Friday, October 5, 2012

Doggy Bags

No, not the kind you take home from a restaurant.  I'm talking about the ones you take with you on  your walk with your dog.  We do this daily.  Owners take their dogs on a daily walk and carry along a bag to pick up after the dog when he leaves his waste somewhere.  (...refusing to use the normal slang for this act of nature because I am so very tired of potty words and other inferior uses of language)

I was driving home this week and saw a gentleman walking his companion on a leash and the other hand carried the neatly tied "doggy bag".   I had an incident this week that made me think about this on a different level and the familiar scene.  It humors and amazes me how God can speak to me through such mundane and silly things.  Then again, maybe it is in these simple, daily, mundane and normal routines that we learn our deepest lessons.

It has been very real lately the fact that people in our world today do not own up to their mistakes and take responsibility for their actions.  We have also become masters at making it look like we apologize and then continue on to prove that someone else is to blame.  Children  are notorious for this.  It is to be expected.  As adults we are to teach them to take responsibility for their own mistakes.  Some people never grow out of the childish stage and become the adult.  These adults who are stuck in child mode are now having children.  The pattern continues on an entirely escalated level.

Just like we clean up after our animals on the street, I am finding that we are cleaning up after other people's mistakes more often these days.  We pick up their mess, tie it neatly in a bag, and then dispose of it for them and move on.  People leave their messes behind and let us pick them up and clean up the issue.  They do not learn anything from their mistakes if we continue to do this.  Parents begin doing this because it seems easier.  Instead of having to continually remind your child to pick up their toys, parents go behind them and do it themselves because they are pressed for time and want it done quickly and correctly.  I am guilty of this from time to time.

I am continually disturbed by the fact that someone will obviously make a mistake and instead of accepting responsibility AND the consequences, he/she will say, "Yes, but....." and then find a loop hole somewhere that will show that someone else is to blame.  It's the old trick that children play by quickly taking the focus off of their mistake and shifting it to mom and dad by crying "not fair" or "why are you mad at me".

I have also learned that one's word isn't worth much anymore.  The days of a making a deal with a handshake seem to be long gone.  I can verbally tell someone something every day and if they do not follow through with their end of the bargain they will come back and say, "Where is it in writing?"  If I put it in writing they will come back and say, "You should have reminded me or told me."  Even if some fault is admitted people will still find a way to show the other party that they should or could have done something to actually help them follow through.  ALL the responsibility in this case rests on the shoulders of the other person and never the one at fault.  People cry "foul" and even involve lawyers at time to get their way.  "Yes, we may have made a mistake, but you...., and therefore we are not responsible."  It becomes easier to pick up the mess and carry and dispose of it rather than face the fight.

If this pattern continues, each generation will continue to get worse.  The next time you are tempted to just dispose of a mess yourself rather than go through the muddy water of someone blaming you for their mistake, think of the doggy bag.  After awhile it stinks.



Sunday, September 9, 2012

Blessings in a breeze.....

Today was glorious.  The weather was perfect.  A cool breeze met me as I walked out the door this morning for church and brought a girlish smile to my face.  This time of year makes me very happy.  If school has to start back and our schedules prohibit us from enjoying the pool and the outdoors a lot during the week, I say, "Bring on the cool weather!"  Once school begins it is time for fall already!

I hate to sweat, which is evident in the fact I have a hard time losing weight.  I love to walk, but HATE to sweat.  The humidity kills me.  It makes me irritable and unpleasant.  Today......today was different.  Today was cool and beautiful.  The sun was warm enough to feel good and the breeze that blew constantly was just what my spirit needed to get me going.  I took a lovely walk with my daughter and her dog.  It was such a blessing.

I wish it could be the beginning of fall all year round.  Maybe this is what Heaven is like.  The seasons of the year are like life.  Each season represents the ups, downs, ebbs and flows that we experience in life.   God is poetic.  He is the very essence of Beauty and metaphor.  I see life in the seasons and the seasons in life.  My brain is too tired tonight to analyze and be poetic about life.  Even so, I thank God for showing me that He has already thought of it.  He has already written the poetry.

He has given me blessing in a breeze.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Who am I?




I've been thinking a lot about being created in God's image recently.  God created us in His image for a purpose.  Our identity is in Him.  Our purpose is found in how and why He created us.  The creation story is so beautiful.  I wonder how often today we really consider God's masterful and purposeful design.  In the first chapter of Genesis, these words are recorded:

"So God created human beings in his own image.  In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.  
Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply.
Fill the earth and govern it." (Gen 1:27-28a)

My identity is not defined by human beliefs.  My identity and purpose does not come from the university where I attend school.  My identity should not be shaped by society's latest political march or cause.  Oh how easily we allow the world to shape who we are.  Jesus tells us in John 15 that we were chosen to come out of the world.  This means that we should expect to swim against the current our entire life.  We should not be surprised when the world goes in an entirely different direction than what God designed and intended as our purpose.  

These thoughts have begun boiling in me lately as I watch my daughters getting older.  I am struck by how much the world has already tried to shape them into its image.  The world screams "fight for your rights as a woman" to the point that some girls and women would rather be on their own than need anyone, especially a man.  There are women who have been hurt and forced by circumstances into a life alone or raising a family alone without a husband.   I have grown up during a time where women have demanded equality to the point of becoming obsessed at times.  I have always believed that girls are just as capable of doing anything they want to in life.  I still do.  I have two beautiful daughters that I pray will grow up to be beautiful women---strong women.  I want my girls to dream big dreams and reach as far as they can in life.  Over the last several decades I believe that the decline in Christian values and beliefs has caused a shift in roles.  Women are fighting for first place while many men stand by and watch.  I don't say that this is everywhere.  There are wonderful, godly men in this world.  I think they are the minority, as Christianity is now not the fastest growing religion in the world anymore.  

While I am disheartened over the lack of male leadership in our society, I see women who would love for men to stand up and take charge, but when that doesn't happen are forced into the role of bread winner, care taker, and single parent.  On the flip-side I still see women jockeying for position as if their entire identity depends on it.  I am thankful for the right to vote.  I am thankful for the equal opportunity I had to attend college and even graduate school.  I am thankful to be able to have a good job in my degree field.  

My thoughts are all jumbled.  I am mentally tired since going back to work a few weeks ago.  I am having a hard time forming my mind's ramblings into complete thoughts.  I hope over the next few weeks to iron them out and express them better.  

For now, I am pondering the idea that swimming against culture may look very strange.  A woman choosing to stay home and raise her children, not be the CEO, not be the "head" of a company or organization, may come across as weak or being less than a man.  I never said she wasn't capable of being in charge.  Why does choosing to play a different role show weakness?  Maybe choosing the road less traveled today is showing more strength and faith than listening to the world.  

How do we continue to be strong, capable, good leaders, hard-working women and allow the godly men in our world to step up and lead us?  How do the single moms who are going to school to earn degrees that will help them get better jobs support these men as well?  I am fortunate to have a godly husband who takes care of our family and leads us well.  I recognize this as becoming more and more uncommon.  

My heart is full of questions.  I want my girls to become what God has always intended them to be.  Women were created differently....for a purpose.  I don't always think the purpose we strive for is God's design for us.  The world is shaping us.  We have to be very careful to make sure that we are out of the world.....swimming against the current.....with our eyes fixed on our prize.....Jesus.  

Reading back over this, it seems so jumbled.  Rightly so.  My mind is a mess with all these questions.  I am trusting my Master Designer to clean out the cobwebs and set my mind on a clearer path as I nurture and guide my daughters to the fullest potential that He has planned for them.  




Thursday, July 5, 2012

Feeling Family

I guess have to be totally honest.  The green monster is rearing his ugly head.  I enjoyed seeing pictures and reading about people's July 4th festivities, but it makes me long for family more and more.  I think it hit me even more this year because my oldest daughter is away for the week with a friend.  I guess this is the first "holiday" we've been apart.  We still did fireworks and grilled hamburgers and brats, but it just wasn't the same.  I long for family gatherings.  So many of my friends in town have family here or very near...at least in a short driving distance.  I envy them.  Not in a bad way.  I really am happy for them.  I wouldn't wish the opposite on them.  I am praying that God will find ways for us to spend time with family more often.  I often wonder why we live so far away.   Some people don't want to be near their families.  Others do.  Life would be a lot easier if it worked out for each side the way they wished.

In the meantime I will be thankful for the times I do have and cherish them.  They don't come often enough.  I try not to be envious of people who have money to travel as they please.  I know people who are retired and are able to travel at their leisure to visit family and places of interest.  I hope people do not take that for granted.  I hope people appreciate the nearness of family.  Time passes so quickly.  I feel jipped out of time with my family.  I know that God knows best and has a plan.  I will continue to trust in this truth.  


Monday, June 18, 2012

Lessons

Every year on the last day of school I take my girls by the bookstore on the way home.  No, we aren't buying their summer reading books or the latest "gotta have it" pre-teen novel......we go get summer workbooks!  It makes me so happy to get the brand new book with empty answer blanks.  I can't wait for them to get started.  I can't understand why they do not find this outing as exciting as I do.  There is an incentive to finish it in its entirety by a certain date, so don't consider me cruel.  My oldest even commented at the beginning of this school year how everyone seemed to be struggling in the review math and she was breezing right through it.  (Of course I reminded her that she has a wonderful mother who bought her a workbook that had math in it and made her do it.  It is important for children to be grateful.)

This summer I am assigning one night a week for each daughter to be in charge of supper.  Tonight was Janey's night.  We decided to make homemade pizza on thin crust with a salad.  I wanted a veggie pizza for myself (pepperoni and cheese for the girls) and had a beautiful orange pepper in the frig.  I have never roasted a pepper on the gas stove top before and decided to give it a try.


It was a lot of fun and very easy.  It didn't take very long at all.  The skin peeled right off after it cooled and it was delicious on the pizza.  Next we sauteed the sweet vidalia onions (or "vidella", as my grandmother used to say).

Janey added delicious pizza sauce.  If you have never tried this brand, I highly recommend it.  The flavor is more authentic than Ragu or plain tomato sauce.  

To the veggie pizza she added fresh cut baby spinach, roasted orange peppers, onions, and fresh Roma tomatoes...and cheese, of course.  The second pizza was traditional cheese and pepperoni, complete with a smiley face.  



Meredith will have her turn next.   They love learning about cooking and being in the kitchen.  Workbooks, not so much. 









Monday, April 2, 2012

Quiet Please

Quiet please.

Today was a day screaming for quiet.  No matter where I turned to try and gather my thoughts, people were yelling, talking, beating on drums, playing pianos, laughing, running, and just generally making a lot of noise.  On most days these are beautiful sounds.  I love laughter, the kids beating on the congas in my room, the sound of pianos everywhere, trumpets blaring, and the general loud hustle and bustle of a school.  For some reason my heart was longing for quiet.

I stopped by the Vet's office on the way home to pick up our cat who had been there for a "procedure".  He cried like a child all the way home.  Very loud.  It was quite funny....but just one more time of intense noise....and this time confined inside my car all the way home.  The girls even tried singing to him.  I said, "What shall we sing?"  My oldest breaks out in Jesus Loves Me which tickled all of us.  We then joined in and sand in harmony.  It was fun....but noisy.  He continued to cry, so it didn't work.

After arriving home, the noise continued.  Practicing, vacuuming, washing machine (which I generally LOVE to hear), dishwasher, dog barking, cat crying, girls arguing over who was doing more chores....and the noise continued.  Again, nothing out of the ordinary, but today it was really getting to me.

I have to take a day off tomorrow for a doctor's appointment.  Somewhere along the way, I hope I can find a few minutes of quiet.  It is quiet right now.  The girls are asleep, the washing machine is humming, the drying is turning, but yet my mind and spirit are screaming.  I often wonder how this can be.  I honestly believe we must practice quiet.  Stillness isn't just sound, it is a way of being....inside and out.
I know how to do this on the outside, but I am having trouble on the inside.


"LORD, my heart is not proud; my eyes are not haughty. I don't concern myself with matters too great or awesome for me. 2 But I have stilled and quieted myself, just as a small child is quiet with its mother. Yes, like a small child is my soul within me. 3 O Israel, put your hope in the LORD -- now and always."
Psalm 131


May it be so, dear Lord. 



Saturday, March 31, 2012

A One Night Vacation

I received a very thoughtful gift a few weeks ago.  It was a gift certificate for a night at the O'Henry Hotel here in Greensboro.  Thanks to some wonderful friends who kept our girls, we were able to get away last night for some rest and quiet.

We arrived at the O'Henry late Friday afternoon just in time for our reserved sitting for tea.  They stop serving before dinner, so we had to make sure we got there in time.  We were taken to our comfortable seats by the window and the grand piano by the sweetest little tea hostess.  She was like someone out of a movie.  She curtsied, and walked with the gracefulness of a ballerina.  She explained the featured tea which was "passion plum".  I especially like the sound of it so I ordered it.  She curtsied and replied, "Of course." (I could get used to that kind of treatment.  Wouldn't it be lovely to give my students or my children assignments at school and they gently curtsy or bow with "Of course" as their response?)  She exited (very gracefully) and we sat and talked without interruption.  Classical music was playing softly and we could hear the quiet murmuring of a few other guests around us.  My daughters and I have tea at the O'Henry every summer before returning to school in August.  It has become a "tradition".  I knew my manly husband would even enjoy the sophisticated elegance of the tea and treats.  Our lady in waiting arrived back with two beautiful pots of tea and placed them on the little table between our wing backed chairs on the trivets.  She gave us fresh lemon wedges, brown sugar cubes, cream and sweeteners.  We each had a unique cup and saucer with a very small teaspoon.  As we sipped our tea and enjoyed our assortment of small bites, we had a lovely conversation.  I found myself having forgotten how to really slow down and take my time.  I used to wonder why people had tea so late in the afternoon, but I think I really began to understand it as I sat there and began to feel my heart rate slow and my mind relax.  "Of course."

I have had a headache that has lasted all week.  I even had it that morning.  As I sat there drinking my tea I realized that it had finally gone....completely.

After tea, we went to see "The Vow" at the movie theater.  I can't believe it is still out.  Everyone else was in line for "The Hunger Games", of course, and therefore we had no problem getting tickets.  As a matter of fact, we were the only ones in the theater.  A private showing...just for us!  "Of course!".  I am still amazed at the outcome of the movie.   We had watched a news interview online of the couple that the movie was based on and knew that they were happy with the overall results except that their faith was left out of the story line.  As we watched the movie, it was nice to know that even though the movie did not mention their faith and the part it played in their journey, it was there all the same and the main reason for the survival of their marriage.

After the movie we took our overnight bag up to our room.  It was very spacious with the biggest bathroom I have ever seen in a hotel room.  We then made our way downstairs to have dinner at the Green Valley Grill (all included in our gift certificate, "of course").  We enjoyed a quiet meal, and commented on the fact that we had nowhere to rush to or any reason to be in a hurry.  We agreed that work would not be part of our conversation.  After dinner we enjoyed some television and had a very restful night's sleep.  I haven't slept that hard in a while.

This morning we woke up to a drizzling rain and cloudy skies.  That didn't cloud our breakfast.  We had breakfast in the beautiful garden room full of windows overlooking the gardens of greenery outside.  There was bacon, sausage, eggs, potatoes, grits, oatmeal, pastries, cereal, fresh "local" jams made from blueberries and blackberries, hot black coffee, every type of juice you can think of, an assortment of teas, and someone quietly around just in case we needed anything, of course.   It was a lovely quiet breakfast enjoyed with the most wonderful company and beautiful classical music playing in the background.  This place knows what they are doing.   We sat in the corner right by the windows.  We could see the veranda, where on sunny days you can also choose to sit outside.  I personally didn't mind the rainy morning though.  I think it allowed me to slow down and savor the moment.   After breakfast we went back to our room to sip more coffee, watch the news and read the paper.  What a luxury.  The thought of packing up and leaving didn't make me sad.  I was able to really enjoy each step of our over night stay and felt rested and ready to face the next few days.  As we left the hotel, the sun was shining and the rain was gone......just like in a novel....maybe by O'Henry.

I am very thankful to the ones who provided us with this gift of a night away.  We commented many times over the last twenty four hours how special and relaxed it was.  We didn't have to drive anywhere, we only had to pack one outfit, and we were not tired from the drive.

I have a lot to do before the end of the school year.  I have to finish two online college courses to renew my professional license.  I have several concerts to prepare for.  The girls have projects, field trips, practices, lessons, games, recitals and festivals.  There are the numerous end of the year activities at school that seem like one long event all strung together.  I feel like I am in a better frame of mind.  I may need a tiny respite over the next couple of months, but someday I hope to have another overnight respite like we had this weekend.

Would I recommend The O'Henry?
Will I save up my money and hope to stay there again?

Why, of course.
(curtsy)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Blessed

74 degrees and a soft breeze...
Freshly mowed grass...
The sun just behind the trees...
Two cardinals playing tag in the trees...
Reading my Bible with the songs of the birds as my background...

Bare feet...
Sitting on the swing on the porch...
"This is so good" mumbled from the mouths of my family during supper...
Fresh blackberries, strawberries, and raspberries washed and waiting in the refrigerator for later...

The kitchen cleaned from supper...
The girls' homework finished before 9:00 pm for the first time in days...or weeks...

I remember an afternoon and evening like this many many weeks ago.  I am so thankful another one decided to show up and surround me.

Thank you, Lord.
I am truly blessed...
And extremely grateful.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Thankful

My 11 year old daughter made me a home-made peanut butter pie for my birthday.  She wanted to make Paula Dean's recipe, so she looked it up, had her Daddy take her to the store to buy the ingredients with the money she'd saved and she made it last night.  My 12 year old went to one of my favorite stores and got me a gift card.  I have such lovely daughters who love to think of others and do things for them.  I am blessed.

I had some daisies (of course) on my desk from a dear, dear friend because "daisies are such a happy flower", some "Peeps" from one of my peeps, and a lovely lavender candle for the day when I can finally take a bubble bath and relax.  I'm going to put that on my "to do" list.  Two of my sweet students (a brother and sister) bought me a fun necklace that has a changeable pendant.  It is so unique.  They are so thoughtful.  My Admin team had some cake from the Fresh Market (can't beat that!) and my wonderful colleagues in the high school had a to-die-for chocolate dessert cake.  Mmmmmmm.   All my classes sang "Happy Birthday" to me today in beautiful harmony.  It was truly a lovely thing.

One of my favorite things on my birthday is the phone call I get from my parents.  They call me every year on my birthday, bright and early in the morning and sing "Happy Birthday" in two part harmony to me.  It is truly my favorite part of my birthday.  I hate to think of the day I won't hear that anymore.  I will cherish it every year!

I am thankful for many things.  Being alive is truly a blessing.  Time with my children is priceless.  Watching them learn and grow into the young women God has created them to be is such a privilege.
I am also thankful for parents who raised me in a loving Christian home.  My parents are still together and I do not take that for granted.  I have a great brother who has a wonderful family.  I am also blessed with a wonderful Christian husband.  He is a wonderful provider, friend, and father to our girls.  He is everything I could ever ask for in a lifetime partner.  I love him with all of my heart and being.

My oldest got inducted into the National Jr. Beta Club tonight.  So proud of her good grades, character, service and leadership.  My youngest came home and said she had some free time before bed so she wanted to read.....what a blessing.  She is reading Black Beauty- a classic, of course.

Thank you, Lord.   My cup runneth over.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Respite

I'm tired.  I have had a sinus infection this week on the heels of a very busy few weeks.  I didn't think I was going to make it all day at work today.  I prayed several times for extra strength, and the Lord provided.  I gathered up my things after school and decided to leave on time.  I stopped by the store to get some things for a small salad to go along with some chicken and rice I had cooked in the crock pot earlier this week.  I sent the kids upstairs to finish homework and practice.  After seeing to the four-legged family members, I set everything on the stove to warm, mixed up the salad (love the ready-made salad in a bag), and made some iced tea.  I turned on the fireplace, grabbed my favorite blanket, sat on the sofa and picked up a book.   It was a strange, but wonderful half hour.  I read next to the fireplace under a blanket as if I had nothing else to do.  I curled up on the sofa and put our of my mind the three-hour college course looming over my head, the laundry pile growing minute by minute, a house to clean, and supper to finish.  But I chose to sit by the fire and read under my favorite blanket....in the quiet.

Homework was finished.  Practicing completed.  The giggles that go along with dancing in the bedroom started seeping through the ceiling along with the rattling of the floor above me.    I haven't heard those sounds in many weeks.  Life has been busy.  Unscheduled, free play has not existed.

But for today, we led a quiet life....at least after 5:00.  The day up until then had been far from quiet and unhurried.  This little respite was very welcome and appreciated.

Until we meet again.....  

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Balance Beam

I have always been fascinated with the balance beam.  I love watching the summer Olympic games, especially gymnastics.  Not only is it athletic and competitive, but it is absolutely beautiful and graceful.  I am amazed at the skill of the gymnasts when they get on the balance beam.  With poise and control they navigate the beam and perform a beautifully choreographed routine from start to finish.....and make it look effortless.  We all know it is not.  Even the slightest miscalculation and they can fall.

I understand more and more the importance of a well choreographed routine in my life.  Without it, my beam routine will be a disaster every time.  Choreographing my daily routine takes time, thought, and yes....practice.  Oftentimes I choreograph my routine in its entirety instead of building it over time.  There is something to be said about building a great routine.

I can't do it all.  I can't do it all at once.  I also have to teach this to my children so they don't make the same mistakes I have.  One thing at a time.  One element at a time.  It takes well-balanced walking and navigating the beam to be able to add a flip, a stunt, a turn...  If I can't walk and navigate securely, I might as well add some extra padding to the uniform because I am surely going to fall hard.

I think I need to spend some time walking and navigating.  The flips will come.  Fancy footwork will be needed at times.  I pray my dismount is amazing.  It all depends on what happens along the way!  As long as I stay balanced on my beam, I can dismount with joy and confidence.  I'm not ready to dismount yet....though there are days!  Until then, I will work on my balance until it is effortless.

Monday, February 20, 2012

A Living Sacrifice

One of my goals for 2012 is to read through the Bible.  I have set this goal other times in the past, but never really had the discipline to follow through.  When I would get behind I would get discouraged.  I would quit and go back to doing something different with my Bible reading.  I never really liked having to read what I was "told" to read.  I follow a strict schedule every day of my life as a teacher.  Bells ring, I jump.  Bathroom breaks are scheduled, lunch is scheduled, and even prayer is scheduled!  As Fine Arts Director I sit on the admin staff.  Sometimes we all read the same book and discuss the first few minutes at each meeting.  This means that the time I would have to "leisurely" read is taken up by an assigned book.  Don't get me wrong, I enjoy reading good books.  I love discussing books.  I believe it is my stubborn nature that kicks in sometimes when I wish I could have picked my own book to read.  I usually end up enjoying the book and get a lot out of the discussions.  I digress. (another reason I never completed the "read through the Bible" goal in the past)

This year has been different.  My husband is doing it with me and we are keeping each other accountable.   I have been digging into the Old Testament and now find myself in Leviticus.  I have walked with the Israelites through the wilderness on their Exodus from Egypt.  I have tried to picture the radiance of the glory of God streaming from Moses' face.  I have envisioned the Tabernacle being built and readied for the presence of a Holy God.  The one thing that keeps creeping back into my mind is the thought of sacrifice.   God was very specific in His instructions for making sacrifices.  The instructions were repeated over and over again.  If one thing was out of place, the sacrifice was void.  People lost their lives after offering unclean sacrifices.  God was serious about this.  He is Holy.  In order for the sacrifices to be pleasing and acceptable to Him they had to be perfect, unblemished, and presented in specific ways.  I wonder if we would go to all that trouble today.  We don't like being inconvenienced.  I picture people trying to find ready-made sacrifices on the Internet to offer.   Click and buy.  No mess, no fuss, no blood on our hands.....all from the comfort of our couch.  

But Jesus came.  

Jesus.....the perfect sacrifice.  There will never be another.  All the pains and trouble that people went through in the Old Testament can not compare with the blood of Jesus.  We are free.  Free from the restrictions of the Law.  But what does this really mean?   "I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.  Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect."   We often read Romans 12:1 and wrap it up in a bow.  Our busy minds can quote that scripture.  It is short and to the point, just like we like it.  No detailed instructions, no specifics, no restrictions as to "how" we are to go about this sacrifice.  No blood on our hands.  Right?   Wrong.  
Reading on in Romans 12 gives us our instructions----the marks of a Christian----our call to duty-----our call to sacrifice.  I feel I fall very short of offering my body as a living sacrifice....one that is truly acceptable and pleasing to God.  So do we have it easier than the Israelites?  I think not.  Romans 12 is our lifelong work in progress.   It is the process of growing us into who and what God calls us to be.  

I am living, but am I truly sacrificing?   

 



Sunday, January 15, 2012

There she is......Miss America!

When I was growing up I never missed the Miss America pageant.  I always made sure I had all my homework, practicing and chores finished so I would be able to sit uninterrupted and watch the pageant.  I dreamed of being Miss America.   After watching, I would play “Miss America Pageant” for hours in my room.  I would walk the runway, accept the crown, bend down and look shocked as the former Miss America tries to pin the crown in place, pretend to cry, and wave at my imaginary audience looking overwhelmed, humbled and excited.  I never watched the “other” pageant.  (Miss USA)  I respected the Miss America Pageant and foundation for promoting inner beauty, intelligence, good public speaking skills, and my favorite---the talent competition.  Over the years I have watched some incredible talent grace the Miss America stage.  I remember Susan Powell (Miss Oklahoma) claimed the 1981 Miss America title.  She was a vocal performance major at Oklahoma City University.  She performed a rendition of "Lucy's Aria" from Gian Carlo Menotti's opera, The Telephone.  I can still hear and see her singing it in my memory today.  Gretchen Carlson (Fox News Anchor) not only won Miss America in 1989, but she also won the preliminary talent competition with her classical violin solo.  The talent portion has always been my favorite portion of the pageant. 

I started to lose interest in the Miss America pageant in 1997 when the total focus of the pageant became the fact that it would be the first year the contestants could wear two-piece swimsuits.  It was the only thing they talked about and it overshadowed everything else in the pageant.  The girls got skinnier and more like super models instead of normal healthy young women.

This year I used the DVR so I could watch it later.  I noticed that everyone wears two pieces now.  I am sure this has been the norm ever since 1997.  I was struck by how extremely thin and “chiseled” the women looked.   If the swimsuit portion was unimpressive to me, the evening gown competition was a glaring look into the minds of our young women today.  The selection of the evening gown was to show the contestants’ taste, confidence and flair for fashion.  They were recorded talking about how they felt in their gown, why they chose the gown, or something along that line of questioning. 

Here are a few quotes from the evening gown portion of the pageant that particularly caught my attention:

"My gown definitely has a little bit of a sex appeal to it.  It has a high slit, a low cut, but is basically just showcasing the body that I’ve worked so hard on my entire life."  (Miss Illinois)

"In today’s society, ‘sexy’ is very subjective and so is ‘beauty’.   So for me, Miss America being sexy is rocking a stylish outfit, looking hot, and also appealing to young women who are trying to relate to her." (Miss California)

"I think Miss America is sexy.  And Miss America does need to be sexy because it is all about sex appeal these days.  I think being sexy is being confident with who you are and being able to strut your stuff in any given situation and know that you are sexy while doing it.”  (Miss Alabama)

I have always held the Miss America pageant up to be "ideal" pageant because it focused on scholarship, whole beauty, all-around character, talent, and intelligence.  I admired the women of years past.  They were beautiful, yet normal.  Not anymore.  

I would love to sit and watch the pageant with my girls.  I did it once.  We played "interview" during the commercials and video-taped their answers.  I had them walk into the room and introduce themselves with a "one-liner" about their state.  It was so much fun.  Now, I hesitate to watch it with them because of the image it portrays as "ideal".  I don't want my girls growing up focused on their body....focused on being "hot" or "sexy" because that is what is expected from the all-American girl.  

I pray we can reclaim innocence, true beauty....loveliness......intelligence....things to be proud of.  I fear it will only get worse.  Come on, moms.  Don't try to let your girls grow up too fast by wearing clothes that are so fashion-forward that they are immodest.  Don't let them begin wearing make up so soon.  They are beautiful young girls who are being led to believe by society that their appearance is flawed and not good enough.  We need to stop talking about our weight and start talking about our health.  Dads need to step in and reassure their daughters of their beauty....their natural beauty.  They need to set the tone for their wardrobe by going shopping with their daughters.  Fathers need to look their daughters in the eyes and tell them how beautiful they are.  

So, my days of the annual Miss America event at home have come to an end.  It makes me sad.  I have such fond memories of it.  I even had the Miss America Barbie doll!  It was never about the body.  It was always about poise, intelligence, and the talent.  Why am I surprised when I look at society today.  Magazines, clothes, commercials for lingerie during prime time television hours, and airbrushing being offered on your child's school pictures to "fix" their imperfections.  

I will be on my knees a little longer tomorrow for my daughters.  
Will you join me?