Marines.Together We Served

Friday, December 30, 2005

Food Fight

It really doesn’t make sense.

Think about it! Why is it that when I was seventeen I could sit down to a meal of healthy proportions and inhale the entire repast only to resurface asking for more? Today, forty years later, I slowly eat a bowl of cold cereal (Rice Krispies and Total combined), and I’m full. But not just full. I actually feel like I’ve eaten too much.

Now, lest you think I may be consuming a large bowl of cereal, I assure you it is not the case. It is the standard kitchen variety bowl. The amount of cereal I pour into said bowl does not even reach the edge after I add milk.

I know all the arguments regarding this state of the body, factoring in age, and the function of metabolism, youthful energy, still growing, having the world by the tail, etc. But at a time in my life when I can actually sit down and enjoy a meal, I come away disappointed simply because I can’t even finish what’s on my plate.

As I was growing up, eating everything on your plate was an inviolable rule of life. One look from my mother told me all I needed to know about the penalty for such a breech of the rules. On those few occasions when I asked why I had to eat all my beets and/or asparagus, I was met with this rejoinder: “Think of all the starving children in China.” For the life of me, I could not figure out what starving children in China had to do with whether or not I ate everything on my plate. In my childish thinking I would have been delighted to have shared my beets, asparagus and liver with them.

The reason given for this rule requiring all food on the plate to be consumed was blamed on Scottish heritage. It sounded good at the time, but in recent years I’ve done some genealogical research and can’t positively find any Scottish ancestry. Hmmmmm. My family comes from the British Isles, ‘tis true. But they’re from England and Wales, not Scotland and Ireland. Now, it has been my distinct pleasure to travel to these storied lands. They are rich in history, and are beautiful to the eye. However, the “fine cuisine gene” never made it into the Anglo-Saxon line. Pity. Having sampled British cooking, losing weight in those far off lands would be a snap.

I love to eat Mexican food, and I have my favorite restaurant that I frequent almost weekly. I can eat lots of their home-made tortilla chips and dip, but I’m discovering I can’t eat all of the lunch that follows. Typically, I would order a burrito supreme. Once entering the restaurant, I have to begin calculating what I can reasonably consume. If I’m particularly hungry, I can either scarf down lots of the chips and order a small lunch (for instance a chili relleno from the “a la carte” portion of the menu); or I can eat a few of the chips and go for the big burrito. But it no longer matters. I come away feeling grossly overfed.

You’re probably thinking I should eat slower which will digest my food better. Ha! Gotcha! If there’s one thing I am guilty of, it’s eating slowly – too slowly. You see, I was taught to enjoy my food, so I have always eaten slowly. And if that wasn’t enough, when I completed Marine Corps boot camp, I swore then and there that I would never eat fast again. And I haven’t. I eat so slowly that I should be skinny. My mother and I have a race at the dinner table to see who will finish their meal last.

So this body that once processed food effortlessly now rebels and laughs at my attempts to exercise enough to battle the bulge areas of my torso. If I threaten to take stringent, draconian measures to subject my body to a more disciplined life style, I’m reminded that if the body thinks it’s being denied food, it will take what food does come in and turn it into – fat. This is the body’s survival mode.

I’ll be experiencing withdrawals shortly. All the rich foods from Thanksgiving through Christmas will go away: Eggnog, Russian Tea Cakes, chocolate fudge, mounds of mashed potatoes, baked ham and gravy, pumpkin pie, etc.

Now understand that I am not making any resolutions. I don’t do resolutions. They’re not worth the paper they’re written on.

So here’ the dilemma – I’m in a food fight: On the one hand, I can’t eat the amount of food I once could take in with ease; and on the other, the decreased amount of food I do consume works against me.

I’m not sure what to do – but after writing this article, I’m feeling a bit hungry. Perhaps this candy bar from my Christmas stocking will do the trick......

Friday, December 23, 2005

A Simple Question

Who will stop the terrorists?

As we come into 2006 the battle against Islamo-facists continues. With impunity, these reprobates and their hate-filled religious perversion continue to spread fear by intimidation around the globe. Have you considered how many places these guys raise their devious heads? Well, besides Afghanistan and Iraq, let’s try Saudi Arabia. Surprised? You shouldn’t be. President Bush pulled our military out of this Arab nation for many reasons, one of which is the Saudi royal family cannot control the terrorists within their own borders.

How about the terrorist activities that have been foisted upon the peoples of Indonesia? You may need to grab your world map to refresh your memory as to where this string of islands is located. “But aren’t they all Muslims down there?” you ask. No. And those island regions of Indonesia which do not embrace radical Islam are being systematically targeted. Two Christian girls were walking to school recently when they were accosted by several radical Muslim men who publicly beheaded the girls for being infidels.

Then there’s Australia. That’s right – the land “Down Under.” Australian girls and women are being continuously harassed by roving bands of young Muslim men who believe they have the right to conduct themselves in so ungentlemanly a fashion because these women are unbelievers. Such thinking, in their minds, validates their unseemly behavior. These clowns trail these women down the street making every imaginary ugly comment that comes to their demented minds. Others, emboldened by their successes, make advances on the women with unwanted touching and insults. These incidents are not isolated cases, but have become endemic. The authorities don’t seem to know how to get a handle on this unwelcome behavior. Where’s Crocodile Dundee when you need him?

Militant Muslims are arousing concerns in Japan. Again, don’t be surprised. Whenever the world community attempts to placate miscreants, we always wind up having to come along and slap them back down. In our previous century the world community had to bring force against Germany twice and Japan once. Now that we’re well into the 21st Century, who will stop the terrorists?

Of course, we have seen in the past couple of months Muslim renegades rampaging across Europe, stunning the alarmed yet complacent leaders of France, Germany, Belgium, Holland and the like. Even Russia is wrestling with this problem within their borders. After much hand-wringing and assurances that the military would not be used to stop the rioting, the leaders of these once great nations have been thoroughly cowed by a band of hooligans. And all that nonsense about these displaced Muslims not being allowed equal status in their adopted European countries is a bunch of hooey. My family and I moved to Europe forty-five years ago where we spent the next three years – one year in Paris and two years in Norway. Believe me, these countries, France in particular, were so open and accepting of others, including their often deviant behavior, it’s no wonder they have found themselves with unwanted residents in their midst. Who will stop the terrorists?

That erstwhile boxing promoter and gadfly, Don King, made a surprisingly erudite comment not long ago regarding terrorists and terrorism. “Terrorism anywhere is a threat to freedom everywhere,” he said. Having been in the fight game for as long as he has, he knows a thing or two about people who are a threat to others, and who attempt to cause fear through intimidation. Whatever you may think of Don King, he’s got this right. So let me ask you again: Who will stop the terrorists?

Listen carefully. These are not disadvantaged people. They are not singled out for harassment while living in Western nations, including America. They simply have a different, and may I add, deadly, world view. Their intent is the elimination and extermination of Israel and all Jews everywhere, and all non-Muslims who do not embrace their distorted brand of Islam.

While our men and women in uniform are battling these maniacal vermin on the other side of the world, they are expecting that we here in America will not allow them to take root and destroy the very foundation of our great nation.

Who will stop the terrorists? Will you? Will you support and defend the ideals and principles that have made America a great and powerful country? Will you engage in the political process to ensure we have elected representatives who will take our issues and concerns to Congress? Taking time to vote when opportunity is given is one of the best ways to defeat terrorists. That’s one of the reasons we’re winning in Iraq and around the world. It’s tough to defeat the ballot box when the people have spoken. Iraq has recently learned this wonderful truth.

President Bush said it best on November 19, 2001. This statement alone sums up the ultimate demise of these malefactors, “Terrorists have no home in any faith. Evil has no holy days.”

Even if the rest of the world should capitulate to these radical terrorists, we must not. If we do not shoulder the burden of stopping the terrorists, who will?

Monday, December 12, 2005

Bush Wins!

Not the president.

I’m actually referring to the recent Heisman Trophy winner, USC running back sensation, Reggie Bush. Saturday evening the results of the balloting for this prestigious award were tabulated with the clear winner being Bush.

I found myself intrigued by this young man’s story. His mother didn’t want him to play football because she didn’t think he was big enough. This kid’s talent is so awesome that I can think of only one other running back in my lifetime that was so elusive a runner, the former Detroit Lions great, Barry Sanders.

Football is a game I truly enjoy. But more than the on-field dramatics of great players and great teams, I’m fascinated by the off-the-field stories of lives that have battled against the odds – and won. I’m referring to young men who chose to do something constructive with their lives and would not allow negative circumstances or troubling home conditions determine the direction for their lives.

In a day and age when humility is a rare find among pampered athletes, particularly in professional sports, I was most gratified to see this young man show humility - genuine humility - on Saturday night. There he sat with the two other contenders for the trophy, both deserving of the award on their own merit. In spite of a media that had already crowned Bush as the next Heisman Trophy winner, when the announcement was made, young Mr. Bush bowed his head as the room of elites erupted in applause. I can’t say for certain, but it seemed to me Reggie was fighting back tears.

Reggie Bush stood to his feet while being congratulated by the runners-up, Matt Leinart and Vince Young. He then walked over to his mother to give her a long embrace, followed by his stepfather, and brother. Once he walked up on the platform he immediately began to shake hands with all the previous winners of the coveted trophy. The moderator had to retrieve him so they could come to the podium and make the official presentation. If he had a prepared speech, I believe it was abandoned. He truly looked like a man who couldn’t believe he was being so honored. It was at this point that Reggie Bush captured my emotional interest.

Among the many folks he thanked for helping him and supporting him along the way, including his coaches and his pastor, it’s the words he said about his mother that really stuck. He thanked her for being a godly woman. Are there any greater words of praise that he could have said? I couldn’t help but think of the passage of scripture in Proverbs 31 where the godly woman is extolled. Among the virtues described for the woman of noble character is this: “She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her.”

For his stepfather, Lamar Griffin, Reggie simply said, “You took me in at the age of two. . .” Reggie teared up at that point, stepping back from the microphone to collect himself. The camera switched to a shot of his stepfather seated in the audience. Tears in his eyes, Mr. Griffin mouthed the words to his stepson, “I love you.” It was at that point that tears were finding their way down my cheeks!

Lest you think Bush is another pampered college football player, consider what he was doing while waiting for the evenings events to begin. He was in a back office connected to the internet where he was printing out notes for three exams this week which he would then study until the Heisman Trophy ceremony began. When asked about this, he said, "They (the exams) start on Wednesday when I get back. Sports psychology, and on Thursday, I've got two political science exams: one on the presidency, one on black politics."

Reggie has another year of school before he can graduate. I suspect the NFL will throw some wild dollar figures at him to entice him to leave school early so he can be drafted into the NFL this spring. I hope he takes the same approach as his teammate and last year’s Heisman winner, Matt Leinart, who turned down turning pro in order to finish his education.

It will be with great interest that I will be watching to see what decisions this young man makes. This much I can tell you: whether he turns pro before finishing school, or waits till after he graduates, or decides not to play ball at all, with a strong, supportive family, he’s a winner.

Moms and Dads, let me ask you. What would your children say about the impact you have had on their lives?

When family comes first, everybody wins!

Friday, December 02, 2005

A Merry Christmas Blessing

I have the solution!

With all the hubbub over the banning of employees of certain department stores and businesses, saying, “Merry Christmas,” I would like to offer some thoughts on this and a solution.

Much ink and air-time in the media has been produced in bemoaning the anti-Christmas policies enacted by Target, Walgreens, and other stores. This “Scroogesque” philosophy should really come as no surprise to anyone who is a student of history. Since the founding of our nation there have always been certain people who decry the Christian bases upon which our country was established. This is often referred to as the “Judeo-Christian Ethic.” This means the Constitution, Bill of Rights, and basic laws of the land were formed with the Bible as the backdrop.

So then why is the salutation, “Merry Christmas,” so offensive to some?
Here’s my thought on this. Human nature is at war with God. That’s what our sin nature does. We rebel; we object; we resist; we curse; we do what we want. Bottom line - we sin. We seriously object to being told what to do. Having to admit we are opposed to God portrays us as bad guys. Christians are folks who have come to grips with their own sinful nature. They have experienced God’s love and forgiveness. This is called “grace.” Grace is receiving something we do not deserve – God’s love, forgiveness, and heaven. In fact, we deserve his worst – condemnation, judgment, and hell.

Listening on the radio, I just heard there are Jewish and Muslim groups in America that are calling for an end to all the politically correct nonsense. They are saying it’s okay to say “Merry Christmas.” Good for them!

But understand this – Christmas is about hope. When Christ came into the world, he came to reconcile us to God. That’s hope! So try this on for size. Next time you’re out in the stores, say, “Happy Hope.” This may sound strange to your ears, and to the ears of the one you were addressing, but that’s okay. When you are asked what you mean by “Happy Hope,” tell them the story of Jesus, the Son of God, who came into the world to reunite us with God the Father.

I suspect that the continued attempt to denigrate and eliminate Christmas and all things Christian, will backfire. PC talk has about run its course. People are fed up with the nonsense.

So when I say “Merry Christmas” to you, understand that it is a blessing I wish for you. I want you to be at peace with God. I want you to know this same Jesus who loved me enough to die for me, because he died for you, too.

This is why Christians say, “Merry Christmas.” And this is why Christian ministers preach God’s word. It is full of hope and grace – something we all need. They simply want you to know the truth that God loves you. All the hysteria over the removal of Christ from Christmas will never change, nor could it diminish this profound truth.

So, from me to you, let me wish you the blessing of a “Merry Christmas.”

Psalm for the Day