Friday, September 30, 2011

Clear Eyes. Full Hearts. Can't Lose.

One of my all-time favorite television shows was Friday Night Lights. It was a short lived take on a high school football team in small town Texas, based on the movie and book of the same name. The show touched on the lives and relationships, football and the people in the middle. The head coach, known by all in the town as Coach Taylor, ends his pre-game speech with the phrase, "Clear eyes, full hearts," and the players finish, "Can’t lose!" When I first heard this, I have to say I was excited. It brought back that feeling right before a game. Granted I was a cheerleader, but the feeling is the same. There is something pure about it. To play with clear eyes is to play with a good attitude, removed from negative distractions. To play with full hearts means to give a complete effort and put your heart in to each game. We end with "can’t lose, because with a good attitude and a full effort, you have already won. Clear eyes. Full hearts. Can’t lose.

I get that same feeling when it comes to supporting Gov. Sarah Palin. She reminds me of Coach Taylor. He is the epitome of a leader, mentor, and friend. He calls it like he sees it. He cuts the crap, but he does not belittle his team. Gov. Palin is a straight-shooter in the political world. She gets right to the point. She doesn't coddle us, hold our hands and tell us everything will be alright. She talks to us like adults. She respects us. She also sees what America can be. She sees American exceptionalism as not just some lofty talking point but as something "We the People" can grasp and actually achieve. She puts the ball into our hands. Its not just her game, but our game. She knows that it will take all of us bringing our own unique talents to the effort to succeed. In the TV series, Coach Taylor has the ability to envision his team’s victories—to hold those dreams in his heart—and then let go of any expectations. He does this because he knows that in order to succeed, we cannot live in the future, or as we so often do, in the past.

By living in the now—in what is real—we clearly see what we need to do at each and every moment because we see what is happening in reality. Clear eyes, full hearts can’t lose is about believing in yourself while paying attention. It’s about responding rather than reacting. Because when we react, our actions come from the past or the future. They come from the stories in our heads or the meaning we give to a potential outcomes. When we respond, however, our actions come from right now. They come from a place of consciousness and acceptance.

We supporters of Gov. Palin need to keep that idea in mind. Lately people have been seeming to get upset, disappointed, and even crushed because she has not announced her run for the GOP nomination yet. We try predicting if she will run, when she will run, how she will announce. I have even read stories of people trying to determine that she is going to run based on what outfit she wore during an interview. We are reacting to something in the future instead of grasping what is at hand right now. What is at hand right now is the chance to make a difference and get involved. Stand up for the ideals Gov. Palin embodies right in this moment. Do something about America's future now. Don't wait for the last game of the season.
 It’s scary to live in the now and not know what the future holds. It means we can’t just sit back and observe life passively anymore. We can’t wait for the day to come when someone or something will make our lives better. Suddenly, it’s about tonight’s game. We become the players, when before we were just the people in the stands. We get tossed around and beaten up and tackled, but we trust that our gear will keep us safe. We trust that our coaches and teammates know what they’re doing. We trust that we’ve practiced hard enough, and that we’ll be able to take down the next 250 lb gut check that comes our way. And then we play the game like our lives are at stake—because we know that they are. We need to get out of our comfort zones and step out in faith when it comes to getting our country back. We need to make our voices heard and trust that Gov. Palin knows what she is doing. We have to prepare, practice, and make certain that when the big game comes, we can take down the permanent political class and restore America to greatness.
Its Friday Night in America. Its time to get onto the field and play all 4 quarters of this game. Not next week's game tonight. Not the championship game tonight. This game. We are going to need to trust that our Coach will handle the rest. One play at a time. Clear eyes. Full hearts. Can’t lose.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Opinion: Is this Heaven? No, its Organize4Palin's Field of Dreams

In Field of Dreams, the 1989 baseball movie starring Kevin Costner, we see an idealistic, transplanted city boy-turned-Iowa farmer Ray Kinsella, played by Kevin Costner, take a chance, listening to a distant voice. Standing in the midst of his cornfield, Kinsella repeatedly hears a voice informing him that "If you build it, he will come." Confused, but not scared, he sets about carving a baseball field from his corn crops. Nothing happens, and Ray soon faces ruin. Ray and his wife discuss replanting the corn, but their daughter, sees a man on the ballfield. Ray discovers that he is Shoeless Joe Jackson, a dead baseball player idolized by Ray's father. Thrilled to be able to play baseball again, Joe asks to bring others to play on the field. He later returns from the cornfield with the seven other players banned in the 1919 Black Sox Scandal.

To some Peter Singleton, Organize 4 Palin's Iowa State Coordinator may seem a lot like Ray Kinsella. He is taking a seemingly crazy, unconventional vision that is Organize 4 Palin and plowing under conventional thinking in a politically traditional Iowa. Peter along with other Organize 4 Palin volunteers are about the business of laying the ground work for a possible presidential campaign by former Alaska Governor, Sarah Palin. But like the Governor, they are doing things on their own terms and in their own way by building lasting relationships and making impressions across the politcally-savvy Hawkeye State.

Talking with Real Clear Politics' Scott Conroy after "The Undefeated" premiere in Pella in June, Singleton said "I've probably met with 1,000 people in this state in one-on-one meetings or a couple people at a time," he said. "The one-on-one meetings and the two- and three-people meetings are the heart and soul of what we're doing, and believe me, the other guys don't do that. They take a radically different approach." Iowa's branch of Organize 4 Palin, in large part to Peter and Michelle McCormick, his Iowa co-coordinator's efforts have a presence in a majority of Iowa's 99 counties. Iowa Secretary of State, Matt Schultz, when interviewed for that same article said of Organize 4 Palin, "When I've been around the state at different events, I've seen different volunteers for Organize4Palin where they've set up booths and have tried to get people interested." He also mentions he felt the event was well-organized. Volunteers go to Central Committee meetings, hand out palm cards, make phone calls to conservative minded voters, host screenings of "The Undefeated", and more importantly connect to people making certain they walk away with a knowledge of Sarah Palin and her record. Organize 4 Palin in Iowa also had a hand in the 2,000 or so people who braved the torrential rains in Indianola at the Restoring America Tea Party Rally in early September where Gov. Sarah Palin spoke of her plan to get America back on the right track. No doubt you saw the sea of O4P t-shirts on C-Span during the IA rally.

Throughout much of Field of Dreams, Ray's brother, Mark pesters him warning him that he will bankrupt the family unless he replants. In one exchange Mark admonishes Ray saying, "You don't know the first thing about farming" to which Ray responds "Yes I do. I know a lot about farming. I know more than you think I know." Mark answers back with, "Then how could you plow under your major crop?" Recently several original Organize 4 Palin volunteers in Iowa have broken ties with the boots on the ground organization citing lack or organization as the main reason for the split. In an interview with The Iowa Republican's Kevin Hall, former Organize 4 Palin volunteer Craig Bergman states "There is no Organize 4 Palin, there never was" He goes on to say, At no point in time has Organize 4 Palin put pen to title to do the 5X5 executable grassroots plan that you know has to be done. There is absolutely no organization. None." Bergman and other former members feel as though Peter Singleton and the rest of the O4P volunteers don't have the first clue about how to run a campaign here in the first in the nation Caucus state. As an Organize 4 Palin volunteer and Iowan myself, my answer back to them is Peter knows a lot more about what will work to get support and ultimately votes in this politically saturated potentially battleground state.

"Is this Heaven? No, it's Iowa." A place of fertile soil and traditional values. Iowa is informed, voting an citizens idea of paradise. Its a state where, if you want to, you can actually participate on quite a personal level with the election process. Whether it be at the Iowa State Fair or the Ames Straw Poll or the Polk County Republican's event you can vet the candidates face-to-face. Despite this level of access, Iowa has become a place of icy robo calling and cold calling cards in the mailbox by impersonal politicians and their operatives who treat voters more like a numbers than as sovereign rulers of this country. Iowans have grown battle weary and in large part unimpressed with conventional talking points campaigns. Near the end of the movie when Mark is again hounding Ray to rethink his moves, Tery Mann, played by James Earl Jones tells him, "Ray, people will come Ray. They'll come to Iowa for reasons they can't even fathom. They'll turn up your driveway not knowing for sure why they're doing it. They'll arrive at your door as innocent as children, longing for the past." Like many Americans, Iowans are waiting on the doorstep for the past. They long for an America where their voices mattered. If you want to capture interest and votes in this state, you must be genuine, you must be unconventional, and you must do exactly what Peter and Michelle and their team in Iowa are doing. You need to build relationships that are authentic, valued, and viable.You need to plow under the crops of conventional campaign processes and build the baseball diamond of grassroots organization despite what the detractors say.

In Dyersville, Iowa that baseball diamond in the midst of the cornfield still stands as it did in the movie in a peaceful setting of hills, farmhouses, horses, and cattle. If you sit on the bleachers and watch the landscape, you can imagine the long row of headlights at the end of the film, the cars streaming in from the crisscross of farm roads. Someone once speaking of the field said that the best thing about it was what wasn't there. Its up to visitors to bring their own dreams. That is why the anthying but 'politics as usual' structure of Organize 4 Palin works so well. Its up to us Americans to bring our own dreams to it. Its up to us to build those relationships that hold us as valuable participants in the greatest nation on earth and to form lasting connections with other, like-minded citizens not by following a script of actions put forth by a rigid political machine.

At the end of the movie, Ray's brother-in-law, Mark can finally see what Ray saw all along, the players. Perhaps, once all is said and done those who thought Organize 4 Palin's strategy wouldn't work will too finally see what most of us already do - to paraphrase the voice in the cornfield "If you build relationships, they will vote".

Monday, September 12, 2011

Book Review: The Quotable Rogue: The Ideals of Sarah Palin in Her Own Words

What a great idea! In his book, "The Quotable Rogue," Matt Lewis has come up with 32 topics of interest to Americans today and has presented a collection of quotations by Sarah Palin on each. He closes with a chapter of quotes by others about Sarah Palin. Technically, Lewis didn’t write the book, but he assembled it, and he did so quite well.

If there was a book like this for every political candidate, vetting and voting would be much simpler. Instead of sorting through the confusion of what the media and others say Palin said, I can read her actual words on subjects I’m concerned about. (In the introduction, Lewis gives examples of specific ways some people have twisted her words to make her look silly.) "The Quotable Rogue" makes Palin’s stands on issues more clear. It also reveals more of her character. Quotes in the book show Palin to be highly intelligent, solid in her beliefs, and tough enough to get in there and do whatever she believes needs to be done. She also has a great sense of humor about politics.
 Mr. Lewis has included the classic Palin quotes we have come to love such as:
"The difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull? Lipstick." (page 32)

"The toughest thing has been the shots taken against the kids, against the family. They’re my kids. The mama grizzly bear in me comes out, makes me want to rear up on my hind legs and say, "Wait a minute." It’s a little bit unfair there. It has noting to do with taking the country in a new direction." (page 86)

I am thankful that Lewis reminds us that one of Palin’s most famous quotes about being able to see Russia from her house was never actually a quote by Sarah. No, that was Tina Fey on Saturday Night Live. Her actual words were:
"…It’s very important when you consider even national security issues with Russia as Putin rears his head and comes into the airspace of the United States of America: Where do they go? It’s Alaska. It’s just over the border. It is from Alaska that we send out those to make sure that an eye is being kept on this powerful nation. Russia, because they are right here. They are right next to our state." (page 10)

I found this book to be a quick, easy read and a must have reference for any Palin supporter. It will be an invaluable tool in the arsenal of materials to educate people with when it comes to the former Alaska governor's record.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Mamma Grizzly's Butterflies Take Flight

Waiting for my 5 year-old son to emerge from his elementary school classroom one day last week I took notice of some butterflies. These Monarch beauties were floating delicately along each wispy, warm September breeze. The fanciful, quiet, effortless flight of these orange and black beauties brought to mind a book that I was given to review last year; The Butterfly Effect by Andy Andrews.

In this beautifully illustrated text, Andy Andrews introduces us to the chaos theory first presented in 1963 by Edward Lorenz:
A butterfly could flap its wings and set molecules of air in motion, which would move other molecules of air, in turn moving more molecules of air - eventually capable of starting a hurricane on the other side of the planet.

 Seemingly far-fetched, no? People thought it was so preposterous Lorenz was literally laughed out of the conference where he had proposed his idea. It was dismissed and treated as charming, but absurd - the stuff of myth and legend presented in bad sci-fi flicks. But a funny thing happened. Fast-forward 30 years after the butterfly effect was first introduced, and you find physics professors coming to the conclusion that the butterfly effect was authentic, accurate, and viable.

 But there is something more, the butterfly effect as science has shown engages with the first movement of any form of matter, including people. A great human example of the butterfly effect in action from Andrews' book is the true story of Civil War hero, Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain. He is one man who made one move whose effects still are felt through our lives today.

Chamberlain was a rhetoric professor from Maine turned Union Army Colonel. He and his men were placed at the end of the line of some 80,000 men at Gettysburg with the instruction - "Whatever you do, you can't let them come through here." Chamberlain knew that no matter what he could not withdraw his troops. He writes "I knew I may die, but I also knew I would not die with a bullet in my back. I would not die in retreat, I am, at least, like the apostle Paul who wrote, 'This one thing I do. I press onward toward the mark.'" At that time, battles were face-to-face close affairs. The Confederates charged Chamberlain's part of the line not once; not twice, not three times but six times in total. After the fifth time, when they were facing a reinforced group of Confederates with less than half of their men still standing and not enough amunnition, Chamberlain gave the order to charge. With in a matter of minutes, the group of eighty men under Chamberlain's command without any ammunition captured over four hundred enemy soldiers. Historians have said that had Chamberlain not charged that last time, the rebels would have won at Gettysburg and had the Confederate Army won there, the South would have won the war. One could argue that the United States of America exists as it does because of a single man and one move he made more than a century ago.
Gov. Sarah Palin is a living, breathing example of the butterfly effect in action. She is an American hockey mom turned servant-leader. From her days on City Council, to that of Wasilla Mayor, to Governor of Alaska - she took on the establishment, championed reform, and has been successful in showing us all how we can make a difference. Despite all odds, low poll numbers, or the blistering attacks from the establishment, the media, and the pundits, Gov. Palin has consistently stood up for Constitutional Conservatism. She has held the line and endeavored to make America great again. She is in fact that force of nature that too presses onward towards the mark, emboldening her supporters and creating a butterfly effect that is producing the perfect storm rumbling across the American political landscape today.

Palin's efforts to restore America are changing us too. As Conservatives 4 Palin, Organize 4 Palin team members, and Palinistas , we are taking flight and affecting change nationwide. We are Americans who believe in restoring our country by supporting the leadership of Gov. Sarah Palin and the values she embraces. Like Chamberlain, whether we realize it or not, we are making authentic, viable strides to return our country to traditional values. Each one of us matters. Everything we do matters. Every move, every action - they all matter. Every person we make a relationship with in hopes they too will share our vision of a renewed America, every O4P shirt we wear, every palm card we pass out, every person we show The Undefeated to, every personal letter we send explaining Gov. Palin's record in Alaska, every little thing matters. We saw evidence of this at the Restoring America Event. Did you see all those O4P shirts at that event? Did you see the numbers of people signing up to get involved? Like the torrential downpour in that central Iowa field last weekend, we are creating a storm by the subtle, quiet flight we are each making. Whether our boots are on the ground or our fingers on the keyboard, future Americans' lives will be shifted and shaped by the moves we make and the actions we take. Think to Gov. Sarah Palin's words spoken in her September 3 speech here in Iowa: Real hope comes from realizing that we the people can make the difference. And you don’t need a title to make a difference. We can get this country back on the right track. We can do it by empowering the people and realizing that God has richly blessed this most exceptional nation, and then we do something about that realization.

 Like Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain we face seemingly insurmountable odds in the form of the established, ruling poltical class and the cocktail party punditry who want us to give in and give up and let them overtake us. Like Chamberlain, we may seem from an emeny's perspective to be greatly outnumbered and inadequately equipped to fend off their attacks. But also like the professor turned unlikely war hero, we too know that we cannot withdraw no matter what. We must press forward despite the odds because we were created to make a difference. With have the power within us to return America to greatness. As Gov. Palin so poignantly puts it, " We will not squander what we have been given! We will fight for freedom. We will fight for America. We are at the tipping point. United we must stand. And we shall nobly save, not meanly lose, this last best hope on earth."

 Continue to burst forth from your cocoons, spread your wings and take flight for lasting reform in America knowing that what you are doing matters. Continue the good "flight" my friends.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Book Review: The Butterfly Effect by Andy Andrews

The Butterfly Effect is written as an inspirational gift book, with only a few sentences or phrases on each page. While this makes for easy reading--I finished this book in about 10 minutes--it historical text that is a quick, inspirational read.

Two interesting tales right out of the annals of history are told. The Battle of Gettysburg is explained, as well as a sort of "six degrees of separation" type story that includes George Washington Carver and Henry Wallace. Along with these tales is the explanation of the scientific "Butterfly Effect" and how it changes personal lives and environmental factors. The repeating theme of the book is that one person can make a big difference with just one small action.

With pages right out of Grandma's scrapbook, and various fonts, the book is visually appealing. I would highly recommend this book as a gift or as an inspirational keepsake for your own personal book collection.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com  book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Book Review: The Boy Who Changed the World by Andy Andrews

The Boy Who Changed the World, a beautifully illustrated book is one of these children’s books which will also inspire and entertain the adult reader.

The message revealed through this engaging tale is that every choice you make, whether good or bad, can make a difference. It illustrates the so-called “butterfly effect” in a way that even the youngest child will understand, yet will also engage the adult reader.

Andrews weaves together the stories of four little boys who each grew up wanting to make a difference to the world. Norman Borlaug, Henry Wallace, George Washington Carver and Moses Carver each played a key role in developing a special food that ultimately helped feed two billion people.

Each of the four stories is well told and the way each character influenced the other is clearly demonstrated. Instead of working forward chronologically, Andrews works backwards, and the adult reading the story may have to point out the significance of the names. This book is written in the typical repeating pattern that many children's books employ. I found this book entertains and engages my young children ages 9 through 3. Its also arranged in such a manner that one can easily tell one part of the story on one evening and then pick up where they left off the next. My children look forward to me reading this book and it has made a lasting impression on them. 

It is an excellent book with a clear Christian message that I highly recommend.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Book Review: The Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I sat down to read this book. Richard Stearns is the new CEO of World Vision International. The first part of this book describes Richard Sterns battle with himself in yielding to the Lord’s Will and accepting the job as the CEO of World Vision. He did not feel qualified or prepared in a Theological or Non-profit Organization way. He was the CEO of a company that produced fine china and tableware. He had good organizational skills for a For Profit company, but how would that translate to World Vision.

Also, he did not feel spiritually or theologically prepared. He fought the process at every step. What was amazing was to read about the confirmations that were placed in his path as the process proceeded. Also, to see how Satan attempted to throw a huge obstacle in the way of God’s will, the obstacle of pride and wealth. To Stearns credit he was so seeking the Lord that he would eventually agree to take on this position and serve the poor as his Savior requested.

Starting in part II Stearns talks about Isaiah 58 and Matthew 25 and the teaching that comes through here regarding serving the poor and helpless. He does a great job of declaring the message that was so on the heart of Christ and the Father. Serving the poor, the hungry, the widow, the orphan and the sick is what the Lord desires for his people to do. Our true belief in Christ will show it self in our tangible outward actions. Unfortunately for many of us our outward actions still ignore the poor and destitute, because they make us uncomfortable.

Stearns pointed out in the beginning of the book about a group of students who took their Bibles and marked all of the references that the Bible has in regards to the poor, the widow, the needy and also about justice. The result, a huge portion of scripture deals with these topics. One of those students then took a Bible and cut out every reference they had marked. What was left? Well, what was left was a Gospel message with a huge hole in it. What a great visual representation.

Stearns paraphrased Matthew 25 in this way, "For I was hungry, while you had all you needed. I was thirsty, but you drank bottled water. I was a stranger, and you wanted me deported. I needed clothes, but you needed more clothes. I was sick, and you pointed out the behaviors that led to my sickness. I was in prison, and you said I was getting what I deserved."

Ok, so that really helps bring the message home. You might be asking yourself, is this book just a book intended to make me feel guilty? Is it a device to make me give a donation to relive my feelings of guilt? My answer to those questions, NO.

If you feel guilty, maybe it’s because you have not thought about the poor. Maybe you have turned a blind eye to those in need. Maybe you are living more like a Pharisee than like a Disciple.

I believe you will learn much from this book. I think it will challenge you to look at others around you differently. It will help you ask the question, is there a hole in the Gospel that I preach, teach and demonstrate through my life?

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Review: Outlive Your Life by Max Lucado

Outlive Your Life is a powerful, inspiring book that outlines the power each of us has over the world. I'll admit that I hadn't considered some of the points it raised and that is was a real eye-oener for me. This book shows you exactly how to use the one life you are given to help people, make a better world, and a better you. Max Lucado does a good job of making his book humble, relatable, and completely unbiased. It was very refreshing to read; it includes a raw and natural way of looking at things. It forces you to look at the world as a whole, noticing the big picture and seeing the bad things as well as the good.

Right from the get-go I liked the book. The texture of the cover is awesome. When I opened it I noticed that one hundred percent of the royalties from this book go to benefitting children and families. That made me like it even more. I loved the use of facts and statistics as well as the beautiful imagery used on almost every page.

I found the Christian references down-to-earth, which makes the book perfect for a new Christ-follower, or someone who is just learning about Christianity. I liked that Max Lucado didn't write it in a in-your-face kind of way, it was more subtle and in the background.

I would definitely recommend this book; I have already given it to my brother to read. If we could learn from this book, the world would be a much better place

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255  : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”