Wednesday, September 27, 2017

What Does it Mean?

There are 3 things that unite a diverse people:
·         A common language
·         A national flag
·         A national song (anthem)

There are very sound historical reasons explaining the power of a national flag. Here’s a very brief synopsis from a study I did many years ago. I was making praise banners and flags for my church and wanted to understand the significance of them.

Standards of the Ancient Middle East – the Phoenicians and Greeks used them to indicate the presence of the commander on board ship & for signaling purposes. Arabian caravans used them to identify companies and for illumination at night.

The Standards of Israel – were commanded by God (Num 2:2) to identify the divisions, tribes and companies during the Exodus.

Flags of India & China – identified with the ruler; represented all attributes of kingship. To dishonor the flag was the same as a physical assault on the ruler.

Standards & Banners of Rome – a mass display of standards conveyed conquest & power.

The Middle Ages – Identified the many countries represented in the Crusades. The designs provided a history of the bearer or expressed something about them.

European Banners & Flags – Colors & designs stem from history, culture, or religion. Carried onto the battlefield by monks to inspire confidence in the troops.

Military Flags – have a practical and emotional value. Used to (1) distinguish the forces of warring armies and (2) mark in battle the position of the commander. This would provide a rallying point for the troops in the midst of confused fighting. The flag was the first object of attack in battle. If the flag bearer fell, another soldier immediately grabbed the pole and took his place.

Military flags serve as a memorial, carry the traditions and war history of the regiment and honor the fallen. They are categorized according to shape & purpose:
·         Standards – mark the position of an important person.
·         Banners are borne in action.
·         Guidon – borne by leaders
·         Pennon – carried by a knight to strike terror into the enemy and to denote rank.
·         Pennant is hoisted when the captain of a warship assumes his command.
Various positions of the flag on a ship have definite meaning – victory, surrender, saluting, mourning, distress.  In other words – flags communicate important messages.

Flags (including standards & banners) have meaning and purpose in the Bible, also. I won’t list all the scripture references but if anyone wants to know more, message me!
·         Represent a pledge of protection
·         Point to the place of refuge and signify deliverance
·         Convey the idea of conspicuous presence
·         Used as a war summons and a rallying point
·         Symbolize unity
·         Cause demoralization of the enemy
·         Are raised in victory.

I got to visit Ft McHenry last year and spent hours walking the grounds and barracks, reading the history, and seeing the spot where a handmade, 30’ x 42’ flag was still visible after a night of British bombing. You can read my blog on that here, plus the web is full of information if you want more details.

As you can see, our flag is more than a piece of cloth. It represents each of us and our ancestors. Our stories, our sacrifices, our joys. Our successes and our failures - both in times of war and times of peace. All of us – as individuals and collectively as a nation.

The Star Spangled Banner is the story of just one particular instance, but it represents much of our national history. To dishonor either the flag or the anthem is to disrespect every single citizen in the country, and most especially those who serve & defend. It’s a slap in the face of brothers & sisters who work hard, pay their taxes, raise their families, support their communities, vote their conscience and help their neighbors in need.

Our country is not pristine. We have some ugly history. Not everyone has learned from it, but in the heart and soul of America, there is deep remorse for the past treatment of native people and those held in the bondage of slavery.  There’s sorrow for people of other nations who died for their country as we defended ours. There's anguish at decisions made by flawed leaders that were terribly wrong. No decent human being rejoices at the suffering of others. Decent people are quietly working hard, without fanfare or publicity stunts, to right these wrongs by setting a course for an America that is truly about "liberty and justice for all."  Just as we individuals are a work in progress, so is our country. What started over 200 years ago (which is young by nation standards) is still developing. But we have to be in one accord to move forward.

There are dozens of ways to educate and bring light to social justice issues, but a nation has to have some kind of common symbol to rally around, to unite the people in heart. We have to have a visual or auditory reminder that we are all members of the same tribe, with a common goal – to preserve, protect, and better the tribe. Otherwise, there’s no reason to work towards a solution for “your” problem if you don’t demonstrate respect and empathy towards anyone else.  We have to agree to certain boundaries of behavior. We have to have a rallying point where we stand united so we can work together toward a better country. That’s what the flag and anthem provide for us.

Make no mistake – the USA has many enemies and they would love to see us sink deeper into division simply for the purpose of destroying & conquering. The first thing they’ll do is raise their own flag over this land. The next thing they'll do is stand and put their hand on their heart while their national anthem plays. Why in the world would you want to make that easier for them?

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Phone Pix & Sunday Night Mindstreaming

It's been a lovely Sunday but alas, no Game of Thrones to cap it off. Which reminds me, I had these pix on my phone. 

The best birthday card I've ever gotten! Which reminds me...I'm re-reading "A Song of Ice & Fire" which GoT is based off.  I just read this sentence in book 2 (A Clash of Kings)

 “Aegon,” he said to a woman nursing a newborn babe in a great wooden bed. “What better name for a king?” “Will you make a song for him?” the woman asked. “He has a song,” the man replied. “He is the prince that was promised, and his is the song of ice and fire.” 

It's easy to see now looking back from book 5 - Jon Snow is the embodiment of ice & fire by his parentage - Lyanna Stark of Winterfell & Prince Rhaegar of House Targaryen.  

The storylines are blurring between the long books and the tv series, so I may have this idea wrong, but I think all along Jon has been the hero and centerpiece of the story. He's the only one who is good at his core, with no personal agenda, always trying to do the right thing. Every other main character are shades of gray - not totally bad, not always good. Jon Snow is true hero material. 

And speaking of birthdays -- this gorgeous bouquet was delivered to my office from my own "moon and stars." The note says "Thanks for tying my shoes. Happy Birthday!" Yes, August was an eventful month. My husband sustained a serious injury & his hand was in a cast for 6 weeks. It was a month full of good news, drama, expenses & inconveniences - but we made it through!

I've been doing some real estate photography. Every once in awhile a house will have an interesting or whimsical feature.

One perfect summer morning, I took Khali for a convertible ride to one of our favorite walking spots. I think she liked it!

This is my good luck row at WalterMart. I don't know exactly but I'd say 95% of the time, I find an empty spot in this row close to the door. It goes along with the repeating number patterns I seem to experience of late. I think that's supposed to be a good thing; although some say it's also a warning to be extra alert.

When hubby & I worked at the same office, one of our favorite pastimes was to go for coffee on Tuesdays at B&N. We would decompress from the stressful day (Tuesdays were always high octane in that office), share news & gossip, and browse the books and magazines. Since we're working at different places now, our schedules don't accommodate this very often. So on this early fall, rainy Sunday, we enjoyed an hour like old times.

It's very cool to be browsing the magazine racks and open one to see your doll on the cover of a mag being advertised!

Speaking of browsing, I saw two new books at B&N and both had the *F-bomb* in the title. (Come to think of it, they were both cookbooks. What does that say about cooking?)

Of course it was disguised with splotches & other marks, but the meaning was quite clear. Which led me to this mindstreaming... why does that word hold so much power? Even though it's pretty much gone mainstream in the public vocabulary, with even the most highly educated professionals generously using it, it still holds enough shock value to be considered quite vulgar in everyday conversation. Why aren't the other synonyms considered that bad? With more & more people using this wordbomb, will it weaken its shock 'n awe effect? 

I further mindstreamed on the power of A Word

If a one-syllable obscenity holds so much weight, what about positive words? Imagine what they can do?

And if a positive verb or adjective has power, then what can a NAME do? Names carry deep & profound meaning in ancient cultures. And there is one special name that is above all others in the universe. It has the power to create, to heal, to love, and to save.

Well, I've come to the end of my Sunday mindstreaming. Here's one last pic from my phone. We had a lovely shower this afternoon and it gave us a beautiful rainbow directly east of our house. (grrr too bad the rooftop of the school had to be in the shot, but I do like the American flag flying at the end of the rainbow!)

PS: I forgot something I wanted to include here! How appropriate, because it's on the subject of getting old! Saturday night we were invited to a gathering of people we've known for going on 20 years. Most of us are age 50+. This group has prayed together, worshiped together, shared meals, good times and sad times and in the process, are aging together. One man recently had a second heart surgery. My husband told exaggerated tales of his hand injury/surgery. Another has a retina problem; one had a knee replacement, and there were assorted other comparisons of aches & pains. On the way home, I thought about how our conversation has changed. I used to wonder why old people got together & talked so much about their ailments. Now I get it! It's actually a group of 35 year olds wondering what the heck is happening to their bodies and looking to each other for reassurance. In our minds, we're still young, so these pings & pangs are mysterious and sometimes a little frightening. Senior friends are, in reality, a support group helping each other navigate this 3rd Act in the theater we call Life. It's true what they say - "old age ain't for sissies!"

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Maker Faire 2017

Guess who I ran into this weekend?

 Yep, that's him! Mr. R2D2 himself.

 He was hobnobbing at the Maker Faire.  I talked to his "handler" who assured me that he did, indeed, make this entire replica himself. The guy did a fantastic job; it looked just like the movie version.

This pint-size Storm Trooper was so engrossed in creating a digital masterpiece but you can imagine his expression when he looked up and saw R2.

There were makers of all kinds represented.
Cosplay costume artists.

Robots of all kinds were a big thing.

Wood workers demonstrated carving techniques.

Beautiful objects of art, both practical & decorative were on display.

There were those who tool leather into beautiful bracelets and a guy who blows glass into colorful, delicate shapes.

I think this was the 3rd year for the Faire to be held here. I went 2 years ago and they had a great turnout of participants & attendees, but this year was much more! One of the things I loved was seeing how many children & teens got involved.

It's a hands-on event. Kids could try sewing and using a pottery wheel.

My art-doll club was represented. People learned some of the process of doll-making and even create & take a clay dragon.

You could see how stones are polished and purchase various stones or crystals.

This is a 3-D printer. These are amazing little inventions. I'm sure someday they'll develop into something extremely useful but for now we have to be satisfied with small castles & dinosaurs. Actually, they've already come a long way. Three years ago, they were pretty much only producing Cracker Jacks type toys.

 I didn't stop to see what this demonstration was, but it sure was pretty! I assume it had to do with how light is used to grow vegetation.

And that's it - my mini tour of the Mini-Maker-Faire 2017.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Morning Reflection

In 2012, my church/work/social world started wobbling. Like the beginning rumble of a mild earthquake kind of wobble. Coming change was undeniable. I was talking to a minister friend one day and he asked where I saw myself in 5 years. I've always hated that "5-year Plan" thing! I've never been able to plan 5 weeks, let alone 5 years. But this was something that required some serious thought, so I made an attempt to answer...

"I can maybe see two years down the road. Possibly three. But five years - all I see is a black hole."
He replied, "And God is already there in the black hole waiting for you."

I've thought about that answer many times since. It's always given me comfort. With my limited understanding of God and my experience of Him in my life, I understood that my friend wasn't saying that God is sitting in a black hole waiting for me to stumble my way there and keep Him company! He would be with me every moment of every day and we would walk every step of the way together. The way forward would become clearer as the blackness fades. Light overcoming dark.

Last night, a dear friend called to talk. She's facing an uncertain future that looks like a black hole. We talked about many things, many possible scenarios, but the best advice I could give her was that which was given to me in 2012.

As I was having tea on my patio this morning, my mind wandered back to that day and the conversation last night, and I realized - it's been five years. Here we are!

Maybe you're curious about what happened during that time or what my reflections might be? Have I learned any lessons? Am I where I thought I might be? Wow, that is a whole other post and I think I will attempt to answer those questions. It would be a good, reflective exercise. But I can tell you this:

The sun came up this morning.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Summer Reading

I love reading, but especially summer reading.

I've had a slew of books on hold for a couple months. It's crazy when they get released around the same time.  I like to think my late fees contribute to the library's income.

Of the three pictured, I just finished the Caitlyn Jenner book. Very interesting and enlightening. He was - and she is - such a kind, gentle, compassionate soul. But I still can't wrap my mind around this issue. One thing's for sure, it's a topic to generate hours of great discussion and deep introspection on "who are we, really?"

Jackie's Girl - is written by one of her personal assistants. I love reading about Jackie Kennedy Onassis.

Shattered - I've been really looking forward to digging into this one. Originally it was to be the backstory of how Hillary won the White House. But that trajectory kinda changed last November.

pause for :)

Last week I finished Stephen King's 11/22/63 - a time travel story on how the world might have been different if someone went back in time and eliminated Oswald. If anyone ever complains to me that George R.R. Martin labors on & on in his descriptions, I will point them to this book. I'm not usually a skimmer, but I had to skim several pages of this one. The story is really good and picked up the pace near the end.

My other spring/summer reading consisted of:

  • Rising Star - about Obama's rise thru the ranks.
  • I'll Be Damned - Actor on The Young & Restless - Eric Braeden's auto-bio. It was so-so.
  • The Ascension Mysteries - mystical/spiritual insights by David Wilcox. Actually quite interesting!
  • The Fate of the Tearling - totally fun fiction. This is the 3rd in a trilogy by Erika Johansen. If you enjoy fantasy stories, try this series. 
  • JFK & the Reagan Revolution - super good info here, if you can wade through it, on economic history. Sadly, I could not wade through it. It was skimming only. But if you're a financial nerd of sorts, you'll find this informative.

Still to come:

  • A Little Thing Called Life - Linda Thompson, on her life with Elvis & Bruce Jenner (can you imagine?!)
  • Drain the Swamp - subtitle is "How Washington Corruption is Worse Than You Think"
  • Origin - another Robert Langdon thriller by Dan Brown
I think I can safely say my reading interests are rather broad!

Monday, July 24, 2017

Random Summer Pix

 Just some shots I've snagged recently.

 I've been getting some work doing real estate photography. (uh, no -- that's not someone's house above). On my way home from a shoot, I noticed the flag on top of the machinery. Is John Deere still American owned? Nice touch, nonetheless.

This birdhouse was in the garden of another home. I like the whimsy.

Evening sun was lighting my crepe myrtles in such a lovely way.

And what would a post be without a Khali update? Hubby took this with his iPad yesterday. I jazzed it up a little to cover the graininess. She had just had a bath, blow dry & brushout. My beautiful princess!! She continues to endlessly entertain, sometimes annoy, but always brings joy to the house.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Fireworks Season Part 2

So for the 3rd year, my church planned a pretty good shindig for the small town community it's located in. Oklahoma weather tried it's best to rain on our parade, but not this time! It down-poured in the morning, but cleared up with intermittent threats throughout the day. 

Threats, but no rain, Hallelujah!! What it accomplished was to give us great cloud cover and cooler temps!

I made these flags for my previous church about 10 years ago. I contacted them last year to see if we could buy them back. I'm so glad they're still being used! They make a fun, colorful backdrop for the main stage.

Last year, the police estimated 12-13000 in attendance on the grounds and the neighboring parking lots. Haven't heard a headcount yet but according to Facebook, looks like everyone there had a great time.

There were a bunch of inflatable games for the kids. The fire dept. let them play in the spray and sit in the truck. There was face painting and just general running free in the big outdoors. What little kid doesn't love that?

Lots of "fair food" like kettle corn, bbq, turkey legs, etc.

Kettle corn - YUM!

A local bakery that specializes in bundt cakes sells "bundtlets" at festivals.

Looks like we had some OSU fans in attendance.

One of our guest speakers was Sen. James Lankford. I'm a fan and got to meet him by happenstance.
He gave a great speech. Other local politicians spoke and a swearing in induction ceremony for the military was held.

Then it was time for the fireworks show! I don't think I did as well getting pictures this time.  Just posting a few. Besides, when you've seen one set of fireworks pix, you've pretty much seen them all!

Happy Fourth, Everyone!
Be safe,
enjoy your family,
pray for our country
and protect our precious liberty.