Counting My Many Blessings in the Year of Cancer.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Cindi Albright https://www.flickr.com/photos/rustiqueart/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Cindi Albright https://www.flickr.com/photos/rustiqueart/

 

Today is Thanksgiving Eve. It’s time to count our blessings and pause in gratitude.

I look back over the past year on this Thanksgiving eve and I am grateful that I was born an American. I am grateful that God placed me in the adoring hands of two parents who never placed limits on me because I was female, who didn’t try to form me into a half-person who knew her “place” at the back of the bus.

I am grateful for my grandmother who was a Pentecostal Holiness preacher. She was a “church planter” who started and succored into success churches throughout a multi-state area and who had a huge following for her weekly radio sermons. She gave me a vision of God as Father to all His children, including the female half of the people He made.

I am grateful for my other grandmother whose grandparents lived in the South and fought on the side of the North in the Civil War because they saw slavery as a sin against God. I am grateful that she lived long enough to tell me stories of pioneering across this great land, of following the frontier as it receded before the courage of people like her.

I am grateful for my wonderful husband whose loyalty I never doubt, and whose forbearance I often sorely test. When I walked in the house and told him I had cancer, he cried. Then, he went with me to every doctor’s appointment and every treatment. He took time off work to take care of me when I was too sick to care for myself. He loved me. He loves me. He is my spouse, my life’s mate.

I am grateful for my fine sons. I am grateful for the good men they have become. I am grateful for the loving, good-to-the-core young women, my two new daughters, they have chosen for their own life’s mates. My children are good people. My most important life’s work is a success.

I am grateful for my sweet, precious, 91-year-old baby, my mother. I love her and treasure her and am grateful I still have her every single day.

I am grateful for my beautiful, wonderful baby granddaughter. I can’t think of her without melting, can’t write about her without smiling. Just holding her in my arms is everything good in life in one sweet baby hug. She is, as I tell her often, the smartest, the prettiest, the nicest, the sweetest and just the best baby girl in the whole history of baby girls.

This has been a rotten year for me, at least in most respects. There are parts of it I don’t feel like writing about just now, but that were tough. I have already written about the other things. This was the year in which I discovered I am unlikely to live as long as I had thought I might, when I found out I had cancer, when I went through the difficult passage of cancer treatment.

Cancer changed me. It wasn’t the worst thing that ever happened to me, and it hasn’t been the hardest thing I’ve ever done. But it changed me.

Cancer gave me the opportunity to mentally unpack my life and look at what parts of it I want to keep and what parts of it I want to toss. It let me understand the limits of my lifespan, and this understanding sharpened my resolve about the things that matter to me.

Cancer gave me a kind of freedom. We all know that we are marked “Return to Sender,” but for most of our lives, we tend to forget that. Cancer brought that fact into sharper focus for me. And, in that focus, is freedom.

This is an odd thing for someone who held elective office for decades, but I never was much of a people-pleaser. I haven’t lived my life by trying to trim myself, my beliefs or my actions to fit what other people wanted me to do, believe or say.

I have my parents to thank for that internal freedom. They gave it to me by telling me, from the dawn of my life that I was made for myself and not other people. My parents did not fence me in with narrow ideas about myself. They did not allow me to drink down the cultural limitations that other people sought to impose on female children.

They weren’t feminists, didn’t even know the word. They were parents who were children of other parents who had rejected these notions somewhere along the long march through the abolitionist movement, the frontier and the turn to a powerful personal faith in a God Who did not Himself impose these limits.

My childhood, and a couple of life-changing things that happened to me at the end of it, shaped me to be a go-my-own-way, do-what-I-think-is-right kind of person. That acute freedom led me into some very public mistakes, which I very publicly regretted later on. But it also led me into an incredible life in which I had the opportunity to do things that mattered, that saved lives and changed lives for the better.

As I sit here on this Thanksgiving eve, writing this post, I am grateful. I am grateful for this wonderful country, which I love with my whole heart. I am grateful for my family, and for the friends who have stuck with me through it all.

But most of all, I am grateful to my Maker for loving me, and for forgiving me my sins, for giving me my children, my husband, my parents, my sweet baby granddaughter. I am grateful to Him for my life.

I am grateful to Him for His love. For seeing me through all of it, for walking beside me in the valley of the shadow. I am grateful to Him for Calvary, for eternal life, for lifting me out of the mire of mortality and giving me the gift of endless tomorrows.

Cancer is, in ways I never considered before I learned I had it, a liberating thing. It liberates you from the tyranny of tomorrow and places you squarely into today. And for that, I am grateful.

Cancer may take away years of the time I thought I had to live. But it has given me today.

I give thanks on this Thanksgiving eve for the myriad blessings of my life.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention, along with all my many blessings, the opportunity to write and communicate with you dear people who have formed this good community here on Public Catholic. I write other places, for some good-sized publications. But nowhere else do I know my readers by name and personality.

I am grateful for each of you. Thank you for your prayers and your support during this hard year just past. You are the best.

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5 Things I Wish Pope Francis Knew About America

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Michael Doughertyhttps://www.flickr.com/photos/md888/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Michael Doughertyhttps://www.flickr.com/photos/md888/

I wish Pope Francis had time to meet the real America instead of spending all his time with politicos.

I wrote about that longing for Catholic Vote, listing 5 things I wish Pope Francis knew about us.

Here’s part of what I said:

I wish Pope Francis could see Oklahoma … and Colorado … and Big Bend. I wish he had time to take a road trip along the long stretches of lonely road that crisscross this country. I wish he could meet the good people who are the real America.

As he noted in his address at St. Matthews this morning, he is from a big country, too. But America is such a sweep of a nation. I am almost as many miles from Pope Francis as London is from Cairo; and yet we are both in the USA.

It’s sad that his entire trip will be confined to a few cities on the East Coast. Not that there is anything wrong with those cities. It’s just that they do not reflect the whole of America; not anymore than a salad, no matter how tasty, reflects the steak that is to come.

Most of Pope Francis’ time here will be spent with priests and politicians. That is not exactly representative of the whole of the American people.

I thought about this early this morning, while I drove my mother to adult day care. I drove part of the way behind a school bus, picking up kids. I passed a woman, walking her dog, and a man out for his morning jog. The flowers were in bloom. The sun peeked over the rim of the prairie with its good morning light.

I saw all this, and I thought, America really is beautiful. The peace and security of this morning drive must seem like an unattainable dream to many people in the world.

Here are 5 things that I hope Pope Francis can somehow understand about us.

Read the rest here.

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Two Reporters Were Murdered on TV Today. How Many Murders Have you Witnessed?

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Cliff https://www.flickr.com/photos/nostri-imago/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Cliff https://www.flickr.com/photos/nostri-imago/

Americans saw another cold-blooded murder this morning, this time it was a disgruntled former employee, taking out his rage on his former co-workers.

Now, a young man and woman are dead and another young man is bound to spend the rest of his life behind bars.

What does it do to us, watching this horror show, day after day? How does following Jesus defend us against falling into the depravity we witness?

I took on those questions in this post that I wrote for the National Catholic Register.

Here’s a bit of what I said:

The first person I ever saw murdered was Lee Harvey Oswald.

I was a kid at the time. President John F. Kennedy had been assassinated on Friday. My family sat in front of our small-screen black and white television all that weekend. We watched obsessively.

As I said, I was a kid, a newcomer to the horrors of life. In a way, all Americans were kids, newcomers, at least to this kind of horror. My parents had grown up in the Great Depression and lived through World War II and Korea, so they were hardly rubes when it came to the horrors that evil can wreak.

But unknown to all of us at that time, America had passed through a membrane a little bit after noon on Friday, November 22, 1963. The America we had known, where children could go trick-or-treating without parental supervision and no one feared for their safety, where politicians were free to mix with the people without worry about being gunned down, where most kids slept under the roof of their own home with their married parents asleep down the hall in their own bedroom, had been mortally wounded.

The long bleed from that wound would go on for decades, right up until today. But America, the America in which I was born, ended when a dum-dum bullet tore through the back of President Kennedy’s skull and shattered, ripping out the right side of his brain.

I remember the shock when I saw Jackie step off the plane, blood all over her. I remember the shock the next morning when I saw her emerge from the White House, the tragedy written in every line of her swollen-eyed, bruised face.

She made it real to me. That blood on her skirt was America’s blood.

We watched the unfolding of that weekend-long national wake on our grainy-screened little television, and by the end of it, the tragedy was indelibly etched in our minds. That’s how it came to be that I witnessed the first murder I ever saw.


Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/rhamilton/we-are-eyewitnesses-to-atrocity-we-must-also-be-eyewitnesses-to-christs-maj/#ixzz3jxBZSD5U

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Who We Are

 

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Lincoln’s Great Short Speech

The Civil War split the Southern side of my family.

My great-great grandfather was from the South, but fought on the side of the North. This sheared him from his family, his people, his past.

It, in a round-about way, is why I am an Okie today.

My family has others who fought in that war, Southerners who fought for the North. My grandfather’s father was a drummer boy. My family tends to have children late, which is why the generations are so short. That drummer boy great grandfather lived to be 101.

My husband’s family was also deep in it. They saluted the Stars and Bars. We sometimes joke that it took over 100 years for the two of us to marry across that divide.

America has seen worse than the problems she faces today.

Lincoln, whatever else he did, saved the Union. I do not think anyone else would have stood in that breach and doggedly kept on. If he had not done this, America would never have become the great power she is and the history of the entire world would be vastly different.

Without a strong America to lend-lease arms to the Soviets and Brits, and then to join the fight, would Hitler have won? Our entry in WWI was certainly a turning point, as well.

What about the peace that followed? What would have become of a world without the Marshall Plan, the rebuilding of Japan and America’s stalwart stand against Communism across the decades?

Lincoln saved the Union, and changed world history.

His great short speech at Gettysburg captured the tragedy of the Civil War in a few words.

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Saving America: What is a Precinct Meeting?

 

A reader asked me to explain what a precinct meeting is, and how it can be used to take back our country.

I haven’t had time to research how this is done in each state. I will write other posts describing each state in detail. But this is the process in Oklahoma.

The two political parties do not get their platforms out of a box of Cracker Jacks. These platforms are voted on by elected party members. Any registered member of a political party can participate in party politics. No one can stop them. All they have to do is begin by going to a precinct meeting.

Here’s how it works in Oklahoma, which is probably not all that different from other states.

Each of the two political parties are divided into territories. These territories fall along state lines. Thus, you have an Oklahoma Democratic or Republican Party, a Texas Democratic or Republican Party, a Michigan Democratic or Republican Party and so on throughout all 50 states. For the purposes of what I asked Public Catholic readers to do yesterday, which is convert the Democratic Party, I’m going to describe the Oklahoma Democratic Party’s process.

State parties are subdivided into territories. In the Oklahoma Democratic Party, these territories fall along the lines of state legislative districts. Thus, the district I represented, District 89, is a district in the Oklahoma Democratic Party, at least for precinct meeting purposes. Each house district is divided into precincts. These precincts are the same ones that the state election board uses to divide voters in order to determine where you go to vote in elections. You can look on your Voter ID card to see your precinct.

Once each year, the Democratic Party (and the Republicans, I might add) hold what are called precinct meetings. Anyone who is a registered member of the Democratic Party can attend the precinct meeting for the precinct in which they reside. These precinct meetings elect officers and vote on resolutions which, if they are passed, will be forwarded to the next step in the process for consideration in becoming part of the party platform. The precinct meeting attendees also elect delegates to the next set of meetings, which are county meetings.

Any one in attendance can introduce resolutions about what should be included in the party platform. Any attendee can be elected a precinct officer or delegate. There is no requirement for having been active in the party previously.

Precinct meetings are usually sparsely attended. Many times, they are held in someone’s home. Other times, there will be district meetings at a union hall in the district or something similar. In areas with really low turnout, several districts may meet together. It does not take much to take over a precinct meeting. You can bring a few friends and family members and sweep it. Precinct meetings take a couple of hours. They are held on a Tuesday evening early in the year.

The delegates who are elected at precinct meetings are then able to attend the county meetings. These are usually much more heavily attended. There may be several hundred people there, and most of them will be party regulars. Members of the Oklahoma House and Senate are automatically delegates to the county and state conventions. These meetings usually take most of a Saturday.

County meetings also elect officers and delegates to the next stage of the process, which is the Statewide convention. At this point, it’s more difficult to get elected a delegate. But it is very do-able if you work together with other pro life Democrats from around the state. If you are a firefighter or police officer or member of another union, you can unite that with your pro life beliefs to gain votes. Ditto for other groups. Also, if we manage to get enough pro life Democrats to show up at precinct meetings, we’ll have the votes at the county meetings to elect pro life delegates to the statewide meeting.

At least in Oklahoma, pro life Democrats are a majority in the rank and file, even though they are almost non-existent among the party regulars. That’s not because the pro choice Democrats have been evil about this. It’s because they were the ones who cared enough to show up at precinct meetings.

County meetings also vote on the resolutions that were passed up from the precinct meetings for inclusion in the party platform. There is a Resolutions Committee that vets these, and also writes resolutions of its own. (This part can get a bit nasty when you’re talking about issues like pro life, which is another reason why we need a lot of pro life Democrats there.) All of these resolutions are voted on by the body at large.

There are a lot of tricks involved in these votes. One of the most common is to hold votes on something that the existing county leadership disagrees with until most people have gone home. Another trick is to use a voice vote to say something has won when it has really lost, or vice versa. At this point, pro life Democrats who are newcomers will need the guidance of someone who is both pro life and an old pro at this stuff. There are quite a few of those people. We just need to work together.

The next step is the statewide convention. This is the meeting at which state officers are elected and the party platform is written and voted on. It is also where Democratic Committeewomen and delegates to the National Democratic Convention which nominates the party’s presidential candidate are elected.

I have not been able to attend an Oklahoma State Democratic Party convention for many years because I have been a pro life Democratic elected official who actually passes pro life bills. I have put pro life first, even when it meant crossing party lines or voting against efforts of the party.

As a Democratic member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives, I have always had the legal right to attend. I was an automatic delegate. However, I have been picketed at statewide Democratic Conventions and there was a vote at one of them to censure me by the party for passing a pro life bill. That censure came within 50 votes of passing. I stopped going to these meetings because (a) it was too unpleasant, and (b) my fellow elected officials asked me not to attend because my presence made things too unpleasant for them.

I’m telling you this to give you an idea of how hard core the Oklahoma Democratic party officialdom is in support of abortion. On the other hand, the rank and file is heavily — not exclusively, but certainly a majority — pro life. How did this happen?

It happened because of who attends precinct meetings.

Pro choice people have been working on this party for decades now. They organize and get their people to these meetings. We have lost the Democratic Party to the pro aborts by means of the oldest political truth in the books: Bad politicians (or in this case, bad delegates) are elected by good citizens who don’t vote.

We can turn it around by simply showing up. I mean that. It’s really that easy. It’s a matter of one Tuesday evening and two Saturdays, donated to the pro life cause.

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Glenn Beck: I Made a Lot of Mistakes. I Played a Role in Helping Tear the Country Apart.

I respect Glenn Beck’s honesty in this interview.

His regrets are well-placed. A number of other people should have the same regrets. But he is the only person I’ve heard who has the courage to admit his mistakes like this.

Hopefully we can learn from him. Stand by your principles. But do not let hatred and malice drive you. It is much easier to harm people than it is to heal them later.

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Kids of Courage: Persecuted Christian Teens Around the World

 

This video shows us a glimpse of the magnificent faith of Christian young people around the world.

Can we do less that stand for Jesus here in America?

Note: The video says that in China it is illegal to give religious instruction to anyone under 18. This mirrors the Dawkins’-inspired secularist calls to stop parents from passing on their faith to their children here in the West. It is notable how often extreme secularists use the tactics of communists.

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Courage and The Declaration of Independence

I cannot imagine the gravity of the vote.

These men held destiny in their hands that day. When we connect the dots backwards, their action seems inevitable. But at the time, they were representatives of 13 separate and independent colonies, each with its own culture and government, set on the task of considering whether to try to unite in order to fight a war of independence against the country that most of them had always considered their own.

By voting yes and then putting their signatures on the document that we call the Declaration of Independence, they changed history. But none of this seemed certain, or even likely, on that hot July day when they took this vote.

They were setting themselves on a course of war, that, if lost, would result in the loss of life and property for each of them and their families and they would forever be branded traitors. This war would not be fought overseas. It would be fought among them, on their farms and in their cities. They would be the soldiers and their families and homes would be the battlefield.

They were taking on one of the great powers of the world with little more than determination and refusal to yield.

If they lost this war, the Declaration they signed would become their death warrant. It would also bring untold punishment and suffering onto their countrymen.

Courage is often foolish. It can be rash. I am sure that these men wondered if they were being both. The odds, after all, were against them, and the cost of failure extreme. But they took the step off the side of the cliff and signed.

The rest is history.

Happy Birthday America, Home of the Brave, Land of the Free.

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