As Thanksgiving approaches many of us will be thinking about the Blessings in our life, as well as reflecting on many memories of the past that had both joy and sorrow. We should try and remember that many events in our life, that at the time may have been sad, stressful, or even painful, were also learning experiences that taught us how to survive this crazy world. None of us have lived a life without hardship. We have all lost loved ones, experienced sadness and a multitude of emotions along the way. God provides us a way to endure all that we face when we put our trust in Him. As we sit at a big table full of people, or just a small gathering, or maybe even a Swanson’s frozen turkey dinner for one in front of the TV, it is a good time to reflect on our life. We will realize that everything we have experienced so far helped create our character, our determination and our decision making. We must also realize that these events DO NOT define us. We all have a past, and we cannot change anything that has already occurred, but we do have control over today and our future. Life is full of speed bumps, roadblocks, and outright demolition events, but how we react and handle them will ultimately offer us the opportunity to have peace and joy. Without any bad we would never appreciate the good, and without sadness it would be hard to experience the joy of happiness. We were all created by a God that loves us, we have also all suffered in various capacities and share each other’s pain. As God is the Father, and God is the Son and the Holy Spirit works in all of us, we have the ability to focus on who we are, who we want to be, and a peace that comes from an unconditional Love given to us by our Creator. So, make sure to give Thanks for all that we have, but don’t forget to give Thanks for all that is yet to be.
Tomorrow is the last of the first day of school as we watch our son begin his Senior year of High School. Even when he attends college in the future it will be different. He has been our responsibility for the past 17 years and has counted on us to show him life, the good and the bad, and up until last year, when he started driving, we at least got him to school or the bus stop. I think about the scared little boy who hid under a desk on the first day of Pre-K and now embarks on the last year of required education. I can say the majority of teachers have been fantastic, many were good and yes, there were some that probably should have chosen a different career, but that is life and no matter what, you have to find a way to overcome obstacles and try to succeed. I think of all the school events, field trips, athletics, band concerts, projects, late night homework and all the other memories that as parents we will cherish forever. We know these 9 months will go fast and we will all be preparing for the next chapter in all our lives. For all those students embarking on this last year of High School, enjoy the ride, cherish the moments, be proud of all of your accomplishments and know that sad days are temporary, that you are never alone, that a grade point, a test score or a class ranking, does not define who you are. Making it to your senior year is a great accomplishment and if you take time to reflect on where you were 10 years ago, 5 years ago, as a freshman, you will see a transition from child to adult and a mind that went from a blank slate to one of opinions and thoughts, and likes and dislikes. For us parents, some of us 30+ years from our High School days, we are proud of this generation. Those currently in High School have been the first generation in which their entirety of their school years had smart phones, social media and many other technology related obstacles that we, as parents, had to learn in order to help navigate through. To each High School Senior, remember how special you are, how incredible God made you and how the world is a better place because you are succeeding in life and all it has to offer. Enjoy this year and challenge yourself. It may be the end of High School but just the beginning of an incredible adult life. To my fellow parents, sit back, take a deep breath, maybe have a glass of wine. We are watching the result of the last 17 years of our child’s life finish a major accomplishment only to be ready for new challenges armed with all we have given them. Whatever the roads we have traveled to see our children become a senior, we are there, and the finish line is in sight…just one more push and next Spring we can all celebrate a milestone. God Bless all the Students, the Teachers, Administrators and my fellow Parents who share this journey…We are in this crazy thing called life together!
As a political party is about to have their 2nd Debate in Detroit I am reminded of the many years I lived in SE Michigan. (Middle School, High School and College) Michiganders, just like those in Texas, where I have called home for the last 25 years, are some of the hardest working, kindest and proud Americans. Just like Texans, the people of Michigan have strong opinions about what they believe but if a neighbor, friend, or co-worker is in need they will give the shirt off their back and sacrifice themselves to help others. I learned a lot from the people in Michigan during my formative years, one being that it does not matter what you do in this world, sitting behind a desk, being on an assembly line, plowing snow, etc. but a hard day’s work, an honest day’s work, and one where you respect others is the best way to live. I have been blessed to live in Michigan as a child through early adulthood and Texas for most of my adult life and although each state has some differences, each are a good representation of the best parts of this great nation. So, if we ignore the typical rhetoric of another political cycle and focus on the best parts of our nation, the people, we can have less anger, less stress and less headaches and continue to thank God for the opportunity to live here.
One of the things we constantly hear from politicians, whether on the local, state, or national level, is the idea that they stand for what Americans are concerned with and discuss at their kitchen table. While voters may be concerned with things such as jobs, economy, health care, immigration, education and a slew of other topics, the one item that these politicians omit from speeches and ironically the one item that more Americans have in common than which side of the aisle they may stand is what many will do before they eat their meal, or before they go to bed, or before they leave for work, that is to Pray and acknowledge that there is a GOD. Before I get the push back of the misused argument of “Church and State”, let’s acknowledge that Faith in GOD is not about any particular religion and certainly not about the Government sponsoring a religion, like the “Church of England” or requiring people to worship or even to believe in a higher power. Belief in GOD is a personal choice in the United States as is worshiping with others, whether at a Bible Study, Church, Synagogue or Mosque and whether you believe that GOD exists or not the right to believe and worship is Absolutely Guaranteed in our Constitution. While ½ the country may differ on how to handle the problems that arise the majority still believe in something bigger than any human being, and especially bigger than any politician. Even most Immigrants that hope to find a better life in the United States believe that there is a GOD. I imagine before they make their journey to our border, they pray about it and ask GOD to guide them. The general omission of how important Faith in GOD is to the citizens of the United States by our politicians is one of the main reasons we have so much anger and malcontent. It is sad that after a tragedy we hear from some the mocking of “Thoughts and Prayers”. In my opinion, if we had more of our politicians pray before a meeting, before a session of Congress and before an opportunity to speak to others there would not be as much anger and maybe there would be less tragedies. It is vital to this nation that the acknowledgement of the most common thread of the people of this great nation is not mocked, ridiculed, or omitted but rather embraced and discussed. If we start with the realization that most Americans consider themselves a Child of GOD, and although we may have very different opinions we are united as Brothers and Sisters under the One Who Created Us and for those who do not believe in GOD we are still United Under our Flag and those who fought for All of our Freedoms.
I watched my Alma Mater lose in the Final Four as MSU lost to Texas Tech. The Post-Game news conference and interviews reminded me once again why College Athletics should be the example to both adolescents, and even many professional athletes, in how one should conduct themselves. Coach Izzo and the Spartan players all acknowledged that the Red Raiders played better, took blame for missing shots, and appreciated that they had a great season and came up short. There was no finger pointing, accusing others for causing them to lose etc. Even the first game between Auburn and Virginia, which did have some controversial and missed calls at the end, saw the Auburn team talk about their defeat with class and dignity. In victory, both Virginia and Tech were humble and appreciative of their opponents. Given all that, what stood out above everything was what the media didn’t show. At the end of the MSU/Texas Tech game, when the winning coach was finally able to make it back to the locker room to see his players who had been waiting, the announcers wondered just how much celebrating they were going to do given they still had one more game to play. As Coach Beard finally made it in, before any words were spoken, they all gathered in a circle and knelt in prayer. The cameras immediately went to a different shot. The media did not want the public to see what many believe to be more important than a basketball game, more important than a school reaching a final for the first time in their history..it is the Glory to God for all their ability and opportunity. Many teams pray, whether they win or lose, yet ironically there are High Schools around the country that are trying to ban team prayer. If a player gets hurt it seems to be OK for players to kneel and pray for their well-being and the media will show that but if a team wins or loses and just wants to thank God for the opportunity than that becomes taboo and gets no recognition. If we truly want to see more young athletes grow up to be humble, less arrogant and be the role models that many look up to, then maybe the media needs to show what many college athletes are already doing….If players are acknowledging God for all their success and opportunity then let that be part of the story…faith, hard work and humility can spread just as fast as arrogance and greed.
When he was small, we played basketball. The hoop was lowered to 6 feet. I didn’t play defense and purposely didn’t make many shots. When he was a little older, he learned how to shoot, dribble and the rules of the game. As a pre-teen, I would still not block his shots and would let him score when he could, as well as, for him to feel excited about even winning a game now and then. As a young teen he was competitive and really tried to beat Dad. My height and weight advantage still gave me the upper hand, but I didn’t have to “trick” him into thinking I was actually trying. The games were close but still the outcome was predictable. Then he got taller, then he got stronger, then he got quicker and then he got very good. I got older, less stamina and my speed seemed to disappear as quickly as my larger waist appeared. Now at almost 17, he is kind to me…lets me score a few and doesn’t try his hardest. He amazes me with his skill, far more than I ever had, his competitiveness, trash talking, and his ability to turn it off when appropriate. Yes, now he still will play a game with his Dad, not because it is a challenge, not because our skills are equal but because it is still fun to beat Dad, still fun to show me how good he is and still fun to hang out together. It may just be a game, but it mirrors life, as we watch our children go from a blank slate to one that masters skills and learns how to be successful. So, every time I get the opportunity to lose a game to my son, I thank God for the time together and the opportunity to see him succeed.
The Constitution grants the right to vote & the right to bear arms. We have rules that require citizens to be of sound mind, be competent and not be a threat to society in order to possess a firearm, even requires a license if going to carry outside of the home. Many in Congress want to make these rules stronger to reduce the number of people who own a gun. These same Congressmen want to reduce the criteria that allow people to vote. They want to remove identification, citizenship, and now even reduce the age. The responsibility to vote, the consequences of a vote, and the future of our country is heavily related to elections, yet many want to reduce these requirements. It would be interesting to see just how many citizens can’t name the three Branches of Government, or understand what a Senator, Representative and even President does, or how a bill can become a law? If the Constitution grants rights to citizens but allows criteria to be in place in order to exercise these rights why not think about some criteria, including proper identification or some knowledge of what they are voting for in order to exercise one of the most powerful rights existing as a citizen, the Right to Vote?
What I find hypocritical is that many politicians talk about “Fair Share”. Those in states that have high state taxes seem to be complaining the most. The Tax Reform in 2017 only capped the deduction of State Taxes at $10,000. Personally, I feel it should have been eliminated. Those that get a deduction on their Federal Taxes for what they paid in State Taxes is really what is not fair. Federal Refunds come from the Federal money which is made up of funds from every tax paying citizen throughout the country. Individuals that live in states with high state taxes choose to live and elect politicians that keep taxes high. For those of us in other states I don’t feel it is fair that my Federal Tax Dollars are given back to reduce their high state taxes. Either move to a different state or elect politicians that reduce your state taxes. I think about the millions of Federal dollars that are refunded for State Tax Deductions because of Just CA and NY and a handful of other states. It seems those that complain don’t really want “fair share” they want the rest of us to pay for their choices. If we really want a Fair Tax system… we need to look at a simple “Flat Tax” …eliminate all deductions and everyone pay the same percent. If you make more, you pay more, but everyone is treated the same. The answer is not increasing Taxes Rates on those that already pay more than others, it is simplifying the Tax system so everyone is treated equally.
This was my first blog I ever wrote… January, 2014…sadly, 5 years later not much has changed..even worse.
This week we saw some cold, frigid weather; and of course the continuous back and forth of politicians blaming each other for why our country has issues that need to be addressed. We as Americans are some of the most Honest, Hard Working, Caring, give-the-shirt-off-your back individuals on the entire planet. Don’t get me wrong, there are wonderful people all over…even in the countries that we consider “enemies” of the USA.
God created people. We are good by nature…some choose to do bad things.
Contrary to what many in the media want to project and fill the airwaves with, most Americans get along with one another, respect one another, Love one another. Yes, regardless of Race, Religious Affiliation, Life Choices and Personal Beliefs…we do get along. We don’t all agree but most people in this country are kind, caring and willing to listen to others that have a difference of opinion.
It is sad to see what is happening on a National Scale in Washington…it filters to politics on all levels..then filters to everyday America.
When a person is surrounded and constantly bombarded with anger, negativity, blame, and the feeling of hopelessness bad things can happen. We are ALL responsible for what is happening to our Country. We are about to start a year of candidates that will be running for various national and local politics as we head towards the elections of 2020. I would like to see a candidate start a debate by saying to their opponent..”Just so you know, I love you as one of God’s children, respect you as an individual and appreciate the good that you do in this world. Yes I do disagree with you on many topics but I am willing to have an open, honest discussion about our differences so the voters can decide who they would like to represent them.” I would like to see the reaction of the moderator and the audience if a debate started that way.
The sad part is most neighborhoods, coffeehouse discussions start this way without having to preface it. Most folks enjoy a good discussion and respect opinions of others. Something seems to get lost when a person runs for an office or is already elected and trying to do their job.
Even those that seem to not be able to stand the sight of one another in Washington have more in common than they believe. If we start with what we have in common than the differences don’t seem as bad. There will Never be a time when every person believes the exact same thing. We are not robots, not machines. We have opinions. We look different, sound different and yes, we think different. However, at the core of our existence we believe in many of the same things. Even for the people who don’t believe there is a God, they believe in what the Ten Commandments states, they just may call it common sense rather than rules from God. I may never convince someone there is a God but I know in my heart God still loves them. I may never convince someone of my political and philosophical beliefs but I know we can still respect each other and work together to find common ground and do good things.