborn, reluctant to ask for help and be perceived as “that kind of wife.” The kind that couldn’t do anything for herself… that was most assuredly not me so headlong I plunged into the life of living overseas again with no friends, no contacts, no job – just me and my two children, an 11-year-old beautiful and tender-hearted girl, and a 5-year-old energetic, good-hearted boy.  

The move was hardest on my daughter. Moves were always hard for her – she dreaded leaving behind what was familiar as well as hand of friendship. When she found that friend, she latched on and remained loyal. This explains why she waited three years to tell her secret… waited until she was in familiar territory, in the sanctuary of her friend’s room.

But in that hot month of July, I never would’ve have imagined what path awaited us as we began our journey in the Land of the Rising Sun.

Yes, We’re Going!

On Wednesday, the 13th, Donald Trump will be in Pensacola, Florida… and yes, I’m going. Not only am I going, but I am taking my 15-year-old son, much to his chagrin.

I will not vote for Donald Trump in the Florida Primary. I have listened to interviews and the debates and he’s an interesting man. There are many things I like about him. I like that he hasn’t allowed the media to control the narrative when it comes to him. I like that he calls out Hillary Clinton for the hypocrite she is. I like that he isn’t politically correct; he speaks plainly, even if it takes him a full circle to come back around to his point.

I don’t like that he has not yet talked about the boundaries of the Executive Branch as stipulated in Article II of the Constitution. I don’t like that he’s egocentric. I don’t like that he’s bombastic. Sometimes being grandiloquent works, but as President, do I really want that characteristic in the man who occupies the White House? Not so much.

But the important part of all this is that I think this is such a wonderful opportunity to hear an entire speech by him, without commentary, from the talking heads on “news” channels. I also want my son to hear what he has to say and take part in this Republic process.

When I printed the tickets, my son expressed his dismay in the most vocal manner.

“Why do I have to go? I don’t care about government? I won’t hear most of what he says. Why do I have to go? I don’t want to go!!”

I let him have his moments of vocal despair and then quietly began to speak.

“You are 15 now, will be 16 in March,” I began. “When you turn 18, whoever is elected now will be president and that means they will be the Commander in Chief. When you are 18, you have to sign up for the Selective Service. That means if there is ever a war and the U.S. military has run out of bodies, they begin the draft. That is when you are told you must serve. You must go to whatever foreign shore the President has decided needs “democracy.”

But more than that, government, from the federal to the state to local, affects every aspect of your life. The roads you drive on, the drivers license you hold, the taxes we pay for those roads… The schools and the taxes we pay for those… The sales tax you pay: when you have $10 and the shirt is $9.99, you know you don’t have enough because of that sales tax. The water you drink is clean because of laws that state it must be clean. All of it: you do “government” even if you don’t like government.

And the right to vote… (this is where I began to choke up) the right to vote, that was won by men you will never know. Men, who signed their names on a piece of paper that declared independence because there was no representation. Remember, the colonists were British subjects. When Britain needed money after a war, the King and Parliament looked across the great expanse called the Atlantic Ocean and decided to tax the colonists. The British government dissolved several of the colonial governments, imposed taxes and other rules. The colonist, fed up with no representation, committed an act of treason by declaring their independence. The men who penned their names knew what they were doing. Many of them lost their homes, their families and were imprisoned; they lost everything. They did that so we could have a Representative Republic. A government where we, the people, elect who will make those decisions on our behalf.

And other men… your great-uncle, buried in a foreign land after dying fighting because he cherished those rights. A man you will never know.

And for me as a woman… It took decades of perseverance and many of the women who started the Suffrage Movement were dead when the 19th Amendment was ratified in 1920, 96 years ago. Women not only had to fight for this basic right, they had to go up against a president who didn’t want them to have the right to vote. They were imprisoned for merely walking on a street, protesting.

So I take this process seriously and so too, should you. Because it’s important. It’s vital that we, as Americans, take part in this process. And Donald Trump is a candidate unlike any other. He’s bombastic. He’s caustic. He’s defying the establishment. He’s funding his own campaign. He’s holding a free event that allows people like you and me to go and hear him speak. You may only hear a small part of what he says, but it’s important to hear him. And then decide for yourself what you think. Because when you turn 18 you will be able to vote and it is important to listen, learn and decide who will best make decisions on your behalf.”

Sitting, looking at me, he was quiet for a moment. Finally he said, “Okay.” And that was that.

So yes, On Wednesday, we will be going…

Lost the Battle?

Upon reading my recent musings on a woman’s body, a woman’s choice, a friend texted me the following:

“Unfortunately, we have lost this battle. I don’t believe that there is any ground to gather at this point. While I believe abortion is homicide, the battle I think we still have a chance on is paying for them with tax money.”

I texted back that I disagreed with his assessment, but first let me state, the post wasn’t about abortion per se, but rather the illogical argument made when advocates state it’s a woman’s body and thus her choice. If we take that argument to its logical conclusion then there are a good many “anti-choice” laws that should be repealed from drug laws to prostitution laws, because the “my body, my choice” argument applies as surely to those laws as it does to other behavior driven laws.

As a teacher, I have had the opportunity to get students critically thinking about their positions and to take their positions to their logical conclusions. At a minimum, to urge them to apply the same standard to all opinions of laws.

For example, during one class lecture on the steps of policy making, I used the secondary education system as an example. Many school districts across the nation have had to grapple with students who identify as transgender and what that means with regard to bathrooms and locker rooms. One young dual-enrolled (female) student commented that school districts should allow a boy who identifies or feels like a girl the use of the female bathroom for changing and toilet use. I asked if the girls who use the bathroom or locker room should be considered when making this decision, the student replied, “No.”

Her response was typical of many attitudes today. In essence, she stated that if the boy feels like a girl, the other girls should respect that and accept this boy’s feeling and not go against such a policy.

Moving on to the steps to policy making, I used the real example of my county’s school peanut allergy policy. As we went through the steps of how an idea becomes a policy and in turn becomes a regulation or law, I used the Superintendent’s decision to implement a “no-peanut” policy within all county schools. This policy included no eating in the classes, no vending machines outside the cafeteria, and the removal of all peanut related items in the vending machines, and letters and phone calls to parents that students should not bring to school any food made from peanuts, tree nuts or any non-nut food made in facilities that also make food using nuts or oils made from nuts.

This policy is the result of one high school student who has a nut allergy. Without dismissing the severity of nut allergies, I asked the students thoughts on this policy. The students, most dual-enrolled and thus quite familiar with the policy, had different views ranging from accepting to rejecting of the policy.

The same young female student who stated other female students should accept a male student into the female locker room or bathroom because he feels like a girl stated it was wrong to ban all nut related products from an entire student body for one student, and that it was wrong to require parents to determine if lunches they pack their students contain nut-related ingredients. Her position was that the whole should not have to be “punished” for the one.

I asked, “Could not the same standard be applied to the transgender student?”

A startled look came upon her face and then the light started to glow in her mind as she replied, “Good point.”

As is often the case, she had a standard for one thing, and a different standard for another, but the two were not so different in terms of policy making and when she discovered this reality, I could tell the thought process had begun.

There were many other conversations we participated in and with each subject, the questions I asked were designed to elicit critical thinking and to have the students take their position to its logical conclusion.

So back to the “My Body, My Choice” post. It was designed to elicit critical thinking in the minds of  whoever chooses to read the post.

 

 

 

 

My Body, My Choice… Right?

The argument most often invoked for the continuing of abortions is that it’s a woman choice to do with her body as she chooses, and the government should not interfere with a decision that is hers and hers alone, and her doctor, so we’re told.

This argument is rife with flaws though, because as laws dictate, it’s really not my body after all.

If my body was my body to do with as I choose, then why would I be involuntarily admitted to a mental institution for evaluation if I exhibited behavior that proved harmful to me?

For example, I no longer find my right hand convenient and no longer desire to have the use of my right hand; after all, I’m left handed, so do I really need my right hand?

I choose to cut off my right hand. I’ve not harmed any other person; I’ve not caused a panic among society; I’ve merely decided my right hand is no longer of use to me and I wished to rid myself of this appendage.

Under the Florida Mental Health Act, commonly known as the Baker Act, I would be involuntarily admitted to a mental institution for evaluation to determine if I am of sound mind. I could be held up to 72 hours before a judge determines the next course of action, unless the doctor determines I am fit to be released or should be kept for a longer stay pending more evaluations and treatment.

So am I really in control of my body?

Let’s propose for a moment that I wish to smoke marijuana in the comfort of my home. I do not drive while “high” and I don’t sell to anyone, I merely enjoy lighting up a joint after a long day. According to Florida law and federal law, I can be arrested and incarcerated for using an “illegal” substance. A substance I am choosing to put only in my body. I’m not hurting anyone else; it’s my choice, right?

So am I really in control of my body?

The answer to the two examples is a resounding no, I am not in control of my body after all.

So let’s apply this same standard to the argument for abortions. The argument that states it’s my body and I can do with it what I choose. The fact is it is not my body I am choosing to do with what I want; it is a separate body within my own. So I am not choosing to do with my body what I want; I am choosing to remove another body from my own.

In any other instance, outside the womb of course, this would be called murder.

Disclaimer: The examples used in this blog are examples only; I do not use any illegal substance and I will not be removing any body parts.