Choices, Gratitude and Freedom

May 27, 2008

By Janet Walgren
“You always do what you want to do. This is true with every act. You may say that you had to do something, or that you were forced to, but actually, whatever you do, you do by choice. Only you have the power to choose for yourself.” ~ W. Clement Stone

If this statement is true, and I believe it is, then why do we choose to do what we do? What is our guile, our motivation? Are we choosing to act on greed and self interest or moral principle? Are we willing to make tough choices based on principle regardless of the consequences?

Yesterday was Memorial Day. I don’t know if you are aware of the origin of Memorial Day or the story behind the first Decoration Day. I would like to share it with you because it embodies the choices of many men and women resulting in the liberty and freedom that we enjoy today as a nation.

“According to Professor David Blight of the Yale University History Department, the first Memorial Day was observed in 1865 by liberated slaves at the historic race track in Charleston. The site was a former Confederate prison camp as well as a mass grave for Union soldiers who had died while captive. The freed slaves re-interred the dead Union soldiers from the mass grave to individual graves, fenced in the graveyard & built an entry arch declaring it a Union graveyard; a very daring thing to do in the South shortly after North’s victory. On May 30, 1868 the freed slaves returned to the graveyard with flowers they’d picked from the countryside & decorated the individual gravesites, thereby creating the 1st Decoration Day. A parade with thousands of freed blacks and Union soldiers was followed by patriotic singing and a picnic.” ~ Wikipedia

I love this story. I love the gratitude that those people expressed. How many today can say that they have a heart felt appreciation for the sacrifice of life and family that has given us our liberty, our freedom? As I passed the cemetery yesterday, the graves were covered with flowers and flags. But that was yesterday. What about the rest of the year? How do you or I express our gratitude for freedom and all that we enjoy? My first ancestor to stand on American soil came here on the Mayflower. From that time till now, my family has been represented in every war our nation has fought. I have seen first hand the consequences that come to a battle scarred veteran and his family. They are grievous to be born.

As we go about our daily lives conducting our personal and business affairs, I hope that we remember the sacrifices that gave us our privileges. And, as we remember, I hope that we will choose to show our gratitude by the choices we make.

Happy Mother’s Day

May 11, 2008

By Janet Walgren

When my great-grandmother Walgren died, she left a letter for her children and her posterity that would come after her. When I became an adult, my grandmother gave me a copy of the letter; she had it made into a little booklet and tucked it into a quilt she made for me by hand. The book is one of my little treasures.

The letter addresses each of my great-grandmother’s children individually telling them how much she loved them and expressing her concerns and aspirations for their futures. She then told them her thoughts and beliefs on the subjects of family, finances, politics and faith. She apologized for her shortcomings and ended with these lines:

Think of me as the dawn into the dimness, yours still, you mine.

Remember the best of our past moments and forget the rest.

So to where I wait come gently on.

Your Mother

I love these lines. They let me know that I have a great-grandma up in heaven watching over me and waiting for me. I know that no matter what else is going on in my life, I am loved, that she cares.

Each child is different. They are unique individuals. I think that is why children don’t come with instruction manuals. I also think that is why mothers come in all shapes and sizes with unique personalities and perspectives. According to worldly standards, some mothers and children are better than others because of role models, education, and other opportunities. But does God really care if a child is a star athlete, cheerleader, musician or student with great test scores? Perhaps he looks deeper and searches the heart. I think he cares about goodness and love.

I can’t imagine what it must be like for mothers holding babies to their breast as bombs and bullets fly around them and I grieve for the mother who has lost her child.

I am saddened by young women who are waiting for a husband, or a baby and it pains me to know that many will wait a life time without the joy of family or motherhood.

I believe that most mothers do their very best according to the knowledge and resources that they have at their disposal and I say, “Good for you!”

To all the mothers out there, Happy Mother’s Day. May God bless you all.

Stupid Criminals & the Elections

May 3, 2008

By Janet Walgren

Last week, on the evening news, I heard a “stupid criminal” story about a twenty-one year old man who stole a check from his girlfriend’s mother and tried to cash it at his local bank. The teller alerted police immediately after she was handed the check. The thing that tipped her off that something wasn’t quite right was the dollar amount. the check was filled out for $360 BILLION Dollars. Everyone who knew the perpetrator was in a state of slightly amused shock as they expressed their disbelief noting that if they actually had $360 Billion on hand, “We wouldn’ be sitting here… We would be somewhere sipping margaritas…It must be 5:00 PM somewhere around the world.”

How could he do such a stupid thing? How could he be so dumb? As I pondered these questions, I tried to come up with a logical answer, but each time I thought up a scenario, I started laughing. Not that the situation was funny, it wasn’t in the least, but it was simply beyond my comprehension how anyone old enough to get to a bank teller’s window with a check in hand could have possibly expected to cash a check for such a large amount.

It would have been nice if I had seen the “stupid criminal” news clip on a T.V. sit-com; I could have gone to bed laughing. Unfortunately, the incident was all too real and the more I pondered it, as I watched the evening news, the more I realized that there are three candidates running for president right now who are each trying to cash bigger checks than that at our teller windows. So, why don’t we see them as stupid criminals? After all isn’t voting for a candidate like cashing a check called “Campaign Promises”… And, wouldn’t it be lovely if their checks only cost the tax payers $360 Billion… ~sigh