This is Not the America I Grew Up In

A few years ago, I had a person ask me if this was the America I remembered growing up in. At first I had given him a short response, saying yes, it hasn’t changed much. But shortly after, I realized it has changed and I revised my answer to him. Today, I’m revising that answer again, just seven short years later. I remembered his question this week and I’ve tried to pinpoint what happened to the land that I love? Today, I realize how drastically our nation has changed! First I want to share some definitions of the word ‘freedom.’

Freedom:

  • Exemption from external control, interference, or regulation.
  • Personal liberty, as opposed to bondage or slavery.
  • An absence of undue restrictions and an opportunity to exercise one’s rights.
  • Political or national independence.
  • The state of being free or at liberty.

Just looking at these definitions, I think we are no longer a nation of freedom, because the rights of some people are being held higher than the rights of other’s. I am applying this to the history and decisions of our nation. To be set free is to recognize what we have overcome. When our focus stays on the circumstances we once lived in, those things that oppressed us, we remain captive. There are facts, which cannot be erased from history – nor should they be. We can destroy all the symbols and memorabilia, but then we deny what shaped us into who we are today. How can we see how far we’ve come, if we don’t acknowledge what we’ve been set free from? This was attempted with Holocaust victims; there are some who denied it ever happened and some who have revised history. Fortunately, this movement has not caught on, but what will happen when there are no more survivors? Not that we should focus on their victimization, but we should celebrate that they overcame! We should also watch that it is not repeated. If we focus on what has happened to hurt, instead of what has happened to free us; then we remain victims instead of victors! As a nation, when we erase the wars we’ve fought and survived, we deny the victory of those who survived. We deny who we’ve become when we destroy the evidence.

Ask a victim of domestic violence who has escaped this torture and has been healed from those memories, if they are victims or victors. I am one of them, yet my attacker claimed to my face that he never hit a woman, even though my bruise was there for several months. What was I, if I am not a woman? He was expunged from any wrongdoing, because he had ‘friends’ in government that were able to get the charges dropped. But that did not lessen the damage he inflicted or his culpability. Thank God, I have not gone back into an abusive situation, but to deny that it ever happened, would be to deny who I have become. When we say that barbarous events never occurred, we invalidate those who have been violated, whether it is an individual or a group of people. They do not cease to exist and they do not forget how they were infringed, but they can move beyond those heinous crimes committed against them.

No, this is not the AMERICA I grew up in. I was taught our history; both the good and the bad. It was taught as an example of what could happen again. If we as a nation don’t hold to the principles of our founding fathers, then we are apt to replay the negative, or to return to the tyranny we escaped. The history I learned did not absolve those who sinned against humanity, it held them accountable. History taught us to not go there again. Wiping out the memories only strengthens the chances that it can repeat itself. Because, when we don’t learn from our mistakes, we are apt to repeat them. It may be a different set of people, who are targeted, or it could even be reversed, but it does not make it right. ‘An eye for an eye,’ never produced any winners.

I was also taught to respect authority. We did not backtalk our teachers or there were consequences at school and worse ones at home! There were disciplinary actions in both places! Now it has become almost heroic to defend every right, every move, every action, no matter how misguided, and these delinquent activities are celebrated in some groups. Everyone wants to debate and have their ‘rights’ even if it means denying the ‘rights’ of others.

When I grew up, mealtimes were started after everyone was seated and quieted, with the whole family at the table. We would say a prayer to bless our food and thank God for His provisions and pray for our leaders! We never left the table until everyone was finished eating, or we had asked to be excused. Our conversation during our meal was about our day, keeping each other informed. We were taught manners for eating with politeness. And we were taught etiquette in addressing our elders; such as saying, “yes sir” and “no sir” or “yes ma’am” and “no ma’am.” We called our friends parents Mr. or Mrs. unless they insisted otherwise. No “games” were played at the table unless they involved the whole family after eating. We didn’t have cell phones or electronic games. The television was not turned on until all the dishes were cleaned and put away. Television could be viewed without concern that children might see something inappropriate; there was no cursing, illicit sex, or the graphic killing of people shown. Much was left to our imagination. Children were able to go outside and play until dark because it was safe, now some are not safe in broad daylight! Most families went to church together every Sunday. Friday nights the whole town went to the football games during the season. Saturday mornings many locals met at the donut shop and discussed the game.

American Flag

Men wore hats and took them off during the National Anthem and everyone put their hand over their hearts and revered the flag. Nobody spoke during this time of honoring our nation, from children, to teens, to adults. It was silent except for the performance of the anthem. People bowed their heads to pray at public events. School was started each morning when the whole class would stand with their right hand placed on their heart to recite:I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands: one Nation under God, Indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

It was not uncommon for someone to pray in school for a person who had a family member who died or was in the hospital. There were no school shootings or the need for metal detectors to get into the buildings. They weren’t necessary! Most school functions were started with prayer: at sporting events, banquets, award ceremonies and graduation — and yes, it was a public school! No, this is not the America I grew up in! He got that right, I agree! I’ve thought about his question off and on through the years. Although I gave him a short quick response, I decided I had a lot more to say on the subject than my short counter to him. There are far more people who disrespect our nation and its history, whether good or bad. History is what defines us and shapes us into who we are today. It is a timeline of how far we’ve come as a nation. To erase history, is to deny the oppression of any people and their victories. The person who asked the question, was attacking me personally regarding an article I had written that he did not agree with. He stated it was not the America he grew up in and that people were calling him un-American, because he questions authority all the time.

When I thought of what he said, I realized we grew up with very different values! Yes, we are given ‘freedom of speech,’ but much of the mainstream media and politicians, pick and choose who has that ‘freedom of speech.’ and have taken it to an extreme to further their agendas. Where did our honor of country go? What happened to the ‘America’ that I grew up in? You might be surprised to find that the crime rates went up when prayer and the mention of God were taken out of school. You can look up the dates and do a comparative analysis. We accommodate other “religions” that chant and call for our death, we recognize beliefs that are antiChrist, and we protect terrorists. In schools we don’t prohibit other nations’ flags, but are starting to ban our own flag because someone finds it offensive?! Why has the Bible been removed from our places of education and workplaces? Who is defending the rights of Christians? Politicians took God out of America and school; let’s bring Him back! May God Bless America Again before we lose the America we once knew. ~ KMcA ©

Fading American flag

 

Memo to God

Memo: (Short for memorandum. meaning: to jot down by note something to be remembered and acted upon in the future, a reminder.)

Every day I am saddened by people I come in contact with who don’t know God… some who don’t know him at all and some who don’t know him well. They may know he exists, but they don’t take the time to get to know him and build a relationship with him. I am saddened by those who live in confusion and heartache; those who are lonely, depressed, and searching for something to fill a void in their lives. They are searching for something, and they settle for substitutes… Substitutes of relationships, jobs, hobbies, status, cars, clothes, houses, busyness, drugs, alcohol; anything that will give them temporary happiness. Then there are those who are so steeped in misery that they cannot recognize joy, because they have lived in a ‘poor me’ mentality for so long.

I also see people who think they know God, but to them he is only someone they call on when they need something — times when they’re ill or when something breaks down. Then they pray in memo fashion or they ask others who they feel ‘have a connection’ to God to pray for them. They don’t have a day-to-day relationship. When they are desperate and their substitutions don’t satisfy, they write God a memo, because they have a desire. Yes, they have desires and longings, but the true longing in everyone’s soul is fellowship with God. (Psalm 84:2) They have a one-way relationship to make requests, write notes to God, or to remind him of their desires. If they developed this into a two-way relationship, they would quit making demands and truly know fulfillment. It is only God who can fulfill all our needs.

And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus. -Philippians 4:19     You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it! -John 14:13-14

Yes, we can go to God when we have a need and he will answer, but it is far better to build a relationship with God. God wants a relationship with us. He sings songs over us with songs of joy!! (Zephaniah 3:17)  He bends down to listen to us. (Psalm 116:2God so wanted to restore his relationship with man, that he sent Christ to redeem us. He sent us a tangible person to show us who he is, he sent a perfect man, without sin. Christ is God, in the form of man, He is a visible person for us to see and believe in an Almighty God. (Colossians 1:15)

“Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.” -Revelation 3:20 /// So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God. -Romans 5:11 /// You see, his faith and his actions worked together. His actions made his faith complete. And so it happened just as the Scriptures say: “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.” He was even called the friend of God. James 2:22-23

Open the door to God today, make a new start and follow God. Share a meal with him today by getting to know him and his deep, deep love for you. Then you can rejoice in your relationship and call him friend, because he already made provision for you to have an intimate relationship with him. Be the Friend of God! I pray this for your life today.

 

Peace

I hope that by sharing my story, those who know me and see me as ‘normal’ will help drop the stigma that goes with the word seizure. It makes me vulnerable to share this, because the moment I tell this… I am open to people’s limited views and preconceived ideas, but if you read on, you may learn things you didn’t know. Recently I’ve read some of Lisa Genova’s work, who I highly recommend as an author. She writes on the topic of Neurology and the neurosciences in a novel format telling stories of people who’ve had challenges with early onset dementia, autism, or those who’ve suffered with a brain trauma. I think there needs to be more awareness about neurological problems that people experience. People need to know that highly intelligent people can have neurological conditions and not be looked down on or outcast from society. They are still contributors to life!

There are people who doubt that God exists, those whose lives have been fraught with hardships or sorrows. Or those who haven’t had “enough proof” to believe. They don’t see how God could allow bad things to happen to good people; therefore, in their minds… God must not exist. I have been through horrific things in my life. What I am about to share is one of the less horrific things to me. It is my hope that people will realize that we all have things we deal with that are hard in life, but there is always hope.

When I was younger, I did have doubts in my faith, I’ve been there before in my life. But I don’t live there any longer, because I know who I am in Christ. I am Chosen. I am Loved. I am His beloved. God has given me peace. The way you get to the same place in your life, is by having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Then you need to read the Bible daily, and ask that the Holy Spirit reveal the truths in it to you. 

But it was to us that God revealed these things by his Spirit. For his Spirit searches out everything and shows us God’s deep secrets.” I Corinthians 2:10

There are some things about me only few know. I don’t want sympathy and this is why I don’t usually share my story, but I feel others might benefit if I share some of the things I’ve gone through in my life. When my son was a toddler, I had dizzy spells for several weeks. I went to the doctor and was given pills for vertigo. After three months, I couldn’t walk a straight line across my living room. My doctor decided I should get a CT Scan of my brain and said he would have the results in a week. The very next day he called to say he wanted me to have an MRI and had already scheduled an appointment for that afternoon. They’d found a mass. I saw a neurosurgeon the day after the MRI. The neurosurgeon told me it was an inoperable tumor, the size of a dime in circumference and three inches long in the deepest portion of my brain. He said he couldn’t biopsy it without doing severe damage, and he wanted to monitor it through multiple MRIs. My family panicked and while I didn’t exactly like the report, I prayed about it. God gave me the most indescribable peace. I felt like he told me “Don’t worry, I’ve taken care of it.” I have walked in that faith and that peace ever since, no matter what circumstances have arisen. This was about eighteen years ago. There wasn’t any change until I had a near-fatal car accident in 2001.

I was traveling to my son’s school when I was t-boned by a woman who was doing 85 in a 50 mph zone. Out of eight windows in my Volvo, only two were still intact. The frame was bent, both axles were broken, and the front passenger seat was in the driver’s seat with me. I was unconscious for four hours. I woke up in the ER with several doctors and nurses working on me. They gave me pain medication and I passed out again. I had a concussion, and a head full of glass where I had broken the windshield. I was wearing my seatbelt. Five months later, I required spinal surgery to replace three discs in my neck, and knee surgery from my knee slamming into the dash. My doctor told me the only reason I was alive was because I was driving a Volvo. I told him it was because God spared me.

Volvo Nov 01

Nine months after the car wreck, I was trying to return to my landscaping business. I had planned to start with a light day of spraying roses for a client. My son, was with me and we stopped for breakfast at a McDonald’s drive-through. As I pulled in to pay, I put my truck in park, which I never do. The next thing I remember, I was on a gurney being loaded into an ambulance. One week later, my son described in detail what happened, he had been so traumatized by the events he couldn’t talk about it before. I had lost six months of memory and I had dysphasia; I would think one word and another word would come out of my mouth, beyond my control. What my son described was a grand mal seizure. I had never had any type of seizure in my life! I later found out that the car wreck had shifted my tumor into the area of my brain that triggers seizures. My speech straightened out after a couple of months, but I never regained the memory I lost. I keep a calendar of those months and two years surrounding that time-frame in a file in my desk, because it is still mixed up in my memory. 

Three weeks later, I had a second grand mal, and I was put on medication. People who have seizures usually have what is called an ‘aura’ or warning, that indicates a seizure might be about to happen. Before the first one, I didn’t have any warning, but I did before the second one and all subsequent ones. To me, it sounds like I have gone into a tunnel, noises are very muffled, or non-existent. My seizures are unique, because most of them are triggered by sounds. Only five percent of all seizures are auditory, they are very rare. They fall into a class called “Partial Simple Sensory” meaning my awareness to my surroundings is maintained. Sensory means that one of the five senses is the trigger, vision is the most common, touch, taste, and smell are equally second. In my case, it is hearing, the least common (sounds trigger them). Less frequently, I have Petit Mal seizures, where I do lose consciousness, without convulsions. I have not had a grand mal seizure since the first two, twelve years ago. 

A few years ago, I went to a celebration dinner for the people who voluntarily give of their time in the church I was attending. On the way home, we were sharing our testimonies, and I shared some of my story with the people in the car. I can’t work or spend time in places that have beepers, doorbells, scanners, loudspeakers, two-way radios, or drive-throughs because the frequencies they emit can trigger seizures. I found this out the hard way. I’m supposed to take it easy for a day or so if I have a seizure without loss of consciousness. If I have seizures where I lose consciousness, I cannot drive for six months. Because the type of seizures I have are so rare, even the neurologists know very little about them. I have done quite a bit of research on them and I was the one who figured out why that first seizure occurred in the drive through, it was the frequency of the radio at the drive-through. I later starting figuring out that certain frequencies were triggers, we have our doorbell dismantled, because it is a major trigger. One of the most unusual sounds that bothers me is when someone sneezes. Thankfully, I don’t have any more grand mal seizures, that would be awful when someone had a cold! Also, it is only when someone else sneezes, not my own sneezes! You have to find humor somewhere.  

Currently, I am on hiatus from driving, because recently I had a seizure that I lost consciousness. But even in that, I find peace. It is a time for me to step back and look at what is important. It is a time to weigh things out and spend more time with God. I can put my house in order, both physically and spiritually. I can taste, and see that God is good! I pray that you learn also to live in His peace.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7