IF WE LOVE FREEDOM… FAMILY, COUNTRY, ONE NATION UNDER GOD…
IF WE WANT PEACE, PROSPERITY, SAFETY…. A FUTURE FOR OUR CHILDREN AND THEIR CHILDREN THAT IS WORTHY OF THIS NATION’S POTENTIAL… AS NEVER SEEN BEFORE…
IF WE LOVE ALL OF THE ABOVE AND UNDERSTAND WHAT OUR FLAG STANDS FOR… LIFE, LIBERTY AND THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS… OBTAINED AT A PRICE PAID BY MANY… AND ONGOING…
THEN LET US BE AS FAITHFUL TO THOSE WHO DEFEND US AS THEY ARE TO US AS THEY ENDURE HARDSHIPS AND RISK EVERYTHING FOR “WE THE PEOPLE”. MAY GOD PRESERVE THEM AND THEIR FAMILIES. LET US PRAY OUR TROOPS BE FORTIFIED, PROTECTED AND GRANTED SUCCESS AS THEY UPHOLD THEIR OATHS, EVEN AS WE LIGHT THEIR WAY WITH OUR UNWAVERING SUPPORT.
WHAT JULY 4, 2023 WILL LOOK LIKE DEPENDS ON ALL OF US.
Copyright 2022. Nancy Diraison/Diraison Publishing. All Rights Reserved. Respectful sharing permitted with appropriate credits.
Dreamstime photo credits:
Fireworks: ID 94147401 @ Dmytro Balkovitin/Dreamstime.com
Hope is a concept that haunts us through the most difficult passages of our lives — times when we are discouraged, in pain, in despair, and wanting to give up. Whatever the cause or origin of our difficulty, we feel as if we are walking a tightrope. “Hope” is the only ray of light we imagine at the end of the tunnel; we have no idea “if” or “when” the end is coming. Even the most faithful become discouraged, as history shows. Times of war are especially taxing as so many suffer from the consequences, with no idea of timelines for relief.
Hope is often confused with faith, to which it is not unrelated but in fact separate from (as we shall see). Sometimes hope is the only thing we have to hang on to. It is invisible, tenuous, impossible to quantify and very much misunderstood.
There is a subtle function going on when we are in the fire of affliction that forges something beautiful, if we can endure the process. We will identify the catalyst that gives “hope” its function.
The scriptures sequence “faith, hope and love (…but the greatest of these is love” I Corinthians 13:13) is in that specific order for a purpose. The principles are applicable to all circumstances.
When the three words “faith, hope and love” are randomly rearranged, the lesson is lost. The key is in understanding exactly why “hope” is different from “faith”. Hopefully (pun intended) the explanation will surprise!
“Faith” itself goes beyond belief and knowledge. It is possible to have knowledge without a concrete “faith”. Most of the higher spiritual senses are tested IN THE FIRE, when we are under hardship “in the kiln of affliction”. If we endure suffering we graduate; if we fail, we do not.
The missing factor in “hope” — the catalyst for success
Uniquely, “hope” is missing in the list of spiritual gifts mentioned in Paul’s epistle to the Galatians (5:22-23). “Love, joy, peace, longsuffering [aka patience], kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control,” do not include the word “hope”. Hope itself accompanies faith in that faith is tied to an assured waiting for things one doesn’t yet see but hopes for. But hope has a special function to perform.
Why is “hope” not a spiritual “gift”? If hope cannot be gifted then it is something we must develop ourselves for building character. It is for our testing. Given it’s placement in the word trilogy, hope’s importance is shown to be the bridgebetween faith and love. Both faith and love grow stronger from exercising “hope”. Even trust is increased as the process of growth forms a basis of experience for future long trials. While hope is being tested, there is only one way to hang on to it when all seems lost.
Time as a Mystery
With our lives tethered to the inescapable element of time, no one escapes its entrapment. When stress increases, there is a natural desire to break its barriers — in other words to “cheat the clock”. While faith or belief can exist in a fairly static mode, something else must happen when a long period of time is attached to suffering or delayed expectations or goals.
Time is where we suffer, where the separate quality of faith is tested. Time is how and why we are forced to learn to s-t-r-e-t-c-h faith beyond our normal endurance. It is where we either break or conquer. It is where we resist the wrong urges to escape through inadvisable or simply wrong means, and it is where and how we prove our faith. As part of the process we learn to turn away from darkness and reach for light. Whatever identifies as “light” increases hope the same way sunlight stimulates a buried seed. Turn off the negatives! The rewards come with hindsight, when “time” ceases its bondage to the situation.
Under the crucible of time, we must not break to wrong temptations “hoping” to shorten the process. That doesn’t mean we do not take reasonable measures to mitigate against and alleviate the suffering! But if we “hope against hope” when we feel we are losing hope, when others around us are losing theirs, then we have not lost hope! Quietly, invisibly, as hope endures, our capacity to love and trust increases as well. There is no shortcut. There are never shortcuts to building good character. There is only yielding and submission without ever giving up. Staying the course despite the headwinds. Praying when we can no longer tread water. Because that is how we find that we were able to endure after all. It is how we conquer.
Copyright 2022 Nancy Diraison/Diraison Publishing. All Rights Reserved. Sharing permitted only with appropriate credits.
Dreamstime photo credits:
Featured photo “Hope”: Photo 186934333 @ Natali Filina
“Faith” in the fire: Illustration 206431228 @ Cmlndm
Time clock and space: Illustration 6229895 @ Eti Swinford
Stretching rubber band #1: Photo 92900551/Beautiful @ Pojoslaw
MEMORIAL DAY… reaching out soberly and in gratitude for all those whose lives have been and continue to be spent in protecting our freedoms — those abroad and those at home. Some will be lost today. Others are remembering the cost they and others have paid. Let us take nothing for granted.
Silent reflection is appropriate, along with the sober realization that if we do not all as “we the people” fight for our freedoms, and support those leading the charge, no efforts to preserve them will endure beyond our current distress. As in 1776, so in 2022. Many did not know the nation was in jeopardy; some wrongly clung to an abusive establishment as their comfort zone; only the few led the charge to freedom. REMEMBER! What was won can be lost while people slumber.
Those who carry the scars and remember and those who re-enact history for the sake of remembrance… This is their day… We owe gratitude to them and their loved ones who sacrifice with them every day.
Copyright Nancy Diraison/Diraison Publishing, May, 2022. All Rights Reserved. (Photos not identified as the author’s are from Dreamstime stock photos).
As we honor all mothers on this June 8th, 2022, let us not forget to include in our gratitude the immmense contributions that fathers make in the care and raising of our children. Family is incomplete without them and does not start without them. Mothers bear a huge responsibility in raising boys to become the strong and thoughtful leaders and guardians needed by tomorrow’s families.
Copyright 2022 Nancy Diraison/Diraison Publishing. All Rights Reserved.
On this Passover season, 2022, let us remember that Freedom is never free. Whether on the highest spiritual plane, or the physical, someone has paid or is paying a price for us to have it. Let us imbibe the lessons and be thankful, even as we seek to do our part to regain, retain and share that freedom with others.
Let us be thankful for the ultimate sacrifice, but never fail in gratitude for the service of others, whether military, first responders, family, or the strangers we never meet who sacrifice that others may benefit.
One evening many years ago I was driving the long stretch of California’s coastal 101 Highway that connects the Bay Area to Los Angeles. Dense fog developed at twilight. There were few cars traveling that night. If I’d had a hunch the fog would be so dense, I would have taken the inland I-5 Interstate. Turned out I’d exchanged vehicle congestion for visual obscurity. Not fun.
I was stuck, tired, and seriously wondering if I’d make it through without an incident. Any stopping would be a challenge as visibility was almost nil. I was tempted to pull over and wait it out, but saw no safe opportunity. All I could do was hold my course as it got darker, and darker, and darker.
Suddenly, out of the fog loomed a “miracle”. The tail lights of an 18-wheeler came dimly into view… straight ahead of me!
AHA! My salvation! With a seasoned semi driver in front of me, if I followed just far enough back not to lose sight, and not close enough to put myself at risk, I might be able to follow the truck to some logical stopping point. Anything in the way on the road would not be mine to deal with. I was sheltered from what little oncoming traffic might come struggling through the fog. This continued for several hours without a break, until the fog cleared. I wondered if the trucker had been aware he was being followed. I imagined he was.
Sometimes we just need a light. And sometimes, the unexpected needs to happen when a situation is blocked.
BREAKTHROUGH LEADERSHIP IN TIMES OF IMPASSE
Decades after the driving episode I just related, the fate of the entire world is hanging at one of the most precarious situations in history — at the brink of disaster on multiple fronts. Populations on all continents are victims of the accumulated political, economic and social manipulations of powers they have no control over. Every illusion of stability has crumbled. Leaders who should not have been trusted have misled, and those who would correct course meet with inconceivable opposition and grave dangers.
Hopes of prosperity and the pursuit of happiness have been replaced with helplessness, despair and cynicism. Some populations have been in that condition for a very long time; to others it is a shock. No one can see through the fog, and a deliberately orchestrated spirit of fear has prevailed for the past two years especially.
Is there any hope?
Breakthroughs are made for impasses. In fact when all seems lost, the unexpected must rise to rescue. It is the only way.
THE COURAGE OF A MAN NAMED PHINEHAS
Among various historic parallels, one particularly comes to mind as an allegory to the present need. I never could have visualized the form this breakthrough would take, but it is reminiscent of what one single soldier named Phinehas accomplished at a time when the 12-tribe nation of Israel became unmanageable even under its powerful leader, Moses.
Who was Phinehas and what actions did he take to break the stalemate?
Phinehas was a grandson of the high priest Aaron and son of Eleazar (not to be confused with the vagrant, lawless son of Eli whose name was also Phinehas).
The nation’s leadership had followed the false prophet Balaam into idolatry and immorality (Baal worship). By their example the entire nation was led astray. They had forgotten God and embraced many evils. On the surface it appeared that all was lost. At the time of the unexpected event a plague came upon the nation which killed 24,000 of the worst offenders (out of an estimated population of 1.5 Million).
Phinehas’s intervention is recorded in the Old Testament book of Numbers, chapter 25. More illuminating details, well worth reading, are found in the corresponding account of the ancient historian Josephus (“Antiquities of the Jews”, Book 4, Chapter 6, sections 10-12). It is not within the scope of this short article to reprint those passages, but readers are strongly encouraged to verify them as they bear a remarkable comparison to the circumstances we face today. As King Solomon said: “There is nothing new under the sun.” The past repeats itself, a good reason to study history.
The blistering question that struck me many years ago about this matter of Phinehas was: “WHY wasn’t Moses doing anything?” He was still the leader of his nation. His faith was not tarnished and God’s power not diminished. The former Prince of Egypt was locked in a state of political “action paralysis”, but why? What was needed to change the situation?
Josephus’s account clarifies the situation. The corruption problem was so large, like a massive infection, so deeply embedded, that an incomplete action would only have rebounded into larger problems. All possible actions had been contemplated and deemed inadequate. Anything Moses tried was going to backfire. And as today, when enemies are dominant and ruthless, woe to the one who tries to expose and oppose them. Like a cancer that must be eradicated 100%, there needs to be a complete overturning of the wrong course, and the people must be involved for change to be effective. They have to be motivated to act, and numbers matter.
But the people need a light, maybe something to lead them through the fog. Maybe some trucks?
The historian Josephus records the precise moment when Zimri, leader of the tribe of Simeon, spews an outrageously insolent public speech against Moses (details in the Josephus text), and the honorable Phinehas has had enough. He does not ask permission, and he is not rebuked later for his action, but he takes control. Later he and his posterity are greatly honored for what he initiates. As one man, Phinehas “spearheads” the clean-up of the nation. He rises up under righteous inspiration and eliminates the arrogant prince and his complicit companion, and the snowball rolled from there… because the people got on board.
Also the plague was stopped in its tracks, after the evil was purged, and Phinehas was granted God’s “covenant of peace” for his actions and leadership of the other men who joined him. The nation entered a new beginning. The plague marked the end of the first generation after the Exodus, and a new census was taken to mark the rebirth of the nation. It was a turning point before entering the Promised Land (Number 26).
So in 2022, when all seemed at a standstill, and the people had suffered under unconscionable wrongs done against them, the truckers hit the road, and others joined, and others helped, and many more prayed… because the zeal of Phinehas was in their hearts to deliver their families, their people, and their nations from the grip of tyranny.
May we never forget…
Copyright 2022 Nancy Diraison/Diraison Publishing. All Rights Reserved. Sharing of this article for its intended purposes is permitted with appropriate credits.
See our blog “The Power of One”for individual encouragement.
Blue semi in lead: Photo 120663639 @ Carolyn Franks/Dreamstime.com
VETERANS DAY 2021 is a day for remembering that peace and freedom are not free. It is also a day to be thankful our military is pledged by oath to defend our Constitution above all. The high costs of winning and maintaining peace and freedom can only be vindicated through eternal citizen vigilance and the accurate teaching of history. Those who forget are doomed to repeat.
The methods of war have changed, dulling humanity’s ability to recognize the onset of oppression and tyranny. The erosion of FREEDOM takes many forms, the most dangerous of them psychologically subtle. Losses include: (1) the power or right to act, speak or think free of despotic oppression; (2) the sly onset of subjection to foreign domination or despotic government, (3) increasing fears or acts of being imprisoned or enslaved for exercising natural and Constitutional freedoms. These points alone should register loud and clear this 2021 Veterans Day.
The fight for freedom has never been confined to distant shores where so many of our soldiers have sacrificed; it is wherever we reside, work, and in the schools we send our children to. We can best honor our veterans by courageously entering the battles closest to us. The power of one is immense. Remembering John F. Kennedy’s words: “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.” By this time in 2022, we will know what we have won or lost.
For related reading, see this site’s article, “The Power of One”.
Copyright 2021 Nancy Diraison/Diraison Publishing. Sharing permitted with credits.
On March 23, 1775, Patrick Henry made a stirrring speech at the Second Virginia Convention at St. John’s Church in Richmond, Virginia. His speech addressed the burdens of foreign oppression which subsequently crystallized into the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution.
Patrick Henry’s speech closed with the famous words: “...give me liberty or give me death”. The sentence preceding those words stated: “Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God!”
Oppression” — “chains and slavery” — incorporate many forms of abuse, some physical, and inescapably always psychological. The process is usually gradual, lulling the unwary into submission.
In 1775 Patrick Henry recognized that the colonies were already at war. It had crept upon them in myriad forms. Most turned a blind eye, others prepared to fight. The entirety of the speech is a valuable read and highly recommended at this junction in history (links below) .
In 2021 the Constitutional Republic formed 245 years ago faces renewed and parallel challenges, though more subtly cloaked in the tactics of modern warfare, less tactical, and more psychological. The weight of responsibility rests on all shoulders to do all that is possible and necessary to vindicate the sacrifices paid previously in the fight for freedom. For the sake of our children it must be done. Fate is at the door and time does not wait.
Peace can only be maintained through strength, and the strength of America was bequeathed to its people. That strength can (must) never be delegated to others without maintaining constant watchfulness. As often quoted: “The price of liberty is eternal vigilance.” Therein lies the nation’s Achille’s heel, and the answer to reclaiming appropriate power. The fight is for everyone. For the children.
The immortal words of Patrick Henry merit renewed scrutiny.
MEMORIAL DAY… reaching out soberly and in gratitude for all those whose lives have been and continue to be spent in protecting our freedoms — those abroad and those at home. Some will be lost today. Take nothing for granted. Silent reflection would be appropriate.
This week as we mark National Police Week, we think it appropriate to preface our annually republished account with some details of the origin of the day.
Never in the history of this nation have law officers faced the degrees of ingratitude, opposition and violence we’ve witnessed in recent years. Sincerely serving officers are menaced, faced with deliberately provocative situations. They have been rewarded with defunding, personal attacks, treachery from within and without their ranks, unsupportive courts and the loneliness that comes from feeling helpless while law and order collapse. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. This has to end. This is not the way things used to be.
May 15 was first proclaimed “National Peace Officers Memorial Day” by President John F. Kennedy in 1962. The expanded week-long observance pays special recognition to those law enforcement officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty for the safety and protection of others. Those who sacrifice in domestic law enforcement, and their families, share similar woes as those who lose their lives in fighting abroad for the preservation of our freedoms.
Peace officers. That is what they should be. That is what our republished blog is about. Friends, not foes.
President Kennedy as the 35th President of the United States was a leader who loved his country and its people. He famously stated: “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” He lived up to his words; he lost his life. Regarding his honored military service, Kennedy had said: “Any man who may be asked in this century what he did to make his life worthwhile, I think can respond with a good deal of pride and satisfaction, “I served in the United States Navy…” (he wrote in August, 1963). Kennedy was honorably discharged in 1945 after his service during World War II. He received the Navy and Marine Corps Medal (the highest non-combat decoration awarded for heroism) and the Purple Heart. Those who have read can never forget his courage during the PT-109 incident, among others (worth the search to read about).
Some paid the ultimate price. Some continue to serve and fight to protect and to serve.
The flame that burns for one burns for all.
We hope the following true story, which spanned several dates from 1999 to 2000, will serve to remind and encourage those who never give up, both the fighters and those who support them.
Authored October 9, 2018 / Nancy Diraison
Every time I hear of another police officer shooting, I ache. Deeply. I grieve for all those affected by these tragedies. There are no words sufficient to solace the devastated family members, no way to replace the missing husband, father, son, brother, uncle — or wife, mother, daughter, sister, aunt — all the personal roles filled by those who risk their lives every single day to keep law and order in our increasingly challenged society. That is not to minimize the suffering endured by friends and co-workers, which is also intense.
Maybe I grieve more easily than others due to losses sustained in my own life, but it’s hard to imagine what those close to law enforcement and first responders go through every day of their lives knowing the bad news could come. For those who perpetrate these events on purpose, there are no suitable words at all.
We used to respect law enforcement. They were our friends. For many that recollection is still strong. We cherished and appreciated the protection and unending services rendered. Cops were heroes, like firemen and all other rescuers. Children looked up to them, aspired to the professions, even if they never paid as much as they should. Many of the small services rendered were never officially known or recognized, but at least there was gratitude expressed. We certainly did not fear the police, and hatred was unheard of.
Too often these days gratitude is supplanted by grief. Why? Perhaps the breakdown of family in general, and the absence of fathers in far too many homes encourages a transfer of blame and resentment to authority figures. Nothing sane warrants that. Staying on the right side of the law of course, helps frame our approach to law enforcement.
In my life as a parent, there came a day when I had to teach my occasionally belligerent son a vigorous lesson about respecting officers of the law. This is the story I share today, because what children learn early, and mostly from their parents, will form their values and views for the rest of their lives. Everything we do as parents matters. We can have a huge impact, but we need to be present in their lives and cannot delegate the responsibility.
On a day like all others, I and my two children left the post office where I’d just conducted some minor business. As we walked the few yards to our parked car, a Deputy exited the Sheriff’s Department half a block away. The officer was walking towards us.
Out of the blue, my angry little man said: “I’m going to go over there and kick that police officer!”
“Oh???” Hm! My five-year-old was about to learn something about his mother.
“I have a different idea,” I said. “That officer, like most officers, spends his entire day helping people, sometimes with really bad problems, and instead of kicking him you need to go over there and APOLOGIZE for having such a terrible thought about him!”
My son cringed in fear and his face contorted in protest. Since he wasn’t cooperative, I took his arm to help him walk a little faster.
When we reached the officer, I explained the minor problem I needed help with. The officer grinned and got down closer to the sidewalk so as to not intimidate this increasingly terrified kid. Later my son would tell me he thought he was going to go to jail! Maybe that was a good thing!
My boy never did get any words out, so after a few minutes the officer smiled, stated he’d see far worse problems that day, and we parted ways. I forgot to ask his name.
Well, for those who do not believe there is a God who desires to participate in our parenting, the rest of this story may seem entirely coincidental; for others it will be far more encouraging.
I was deeply regretful at my son’s behavior and prayed silently for him to be helped with his thinking.
Driving home, less than ten minutes later, the two-lane highway was slowed due to a bad roll-over accident, off our side of the southbound lane. I was about to get my first answer to the prayer for my son. In the moment I could take to study his face in the back carseat, I saw him craning his neck in disbelief as he noticed the officer on location and urgently assisting the accident victims was the very one he had just slighted back in town.
When we got home, I said nothing, letting my son think. To my surprise a short while later, he came to me sadly, saying, “Mom, I made a mistake. I should have apologized to that police officer.” I was a bit stunned. However we had a problem, how to fix the mistake? How to recover the situation? I did not know the officer’s name.
My suggestion was that we pray together for a chance to once again encounter the officer. We had no idea how or if it would happen, but my son prayed with me, visibly burdened with his mistake.
One more week passed, and it happened. At a small Independence Day outdoor concert where we had seated ourselves, the officer appeared, walking around the crowd to reach his own family. I wondered if my boy would have the courage to follow up on his intentions, but he amazed me.
It still makes me proud, when I think about it, watching my son shake hands in the distance with the officer, who he boldly approached on his own. When he came back he was beaming.
Mission accomplished, the breach healed, I was satisfied, but the story was just beginning. For the next two years, it seems we never stopped encountering the Deputy. I sensed the awe my son felt for the bond being renewed every time he met the man; he did not have a good role model in our home so each contact sunk deep. The officer would not have known that.
The last event was unforgettable, given as I heard later the Deputy was soon afterwards transferred to another part of the State.
We had been traveling back to our Rocky Mountain town from the desert southwest, making our way along the barren two-lane highway of the Southern Rockies, past the sand dunes and not much else.
That was when the car broke down. And it wasn’t going anywhere.
With no way to call for our towing service, and many miles from the nearest town on the map, the situation was worrisome. No cars passed for what seemed like a long time. And it was very, very hot.
But then came the surprise. Glancing in the rear view mirror, I saw a black and white Chevy Blazer approaching. It pulled up behind us and stopped. Was this help or trouble?
Out stepped our friend, the Deputy. Unreal. Absolutely unreal. Still hours from home. My son’s eyes lit up in total astonishment. Of course the Officer wanted to help, but since he was transporting prisoners he could not offer us a lift. Instead he used his authority to call a road crew we didn’t know was anywhere around, and instructed one of the vehicles to tow us to the next town. From there we could call our towing service.
We were saved. Saved by a friend who made helping his full-time job, his mission in life. It was dangerous then but nothing like now, when even the close communities they serve harbor dangers never encountered in the past.
We can all help. We can influence and teach. We can change opinions. I don’t need to pose the question, whether my kids ever had a wrongful thought about police officers after the Post Office incident and its sequel. I’m just happy I seized the moment when it arose. I showed my son how easy it was to turn a stranger into a friend, by becoming one himself.
Copyright 2017 Nancy Diraison/Diraison Publishing. All Rights Reserved.
[Photo credit: Dreamstime stock photo, Kelly Boreson Charland]