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Cultural Warriors. Are you one?

August 28th, 2009 by stephanie

Ok. So it goes without saying, when I blog about political issues, y’all really get to clickin’. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to notice the jump in traffic, from you all, when I share information that relates to our country.

With that, I came across a clip of a Marine, a veteran, that attended one of the now infamous, town hall meetings that are occurring across our land.

Now, I have to tell you, I had the amazing privilege of briefly traveling with a very famous Marine a few years back. At the time, I was in a job that allowed me the opportunity to assist a few days during one of Col. Oliver North’s book tours. There I was. Completely star struck. (I had watched every day during the Contra hearings). And now, here he was. In the flesh. And the man did not disappoint. He was a gentleman. I will admit, he had no qualms at all about chewing out any of the men on our travel team, but when it came to me, a lady, it was a different story. I got the red carpet. I will never forget that. Or him.

And too, years back, I dated a Marine. I even got to attend a Marine Corp Ball. (That is a pretty big deal by the way!) I was raised in the San Diego area, so a military beau wasn’t too uncommon. I will have to say, he was truly loyal and noble. At least, while he dated me. And I am grateful.

But back to this new Marine that I have not met, all I can say is this, once a Marine, always a Marine. And I can assure you, there is something about those Leathernecks. They do not disappoint.


Semper Fi, as they say.


August 25th, 2009 by stephanie

Have you ever watched someone throw a tantrum? Most of us have at one point or another. Better yet, can you remember the last time you may have been on the receiving end of someone with a temper? Those moments, along with the people who inflict them, wreak havoc. The person who loses their cool usually causes destruction to those in their path, before they storm off supposedly never to be seen or heard from again. But ironically, without fail, they come back. After repeatedly watching them act out then take their marbles and go home, you’d think they’d finally make good on their promise and stay away. But no. They usually return just like the tide.

The amazing thing to me, is the “how” they return. Out of the blue, they reappear. Usually unannounced. All happy and ready to start fresh. As if nothing ever happened. And you and I are supposed to play along. Smile. Make nice. One thought here: Elephant in the room!

I always wonder what goes on in the minds of these people. I don’t think it even dawns on them that they have hurt anyone in their radius or diameter for that matter. And to be honest, I don’t think they really care. Or, at least, I don’t think they can. You can’t act like that and care about anyone other than yourself. Not when you throw a tantrum and attack anything and everything in the room. Worse yet, they truly rationalize their behavior. I guess they want you and I to just “accept” that they are passionate, emotional people. It’s all good– in their minds.

I recently had the experience where someone that I thought was gone, truly long gone – came back. This person had not been mean to me personally as much as they had been to others. As soon as they saw me however it was all hugs and howdies. I have to be honest. I froze up. Right then and there I had a decision to make. Give the cold shoulder, wander to the other end of the room, or simply be polite. I am ashamed to admit, I actually chose a bit of each option.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I can be very passionate myself. So much so that it has been known to get the best of me. And sometimes I get embarrassed. I unleash my thoughts or feelings on an issue and I completely forget that soft, sensitive souls within earshot just do not want to hear my rant and prefer not to be a a captive listener at the bottom of my soap box.

I am working on this. But I do believe it’s a bit different from those who don’t mind saying hurtful things with the intention of doing damage.

So what exactly are we to do with those who, after the storm has blown over and you have forgotten all about them, drag back in like the dog? I guess the best response might be this–no response at all.
They will continue to be who they are. They don’t necessarily see the need or a reason to change. Therefore, it is not our job (nor are we truly able) to “fix” them or the problems that come with them.

In addition? They’re not usually as tough as they seem to be or as they want you to think they are. Many times, they are simply bullies. Cowards if you will.

Ironically, a friend of mine admitted to me that she has been known to throw tantrums. She confided in me that the times she has “acted out” in life were the times she didn’t really know how to properly act during a crisis. Her ugly behavior was her way of trying to get people’s attention. To let them know that she was deeply hurting and needed help. Very understandable. I can appreciate that. But it doesn’t make it the best plan of action. Either for the person throwing the fire or for those left to brush off the ashes.

What are the people in the room supposed to do when someone loses control? The best thing to do is simply smile and go about your business. And perhaps a bit of healthy distance wouldn’t hurt. These folks will continue to burn bridges. You might as well stand back and watch the smoke from afar. Remember, where there’s smoke, there’s fire. And no one likes to get burned.

Just my thoughts.

Healthcare Reform. What exactly is it all about?

August 22nd, 2009 by stephanie

Tort Reform. Healthcare Reform. After awhile, it’s all a jumbled mess and the pundits have our minds spinning.

Legal reform. Defensive medicine costs (doctors defending themselves and their practices – which you and I pay for!) that waste billions of dollars and do nothing for the patients. Health care reform that benefits trial attorneys or patients? It can all be a bit confusing. Then, I happened across a bit of info that helped me clear up an issue or two. I hope it helps you.

“Many states…have enacted caps on lawsuit awards against health care providers. Texas enacted caps and found that one county’s medical malpractice claims dropped 41 percent, and another study found a “55 percent decline” after reform measures were passed. [4] That’s one step in health care reform. Limiting lawyer contingency fees, as is done under the Federal Tort Claims Act, is another step. The State of Alaska pioneered the “loser pays” rule in the United States, which deters frivolous civil law suits by making the loser partially pay the winner’s legal bills. Preventing quack doctors from giving “expert” testimony in court against real doctors is another reform.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry noted that, after his state enacted tort reform measures, the number of doctors applying to practice medicine in Texas “skyrocketed by 57 percent” and that the tort reforms “brought critical specialties to underserved areas.” These are real reforms that actually improve access to health care. [5]

Dr. Weinstein’s research shows that around $200 billion per year could be saved with legal reform. That’s real savings. That’s money that could be used to build roads, schools, or hospitals.
If you want to save health care, let’s listen to our doctors. There should be no health care reform without legal reform. There can be no true health care reform without legal reform.”

I have to say, this was news to me…



August 20th, 2009 by stephanie

It’s a story of a harem girl that rose through the ranks, displaced the favored woman, and one day became queen. Believe it or not, it’s not the story of Esther in Persia from the Bible. But it does take place in what was the Turkish Empire (Persia was included), and it was more than a thousand years after Esther’s rise to fame.

Actually, it’s the the tale of a European woman (Christianized) who was captured by the Turks, sold into slavery, and managed to not just land in, but rise through, the ranks of the royal harem. And she managed to arrive during the very height of the Ottoman Empire.

Now, my memory of ottoman history not being what it should, this was all news to me. When I happened upon the story of this amazing woman, I was intrigued. I had to know more. One thing was certain, the king at this time, Suleyman, was the longest reigning ruler of the Ottomans (1500s) and ironically was also the first Sultan ever to marry one his women. She talked him into it for sure. This gal had it down! But who was she?

Suleyman’s wife was known as Roxelana in Europe and Rossa in Istanbul. She was a Ukranian slave who was most likely captured in what was called the Caucasus and was taken to the slave market in Istanbul. There, she was purchased for the sultan’s harem. Suleyman’s harem, like that of most Ottoman rulers already boasted four “chief” concubines – one of which would bear the sultan’s heir. He also had about 300 other concubines. Like Roxelana, most women in a sultan’s harem were slaves that were given, purchased, or captured in war by the Ottomans. Ironicallly, almost all of them were what they referred to as “Christians”. (Fascinating as this was a muslim ruled era).

But back to Roxelana. Her name, said to have been derived from the word “Rus”, was what they called Ukrainians and Russians (Muscovites) during the 16th century. Slavic historians say her original home was in the town of Rohatyn, now western Ukraine, but was part of Poland in the 1500s.

Roxelana obviously joined the lower ranks of the harem, but she didn’t stay there long. She somehow earned the nickname Khourrem meaning “Laughing One”. They say it was due to her high spirits and storytelling abilities. But her talents brought her just the attention she needed. She soon became one of Suleyman’s favourites and even was seen with him on several public occasions. This special treatment did not sit well with the mother of the future king, Gulfem (her son Mustafa was considered to be the heir to the Ottoman throne).

As with most famous personalites, she ended her life to mixed reviews. But Roxelana was the woman that won the heart and the ear of the king. Venetian Baylo Andrea Giritti described her as “ …a woman of the utmost goodness, courage and wisdom’ despite the fact that she ‘thwarted some while rewarding others”.

Interesting where our talents can take us. When used to the greater good. Where are your talents and abilities leading you?

To the aid of the greater good? To the betterment of a cause? Only you know.
Prov. 22:29 ¶
Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will stand before kings; He will not stand before obscure men.

Lest a grain of wheat fall into the ground…

August 15th, 2009 by stephanie

As we sipped our morning coffee looking out at the barn, watching the horses quietly graze and the dogs sniffing the grounds and exploring, the ring of the telephone jarred our minds back from the pastoral setting to the life that awaited us once we got back into our daily routines.

My friend had invited me over to her home, out in the country, for some much needed time away, and it had been the perfect retreat for a weary soul. But the message my friend received when the call came in was anything but peaceful. An 19 year old boy had been in a serious auto accident. An officer had found him a few minutes later and the life-flight was ordered.

Upon arrival at the hospital the family soon came to understand that the doctors truly had done all they could. The boy might hold on, but it would not be long. Three days later this young man met his creator.

That morning, my devotional time had focused on the passage of Scripture that says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” John 12:24

That night, Josiah Berger passed away. My mind went to the fact his life would touch thousands of lives, as his father was the pastor of a very large church with well-known attendees. Usually this type of event leads many to realize the fragility of life, and they begin to realize their need to revisit the relationship that they have, or do not have, with their Creator.

But what struck me even more was a message that came in to me shortly after Josiah passed away. “Stephanie, they harvested seven of his organs.” That night, in Josiah’s death, seven people found physical life.

In the Bible, the number Seven (7) is highly symbolic. It is the number of perfection. The number of completion. So it was very fitting that the night Josiah’s life ended, his life was simply finished. It was completed

Perfect word. Harvesting. My devotionals had me thinking Spiritually, but here Josiah harvested physically as well. Out of this death came immediate physical life. Now the spiritual harvest will begin.

Yes. The family will grieve. Yes. There will be pain. But this family will survive. The Lord will hold them as we hold our children.

And in the end, we will celebrate life. The life that came from a death. You have been given life this day. Live strong. Live wise. Won’t you?

Everyone wants to sit in the black chair.

August 13th, 2009 by stephanie

A friend of mine is a CEO of a particular organization. When we have chatted in the past, she would jokingly remind me that everyone wants to sit in her chair. They know how things should really run. They have the solution. They have the best answer. But when it all comes down, she is the one running the place. She is the bottom line.

Leadership. Everyone wants it. Few can handle it. Even fewer “get it”.

It got me to thinking. Just because someone lands a position of leadership doesn’t necessarily mean people will want to follow them. When a person becomes a leader, it also doesn’t guarantee that they’ll be good at it. Being large and in charge is not a birthright. Like royalty. (And even there, we can recall countless good kings and many, many more bad kings).

Being good at leading takes wisdom, thought, and work. It means doing what’s best for the people or the project in your charge. It means weighing all options, choosing the best plan of action, and then making the proverbial final call.

When a person goes down in history as a good leader, you find that they were remembered for doing what was best for the greater good. They weren’t caught up in their legacy, or their prominence or the perks that came with the job. They thought about, cared about and protected their people and their tasks.

If you are in a position of leadership today, what kind of leader do you feel you have become? What do your people say about you? What would you like for them to say about you? What are you doing to make their lives better? Are you committing to quality? Is your focus on you, or the future and the greater good?

As leaders, we leave a mark. What that mark looks like is always left up to us.

Just my thoughts, as you sit in that chair of leadership or influence today.

Milk Toast. Doesn’t Cut it.

August 11th, 2009 by stephanie

People are drawn to, or are at least find that they admire, someone that stands up for what they believe it. Masking or watering down a message usually doesn’t bring about a lot of respect- for the person bringing it or the message itself in the end.

Now, there is something to be said for the idea of putting the message, like the cookies, on the proverbial lower shelf so that all who hear will find it accessible. But weakening a strong message never seems to really be effective or pay off when it’s all said and done.

For example, telling someone there is a God in heaven that loves them is nice. But if you never explain more about this God’s character, what He has done for people throughout history and more, you don’t get a clear picture. And He ends up being more of a mystery than something to honor or follow.

If you tell kids that they should practice safe sex, but never really go into detail about the possibilities of life threatening illnesses or the fact that sterility can result from their actions, they are not going to embrace the idea of being careful.

If you tell someone that our country was founded on freedom, but don’t really teach the nation of today what that really means, and why our forefathers came here and what they were trying to free themselves from, the current population just won’t understand.

A message has to be clear. Like a trumpet that carries through the sounds of an entire orchestra. Facts need to be addressed. Testimonies from those who have “been there” or “done that” need to be brought to the forefront and addressed, before they can be embraced.

If you know in your heart that there is a message that folks need to know or hear then consider this:
1. Know the history of your message. Get the facts.
2. Gather the data. Make sure you have it right.
3. Figure out how best to get the word out.

If it’s a cause worthy of being heard, then sound the trumpet. Loud and clear.

Just my thoughts.

Ellis Island. How Quickly We Forget.

August 4th, 2009 by stephanie

I grew up in the San Diego, California area. So, to me, immigration was quite the usual topic of discussion. When this came across my email, I couldn’t help but share. In case you are not aware of Orange County in California, it’s above San Diego and just below Los Angeles.
What are your thoughts on this topic? See one woman’s plea.

From: ‘David LaBonte’
My wife, Rosemary, wrote a wonderful letter to the editor of the OC Register which, of course, was not printed. So, I decided to ‘print’ it myself by sending it out on the Internet. Pass it along if you feel so inclined. Written in response to a series of letters to the editor in the Orange County Register:

Dear Editor:
So many letter writers have based their arguments on how this land is made up of immigrants. Ernie Lujan for one, suggests we should tear down the Statue of Liberty because the people now in question aren’t being treated the same as those who passed through Ellis Island and other ports of entry.

Maybe we should turn to our history books and point out to people like Mr. Lujan why today’s American is not willing to accept this new kind of immigrant any longer. Back in 1900 when there was a rush from all areas of Europe to come to the United States, people had to get off a ship and stand in a long line in New York and be documented. Some would even get down on their hands and knees and kiss the ground. They made a pledge to uphold the laws and support their new country in good and bad times. They made learning English a primary rule in their new American households and some even changed their names to blend in with their new home.

They had waved good bye to their birth place to give their children a new life and did everything in their power to help their children assimilate into one culture. Nothing was handed to them. No free lunches, no welfare, no labor laws to protect them. All they had were the skills and craftsmanship they had brought with them to trade for a future of prosperity.

Most of their children came of age when World War II broke out. My father fought along side men whose parents had come straight over from Germany , Italy , France , and Japan . None of these 1st generation Americans ever gave any thought about what country their parents had come from. They were Americans fighting Hitler, Mussolini and the Emperor of Japan. They were defending the United States of America as one people.

When we liberated France , no one in those villages was looking for the French-American or the German-American or the Irish-American. The people of France saw only Americans. And we carried one flag that represented one country. Not one of those immigrant sons would have thought about picking up another country’s flag and waving it to represent who they were. It would have been a disgrace to their parents who had sacrificed so much to be here. These immigrants truly knew what it meant to be an American. They stirred the melting pot into one red, white and blue bowl.

And here we are in 2008 with a new kind of immigrant who wants the same rights and privileges, only they want to achieve it by playing with a different set of rules, one that includes the entitlement card and a guarantee of being faithful to their mother country. I’m sorry, that’s not what being an American is all about. I believe that the immigrants who landed on Ellis Island in the early 1900’s deserve better than that for all the toil, hard work and sacrifice in raising future generations to create a land that has become a beacon for those legally searching for a better life. I think they would be appalled that they are being used as an example by those waving foreign country flags.

And for that suggestion about taking down the Statue of Liberty , it happens to mean a lot to the citizens who are voting on the immigration bill. I wouldn’t start talking about dismantling the United States just yet…
(signed) Rosemary LaBont


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