Day 2 of Spring Break — Snow

Hi and Happy Thursday.  On Day 2 of our Spring Break in the mountains of North Carolina, we woke up to 3 to 4 inches of snow. The amazing thing was that snow didn’t stick to the roads, sidewalks, or driveways.

In the morning we made and threw snowballs, walked around, made snow cream, and had lots of fun.  Then by dinner time, all of the snow had melted.  What an odd way to start our spring break, but it sure was fun.  Hope you enjoy the photos.

Happy Birthday Dear Beckie!

Today is my sister-in-law Beckie’s birthday.  Happy Birthday to you dear Beckie!  Hope you have a great and wonderful day. Hope you can do something fun and enjoy the entire day!

Beckie is married to my brother and is my second sister.  We always have a great time when we get together. I am always wishing for more time with her, my brother, and their two teenagers.  For example, we missed her party over the weekend since I wasn’t feeling well.  Bummer.

This photo is from our lunch out years ago at the beach.  We had a great time that day and some delicious food.  Over the years, we have enjoyed many meals, many laughs, some sorrows, lots and lots of conversations, inside jokes, and have taken, posed for, and shared many photos.  I am blessed to have her in my life.

Beckie, I hope that you have a great day and another wonderful trip around the sun!  I also hope to see you again soon.  Take care!  Love ya.

A few birthday quotes:

  • “The first fact about the celebration of birthdays is that it is a good way of affirming defiantly, and even flamboyantly, that it is a good thing to be alive.” ~ G.K. Chesterton
  • “A birthday is just the first day of another 365-day journey around the sun. Enjoy the trip.” ~ Author unknown
  • “Growing old is mandatory; growing up is optional.” ~ Chili Davis
  • The secret of staying young is to live honestly, eat slowly, and lie about your age.” ~ Lucille Ball

Food For Kids and Education

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe school where my son attends includes many kids on free and reduced lunches.  Over the years, the number has increased of families who are provided with these meals.  And, many of these kids also get care packages of food to take home each weekend.

It has been startling to see this change in my city from a thriving place of numerous jobs to fewer and fewer each year.  This is, however, the reality, and one that we are trying to deal with.  I am glad that our schools, our churches, and our community are working together to feed these children.

Children must have their bodies nourished before they can learn and have their brains nourished.  If their stomachs are growling all day, it is very hard for them to focus on math problems, or write sentences.  It is also hard to absorb what they are being taught if they are both hungry and thirsty.

My dad taught for several years in a poor community where this struggle was alive and well.  He saw first hand the problem of hungry kids struggling to keep up with school work and learning.  So, that district also provided food for them at a discounted price or full gift.

Many of the families in both communities were and still are the working poor.  They work for minimum wage and do try to provide for their families. They aren’t just lazy and uncaring about their kids as some may think. They do want to provide but often struggle to make ends meet.

Now it seems that there is talk of taking these programs away.  Perhaps some things could be changed, I don’t know.  But you know who will be harmed the most with drastic removals of money and food?  The kids.  Are we not supposed to be providing for our families and our children?  They are our responsibility from birth until they become adults.  And, shouldn’t we be helping others?

I am not saying that no changes should be made or that money may not need to be trimmed back.  The thing that bothers me is to say the poor don’t care about their children, shouldn’t be helped in feeling them, and then turn that into action of eliminated programs.   I see families each day doing their best for their children.

My hope, prayer, and voice will be that before these programs are just gutted, something will take their place that will continue to help our nation’s children.  The idea of hungry children in America is heartbreaking to me.  Is it to you as well?  Let’s help to ensure that doesn’t happen.

In Remembrance of Me

broken.breadOn Sunday, we had communion at church.  My church serves wafers and wine and the congregation always sings songs while communion is served.  That day, we sang my favorite communion song, “In Remembrance of Me.”

It is a song that reminds us of what Jesus did for us and want He wanted us to do.  He wanted us to love one another as He loved us, to care of each other, and to support each other.

Here are the powerful words:

  • “In remembrance of Me, eat this bread. In remembrance of Me, eat this wine.
  • In remembrance of Me, pray for the time when God’s own will is done.
  • In remembrance of Me, heal the sick.
  • In remembrance of Me, feed the poor.
  • In remembrance of Me, open the door.  And let your brother in, let him in.
  • Take, eat, and be comforted.  Drink and remember too.
  • That this is My body and precious blood shed for you, shed for you.
  • In remembrance of Me, search for truth.
  • In remembrance of Me, always love.
  • In remembrance of Me, do look above, and in your heart, look in your heart for God.
  • Do this in remembrance of Me.”

Isn’t this an amazing song?  It made me tear up yesterday since much of this is not happening anymore.  So much of our society is not living like this or loving like this.  I hope that we can learn to love this way again and remember to care for our fellow men, women, and children.

I am not saying that we do things that could harm ourselves, our families, or our neighbors.  I don’t want that, but there is plenty that can be done, if we just think about the many needs and see what we can do to help.

A few examples: My church provides meals once a month to the homeless.  We rotate with other churches at a homeless shelter.  Last winter, my church had a coat drive and gave coats to those in need.  A few weeks ago, the youth group went to a local store and gave away gift cards on a random acts of kindness day.

As in many cities, there is a need of hungry children.  So the local Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts go once a month and work with another church in town to help prepare bags that are then delivered to the schools and those who need them.  Ian and I have done that a few times.  We talked about the fact that kids often need food to be sure they have enough on the weekends.

For many years, my family has raised money for a needy family in lieu of gifts for each of the adults.  It is rewarding and has really helped a few other families.  And, after a wildfire in the Smoky Mountains, Dolly Parton held a telethon raising money for thousands of families who lost everything.

Small things can make a huge difference, if only we will work together.  My prayer is that we will.  Just imagine what we could accomplish if we would come together?  I hope and pray that we will consider what we can do to help someone in need.

Ethics, Smethics

Playground.4Do ethics still matter or are they something to be set aside when we feel like it.  Are they ethics or ethics smethics?  I think they do matter.  I also think they are important to teach to children.  Yet, many adults no longer seem to feel they are important.  And, that is troubling.

Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines ethics as:

  • a set of moral principles :  a theory or system of moral values
  • the principles of conduct governing an individual or a group
  • a guiding philosophy
  • a consciousness of moral importance

Wow, some big concepts about how to act, how to treat others, and how to live our lives.  Yet who and what determines our ethics?  I feel that our faiths, morals, and values are a large factor, as well as what we were taught growing up.  Our experiences and our own internal values also are a part.

Treating others as we want to be treated used to be a good gauge of our ethics and morals.  Yet today, we seem to hate, to distrust, and lie to each other without thought or question.  We have leaders who are doing the same.  We seem to not think twice about cutting someone’s feelings to the bone and causing them pain.

We seem to think we are better than each other.  And, some even think they are above the law, above reproach, and above questioning.  Yet, should anyone be exempt from treating someone kindly and fairly and with respect?  Should anyone be above reproach or questioning? I don’t think so.

Is it right and ethical of a political party to not investigate something just because it was allegedly done by the same party?  I think not.  Saying so is turning a blind eye to something that could be very wrong and harmful.

Is it right to hate someone who believes a different religion than we do, or looks different than we do, or has less money than we do, or loves in a way that we don’t understand?  I think not to this as well.

Hate crimes have been going on for years.  I don’t like them and often don’t understand them and I want them to stop.  Unless we can replace this hate and distrust with love and learning to trust, I don’t know how we can change.

Children love without question and without prejudice.  They are taught how to hate, how to distrust, and often how to lie.  They can and should instead be taught how to love, how to trust, and how to know and tell the truth.

A few things I want for us to do:

  • May we learn to be kind to each other
  • May we discern what is right and what is wrong
  • May we not listen to people trying to convince us that lies are the truth
  • May we stand up for what we believe without tearing each other down
  • May we ask questions and seek the truth
  • May we discern what we are being told to believe
  • May we live ethical lives
  • May we teach our children to love
  • May we always love

I wonder if we can be ethical and live with love and respect?  My earnest prayer is that we can.  I know that we can; I just hope that we will.

Followup to Our Freedoms, New President

FlagsHi and happy Monday.  I had an amazing response to my blog that I posted on Friday — On Freedoms and Our New President . Thanks so much to all that read it.  For those who gave comments, I thank you as well.

I have had responses from people I don’t know, acquaintances, and from my friends and family.  Only two were posted at the end of that blog and I responded to them.  Another one I have been reviewing and others were on Facebook.  I like that people are willing to discuss what they think, calmly and rationally.

I did notice that one of my friends from high school has totally opposite views on a few subjects than I do.  I thought that was very interesting and realize that it is a time to start a dialogue and learn about what each other thinks.  If we can’t do this, I don’t know how we can come together.

She thought that the media was the one twisting the facts and slanting things and trying to tell people what to think.  My view is that the administration is doing that and the media is reporting on it and often asking questions that the administration seems to not like to answer.

So, what do we do with this?  How do we reconcile opinions when they are so totally different?  I am not saying that she is wrong and I am right.  I don’t think that.  I just realize how different our viewpoints are.  And, I want to find a way to learn from one another and respect where each other is coming from.

I have known this friend for most of my life, lost touch for a while, and am recently back in touch with her.  I have many fond memories of our younger years and a lot of fun more recently with her.  I don’t want that to change.  So, I do want this to work.

Calmly talking to each other is a great first start.  Taking the time to listen and not telling each other to shut up would also be good.  Listening to learn about another side of an issue is extremely important to learn about issues and figure out a way to solve them.

On both the right and the left, there are certainly bends and leanings of all media.  Each news channel and newspaper seem to have opinions these days.  We often like to listen to the ones we agree with and often don’t understand or like what the other side has to say.

My major in college was journalism and my first job after that was as a reporter with a beat of county government, the county commission, the jail, the sheriff’s department, the courts, the school board, and other items as well.  I learned so much on this beat and was fascinated at how it all worked.  I will write another blog on that experience soon.

Back then, fact and opinion were always separate and not allowed to be co-mingled. Things have changed so very much since then.   As we all know now, opinion and commentary now are regular parts of the discussion.   Now anyone can create a blog and write his or her opinion.  We also have Facebook and Twitter to spread our message, whatever it may be.

My sincere hope and prayer is that we all can find a way to be more civil with one another, stop lying (from the top down), stop being so hateful, and instead respect each other.  All sides of issues are screaming and yelling and I really don’t like that.  If we keep yelling, we cannot listen to one another.  And, I think there are many people with ideas to contribute and make things better, if only we can stop all of the noise.

On Freedoms and Our New President

governmentSince the new president was sworn in, I have been told to get over my opinion.  In addition, I have read postings screaming at people for not respecting him, fussing for not supporting all that he says and does, told to not hate on him, and to give him a chance.

Okay, I get that and I understand where these people are coming from. On the other hand, I was taken aback at being talked to this way and reading these postings.  I am a calm and normally quiet person.  I don’t like being talked to like a child by people who aren’t my elders or my parents or other family member.  I also don’t like being told how to think and what to believe and I never have.

I do not hate our new president.  Instead, I pray for him and all of our leaders.  I pray that they will discern what is best for all of our citizens and be respectful of all of us.  I also pray they will lead us with integrity and values of all Americans, not just those who elected them.  And I question him, what he says, and what he does, as I always have with our leaders.

Disagreeing with our leadership is not being disrespectful or hateful.  It is exercising our rights as citizens of this great country of ours.  During President Obama’s eight years, he was regularly mocked, told he was a liar, had his citizenship and religion questioned for years, and people criticized him every day.  So, why is it suddenly wrong to question and disagree with President Trump?  I don’t understand.

I am not saying that I agreed with all that Obama did, but overall I liked him.  I questioned some things but thought he was fair and took all citizens into account.  I want our new president to be a great president and do the best for our country.  I want him to work with other countries to maintain peace and still protect us.  It doesn’t have to be one or the other, in my opinion.

I wonder if he understands how the United State Government works or if he cares. I only mention this because of what has transpired over the past few weeks – not to be hateful or disrespectful.  There are three branches of government with equal but separate powers.  Our founding fathers set up the government to prevent the consolidation of power to one person functioning as a king or emperor.  (Note: This image is from Power Point clip art.)

This is not his company anymore where he can fire any person at will.  This is the United States of America with an array of amazing and very different people.  This is not a reality show but real life.  And, real life is messy and full of problems, arguments, free wills, disagreements, as well as love and respect and finding a way to work together for the betterment of our friends, our family, and strangers.

I want Mr. Trump to stop bashing those who disagree with him.  I want him to tell the truth.  I want him to not insult other world leaders but instead find ways to work with them.  I want him to know that he cannot always get his way but can compromise to come to something that is best for our nation and our citizens.

Too many people now believe that compromising is to be avoided at all costs.  Instead, it could be the way we can work together again.  It worked when Reagan was President and I think that it could again, if our leaders are willing.

I want him to stop saying one thing one week and then the total opposite two weeks later and trying to blame others or the media for what was directly quoted.  I want him to realize that his words have weight and should be thought through.  I want him to listen to and consider views other than his own.  I want him to realize he isn’t the only one in the room with a good idea and something to contribute.

I want him to respect others if he demands and expects respect.  Respect has to go both ways.  It is time to stop focusing on crowd sizes, polls, and numbers and get to the business at hand for ALL citizens.  Just because a poll or news report doesn’t agree or say what you want, it doesn’t mean it is a lie or false journalism.  Different opinions show that people use their own brains to decide what they think and what they believe.  It is the First Amendment at work.

Let’s face it, that amendment is hard to live with but needs to be protected, upheld, and if needed, studied.  As much as we have a right to speak our mind, so do others who we totally disagree with.  I as a Christian have as much right as those of any and all other faiths.  And you know what else?  Even though I may not agree with them or them with me, they deserve my respect if I want it in return.

Also, the media has the right and duty to report the news, ask questions, investigate, and not be the mouthpiece for the government.  This is a democracy with a free media and that must stand.  In countries where the press is controlled by the government, there is usually much less freedom for the people.

We are not children to be scolded and told what to do.  I am tired of this trend as well.  I am a grown woman, married with one child.  I am a high school graduate, a college graduate, a former journalist, and now writer and editor.  I am a moderate independent who has voted for both Republicans and Democrats.

I am an American who loves our country and our freedoms.  I am an American who has a voice and a vote.  I want the best for our country and am sure that we all do.  I hope and pray that we can come together to do just that.

Public Schools Rock!

Playground.5The vote this week to confirm someone as the Secretary of Education who has no experience in the public schools had me dumbstruck and confused.  Why, oh why would the Senate do this?  They almost didn’t but a first ever tie-breaking vote was made to approve her.

I want to give her a chance and see if she can bring something new to the discussion about education.  I hope and pray that she does.  I just am not sure and am concerned.

I want her to listen to the thousands of teachers, principals, superintendents / directors of schools, school boards, PTO and PTA members, parents, and others who have been working and supporting our nation’s public schools.  I also want her to understand the importance, value, and need of the public schools.

I come from a long line of public teachers and am proud to say so.  My grandparents taught in the schools as well as one of my great-grandmothers. My grandfather worked with special needs students and all students to have what they need to learn.  My parents both taught.  My sister is a teacher.  I also have aunts and uncles, friends, cousins and others who are teachers or have taught. I have one thing to say to all of them, thank you!

I am a graduate of a public high school that provided wonderful classes and information.  I went to a public elementary school, a public junior high, and a public high school.  My school district was and still is one of the best around.  I hope they continue to be.

Now, I am involved again in the public schools with my son now being a student.  He loves his school, he loves his teachers, and so do I.  They all want what is best for him and work hard to teach him, help him, and encourage him when he has struggles. They not only teach academics, but also life skills and values, and recite a pledge each morning to be kind, work together, give no put-downs, and do their best.  This is said after the Pledge of Allegiance.

As you are aware, I am also active in his school’s PTO.  I very much enjoy working with the school staff, administration, teachers, and parents to help our students.  I will continue to do so as long as he is at this school.

Those of us who love our public schools should continue to fight for our students.  May we be positive and support our teachers, our students, our principals and vice principals, our staff members, our superintendents and directors of schools, and our school boards.  May we continue to have a wonderful public education.

My Civics Class

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERAWhen I was in 9th grade, I had the opportunity to take the best class — Civics. It was team taught and all about the American Government. I learned a lot and over the past two weeks have realized that our leaders of today and our citizens could benefit from this class.

We the students were taught by two amazing men who also coached.  They let us do everything that you normally just read about.  So, it stuck with all of us.  Anyone who took this course learned so much and was, I think, the better for it.

In our Civics community, we first were immigrants to the United States.  We wrote about ourselves and had to go through Citizenship class.  We came to the class with new eyes and respect for this amazing country with so many freedoms.

We then chose jobs, discussed and filled out tax returns, and decided how much we earned from our job. If we had a family, we had to take care of a raw egg and treat it as a child.  We learned about the taxes that are paid before you get your salary and how the IRS works.

We also held a Presidential election, had a convention or two (I don’t remember), and voted for our candidate.  Thankfully there wasn’t too much mud being slung around.  At least I don’t remember it. Then the swearing-in.

We learned that there are three branches of government since our founding fathers didn’t want a king or queen in charge of the new world  This is what is great and unique to America.  We have the executive branch (the President), the legislative branch (Congress), and the judicial branch (the Supreme Court).

All three have specific roles and compliment each other. At least they are supposed to. The President is not in charge of everything and cannot change everything.  We have checks and balances in place so one person cannot control it all.  I for one am thankful for that and hope it never changes. I just wish that our current leadership realized this fact.

I don’t remember how we studied the legislative branch but seems that we wrote laws and discussed and debated them.  We also had to argue a case before our Supreme Court.  Some argued for what they believed in and others argued for things that they didn’t.  It was a great learning tool to learn about something that was different from our own belief and to discover that there is merit in another side of an argument.

We also had a court case with eye witnesses.  What was amazing was that many people recalled different facts about the crime, as often happens in real life. This is often hard to work with for those in the courts and those working to convict criminals.  As I wrote about last week, it is our own unique perspective that is part of what we see and pay attention to.

This class meant the world to me since we were right in there doing things as adults do them in the real world.  I only wish now that our adults would take their rolls and positions seriously and realize how important our country is.  Our freedoms are amazing and so special and not to be removed.

I wonder how much of what I learned in Civics class will continue to be how our country operates.  I hope and pray that it all will.  And, I will do my part to ensure that it continues on as it should for our son and his generation.  I will vote, I will write, I will discern and I will think about what is being said and done.  I hope that you will do the same.

Kindness Does Matter

DSC00725This week, I have woken up in the middle of the night with thoughts and worries.  Much has been on my mind since so much has changed so quickly.  It is making my head spin.  I have also been thinking about the fact that our society is now so rude and no longer tolerant of those who don’t agree with us.

Contrary to what is seen on social media now and on television, kindness and respect matter.  Differences of opinion without being threatened matter.  A free press and chance to speak out matter.  Our constitution and promise that all men are created equal matter.  Helping each other and loving our fellow men and women matter.

When did it happen that these things no longer matter?  I don’t remember but it is on full display now.  And, it is so ugly. This way of thinking has been brewing and building for a long time and sadly has continued.  It is from all sides of the issues.  We can do better than this.  We must do better than this for our children and for each other.

I had the amazing opportunity of growing up in a diverse family.  We all didn’t think alike, believe alike, love alike, talk alike, or act alike.  You know what?  It didn’t matter since we still loved each other.  We were family and that mattered more than our differences.  Not to say there weren’t heated arguments and hurt feelings because there were.

The difference was and still is that we have apologized, tried to repair the relationship, and worked on healing.  We listened to each other in order to learn where each other was coming from.  We took the time to find out another side of an argument.  And most importantly we didn’t try to shame one another into believing as we did.  That skill seems to be gone today.

Instead we are on edge before a conversation even starts.  Instead both those on the left and those on the right are trying to one up each other and scream at each other that the other’s belief is wrong.  Is that how we’d want children to act?  Would we put up with it from them?  If not, why are we with each other?  I just don’t understand.

How will things change and improve for our entire country and all of our citizens if we can’t even have a debate without yelling and screaming at each other and calling one another names?  I wasn’t allowed to do that as a child and my husband and I don’t want our son to do that either.  Yet, many adults do so each day.

Another thing that concerns me and that is hard to explain to our son is all of the blatant and outright lies being told by people in leadership and those speaking for them.  That too has been going on for far too long and needs to stop.  As I told someone yesterday, I don’t like lying from any side and never have.

And, just because someone says something over and over and over again doesn’t make it true.  Facts are facts.  We may not like them but by their definition, that is what they are.  I don’t understand why people seem to not understand that and believe the lies as truths.  That has not made sense to me for a long, long time.

I also think that blind devotion in anything can be dangerous.  I think that we should ask questions, we should investigate, we should learn, we should discern, and we should pray and/or meditate.  We shouldn’t be told how to think or what to think.

I told our son something this week I never thought I would say, “Just because you hear an adult say something doesn’t make it true.  Mom and Dad will talk with you about any and all questions that you have and things you don’t understand.”  As he gets older, he will have to discern for himself.

I just hope and pray that we have taught him enough about morals, ethics, kindness, love, forgiveness, empathy, and tolerance that he can stand on his own two feet.  And, to standup for what he believes in without tearing someone else down.  We still have so much to teach as well as to learn from him.  Isn’t that an amazing blessing?

There is so much more I could write about and probably will in the coming days.  Until then, I will keep praying, studying, watching, listening, and discerning what I see, read, and hear.  My prayer is that you too will do the same.

I will continue to work with my husband in teaching our son the values that we hold dear, whether or not society does the same.  My prayer is that you practice kindness today as I will also try to do. May we always remember to love and be kind instead of to hate.