Faithinflipflops

Living simply, loving deeply!

Archive for the category “Politics/World View/Current Events”

Baseball & Believeland

If you live in Northeast Ohio, you know that the Cleveland Indians are in the World Series…the first time since 1997.

My love for the Cleveland Indians stems from my childhood. Cleveland Indians baseball playing in the background was the soundtrack of my childhood summers. My mom would sit on the back picnic table listening to the game on the radio, drink Pepsi, chain smoke while keeping box scores of EVERY. SINGLE. GAME. Every year she would say, “This is the year the Indians win the pennant.” And she believed it.

The names Herb Score, Andre Thornton, Joe Charboneau (remember the song, “Go, go Charboneau…he’s Cleveland’s rookie of the year”), Mike Hargrove (the human rain delay), Len Barker, Joe Carter, Julio Franco, Toby Harrah, Brook Jacoby, Duane Kuiper, Rick Manning, Pat Tabler just to name a few were common names heard in my house. Buddy Bell was her all-time favorite player.

She passed away the summer of 1987.

 

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Me and my mom a month before she passed away.

 

I fell more in love with Cleveland baseball in the 90s. This was the era of Sandy Alomar Jr., Albert Belle, Jim Thome, Manny Ramirez (he made me laugh with his antics), Carlos Baerga , Jose Mesa, Charles Nagy, Kenny Lofton, Eddie Murray and my all-time favorite play, Omar Vizquel. I was able to go to spring training with my sister and brother-in-law when the Indians were in Winter Haven, Florida. So fun.

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I still have my Omar Vizquel socks..and t-shirt… ❤ 

In 1995, the Indians made it to the World Series for the first time since 1948. I was a junior in college in Virginia. My sister, Nancy, called me at school and said she had an extra ticket to game 3 of the World Series. My brother-in-law could not go. Did I want to go? DID I WANT TO GO? The game was Tuesday, October 24, 1995. I got up early that Tuesday morning drove 450 miles to my sister’s house. My dad came to her house so I could see him for a couple of hours before we went to the game.

I thought of my mom as they raised the American League pennant at the game. I remember feeling overwhelmed by emotion, wishing she could actually see it happen. The Indians won that night in 11 innings by a score of 7 to 6. When they scored the winning run, I remember the Jake going crazy. The place was electric. Strangers were hugging. It was incredible.

 

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We got back late to my sister’s house. I got up early again the next morning and drove 450 miles back to school. It. Was. Worth. It.

The Indians did not win the World Series that year. The Atlanta Braves did.

Two years later, the Indians returned to the World Series against the Florida Marlins. I had only been in ministry six months. I remember for game 7 I had strep throat but my boss made me go to an appreciation banquet the church was having for us because no one would believe I was really sick. He thought everyone would think I was faking it to stay home and watch the game. I wasn’t. The antibiotics I received the next day were proof. He recently apologized to me for that. Ha! I am still bitter about that series. It went to game 7. The Indians lost in the 11th inning. I cried. I was mad, as well. What frustrated me most about this series was the Marlins assembled a team for a year to simply win a championship. They dismantled the team the following year whereas the Indians had systematically built a strong team through time and their farm system. I am still really bitter. 😉 I have really strong opinions about loyalty and the purity of baseball. That’s what I love about this year’s Cleveland Indians. There are no real superstars. It is a team working together to get the job done.

The Cleveland Indians are the underdogs this year. That’s okay. The Cleveland Cavs came back when they were down 3 – 1 to win the world championship. The Cavs winning did something for Northeast Ohio’s psyche. It broke something. Some people say a curse…I don’t know what it is but it’s tangible and real.

This is our year. There is a pride and solidarity that comes with being from Northeast Ohio. I have not seen it in other parts of the country. A feeling of camaraderie and brotherhood that comes from going through battle together through the leanest of years. Watching Cleveland rebuild itself and rise from the ashes from the time the Cuyahoga River caught on fire and was called the Mistake on the Lake, through our tough sports years (the Drive, the Fumble, the Shot, Art Model taking the Browns out of Cleveland to Baltimore in the cloak of night) until now is inspiring and something we all should be proud of. Downtown is bustling. When the Republican National Convention came to town this summer, Cleveland shined brightly. The friendliness and unity were a beacon. After a few days, the professional protestors from both sides realized they could not get anything started so they moved on to Philadelphia, leaving our city the way they found it…full of pride and peace.

I guess after watching the Indians win game 1 of the World Series, I am feeling nostalgic. A family friend from childhood said to me tonight through Facebook, “your mom is keeping score”. I miss my mom. I am grateful for the love of baseball she instilled in me. And the optimism. She really did believe every year was THE year. I am also grateful for where I grew up. I love where I live (harsh winters and all). I especially love the people. Northeast Ohioans are gritty, tough, outspoken, fun, and optimistic. This is our year, Believeland.

How Does Jesus Fit Into Politics?

I started writing this blog back in December. I have hesitated pushing the publishing button because I have not wanted to offend anyone. Witnessing what is going on in our political process in this season has convinced me I need to continue to wrestle with this. And encourage other believers to wrestle with it as well. I hope you hang in there until the last line and choose to join the crusade to be kind. In the midst of our differences, let us err on the side of kindness. 

Today I am sad. And frustrated.  And  hopeful. Always hopeful.

Anger has gripped our country in ways I have never seen before. It has been percolating for a long time. I believe the anger stems from fear. The terrorist attack in San Bernardino a couple of months ago seems to have been a tipping point. And the fear is manifesting itself in anger.

Everyone seems so angry. I see it in our politicians, in our presidential candidates, and on our news shows and social media. The hateful rhetoric being thrown around causes me great alarm.

The most troubling place I am noticing the anger is in those who call themselves Christians.

Let me clarify something here. When I talk about Christians I am talking about my people, my tribe.

I am a believer.

I believe the Bible. I believe it is the inerrant Word of God. I am an ardent student of the Bible. I believe Jesus is the Son of God. I believe Jesus is still calling people to follow Him. In fact, I have given my life to serve His church and to make Him known. I am one of those Christians. Jesus is everything to me. He has completely changed my life. I believe He still changes lives and is relevant to this world we live in.

I also believe Jesus is concerned about a lot more than our politics. The primary Christian witness since the late 80s have been a political witness. God help us. No wonder people have a warped view of who Jesus is. We are putting way too much hope in the political process. We are way too invested in it. We are sending people to our State Capitals and Washington D.C. expecting them to solve every issue. And we get mad when it does not happen. And we lash out at each other. We don’t even listen to one another anymore. We just want to be right. And fight.

I am not one of those who put their heads in the sand. I vote in every election. I keep up on current events. I have served 8 years on City Council and currently serve on Planning Commission. I have loved politics since I was a kid. In 7th grade, my research paper was on the Great Depression. I wrote about the economic and social factors that led to it. I was 13. In 8th grade, my research paper was on Watergate and how the events surrounding it led to President Nixon’s resignation. But over the past 5 years, I have been wrestling with what I believe politically. The first mayor (a mentor) I served with on City Council asked me “How does Jesus fit into politics?” I have been asking myself that very question a lot lately.  Does what I believe politically  line up with what the Bible teaches?  I grew up in a democratic household. I switched in my early 20s to the Republican party. I have gone back and forth since then. I currently am a registered independent. People may say I am wishy-washy. I say I am trying to be authentic and figure out how my political beliefs line up with the Word of God.

I still have my research paper from 8th grade. :)

I still have my research paper from 8th grade. 🙂

I am ardently pro-life. Or let me re-phrase that. I believe in fostering a culture of life. I have begun to filter every issue through this lens. This may seem very simplistic or naive to some reading this. I am ok with that. (One of the conclusions I have come to over the past 5 years is we are all hypocrites in the political realm. No matter what side of the aisle you are on.)

I began to apply a culture of life philosophy to every issue we face as a nation:

Immigration: I am most appalled at the conversation surrounding this issue. I understand the safety issues. I agree taxes must  be paid. But most of “those” people coming over the border are kids and teenagers fleeing drug cartel infested nations which our American drug habit is feeding. We bear some of the responsibility. I also remember reading somewhere instructions to take care of the alien, the widow and the fatherless among us (tongue in cheek 😉 I’m referring to the Bible. And when the government comes out and wants to increase the number of LEGAL immigrants by only 10,000 this year, we are upset about that as well.

The Statue of Liberty has the inscription:

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”

We are a nation of immigrants. It is part of our DNA.

I recently read over 10,000 migrant children are missing in Europe. The fear is many have been absorbed into the sex trafficking trade. Christians should be leading the efforts to rescue and care for these kids. And our policies as a nation should assist in these efforts.

Environment: I am a firm believer in taking care of what God has entrusted to us. If I really believe in a culture of life, I want safeguards to help protect people from getting cancer as much as possible so people can live the best, most fruitful and fulfilling life possible. I have been to several third world countries that do not have the regulations we have here in America. Burning garbage is the norm in most countries. I am grateful for the regulated air we breathe and the water we drink. What is happening in Flint, Michigan affects us all. It can happen to any community. No child should be dying in 21st century America of lead poisoning.  Being a follower of Jesus and being green really are compatible. God called us to be caretakers of the planet, not destroy it. I hope someday followers of Jesus would have the best reputation for loving people and taking care of the planet that houses those very same people. (Pleases recycle 😉  )

Abortion: The right to life is THE fundamental basic right. Every life is valuable and created in the image of God. We wonder why life does not seem to be valued anymore in our country. It starts here. And politicians who change their stance on this issue just to win votes will never get my vote. You respect life or you don’t. All lives matter. Especially life in the womb. How we treat those who cannot help themselves show us the true character of our nation. The elderly, disabled, addicts, the unborn, the poor all deserve our care and concern. That is fostering a culture of life.

Welfare, health care, social security: God helps those who helps themselves is not in the Bible. The Bible also does not put conditions on taking care of the poor. If I have to err, I am erring on the side of taking care of the poor. But with that being said, we have to be fiscally responsible and wise stewards of our resources. As a nation, we have to live within our means. But we elect who we are…individually we are not living within in our means, should we be surprised those who represent us are not as well?

Foreign Policy: We have been blessed as a country. We have the obligation to help people who cannot help themselves. If we do not lead, someone else will. And if we cannot defend ourselves, we cannot defend others.  Our responsibility does not stop at our borders.

Gun control: I believe we have the right to protect our lives and the lives of our loved ones. I grew up in a hunter’s home. I also believe we need to have a common sense approach to gun laws. But saying the right to bear arms is a God-given right is incorrect. It is a Constitutional Right. The Constitution is a very important document and adhering to it as a nation is important. But the Constitution is not the Bible.

It seems to me the Church has merged Nationalism and Christianity together. In the Old Testament, this would be called syncretism. And the result is an ugly hybrid of what following Jesus should look like.

I could go on and on with other issues. I know people could poke holes in all of this or disagree. And I am okay with that.

I love my country. I am grateful to be born in America. I understand in other parts of the world I would not even be able to express my thoughts and opinions.

A good friend called me the day after the shooting in San Bernardino. He is a “little” cynical. His response to the shootings was “we are screwed now. There is no hope of things getting better.” I disagreed and still do.

I may not have control over current events but I know the One who does.

The only person I do have control over is me. I choose not to live in fear. I choose to be kind and to make a difference in people’s lives. One person at a time.

I choose to be kind when people are cruel. I choose to be kind and listen to people who look differently than me, who act differently than me and who think differently than me.

I choose to try to understand people and not judge based on snapshots of their lives.

I choose to make a difference.

I will always stay informed on what is going on around me — the good, the bad and the ugly. I will fight on my knees for my country.

BUT I WILL CHOOSE TO DWELL ON GOOD THINGS. ALWAYS. 

What happened in California was horrendous. Two individuals killing 14 people in the name of their ideology and God. So needless and barbaric. My heart grieved for the families  who faced the holidays without their loved ones around the table. My heart also grieves for the 6 month old baby girl growing up in the shadow of what her parents did.

What I will dwell on is the man who shielded his co-worker and said “I got you” and gave his life protecting her. I will dwell on Dr. Michael Neeki  who ran into the unknown to save lives before the area was secured. I will think about the first responders who time after time put others first.

At the end of the book Mocking Jay (the third book of the Hunger Games trilogy) , Katniss who had and witnessed horrible atrocities and experienced terrible things says fear still grips her. Fear her kids will be ripped away from her and her life she has built will be destroyed. She combats this fear by playing a game. She recounts every good act she ever witnessed.

The apostle Paul says something similar in the Bible, Philippians 4:8:

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

I choose to focus on the good in the world. I will not ignore the evil and put my head in the sand but I will not let it change me or become my focus. I will not cower in fear. When fear and anger dictate how we act, we have already lost.

I will live life to the fullest, celebrate the good things I witness,  and love people. I will be kind. Even to people who think differently than me. Especially to those who think differently than me. Will you join me?

 

Personal Reflections on 9/11

I wrote this a year ago in honor of 9-11. Hope you enjoy.

Faithinflipflops

9/11. This day impacts me every year. It impacts all of us. It has been 13 years since the planes were flown into the towers, the pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania. It seems like yesterday that our security was ripped from us and we realized that we were not untouchable on our own soil. It seems like yesterday we lost over 3,000 of us in less than an hour. It brings me to tears every year. It is a day of reflection for me. It is the day that began the closing of one chapter of my life, preparing for the next.

I was living in Waynesboro, VA at the time on staff at a church. I had just come through a tough season. The battle had been challenging but I had overcome. But not without a cost. I was left with some war wounds…wounds that penetrated the deepest part…

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The Tale of Two Worlds: American Christianity vs. Coptic Christianity

I am a very opinionated person. As I have grown in my walk with the Jesus, I have learned to keep most of the opinions to myself especially in regards to politics. I remember a few years back the Lord asking me “What do you want to be known for? What is really worth fighting for?” This process I went through would be a subject for another blog. I came to conclusion I wanted to be for Jesus, for loving people,  and for helping people follow Jesus no matter where they were in life. I needed to live a life that invited people to follow Jesus. I needed to live a life that whet people’s appetite to know this Jesus I am so captured by.

I do not want to be known for what I am against. I had a friend during the last presidential election ask me who I was voting for. She was working for the Obama campaign and said she could tell who everyone else was voting for except me. I was pleased that she could not tell. I would say about 60% or my church are Republicans and 40% Democrats (very rough guess). I NEVER want who I vote for to keep someone from coming to know this amazing Jesus I follow. I know a lot of Christians would disagree with this philosophy. They would accuse me of being wishy-washy and not taking a stand. They would be wrong. I simply choose my battles. I served 8 years on City Council. Our city is non-partisan which means you do not declare a party. I think that is wonderful. We did not start with a dividing wall.

With all of that being said something occurred this weekend that I feel compelled to write about. Actually, two things occurred. The first is that 21 Coptic Egyptian Christians were brutally killed by ISIS. Men dressed in complete black ending the lives of 21 followers of Christ simply because they follow Christ or as ISIS puts it “belong to the nation of the Cross.” I know the reward for those martyred is great in Heaven. Those who have lost their lives because of their profession of faith in Christ have a special place. I pray for the family left behind and the other Coptic Christians who live under the threat of martyrdom.

I proudly belong to the nation of the Cross.

The second thing that happened was the release of the movie “Fifty Shades of Grey”. And the debates among Christians on the internet arguing on whether or not Christians should see the movie. The irony of it. My feelings vacillated between anger and incredible sadness.

The contrast of these two events demonstrates so clearly why the Church in America has become so ineffective.

21 Coptic Christians dying in Egypt for their faith. Christians in America arguing about whether or not we should watch a movie that has no redeeming value. A movie that tells you women are nothing but sexual objects. A movie that is soft porn. And people who don’t think porn is a problem in our nation should read this GQ article.

We wonder why the church in America is sick and anemic and is not affecting the culture they are living in.

We wonder why the Church is not taken seriously in our own nation.

We wonder why people are leaving the Church by the thousands every year.

I came to the conclusion that I came to a couple of years ago…I want to be a part of the solution. I want to be a life that stands out. A life whose light shines in a world of darkness. A life that loves people. A life that prays for people. I want to be a person who is just not called a follower of Jesus but is found to be one (St. Ignatius). I really want to live a life of righteousness, peace and joy. After all, those are the characteristics (or supposed to be) of those who are a part of the Kingdom of God.

Let there be another Great Awakening in our nation and let it start with me.

Coptic Christians in Egypt brutally killed by ISIS.

Coptic Christians in Egypt brutally killed by ISIS.

Seriously?

Seriously?

Personal Reflections on 9/11

9/11. This day impacts me every year. It impacts all of us. It has been 13 years since the planes were flown into the towers, the pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania. It seems like yesterday that our security was ripped from us and we realized that we were not untouchable on our own soil. It seems like yesterday we lost over 3,000 of us in less than an hour. It brings me to tears every year. It is a day of reflection for me. It is the day that began the closing of one chapter of my life, preparing for the next.

I was living in Waynesboro, VA at the time on staff at a church. I had just come through a tough season. The battle had been challenging but I had overcome. But not without a cost. I was left with some war wounds…wounds that penetrated the deepest part of my soul.

The Tuesday morning of 9/11, the air was crisp and cool. The sky was pure blue, not a cloud to be seen. It was the perfect fall day. How something so evil could happen on such a beautiful day still amazes me.

I met one of my friends from the church at one of the overlooks on the Blue Ridge Parkway for morning prayer and coffee before work. We were sitting over looking the valley when a man came out of the camper that was parked at the overlook (which was kind of strange). He was all excited and flustered. He told us  that a plane had flown into one of the towers in New York – that something big was happening.

My friend worked at a local radio station and knew she had to get to work right away. I rushed home and turned on the TV just as flight 175 crashed into the second tower. I sat on the couch and watched in disbelief at the drama unfolding before me.

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The horror of seeing people jumping from the buildings, trying to escape the fire stays with me to this day.

I remember calling my dad in Ohio and one of my sisters at work and other family members and friends. I needed to make sure everyone was ok.

I didn’t go to the office that day. As I sat on the couch that Tuesday morning and afternoon, I knew life had changed — that the world had shifted and that something had shifted inside me. I felt like this chapter in my life was coming to an end. Within a week, I resigned from the church that I dearly loved. I resigned having no idea what was next for me. I knew that I would finish up at the end of October and go home for a couple of months to re-group. After that, I had no idea.

What I didn’t realize is that I needed time to heal from the wounds of the past year. I needed time to rest after a season of incredible stress and strain. Just because you win a battle does not mean there aren’t wounds.

After being gone for 9 years, I came home. 

To the house my family had lived in since I was 4.

To my roots.

While I was re-grouping, Pastor Jim asked to meet with me. I remember sitting in the pre-school room, in chairs made for 2 year olds. It somehow seemed fitting. He asked me what I wanted to do, what my plans were. I had offers but I was tired. Bone-crushed, mind numbed, soul-drained tired. And I was enjoying spending time with Jesus because I wanted to, not because I had 3 sermons a week to prepare for.

“Sometimes God’s plan doesn’t come in writing in the sky or some emotional epiphany but it just seems right. In the book of Acts, the disciples sometimes made decisions simply because it “seemed” like the right decision. It seems right that you would come on staff here in Vermilion”

These words from Pastor Jim were water to my soul. I had had a lot of emotion over the past year. And I was tired of it. The church had a need for a Children’s Pastor and I could meet that need. I had a need for healing (though I didn’t know it at the time) and the church could meet that need. It seemed right. There was a large staff so I did not have a lot of responsibility to carry. I would have to work a job outside of the church which I desperately wanted to do. It seemed right.

9/11 brought me home.

     To be with my brother his last two years of life before he passed away from cancer.

To take care of my dad at the end of his life.

To have both of them come to know and trust in Jesus at the end of their lives.

To perform the funerals of 14 family members in an 9 year period.

To pastor my family.

To watch my nieces and nephew grow up.

To witness and be a part of an amazing work that God is doing in and through our church.

To re-awaken dreams I have had since I first trusted Jesus at the age of 15.

To be a leader in the community that I grew up in and that I love dearly and pray for daily.

To a season of personal fruitfulness.

To become friends with my sisters as adults.

To work my way out of debt (so very close).

 

One of my favorite books that I have read in the past year is John Piper’s Risk is Right: Better to Lose Your Life than to Waste It. In the book, he has a chapter on being more than a conqueror (from Romans 8). He says that a conqueror is someone who “strikes down his foe.” Someone who is more than a conqueror “makes his foe his slave.” (page 49) Being more than a conqueror is to use the very thing the enemy meant to defeat us with, destroy us with, and dishearten us with and turn it around to bring honor and glory to God – and hope and healing to people. 

On 9-11 our enemies tried to defeat, destroy and dishearten us. They did not succeed. Passengers stood up and took on hijackers – saving countless lives. First responders ran into the burning, collapsing building to save people. In the midst of unspeakable evil, glimpses of goodness stood in stark contrast to the evil.  Americans came together as one. We were more than conquerors. We used the very thing the enemy did to us to bring forth good.

There is an enemy of our soul that tries to defeat, destroy and dishearten us. I have a friend who just lost one of her new born twins. She could be bitter. And no one would blame her. But she has used this heartbreaking tragedy in life to bring honor and glory to God. And through it, she is bringing hope and healing to everyone she comes into contact with.

What I learned from 9/11, is that even the most awful things that happen in the world can work for good if we let it. Romans 8:28 says “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” The good and the bad can be woven together and work for good if we allow God to do it. 

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Election Eve

(I wrote this November 2nd, 2009, the night before the election in which I ran for my 4th term on Vermilion City Council. It was my first time running for the Council at large position. Instead of blogging about this year’s Presidential election, I thought this was worth moving to my blog page! Please remember to vote!)

Tonight is election eve and I am sitting in a hotel room in Pittsburg. I will be home for the results tomorrow night. You would think that I would be thinking about whether I will win or lose but I am not. I am thinking about my dad.

Every election is important to our family. We were always taught to vote and the importance of it. My dad would always tell the story of the first time he voted. It was in Italy behind a bunker during World War 2. He was proud of that fact. Even at the end of his life, when he was on oxygen and using a walker, we would go vote. No absentee for him!

Last year was a very special year for our family. Every year my dad and I would go vote and then go to Amvets for lunch. It was tradition. What a great way to celebrate the freedom my dad fought for, to vote! Last year’s presidential election was my nephew Harrison’s first time to vote (and he was my dad’s favorite). My dad, Harrison, and I went to vote. His mom and dad met us there. We took pictures (I am a picture freak in case you haven’t noticed). Afterwards we went to the Amvets for lunch. Little did we know that would be the last time my dad voted. He passed away March 10.

I miss my dad horribly and tomorrow will not be the same. But I am proud of the fact that his sacrifice in war (decorated veteran) enabled me to be able not only to vote but to run for office. He loved voting for me and following local politics. And so tomorrow I will thank God for His goodness to me for allowing my dad to instill in me a sense of service and pride for my country.

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My dad, nephew, and me 11/2/2009 on election day.

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My dad’s Army picture from WWII

10 things I learned in 8 years on City Council.

Tonight was the last meeting of City Council for me. I chose not to run back in the summer for a myriad of reasons, most dealing with the time element. Also, I think new and fresh voices in government is always a good and healthy thing. Over the past 8 years, I have worked with 3 mayors, 6 service directors, 5 finance directors, 2 law directors and multiple city council members. I have personally weathered some huge challenges to my reputation during this tenure. What have I really learned from all of this? Here are 10 things…(take a deep breath and relax…this is going to be fun!)

My last meeting, giving my last report! Shout out to Lee…you made my blog (twice)

1. If something seems too good to be true…it is! 

From a cost savings project to a finance director’s resume and outlook to a Mayor’s promises (years 3 to 6), if it sounds too good to be true….it is! Anything of value and substance usually requires hard work and money. Don’t trip over the dollars to save a nickel (thanks Frank!) When voting for a candidate…watch out for the pie in the sky promises…look for someone who says they will work hard, work together and uses the word “WE”!!!

2. A lift station is not an elevator; it is what helps move our waste (yep…think bathroom) from our houses to the sewer plant. 

Serving on city council is not glamorous. You spend a big portion of your time figuring out where everyone’s poop is going to go while making sure you are complying with the EPA. And then there is sludge removal…a fancy word for poop. Dealing with infrastructure is one of the most important parts of City Council…you don’t know how important it is until your basement floods, and water mains break, and your shocks need fixed on your car because of the roads….

A lift station…

3. Long meetings DO NOT equal productivity. 

In fact the opposite tends to be true. You really can talk things to death! There were budget meetings over the past 8 years that lasted over 5 hours!  When Chief Kish pulled out the styrofoam cups at 11:30 pm to explain his budget, that was a strong indicator that the meeting had gone way too long! 5 hour budget meetings….never productive. Hint to all future committee chairs: brains turn to mush after 9 p.m.

This next one may get me in trouble. Hey, it’s my blog!

4. Men are considered passionate when they feel strongly about an issue and fight for it; women, exhibiting the same passion, are dubbed “emotional”. 

There is a double standard. I am okay with it. I will miss my phone conversations with Danny Phillips debating this one! 🙂 And Danny, I am not emotional! I am passionate! 🙂

My favorite picture! This captures who I want to be (and hopefully am). When challenges come my way, I want to meet them head on, strongly and passionately! If I’m going down, I want to go down swinging!

5. NO ONE LOOKS GOOD ON LOCAL CABLE ACCESS! Especially with the wooden paneling background that dates back to the 70s! 

A picture is worth a 1,000 words!!! My hair blends in with the wall! LOL!!!! I tried every color while on council.

6. Years ago, Vermilion’s forefathers did not proof the sign that  hangs behind where City Council sits.

Can you find the misspelled word? Hint…it’s spelled correctly once….

7. You are never as great as people say you are (or you think you are); nor are you as awful as they say.  

You are somewhere in the middle. Being in politics can be very good for the ego…initially. But it does not take long to realize that in every decision you make, someone is going to be upset with you. You have to develop a thick skin but not become calloused. It is a balancing act.

I have had angry letters written about me to the editor and people stand up at council meetings attacking me. I have heard the craziest rumors about myself. But I have also had people write nice letters about me and stand up at council meetings and thank me. And have had the nicest things said to me on the street. People are fickle (heck, I’m fickle myself…I’ve gone from republican to democrat back to republican to independent…no one party seems to fit…but I digress). I am reminded of Jesus on this one. On Palm Sunday, He enters Jerusalem and everyone is shouting and hailing Him as king. Everyone loves Jesus on Sunday. But five short days later on Good Friday…the crowds turn on Him and yell “Crucify”. They want Him dead and gone. And He says nothing. He just continues to do what He was called to do. I have had to learn this lesson over and over again. No matter what people are saying, I have had to purpose to do what is right. Even when motives were questioned. And believe me, my motives were questioned a lot! Sometimes I even questioned my own!

8. You don’t have to voice your opinion on every single topic!

While everyone has an opinion (and most people – if not all – in politics have plenty), you do not have to voice every, single one of them. People tune you out! Have you ever sat in a class or meeting where that one person expresses an opinion on every subject? And asks questions about every little thing? Admit it! You tune them out.

Pick the battles you are willing to be bloodied and beat over. Jim Cooper (my pastor) gave me this tidbit of advice before I ever took office. There is a proverb that says “even a fool is considered wise, when they keep their mouth shut.” That’s good advice for anyone! 🙂

9. Truth, integrity and reputation are always worth fighting for! 

Integrity is who you are when no one is looking. Reputation is what people think of you. And everyone has one. A good reputation flows from integrity.

At the beginning of my 2nd term (year 3), I was politically attacked from another member of council. He accused me publicly of breaking the law and committing 4 felonies (none of it had any merit but it still cost me two grand to address it). I made the front page of the paper twice.  He actually made me cry! And we all know that there is no crying in city council! I think the purpose of the accusations was to force me to resign. It does not really matter why. I do remember going home and having a cry/prayer fest on my bed. And I read that night in the Bible how God is my defender. No matter what was said about me or what others think, I knew who I was. I could look at myself in the mirror and sleep at night. And the people who really mattered, loved me regardless.

God also used a good friend and mentor, Jimmy Davis (who has since passed) to guide me through. He encouraged me to take the high road but not to back down or retreat. He taught me by example that you could be a strong leader and still maintain integrity in the worst of circumstances. Truth always triumphs. Maybe not on our timetable. Or the way we want it to. And sometimes the process of truth triumphing leaves scars. But the truth is ALWAYS worth fighting for.

Years 3 – 6 were tough. We had an administration who did not open mail for 18 months. Accounts were not reconciled. We had no idea how much money we had as a city because none of the reports matched. And only a few of us on council were fighting the battle. And we were dubbed troublemakers. Unfortunately time proved us right. Truth always prevails.

My “mug shot”! After all, I am a supposed 4-time felon! You have to have a sense of humor!

This seriously makes me laugh!!!! Had to include it!

10. PEOPLE ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT

The best part of my 8 years on council were the people. Titles, money, and stuff pass away, but friendships are the true measure of a life well lived. The people I have gotten to know have truly enriched my life. Each one is a blessing from God.

In 2005, I went through the program called Leadership Lorain County. It was there I met my good friend, Gail Stumphauzer whom I ended up working for as her youth programs coordinator. As the year was beginning, we had a retreat. We were asked to bring something that best represented the most important asset of our respective communities. I had no idea what to bring. I thought of a light house or a boat or picture of the beach or fish. What I finally settled on was a phone book. I know it sounds odd. But in the phone book contained the residents of Vermilion. The people of Vermilion are the most important assets of our community! I love and appreciate my community now more than I did 8 years ago! I am so grateful to God for the opportunity to serve.  I leave you with some pictures of some of the treasures I got to meet and know over the past 8 years!

One of my favorite constituents, Ellen. And she lives on the street that we paved the right way!!!

Danny (good friend that I’ve known forever and whose seat I ran for when I first got on council), me and John (another longtime friend who will be our last elected Council President due to charter changes)

Bill Somers! One of my favorite people! He is larger than life! I loved when he came to meetings. He could set people straight in the nicest of ways. I still have a card he sent me.

Me, Candy, and Lee! I love these ladies! We are all so different but get along so well!! (2nd time in the blog, Lee)

Ken Stumphauzer (I cannot believe I don’t have a picture of Gail!) ~ has my utmost respect! Words cannot express the gratitude I have towards Ken and Gail. When things were tough and I was down, they had me over for dinner for no other reason to encourage and make me laugh!

Skip served on City Council years ago! He was a strong support during some of the tough times! I am forever grateful!

I am proud to call Eileen my friend. She has served as Clerk of Council, Service Director, and now Mayor. I have never heard a bad word about anybody come from her mouth. She works hard and is one of the most positive people I know.

Gwen and me! She is our Clerk of Council and keeps us all straight! One of the most underrated jobs in the city!

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