Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas Through the Years

Have you ever noticed that our views and feelings of Christmas can change over the years?  Sometimes Christmas is awesome and fun and exciting and then you grow up and Christmas is, well,  different.  Not necessarily bad, just different.  I think my Christmas experience began to change when I was about sixteen years old.  I don't think I ever shared this with my parents, although they may have noticed and graciously not said anything. 

Sure, I was a brat like most kids can be around that time of year.  My mom loves to tell the story about how one Christmas when I was about fourteen or fifteen, she decided to wrap my presents in one kind of paper and my sister's presents in a different kind of paper, without any names on them.  I promptly threw a fit.  Apparently, I made life so miserable for her, that she finally relented and put names on the packages.  So, you see, a total brat.

When I turned sixteen, I started to feel frustrated with the holiday and all of the expectations that were (and still are) placed on gift givers.  I started to get angry with people for not celebrating what I considered the true meaning of Christmas, which was the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ.  I used to feel out of control and helpless about the situation because I wanted to change the world's attitude and opinion of the most special holiday of the year.  I wouldn't even have called myself a Christian back then either, which is quite humorous, given my righteous indignation about the whole thing.

As I've gotten older, though, my frustration has given way to introspection and self examination.  Now, I know that doesn't sound like a whole lot of fun to do at what is supposed to be one of the most exciting and happiest holidays of the year, but I think it's necessary.  We are called as Christians to examine ourselves and our hearts on a regular basis, even when it isn't Christmas.  The thought alone that God would love this world enough to wrap his love in flesh and then sacrifice his son;  his one and only son so that we could live in heaven with him for all of eternity?  That, my friend, is the sort of thing spurs me on to want to be better, or to try to be better. 

Something else that happens when you think about God's love for us is that it makes you want to remove all impurity from your heart and mind and life and replace it with obedience and joy and happiness.  God gave us His son and His Word for our benefit, for our life to be lived abundantly, not to punish us or to hinder us.  He gave those things to us because he knows that we need limitations to protect our hearts from sin.

I pray that this Christmas night, as I sit here and type this, that you and your family are experiencing joy and peace and love.  Not because of the gifts that are under your tree, but because of the gifts that are around your tree.  Your family and friends are the real gifts in your lives.  Forget about the commercialization of the holiday, as I so fervently wished for the world as a teenager, and make it about a wonderful blessing of a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes.  Merry Christmas to your family from mine. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Invite Jesus Everyday

Hello, readers!  Welcome back to The Political Chicken!  If you notice the title, it doesn't look very political, and it isn't.  This is a place where my politics and faith sometimes meet and I share about both of them, because I am a Christian. 

Let me set the stage for this blog post:
My family and I attend Second Baptist Church and we love it there.   We were at church recently and one of the youth pastors was leading us in a prayer honoring our Veterans, which was quite nice.  He used the word, 'invite' in his prayer, as in he was 'inviting' the Holy Spirit to our worship and into the hearts and lives of the Veterans.

For some reason that word, 'invite' really got to me.  I mean, it really struck a chord with me and I wanted to write about it and teach it to my kids immediately.  I was really excited!  I started thinking about how an invite is intentional.  You don't normally hand out invitations to something important like a wedding or a birthday party by accident, do you?  No, you're intentional and you're selective about who you're going to ask to attend.

So, in order to demonstrate this, I wrote on three index cards the words, 'You're Invited'.  I handed them out to my three boys as a way to invite them to our nightly devotional time.  At first, they looked at me like I was crazy.  "You're inviting us to home devotional, Mom?"  The mystery was kind of fun, actually.  I couldn't wait to reveal what I had been contemplating all day to share with them.

After dinner, we gathered together, each one with their invitations.  I asked them how it felt to be invited?  How did they feel the last time a friend invited them to a party?  I got the following responses:
"Special"
"Included"
"Welcomed"
"Wanted"
"Loved"

Yes, yes, and yes.  I was so happy because I felt that they really had grasped the concept of the invitation.  I also explained to them that in order to become Christians, you have to invite Jesus into your heart to rule and reign for the rest of your life.   My oldest son has done that already, but the other two have not.  I have faith that they will make that decision very soon.

I went one step further and reminded them that not only do we invite Jesus into our hearts to be Lord of our lives, but we need to make a conscious effort to invite Jesus into our heart and into our day EVERYDAY.  We can all get busy and stressed; at least I do.  That's usually when I have to stop and think if I had prayed and asked God to guide my day.  If the answer is 'no', then I have made an unwise decision. 

Asking God into your day and praying daily is always important, but it's especially important to do now that we are in the "most wonderful time of the year".  Like the song says, "with Holiday greetings and gay, happy meetings when friends come to call."  I hope you and your family have a blessed and Merry Christmas!

Monday, November 21, 2016

Home School Mom: Keep Fighting the Good Fight

If you're a home school mom like me, and you're reading this, I hope this blog post encourages you.  I am a home school mom to three lovely boys.  My husband and I decided as a married couple years before we had children to home school them, one reason was because my husband was home schooled his entire school career.  We also wanted to direct the path our children's education; something we knew was more difficult to do if we chose public school.  We decided and made our plans for career choices accordingly. 

I love being a mom.  I was made for being a mom and the children God gave to me to take care of are perfect for me and their dad to parent; all part of God's design.  I also love being a teacher.  I like it when my kids ask for my help and we get through a lesson.  Yes, there are tears and struggles during the day, heck, sometimes my kids cry, too.

There are a million things going on in our house on any given day. We have chores to do and meals to cook and dishes to clean.  There is coffee to brew and drink and snacks to make and eat.  Sometimes one kid is up doing a chore like running the vacuum and the others are trying to study for a test.  Other days, mostly Wednesdays, we wash our sheets and the kids pile up the mattresses at the end of the stairs and jump off the landing on top of the pile of mattresses.  So THAT could also be happening.

Some days are GREAT at school because no one has a test to worry about or a paper to write.  We might even finish school before lunch sometimes and that's when you feel like a success.  You feel successful because you know that if they were in public school, they'd still be sitting at a desk dying to get up and release some of that bottled up energy.  Then, some days it feels like HOUSE ARREST!!!!  Lessons DRAAAAAG out because no one, including the teacher, wants to be there.  Everyone would rather be zoned out in front of the television or blogging on the computer.  Hmmmm.....

As I'm writing this, it's one of the days that seem to drag on and on.  I'm feeling frustrated and so is one of my boys, so  I wrapped my arm around his shoulder and said, "Are you upset because the day is seeming to take so long?"  He nodded his head yes.  Then I told him, "Honey, it's only one day.  Some days are smoother than others.  It's okay to have a day that takes a little longer than others."  And then I taught myself something while talking to him.  Don't you love it when God does that?  

I say all of that to say this; homeschooling and life is best when handled on a day by day basis.  While doing family devotion the other night, we came across this scripture in 2Timothy 4:7-8 that has helped me, and I'll share it with you now: "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day-and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing."

You can take that to the bank, moms and dads.  When you feel like giving up, think on Paul's reminder to Timothy about fighting the good fight and keeping the faith.  We're all going to get that crown of glory.  Take things one day at a time.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Congress Has Never Met An Earmark They Didn't Like

Hello, my pretties!  Welcome back to TPC on the flip side of quite possibly the craziest election season EVAH!  I worked this election harder than I have ever worked one before.  I knocked on doors and phone banked and placed yard signs all throughout my precinct.  I was even able to recruit volunteers to work the election in my spare time.  Whew!

That said, I was thoroughly disappointed in the results of the county wide races here in Harris County.  We lost three very important positions, the utmost, in my opinion, was the Tax-Assessor Collector which was held by Republican incumbent Mike Sullivan.  Mike's office is in charge of keeping the voter rolls clean in Harris County and with the Democrats at the ready to steal elections, the fact that a Democrat won that seat makes it even easier for them to do so.

I know that I made no secret about not being a Trump supporter, however, I was personally thankful to see Hillary go down in flames.  With a Republican majority in Congress, we should be able to right the wrongs of an out of control leftist agenda, right?  Think again, kids.

I want to ask you a multiple choice question.  Not one week after the 2016 general election, Republicans in Congress are itching to:
a.)Reign in the federal government
b.)Repeal and replace Obamacare
c.)Repeal redundant laws and sunset government agencies
d.) Lift the ban on earmarks.
If you chose 'd', you're correct.  

Club for Growth doesn't think we should.  According to their president, David McIntosh, " “This is a test of whether Republicans are listening to the American people,” said Club for Growth president David McIntosh. “It’s been barely a week since voters sent a resounding rejection of Washington insider politics, and yet House Republicans are already on the verge of proving they’re tone deaf. Earmarks represent the worst of inside-the-beltway gamesmanship, by enticing Members to vote for big-government bills with the lure of getting tax dollars for big projects back in their districts. House Republicans banned earmarks in 2011, but some have been trying to get back their spending power ever since. Voters believed that Republicans would ‘drain the swamp,’ not redirect it for their own benefit."

Hmm, so you know me, I can't leave well enough alone, so I called Congressman Culberson's office to check with them the reason why they filed such a bill.  According to his office, "Line item appropriations would provide greater transparency and efficiency because the request would identify the congressperson and the project said money would be going financing."

Follow that with news that Speaker Ryan "...persuaded Republicans to postpone votes on bringing back legislative earmarks until 2017 after reminding members of President-elect Donald Trump’s promise to “drain the swamp” of Washington."  So, we can breathe a sigh of relief, right?  Not so fast.  Read on down the article from thehill.com and find this: "But while the votes have been delayed for now, it’s far from certain that Republicans will keep the earmark ban in place when a public vote is held next year."

So, if you're of the mind that lifting the ban on earmarks is not a good idea, then feel free to contact your Congressman.  If you happen to think that by using this tactic that it will help expedite the freeing up federal dollars for special requests and you like that idea, then also feel free to call your Congressman.  John Culberson can be reached at 713-682-8828.  Let him know how you feel about the issue, because he represents YOU and that is YOUR money they're spending.


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Thursday, November 3, 2016

Shop Local Businesses Because Evil CEO's or Something...

Do you see anything wrong with this sign?  It's a sign encouraging folks to shop local or shop small businesses.  Normally, I wouldn't either, because I think that shopping local and supporting small businesses is a good idea.

I am personally all about capitalism because, contrary to what the leftists say, capitalism does work.  

I also believe in the entrepreneur and the small business man or woman.  I believe it's the innovation of small businesses that has made America great.  The process of an idea taking shape into a product or service is amazing.  

However, what I do have a problem with is found within the first line of this sign.  "..you're not helping a CEO buy a third holiday home.."  Really?  This to me is saying that at some point, there is a thought that you've made enough money.  This also reminds me of the saying, "pay your fair share."  To those two comments, I have to ask, who says when you've made enough and who determines what a fair share is?  If your answer is 'the government', then you're reading the wrong blog.  


Now, I'd like to know what is so wrong with enough funds to buy a third vacation home?  Hell, I'd like to have enough funds to buy ONE vacation home!  What if the big corporation person has budgeted and saved and run the company efficiently enough to afford all of that real estate?  

Something else that folks seem to forget, the economy thrives because CEO's and corporate bosses have the money to buy vacation homes.  They create jobs by the purchases they are able to make and infuse the market with more cash because the people that they put to work are also able to have their own purchasing power.  It just makes sense.  

This reminds me of another blog I wrote titled, Keynes vs. Hayek: Round Two.  In it, I describe and share a video of the two dueling economists F.A. Hayek and John Maynard Keynes.  One quote that I love and that fits in with the theme of the economy and spending is this, "The economy's not a car, there's no engine to stall.  No expert can fix it, there's no 'it' at all.  The economy's us, we don't need a mechanic.  Put away the wrenches, the economy's organic."

So, yes, by all means, support local and small businesses if you so choose, but don't, as my friend Sean Murphy says, "Shop shame, the liberal way."  

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Harris County Works Because of....YOU!

State Rep. Mike Schofield
"Texas' prosperity depends on Harris County Working."-State Representative Mike Schofield.  Great quote, but what does that mean to you and me?  How do we keep Harris County 'working'?

I'm glad you asked because I have written and written and written some more about this very thing.  I think it's a two part answer, but the first part is by getting involved. I have also talked and shared with others about getting involved in politics.  I'm sure I've reached saturation level with some of the people I know, but somehow, I'm not sure that's enough talking OR writing, for that matter.  Not enough of them have been moved to action by it, so I'm going to try once more.
 

Even for my activist brethren, arguing with one another on Facebook or Twitter about things is NOT going to change anything.  We can all talk about how screwed up things are for the United States.  Sure, that's true, things ARE screwed up.  However, it's going to take ACTION on the part of the activist and voter to make a difference.  Not just by informing themselves about the candidates and voting, although that IS an important step.  I'm talking about lacing up tennis shoes, slathering on sunscreen and knocking on a door, or two, or ten!

If block walking isn't your game, then find something that is.  Phone banking, while I find it to be as boring as can be, is easy and effective.  You can call from home or from your local party headquarters.  I'll even go one step further and give you a link to the schedule of phone banks and block walks here.  See?  That wasn't so bad, was it?

You can also become an election worker and devote one whole day to it.  There is some preparatory work involved, but it's easy and accessible.  Be a poll watcher.  Again, some work involved, but worth the effort to ensure that elections are free and fair.


The second part of the answer is that in order to keep Harris County 'working' we need to elect Republicans to local offices.  Did you know that the office of the president is less likely to affect your life than is your local judge?  Think about that for a minute.  Now, having said that, do you want a judge who's going to 'legislate from the bench' by being an activist judge, or do you want someone who's going to follow the law?  I know which one I want, and that's why I'm urging you to go to the polls this November and vote Republican all the way down to the bottom of the ballot.

So, why have I lumped these two things together, the two things that I personally feel will make Harris County 'work'?  Well, because during the 2008 presidential election, Harris County lost the judicial races by a razor thin margin.  I'll quote State Representative Mike Schofield again when he says that, "If Republicans had turned out just three more voters per precinct, we wouldn't have seen Republican judges swept out of office in 2008."   If there are three people registered in one household, that could just be ONE door to knock on!  I have personally decided that since I am able bodied, I'm going to try to make sure that doesn't happen again this election cycle.
Republican Judicial Candidates

You know, none of us are ever going to be 100% happy with the way things are in our government.  I'd be lying if I said we would ever by completely satisfied.  I'd also be lying if I said I didn't wish things were different.  I wish for a lot of things that won't ever happen:


Since sitting around and 'wishing' isn't going to change anything, past, present, or future, I'm doing what I can to change what's going on.
I hope you'll join me. Start by block walking or phone banking or working your polling place on election day. I can't stress enough how important it is to be involved locally. Local government 'works' because of you, the involved citizen.  

Monday, September 19, 2016

Back To Home School

I should probably title this blog, "Buzzkill", because that's what I'm going to do to you; I'm going to kill your summer vacation buzz.  It's that time of year that all children plan to head back to school.  Since I am a home school mom, it's time to go back to home school.  That can raise anyone's anxiety level for sure, but if you're anything like me, you've been planning your return to home school for quite sometime.  I have a few tips and ideas for those home school moms who are planning on going back to school.

That might sound like an oxymoron since you do school at your house generally, and you're not technically going 'back' anywhere, but hear me out.  You are going back to a mindset and an action, although not necessarily a place.  So aside from the physicality of the return, let's talk about back to homeschooling.

I have been homeschooling for a while now, about eight years or so and for the me, the following have been successful in helping us to get through the school year.

-Designate a space in your house for school work.  If you can, I find that it works best if you have a room that you can designate to teach in.

-Decorate your space with appropriate items; maps, globes, instructional posters, etc.  That helps make it feel more like an actual classroom.

-Set a schedule and try to stick to it.  This one is hard, especially for me since I tend to be creative and want to wander off a bit.  Keep it loose, if that works better for you, but kids do need structure.

-Welcome your kids back to school with a welcome back note situated at their desk or place at the table for the first day at school.  I did this last year, and my middle son asked me if we would do that again.  I took that as a sign that it meant something special to him and I'm always looking for things to do to make my kids feel special.

-Recognize their achievements.  I have lots of awards certificates and I hand them out somewhat randomly so that they are unexpected little rewards and surprises for my kiddos.  They love them!

-Celebrate milestones like graduation!  We didn't celebrate a kindergarten graduation for any of my boys, but we decided to commemorate the end of fifth grade with a graduation.  We invited grandparents and a few neighbor kids over and had cake. We even read a speech to our son about his accomplishments and what made us proud of him.  It was a special day for not only him, but for the family as well.

-Give your home school a name.  We chose our name and even have a mascot.   Although we will never have an organized sports team, we are a team as a family and that is even more important than being on a soccer team or football team any day.


This is something that we haven't done yet, but I've seen before on Pinterest (ahem) that lots of public schools commemorate the fiftieth day of education by dressing up as the 50's; poodle skirts for girls and leather jackets and jeans for boys.   Also, when the 100th day of instruction passes, the school staff and students celebrate by dressing up as old people with wigs and mustaches and walkers, etc.  It looks like a lot of fun!

I hope I've helped to make your transition from summer time to school time just a bit easier!  Happy Teaching!