Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Prepare: Have a Grateful Heart

A couple of weekends ago I had the privilege of participating in the C4P meetup. I have to say I am continually impressed by the quality of people that congregate at Conservatives4Palin. They are good, humble people who love their country and are willing to do whatever they can to put it back on the right track. We see in Sarah Palin a leader who has had a tremendously positive impact for good in America and who will continue to do so. I offer my heartiest congratulations to the organizers of the event, and to the participants for the excellent people they are. My biggest takeaway from the event is that America is good, because there are so many great people who love this nation. Keep up the amazing efforts everyone.

We were blessed to have some wonderful speakers, all of whom were inspiring and informative. For a wrap up of the event you can read Whitney’s excellent piece here My biggest takeaway message from the speakers is that right now we need to prepare. I need to prepare for any eventuality, including a Palin presidential run, but more in general I need to prepare to do whatever I can to help this country. This message struck home to me especially during Tammy Bruce’s speech. As I was getting ready to leave the event Tammy happened to cross my path and she spent a few moments chatting with me. She gave me a hug and than repeated that same message to prepare. God speaks through others very often, and I felt the Spirit in her message.

As I’ve thought about what things I need to do in order to prepare I’ve contemplated physical preparation (like I need more sleep for instance :), financial preparation, spiritual preparation and so on. But, I feel like my greatest need in preparing is to get my heart in the best shape possible. I’ve written before about the heart, and how its functions include a great deal more than just pumping blood. You can read about that here

One of the amazing things about the heart is that our emotions play a role in heart health. The healthiest emotion for your heart is actually appreciation/gratitude. As an example I’d like you to see a couple of tracings that I just recorded today. The first tracing was taken as I was reading an article about the TSA. The second tracing was taken using a simple regulated breathing technique for the first 2 minutes, and than activating a positive emotion for the last 2 minutes. I wanted to feel gratitude so I thought about how I was inspired at the end of last week to get my snow tires on, I hadn’t checked the weather reports but felt it would be a good idea. These past 2 days we’ve had near blizzard like conditions. I’m really grateful to have those tires on and have had no problems. You can see a clear difference in the patterns.

TSA Reading

Grateful for Snow Tires

It cracked me up to see the result of this little experiment. Even an untrained eye would be able to discern there's a big difference between the two readings, I apparently don't like the TSA much these days. Gratitude, even for something simple, goes a long ways for making your heart healthy, and for decreasing stress and increasing your ability to think clearly. The grateful heart has a calm and easy flow to it. It is more efficient. There is a strong connection between the heart and the brain, a grateful heart makes it easier to problem solve. Also, a grateful heart should help you feel energized.

As I've thought both about the necessary preparation that a grateful heart is, and of course the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday I've tried to come up with lists of things I'm grateful for. This past year my gratitude can be summed up into one word for which I'm most grateful, mercy.

I'm grateful for the mercy of healing. I had a pretty good injury this year, that is almost 100% healed, our bodies and the capacity to heal is amazing. I'm grateful to witness and in some small way participate in the healing of the clients I work with.

I'm grateful not just for my own health but that of my loved ones as well. Our family welcomed three new little ones this year. They are all healthy now, though a couple of them gave us some big scares. I sure love these little ones, and the fact that God helped them and our whole family through some big trials is incredibly merciful. Being able to hold them is such a merciful thing. There's just nothing like looking into the eyes of a little one and them looking back and feeling safe enough to close their eyes and sleep.

One of the most merciful aspects of my life is to belong to the family I do. I'm incredibly humbled to be counted among the most inspiring, good hearted people you could possibly imagine. My biggest heroes are in my family. Their love sees me through much. I'm grateful that through His mercy The Lord places others in my life that have had such a positive impact on me.

I;m grateful for the mercy that our men and women in uniform show us. Through their sacrifice our freedoms our secured.

I'm grateful for the mercy of forgiveness. What a gift that is. I've needed it. It is humbling to recognize that God can change me. I've got so far to go. But, what a miracle it is to take a fallible person and to assure me that I still have a role to fulfill, that I can truly serve others.

I'm grateful for the mercy that is The Atonement of Jesus Christ. He is my Savior in every way, and every good gift every tender mercy is because of Him.

Prepare for any eventuality; start with preparing your heart. The very best thing for your heart is gratitude. Seek to be grateful, open your eyes to see God's wonders. Those who are sincerely looking and are sincerely grateful will see His hand in all things.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Those Aren't Secret Weapons

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

So, I had a really great weekend spending time with Conservatives who support Sarah Palin in Chicago. I’ll be writing more about that in the coming days. But, I have to write about something that occurred before I even left Spokane.

There’s nothing like a personal experience to give you stronger opinion on a matter. So, with all the chatter about the increased use of the body scanner I was fairly certain that I would be one of the chosen to use that amazing technology. I must just have a dangerous look about me or something. So, off to the blasted machine I went. I stuck my hands on my head, in the type of impersonation of a moose that you’d do for some kid’s song, walked out of the thing and than was informed that there was a ping that had to be checked. The ping was apparently a zipper on my sweat shirt. So, thought I maybe they’ll just have me remove the sweatshirt. Nope, my zipper I guess gave probable cause that I may be concealing something and so, not only did I get the naked maker scanner treatment I also got a frontal pat down. My thought at the time, ‘yeah those aren’t secret weapons, those are my boobs.’

I actually felt bad for the TSA lady, she seemed like a nice middle aged woman, who’d rather be doing just about anything else than patting down some unknown person. My thought for her was ‘why aren’t you guys protesting against doing this to people?’ She kindly explained to me that it was probably my zipper but that she had to do the pat down, and I’m thinking ‘blame the zipper all you want, but the fact is you’re giving me a boob job because of a stupid governmental mandate.’

These are random checks; there is less than 50% chance that a terrorist concealing a secret weapon boob bomb would get caught, according to these methods. I really question their effectiveness. Its like doping in sports, the producers of the illegal performance enhancing drugs are already working on the next concealable type before the rule enforcers have figured out how to detect the current one. Terrorists have likely already figured out multiple ways of defeating the backscatter, meanwhile we have to discuss the necessity of molesting nuns.

As a mental health professional I must also register another concern. The kind of pat downs being used are most definitely akin to sexual molestation. We warn children all the time to not let strangers touch them, what the heck are they learning now? And another thing, what about kids and adults who have experienced sexual abuse/trauma in the past? I’ve not read anything addressing the reality of PTSD for instance and the stress inducement this kind of treatment could give rise to.

How many more freedoms are we going to endure being stripped away (and in this case, that’s a very accurate statement), under some false pretense of security? The freedom from unwarranted searches and seizures is one that is guaranteed in our Constitution. It’s right there in black and white, well yellowing paper. I’m far from the only one to find it all completely unreasonable. I have to pay the price for some lunatic terrorist’s actions. Oh and not only that, I have to pay the price for the governments incompetence. They are the ones who did not catch the flippin underwear bomber, so the answer is for them to take more power for themselves and leave us with less freedom. The body scanner and pat down procedure are a slow response to a government failure. They have to be seen doing something.

This idea that we all have to sacrifice our rights for security is the reason that freedom gets lost. And honestly doesn’t this let the terrorists win, when fear is in charge?

I’m not sure what the solution is. Some have proposed the idea of having airlines themselves be in charge of security. That way if people prefer the security of having a full pat down they can go with that airline, or if they’d rather have a series of questions they could go with another airline. We should certainly learn from successful operations like they have in Israel for instance. But, this solution thrown out there, with little testing or veracity is just not a viable one.

This is all in direct violation of the IV Amendment to our Constitution. I personally have not done anything that could give probable cause that I’m a terrorist. And certainly the elderly in their walkers, and children who need leg braces to walk have little probable cause. A tyranny of security is still a tyranny.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

I Pledge Allegiance

I want to say thank-you to all of our veterans, those who are currently serving in our military, and their families and loved ones. There is nothing that I could ever do to equal your valor and service. Perhaps the best we can do to honor your sacrifices is to do our level best to stand up for what you have defended, our country and our freedom.

How many times have I said the Pledge of Allegiance? I’ve really no idea. But, standing in a room crowded with freedom loving Americans with whom I had had the privilege of volunteering my time with, that was the first time I can remember getting choked up and my eyes springing a leak when trying to recite those important words. Its not that I had never meant it before, I’ve always had a sense of patriotism. But, there in Anchorage Alaska I had done something more than just say the words, I’d put it into action. The experience humbled me.

I was invited a couple of months ago by Bill Peck to go to Alaska during the final days of Joe Miller’s campaign to be a United States Senator, and assist in those final get out the vote efforts. I was a little hesitant, but it did not really take me long to decide that it would be a great opportunity to actually be more involved in politics, out there on the forefront trying to help a worthy candidate. Now, I know some would question why I would get involved in some other states political business when I have my own state to tend to. Well, I have been involved here in Washington, a friend and I started a local group to address political concerns and Conservative principles. Washington has a completely mail in voting process. So, our little group met and we discussed our ballots and the issues and candidates. We didn’t tell people how to vote, but rather just informed them and encouraged the spreading of the information and the message to exercise our right to vote. I sent in my ballot several weeks prior to the actual election. So, I was indeed involved in my own state politics. But, I can understand the criticism from some who question why I would involve myself with another state. Well, Joe Miller was the true Conservative candidate in Alaska and I was grateful for an opportunity to help him in some small way. The outcome in Alaska is as yet undetermined and I’m still pulling for Joe. It was an honor to meet him and his wife and I think he would be a great Senator.

So, my experience in Alaska was unforgettable and went by very quickly. First off I must say a word about the stunning beauty of the state. I only saw a tiny piece of it. But, from the moment my plane was flying in to Anchorage and I saw the sun rising above the bay I was impressed. The mountains are inspiring in their proximity and beauty. One of the thoughts that I voiced aloud is “how could anyone be here and not believe in God.” I mean His handiwork up there is awesome. I also have to say that I was deeply impressed by the people I had the honor of meeting. Obviously I was only getting a snapshot of Alaska life, and Alaskans, but I was welcomed and got to see the down to earth, live life as it comes prevailing attitude. If I got a sense of Alaskans it was common sense, and a tight knit yet welcoming community.

I was informed that I should be prepared to hit the ground running. So, when my fellow volunteer and friend Don (aka Bestbud) picked me up we went right to a campaign office and were soon assigned an area to go knocking on doors reminding people to vote. We were joined by a young man and his wife who were both enthusiastic and dedicated. So, on went my warm socks, boots and hat, and a knocking we did go. Now, knocking on doors is something I’ve done before, in fact as a missionary in New Jersey many moons ago, but, it had been awhile. Still I was grateful for the chance to get out there and do something, even if it was uncomfortable. Comfort too often leads to apathy and apathy is the great instigator of non-action, and I think I’ve done away with apathy when it comes to politics. So, it was fun to talk to strong supporters, but I also have to say it was good to come across less than friendly responses as well. We have to be willing to take a stand and speak up, in an appropriately cordial way.

Later that day we were able to meet up with another friend from the online world, an Alaskan native. She took us to the famous Moose's Tooth where we enjoyed some fabulous pizza and a totally informal environment. Even later we ended up going to Rum Runners, get this, it really is a restaurant and there were kids there that were like 5, scandalous I know.

I was welcomed into a home, where I enjoyed a comfortable stay. My hosts were very kind, and I appreciated their willingness and openness at having me there.

The next day I was able to attend an LDS Church service. Again I felt welcomed and relaxed by the members. Later, I was able to attend another Church service with my friends at Anchorage Baptist Temple Several of the candidates introduced themselves there including Joe Miller. It was a great service led by Dr. Jerry Prevo, and I was touched by the amount of community involvement this Church had, they were truly making a big difference in the lives of a lot of people. Afterwards it was great to see people mingling with and around the various candidates.

Than we headed out to the Mat-Su Valley, and had particlar interest in visiting Wasilla. I don’t know if you know this about me, but I’m kind of a supporter of Sarah Palin :) It was a little surreal to be in her home town. We got to stop by several of the sites that she mentions in her book Going Rogue and that played a role in her life, including city hall where she served as Mayor. It was a delightful experience and it was again an honor to meet some amazing people there. It’s a beautiful town, and I’d love to go back someday.

The next couple of days were focused on the campaign. For me and Don that meant we spent a lot of time waving signs on the corner of Northern Lights Blvd. That was actually rather fun. There was a bunch of Miller supporters there with us, all excited and enthusiastic about not just Joe Miller, but Conservative values for America. It was always fun to get honks and waves. And can I tell you I did think it was fun to have the people that gave us the thumbs down, or the middle finger up. We would just smile and wave happily, that way the surrounding cars could assume it was a positive response from them :)

We were able to attend a fun concert in support of Joe by Bryan White and Andy Griggs. Andy had a great song called Amen that people should definitely check out; boy did we all get into that.

Then Tuesday evening there was the big gathering of supporters. We all were anxiously awaiting the results. I stood and chatted with people I’d not met before that night while we watched the returns from all over the country. Cheers ensued and than of course some groans of disappointment. But, lets be honest Election 2010 was an amazing one for Conservatives, especially with a historic takeover in the House. There are some valuable lessons to be learned from this past year, Sarah Palin has outlined some in a tremendously clear and concise way. Like I said I’m still pulling for Joe, and we’ll see in the next couple of weeks how that all turns out. But, all in all it was an inspiring if tiring evening.

I think I got choked up during the pledge because I felt I had finally started making some headway on keeping that pledge. No longer am I complacent or content to watch my country deteriorate, I’m determined to do something, to step up and speak out.

Progressivism has been around for over 100 years and has been doing its damage for that long. The Tea Party activities, which I certainly identify as a part of, have been around for about 1 and ½ years. Look at the amazing effect it has had on just this most recent election. I think the media and certainly Progressive Democrats/Republicans would love to see the Tea Party fade away. Sorry that’s just not going to happen. I for one leave the 2010 elections pumped up to continue and grow my involvement in the political process. I’m in it for the long haul, and I’m far far from alone in that sentiment.

We move forward. When people say we are being extreme we say ‘yeah it’s extreme, extremely sensible and extremely necessary.’ We keep standing up and speaking truth. We keep trusting in God, and we keep seeing what is good and right about America, because there is much goodness here because of the goodness of the people.

If you’d be interested you can listen to my most recent blog radio program The Grizzly Hour here where you can hear more of my and my brother’s take on the election and also an interview/chat between Don and I while we were up in Anchorage.