Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Unconditional Positive Regard . . . With Boundaries

I have started and stopped this particular post several times. I want to come up with a creative way of saying this, but I’ve resorted to just calling it like I see it. Dealing with tyrannical type leaders is like working with clients with personality disorders.

Personality disorders are something that I’ve come across quite a few times. These types of disorders are difficult for the individual, their families, and the professionals who work with them.

Now, one of my operating principles as a mental health therapist is to have unconditional positive regard for all of my clients. I would not claim to be perfect at this skill, but it is something I honestly try to do with the individuals I am fortunate enough to work with, regardless of what disorders or difficulties they might be dealing with. It is important for me to also look at what other skills I might need to use in order to best serve my clients. For individuals with personality disorders one of those skills is really firm boundaries.

Here is an example. I used to have an office downstairs. It was also across from a men’s bathroom which had the slight benefit of being able to track down some of my client’s because eventually most people need to use the facilities. But, I often kept my office door closed; the bathroom door was kind of busted and sometimes closed far too slowly. Boy, did I digress, but I mostly shared it just because I think it is funny.

Anyway, having my office downstairs meant that if clients wanted to meet with me they usually had to ask if I was available through the secretary upstairs. For, the majority of my clients if I was available I would say “sure” and just meet with them then. But, for clients with personality disorders I would insist that they make an appointment. Why? Is it because I am a meanie doughhead? Well, that might be possible. But, really it was to set up really clear boundaries. See, I would have some of these clients that would make an appointment and then not keep it, then show up some other time and expect to meet with me. Then when a new appointment was scheduled they might miss it again, and then repeat the whole pattern. By not making myself available I would help the client learn that manipulation would not work with me. It was not easy, and sometimes I got some attitude thrown at me, but in the end it certainly helped to define the professional/client relationship in appropriate terms. And, we could work together to better resolve issues that they were dealing with.

So, I look at leaders like Ahmadinejad or Kim Jong Il or Chavez and see dudes that likely could be diagnosed with personality disorders but at least in terms of foreign policy should be treated as such. It is important for our nation’s leaders to have positive regard for other nation’s leaders, but it is important to make considerations of appropriate boundaries that in the end will make for a better relationship for both countries.

There is no reason to let North Korea continue to test weapons and just hope that sending them a strongly worded message will do any good. There needs to be really firm boundaries set. Sanctions are probably a good idea. But, just assuming that if we are nice enough they will see the light and change is ridiculous. Sometimes, the kindest thing to do is to be firm.

The United States needs to show it's strength, for our own safety but also for the benefit of other nations.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Strengthen the Stakes

Isaiah 54:2 Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thy habitations; spare not, lengthen thy cords and strengthen thy stakes.

There has been a great deal of talk lately about the need for the Republican Party to be a big tent that welcomes many diverse viewpoints. I agree with this on its premise. It is great to be inclusive and diverse, absolutely. There is a lot of attention paid to which people the Republican Party should be welcoming in. Again, that's better than fine, it's great. But, how is this expanded tent supposed to stay up? The answer is in that Scripture from Isaiah (the guy is not only a prophet but a genius). We have to lengthen the cords and strengthen the stakes. I want to write concerning the stakes.

I think that I'm a lot like other Conservatives these days in expressing quite a bit of displeasure at the Republican Party. There is all sorts of talk of moving more to the center. Now, I'm no physics expert but I think if you move the stakes of a tent more to the center the thing is just going to collapse on itself. No, the stakes have to be planted on the right. There has to be a clear difference between the Democrats and the Republicans. Being closer to the center would mean that our next presidential opponent to ObamatheOneKenobi would be like his Padawan or something. President Reagan put it well in a 1975 CPAC speech:

"Our people look for a cause to believe in. Is it a third party we need, or is it a new and revitalized second party, raising a banner of no pale pastels, but bold colors, which make it unmistakably clear where we stand on all of the issues troubling the people?"

The stakes have to be firmly planted for the big tent to stay up. I am a Conservative first, and I would love to say I was a Republican if Republicans would live up to their Republican Party Platform. Go to to get the whole thing. But, since the party is going to be a tent now rather than a platform lets say the planks are now going to be stakes.

We need leaders who are going to represent Conservativism and the Republican party with boldness clarity and conviction. The nation needs clear choices. This is one of the reasons that I support Sarah Palin. You can look at the stakes for this Republican Party tent and see that the Governor clearly stands by those principles. I want to point out her clear stance on some of these stakes.

National Security. Here is an issue that the Governor has (pardon the pun) a personal stake in. She is the mother of a soldier. This is an issue of prime importance to her. She has spoken and written clearly about the importance of missile defense. Alaska is the northernmost, westernmost and easternmost state in the union. She recently wrote about President Obama's proposed budget cuts to defense,
“These budget cuts add up to about half of 1 percent,” Governor Palin said. “But while they do little to put brakes on the exploding federal deficit, they hit Alaska hard. I join our congressional delegation in their determination to see that Alaska’s unique challenges and its key role in national defense are not overlooked.
This is an outrageous move at a time when North Korea has shown its willingness to flout international sentiments and conduct missile tests,” Governor Palin said. “America needs a strong missile defense, and Alaska’s strategic location is invaluable in protecting the nation.”

Government Reform. Governor Palin has a record of taking on her own political party for corruption. She in fact was willing to sacrifice her own political career in resigning her position on the previous Governor's staff because of ethical violations of members of her own party. She truly believes that Government is supposed to serve the people and she has a servant's heart. In an interview that aired on December 9th on CTV Governor Palin responded to the question about her political future and possible run at the presidency in 2012:
"Some days politics makes me roll my eyes and say 'I don't know if politics are in my future.' and it's certainly not the be-all, end all for me personally.
If there are platforms, opportunities for me to be able to effect positive change in people's lives, whether that's political or another venue I will embrace that.
But, I don't know if it’s going to be in politics or running for president in '12."
She truly wants to help others. That is the kind of attitude that I want in a leader. It's not about power it’s about service.

The Economy. One of the markers I look at for Governor Palin's fiscal Conservatism is her reaction to the huge increase in oil prices last summer. There were government officials who wanted to go on a spending spree. But, the Governor encouraged the state to put money in savings. As a result Alaska is not facing the deficits that so many states including my own are.

I could go on and on quite a bit about the stimulus. But, please go to one of my favorite sites for a good write up of Governor Palin and this particular issue

Just a couple of quick things that I would point out about her stance on the stimulus.
- She has been an outspoken opponent to it, including calling for President Obama to veto it.
- She is one of a handful of Governor's who have not accepted all of the stimulus funds, which she is getting some flak for.
- She just vetoed over $80 million in the state spending budget including some of the stimulus.

Energy. Another subject that with particular regard to Governor Palin I could go on and on about. But, let's just say there is, in my mind, no other politician who has a better grasp and better focus on this issue. She has preached an all of the above approach including drilling for oil in the USA and especially in Alaska. The following video was from the recent campaign.

Values. There are a couple of issues that go into this category. The right to bear arms is a very important element of Conservatism and in the stakes of this big tent. There can be no doubt on Governor Palin's position on this issue. She is a lifelong NRA member. Another issue which the Governor absolutely shines in bold colors is the sanctity of life. I have argued before that she is a modern day William Wilberforce on the issue of life.
Also see

Governor Palin has been attacked viciously from the left, which is unsurprising, but also from many Republicans. These are often the Republicans who believe that the party needs to moderate itself, to move closer to the center. They are wrong. Governor Palin is right, and she is the right person for the party and for Conservatism in general now. She is the person that is pounding the stakes in, and strengthening what can be a winning party again. Instead of attacking her other Republicans should be helping in the labor. She is not somebody who cares about who gets the credit she just wants to see it get done. (I'm pretty sure Ronald Reagan espoused that principle he said this: There is no limit to what you can accomplish if you don't care who gets the credit.)Add into the mix the Governor's ability to connect with people and attract crowds that is unrivaled by any other Republican and you have what I think is the greatest strength of Conservatism and the Republican Party. Now if they would just smarten up and actually use that strength.

For my next post on stakes I will be discussing their use in ousting blood sucking and or money sucking vampires. That is if I ever post about stakes again.

God Bless
Sarah Emily Jordan

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Rise Up and Be Men

Lately I have been thinking alot about men, in general (though I admit I've always had a thing for Oscar de la Hoya and sometimes think about him specifically). So, I decided to blog about men today though alot of what I have to say applies to women too.

I am a woman who has discovered that there are a heck of a lot of things that I can do on my own. I take particular pride on being able to fix my own toilet, change a tire, and hook up my own DVD player. But, I am incredibly grateful for the men in my life and for the example that they have been to me of what real men should be. I am blessed to belong to a family that has great patriarchs. I will use them as a template for what real men should be.

Real men love their wives. I dearly love my brothers and they are great examples with how they treat their wives. But, I want to take this opportunity to thank especially my brothers in law. There are a few people I love as much as my brothers and they are my sisters. I could not imagine better matches for my sisters than the husbands that they have chosen. All three of these guys are just the cream of the crop and they treat my sisters right. One of the things that they have made sure my sisters get is time with their friends and that has included me. I know that they cherish their wives and the family that their wives grew up in. I in fact think of them as brothers really. Thanks Jeff, Todd and James for being real men and loving your wives.

Real men love their kids. I have thoroughly enjoyed watching my brothers be fathers. They dearly love their children and go out of their way to spend time with them. They are not afraid to be nurturers. They are not afraid to deal with some rather nasty things either. A big shout out goes to Adam for dealing with quite a doozy at a Burger King (whose location will remain unnamed for protection sake). Matthew loves to do things like music time with his kids, and supports them in their activities. Steven is not a dad yet. But, he is fantastic with our nieces and nephews. One of my favorite memories of him is dancing with my little niece Brenna and her falling asleep on his chest, while they wore semi matching outfits (cute tartan skirts, oh I mean Steve's was a kilt). These guys are real men, they love kids.

Real men love God. Growing up I always knew that the most important person to my father was the Savior Jesus Christ. Even today his words about Christ ring in my ears and my heart and I seek to be more like the kind of true disciple that my father is. In a religion class once I was asked to think of my father and what images come to mind. For me that image was him standing with open arms and tears in his eyes welcoming me. I was then asked to imagine Heavenly Father, and wouldn't you know it I see Him the same way. It would not have been that way had my dad not been a real man who not only loves God but tries to emulate Him. Thanks Dadn (yes I spelled it like that on purpose).

I think in our culture there is a lot of attention paid to the self esteem and importance of women and rightfully so. But, somewhere the message to our men gets lost sometimes about how important they are. I want to let the men in my life, and any men who will listen, know how important they are. You are royal sons of God, princes set to inherit all He sees fit for his choicest children. Understand that real men make mistakes, but than they own up to it and learn and grow from it. I don't expect you to be perfect. If you were than I sure would fall way short.

I guess the message is to just be who you are, sons of God sent to earth now with purpose. I so appreciate the strength of my men. I think the greatest strength comes from knowing you have weaknesses and then taking it to the Lord. May the good men of the earth be ever blessed and may you feel the loving arms of the Savior Himself around you as He molds you to be all that you really can be.

Thanks guys you make me a better woman

Sarah Emily Jordan

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Understanding those Christian Conservatives

I have some confessions to make. . . I have spent a considerable amount of time with drug addicts and alcoholics. I am also in and out of prison a couple of times a month. *Phew* that feels good to get that off my chest.

I gotta tell ya. I'm really getting tired of hearing the left, (and some on the right) accuse Conservatives and particularly Christians of being hypocrites. We keep hearing about how we don't live up to our ideals. I was listening to Laura Ingraham the other day and she put it really well. She talked about how ideals are just that, the ideal that we reach for but know we sometimes fall short of because we are imperfect. Laura put it "the best way to not be a hypocrite is to have no morals." Now, lest some liberals think I'm accusing them of being moral less I'm not. But, that does feel like the message that they are trying to send to us.

Liberals get so angry with us when we don't get angry at Conservatives who are not living up to our ideals. They cannot understand why Conservatives don't blast Bristol Palin for being a hypocrite as she preaches the importance of abstinence. They cannot understand why we don't throw a tantrum that Carrie Prejean (Miss California) had some "racy" photos taken, the likes of which you can see on a multitude of mainstream magazines. They don't get how come we are not furious with Christians who make mistakes. Why? It's because they don't understand the most important part of Christianity, Jesus Christ.

You see God has more naughty children than anybody. But, in His mercy and grace He has provided a way for us to repent and change. We know we are all imperfect and that we need the Atonement of Christ to make us whole again.

So, we look at that beautiful kid Bristol Palin and see yes she made a mistake. Who doesn't make mistakes in life? But, look at what she is doing now. She is out there encouraging people to learn from her and not make the same mistake. We see that as courageous and humble. I think it is admirable when people make changes in their lives and even more admirable when they use their experiences to better the lives of others.

We look at Miss California. She is being attacked for standing up for what she believes. We see a strong and forgiving person. Is she perfect, no way, but who is? To be imperfect and yet to stand firm in your faith is truly remarkable and should be emulated.

It comes from an understanding of Christ. He can take any difficult situation, regardless of the cause and make you a stronger, better person if you let Him do His work in and through you. It's an amazing blessing and a miracle.

Working as a therapist in substance abuse treatment I had a sacred honor of getting to know individuals without the mask of drug and alcohol abuse. Let me tell you I saw beauty in so many countenances. I saw God working in their lives.

I have the blessing of teaching Sunday school classes at a women's prison. There is hardly much more humbling of an experience than being taught about repentance by people who are in the trenches of it. I have learned far more from them than they have from me.

So, here's the thing. We Conservatives have ideals. We have morals we reach for but know we all fall short. I'm a perpetual screw up, I make mistakes like everybody. It's a level playing field. Not only that but we are all on the same team. So, we help and support each other including in and especially when we are struggling through trials.

We trust in the miracle that is the Atonement of Christ. We honor those that stick their necks out there for our values. We are all imperfect by golly but we know what is right and will strive to get there.

Life is not about every decision including mistakes. Life is about who we become. Mistakes will most definitely be made. But, it’s what you do about it that really makes you. We are free to choose our own path. Choosing to use that freedom to help yourself and help others become better, and especially doing so through Christ is authentic Christianity at its best. We keep supporting each other even while others look on in dismay.

Christ lives. I can never thank Him enough for how he has changed me and for the patience He has as I continue to struggle through a mistake filled life. Seeing His hand in my life is an incredible blessing. Seeing it in others is also a blessing and a reminder of all that is good and worth fighting for.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Real Life

I have always been pro-life. To me it just never made any sense to be anything else. But, as we all do I had to come to not just believe but to know for sure where I stood on the issue, in order to truly have conviction of principle.

I had to come to an understanding of the importance of those precious innocent lives. Having nieces and nephews in my life has certainly helped. I see the hope of the future in their precious innocent eyes, hands and hearts. My mother tells a story about a friend who was being railed on for having a lot of children. The person doing the railing asked this woman how she could bring so many children into the world knowing that the planet was in danger due to overpopulation. This dear lady replied ‘with the way the world is now we need children like mine.’ The children are our best hope, and every life deserves a chance.

Perhaps the most powerful experience I have had in deepening that conviction is, as a counselor, looking into the eyes of a would be mother who has had an abortion and seeing the pain they harbor. It absolutely breaks my heart. The pain of these dear women is the untold story of the abortion issue and it goes far beyond anything physical. I will not go into any detail about those experiences because of the ethical importance of confidentiality. But, I will say that for me being pro-life is not just about the life of the baby (though that would be enough). Being pro-life is also about the life of the mother. I wish I could take that pain away. But, it is the kind that sticks around and comes back to you in untimely moments. It is the regret of empty arms and a life lost. The pain can be dealt with, but it never really leaves. The only way to cure it is to prevent it from happening in the first place.

Now, I'm going to go a little tangential here (which frankly is not unusual for me). I have recently finished the book Real Christianity by William Wilberforce. Please please please read this book and pass it on to others. The message is so appropriate today. Wilberforce was one of the most influential players in the fight to end slavery. It was his political life and actions which directly led to the end of the slave trade in Great Britain. If you have seen the movie Amazing Grace, you know a lot of his story. As a young man he was influenced by John Newton. Newton was at one time a slave ship captain. He eventually changed his life around and became a clergyman and authored the beloved Christian hymn Amazing Grace. Wilberforce was influenced by Newton in faith and in principle. He believed in preaching authentic Christianity. For him that meant not just saying you were a Christian and then going through the motions. It meant that you gave heart and soul to the cause of Christianity, that your life reflected Christian virtues. William Wilberforce at one time decided that he would dedicate his life to God, and questioned whether he would pursue political life at all. But, he was convinced that he could serve God and be a politician. He dedicated his political life to the ending of the abominable slave trade and to the betterment of humanity. By all accounts he succeeded in doing those things. The ending of slavery took a mammoth effort and tremendous commitment. It also took people truly living what they believe.

The issue of abortion has been related to slavery because there are quite a few parallels, which I and many others have outlined previously. We are given the message over and over again that the fight to end abortion is not worth the effort. But, the reality is it just takes the same kind of effort and commitment that it took to end slavery. And yes, I absolutely know that is saying a lot.

The time is ripe for the battle. We have our John Newton. Her name is Norma McCorvey, though most people would only recognize her as Jane Roe. She is now a strong advocate for the pro-life cause. That message should be shouted out from rooftops. But, we cannot expect the media to do that at all. I think too that we may just have our William Wilberforce, her name is Sarah Palin. I know I wrote about it just a few posts ago, but I hope many will re-watch her Right to Life Speech from last month. The woman is a living, breathing standard bearer for the pro-life movement. She is a strong Christian who I believe is absolutely authentic in her belief. She has been willing to put herself and her career on the line for her beliefs. She is someone who is dedicated to serving God and to serving her fellow beings.

That long fought for effort to end slavery needed leaders but it also needed good authentic, moral and God-fearing individuals to back it up. The same is true today. I feel like Gov. Palin is a person that has been prepared to be a leader at this time. I don't know if that means she will be the person who turns things around in the whole country. I don't know if that means she will be president at some future time, though I would dearly love that to be the case. But, I feel sure that she is going to continue to accomplish great things for the betterment of others.

One of the great leaders in the Bible is Moses. Exodus 17 tells us that during a great battle Moses was told to lift up his arms. As long as his arms were lifted the Israelites were winning the battle. As soon as they fell the tide began to turn. Eventually the Israelites, realizing this, had several of their own go and hold Moses' arms up for him. This eventually led to the victory.

I feel like this is part of the job for all of us who want to follow in the noble cause for life. We should never let the brave leaders of the fight like Sarah Palin fight alone, in fact we should be there helping her hold her arms up. I acknowledge the efforts of so many that support Governor Palin. Those who are already doing that, like the ordinary barbarians at favorite site of late), keep being who you are. For those who believe in life it is time to stand up and let your voice be heard. Live what you believe.

Life is worth saving, life is worth fighting for. I feel like at least for me it is not enough to simply not participate in abortions. I think we need to raise our voices especially now when we have a president who is the most pro-abortion president ever. I hope nobody thinks I am making a call to arms here. William Wilberforce led a fight to end slavery that did not include a Civil War. I think the same can be done here. People need to be willing to stand strong and firm in words and in actions.

The Time is Ripe. I know the fight is going to be long. But, with strong leadership and strong unity it is possible. Stand up for life, the life of innocent children, and the women who carry them. God bless.