"The most essential factor is persistence - the determination never to allow your energy or enthusiasm to be dampened by the discouragement that must inevitably come."
James Whitcomb Riley (for whom my junior high school was named).
I feel like so many bad things are happening and so much untruth is being shouted from rooftops that post after post involves my fighting the battle of worldviews in the areas of science and politics and religion. At times it feels like plugging holes in dikes and other times like chopping at a big tree with a little hatchet. At times it seems almost futile and often negative.
So I want to list a few of my personal heroes and heroines -
- God. I am thankful that He was patient with me and kept trying to get me to see the light through all my profligate early years. I work on his behalf in a lot of ways but He is still the top dog, the Creator of all things, the Upholder of time and material existence and the Savior of mankind. God is artistic, He has a sense of humor, He has great patience and His works and understanding are quite beyond me and yet He does present truth succinctly and well.
- My mother for deciding to have me despite the fact that my birth would put a detour in her career roadmap and my father for fathering me and presenting one great side of both manhood and fatherhood. My parents both loved me and believed in me and no parent does all things right but that is so important for a child.
- My wife, Debbie. She is my best friend on Earth and I love her so much! She is a remarkable artist and most of the things she creates she gives away to bless other people. Whether it is her handcrafted jewelry or her painted eggs or carved pumpkins she is amazing! But she is a better wife and mother than she is an artist.
- My children are all blessings to me. Robert put in five years in the military and now is on the track to be a history teacher plus he works in the Youth Ministry at church with me and Debbie. He had a leg problem that forced him to have five painful surgeries and have two tours of duty with a leg contraption that hurt him continually. He can still play basketball at a high level. Sara is the mother of my two grandsons, an achiever who was an academic and singing star in high school and is now a championship mom and a law clerk. Michelle is the mother of my granddaughter and a girl who has fought through two entirely different life-threatening conditions and several major surgeries to still optimistically look for good rather than evil to come. David is one student teaching semester away from his English teaching certification and degree to become a high school English teacher. Amanda has just graduated with honors with an art degree from college and is about to marry a great young guy who had graduated the year before. She has not only earned scholarships to go through college but maintained a GPA of about 3.5 all the way through. Nathan is about to graduate high school and is already signed up and roll-ready for college to train to be a certified automobile mechanic and has been a volunteer doing public service all the way through high school. Most of my kids received honors in school and most of the time were honor roll students but I am most happy that all six of them are good citizens and Christians. So far my son-in-law brigade is terrific as well. No sons married yet.
- Our missionary friends. We know couples, three of them, who have been serving overseas for over two decades doing great things for God instead of making money and being comfortable. Another couple has been primarily stateside but doing important Bible translation work for Wycliffe Bible Translators. One couple and their young girls are now trapped behind the Russian border, their passports having been confiscated. The old iron curtain may yet go back up there.
- Our fellow youth staffers. Bill and Shelly, the Youth Pastors at our church, they cannot afford to live on the salary the church pays so they both work at side jobs involved with local schools. Shelly works in a school cafeteria and Bill drives bus. They are willing to go the extra mile to stay in harness even though Bill has been offered Senior Pastor jobs for much more money. He believes they are called to do what they do. A guy named Mark aka Ralph and I help Bill with the teaching in Junior and Senior High classes, respectively and Mark's wife, like mine, also is on volunteer staff. We have a couple of dozen dedicated staffers who keep coming back year after year to be part of the lives of teenagers.
- Our former Pastor and his wife - Tim and Patty - who left us in December to go be missionaries among the poor population of the Turks and Caicos despite leaving a nice home and lots of friends and family...because they wanted to follow God where He would lead no matter what. Bill and another elder, Harry, are doing most of the preaching until we find a new Senior and they do it well.
- Bloggers for good. I know some bloggers are hired by various factions to promote agendas or products, but most of the bloggers I like are people who just give the time and effort in hopes of making a positive impact on the world. I keep adding new good blogs to my links list, some of them famous like Pamela Gellar or Michelle Malkin, some of them military-involved like Amy Proctor (and her cool husband Sergeant Johnny) or worldview focused such as Hawkeye (Jim) and Tim High or exceedingly political such as the guys at StopTheACLU or Mark. Angel is one of the voices focused firmly against terrorism. I could go on and on about terrific scientists and humorists I admire who take the time to try to say something important.
- Actually good people who happen to be politicians, like Marlin Stutzman and Sarah Palin (here come the haters) or Eric Krieg.
- The mother of my first four children. She went through a lot of hard times and we divorced and I retained custody of my children. She has fought through a crisis of faith and some medical issues to now have great relationships with all of her children, her grandchildren and also her ex-husband(me) and his current wife(Debbie). Sue was a great mother for the majority of our 20 years of marriage and she deserves plaudits for overcoming a few difficulties with determination and a resurgence of faith.
- People who work to serve others as teachers and medical professionals. Oh sure, plenty of both professions include lazy people and bad people. However, I think many teachers and medical professionals have a genuine desire to help others and deserve acclaim.
- Pastor Wood, the guy who led me to Christ. I was hairy and big and smelled of cigarettes and beer and marijuana and a few hours of hard work when he sat down with me and opened my eyes to God. It takes effort to put yourself out there for God, especially with people who looked like I did back then. He was dedicated and brave and I am glad to say he remains a friend and mentor to this day.
- Military men and women who serve the USA. Many of my friends and god-kids are military now and I can tell you there are lots of sacrifices military families must make to allow their spouses and/or parents and/or children to take the oath and grab the rifle and go stand on a wall somewhere.
- My Christian friends who encourage me on facebook or in person. Various injuries I have incurred over the years make my life very difficult at times and it is so great to be encouraged by friends when times get tough.
- My fellow warriors in the political ranks who formed a new chapter of the Republican Liberty Caucus along with me on Saturday. We have a motto - "The conscience of the Republican Party!" We have an aim to inform and encourage and energize the people of our county to vet their politicians and to vote for the good guys instead of the guys with money.
- All you small businessmen who have formed businesses that employ others and help other families make a living. With time and effort and God's help we will make this country business-friendly again.
- All you parents who actually give a rip about your kids. We will stand with you to try to keep traditional values of the American people in place or replaced.
- All of you who fight for life and against the Holocaust against the Unborn.
- Even my commenters who disagree with me. I learn from you whether you are right or wrong. You are like weights I must lift to gain strength and durability. I am thankful our respective First Amendment rights have allowed us to disagree vehemently at times and the government has not yet tried to shut us down.
- Every Governor or Attorney General who has vowed to fight Obamacare in the courts and every state like Arizona that picks up the ball when the Federal boys drop it.
"Greatness is not found in possessions, power, position, or prestige. It is discovered in goodness, humility, service, and character." - William Arthur Ward.