Tag Archives: volunteering

Red, White, & Bruised

14 Oct

Right now I should be in one of two places–intently listening to John McCain discuss women’s issues at a Town Hall Meeting in Blue Bell, PA or screaming like a banshee for Sarah Palin at a rally in Scranton, PA.  However, I’m at home, still in my pj’s, pondering how to best tackle my to-do list.

When I got up this morning, I didn’t feel like being up at 6:30 AM, didn’t want to drive an hour in rush hour traffic to get a ticket to the McCain event, drive to the event, and wait in lines with tons of women.  Then I didn’t fancy sitting in a chair waiting a couple of hours for McCain to show.  After his crowd interaction/speech, I’d have to navigate out of the crowded venue and deal with more traffic.  The same goes for the Palin rally (although I did find out that I would have been with a group that had backstage passes to the event…but I found out a little too late.  Oh well). Plus, I did get to see McCain/Palin less than a week ago at a rally and have the pictures to prove it (read post).

One of the reasons I wanted to go to either venue was to hang with like-minded people and make new friends.  Seriously, rallies can be wild and the crowd energy is contagious.  But I really wanted attend these events to take more pictures (and hopefully figure out my lighting issues) and meet either McCain or Palin.  However, a lot of people want to meet McCain and Palin, so who I am in a crowd of thousands?

Sure, Sarah Palin is my hero–a woman whose courage I admire.  She’s well-spoken, real, and shows grace under a ridiculous amount of media attacks.  I wanted to encourage her and to tell her to keep fighting because there are woman (like me) who believe in her.  We are glad she is running for VP and feel that she represents us.  Her mere presence in this election is a kick in the face to everyone who told us we couldn’t because we’re woman.  That’s why I would give Sarah Palin a sincere hug, wipe the tears from my eyes, and say, “Thank you,  Sarah!”

John McCain, on the other hand, is someone I have admired for a long time.  I have always admired his ability to cross party lines to get things done and to fight for what he thought was right even if it meant going against the norm.  I believe that he’s a man of honor who deeply loves this country.  I don’t care if he’s in his early 70s because with age comes wisdom.  He’s proved the kind of man he is over and over again in a variety of heart-wrenching situations, and when he’s failed, he’s admitted to his folly.  I want a man of honor in the White House.  I want to shake his hand, thank him for his service, and tell him to keep fighting for the presidency.  Your fight is my fight, John McCain, otherwise I wouldn’t have given up hours of my life to volunteer for your campaign.

Truth be told, as much as I believe in the McCain/Palin ticket, I’m feeling a little red, white, and bruised.  I’m tired of going into my local “Victory Center” and making phone call after phone call to people who would rather not talk to me.  In fact, Sarah and I received four calls from the Republican Party telling us to vote for McCain, asking us to volunteer, and what not!  Ironically, one of the messages on our answering machine was left while I was volunteering.  Uh, yeah.

So, since I’m tired of getting all these ridiculous phone calls, I figure other people are tired of getting these phone calls as well.  Therefore, I feel less than excited at the prospect of making more phone calls that annoy people.  When I’ve asked if I can use my other skills, I am told that there’s nothing else I can do, but I see other people, who are unwilling to harass people for McCain, doing all sorts of other things such as greeting people at the door, putting together signs, entering data into computers, and so on.  I’ve been in there 13 times, 12 of which have been spent making calls.  I’m really getting bored…you know?  I want to be humble and to do what is asked of me, even if it seems really lame.  But just because studies say that phone calls are what win elections doesn’t mean that’s what reaches my generation.  Everyone I talk to is sick of the phone calls–I don’t want to be part of the problem.

Part of me wants to continue until the end, or at least until I leave for vacation on Nov. 1, but I’m just so sick of making phone calls.  I’m almost weary of the whole election.  I mean, it’s hard to have devoted so much time to a campaign only to hear on the news that your candidate probably won’t win the election anyway.  I’m starting to take attacks on Sarah Palin personally, like I’m a dolt for choosing to support a woman who seems like a complete idiot to so many.  Really, I just want the whole thing to be over.

Do I continue to make phone calls, even though I feel like they’re a hindrance?  Do I continue helping at the office because I want to finish what I started?  Should I demand other work?  I have no idea.  Maybe I should have attended one of the rallies in hopes that I could be encouraged by the energy of the candidates instead of sitting at home pondering what to do next.

I imagine a world without candidate phone calls, no political ads taking up commercial space when I was TV, and news about the election not dominating the headlines.  As for me, right now I’m red, white, and bruised.

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Stuffing McCain Across the Great Political Divide

8 Sep
My bumper stickers, including one for McCain

My bumper stickers, including one for "McCain"

Now that I’ve decided to support the McCain/Palin ticket, I’ve decided to make it official by slapping a “McCain 08” bumper sticker on my vehicle.  Plus, I spent two hours volunteering at my local McCain HQ.  I stuffed plastic bags with literature that will be distributed by a team going door-to-door.  My task felt a bit pointless.  I know where most of those brochures are gonna end up; I just hope they choose the recycling bin over the trash can.

One of the other main jobs at the center is to “telemarket” for McCain.  I’m dead serious!  I can call people up, ask them who they’re voting for, and then feed them a line.  No wonder McCain is lagging behind in Pennsylvania with this “strategy.”  But it’s people wiser than me who call the shots, so I’ll just do what I can to “get out the vote.”  I think the guy who runs the center almost swallowed his tongue when I told him that I didn’t care who people voted for as long as they vote intelligently, even if that means voting for Obama.  I want to see democracy in action, and yes, I think McCain is the best leader for our country.  However, if the population of this great nation would rather see Obama as President, then the republic has spoken.

After leaving the Republican Party in April and deciding to become an Independent (“I Went Indie“), I have felt the freedom in this election to ignore party lines and look at the candidates with fresh eyes.  I believe in this blog you have been able to see that process from when I was unsure who I liked (“Super Tuesday: All the Hype Money Can Buy,” “The ‘Christian’ Way to Vote“, “Faith Beyond Politics“), to when I decided that I didn’t like Obama (“Obama Drama Makes Me Go Bye Bye“), and until recently when I embraced McCain as my candidate.  I appreciate all of you taking the time to consider these matters for yourselves and thank you for continuing to follow my journey through the wild world of politics (and life).

Heres a shot of the local McCain HQ

Here's a shot of the local McCain HQ

This afternoon I decided to show my support for McCain/Palin on Facebook by officially becoming a supporter of the campaign.  This evening I received this message on my “friend wall” from a guy I knew in high school:

“im sure you have a very good personal reason for supporting mccain/palin, but i can no longer be friends with you.  Im sorry but mccain is a dishonorable man who will only further the failed policies of the bush administration and sarah palin is a fraud, supporting the bridge to nowhere before being against it, requesting 27million in earmarks for a town of 9,000 that she was mayor of and now claiming to be against earmarks, alaska also was the state with the most requested earmarks per capita of any state, she fired a state trooper for breaking up with her sister, claims the war in iraq is a ‘mission from god’, cut funding for special needs education and opposes abortion even in cases of rape.  Best of luck in the future.”

Besides the italics, the message is exactly as it was left on my public Facebook wall; therefore, I figure it’s fair game for my blog, right?  Since this guy “defriended” me, I couldn’t write on his wall, so I wrote on my wall.  This is what I said:

“So instead of finding out my “good personal reason” you’re not going be my friend? Don’t you think it would better for Obama if you intelligently explained your point of view instead of leaving a final post and taking off? It’s garbage like this that shows why Democrats and Republicans can’t play nicely.  Of course, I’m an Independent.”

The stuff we stuffed!

The stuff we stuffed!

I could just say this guy is a jerk and leave it there.  Unfortunately, there are jerks working on McCain’s side, too.  What makes me sad about the whole thing isn’t that our superficial Facebook friendship has come to an end (I haven’t even seen the kid since graduation), but that it shows the ignorance and arrogance of “our little parties.”  We get so into “our group” and “our candidate” and “our this” and “our that,” we can’t tolerate those who think differently or even pause to ask the questions, “Why?  Why do you support McCain anyway?  What is it about Sarah Palin that you like?”  Don’t assume you know the answer!

In the next few weeks, I’ll tell you exactly why I chose McCain and why I like Palin.  I’ll even tell you where I don’t agree with them.  I’m not a machine who votes the party line, then again, neither are McCain and Palin.  Perhaps that’s what really likes me–I find the idea of a Maverick and a Barracuda taking over Washington a true idea of change.

Covert Christianity

16 Apr

Written in 2006

By Amy Sondova Today the Christian book man came into my mom’s store to replenish their inspirational literature stand. He and I have a little ritual that takes place each month. He looks at me oddly when I request some of my favorite authors like C.S. Lewis and Philip Yancey. They’ve done demographic studies, he says each time, and they know what sells. Maybe it’s futile to try, but today I did it again. I told him that we’ve had requests for some quasi-Christian books—ones that Christians can give to their unsaved friends to offer them hope. He didn’t look at me oddly this time; he looked at me with disgust. They didn’t have books that hid the message of the gospel, he curtly replied. I half-expected him to ask me how I could suggest such a thing. But he didn’t. He simply went about his work. For months, the rack has been housing books such as Amish Home Remedies and Good Clean Jokes to Drive Your Parents Crazy. Not exactly offering moral inspiration to the masses, is it? Yet my request showed fruits of a benign faith to this man.

Sometimes I wonder if I really am hiding my faith under a bushel. I mean, I have a Rock for Life bumper sticker and a Christian fish symbol on the back of my SUV. I try to be Jesus to the people I see (at least most of the time.) I’ve just never been one to walk up to a stranger and ask, “Excuse me, do you know where you’re going when you die?” I did it on a mission trip to Philadelphia once when I was in high school. I hated doing it. There just seemed something wrong with harassing people on the street with the gospel.

Yet these people so desperately need to know who Jesus is and what He did for them. They’re crying out for God’s love and they don’t even know it. Sometimes my burden for the others is so strong, I want to run up to someone, grab them by the shoulders, and shake them while screaming, “Jesus loves you! Do you understand that? He died on the cross for you and you act like it never happened. Please love Him back!” Tears of sincerity would be pouring down the contours of my cheeks, yet I’m fairly certain a simple assault charge would be my reward for this type of “witnessing”.

Street evangelism can be effective. I’ve seen people sob right there on the sidewalk and give their lives to Christ. Children, who came from the poorest of households, prayed for the first time in their lives. These are sacred moments. It feels as though we should take off our shoes in reverence because it is at these times that we trod on holy ground. Still I can’t help but wondering what happens to these individuals once we go home and return to our normal lives.

Personally, I like relational and servant evangelism. Both types of evangelism offer more than the “Here’s-a-tract-and-call-me-in-the-morning” witnessing approach. Relational evangelism was the crux of my relationships with marginal kids in the senior high youth group. Since our church is huge, it was easy for a few kids to slip away from youth group. Fortunately, I knew every nook and cranny of the church (probably because I used to sneak away from youth group, too!) Other adult leaders forced these escapees to return to the youth room. I, however, had a different approach. I just sat there with them and talked about music, weaponry, art, and whatever was on their minds. Sometimes the conversation would take a surprising turn towards God or Christianity, and they shared their hearts. They stayed in the youth room when I did talks, and then eventually stayed every week. It wasn’t because of me though; it was God in me and even then it was God.

Our youth pastor was a big proponent of servant evangelism. One sizzling summer afternoon we gathered the middle and high school students together for a project. A group of over 70 students and leaders trekked to the super Wal-Mart conveniently located next to our church. We were armed with Windex, paper towels, and garbage bags. Our mission was to wash the windshields of the cars in the parking lot. The only indication of our presence was a streaky windshield and a little card telling the car owner that we wanted to show him or her God’s love in a practical way. My mission was to be the keeper of the trash bag in which the kids deposited used paper towels.

As soon as they hit the parking lot, groups of boys ran to the hot rods while the girls began a systematic sweep of the area. The middle schoolers ran from car to car trying to bless as many people as possible (or trying to see who could wash the most windshields). Oh, well, I thought, at least they’re learning about how to serve. They really seemed to be having fun as they started to belt out, “I love Jesus; yes, I do. I love Jesus; how ‘bout you?” Customers were pleasantly surprised to see our teens serving God. I was, too.

An elderly couple and their two grandchildren exited their beat-up station wagon and were immediately approached by a couple of kids. “Can we wash your windows?” one boy enthusiastically asked.

The old man looked down and softly replied, “No, thank you, not today.” The kids ran off to the next car. A couple of girls and I were nearby picking up paper towels some of the boys forgot to throw away. While his wife and children walked away, the old man lingered behind watching us. Then he turned to us and asked, “Well, how much does it cost?” I looked at the girls indicating I wanted them to respond, but they remained tight-lipped.

“It doesn’t cost anything. We’re washing your windows to show you God’s love in a real, tangible way,” I said with a smile. I wasn’t prepared for what happened next.

The old man’s eyes filled with tears. “No one has ever showed me God’s love like this,” he choked. He was moved beyond words.

“Can we wash your car windows, sir?” I asked hopefully.

“Yes,” he said, “Please do.” Excitedly, the girls raced over to his car and got to work. He thanked the girls for their service and joined his family at the entrance to the store. The girls and I then prayed for that old man, his wife, and grandchildren. And somehow that sticky blacktop became holy ground.

A little while later some students decided that washing car windows wasn’t enough, so they began washing Wal-Mart’s windows. A few decided to return carts abandoned by careless shoppers in the parking lot. A couple of Wal-Mart employees stood at the entrance and laughed at the teens. The employees then blessed us with a whole role of smiley face stickers and thanked the students for their work. One of the kids replied, “No problem. We just did it because God loves you.” Then he put a smiley face sticker in the middle of his forehead. He was Jesus in the flesh. They all were. Smiley faces stickers and all.

Thinking about it, Jesus talked a lot and followed up His words with actions. He spent time with people, talked to them, and He served them. In fact, He was the ultimate Servant Evangelist dying on a cross for our sins. So here I sit in the shop writing this article while Five Iron Frenzy blasts from my laptop. I’m not wearing my faith on my sleeve, nor do I take issue with those who do. There’s a place for all of us at the Great Banquet. I can only hope my seat is near the saints with the smiley face stickers firmly attached to their faces.

Print copy of scribble.

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