Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Worship Wednesday: Definition of a heroine

They had been married only 14 months when they traveled from Nashville to New York for a wedding.  It was August 14, 2015, and in a matter of moments, their life together was irrevocably changed.

Harrison Waldron is 23.  His wife Hayley is 22.  On August 14, Harrison was involved in an ATV accident that left him with a severe brain injury.  The Waldrons are former members of my congregation.  Like thousands of others, I learned of Harrison's accident on Facebook, and I followed the Waldrons' posts as they rushed to be with Harrison in a Pennsylvania hospital.

Harrison's mother posted, the only hope we have is a miracle from God.

Fast forward to November 21, 2015, in a hospital room at the Shepherd Spinal Center in Atlanta, Georgia.

On that day, Hayley Waldron looked at an iPad screen and saw three sentences--sentences that perhaps most of us would take for granted, that we would expect our spouse to say, but which Hayley would not--and perhaps never will again--take for granted.

They were:

"I love you."
"I have wanted to say that."
"My wife is the best."

Hayley's response was to burst with joy.  As did everyone else who read her status update that day.

More than anyone, Hayley, this 22-year-old wife, has born the brunt of this journey she is making with Harrison.  She has sat with Harrison, listened to doctors' prognoses, watched nurses as they cared for him, seen therapists work with him.  She is living in the house of a very generous and hospitable couple.  Daily, she gets up, spends her days with her husband, and then returns home.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

For Hayley, there was no question that she would journey with Harrison.  She has chronicled this part of their lives in numerous Facebook posts and in videos, and in a journal she is keeping for Harrison.
The Christian Chronicle told their story in this article, published in mid-November.

For weeks, her prayer request was for Harrison to "wake up".  Friends, relatives, and even people who didn't know them used #wakeupharrison to spread the word.

He began "waking up" when he started pointing to "yes" and "no", when he started pointing to words, when he was given an iPad and let people know in no uncertain terms that, on that day, he was done with therapy.

We knew he'd awakened when he told his wife he loved her.

Later, his parents--who now live in Honduras as missionaries--asked him, what do you want us to bring you from Honduras?

His answer:  "Coffee."

Then he was asked, how long have you been able to hear?

He said, "I have been able to hear since Pennsylvania."

And then he apologized for making everyone worry about him.

Hayley has documented all of this.  She's been our window to this journey.  She shows her faith and courage daily as she reports on Harrison's progress.  She demonstrates faith as, day by day, she travels to the Shepherd Center to observe Harrison, to talk with him, to watch his therapy sessions, to visit with those who come to see him.

They are due to go home on January 27th.

Hayley and Harrison's journey will not end when they leave the Shepherd Center.  There will still be therapy, still be care, still be challenges to face.  In a sense, they are trying to walk from Washington state to Washington, DC.

For Christmas, Harrison arranged to give Hayley a ring and bracelet with opals (his birthstone).

She framed a copy of their wedding vows and, in a video she posted on Facebook, read them to Harrison.  She said it was a reminder of what she'd promised him on their wedding day.

In a day and time where wedding vows are broken for superficial reasons, Hayley has refused to give up on her husband.  She takes seriously the portion of the traditional vows that state "for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, for as long as we both shall live, until death do us part."  She chooses daily to remain by his side, to join him on the walk he is taking.

I have spoken much about deeds, faith and courage.  I realize, as I am writing this, that I've neglected to say where Hayley's faith comes from and from where she draws her courage.  Over and over and over, she has credited God, expressed faith in God, poured out her heart to God, requested prayers on Harrison's behalf.  She has chosen to reach outside herself for what she needs day by day.  Her faith is not in any strength or courage that she has mustered up, or in any "positive thinking" that she may be able to create.  She knows that, day by day, only God can fill her with what she needs.

The website dictionary.com defines heroine as "a woman of distinguished courage or ability, admired for her brave deeds and noble qualities."

Look up that definition, and you ought to find a picture of Hayley Waldron.

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.






Monday, December 28, 2015

Manic Monday: Next week at this time . . .

Next week at this time, I'll be writing my first political blog post of the 2016 season.

I'll be honest:  I'm worried about this election.  I've been worried about the last two, and I'm worried about this one.  Our country is in serious trouble.  We have a major debt problem (heading towards $20 trillion). Even though we've been told that we're "in recovery", our economy is still shaky.  One of the reasons the unemployment rate has been going down is not because more jobs are being created, but because people have given up looking.

We are a people deeply divided.  No one wants to listen to the other side.  The other side is automatically "the enemy".

I don't have a lot of optimism when it comes to the political future of this country.  Everyone wants their own way and no one is willing to give an inch.  Or, there is complete capitulation by one side to the other side.

I've seen several reports recently of shootings and disturbances at malls.  And you can't get away from the reports of violence that daily dominate our newspapers.  We're sitting on a powder keg, like Europe was in 1914, and it's only going to take one match to light the fuse.

I have a countdown clock on my blog to the days before Iowa and New Hampshire, and the days before this election.  Frankly, I'll be glad when it's over.  I'm going to need a virtual HAZMAT outfit because of all the mudslinging that will be going on!

Brace yourselves.  The ride is beginning!

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Happy birthday, Jesus . . .

Luke 2:1-20
And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.  (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)  And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.  And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.  And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.  And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.  And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.  But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.
And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

"That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown."
Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Worship Wednesday: Christian trappings

A while back, I downloaded the free Logos Bible app and more recently, I have been using it to organize my prayer lists and do some Bible study.  What annoys me about Logos, however, is that if you want to use certain features--like, say, the interlinear Greek option of some translations--you have to buy a Logos software set, the cheapest of which is $250!

I may, someday, invest the $250 in Logos software.  I'm sure it's worth the cost.

But my experience with using Logos has me wondering about the different "trappings" of Christianity.

I live in a Christian culture.  I get to use a Christian software app in order to read and study the Bible. I can go down to Family Christian Stores, or Lifeway Books, and look up the latest Christian books and/or other media.  I listen to Christian praise music.  I go to church on Sundays and Wednesdays and sing on a praise team.  I read (and write) Christian fiction, as does my BFF.  There are loads of Christian notebooks, tips on how to have a good "quiet time", version upon version of the Bible, videos to entertain the kids with clean, Christian entertainment, and, to top it off, Christian decor to place on your walls and on your shelves.  I've done a number of Bible studies where you get the workbook, fill in the blanks, have group discussion, and watch the accompanying video.  I can, off the top of my head, name several prominent Christian authors/celebrities:  Beth Moore, Kay Arthur, Priscilla Shirer, John MacArthur, James Dobson, Max Lucado, etc.  If you can afford it, you can send your children to Christian school or Christian colleges.  Or, you can homeschool your children using a Christian curriculum.

What would happen if all of these "trappings" of Christianity disappeared?

Is the faith of the average American Christian based in Christian culture?  Or is it truly based in Christ?

I hear, at this time of year, the gripes about the supposed "war on Christmas" and how "Jesus is the reason for the season" and how Christians are supposed to be offended and to "stand up for Jesus!" when someone says "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas".  Never mind that, during December, there's also Hanukkah, and that Kwaanza starts the day after Christmas.  (And today marks "Festivus for the rest of us!" the annual airing of grievances made popular by Seinfeld.)

I also hear the usual screaming about how "God isn't allowed in schools!" and how things would be oh, so much better if we could just put God and prayer back in schools.  As if God slams into an invisible wall whenever a believer steps onto a public school campus and deserts him/her, only to reinhabit him/her when the believer steps off the campus.

There are Christian brothers and sisters that don't have the "trappings" of Christianity that we think are so important in American society.  In Iraq, Iran, China, and other places, they don't have access to Christian bookstores and many of them may not have even heard of the Christian teachers I've named above.  Possession of a Bible is a crime in several countries.  Confession of the name of Jesus can, and sometimes does, get you killed.  Just ask people in ISIS-held territory.

What would the average American Christian do if they wound up in a country without a Christian culture?  What would they do if they only had a Bible and nothing else?  Would they keep their faith, or would it wither and die?  Would they complain because their children couldn't pray in public schools, or not hear "Merry Christmas" from a store clerk?  Or because there are no Christian schools to send their children to?  Or because they can't get their latest copy of a Beth Moore study?

I really wonder, at times, where is the faith of the average American Christian based?  I ask this question of my faith as well.  Without the "trappings" -- without the "Christian" culture that I am so accustomed to -- would I lose my faith?  And if I did, how strong was that faith to begin with?  What was my faith based in?

Our fellow Christians throughout the world seem to do just fine worshiping God without Christian trappings.  Can't we do the same?

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Manic Monday: Education and the little blue penguin

(I'm trying to get back to a regular schedule of blogging.  Life and other things have gotten in the way.)

When my niece was in the second grade, she was assigned a report on the little blue penguin.  I would figure that, as a second grader, she would be required to go to the library, look up a book (or something on the Internet), write up a report, and read it aloud to the class.

Uh, no.

What her teacher wanted her to do was to, among other things, make up a diorama AND a display board about the little blue penguin.  She encouraged her class to "get the whole family involved."  In fact, the only way my niece could finish the project was to "get the whole family involved".  My niece's stepfather ended up making out a schedule for her to follow so she could get the assignment finished.  (Just a side note:  My niece asked her stepfather to adopt her.  I think that says a lot about their relationship.)

I can understand this sort of assignment as a way to learn more about the little blue penguin.

But in second grade?

I've wondered for some time if the reason for our abysmal performance in education is that we expect too much too soon from our kids.  I can remember, in first grade, reciting the ABC song.  Now, kids are expected to know their ABC's when they hit kindergarten, if not sooner.

We're pushing our kids too hard, too soon.  We don't give them the time they need to learn the fundamentals, because they have to go on to the next subject.  Hurry up, hurry up, we have requirements to meet!  Our teachers either can't or won't take into account that each student will learn in a different way.  I tend to think that they can't because they are under pressure from their higher-ups to get through a curriculum, so their students can get through a test.

I wonder, too, if so much of this emphasis on our poor educational system is because of a true concern for our students . . . or only because "America must be number 1 in the world because we are America."  We are a great country.  Although we have made our share of mistakes (see slavery and discrimination), we are also known for our compassion, for being the land of opportunity with freedom of speech, assembly etc.

But do we want to be "number 1" simply for the sake of being "number 1"?  And are we willing to do anything, including sacrificing our children, to be "number 1 in the world"?  Are we going to force second-graders to do a diorama on the little blue penguin just so we can meet some sort of arbitrary standard to make us "number 1 in the world"?

Education is vital.  I think teachers are underpaid and underappreciated.  I think they have lost power in the classroom, and I also think they are used as pawns in a system that is more concerned with results rather than the methods used to get them.  I want the United States to have a good--great--educational system that turns out excellent doctors, lawyers, teachers, engineers; and also plumbers, electricians, auto workers, etc.  (Those of us who look down our noses at blue-collar workers--where would you be without running water, flushing toilets, or electricity?)

But how are you going to do it?  Are you going to impose a curriculum on everyone that demands the same performance whether the kids can meet it or not?  This has been one of the main--and understandable--criticisms of the No Child Left Behind program.

I may or may not have a valid voice in this debate.  My son is in special education.  He has what is known as an IEP, an Individualized Education Plan, which sets out goals and objectives according to his strengths and weaknesses.  He's been very fortunate with his teachers, also.  I can think of only two bad teachers he's had in his life, and one of them was "bad" simply because she was dealing with some very difficult personal circumstances in her life.  I don't know the ins and outs of "regular" public education.  I do know, though, what I hear from other teachers and workers in the school system.  My father was also a public school teacher until 1992, when he retired due to illness.  (He died in 1993.)  When I asked him if he regretted not teaching, he said, "No.  It was getting pretty bad."

I also remember being a public school student in the 1970's, and even then, public schools were having their problems.  Discipline was a big one, as it is now.  When you tell a student to do something, and they say no, and you have no leverage with that student . . . what do you do?  I experienced this in 1989, when I briefly worked in an inner-city public school as a librarian.  I had no way to maintain discipline, and the students knew it.

I cannot remember what year this was, but during the first day of final exams in high school, we were given the opportunity to have some sort of a break, or privilege, during that day.  Many of the students abused that privilege, and as a result, our principal came on the intercom and announced our punishment:  We were going to have less time to do our finals the next day . . . which meant we were going to get out of school earlier.  

HUH???

What kind of consequence was that?

And it's gotten worse since then.

My niece is now 20, a college student, and doing well.  Her experience with the little blue penguin apparently hasn't harmed her.

But I wonder how many other students, in the name of "educational excellence" have been left behind? How many other students have paid the price for our desire to be "number 1"?

When are we going to learn to find out what our students are capable of, and fit the curriculum to their needs, instead of expecting them to do something they may not be capable of yet?  Why expect our second-graders to do a diorama on the little blue penguin?  Surely that can wait until third or fourth or fifth grade.  Why do they need to know it in the second grade?  Do the people who expect that out of second graders even know if the average second-grader is capable of that?

I believe in setting standards for students to reach for.  But there's a difference between asking our students to stretch and asking our students to grab something that's totally out of their grasp.  And I fear we are asking our students to do the latter.

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

One group, two news stories, 37 years apart . . .

On the morning of January 24, 1978, probably around 5:30 a.m., I was lying in bed with my radio on.  My room was dark because it was very early in the morning, and while I knew I'd have to eventually get up, I didn't want to.  My radio was on either Y95 or Q105 FM, and I'm pretty sure it was Y95.

I was listening to the half-hour news.  After a commercial break, the newscaster came back on.  I still remember his words and my exact reactions:

"One of the members of the group Chicago . . ."

I smiled to myself, because they were my favorite rock band and I always enjoyed hearing news about them.

" . . . has accidentally killed himself."

Bang!  A hit to the gut.

"31-year-old --" and I hit the dial knob.  I didn't want to hear it.  I was thinking to myself.  "Not Terry.  Not Peter.  Not Bobby.  Please."

I turned the dial down to Q105 because I knew they had news on at a quarter to the hour.  And I made myself listen this time.

It was Terry Kath, lead guitarist of Chicago, dead at 31 from an accidental self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.  He was playing with a gun, pointed it at himself, and said, don't worry, it's not loaded. The clip was out of the gun, but a bullet had been left in it.  That was the bullet that killed him.

It was Chicago's low point.  They were never the same after that.

I was 14 years old, and heartbroken.  And I told no one.  My daydreams to that point had included being a member of a rock band, and one of the bands my fictional band would meet and play with was Chicago.  Both before and after Terry's death, my little-girl diaries were filled with information and daydreams about Chicago.

As little girls do, I grew up, and I put away the daydream of being part of a rock band (although I still sing).  But I never forgot Chicago.

This morning, at about 10 after 5 a.m., I was lying in bed with my radio on.  My room was dark because it was very early in the morning, and while I knew I'd have to eventually get up, I didn't want to.  My radio was on WSB-FM, 95.5.

I heard the opening riff of "25 or 6 to 4" and I suspected I knew what the news was.

"Chicago is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame."

I pumped my fists and whispered, "Yes!"

Thirty-seven years, ten months, and 23 days after the shattering announcement I heard as a little girl, I got to hear what I hope is Chicago's high point.

I was 52 years old, and delighted.

For years, Chicago fans like myself have seethed over Chicago's exclusion from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.  Their first album was released 46 years ago.  They have long since met the criteria of having released their first album 25 years ago.  Their fans are legion, and the group still tours to this day to rousing applause.  It's been said that a member of Chicago insulted Rolling Stone founder Jann Werner, and that Werner, as a result, wouldn't let them into the RRHOF.

When the most recent nominees were announced a few months ago, Chicago was there.  I don't know how they got there, but they were there.  Eager fans, including myself, raced to their official website and voted over and over and over and over . . . When the fan voting finished. Chicago ranked #1 with 23% of the vote.  (Yes, I know that plenty of people voted more than once; I freely admit, I voted multiple times.)

The fans spoke, and apparently, Jann Werner and company finally listened.  They will be inducted in April, 2016.

(For the record, the five new inductees are Cheap Trick, Chicago, Deep Purple, Steve Miller, and N.W.A.)

Okay, perhaps the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is nothing but a popularity contest and a shrine to the ego of Jann Werner.  And this blog entry will probably mean very little to anyone except those who are Chicago fans; those who, like myself, enjoyed their music from the 1970's, and others who have more recently discovered them.

But I find it fitting that at Chicago's low point and high point, I was in exactly the same place:  lying in the dark, listening to the radio.

From a little girl who loved your music who grew up to be a woman who still loves your music, congratulations.

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.

Friday, December 11, 2015

It. Has. To. Stop.

It. Has. To. Stop.

This hysterical fear, this hysterical crap, poop, muck, slime, rubbish, garbage, insert your favorite four-letter descriptive term here -- It. Has. To. Stop.

Now.

This week since the San Bernadino shootings has been filled with news items about K-1 visas, radicalization, immigration policies, Muslims, terrorists, and fear, fear, fear.  Donald Trump wants to ban all Muslims from entering the United States.  Today, a CBS News/New York Times poll reports that 79% of Americans believe that a terrorist attack is likely or somewhat likely in the next few months.  Count me in that 79%.  I do think we are going to get hit by a 9/11 style attack sometime soon.

The word "terrorist" has as its root word "terror."  Merriam-Webster's online dictionary defines "terror" as  1) a state of intense fear; 2a) one that inspires fear, 2b) a frightening aspect, 2c) a cause of anxiety, 2d) an appalling person or thing ("brat" is listed as a synonym here; my sister can testify that I was a terror in my younger years.); 3) violent or destructive acts (as bombing) committed by groups in order to intimidate a population or government into granting their demands.

"Terrorize", according to Merriam-Webster, means: 1) to fill with terror or anxiety, 2) to coerce by threat or violence.

"Terrorism" is defined as "the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion".

"Terrorist" is defined as "a person who uses terrorism in the pursuit of political aims".

We are living in fear.  We are living in terror, in that state of intense fear and anxiety.  We are ripe for being terrorized, to being coerced by threat or violence.  And there are those who are going to exploit that fear for their own personal gain.  There are the terrorists, who will use terror systematically to coerce people into doing what they want.  There are the politicians, who will use the fear of terrorists to push through their own agenda.

I don't want to be naive.  There are terrorists out there who want to kill Americans.  There are at least four groups of Muslim terrorists--ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, and Hamas--who regularly use acts of terror and threats of terror to intimidate and coerce the population into doing what they want.  The two people who shot up a holiday party in San Bernadino were "radicalized" Muslims who may have been inspired by ISIS (i.e., not necessarily ordered by ISIS to do this shooting but who thought it was a good idea to do it; and who may have been planning other attacks as well).  I believe there are Muslim terrorists in this country who want to kill Americans and they may be planning to do so.

I also believe there are other terrorists, not Muslims, who want to use acts of terror to intimidate and coerce people to do what they want.  (If you take this definition to its logical conclusion, bullies can be classed as terrorists as well.)  If someone is suspected of being a terrorist, they need to be investigated.  If a mosque is promoting terrorism, it needs to be investigated. (Same with a church or synagogue.)  If a suspected terrorist wants to get into the US, he or she needs to be kept OUT until it can be proven, beyond a reasonable doubt, that this person is not a terrorist.

I do understand the need for thorough vetting of those coming from the Middle East.  And, unfortunately, I do get the impression that this current administration is more interested in protecting the reputation of Muslims than protecting the safety of all Americans, Muslims included.  And I am tired of this undercurrent of political correctness in this country that makes people afraid to level legitimate criticism towards members of certain ethnic, religious, political, or other groups for fear of being "offensive".  Guess what:  there are times when some people NEED to be offended!

But this hysterical fear, this hysterical crap, this frenzy, these screams of "No more Muslims, they're all terrorists!", "No more refugees, they all want to come and bomb us!", "Close all mosques, they're nothing but hotbeds of terrorism!" -- It. Has. To. Stop.

Not long ago, I was listening to a Spotify playlist, "All Out '80's", when I came across a song by John Farnham that expresses much of what I am trying to say here.  I've posted the video below.  The lyrics are here.  Please read them.



I refuse to live in silence.  I refuse to live in fear.  If we live in silence, if we live in fear, the terrorists have already won, just as surely as if they have bombed us into submission.

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Family Friday: And THIS is what he was worried about?

Right now, I'm just plain tired of all of the hysteria and fear in the world.  So here's a funny:

I have been working on a novel for some time (a rewrite of something I did back in 2005), and I am TWO CHAPTERS away from finishing a first draft.  (One thing that is interrupting my noveling is doing proofing work that I get paid for.  Noveling doesn't pay anything.  Yet.)
I've been posting chapters over an an online critique group, and I have gotten good feedback from them.  In fact, that's one reason I've kept writing.  They want to know what happens next!
The main character in this novel is part Hopi.  He also is doing his dissertation on the Hopi language.  One phrase (word?) he has taught his wife to say is Nu' umi unangwa'ta, which means "I love you".  
In a couple of places, as I was writing, I just didn't want to look up the word, so I wrote it in the manuscript as [Hopi for I love you], as a note to myself to go check it later. To be honest, I was just too lazy to put it in and wanted to get the writing done.
Well, someone put the following comment on the last chapter I posted: 
I couldn't stand it anymore so I went and looked it up on the Internet! grin emoticon
I said, "Boy, all the stuff I had in that chapter, and THAT'S what you were concerned about??"
I loved it.
Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

After yesterday's shootings, I am lamenting . . .

I am tired.
I am numb.
I am in grief.
And I am lamenting.

I am borrowing some words from the book of Daniel, from the book of Ezra, from the book of Habakkuk, and from my own thoughts.  For what it's worth, this is Tina's Psalm of lament:

Oh, God, I am too ashamed to lift up my head to you.  For we have acted wickedly.  We have not kept your commands to love you with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and to love our neighbors as ourselves.

I shake my fist and demand to know why the way of the wicked prospers.  And yet, I know this is not your fault.  It is the fault of us, who go our own way, ignore you, ignore what you would have us to do.  We ignore your love.  We ignore your commands.  We wish to go our own way and do things our way, what seems right in our own eyes.  We do not look to you for guidance.

My sin is great and the sin of my people, of this country, is great.  I struggle with pride, with prejudice, with judgmentalism, with believing that I am better than others.  And I struggle with believing that you will listen and answer prayers according to what is best.

We honor what is vile among men, and that is why wicked people freely strut about.

I cry out for the souls of those who were lost yesterday, for the souls that have been lost in too many shootings this year, for the souls of those who commit murder, especially those that commit murder and acts of terror and claim that it is in Your name.

I cry out for those who would heap blame on groups of people when it is only certain members of those groups that are guilty of such acts.

I cry out for those who are fleeing evil, and for those who don't want "those people" anywhere near them.

I cry out for your justice, and for your mercy, and for your action.

Please listen.  Please, if it is your will, please save this nation before it is too late.

For us who are Christians -- for me, because I claim to be Christian -- make us, make me, your hands and feet.  It is only in that way that we -- that I -- will ever be able to show the love of Christ, the love that compelled him to die for us, and the love that compels us -- that should compel me -- to love him and to serve others.

Help us not to hate.  Help us to be fearless in condeming evil, but compassionate towards those who commit the evil.  Help us to erase the hate and the prejudice.  Help us only to commit love in the name of Christ, not evil.  Help us to be prudent, and yet compassionate and fearless.

I weep.  I lament.  This is a time of lament and not of rejoicing.  It is a time of grief.  For we have sinned, for I have sinned, and we -- and I -- desperately need your forgiveness.  We -- I -- do not deserve your grace that you give as a gift to us.  But we -- but I -- need it.

I can do nothing more but throw myself upon your mercy as a compassionate and merciful God and pray, and beg, please listen.  Please act.

I know that the Lord is good, and his mercies are from generation to generation.  As angry and impatient as I get with you, and as angry as I have often been over events in my life, time and time again you have shown your mercy and your grace by granting me blessings I do not deserve, by answering prayers in spite of my attitude and my unbelief.

Your mercy is great, and you are a God of compassion.
You are holy, and cannot tolerate sin.
I grieve, I lament, for my sin; for our sins.
Father, forgive us, for we know not what we do.

In the name of Jesus, may this be so.
Amen.

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.