R – E – S – P – E – C – T

 

Respect:  1.) To have deferential regard for; esteem.  2.) To treat with propriety or consideration.  3.) To regard as inviolable; avoid intruding upon.  4.) Regard for and appreciation of worth; honor and esteem.  Courteous regard…

          Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about respect.  Who deserves it?  Who doesn’t?  Why or why not?  And mostly, what has happened to it?  A fairly recent experience initiated my pondering…

          A few months ago, I accompanied my husband on a business trip.  I looked forward to meeting some of his out-of-state employees because he speaks highly of his people and treats them with amazing regard.  During the course of the evening, one of his female employees approached and, turning to my husband, asked, “Is this your wife?”  He answered by introducing us.  I smiled and greeted her.  I don’t recall her saying anything to me in return, but she turned to my husband and said, “She’s just a little thing!” 

          I was astonished not only by her disrespect for her boss’s wife (me), but for him, her employer.  In thinking about it the next day on the way home, I had a flashback.  This had happened before.  The exact same statement… in a different state.  Again, it came from one of his female employees.  When he introduced us, she had blurted out, “She’s just a little thing!”  The only difference being that time, while talking to him, she looked me straight in the eye.  It didn’t take any imagination to understand it was a statement of disrespect and detain.

          I am very comfortable with my size me so it wasn’t her reference to my petite-ness which stunned me.  It was her complete lack of manners and knowing it was a deliberate choice on her part.

           Like purchasing a yellow car and then noticing all the other yellow vehicles on the road, the flashback and the more recent occurrence triggered me noticing manners and, in general, respect. 

          It promoted introspection as well. Is it me?  Do I not deserve respect?  Am I arrogant?  How respectful am I to others?   

          My conclusion:  Respect has little or nothing to do with the person receiving or being denied it, and everything to do with the person who gives or withholds it.  It totally reflects on their character!  For example:

        Mother Theresa was known for her respect for the poorest of the poor.  She did not place value on people based on anything but that they were God’s children.  Her reverence for each person, regardless of their station in life, caused her to be one of the most beloved and revered people in the world.

          Another example is the late Princess Diana.  She, too, was known for giving respectful, undivided attention to each person with whom she spoke.  She had a way of making them feel special, important.  It’s unnecessary to reiterate how well-loved Princess Diana was.

          I realize this post easily calls for a Part II, but here’s my summary for now…

          Because being respectful reflects on character, I find myself wondering:  What is the rampant disrespect in our children, ourselves, our leaders, our society, our country, saying?

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CRITICAL NEED FOR PRAYER!

 

 

At this very moment, there is a critical need for prayer for the safety of our troops in Afghanistan.  Whether or not you feel we should be there is not the issue.  God is waiting for us to cry out to Him for HIS intervention.  He knows what needs to happen and it needs to happen now!   We must turn to Him.  Immediately!  Lives are literally depending on our response.

My Dream Job

 

 

I would love to have a job as a bartender.  I realize that tending bar and Christianity don’t seem compatible.  In reality, I guess they aren’t.  I certainly wouldn’t want to be responsible for serving the drink which happened to be one-too-many. 

But I wish it were possible because I love people and I love to alleviate suffering.   Lord knows, there are a lot of hurting people who need a listening ear.  He knows there are hoards of people who long for a place of refuge to hang out.  A place where you can stop in unannounced and stay as long – or as briefly – as you wish.  A place where you can really be yourself and still find acceptance.  A place where you can find support instead of condemnation; encouragement instead of scorn; advocates instead of gossips; and cheerleaders instead of critics.  A place where no one finds your talents and gifts threatening, but are, instead, celebrated.  A place where people have your back, instead of stabbing you in it.  In other words, a safe place.       

I’d whip up batches of my specialties like Venison Stew, Chili, and home made breads.  Some of the beverages on my menu: 

          Living Water

          The Sincere Milk of the Word

          A Cup of Mercy

New Wine

 

For desserts: Chocolate Chip Cookies, and lots of laughter. 

I just need to think up a name for my bar.  Any suggestion? 

~~~ 

Lucky Gray-haired Ladies

 

I envy gray-haired women.  Seriously.  It’s not that I wish I had gray hair.  I already do.  Anyone who knows me has seen it  peeking periodically from my center part and my temples.  

 

But I envy those sisters whose hair is completely natural.  Uncolored.  They have no worries about maintaining dyed strands.  They’re totally free from the whole thing -competition, color, maintenance… 

 

My older sister has gray hair.  Well, not really.  It’s silver!  And it is gorgeous!  She never has to monitor her roots.  She doesn’t spend money on salon color appointments.  Or home touch-ups.  (That would be me.)  She is liberated from it all.  And she is beautiful! 

 

I want that.  I want the freedom to be me the way I really am.  (At least my hair.)  

 

But, unlike women whose hair was allowed to  mature naturally, I must now, somehow, figure out how to make the transition from Medium Neutral Brown to gray.  What’s a girl to do?  

 

Have you noticed that in a salon you can get any color you want?  Except gray?  They say it’s impossible, but I don’t believe it.  Not for a minute.  I think professional hair dressers just don’t dare help women color their hair gray, because – I suspect – there’d be a stampede of women going that route.  What would that do to the hair-coloring industry? 

 

I tried it once, a few years ago.  I asked to have my hair streaked gray.  Can’t be done, I was told.  So my stylist gave me “highlights” instead.  It was an ugly, yellow, and very expensive, disaster.  I couldn’t wait to get home with my Wal-mart box of Clairol to repair the damage. 

 

Then, I was again back to square one.

 

Hero says he doesn’t mind my hair either way.  But he also says that, if I really want to make the change, I should let it grow out a little to start the process, and then get a really short haircut.   He also says that when he retires, he’s not going to shave or get a haircut for a year.  Maybe I’ll wait to tackle the hair issue til then, cuz I’m certain at that point no one will be looking at me. 

 

See how complicated life can get when you start messing with Mother Nature?  Sigh.  I want gray hair.  But how do I get there?  Other than a wig.

 

Am I the only one who feels this way?  Somehow, I’m certain I’m not alone.  Especially since Susan Boyle’s audition.  

 

 ~~~~

Oxygen for Your Soul

 

 

I’m just curious.  Has anyone NOT heard of Susan Boyle yet?  I understand it’s had around 16 million hits already, and I wish I could include a YouTube video of her here, but apparently those videos have had the embed disabled.  Still…

 

 – If you want to smile…

 

 – If you love seeing the “underdog” triumph…

 

 – If you love witnessing the glory of God  through excellence…

 

 – If you love it when God lifts up the humble…

 

 – If you love watching dreams come true…

 

– If you need oxygen for your Soul…

 

 …Do yourself a gigantic favor and go to YouTube, and type in Susan Boyle.  Turn up the sound, settle back, watch and listen. 

 

Then, please, come back and tell me what you think.  This video, and her story, thrill me beyond words.

 

~~~~ 

Tea-d Off!

 

Every parking spot was taken…so people walked toward the gathering…crossing a bridge over the Cedar River. 

Across the river, a crowd gathers.

Across the river, a crowd gathers.

 

People made their statements through a variety of methods. 

Welcome to the Tea Party

Welcome to the Tea Party

 

 

People who don't know their history are destined to repeat it.

People who don't know their history are destined to repeat it.

 

 

Having greatly under-estimated, the Tea Party organizers were stunned by the turnout.                                                                                                                                     

 

Americans in every age bracket peacefully made their point. 

Don't Tread on Me

Don't Tread on Me

 This was in the middle of the day when most people are not available for such an event. 

 

Children. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

      Teens.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

      Seniors.

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                                                            Babies.                                                                                      

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Those who don’t know their history are destined to repeat it.  But what will that do to our children?   

  

This grass roots movement – in all 50 states – has just begun. 

~~~~                                                                                                                                                             

Hello Kitty

 

This is too good not to share.  I recently received the following story in an email.  No writer’s name was included.  If anyone knows its origin, please let me know so I can give proper credit.  In the meantime…enjoy:

 

THE KOHL’S SHOPPING TRIP

 

Clutching their Kohl’s shopping bags, Ellen and Kay woefully gazed down at a dead cat in the mall parking lot – obviously a recent hit – no flies, no smell. 

 

“What business could that poor kitty have had here?” murmured Ellen.

 

“Come on, Ellen, let’s just go…”

 

But Ellen had already grabbed her shopping bag and was explaining, “I’ll just put my things in your bag, and then use this tissue…”

 

She dumped her purchases into Kay’s bag and then used the tissue paper to pick up, cradle, and lower the former feline into her own Kohl’s bag, and cover it.

 

They continued the short trek to the car in silence, stashing their goods in the trunk.  But it occurred to both of them that if they left Ellen’s burial bag in the trunk, warmed by the Texas sunshine while they ate, Kay’s Lumina would soon lose that new-car smell.

 

They decided to leave the bag on top of the trunk, and they headed over to K & W Cafeteria.

 

The two ladies went through the serving line and sat down at a window table.  From there, they had a view of Kay’s Chevy with the Kohl’s bag still on the trunk.

 

But, not for long!  As they ate, they noticed a woman in a red gingham shirt stroll by their car.  She looked quickly this way and that, and then took the Kohl’s bag without breaking stride.  She quickly walked out of their line of vision.  Kay and Ellen shot each other a wide-eyed look.

 

It all happened so fast that neither of them could think how to respond. 

 

“Can you imagine?” finally sputtered Ellen.  “The nerve of that woman!” 

 

Kay sympathized with Ellen, but inwardly a laugh was building as she thought about the grand surprise awaiting the female thief.  Just when she thought she’d have to giggle into her napkin, she noticed Ellen’s eyes freeze in the direction of the serving line.  Following her gaze, Kay recognized the woman in the red gingham shirt with the Kohl’s bag hanging from her arm.  The lady was brazenly pushing her tray toward the cashier.  Helplessly they watched the scene unfold. 

 

After leaving the register, the woman settled at a table across from theirs, put the bag on an empty chair and began to eat.  After a few bites of baked whitefish and green beans, she casually lifted the bag onto her lap to survey her treasure.

 

Looking from side to side, but not far enough to notice her rapt audience three tables over, she pulled out the tissue paper and peered into the bag.

 

Her eyes widened, and she began to make a sort of gasping noise.  The noise grew.  The bag slid from her lap as she sank to the floor, wheezing and clutching her upper chest.  The beverage cart attendant quickly recognized a customer in trouble and sent the busyboy to call 911, while she administered the Heimlich  maneuver.

 

A crowd quicly gathered that did not include Ellen and Kay, who remained rivited to their chairs for seven whole minutes until the ambulance arrived.  In a matter of minutes, the woman with the red gingham shirt emerged from the crowd, still gasping, and securely strapped on a gurney.

 

Two well-trained EMS volunteers steered her to the waiting ambulance, while a third scooped up her belongings. 

 

The last the ladies saw of the distressed cat-burglar was as she disappeared behind the ambulance doors…the Kohl’s bag perched on her stomach.

 

~~~~

It’s Your Call – A Follow-Up

 

 

Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.

Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.

“Was it a once and for all watershed moment, w/ occasional tests to your resolve, or has it been a gradual healing?” 

 

I think DM’s  questions in his comment to my previous post deserve a follow-up.   I’ll try to do that without starting to rant… 

 

 First of all, DM, my answer is Yes. 

 

Yes, it was a watershed moment. 

 

Yes, with occasional tests to my resolve. 

 

And, Yes, it has been a gradual healing. 

 

It really was a “Eureka!” moment when I realized I could go either way in my outlook about my childhood.  I just decided it was more fun, and more pleasant – and more healing – to choose to enjoy those years in my memory.  I did not want to keep carrying the baggage.

 

It was a growing thing, though, too, to realize that getting free of bitterness requires forgiveness.  It has taken years to learn how – and why – to forgive.  On issues where it seemed impossible to forgive, I learned two sobering lessons:

 

            1.)  The greater the depth of one’s understanding of one’s own need to be forgiven, the easier it is to forgive others. 

 

When we’re stuck with unforgiveness, we only need ask God to show the depths of our own sinfulness.  Then, be prepared, because He can go deep!  It can be very scary.  And humbling.  Devastating, actually,  But, trust Him, it’ll make it easy to forgive others. 

 

           2.)  Unforgiveness isn’t just about what we think of our enemy.  It is a statement about what we think of Jesus.  When we will not forgive, we are  telling Jesus that what He went through…His sacrifice, His excruciating suffering and death…were not enough.  We are telling Him that, in our book, He comes up short.  We are telling both the Father and Jesus that His blood wasn’t adequate to remove our enemy’s sin.

 

It must not be adequate to remove our’s, then, either. 

 

There is also one more, “Yes,” DM, to a question which you didn’t ask…

 

Yes, it is an ongoing challenge. 

 

Stuff still happens.  I must continue to decide to reject bitterness and unforgiveness.  

 

And I must decide to trust God.    Daniel understood this: 

 

“And when Daniel was lifted from the (lion’s) den, no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God.”  Daniel 6:23 NIV

 

~~~~

Embrace the Stains

This is my favorite tablecloth.  It’s nothing fancy.  Not lace or linen, it’s just a cotton reproduction of one from the late ’40s or early ’50s.  It’s been laundered so many times it possesses that soft, used patina,  It looks vintage.

I cherish it because it reminds me of my aunt’s home which I loved to visit when I was a little girl.  At her house, we ate off Fiestaware dishes – the real ones!

Last Friday night we hosted a going-away party for a friend of our son’s, a young man who was leaving for military basic training.  Of course, for the occasion, I hauled out my favorite – my retro, repro tablecloth.

The food – a combination of my and guests’ cooking – was plentiful, and delicious.  Little Smokies in barbeque sauce, Chex Mix, bean soup, Angus roast beef, turkey and cheeses, buns, Cheeseburger Casserole, Broccoli Salad, Molasses Crinkles & Chocolate Chip cookies.  And a Mint-Chocolate-Oreos-Ice Cream cake with whipped cream, which threw one into an instant and sublime sugar buzz.

It was a fun party.

My Hero is a great and enthusiastic cleaner-upper.  It took a few years of our early married life to convince him to leave the table in its expanded size until after the guests had left.  So, it wasn’t until the next day when I found my much-loved tablecloth on top of the washer in the laundry room.  I picked it up and held it out at arm’s length.  And stared.  There, in living color, were signs of joy, of lives well-lived.  Memory markers.  Visible reminders of precious moments.

I almost hugged it.  The entire story of the party was recorded in red, green, and brown stains.  Big ones.  Chunky ones.  The scrape-it-off kind.

Yes, I sprayed every spot I could find with Zout.  But if that failed, I was prepared to live with those stains forever – with no regrets.

These are “after” shots – every stain came out.  But I’d do it all over again even if they hadn’t.  After raising three sons, I’ve come to realize that each day is real life.  They’re not a rehearsal for “some day.”  Today is the day to use my best china, wear my favorite fragrance, wear stilettos in the kitchen…if I feel like it…

This is the day that the Lord has made.  I will rejoice and be glad in it.  Stains and all.  What kind of non-rehearsal, this-is-real-life things will you do today?

Invisible Hero

 

 

        Every morning he opens his eyes to a life in which no one knows he’s awake.  No one knows what time he gets out of bed.  No one even wonders.    He hears no “good morning.”  Only the silence of a second-floor efficiency which he accesses via wood steps on the outside of a house.  The quiet is a woeful sound, roaring at him daily, “You don’t matter!” 

        Even before he gets up, he begins to wonder how he will fill the hours of another day alone.  What will he fix for his morning meal?  When was the last time he ate breakfast with anyone?  Or lunch?  Or supper? 

His phone rings.  Telemarketers have discovered he’s an easy mark.  His tender conscience finds it hard to say “no.”  So he waits.  And listens.  To see if that one on the other end of the line is calling him, or just his pocketbook.

The stack of unopened junk mail on his kitchen counter attests to the number of times he’s said “yes,” even though his modest contributions probably don’t pay an hour’s wage for the fund raisers who keep asking for more. 

After his shower, breakfast, and meds, he can no longer put off facing the hours ahead.  Varying days offer the relief of part-time structure.  Those are the ones when he goes to work at a high-end food market, bagging groceries. 

It’s the days off which are, too often, more painful.  It feels strange to live without any sense of community.  To have no integral part in a group of people with whom to regularly interact.  To have no identifiable social circle which knows him, and laughs with him, enjoys him and values him.  And wants him around.  He has no friends among whom he has a place so vital that he would be missed if he were not there to fill his role.  Instead, his spot is only by specific, occasional invitation.  And it feels indescribably, unspeakably, achingly lonely.

On the long days, he busies himself with nature, crafting abodes for birds and bats.  Or walking around lakes, watching for signs of changing seasons which only the well-trained eye could spot.   

He is a brilliant man.  Intelligent.  A deep thinker.  Artistic, yet outdoorsy.  He’s a handyman extraordinaire.  He holds a treasure of captivating knowledge and experience with God’s creatures.  He loves a good joke.  At the smallest opportunity, his eyes twinkle with merriment.  But the world is missing out.  They pass him by, bicycling, skating, jogging, walking their dogs.  Living.  If they only knew.

Sometimes he shares lunch at a half-way home for others with mental illness.  His own label?  Schizophrenia.  He’s been seen at that half-way house comforting, encouraging and welcoming first-time visitors, teens whose lives brought them to this place set apart from “normal” society.     

His compassion seems boundless.  When he prays, I listen in hushed awe to his broken humility, to his tender reverence, loyalty, and love for the Lord.  I listen to him intercede for others.  And it brings me to tears.  How can he be so trusting in the midst of a life with so much pain and desolation? 

I’ve been in his circumstances.  Not with the diagnosis tag, but I know what it’s like to be so set apart from society that I can find no meaningful place on the planet.  I know what it feels like to face each day knowing no one wonders about me.  I know what it’s like to go day, upon day, upon day, with no one to talk to.  No face-to-face encounters.  And it nearly drove me insane.  My anguish could only be expressed with at-the-top-of-my-lungs screams.  Does anyone care?  Does anyone understand?   

I thank God for that experience.  Unless one has endured that kind of suffocating alone-ness, it’s impossible to understand what guts it takes for this man to face each day.  He could give up.  He could wallow in self-pity.  But he doesn’t.  He finds projects to keep himself busy.  He prays.  He picks up the phone and reaches out.  Those who find his calls interruptive have no idea how brave he’s being.  They have no true concept of loneliness.  And though I would love for them to understand this kind of pain, I would not wish it on anyone. 

God let me experience it…for a long time…and I consider it a gift.  It expanded my world, gave me new eyes to understand this man, and also to realize that society is full of people like him. 

The man about whom I write has no idea that he is one of my role models.  He is one of my life heroes.  I genuinely admire him.  I am praying fervently that God will give him a social circle in which he is an integral part, and is not just an invited guest.  I will not quit until I know he is part of a people group who actually see how delightful he is, and want him around.  Everyone needs that.  It’s God’s way.

 

Copyright, Seriouswhimsey, March 13, 2009