Personal Liberty or Big Government?

     I graduated with a B.A. in history, and I was absolutely passionate about my    class in “Constitutional Law.” That class dyed me in the wool of championing                 our constitution, which was designed to protect the liberties of individuals and limit the control of government so that “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” could be granted to all who live in America. This means a nation of dreamers and doers, not drones and dependents, a nation of individuals empowered by their government to work hard in order to succeed at the American dream of liberty and justice for all.

I have a friend who is a lawyer in San Diego and cherishes this same viewpoint. He wrote me such a beautifully impassioned plea for the cause of freedom that I wanted to pass it along to you verbatim. So, from “Mr. Narrator” (who also shared the following picture with me last year):

“On November 6, 2012, your vote will promote a country in which (a) your individual liberties are honored except to the extent they injure the rights of others; or (b) your individual liberties take a back seat to what those in power claim is best for ‘the common good.’

“The first choice, the model envisioned by the Founding Fathers, is based upon the ideas: (a) that all men are created equal; and (b) that all men are endowed by their Creator with certain inherent rights, among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (which means, in part, that people are free to own property and do whatever they wish with it). This model empowers individuals to pursue their hopes and dreams without undue interference from the government. It is a risky model because it allows individuals to fail, sometimes even desperately.

“The second choice, the model envisioned by Statists, is based upon the ideas: (a) that all men are fungible, part of a collective; (b) that there is no Creator, and therefore no individual God-given rights; and (c) that all rights, including property rights, rightly flow from the government as the embodiment of the collective. This model empowers the government to deny the pursuit of an individual’s hopes and dreams if they do not sufficiently advance “the common good.” It is a risky model because power tends to corrupt and absolute power absolutely corrupts.

“On November 6, choose greater freedom, not greater corruption.”

The Last Presidential Debate: Were You Pleased?

So, I watched the last presidential debate with baited breath. Did you?

                                           If so, what did you think of it?       I thought the moderator did a first-rate job and asked excellent questions.I felt like both candidates were able to express their views well and were generally respectful, although I was glad that Romney was able to continue speaking clearly even when Obama would interrupt and attempt to be disruptive. (Okay, so Romney’s investors made one poor choice; however, at least Romney’s entire history and records are open to the public. Why does Obama refuse to disclose his records to the public for scrutiny? What’s he got to hide???)I was disappointed that Obama was either confused about the truth or intentionally misspoke on several issues, but especially the bill that he said he was against even though he’d signed it into law.I was secretly pleased that Obama revealed his lack of insight into our military needs…such basic things as the importance of bayonets (in 2012, the Army and Marines are deploying 330,000 modern M9 bayonets) and number of ships (a few air craft carriers don’t make up for having an increasingly outdated, smaller naval fleet). The needs are legion.I was glad that Romney was able to quote some of the America-deprecating comments that Obama had spoken on his “Apology Tour” (which is exactly what I believe it was, having watched various videos of his speeches there) and point out that Obama had slighted Israel. And, not only has Israel been betrayed by Obama’s stance in the Middle East, Obama has shown weakness in his dealings with Poland, Russia, and China as well (to name a few).In fact, I just liked everything about Romney’s side of the debate. Even his deportment was excellent. Did you notice how Romney seemed relaxed and confident all night, whereas Obama was straining forward and was clearly on the defensive? Obama spent so much time trying to attack Romney that Romney couldn’t even address all the erroneous jabs. Romney could have attacked Obama too, but he spent the majority of his time trying to educate Americans about basic principles of economics and politics. You can’t spend your way out of economic crisis, you have to work your way out. It’s better to create jobs for your sons than to give them free health insurance and food stamps (especially using money the government doesn’t have). You can’t impose crushing taxes on small businesses (even those who make over $250,000) and expect them to resist outsourcing as a means of staying competitive. They need their revenue to expand and generate more jobs here at home.  If we want a safe, peaceful world, then we have to be strong, principled, and trustworthy, supporting our allies and trying to develop civil relationships even with those who oppose us politically. I thought the way Michelle and Ann greeted their spouses afterwards was very telling (although I wasn’t quick enough to catch it on film). Michelle’s hug seemed to say, “I’m proud of you! You went into the lion’s den and survived.”  Ann’s hug, on the other hand, seemed to say, “Wow! Congratulations. You won!”Of course, you could accuse me of just “spinning” things, but that was the way it looked to me. I was also watching FOX news and listening to the conservative commentators afterward. I know there are lots of “undecided voters” out there,and I sincerely hope they continue to study, ultimately making their choices based on politics and principle rather than performance and popularity. I think Obama is heading the wrong direction, and I would love to move forwardby welcoming Romney as the next president of these United States of America.

Autumn Leaves with a Twist: Paraprosdokians

Paraprosdokians are figures of speech in which the second half of the sentence is surprising, often giving a humorous twist and an unexpected ending. They say that Winston Churchill loved them. I do too! Here are a few that have floated around the internet, but in case you need a visual distraction to keep you entertained, I’ve combined them with some of my favorite pictures from our last hike through Provin’ Park. The pictures have nothing to do with the jokes, but I’m hoping you enjoy both! 🙂
1. Where there’s a will, I want to be in  it.
2. The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it’s still on my list.
3. Since light travels faster than sound, some people appear bright until you hear them speak.
4. If I agreed with you, we’d both be wrong.
5. We never really grow up, we only learn how to act  in public.
6. War does not determine who is right – only who  is left.
7. Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
8. To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism. To steal from many is  research.
9. I didn’t say it was your fault, I said I was blaming you.
10. In filling out an application, where it says, ‘In case of emergency, Notify:’
    I put  ‘DOCTOR’.
 11. Women will never be equal to men until they can walk down the street with a bald head and a beer gut, and still think they  are sexy.
12. You do not need a parachute to skydive. You only need a parachute to skydive twice.
13. I used to be indecisive. Now I’m not so sure.
14. To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and call whatever you hit the target.
15. Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.
16. You’re never too old to learn something stupid.
17. I’m supposed to respect my elders, but its getting harder and harder for me to find one now.

Rise Up, My Love (3): Do You Have a Favorite Song?

1:1 “The song of songs.”  Do you have an all-time favorite song? a song that captivates you whenever you hear it? That instantly transports you back to a somewhere in time that becomes the present again as you relive a special moment of life? When I hear “Some Day Your Prince Will Come,” I’m still a little girl swirling around my living room, dreaming of being awakened by true love’s first kiss.  If I hear a pipe organ resounding with the majestic chords of “A Mighty Fortress is our God,” I am a young bride floating down the aisle of a little church in Perry, Michigan. “Time to Say Goodbye” was sung at my mother’s funeral, but the memory that becomes reality again is the enchanting evening some weeks later when I heard the same hauntingly beautiful strains float out across St. Marcos’ Square in Venice, Italy. I stood transfixed, overwhelmed by the sense that human experience is universal: grief and joy, life and death, love and longing, pain and misery…everything is all jumbled up in our hearts, and people the world around feel the same intertwining poignancy and passion in life.

Songs have an amazing ability to transform memories into fresh realities and evoke emotions that may have slumbered undisturbed for many years. Have you ever walked into a restaurant and heard a song that reminded you of your first love?  You see a face that would not even look the same today, but—you’re seeing that face! You feel a rush of adrenalin, and suddenly you’re transported back in time, reliving a joyous time together…or perhaps a heartbreaking parting. You experience the sensation with all the vividness of the present—down to minute details—sights, feelings…even the way things tasted and smelled…and the sounds. Especially the sounds! Remember? It was the music that triggered the memory.Happy times, sad times, good times, bad times. Songs take the poetry of our heart and set it to music; they sing to our spirits with the language of the soul. Songs reflect our culture, our moods, and our loves. When my children first learned to write in cursive, they had to copy out Psalm 23 at the beginning of the year, and then again at the end, to see how their penmanship had changed. As an exercise and marker for remembering, consider taking time to think of your favorite song today. The song you choose doesn’t have to be the end-all-be-all passion of your life, but something that speaks for you. If you can’t think of a song, then make one up, or write out one line or one sentence that epitomizes you. At the end of this study, I’ll ask again. Perhaps you will still love the same song, or perhaps you will choose a different song or thought, but it will be fun to compare notes and remember again how we felt today. And, it is my prayer that by the time we finish this study we find the Lord even nearer and dearer to our hearts than he is today.In the Bible, there is a favorite song…a song of songs.  It is a celestial love song inspired by the spirit of God, penned by the hand of Solomon, and intended for the hearts of all of us. It is a song to stir our emotions and fire our passions to experience love…real love…eternal love. It is a song written to trigger a rush of adrenalin and a fresh sensation of our first love for Christ every time we read it, and a song which—if we will meditate on it until it becomes an integral part of our very being—will sing itself in our hearts for the rest of our lives, making every morning a new experience of love, joy, and peace.  It is The Song of Solomon, and it is a song that God sings to us. “The Lord thy God in midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing” (Zephaniah 3:17). So, Rise Up, My Love, and listen to him singing!

The Armstrong Archives (3): Surprise, Surprise!

Two years later in February, 1975

Dr. Varney smiled brightly as he returned to the examination room. “You’re pregnant!” he reported.

My eyes grew wide and filled with tears. “I am?” I asked weakly.

“You are!” he reassured me. “Don’t you want to be?”

My whole life seemed to pass before my eyes…not my past, but my future. My future as a clinical psychologist. My coveted PhD. My dream of sharing Christ with the world and helping people in need of spiritual and emotional healing. My work. My dreams. My goals. I started to cry!

“Now, now,” Dr. Varney patted my arm reassuringly. “Having a baby is a wonderful thing! Tell me what you’re worried about.”

“Well,” I began, trying to choke back the tears, “my husband just found out last week that he’s been admitted to medical school. I think he wants to become a psychiatrist, and I’m in graduate school to become a clinical psychologist. How will I ever finish school if I have a baby? And…how will we ever pay for medical school?” (We’d been living largely off my teaching assistantship while Alan saved for medical school.)

“Well, I can’t tell you how it’s all going to work out, but I can tell you that it will all work out. Don’t worry about it. My wife and I had two children while I was in medical school, and we survived. It’s hard, but it’s not impossible. You’ll see.” He patted me again.

Bless Dr. Varney! He was the campus clinic doctor. Only time I ever met him, but I’ll never forget him. The right words at the right time can make a world of difference in someone. Lord, may I be so used to bless a stranger in need someday!

“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver” (Proverbs 25:11).

Joy Compounded

Our Michigan kids all got together last weekend to wish me a happy birthdayand bring me lots of presents (like this lovely mum Dan and Brianna gave me).We had tons of fun playing together and enjoying Baby Iris,and Monday morning Kathy and Carl even took me out for a special breakfast!Sunday afternoon was a real highlight! We went for a hike at Provin Trails. Provin Trails is in the northeastern part of GR, and it’s a great family  favorite. In fact, we’ve been taking walks there for many years. Kathy’s husband,  Carl, is a professional videographer and graphics design artist (although many ofus enjoy photography), and since it was such an incredibly beautiful day, we decided to make a bit of a commemorative photo shoot out of it,not only to help remember how wonderful my 62nd birthday was, but also to celebrate Kathy and Carl’s marriage, because it was just four years ago that they’d come to Provin Park for a photo shoot with Jon and Linda when they were all first falling in love! Now both couples have a baby! Isn’t that sweet?! 🙂Speaking of their baby, Alan decided to carry Iris for a while to give the kids a break, but also just to snuggle, since grand kids are simply grand!However, I’ll be the first to say that one’s own kids are truly the grandest!(And I dare say, does it get any grander than a playful spouse?)Well, we had a simply wonderful time meandering through the woods talkingand enjoying all the beauty. Little Iris finally fell asleep, and Alan carried her until she woke up and wanted her mama back. But, we were glad for that, because we wanted to get some pictures of how the two of them had compounded their joy by becoming three!

“Let all those that put their trust in you rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because you defend them: let them also that love your name be joyful in you.”

Psalm 5:11

Earl Grey’s Robbery

This morning there was a robbery at our house.I caught the culprit in the very act! His name is Earl Grey, and I know him well.As soon as he saw me, he pretended to leave as if he had no intention of evil,but as soon as he thought I wasn’t watching, he stopped to reconsider.Pretty soon he was sneaking back wondering if he’d get caught…wondering what I’d do to him if he did get caught. “Oh, would she shoot me? My poor heart is pained just thinking about it!”Maybe she wouldn’t notice…maybe she wouldn’t care…Well…she’s certainly not going to let me come inside…Oh, whatever shall I do?I just can’t resist.I’ve got to take my chances and hope I can outrun her if I get caught!Now, where did I hide that?I know it’s around here somewhere.It’s all YOUR fault! You must have hidden it!It’s not my fault. I’m just a squirrel and I can’t help it. Besides, any self-respecting squirrel knows to “Get what you can when you can.”I learned that maxim at R.S.U. (Rodent State University). Who cares if it’s made for birds and will make me sick? I want it anyway!Ta, ta to you! I guess I really fooled you this time!

“The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.”

Proverbs 15:3