Sunday, July 26, 2015

Organized Religion, Do You Matter?

To preface this blog post with some background, I was “born and raised” in a Southern Baptist church.  From the time I was an infant, I was in church nearly every time the doors were opened.  My mother was in church with me as were my maternal grandparents.   My father, as the story is told, quit church when I was born because he was angry with God because I (as his first child) was a girl and not a boy (that’s another later blog post which will be titled “Daddy Issues” or something to that effect.)

Anyway, being raised in a Southern Baptist church in the 70’s and 80’s, I know proper Southern Baptist church etiquette- I shall not make noise in church (no clapping, raising of hands, or other displays of emotion), I shall not question my beliefs as they’ve been stated to me. I shall not dance (because it is “dry sex” - whatever that means.)  I shall sing from the Baptist Hymnal and I shall know most of the words to those songs in that book without looking.  I shall not drink alcohol. That’s pretty much what I gained from the Southern Baptist experience, oh yeah, except “Once you’re saved, you’re always saved,” the concept of which still behooves me (again, another blog post.)  Also, when I was a teenager, I gained my most intriguing concept of the Southern Baptist church, which was, “Jules, you can try to fit in, but you don’t really matter.”  It seemed no matter how hard I tried; I was excluded from the group.  Was it because my family did not have as much money as the other families? Was I offensive in some way?  I will never know, but I will always remember the feeling of showing up sometimes to their activities, but never really being included.  I still don’t know why I was excluded, and I am 46 years old so that exclusion really doesn’t matter anymore.  Except that is does because I still feel excluded in church.

I was an active member in a church (which I shall not name) for many years.  I can’t remember how many, but I know it was more than 10. Two of my children were Baptized in that church and the other was “dedicated” as an infant. I gave money to that church regularly; I attended “Sunday School” (or “Life Group”) classes off and on, I was in the worship service nearly every Sunday, I had regular, monthly nursery duty, I volunteered in VBS almost every year.

 A few years ago, I quit going to that church.  There were a bunch of different reasons why I quit going (many are personal and most are boring.)  But I did quit going to that church.  My daughter (Macy, 16) however remains at that church.  She attends activities and trips with the youth group, even though I never attend.  Recently, however, she was speaking in the worship service about a youth trip she had been on.  My baby girl is speaking in church?  I need to go.   So off to my old church I went!  It was awkward at first.  It was angering!  Here I was after not attending for over 3 years.  Some people who still knew me called me by name, but not one of these people in the 3+ years I’ve been amiss has ever contacted me or reached out to me in any way to see what happened, why I no longer help with their nursery, give money, or sit in their worship service! Hmmmm….
Am I invisible?  Clearly I’m not because some people do remember me.  I came to the conclusion that in this particular church (as the Baptist church I spoke of earlier) I just don’t matter.

 As I always did in that church that I loved for 10+ years,  I was energized and immersed with their musical worship. They were pulling me in as they had done a thousand times before.  Sing these songs, Jules, from this PowerPoint and projector.  Listen to our 5-piece worship band.  Clap your hands, move around.  You will like it.  And I did!  The substitute pastor was even great too as he spoke from Matthew 1.  All the while knowing, if I never attend this church again in my whole life, I will not miss it and they will not miss me.

As I was siting there I was contemplating all this and thinking about who does matter in church?  I’m not sure.  From what I saw in my recent visit, the picture perfect families matter – the ones joining the church or being baptized whose children are spaced appropriately apart and they look really good in pictures.  Families with mothers who don’t work outside the home, they matter.   The single man (by himself) or the single woman with kids she has trouble supporting, they matter.  Those who can sing or play an instrument in the worship band, they matter.   That teenage girl whose parents don’t attend but she still attends faithfully (Macy Alexander) – she matters.  I however, don’t matter.  And it’s ok.  Because I do matter to God and that’s far better than mattering at church.  “I am your Creator.  You were in my care even before you were born.”  Isaiah 44:2a (CEV).  “The Lord has made everything for his own purpose.” Proverbs 16:4a (GW)

Will I attend church again?  Yes, I will.  I have a church in mind and have visited there once.  I owe it to my 10-year-old daughter to get her back in church and give her that church background, which is irreplaceable.  Will I matter in the new church?  I seriously doubt it.   On my recent one time visit, I did not seem to matter.   But I will go most every week, I will give money and I will volunteer where I can; not because I matter, but because my child does matter to God and to me.   I believe it’s important for her to have those experiences that can only come from organized religion.

In closing, it is my hope that your experiences in organized religion have been better than mine.   I hope your congregational experiences have left you with a great feeling about church and not feeling empty and bitter because, my friend, whether you matter in church or not, you do matter to God.

Thanks for reading! 

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Vacations, Relocations, & Bittersweet Symphonies

Last week we took a family vacation to Florida.  We had a really fun time.  It was all five of us plus Morganne’s boyfriend she’s been seeing for 10 months, James.  He’s an amazing boyfriend for her.  He fits right in with all the Alexander family dysfunction yet brings no dysfunction of his own to the tribe.  He never complains and is always just so easy going.

The first four days of the vacation were wonderful. There was typical Florida weather (hot but not too hot with the gulf breeze blowing), sugary white sand, and beautiful ocean waves.  On the downside, for some reason, there were lots and lots of jellyfish.  I had never seen a jellyfish in person before, but I spotted several and one wayward jellyfish actually stung Morganne. It left a pretty nasty mark on her leg and severe pain for quite awhile.  If you’ve ever seen the “Friends” episode where the jellyfish stung Monica and Joey peed on her leg to ease the pain, we did contemplate whether or not someone should relieve himself or herself upon poor Morganne’s leg.  After researching the issue on numerous iPhones, we found that vinegar or salt water are probably better options to ease the pain.  The urine might work depending upon how well hydrated the urinator was (the less hydrated, probably the better according to our 5 independent iPhone researchers.)  Another factor with the urine is that although urine itself is sterile, it would have to pass through someone’s urethra to get to her leg.  Urethra, apparently, are often filled with bacteria which render the urine non-sterile and might cause a nasty infection.  In the end, we didn’t use urine or saltwater or vinegar.  We just gave her some ibuprofen and went out for a large carby dinner and she was much better the next day.

After day 4 of the vacation, things went way downhill with the weather.  In Florida, it rains a little a lot of the time.  It will cloud up and rain for 30 minutes or so and then the sun will come back out.  So on day 5, it started raining.  Not a typical Florida rain, but drenching down pouring rain almost continuously.  It continued for 3 days and there really wasn’t much to do.  The traffic was horrible and it was difficult to get anywhere because everyone was trying to go to all the same places.  A trip to the outlet mall that had taken us 30 minutes a few days before, took us over 2 hours with the traffic.  Highways looked more like parking lots.  We finally just gave up and came home a day early due to the continued rainy forecast.

We got home last night and today my biggest baby girl moved out of the house.  We’ve known for months she was moving in July, but like the vacation, it was a very bittersweet day in my life.  I can’t believe she is old enough to leave home.  She’s not going too far, just to an apartment in Fayetteville with a friend.  She is transferring from NWACC to U of A in the fall.  I am excited for her, scared for her, and sad for me. Bittersweetness. I know she will be fine, but in the back of my mind I constantly wonder what things I have forgotten to teach her or tell her, what motherly wisdom have I failed to impart upon this precious child of mine?  I guess we shall soon find out.

My hope is that she will learn many useful lessons and embark upon fabulous endeavors.  Funds will be an issue so I guess the endeavors she embarks upon will be somewhat less than fabulous, but I hope she has fun while keeping her grace, honor, sense and sensibility.  She works about 30 hours a week as a pharmacy technician.  Her father and I will contribute some to her expenses, paying the portion of her tuition that the lottery scholarship doesn’t cover and such.  By the way, if you ever buy lottery tickets in the state of Arkansas, thank you so much for funding my daughter’s higher education! Personally, I have never bought one, but I appreciate those who do.  It helps me a lot.

I think back to when I was her age.  I can remember thinking I knew so much of the world, but have realized throughout my life I actually knew very little.  I never lived on my own, never had the away from home college experience.  I’m sure it’s a great experience, but it wasn’t what I chose.  I think if I had gone that route, I would have failed due to my extreme lack of self-confidence at that age.   I am of the opinion we (society, high schools, parents) push youngsters into believing the away from home straight after high school is the type of experience they have to want in order to be “correct” or succeed past high school.  In fact, when Morganne was in 9th grade, she mentioned to her BHS counselor she wanted to go to community college.  The conversation that followed was not pleasant.  The counselor told her basically that she should have higher aspirations for herself and that community college isn’t real college.  As a disclaimer here, I’m in no way saying the kids who earn a gazillion dollars in scholarships based on their above average intelligence and all those advanced placement classes they took shouldn’t be off to college.  Of course they should!  I’m just saying maybe somewhere out there it should be acceptable for kids to choose something else.  In fact, it should be encouraged for some.  Some kids should go to community college for a year or two.  I’m so thankful Morganne had the wisdom to want to be home another year.  Some kids are ready for the away from home experience at that age and do fabulously.  Some are not ready for one reason or another and fail.  I’m extremely happy with the choice she made to stay home for a year and think she made a decision that showed maturity and wisdom past her years.

Being our first-born child, she was of course “an experiment.”  She was planned and dreamed of.  I read the What to Expect When You’re Expecting book cover to cover.  I then referenced back to it the whole time I was pregnant.  Unfortunately, the labor, the childbirth, the infancy stage was nothing like the book had said it would be. That’s a story of its own, but I sought and took advice from all the parenting experts- Dr. Spock, Dr. Sears, etc. The hospital told me to wake her up every three hours at night to feed her to prevent jaundice, so that’s what I did.  Imagine my dismay when I had to fight to stay awake and fight to keep her awake in the middle of the night to feed her for several nights and then----she got jaundice anyway.   I subscribed to Parents magazine.  I faithfully took her to all the advised doctor appointments.  I dressed her in ridiculous ruffled dresses.  I soon learned though that Morganne Paige Alexander was her own unique person and didn’t fit into any of the prescribed models.  She is a delightful person who has difficulties in math, but excels in language and reading. She has an excellent memory.  She makes up songs and stories.  She talks to herself in the shower (we used to say she was going to her “meeting” when she took a shower because within a few minutes she would be in intense conversation with herself.)  You could never quite make out what she was saying, but no doubt it was of high importance.   She has a messy room and a messy car, but will go out of her way to help someone she cares about.  She is more like her dad than me.  As far as raising children goes, she has been a fairly easy one.

So to my darling daughter, I love you.  I miss you already.  Although you probably won’t ever want to and I hope you never have to, you’re always welcome to move back home.  One piece of advice I can offer you is to choose being kind over being right, but (as your dad would say) never allow your kindness to be mistaken for weakness.  Godspeed, my love.  Life is a bittersweet symphony, but you already knew that.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Computer technology.....I don't think those words together even existed in my early life.  I learned to type on a manual typewriter (actually it's not even called "typing"'s "keyboarding" now.)  The typewriters we had in high school were huge and heavy.  They required "ribbons" and every time you wanted to move from one line to the next, you had to push this huge silver bar on the top.  When we were seniors in high school in the advanced business classes, we got the privilege of using the "IBM Correcting Selectric" typewriter.  Those things were amazing!  They were electric and they corrected on their own by pressing the back button, although most of the time they didn't have the correction cartridge in them so you were forced to revert to "White Out" or those little strips with powdery white stuff on the back.

We had a few computers at my school.  They were "Apple II C's."  I'm not sure what their real purpose was, but in those advanced business classes, we were taught how to write a program in "BASIC" where you wrote many, many lines of text on the screen and if you got everything just right, it would display some word on the screen...something like "hi" or something.  I never got to see the word because I always had too many typo's in my program.  It wasn't very rewarding.

I took a class called "shorthand" in school, although I was never very good at it. Shorthand was a class where you learned to write things in shortened form.  The purpose of the class was so that you could learn to take less time writing things so that you could go into your males boss's office wearing your short skirt while taking him coffee and take notes on the letter he dictates to you then go back to your desk and type the letter in duplicate or triplicate using carbon paper before you went out to pick up his dry cleaning, his lunch, his wife's birthday present and some flowers for his lover.

 We played video games on the "Atari."   I had a "Bee Gees" record player and 8 track tapes.  I was in high school before we got cable tv or a microwave.  I was 30 years old when I got my first cell phone.  My older 2 children both got a cell phone at 10.  I look at my children now and everything they can do related to technology.  They are not scared or intimidated by it at all and they can usually figure out anything they need to know faster than I can.  I think this is true of all kids growing up now.

Thinking back, people the age of my grandparents have basically no technology skills or aptitude for technology.  That's the reason they sell those cell phones called "jitterbugs" on the late night tv commercials.  If you've never seen one, a jitterbug is a cell phone with really large buttons that will only make calls.

People in my mom's generation for the most part can embrace technology and can learn to do things but for the most part, they seem intimidated by it a little.  People in my generation are somewhere in between.  We learn things more quickly and some have a great aptitude for technology that has been learned somewhere besides school...self taught or learning through trial and error.  I am somewhat intimidated by technology although I generally find that I know more than I think I know.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Godspeed, O Tiny Meteorologists!

Since I last blogged I have continued my New Year's resolution to drink more wine.  It is working out pretty well.  I have discovered several things.  I am not a fan of "good" red wine.  The only red wine I like is red moscato and some sweet red wine made by "Mad Housewife."  I have discovered my favorite wines are of the riesling grape varieties.  I have been drinking wine probably 3  nights of the week since the beginning of 2013 depending on the children's activities for the week.  I never drink any wine if I have to drive anywhere.  I am never quite sure how it will affect me from one day to the next (I guess it depends on my calorie intake for the day because I don't routinely eat in the evening) but sometimes I would probably be ok for most activities after one glass of wine, but I would never assume I'd be ok to drive.  I take driving very seriously not only  for myself and my passengers but also for others on the road.  I don't believe you should ever drive after drinking any alcohol.  I never text and drive either! The most I ever drink is 2 glasses in a night.  I was concerned for a few days that maybe I was becoming an alcoholic, but I looked up the criteria and I fit none of it.  I guess I like the wine thing because it's a hobby I don't have to share with the children (they know about my wine because I think it's wrong to hide things like that) but it's mine.  It belongs to me and that makes me happy to have something of my own besides dirty laundry and floor cleaning!  Plus I'm pretty sure a glass of wine counts as a serving of fruit, doesn't it?

Another thing that's happened since my last blog is that I've gained 5 pounds.  Dang!  Never wanted that to happen.  One might blame it on the additional calories from the wine intake, but I really think it's from my crappy eating habits.  I need to work on that.  Actually, I have been working on working out with some of my work friends after work as often as we can.  Haven't really noticed any difference but it makes me feel better to be doing it.

Also, since my last blog, my "O" key has fallen off my  crappy laptop where I write blogs!  That's just horrible!  You never know how much you actually use the letter "O" until it's gone.  Every "O"  I type now has to be this super exaggerated movement of the right ring finger rather than the seamless flow of thoughts  onto the keyboard like it used to be.  I sure do miss my "O."

What I really wanted to talk about today though is hummingbirds!  I love them so much and I think you should too.  The only way to get to know them is to start feeding them.  They have not migrated here yet for the spring, but they will soon.  When they do (usually by April 15 - although I have seen them as early as March 21) you will know for sure it is spring and winter is behind us.  They are far more reliable than meteorologists.  They will not arrive until it is safe for them to do so.  They come back to the same place every year, so once you have gotten some established at your homestead, you will have some friends for life from them and their descendants.

There are so many interesting things about hummingbirds.  We only have one variety here in Northwest Arkansas - the ruby throat.  The males have a ruby colored throat and females look just like the males except not as pretty - they don't have ruby colored throats.  Actually it's true of all birds that the males are more colorful and prettier than the females.  For example, all of the "red bird - Cardinals" are male.  The females have the same shape, but only a little red on their bodies.

My grandmother taught me about feeding hummingbirds.  Here are some things she taught me that I would like to share with you:
*You should make your own food - "nectar."  It's cheaper than store bought and the birds like it better.
*To make your own hummingbird nectar, just boil some water on the stove, turn it off and then add sugar (real sugar) and stir until the sugar is mixed in.  At the beginning of the season, you will attract more birds if you make the mixture about 4 parts sugar to 1 part water.  As the season goes along, you can reduce the sugar.  Once they've gotten accustomed to feeding at your feeder, they will continue to feed there.
*While hummingbirds are territorial in a sense (you will often see them fighting at the feeders) they will all drink from the same feeder.  I have counted as many as 26 at one of my feeders at a time.  This will happen often in the evenings before sunset as they prepare to rest for the night.
*You should have several feeders spread about to give them ample opportunities to eat.
*Fill your feeders as they empty them.  It is actually a commitment on your part and it is quite cruel if you are not going to be consistent in your feedings.
*Hummingbirds are not attracted to the color red, but wasps are!  This is a little humorous because most feeders have red on them and the nectar you buy is usually red.   To keep wasps off your feeders, simply get a paper towel with some vegetable oil on it and rub the oil on the feeding spots.  Wasps will stay away, but it has no effect on the birds.  Don't ever spray insecticides near hummingbird feeders!  If ants are a problem, you can also grease the pole or whatever the feeder is hanging on with vegetable oil.

These are my grandmother's basic tips on attracting and feeding hummingbirds.  These tiny birds really are worth your time and energy.  You might thank me for these tips on some hot summer night when you are watching the birds fill up for the night while drinking your wine and contemplating the problems in your life such as your missing "O" key or your diet and fitness routine.  Try  them and you'll see!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Fermented Grapes of my Nocturnal Wrath

I wrote my first check of 2013 today.  I was very focused on not writing 2012 so for this time, I got it right.  I know, however, in the near future I will write the date as 2012 again.  This trend will continue for me the next several times I write the date until I ultimately get it spot on as 2013 every time   This will occur probably sometime in late February or early March.  I know this because it happens to me every year.  I think I am not the only one who does this so I don't feel too bad about it and don't see it as a sign of the dreaded Alzheimer's disease I worry about being plagued with almost everyday when I forget something or mess up some simple task I have done a gazillion times.

Along with errors in writing the date, every year I contemplate the "New Year's Resolution" issue.  To resolute or not to resolute, it's the ultimate January question.  Usually my resolute is not to resolute and if I do resolute, I don't tell others about it.  I know we are more likely to keep resolutions if we involve others to cheer us on and track our progress with us  but there is another side to consider.  If I involve others in things I want to improve about myself and I fail to improve myself, I either have to admit my failure,  avoid the person so they won't cheer for me or I have to lie to them.  I don't like admitting failure, listening to undeserved cheers from my personal paparazzi, or lying to people.  So if I do resolute for the year, I generally keep it to myself. I prefer to try to improve myself as I go along throughout the year whether it is January or July or December.  If something's "broke," I try to fix it when it's "broke."   Of course, I always have a lot of areas I am privately working on and struggling with as I suppose most of us do.

This year on New Year's Day, I did resolve to try something new.  My new thing I am trying is to become more knowledgeable and appreciative of wine and the wine industry in general. I am intrigued by wine.  There are so many kinds and it is so intimidating yet fascinating to me.  My realization for this came to me at a recent dinner at a restaurant when ordering wine was what the Romans were doing... so when in Rome... I just stared at that menu and had no clue.  Do I order something I can easily pronounce at $18.00 a glass? Do I go with the cheapest one at $10.50 a glass even though I will just have to point at it because I have no idea what it's called?  Do I order red wine because that's what the menu suggests with my entree and it's really pretty in the glass even though I'm pretty sure I don't like it or do I order something in the white zinfandel family because I know I can drink it? I finally settled in the mid price range white zin family with a name I could pronounce. It was pretty good actually. It was quite potent.  I was feeling a little light headed by the time the food arrived after only consuming about half the glass.  Along with the restaurant experience, another thing that caused the resolve on the wine issue was that my dishwasher has these little shelves in the top rack that flip down and are designed to hold stemware to wash.  I never use them because who wants to drink Diet Coke from stemware?  One would be thought a fool if one were to do so.  Finally, we've all heard that drinking a glass of wine each day can be good for your health.  This medical finding allows people of my age and stature (middle aged women with kids) to consume wine every day and not be thought of badly whereas if they were shooting whiskey or slamming shots of tequila everyday, they would be thought of as a "lush."

About 4:00 in the afternoon on January 1, we snuck off with 2/3 of the children in tow to the Wal Mart in Jane, Missouri to make our wine purchase. Thanks to the voters of Benton County, I will not have to sneak off to Missouri to purchase wine sometime in the near future because we have officially become a wet county as of January 1.  Anyway, after arriving at the Wal Mart, we sent the children off on a mission to procure other items on the shopping list while we began our search for smashed, rotten grapes in a nice bottle.  I must say, the selection was intimidating to say the least. I would guess they had close to 500 different wines in the store.  I envied their collection.  There was everything from that classy Boone's Farm variety at less than $3 a bottle to bottles nearing $100 (that's just for the one bottle.)  Luckily "there's an app for that"....literally, there is an app called "Hello Vino."  I downloaded it right there in the Wal Mart wine store.  It asked me a few questions and within a couple of minutes I had recommendations for 4 different chardonnays  the app thought I might like right there on my Iphone 5. I could only find one of the wines listed, but it was the one I wanted anyway.  It was called "Middle Sister Smarty Pants Chardonnay."  I chose that one because I thought  at least if the wine thing doesn't work out, Macy (middle Alexander sister) will have a cool bottle signifying her sibling relationship she can keep.  Rusty picked out a bottle of some kind of red wine and I grabbed a $5 bottle of "Arbor Mist Melon" because it was cheap and said it was melony.

We drove home and put the wine in the fridge.  Although red wine is normally supposed to be served near room temperature, we refrigerated it anyway.  We had the traditional New Year's black eyed pea meal, then we got the wine out.  It was all very exciting.  We stood in the kitchen trying to decide what to drink and all of the sudden came to the realization --we do not own a corkscrew!  Wow!  How can this be?  Three bottles and not a way to open them! Suddenly I made an observation about the $5 Arbor Mist wine, it comes with a screw off lid.  No worries!  I was back in business.  I poured the first glass.  It tasted quite good.  I finished the first full glass and was surprised to be experiencing none of the lightheadedness I had experienced at the restaurant with even a smaller amount.  It was at this point I learned that different wine has different percentages of alcohol content.  This is due to how ripe the grapes are when they are picked.  I have learned so much already!  My Arbor Mist was 6% alcohol by volume.  This is in the " very low" area as far as alcohol content for wine.  In fact under 12.5% is very low for alcohol content in wine so my Arbor Mist was in the extremely low range.  This was a little disappointing to me, but not disappointing enough to deter me from another glass and finally just throwing down the whole bottle ---I was using stemware and did not drink it from the actual bottle.  Other than a few moments near the end of the second glass, I never felt anything like lightheadedness from the wine like I had in the restaurant.

The evening went on and eventually it was time for bed.  I lay in bed for awhile. was 1:00 and I wasn't asleep, wasn't even sleepy.  It's ok I thought.   This is unusual for me, but I don't have to work tomorrow.  I amused myself with my own thoughts and worried about early onset Alzheimer's for awhile as I know changes in sleep patterns can be an early symptom  and it became 1:30 then 2:00 then 2:30 and so on.  At 3:00 I got up and went to the kitchen and ate a bunch of cookies to try to console myself.  At 3:30, I got back up to brush and floss my teeth because the cookies had left a weird filmy feeling in my mouth.  At 4:00 I went on a tour of the house to check for fires and intruders and worried about OCD, paranoia, and anxiety disorders for awhile.  At 4:30, I got back up and took 2 Benadryl.  I don't remember looking at the clock again and woke up for the day a little after 9:00.  It could be coincidence, but I blame my failure to sleep on my success at consuming an entire bottle of cheap wine.

I am still interested in the wine industry and I plan to drink some now and then, but I haven't had any since January 1 and don't plan to have any for the next few days.  I did purchase a corkscrew so I will at some point open the Middle Sister Smarty Pants Chardonnay.  I texted a friend of mine who is a wine enthusiast of sorts and she is going to work on a list of wines she thinks I might like for my next "tour de Wal Mart wine shop."

This brings me to my final New Year's resolution for the year which can be summed up in a quote by Epictetus, the ancient Greek sage and stoic philosopher, "If one oversteps the bounds of moderation the greatest pleasures cease to please."

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

I haven't written on this blog in awhile.  Blame it on my life I guess, but it gets pretty crazy keeping up with work, the family, the poodles, the housework, etc.  I just have some random, meandering thoughts to share.

  • Why can't I write "Xmas" instead of Christmas?  I know I have just lost some readers who are totally offended and will proclaim me as a blasphemer and may never speak to me again for the "Xmas" thing.   I hate that, but, just for something to think about, I want to share one thing I remember learning in my expensive tenure at a learning institution known as John Brown University.  If I remember correctly, I was receiving what is known as a "Christian Liberal Arts" education.  Anyway, if I gained nothing else from the  18 hours of Bible classes I took, I did glean the fact the the letter "x" is the symbol for Christ in the Greek language - the language in which the New Testament was originally written.  I can't speak for everyone who uses the Xmas word, but for me it's just a shorter way to say it in a text or informal writing.  I wouldn't use it on an actual Xmas card or in a group email, but I will continue to write or say "Xmas."  I hope you will not be too offended. It's not intended to b
  • Why do people ask me to repost stuff on Facebook?  Have you ever seen one of those facebook posts that says something like "share if you love (Jesus, your mother, your child, your grandmother)?"  It will go on to say that if you don't  "share" or "like" the post you will go to Hell or some significant person in your life will die simply because you don't care enough to "like" or "share."  I have recently learned that posts of this type are designed as scams to generate and validate  facebook users' information or gain other information about the person liking or sharing.  I almost never like or share a facebook post I don't know the owner of, but it seems to be a trend among some facebook users to like and share almost everything they see.
  • Vacuum envy.  For Xmas, I got a Dyson vacuum cleaner.  Don't be jealous, we are very practical people around here.  I have wanted one for several years, but they are so expensive I wasn't willing to pay the price.  Well friends, I have to tell you, the Dyson is a superior product and well worth the money you spend.  I guess we shall see how long it lasts to determine its worth in the long run, but normally it just takes me about a year to tear up a vacuum cleaner so if it lasts 2 years, it will be money well spent.  How sad am I that I am sitting around on a Friday night writing about how much I love my vacuum cleaner?  Does it make me even sadder that there is just about nothing else I'd rather be doing?
  • A ban on firearms? Without getting too far into my personal beliefs or yours on the right to own a weapon that shoots, if they repeal the second amendment or issue a ban on firearms, how will they get the crazy, antisocial, psychotic,  sociopath, or just plain weird people to give their weapons up?  My guess is it would just keep the honest people honest like locks on doors.  I personally don't believe a ban on firearms would keep the crazies from going around shooting innocent people in schools, malls, or wherever.  They would keep their weapons while honest, law abiding citizens lined up to turn theirs in out of fear of punishment.  I do think if the media stopped reporting so sagaciously and tenaciously on these tragedies, it might be a deterrent from future crazies shooting people.  I watch/read the news and like to stay informed, but it seems whatever they are reporting on stays in our minds.  When you think about the fact the people generally tend to make decisions based on the payoff for themselves (fear of loss/hope for gain) you have to consider that pretty much a shooter's only payoff is the notoriety he/she receives from reports on the incident even if they are dead themselves when they receive the notoriety.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Mi Abuela

I lost my grandmother 5 years ago today on August 17, 2007.  She had a stroke on August 15.  They took her to the hospital and put her on life support, but brain scans showed she had no brain function so they disconnected her from life support and she lived for two more days.  I was not there at the time she actually passed, but neither was she, really.  For all practical purposes she departed this life on August 15.  She was 92 at the time.  She would have been 93 if she had lived 7 more days.

I miss my grandmother and I think about her daily.  She was the stay at home mother of 5 daughters and the wife of a rural mail carrier.  She was a tiny little woman with the most beautiful white hair.  You might think a person like that would not have much in the way of wisdom to impart, but she lived through a lot - The Great Depression, WWII, delivering 5 children (some of them at home; all without pain relief.) She taught me some very important lessons in my life.  Below are a few.

  • People will visit - you should make food.  If you were privileged enough to dine at Pauline Shanklin's table, you know what I'm talking about.  She was a fabulous cook.  She cooked I guess what you would call "country" food.  There was always homemade bread or rolls and homemade cinnamon rolls with this icing she made from leftover coffee and powdered sugar and I don't know what else, but it was divine and I have yet to eat a cinnamon roll as good as hers.  In fact, when she had the stroke that day, she was in the middle of taking a pan of homemade rolls she had made out of the oven and she just fell over dropping the rolls and all.  She had made them for my mother to eat on her daily visit to her apartment where she lived alone with no assistance.  Occasionally she would make homemade biscuits instead of rolls, but you should never call a roll a biscuit or vice versa because they are 2 totally different things and she would tell you just that if you asked for a biscuit when rolls were being served.  I lived my entire life thinking what a gracious hostess she was, and she was.  It was only recently while mumbling a lot of bad words out of frustration during creation of a large spread of food for a bunch of people that I realized there had to be times when she was tired or didn't want to cook and wanted to tell everyone to go eat some cereal, but she never expressed it.  To quote a line from a country song, she was like a "...Sunday morning full of grace and full of Jesus."  (Lee Brice, Hard to Love)
  • Going to church does not make you a Christian, but you should go anyway.  When I see that little thing people put on Facebook all the time that says something like "going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than standing in the garage makes you a car" I get a little irritated.  Of course going to church does not make you a Christian, but what does that have to do with standing in a garage?  I understand the premise of the little saying, but what I'm saying is that if you are a Christian anyway and that is why you are going to church, you are probably going to get better at it if you go to church than if you don't. If you're just pretending about the whole thing, you probably have other issues on which you should work.  I realize there are people who attend church with ulterior motives.  I guess that's a problem.  But are there people standing in garages thinking they will become cars?  That would be an even bigger problem.  Anyway, Grandma always expected us to be in church and she was always in church.  Having grown up that way, I get disappointed in myself when I miss church -which I've done a lot of lately.  Perhaps it's guilt, but it can't be all bad to feel that way.
  • Women, girls, females, they will never stop gossiping and being petty, but you should stop.  I remember a story Grandma told my sister-in-law.  She must have been about 85 at the time (grandma - not sister-in-law) But my sister-in-law was complaining about some girls she worked with talking behind her back and being petty and mean.  Grandma told her that no matter how old you get it never stops and that very day some ladies in her Sunday School class were gossiping and talking about another lady who was not present at the time. This was surprising to me.  I guess I assumed there was a time we would all "age out" of the pettiness and ugliness system but there's not I guess.
There is so much more that I miss about her, but I'll save it for another time.  Of course I wish I could have seen her and talked to her just one more time before she died, but she knew I loved her and I know she loved me.

Thanks for reading.