Wednesday, September 05, 2012

It's Two A.M--Do You Know Where Your Party Is?

Next time I see one of those obnoxious "Annoy a Republican--live like Jesus" posts, I'm gonna respond with this video. Because I'm sure Jesus is not all about taking His father's name out of core values, denying His chosen people's rightful inheritance of Jerusalem, and then begrudgingly, amidst boos, having to put those things back. I mean, should this have even HAD to come to a vote? Sheesh. I mean, good for that minister for putting it back in, and good for those who voted for it to pass, but I seriously don't understand my Christian brothers and sisters on this one. Don't they stop and wonder why they are where they are? They wouldn't have to wrestle with this issue at LAST week's convention. Moments like these sharply contrast the two parties' ideas and I wonder how many people just vote a certain way because they always have (my maternal grandparents did that). If they really sat down and examined what the two parties believed, would they be shocked at what they discovered?

If you would like to look at the Republican's party platform, I will provide the link (it's pretty lengthy). All I ask it that people be informed before they vote. I KNOW what (and who) I'm really voting for--do you?

Monday, March 26, 2012

Wherein I Begin a Rant About Fruit

So here's the deal: I went through the McDonald's drive-in a couple of weeks ago with my daughter and we both ordered our usual--cheeseburger Happy Meal with a Coke, no ice for me and six-piece McNugget with Coke, no ice for her. **We always get Happy Meals because a "regular" meal is too much food for either of us, and we find the portions of a Happy Meal just about right. Get that? WE CONTROL OUR OWN PORTIONS BY USING OUR OWN BRAINS.

Keep that lil' old tidbit in mind.

I gave the McDonald's server the money for the food, handed the bags and drinks to my daughter, and we started off. I asked her the first question I always ask, "What kind of toy did I get?" She showed me and I stuffed it in the console to send to my niece in Africa. Next, I reached in the bag for a yummy fry (hoping they were extra salty!) and then, to my utter flabbergastion (made that up!) pulled out a cold bag of . . . apple slices?

What. The. Heck.??

I looked at my daughter. "I got apple slices," I said. "I didn't ask for apple slices. Did you?" She looked in her bag and pulled out a packet of apple slices and the teeniest, tiny bag of fries I had ever seen. Honestly, it looked like a french fry bag for a doll. "Oh, yeah," MyGirl said, frowning. "I forgot. They changed the Happy Meals. Now they ALWAYS give you apple slices and little fries unless you ask for something else."

Thank you, frikkin' Michelle-I-Gotta-Run-Your-Life-Between-My-Many-Vacations-Obama.

I went purple with rage and began a full-fledged, Constitutional-rights rant, turning the car around and heading for a parking space. "No way," I finally sputtered. "This is not what I wanted, and not what I paid for, and last time I checked, this was STILL America." I took both our meals into the restaurant and handed them unceremoniously to the server. "I don't want apples," I said flatly. "I don't like apples. I want regular small size fries."

The server sighed wearily. "You're not the only one," she said. She punched a couple of buttons and then frowned. "I need help," she hollered over her shoulder. A manager appeared instantly. "Can I assist you?" he asked me.

"Sure," I said pleasantly. "Take these apple slices and give them to someone who ORDERED them. I want regular small fries." He did, I thanked him, and I walked out of there with both my dignity AND my fries. As soon as I got home, I looked up what was going on with McDonald's, and sure enough, there was a report about the pressure McDonald's was getting from Michelle-etc-etc-Obama and others to "healthy up" their menus. McDonald's mentioned that they had moved from offering a choice between fries or apple slices to a mandatory offering of half apple slices, half-size fries because "only 11% of their customers were ordering apples" when simply given a choice.

Here's the deal: if only 11% percent of your customers are ordering something, IT MEANS THE MAJORITY OF YOUR CLIENTS DON'T WANT IT!!! If customers don't want something, you cannot, CAN.NOT make them buy it. And even if you can sneak those apples in, you certainly can't make your customers EAT them . . . or can you? Is that what is next?--a McDonald's employee, looking suspiciously like a government agent, standing over you, prying your mouth open, saying "You will eat those apple slices and YOU WILL LIKE IT. All Hail!"

Here's the deal: I don't go to McDonald's for a healthy snack. I don't WANT McDonald's to become my place for a healthy snack. I take pretty good care of my diet and the diets of my children, and if I want the occasional salty-salty fat fry, then leave. me. alone. As I mentioned above, I am fully capable of deciding how much food I want and how often I want it. I don't need good ol' Big Brother or Big Sister to "help" me. (And don't give me the old song-and-dance about "Yeah, well, YOU are careful, but what about those parents who aren't? Huh? Huh? We need to control them." Uh . . . no, we don't. Life, LIBERTY, and the pursuit of happiness. Those are our only guaranteed rights. You mind your backyard, and I'll mind mine.)

This all brings me back to the real question: does the government work for me, or do I work for the government? I know what the answer SHOULD be, but looking in my not-so-happy-anymore Happy Meal, I gotta wonder.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

God Bless 'Er

I'm getting ready to vote. Is it strange that I love it? I've always loved voting, and have voted in elections, big and small, since I was old enough to do it. I love my polling place--a tiny white rectangular building that serves as our very poor town's "Senior Center and Nutrition Center" on other, less important days. I love the old ladies that have been running the polling place for as long as I can remember. I love that I am one of the few in my area that has my name in the OTHER book (voters' registrations are either in the red book or the blue book), and that I can say, "Oh, I am in that OTHER one" when they are searching the wrong book for my name. It makes me feel rebellious to swim against the stream, and reminds me every time how lucky I am to have a choice. I love that when I finish drawing my lines to connect my choice of candidates and put my ballot in the large, blinking box (it looks so space age and completely out of place in this 1960s-era atmosphere) and start to leave, one of those old ladies will hand me an oval red, white, and blue sticker that proclaims, "I Voted!" (Yes, I wear that sticker all day. Proudly). Voting makes an ordinary day feel--I don't know--special somehow. Important. Possibly life changing.

I suspect my love of voting comes from the fact that I grew up in a foreign country, albeit one that is fairly democratic. The people in Kenya are all allowed to choose who they want as president. However, when I was small, there was really only one candidate on the ballot. Jomo Kenyatta (affectionately called "Mzee"), who had helped bring Kenya her independence, was president from independence until the day he died a very old man. While not perfect, he was beloved by all. I remember the day Mzee died hearing my parents talk fearfully of what that might mean politically--what danger we, the mzungus (white people) may be in. It was the first time I really recognized that I didn't actually belong in Kenya--I mean, I was five when we moved there; it was home to me--much more so than the America that was a dim memory. I remember running into the garden, weeping, mourning for a man I had revered. (Once, when he was passing through town, I caught a glimpse of him in his shiny black car. Everyone had to pull over on the side of road to allow the president and his entourage to pass, and we had been sitting and waiting for an hour at least. As his car passed, my sister and I waved and waved, and Mzee, who had the window rolled down a little bit, acknowledged us by shaking his famous cow-tail stick at us. It was thrilling.) Peace and order were quickly established, however, and his vice-president took over. Moi was president for a long, long time, too, but when he finally retired, the election process became even more dangerous, culminating in the riots of a few years back, where neighbor killed neighbor because of tribal differences. Now my dear Kenyan brothers and sisters in Christ have a constant request when we go back to visit: "Pray for the elections. Pray for peace." It is not an idle petition--there is real danger. And Kenya is not the only place where election day is tinged with fear--my sister is living in Senegal and has days when she won't leave the house and keeps the kids home from school, because it is election week and there are burnings and riots in the streets. And these are places that allow elections--the "free" places, not the ones who are ruled by dictators, where the idea of choosing your official representatives is far-fetched and the desire for such freedom may get you shot.

God bless America. Flawed as she is, I can tell you from experience, she is still free. I worry about the riots I see in major cities with this Occupy blah-blah nonsense. I want to shout at these people, "You don't understand what you are doing. You won't know what you are missing until you have destroyed it and it doesn't come back." I shudder when I hear about intimidation at polling places on both sides of the aisle. Discourse and disagreement is fine--great, even--but violence when one side doesn't agree with another is not okay. I am grateful that when I say, "Oh, I am in the other book," all I get is "Oh, of course, honey. Hang on, let me get it" and not a nightstick slapped against a palm menacingly or someone screaming in my face. Heaven forbid I ever act that way.

If today is a voting day for you, please, go do it, and thank God that you live in a country where you still can. I promise you it's a blessing you will miss when it's gone.

Monday, March 05, 2012

I Get Durn Poetic at Two In the Morn

Life. It knocks my knees right out from under me, then, as I'm stretched out flat in the dirt, lets me see that glimmer of a bright coin I never would have noticed if I was still standing. Sweet, awful tangle: bitterness chased with joy or, sometimes, delight chased with sorrow--either way, I guess I'll drink it right down to the worm. Because really, what choice do I have?

"Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death." (Auntie Mame).

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Wistful Thinking

As I was driving through town today, I spotted a bulldog staring out the window of a house. He had the curtain pushed back and was watching the cars intently, his tongue lolling out slightly, his head moving this way and that as the cars zoomed by. I laughed a little at the ridiculousness of him and wondered what he was thinking: "Man, if only I could get outside, I bet I could catch one of those things!" Or: "Brr. I can't wait until Spring--I am sick of being inside and am ready to go play in the yard." Or: "Why is that weird lady laughing at me?"

'Course he might not have been thinking anything at all, and it is really ME who wants to chase cars and wishes it was Spring and can't stop laughing at my own weirdness.

Yeah, it's probably that one.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

The More I Think I Know, the More I Know I Know Nothing At All

It is really true that you never understand a situation until you have had some time to gain perspective. I am finally, finally getting a little smidge of perspective about Lori's death--not peace, mind you--but perspective. What I have learned so far is that before this, I had no idea how or why I should pray. I was raised in a Christian home, a missionary kid who heard her entire life things about God and the Bible. This, I have decided, is a blessing and a curse, and it took getting the crap beat out of my soul for me to begin to really question the things I had blithely accepted as truth. Thomas Jefferson once said, "Question with boldness even the existence of God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfold fear." I get that now. Job, that paragon of virtue, questioned God. (Of course, he then got properly smacked down when God roared back in the midst of a whirlwind, "Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?") Though God put Job in his place, I feel that there is no question that he admired Job's moxie a little--if he hadn't, I'm pretty sure he would have blasted Job right out of this life. So I have decided two things: one, God loved me enough to let me get mad (and I was--really, really FURIOUS) at him because he did not answer my prayer and heal Lori, but two: it is NOT okay for me to stay mad. I am a toddler who really did not want God to deny my request for something that honestly was not a BAD request. I mean, I wasn't asking for riches untold or to be super-famous or super-beautiful. I just wanted God to save my best friend's life. And he said "no." So I threw a tantrum, and like a loving father, he stood back and let me--he did not roar at me from a whirlwind and blast me into oblivion. He let me scream and stomp and throw myself on the ground, and now that I have finally shut UP already, I can let him pull me to my feet so he can say, "Are you finished? You ask why? Because I said so. That's all the reason you need. It's not an answer you like but it's all you get. You just have to trust me on this: I love you. I love Lori and her husband and her kids and her parents and her family. I am good, and I do what I do because I am God. YOU, Becky, are not. You don't get a say in this. So let it go." And because I am the stubbornest toddler to walk this earth, it has taken me about a year and a half to finally say, "Okay. You're the boss."

Which brings me to prayer. I don't pray like I used to. In fact, it took me months after Lori's death to pray at all--part of it was the stubborn tantrum thing, but part was honest bafflement. We had literally THOUSANDS of believers praying for Lori's healing all over the world (I was in Kenya when I found out about the cancer and we had dear brothers and sisters in Christ there praying for her)--and SHE STILL DIED. So why bother asking, I wondered. Was this not a noble request? I have never been so consistent, so CONSTANT in prayer as I was when she was sick--and I can only imagine her own family was as well. So what was the point? If God already has things laid out according to his purpose, then what the heck am I asking for? He will do what he wants to do, and no prayer of mine is going to change that (just ask King David when he begged for the life of his son, or Christ himself, who asked that God take the cup from him before the crucifixion). When I finally stopped being mad and started remembering how good God has been to me in my life, I was faced with a terrifying emptiness I have never experienced before. I found that I could no longer talk to one who had been in my life as long as I could remember. I could not bring myself to pray--what on earth would I say? I could praise him, but I no longer believed that God would really answer my requests. Finally, I thought of Christ and the Lord's Prayer: "This, then, is how you should pray." And so that's all I prayed: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom, and the glory, and the honor forever, Amen. And as I prayed this prayer and ONLY this prayer, I realized what Christ was saying--it is all about God. Hallowed be HIS name. HIS kingdom come, HIS will be done. Becky and her will, surprisingly enough, don't appear anywhere in there. But it doesn't answer the question that if God is going to do what he wants to anyway, why should I bother asking for anything?

I am still not sure on this one, but I am looking. And for now, that's enough.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Flabby Muscles

I haven't done any serious writing in a long, long time--and I can tell. My fingers wheeze as I thump them along the keyboard, my brain keeps saying, "Huh? What?" in puzzlement as I try to coax it into some kind of coherent thought. So sorry, fat little dumplings, I think it's time we lay off the potato chips (facebook) for a while and eat some salad. Consider these your push-ups for the day--I'll be nice and just make you do ten. Ready? And one, and two . . .

*puff, puff, puff*