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More on Loyalty

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Three Maine roofers stand for the playing of

the national anthem.  (Michelle Lyons Cossar)

 

On Saturday, October 14, 2017 three roofers were working on a house near a high school football stadium. When they heard the familiar strains of the Star Spangled Banner, they immediately stopped working, stood up, faced the flag down on the nearby field, and put their hands over their hearts while the anthem played. They had no idea anyone was watching or taking their picture, but they stood to honor their flag and their country. According to one of the men, they did it just because it was the “right thing to do.

A woman attending the game happened to see them, took their picture, posted it to Facebook.

Everyone involved, workers, camera operators, and Facebook observers, understands that walking in or choosing beauty involves loyalty to the ideals of the country they live in.

 

Post Script on Harvey’s “Beauty”

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Picture taken near Houston at height of flooding. The horse was rescued.

I am posting an article about rescue efforts that is on The American Thinker blog today. It is written by a volunteer who worked in the Dallas center for flood victims. Distance between those cities is 240 miles. (

What I Saw in the Floodwaters of Houston

By Hugh Reynolds

John Nolte’s superb article in Breitbart, “Houston Proves Everything the MSM Says about Our ‘Divided’ Country Is a Lie” (September 4, 2017) prompted me to tell my own story.  My family and I spent many hours in early September helping out at the “Mega-Shelter” for flood victims in downtown Dallas.  What I experienced there was like nothing I have ever seen.

The Responders and the Services

The response of Texans, and Americans from all across the country, to the catastrophic Houston flooding proves the power and resilience of the human spirit.  The magnitude of the logistics, the care, and yes, the love, is beyond extraordinary.  I know.  I have seen it.

Dozens of organizations virtually built a small city almost overnight in a space the size of 10-12 football fields.  Evacuees from the floodwaters in Southeast Texas came in by the hundreds, then by the thousands.  Hundreds of volunteers rushed in from nearly every state.

The Red Cross set up 5,000 cots and provided people who had lost almost everything with blankets, toiletries, showers, laundry service, child care, relocation and job counseling, and many other services.  Salvation Army volunteers fed everyone, including volunteers, three meals a day.  Volunteers from churches brought in water, juice, snacks, clothing, pillows, and other essentials.  Children were provided school clothes, toys, books, puppet shows, and supervised play areas.  Chaplains were giving out Bibles and providing spiritual comfort.

A small hospital was put together, including units for triage, primary and acute care, and stocked with all necessary medical equipment and supplies.  Scores of doctors, nurses, and other medical staff worked shifts lasting anywhere from eight to eighteen hours.  Medical services included mental health counseling, social work, and transport to other medical centers for dialysis and other critical needs.

Walmart established a fully stocked pharmacy for critical prescription needs like insulin and heart medication.  HEB set up a store providing food, clothing, and other personal items at no charge.  Evacuees were given free transportation to the Dallas Zoo, Six Flags Over Texas, outdoor movies, museums, and other cultural attractions.  I even saw a small boy getting a haircut in a makeshift barber shop.

Texas National and State Guard, local police, firefighters, and EMT personnel, and other first responders, were there to provide security and safety, while checking evacuees in and out of the building.  Janitorial staff worked around the clock to keep the shelter clean and free of trash.  Emergency management volunteers performed countless duties to ensure that the flood victims had whatever they needed.  FEMA was there for logistical, equipment, and financial support.  The VA was on hand to serve the needs of veterans.  The administrative record-keeping needed to keep track of victims, volunteers, services, and supplies was immense.

Personal Observations

I came in with other volunteers representing the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), a nationwide network of citizen volunteers organized at the local level and associated with fire or police departments.  My assignments consisted of escorting evacuees through the relief center with their few belongings; helping families navigate the huge facility; getting them settled into assigned sleeping spaces; acting as a runner for their various personal needs; and, unexpectedly, becoming a prayer partner.

I met volunteers from Massachusetts, Arizona, North Dakota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, South Carolina, Missouri, Georgia, Oklahoma, Illinois, Kansas, and many other states and Texas cities.  I worked with hundreds of people who had interrupted their lives and come from distant places to help others in need.

I encountered one young lady who had suddenly decided to put her personal business on hold, get on a plane, and fly from Milwaukee to Dallas just to see if she could help.  She had stepped out in faith into the unknown, and we caught her gently in God’s safety net as she fell into a strange and unimaginable world of human need, hardship, and suffering.  We gave her a quick tour, taught her to improvise, provided her with whirlwind training, and immersed her into shelter life.  She found a calling and confidence to pursue a life of service.  She also found herself giving and receiving unanticipated blessings.

As I walked the floor (which I estimated to be the size of 10 to 12 football fields), I found that many people just needed someone to listen to their stories and maybe hold their hands.  I saw families and single mothers with two, four, or even six children, including newborns.  I spoke to people who had been separated from families or had no one else in the world.  I prayed with elderly and handicapped people and became friends with an elderly man with no legs in a wheelchair who always had a smile for me.  I procured small stuffed animals and toys for dozens of small children and babies.  I was rewarded with tiny smiles and blessed to hold little hands.

I have been amazed by the courage and hope and faith in God displayed by these victims who did not behave like “victims.”  They kept up their spirits and told their stories and, in very profound ways, ministered to me and other volunteers.  Yes, there was some tension and tribulation, and there were some tears, but I saw miracles of strength and hope, and I love every hour I was there.

Finally, I met a woman who spent 14 hours in chest-deep water in her home – holding her family bible over her head the whole time – before she was rescued.  She thought her son had drowned but had learned that he had also been rescued.  He was later brought to the Dallas shelter, and they were reunited.  We shared stories with each other and read scriptures from the Bible she had rescued.  We laughed, we cried, and we hugged.  I was blessed to meet this sister in Christ.

Funny: I didn’t see anyone there from Black Lives Matter, the Congressional Black Caucus, the Democratic Party, Hollywood libs, or any other social justice warriors out there helping the thousands of black families who had lost everything in the flood.  No one but us heartless Christians, conservatives, and other deplorables.

The liberal newspapers and TV networks can continue to try to divide us, call us racists, sexists, homophobes, Islamophobes, white supremacists, fascists, and worse.  Let the leftist professors and their student “snowflakes” in the universities whine and cry about “micro-aggressions” and “trigger warnings.”  Let them take offense at every imagined “politically incorrect” comment and run for their “safe spaces” and riot in the streets.

Meanwhile, real Americans – men and women of every race, ethnicity, nationality, and faith – came together and proved them wrong every day through our relief efforts.  Almost overnight in Dallas, and in many other relief shelters in Texas and other states, compassionate Americans built truly safe spaces for thousands of our brothers and sisters and their children in desperate need.

And these disaster victims blessed us every day with their broken but beautiful lives.

Hugh Reynolds recently retired from 32 years in federal service.  He spent his entire government career in the “fraud, waste, and abuse” business, including 18 years auditing that beleaguered enterprise known as the U.S. Postal Service, which survives without a dime of the taxpayer’s money.  He is a lifelong student of public policy and considers himself an American Thinker.

Read more: http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2017/10/what_i_saw_in_the_floodwaters_of_houston.html#ixzz4vfmLdGu8
Follow us: @AmericanThinker on Twitter | AmericanThinker on Facebook

More on Sophia Loren’s Beauty

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Sophia Loren in 2016.

On September 20, 2017, she was 83.

 

She would have never been silent, even to a powerful Hollywood mogul. For example:

“Being Marlon Brando didn’t help, either, according to a movie-star anecdote I have picked up somewhere. He is said to have groped Sophia Loren, during a film shoot many years ago. She set him straight crisply. By the time she was finished with him, the megastar was reduced to a whipped little boy. He behaved much better to everyone on set, after this humiliation.

Now, this Dama di Gran Croce is a real woman, in my estimation, not a Hollywood tart. After learning of this offstage performance with Brando, I could only cry, “Brava!” Put the little creature in his place!”

And I add that she was beautiful to stand up for herself, for other women, for good manners, and for the moral good in society. To  young people everywhere, I beg you to make such situations beautiful by refusing all vulgar, coercive suggestions.

from “On Women and Power” by David Warren, The Catholic Thing, October 13, 2017

 

Too Much Stuff Creates Too Little Time

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There is a beauty and clarity

that comes from simplicity

that we sometimes do not appreciate

in our thirst for intricate solutions.

Dieter F. Uchtdorf

There is a lovely, generous, and gracious member of my family who, like many of us, suffers from too much stuff and too little time.  She slipped into acquiring too many things gradually over the years: buying gadgets that would save time, new clothes for special occasions, decorative objects to make her home more beautiful, food that would be available during storms, important books to read later, and even gifts for other people, until it became a serious addiction.  The process itself earned her a lot of public praise — even from the people who denigrated her habit behind her back.

Trying to help her has convinced me that these two conditions nearly always go together.  And, surprise, surprise, I began to see that I also suffer from the same condition. My house is not cluttered and I do manage to keep it clean myself, but my closets, garage, drawers, and files all need to be purged and re-organized immediately. Knowing that I have a certain paper or item that I need, but not being able to find it quickly is pretty disheartening. But even worse is buying something I think I need, then coming home to discover that I already own one — or two — is even worse.

So, I have decreed this fall to be my occasion for change. I expect to also discover more time for the things I love to do, and to enjoy the (fewer) things I love the most.

Unfortunately I fear that I’m not the only one in the beginning stages of this problem. One of the fastest growing businesses in the U.S. is temporary storage facilities. While some are rented by people who need a repository for a move or a temporary work assignment in another country, many are rented just to get stuff out of the house.

In a somewhat parallel fashion our culture has engendered a new mental illness called hoarding. From an occasional news story about someone’s house with pathways made between the stacks of debris throughout to a weekly real life television drama, stuff has grown faster than our capacity to handle it. Instead of humans being controlled by robots, many are now controlled by their stacks of stuff.

Another growing new business is the manufacturing and installation of closet organizers. You see, just a walk-in closet is no longer enough. Now each new iteration of home designs includes more and bigger closets with custom built shelves, drawers, and hanging rods installed to make the very best use of each cubic inch of closet space.

If you have ever toured an antebellum or early 20th century home, you have probably shuddered at the tiny closets even in the grand homes of wealthy people. You wonder, “How did they manage it?” Perhaps the more appropriate question for us would be, “How can I find the golden mean between deprivation and excess?”  We need to avoid the abundance that stifles but find the abundance that enriches.

Americans could easily lay a fair portion of the blame on mass media advertising. Although we tell ourselves we don’t listen or watch commercials, still we are influenced just because the messages are repeated so much that we become brain washed since our subconscious hears and believes.

And women, who make most household purchasing decisions, are even more apt to buy if the item is “on sale.” For example, some humorists say that a man will pay $2 for a $1 item that he needs or wants, just to get the purchase over with as quickly as possible. A woman, on the other hand is more likely to buy 2 items she doesn’t really need just because they are a “bargain.”

As someone who once taught writing for radio and television commercials, let me assure you that you don’t have to succumb to nefarious blandishments. You are in control, if you want to be. You are “enough” just as you are. Really.

Advertisers figured out a long time ago that fear of losing is a more powerful incentive to buy than the desire to gain a benefit. So commercial messages are crammed with suggestions and innuendos that make you fear you’ll lose out, become unacceptable as a member of the group, be revealed as inadequate, or just unworthy if you don’t buy X now.

Still you are the decider. You decide if new tennis shoes, a new bedspread, a new eye shadow color, or a new cell phone will really enrich your life for longer than a week.

If you decide that the item that caught your attention is really important to your emotional or physical well being, for heaven’s sake, go ahead and buy it. But give away, sell, or throw away a similar item from your closet or dresser when you get home.  Keep your inventory down to save yourself the headache of having so much stuff you can’t find what you need when you really need it.

No one wants to be the “star” of the next episode of Hoarders.

Two Beautiful NFL Events

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“Because I have been able to build a reputation as a talented player, I have been able to build futures.   Because I am able to play, I am able to make a difference. Because I have been blessed with a talent, I also have been given a responsibility.”

Warrick Dunn

When less than admirable football stars stay in the news week after week, perhaps we need to spend some extra time  recognizing stellar NFL players like Warrick Dunn and Deshaun Watson. No doubt there are many others, but these two deserve to share the spotlight today. And we who watch from the sidelines need to understand that the media revels in bad news and mostly ignores the good stories.

Warrick Dunn used his talents on the football field for Catholic High School in Baton Rouge, Louisiana to earn a scholarship to Florida State University. At FSU, he not only played well, he took care of his five younger siblings after their mother, a single parent, was killed in the line of duty as a police officer and a part-time security guard. She had been working extra hours to buy a house for her family.

Graduation brought the opportunity to play professional football with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and later,  the Atlanta Falcons. He used his opportunity with above average income during those years to help others and to establish a charitable foundation. A more complete story of his life is available as an autobiography, Running for My Life.

One of those whom he helped, was Deshaun Watson, a star football player at Gainesville High School in Georgia. Dunn found out that Deshaun’s mother was helping build houses with Habitat for Humanity, hoping to earn one for herself and her four children in 2006. Warrick Dunn stepped in to buy a four bedroom house, fully furnished for the Watsons.  It was so fully furnished that even the refrigerator was well stocked with food on the day they moved in.

Deshaun finished his education at Gainesville High and then at Clemson University, where he led his team to a national championship.  This week he walked out on to the field to play his first game with the Houston Texans.

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Deshaun and two of the women he helped.

Instead of depositing his first game check for $27,000, Deshaun divided it into thirds and gave $9,000 each to three of the team’s cafeteria workers who lost everything  when Hurricane Harvey flooded their homes.

After all, he had received a lot more than a mere house from his benefactor, Warrick Dunn. He received both inspiration and a good example.

A Grateful Heart Creates Beauty

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This is a picture of my mother in an earlier, happier time when she visited in Garden Hills. This was on the back deck and she was busily setting the table as if the King of Siam was coming for dinner. Instead, it was just us kids, eating supper together.

If you have followed this blog awhile, you will remember that her memory is practically non-existent now. It’s so bad that I have to re-introduce myself when I call her. And an hour later, she may or may not remember that I called at all, much less anything we discussed.

But I still call several times a week because she is so happy to talk, whether she remembers much about the call or not. She doesn’t forget that warm, happy feeling of being loved and does all that she can to return it.  Despite some cognitive losses, she’s never forgotten to show gratitude.

This weekend, when I talked to the person caring for her, she interrupted our conversation to explain to him how happy the supper she had just eaten made her feel. She extolled its delicate flavors and nutrition as if some famous chef had just dropped in to prepare it. Mind you, she’s served three meals a day, many of which are boring and repetitive. Still, she thanks them out loud for any effort on her behalf.  Every. Single. Time.

 And she’s never lost that rare ability to bring out the best in other people just by having a generous attitude toward them. I have watched many social misfits that everyone else found boring, blossom and actually becoming rather witty after an hour or two of her rapt attention. Strangely enough, often they even became easier on the eye as they relaxed in the warmth of her approval.

As I eavesdropped over the phone, I began remembering how often I had seen her eyes light up and her face soften as she tried to convince someone else of his great value to the rest of the world.

Apparently, gratitude brings beauty to both the giver and the receiver. Maybe we don’t get halo’s, but everyone appears more attractive and happier when they have a grateful heart. Perhaps we should try it more often.