My Favorite Things

One of my very favorite things each year is to pick out my calendars for the coming New Year.

Now some of you may think…get real…it’s just a calendar for Pete’s sake…who cares. Ahhh…but you would be wrong. You see having just the right calendar…or two…or more can really help brighten your day.

Just imagine…you’re at work and the morning is already filled many demands…and you pick up the phone…and here’s someone else wanting to add to your already very full plate. That little stress meter is going up…but then you take a look at that calendar that you brought in for the new year. You know the one…that wonderful “For the Love of Dogs” calendar by Lang.

What do you see…you see a puppy dog who looks so real that you feel you could stretch your hand out and pet him. He’s looking at you with those loving eyes…and just wants a pat on the head or to given a treat. All of a sudden you feel your blood pressure go down. You remember there’s more to life that all the demands of the office…and now you can refocus.

I just love calendars…and each year look forward to seeing the new selections. I get four. Actually more if you include the desk calendars. One for work…and three for home.

Lang…makes the best calendars. No matter what you favorite subject is…they will likely have calendar to meet your needs. A few years ago I discovered their “For the Love of Dogs” calendar…and have been sold ever since. Being that I have cats…it may seem odd that I have a dog calendar. But truly I am an animal lover…and the only thing keeping me from having dogs is not having the space.

Usually my calendar purchases involve animals…dogs, cats, birds or wildlife. I like the nature scenes, garden scenes…or old fashion times and place. My calendars are a bright spot in my everyday life.

Lang…does make the best calendars. Their artists are among the most renowned and talented. The quality of the paper they use…will allow you to frame some of your favorites once the year is over.

So if you haven’t already made those all important selections for your New Year…click on the link for Lang and order your calendars today.

A Christmas Challenge

My absence should not be interpreted as me being a Scrooge…not at all…but instead one sick dog. On Friday…an ongoing cough caught up with me and had me in bed for the last two and half days. My best laid plans for Christmas were set aside…and instead exchanged for switching between the bed and the sofa. My biggest accomplishments were feeding Nathan and Moss…and taking down the trash. Doesn’t sound like much…but trust me…even that took some effort.

The words I uttered most in the last two and half days were, “please God help me”…so today I am most grateful to be feeling better.

Unfortunately, I did let so much of the Christmas busyness keep me from focusing on Jesus. I surely hope that next year…I don’t loose sight.

One of the challenges I had wanted to try this year was from David Fisher at Pilgrim’s Scribblings. David is always one to inspire, encourage and challenge you. One of his postings prior to Christmas was to read Luke 2 each day before Christmas and come up with 12 rules of Christmas.

I did actually start it…but each time I waded in to reading Luke 2 I found so much to take away. But before this blessed Christmas season has passed entirely…I thought I’d try to write down some of the lessons I see in Luke 2:1-40.

What from a human perspective, what seems like an inconvenience at an exceptionally bad time…is actually something God has ordained and is part of His plan.

It couldn’t have been an easy thing for Joseph and Mary to travel to Bethlehem just as she was about to deliver her firstborn child. But indeed it was part of God’s plan…because the promised Messiah was prophesied to be born in Bethlehem. So God had to get them there…from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Our God…who uses earthly rulers to accomplish his plans…caused Caesar Augustus to issue a decree.

Our first choice and God’s first choice may not always be the same.

What expectant mother would choose to give birth in a stable? But here again…we can see God’s wisdom. In the stable…Mary and Joseph would be afforded the privacy they would have lacked in the inn. No one would be intruding on them during this most vulnerable time. The stable was likely a cleaner place than the inn. And the warmth of the animals…helped protect both the new born babe and mother. Would the shepherds have been allowed in the inn as easily as they were at the stable…following the angel’s declaration of the good news of the Savior’s birth?

God values those who are seemingly insignificant in society…even lowly shepherds. He entrusts his message of the birth of the Christ child to these men. The shepherds listened to the message, believed…and chose to go witness for themselves the sight of the babe wrapped in clothes, lying in a manger. They didn’t doubt or question that it was God who had given them this message. There were excited and hurried off to find the babe…and they told others. They didn’t keep the message to themselves…they shared God’s good news. They glorified and praised God for all that they had seen.

Do I value those who are low and seemingly insignificant? What do I do with God’s Word that He has entrusted to me? He has entrusted me with the Bible…his very own Word. Am I eager to share it with others? Am I obedient to follow God’s leading? Do I praise and glorify God…not only with my words…but also my deeds?

Do I have the faith of Simeon?

Simeon was said to be righteous and devout. He had been promised that he would not die before he had seen the Christ child. Yet Simeon was very old…but he still believed. He was there at the temple and waited for the Christ child to be brought for his time of purification. He didn’t leave the temple…he didn’t get discouraged when it didn’t happen earlier at time that he would have preferred. He waited…on God’s timing…and trusted God’s promise.

He was looking for Jesus…and when he saw him…he recognized him. He took Jesus into his arms…and praised God. He acknowledged that God was faithful to his promise. That indeed he had seen God’s promised salvation. He recognized that Jesus was not only Messiah for the Jews…but also the hope and salvation of the Gentiles too.

Would I be like Anna…who worshiped in the temple night and day? Would I recognize the Christ child when I saw him? Would I recognized him for what he was…the promised Messiah sent to redeem his people? Do I give thanks to God for my redemption…of which I am unworthy and could never earn?

What a wonderful and rich story. What wonderful pictures of people to emulate. The overriding presence in this story…is God. God the Father…who’s plan was being carried forth. God the Son…who set aside his glory…to take on human form so he might pay the price for our sins. God the Holy Spirit…bearing witness to Simeon that he would not die before he witness the promised the Messiah. God who is holy, perfect, righteous and just…also loved sinful man so much that he sent his only begotten Son to pay the price for our sin that we might be redeemed. A message not only for Christmas…but for each day throughout the year.

May you know the peace of God and the joy of Jesus’ birth. And remember…be sure to share that good news with others.

Tattered Christmas Treasures

One of my favorite things about Christmas is decorating my home. Each year…I love putting up ornaments on the tree. I’m able to look back at ornaments I’ve collected over the years…and see some dating back more than 40 years.

Two of my favorites…may not look so hot upon closer examination. But by golly…they mean so much to me. Both ornaments were ones from my childhood. If memory serves me right…they originally came the Alamosa National Bank in Alamosa Colorado…from when my dad was employed as President of the bank.

The bank was always decorated beautifully…and these two ornaments are tattered treasures…but are a tangible part of my memory from those days. Memories from a sweet and tender time.

Get Out of the Way

It was rather informative and entertaining to see the various comments that came in regarding my earlier post “Justice Served by Tookie Williams Execution”.

I knew passions were running high on both sides…but quite honestly…some of the uglier comments by some very troubled individuals made me pause. I was not surprised…since I’m a former lefty…and have seen the tactics of some the more virulent persons on the left over the years.

I was torn…should I let the really ugly comments stand and speak for themselves…or just delete them?

I wavered back and forth. One adage I find holds true…is that when someone wants to make a fool of themselves…get out of the way…and let them do it.

However…I have zero respect for people…both right and left that invoke vulgarity and hateful language in their lame attempts to bully, intimidate and shout down people with whom they disagree.

I have no problem…with people raising an argument contrary to what I believe…as long as it’s done in a respectful and civil tone. But people who fall into vulgar name calling…should not be tolerated. So…I deleted the really ugly comments. I don’t care to have any people who happen upon this blog to be offended by obscene language.

That kind of language and name calling is something that should have been left on the playground by immature people who either don’t have the ability to make a reasonable argument presenting their point of view…or are too lazy to do so.

Some of the same people who made these wretched comments…are the same ones that maintain that Tookie Williams influenced others for good. That contribution surely wasn’t apparent in your comments. I think Tookie deserves a refund if you are his representatives.

To those who made civil and respectful comments…even those that expressed a different point of view than what I shared about the William’s execution…I thank you for taking the time to voice your opinion.

We may agree or disagree…but I appreciate your consideration.

Alzheimer’s…Christmas Past & Present

A couple of reflections on Christmas past and Christmas present…with Alzheimer’s.

It’s been a while since I’ve written about my mom, Gayle. She’s currently a resident at an Assisted Living Facility in the Alzheimer’s unit. Actually, she’s been at the facility for a little over three years now. About a year and a half in the Alzheimer’s unit.

When getting out all my Christmas decorations this year…I ran across a Christmas pin that she gave me three years ago (pictured to the left). That was shortly after she was officially diagnosed with Alzheimer’s…but well into the progression of this wretched disease.

I found it very poignant when I reflected it was really the last Christmas present I will ever receive from her. She didn’t go out shopping for it…or pick it out special just for me. But instead while her mind and ability to function normally was quickly slipping away…she was still aware enough that at Christmas time you exchange gifts. She was uncomfortable being the recipient of Christmas gifts without having something to give in return.

So she searched through her dresser drawer and found this pin and gave it to me as Christmas present.

I go to see my mom every Sunday. Usually we make it a movie day. When I arrive to see her…she’s usually finishing her lunch. I chat with her, other patients and the nurses that work there. When she’s finished eating, we head back to her room. While she’s “taking care of business”, I pop a bag of popcorn…and we put on a movie. Last weekend…we watched March of the Penguins.

Some Sundays…she doesn’t talk too much. This particular weekend she was alert and really watched the movie. But her ability to communicate and express a particular thought about what she’s watching or feeling doesn’t usually happen.

But every once and while…she’s say something that really touches me. After watching our movie…we were talking about Christmas…and she asked me if my mom ever comes over to my home to see me. It was just so sad. I told her no…and asked if her mom comes to see her. She said no.

Some days she thinks I’m her sister, or an old school chum…on occasion she can tell you quite clearly I’m her daughter Susan.

It’s funny…it doesn’t bother me when she doesn’t know who I am. Maybe because I was familiar enough with the disease I expected that to happen.

I think the thing that bothers me the most is…I’m not going to go there tonight. Perhaps another time.

Only One Healer…For Nothing Good

As of Sunday December 11th, Governor Schwarzenegger has still not announced his decision on commuting Tookie Williams’ death sentence. With a little over a day remaining I’ve been reflecting on how overwhelmingly horrific this thing is…all the way around.

I have already written a piece about the death penalty…and why in the case of murder I believe it to be a right and just thing. Yet…just the absolute horror of it, is almost too much to contemplate.

Think about it.

Right now Governor Schwarzenegger must be quite torn…no matter which decision he will ultimately make. If he decides to commute Tookie’s sentence to life in prison without the possibility of parole, how does he look the relatives of the four victims in the eye. Their family members were brutally and unjustly murdered. How can you justify that it is right to have the person who took their lives continue to live?

Yet…if he decides to not commute the sentence and Tookie Williams is executed…there’s no turning back. It’s a done deal. Once the man is dead…there is no bringing him back. Unless you have a crime committed on videotape or you witnessed yourself…you would always have a twinge of doubt…what if he didn’t do it?

Then there is the unimaginable burden…that even when proceeding with the execution of a confessed and proven murdered…a human life will be taken. A human life, created in God’s own image. A life so precious, that God sent his only begotten Son to die, so that whosoever would believe might be saved.

Then to think of Tookie Williams’ mom…what might a mother be feeling as her son face the death penalty for crimes committed. Tookie was once a babe in his mother’s arms. Most precious and innocent…and full of hope and promise. To think how awful his life turned out…it’s too painful to imagine.

Of course let us not forget that the victim’s families have been facing that for the past 26 years…to think of what an awful death they faced. The pain and the terror of their last moments. Their future…their life cut short and ended at the hands of a murderer.

Dennis Prager once had a show in which he posed the question…as a parent would rather you child be a murderer or be murdered. Actually…he didn’t keep the topic for a full hour because both Dennis and callers alike found it entirely too painful to contemplate….indeed it is.

While an entirely different context, a Golda Meir quote comes to mind, “I can forgive you for killing my sons, but I cannot forgive you for forcing me to kill your sons.” Golda was addressing the Palestinians.

While the forgiveness is not mine to offer in the instance of Tookie Williams, because my family members were not murdered, I think Golda Meir’s quote is apt.

God forbids individuals to extract revenge and to kill someone for wrong doing done towards us as individuals. However he does permit and give that ability to government. In fact God tells us in Genesis 9:6 “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God, has God made man.” What’s interesting to note in that passage, it says by “man’s hands” will the murder’s blood be shed. Not God’s hand…but by man. Not as an individual taking revenge. For revenge belongs to the Lord alone. (Romans 12:19). But the government/society is charged with that responsibility, after a just trial has take place and the crime proven.

Tookie…you are forcing our society to take your life for the crimes you committed.

No matter what happens…if Tookie sentence is commuted or the death penalty is carried forth…there is nothing good that comes from this. There is only hurt, pain, devastation…and there is only one Healer to whom all can go. Our God must be weeping with us.

It is my prayer that the victim’s families will go to Jesus to be able to forgive the unforgivable. That Tookie Williams will repent, seek forgiveness and salvation through our Savior Jesus Christ…who bore all our sins on the cross…including your sins Tookie. Also that Governor Schwarzenegger would seek guidance and wisdom, peace and strength for the decision that rests in his hands.

You Can Never Escape Justice

Below is my transcript from an anonymous caller to the Dennis Prager show on Wednesday, 11/30/05. Dennis was discussing the impending Tookie Williams execution. This caller was very compelling. Dennis’s comments were few…because the caller was so eloquent.

DP: Anonymous in Los Angeles, “Hello”.

AC: “Hi Dennis, I want to present to you a story that can be verified through articles in the Los Angeles Times. And it’s similar to your analogy of how the Jordanians didn’t recognize the evil that they had fostered until it struck back at them.”

DP: “Unhh”

AC: “Well, Tookie Williams while in 1988, on death row, a Crip member from an LA gang member, and I won’t say who, since I was a member of this gang, was convicted of killing Kermit Alexander’s family, the ex-football player in 1984. And he killed four members of this family, and shot them in the head. Two kids, his sister and the grandmother. And when he arrived on death row, Tookie ordered him to stab and kill his co-defendant for telling on him during the trail. So all the while in jail after convicted for these murders, Tookie Williams’ murders, he was coordinating hit squads on death row. And when he told the guy to do it, the guy in turn stabbed him. In retaliation for trying to impose his will on him.

And this is when Tookie went to solitary confinement for six years. And this is what he accredits with his now realization that he shouldn’t have created the Crips. And I don’t believe unless that incident would have happened, you know because unless that incident would have happened, he would have ever changed his heart. Because he had planned to escape from jail. And they have a detailed plan in his handwriting, it’s been verified.”

DP: “You were a member of the Crips?

AC: “Excuse me?”

DP: “You were a member of the Crips?

AC: “Yes sir.”

DP: “Why did you change?”

AC: “Well Dennis, I was shot twice. And uh, you know I was also arrested for murder and was released. Found not to be guilty of that. But you know I just realized that, it was an epiphany, it something that came to me. I said it was divine. It wasn’t spectacular lights. But I felt that God was telling me that he had something in store for me. And I’ve been 15 years removed from that, I’m married and have I have a family. I work everyday, I pay taxes. And you know, I’m just amazed at how naive these people are, the Mike Farrell’s and these people who want to commute this guy’s sentence. And they don’t take into account that there’s, your previous caller was wrong, since, in 20 years there has been 11,000 deaths accredited to gang violence in Los Angeles. I think people need to understand the impact of what this guy has created. And that to put him to death will illustrate that, you know, you can never escape justice.”

DP: “Thank you very much for the call. I appreciate it, I have nothing to add. I think it spoke for itself.”

Justice Served by Tookie Williams Execution

While awaiting the execution of Stanley Tookie Williams and anxoius to see if Governor Schwarzenegger will commute his death sentence…I’ve been reflecting on why I believe that Stanley Tookie Williams must be executed for the four murders he committed and was convicted of.

First there are the crimes he committed. Jack Dunphy, an Officer for the Los Angeles Police Department, wrote an excellent article, “Is Tookie’s Time Up?” at National Review Online. Below are excerpts of his article detailing the murders:

February 28, 1979 – Victim Albert Owen

On February 28, 1979, Stanley “Tookie” Williams and three other men drove in two cars to a 7-Eleven store in the city of Whittier, California, a suburb southeast of downtown Los Angeles. The lone clerk on duty at the time was 26-year-old Albert Owens, who was sweeping the store’s parking lot when the men arrived. Owens apparently believed the men to be legitimate customers, for he put down his broom and dust pan and followed them into the store. Williams, armed with a sawed-off shotgun, forced Owens into a back storeroom. After ordering Owens to lie on the floor, Williams fired a shotgun blast into the store’s security monitor. Then, though Owens had offered no resistance at all, Williams fired two blasts into the prostrate man’s back, killing him. When an accomplice asked Williams why he had shot Owens, Williams explained that he didn’t want to leave any witnesses. The accomplice would also later testify that Williams told him he killed Owens “because he was white and he was killing all white people.” Williams and his three accomplices netted about $120 in cash for their efforts that night.

March 11, 1979 – Victims – 76-year-old Yen-I Yang and his 63-year-old wife, Tsai-Shai Yang and daughter, 43-year-old Yee-Chen Lin

Less than two weeks later, at about five in the morning on March 11, Williams went to the Brookhaven Motel at 10411 South Vermont Avenue, less than a ten-minute drive due east from Los Angeles International Airport. After breaking into the motel’s office, Williams shot and killed 76-year-old Yen-I Yang and his 63-year-old wife, Tsai-Shai Yang. Next he killed their daughter, 43-year-old Yee-Chen Lin. As in the Owens killing, the murder weapon was a 12-gauge shotgun. The take in this crime was about $100.

These four brutal murders merit the death penalty for person who committed them. And yes, I am prejudice…I am a Christian and believe in the Bible, both Old Testament and New Testament. I believe that the God of the Old Testament is the same God of the New Testament. I believe that God is immutable, He does not change. God in the Old Testament commanded that persons, who commit murder, must be put to death. He does so in the first five books of the Bible: Genesis 9:6, Exodus 20 and 21, Leviticus24:21, Numbers 35 and Deuteronomy 5:17.

Why does God command that a murderer must be put to death?
Genesis 1:27, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”

Human beings are unique, precious and created in God’s image. Thus…when the life of an innocent human being is taken by the act murder…the murderer must pay with their own life. Tookie Williams deserves the death penalty for the crimes he committed.

The pro Tookie forces put forth several arguments. He is innocent; he didn’t committee the four murders. He was convicted by an all white jury or was a victim of police corruption. He’s done so much good to keep children out of gangs that he should be allowed to live so he can continue that good work. He’s been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Tookie Williams is guilty and was convicted by overwhelming evidence of these murders that he committed. Evidence that included testimony from eyewitnesses. It was the evidence that convicted Tookie…not a flawed or corrupt investigation. Appeal after appeal has been denied to overturn Tookie’s conviction or commute his sentence. This by the most liberal courts in the nation…the same folks who hate the death penalty.

The jury was not all white. The jury was made up of Caucasian, Hispanic and Asian jurors. Some reports indicate that one of the jurors was a black man. So this argument is a lie. What they really mean is there were no African American jurors and an “all white jury” is incapable of discerning the truth based on the evidence to rightly determine guilt or innocence when a African American is on trial. That my friend is racist.

Tookie Williams own son, Stanley Williams Jr., is currently in jail serving a 30 year sentence for a second degree murder conviction. He didn’t even influence his own son for good.

Besides that…being good and changing your life around does not negate your guilt for the crimes you committed. It does not mean you should not suffer the death penalty for murders you committed just because you straightened up.

Let’s not forget that Tookie has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. Oh, but wait…so was Yasser Arafat…also a murder and a terrorist. One that has also been given a pass on his crimes committed…because he killed Jews and not Palestinians. Maybe this award is given to persons not so noble after all.

Tookie Williams has never admitted his guilt for these murders. Wouldn’t an admission of guilt, acknowledgement of his wrong doing, be the first evidence of a repentant heart?

Lest you think I’m racist and want Tookie dead because he’s African American…let me assure you I’m equal opportunity on the death penalty. I’m relieved and grateful that Scott Peterson and David Westerfield have been given the death penalty for the murders they committed. I hope the day of their execution comes quickly. I was appalled that Susan Smith and Andrea Yates were not given the death penalty for their crimes.

If you think I want Tookie dead because he’s not a Christian…please know that I thought that it was the right thing to do to execute Karla Faye Tucker. After she committed murder she became a Christian and repented of her crime. Thank you Lord…I praise God for this soul who repented and is now my sister in Christ. I look forward to meeting her in heaven. I rejoice that forgiveness from God is available to all.

So Stanley…please know my first prayer is that you would repent of your sins and receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. I would welcome you as my brother in Christ. But I would still support your execution for murder.

Forgiveness yes…but escaping the just penalty for your crime…no!

So here we are…26 years after the lives of Albert Owens, Yen-I Yang, Tsai-Shai Yang and Yee-Chen Lin were brutally taken and Stanley Tookie Williams is still alive. He’s celebrated as a hero who helps keep children out of gangs. He’s a celebrity and has prominent people seeking to spare his life. But where are those whom he murdered? They are in the grave and their blood cries out for justice.

One quote I found ironic and hypocritical was Tookie Williams stated that he does not want observers at his execution, that it’s sick to watch someone die. Stanley…you sure didn’t find it sick when your murdered four innocent people in cold blood.

Stanley a real man acknowledges his sins. A real man wanting to influence children for good would say, “Kids don’t get involved in gangs. When you do, nothing good can come from it. Other people will be harmed and your own life will cut short. So when I’m executed for murdering four innocent people, please know this is a right and just action. Please don’t do as I have done. Stay out of gangs.”

December 13th, will be a good day for justice if Stanley Tookie Williams is executed for murdering four innocent people. Paying with his own life for the lives he took. The only injustice is that it didn’t happen sooner.

Olli, Olli, Oxen Free

No…I’m not being a lazy bones. Not off on some holiday…enjoying sunshine on a lush beach. And no…I don’t have writer’s block.

In fact…I am sick as a dog these days. Not exactly the flu, or a cold…I’m affectionately referring to it as “the crud”. Actually a very appropriate name…being that I feel like crud, sound like crud…and I’ve certainly had days when I looked a heap better than I do today..

If you to run across me…you might think I was in contention for the local Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer contest. Quite honestly…I think I could win…hands down…or should I say hoofs down?

I do have a couple of pieces I want to write…as soon as my fussy head clears up, For those who are not residents of Southern California…you can have some peace you are not on the roadway…with some fussy headed, coughing, sneezing, cruddy person.

Sleep is rather evasive these days. And in my time of need, my kitty boys Nathan and Moss…are no where to be found. Normally they sleep on the pillow or next to me…right now they are steering clear. Coughing and sneezing are not their cup of tea. And when I get up in the middle of a sleepless night…and pass by Nathan or Moss…I get “the look”. “Mom, could you keep it down…we’re trying to get some rest here…and you are disturbing us.”

The truth be told…Nathan is not to be found in December. His favorite sleeping spot is under the Christmas tree. So my apologies ahead of time to any of you who get Christmas presents that have ribbons with teeth marks and cat spit on them.

With that being said…and before the Nyquil Liquid Caps kick in and I write goodness knows what…I’m off to bed…with dreams of cough drops dancing in my head.

All of you be well, drink lots of water, get good rest…and drink you orange juice. Don’t come down with the crud!

Christmas Past

This is one of my favorite family photos…from what seems like a life time ago. In many respects it was.

This photo was taken back in 1959…in Fort Collins, Colorado…the year I was born. This was my family’s house that was being moved to a new property in the country. Long before digital cameras…this photo was the handiwork of combining two different photos.

Our house was being moved…on this very large truck. A picture of our family sitting on a fence was superimposed on the picture of the house.

I’m the baby in my father, Frank’s arms. My mother Gayle is to the left…and my brother’s Patrick and Michael are sitting next to my dad. Everyone seems to be having a jolly time. A time of happiness and innocence. I feel rather bittersweet when I see this picture.

As the picture says…I wish you a Merry Christmas!