Monday, December 21, 2009

Not meaning to offend

I'm heading into politically incorrect waters with full knowledge that the way I feel about the current state of things is not necessarily shared. Still, I feel like I need to write some things down, because they are weighing so heavy on my heart right now.
I was driving to my office this morning when I heard on the radio that the 60 votes needed to pass the senate version of the Obama/Reid health care bill had been reached. A vote for cloture had occurred at 1:00 AM - the very dead of the night.
I burst into tears.
I feel the greatest sense of fear and loss and helplessness in a way that I have never experienced as an American before. I do not understand how elected senators can move ahead when a large majority of the country so clearly does not support government-run health care. I do not understand how so many people can stand by without a word of dissent as 1/6th of the American economy is poised to be taken over by the government. I wonder how they will feel when our taxes continue to rise, our health care is parsed out, we end up paying for the death of babies and old people are not considered valuable enough to provide proper health care for.
I love my young 20-something friends but I can clearly see that they have no real clue what this loss of liberty will mean. They are all about starting their careers, establishing themselves. They are not paying attention and it is at their own peril. Our freedoms, our constitution are being trampled on. We are becoming a society that wants to be taken care of instead of the country that grew to be great on the initiative, creativity, imagination and hard work of it's amazing people. My own boys would prefer that I not talk about the president, his policies, the health care debate or anything even remotely "political" around their friends for fear that I might offend. I try to play nice, I really do.
It reminds me about a group I used to speak for: Christian Women's Club - a national women's ministry that seeks to win women to the Lord through luncheons, fashion shows and a compelling speaker. There were "rules" about what the women were able to discuss - "age, weight, politics and religion" were forbidden table talk. The age and weight rules were inserted to lighten the load, so to speak. Let's be careful to not step on toes or question a contrary opinion.
But this is so much bigger than politeness and politics. I believe in this past year, America has moved at an incredible pace toward a country that, if unchecked, will become unrecognizable as the country our forefathers envisioned. I am fearful that every freedom that I hold true as an American citizen will continue to slip away. With the government monitoring health care - every aspect of our lives will come under their scrutiny: What we eat, what we wear, how we spend out leisure time, what kind of jobs we're allowed to have, how much we are allowed to earn. Couple health care with the new religion of the environment and I see a nightmare of unequaled magnitude: The government will also tell us what cars we can drive, what kind of televisions we are allowed to have in our homes (already happening in California), even something as benign as when and if we can barbecue: sounds pretty silly and petty, doesn't it? Wait until it happens.
Sometimes I feel like the crazy old man you always see in a horror or science fiction film. The one who warns of doom and gloom and yet, as sure as the sun will come up tomorrow, the main characters will ignore as they blithely go on their merry way toward death and destruction.
I don't think things are perfect. I know some reform needs to happen. I know over the past 234 years some American leaders have made terrible mistakes: choices based on power plays, personal agendas, prejudices, weakness, on and on. But as a whole, America has survived the bad by staying true to the Constitution, the Bill of rights and the Amendments. For the first time, at least in my lifetime, all of that is being threatened.
Still, when I shake off the heavy-heartedness that blankets me and makes me feel like I can barely breathe, I find hope in a couple of things.
One: We can change things with the vote. There's a great line in the move Dave delivered when Kevin Kline, playing the presidential imposter, says to the country, "I forgot that this is just a 'temp' job and that you put me here for just a temporary piece of time". It's true. All the elected officials from the president to the senators to the congressmen who are pursuing this strangling, liberty-stealing health care bill are only there at the whim and will of the American people. There will, I pray, be a reckoning in November 0f 2010 and 2012 should it pass. I heard a senator say on the news today, "I know the Americans think they don't want this bill but once it's passed they will see how great it is". Great indeed. Everything else not withstanding, the truth that my my tax dollars will be used to kill innocent, unborn babies is devastating to me. The incredible conceit that an elected official thinks he knows better than his constituents is the worst kind of self-delusional buffoonery.
Second: As I know and experience with every other aspect of my life, prayer not only matters, it can change things. God has promised in 2 Chronicles 7: 14 "If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land."
If you believe, as I do, that our nation is walking down the wrong path, won't you join me in prayer for our nation, and our leaders?
Lastly (and this is really important) I want to say a word for those of you who absolutely couldn't disagree with me anymore if you tried: you like the current administration and think we are heading in the right direction. If you know me at all, you know that I am a true student of the American Civil War. One of the things that has always intrigued me is the depth of faith on both sides of that war. The south had incredible men of faith fighting and praying, utterly convinced they were doing God's will by fighting for the south. Looking back now, 150 years later, that seems difficult - how could anyone who loved the Lord defend a nation that embraced slavery? Yet, from General Robert E. Lee to Stonewall Jackson to many, many others, their faith guided them, led them and kept them strong. Now don't misunderstand, I am not saying that if you disagree with me, I am comparing you to someone who supported slavery. I'm just saying that I don't think the conservatives hold the spiritual edge here (except in the case of abortion - there is no possible justification for the purposeful death of an innocent child).
The fact that I feel so strongly about this issue and this current government does not get in the way of my love or friendship for you. If you disagree with me - ok! In fact, I would love to talk about it with you - with all my politeness in place.
Now... I need to go pray.... there's still the tiniest piece of hope that we can stop this debacle before it goes any further.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Tis A Miracle: The Monroe's Annual Christmas Letter

This is my annual Christmas letter. Some of you might have received a version of it through the mail but I decided to post it here for all to read. It's long, I know, so proceed at your own caution! For those who regularly read my blog, it is a compilation of some of the things I've written about but it never hurts to take a journey again if it was worthwhile the first time. (Wow! That almost sounded profound, didn't it? Honestly, I did not just read that on the back of the Celestial Seasonings tea box!). Here goes:
Daniel asked me the other day what the theme for this year’s letter was going to be. I had to admit then that I didn’t have a clue, I hadn’t begun to think about this letter (other than the normal, “YOU’VE GOT TO GET THAT LETTER WRITTEN” beating I give myself annually).
Last night, when normal people are sleeping, I let my mind meander throughout this year and one word (or its derivative) kept popping up: “Miraculous”. That’s an oft overused word but in the case of the Monroe Clan, it seems appropriate to describe 2009.
Mark, who usually gets a simple line at the end of the letter saying that he is in his umpteen year at Amerisource-Bergen, gets to go first. In October, Mark was laid off from the job he has held for 27 years. This was a stunning turn of events. Mark had warned me it was coming but I just really couldn’t believe it. When he walked in the door that Tuesday morning, as I was getting ready to head out to my CAT Office, and said, “It’s over!” I still asked, “What’s over?” Then Mark gently explained that he had been laid off. Once the initial shock sort of wore off, the next thing we did was pray together. Miraculously, through the blessings of our faithful God, many friends stepped forward with offers of help, job possibilities and all around support. Within three weeks, Mark was employed with a brand new job at a company here in Corona called Vantage Vehicle International. The company manufactures small electric cars. It’s a good place for Mark to be right now and although he doesn’t see it as a long term career stop, the Lord is using Mark in this place and we are very grateful!
Next comes our Jordan. Jordan is in the army, stationed in Texas. This year really has been one miraculous event after the next. First, last January Jordan was stationed at an air force base in the town of San Angelo, Texas. Leaving California and heading to Texas seemed like a huge turning point in his life – so many unknowns. Jordan and I prayed together that God would open new doors for him, new friendships, new challenges. Two days after arriving in San Angelo he visited a church and he called me as he walked back to his car, “Mom, I just visited the greatest church. I can’t believe how much I enjoyed it.” The very next week he was invited to attend a Sunday night college/career group Bible study that met in a private home. He called me to tell me about this great family that lived in this home and about all the new friends he was making. It seemed Miraculous that God had answered our prayer so quickly.
Over the next few months, Jordan continued to develop friendships in this group. He often mentioned the family that hosted the Bible study, especially the daughter who was a part of the group, Georgia Anne Huckabee. When Jordan came home for a visit in June, he was definitely a changed man: I knew the minute I saw him that this was a man in love! In August Jordan proposed, Georgia said, “yes” and Mark and I got to be with them and Georgia’s wonderful family in San Angelo for some Texas-style celebratin’. Their wedding is planned for June 26th here in Corona!
Jordan’s army journey continues to be mysterious. He was supposed to be deployed to Iraq in mid- August. As he waited with 102 other soldiers in the deployment area, packed and ready to go Jordan waited for his name to be called. When 100 soldiers were boarded on the plane and it was just Jordan and two officers left, he was told he wasn’t going. So he is stationed at Fort Hood, Texas, safe from the battle field, or so we thought. On November 5 he called to tell me there was something going on at the base – they were all locked down and shots were being fired. Right across the street from Jordan’s building an Islamic terrorist was massacring 13 innocent people. We were blessed that Jordan was not harmed and our prayers remain with the families of those who died or were terribly injured.
Andrew, happily, graduated from Azusa Pacific University Summa Cum Laud in May along with his Best Girl of 4 years, Ashley Geiger. We celebrated in style and then sent Andrew back to the books to study for his 4 part CPA exam. Personally I would have rather pulled out my fingernails slowly but that’s just me. He spent the summer working as co-director of our CAT Summer Camps with his brother, Daniel. Then in late September ADULTHOOD arrived: Andrew began his career with Deloitte and Touche, one of the big 4 accounting firms in America. We found it miraculous that, despite the current economic climate, Andrew was able to find a wonderful job. He also found time to play the lead role in two major CAT productions this year: Benedick in Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing and Robert Thorpe in the play I wrote, Star of Wonder. Contrary to any thought that I might be unreasonably prejudiced, I can say that he was fantastic in both roles. It was wonderful to see him on the stage! I especially enjoyed it when 12 of his Deloitte Management team came to see him in Star of Wonder: I’m certain they will NEVER view him as a typical accountant again! Would it be overkill to mention that Andrew completed his first (and according to him, "last") marathon. I think that's just weird. He refuses to be put in a box - an acting, running, accountant. Who ever heard of such a thing???
Isaac is, unbelievably, a senior this year. It’s hard for me to wrap my mind around that fact. He is the greatest kid whose performing talents have continued to blossom. This year alone he’s played roles from “Willie Wonka” to the “Genie” in Aladdin (which required specialty balding make-up and being painted totally blue, a 2 hour process every performance day for two weekends) to one of Captain Hook’s Pirates in Peter Pan to a crooked attorney in Annie Warbucks to the young “Robert Thorpe” in Star of Wonder. Miraculously, he does not have a multiple personality disorder, though it would not be all that surprising. Since Isaac was 6 he has participated in every CAT youth productions and most of the Community Theater productions in some way: That’s somewhere in the region of 45 major shows (along with 10 Summer Tour Groups). Talk about experience! Though CAT is the center of his universe, he has a life outside as well: Madrigal Choir at school, preparation for college (He is hoping to attend California Baptist University in Riverside), church and an exhausting self-driven exercise/weight lifting regimen. And did I mention "girls"? Yes, lots of those in Isaac's life in the healthiest way but currently no one in particular has wrapped him around her pretty little finger. I like it - for about 5 minutes, he's still mine!
Daniel and Erin are still in school! Erin is still teaching kindergarten and so far, miraculously, has survived the deep budget cuts the school district has been forced to make. We JUST celebrated with Daniel the completion of his Masters in Theater in Education from Cal-State San Bernardino. Now he is in the last lap of his education, working for his teaching credential from Cal-Baptist. He works as a long term sub at a school in the district and we are all praying that when he has his credential, God will open up a teaching job right here. The principals in Corona love Daniel and he is popular wherever he goes to substitute: We are very optimistic! Daniel directed our incredible production of Peter Pan last spring and is gearing up to direct our winter production of Cinderella. Erin works alongside Daniel in every way – they make an incredible duo that is serving the kids of CAT and the arts community in a powerful way.
Now for me, there’s too little room and too much to say. You can scroll back through these past blogs to catch up on the miraculous ways God has protected and sustained my our family and my arts organization, Christian Arts and Theatre. I’m drawn more and more to write and expect to be doing that a lot in 2010: hoping to finally get my book written (whether anyone reads it or not) My sweet dad has promised HE will read it: That’s what daddies are for! I’m as fully wrapped up in CAT as ever – a place God has firmly planted me and, as of right now, shows no signs of releasing me. It’s a ministry that has built me up and broken me, shoved me to my knees and lifted me up to the heights of glorious joy: Which is great fodder for a book – no coincidence there.
So, dear family and friends, you’ve had a glimpse of the Monroe year – more like a nano-glimpse. It’s hard to flesh it all out in just this short letter (“SHORT LETTER?” I just visualized several of you snorting egg nog out your nose).
I want to share the most tangible piece of hope that I can. In the middle of a terrible time in November: Mark’s job loss, Jordan’s near miss at Fort Hood and a desperate financial crunch at CAT, my new friend, Bonnie Huckabee, shared these verses with me from a difficult time in her own life. They have become such a constant comfort: 2 Chronicles 20: 12: The Israelites were facing a terrible enemy and their king prayed: “We have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do but our eyes are on you.” Take out the words “Vast army” and insert your own issue or problem. “I have no power over my job loss, my marriage, my health problems - whatever is burdening you and continue the verse: We don’t know what to do but our eyes are on you. God is in control and he loves you. No matter what happens. Our job is to keep our eyes on him, trust him, give our hearts to him. 3 verses later, God answers, “Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.” No matter what you are facing this Christmas season, put your trust in God. If it’s unbridled joy – thank Him for that gift, if it’s anything less then look to him.
Merry Christmas, Dear ones. Love, Cyndi for all the Monroes.