Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Not Chicken...

I am a member of an evangelical church; you know, one of those "born again" believers.  I have no doubt that this post may ruffle a few feathers (bad pun), but I know where my faith is placed and I am not concerned.  What I am concerned about is the recent Chik-fil-a brouhaha and upcoming counter-protest tomorrow, August 1st.  I won't be joining you at the counter.  It's not that I don't care for their sandwiches (which I don't), or that I can't afford it (which I could).  It's simply that I think this gesture is misguided at best, and simply wrong in so many ways.

There's no doubt that Mr. Cathy, owner of Chik-fil-a is entitled to his opinion, however inelegantly he phrased it.  So, too, are those who decry him as intolerant.  This lack of tolerance on both sides of the issue is getting to be somewhat annoying.  You know it's a problem when you have to remind people that our country was founded on the principle of free speech, a fact which guarantees that you often have to hear things you don't agree with.  What is important is that Mr. Cathy follows the law, and so far, no one has been able to say that he either refuses to hire or serve gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered individuals.  To my knowledge, if you are covered sufficiently to be granted access to a restaurant (do people actually read those signs anymore?) and you have the money, you can eat as much of Mr. Cathy's chicken as you like.  If you choose to take your business elsewhere, that is your choice as well.

What concerns me, however, is this protest in the name of Christianity under the guise of standing up for "family values".  Somehow, I just don't see this as something Jesus would either condone, or participate in.  You could rationalize it as some sort of "love your neighbors" exercise, except it's more of a "love your brother" action.  Our neighbors are exactly the people who don't necessarily agree with us, and by rubbing it in their faces that we think they are somehow less than, we simply don't convey a whole lot of Christian love.

Chik-fil-a is not hurting for business.  The patrons who are jumping to support this restaurant chain are not hurting for cash. - they can well afford to buy their family members chicken sandwiches and waffle fries as a form of protest.  Mind you, I have nothing against supporting restaurants.  As a restaurant manager, my husband has provided well for our family over the past 38 years, and I appreciate the hard work that restaurant employees do.  I am blessed to be so fortunate.

But, in the meantime, many families in our state are struggling with the sudden cessation of their state cash assistance, along with a persistent inability to find work.  I'm not saying that all of these families are perfect and deserve our help, but then Christ did not come for the perfect, but the imperfect.  And within these families are children.  Even if you don't like their parents, you said you were pro-life, and these are important little lives.  Our little neighbors, if you will.

It's easy to look at them and think that if they wanted to, they could work.  Some could.  Many try and cannot find work that will feed their family, because the minute they find work, their food stamps and insurance stop.  Instantly.  You try explaining to a mother that her part-time job that pays barely $100 a week is sufficient to cover food, clothing, rent, and child care.  Child care.  Another bone of contention with me.  In the name of family values, Christian churches continue to resist providing supportive and affordable day care for families, simply because they wouldn't want to encourage any mother to go to work. It seems to be rather a Catch-22 to me, but that's just my perspective.  I've heard it said that single moms and their children are the "widows and orphans" of the modern age.  How do we justify ignoring them when there is an explicit Biblical command to care for them? 

So, how did a protest over different views on GLBT issues become one about children?  Because, if you're going to invoke the "family values" phrase, you'd better mean it.  All of it.  And not just when it's convenient.  Simply put, loving your neighbors isn't, nor was it meant to be, easy.  It was meant to be the mark of a Christian.  And somehow, I think we've failed miserably.

The views expressed in this post are mine alone.  I may regret my grammar in the morning, but little else.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Mommy's Heart Went POP!

Every mom or dad who reads to their young children knows certain books by heart.  It's inevitable that your child will develop an addiction to one particular book.  Said book will be fairly innocuous in the beginning, but even the best of books can sometimes evoke an "oh, no, not again" reaction.  This book is not one of them.

Books that speak to the heart (no pun intended) are my favorite.  During my many years of working with young children, I truly appreciated authors and illustrators who were able to craft a story that spoke to both young and old alike.  No story is value-free and parents and educators should search for the ones that speak to the core values we honor. "Mommy's Heart Went POP!" is such a book.  Lovingly written and beautifully illustrated, this story speaks not only to the subject of interracial adoption and love, but to the simple love that all parents and children can understand.

I am proud to have trusted my instinct and supported this book before it was printed.  I highly recommend it, not just for those families who can relate to the adoption issue, but for parents and educators of young children.  Click on the link to the side of this blog if you wish to purchase one.  All proceeds from your purchase will go to help bring another child home to their forever family.  I'm so excited about this book that I've contacted the Dollywood Foundation to suggest that they consider this book for their Imagination Library!  It's that good.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

He thinks I'm smart!

He is almost fourteen, a whiz at video games, loves to read his Kindle, wears shorts in the winter, and I can't remember the last time he wore a coat.  He can alternately drive his sisters crazy and then make lunch for them when no one asks him to.  He can be moody one minute and intellectually inquisitive the next.  He's smart, gentle, creative, funny, and all man/boy.  He's my grandson, and he thinks I'm super smart. 

What is it about your first grandson -  that his words can strike a place in your heart where no one else has been able to make a dent?  The past five-plus years I've been making up for lost time, earning first my bachelor's degree, and now finishing up my master's.  I still go into every single test or paper with apprehension about my grades; wanting perfection and fearing the worst.  I don't feel smart, or I didn't, until my daughter relayed his comment.  He thinks I'm smart!

Ben, I love you, and I think you're smart, too.  You will deny it, much as I do to myself.  But being smart takes many forms, and not all of them mean that school work will come easy.  When you find something you love, make the commitment to put your heart and soul into it.  Study.  Study some more.  And then for good measure, study again.  Your friends will moan and groan and you'll be tempted to give in and join them.  Go ahead! Moan along with them, and then go home and study.  (It's the little secret that successful people have!)

Take advantage of any help along the way.  Do you know someone who excels in that field?  Make friends with them and pick their brain.  Panicking about a big exam?  Use study helps, just as I did.  There are a lot of them, ranging from study books, audio tapes and even online helps such as SAT tutor designed to help you review things you learned some time ago.  I spent three months listening to audio files every spare moment to prepare for a comprehensive exam I needed to pass.  It was worth every single minute. You'll hear lots of people say that such-and-such wasn't worth it, and they're probably right.  The worth of the material lies in the amount of work one does. There's no substitute for plain hard work.  The prep material simply pulls it all into one place for you to review what you already know.  The reward comes in being able to do what you enjoy doing, and knowing that you do it well.

So, Ben, your words about me are precious, and I love that they came from you.  Someday, your grandson will say the same about you, I'm sure of it!

Disclaimer: I am being compensated for the link in my post, but not for any endorsement, either explicit or implied.  I write what I think, and my opinions are my own, such as they are.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Dealing with Reality

We've lived in our little row house for three years now, and while the sellers had done some major fix-ups (yes, I appreciate my new kitchen appliances!) including a nice neutral paint job, I've been wanting to replace the vinyl flooring and blinds from the beginning.  It's not that they're awful - well, the floor is cheap vinyl and difficult to keep clean - but the narrow-slat blinds just do not go with the style of house. 

I've accepted reality.  There is no money for flooring or blinds.  And really, they aren't all that bad.  Put into perspective, at least I have flooring and blinds!  But today I did something that accepted the reality that my remodeling plans are on indefinite hold - I finally shortened the bathroom blinds.  One down.... let's not talk about how many are remaining - I prefer to end the day on an upbeat.

And, I bought a steam cleaner for the vinyl flooring.  Numerous friends have raved over theirs, but I've been holding off, but after trying one at my daughter's house, I was sold.  That, and no matter what I do, I cannot get these floors clean, even if I use enough chemicals to kick start my asthma.

Today, I accepted reality.  It really isn't all that bad.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Thoughts of Christmas and Serendipity

I have 8 grandchildren and 2 honorary grands... that makes for 10 Christmas gifts (let's not even talk about birthdays right now, okay?) and a major dent in the budget.  Oh.  What budget?  Did I mention I'm in grad school and the upcoming year is an unpaid practicum and internship?  As. in. zero. dollars.

So, if you will recall an earlier post, I have recently decided to take one evening and enjoy time with friends and teach them how to knit.  Remarkably, I must be a great teacher (or they are all knitting savants) because they're pretty much independent and taking off in all different directions!  I could sit here and feel useless, or I can make myself useful and knit Christmas gifts for everyone!  Now, some of you (the knitters) are thinking "of course!" and the rest of you are thinking "are you crazy, girl?"  Yup.  I'm crazy.  And so it began.

With some yarn I had purchased years ago, I began by creating a poncho pattern to fit two of the girls.  That's what you do when you can't find what you want.  Of course, two cable ponchos later, I realized I had a bit of yarn left over AND the pattern I wanted suddenly appeared.  Oh, well.  With the extra yarn?.  Presto! Matching ponchos for their American Girl doll wannabes. 

Now on to the little ones.  A trip to the store was disappointing as the yarn I wanted was out of my price range, and the available yarn was - well - yuck.  Back home, I contented myself with the idea of looking online when my husband made an amazing find.  While searching for something in the nether regions of the third floor we rather optimistically call the "front spare room", he came across a bag that I had forgotten all about.  Several years ago, upon my mother's passing, my sisters dumped all of her yarn and miscellaneous knitting and craft materials at my house.  Apparently, people who don't knit don't like yarn.  Who knew?  Anyway, this wasn't just any ordinary bag of yarn.  It was an entire bag of ecru colored cotton yarn - enough to make a queen sized bedspread!  Oh, boy.  Cotton yarn. Serendipity.  Lots of it.  Lots and lots and lots of it!  Do you realize how many sweaters I can get out of that bag?  Me neither, but I'm working on it.  After consulting with Facebook friends and the mother of the children in question, this pattern by Sirdar was chosen and knitting began.  I'm in heaven.  And wondering what delightful buttons I can find to add to the sweaters.  Merry Christmas!  Happy Spring!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Things I have learned today:

Things I have learned today:
1. Oil is not "oil" - it's red kerosene
2. If you let your "oil" tank run dry, however inadvertently, it will exact revenge  on you by refusing to restart. (they claim it is air in the lines, but I think it's deliberate revenge...)
3. It is possible to find instructions on the internet on how to bleed the lines and restart the furnace.
4. Furnaces are stubborn things; it is possible to bleed it more than the recommended three times and NOT call for a service call - your furnace will not blow up.
5. Kerosene kills your hands (well, I knew that one already)
6. It would have been helpful if I had known to stay home so that the oil delivery man would've started it for FREE.  We won't mention who forgot to tell me this useful tidbit of knowledge.  :)
7. It was definitely worth the aggravation of restarting the furnace on my own because I had a delightful morning of coffee with a good friend.
And as we know, any excuse for coffee is a good thing.  :)

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Soup Redux

Making soup is usually an easy and successful task - it's really hard to mess up soup. However, when you do so, and inadvertently freeze the remainder, you are doomed to occasionally heat up a serving of your disaster to eat. Tonight is one of those nights. I am tempted to toss all portions of soup in my freezer to eliminate this possibility in the future. Because you know, it required a piece of cake (or two) to get the taste out of my mouth. And now I'm full.