I Will Love You Louder

 

“Whom you chose to listen to, will determine the outcome of your life.” Daniel Messina, Crossroads Fellowship – Raleigh, NC

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. – Martin Luther King Jr.

 2016 was a tough year. Finally! The election was over, and I could get back to normal. I was so looking to 2017. While I was looking forward, God must have been chuckling. No, there are always still miles to go and tears to cry.  More reasons to seek Him, not my will.

That’s how life always happens. The wave of one crisis finally crests, and you’re treading water, ever so carefully, gratefully , hoping to quietly just float back to shore. And then you see it–the next wave. It’s so much bigger.

Lately the din of the news of the world coupled with the roar of life in my own kitchen has been making my head spin. I feel like it will explode on some days. Anxiety. Depression. Painful situations. Too many people I know are suffering. Is anyone in control up there in the tower? I’ve too many incoming planes and they’re all arriving unscheduled in my backyard from C and C Airways (Crisis and Confusion) and clearly their communication system is down. Help! I don’t know what to do! Hello? Is anyone listening?

So here we are. We’re hours away from a new POTUS and frankly, the world still seems as screwed up as it was before the election. The fault lines of our souls keep on cracking and dividing us further apart. The news media hurls the bad news fly balls faster than we can catch them. Apparently, mean tweets and anger and division swell ratings. Who knew?   Sheesh, if all I ever did was watch the news, and fall victim to every voice with an agenda, I’d swear our cities were burning down, we were in the middle of epic race wars, the planet is heating up to lethal temperatures, and mankind is continuously eliminating one another in the quest to dominate and be right—be it geography or the infinite, ever-expanding digital land mass known as social media.

But a weird thing happens when I walk away. I go outside and I see and breathe in sunshine. Or rain.   Or even snow. Regardless, it is a breath of fresh air. I put geographical distance and measured time between my eyes and the constant tap,tap,tapping of text messages on screens and BREAKING NEWS flashes. You see I’m learning, that if any of us are going to mentally survive going forward, you’re going to have to change the messages you listen to, in order to quiet your mind, to be a better, kinder, gentler person yourself.

Or you could just stay angry all the time. Or sad. Or feel hopeless. Or disgusted. Or whatever negative default state of disrepair you’ve learned is a safe fallback. Because as long as it’s the President’s fault (current, past, or incoming) or Congress or those on the other side of whatever viewpoints or opinions or theologies we currently hold sacrosanct, then guess what? We’re all absolved of any responsibility for fixing our own lives. Well—isn’t that convenient?!

Now before I get mean tweets of disagreement, let me say something. Disagreement does not equal disrespect for personhood or viewpoint. Though lately, many of us from the top to the bottom seem to have forgotten that. But you know what, we don’t have to engage! We don’t have to obsessively watch or listen to those voices which anger us. We don’t have to have angst anymore because others think differently then us.

In a world where uniqueness and diversity is celebrated, it seems like the last place that holds true is in the world of thought. And that’s actually where we most need to celebrate diversity. Without it, we wouldn’t have the great artists who create beauty, the scientists who solve mysteries, the doctors who find new ways to heal, the spiritual leaders who calm and inspire and teach us new ways of being.

Since the right to free speech doesn’t guarantee kind speech, we must choose what we listen to. We can’t regulate others’ tempers or temperament, only ours. I only know that if individually we become the voices of reason, kindness, gentleness and self-control, tolerance of viewpoint, and above all the blessed voice of silence because we choose to listen to others, some of the negative will be forced to retreat, to simmer down, perhaps even end.

Even if others don’t stop speaking ugly, you can still fill your head with pretty. But it’s your choice.   Who are you listening to? What are you listening to? How is it affecting your body, your mind, your soul?   Maybe it’s time to change the channel. Or go outside. Or listen to a symphony. Or read something that allows you to touch the words, feel them come to life as you turn the pages. I know! You could even get something done that you’ve been putting off! Or most of all, perhaps you need to learn how to sit alone with yourself and your thoughts. Surrender that which isn’t yours to fix. Pray for others. Make a plan. Rest. Rejuvenate.   Just be still. And know.

Changes are coming. Some will be great. Some will be terrible. Some will be made by us. Many will be made by others that are simply: out of our control.

So in light of all that? How now will you live? How will you choose?

As for me, I will resolve to speak less, listen harder.   I absolutely will be more selective on who/what I listen to. I will find ways to fast from those things that frustrate me or don’t help me grow. I will show love to those who think different, or who I disagree with.

 In the silent art of learning how to listen better, I will find I love you more. I will stop trying to change you. Perhaps you will grant me the same kindness?

In the gentle moments where my soul is quiet, I see I am able to love you. Even though we are different.   I will love you—louder.  Because it’s the only voice that makes sense to me.  It’s the only voice that will carry us all home safely.

 

 

 

 

 

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Unprecedented: Voting for THIS President — November 8, 2016

Hooray! It’s here! It’s Election Day and the day we’ve been wanting to be over, is:

Almost Over

First, a disclaimer: I DON’T have a horse in this race. My person was out months ago. My heart still hurts, but like Rose on the sinking Titanic, it will simply go on, despite the uncertainty principal that awaits all of us come 2017.

This has been a hard year for me as I’ve watched the politics delve deep down from the gutter to the sewer then the swam, perhaps even Hell itself.

So it’s with no guilt or shame I tell you this: I took my 11-year old son to both a Trump and a Clinton rally yesterday. There are several reasons why:

  1. We are homeschoolers. This is Civics 101, American History, Sociology, and perhaps even Psychology at it’s very finest as far being a teachable moment.
  1. I am a shutterbug. Photography is my hobby. I wanted to see if I could capture some American history and personal history.

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(Liz obsesses more over lenses then candidates!!)

  1. I am an adventurer. I will drop just about anything, to go anywhere, if I think there will be interesting people, concerned people, beautiful scenery, unusual things/people, natural things, historic moments. I saw a lot of this yesterday.
  1. I have my personal biases, yes. So do you. But I am also open-minded! Did you know you can retain your principals and core beliefs but still mingle with other people that believe, behave, and vote differently than you? In fact, sometimes you can even love them anyway.  I plan to teach my child this, otherwise our country really is doomed.

I’ve spent a lot of time this year studying, web-surfing, worrying, fretting, whining, discussing, and then accepting and denying the choices that confront us. In the end, I too have to deal with the ultimate Sophie’s Choice that will forever alter our country. That’s an enormous responsibility to shoulder. You have the same burden. Our main choices seem so fundamentally flawed to me, and the smaller choices seem hopeless.

I’ve conversed and debated this year with everyone from personal to church to online friends, neighbors, as well as immediate and extended family. I’ve talked with a range of folks, from procrastinators to prognosticators. And I’ve come to a few conclusions.

There are a multitude of reasons we vote. All are valid, in the hearts and minds of those who cast them.   These are some of the reasons I’ve seen and heard this year, as to why we vote:

Principals: Certainly our principals guide us more than just about any other factor as to why we vote. The issues we care so deeply about are what drive our very lives. We are so divided because our principals our at war with other. Think about your “core” principals that are deal-breakers as far as the opposing candidates. How is our country going to mend, IF we can’t even listen to those that believe the polar opposite?

Even the word compromise is politically charged because some people believe you should always compromise, and others think you never should. Yikes, how does a country survive with that? How do you run your own family? Are other view points allowed?   If your “person” wins, are you willing to respect, even defend the other side’s right to believe differently?   I’ll say it again, we can never reconcile opposing principals if we totally lose our ability to listen.

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God bless our Secret Service

Pragmatism: One thing I’ve heard a lot this year. Well, I can’t vote for him/her (because of ssues A,B,C,D, etc), so I’m going to HAVE to vote for her/him.   It’s the “lesser of two evils” argument. This one is a challenge for me. At least with family members, and a few close friends, I have asked how to do they comfortably vote for Clinton despite the email scandals (being above the law), lying to the public (Ben-Ghazi), the pay-for-play schemes related to the Clinton Foundation etc. And much more, but that’s enough for this paragraph.

I have also asked my Republican friends how in the world do you vote for Trump? Someone who is so hot-headed, insults women, other ethnicities, the handicapped, the flat-chested, the “ugly”, the list goes on.   How do you say you vote “principals” over name-calling, insulting, temper tantrums, and often an inconsistent core principals on every single issue. If you vote principals first, than how in the world do you throw out character?

And because I have taken these heated discussions to many over the past few months, I have received heat that often feels like a beating from BOTH sides. But I did this not to berate, condemn, or alienate those I love from me. I did this because I HAD to understand from a different viewpoint other then my own, how they came to their conclusion as I struggled mightily with my own decision.

 Protest: I think this would kind of fall in the category: Pragmatism-taken-to-an-extreme. Or perhaps principal. When one candidate seems so detestable, that you do everything in your power to send a message to the other person, and/or party. Or perhaps you dislike both candidates, so you pick the he or she that have an infinitesimal chance of winning, but you’ll sleep good with your own soul at least.

Believe me, I totally get that!

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We didn’t quite make it in Reynolds Colliseum last night, but we did huddle outside at 1 am with several hundred other happy excited Clinton supporters.

Earlier that day, we saw the kindest people, both the longest lenses, buses, and neckties I’ve ever seen, and we found a quarter and a nickelon the ground as we walked out.

Protection: Fear of terror attacks.   Fear of gun violence. Fear of losing the freedom to defend one’s self/family. Fear of government overreach. Black lives. Blue lives. Keeping our own money.   Not losing our benefits. Our borders. Our national security.   Veterans. Syrian refugees. The autonomy of one’s body. The lives of the unborn.   These too are just a sampling of hot-button issues that we are passionate about protecting. And as you can see, even that which we should protect also divides us. Because sadly, in our flawed human nature, we are divided as to which kind of person do we protect. In our defective humanity, we assign a hierarchical value to people, swayed by our beliefs.   For some of us, we compromise, even sacrifice a lot of principal, and even lay down our pragmatism, and vote simply who will best protect my family, myself, my country, and the issues I care about?

 Popularity: We also grow passionate because politicians tickle our burning ears with that which we want to hear. They justify our inner anger and teach us it’s acceptable to let it out. Or is it? Perhaps we decry racism and then vote solely on race, or sexism and vote solely on gender. It happens in both parties to all genders. Popularity comes with perks. Maybe it’s getting to see Beyonce or or Lady Gaga or Bon Jovi for free. Free concerts, free college? Hey, that’s cool! Or perhaps it’s “We’re mad as hell, and we are DEFINITELY not going to take it anymore. We are Taxed Enough Already!” The corruption stops here.   But will it? Is either side capable of being totally transparent? Is either side truly honest?   And will either side deliver on their promises? Or are we simply voting, knowing they won’t, but it sure sounds good!

The hardest part of this election for me is that I truly want to vote FOR someone, and FOR something I believe in, not AGAINST someone else, and things I oppose. I want a person of integrity that truly believes the values they espouse, not just say they do. I haven’t found that candidate this year.

I finally had to vote on one core belief, and one belief only:

Prayerfully: There’s a melody I keep hearing in my head today. It’s from the U2 song “Ultraviolet”:

Oh– Sometimes I feel like I don’t know

Sometimes I feel like checkin’ out

I want to get it wrong

I can’t always be strong,

and love—it won’t be long……

So today–I’m praying as I settle my soul with the vote I cast.   I don’t want to actually get it wrong (but somehow feel I will). I want to be wrong about whoever wins. Because I want our country to heal more than I want to be right. I just do. Call me a mostly-conservative pacifist who just crazy loves her compassionate liberal friends as much she loves her loving evangelical conservative friends. I don’t know. I just want to have peace in my heart. And I want our country to just be okay. This peace! It’s the very thing that has soooo eluded me this election.

Perhaps some of you feel the same way.   I’ve never cared so much and felt like I had so little to choose from. You see, I love America so much.   Every day of my life, even the worst horrible days have still been slightly awesome days. Because the next day I always woke up with the freedom to choose differently. Above all, I don’t want to lose that.

And I want all those I’ve debated with, talked with, argued with this year—well, I need you to know something.   I saw this gem of wisdom on a bumper sticker. It’s been my favorite of the entire campaign season:

I love you. And I vote.

Today is our day America. This is the day WE decide. I pray you will consider this one question above all others. By tomorrow (most likely), like it or not, we WILL have a new President. Either “She” or “He” will win. So in light of that:

Will you still be the same person tomorrow, that you are today?

I know I will. I already know I’ll wake up a bit disappointed because I feel we are a nation in decline, we’ve lost our compass on how to deal with each other. I feel we have become selfish. We want what WE WANT, and we don’t want the other side to have what they want because they are wrong! We see our lives only through the prism of what the “bad guys” have done to us.

People are truly frustrated and angry over political decisions that have impacted our lives. Real people are hurting financially, facing employment challenges, have retirement concerns, or worry that they can even safely live due to their geography or skin color. Though much of our frustration is indeed justified, the way we treat one another is not.

This blog contains no answers. Only observations. But it is written in the utmost hope that you WILL vote. That you will consider things from all the perspectives you possibly possess. And I pray that you too will pray for both candidates and our nation as one seeks our confidence in their ability to lead us. Know this: we are not electing a king or queen. I believe we serve a higher power, we answer to a higher law, and we ought to respond to all who are around us with a higher love.  

Come hell or high-water, him or her, we already have the authority, the power, and the potential to live as good, kind, compassionate, citizens who have the opportunity, daresay I, the responsibility to serve our great country!

We CAN be the hope and light for others to see. We can be the catalysts in our communities and families that truly change our world for the better. These are not platitudes, these are promises for those that choose to live a life of self-sacrificing love.

When you go to the polls today (if you haven’t already voted), I PRAY you see the faces of those around you. Pray for them. Send them good mental vibes. Be neighborly.   May you be gentle with yourself and gracious in your interactions with others.

And despite America’s problems and divisions, we are still great, specifically because so many of us truly are good.   Let’s keep it that way, okay?

It’s Election Day. Vote and may it be well with your soul.

God bless America!!!!

 

Liz’s Favorite Candidate in 2016

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Liz and NC Governor Pat McCrory — December 19,  2015

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My son met Governor McCrory December 10, 2015

For those who care about HB2, this is worth pondering:

https://governor.nc.gov/press-release/governor-mccrory-takes-action-protect-privacy-and-equality

 

Unsustainable Inspiration: Narcissism on Parade

Trump New York Magazine Bobby Doherty

Photo Credit: Bobby Doherty – New York Magazine 09/21/2015

I admit it. I was dazzled by Trump. For about 24 hours. I even liked his Facebook Page and posted a few complimentary things on it, shortly after he announced.  But it wasn’t long before the elephant in the living room (that everyone IS talking about), grew so tremendous, I began to wonder if there was even room for me in here anymore.

Like a rabid sports fan, I anticipated the first debate like it was the Super Bowl. Then the moment of what I call The Big Letdown occurred: Trump opened his mouth. Yes, Trump spoke.   I felt (and still do) like I am watching a slo-mo implosion of epic proportions. It just hasn’t quite happened yet.

He made it clear from the first question, he was a “My way or the Highway” kind of guy. Either America will be smart enough to vote for him, but on the off-chance they’re not (remember Iowa — how stupid are the people of Iowa?), and thus too stupid to realize he should be number one, then he couldn’t (at that time) with absolute certainty promise that he would eventually pledge to support the Republican nominee.

Brilliant move, Mr. Trump, brilliant. By assuming we’d be too scared to have to go with yet another establishment Republican that would say only what’s necessary to get elected, and then do little to no more, many of us flocked to you with ears burning to be ticked with what you said. In so doing, we assured your skyrocket to the top, as long as you kept repeating what’s bothering us.   I give you credit for that: Successfully nailing our frustrations. 

Oh sure, you’ve said the things that frustrated Conservatives like me agree with: Our borders are weak, our economy is a mess with a debt approaching infinity, we’re making deals with countries with horrible human rights issues that think it’s totally copasetic to stone women for charges (even if not proven) for adultery, or people that are homosexual.  We are saddened that the country is actually divided over something as small as and yet profound as the right to and sanctity of a human life.

You’ve resonated with a huge portion of America because you’ve correctly voiced our analysis of what’s wrong with America very succinctly, even if bombastically. However, lately I’ve had a hard time recalling exactly what you said the solutions are. Trump, you say you’ll make America Great Again. But the clear assumption is, “ONLY IF I WIN!”

And there in lies the problem. Trump can’t be the solution, anymore than Obama can be. Nor can any of the other candidates of either party be the entire solution to what’s ailing America.

You see, Mr. Trump, that’s our job! This is our country! You, if elected, as a temporary member of the Executive Branch, along with the Legislative Branch, and the Judicial Branch, are supposed to work for us–We The People.   You can’t make America great, nor should you. But we can.   If elected, we don’t work for you, as your apprentice. You work for us, as our President. 

Your job is to uphold and defend the Constitution, and swear to protect us. Neither of which I’m confident you will. I’m afraid, if the Constitution makes you mad one day, you may just rip it to shreds and say, “Screw this!   You’re fired! Hey, this document is ancient anyway.  Worthless garbage, I’ll show you. I CAN write a better one!”

And God help us (and the world) is someone else pisses you off; and I’m sure in short order they will! We both agree there are some really evil people out there.   Still, America is war-weary after years of unclearly defined and ever-changing definitions of who our enemy is, why we’re fighting, what constitutes a win, and perpetually wonder when will our brave loved ones who serve get to come home.  Many have already given their all and more,  and for what exactly? We absolutely don’t want to send more of them because someone gets your boxers (or briefs) in a twist.

I don’t want you to tell us what or how to think (specifically, how great you are, and as a result, that is why America is great). No, I want you to inspire us, and remind us that we are great, because of who we already are, and more importantly, as a team, what we could accomplish and who we could all be if we stand united.  

Because no matter how accurate some of your assessments may be of what’s wrong with America, I pray that the vast Americans are more intellectually smart than sufficiently hypnotized by the cult of personality, although lately I wonder. I’d hate to think that you (or anyone) could win by employing the tactics of personal denigration as a means of taking down the other opponent.

Carly Fiorina’s face, yeah, that whole deal. “Who’d vote for that face?” thus sayeth the Trump. Really, Mr. Trump??   You insult us yet again.     The average second grader knows that is so not nice, and God help us all, if the country doesn’t figure out that is NOT presidential.   You’ve compared yourself to Reagan, but  instead you sometimes act like a guest on the Jerry Springer show.   I know one thing; Carly’s “face” speaks truth, with laser-precision accuracy when questioned on economics or foreign policy. She can answer questions without raising her voice or her eyebrows. Can you?

And then there’s Mr. Carson. He’s a just “OK” doctor you guess, you grudgingly shrug in acknowledgement. He, is just like every other contender, of course, and has “no chance” of being President according to you. Like Jeb and the rest of the gang, he lacks “energy” (Trump translation: balls) or a plan ( Trump translation: yours) you remind us time and again. After all, you are Number One in the polls.

Angry Trump

News Flash:  Narcissism on parade is an unsustainable source of inspiration.

You’re a powerful man.   Many even see you as a respectable man.   Your hard work ethic has the potential to be inspiring, but gets lost in translation by the arrogance of you always being right, without fault.   You may be Mr. Big in New York,  but when the word that echoes most loudly is “I, I, I”, you become smaller and smaller on the list of worthy contenders.

And lately the repeated negative slams against others, from your opponents to those in the media say less about who they are, but speak volumes of who you are.

There’s a slow train looming just beyond the bend. It seems far off, but intuitively I believe it’s gathering steam.  And I have a weird feeling you know it too. It’s the assurance of what can’t quite yet be seen, but the slow tremors are starting to be felt.  It seems to be in the infancy of gathering momentum.  Have you experienced this yet?  Pride going before a fall?  If not, you may be overdue.  We all get humbled sometimes.

I’m not sure those that fully rely on being powerful, can ever understand the mighty power of the meek, those of us who are both conservative and prayerful.

See we’re not pinning our hopes on Number One. We who pray don’t want a win by any means necessary, but a win by changing the hearts and minds of those who don’t always agree with us.   We want someone who can inspire ALL of us.

We prayerful want someone who can speak truth to power, including the man (or woman) in the mirror.    We especially expect you to speak honest truth to us. We want someone who can effectively articulate not just why, but show how conservatism and capitalism and compassion can work together to lift people out of poverty.  

Issues like substance and mental health issues, fatherless homes, and generational government dependency in neighborhoods where quality schools and jobs don’t exist, coupled with infestations of drugs and gangs leave an entire segment of citizens that feel voiceless. Perhaps you could gain the support of some of these citizens if you presented specific plans of real hope, and real change. Would you be willing to leave behind the marble waterfalls of Trump Towers as your backdrop to really connect to those less fortunate and offer encouragement and inspiration?  Inspiration may start with the letter “I”, but it should never start with the concept of “I”.  Good leadership with real power to inspire, always centers around the word WE.

There is a golden opportunity here to connect with those most hurt by the exponentially expensive and decades-lost (by government) war on poverty.   You squander away immense opportunity when you don’t reach out to the hearts and minds of those that feel forgotten or that they have no voice or that there is not equal justice under the law.  It takes courage to see things differently, to vote differently, but it’s hard to offer a relatable message when you’re too busy hurling insults or bragging on your endless accomplishments. They are impressive indeed–unless you’re too busy trying to figure out where your next meal is coming from.

Most of all,  we prayerful want someone who values life –ALL lives, despite all of our differences. We want someone who is up for the challenge of seeking ways to help us as citizens feel united despite differences of opinion, or political persuasion.   What does it really mean to “Make America Great Again”?  Does it start with you or with us?

So we prayerful do what we do best.  We wait.  We wait for the debates and we wait and watch all that you and the other candidates say and do, as we draw closer to making up our minds for sure a year from now.  We pray for our future president, not our king.

But know this:  We prayerful don’t put our hopes in the person who is most powerful. We put our hope and trust in God, who is all-powerful. News flash: That’s not you Mr. Trump. So look out for Number Two. Or perhaps Number Three or even Number Seven.

So keep going and tooting your horn Mr. Trump. We’re all going to be okay.   But you may want to keep one eye on the rear view.

Elephants in Rearview

Liz’s favorite quotes on Trump:

“You may have recently seen that after Trump said the Bible is his favorite book, he couldn’t name a single Bible verse or passage that meant something to him.   And we all know why, because it’s all just a show, and he hasn’t ever read the Bible.   But you know why he hasn’t read the Bible? Because he’s not in it.”– Bobby Jindal 09/10/15 https://www.bobbyjindal.com/jindal-speech-on-donald-trump/

Donald Trump Compares Himself to Billy Graham; Says ‘My Favorite Book Is the Bible’Read more at http://www.christianpost.com/news/donald-trump-compares-himself-to-billy-graham-says-my-favorite-book-is-the-bible-143450/#LqCubBHf0E0tF4xc.99 Christian Post 08/23/2015

Trump believes in God, but hasn’t sought forgiveness

http://www.cnn.com/2015/07/18/politics/trump-has-never-sought-forgiveness/