Saturday, December 21, 2013

Just like all of us...

Bristol Palin blogs that free speech, and freedom, are sometimes uncomfortable.

She goes on to quote a Time Magazine article who's author's name I missed talking about the political stance one takes when they are offended being to silence their opponent rather than engage in a conversation where both sides may learn something. This is the concluding paragraph she quotes: "G.K. Chesterton said that bigotry is “an incapacity to conceive seriously the alternative to a proposition.” If he is right — and he usually is — then I wonder if the Duck Dynasty fiasco says more about our bigotry than Phil’s."

The past year has seen America ripped apart with polar opposite ideas on race, religion and lifestyle choices -- think Paula Deen, Trayvon Martin, and now Phil Robertson -- with even close friends finding themselves arguing bitterly over who is right.

Or more often, who is wrong.

And yet, I'd guess that, amongst my friends, most believe in God and that the Bible is His recorded word. There we are told one of the greatest of all the commandments is to "love thy neighbor as thyself." I say that loving someone, even unconditionally, doesn't mean you like or approve of everything they do. In that light... I think we'd all do well to stop and consider just what is spewing forth from that hole in our face.

I don't mean only the rabid comments both in support and condemnation for Mr. Robertson though that is what I'm thinking about today. We don't know him. Or at least I don't know him. And one outrageously coarse comment with no context doesn't give me the right to label him as anything.

Who or what he is, is between him and God.

I am among the part of the population who finds the show wildly entertaining and the characters engaging. I know I've seen all of them say stupid things and then turn around and utter the most profound wisdom. They may seem extreme. That's what sells on TV.  But if you look at the overall picture, the Robertsons are pretty normal folk - a mixture of good and bad.

Just like all of us.

There is hate enough to go around in this world...  I'm not sure why we talk about wanting love and acceptance for ourselves and then show our most vile contempt for anyone who makes different choices about their life than we do for ours.  Now and then we hear people say horrific things about women. And I've heard the most outrageously untrue and hateful things about Mormons. And Muslims. And Jews. And Blacks and Hispanics and... Everybody hates somebody! I'm not saying that as justification or to downplay anyone's pain. It's hurtful to be on the receiving end of hate no matter who you are.

But back to Ms. Palin's premise that free speech can be uncomfortable...

Yes, it can.  Free speech is Constitutionally protected in the First Amendment.  Having an opinion is legal.  But this isn't even a free speech issue.  In Mr. Robertson's case, no one has been arrested.  It's an employer telling an employee that their behavior reflected so badly on the company's image that their services are no longer needed.  A&E is well within their rights to make that call.  Mr. Robertson is entitled to his views, even to give them voice.  But that right doesn't protect him from the consequences of choosing to do so.

It's convenient to forget that with choices come consequences.  Consequences that are usually set before the choice is even made.  How often have I been taught that good choices bring happy consequences and bad choices bring unpleasant consequences?

I reap the consequence of each choice I make in a day.  And in any given day some of my choices are good and some are bad.  So do you.

Just like all of us.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Who would you want to talk to?

A few days ago Kelly Gray posted a question on her blog's facebook page, Then I Thought of Home - Kelly Gray, that's given me the opportunity to do some thinking.  She does things like that!  And sometimes I just have to write out my thoughts.  Her question:  "If you could spend time talking with anyone from the Christmas story, anyone other than Jesus because it's a given we would all chose Him, who would you chose? The Brave Mary or protective Joseph, the angels on High, the Inn Keeper, the Wise Men, the shepherds, Gabriel or maybe even find someone who isn't even mentioned in the story. Somebody who was watching from afar... Who would you want to talk to?"

All of the responses I read were from folks who wanted the chance to sit down for some one on one time with Mary.  They wanted to share the experience of motherhood and to know what she knew and how she found the courage to do what she did.  And I admit those are questions I would love to be able to ask her, too.

But if I could only choose one person from the Nativity to have a conversation with...

I'd choose Joseph.

I wrote a little about many of the characters in this post from December 2009.

Then I said about Joseph:  "In Joseph we find an example of a kind and tender man who agreed to raise a child not his own by going forward in marriage to an already pregnant young woman. He faithfully plays a quiet background role. In him, we glimpse into the heart of men who we might call unsung heroes who do their best to live an acceptable life and give meaningful service to those they love but do not seek the notice and praise of the world."

Walking With God by Morgan Weistling

I think we overlook Joseph because there's so very little said about him.  And I kind of think that's the way he'd want it to be even though there is so much to learn from him and the way he chose to conduct himself and his business.  He was engaged to Mary before she conceived Jesus.  He thought he was marrying a virgin bride - that whole virgin thing was a big deal back then.  Not to downplay or poke fun at anyone's modesty or choice of abstinence now... just pointing out that now it's a choice, then it was punishable by death for a woman to be so "unclean."  When Joseph found out that Mary was pregnant he would have been perfectly justified under the law and social norms of his day to demand that she be stoned to death at the city gate.  Yet the scriptures tell us that he sought to have her put away quietly.

Imagine Joseph, his heart broken from thinking she'd found another that she loved enough to give herself to despite the arrangement her family had entered into with him, asking to break the engagement quietly and not draw attention to her condition.  When my feelings are hurt how to be kind is not often the first thought that pops in my mind.  To always react with love is a big lesson I can learn from Joseph's example.

And then the Angel came to him... I'd love to know more about that conversation!  What did Joseph learn that convinced him to move forward with the marriage?  And I have all the same questions for him, that so many would like to ask Mary.  What did you know about Him?  How did you find the courage to step-father the very Son of God?  What did you teach Him?  What did He teach you in the quiet moments you shared simply being father and son?

In this song, I love all the layers of meaning that might be found in the line "I was not His father... He was mine!"

Joseph's Song from The Forgotten Carols
written and performed by Michael McLean

Yes, I'd dearly love to meet Joseph and talk with him for hours about Jesus and the greatest truths he'd ever known!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Mama's Sewing Box

I guess it's sort of a shared childhood memory among people my age for mom's to have used an old cookie tin to store sewing supplies.  Seems that lots of us remember anticipating a cookie and opening the tin to find needles and thread and such.  This is the top my mom's sewing supply tin... a tradition I've chosen to keep alive.  Around the sides it's got the lines of a poem:

Monday's child is fair of face.
Tuesday's child is full of grace.
Wednesday's child is full of woe.
Thursday's child has far to go.
Friday's child is loving and giving.
Saturday's child works hard for a living.
The child that is born on the Sabbath Day,
Is bonny, blythe, good and gay.

Inside there are the treasures...

Many of the smaller items are inside little tins of their own.  There are old tins that once held tea bags.  Some plastic containers that might have been filled with pins.  Even some tiny pieces of tupperware.  And there are at least a dozen pair of scissors that, guessing from their different sizes and shapes, were manufactured for different purposes.

The one tea tin contains the plastic circles used to make pompoms that are even and perfectly round.  Lot's of them!  More, actually, than it looks like in the picture...

And from way back in the day before plastic eggs were widely available at Easter, there are a couple of metal ones.  One of them is home to an assortment of needle threaders.

I've always thought this was the neatest little measuring tape!  Isn't the detail on the case pretty?

Some of the other containers contain pins and needles.  Some of the needles have eyes that are so small I can't even see them and some are so large you could easily thread rug yarn.  And there are pins so tiny I don't even know what they're for and others that have what looks like a glass bead on the top and still more than are heavy and long to hold fabric on the frames for quilting.

In the years it's been mine, I've added some of my own things to the collection like the little embroidery hoop you can see in a couple of the pictures.  I think it was old when I found it in a thrift store 25 years ago because it's made differently than the wooden hoops of today.  It doesn't have the little screw like piece on the outer ring but utilizes a spring to hold your fabric tight between that and the inner ring.

And I've added my collection of surgical implements.  I'm not even sure exactly what names belong to all of them anymore but have found them handy things to have every now and again.  The hemostats (is that what those scissor-shaped pieces that pinch are?) do a great job pulling a needle through a heavy quilt or doll face when it gets stuck and nearly impossible to handle with just my fingers!  And those long tweezer-like things have been great to pick out tiny stitches on a cross-stitch more than once.  Those 3 pieces came from a suture kit once when I needed to have my hand sewn up after a knife slip in the kitchen.  The one farthest right is a staple remover our vet recently gave me when I thought I'd give it a try to remove the staples from Lightning's leg.  Couldn't get Derek to hold him still for me so I didn't do it, but that was the original plan.

Sunday, December 8, 2013


Photo courtesy of Single Dad Laughing's
Facebook post 12/8/13.
When I moved to Georgia one of the very first things Derek did was drag me to the Verizon store to trade in my oh so simple flip phone for a fancy-schmancy 'smart phone.'  And I've hated that phone... It's had some operational issues where it didn't ring with an incoming call and just sent the caller directly to voicemail until they shot me texts askings where the %^&$# I was and why the (&^% I wasn't answering their calls.  And all the functions and apps and alarms and voices and stuff made me feel dumb.  And I felt like a slave with an obligation to see what it was every time the dumb thing said "DROID" in my pocket or purse.

A couple of weeks ago one of the dogs, presumably Gizmo since he has a taste for electronics, found Derek's even smarter smart phone unattended on the table.  He tried to make it his mid-day snack.  Whether he's the one that got it off the table or not, he is the one I found huddled over it on the floor.

And since Derek didn't continue the $6 a month insurance, there's no free replacement...

And since we're broke, buying him another one is out of the question...

And since he needs to carry a phone with him for his work, he's been taking mine.

And you know what?

I'm not even missing the silly thing 95% of the time.  Now and then it would be convenient.  Some may even call it needful since we don't have a landline at home but not being tied to a phone and all the demands it presents has been freeing.  We talked a little about getting me another cheap flip phone and he will use my Android but I'm thinking I might just not get another one at all.

How's that for simplifying life?