"God 4-gives, We DON'T"-- And there in lies the problem....

"We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools." --Martin Luther King, Jr.

Well, Ferguson happened. The tear gas has been deployed, the shops looted and burned, the fragile economy further crippled, schools closed, the streets littered with the remnants and reminders of the rioters and armed police officers.

Today, the city of Ferguson is smoldering. Eighty individuals, approximately 60 local to Ferguson, find themselves in jail. Ferguson business owners, both those of color and those who are white, are reeling from the financial loss they have experienced due to the riots. More families have been hurt. More young futures have been altered. More anger created.

And Michael Brown is still dead.

The split screen news coverage the other night after the announcement of the grand jury's decision to "no bill" Officer Darren Wilson was disturbing. On one side of the screen you had our Dear Leader, Barack Hussein Obama, America's first black president addressing the nation, calling for calm and peaceful demonstrations. On the other side of the screen, we watched as angry protesters threw glass bottles and rocks at stationary police officers and media, as they turned police cars over, broke windows, looted local businesses and vandalized personal property.

The side by side, split screen coverage portrayed a strange irony.

The passion of our first black president scolding our country for our racial shortcomings and continued injustice toward a community of misunderstood, mistreated and unfairly targeted minorities. Reminding us that people of color aren't "making all of this up". Briefly pointing to the fact that, in his own life, he has witnessed tremendous change and improvement in the equality of races. And then returning to his main point, that some in our country are "justifiably upset with the grand jury's decision". Justifiably upset. Did Obama think that would serve as a calming statement? His inflection suggested that he himself was disappointed by the grand jury's decision. I have said it before and I will say it again, our Dear Leader stokes the flames of the racial fire that burns within areas of this nation. He throws fuel on the ashes of the race war and uses unfortunate circumstances to further his personal and political agenda. Mr. President, your speech was condescending and unhelpful.  

All the while, the split screen news footage showed the city of Ferguson under siege. The streets were filled with tear gas clouds and angry mobs. The rioters, in full view of the police and media and world, openly broke the law. There was no fear on their faces as they raced into shop fronts and convenience stores. They were not cowering to the "big, bad, racial-profiling police officers" as they threw bottles and rocks at law enforcement personnel. Like Michael Brown, these rioters were thumbing their noses at the rule of law and daring the police force to try and stop them. 

Two nights ago, during the riots that followed the grand jury's decision, it didn't matter if the rioters were black, white or Hispanic. The cops didn't arrest 80 people because of their skin tone. No, they arrested them because they were violating the law. And as uncomfortable as it is for me to say and for some of you to hear, on August 9th of this year, Officer Wilson attempted to arrest a criminally behaving Michael Brown--not because he was black or wearing a red baseball cap or yellow socks and a white t-shirt. Mr. Brown became a suspect that fateful night because he violated the law. Mr. Brown's criminal, aggressive behavior escalated what would have been a routine arrest.

The President said during his address the other night that, "[Finally,] we need to recognize that the situation in Ferguson speaks to broader challenges that we still face as a nation. The fact is, in too many parts of this country, a deep distrust exists between law enforcement and communities of color. Some of this is the result of the legacy of racial discrimination in this country. And this is tragic, because nobody needs good policing more than poor communities with higher crime rates."

"Poor communities with higher crime rates." At some point, the individuals living within these communities must stand up and take responsibility for their lives, their families, their futures. They can't continue to blame white cops, white teachers, white people in general for the state of their communities and their families. The change, the justice, the economic improvement must begin within. Just as no one can completely help right the wrongs in my life, in my family, in my finances; the individuals desiring change must rise up and begin the process for themselves. Once the foundation has been laid, once the families and communities have done what others are incapable of doing for them, society as a whole will come alongside them. We will rally around them and support them fully. But we can't take the first step for Ferguson and the other, fragile communities like them.

Yesterday morning I watched the press conference held by the Brown Family. The first attorney who spoke concluded his remarks with this sentiment--and I'm paraphrasing, "Michael Brown's dead body cries out from the grave for justice." Seriously? That is the message the black community wants to send? Michael Brown was an 18 year old young man. He was an adult in the eyes of the law and in our society. He was accountable for his actions and behavior. He made his choice that night.

This is a terribly tragic case. It was a no-win from the moment it began. There are so many issues of distrust and racism on both sides. White people are no more racially motivated than our black counterparts. I have precious friends of color that I adore. I don't see their color, I see them. And I hope when they look at me, they see me, not my pale, pasty white skin, sprinkled with sun and age spots and my bleached blond hair.

Until we as a society move past outward appearances and begin to base our opinions of each others on our integrity, merit and heart, we are doomed to be plagued with not only racism but all kinds of destructive prejudices. Until we begin to see each other with eternal eyes, we will always be blinded by our dark pasts and imperfect nows. As a society, we have a vision and forgiveness problem.

Forgiveness. Yeah, that terribly tricky, horribly uncomfortable part of life that is a very difficult to understand. And the act of forgiveness is a huge, monumental feat for most--in fact, it is quite impossible for some. Our human nature tends to focus us on how wounded we are and how wronged we've been. We often times cannot move into the realm of forgiveness because we never depart from the pain. We hold tightly to the things and moments and people in our lives that we deem responsible for our unhappiness. Their treacherous behavior consumes our thoughts and directs our minds. We become exactly what they accused us of being because we allow them to define us. It's a vicious, deadly cycle--that of offense and bitterness and unforgiveness.

But, as followers and believers in Jesus Christ, we are commanded to forgive. Not forget, but absolutely forgive. It isn't optional. It isn't conditional. Scripture doesn't specify the sins that qualify for forgiveness. So please allow me to speak plainly: Slavery was a terrible, terrible thing. Segregation was awful and equally destructive. Those seasons in our nation's history are dark, embarrassing and tragic.

But those times are over. I have never owned a slave. My parents never owned a slave. My grandparents never owned a slave. All that we have, we worked very hard to obtain and didn't secure it on the backs or through the forced labor of any other person. I have repeatedly condemned the actions of my ancestors and been clear that I am ashamed of the barbaric reality that existed generations ago that blemished our nation's goodness. Yes, America messed up. Yes, white people were wrong and mean and oppressive during those eras. But today, those adjectives don't describe the vast majority of white Americans.

And I know this might come across as harsh but I will not spend my life apologizing for something I didn't do. Just like the black people living in America today shouldn't spend their precious lives being defined by something that never happened to them or their parents. I don't hate white men for my historical oppression as a woman. I don't begrudge black men because they obtained the right to vote prior to women. I am thankful for the here and now. I am mindful of the past and thankful for those who fought before me. But their plight doesn't define me. Their lack doesn't make my bounty any less sweet. The people who fought for civil rights and women's rights and all sorts of social change are heroes and should be afforded a place in our history. Their fight was a worthy fight and I am grateful for the sacrifices they made.

But here is the reality: our nation will never recover and move past racism until both sides let go. Our nation will never be the bastion of equality it could be until people on both sides of this debate stop feeling victimized. Until there is forgiveness for slavery, there will always be racism. Until there is forgiveness for Jim Crow, there will always be racism. Until there is forgiveness for segregation, there will always be racism. Until blacks forgive whites, there will always be racism.

I know many who read this are going to be hurt, angry and will completely disagree with my sentiments. Trust me, I am preparing for the on-slot of hate mail. But please know my heart, I have close, dear, amazing blacks friends and an incredible nephew from Africa that I always consider when I discuss or write about race relations. This has been a difficult issue for me. Ferguson has been a hard thing for me to watch. It has been gut-wrenching for me, so I can only imagine the heartache experienced by so many in the black community.

Michael Brown's death was a tragic, tragic reminder of what is wrong in our country and this world: We are all sinners drowning in a fallen world. We are consumed with hatred and apathy, deceit and anger. We are broken people.

And brokenness has sharp, deadly edges.


Didn't your Moma ever tell you that, "Two wrongs, don't make a right"?

"No man underestimates the wrongs he suffers; many take them more seriously than is right." --Sallust
My younger brother and I fought terribly when we were children. I mean, viciously. Punching, hitting each other with baseball bats, biting, pinching, pulling hair, body slams, busted heads, stitches and more. Truly, it is amazing we survived childhood. 
My dear mother tried desperately to control our antics and we were punished when our fighting got too serious. And as we would face our punishment, we would almost always try to justify our violent behavior by leveling accusations against the other. "Well, I wouldn't have pulled half of his hair out if he hadn't of punched me in the stomach. I probably won't be able to have babies now!" Or, "I wouldn't have hit her across her back with a baseball bat if she had not pinched me so hard that she broke the skin. But Moma, I didn't paralyze her." 
Blah, blah, blah, blah. On and on we would go trying to convince our mother and father that our actions had been appropriate, if not necessary, due in large part to the behavior of the other. 
Yeah, as you can imagine, it never worked. 
My dad had no patience for that sort of crap. The only thing that made my Daddy more angry than our fighting and hurting each other, was our unwillingness to accept responsibility for our actions. He had no issue whatsoever punishing both of us when we fought. After all, he always said, "it takes two to tango".
My mother was the same. She didn't tolerate our fighting...when she knew about it. And when she would try to reason with us, question us as to why we treated each other in that manner, we would almost always launch our pathetic assaults on each other. And in those moments, my sweet mother would simply say, "Kids, that's no excuse. Two wrongs don't make a right".
This morning as I was putting on my face, I subjected myself, against my better judgment, to a half an hour of the news. And in doing so, I heard the most asinine political argument EVER. Two political talking heads were debating the hot topics of immigration and our Dear Leader's threat to grant amnesty by executive order to between 4.5 and 4.7 million illegal immigrants as early as this week AND the continued saga of Jonathan "we lied about Obamacare because American voters are stupid" Gruber. 
The conservative guest was obviously criticizing the President in regards to his failed leadership and his scary, executive over-reach if he, in fact, signs an executive order granting amnesty. The liberal guest was defending the purported, imminent actions of our Dear Leader by blaming Republicans and arguing that conservatives are simply mean and don't want to help people. 
Cry me a freakin' river.... 
And then the conversation turned to Mr. Gruber and the six, yes, six videos showing him, laughingly boasting about how the administration and those tasked by this administration with designing Obamacare, intentionally misled the American people. How they preyed upon the so-called "economic ignorance" of the American voter in order to ram this TAX down our stupid, simple throats. He joked about how he and his fellow "affordable act" conspirators used incorrect labeling, ambiguous wording and misleading statistics in order to force the CBO to initially release a false estimate on the short-term and long-term costs associated with Obamacare. 
And after the conservative pundit ended her scathing analysis of Gruber, Obamacare and our train-wreck-of-a-president, the host gave the liberal guest the final word. 
And here is what the enlightened, liberated, progressive nightmare said: "Well, if you want to talk about misleading the American people, let's talk about two wars and how we were lied to by the Bush Administration about weapons of mass destruction".
Seriously. That's your response? That's your counter-measure? That's how you justify aligning yourself with and blindly defending political radicals who are seeking to undermine and destroy our great nation? That's your best defense of a self-confessed liar who called all Americans stupid? That's your argument? 
Wow. Just, wow. Maybe we are worse off than I thought, more lost than I feared. If we fall for that straw-man-sort-of logic, then perhaps, we are, in fact, stupid.
And that reality, is freakin' depressing. 
***Oh, and just FYI: I am proud to have been a Bush supporter and for those of you who know me or read my stuff, you will know that I did then and still do support the military efforts of the past decade. And if Bush was sooooo bad and lied to the American people so completely about WMDs, then does Billy-Baby and Hillary "Dead Broke" Clinton also become complicit in that nasty little bugger of a lie? You know, the Dynamic Clinton Duo also told the American people and the United Nations that Saddam Hussein had WMDs. But let me guess...this little fact, that little uncomfortable bit of truth, will be drown out by liberal chanting, "What difference does it make?", "What difference does it make?"***
If you don't know what I am talking about you must have either: 1. been living under a rock for the past five years or 2. perhaps, you are just stupid. 
So, in response to this morning's asinine liberal talking points, I will share another tidbit of wisdom I carried away from my childhood: "Stupid is, as stupid does."
Hey, don't be mad at me for saying it, they said it first....  
Yeah, sometimes, the truth hurts.   


I'm stupid. You're stupid. We are ALL stupid.

"Strange as it seems, no amount of learning can cure stupidity, and higher education positively fortifies it." --Stephen Vizinczey

You know, sometimes critiquing our Dear Leader and his train-wreck-of-a-presidency is simply too easy. Sometimes I don't have to dig or research or pray about what I am going to discuss when I highlight the enormity of his failures in leadership. Sometimes, my criticisms are neatly wrapped, topped with a big red, white, and blue bow and are delivered to me upon a silver, flag draped tray.

And this week, one week after the Democratic party was politically slaughtered across the nation at the polls and our Dear Leader received his harshest public spanking to date, I received one of those amazing little packages.

I just love gifts.

And as I opened the perfect little ditty that was hand delivered by Obamacare architect, Jonathan Gruber, I admit, I was a little bit giddy. Jonathan Gruber. A senior Obama-nightmare-care architect. You sir, are the most precious gift conservatives received this week. Here's what Mr. Gruber gave us: “Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really, really critical for the thing to pass. … Look, I wish … we could make it all transparent, but I’d rather have this law than not.”

Oh, the power of our tongues and the awesomeness found in moments of honesty. 

Yeah, this is like when Nancy "I'm Mummifying in Washington DC" Pelosi said, "we have to pass the bill before we know what's in it". Or when Michelle "War on Vending Machines" Obama said, "for the first time in my life, I am proud of my country". Or when ole Barracky-Baby said, "you didn't build that". Or like a few weeks ago, when the Democratic princess, Hillary "Dead Broke" Clinton said, "Don't let anyone tell you that it's corporations and businesses that create jobs."

Seriously, sometimes it's just too easy.

Oh, poor, pitiful, honest Mr. Gruber. I sure hope you have around the clock security.  (*insert loads of sarcasm) And Mr. Gruber, just a silly recommendation from this stupid, little, Texas girl, it would be more effective for insuring your safety if those bodyguards are armed with some big, bad, dangerous, evil guns that highly intelligent liberals detest so fervently. Seriously. Just FYI. 

You see, y'all, that was a really BIG slip of Mr. Gruber's tongue. See, when you are part and parcel to the "fundamental transformation" of our great nation, you have to be sly, careful, calculating and highly manipulative. You can't be honest. Nope. Absolutely not. You can't admit that we, as Americans, are being deceived and used by progressives attempting to break down the framework of this great nation with the goal of establishing a new order. You can't show your hand, Mr. Gruber. You can't expose your's or our Dear Leader's deepest desires.

Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Jonathan "Better Sleep with One Eye Open" Gruber, did us an incredible favor. He told us the biggest, nastiest, darkest liberal secret: He told us that this administration, Congressional liberal minions and the other progressive elites, think we are ALL stupid. 

Now, let that sink in for a moment. Process the raw honesty of this high-ranking Obamacare advisor's comments. Because he didn't just say it once, he has said it at least twice on camera.

Obama and his cronies think we are stupid.

They think the American voter is stupid.

They think we are too stupid to know what is good for us.

They think we are too stupid to choose what's best for our families regarding healthcare.

They think we are too stupid to decide what our children can and cannot eat during their school lunch time.

They think we are too stupid to define marriage.

They think we are too stupid to recognize when life begins.

They think we are too stupid to possess a majority of our own, hard-earned money.

They think we are too stupid to lawfully posses a gun and too ignorant to know when to use it.

They think we are too stupid to be involved because we are too busy "clinging to those guns and our faith".

Yep, they really, really think we are stupid. They think we are simple. Not to be bothered or over-burdened with the harsh realities and truths of the condition of this, our great nation.

They know better than we do. Right.....

So, thank you, Mr. Gruber. Thank you for telling Americans what the elite liberals and well-funded progressives have been saying about us behind closed doors for years. Thank you for being honest, being open, giving all Americans an insight into the mentality driving Washington DC and the liberal, progressive movement. 

Thank you, sir. From the bottom of my grateful, simple, stupid, very pissed off heart. 


Veteran's Day: A Moment

"The willingness of America's veterans to sacrifice for our country has earned them our lasting gratitude." --Jeff Miller

Most people have a moment. You know, that moment in our lives where everything changes. For example, that precious moment in time when we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. Or perhaps, the moment someone decides to sober up. Maybe, in some cases, it's the split second when you are told that you or your loved one has a life-threatening illness. Yes, in moments, in small, quick moments, people can be forever changed.

For some, it's more of a season. A season of life when we are transformed, renewed, refined or restored. For some, it's college. A time of finding ourselves and determining our life's course. For others, it's marriage. That incredible journey that is both exciting and scary, wonderful and not. For many, it's becoming a parent. The moment a woman feels the incredible stirring of life inside her womb, the second a father hears his child's first cry, the moment the nurse lays that miraculous gift into your arms, many of us are changed beyond recognition.

But for a small few, these life-altering moments are associated with voluntary experiences in life that completely change us and how we ultimately view the humanity around us. Sometimes the moment that most defines you is the time of your life that you'll have the hardest time explaining. Sometimes the moments in life that recreate us, are the moments we are least aware of the incredible changes. For instance, missionary work. A time when people put themselves and the comforts of their privileged lives aside to minister to those who are less fortunate. Specifically, in foreign lands. A time when your goal is the betterment of someone else's life and not of your own. A time when you shed the familiarities of your life, family and friends and embark upon a lonely but worthy journey. A time in your life when selfless acts become second nature and your perspective on necessity is forever changed. A moment in this life when you begin to understand sacrifice and God's love in ways your never imagined. 

For me, my moment, my season, my time, was sending my young husband, not once, but twice to war. I was changed. I was forever altered. My ability to see life in the way I had viewed it before was gone. I will never forget the feelings I had. The emotions I experienced. The fears I faced. The victories I saw. I will never be able to fully explain how those years transformed me because I don't remember the girl that existed before. You see, I was forever changed because I saw extraordinary things. I saw the bravery and heroism that we read about in history books. I saw the sadness and loss of life that Hollywood attempts to capture on the big screen. I saw the sacrifices and selfless acts that preachers speak of and encourage. I saw evil. I saw goodness. I saw fear. I saw courage. I saw death. I saw life. I saw bondage. And I saw freedom. I witnessed the very best of this generation and came face to face with the reality of the very worst. And because of what I saw and because of what I learned, there is no turning back for me. There is no revisiting the clueless, content person I once was. There is no turning a blind eye to the revealed knowledge that found its way into my life as I walked through war on the home front. 

And my patriotic transformation pales in comparison to the life-changing alterations of our precious American Veterans. You see, when you answer your nation's call to duty, you are putting yourself aside. You are placing the lives and freedoms of others before your own. You are announcing to a distracted, materialistic nation, that you love them enough to protect them and respect them enough to defend them. A veteran loves you without knowing you, serves you without expecting gratitude, protects you without thought of their own personal safety or security. They do what 99% of Americans will never do and what a vast majority will never adequately appreciate. And because of what they do, because of what they face, because of what they see, they are forever changed. They are no longer the laxidasical American citizens who may or may not place their hand over their heart during the Pledge of Allegiance. They are no longer the young people who may or may not stop whatever they are doing and face the flag when our Anthem is played. They are no longer able to take our awesome national freedoms for granted because they have been on the battlefront of protecting them. They no longer see you or me or the high-minded college war protestor or out-of-touch politician as just insignificant nobodies. No, they see each American as worthy of their willing sacrifice. They see each American as valuable and have proven that they are willing to protect each of us through their voluntary military service. 

So, today on Veteran's Day, thank a hero. Not because you have to, but because you want to. Thank him or her for their service to you. Thank them for their willingness to sacrifice for you. Thank them for being forever changed because they decided to love, defend and protect you.

Happy Veteran's Day!!


Atheists, Mt. Vernon and A LOT of fear.

"The framers of our Constitution meant we were to have freedom of religion, not freedom from religion." --Billy Graham

I'll admit it, I have been terribly distracted the past few days by the elections, the results and the mounds of laundry that refused to be neglected any longer. And as a result of my distraction and domestic-duty procrastination, I somehow missed the train-wreck of a situation occurring 15 minutes east of my hometown. 

Mt. Vernon, Texas. Franklin County. Lake Cypress. One of my favorite places.

When I was young, my family spent quite a bit of time in this quaint, little town located right off of I-30. We camped at Lake Cypress, loved eating at Barnstormers and when my parents could afford to take us to the dentist, we went to one located in Mt. Vernon. 

Mt. Vernon's school system reputation has always been strong and their athletic programs, competitive. In fact, when my husband and I decided to move back to East Texas, we seriously considered planting roots in Franklin County because it is such a great place to live and raise children.

So, yesterday, when I received a private Facebook message from a childhood acquaintance asking me for my thoughts regarding Mt. Vernon ISD's current legal woes, I was caught completely off guard. 

How had I missed this? Admittedly, I have been very, very distracted.

So this morning, I googled the situation in nearby Franklin County and almost vomited my Dr. Pepper. Upon reading the situational facts and the legal jargon, I felt sick. Is this for real? How can this be happening in small town Texas? 

Great, just great.

First, Houston. Now, my own backyard.

Our faith, dear friends, is very much under attack.

Here's the DL: Mt. Vernon ISD has been accused of, and I am quoting, "pervasive religious endorsement". An atheist/agnostic watchdog group known as Freedom From Religion Foundation or FFRF, has filed an official complaint against the school district citing numerous infractions such as displayed crosses, some containing scripture, some simply works of art, Christian t-shirts and certain quotes displayed on the school walls referring to the Bible. Here is the most irritating quote to the bless-their-hearts-they-are-so-misguided group: "Within the covers of the Bible are the answers for all the problems men face." The quote is attributed to Former President Ronald Reagan by Mt. Vernon high school, but some have also attributed it to Thomas Paine. 

Now, read that quote again. 

Yeah, seriously. If I were an atheist, I wouldn't be offended by that. But I'm rational. And the true irony of this situation and the thousands of other situations like this across the country, is that for people who claim that Reason is their god and that Logic is their messiah, these atheist groups seem awfully defensive. Logically speaking, there is absolutely NOTHING offensive about that quote. Nada. But unfortunately, we aren't living in a bastion of rational, logical and reasonable minds.

Geez...why don't these people get REAL jobs?! Seriously. God-rejecting, faithless people and their well-organized groups have got to be the most super-sensitive, overly emotional, unreasonable people on the planet!! In fact, I'm completely convinced that some atheists, not all, but those who attack religion, faith and most specifically, Christians, sit around and look for reasons to file "official complaints" and frivolous lawsuits in a selfish, narcissistic attempt to "legally justify" their nonbelief and in some ways, further suppress their well-hidden fear of being lost, wrong and Hell-bound. 

They can say they don't have fear, that they aren't a little concerned about their decision to be a-religious, but that, dear friends, is an enormous load of garbage. People focus their attention on the issues that consume their thoughts. Humans obsess over things they can't understand but want to, things they want to be part of but can't control. 

These watchdogs groups aren't looking to be "free from religion" because it's their constitutional right to be so. They are simply trying to erase the part of our national history that doesn't reconcile with their chosen, faithless views on life. They want to do away with what makes them uncomfortable.

But, even knowing that, this situation still makes my blood boil!! Why are they sooooo offended by something that really shouldn't matter to a person with no belief? Why does Ronald Reagan's reference to the Bible so encite their "logical" minds? Why does an elementary school teacher's crosses so offend someone seemingly immune to God's existence and His Word? 

Here's what I think: 

It's because they are scared. See, if they were really so intellectually superior to those of us with faith, they would feel sorry for us. They would pity our simple-mindedness and allow us to cling to the religious things that make our lives bearable. They would be able to ignore the annoying, irritating simplicity of our faith and laugh at our stupidity behind closed doors. But they don't do that. They fight us. They are scared of us. They fear our faith and our resolve. And their fear is exacerbated by their personal uncertainty. You see, their minds and hearts are deceived by an Enemy weaker than our God. Satan can't control someone as completely as God can save them. The Enemy will NEVER possess the strength of our Lord. God will always win out. God will ultimately be victorious. Even though these non-believing individuals have rejected Him in this life, He still tugs at their hearts and stirs in their souls. And because He loves them, He will continue to make them question themselves and their lack of belief until their day of judgement arrives. 

When I consider that reality, my heart breaks for them. I pity their self-absorbed, meaningless, misguided lives and pray that one day they will be saved, set free from a terribly deceptive Enemy, reverse course and be Heaven-bound.


TRUTH: Grimy fingers, gratitude and the crazy importance of VOTING...

"Children are great imitators. So give them something great to imitate."

Yesterday afternoon, my kiddos went down the street to play at a friend's house. While the kids were playing on the trampoline, my girlfriend and I decided to join dinner-time forces. Our amazing maternal and culinary skills produced a kiddo-friendly meal of corn dogs, peanut butter sandwiches, salad, chips and cheese dip. Yeah, I know, we are the epitome of nutrition and health!! As the kids ate their supper and I feverishly threw together a "delectable delight" for my sweet husband, my attention was grabbed by the conversation taking place at the dinner table. My sweet seven year old son was saying unkind, inappropriate things. Not bad things, just not nice. So, in an attempt to regain control and make this dinner a time of learning and reflection (yes, I am a nerd), and no doubt a result of the 30 Days of Thankfulness postings I have been seeing on my social media, I engaged the four little ones in a conversation discussing gratitude.

I asked each of them to name three things they were thankful for. The responses were awesome!! Their answers ranged from being thankful for their parents, their siblings, their pets, their friends, their houses, their food, etc. We went around the table, taking turns and with each item named, the kiddos requested that they be allowed to list "just one more". Around thankful-for-item-#4, my handsome husband walked into the kitchen. As Jonathan entered the room, my friend's son, her seven year old, looked at Jonathan, pointed his grimy little finger and said, "I'm thankful for the men who fight for our country. I'm thankful for men like Mr. Jonathan." My son, who has been told age-appropriate war stories, didn't say it. My daughter, who has seen her Daddy's uniform and marched around the house in his combat boots, didn't list that. No, it was the seven year old son of a dear friend, living three doors down, who brought tears to my eyes and gave me hope last night.

I won't lie, it took everything in me not to completely lose it. I stood at the sink and just sort of stared for a moment at his sweet, innocent face. I realized in that moment that there is hope--definitely hope. I realized that my sweet friends, even in the midst of their crazy, busy lives, were raising their boys to be grateful, thankful and patriotic. I realized that our rambunctious kiddos, regardless of what our mothers think and how the children sometimes behave, that they really do listen to what we, as their parents, say. I realized in that precious moment, that there is so much to fight for, so much to protect, so much to guard--we have an example to set.

So today, we have a priceless opportunity, as freedom-loving Americans, to get out and be part of something bigger than ourselves. We have an opportunity to speak and be listened to. We have a chance to make a difference in the lives of our children and grandchildren. We have an opportunity to change our national course by electing new, strong leaders and supporting or defeating ballot propositions. We have a chance to freely vote without fear of reprisal or retribution. We can do what so many in the world can't fathom. We can be part of something that so many in the world only dream of. We can take part in a process that so many in the world envy, so many in the world desire, so many in the world fight for.

Today, we can vote. A simple act of civic duty, a national act of obedience, that so many in our nation take for granted and neglect without regard.

When I think of voting in America, I think of terms like:  responsibility, privilege, my right.

I often consider voting as a way of honoring those who have served and died for our nation and our freedoms. Admittedly, I see my voting as a way of justifying their sacrifice.

And in the spirit of honesty, many election years, especially those in most recent memory, I see casting my ballot as a way of sending a nasty, clear message to out-of-touch politicians who either don't represent my ideals or have done a poor job in doing so. Yes, I see voting as my voice.

Guys, we have a day, a moment, a season in the world in which we can accomplish good. And our choices and priorities will determine our generation's overall success. If you care about your family, if you are concerned about their futures, if you love this great nation and the appreciate the incredible hope she represents, then make today the FIRST day of your political involvement. Make today the day you stepped up and stepped out and got involved.

If not now, then when? If not us, then who?

It's time to be bold and brave and engaged. Because if you will make the choice to be part of something bigger than yourself, then, perhaps one day in the distant future, a sweet, seven year old child, with a promising future and a free life, will point their grimy little finger at you and name you and your deeds among the things for which they are grateful.