He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. - Colossians 1:15-16

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Applesauce


It’s now officially autumn…one of my favorite times of year.

In southern California…it’s an almost invisible change...except as we near winter and our trees loose their leaves. We don’t have the lovely colors of fall like folks in the mid-west or eastern part of our country. Or even like my Canadian blogger buddies like
Teresa Shirkie at Canadian Blogger and David Fisher at Pilgrim Scribblings.

Theresa’s been sharing some of the lovely photos she’s taken near her home. I must confess I envy their weather and change of seasons. This girl originally from Colorado…loves the four seasons. While I’ve grown use to and even like southern California…one day I would like to return to a part of the country where I can witness the beauty of God’s creation in the seasons.

But even here in southern California…autumn brings a plethora of apples at the local market. Many different varieties to choose from. With the cooler weather and autumn decorations displayed throughout my home…I get inspired to cook. That coming from a very un-domestic kinda gal.

I do believe the man I marry had better be a good cook…otherwise we’ll be eating out a lot. My repertoire consists mostly of breads, cookies and deserts. My one venture that is different…is homemade applesauce.

When listening to Chef Jamie Gwen’s show several years ago…she shared her recipe for homemade applesauce…done in the crock pot. It sounded so good…easy even for the kitchen novice like me. Done with a little twist…instead of adding water you add a can of Ginger Ale.

So I shot off my e-mail to Chef Jamie…and was quickly rewarded with my new favorite recipe for homemade applesauce.

4 to 6 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut
One 12 oz can of Ginger Ale
¼ cup of Brown Sugar
1 Cinnamon Stick

Place all ingredients in a crock pot and cook on low for five to six hours. When ready to serve…stir with a fork to gain the applesauce texture. Substitute allspice or nutmeg for cinnamon…or add other spices to taste.

My sister Denise (who is a fantastic cook) gave me the idea to add some vanilla to the recipe.

I’ll tell you…after making homemade applesauce…I’ll never go back to the store bought variety again. It’s just too good to settle for the lesser after having the homemade version.

So while this girl never in her life has made a pot roast and wouldn’t have a clue how to make chicken and dumplings…I do make a pretty mean batch of applesauce.

Whether I eat it solo or topped over cottage cheese or cheese blintzes…I like to keep a supply handy in the fridge. Especially this time of year.

Now if any of you have a recipe that uses applesauce…I’d love it if you would share with this kitchen novice.

Time to break out that crock pot and peeler…and get cooking.

The Words I Needed To Hear


I’d like to be able to report that thought the trials and tribulations that I’ve experienced in the past year…that my faith has never wavered, nary had a doubt crossed my mind…and my walk was rock solid. But if I said that…I’d be lying and my next sentence would be confessing my sins.

As it is…I must confess the sin of doubt and not fully trusting God. Make no mistake…I do believe in God…and in Jesus Christ his Son who gave his life on the cross to pay the penalty for my sins…and I know that the Holy Spirit dwells within me. I have absolute confidence that God is able to do anything. He is all powerful, omniscient and omnipresent…and he is able, more than able to accomplish what concerns me today.

Where my doubt creeps in…is when I doubt that God cares for me personally and or that he will do that which he has promised me. When this most recent trial started…God impressed upon me the scripture “Stand firm and see the deliverance of the Lord.” – 2 Chronicles 20:17.

So over these many months…I looked expectantly to God for his promised deliverance. I was ever so certain about what the outcome would be. However…even I had to admit my deliverance didn’t come quite as quickly as I had hope. I waited…and waited…and waited. At a certain point it became obvious even to me…one who is a bit slow on the uptake…that God wasn’t going to be answering my prayers in the manner I desired or in my time frame.

Did I handle all this upheaval with grace and peace? Always wearing a cheery smile and displaying a chipper attitude? Bearing good witness to unbelievers just how good, powerful and trustworthy my God is? Not exactly.

A roller coaster is an apt description. Up one day…and down the next. Sometimes those changes occurred within a matter of minutes. Overall…I’d say each week and month I found myself improving. Only to have a hick-up every now and again…or what I called “a down day.”

I found those “hick-ups” very frustrating. I hate making emotional progress…moving forward only to find myself falling backwards again. Assailed with more doubts…as hurt feeling arise to the surface once again.

In some respects I’ve felt like I was in a car accident and sustained injuries…cuts and bruises all over my body. Daily life keeps touching those injuries…not allowing them to fully heal. Like seeing co-workers with whom I had worked with for many years…and now I was not allowed to work with them any longer. People that didn’t know me considered me unworthy or deserving to be a part of that which I had loved…and that hurts.

The thing I couldn’t understand…and couldn’t let go of is the question “Why?” Why didn’t anyone fight for me? Why didn’t anymore speak up and say “Hey…she’s really good. She’s deserves a shot at this job…give her a chance.”

Every time I would make emotional progress…I’d come back to the question why? God has designed me in such a fashion…that I have to probe, prod and push. I speak the truth. I ask the tough questions…the ones that people don’t feel too comfortable asking…much less answering. When there is an elephant in the room…you can be sure I’ll be bringing it up.

Now it took me a while to work up the nerve. To directly ask the one person I needed to hear the answer from. I guessed I’d hoped against hope that one day there would be a conversation. Something to the effect of “Susan, I’m sorry but…”. But that day never came.

So on one of those “bad days”…I asked they question. “Why?” And I got my answer. While not what I liked…or necessarily the apology that I wanted to hear…I got the truth from the person I needed to hear it from. From the person…who rightly or wrongly I held responsible. I wasn’t mad…I just felt hurt and I didn’t understand why things happened the way they did.

So what was the answer? “Everyone was fighting for their own job. They communicated how good you were…but it didn’t work out.” That “everyone”…included the person I held responsible.

At the time I heard those words I felt a release. What I needed to know…what I needed to hear for so long now…I finally had an answer for. Thank you God! What I had felt over all these months was finally validated and not ignored.

Some of the other words that accompanied the above statements…I had a harder time absorbing. Or more accurately I had a hard time accepting them. My heart and head were not connected. While intellectually I was keenly aware that words were accurate…my bruised heart was not ready to accept the truth and let go just yet. I needed some time to digest the words.

That evening while driving home from Bible study I had what Beth Moore calls a “God Stop”. A time when you recognize God’s presence, his hand, work and purpose in your life. Sometimes the vision is clear…and sometimes it’s veiled. But it’s a recognizable God Stop. Normally it’s easier to see those God Stops after the fact…with the clarity of hindsight.

But this night…God’s message was clear to me. My working in loss prevention…how I got the job and how my career progressed revealed God’s hand and purpose in my life. It was where he had called me to be. He had made the way…and now he wants me in a different place for me. Where exactly I don’t know.

God tells us that he is a jealous God. That he does not want us to put anything before him. The job that I had loved so very much…I had allowed to become unbalanced in my life. I loved the work…I loved the people. But I worked too many hours and allowed it to dominate my life. So much so that I put it over even taking good care of myself physically or building relationships outside of work.

That in part is why God has moved me. That is why he has put up a wall and blocked my every attempt to get back in to loss prevention. There is no opening a door which God has closed.

I don’t know if it was studying the book of Ezra that night that made me my aware of God’s hand and purpose in my life. When I saw that long before Cyrus was born…God’s revealed through the works of his profit Isaiah that Cyrus would be born and be part of God’s plan to enable the Jews to rebuild the temple. God in his sovereignty placed Daniel who would share God’s word with King Cyrus. God brought Zerubbabel who would lead the Jews back to Jerusalem and complete the rebuilding of the temple. Though the 70 years of the Jews captivity in Babylon…God safeguarded the treasures plundered from the Jewish temple. And in God’s time table…his plan was fulfilled.

Here I sit…thousands of years later. Not a great profit or man of God with unwavering faith. Instead a humble servant of God whose faith is at times very weak. One who has a hard time trusting the holy, righteous, omniscient, omnipotent God who loves me. The servant who is blinded to God’s hand, plan and purpose for my life…when things don’t go as I’ve expected.

Then I look at the faithful witness of my beloved former Pastor, Chuck Obremski. I see a man willing to humble himself under the mighty plan of God. Willing to be used as an instrument in God’s plan…no matter what the personal sacrifice. Instead of asking God why as his body faded away…he asked God what. What are you going to do in these circumstances? What is your plan…what would you have me to do?

After witnessing God’s hand, purpose and plan being carried out in his willing and faithful servant…ought I not do the same? What made the difference in the servants of God? What made the difference in Daniel, Zerubbabel, or David or Paul? What turned Jesus band of disciples from men who were scared and scatter when he was crucified…into men who would willing and loudly go forth and proclaim the gospel message no matter what the price? Was it not the word of God? Was it not the Holy Spirit of God that rested upon them and dwelled within them?

That same word of God…the same Holy Spirit is available to this humble, frail servant of God. Now will I choose to trust God? Will I choose to believe him…and know that he has a purpose and plan that he is working out in my life…even when he chooses not to share the specifics with me?

I don’t know exactly what God will be doing in my life through these changes. Perhaps his plan includes changing my circumstances in order to answer other prayers that I have uttered. Like my life long prayer to be married? I won’t know the answer as long as I resist that which God is doing in my life?

So between God’s mercy demonstrated to me by allowing me to hear those words I needed hear…and that God Stop where God showed me that he has a purpose and plan that he is working out in the lives of his people…I think that maybe I’m starting to “get it”.

Like I said earlier…I just hate it when I make progress only later to find myself assailed by doubts, fear and not trusting God. So it is with fear and trembling that I say that I may have had a breakthrough in this new chapter of my life. I would do well to utter that prayer “Jesus…I believe…please help me with my unbelief.”

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Real Women Carry Big Purses


Purses…women’s purses are a very personal thing. From the size, style and color that you have…to making sure that no one touches your purse or worse yet…goes into your purse. That includes a beloved husband, children or friends. To do so…is to cross a personal boundary. Why? Well I think there a lot of reasons.

Purses are a woman’s thing…a girly girl thing. Unless of course you are Brian Kilmeade from Fox & Friends. Then you carry a “man bag”. Yeah right! Come on Brian…everyone knows it’s a purse. A glorified purse. A purse by any other name…is still a purse.

Men on the other hand carry brief cases…or now days…computer bags or cases. Not purses (except for Brian of course). Women also care brief cases and computer bags…but theirs are pretty and stylish. Most of the ones guys carry are good, solid and sturdy. They look manly…or at least neutral.

What all do women carry in their purse? Probably the easier question to answer is what’s not in there. An essential is a wallet, with cash, and change (in case you need to use a payphone), credit cards, a checkbook, pictures of family and friends. You thought Boy Scouts were prepared…well you never met a real woman. In a woman’s purse you might find something to take care of any emergency. A cell phone is a must…and a PDA to look up more numbers and address and of course the garage door opener. Reading glasses (for those over 40) and sun glasses. From Band-Aids, to paper clips, to safety pins, and pens a real woman is prepared. But don’t forget the gum, mints and cough drops. You must make room for lipstick and other make-up touch ups. A brush or comb would be the prudent thing to carry…but please make sure you have some hair spray too. Then there are the unmentionable personal items we all know women carry in their purse…but we don’t talk about it in mixed company. (But of course you’ll see some advertisement blaring at the whole family in the family hour on TV. Didn’t they use to restrict things like that to certain times of day…or better yet…can’t we restrict it to magazines only?) Have a headache…need an aspirin…just ask the woman walking by who is carrying a purse. You’ll likely have what you need…lickety split. That extensive list doesn’t even touch on what mom’s with kids carry in their purses.

With such a comprehensive list…a good size purse if a must. Unless you have a natural bent for organization…your purse must also have multiple sections…so you can keep things organized. Organized so you can find what you need at a moments notice.

That’s why…the purse that I purchased recently did not cut the mustard. It was big…big enough to carry all my “stuff”. But I tell you…it had to have been designed by a man. Someone who doesn’t know the practical realities of trying to find something in your purse. It had one large compartment…one! And everything ended up at the bottom. Big thumbs down on this purse.

So less than 24 hours after using this purse….I had to stop and purchase another purse. Much to my pleasant surprise…Mervyns had a buy one, get one free sale. So I was able to get two purses instead of one.

This time…I made sure both were not only good sized…but had compartments so I could be organized. An essential factor in purse selection for the real woman.

The black and brown one…will be good for fall and winter…and versatile too. I can use it with different outfits quite nicely.

But the one I fell in love with…the red one. I’ve never had a red purse in all my life. Imagine that…red. In some respects…totally unpractical. I hardly ever wear red. But I really like it. The color is great…fun and zippy and dare I say…even a wee bit sexy. Definitely girly girl stuff.

Young girls…now they can get away with a teeny, tiny purse. After all they have to carry around lipstick, cash and maybe a cell phone. But a real woman…needs a big purse.

One friend of mine Claudia has a thing for purses…her one vice. She has a variety of the cutest purses. Coach purses no less. Which I have come to find out are the crème de al crème of purses.

Now I’m a cheap son of a gun…and think I would faint if I spent the big bucks for designer purses. But I have been considering springing for a Dooney & Burke purse. A little pricy…but not outrageous…and very well made. So if I went for a very well made Dooney & Burke…I might not be purchasing purses quite so often. I don't have an affection for purses like Claudia does. But I’m very hard on purses. Very hard. I put them through the paces. So this cheap son of a gun…may invest in a really well made purse one of these days.

But I tell you…I’m in love with my new red purse. Why…I’m not sure. But there’s something about that red that I love.

Ah…I just love being a girl!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Out of Commission…but I’m back!


Indeed I am back. After what seems like an eternity…I am finally able to sit down…and put my fingers on the keyboard and do what I love best…write. Ahhhh…it feels so very good.

So…what have I been doing? Have I just been flakey…or had a serious case of writers block? No...in fact there have been a number of ideas floating around my mind that I wanted to write about…but between physical ailments and responsibilities demanding my time there has been precious little time to do that which I love.

I recently recapped my month of August…which was pretty much a loss because I was in excruciating pain…which praise Jesus he removed in response to prayers from many on my behalf.

Before I knew it…September hit…and with it a very busy schedule. I spent Labor Day, laboring away as I listened to my favorite radio show Dennis Prager’s Labor Day show in which his listeners called in to tell about their work.

As I listened to this annual show I was reminded that year ago I had tried to call into the program. I was in the queue and planed to tell what kind of work I did and how much I loved my job and the people I worked with. When I listened to this year’s show the thing that stood out was the common factor…how much everyone loved their job. That’s when I realized…I really need to try for a couple of job opportunities that had come my way.

So I geared up for a few more interviews…both in loss prevention. One of them…was in the department I like…but not doing the work I wanted. For the past year or two…my aim has been to move into an LP analyst job. But I decided to give a shot and see what it was about. The first interview went well…and felt more like talking shop about my favorite subject than an interview. I could really envision myself working with this person long term. So I then proceeded to a second interview. This one provided much clarity. While the people and the company were good…the job responsibilities were not what I wanted. While disappointed that this wasn’t what I was looking for…I was grateful for the clarity to know I needed to say thanks, but no thanks.

Then came the news I had been hoping to hear for some time…my old boss Peter B. had a job opening doing just what I wanted…an LP Analyst. So…mine was the first resume submitted. While I waited for my interview day…I debated back and forth. Is this what I wanted? It would mean longer commute and giving up 22 years with my current company…5 weeks vacation and a good reputation with people who know me. Did I want it? Yeah…I think so…but with some reservations.

Of the seven interviews I’ve had in the last five months…I walked out of this one the least certain on how I did. It was the shortest…and by the book. An interview by four people…two HR and two LP personnel. I’m very good at reading people…but two of them were very hard to read.

So I came away from the interview…unsure. The next day I talked to my old boss Peter. He asked me how it went…and I told him I had no idea. He assured me that I did well…and was one of the top two candidates. In some respects I felt confident because I know what I bring to the table…skills, experience and passion to learn and grow. When I learned that the other top person was an internal candidate…I my uncertainty grew. This other person had been with their company and had done an excellent job. She brought to the table things that I did not. Familiarity with the company and its policies and procedures to name a few.

So I went into that weekend with mixed emotions. I wanted that job. I wanted it because it fit exactly what I’ve been aiming for, for a couple of years now. It was also what I had earned and deserved…or at least deserved the shot at.

Yet…after all I’ve been through in the past nine months I knew that company loyalty is so very important. The right thing to do is reward good people and good performers. So I wrote Peter B. an e-mail and told him that if I wasn’t heads above their internal candidate that they needed to go with her and not me.

Was that e-mail as magnanimous as it sounds? Yes and no. Absolutely I meant it from the bottom of my heart. I wished that my company would have given me that same consideration when I interviewed for a job. But my work, history, reputation and abilities amounted to nothing. I suppose in some respects I also wrote that as a self defense mechanism...softening the blow if I didn’t get the job.

Thankfully unlike another job I interviewed for…these people had the courtesy and decency to let me know the news without delay. Peter B. called me on Wednesday to let me know that they went with the internal candidate.

Ouch…that stung. I understood their decision and respected it. But I feel like I’ve been on the auction block and trying to sell myself for many months now. I’m weary and that which I want eludes me.

It was easy for me to say no to the other jobs and companies I interviewed for. I knew I didn’t want the jobs that they had open. The two jobs I knew I wanted…they said no to me. There are no other words to say…except…it hurts. This last one…the rejection felt personal. I mean after all my old boss called to tell me about the job and advised me to interview for it. And at the end of the day…the answer was no.

So you may be saying…Susan why are putting all this writing? Isn’t it kind of personal and private? Well…I guess just need a place to be real. Writing is how I work things out. At work…when Peter C. dropped by and asked if I got the job…I had to put on my game face. Here I can say what’s in my heart.

Miss Ruth assured me that God would honor my good character and acting honorably. Peter B. and Doug assured me that you never know what’s going to happen. Things could change tomorrow. I could finally get that job offer I’ve wanted. Not that I doubt them…but right now that seems very far fetched…like a fairy tale and ever so far away. Instead it’s what you say to someone to appease them or comfort them…even if it’s not true. Yet…I still hold out a ray of hope.

When and where my deliverance will come from…I know not. But I do know from whom. When this whole job adventure started God had given me the scripture verse “Stand firm and see the deliverance of the Lord.” Recently it seemed like God’s message had changed and he was preparing me to move.

Sometimes I wish I had the clear and direct signs of old. Like when God led the Israelites in the desert. A cloud by day and fire by night. When I think about Abraham, Joseph, Moses and David…I see that God promised them deliverance. And indeed God was faithful to his promise. Yet there was a long period between God’s promise of deliverance and when it actually occurred.

Oh God, my God…where is my promised deliverance? I stand looking and waiting for your promised deliverance.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Once Considered a Friend


There once was a man called friend.
With sparkling blue eyes and an engaging smile,
Who captured my heart.

A thoughtful, kind and caring soul.
Through thick and through thin,
A good friend to all.

Passionate and caring of things of import.
Arguments vocalized with a friendly banter,
Refusal to back down or be swayed from his point.

Then the day came, when rough waters abound.
A cry went out for the help of a supportive friend.
Only to be met with silence.

Confused information with participation.
Choices sent waves of disappointment;
From which he would not repent.

The phone remained silent; e-mails unanswered.
Hurt and withdrawal necessitated,
A decision…to give up.

Decision made to move on.
Eyes fixed forward, must not look back.
In reality…a struggle each day.

Until one day…success.
Conversation…but nary a thought of him came to mind.
Shocked, surprised and appalled!

How could I…what kind of a person am I?
To so easily forget,
One, once considered a friend?

The Lessons of Pain

What do wisdom teeth, jaw pain, exhaustion and a spiritual insight have in common?

Among other things…that pretty much summarizes the month of August. I found that being in intense pain for an extended period of time…really took its toll. That toll includes a writing dry spell. When I finally did get the inspiration to write again…I didn’t have the energy to complete it…so thus it sat. Until now that is.

I wonder…is this one of those times where God has given me a specific message and until I execute…there will be silence? Perhaps. But anyway…here is my tale of pain and lessons learned.

I was in such pain for well over a month. Excruciating pain…all because my wisdom teeth…thought they would try to make their grand entrance once again. The rest of my teeth were not too keen on that idea. They waged war against one another…and I was the causality.

Nothing, but nothing brought relief. Neither Tylenol, nor Alieve…nor a combination of the two every four hours reduced the pain. I even got the brilliant idea to chew on Aspirin. On occasion…this routine brought some measure of relief…but precious little. I tried a heating pad and cold packs. The cold packs seemed the most effective…or at least would numb it for a time. But overall…the pain was unrelenting.

Sleep during that time was rather evasive…or at least ineffective. One day…I even brought out a bottle of Vicodin…only to be reminded why I never finished the prescription originally. I took it for pain relief…but found it only made me feel worse. Did it reduce the pain? I guess so…but I felt so bad that the pain seemed to get lost in the shuffle.

One Saturday…I missed my normal morning walk. Instead I cried out to God for relief from the pain. When I did have some relief…I rested. When the pain started in full force again…I cried out to God. When my cries of “Please God help me” failed to bring relief…those cries changed to the question, “God…what? What do you want me to learn from this? Why are you allowing this to happen?”

Finally I was left with the impression that God was using this pain as an example of what holding on to unforgiveness can do to a person.

Unforgiveness only serves to bring pain…unrelenting, exhausting, all consuming pain. Albeit emotional and spiritual pain.

When I’m wronged...it’s easy to justify being angry and feeling hurt. It’s hard to forgive a wrong done…especially when a person will not acknowledge it or recognize it. I almost feel like I’m holding on to the anger and hurt…until my pain is acknowledged or the situation is made right.

But doing that will not bring relief…and the wrong done may never be acknowledged by the wrong doer. There I am left holding the bag. A heavy bag…a bag of burdens that grows day by day. Goodness knows that each day there will be more than one offence that comes my way. Some big, some small…but they will always there.

Then comes the question…which ones will I hold on to and let change my life? Which ones are small offenses that I willing to let go of?

The offenses from strangers, those whom I don’t know well…or those whom I don’t care much for seem to be easier to let go of. Where as the offenses from loved ones and those I trust almost seem like a betrayal. Those are the ones that I find most challenging to let go of.

In actuality…the offenses from loved ones are the offenses I need to forgive quickly.

Unforgiveness also seems to take God out of the picture. No where do we see a better example of forgiveness than that of Joseph in the book of Genesis. After his brothers had threatened to kill him, sold him into slavery, he had been falsely accused of rape and thrown into prison and then he was seemingly forgotten by one of the king’s servants.

What was Joseph’s response when he finally met his brothers after all these years? “What you meant for evil, God meant for good.”

God always has a plan and purpose in everything he allows in our lives. Only God can bring good from the messes I’ve made.

Well this story does have a happy ending. While I felt ridiculous for submitting a prayer request for relief from the pain of wisdom teeth…I knew this was beyond me. I would rather have perished that continue in such pain. My day to day existence had been brought down to that issue of pain relief. Silly maybe…but I e-mailed off my prayer request.

Praise God and thank you my dear Jesus, Savior and Friend. Within two days…for the first time in over a month…the pain stopped. It reminded me of when I’m exposed to an exceptionally loud noise for an extended period of time. When it stops…ahhhh! Peace, sudden peace that I just wanted to savor.

More good news...the pain has not returned. The better news…after a clear illustration from God on how painful bitterness, anger, hurt and resentment are…I was able to get rid of, let go of those negative feelings. In fact…God has laid it on my heart to not only forgive and move on…but to prayer four these men.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Like an Old Friend


I’ve loved music for as long as I can remember. I guess you could describe my musical taste as eclectic. I love anything from contemporary Christian music to good old rock and roll. Throw in a little country and but please don’t forget classical. I love jazz, the blues and romantic classics from the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. If you have a Broadway show tune playing I will likely be singing every lyric…I just love it.

I consider music a gift from God…and am ever so thankful for music and my ability to hear.

Recently…I heard about a website where you can purchase songs…for a minimal price. Since there are many of the songs I grew up with and still love…I was excited at the prospect listening to some of my favorite songs from my youth.

Just the other night I purchased Neil Diamond’s “Beautiful Noise” album. In my tumultuous teenage years…I spent many an hour listening to these songs. All the while contemplating, dreaming, hoping and wondering what my future would be like.

What would those coming years hold in store?

It was though I was standing on a precipice. The direction my life would take would be set by the choices I would make…both good and bad. Little did I know back then that seemingly inconsequential decisions would impact me greatly. They helped form my character, which in turn would influence future decisions. Only with hindsight can I see more clearly. Yet…I still remain blind as to what consequence other decisions would have been.

Some of those bad decisions would result in years of poor self esteem and painful shyness. So much of what I had hoped and dreamed for…faded away…vanished. They seemed to swirl down the drain and I was helpless to stop it and unable to retrieve what I had lost.

Here I stand today…listening to one of my favorite albums. At times still wishing for some of those same dreams I had way back when. Reality achieved can be painful when measured against hopes and dreams.

Yet that same music raises a spirit of hope and possibilities…of what can be accomplished even at this late date. Now I have the perspective of God and Jesus Christ within me at work in my life. I know that He and He alone is able to do abundantly more than all I ask or imagine. I know first hand the changes He has made in me.

There will remain in me…a till my dying day a hope that God will answer some of those prayers I uttered so very long ago.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

The Plame Truth Makes Strange Bedfellows


It is a strange day indeed when I find myself aligned with a man of the left, a self proclaimed socialist, Christopher Hitchens.

While I haven’t fully researched Mr. Hitchens’ stance on abortion, the death penalty, immigration, border security, equality vs. liberty, tax reform, welfare, the myth of “separation of church and state in the Constitution”, the debate over English immersion vs. bilingual education, universal health care and more…there is at least one area…where we stand in full agreement. We both have a love and passion for the truth.

While listening to
Dennis Prager’s radio show on Wednesday, my jaw dropped as Christopher Hitchens shared the information that was recently revealed as to whom the true source of the CIA Plame leak was. I shook my head with disbelief and wanted to say, “You go boy”…as Christopher detailed of the facts that have come to light…and information from his many years of research to expose the lies and the liars for what they are.

That may seem like strong language…to out and out call someone a liar. But when you hear the lies that were perpetuated and how other people were smeared and painted as villains in the liberal mainstream press…while the man who actually leaked Ms. Plame’s name to the press shut up, sat back and watched, I think you’ll understand. I use “man” cautiously…because there was nothing denoting courage, character or anything remotely reflecting the character of someone I would feel comfortable attributing the title of “man”.

That person…is none other than Richard Armitage.

Just to review a few facts.
In January 2002, former Ambassador Joe Wilson was sent to Niger by the CIA to investigate claims that back in 1999 Iraqi Ambassador Wissam al-Zahawie went to Niger on a shopping trip for yellowcake uranium. After his trip to Niger
Joe Wilson reported, “It did not take long to conclude that it was highly doubtful that any such transaction had ever taken place.”

Back in January 2003,
George Bush during his State of the Union address, unleashed a firestorm of debate, controversy and “investigation” by the press when he uttered the words “The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.” He gave this statement to support and justify the United States going to war against Iraq.

The press and prominent persons on the left (frequently one and the same) in their usual rush to judgment, without fully investigating the facts, repeatedly called George Bush a “liar”. They alleged that George Bush had lied in his quest and desire to go to war with Iraq and bring down Saddam Hussein. They went to battle against George Bush…and as time and facts would later reveal, they would stop at nothing to oppose the President whom they so fiercely disagree and even hate.

In July 2003, journalist
Robert Novak reported that Joe Wilson’s wife Valerie Plame was "an agency operative on weapons of mass destruction." He further went on to state that, “Two senior administration officials told me Wilson's wife suggested sending him (Joe Wilson) to Niger to investigate the Italian report.”

That column unleashed hysterics and cries that the Bush White House had outed CIA operative Valerie Plame to settle a score.
They made serious charges that this act was “a possible breach of national security; it is a potential violation of law. Under the Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982, it is a crime for anyone who has access to classified information to disclose intentionally information identifying a covert agent.”

What ensued was scandal and investigation. In December of 2003, Patrick Fitzgerald was appointed
Special Investigator to investigate the “unauthorized disclosure of a CIA employee’s identity.

In October 2005…the Fitzgerald investigation ended with the
indictment of L. Lewis Libby, Assistant/Chief of Staff to Vice President to Dick Cheney. The charges: Count One Obstruction of Justice, Count Two False Statement, Count Three False Statement, Count Four Perjury, and Count Five Perjury.

During this two year time frame…numerous people came under a cloud of suspicion as unfounded and false allegations swirled about them. Some of those include President George Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, but none more so than the man the left wing press loves to hate Chief of Staff Karl Rove.

Our country was sided tracked and focused on what turned out to be a non-issue. Valerie Plame was not an active covert CIA agent under the guidelines covered by the law and disclosing her name did not violate the law.

Many people paid the price as Fitzgerald pursued this rabbit trial. Journalist Judith Miller spent twelve weeks in jail for contempt of court. Lewis Libby was hung out to dry and charged on five counts, none of which are the original charge of disclosing the name of a CIA operative. Bush, Cheney and Rove among others were pilloried. The press was almost distraught when Karl Rove did not come under indictment. They followed him and hounded him for months.

All the while…Richard Armitage knew that he was the true source that leaked Valerie Plame’s name as a CIA operative. Richard Armitage sat back and watched as people’s names were wrongly drug through the mud, and their lives made a living hell.

Richard Armitage could have saved our country this ongoing scandal which only served to distract us from the real enemy Islamic Fascist Terrorists. He let us pursue a lie…at great expense. None more so than those who those who were under suspicion for something that they did not do.

How much did this investigation cost our country? How much did it cost to imprison Judith Miller? How can you repay her for twelve weeks of her life sitting in jail…while you Mr. Armitage sat on your duff and didn’t say a word.

Richard Armitage…your actions and lack thereof are despicable. I find your silence contemptible. You have displayed zero courage…and your lack of character is astounding.

Serving this country should be considered a privilege by the few who get to serve at the level you were at. You have proved yourself unworthy of the title Deputy Secretary of State. Richard Armitage you are a picture of cowardice to the “nth degree”.

People hung in the wind, were accused of false allegations and kept under suspicion for over two years. There was an enormous cost and others paid the price for your actions and silence. My only regret is that you can not be prosecuted…because disclosing Ms. Plame’s name was not a crime. But make no mistake…your actions were immoral.

How do you sleep at night Richard? What are you thinking when you look in the mirror? How do you look people in eye?

Being that you shared this information with then Secretary of State Colin Powell and he too failed to bring forth the truth speaks very poorly of both of you. You are both complicit in your silence. Both of you were underhanded as you sought to undermine the President. Not just in this instance but when other leaks were made to the press that countermanded the President’s policies and decisions.

Absolutely there is room for disagreement on Iraq, on the war and how it should be executed. But the right way to do it would have been to step down from your post and then present your case. Make an argument, present the facts, you opinions and reasoning. Have an open, honest dialogue. But that would actually courage wouldn’t it? You would need to be a “stand up kind of guy”...certainly not words that would describe you.

I agreed with and did support the removal of Saddam Hussein from power because he was a danger and supported terrorists. But now I have more than a few doubts about how we have executed the war in Iraq. I believe we overreached, underestimated…and did not take into full account the opposition that we would face as a result of cultural differences. I have reservations with the idea that democracy can take hold in Arab and Muslim countries. Freedom, liberty and personal responsibility go hand in hand with the Judeo Christian values that our country was founded on. Freedom and liberty are in stark contrast with Islam and Sharia Law.

But I’ll end this with a question. Richard Armitage…where is your apology? Where is your statement acknowledging your wrongdoing and cowardly silence?

The press got it wrong. The leaking of Valarie Plame’s name did not come from someone who wanted to get back at her. Nor get back at Joe Wilson for presenting a report that conflicted with evidence that supported the war in Iraq. It came from a well known critic of President George Bush and his stance on Iraq, Richard Armitage.

Instead the press ran with lies. The lie that Iraq was not attempting to purchase yellowcake uranium (which has since been proven true) and the lie that senior administration officials had broken the law by disclosing Ms. Plame’s name out of a desire for revenge has been kept alive by the liberal mainstream press. In their hatred of George Bush and desire to do anything to bring him down…the press resorted to the very tactics which they accused the Bush administration of.

Dear members of the press…time for you to look in the mirror boys and girls. That same hand that points a finger at Bush...has three more pointing right back at you. When will we hear acknowledgement of wrong doing and an apology? On that one I can safely wager on.

Being a liberal means never having to say you’re sorry.