thankful.

10. life. i’m very thankful for my life.

9. i’m thankful that i have my degrees. it’s nice to have something no one can take away. never dreamed of ever earning a bachelor’s degree. much less a master’s degree.

8. i’m thankful that i am allowed the ability to have free speech, the ability to think for myself and the option to keep my opinions to myself or be vocal about them if i choose.

7. i’m thankful that, even though we have much further to go, americans thought outside of themselves enough to elect a black man as president and gave serious consideration to a female for the office. i’m only 32 years old but there was a time in my  life where neither of these situations were considered possible.

6. i’m thankful for the season of thanksgiving. having the opportunity to be grateful is very good for the soul.

5. i’m thankful for friends and family. i don’t think i’d make it without them. i mean, life without my fantasy football buddies would not be the same.

4. i’m thankful that i live in a nation where i can dream and believe i can make something of myself, no matter how bleak it seems at times.

3. i am thankful that my parents instilled in me the desire to keep driving for higher goals and to dream big and to never settle for anything. like addidas says: impossible is nothing.

2. i’m thankful for my wife. she is the best gift i’ve ever received. that’s no lie.

1. i’m thankful that God has granted me more grace than i deserve. i’m a very flawed man but i’ve been rewarded with so much in spite of myself.

coming clean.

okay here it is. it is time for me to come clean.

  if you don’t know much about me, i’m a people watcher. and i’m a thinker. those two ideals run concurrent to what i’m about to say.

i’ve been observing a lot the last few months, if not years. i’ve had many conversations with people like-minded or not and have overheard even more. i’ve read facebook posts and read online articles regarding different individual’s opinions. i’ve discussed political issues with close friends, my wife and even some family members. though usually politics and family don’t mix well. especially when you have different ideals. and mainly, on this blog i have been quiet. a little too quiet.

 over dinner, i was discussing this conundrum with my wife: how do i keep my thoughts private and still be a writer? especially a blogger where most of my writings are personal thoughts? the answer is that i cannot. it’s that simple. no matter that i am sure that i have much different views than the rest of my family, i’m at some point not being true to myself if i do not write about what i believe. especially if what i write about is supposed to be based on what i believe. make sense?

so that’s the background for this. i almost have butterflies as i write this, for some reason. i guess maybe because i’m taking that venture that i knew at some point i’d have to. which is talking specifically about my political beliefs.

so here it is.

i’ve tried to maintain a strong independent position when it comes to politics for a long time. truth be told, i’m really not that independent. and i think that’s okay. the beauty of this country is that we are allowed to have our own thoughts and opinions and we have the right to choose. so yes, i am much more democrat than republican. it’s really not that close actually.

i’m going to vote for president obama.

living in west michigan for the past 20 years has taught me a few things, mainly that if you have an opinion that is different from the mainstream, you better keep it to yourself. which i’ve abided by for far too long. especially as a writer. being a christian in west michigan with different ideals makes it even harder to follow the rules. which i never intended on doing anyway. at some point i think i just got tired of keeping my voice down, keeping my thoughts to myself. my close friends understand how hard that is for me to accomplish.

why president obama? for me it is more of a, why wouldn’t i vote for him? if the last four years have taught me anything politically and even spiritually, it is to follow what you believe closely and don’t let others filter your own thoughts and beliefs. and if you are a writer, my goodness, don’t censure yourself for fear of others opinions. anyway, why obama? because i am proud of him. i am proud of his leadership in some of the darkest times we have faced in my adult life. i believe in the premise that if you work together, you can achieve anything. one of things that i began to believe were unachievable was being part of coalition with our allies again. but we have done that under the leadership of the president. when he came into office, we had lost our good standing around the world. we were becoming proud of being mavericks, both domestically and globally. we didn’t care whether we had any friends around the world. we would just say “to hell with it” and continue on. but now we have a president that is willing to work with our allies. when we go overseas as civilians we can be proud again yet not in that arrogant, “ugly american” way that we had become known. i’m proud of this.

in the past few years, my dad has had heart surgery, two brothers have had cancer, my niece has undergone treatment for thyroid issues, my sister-in-law has been hospitalized with health issues and my brother-in-law has undergone emergency surgery. this is just a sampling of family members and friends with health issues and i’m not even mentioning my own.  i cannot imagine if we had all been turned away from medical care due to lack of insurance, or worse, the lack of ability to obtain health care. i’m sorry but it isn’t a privilege for health care. saying that means that some people deserve it based upon their economic conditions and some people don’t based on their lack of an economic advantage. we are all normal people. middle class. if my dad couldn’t have his quintuple-bypass surgery that was available because he either had a pre-existing condition or just couldn’t afford it, that would not have been okay to me. so i am voting for president obama because i believe that everyone should have the right to health care. not just the chosen few who have the blessing of working for a good company that offers it.

what about abortion? i think it is funny that republicans run on an anti-government platform. i think it is even worse that people fall for it. and i think it is downright sad that people only wish to use the government to push their moral agendas. i am very pro-life on a personal level. as someone who was adopted by two loving parents when i was only 8 months old, i am more aware of the fact that there are simply other options besides abortion. i hate abortion. on a personal level, i don’t think it is okay to undergo an abortion for any reason. we don’t have the ability to be God and i don’t think we should try to play him either. and that extends to the government. i do not believe in using the government to push my moral agendas. i do not think it is right for me to use the government to tell other women what to do with their bodies. i simply do not think that is right. i absolutely believe that abortion is wrong. i also believe that until the church and other faith-based organizations are ready to truly welcome single mothers and those struggling with this decision with open and unconditional arms, then we are not ready as a society to abolish abortion anyway.

the economy? sure it is not where it used to be. but to me that is precisely the point. going back to the 1980’s under president reagan, our government began de-regulating agencies responsible for our financial mess. yes, i would love for our government to step aside and not have its hand in our banks and what not, but that is unrealistic and we have seen what happens without regulation. think about it. when you were little, and your mom left you alone in the kitchen with a jar full of cookies, how many would you eat? that’s right… all of them. why? because she wasn’t watching and you knew you could withstand the punishment later. that’s what happened here. so i support more regulation, not because i like it, but because it is necessary.

taxes? all i will say is that in this great nation we have been given a great deal. we have also worked very hard for it. the premise that allowing the wealthy  tax breaks will result in re-investment in the industries is laughable. millionaires become billionaires by NOT spending money. believe that. too much is given, much is expected. and yes i include myself in that statement.

i don’t profess to be right about everything. i don’t profess to be right about anything. but keeping silent on my opinions this close to the election, well i couldn’t do it. not when people are all too eager to tell me why governor romney is the right choice. not when i see friends and others refer to the president as a  “moron” or “idiot” or “deceiver” or “retard”. you can think whatever you would like. i will never use this platform to tell you what to think. that is just not me. however, if people have a right to voice their opinion, than i guess i do too. i’m not asking you to vote as i do. in fact, all i wish is that you would simply vote. vote for someone, even if it is the other guy.

so there it is. these are just some of the reasons why i will vote for president obama in 2012.

i’m not God.

“The difference between you and God is that God doesn’t think He’s you. ” 
―Anne Lamott

i don’t even know how many times i’ve sat and laid out my plans for the day, the month … the rest of my life. i love to think that i have it all together, that i’m in control of everything.

in doing so i start to think i am just like God. that’s kind of a dumb thought huh?

this is what i do. i’ll think i’ve got my plans figured out, what i want to do and what i want to accomplish and how many right things i can do to make people like me and more importantly, to make me feel satisfied with myself. then, when i think i’ve molded it as perfectly as i think i can for a beautiful unveiling, i get knocked down. i sit and wonder why it didn’t work out this time, not understanding that one fundamental thing. i’m not God, not even remotely close. it seems simple enough, like it should be obvious or something but really, i have to keep getting that thought, that fact actually, drilled into my brain. one of these days i’m going to figure it all out. but first i’m going to have to remember that i’m not God and i can’t 1) do everything or 2) control anything.

seems easy enough right?

the streets are on fire


it’s all about the people. unless the people are the problem. it’s all about the people. unless the people get in the way.

right-wingers, left-wingers, tea-party activists and the Nader-ites. who is different from the other? one party says yes and the other says no just to spite the other.

Atheists, Christians and Muslims, Jews, Buddhists and Hindus. What is your claim? We sit and clamor about right and wrong and tell each other how much better we are than them.

Christians vs. Christians

we cannot wait to get in the face of the other. My belief is better than your belief. My God is better than your God.

Meanwhile, the streets are on fire.

Do I really have to remind you?

Rwanda.

Hurricane Katrina.

What about Darfur?

the AIDS epidemic.

The sex slave trade.

or the Tsunami that wiped out 250,000 men, women and children in Asia in 2005.

or Haiti last year?

now Japan.

and you want to argue politics? now? now is the time to argue about your belief being better than mine?

the streets are on fire. and you are concerned with being right? or more, you want me to be wrong?

what is the difference between religion and politics when both claim to be about the people but then deny the people the love and concern necessary for survival?

What is different about the religions of the world when they all claim to know God, but never stop to remember that God said He was in the people?The same people we fight with.

Christians cannot agree on global warming, “it’s a government money-making machine!” says one side, but forget that the God they say they serve commanded them to take special care of the world they say He gave them.

The issue at hand is the people. not politics or religion or why Al Gore claims the ice caps are melting.

The streets are on fire. The people are dying in them. and yes, the ice caps are melting. What are we going to do about our policies and beliefs and our opinions when the people are gone and no one is here to argue with?

The streets are on fire.