Sunday, January 29, 2017

Eric Metaxas, If You Can Keep It, and a Grassroots for Convention of States

A journey that began on a summery day in June 2016 culminates on this wintery day in January 2017...I'm wrapping up my final review of Eric Metaxas' wonderful and timely book, If You Can Keep It. Last summer I joined his booklaunch team. I have enthusiastically and passionately blogged about it extensively (and some of those posts have hit my all time top 10 blog-posts-that-have-been-read list). Yet I have had one final post left in reserve saved in my draft folder...because I have an action point in mind that is not in the book and I've struggled with how to say something.

When I first saw Metaxas' announcement about If You Can Keep It, I enthusiastically put it on my "to read" list. Then I was even more excited to be accepted to the booklaunch team...because I'd then get to have more opportunity to talk about something that has been important to me for years. My goal as a teacher my entire life has been, to the best of my ability, to incorporate an "if you can keep it" mindset as much as possible into all of my teaching. I've started out with the little that I know and keep adding as I go. I knew this would be a great resource (and I was right).

If You Can Keep It by Eric Metaxas

The book finally arrived! I enthusiastically read it, page after page! Incredible human interest stories and history of our Founding Fathers...all information sadly being left out more and more from public school curriculum, colleges and the national discussion.

However, one thing, one, saddened me about the book. This is why this post has been merely a draft for 7 months. Although there were some great ideas of personal things we can do to become more aware of what our country is about, I didn't think it contained viable action points on how we are to  keep our republic.

Now I feel awful for having said that because I am such a huge fan of Metaxas (and am totally thrilled that I got to meet him last summer). Now let me repeat myself as I try to explain a possibility as to why no viable action point is given: viable action points are "sadly being left out more and more from public school curriculum, colleges and the national discussion." In short, how are we to know unless we hear?

I have to admit, if one asked me a few years ago for an action point I'd have merely suggested keeping in contact with your elected officials and studying your history.  After my college years I got very busy with constantly writing my elected officials, holding each one to task, no matter which party they came from, whether I voted for them or not. I kept contacting them. After all, what more could I possibly do?

Then, in 2014, I learned about another way, a more viable way of keeping the republic as our Founders intended. I attended a debate between Michael Farris (Constitutional Attorney who has successfully argued before the Supreme Court fresh out of law school) and Delegate Bob Marshall on an Article V Convention of States. (Farris took the position of supporting a Convention of States. You can read more of my experience and find a link to the debate at the above link.)

I became a Convention of States volunteer because I first heard about this MOST viable option of keeping our republic from Michael Farris, whom I've followed for over 20 years. Yet, even though I had first heard of it in 2014, I did not become a volunteer until 2016. I greatly regret I did not get on the bandwagon sooner. I confess that I have been pretty much beating myself up for not joining the cause sooner. What was wrong with me? How did I not hear? Why did I not take action? So I'm really not criticizing Metaxas at all.

What I am saying is this. The Convention of States Project is unique. Even though we have a  history of conventions in America (I recently was asked by my NoVA COS leadership to give a speech about that to our local state representatives a few weeks ago. This COS project is unique in part because of the grassroots effort.

Most of us in the grassroots effort are volunteers. We lead busy lives by day yet fit in the duties to keep our republic by sharing COS news to all we can personally reach in any moment that we can find. Even so, after two years...it has not gained as much public attention as one might hope. Even the incredible Eric Metaxas hadn't heard of it until September 2016 when he met Jenna Ellis (whom I met in Feb 2016 and Oct 2016) who informed him about the Convention of States. She seized the moment and he was like, "Wow!" Metaxas was so amazed, that the next week he had Ellis on his radio program to talk about Convention of States to share with his own circle of influence!!!! That is what grassroots is all about!!!

You can listen to the interview here where Jenna Ellis describes more about makes our COS project unique, namely she details the application process.

Even though I *think* I said something about COS somewhere on Metaxas' social media, I don't remember for sure, because I've been trying to wrap my head around all the details myself. Also, I am rather fearful of initiating. So finally...this post. You see, I may be a volunteer, but I have had missed opportunities. (Yet I refuse to quit. I keep trying to push myself. After all, I've  met great people through this and the process of sharing has been fun! Probably because I love to teach and this is important stuff!)

So, I am offering a challenge to myself to become ever more verbal about the Convention of States Project.

Furthermore, I am hoping that the editors of Metaxas' If You Can Keep It will add a follow-up chapter exclusively about the Convention of States. I'd love to read Metaxas' style in this. He was a literary guy in college. He loves his country passionately. All of that is evident in his book. His writing style is incredibly informative, heart-warming,  engaging...it's great!  I highly, to this day, recommend reading If You Can Keep It. It was purposely written in such a way as to be easily absorbed on the weekend. Nothing heavy. Just great patriotism and what our country is all about. It's written for the layman and laywoman. It's non-partisan. For as much as I already knew, I learned more and it gave me more to ponder about application points in my own life.

Meanwhile, the addendum to his book is in this link, the interview between Jenna Ellis and Eric Metaxas on how the Founders intended Americans to keep our republic...through an Article V Convention of States!

ps In June 2016 I became Grassroots Coordinator of Northern Virginia Central. There are teams all across America. Come join us in Keeping a Republic! Our Republic...that our Framers so wisely gave us. Yet if we don't keep it, we'll lose it!

Saturday, January 28, 2017

A Republic if We can Keep it-Convention of States Rally in Virginia

"A republic if we can keep it" is the very reason why last Thursday I drove down to my state capitol in Richmond, Virginia...

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We met at the bell tower of 1824, historically a meeting place for important events such as ours...a rally of the growing grassroots movement of Convention of States volunteers to save the republic. As the bell tower calls the Virginia General Assembly into session each year, so has our movement met here to call the Virginia General Assembly to enter Virginia into the roll call of Convention of States.

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First to speak was our Virginia legal Liaison and National Legislative Director Rita Dunaway, with our Virginia State Director, Chris Walker.

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Also speaking was one of the Virginia legislators who definitely supports a Convention of States, Delegate Ware. He championed the house bill last year. Alas it died in the Senate. So here we are again...

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Also speaking was Mark Meckler, attorney, founder of the Citizens for Self-Governance, and co-founder of Convention of States.

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Here are some links that Mark Meckler posted to facebook. This link is to the pre-rally speech that Mark Meckler made.

Here is the link to the Richmond Rally with all the speakers. Mark's speech is perfect for any student of Civics (I'd have given my homeschool students government credit for watching this. In fact I'd have brought them with me. Alas they are in college now...) His speech is, in fact, perfect for anyone who wants to learn more about how our Founders wrote our Constitution. It's everything that wasn't taught in public school or college.

There are so many nuggets to be learned, that I took 4 pages of notes from his speech that will be invaluable to me not only as a COS volunteer, not only as a citizen of our country, but also as an educator. Please do listen at the link, at the 15 minute mark. Meckler's speech is about 15 minutes long and incredible!

Lest I haven't yet enticed you, let me share a few nuggets with you from his speech. (All of the following, within the stars, is from his excellent speech which I'm merely sharing to lure you into the video, linked above.)

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Mark Meckler reminded us of our local hero George Mason. I confess I never heard of George Mason until I moved to Virginia. I now live 30 miles from his house and 22 miles from the university that bears his name. After the delegates wrote Article V of the Constitution, which provides for amendments as written by Congress, Mason announced that there was a flaw. "Are we so naive as to believe that if the federal government becomes tyrannical it will propose amendments to restrain its own tyranny?" -George Mason

James Madison, who recorded every moment of the Constitutional Convention which was mostly all contentious, recorded "there was no debate" upon the matter of a Convention of States. In fact, to emphasize this he wrote it in Latin.

Meckler reminded us that America was built around the idea of liberty which is only attainable through self-governance. Freedom, liberty and self-governance are not granted to us by the government, but by God. Government was only established to protect those rights. The Founders gave us the ultimate tool for self-governance in the second clause of Article V of the Constitution. 

Meckler told us that the legislators who do not support Article V claim to be Constitutionalists. They support a different Constitution than the ones the Founders signed and now resides in the Archives 120 miles away from where we were standing. Their Constitution is the annotated version written over the years by the Supreme Court. As of today that annotated version is 2738 pages...and counting. (Kind of like the national debt.) And the Founders never meant it this way.

Meckler reminded us of another Virginian, Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson, himself, was a strong supporter of public education. While he was building the University of Virginia, a friend suggested to him that Jefferson get money from the federal government to help build the university. Jefferson replied that he obviously did not understand the Constitution, because it would take a Constitutional Amendment for the federal government to be involved in education. "How far we have fallen," Meckler concluded.   

Meckler ended his speech by reminding us that America is unique because we fix things. Most people in other countries wait for the government to fix their problems. Meckler used a great analogy of how Americans move restaurant tables on their own without asking management to accommodate a large group. Likewise Article V is the tool that allows We the People to fix our government. All it does is  allow the People to move the power from the federal government back to the states where it belongs.

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And with that charge we journeyed up the hill to the General Assembly office building behind this grand monument. The bravery of the heroes of our country memorialized in this equestrian statue was the charge we were given...

from George Mason...

Founder-George Mason

from Patrick Henry...

Founder-Patrick Henry

from Thomas Jefferson...

Founder-Thomas Jefferson

and George Washington...

Founder-George Washington

to keep the republic that they founded for us. Thus we passed by that statue into the General Assembly Building to encourage our legislators to vote for a Convention of States to rein in the power of the federal government and the national debt...so that future generations can keep the republic too.

Read more and sign the petition to contact your state legislators here...www.conventionofstates.com

Friday, January 20, 2017

Inaugural Preparations and Historical Moments

A few days ago we parked at Union Station en route to the National Gallery of Art Ice Skating Rink. To our delight we found patriotism galore outside Union Station...

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Union Station


Even inside the main foyer there was quite a lot of preparation going on. It turned out to be for President Trump's candlelight dinner last night. (lots of gowns to enjoy at the link)

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Union Station


As we crossed the street towards the US Capitol we passed by all these flags. When I saw the state flag of Texas, I couldn't help but start singing the Texas anthem, "Texas, our Texas." My family and I were surprised that I remembered all the words!

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Can you find the Texas flag?


Then we arrived at the US Capitol bedecked in patriotic inaugural splendor!

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US Capitol


As we walked through town we saw more preparations for the traditional PEACEful transfer of power that took place earlier today.  America is unique in that history and is what our Republic is all about.

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US Capitol


For more inaugural moments check out the time when my family and I:

... met and talked with the presidents of Mount Rushmore (at the Smithsonian, including the Colonial Williamsburg Thomas Jefferson).

...explored the history of our presidents at the Smithsonian.

...swooned over the First Ladies' Inaugural Gowns and Dresses at the Smithsonian.

Speaking of gowns and dresses, the new First Lady turned many heads today with a striking powder blue ensemble that made us all remember Jackie Kennedy. No wonder, because Ralph Lauren designed it to hearken Mrs. Kennedy Oleg Cassini that she wore to their husband's inaugural ceremony. Even the Trump daughters were stylishly dressed, all of which is beautifully photographed and described here.

And more fashion here...

I confess I had mistakenly said that Lauren designed by both, because that is what I initially read. But now all the reports are saying that Cassini designed for Jackie. I'm sorry for the confusion.

And a link for all the gowns which were stunning...

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Washington DC at Night

The fun of arriving on the day we did to ice skate, was finding a flurry of inauguration preparations. Those photos in the next post (soon to come) but for now are the evening shots of those same venues...


the US Capitol in the reflecting pool...

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Union Station's grand architecture...

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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

January Ice Skating at the National Gallery of Art Gardens

January has finally been the month to do a few family things before my kids returned to college. First on our list was ice skating...on Jan 8 after church. Alas it was nearly 0 degrees with windchill and this Texas gal wasn't about to do that! I'd like to stay healthy, thank you very much. I'm simply not acclimated to the cold. Instead we  made our first trip to see the gorgeous architecture of Washington National Cathedral! Stay tuned for those incredible photos!

Last Sunday we had no plans after church except to come home and relax. However my son kept mentioning that it was a nice day out. And it was. Even though I had worn a skirt and sweater set to church. Hmmm....skating in a skirt? Why not? I thought I could manage this. It would seem 1950's-ish. (My costuming friends understand.)

We walked through incredible venues (more on that in the next two days) to arrive at the National Gallery of Art Ice Skating Rink. We love this place. It's big. It's clean. It has great surroundings. It's the cheapest of any other place we've seen. It's across the street from one of my other favorite places, the  National Archives, across the street.


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I've only skated once before. I'm from Louisiana, Hawaii and Texas. I've had major head surgery the year I graduated from college. My balance nerve had to be cut. I had to learn to walk again. Can you imagine me skating? Thankfully the guys in my life always offer to help me out. With many thanks to them, I didn't fall once!

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Since I didn't know we were going anywhere,  my camera was left at home. Hopefully my cell phone would decently capture the day.

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The fun is when the sun sets...

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the lights come on...
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...we skate to the sounds of Frank Sinatra and the like.
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At last it was time to go. Wet rented skates, cold air while returning to the car, a l-o-n-g drive home have all resulted in a head cold for me. Low energy and busy days are causing me to mutiny on too much talking or anything else while I recuperate. Meanwhile I might catch up on blogging. Lots of stuff has been happening, with more events to come. Stay tuned!

Monday, January 9, 2017

Visiting Gothic Architecture at Washington's National Cathedral in the Snow


Especially when we studied the Middle Ages, I've been wanting to take my kids on a field trip to Washington's National Cathedral. Being the sixth largest cathedral in the world, it was the closest chance we'd ever get to European art history. Despite living in the Washington DC area for seven years, we finally got a chance to see the cathedral yesterday after church (our church, out west, near the mountains). Impressively, it was a day after snow, which made a grand photographic setting. However it was a bitterly chill day, nearly zero degrees with wind chill.

We loved studying the Middle Ages. (Well, we loved studying everything) Who wouldn't? Knights. Castles. Sir Galahad. King Arthur. The Knights of the Round Table.

Then we studied art history and learned about the incredible building of the Gothic cathedrals. Honestly, I'm not surprised, ever, by modern technology. After all we live in a day when we use computers to create things. However in the days of yore, people created from their own imaginations, inspired by the influence of others' imaginations. The Middle Ages were not known for greatness. Amazingly imagination and labor created greatness, leading in to the Renaissance. Years ago in our studies we read about the magnificent architectural achievements of Gothic architecture. On this day we got to experience it first hand.

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The point of the architecture is to lift our eyes heavenward, which is reflected in most of these photos...

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Flying  butresses allow the enormous weight of the roof to not require thick walls...

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...which in turn allow a myriad of thin stained glass windows...

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...the pipe organ...

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My son took the photo below with my camera, while we were waiting for the concert to start. 

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The concert was a surprise, so we were treated to music history as well. Throughout the choral strains that majestically soared to the rafters, my eyes kept being caught up to the grandeur of the heights...as the architects intended.