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I Pledge July 3, 2008

Memorial Flag flown over the USS Arizona

Memorial Flag flown over the USS Arizona

As the United States of America dawns its 233rd year, I thought it fitting to take a moment and give honor to the country we love.

As some are cracking out the beer and BBQ, as some are readying their fireworks display, as some are whipping up their picnic salads, as some are watching parades… as some are strapping on their guns and body armor, as some are patrolling foreign shores, as some are weeping quietly and praying for their safety, as some are mourning the ones that will never return… I would like us to take a moment and think about this nation, and what it stands for.

So often in our lives we have begrudgingly stood, doffed our caps with hands over our hearts and recited a pledge taught to us in primary school. I wonder, how many have truly considered the honor it is to stand in freedom and say those words. My prayer this Fourth of July is that we can stop merely pledging and start practicing.

I PLEDGE …. a solemn promise, a binding oath, a formal vow taken with the knowledge of one’s responsibility  

 ALLIEGENCE devotion, fidelity owed by a citizen to their government 

to the FLAG the visible representation, the distinctive symbol of our Nation; representing the freedoms and rights guaranteed to its citizens. Its colors standing for purity, innocence, bravery, sacrifice, vigilance and justice: the cornerstones of our society.

of the United States of America a confederation of sovereign states united to protect a shared vision of self evident truths: that all mankind is created equal and endowed by God with the unalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

and to the republic…  a government in which supreme power resides in its citizens and is exercised by elected officers responsible and governing according to laws approved by those citizens. 

for which it stands… the values and freedoms that we as a united nation will die to protect

One Nation… One Nation means “… malice toward none, with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan – to do all which may achieve and cherish a just, and a lasting, peace, among ourselves…” Abraham Lincoln

Under God… “”It is the duty of nations as well as of men to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God… and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in Holy Scripture, and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord.”

That this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” Abraham Lincoln

Indivisible…the union of states is incapable of undergoing division: discussion absolutely, disagreement certainly, but division impossible.

With Liberty… the state of being free and enjoying social, political, and economic rights and privileges: The power of choice.

“Give me your tired, your poor,/ Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,/ The wretched refuse of your teeming shore./ Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,/ I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” Emma Lazarus, American Poet, engraved on the Statue of Liberty.

and Justice… what is right, fair, appropriate and deserved

FOR ALL! …The United States of America and the freedoms she holds dear is our birthright, no matter creed, color or religion.

As I sit and pray for my husband who is defending this great nation on foreign soil once again, I realize that with great gifts come great responsibility and sacrifice. There are thousands right now who are defending our freedom with life, limb and time. They have been called upon, by this nation, to defend her life and liberty; you and me. Let us do our part to support them…

…until the last one comes home.

I Pledge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shoveling Out June 19, 2008

One room clean, ugh many more to go My kids and I are on an epic “adventure” in cleaning this week, I call it shoveling out the house. While I am pitching bagfuls of cheap plastic, I think to myself, “Why do I buy so much (well I must say it) crap?”

I am struck by the words of a wise friend who was channeling her inner Peter Walsh… “You won’t have to clean so much if you don’t keep so much.” Or, as my good Midwestern, sensible husband might add… buy it in the first place.

I love a clean house… I really do… I enjoy sitting on my cozy couch, my warm and fuzzy blanket drawn up…a cup of warm jasmine tea in hand… a great book open on my lap (my children blissfully asleep in their OWN beds)… and looking over the vastness that is a clean house… the Lego and Polly pocket free floors, the stacks of paper gone from all horizontal surfaces, the fact that I can stretch my legs out on the couch without knocking over two weeks of junk mail and seven loads of unfolded laundry… Awe BLISS.

However, I am not a talented homemaker… in fact I despise the tasks that it involves all together. I have distinct memories from childhood praying for angels to come overnight and clean my room. Alas, I hadn’t learned yet that God uses room cleaning to teach patience, discipline… needless to say, I never had any angelic maids feather dusting at night… and have tried to avoid as much as I possibly can ever since.

Good on you Fly-Ladies, but… I just can’t seem to make cleaning the house EVERY Day work for me. Instead I choose to marathon clean… meaning when the house starts to have Pre-Cambrian layers it’s time to start shoveling… Indiana Jones style. This is not the method I would recommend, however it seems to be the pattern that I am stuck in…and sick of.

So, I have decided (for the tenth time…at least) that I am turning over a new leaf. That it is time to teach my children to live clean and relatively clutter free lives…and do OTS…(Opportunities to Serve… fancy acronym for chores) I am not without a heart, and realize that it is easier to maintain and do said OTS’s in a clean house, so it’s “kill the first week of summer and get rid of everything” time.

Now, if you are a parent… the dilemna is this…motivating said children to 1) clean at all 2) not move into the clean areas you have just finished, because it’s so much “funner” to play in the part that is not at critical mass 3) get rid of the toy that has been collecting dust behind the couch for 3 months…because it is their FAVVORITEE…  Awe, I can see you sympathise.

So my answer and advice is to bribe with abandon. Instead of popping a coronary…this time… I make up great rewards for achievement… Sure mommy will sit through Kung Fu Panda with you… for a price, just your room clean. Laser Tag?? No problem, the living room is all yours, make sure you dust.

And hey, guess what…

It still didn’t work 🙂

So 3 bags of trash, 5 bags of old clothes and toys to give away…I have 5 rooms down, 3 more and 3 bathrooms to go… I have come to this conclusion and written a sign that is posted on the door out to the garage… it reads

People/Time over Things: 7 days of bleach fumes is not worth buying ___(insert items)____.   

So, You Fly-Lady’s who love to write me whenever I moan over housework…bring it on. I would love any suggestions that actually work…not in theory, but are time tested and successful. I will post the good ones to encourage us domestically challenged…come on, I know you are out there…

See you on the Flip Side! Amie

 

 

By their flair…ye shall know them May 13, 2008

My husband and I were at a fundraiser recently. It is one of the blue ribbon events in our community… if you are somebody, then you are there.

We are not “somebodies”.

My friend happens to be the director of the institute, and needed warm bodies for a few open seats that were left. Always striving to be appropriate, we dudded up in our finest and drove our domestic to one of the swanky wineries in town. We did not valet.

All the way there we shared a grin… we are such posers.

I scanned the silent auction items, proudly writing my bid number down on the interesting looking ones… we were there so early, we got to take the opening bid slots. My husband warns me, if they all hit,  we are eating mac and cheese for a month.

I laugh, we will for certain be beat out… I mean the opening bids were $20. Don’t you know that a charity auction is not for bargain hunters, it is to raise money for their cause…. so, no worries, we will be outbid. This is the upper crust of our fair city’s citizens.

… most that were there…posers. Fortunately for my food budget, we only won two. Unfortunately for the charity, they came in a huge amount under their goal.

So how do we know by looking at people if they are genuine or not. In this day and age of labels…Gucci and Prada… and posers… leased prestige BMWs, no interest loans on mansions, 40 year college loans on ivy league… how do we wade through them and find truth about people…who they really are and what they stand for? I mean, act your wage. Isn’t that a huge contributing factor to the economy going down the drain? People are posing.

This is why I appreciate the military system. By their flair, ye shall know them. I was struck by this on base recently. Simply by looking at the Marines around me, I could tell upwards of ten significant things about them. No words required. Depending on the uniform they are wearing:

1. I know how to address them

2. what their job is

3. the places in the world they have been

4. what kind of education they have

5. how much they really earn

6. where they live (base stationed at)

7. their Job performance

8. How crazy they are (All the services wear different cammies and uniforms from each other, you can spot a Marine a mile away)

9. Merit, heroism, bravery….

10. All the obvious things like rank, last name, unit, schools they’ve gone to, how great of a shot they are (rifle and pistols), how many times they have deployed…and to where….if they fly, what they fly and how long they have been… among others.

You truly can get a whole snapshot of who they are the moment you are observing them. Those are not silly things, like what kind of phone they use or car they drive…they are significant things about who they are as people.

These are just observations. I am not advocating everyone start wearing little emblems of themselves everywhere…although if you think about it, we already do…. there is just no governing body to regulate and police proper, honest display of them.  It would be an interesting social experiment though… wearing patches and medals to tell the story of who you really are….

1. Spent all my food money on this Prada Bag and am living on top raman now.

2. This BMW is really leased….or better yet, my other car is a enterprise rent-a-car

3. Living on my parent’s couch once my no-interest loan comes due on my gated 6bdrm.

or perhaps…

1. I just got back from refuge relief in Tanzania

2. I just helped build houses for Habitat.

3. I love my children.

My husband is laughing at me as I write this. I am the girl who won’t even wear the nametag at church…I like to force people to say hi and ask my name. I like to force myself to remember theirs. (Plus I get creeped out by people looking at my boobs all the time…squinting to read the nametag)

I can’t help thinking how differently we would look at the people we meet if this was the case? Would we get to know people better or ostracize them more…if they wore their truth on sleeves and collars. What would yours say… let me know?

 

 

 

 

 

Souls Don’t Have Color April 29, 2008

I was raised in Seattle. A city known for it’s integration and acceptance of people, no matter color or creed. My parents taught me, and I teach my children that in this nation… in this world, we do not “judge people by the color of their skin but by the content of their character”…it’s whats inside that counts. I truly believe that this world would be a boring, flat existence if we were all the same. Every note of the eternal symphony composed by our Master Craftsman is meant to be there…without omission. So why do I feel so insulted, so wronged by the newly touted Right Reverend Wright? The sacrifice that my husband and hundreds of thousands more have paid for in blood… profusely shed… for his right to to yell from a bully pulpit… God Damn America… feels trodden upon like a filthy rag. Well that infuriates me.

Why are you trying to divide America down lines that don’t exist for most of the people that I know? We are all God’s children, “black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics”… instead of dividing, why not try to “join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!” Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.

The paragraphs above are as far as I got in this essay.

I can’t go on… I don’t have the words. Tonight, I am eternally grateful for better writers than I. Specifically for,  John Moody, Executive Vice President, News Editorial for FOX News

Memo to Reverend Wright: Do Souls Have Color?

 

I’m white.

I’m Christian.

 I’m American.

 I’m not a racist.

And I’m offended by Jeremiah Wright. The Trinity United Church’s former pastor put on nearly an hour of smug mugging for the cameras at the National Press Club in Washington. Among other things, he repeated with a kind of glee that the attacks on 9/11 were retribution for America’s sins. He tried to distinguish African-influenced Christian churches in the United States from those that are not. He said, in part, that his recent plunge into the limelight “just might mean that the reality of the African-American church will no longer be invisible.”

What reality is that, reverend? How is reality visible or invisible? Is it a different reality from my church? Who says so? God? Or just you? What the heck, to be polite, are you talking about?

Let’s be clear: Reverend Wright has the right to say what he wants; that is the beauty of this country that he believes has so wronged him. His remarks are protected, even if they offend me, which they do. I, too, have rights, including the right to offend the Reverend, which I expect this will do.

I attend a Roman Catholic church where the pastor and most of the congregation are white. Yet my pastor would no more speak of white America, or the white church, or the hardships imposed on white people by the U.S. government because of affirmative action, than he would say “Goddamn America”. This does not mean that there is uniformity of opinion in my church. I know that my pastor and I disagree on issues of politics. I know that because we have talked outside the church, not because he preaches his politics from the pulpit. I would find it impossible to attend if he did this, because that would be an abuse of his position. His job is to help me in my quest for eternal salvation, not to tell me the kind of world he wants to live in until he and I achieve that goal.

He does not preach in order to divide. He preaches to bring comfort and hope to those in the Lord’s House.

Wright speaks about white racism while espousing the kind of hateful, bitter (yes, I know that word’s been used before) division between white and black that is the essence of racism. Do I know what goes on inside his head? No. But neither does he know what thoughts I secretly harbor.

“Be not deceived, God is not mocked,” Wright said, quoting Galatians 6:7. Reverend Wright, who dislikes being judged by sound bites, omitted the first passages of that biblical book. “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such a one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. 2 Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. 4 But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. 5 For every man shall bear his own burden.”

Whose burden were you bearing when you spoke, Reverend? If Americans have sinned, are you ministering to them in the spirit of meekness? You speak of the black church, yes. But what of the white church? Do churches have colors? Do souls? Are you and your church superior to mine? Allow me to tell you: you and it are not.

Your words, reverend, were an affront to me, but of far more importance, to the Almighty. You can still atone, but remember, God is not mocked.

John Moody is Executive Vice President, News Editorial for FOX News.

Please take a moment, and thank Mr. Moody for his poignant and appropriate words. They were heartfelt, honest and fair. He spoke for many of us that don’t know how to express what we feel. Thank you, Mr. Moody.

GOD BLESS AMERICA

 

STOP RANDOM acts of kindness April 26, 2008

Random Acts of Kindness, the “movement” started a few years ago.

It is time for it to end.

Instead, let’s start doing them on purpose!

You say, this is only semantics Amie….well look at what the “semantics” say about it…

Def of random: without definite aim, direction, rule, or method. synonyms haphazard, casual mean determined by accident rather than design. Random stresses lack of definite aim, fixed goal, or regular procedure.

Let’s start looking… actively looking… for ways to lend a hand, meet a need, support and encourage our communities.

Let’s be purposeful…intentional…meaningful.

If we looked at our fellow humans intent on meeting their needs, not only would we start to change humanity, but ourselves. It doesn’t have to be large gestures… so often, all people need are simple things to make their day easier and brighter.

I recently was on Camp Pendelton, a large Marine base out here in So-Cal.  Ahead of me was a young women, a marine, juggling an arm full of packages. Everytime she got one settled, another would drop. I wasn’t in a particular hurry, so I asked her if I could carry some of them.  To be honest… (I am ashamed to say) if I had been in a real time crunch, I probably would not have stopped to help her…

At first, she said no. Then another package dropped. I picked it up, and took a couple more in my arms.

She teared up.

“You really don’t mind?”

I teared up.

“The post office run is always the errand I hate the most.” I reassure. “I know what it’s like to have to juggle a ton of packages, a baby car carrier…with another in tow.”

She said that the care packages were for her husband in Iraq. All Copenhagen 🙂 He didn’t want anything else. It was his third time over there, and he would be getting home about a month before she was leaving for her second tour.

As I walked with her to the post office, I could tell she was a little shocked that someone would go the distance with her…which I thought was sad. She thanked me profusely.

We parted ways with a brief hug between strangers, and I left truly honored that I could lend a hand. I felt light and giddy….and on the hunt to find someone else to help. It had taken less than five minutes, but it changed my outlook forever.

We are the only Jesus that people may ever see. What we do reflects Him. We are His hands extended in charity, in sympathy, in love…

I challenge you to step out of your house every day and look forward to doing a Purposeful Act of Kindness…and not just one here or there… lets start a revolution of people acting out the simplest and most profound truth of all……Do unto others, as you would like to have done to you…

So what am I doing? Slowing down and letting people get by me (a feat on So-Cal freeways), I am smiling and saying hello to the people I pass, giving more hugs, looking for people who need an extra hand …and actually extending it, I am setting aside a little pin money each week to treat someone to a meal, to gas in their tank, to mailing a care package for them. I am actively looking for someone, every day, to be kind to.You might say, that you aren’t aware of anyone in need…or that it’s to big an issue to tackle.

I have your first mission… please accept it.

Being a  military wife about to face deployment, I can tell you the families back home can always use an act of kindness. Every little bit helps. I would encourage you to not only display your solidarity with a ribbon, but to display it with actions. If you know a family affected by this; write a note, offer a lawn mow, a game of catch with their children, a laundry folding party, a home-cooked meal that they don’t have to make, rake up fallen leaves or change light bulbs in places they can’t reach… a hug. Simple actions say more than 10,000 words sometimes. 

…and these ideas are just a start… we need to take the blinders off and take a long look at the world around us… noticing need is the first step… now meet it.

…be purposeful in the way we treat one another, I guarantee you will get back in happiness 10x’s more than the effort it took to do it.

Care to join me? Comment about what your plan is today… 

 

 

Calling all Writers… Up for an Adventure? April 21, 2008

Global Domination...One polish at a time

Anyone up for an adventure in writing “green”? Any aspiring or published writers out their looking for a fun, collaborative blog novel?  Are you an artist, photographer, cinematographer looking for a fun way to work with writers? Ok… so I am sure this is not a terribly new concept… but it is definitely experimental for me. I have a great idea for a novel and thought it would be fun to open up the process from conception to completion with my blogging family. We would have a weekly, guided forum with goals. Gather ideas form our adoring readership on characters, plot points, twists…  Not a huge time commitment, just a fun, collaborative process with other writers…and a good way to learn if you are new to the writing game…and mentor if you aren’t. On Meebo we will have real time chat writer’s meetings once a week to discuss all our options and close out the section. At the end of the planning process, we can split research if needed…and then decide if we will all write the chapters together or split them up…

We will use simple formula structure like Book in a Month… it has easily digestible “assignments”.  The goal is to story plan for 30 days, and then write the chapters in 30 days. You can be an author, a collaborator, or a lurker. If you are chosen as an author you would be taking the suggestions and storyboards we come up with and using it to write the actual chapter. If you want to collaborate you can leave suggestions, vote on characters… suggest plot points…participate in online planning meetings if you would like…and yes, you can be both. If you just want to lurk, and track our process…let us know you are a fan and comment once in a while. An over all “Bible” will be developed for plot and character… something that, the author will follow. Then, the draft chapter would be open to the other authors (maybe on a private blog) for editorial review and acceptance.

…. Once the chapters are complete (and edited 🙂 we can publish on Kindle and/or other forms of electric press…. or just release the chapters as they come to all our blogging friends…

If you are interested, leave a comment… I have already reserved the blog under the title of the book, and will be getting it up and running with the story concept next week. If you are interested in authoring the book…meaning writing chapters and participating on a regular basis, let me know so I can tag you as an author. You can leave on comment on this site, on the books blog site or at the book’s email listed below.

So, you are not a writer… perhaps you are an artist and would like to illustrate with drawings, animation or photographs? You make movies or cartoons and care to follow along… we would love it! Let’s see what what the collective can do with a simple plot idea.

Ok, ready? Want to try?

The book is called Manicure Mafia, and you can start writing now! http://manicuremafia.wordpress.com.

You can also contact us at: manicuremafia@gmail.com

Can’t wait to see you, click over now if you are interested!

 

 
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