Friday, January 20, 2017

Personal Log: Inauguration Day

inauguration

  • the beginning or introduction of a system, policy, or period; 
  • the formal admission of someone to office. 
  • a ceremony to mark the beginning of something.

Well today is a new day. In the United States, it's Inauguration Day; some people are happy & some people are not, that's just the way it is... regardless of how you voted this is a day to come together & unite.

It's a new era, not only for America but for myself as well. 2017 has already been something different than what I expected it to be; a year ago I was in a completely different place, certain things were not even on my radar but I look where I am now & see a future & a hope in so many areas. The Lord has really done a work in me the last couple of months & changed my heart & attitude on a few things I've wrestled with but like He told me, "it's going to be okay".

I'm still finding my place & where I belong but in the meantime I have a couple of recording projects to keep me busy. 'Been writing/re-writing some worship songs & feel pretty good about them. I'm not actively playing on a worship team & that's okay, if I'm asked to help I will, if not I won't, but right now I'm very content where I am & am trusting God in all things, through all things & for all things.

Our Country is going to be okay.
My fellowship is going to be okay.
I'm going to be okay.
It's all going to be okay.

It's a new year & a new day, let's put the past behind & look forward, reach forward & move forward in every area of our lives with Jesus as our focus.

Matthew 19:26
"...with God, all things are possible"

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Twelfth Night 2017



Well, the 12th Day of Christmas has arrived & it's always a little sad for me as I love the Christmas season but everything  has it's time & everything must end so a new season can begin…

Since Thanksgiving I've done quite a bit of study &  reflection (& of course entertainment) on the Advent & the passion of our God in becoming one of us so He could save us…. The 12 Tribes of Israel… the 12 Disciples… the 12 Days of Christmas… Twelfth Night… it all comes together & weaves a beautiful story of love from Love Himself. 



To kick off Christmas I go w/ Charlie Brown but I have a personal tradition on this day, the 12th Day of Christmas/Twelfth Night to end the season w/ “The Passion of the Christ”, a movie that really brings it all home & reminds me just why Jesus came. It's intense & when it's over I mop up my tears, I worship & then I need something lite so I sandwich the season by popping in “A Charlie Brown Christmas” & look forward to December once again.

I have always, always hated the western mindset of this big build up to December 25th then “bam!” it's over: the tree comes down, the lights are put away, everything is marked down & put on clearance. Since I've started observing the 12 Days of Christmas, Jesus Christ has become much more meaningful to me so I encourage all of you to consider stretching Christmas 2017 out just a little bit longer; who knows, you might find new meaning in it too...   

Monday, January 2, 2017

Personal Log: 1.3.2017

Here are some things you can do this year to enrich your relationship w/ Jesus:



Have a Dedicated Bible Reading Plan

There's nothing like reading the Bible but some people have always had a hard time w/ exactly how to do that:
  • Do you read it chronologically?
  • Do you study themes/topics?
  • Do read a chapter per day or chapter of OT, NT, Psalms, Proverbs per day?

However you read the Bible, try not to rush through it to meet your set quota. Here are some tips:
  • read it slowly
  • ask the Lord for revelation of what the passage means 
  • ask the Lord to see Jesus & the heart of God in each book or scenario
  • look at who the intended audience was
  • dig into the Hebrew & Greek words
  • read as many commentaries on a certain passage/theme as you can
  • read it in relation to the finished work of Jesus on the Cross

I tried something once that was really interesting & brought the Bible to life for me. I read the passage where it says, “God is love” so I went back to Genesis & re-read the Bible replacing the words God, Lord, Jesus, He, Him, My, etc w/ the word “Love” & it changed everything for me.

Examples:
  • “In the beginning God created the heavens & the earth...” became “In the beginning Love created the heavens & the earth...”
  • “Jesus fed the 5,000” became “Love fed the 5,000”
  • “the wrath of God” became “the wrath of Love”
  • “the great & terrible Day of the Lord” became “the great & terrible Day of Love”
  • “the revelation of Jesus Christ” became “the revelation of Love”

Can you see how things like this just transforms your daily Bible reading? 

There's so many different ways of reading/studying the Bible; find the one that's best for you right now & go w/ it, the method may grow & change as you do.  

Use the Audio Bible

There's also nothing like listening to the Bible being read.

I got into this last year & just loved it. In my lifetime, I've read the NT letters & epistles countless times but when someone is reading them as an actual letter to actual people, w/o chapter breaks or verses, it becomes so passionate & so clear. 

Let's face it: books like Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy & Revelation can be a hard (or scary) read for anyone, but listening to them can be a bit easier on you. 

I was laying in bed one night listening to the entire book of Leviticus & when it came to chapter 26 I caught such a revelation of grace & of God's desire for us & our company, it was amazing… I had read it several times before but hearing it just hit me in a new way.

The audio Bible can also be great for when you're going to/from work. In 20 minutes you can hear all of Philippians or Galatians & hear them again on the way home. 

Prayer

I pray in the Spirit & I also pray in English. Praying in the Spirit helps me: helps me focus, helps me when I just don't know how to pray for something or someone… it just helps.

If you don't believe in praying in tongues then try to have a dedicated prayer time, anywhere from 15 – 30 minutes per day, whatever works for you.

Lately, much of my personal prayer time consists of simply loving, thanking & praising God. I rarely ask for anything anymore; God has already supplied all my needs & what He hasn't supplied I must not need (at least right now). 

Yes, there are times when you ask God for something but most of my prayer time is thanking God for my health, for His love, mercy, protection, for His authority… thanking Him for taking care of me, for His provision, for handling things/people as I place them on the altar & into His care… just praising Him for who He is.  

Years ago I adopted the mantra “fasting from asking”, my prayers before that were mainly begging & pleading w/ God, in other words “seeking His hand not His face”. Now, I'm just enjoying Him & all His blessings in my life.

Once a week I try to sit in silence before God: no praying in the Spirit, no talking, no nothing. I just turn everything off & sit there in silence, enjoying His presence & waiting on Him.

I remember one time about 8 years ago when I took over corporate prayer on a Wednesday evening at my fellowship. I turned off all the lights except for the candles, closed all the sanctuary doors & posted on the outside of each door explaining that this night only we'll be sitting in silence for about 45 – 60 minutes, then we'll gather up front & share. I had people come & go but it was dead silence in there for that time & afterward the sharing was so powerful:
  • Some said they had never disciplined themselves like that before & they felt God's presence to the point of almost shaking
  • Others said it was like God wrapped His arms around them & they never felt such intense love & acceptance
  • Still others never realized just how much they dominated their personal prayer time
  • Others received such incredible clarity & direction for their lives all because they were silent…

I'll never forget that night, it was the night I realized the value of what the Psalmist sang, “in silence my soul waits for You”.

All these things may or may not help you, if you feel led then give them a try. 



Thursday, December 29, 2016

The Epigram Compendium: 2016 Edition

epigram: any witty, ingenious, or pointed saying tersely expressed

compendium: a summary, epitome, or abridgment  

I had my annual year-end blog half written but to be honest, it was just not coming together (in fact it was boring me to pieces) so I decided that I'd end 2016 w/ some of my favorite Scripture, tweets & quotes that I've posted over the last twelve months on Twitter & Google+.

For your viewing pleasure:

#Jesus gave His life both FOR us & TO us;
it's not just a changed life, it's an exchanged life.

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A revelation always brings a revolution, in your life or in others.
Catch a revelation of #grace, in the Person of #Jesus.

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When one chapter ends another begins, unless of course it's the end of the book –  #obvious

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We don't wrestle w/ our needs, they're already supplied;
it's our wants that leave us sore, bruised & exhausted…

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God:

has made you. 
will carry you. 
will sustain you. 
will rescue you. 

This is MY God! Isaiah 46:4



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Now is NOT the time for Christians to be at odds w/ each other over 
anything but heresy, there's a bigger picture here folks.

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My Friend: "I'm not laughing at you I'm laughing w/ you"
Me: "But I'm... not... laughing..."
#rascaltalk

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Praise AFTER the fact is CONFIRMATION of God's faithfulness.
Praise BEFORE the fact is CONFIDENCE in God's faithfulness.

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Don't put people in a box, if you do you may as well call it a coffin,
nail it shut & lower it; let people be themselves.

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"Are your excuses more important than your dreams?"
This is something I've been thinking about lately…

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Men, if you love a woman, show her long before you tell her; 
actions scream what the heart whispers.

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Resolve to let any problem in a relationship be one of communication, not commitment.

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Grace is not so much “holier than thou”,
it's more like “holier than that”.

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"What is the purpose of my life?" would be better asked as
"WHO is the purpose of my life?", one word can shift the focus.

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Worry does not impress #God one bit, not one itty, bitty bit…

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"Sometimes the #Truth is hard to swallow, 
that's why you have to wash it down w/ the Word."

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Never underestimate the explosive power of forgiveness.

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"If the Great Commission is true, our plans are not too big; they are too small." - Pat Morley

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Too many Christians are not changing the world because
they're busy the changing diapers of other Christians. #growup

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You'll never achieve unity by imposing uniformity.

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The only people that like legalism are legalists & deep down,
I'm not so sure they're crazy about it either…

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“The secret of a good sermon is having a good beginning & 
a good ending & having them as close together as possible" - George Burns


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"The good Lord made us all, if we're good enough for Him we ought 
to be good enough for each other" - Jed Clampett #classictv

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Hannah (in her bitterness) still had her #prayer answered by #God (in His mercy), think on that…

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ONE sentence can change & transform an ENTIRE city; just look at Jonah... #chooseyourwords

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Caeser came, saw & conquered;
#Jesus saw, came & more than conquered ~

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You can't "love the Lord w/ all your heart" &
flirt w/ sin at the same time, be faithful ~ #Jesus #love

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“Flirting w/ Moses is cheating on Jesus” - Andrew Farley

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God loves the beautiful mess called “people”.

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When you remove #God from anything, it becomes godless;
is that what you want for your family, community or country?

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Actions speak louder than words, this is especially true for followers of Christ; walk the talk.

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Some have accused me of not being spontaneous, I refer you to my calendar,
it has "be spontaneous" penciled in on every first & third Wednesday at 6 pm.

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Time is short, you can play it safe or live by faith,
you can take it easy or you can take chances, your choice. 

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You don't need permission to fulfill the Great Commission,
just open your mouth, your heart & your life, let God do the rest.

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Jesus lived a life extraordinary, does your life 
reflect ordinary or that something "extra"? 

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Next time you pray, be mindful of who's dominating the conversation.

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Guys, some girls go for jerks, others go for gents
but it's awfully hard for them to resist godly... be godly.

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Climb the mountains.
Forge the rivers.
Make new trails.
Take chances.
Push #faith to the limits.
You have one #life, live it.
Change the world.
Change your world.

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#Jesus & His first Disciples didn't have social media,
they were simply social & turned the world upside down.

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When the enemy comes creeping around your life,
'just remind him he's trespassing on private property.

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A little personality goes a long way but a lot of personality goes a bit too far.

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First impressions are important, but so are last impressions,
be aware of how you treat people & how you leave them feeling.

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Those that truly walk in the light of Love have spent some time in the shadow of the Cross. #love

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99% of the miracles of Jesus were under the old covenant,
we have a better covenant now; imagine the possibilities! #unstoppable

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We'll never have peace in this world until the Prince of Peace is the center of our world. #truth

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If you cannot interchange the words "servant" & "leader"
then you haven't grasped the concept of either... #truth

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The best part about waking up is waking up; many people didn't make it;
be #thankful for every breath, every moment, every day.

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You can look to the mountain or you can look to the 
One whose feet rest on that mountain, your choice... #perspective

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We live in the most amazing, exciting time in all of human history,
have faith that in God, anything & everything is very much possible!

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In the natural, the calm comes AFTER the storm; in the spiritual,
we as Christians have it DURING the storm, what a difference... 

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Grow in love & let it be perfected in you; after all, 
perfect love tells fear to pack it's bags.


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People don't hear what you think, they hear what you say & even then,
what they heard may not be what you said…

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Desire + Discipline = Difference.

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Your purpose & your destiny are tied to your identity in Christ,
personal revelation comes from knowing who you are in Him.
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Miracles are spectacular but temporary,
it's better to live & operate in the Blessing, that's long-term -

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Some questions are better left unanswered this side of Heaven…

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Excellence is the outcome of habitual integrity.

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Without integrity, you disintegrate.

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Proverbs 16:21
"Sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness". 
In plain talk = you're never persuasive when abrasive.



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Fear & Faith are both choices - you choose which one
you're going to live in & only one of those pleases God.

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Fear will surrender to Faith or Faith will surrender to Fear,
only you decide who is the master & who is the slave...

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‎"Hamburger Helper only works if the hamburger 
is ready to accept that it needs help" - Danny Chambers

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"If your life isn't supernatural, it's superficial" – Andrew Wommack

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Christian, you may not be on the same page w/ another Believer,
but at least you're in the same Book.

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Jesus washed the dirty feet of:


Judas, who betrayed Him,
Peter, who denied Him,
& the Disciples, who deserted Him.

That's what God is like.

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A Christian is someone whom God is with (Matt. 28:20), in (Col. 1:27), and for (Rom. 8:31).


Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Christmas at the Bijou

For several years I've watched Christmas movies all year long, one each month; after all Christmas is in your heart but this year I purposely waited until December to start watching my favorite Holiday flicks; it was hard but that's what self-control is for.

Here is a list of my favorite Holiday movies & why I like them:

The Man Who Came To Dinner



For a long time this was my least favorite Holiday movie but to be honest, it's been growing on me the last few years. It's the story of Sheridan Whiteside, an irascible celebrated man of letters who, while visiting in Ohio, takes a nasty fall & is house bound for the Holidays: taking over, barking orders & making everyone's life miserable, including sabotaging his secretary's new found love life. He's a combination of Scrooge & Groucho Marx, in the end though he sees the error of his ways & pretty much fixes everything, then as he's leaving…

Favorite Line:  “My Great Aunt Jennifer ate a whole box of candy every day of her life. She lived to be 102 and when she'd been dead three days she looked better than you do now!”

A Christmas Story



This is the story of Ralphie Parker, a likable kid & his quest for an official Red Ryder Range 200 Shot BB gun rifle; that's all he wants & this movie chronicles his dreams, schemes & manipulations. I'm not sure that Ralphie changes at the end of the film or learns a lesson but it's fun to watch all the shenanigans that unfold throughout this glimpse of yuletide Americana, it's heartwarming & a perennial favorite.

Favorite Line: “How are they going to deliver a bowling alley here tonight?!”  

Miracle on 34th Street



I know this a Santa Claus movie but in reality, it's a great evangelistic film & here's why: The real deal comes to town & slowly, one by one, each character, through interaction & witnessing his sincere care & love, starts to believe in him; in the end, they all believe. Sound familiar? It should, read any of the Gospels…

Favorite Line:  “Faith is believing when common sense tells you not to. Don't you see? It's not just Kris that's on trial, it's everything he stands for. It's kindness and joy and love and all the other intangibles” 

It's a Wonderful Life



I've seen this movie upwards of 50 times in my life; I'm not kidding about that. The well known story of George Bailey, a small town man w/ big dreams who gives up those dreams so others can find theirs… In a moment of desperation, he's given a gift: to see what life would be like without him in it. I'm sure we've all been there, if even for a moment, 'wondering how things, family & people would have turned out w/o our influence.

Favorite Line: “Strange, isn't it? Each man's life touches so many other lives. When he isn't around he leaves an awful hole, doesn't he?”  

Elf



The story of Buddy, a human raised by elves at the North Pole, who goes in search of his father in New York City & finds not only family but also love. His worldview, shaped by Christmas, starts to infect all those around him & the spirit of Christmas becomes everyone's mindset. I really like this film, it's heartwarming & just plain fun to watch. 

Favorite Line: “Hey! There's no singing at the North Pole. YES THERE IS!” 

Christmas in Connecticut



My all-time favorite Holiday flick. Elizabeth Lane, celebrated columnist, is living a lie & all of a sudden, she has to manufacture the life she's been pretending to live. To complicate it all, she meets war hero Jefferson Jones & they slowly fall for each other, even though she's pretending to be married & he's already engaged. I've seen this movie too many times to count & it's fresh each time.

Favorite Line: “John, when you're kissing me, don't talk about plumbing.”

A Charlie Brown Christmas



There's no words to describe this one, it's a just a classic. Perpetually hapless Charlie Brown discovers the real meaning of Christmas, that's all. It's short & to the point & that's the way I like it…. The parts that crack me up in this is when any character yells at another & that character spins backwards off the screen.

Favorite Line: “That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”

With that I wish all of you a very Merry Christmas & happy viewing!


Monday, December 19, 2016

The Acoustic Superlative

So I came out of retirement & played acoustic guitar yesterday for the Kids Christmas Presentation at my fellowship; it wasn't just any guitar, it was my baby. That's right, I pulled out my Takamine EAN40C; a beautiful 12 string w/ an incredible tone, smooth feel & even smoother sound; in my collection this one was knighted "Lord of the Strings".



Though I learned to play & to worship on electric guitar (which will always be a part of my musical DNA), there's something special about this acoustic; I can equally rock the house and/or worship w/ this thing. I hit one chord & I'm instantly in another realm, no other guitar in my collection even comes close…

Now yesterday, I could have easily chosen to play my other acoustic: a 6-string, slightly beaten up & weathered Washburn  that has been exposed to some extreme weather conditions & other such extreme dangers as unattended children; however, I decided to bring my best, the most precious thing I own & offer it.

I think you can see where I'm going w/ this thing…

God brought the best He had in Jesus.
The Magi brought the best they had. 

There's countless other examples of people bringing/offering up their best, whether that was unto God, unto children or unto “the least of these”. To be honest, I was surprised to even be asked to play & if I'm asked to play for anything else, you can be assured I'll bring my best.
  

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Personal Log: Aftermath

I don't usually write about political stuff or things like that on this blog; there are so many other bloggers out there that are more eloquent than I am so I leave the political arena to them & write about my faith or my hobbies or whatnot; but it's been a little over a month since the US Presidential Elections & here are my observations:

I've never seen anything like this before in my life, seriously.

I've never seen such bias & such vitrolic hate for an incoming President, it's really unreal. It's fairly well known that for the most part the US media is very liberal; in the past year I've neither seen in the news programs nor read in any newspaper anything negative about Liberal/Democrats or their candidates, especially Hillary Clinton. On the other hand, anything Conservative/Republican was/is scrutinized, criticized & villianized, especially Donald Trump.

It was a vicious election & this is how it was painted: 
  • he could do no right, she could do no wrong; period. 
  • she was a sure thing & he had no chance.

Then Election Day came.  
Election Night it all changed.

Many people were in tears… in shock…  many were scared… many others were relieved that the liberal reign was coming to an end; they had enough of people telling them how to think, what they should believe, etc.

Some people made videos apologizing for America, others made videos apologizing for those apologizing for America.

Protests turned into riots.
Colleges canceled classes.
Puppy dogs had to be brought in.
There was a run on coloring books.

I was watching this whole thing unfold & thought to myself, “what a bunch of crybabies, is this the future? Is this the generation that will one day lead this country? What a mess”. They could really take a lesson from Conservatives who lost the last two Presidential Elections, there were no riots, no chants of “not my President!”; they took a deep breath & took the high road each time, respecting the democratic process, respecting the office & the person who held it; not so w/ Liberals:

Hillary Clinton said if Donald Trump didn't accept the election results he would be threat to democracy; now that the shoe is on the other foot, the election results are contested, recounts are done & no one, not even the liberal media says a word about a “threat to [our] democracy”.

Liberals, in a last-ditch effort, are pressuring the Electoral College to vote for anyone other than Donald Trump.

Liberals are calling for people to disrupt the Inauguration.



It's hard for me to wrap my head around this behavior... 

So here we are over a month later & nothing has really changed. The newspapers are all anti-Trump, every single commentary. The news outlets are still biased, that's obvious. Our country is more divided than it ever was & I hate seeing it that way.