A DAUGHTER IN NEED

My daughter and I had a problem getting along. I am sure it was more my fault than hers. From the time she was eleven until she left home at seventeen to start working, our relationship was contentious.

After she had worked for a few years she asked me if she could move back into my home. I knew it would not be easy for either one of us but I said, “yes.”

The reason why I agreed to her request was because of a verse that the Lord had pointed out to me several years prior. It is Isaiah 58:7 “Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help.”

She has lived with me for several years now. At first it was difficult. We both had to get past our poor way of communicating.

I had to learn how to walk a wide berth around her when she needed some space. I also am trying to learn not to pepper spray her with questions the minute she walks in the door.

She has learned how to clean up after herself in the kitchen most days. On the days she doesn’t finish, I do it for her.

The most amazing thing I have witnessed is the transformation of my daughter. She has changed from a hostile teenager, to a loving and respectful young lady.

As I have given her shelter and acceptance she has pursued a college degree while working part time. She has captured the heart of a man who is a gem. She has continued to expand her circle of friends and is very well liked in all of the circles she enters.

When I prayed about this I thought I was just giving her a place to stay but it was so much more than that. God knew that my daughter had wounds and her hostility was a poor band-aid for the wounds of her heart.

He led me to open my door wide for her to come in and live with me because He knew that she needed to know how much her mother still loved her.

I thought I was just providing shelter for her body. I had no idea that God was wanting to heal her heart.

Every single day I see her becoming more beautiful and self confident. She is one of my closest and most cherished friends now.

I give glory to God for all of the changes that have happened because without Him and His Word, I may have refused. I also thank God for my wonderful daughter on a daily basis.

THE BAGGAGE OF YOUR PARENTS

There are many things I have received from my parents for which I am truly grateful. They took me to church almost every Sunday. They taught me how to manage my money so that I would not favor debt. They have even shared financial blessings with me on occasion.

However, when I left home, I left home with a lot of emotional baggage. My parents have a very dysfunctional relationship. Something had happened in their marriage which caused my mother to have a nervous breakdown. According to my aunt she spent a year so depressed she couldn’t get out of bed.

When she finally did get out of bed she grabbed the hand of bitterness, anger and unforgiveness to give her the energy to keep living.

I remember her crying a lot when I was a little girl. That always bothered me. One thing I noticed early on though. She was never bothered if she made me cry. She could be pretty mean at times and then turn around and ask for a hug the very next moment. (kind of crazy right?)

She seeded suspicion of men into my heart. She also complained relentlessly about my Dad. She would scream  and yell at the least little thing that went wrong.

My childhood was quite unsettling to say the least.

The relationship that I am in currently is with a wonderful man who initially turned me into a replica of my mother. I complained about him all of the time. We would get into arguments and break up quite frequently.

The weird thing about it is that when I complained to people about this man my voice would change and I sounded like my mother. I, of course, attributed that to him and how he treated me.

I kept breaking up with him because something just didn’t feel right. I thought it was all his problem.

Until we got back together again and I realized my mother’s bitterness was working through me to attack this man. I was carrying the generational curse of unforgiveness that my mother had exposed me to all of the years of my childhood.

While we were apart my boyfriend would pray for me. When I was so ugly to him the Holy Spirit would comfort him and tell him “that was not who I really was.” He would bring to the forefront of his mind some of the wonderful memories we had created together.

The whole thing about generational curses is that they are passed down through generations that “hate God.” https://www.gotquestions.org/generational-curses.html

Well, anyone that knows me knows that straight off I love God. I mean I really LOVE HIM! So why was I carrying a curse?

Because I chose to. I lugged around the baggage full of bitterness, unforgiveness and anger for the majority of our relationship.

Don’t be deceived, my boyfriend is not perfect. He has issues to work through also but he is working on them with the Holy Spirit. My complaining about him didn’t help him work out his issues one bit. It was all Jesus.

So now, if I feel anger or unforgiveness creeping into my heart and mind I take those feelings to Jesus and ask him to help me sort through it. I have decided to stop carrying the emotional baggage of my mother.

Frankly if I choose to keep carrying her baggage I will keep lumbering down the path of heart ache.

SAMSUNG

My boyfriend had bought me the Samsung 7 when it first came out. He was so excited for me to use it. I put it in my closet and told him I didn’t need it. I had a Samsung 6 that I was more than happy with.

He kept mentioning it to me off and on and I told him I still didn’t want to use it. I knew if I used it I would have to let him come over to show me all of the in’s and out’s and at that time I didn’t really care to see him.

So he waited and mentioned it on and off and we actually had quite a few laughs about this situation. In addition to having to see him, starting to use a new phone was going to take some time to learn. Any free time I had I wanted to use to blog or write in my novel.

I have never really cared that much about techy things but he is nuts over every new device that comes out. He is so outrageous in generosity that I happen to have quite a few tablets and techy things scattered through my house that rarely, if ever, get used.

I am saving them for when I retire and if I have any free time during that portion of my life I will start using them. (HELLO NETFLIX!)

Well I was dead set against using this Samsung 7 (I can be totally hard headed and stubborn over the silliest things sometimes.)

Then a tragedy occurred.

I LOST MY SAMSUNG 6!!!

This was during the time when I had secretly decided that seeing him wasn’t the worst idea in the world. We had so much fun together. We had been off and on for 9 years and the on was much better than the off in that department.

So I called him and he jumped on his white horse (actually drove his red Camry) to my house to whisk me away to the AT&T store so as to activate my Samsung 7. Just one problem, since I hadn’t backed up my contacts I lost all of my contacts.

Which meant that all of those names I no longer recognized in my contact list were now gone, along with all of the men I had dated that had not made the cut.

Hmmm, now I know why I waited so long.  I was waiting on Jesus to cause me to lose my phone so that I would no longer be distracted by losers because the winner that had pursued me for 9 years was the one who was now helping activate my Samsung 7.

Thank you Jesus! Love you!

MY COMFORTER

Recently I have been dealing with an issue with my house. The background of this story can be found in this blog post. http://www.spotublog.com/home-warranty/ This has been a ten year ordeal and after ten years I usually blow a gasket.

This time I made a conscious decision to take a different path. I took my problem to my comforter, the Holy Spirit.

Then I did what I could. I asked my boyfriend to document all of the issues with my home. My boyfriend came over and took pictures of each crack and wrote down the location of each and every one.

As my former post revealed, the construction company analyzed my property several times and they didn’t think it was foundation related. They came to the conclusion that it had to do with either the irrigation system or my plumbing.

My boyfriend remembered that we had found an irrigation spout about a foot under the ground, when planting a tree, so this was a very strong possibility.

He felt so bad that he couldn’t do anything more for me. I told him not to worry. At that point I was considering a lawsuit. I told him the only way he could help me was if he was a lawyer and for the record I would never consider dating a lawyer.

Thank God I couldn’t find a lawyer who handle these kind of cases. I backed away from that idea.

Then in the still of the night, I heard the counsel of the Holy Spirit. He drew close to me and explained to me that the issues with my house were plumbing related. This confirmed the suspicion of my construction company.

So what was the purpose of God telling me what I already knew?

It eliminated my suspicion of deceit on the part of the construction company. If God said it was plumbing then I do believe that to be the truth. It also brought peace to my heart knowing that God was involved in this mess.

I am not by nature a patient person but I have been patient and kind to everyone involved so far. This is due to the fact that I have faith in God that He is more than interested in my plight.

In 1 Peter it talks about us going through various trials  in order to test our faith. If I start blowing my gasket now I would indeed be saying that I had no faith in the construction company but more importantly I would be doubting God.

To be a single mother for as long as I have been and to have a God who has protected me and provided for me is the most amazing life I could ask for. To hear his counsel in the still of the night is a comfort to my Spirit. To know that I am going through trials to test my faith makes me want to stand my feet on the rock of Jesus.

In John 14:16-17 the Word of God says:
“I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.”

I am thankful for God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son but I am truly loving on the Holy Spirit right now.

Him

I can’t say why I pushed him away for so long. He kept trying to get me to talk to him or to go out with him. I kept telling him no. I was really very, very ugly and mean. You think he would have given up right?

NO! He didn’t. He kept loving me. I refused to go out on dates with him. He would send me cards with gift cards in them. I didn’t always read the cards but I never threw one away. I stuffed them in a drawer and figured if I ever got to the point where I could stand this man I would read them.

He wanted an exclusive relationship. I told him I had been in exclusive relationships most of my life and it didn’t really suit my personality. I wanted to date around. (That doesn’t mean sleep around, just date other men) I begged him to date other women when we first started dating. He dated a few and during the date he said he kept wishing it was me. (rolling my eyes)

Then he lost a lot of weight and got so totally hot I fell head over heels in lust with him. His abs made me swoon. He was a pure total hunk of hotness back then.

We both had hot tempers though and we were miserable at resolving conflict. We dated for close to five years with a lot of flip flops between not speaking to each other and telling each other we loved one another.

I never told him how much his anger scared me. I have been taught at a young age how to become invisible when someone is in a rage. I know that rage only knows how to rant and not how to listen so I would clam up.

Although he had a problem with anger, never once did he lay a hand on me. He never cussed me out either. He did call me the B word once but considering how I treated him I don’t blame him one bit. If he got angry he would stomp out my door. Sometimes that is the only way to deal with a situation and we had plenty of situations.

I am not saying that all of the times were my fault but I definitely need to take responsibility for what was my fault. There were many times I was insensitive and did not communicate well.

However after close to five years of dating we broke up and I had no lust left to resort to. I can honestly say I was finished and ready to move on. I didn’t miss him one bit.

I moved on to other men and went on several platonic dates. I mean I couldn’t just sit at home and waste away now could I?

He had a lot of hurt and bitterness and was starting to ruminate in it, when one night the Holy Spirit spoke into him and said, “You need to forgive her, deep down in your heart.” He said he could just feel the burden being lifted from him in that moment.

That dear sweet man then started pursuing God. He started a habit where he wakes up early, reads the Bible and prays every morning. You know who he mostly prays for? Yep that’s right… ME!

I still couldn’t stand the guy though. He started to text me these mushy text messages. He would tell me that God loved me. Yeah like I already knew that okay? I mean He did sacrifice His only Son, Jesus, for all the shit I have done in my life.

He would also keep saying that I was the love of his life. I figured that was his problem not mine.

I kept dating guys.

He kept bringing me gifts. My front porch would be loaded with gift bags some mornings. I appreciated the gifts but I really wanted him to just kind of disappear.

He kept praying for me and I kept hating on him. I mean he had lied to me a few times and there were other memories that kept knocking on the door of my mind that fed my bitterness.

Then some time ago I agreed to give us one last chance. It was  a make it or break it chance.

Just a few weeks ago I wrote a blog about how great I was at beating bitterness. That was a downright blatant lie.

I realized what a hypocrite I am. I could forgive others who had verbally and physically abused me.

I had almost forgiven my ex for all of the total crap he put me through over the course of knowing him.

Yet this man who had loved me more than anyone else ever has, throughout my whole life, I held in contempt.

He took every bit of hate I threw him and laid it down at the feet of Jesus and Jesus told Him to keep loving me.

I accused him of stalking me. Except the legal definition of stalking includes threats. He never once threatened me.

Somehow in my twisted reality I felt that unconditional love was a threat. Try telling that to a police officer. “Could you please get this guy to stop loving me?”

He kept praying and praying and would read the Bible every time I threw him a curve ball. Like when I scheduled a date with a guy friend right after spending an afternoon with him. That hurt him so deeply I almost lost him in that stupid move but he read the Bible and was comforted.

I think if I asked him to forgive me for all of the wrong I have done him I could  go on and on for years and years but he has such a sweet heart he doesn’t hold any of it against me.

The very coolest thing about his transformation is that he is so close to Jesus it is kind of like I am dating Jesus now. I am praying that I don’t fall into lust again because I still think he is the hottest man ever. It is just that this time around I want to fall in love, not lust. Because to fall in love with a man who is so close to God that he just emanates the love of Christ is the closest to heaven I have ever been.

A CHANGE OF HEART

For those of you who have followed my blog for any amount of time you may be aware that I have struggled to gain clarity regarding a relationship I have had on and off for nine years. I must say this journey has been one in which I have had a change of heart.

This relationship was with a man who said I was the love of his life.

Yet I didn’t know if he was the love of my life.

He kept drawing close and I kept pushing him away.

When we first dated I had confusion as to the importance of sexual purity in a relationship so we fell into sin. There were some wonderful times of intimacy but I knew they were not blessed by God because they were not covered by His covenant of marriage.

I wanted more. I wanted a relationship which put God first. So I kept running… thinking I would find someone who would straighten out the twisted and tortured path to my heart.

He kept running after me; stumbling over the hateful words I threw at him.

I am sure that I hurt him many times in trying to push him away. Yet every time I talked with him he was full of forgiveness. He kept telling me that he loved me.

There was more though. He told me that he read the Bible and prayed every morning for me. He used to turn to alcohol when I pushed him away. Now he was turning to God?

He had lied to me. I can forgive quite a bit but lying is a difficult sin for me to forgive.

I had asked him to stop talking to one woman that he had been friends with. Just one woman and he could not stop talking with her. He told me he would stop talking with her but several years later I found out he hadn’t.

I had a choice. To turn away and hide in my unforgiveness or to seek understanding.

After one of the blog posts I  penned on bitterness, I realized what a hypocrite I had become. I had become cold with bitterness towards this man. I asked God to change my heart.

As the veil of bitterness was lifted from my heart I realized that she was the one woman who kept telling him to go after me. She gave me much more validity in his sight than I ever deserved.

She is now getting ready to marry one of his best friends and the Lord has sown a seed of deep love for her in my heart. I am now praying for her and the wounds that I know need healing in her heart.

Yet, I still pushed him away. I accused him of stalking me. I had looked up the definition of stalking and it includes threatening someone. Well, he had never, ever threatened me. I guess in some strange way I felt unconditional love was threatening. I hadn’t experienced anything like it in the past.

So this year he asked me for one last chance. He promised me if it didn’t work he would leave me alone. I agreed, but in my heart, I was just thinking this was a way to get rid of him for good. So I started dating him again.

He helped me bake and decorate Christmas cookies. He not only helped me put up my Christmas tree but also helped me take down all of my decorations and lugged the boxes upstairs even though his knee was hurting so bad he couldn’t bend it. How many boyfriends do that?

Not only did he help me with all of those activities but we had a blast doing them together. He is so much fun!

He has bought me thousands of dollars in gift cards to make sure I have enough to eat. He has never said,”NO” to anything I ask him to buy. He does without so that I can have.

I don’t ever want for anything but many times I beg him not to spend money on me because I don’t want him carrying the burden of debt. He assures me that due to my influence he has learned to budget wisely. I don’t think it has anything to do with me teaching him how to budget. He just does without to spend money on me.

There was one morning when I hadn’t talked with him for a few hours and I started getting scared. Did he really mean it when he said he would walk away this time?

I was terrified. I couldn’t imagine life without him. We had been together for so long. He was my knight in shining armor. Anytime I had difficulties he was the one I would run to.I called him quickly, crying on the phone. I needed to know he was still there for me. Thank God he was.

Then last night we celebrated Valentine’s day. I gave him a gift card to help pay for some of his pet supplies for some of the kitties I have gifted him over the years. I also gave him a gift card to Mardel’s so that he could buy a new Bible. That was one of the few things he had said he wanted. To have a man who values the Word of God is to have a treasure worth more than gold. He is so valuable!

He gave me two boxes of chocolates, a load of gift cards, then he took me out to eat at a very classy french restaurant in Dallas, called St Marten’s. While we were eating I told him that I thought he was the very best. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a box.

It wasn’t an engagement ring but a promise ring. It was the most beautiful ring in the world. He had given me one before but that was before he had devoted his life to serving and worshiping God. This ring symbolized so much more than the first had. This ring symbolizes our need for God first and each other second.

I feel blessed beyond measure to have this man in my life and despite all of my shenanigans and rejection of him I believe he may just be the love of my life also.

It was truly the most remarkable Valentine’s celebration of my life. Thank you so much, Dan, for this one last chance. I don’t deserve it but I hope that someday you will consider it the best decision you ever made. I love you!

HOME WARRANTY

I bought a new home in 2007. The design of my new home was perfect for my family. The upstairs held the game room, media room, bedrooms and a couple of bathrooms.

My children were 11,13 and 15 years old and they needed more space than my three bedroom 1700 square foot house could give them. My new house had twice the square footage as my old house. In addition to this, the neighborhood had a pool complex and I love to swim. To swim in a Olympic size lap pool daily was a dream come true. I felt as if I had moved into paradise.

However, with any new house there are always surprises and in Texas the surprises come quite frequently. The most frequent surprise is cracks in the structure. This is not due to the builder as much as it is due to the soil consistency. I called my construction company within the first two years to complain about the cracks and they said there was no foundation issues after a survey had been completed.

The next few years I had my nightmare in family courts with my ex-husband and his third wife. During that time in my life I did good to keep my sanity. I couldn’t worry about my house. That didn’t stop the problem though.  The cracks slyly kept sneaking into my walls and then the ceiling on top of my stairs started to peel away.

Last year I filed another complaint and they sent a structural engineering firm out. They once again said there was no problem but the cracks kept propagating so this year I filed another complaint. They once again sent out the same firm to check my cracks. Same conclusion – no problem.

So I hired my own firm. Yep, you guessed it, they found a problem and proposed a solution.

Since the two structural engineering reports differed,the construction company asked me use another firm which they had chosen. This firm said there was no need for a repair.

I had a melt down. I had 20-30 cracks in my walls and there wasn’t a need for repair?

I felt helpless because I have never built a house and do not know much about construction but a friend of mine came by to look at the house and he is a general contractor. He said he hadn’t seen a house with as many cracks as mine had.

There are still deep wounds in my heart from the debacle I went through in the family court system. I had hired lawyers who weren’t worth a penny, experienced injustice from judges and had lost most of my financial worth due to the court battle. So when I suspect someone isn’t being honest with me it goes deep into a world of hurt and I suspected my construction company was being a bit shady.

I thought all kinds of evil thoughts when I was in this place of darkness. I started calling lawyers, thinking I may have to sue. I thought about using this blog to write a post to slander the company and impede their business. Someone suggested I call a TV station and report them.

As I stepped away from the situation in prayer I realized a very important fact.

This suspicion regarding my construction company was not based on reality. Over the years they had fixed a multitude of issues for me and although there were definitely some structural issues, I believe it was due to the original developer more than the construction company. To seek to harm them in any way would just be downright evil.

I had been praying about this situation because I didn’t want to go all out crazy and be a bitch to them when they came over on Friday afternoon. I had a peace and a calm about the meeting even though I suspected they would wash their hands of the problem.

When they came into my house they said that they thought the issue may not be foundation but rather a plumbing issue because they thought my house was actually rising, not sinking. The more I listened, the more they made sense. They were not washing their hands of the issue. They were trying to follow the clues my house was giving them to find a solution to the problem. The more they talked, the greater my respect was for these men and their company. They mapped out a plan to solve the problem and it sounded like a very well thought out plan.

When they left I thanked God for the company and praised God for His tempering of my spirit.

The next morning I had devotions with my boyfriend and happened to pick Psalms 34 as the passage of scripture:

Psalm 34:12-19English Standard Version (ESV)

12 What man is there who desires life
    and loves many days, that he may see good?
13 Keep your tongue from evil
    and your lips from speaking deceit.
14 Turn away from evil and do good;
    seek peace and pursue it.

These verses were an affirmation to me that God will see me through this. I have to maintain my composure and honesty and seek to bless these men and this company.  If I do my part, God will do His.


TRUMP AND TPP

I was talking with my sister last night and she is not a Trump supporter. I am a Trump supporter. I know he is a bit of a loose cannon but the guy has stamina and a high level of intelligence.

I understand this may cause quite a bit of you to scratch your heads and wonder how I lost my mind. I beg of you to stay with me and give the guy a chance. He is working harder than any President I can remember to make us a better nation. I continue to pray for him and his family daily.

My sister and I are both descendants of a  family farm. She said that the corn prices would plummet because of Trump’s move to eliminate NAFTA and TPP. For those readers who are not farmers, let me tell you that it wouldn’t be a long fall, the corn prices are basically at the bottom of the barrel thanks to Obama.

I didn’t know a lot about TPP. I do know that everyone I have talked to thinks it is a horrible trade deal except, of course, my sister.

So I decided to do a bit of research on the trade deals that have come into play over the last several years. The following article was what I found. I am seeking to inform my readers so that we all may be involved and intelligent citizens.

Most of all, I ask that you pray for President Trump. We need God’s direction more than anyone’s to make this nation great again.

(For those of you who are interested. This article is reprinted from www.farmaid.org)

Hey Farm Aid,

I’ve started hearing about new free trade deals that might make their way to Congress soon. Is this something I should be concerned about? Farmers like me weren’t big fans of NAFTA – will these trade deals be similar?

Thanks!
Jim F.
Sparta, GA

Hey Jim!

Thanks for such a great and timely question. Here at Farm Aid, we don’t often delve into issues like international trade deals. But when we hear from a chorus of family farmers and farm organizations that these deals are a giant train wreck, our ears perk up.

Sounds like yours do too.

The short answer to your question is yes. International free trade deals currently being negotiated will have a big impact on food and farm systems in America—and therefore each and every one of us—and it’s time for us to listen up and speak out.

But there’s a lot behind that simple answer. Let’s explore what these deals are about and why they are especially worrisome to anyone who cares about family farmers, good food, and the functioning of our democracy!

“FREE” TRADE?

An aggressive media campaign from the Obama Administration has flooded rural newspapers with opinion pieces that tout the benefits of free trade and the promise of farm exports. As Roger Johnson, president of the National Farmers Union, recently noted: all of Washington D.C. seems to be walking around like “lemmings in a sort of ‘free trade trance.’”

But individual family farmers, as well as state and national farm organizations, aren’t buying it. They’ve heard this all before and in fact, recall very similar promises for policies that instead helped spark the Farm Crisis that rippled through America in the 1980s and inspired the founding of Farm Aid.

In general, free trade agreements are set by countries to remove policies like quotas, tariffs or taxes that are considered “barriers” to trade on imports and exports. The idea is to expand trade opportunities that presumably benefit hard-working people in all countries involved.

But the devil, as they say, is in the details. Especially when large corporations write the rules, opening up trade often translates to removing or weakening hard-fought environmental protections, food safety standards, financial regulations, and so forth. And because they often supersede national, state and local laws, trade deals can impact a huge range of laws and programs that govern how our economies work, how we grow and sell food, and in general who benefits (or loses!).

The bottom line? Free trade is never free—there are always costs.

And far too often, our rural communities have paid a hefty price as trade policies undermined supply control and price support policies that had for decades kept prices stable for family farmers.

HOW “FREE” TRADE PUSHES FAMILY FARMERS OUT

This year marks the 20th anniversary of NAFTA, an unhappy milestone for family farmers in Canada, Mexico and the U.S. who still have a collective headache from the deal. A widely acknowledged consequence of NAFTA is the all-but-demolished Mexican corn industry, where cheap American corn flooded local markets and displaced thousands of small maize farmers in Mexico (who, in turn, increasingly chose to cross the border and work as immigrant laborers in American farm fields).

A lesser-discussed consequence is how NAFTA, when paired with the 1996 Farm Bill that permanently eliminated farm price and supply management tools, caused U.S. commodity prices to plummet. As prices went into a tailspin and farms started going out of business, Congress had to institute “emergency” payments to help stabilize farm incomes. These were eventually turned into permanent direct payments, known today as the often-loathed farm subsidies. But in truth, policies like farm subsidies were Band-Aids® slapped on a much deeper wound.

Our historical trade advantages also seem to be shifting. In the most recent trade agreement with South Korea, U.S. farmers have taken huge hits as beef exports are down 5 percent, pork is down 4 percent, poultry is down 41 percent and grains are down 21 percent. At the same time, Korean exports to the U.S. increased by 28 percent—an indication that U.S. farming’s historical “bright spot” in trade deals may be fading fast.

It’s not that trade deals have never helped farmers. For the past 50 years, U.S. agricultural exports have been greater than imports. But increasingly, corporate-written deals are placing the profits of multinational corporations –- who can benefit wherever they choose to set up shop –- above the needs of everyday people rooted in their home countries. Taken as a whole, NAFTA-like policies that remove any protections for local workers and farmers put family farmers out of business, send good jobs offshore and trigger a race to the bottom for wages in U.S. working and middle classes.

THE BIGGEST, BADDEST TRADE DEALS YOU’VE NEVER HEARD OF

Trade deals are one of the most powerful ways that corporations can control our food and farm system. They are essential arenas for companies to amass more power and yet the American public has been kept in the dark on policies that could deeply shape their lives.

These new agreements include the biggest ones ever: the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) between the U.S. and 11 Pacific nations and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with Europe. TPP, widely described as “NAFTA on steroids,” has been negotiated entirely in secret with only leaked portions providing an insight to their contents. Citizens and most lawmakers have been locked out of the negotiation process while more than 600 corporate representatives sit at the table.

The entanglement of money and politics is discussed nearly every day in popular media, and these new trade agreements will make it even worse. One leaked document indicates that TPP would elevate multinational corporations to the same legal status as sovereign nations. For example, corporations would be able sue a nation over laws and regulations that could limit a company’s expected future profits. These lawsuits would be decided by a foreign tribunal, where the only deciding factor would be whether a nation’s laws restricts the corporation’s ability to make a profit. Taxpayer money would then be paid in the form of a fine or settlement if the country is found guilty.

These trade deals would also take power away from local and state governments and undermine state constitutions, federal and state laws, and local control laws. Big targets of these deals are laws such as Country of Origin Labeling (COOL), which is supported by the majority of farmers and eaters and simply tells consumers which country their meat comes from. But this kind of transparency would be seen as a trade barrier! Other elements of trade deals stand to undo all the progress we’ve made in developing new markets where eaters can buy their food directly from local farmers or know more about what’s in their food (because, again, giving local preference would be seen as a trade barrier).

FAST TRACK TO NOWHERE

To make matters worse, Washington D.C. is in a frantic shuffle to rush through these trade deals. Last week, Senators Paul Ryan and Orrin Hatch introduced a bill to hand Trade Promotion Authority (TPA, also known as Fast Track) over to the President, allowing him to negotiate and sign these deals in secret and greatly limiting Congressional oversight over the process.

In essence, Fast Track gives the President power to craft trade deals without consulting Congress, denying Congress its constitutional role to set trade policy and also denying their ability to bring forth important amendments and changes. If passed, Congress would only get to see the trade agreement after its signed, and would be allowed a maximum 20 hours of debate without being able to bring any amendments to the table.

The aggressive campaigning for Fast Track—something that most Presidents in recent history have also pushed for—has many citizens questioning why Congress would give up its responsibility on trade deals that affect their constituents’ lives.

WHAT FARM AID SAYS

While they may be international in nature, trade deals are felt here at home in very real ways we can see in our communities and our daily lives. Trade with foreign nations should strengthen our economy and create American jobs, while preserving our hard-fought environmental protections, labeling laws, labor rights, and health and safety standards. Farm Aid supports food sovereignty, or the right of people to determine their own food and agriculture policies and the broader democratization of food and farming systems. Trade agreements must not undermine the food sovereignty of farmers and eaters here and abroad.

Trade is something most Americans are inclined to support as long as it’s fair, equitable and to the benefit of all involved. But what’s on the table today will further grow the profits of huge corporations and siphon away wealth from America’s family farmers, our rural economies and farmers around the world.

Secret meetings, fast tracked democracy, and pie-in-the-sky promises of prosperity aren’t the way to craft trade that is fair to family farmers or American citizens.

The good news is that if Fast Track dies, the trade deals are very likely to die with it, as corporations won’t move forward without the guarantee of compliance from all nations involved. That’s why we’re encouraging our faithful readers to demand that their member of Congress and instead play an active role in negotiating trade agreements that work for not corporations.

WHAT FAMILY FARMERS SAY

DARVIN BENTLAGE
CATTLE AND ROW CROP FARMER, BARTON COUNTY, MISSOURI

darvin bentlage“TPP would undermine U.S. family farmers and consumers by weakening or nullifying protections like Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) and American food safety standards.

Now, the Obama administration is pushing hard for Fast Track trade authority, which gives the president power to make these bad trade deals without input from congress. This is not how the democratic process should work.

Rural Missourians value local democracy, and the people of my state have fought hard to protect the right of local control and the right of local elected representatives to make decisions that are in our best interest. Fast Track and TPP are a direct attack on those values.

Trade agreements like TPP would give foreign corporations the same legal status as sovereign nations. This is nothing more than a blatant corporate power grab that comes at the expense of family farmers, rural economies, consumers and democracy.”

WINK DAVIS
MESA WINDS FARM & WINERY, HOTCHKISS, COLORADO.

wink davis“I am strongly opposed to TPP for several reasons, both procedural and substantive.

It has been negotiated in complete secrecy by corporate lobbyists and without any oversight or guidance from Congress.  I am incensed to think that they now expect our Senators and Representatives to abdicate their Constitutional responsibilities by giving up, in advance, the right to debate and amend this huge legislation without even having had a chance to know what’s in it.

From what little we do know, we can expect that TPP will be used by corporations and foreign governments to overturn health, safety, and consumer protection legislation passed by Congress and the States.  What happened with COOL is a prime example:  the WTO, a bunch of corporate shills somewhere in Europe, declared Country of Origin Labeling a trade barrier.  My customers want to know more, not less about where our food comes from and how it was grown.  The corporations want us to know less.  The COOL experience shows us who wins in a struggle like that.

If, when we find out what it says, TPP would allow that kind of outcome, we need our representatives to have the ability to amend it.  Otherwise, fast track amounts to an historic, and I think unconstitutional, delegation of Congressional authority to an unaccountable foreign entity that’s not even in existence yet.  The whole thing is an outrage.”

KENNY FOX
CATTLE AND SHEEP RANCHER, BELVIDERE, SOUTH DAKOTA

kenny_fox“Our U.S. cattle and sheep industries are not faring well under our current free trade agreements like NAFTA, CAFTA, and the U.S.-Australian FTA. These agreements have effectively lowered our health and safety import standards and have burdened our cattle and sheep industries with huge and persistent trade deficits. As a result, we’ve already lost hundreds of thousands of independent cattle and sheep producers, our nation’s cattle herd and sheep flock have shrunk to historical low levels, and our industries are being captured by the very multinational meatpackers that continue to push for these misguided free trade agreements.

Congress must vote against Fast Track and against the proposed TPP as these bills will only hasten the ongoing destruction of our family farm and ranch system of agriculture here in the United States.”

BARB KALBACH
4TH GENERATION FAMILY FARMER, ADAIR COUNTY, IOWA

Barb Kalbach“Whether it’s family farmers, seniors on prescription drugs or workers fighting for a living wage, you should be concerned about the TPP. If you eat food, the TPP will impact you. It’s nothing more than a global power grab by big-money corporations intent on feeding their bottom line. Congress should vote down fast track!”

 

THE MONSTER

The monster is vicious.

It can consume our every thought and breath.

When we go to sleep it transforms our dreams into nightmares.

It transforms our proper use of words into a trash heap of profanity.

It colors our relationships with negativity.

It is a hideous best friend, yet it clings to us; enticing us to revisit the land of betrayal which it so carefully guards.

It strips away any remembrance of love and leaves our wounded heart exposed to more vicious attacks.

We are deluded if we think there is clarity within this monster. There is only rampant confusion, for there is no logic within evil.

It darkens our vision so that we can see only the evil which was intended, not the good which God can transform evil into.

So who is this monster?

BITTERNESS.

You say you don’t have it?

Okay, then I guess no one has ever hurt you right?

Or you have forgiven them…Good, I hope you have.

It has been my reality to work through bitterness, for I have been hurt a lot and I have also done my share of hurting others.

It is a difficult and complex task to do battle with the Monster of Bitterness.

I have forgiven more than one person and I have even gone to the extent where I plead for God’s mercy on them.

Yet the battle can still rage because bitterness is a root and it grows deep within the heart.

I have found the most effective weapon is to search for the goodness of God in the midst of evil.

It can take years to find that flickering light of good in the midst of evil but when I find it I have a celebration.

Because you see the devil meant for this person or event to destroy me.

I am still here.

I have not been destroyed and when I see how God can spin evil for good I start praising God.

This puts the devil into a tail spin because I truly claim Romans 8:28 as a true and living Word in my life.

28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose. (NLT)

How do you do battle with the monster?

STANDING ON THE WORD OF GOD

For those of you who have been following my blog for any amount of time you most possibly have realized two things:

#1 I live my life, to the best of my ability, by standing on the Word of God.

#2. I have an adult daughter living with me. When she asked to move in several years ago, I was a bit hesitant because we had not always gotten along. I had also been living solo for quite some time and had come to the point where I enjoyed my solitude.

I have a large house and all of my guest rooms are upstairs so it wouldn’t be cramped or anything. Logistically it would not be a problem.

That wasn’t the reason why I said “yes” though. I said “Yes” because of a verse that the Lord had brought to my attention several years before my daughter even asked to live with me.

The verse is Isaiah 58:7

“Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help.”

The first year or two that she was living with me, there were many times that I shook my fist at God saying, “I let her move back in because you told me to and she is treating me like this? Really?!”

A year and a half after she moved in… things started to change. The impetus was when I asked her to give me advice on what to do with an artists nook above my fireplace. That was where I have a beautiful picture of Jesus displayed. She offered to repaint it and she did a fantastic job.

We have had a few spats since then but they have been few and far between. The relationship has blossomed into something so wonderful. It has been an evolution of  healing for both of us.

Each day my love for my daughter grows.

Every single day I am in awe of the wonderful decisions she has made in her life. From the vast amount of friends she has, to the food she eats, she has wisdom. She is the most wonderful inspiration for me.

This morning the sweetest thing happened. She woke me up to ask if we had any coffee because she wanted to make some coffee for both of us before she left for the day.

Now I raise my hands in praise to God saying “Thank you Jesus!” every time I think of my daughter. She is truly not only a cherished daughter but also one of my closest friends.

May God in heaven be praised for the wisdom He has shared through the pages of His Holy Bible.