Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Lincoln's Thanksgiving Proclamation

Today I am thankful to be living in the United States of America.

I ascribe the goodness of such fortune to a living God, whom many of my fellow Americans are free to deny, berate, and even curse. While I respect a person's right to do so, I find it unfortunate that they are so willing to "bite the hand that feeds them."

Granted, not everyone sees it this way, especially if they don't acknowledge that a hand exists. However, there is a class of people - believers and unbelievers alike - who can't even see the hand due to a special darkness in their hearts.

While many will spend time tomorrow giving thanks to the Lord for what He has given them, others will sit around and complain about what they haven't been given - by anyone.

There will be laments that Social Services didn't give them enough food stamps to trade for beer. Cries of injustice will be heard that their names didn't make it on more than one charity list for Thanksgiving dinner to be provided for them free of charge. Outrage will be expressed that stores are closed and they can't get their cigarettes. "How dare those people not give me what I deserve!"

Ungratefulness is an ugly condition of the heart fostered by greed that leads to a sense of entitlement. It blinds the mind's eye to all that a person really does have. It clouds the judgment and craves selfish, self-elevated behavior. This darkness is thriving in the spoiled nation of America.

Perhaps there is no cure for the whole population. Is it possible that Abraham Lincoln wrote in vain the words he delivered to his beloved countrymen back in 1863 when he proclaimed a national day of giving thanks, not just toward men or inwardly to ourselves, but to the Creator and Provider of all things?

His humble statement in the midst of national turmoil is a powerful guideline for giving thanks still. His grateful words challenge the heart beyond self, outward to others and upward to God. His thanksgiving appeals to the personal sensibilities and integrity of all mankind. His proclamation is a challenge to let some light into the dark areas of our hearts.

Perhaps there is a cure after all.

Abraham Lincoln's Thanksgiving Proclamation

Happy Thanksgiving to my fellow Americans - stateside, at sea, and abroad.  I thank God for you and ask His blessing on you.

God, bless America.

Friday, October 1, 2010

To the American War Zone Soldier in 2010

On September 29, 2010, Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates addressed Duke University students and staff on the disconnect Americans have developed regarding the U.S. military and the American duty to serve.  (

He was quoted as saying, "Whatever their fond sentiments for men and women in uniform, for most Americans the war remains an abstraction - a distant and unpleasant series of news items that do not affect them personally."

While Mr. Gates' point was to address low-volunteerism, statements like this are unproductive and, rather than causing people to act, tend to cause blind acceptance of the viewpoint.  In this case, it can be dangerously damaging to the morale of our existing U.S. Forces in war zones.

Dear American Soldier;

I agree that war is an abstract concept to those of us who have never been there and experienced what you are going through, and to say that it doesn't affect most Americans personally is probably true.  I blame the government because WWII proved that, with the use of media and policy, the government CAN rally all of America behind its troops.  Casually saying that most of us aren't affected belies the fact that MANY of us ARE affected and it glosses over a situation that someone should be doing more about.

For every 1 of you soldiers serving in war, there are - at minimum - 4 family members and a handful of friends and acquaintances who daily worry about and pray for you.  Most of you soldiers have a much larger family (including extended members who worry as much as mom, dad and siblings) and dozens of people in the workforce, churches, colleges, etc. whose lives are affected personally by your absence and have concern for you on a daily basis.

Based on figures from May 2010 as cited by the Washington Post (

If, at minimum, 1 solder affects 10 people personally, then:
  • The 94,000 troops in Afghanistan affect 940,000 Americans personally, and
  • The 92,000 troops in Iraq affect 920,000 Americans personally.
At a minimum - in just these two areas of war - 1.8 million Americans are affected personally on a daily basis due to a soldier deployed.

That figure doesn't include:
  • The families of the killed and injured soldiers who are still personally affected - daily
  • The non-deployed military members working with soldiers in transition to and from theater (with or without injuries) who are personally affected - daily
  • The military and VA medical staff caring for wounded and traumatized soldiers who are personally affected - daily
  • Or the random number of patriotically driven Americans led to pray for soldiers they've never met who are personally affected - daily
The U.S. population in July 2009 was estimated at 307,006,550 people.  (

So maybe MOST Americans aren't affected personally - and we have soldiers at war to thank for that - but remember the 1.8 million PLUS who ARE affected personally!  In fact, because those 1.8 million people also have people concerned for them too, I'd wager the number - the minimum number - could be as high as 180 million Americans who are personally affected by a soldier in a war zone.

Don't feel forgotten!  The level of "personal affect" will be different for each American depending on how close he or she is to you, soldier, but not everyone is sitting over here in the U.S. completely unaffected by what's going on overseas.

Many Americans ARE behind you!

Many Americans ARE praying for you!

Many Americans ARE personally affected and can't express enough the gratitude we feel for your selfless acts of patriotism and brotherhood to all peoples.

May you be blessed with success in your missions and the assurance that what you do is not in vain.

One Personally Affected American

NOTE: This article was written and published by this blogger, Tracy A. Drake, and is NOT a reprint of another person's work.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Alien in the neighborhood?

Screaming screechy howls outside.

Amplified by echo.

4:00 am.

Unnerving to say the least.

That's what my husband and I woke up to one morning last week.

The only way I can describe it is to say it sounded like a goose was screaming.

As we tried to identify what we were hearing and wondered if our three cats were okay, I saw two shadowy images cross my neighbors lawn.  We went outside to investigate but found nothing.  Knowing we've had foxes in the area, I went to Google and almost instantly found the answer.

It was a red fox in distress.

All three of our cats turned up by morning, all of them fine, so I'm not sure if I saw two foxes, a fox pursuing a cat, or a cat pursuing a fox, but there was definitely a fox in distress out there.

Here's what it sounded like:

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

God Bless America

God bless America…

… a nation where Christians are free to work out their new behavior in Christ through trial and error…

… and where those who don’t believe in Christ are free to criticize them for it.

God bless America…

… a nation where its people are free to express themselves in the architecture of their capitol…

… are free to write erroneous email about the history of that expression and pass it around as gospel truth…

… and are free to rebuke those who do and print the truth.

God bless America…

… a nation where, regardless of the original architect’s design for Washington DC and the plans of man in the generations following…

… despite the poor behavior of those who call themselves Christians…

… and for mercy’s sake of those who reject Him…

… God has chosen to place His mark on our capital city.

I take great comfort in that.

God, PLEASE bless America!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Switch or Treat

I had a shock this morning when I found the vanilla cappuccino I like was replaced with fat-free vanilla.  Fortunately, I was only taste-testing.  Unfortunately, I was only taste-testing because my vanilla capp tasted funny the other day.

Having the cappuccino switched would not have been a problem for me if it had been labeled as such and I didn't have to drink it to find out.  (Well, ok… I would have whined a little.)  After mentioning the weird taste, the staff figured out what happened and a fat-free label went up immediately.  I opted for pumpkin spice capp and they are still my all-time favorite place to go for road drinks and snacks.  (Is capp a legal nickname for cappuccino?)

I’m all about helping people find problems before someone can use it against them.  I guess I have a real sore spot for people who sue restaurants over hot coffee and other idiotic things.  So one of the questions that popped into my head was this: What if someone who couldn't have artificial sweeteners had gotten that drink?

Side-effects from artificial sweeteners is a real problem for some people, even from the newest one.
"Evidence that there are side effects of Splenda is accumulating little by little. Sucralose has been implicated as a possible migraine trigger, for example. Self-reported adverse reactions to Splenda or sucralose collected by the Sucralose Toxicity Information Center include skin rashes/flushing, panic-like agitation, dizziness and numbness, diarrhea, swelling, muscle aches, headaches, intestinal cramping, bladder issues, and stomach pain. These show up at one end of the spectrum — in the people who have an allergy or sensitivity to the sucralose molecule. But no one can say to what degree consuming Splenda affects the rest of us, and there are no long-term studies in humans with large numbers of subjects to say one way or the other if it’s safe for everyone." (from:

But the cappuccino switch isn't the only reason why I'm writing about this subject.  Here's another incident from last night:

I ordered a fast-food sandwich for dinner - hold the tomato. Tomatoes slide around too much and I thought I was going to eat it in the car.

Turns out I wasn't able to eat it until I got home, but the chicken was still sliding out of the sandwich, so I had to open it up and rearrange everything. And what did I find? Tomato seeds and juice. Yeah, that's right. They took a sandwich that already had tomatoes on it and just removed them.

So what's my problem with that? Nothing... for me. But what about the people who are allergic to tomatoes?
"Few of us expect to feel our lips tingle and our chests constrict when we bite into a pizza or an Italian sandwich. But for the small number of people with an allergy to tomato, that's exactly what can happen." (from

And here's yet another example of a "switch" (another unknown one) that happened recently.

My family was at a restaurant that offered root beer. I asked what kind and the waitress told me Barq's. When I said we'd pass on that because of the caffeine, she said, "Oh, no. Barq's doesn't have caffeine in it."

I told her it did and she said she was sure it didn't because a manager (or other staff member) had told her it didn't, but she'd ask anyway. So off she went while we continued looking at our menus.

Upon her return she casually stated, "I guess you're right, it does have caffeine. Go figure. I've been telling everyone it doesn't."

"The reason I asked," I told her, "is because my son has a heart condition and can't have caffeine." Her facial features and color changed a bit as we ordered up a Sprite for our son. I wonder if she was thinking that maybe some of those other people could have had a problem with her unknowingly bad advice.
"Some of the most bothersome symptoms of mitral valve prolapse--anxiety, chest pain, shortness of breath--worsen when people consume too much caffeine." (From

My point here is not that store and restaurant staff are out to get us. It's that consumers need to pay attention if they have health problems. Ask questions (nicely) and don't be afraid to disagree (again, nicely) if you think you're right. One wrong "switch" in what you eat or drink could spell disaster for you. Better to be safe and do the legwork to get your "treat."

Happy Halloween!