From the Ranch

From the Ranch

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Malala Yousafzai, You Have Written Your Name Forever On My Heart!

Some people from such a very young age have already attained the characteristics of nobility.  The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines noble as possessing, characterized by, or arising from superiority of mind or character, or of ideals or morals.  There is a young woman from Pakistan who at fourteen years of age has impacted the world in a marvelousl way already with her life.  I understand the reason a Taliban assassin targeted her, in her peaceful, selfless, and innocent pursuit of an education that she might serve her people.  She wants to bring help and healing during illness or injury by becoming a doctor, she embodies the very best of Pakistan and her people.   Truly she loves her country and values the citizens of Pakistan, desirng to serve them in humility and practical aid.  
 Pray for this young patriot of Pakistan. What a remarkable young woman, never have the Taliban revealed more clearly what their agenda in the world is. Never have they revealed more clearly their disregard of human life, their disregard of God's authority concerning life and death. Do they think a fourteen year old girl could be in any way a threat to The Living God, and they need to protect God from her?  What an insult they hurl at God.  I noted that in the language they used to claim responsibility for this atrocity, they didn't threaten to dispose of anyone who opposed Allah, instead they said they would kill anyone who opposed "them."  They fool no one. She is a threat to their power and influence in the world, not God, and she is so because even a fourteen year old girl can speak the plain and profound truth of what will bring true peace to the world. It is the respect of the God given right of the individual to determine, within the framework of causing harm to no one else, their own destiny.  Then again, I am making the assumption that the eventual goal of the Taliban is world peace, but actually, I've never actually heard them suggest that peace is anywhere in their agenda... ever.

I believe in their brutal attack upon this defenseless child who desires to become a doctor in order to serve the people of Pakistan, the Taliban have awakened the nation of Pakistan as to the threat the Taliban is to their country and her people.  I also believe Pakistan will demonstrate to the world their integrity as they deal with the Taliban from here forward. I do not believe there will be a place in the entire world where her shooter can hide. They will hunt him down, and justice will be served. Whether this young woman lives or dies, she has spoken to the world of the honor of the people of Pakistan. Her life proclaims Pakistan to be a country of honor, courage, and selfless service. The Taliban proclaims Pakistan to be the home of murdering tyrants and thugs. I am certain Malala's song of life will triumph! May God be with you and your family Malala Yousafzai, your name is forever written on my heart. I will pray daily for your complete recovery, you have so much to offer to your country and the world. Your life convicts my own heart about my responsibility to live fearlessly in moral courage. If you can, so can I.

                                 One of the Peace roses grown in my garden. 

Monday, October 8, 2012


I was thinking again this morning about how the women of the world develop a relationship of sisterhood.  I am certain that a large factor is found in the role of being a mother that is a common one for many women.  Falling in love with men is another shared  emotion that is so profound  when it is experienced by a woman. On Friday I am flying into Washington, and part of my anticipation and excitement lies in the visiting with and spending time with two cherished women who are among the strongest in mind, heart and spirit of my women friends.  One is a relatively new friend, and I am delighting in coming to know more about her life, her interests, where she draws her incredible strength from, her life challenges, and her strategies for meeting them.  For in these observations, I will gain strength and skills for my own life, and I hope too, to share the skills that I have won in my life in order to give empowerment and encouragement to her.  The other friend I have had for awhile, and come to deeply admire.  When something is truly challenging in my life, I seek out her wisdom.  Her life, and that of her husband are a testimony to what has built and sustained our nation, people who have truly offered self-less service to our nation and in essence to the world.  The poem I wrote entitled Rare and Remarkable Women was written in tribute to this amazing friend.

Rare and Remarkable Women

I watched as he lovingly gazed at her in their living room today,  
At her sweet face, earnest smile, and her hair's soft curls with their touch of gray.
He stared as though it were the first time that he had admired.
 Of this view, I realized, the powerful and honorable man never grew tired.

I knew of all the years she had devoted her life and love,
To the man of steel, who watched as though she were an angel from above.
It came to me that behind the men of his caliber that I am privileged to know,
Often from such a woman rare and remarkable love flows.

As she earnestly spoke of the topic of the moment, her hands moved with their usual grace.
His delight in this endearing quality was visible on his face.
All those gestures, which in more than forty years of devotion, had often been observed,
Still called to him to cling to her words, making sure each was heard.

In every endeavor he always sought council from those he knew to be wise and informed,
But he knew hers came, without exception, from a heart which to nothing but good would ever conform.
It had not been just to him she had given so much, she reached out to all, not just their own,
The legacy of her life would be that of great love when the Lord finally called her home.

Together they shared stories of the children who had been nurtured between them.
Many times his duties had taken him far from home, and she had soldiered on without him.
As they spoke with pride of each child and their accomplishments,
His demeanor spoke of where he knew so much of the credit earnestly went.

Often I have observed the same quiet tribute of love and admiration,
In the faces of the brave and self-less men who courageously give so much to this nation.
I knew why he lovingly gazed at her in their living room today,
At her sweet face, earnest smile, and her hair's soft curls with their touch of gray.

Since my husband's service in Afghanistan and Iraq, I have grown in very significant ways.  The experience has drawn me to develop interest, respect, and concern for places and  people that I had little  considered in my small world.  We are truly a global community in the world today.  All of us are linked on a shrinking planet, with diminishing resources, and if one of us suffers anywhere, we all suffer.  By the same token, when anyone of us achieves,  overcomes, or conquers our own adversity, we all gain from it.  The friends I will be spending much needed time of refreshment with, represent women who are aware of and live by these principles.

Recently I have been mesmerized by a pop culture entertainment that literally stunned me the first time I observed it.  Since then I have purposefully watched several different offerings of the Real Housewives of Where Ever.  If I am not careful to remind myself of the falseness of their personae,  and that they are just making a living by "play-like" games such as I played as a child, I become discouraged at their lack of significant living.  I am careful to mentor young women at every opportunity that presents itself, because pop culture is having a tremendous influence on the identities and values young women are assuming for themselves.  We must all guard that media of this nature is understood by our young people as lacking in examples of honorable and truly satisfying living.  I have always admired the philosophy of Hilliary Clinton's book, It Takes a Village, which portrays the message so well that we are collectively responsible for not only the physical needs of our children, but endowing the children of our country and world with values, life skills, and confidence. 

  With this blog today, I desire to make a contribution toward my own responsibilities to the young women of our world.  I won't discuss "body image," healthy living habits, the pitfalls of gossip and conceit, or how to find a good man, although those are legitimate issues of all women everywhere.  Instead I  will relay a conversation that I observed on facebook concerning the first elections conducted in Afghanistan and make an effort to first crystallize the understanding of any young woman who should read this, the life and death struggle for  basic human rights women endure in some places and each person's obligation to act to facilitate change in those circumstances.  

In the United States, many people are tired of the War on Terror.  They have sang too many patriotic songs, supported the military until they are growing weary of it, and their own finances, and those of the country are a mess, and they are struggling to overcome the failures of finances so prevalent in our country right now.  They are tired of the continued violence in the Middle East, impatient that in ten or more years, the problems that have existed for centuries are not yet solved, in view of the sacrifices as Americans we have made up to this point.  I can never speak of that issue without pointing out that two percent of the country has borne a personal share of that burden that has been life changing, and for some, life ending.

Now I will tell the story I observed discussed between a group of young Afghans, whose heart lies in the attainment of true liberty for their country.  The fact that election day had arrived, and many had voted, some at great risk, was being discussed.  They were discouraged, and felt that fraud had once again gained the upper hand in their quest for liberty for the people of their country. The conversation was so different that day than the discourse by our citizens after elections in this country.  

The details of  fraud, intimidation, graft, violence and falsified results are not as important in this story as the determination of one young woman to participate in the voting process of her country, and to have a voice in her own destiny, and that of her country.  The young people discussed how she had to carefully and without raising attention, made her way to the polling place, literally at the risk of her very life.  She was successful, only to have her marked ballot torn up before her as the election official proclaimed it invalid.  In reading the words used to describe this event in the young Afghan woman's life, the full magnitude could not be experienced by merely reading the story, the profound reality of just how some women live in other parts of the world nevertheless, swept over me as they typed messages to each other on facebook.  Not only that reality, but the reality that somehow, I too am accountable to this young woman, and all the people of the world who do not experience the blessings I enjoy simply because of the geographical location of my birth.  Therein lies so many responsibilities for which I must make provision to fulfill to the best of my ability.

So I have since that time, made my small and seemingly to me, insignificant efforts to tell the world that  we are all created equal, and due, because God gave it to us, the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  In my own country there are men and women who live without honor, abandon their children, beat and berate their children and wives, rape and murder, and commit all kinds of atrocities.   Yet often I see people of the Middle East lumped into one category alone, that of debase living, and lack of valuing life, as though our own country is completely free of such things.  As I understand it, we are lumped by some people from the Middle East the same way.  That just isn't how it is, far from it, and each woman is responsible and capable before their sisters of the world and their God, to reach out in some way to help their neighbor. My own obligation involves writing of these situations, sharing what I know, and entreating others to discover their obligations  too.

Before a young person of my country considers what kind of car they will drive, where they will go to college, what career they will pursue, or who they will marry, consideration is owed to how they will fulfill their own debt to the human race.  It isn't enough to conduct themselves with honor and in right living, for God gave a second instruction that we are to love our neighbors as ourselves.  I urge you to send this blog to the young women you know, and whose development of character you are obligated to give attention to.  Ask them to determine now, and to watch for always during their lives,  their neighbors as God identifies people to them.  God has commanded us to love Him first, and then our neighbor as ourselves.

After this significant conversation which affected me so much personally, as I often do, I expressed the feelings and observations i experienced in poetry.  Poetry for me causes me to capture strong feelings and avoid confusion and distress concerning the ideas by stating them in very disciplined  word patterns where rhymes are required.  For me that process helps me to clarify the truths and meaning  of the experience.  So I present the poem inspired by the unknown young woman who went to vote in her country's elections, and whose experience the young Afghans discussed that day.

The Vote

Somewhere far from my home, there is a woman I do not know,
She risked all today to make freedom for her country grow.

During all her life her country and people have been oppressed.
Every night and day has for them been filled with fear and distress.

Threats from enemies from other countries and from enemies within,
Keep her children from living in safety and on peace to be able to depend.

 As she traveled to the place of voting, her dark eyes darted searching for danger,
Hidden in waiting there were enemies her act of courage and honor would anger.

With great care she stole carefully, finally arriving at the balloting place.
Then after her vote was marked, a tyrant disposed of it, leaving no trace.

She watched, then in discouragement and returned home without a word spoken
The quest for liberty she will still pursue, for her spirit and purpose cannot be broken.

All of my life has been spent in freedom, for which nothing I have had to endure.
For by His grace I was born in a country where in liberty always I have lived secure.

For my sister living in subjugation in another place without such blessing each day,
Faithfully each morning I ask of God for her help and protection as I pray.

 One of my favorite poems was one of the first I wrote after I read a story about  and saw the picture of several young Afghan women who had joined the Afghan National Army and who were training as pilots.  What amazing courage and selfless service to enter into for their country, I know what opposition and threat by some it will bring to their lives.  So today as American's own elections approach, and in this small thing we can each so easily be responsible in our own country, here again is my poem of tribute to the young pilots, and all the brave women of Afghanistan.

Young Women With Dark Eyes and Dark Hair

Who are these young women with dark eyes and dark hair,
With beauty that runs so deep, and courage rare?

From what cloth were they cut, and where was it woven?
Who was the Artist from whose mind the colors were chosen?

Of what fiber is the cloth and thread made,
That forms their true hearts which when they were bade,

By whispers to their souls of service to their country and us all,
Without hesitation bid them answer that call?

The fibers from which those threads took shape,
Were grown by the people of their nation who do not hate.

The seeds were planted in the soil by their fathers.
Then the fibers were collected at harvest by their brothers.

The thread of hope was spun by the hands of their skilled mothers.
None gave heed to the threats of others.

Then they were woven by their sisters, whose lives will be forever changed,
By the steps that they take and the destiny they arrange.

Finally from the Artist's hand, priceless treasure, a gift from Afghanistan,
Came to the people of the world who desire only with honor to stand.

Their mark and place in history their names will take.
When their life's work is made for the peace that lies at stake.

Who are these young women with dark eyes and dark hair,
With beauty that runs so deep, and courage rare?

The last thoughts I want to add to this particular blog post references a topic which is one of the foremost on the minds of women everywhere.  By far most women long and search for that rare once in a lifetime love that is so fulfilling, so secure, and filled with romance and loyalty and lasts a lifetime.  I am not sure how many of us are privileged to actually experience such a person and relation ship in our lives.  I know that my mother has, I have, and my two friends in Washington have.  However, my friends and I are all military wives, two of us from one country and one from another.  Those we love have stood in harm's way for their countries, being men of steadfast honor and character.  For one of us, that devotion to duty, honor, and country cost the life of her husband, and the loss of the love of her life.  I was in conversation on facebook with her recently when her loss was so heavy on her mind one day.  She struggles bravely and goes on with her life, but loving a Soldier as I do, I have a deep understanding of what pain and grief she must conquer each day as she moves through life now.  She was expressing missing her husband, the words she used were so simple and stark on the page.  Easily my poetry wrapped around those words as I attempted to express to her my understanding and sympathy at her great loss.  

  Missing Him So Much

Once a woman wrote to me words that my heart did touch.
“Missing my husband so much, missing him so much.”

An act of war took him, no matter how tightly she did clutch.
“Missing my husband so much, missing him so much.”

She and I know that nobility resides more deeply in men as such.
“Missing my husband so much, missing him so much.”

Once a woman wrote to me words that my heart did touch.
“Missing my husband so much, missing him so much.”

 Share this blog with your women friends, as women we share so many things in common, no matter where we live, and we are stronger when our hearts we knit together.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Unbelievable Pictures of Afghanistan!

My friend Fahim Khairy has set up a new facebook page, and it has phenomenal pictures of Afghanistan and her people.  He has also written a novel with characters from his country.  The children of Afghanistan are so beautiful, and when violence is not disrupting their lives smiles are upon their faces.  The pictures of children there tug at my heart.  I wish for their protection and provision for all their needs.  If you love beautiful photography, if you have spent time in service in this country, if you know who your neighbor is, you will love this new facebook page!

These photos tell of a  very different Afghanistan than most of the world knows!  Share this link with everyone you know!

My New Neighbors

At this point in time,  I have to admit that some positive things have come to my life because of war.  Because of my family's involvement in the military, I have paid much more attention to more than just my own world.  I live in a beautiful and peaceful place.  I have no urgent needs, I endure no tyranny or oppression in the country of my birth.  Education, the gift of studying to obtain knowledge, is a heritage which each of my countrymen expect without even considering that it could be kept from them.  Food is always present in my house, and my home is warm in the winter, cool in the summer, and a place of safety and refuge.  Tomorrow on Sunday I will go to the church of my choice without fear of what that decision and commitment might cost me.  

The result of my family's involvement in this present conflict has been so vast and profound, that I will never be the same.  One of the positive things war has brought to my life is the forming of relationships with people of the Middle East.  In our sharing I have heard of the lack of liberty, and by some of my friends,  such lack of the things needed to supply the basic daily needs of people.  The insecurity of their daily lives, the product of violence and danger, which comes without warning has been conveyed to me in their personal terms.  It is different when somewhere there are some people who live in dire circumstances, and when in Iraq or Afghanistan a friend whom I care for deeply lives in dire circumstances.  Along with my husband being in harm's way, I now have many friends who have made my life much richer, who live in harm's way.  These people have become, because of our coming first to know one another, and then to having a personal friendship, my neighbors.  As I spoke of in a previous blog, God's directive is to love our neighbor as ourselves.  I now have new neighbors who bring blessings to my life, and for whom I have love and concern.  I wish to do what I can to help them in the distress of their lives.  So this morning as I woke up in a state of blessing that I have not earned, I thank God for His generousness to me, and lift the names of new neighbors in my morning prayers.


Now Begins the Day

Each morning first the grayness of the coming day softly sings,
To wake up the birds in the woods and then their songs begin to ring.

Those who have roamed the night looking for sweet little morsels to eat,
Curl up in the thicket and snuggle to sleep with their nose next to their feet.

Across the still waters of the pond now beginning to glisten in the light,
Silver fish flit the water, as all around the world begins to grow bright.

From the porch I see flowers touched with the rhinestones of morning dew.
So many colors from the Master’s palate begin in the light to show their hues.

The sun has sent fingers creeping of rose, coral, and pale yellow across the sky.
The rooster from his perch announces his joy at a new day with his boastful cry. 

No matter the state which men or nature has created for the world this day.
In hope and faith I know My Lord will be with me as for His blessing I pray.