Small Town Politics

I love the fourth of July and in my small town we really know how to celebrate the birth of our great country.  The town decorates its self in red, white, and blue with flags waving from every business and light-posts are dripping with lush hanging flower pots.  Community organizations work all year preparing for the hour long parade that marches down Main Street and happily includes any organization, group, or persons who want to participate.  The parade route ends near Marina Park where the community stage has live music playing all day and the grassy park next to it is transformed into the Farmers Market teaming with fresh fruit, flower, and vegetables.  Artesian display their handmade jewelry, pottery, and crafts while families with children and pets wonder around absorbing the ambiance.

Just up the street from Marina Park is a community multipurpose field that officially becomes Tiny Town during the Fourth of July bash.  Tiny Town is jam-packed with a blow-up slide, bouncy house, ball house, kiddy cars, face painting, and free arts and crafts.  Surrounding the field are booths sponsored by sports clubs, school organizations, and the Boy & Girl Scouts all selling cotton candy, popcorn, soda, and ice cream.  In the back corner of the field is a baseball diamond that becomes the Pony Ride where unhappy looking ponies tethered to a metal post walk drearily round and round while little children frown and cry when the ride ends after two rotations, and this is where my story starts. 

Wanting to share the joys of Tiny Town with my Grandchildren my husband and I loaded them into their car seats and headed down to Tiny Town.  Amazed by our good luck at finding a parking space right next to the back corner of the field we unloaded our energized grandkids.  Holding hands and talking about all the fun activities that await them, we naively headed down the trail that dumps out next to the pony ride.  My granddaughter immediately started pulling me towards the unhappy ponies; I pulled in the other direction.  I quickly noticed the sign hanging lopsidedly from the dilapidated corral fence; it said $6.00 a ride.  Now, some may call me cheap, but $6.00 for a less than inspiring ride on a depressed pony didn’t sound like fun and in my opinion would not be money well spent.  I quickly added the second grandchild into the equation, $12.00 for a two loop ride; not happening.

My granddaughter looked at me with her sweetest smile and said, “Please, I really want to ride the ponies.”  I smiled sweetly right back at her and excitedly pointed out all the other activities she would be doing.  My smile was returned with a frown and then one more round of ‘Please, I never get to ride ponies.”  Above Audrey’s head my husband gave me a roll-of-the-eyes and we headed over to the arts and crafts where the grandchild painted wooden bird houses bright colors.  Breaking her creative concentration ever-so-often, Audrey would lift her head just long enough to once again plead for the pony ride. 

We moved on to the blow up activities where they slid down the slide, jumped in the ball pit,  bounced in the bouncy house, and climbed through an obstacle course.  In between activities I would hear a new version of the Pony Plead; my response remained the same, it now became a matter of the will; I needed to win.  With their hair full of static electricity we headed the grandkids back to the arts and crafts booths to decorate vinyl visors.  Audrey found a large princess sticker covered with glitter, she had to have it, and placed it directly in the middle of the visor then surrounded it with flower and butterfly stickers.  She then placed the visor on her head upside down so it looked like a glittery, brightly colored, princess visor/crown.  The day was over and we headed back to the car, the only problem was we had to pass the pony ride one more time.  I set my resolve and moved forward. 

Audrey, assessing the situation and realizing this was her last opportunity to persuade Grandma into seeing her side of the debate, pulled out the largest weapon she could think of.  Stepping in front of me and looking directly into my eyes, she said with passion, “Grammy, if you don’t let me ride the ponies I will never visit you again.”  That face will forever be etched in my mind, eyes filled with determination, mouth set tight and firm while her hair flew from static electricity and remnants of treats circled her mouth all topped off with the princess visor-crown.   Suppressing an amused smile I calmly said, “ I’ve raised three boys honey, that won’t work’”   She tightened her lips and assessed me to see if there was any chink in my armor, nope, she sighed and walked to the car, defeated.

Over the last few months I have watched the news dismayed at how so many of the politicians, Republicans or Democrats, sound like my granddaughter.  They look straight into the camera and say the most drastic and disturbing thing they can to get the American people worked up.  If the response is not what they want or the opinion polls suggest a need to redirect, they do so, and once again appeal to the American people to see things their way.   This process is repeated weekly, sometimes daily, and I’m tired of it.

I tired of listening to the politicians speak with passion saying “It’s not a tax” when it’s a tax or accusing one of lying while they lie.  It seems to be impossible for the American people to know what truth is when it comes to politics because for every absolute truth spoken by a Democrat an opposite
absolute truth is spoken by a Republican.  So, who do we believe?

It’s not just the politicians I’m fed up with, I’m tired of hearing people in my community simply being a conduit for the news channels or worse hearing them repeat what a comedian said as if he/she has some great political insight.  Wake up people, care enough to do some research.  Care enough to know even a little about what you speak don’t just repeat what the talking heads said today, like the politicians they will most likely change their tune by tomorrow or next week.
At times, I think I can see the princess visor/crown on their heads and remnants of past lies circling their mouths all the while pleading with passion for what they want the American People to believe.  Let’s not give in!  I encourage you to read many sources of political information.  Listen to both Liberal and Conservative news so you can form an intelligent opinion and when the politicians start talking with their Princess visor/crowns on, stand firm in your convictions and knowledge, our country needs well informed involved citizens to make a difference.

 Debora Shelford Hobbs



Mansion Builder


When grief meets me at the door, my first impulse is to slam it shut before it has a chance to come in.  After all, a visit from grief means something bad has happened and I will have to walk through trouble and let go of someone or something I love or want very much.  More often than not, walking through grief will leave me with a wounded spirit and I will be afraid to completely trust God.  After all, He may allow something to deeply hurt me again.

Navigating out of a wounded spirit and fractured faith is tough. In my own life, I have come to realize that it is accomplished in opening my heart with childlike submission to God; which in itself is hard because it flies in the face of all logic and is the polar opposite of what I feel.   I have also found that it’s a process because even when I think I’ve let go and submitted my heart and hopes to God, some word or situation can trigger raw emotion that is lying beneath the surface and I’m shocked to see that the scars of loss and grief are still alive and well.  The process of submission starts all over again and a prayer for God to bind up my wounds pours out of my heart.

Even when our trust in God is shattered, it doesn’t change the fact that He is more than able to rebuild from the broken pieces of our lives.  He wants to take the rubble that has been left behind and craft it into a beautiful mansion that will become shelter to other hurting people. The mansion builder does love us even when he allows grief to visit our door and our mansion builder does have good in store for us so we can be unafraid to hope in the future. The old song “Mansion Builder” by Second Chapter of Acts has been a comfort to me lately. The lyrics say “And I’ve been told that there’s a crystal lake in the sky and every tear from my eyes is saved when I cry. So why should I worry, why should I fret, ’cause I have a Mansion Builder who aint through with me yet.”  The words remind me that God cares for us in our grief and is with us even if He feels absent. We can know that He is holding us, that we are blessed even though that may sound ridiculous at the moment. 

It’s hard to reconcile why God sometimes gives and sometimes takes away and it’s fair to say that we never want Him to take away. But the fact is that like Abraham laid Isaac on the altar, ready to sacrifice him to God, we can follow that example and lay down everything we desire and everything we hold dear; we can release our control of outcomes and leave them at Gods’ feet.  God will use every moment of our lives for great good if we will only let him. We can know that God will bring beauty from ashes and will be our mansion builder if we submit our hearts and wills to Him and allow Him to do the work in us that He, the ultimate craftsman, wants to do.

Zachariah 9:12 Return to your fortress, O prisoners of hope; even now I announce that I will restore twice as much to you.

By Rhonda Shelford Jansen