Happy Independence Day, United States!

Here are some trivia about Independence Day to amaze your friends and family between fireworks tonight:

  • The date of US independence from Great Britain is actually July 2nd 1776, when the Continental Congress adopted a resolution of independence.  The wording of the Declaration Of Independence was debated for another 2 days which is why the date on the Declaration of Independence is July 4, 1776.
  • Although Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Benjamin Franklin all later wrote that they had signed it on that July 4th, historians claim that the Declaration of Independence was signed a month later on August 2, 1776.
  • We can blame George Washington for perhaps the most enduring tradition of Independence Day – alcohol & fireworks: In 1778, Washington marked July Fourth with a double ration of rum for his men and an artillery salute.
  • The colors of fireworks are created by adding metals.  Copper generates blue fireworks, supposedly the most difficult color of fireworks to produce.

Learn to Embrace the Rain

As you may know, I’ll be leaving the Danville Stake shortly. I wanted to thank everyone in the stake who have all helped my family and me through some pretty tough times and I thought that the best way to do that would be to share my testimony… When asked how long I’ve been a member of the church, I often answer that I’ve been a member of the church for 4-5 years but I’ve been in the Danville stake for 20 years.

I think I’ve worn out more missionaries over the years answering my questions about the church & everything. But my epiphany occurred one day about 5 years ago while I was sitting in the passenger seat of our van watching Scott Halverson trying to save our dying battery. Watching Scott during the many, many years he had been our home teacher, I knew how good a person Scott is and that day I realized I wanted to be like him and the best way to do that is to hang out where he and others like him hang out. Thus my journey to the Plan of Happiness turned a corner… I can’t say that I’ve reached Scott’s level but I can tell that I’m in a better place…

Lessons on the Plan of Happiness emphasize how everything will be wonderful if you follow it; Sunny days and pretty flowers. But that doesn’t happen over-night. Rainy days still happen and I can see a number of them ahead. As I anticipate the wet & cold, I remember a quote that I heard recently- Rainbows are beautiful but you can’t have a rainbow without the rain. So if you love rainbows, you have to also embrace the rain.

Why Black Lives Matter to White People

The nation dodged a bullet this week; Well, everyone but the Dallas police…  The Dallas police massacre could’ve been the tipping point where the tension between blacks and whites evolved into armed rebellion.   It was a relief to hear President Obama’s comments on Saturday.  That was the first time I heard one of our nations “leaders”‘ address the continuing tension between blacks and the establishment and provide some perspective on changing course away from armed rebellion instead of using the situation to further personal agendas.

Even if the Dallas police massacre didn’t trigger a conflagration of armed violence,  there will be plenty of opportunities to do so as protests increase & tensions rise.  Protestors carried long guns (rifles & shotguns) in marches on Saturday.

I thank the republicans in congress for making this situation not only possible but likely to escalate.  Their actions (or inactions) have pushed the situation to this prescipice:  Their adament refusal to do anything about gun control have armed the protesters.  Doing nothing in recent weeks except a political witch hunt of Hillary Clinton leaves there no establishment leadership to respond to citizen’s concerns, both black & white, and demonstrates to blacks that their lives are no concern of theirs.

Many may say that this isn’t that big a deal.  Eventually everyone will give up their protests & return to their daily lives.  I’m sure the same was said in the colonies in the 1760’s.  It’s not easy to recognize a rebellion until it’s too late to avoid it. Pray that we can learn that lesson from previous rebellions & respond in time to avoid this one.  Because armed rebellion affects everyone – even folks living in their nice safe homes in gated communities.  they won’t have to turn on the TV to see innocent bystanders getting shot and trampled while protesters & establishment forces battle it out.

The difference between courage & desperation

This week while chatting with my therapist, she repeatedly tried to compliment my courage in facing several challenges. But she & I had different perspectives of the same situations. Where she saw courage, I knew I was just desperate.   I finally got my point across using the classic 80’s movie “Officer and a Gentleman” where Richard Gere’s character is being harassed by his drill instructor to drop out. He breaks down, crying out “I’ve got no place else to go.  This is it!”  I’ve felt that way several times since the stroke- I have to be able to eat. I have to get up & stand on my own.  I have to be able to walk around the house.  I have to be able to put my brace & shoes on.  I have no place else to go.  This is it!  So I have to do whatever’s necessary to be able to do these things.  It’s not a matter of courage but of desperation.  The alternative is too scary to even think about.

Heroes are all around us

They just aren’t obvious.  They don’t look any different from everyone else.  And they come in all shapes and sizes.

My youngest daughter left today on a band trip to Disneyland.  I’m a little worried about her.  She’s been dealing with this bizarre nerve condition called Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome for the last 6 months, since she was in a car accident.  The accident wasn’t that severe in her mini-van but the whiplash she experienced triggered something in her shoulder and now the nerve is sending pain signals to the brain even when there isn’t any cause (beyond the signal which is the actual pain.)

So, I texted her some fatherly advice for when she’s away.  One of the things I said was that “there are heroes all around us.  They just aren’t obvious.”   They don’t look any different from anyone else.  My daughter Julia is a hero to me for the way she has endured the constant pain of CRPS and continued her normal life as much as possible, including captain of her school’s “Battle of the Books” team (it’s a reading geek thing) and playing oboe in band (hence the Disneyland trip.) And during it all, she’s not lost her patience with others like her sister or whined about how unfair her life is.

I wish there was some way we could give some recognition to the everyday heroes who are all around us. They deserve our admiration. Maybe if you and I looked a little deeper at others we encounter, we might discover more everyday heroes.

Thought for 3-13-15

“You play the game in front of you.” Hugh, explaining coming to terms with being responsible for his much younger half-brother and sister in Just Not Mine by Rosalind James.

Sports can be a very good metaphor for life and this quote is a great way to say that life doesn’t always go the way you expect.  So, even if you’ve got a great game plan and you’ve trained as much as possible and scouted your opponent, unexpected things may come up and you just have to accept them and keep on playing.