Monthly Archives: March 2014

When Men Wore Hats

Hubs and I were sitting in Arby’s today, eating our Sunday lunch and talking about today’s church service. It’s our usual routine. Church, lunch, chat. A little people-watching always goes along with that, as we share communion of Arby’s sandwiches with our fellow man … and woman. I love to observe people. I don’t do it to judge; I do it because they interest me. Today, I watched a larger, middle-aged woman in stretch capris and a pink hoodie order food with a small man in green shorts over black sweat pants and orange socks. A man dressed all in tattered black proved that he could indeed mix colors by showing me his upper butt crack. Pasty white on black – the “in” colors of 2014. (Okay, butt crack always makes me judge a little.) A tidy older woman with coifed hair and blue jeans came in, followed by a family with four children who hadn’t visited a bathtub in a week. We see all kinds during our Sunday ritual.

On this particular Sunday, Hubs had performed double duty for choir. He had sung with his all men’s singing group for our first service. When they perform, they wear suits and matching ties. Men looking dapper – mmm, gotta love it. So, when the full chancel choir entered the sanctuary for the second service, a number of the men who sang at the first service were also present in the full choir for the second service. As I sat in the back pew (where every good Christian sits) and watched the choir enter, I was impressed by how classy and well-groomed they looked. In our laid-back church, people wear whatever they want. Most of the time, it’s dressy casual, but there’s always a mix of blue jeans and suits. To see that many suits all at once in the choir loft was a real treat.

At lunch, after the obligatory, covert people-watching, Hubs and I discussed the morning’s service. I mentioned how well-groomed the men in the choir had looked. Hubs agreed. I was about to remark about how slovenly society in general had become when I happened to glance around the restaurant. I saw the lady in pink and her companion on one side of us and the family with the kids on the other. If I had said that remark, even though it was a general one, I would have insulted most of the people in the restaurant, so I shut my trap.

Perhaps it’s me. I’ve been told that I’m too prissy for my own good, but to me, it just means that I hold myself to a standard of appearance that makes me comfortable. But I have to wonder when society began to believe that all forms of dress are appropriate at all times. Frankly, I blame the leisure suit.

I grew up in a time where a person wore his or her Sunday best to church. We dressed, and we dressed well. I remember playing with the fox stole of the prim, elderly woman who sat in front of us. The mouth clipped onto the tail, and the young me, maybe 6 or 7, would stroke the fox, petting it. When was the last time you saw a fox stole in church?

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The ladies wore hats and never removed them. The men wore hats and always removed them. Suits and ties were de rigueur. My dad shined his shoes with tins of Kiwi polish every Saturday night. Dressed to the nines, we worshipped God in style.

Where has that mentality gone? I remember the first time a woman dared to wear dress slacks to church in the ‘70s. Titters and gasps rippled through the congregation as she walked down the center aisle to her pew. You’d have thought she was wearing slacks designed by Satan himself. The first time I wore dress slacks to church, I felt like I was sinning, so ingrained was the idea of wearing dresses for worship. Nowadays, I’ll admit to wearing jeans too, but they’re nice jeans. You know, the ones that aren’t ripped and still bleed dye in the wash. I can’t even tell you the last time I wore a dress. Or a hat and fox stole.

Today at church, it was refreshing to see that many men in suits and ties. I think it’s only right that if we are going to give God our best, then we should dress in our best. But then, does He really care what we wear when we’re doing His work? After all, John 3:16 does not say, “For God so loved the world of fashion, that He gave His only Son a Rolex, and whosoever believeth in His dress code shall have eternal good taste.” I still love to see a well-dressed person, so maybe a dress code for life wouldn’t be a bad idea, but it would certainly make people-watching at Arby’s a lot less interesting.

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Confessions of a Jewelry Junkie

I’m a jewelry junkie. There. I said it! I confess that when it comes to jewelry, I’m a total taker. I lurves me my jewelry, and I proved it last Wednesday night by single-handedly enabling my jewelry consultant to trade up to a mid-sized sedan. Yes, I have a jewelry consultant of my very own. I’m so much of a jewelry junkie that my consultant has me on speed dial. We’ve discussed adding her name to my bank account. I’m in her will as the beneficiary of all her jewelry. You see, I go to parties and order jewelry from a catalog. It’s a sickness. I need my fix. If I can’t attend a jewelry party, I order it over the phone. Like pizza. I can’t help myself. I’m sick, I tell you! I’m sick! I’m also very happy with this jewelry disease that I’ve caught.

All I have to do is go to a party, try on pretty necklaces and earrings, the likes of which I would have never thought to buy for myself without that little extra “Oooo, that looks so good on you” from other ladies, who are also enjoying the approval of other women at the same time that I am. Then I fork over more money than I should, making the hostess and consultant very happy people, all the while fulfilling my need to please people and decorate my décolletage. Finally, a week later, when the jewelry arrives and I’ve gotten my fix, another invitation comes in the mail, and the cycle of jewelry junkie starts all over again. I’m hooked harder than it is to use an eternity clasp on a three strand necklace. (It’s a jewelry joke from a party. I guess you had to be there.)

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Not only have I bought a ton of jewelry for myself and my daughter, but I also bought $400 worth for family Christmas presents, and do you know how happy it made me to give jewelry? It made me very happy! It made my consultant even happier. She’s half-way to her goal of a luxury sedan, thanks to me.

But it also made me a little sad because I didn’t own some of the pieces that I gave away. Boo hoo hoo. So bittersweet to have to wrap up the jewelry joy and send it on its way. Ah, that I could have kept them all. My precious! Are you being appreciated? Are you being worn? Do you lovingly caress the neck of the woman who wears you? Or are you just sitting in a jewelry box, languishing for lack of matching outfit?

There was a jewelry party last night, but I couldn’t go. I don’t understand why people can’t plan these around my schedule. Thursday nights are out, people! But I placed my in absentia order on Wednesday night so the hostess could get some credit for it, so all I can do now is wait. Hopefully, my jewelry will not take long to get here. I ordered a fabulous rose gold and silver necklace out of the catalog that I’m dying to try on. It’s true. I’m an insatiable jewelry junkie. Feel free to send me your unwanted silver or gold lovelies. I’ll take good care of them because I can stop anytime I want. Really, I can! Bwa ah ah! Jewelry!!! Mine. All MIIIIIINE!


Ahem. The first step to getting better is admitting that there’s a problem. So, once I receive my new necklace, I should probably think about attending Jewelry Lovers Anonymous to fight this addiction. But not until I order the darling matching earrings.

 

Cubby Holes

I’m sitting here, staring at the cluttered computer screen, as a project awaits completion. I feel like I’m letting down the people to whom I owe this project. I’ve been struggling with it. Normally, it’s not that hard to complete, but for some reason, this month has had its challenges. Personal issues have gotten in the way. I’m not someone who can compartmentalize easily. I wish I was. I’d like to just stick whatever’s bothering me into a cubby hole and let it rot there. Unfortunately, any cubby holes that I have in my brain are more hole than cubby. If I do manage to put a problem in a compartment, it falls right through the hole in the bottom, tripping me whenever I “take a stroll down memory lane.” In other words, I can’t keep things compartmentalized. They stay in my mind, no matter what I’m doing.

Right now, the thing that is stuck there is my mother. I love my mom, but I also live almost 700 miles away from her. I don’t see her much, even though we talk on the phone when she’s feeling up to it. Even if I did make the trip back, there’s simply no place for me to stay at her small house. If she were healthy, I’d either be able to stay on an air mattress in the living room or in her bed with her since my daddy has passed. However, healthy she is not. She has a hospital bed set up in the living room. A good bit of her living room furniture is now in her bedroom on the bed. There is, quite frankly, no room for me at her house.

In some metaphoric way, there’s no room for me in her life anymore, and that about kills me.  She loves me and I love her, but she is no longer concerned about me. Her life revolves around the nurses and care workers from Hospice that come in. I listen patiently. But only on a good day, do I get to share with her what is happening in my life. Am I selfish to want this again? Maybe. Am I realistic enough to know that, for the most part, those days of happy conversations are gone? Yes. Mentally, she is all there, but her world is small now, and I’m on the periphery. Perhaps I’ve started grieving already.

I’ve caught grief from people who see her once and think that they have a handle on the situation. Because I’m not there, I guess in their eyes that makes me not a good daughter, doesn’t it? They don’t understand that I’m well aware of what is happening with her. I’m in frequent contact with my brother, who is her main caregiver. While I get conflicting reports, depending on whether I’m talking to him or my mother, I know and care deeply about her condition and about her. She was the best mother a girl could have. We have always been close.

Perhaps that why this hurts so much. She had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. I found out only recently that this was THE diagnosis. I had heard it bandied around for a while, but my brother confirmed it this week. It makes sense. This diagnosis answers a lot of questions, but it also presents a new dilemma for me. How do I keep it in its place without obsessing?

If you ask my mother, she doesn’t believe it. According to her, she will walk again, drive again and resume her normal life after she gets over this little hiccup in her life. Parkinson’s took my wonderful father-in-law. I’ve seen what it can do. I don’t have her optimism, as misguided as it may be, but I can’t take away her vision of her future either. I’m not that cruel to say, “Sorry, Mum, it’s not going to happen,” when maybe it’s that very thought of a normal future that makes her okay with how she is living. So I have to wonder why I’m obsessing over things I can’t change. I do know that I’m not good at hurting; I bleed all over my cubby holes.

I guess it’s time to clean up the mess and get back to work on today’s project. I can at least do something about what’s in front of me, even when I’m feeling so helpless about my mother. I’m having to relearn some lessons from the past about how to deal with this. It’s taken me a while to get there, but thank God for God and keeping my problems where they belong. I’m better for now, at least until the next refresher course.

The Caller’s New Name

One of the fun things that I do is edit the monthly newsletter for our church. I started in January of 2006, so I’ve been at it for 99 months, but really it only seems like 3 months, plus 8 years. The newsletter is called The Caller. It wasn’t my choice. It’s been The Caller for over 20 years, through at least two other editors. As a title, it’s kind of old fashioned, with that “sittin’ on the porch swing with your best gal” feel to it.

We could probably update it to something more in tune with today’s world, like The InstaChrist or Jesusgram or iCall. My favorite is GraceBook. Something with a more technological feel would give people the impression that we’re a groovy and happening church, or should that be a tight and rad church? Because we are a tight and rad church.

We have a cool outreach to over 150 children on Wednesday nights. If we include the adults that volunteer their time to help, that number reaches 300. We have rad programs that reach out to the LGBT community within and without our building, programs that are committed to helping feed and clothe adults and children in our community and programs that reach out into the world through mission trips. We have an on-line presence with a website and FaceBook page. Our choir is growing again with a new choir director. Our one-on-one caring ministry is touching more and more people in need. A few years ago, our congregation decided that it was time for our building to be more attuned to our current ministries, so we’re completing a remodeling project that turned around our 50 year old sanctuary a full 180 degrees. It’s turned us on our ears, as we re-examined our ministries, stream-lining some, expanding others, adding new ones that count. Even cynics would have to agree that what we’ve done and are doing is tighter than skinny jeans on a hipster.

Our church is “tight and rad.” Translate that to “active and growing.” We are fulfilling our Christian commitment to reach out and care for those beyond our building’s walls. Growth is good, and yet the newsletter is stuck with an old-fashioned name. The Caller. As if we’re going to go knocking on doors and invite you to church. Who does that anymore? It’s not like we can go a-callin’ on the neighbors at any time of day. As a society, we’re not that way now. Who has time to sit and chat? We’ve all got phones that go with us every place we go. Why visit in person when a text will do? So, I’m proposing that an appropriate name for The Caller that would be in keeping with the current times and mission of the church would be … The Caller.

That’s right. No change. It may seem like an old-fashioned name for a church newsletter at first, like we’re not keeping up with the trends of the modern, secular society, but really, it is the universal message for all Christians to call people to Christ. That has never changed. We are called again and again to reach out. In response, we, the called, are reaching out to those who are in need of Christ and Christ’s care through us. We are calling them to us. We are The Caller.

I don’t know how much longer I’ll be the editor of The Caller. I will continue until God calls me elsewhere or calls someone else to do it, just like He called me. What I do know is that during my turn as editor, I will always champion the name, The Caller. It’s a little awkward, a little old-fashioned, but it also says everything about who our church is as Christians. We are The Caller. And people are answering.

 

 

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Similar To Being Christian?

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After I ‘liked’ a post today, these are the things that FaceBook suggested as being “Similar to being Christian.” Really? MSN?

Just Wondering

Just at Walmart. Wondering why the mother with the loudest children in the world said to them, “Hey, look! It’s a microphone!”

Poetry By Moonlight

or The Perils of Writing In the Dark

 

They came in deep and darkest night,

As slumber chased behind my sight

First one, then two, then three and four

To my literary door.

 

I opened wide to let them in,

Words in jumbled acumen,

Rearranged within my brain

As sleep eluded, senses waned.

 

I rose, fled quickly from my bed

To capture musings in my head;

Stumbled I to my writing desk

In pale moonlight, to start my quest

 

Of immortalizing bless-ed words

That came like slumber’s fleeting birds.

I wrote by moonlight’s silver sheen,

My pen assailing paper clean.

 

I wrote till all had flowed without,

A work of genius, t‘was no doubt;

Slumber ran, caught up with me

And closed my lids so sleep could be.

 

My dreams were rich, and I was too,

I wanted fame like Angelou;

Laureate of all the world,

Nation’s flags for me unfurled!

 

When next I woke, the sun was high,

The day had dawned, and so had I

Upon the fact that poem grand

Was sitting there within my hand!

 

Upon the sheet I gazed – alack –

There was no poem, front or back!

Searching high and searching low,

Where, oh, where did my poem go?

 

The one that sealed my fortune’s fate,

A masterpiece (at least, line eight);

Line twelve was surely heaven fed,

Wish I knew just what it said.

 

I’m pretty sure line twenty four

Was pretty good for an amateur.

And thirty two, a dying ember,

I’d give an eyetooth to remember.

 

‘Twas then I happened upon pen

That I had used to write my zen;

I saw my fortunes quickly shrink,

The pen I used was out of ink.

 

My fate was cruel, but I’ll not weep,

For next, when Muse disturbs my sleep,

I will be ready! They shan’t escape,

Those immortal words, I’ll catch on tape!

 

If only I can remember to buy

Four Double A’s for the power supply.

 

 Copyright (c) 2009 B. E. Nelson