God & Graduation

Recently it was announced that there would be no prayer at graduation ceremonies at Wallenpaupack High School.  My first response was a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. I am actually surprised it took this long to become an issue.

My next thought was wondering how it would affect choral concerts. For as long as I can remember, a mix of music has been performed by the WAHS choir; my favorite has always been The Hallelujah Chorus which ends the Winter Concert.  There has always been a mix of folk, pop, cultural, and sacred (gospel/classical) music at each concert. I will be so sad if The Hallelujah Chorus is removed from the program.

That said….I happened to become philosophical for a few moments. Basically….I feel:

You can’t take God away from those who really want Him…and you can’t force Him on those who really don’t want Him.

I think a lot of the “social religion” stuff is rather hypocritical at worst..at best, superficial and artificial. Those who truly love and seek after God will never lose Him.

Profound? Not really….but true just the same.  God will not be stamped out because He is not going to be summoned PUBLICLY at a high school graduation. Really…our God is way bigger than that.

Take a Hike from I Can’t to Why Can’t I?

This is dedicated to my big brudder, Michael McGinnis and his lovely wife Judy, who unknowningly inspired me to do something I never thought I’d ever even WANT to do….

I wasn’t always overweight.  I used to be accused, half-heartedly, of being a closet anorexic because I was so thin in my older teens young adulthood.  Except by my dad, who was always compelled to call me “Porky” and say I was fat.  Go figure that one out and tell me if it makes sense….nah, didn’t think so.

Anyway, even in those thin glory days, I was never one who wanted to do much when it comes to physical exercise.  I was not into any kind of exertion at all. I would walk the mile run in phys ed class.  I never wanted to climb the cargo net (still don’t want to do that, too scary).  I was not a strong bike rider or swimmer.  My talents lay primarily in reading books, watching bad television, and fishing.

My husband and I went camping in Shenandoah National Park when we first got married.  He wanted to climb Stony Man Trail (2.9 miles up and back)…. and we did, and I thought I was going to die.  He pushed me, come on you can do it…but I hated every minute, until we got to the top.  (This was in the days before I had a digital camera, sorry, no pic at this point.)  Even though I enjoyed the view, I said that I never wanted to do that again.  Ever.  Of course, I was pregnant at the time (didn’t know that until about 3 weeks later) so maybe that had something to do with my experience.

Then the years went by, children came….as did the pounds. One thing that never came was a desire to exercise beyond walking the dog, and even that was questionable.

And here I am.  Since I began my new lifestyle, I’ve lost a few pounds but I am still considered obese. My progress has been slow.  But, my interest in physical exercise has been increasing.    I became concerned about my family history of arthritis and I did not want to end up a cripple like my grandfather.

Then my brother posted a picture of him and his wife – they had just climbed on Rattlesnake Ledge in Washington state overlooking a beautiful place called Rattlesnake Lake.  It became a touchstone for me. I wanted to go there, I wanted to do that.

But how? I’m obese, my feet hurt if I walk too far for too long….and yeah, I’m obese. Obese people just don’t climb mountains, even small ones.

At that point in time, I decided to remove “I can’t” from my vocabulary and replace it with “Why can’t I?”

Not Quite There Yet

Not Quite There Yet

We went to Washington to visit my brother. I have been there before – 20+ years ago…and I loved the mountains…and I still love the mountains.

The climb up the little mountain was 1.9 miles from the base to the ledge…but overall the entire walk we did was about 5.4 miles from the car to the top and back again.  WAY more than Stony Man.

This is not a difficult trail, in fact it is considered “easy” but it was a challenge for me.

There were skinny women in sports bras actually running up and down this mountain and I resisted the urge to stick my chubby leg out and trip them.  We smiled as we passed one another.

There were little children climbing this mountain, if they could do it, so could I. There were little tiny dogs with 3-inch long legs…but their owners were carrying them. I had nothing but determination to carry me.

I did see several Labradors on this trail and I sorely missed my Trixie-girl.  She is as strong as an ox and could certainly tug me up the steeper slopes while my lungs screamed out “MERCY! MERCY!”

But…I made it.  I was overcome with joy when I reached the top – not only joy and pride at what I had just accomplished, but joy at seeing the beautiful creation below me. What a beautiful world – and I’m determined to see as much of it as I can before I leave it.

I came, I climbed, I conquered!  If I can do it, so can you…don’t let “I Can’t” keep you from doing it. You can ….

Rattlesnake Ledge Conquered

I Came, I Climbed, I Conquered

My Brother and Me

My Big Brudder and Me On Rattlesnake Ledge

The Good of the Many vs. The Few

Recently I was told by someone (who has not actually spoken to me in person for many years, at least a dozen) that she knew exactly what I meant, and it meant the opposite of what I said.

I stated in a discussion about hydrofracking that I was not against “people improving their station in life” (as was her contention regarding people opposed to fracking) and that instead, I was against industry in general running rampant through our environment and polluting at will.  If one did even a simple internet search on our nation’s major waterways you will find that most of them are or have been heavily polluted – often due to gross negligence on the part of industry.

She then said to me “Well what you’re REALLY against is TECHNOLOGY, and I’m laughing at you because you use technology EVERY DAY…”

No, no I’m not against technology. I am not against industry. I am against the lack of enforcement of so-called regulations that are supposed to protect our environment. I am against companies running roughshod over the ecology and environment all in the name of making money.

I’m not against capitalism or technology, but I am against “causing harm.”  

More than that I am against people making assumptions about my motives – especially when I clearly state what my motives are, and then I am told “No, no, that’s not what you mean at all” (because it doesn’t fit in with their picture of the opposing side, I guess.)

I mean what I say, I say what I mean. I was offended by the accusation that people who are for a healthy environment and are against hydrofracking at this point in time are actually jealous of landowners who can benefit from gas leases and fracking on their property.  I am not against anyone benefiting from anything – unless that benefit comes after causing harm for many. 

If it can be proven and demonstrated that these gas companies give a rip about protecting the environment, and will take every necessary precaution to protect the environment and cause as little harm as possible, if it can be proven that the water supply will not be tainted or destroyed, then by all means…frack away.

But until that day comes, I remain on the side that wants the best interests of the many to outweigh to special interests of the few.

 

Aside

Climbing Hills When You’re Fat

The hardest part of riding a bike when you are 80+ pounds overweight and have almost zero muscular strength is not climbing the

My Bike

Simply buying the bike was an act of faith and took courage…

little hills. They are easily overcome with perseverance and making “one more push…six more inches….eight more inches…one more foot” your goal.

Each day you push just one more inch and before you know it, you’ve reached your goal of making it not to the first telephone pole but to the second before you have to hop off, catch your breath, take a drink, and push your bike the rest of the way.

No, the hardest part is passing people as you huff and puff (or when you must take a break and walk your bike up what feels like Mt Everest but is really just a little knoll). The hardest part is ignoring the voices in your head, whispering 5th grade insults; you imagine them saying…“Hey tubbo, get your fat lazy butt on that bike and PUSH….” Or you imagine them snickering about you and saying to one another: “If she’d thought of exercising earlier she wouldn’t be so fat.”

These imaginary voices are so viscous. My neighbor stopped while I was resting to make sure I was all right.  I smiled and assured him I was fine (though my face was so hot I felt like I had a fever). He commended me and told me to keep it up.  I responded: “The hardest part is just riding past people.”

But like the little knolls, the small hills, the big hills: I will overcome.

I must.  I’m only 43 (well OK almost 44). I’m too young to be so at risk for a heart attack or diabetes or any of the other health problems that being obese can cause.  I want to enjoy my Labrador, I want to be here and have a good life with my kids and husband…

…and I hope that with each hill I climb successfully, one more ugly viscous voice will be silenced.

Labrador Retriever

My Labrador Trixie & Me

Dear Hobby Lobby:

Sigh.  Once again, a “Christian” business is making headlines, and not necessarily in a positive way.  Like the Chic-Fil-A debacle of this past summer, people are upset with yet another Christian business…this time,  Hobby Lobby is resisting the Obamacare mandate of providing “the  morning after pill” to its employees as part of their insurance benefits.  Citing their Christian faith and the belief in the sanctity of human life, Hobby Lobby honchos say it is against their moral system of faith to provide something that could induce abortions.

OK.

But…it is not against their moral system of faith to sell–and profit from– millions of dollars worth of Chinese imports in their 400+ stores across America, is it?  The imports come from the same nation that abuses human beings every day in the slave labor /prison like factories…the same nation that jails people of faith….the same nation that forces abortions on their citizens.  That, somehow, is OK, because it nets them a profit.

Of course, everyone sells Chinese goods.  And that makes it OK.  Right?  Hmmm.  I don’t think so.   I don’t know what the Jesus who cleared the temple with whips would say about it.

Hobby Lobby is a for-profit business organization; not a church and not a ministry.   They may be closed to the public on Sundays, but they still make some of their employees work on Sundays and well after 8 pm.  So don’t be fooled into thinking they “honor the Sabbath and keep it holy” just because they are closed for business.

I also have issues with for-profit businesses run by Christians being called “ministries.”  I have no problem with Christians running businesses…but please, let’s call a spade a spade. If you are in it for profit, it is a business.  If you are in it to benefit others, it is a ministry.  Simplistic, I know but hey.

The fact that stores like Hobby Lobby, AC Moore, Walmart, etc. and the like have put small local Mom and Pop stores out of business, sell Chinese imports created on the backs of the abused and downtrodden without batting an eye bothers me, but it bothers me more when it is a company claiming the name of Christ in their business.  I think Hobby Lobby’s issues with the birth control would ring more true to me if they also made a pledge to sell more American made goods – or goods produced in countries that do not violate basic human rights.  Imagine what buying power a retail giant like Hobby Lobby would have if they say “no” to imports and look to domestic suppliers for their goods?

I might shop there if they did.  As it stands now, they just sicken me.  And it’s not about the birth control … it’s about their picking and choosing which moral issues to make a stand on.  A “possible” abortive pill…vs. profits off millions of dollars of products that have been made under deplorable conditions every day from a nation that forces abortions on its people on a regular basis.  OK. …sure.