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3.31.2014

'Noah': The movie, not our man.


"But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD. These are the records of the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his time, and Noah walked with God."
Genesis 6: 8-9

A few years ago, when my husband and I found out we were having a son, we began discussing names. I wanted something different and trendy: a name that would sound really cool when they announced it during kindergarten graduation. My husband wanted something classic, masculine: a name that would look respectable on a business card one day. We debated. We made lists. We argued. I cried. And then one day, I asked, "what about Noah?" My husband looked me in the eyes and said, "I like it." We researched the name Noah and found that it meant "comforter", "wanderer", "peaceful".  In the Bible, we found the above mentioned verses and also found references to Noah being obedient to God's commands (Genesis 6:22, 7:5), faithful (Hebrews 11:7), reverent to the LORD (Hebrews 11:7), an "heir to the righteousness" of God (Hebrews 11:7). That was enough for us! We decided we would name our first born son, Noah, and began praying that his heart, like that of the biblical Noah's, would be an obedient one that was faithful to the LORD.

So, I admit, I am partial to that name: I loved it before Pottery Barn did!! And I was intrigued by the idea that Hollywood was producing a movie about Noah and the Great Flood. Russell Crowe is an amazing actor and I adored Emma Watson as Hermione Granger in the world of Harry Potter. (*See I am cool--I watch movies about witches and wizards!!*) And so, I naively thought this movie would be along the lines of the biblical account and maybe have the same appeal to Christian audiences as Mel Gibson's, 'The Passion of The Christ'. I thought perhaps that this movie might serve as a catalyst for some sort of spiritual revival in America (and around the world) that could begin with Hollywood, a place known by many as a breeding ground for those who seek happiness and joy by being different, secular, alternative thinkers. I considered the irony that the LORD might choose to use a Hollywood cinematic production directed by a non-believing, self-proclaimed atheist, ethnic Jew to change hearts and save souls. After all, the Bible tells us stories about how God used pagans and non-believers to bring about His will and transform lives and times--think King Nebuchadnezzar. I loved the idea that a movie adaption of the biblical story of how God sustained mankind could be used to usher in and bring about the salvation of countless people around the modern world. How perfect, how timeless, how miraculous!! If one life was changed or one soul saved by attending this movie, it would be worth it!! In my mind's eye, I imagined movie-goers leaving the theater in conversation about the story of Noah and the Word of God and how those conversations would be amazing beginnings to some incredible testimonies. I thought that I might actually go see this movie.

I thought wrong.

In the Bible, Noah is portrayed as a man of God. He was a righteous man that obeyed the commands of an Almighty Father without demanding evidence of the impeding flood or having all the answers pertaining to his families' survival. He was an outcast in a fallen society. He was ridiculed and heckled as he labored to complete the Ark according to the LORD's design and timeline. He lost everything (except his life and family) because he chose to cast aside his attachment to this world and its humanity and fix his eyes on things eternal. The story of Noah and his obedience is special and sacred to Jews and Christians all around the world. Noah is a patriachial hero, imperfect, but absolutely a pillar of our amazing faith. So, yes, I am slightly offended by the movie's director, Darren Aronofsky, weaving a vastly different, non-biblical story. Not so offended that I think the movie should be banned or that Christians should picket outside of the theaters showing the film. Mr. Aronofsky has every right to make whatever movie he chooses and depict his characters however he deems worthy. He has every right to interpret the account of Noah's life and the Great Flood as literally or as loosely as he would like. He is free to present his product, just as we are free to reject it. We are free to avoid watching the movie or renting it in the future. We are free to write critical reviews on Facebook and Twitter and dissuade our friends and family from contributing to its box office success.

Christians need to simply accept that this movie isn't about our Noah. This movie is a twisted-tale of environmentalism, evolution, and human survival created in the mind of someone interested in the story of Noah from the Bible but completely unconvinced of its authenticity. This movie is for entertainment not evangelism. Noah's claim to fame was not that he was the first environmentalist or original animal right's activist. He was a good steward of the land and friend of the beasts of the earth because that is what God commanded then and still commands of all believers. Noah's oral account of Creation to his sons would not have included any Darwinian evolution; it would have been the biblical account that Moses penned centuries later in Genesis chapter 1.

However, with all of that said...think of the attention this movie, this controversy, the Bible, and our LORD is currently getting!! Think of the conversations that are taking place between Christians and non-believers on opposite ends of the spiritual spectrum. Think of the possibilities!! This movie will undoubtedly be a box office success. Anytime there is this much hype around a movie, it is certain to bring in the bucks. Mr. Aronofsky will view the film as a success and it will most certainly help bolster his career. The actors and actresses starring in the movie will get the pleasure of fleeting fame and increased monetary success. And in true Hollywood fashion, I am going ahead and predicting an Oscar for Best Picture/Best Director/Best Actor next year!! I can just hear the acceptance speeches now!!

The movie 'Noah' is not about our man. This film does not define or reflect our faith as Christians. It doesn't represent what we believe or tell the story we hold so dear. It is simply a plagiarist attempt to secularize a covenant and relationship much higher, much greater and much more holy than anything the misguided people involved with its creation can imagine. The LORD made a covenant with Noah after the flood waters receded: a covenant to never again destroy mankind and the beasts of the earth with water. I hold firmly to the promise, represented by the rainbow, that the LORD loves and adores humankind. But clearly He leaves open the option to judge us once again. And the next time judgment rains down on earth, some of humanity will be wishing for water.  

3.25.2014

'Tis the season...



"In seed time learn, in harvest teach, in winter enjoy."
                                                                                              --William Blake

When I was newly married and before I had our children, I thought it would be possible to have everything in life, all the time. I thought I would have a perfect marriage; one that would be strengthened and reinvigorated continuously by regular dates and occasional romantic retreats. I thought for sure that my husband and I would produce a couple of perfectly behaved kiddos that slept well, never fused, self disciplined, weren't spoiled and loved us as much as we loved them. I envisioned a sparkling clean house with a white picket fence and a gourmet kitchen for me to prepare three healthy, multi-course meals each day that my grateful family would enthusiastically consume. I assumed I would have a great paying, highly satisfying job with a flexible schedule so that I could be super successful but also available to drop my kids off at school, pick them up and attend every field trip and classroom party. I just knew that I would be able to find the time to go to the gym, grocery shop without stress, get my hair highlighted regularly, enjoy monthly manicures, pedicures and massages and have a girl's night at least once a month. I thought my life would be balanced and full and wrongly assumed that mommies who didn't have all those things were obviously poor managers of their time and money.

And then life happened.

Seriously. It's like life punched me in the face. I don't have the perfect marriage. My husband and I don't get regular dates and in the last eleven and a half years, we have had ONE weekend long romantic retreat--it was last year for our 11th anniversary. We produced two amazing kiddos: amazingly active and never tired, amazingly destructive and messy, amazingly fusing and grumpy at times and somewhat over indulged. My house looks like a bomb exploded in each and every room. No white picket fences in my life--heck, if we had a fence, it would need to be at least 8 feet tall and provide lots privacy to hide the daily chaos! My kitchen and my cooking are far from what anyone would classify as gourmet. Each morning the kiddos and I are in mad rush to get out the door and yet still arrive late to school almost half of the time. I haven't been to the gym in five months and didn't go regularly prior to that. I despise Walmart and can't afford Brookshire's. I rarely get my hair highlighted and my hands and fingernails look like a 5th grade boys'. My girl's nights are few and far between because when I do occasionally get them, I can't really enjoy them because I feel guilty about leaving my husband with the kiddos or am stressing about the mounds of laundry I should be home attending to.

I'm not complaining, I am explaining. I am explaining how my life looked in my mind before it happened. I am simply conveying the lessons I have learned about how the reality of life, love, parenting, bills and responsibility are something that we aren't prepared for no matter how well-married, educated, plan-oriented or disciplined we are.  

But I have also learned: This is a season of my life. Although my marriage is far from perfection, it is loving and it is healthy. My husband is as committed to our family as I am and we make a really great team. We choose every day to face this life and its challenges together. There will come a day when my husband and I will be able to go on as many dates and romantic retreats as we want, but right now we happily settle for the rare date of a $5 pizza and a Lord of the Rings marathon. Our children, our precious little ones, grow up a little each day. I know that one day they will begin to help me around the house, make their own beds (without my OCD-self having to redo it), clean their own rooms, eat the same meal that I prepare for their father and me, want nothing more that to sleep late on Saturday morning and hopefully, they will eventually learn the value of hard work and a dollar. One day our children will be grown and raised and LORD willing, they will be happy, healthy, productive citizens. I choose now to invest in that future. I pray each day that they will be okay in spite of me.

One day my house will be too clean, too empty, too quiet. One day I can build a new house, a beautiful fence and take on a paying job. There will come a day when I can have coffee, Dr. Pepper or wine with girlfriends any day of the week. If finances allow, I will be able to get manicures, pedicures and my hair highlighted as often as needed or desired. One day my husband will play golf when I am gone on a day trip and my laundry load will undoubtedly be much lighter.

And I can honestly say, in my moments of clarity and grace, that I believe my life will be, in many ways, less full and less balanced when those seemingly blissful days arrive. Yes, my life is absolutely crazy. But my days are filled with giggles and hugs and cuddles that can never be duplicated and never redone. I have chosen to never miss a moment because these moments and memories are true treasures that my husband and I will reflect upon when our life enters a different season. 

Yes, there is a part of me that would love to be out changing the world. I won't lie. I would love to be out running for some political office, heading up some sort of non-profit organization or generating some insanely high income. But very early into parenthood, I recognized my limitations and I knew I wouldn't be good at anything if I tried to accomplish everything. There are days when I fear that my seemingly over-dependence on my husband and his sole bread-winning status might backfire terribly or cause bitterness and regret later in our marriage. Yes, there are times when my life feels like Groundhog day and I feel very sorry for myself. Yes, there are days when I wish I could get a pedicure. But most days I am really thankful. Thankful beyond words that the LORD has afforded me blessings and treasures far beyond my deserving or imagination. I am grateful that my children's childhood will be memories spent with me and that each day of their precious lives will be forever etched in my mind. 

So today, in a moment of humble clarity, I choose to enjoy [most] moments of this season. I am thankful for my marriage and for my H-O-double T,  hot husband!! I am thankful that we both love pepperoni pizza, fantasy movies and are heading in the same direction in life. I am eternally grateful for our children: their beauty, their innocence, their health, and their fullness of life and imagination--all amazingly perfect. I am grateful for my simple, small, messy home with its warmth and coziness. I choose to be content with what monetary resources we have at our disposal. I will happily plan girl's night out and couple date night knowing full well that someone, probably me, will cancel last minute because we couldn't get childcare or someone has a cold. I will choose to be thankful that I have hair and nails and try not to really care how they look. Today, I will simply be appreciative for this season of my life--because surviving and thriving during this chaotic season may very well determine the quality of the future, quieter ones.

3.21.2014

A family like mine...


"He that raises a large family does, indeed, while he lives to observe them, stand a broader mark for sorrow; but then he stands a broader mark for pleasure too."
 --Benjamin Franklin

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Kiddos and Mamaw and Papaw Halloween 2013
Kiddos and Grandmother February 2013

I have always been close to my grandparents; close both in geographical proximity and relationship-wise. I am very fortunate in that I have all but one grandparent still living, having only lost my maternal grandfather in May of 1999. My maternal grandmother, Grandmomma, remarried a few years ago and by doing so, brought a precious, Godly man into our family. My step-grandfather could never take the place of my Granddaddy but he is a wonderful man and I truly believe that he has added years of happiness to my grandmother's life. He has loved her perfectly for this season of her life; taking care of her both physically and emotionally. About four years ago, my Grandmomma's health began to fail. I have watched her physically deteriorate; losing large amounts of weight, requiring knee replacement surgery and suffering from high fevers and continuous pain. She never complains but her discomfort is always visible in her eyes. A couple of weeks ago, she began bleeding internally and has been hospitalized off and on. 

Then, last week my paternal grandmother, my Mamaw, suffered a serious stroke: a stroke that robbed her of many basic skills, leaving her mind intact but stripping her of the ability to communicate and walk. Luckily, my Papaw found her and medical personnel responded quickly. Strokes are strange and vicious things and having a stroke has always been one of my Mamaw's greatest fears. At eighty years old, she still lived a very full life: she shopped at Bealls and Lee's Hallmark, worked in her flowerbeds and yard, painted her bathroom cabinets, quilted a special quilt for each newly married couple in our family, made homemade strawberry jam and jelly (my Daddy was the only one special enough to get the jelly), loved donuts and McDonalds milkshakes, made lemon-ice box pies especially for my brother-in-law at Christmas and kept my Papaw on his toes. Papaw is lonely in their home and lost without his companion of almost 63 years. We are hopeful that she will recover. She is getting great medical and rehabilitation care. Our family knows that the road will be long but we also know that she is strong and that if anyone can come back, she can. 

Trust me, I have perspective. I know how lucky I am to still have my grandparents. I know how blessed my family is that they are not only alive, but up until about two weeks ago, they all were living independently: grocery shopping for themselves, driving, gardening, and cooking. We have been very, very fortunate and I am filled with enormous gratitude when I consider their lives, their legacies and the incredible impression each of them have left on my family and our community. I know that this new season is simply part of life and that other families deal with so much more, for so much longer.

But I must admit, the last couple of weeks have been difficult and have made me think about life and death. When I consider my grandparents and look back at their lives, I can't help but wonder what they must think about life today. The cost of bread. The cost of a gallon of milk. The cost of gasoline. The extravagant homes we build. The high priced clothes we wear. The general hustle and bustle. I can't help but consider what thoughts run through their minds when I stop in for a quick visit (because I am always so busy), only to be continuously distracted by my iPhone. I can't help but wonder what they think about my 'kinder, gentler' parenting tactics. I wonder if they shake their heads after I leave and question my crammed-packed, head-spinning, busy, crazy lifestyle. 

If I am honest with myself, which is sometimes really hard for me to do, I think my grandparents are probably appalled. I know they love me and I know they are proud of me, but I think I leave them with their hearts breaking over my break-neck pace of life. I think that if they were given the chance, each of them would lovingly take me by the shoulders, look directly into my eyes, and tell me to slow down. I think they would tell me to turn off the television and read to my children more. I think they would tell me to throw my iPhone in the garbage--that no conversation is that important. In fact, I think they would tell me that a conversation via text message really isn't a conversation at all. I think they would tell me to cook more and shop less. I think they would tell me to take long walks and drive much slower. I think they would tell me to hug my husband more often and stop worrying about how much money we make. I think they would tell me to stop planning my days and start enjoying them. I think they would tell me to pray more and talk less.    

I know what they would say to me because I know them. I spent time with them as a child, ignored them as a teenager and got to know them, really know them, as an adult. They are not only my grandparents, I truly consider each one of them a very special friend. My life is filled with memories that include each one of them. My grandparents are the cornerstones of my families: the reasons we gather on the holidays, the reasons we cram into tight spaces and make family pictures, the reasons we call, text, tolerate, forgive, and love one another. A family like mine doesn't just happen. A family like mine doesn't just spring into existence. A family like mine is created intentionally and sustained by love. It is cultivated and reconciled and protected and loved some more. A family like mine is passionate, loud, emotional, and far from a picture of perfection. My grandparents aren't saints and if given the opportunity they would all probably go back and change some of the decisions they made, words they said, thoughts they had, and actions they took. If given the opportunity, we all would. But my grandparents made it work, they made it last and in doing so, they established a family that will endure no matter what we face. 

Yes, things for my family have definitely changed over the last two weeks. But my bunch is strong and resilient and we will face these new, uncharted waters together. We will continue to love them in a passionate kind of way--the passionate kind of way they have loved each of us. We will continue to pray for them--pray for them just as they have prayed for each of us. We will continue to move forward with them; helping them, steadying them, feeding them, carrying them if we must. Because that's just what my family does.

3.20.2014

Please STOP insulting my intelligence!!



I really wish liberals wouldn't insult my intelligence. I get their desire to provide healthcare to all Americans. It sounds so nice and makes people feel all warm and fuzzy to advocate for 'healthcare for all'. Sort of like how the lottery was going to pay for education in Texas or how Tort Reform was going to lower insurance costs for medical providers and patients. Yeah, those things have worked out really well!! (insert sarcasm) 

But the truth is that Obamacare is just one more way for the liberal, progressive establishment to create governmental dependency and become involved in our daily lives much more than was ever intended. Liberals are smart--they know their power is hugely derived from and maintained by those who are dependent upon social programs--entitlements. So, yes, I understand why they want to fully implement the legislative nightmare known as Obamacare. I just wish they would refrain from blatantly lying and insulting the intelligence of those of us who have taken the time to study the legislation and form our opinions based on fact and common sense. And in the spirit of equity, moderate Conservatives are even worse. They have chosen to step aside and allow this travesty to take place. Their silence is deafening. I am seriously contemplating an Independent registration.

So, here is the DL: healthcare is NOT a right. Plain and simple. (The misguided Supreme Court ruled it a tax--I am still scratching my head and having angry thoughts toward Chief Justice Roberts.) The right to have healthcare coverage is not what the Founders would have defined as 'inalienable'. It is a privilege--a very pricey privilege. Insurance companies have had the ability to deny or restrict healthcare coverage to applicants and recipients based on a number of factors--preexisting conditions, life styles, previous medical treatment, etc. And even with those restrictions and providing coverage to a 'statistically acceptable risk pool', many Americans have been unable to afford healthcare coverage. I have personally experienced denial and restriction when it comes to health coverage. And yes, while it stinks, it is life and good business. So, what in the world made anyone, liberal, conservative or politically oblivious, think that expanding coverage to ALL Americans despite health, condition, or life style would reduce the cost? 

Come on people, put your political predispositions aside and use your brains!! Exchanges will not reduce the cost because the level of risk and financial exposure for insurers is going up astronomically. 

This isn't good for small businesses and will therefore be negative for the already struggling middle class. No matter what Obama and his cronies say, part time work isn't better than full time employment. This isn't about right wing or left wing, it is about taking this country down an unsustainable road. Read the bill--I was astonished and frightened by the billions and trillions of dollars going to be spent over the next three years. We can't afford this!! I don't want some government bureaucrat determining what medical treatments my children receive or medication I take. I don't need the government to take care of me and neither do most Americans!! Unfortunately, instead of seeking to resurrect the independent spirit that once made this nation great, we have bowed down to a city full of idiots trying to create dependency in order to secure their power. They loved the legislation so much they exempted themselves from it. Wait, does that seem fair? Washington DC is filled with a bunch of out of touch elites because we have forfeited our right to be in command over them. I'm sad for my nation.

3.18.2014

A Love Affair...

"I love those who can smile in trouble, who can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. 'Tis the business of little minds to shrink, but they whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves their conduct, will pursue their principles unto death."
                                                                                         --Leonardo da Vinci

I am often asked two questions: "Why am I so opinionated?" --AND-- "Why do I love politics so much?" To the question of being opinionated, I have no good answer. Call it DNA, call it obnoxiousness, call it what you like; I'm not always proud of my inability to remain neutral but it is simply a part of who I am. And trust me, I have worked hard over the last few years to reign it in!! The person you read now is the new and improved, more diplomatic me!! As to the question of my love and perhaps even unhealthy obsession with the political happenings of our country, the answer is complex and ever-changing. And in some ways, you need the whole story to fully understand this conservative country girl. 
I grew up in small town Texas. I am the daughter of dairy farmers turned professionals. I learned very early about the importance of acreage, spring-fed ponds and hard work. I knew my parents struggled financially and at the age of ten, I realized that my daddy made ends meet by simply 'robbing Peter to pay Paul'. My parents didn't live extravagantly but my brother, sister and I had everything we needed and most of what we wanted. My dad worked two jobs, my mom stayed at home with us, she didn't get her hair done at a salon, and we all wore clothes from Walmart. My dad owned a gun and my mom loved to shoot it. We went to church occasionally and didn't watch much television. My parents weren't perfect but they were completely committed to our family and worked each day to better our lives and teach us the difference between right and wrong.

As a child, my family didn't sit around the dinner table and carry on political conversations. In fact, I don't ever remember my parents or grandparents discussing voting, defense spending, the second amendment, entitlements, or abortion. However, I knew what an FHA loan was and I understood the correlation between our family income and the price of milk and corn. I vaguely remember the end of Reagan's presidency but clearly remember the national saga of President Clinton, Monica Lewinsky, an infamous navy blue dress and the cigar. I knew my daddy was a democrat because he still liked Bill Clinton after all of that.  
In the mid-nineties I entered the dreaded years of adolescence. When I became a teenager I, like so many teens, knew everything. Literally, EVERYTHING! I was completely psychotic, rebellious for no good reason, confused and self-destructive. Those were long, miserable years for my parents, my siblings, and myself. Those "dark years" taught me some really hard life lessons (and gave my parents loads of gray hair) but they also gave me an insight into the unfairness of life, the weakness of humanity and the fallen world around me. My eyes had been opened. 
At the age of twenty I regained my sanity for a few months and enrolled at a university in Richardson, Texas. When I went to register for my college classes, my plan was simple: I selected the degree track that required the least amount of math and science. In the state of Texas, at that time, that major was Government. And there, in a small classroom at a growing university, a love affair began. 
POLITICS! The entire realm excited me! I fell in love with our national history. I love the David and Goliath-like revolutionary battles that took place between our Founding Fathers and the British crown. I love our Judeo-Christian foundation and the way that God is, contrary to modern belief, woven into the essence of America. I love the 'democratic experiment' that produced a nation like no other. I love the perfection of the Declaration of Independence and marvel at the unimaginable bravery of our fore fathers, their wives, and their children. I love the passion of the Revolutionary ministers and the sacrifice of so many unnamed heroes. I love the eloquence and the never-ending relevance of the Constitution. I love the resilience of our nation in times of darkness and transition. I swell with pride when I consider the promise of hope and a future that she has and continues to represent to people all around the world. I am so thankful and eternally grateful that a loving and almighty Father gifted me with freedoms and liberties that I didn't deserve when He made me American. Truly, in my early twenties, I fell in love with America.

And then, against many odds and only because of God's unending grace, I fell in love with and had the honor of marrying an American soldier. Incredible, huh?!? Looking back, there was a strange perfection to the months of my life prior to me meeting and marrying Jonathan. The LORD was preparing me intellectually to take on and learn a new sort of life: a life of service. I became enthralled with the aftermath of 9/11 and spent hours reading about terrorism and foreign policy. I read "Atlas Shrugged" by Ayn Rand and a biography on Thomas Jefferson. By the time I became Mrs. Jonathan A. Newsom, I could carry on a fairly intelligent conversation about the modern military and conservative fiscal policy. 

In the Army, they called the first few months of my military life a 'baptism by fire'. I called it traumatic. Jonathan and I were married for 4 short months before he was sent to Iraq the first time. They told us (wives) that the war would be quick and that the boys would probably be home within 4 to 6 months. I, like so many others, was young, naive, and far away from home and family. I was required to attend and expected to host military briefings and family readiness meetings. We sent soooo many care packages. We organized meals for new mommies and provided childcare for friends who needed it. We watched women go through pregnancy, miscarriage, birth and chemotherapy without the support of their spouse. We carried our phones around with us like life lines and wrote letters to our soldiers telling them about our daily lives. We read newspapers, watched the news; anything to catch a glimpse or find out a bit of information about our soldiers and their mission. We stayed busy and 'lived life' together. We laughed and cried and watched each other's wedding videos and laughed and cried some more. Some days were good; lonely, but good. Then, suddenly, a phone would ring, the news would be given and we would know that in the next week we would be attending a memorial service for another fallen hero. The widows were young and beautiful; some with children, some without. The mother's were bleary eyed and broken. The children were confused and crying: some of the older sons stood stoically beside their mother's side; their young lips quivering but chins held high, proud of their parent's sacrifice and willing to receive the folded American flag.

I can't describe what it is like to attend the memorial service of a young man or young woman that has been sent to war for the sake of this nation and her people. I can't describe the guilt that surfaces when your soldier comes home alive, not wounded; and others don't. Your heart breaks in a way that words can't convey. Your mind races, your stomach hurts, you don't sleep and doubts about life, goodness, evil and purpose emerge from the depths of your soul. But in those moments, if you're able, you see something amazing: You realize what it means to be a part of something greater than yourself. You understand that your soldier fights not only for himself, or for you, or for your children, but for the millions of Americans he has sworn an oath to defend. You realize that his or hers life's success is measured not by monetary riches or any material possession but measured by whether or not they leave this world better, safer and more free than they found it. You realize that your soldier loves foreigners dwelling in a distant land with the same Christ-like love that he or she shows their brother or best friend. 

I have seen the very best of a generation that so many write off as "worthless and entitled". I have seen true honor through the brave acts of young heroes and the willing sacrifices of their families. I still marvel at the incredible resilience I witnessed and the life lessons I learned during our time in the service. And because of what I saw and because of what I learned, I love this country in a fierce, passionate way. I choose to see America's goodness and accept her imperfection because I have seen, through the eyes of a deployed soldier, what the lack of freedom looks like. I don't want my country "fundamentally transformed", I want her renewed!! I don't want America redefined, I want her reclaimed. And although I know that the LORD is in control and that He is victorious in the end, I still desire to do my part. I have seen the sacrifice involved with obtaining liberty and securing freedoms and absolutely refuse to sit silently while attempts are made to sabotage mine and my children's.  In the book of Esther, chapter 4 verse 14, it says, "For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” I am not royal but I have been given great gifts. And like Esther, I am sometimes frightened and feel as though I can do very little. But she rose to the challenge of her time and helped secure her people and in doing so, established a strong Biblical legacy. This is our here and this is our now. This is the time in history that the LORD has afforded us and I don't know about y'all, but I intend to seek His will and be invested and engaged in this imperfect, but miraculous nation He saw fit to create. I am committed to loving this land and her people in a way that reflects Christ's love for me. But I will not compromise on truth. I will not compromise on life. I will not lower my standards to meet the masses. I am committed to fighting a good fight while keeping my eye on the prize. I am committed to preserving the goodness and greatness that first drew me into this amazing national love affair.