2015 Reading Scavenger Hunt Challenge!

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The Christmas Present

I was watching TV about a year ago, just before Christmas.  There was a commercial for some hot new toy.  Usually I tune out the ads, but this particular time it caught my attention when the announcer said, “Hurry down and buy this blah, blah, blah toy before they are sold out!  You don’t want to be the worst parent on your block!”  Now I am not opposed to commerce and believe in the elusive free market system, but this just rubbed me WRONG!  I swore right then that I would not be caught up in the hype.  I did not give piles of presents for Christmas last year, or this.  Instead I turned my focus to my family and friends, making sure that I appreciated them all year long.

There are some who say that Jesus was not actually born on Christmas and so it is not a celebration of his birth, but I disagree.  The name says it all…CHRISTmas is a celebration of the birth and life of the Christ child.  He brought to this world many special gifts.  Even those who don’t practice Christianity can appreciate the teachings of the Man from Galilee.  It is a universal message of love and a way of living with respect for both yourself and those around you.

The best Christmas present I ever had or ever will have is just enjoying being together with my family and friends.  And the coming year I will remind myself how lucky I am to have wonderful people in my life.  Every day I count the blessings that I have experienced and try, in some small way, to share that good fortune with others.  May your Holiday be blessed with gifts that cannot be purchased for any price.  Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah or some other holiday, may peace and joy be yours today and all through the coming year.

Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, Richmond, Va

Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, Richmond, Va

Shooting stars...wishes anyone?

Shooting stars…wishes anyone?

What Is Your Interpretation of the 2nd Amendment to the US Constitution?

A well regulated militia, being necessary for the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.Bill Of Rights

This phrase seems simple.  Yet it may be one of the most controversial and misinterpreted statements ever made!  Some people think that the first part, the mention of the well regulated militia, has no real bearing on the clause itself.  Others think that the phrase does not apply to the individual, but is a “collective” right.  Let’s take a look at the entire sentence and at the reason it was added to our Bill of Rights.

First, it is important to look at the intent of the Bill of Rights.  It was argued that we should not add these amendments to our Constitution because they were considered to be rights that were endowed by our Creator to all living things.  It was feared that if these things were stated by a government on a document such as the Constitution the implication would be that these liberties had been granted by said government and therefore could also be rescinded.  The proponents of the Bill of Rights contended that the design was to limit the power of the government over the people.  The Bill of Rights was to state the very basic laws of God and nature that no man or government could ever deny the individual.

Why was this so important to our Founding Fathers?  Consider that most of the settlers to this new land made the long and dangerous journey because they had been persecuted in some way.  Many were not allowed to worship as they pleased or were in danger of being jailed for their ideas or values. Imagine living in a place where you can be put in jail or sentenced to death for simply speaking out against an unfair act by your government.  The brave souls who made that trip understood the concept of true freedom and felt it important enough to risk their lives and livelihoods to achieve.

Next let’s explore the Second Amendment and its place in the Bill of Rights.  The drafters of this document realized that if the populace was to be self governing then the only way to maintain that balance of power was for the citizens to be armed and able to defend the Republic.  A well regulated militia, being necessary for the security of a free state confirms that every able bodied man and woman has a responsibility to become proficient with arms to defend our nation against any tyrannical government.  Therefore, the true intent of the Second Amendment is that the government shall never have arms that the law abiding citizen does not also have access to!  You may argue that we have our national Armed Forces and don’t NEED the citizens to be armed in a modern world, but that is exactly the OPPOSITE of the mandate defined by the Second Amendment.  If we allow or military to have arms that can easily overpower the general public then we are creating a situation where the Constitution has no force and the Republic is in grave danger.

Here are facts that history has proven time and again.

  • Power corrupts. Even those who have good intentions often become intoxicated by it.
  • Many crimes are committed under the pretext of following the law or following orders.
  • Governments commit genocide repeatedly and it still goes on today. OUR government is no exception.  Simply look at the Native Americans!

These are just some of the reasons that the Bill of Rights was drafted, and the Second Amendment is key to the security of our free state.  Without the UNINFRINGED right of the people to keep and bear arms we have no freedom.  So the next time your legislature wants to pass a “common sense” law to restrict private gun ownership it is your duty as a citizen, as a part of the self-governing Republic called the United States of America, to prevent passage.  It is also your duty to work to get the current restrictions on private ownership repealed!

Hopefully this article will give many some insight into the true meaning of the Second Amendment.  Ideally it will give us all a way to communicate to our lawmakers that they must repeal the unconstitutional laws that have been erroneously passed.

Things To Do While The Kids Are Home

Getting ready to put a foil-wrapped banana on the coals.

Getting ready to put a foil-wrapped banana on the coals.

I am blessed to live in a rural area.  With young kids this can, sometimes, be a challenge though because many of the things kids want to do are a good distance away.  On the other hand, we are able to do things that city dwellers don’t have easy access to.  One of the favorite activities this time of year are bonfires.  Yes, this can be a little hard in the city, but with the advent of the Chiminea it is not impossible.

One of the old stand-by’s for bonfires is S’mores, which are roasted marshmallows and a piece of chocolate sandwiched between two pieces of graham cracker for those unfamiliar.  Variations include using Reese’s cups instead of chocolate bars or Oreo cookies instead of grahams.

Another, perhaps less well known fireside treat is roasted bananas or apples.  If using bananas, leave them in the skin but slice them lengthwise.  Don’t cut all the way through, leave the skin to act as a “banana boat” to hold the goodies.  If using apples, pears or other similar fruit, cut the core out but don’t go all the way through on these either.  Next take your favorite fillings and stuff them inside the cavity.  For bananas you can use chocolate, peanut butter, marshmallows, jellies, nuts, caramels, etc.  For the apples I like brown sugar, cinnamon, maple syrup, peanut butter, walnuts, raisins, dried cranberries…you get the idea.  Let your imagination run wild!  After you stuff these fruits to the point they are no longer resembling health food, wrap them in foil and stick them in the embers.  You may need to turn them a few times to cook them evenly.  While you wait, roast a few dogs or marshmallows.  When they are soft and steamy pull them out and open the foil enough to allow cooling.  This is the hard part.  DON’T burn your tongue!  They will be VERY hot!  Once they cool, dig in and enjoy!  You can, of course, bake these treats in your oven, but you will miss the ambiance of the fire.

At our last bonfire we asked each other where the term came from.  Can you guess?  We couldn’t so we Googled it…most sites refer to the origin as being “bone fire” where animal bones were burned to get rid of the waste.  Now you know.  Perhaps this bit of trivia will further enhance your youngster’s enjoyment of your next bonfire!  In any event, be safe, have fun and make sure not to leave any hot embers unattended.  Please share with us what sort of things your family likes to do together!

Life’s Not Fair, Get Over It

I used to hate it when my mother said that to me. But not only is it true, it is an important lesson to learn.

We, as Americans, seem to have this mistaken idea that fairness is some kind of right. It’s not. In fact, bad things happen to good people all the time. Sure, that bitch we call Karma will eventually even the score, but in the here and now there are tons of instances where her sister Life sticks her foot out to trip us up.

Most of the time when “unfair” things happen it is our own fault. Sometimes we spend more than we should and an unexpected expense pops up that we can’t afford. Other times it is not our fault at all but I find this to be more of the exception than the rule. But I digress and that is for a different post.

Back to the point, life is full of setbacks and inconveniences. There are bullies in every stage of our life and we must be able to work around and often with them. There are things that happen to us because of poor choices that we or someone else made and we must adapt and overcome.

The successful person, the free citizen, finds solutions to problems and overcomes adversity. If we shield our children from the “unfairness” that they inevitably encounter in their youth we are denying them the tools they will need to thrive and excel as adults. So thanks, Mom, for all those moments when I hated hearing, “Life’s not fair, get over it!”