Are You There God? It’s Me, Lauri

As a young pre-pubescent tween girl of the Seventies, it was almost a rite of passage to read the ever-popular book “Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret” by Judy Blume. It was a story about a girl writing letters in her journal discussing the impending arrival of her period.  Gasp!!!  There, I said it!  For some reason, the word “period” or “menstruation” has always been one of those words that makes people uncomfortable, particularly teenagers once they know what it means.

I am going to talk about another word that surprisingly makes people uncomfortable.  No it isn’t the “f-bomb”!  I discussed my thoughts on that in an earlier post. For some reason, which is beyond me, this word has become so out-of-bounds naughty to some, it actually makes them vicious and hateful.  Others, especially those who have become shackled by political correctness, whisper it and talk about it with such sensitivity you would think it a vulgarity.  The word is GOD. There, I said it! What a potty mouth!!!!!

A few weeks ago, my daughter and I met my husband for dinner after we had all had a very long day. He looked especially tired and told me that he started his day in the Hamilton County courtroom in Cincinnati. He was there as an observer because he was selected to be part of a team utilizing their proven leadership skills to create collaborative initiatives focused on improving the city. He showed me a picture of a guy that had been arraigned and had had his bond set because he had allegedly robbed and murdered someone. Showing me a picture he pulled up from the Internet, he said, “Look at his eyes.” The eyes of the man in the photo were dark, soul-less, abysmal pools. We then touched on the large number of criminals that had gone before the judge while he was there. One every minute or two. It was like an assembly line. The name was called, the bond was set, the judged stamped their paper and said, “Next.”

He was telling me how depressing it was to see so many lost souls, and how they just keep cycling back through the system because they don’t know a better way. The jails are overcrowded, so if it is anything other than a major offense, they pretty much walk. He said that in most of these situations there is no father in the picture, and if they are hungry, they might have to steal. In white suburbia, he told me, we just can’t imagine what that is like.  SCREEEEEEEECH!!!!! Hold on just a minute!  I hardly think hunger is the main source of the crimes committed. “The problem is so big, there really isn’t a solution.” Really??? Hellur….GOD? He’s pretty big!

 

I once saw a quote,”Don’t tell God you have a big problem, tell your problem you have a big God.” I am not going to beat the Bible over anyone’s head here, but I believe a quick reference guide for “Top 10 Ways to Stay Out of Jail” can easily be found in Exodus 20….a.k.a. The Ten Commandments.  Now, I am no theologian, but the Bible talks about the wilderness, and I am pretty darn certain that if you follow these simple instructions, you will stay away from the depravity..just sayin’!

 

There are initiatives, welfare programs, studies, and data created in an effort to treat the epidemic, but why not be proactive in staving off poverty.  If one knew there was a deadly disease, and one could be vaccinated to prevent it, wouldn’t one opt for the shot instead of hoping the body would fight the contagion?  My question is why haven’t all these so-called specialists interested in fighting poverty ever blamed the removal of prayer from schools…the breakdown of families…the low number of people attending church?  It seems like such an obvious answer.  President Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society was supposed to be a “war on poverty”.  As one can see from the image below, $22 TRILLION has been spent and we are NO BETTER OFF!!!

 

Two years prior to launching The Great Society, prayer was taken out of school.  Here is a photo taken in the Fifties of children saying prayer in school:

 

In his book “America: To Pray or not to Pray”, David Barton lists some staggering statistics:

Since the 1962 removal of prayer:

SAT Total Scores


CASES OF SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED DISEASES

Includes: Gonorrhea, Syphillis, Chancroid,
Granuloma Inguinale, Lymphgranuloma Venereum, and AIDS

PREGNANCIES TO UNWED GIRLS

Under 15 Years of Age

PREGNANCIES TO UNWED GIRLS

Under 15-19 Years of Age

BIRTH RATES FOR UNWED GIRLS

Under 15-19 Years of Age

PRE-MARITAL SEX

Percentage of U.S. Teenage Girls
Who Have Had Pre-Marital Intercourse

SINGLE PARENT HOUSEHOLDS

Female Head, No Spouse Present

UNMARRIED COUPLES LIVING TOGETHER


YEAR

Prior to 1977, unmarried couples living together was such a small group that data on this group was collected only in the 10-year census reports.* Note: Unmarried couples represented only 1 in 85 of all couples in 1970,
compared with 1 in 25 in 1983. Basic data from Statistical Abstracts of the United States

DIVORCE RATES

“The U.S. is at the top of the world’s divorce charts on marital breakups.”
U.S. News and World Report, June 8, 1987, pp. 68-69
“The number of divorces tripled each year between 1962 and 1981.”
Time, July 13, 1987, p. 21

ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION PER CAPITA

VIOLENT CRIME: Number of Offenses

 

Amazingly, if one studies the Liberal Progressive movement, it abhors the family unit, claiming that it subjugates women.  Isn’t a single woman/mother, who is dependent on the government for their necessities, a subjugation? As the Bible tells a woman to submit to her husband, isn’t a woman beholden to entitlements submitting to the government?

The country was started when, at their peril, brave Puritan men and women began reading the Bible against the wishes of the church leaders.  They realized that their rights came from God, not from man.  I once heard that, many years ago, one was only thought scholarly if one had read the entire Bible.  My guess is if the scholars of today, teaching our nation’s children, taught the very same principles etched on those stone tablets of yore, we would see a dramatic decrease of poverty, crime, and brokenness.  So, each day when I say my prayers to heal our country, it begins like this, “Are You There God, it’s me Lauri…”

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Have Street Sweepers That Paint As Michelangelo Gone the Way of the Neanderthal?

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I greatly appreciate a job well done. A couple of weeks ago, I made my weekly trip to Costco. It was the usual trip, you know, going in for eggs, milk, apples, and bottled water and, $400 later, leaving with all kinds of things that I didn’t realize were necessary until I was milling about through the maze of new products that weren’t there the last time I was. A table (I couldn’t live without) caught my eye, and, as is typical, I still shop with the mindset that I still have my old Cadillac Escalade ESV (the really big one).

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Now that my step-children are grown and I only have one child to chauffeur, I drive a small SUV. It is accommodating in most instances, but sometimes I get to my car and memories come flooding back of when I was in high school and I would have to lie down on the bed to get into my favorite pair of jeans. At least, I never had to resort to threading a hanger through the zipper tab for extra grip😉…you ladies know who you are. Nowadays, they use the term jeggings (jeans and leggings hybrid). Yes, jeans were that tight in the Eighties, and yes, my hair was crazy big!

As I was walking to my car, a smiling young Costco employee, that I had seen loading my cart on earlier visits, was at the entrance restocking the snake of bascarts that had been sitting in the corrals in the parking lot. I would guess his age to be between nineteen and twenty-two. As I was leaving the store, he saw that I had a full cart and asked if he could be of assistance getting the box into my car. I told him that I might need it, because it will be like putting 10 pounds of sugar in a 5-pound bag.

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Once we got to my car and I lifted the hatch, the sight was even more grim. I may have heard him gasp! In the cargo area sat my daughter’s Michael Phelp’s Pro II swim backpack fully equipped with a solar-powered mini fridge with a backup generator (or at least it looks that big), her swim fins and snorkel in a separate mesh bag, and a large box of books with a destination of the Salvation Army. Oh yeah, AND my 55-pound Portuguese Water Dog, who persistently cries and moans if he is left behind, expectantly sat perched in the back seat. If only he was bilingual and spoke something other than Portuguese Dog-ese…oh, the stories he could tell!

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Now, seeing my predicament, I was really hoping that the nice young man would be kind enough to help me with the box (things always looks smaller in the big box stores than they really are). I quickly, and nervously, moved the contents from the cargo area transferring them to the forward passenger seat. I have only once before needed to dismantle the cargo hold cover, but I must have looked like a deer in the headlights because he said, “Don’t worry, I know this model of car very well.”

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Sure enough, he pulled this latch, that latch, and we were in business. He smiled the whole time and was nothing but enthusiastic and pleasant. Wow, how refreshing and in short supply that is these days! Shortly afterwards, I was on the road and called my mom. I profusely bragged on this kid’s demeanor. I said, “I am going to have to tell a manager next time I go in.”

Sure enough, this week, I was at Costco, again, and he was walking towards me. I stopped him and asked his name. This time, he looked like a deer in the headlights. He hesitantly told me, “Ja-a-a-mes…what is yours?” By the tone of his voice, I could tell that he thought he may be in trouble. I told him I wanted to know so that I could compliment him to his manager. I said his enthusiasm and energy were to be recognized. He lit up.

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I stopped someone that I recognized as a manager and told him about James and asked where I could put it on record. He told me where to go and what to do. He was grateful that I would make the effort, and I told him that it is so unusual to see that level of pride in ones job, much less in someone so young. I told him that people have no problem complaining about being slighted, but so few go out of their way to recognize a superior level of service. Doesn’t positive reinforcement encourage that behavior?

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My husband travelled recently, and he lamented the decline of service with the airlines. Years ago, I used to be a flight attendant for a major airline. I too have noticed a HUGE decline in customer-friendly service. Most, not all, ticketing and gate agents no longer engage with travelers. All those years ago, the Vice-President of Inflight Service for the airline I worked for received a letter from a passenger saying that I was more memorable than the Grand Tetons (get your minds out of the gutter). He and a few of his friends were returning from being out west. I gave them great service, told them jokes, and made their trip home a cheerful one.

For my daughter’s eleventh birthday in mid-November, she wanted a crystal chandelier for her bedroom (yes, she is another princess in the making). We found the one she wanted and purchased it on Amazon. Following the chaos of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and my daughter’s participation in the Middle School musical, I was finally getting around to hanging it a couple of weeks ago.

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I am pretty handy, so I decided to install it myself. As I was assembling this 75-piece masterpiece, I discovered a cracked-crystal bowl and a decorative crystal arm that had threads that wouldn’t grab ahold of the part that twisted into it. I felt my face flush.

My first thought was, “You ding dong! You should have checked all of the parts when you took delivery.” My second thought was, “Oh, poop! Where is the receipt?” Thirdly, I thought, “Gulp! How do I get ahold of the seller on Amazon that sold it to me more than two months ago?” Well, I am so fortunate to say, the seller has been amazing. His professionalism has been off the charts! He gushed apologies, thanked me for my business, and thoroughly has followed up with ever step of rectifying the situation. These days, it isn’t often that my expectations are met, much less exceeded!

My daughter’s dance team has been doing a routine in which the girls had to stand atop little wrought-iron chairs. The seat had come off of her chair and was therefore unsafe for her to use. Honestly, I didn’t know what the heck I was going to do. I didn’t have a tool to drill holes into the iron, and she had a national dance competition the next day.

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We have all gone into hardware stores with a problem that needed solving, only to leave feeling dejected when they tell us they can’t help us fix whatever needs fixing. I stopped at a hardware store and asked if there was someone in there that was handy. I was referred to an elderly gentleman, Larry, that eagerly accepted the challenge. He told me to give him a couple of hours and call him. I felt such relief! I called him after my daughter finished swim practice and it was finished!!! When I picked it up, it was solidly fixed, and he recommended I replace a missing pad for one of the legs that would make it even more stable and safe! He earned a loyal customer!

It isn’t difficult to take pride in your job. As Dr. Martin Luther King said, “If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.’ ” Though those “brush-wielding street sweepers” seem to be going the way of the Neanderthal, there are still those that take pride in doing their job well. I strongly believe their efforts toward hard work and attention to detail are worthy of recognition and praise.

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Good or Bad, Those We Love Invariably Leave the Most Lasting Impressions

I was reading an article recently when I came across a quote from the Hollywood actor, Michael Douglas. He said, “Sometimes we spend more efforts with people that are strangers, in terms of making an impression, than the person that’s closest to us. And you just have to remember not to take for granted that person that’s closest to you.” We all know this to be true, yet we take for granted our spouses, children, parents and even grandparents day after day, year after year, as though our lives will continue without the effects of time.

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These past few weeks, I have been busy working on a little project. Two of the bedrooms in our house are those that my two step-children used to occupy when they would come in their younger years to visit us every other weekend. Ten years ago, their paint colors of choice had been shades of brilliant lime green and deep cerulean blue. They are no longer being used, so my husband recommended that I make them into guest bedrooms for our would-be visitors if and when we would ever need them. I found the task to be almost like going through a loved ones belongings after they have passed. Fortunately for me, I haven’t had to endure such agony as of yet.

When I started, the blue room was decorated with rows of colorful felt pennants, bright baseball caps and large, glossy posters depicting then-current MVPs of favorite athletic teams all held securely in place by an army of push pins (which left just as many holes in their absence). Oft-celebrated players of years past were captured mid-play in framed and matted pictures that decorated the expanse of the walls. Prized trophies from old baseball or football seasons now evoke warm and distant memories of years that have flown by in blur. Cluttered book shelves laden with memorabilia from days gone by line one of the walls: hard-fought medals and autographed footballs enclosed in acrylic boxes; old, scuffed ice skates leaning lifelessly against a stack of dusty-smelling books with gently worn, crimped paper covers and dog-eared pages that at one point were required reading. More trophies…Random neon-yellow spots dot the carpet, left behind as a result of our beloved furry family member, Jax, deciding that paintballs look very appetizing and later abandoning them after they tasted differently. Now, the once-dark chambray bedspread and sham have been bleached from years of sunsets. The room sits quietly in its vacancy.

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The green room was markedly less cluttered. A colorful bulletin board hung on the wall adorned with mementos of a young life’s highlights: pictures and torn concert ticket stubs with a program from a Hannah Montana Concert (throwback from the days when she was a Disney sweetheart) held in place by satin ribbon; a photograph of smiling sweet success in building a well-endowed snowwoman with then-inseparable friends; a picture of a surprise birthday party with feather boas and a crowned birthday girl sitting between her little seven-year-old friends who are now seniors or high school graduates, all of whom no longer associate with one another. On the dresser sat four wax molds of hands that spelled L-O-V-E in sign language that left permanent circular reminders of neon pink in the wood’s washed finish; a dried, moss-covered flower girl basket that was carried down the aisle thirteen years ago when her dad and I got married sat still collecting dust. A Madame Alexander ballerina doll dressed in white satin stood poised on tiptoe next to a revolving carousel that rang chimes. I opened a hand-painted jewelry box filled with those little miscellaneous, prized objects that kids hoard and become meaningless in a little over a week’s time.

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I sorted through the closets and drawers. As I emptied them, it made me think about how our lives become so busy with our own chaotic schedules that we often don’t fully consider what kind of an impression we leave on those we love the most dearly. As a stay at home mom, I can assure you that I have longed for solitude, especially as I was finishing up the last two weeks of the holidays. Instead of enjoying Christmas, oftentimes, I get to the end feeling depleted and thinking to myself, “What happened to Christmas?” At least this year, I made cookies. The drawback? I had deadlines to meet so I didn’t get to enjoy making them with my daughter. The same goes for our lives. Before I know it, I will be thinking, “What happened to my life?” Have I tried to impress upon those that I hold dearest the best version of myself? We are all flawed, but will it be a lasting impression that is good or, even better, GREAT? When they see the all-too-real version, they still love us. If we showed that same “genuine” version we present to our families to those who are merely acquaintances, i.e. professional or personal associates…those that we all too eagerly strive to impress…would they still be around? Would they try to avoid interacting with us? My guess is a resounding yes. So, with that said, why do we make more of an effort with them?

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If those impressions were measureable, do we give the loftiest to those who aren’t seeing our flaws but only a snapshot of us putting our best foot forward? Shouldn’t we reserve that energy, charm and vivacity for those who have seen us through our darkest and most difficult moments? It reminds me of seeing pictures on social media. The pictures are taken, retaken and/or edited to make the impression that everything in that person’s life is going splendidly, without a hitch. Very rarely do we see the struggle or feel the pain of what someone is going through. Starting today, I am going to be intentional with leaving my best impressions to those who matter most. They will be the ones to whom it will be the most lasting.

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Contrary to the Incessant Negative Propaganda, WE ARE AMERICA!!!!

Anymore, the headlines are filled with sensationalized stories about weaknesses in our country and around the world. The tension among different factions of our culture is almost palpable: Atheists vs. Believers; Homosexuals vs. Heterosexuals; Pro-Gay Marriage vs. Anti-Gay Marriage; Gun Rights vs. Gun Control; Pro-Amnesty vs. Seal the Borders; Pro-Choice vs. Pro-Life…and the list goes on and on. These endless schisms are NOT unintentional. As Americans, if we peel back the cloak of propaganda, I think we will find a commonality: the blood that runs through our collective veins is RED, WHITE, AND BLUE.

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As a nation being steered by leaders that profit by focusing our attentions on our differences, we sometimes miss how similar we are because we are nefariously encouraged through our politicians, educational system, and mainstream media to focus on that which will make us choose sides. To keep us stirred up gives them more power. These wrongly-trusted advisors are negligent in their fiduciary responsibility to be honest with the American people. They will even go as far as promoting falsehoods such as the “war on women” or comparing racism today with the days of Jim Crow Laws.

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Sadly, the uninformed and apathetic fall victim to these fabrications instead of doing their own research. They don’t use their own anecdotal evidence or experience to make their judgements; they are told what they are to think and they accept it without question. They are merely lemmings ready to follow their often un-vetted leader off the proverbial cliff. What we are told is twisted and shaped to promote their agendas. I was in church yesterday and saw a video that flipped this propaganda on its ear and it prompted me to write this post.

I became relatively interested in the news during the 2000 Presidential Election. I had my candidate, “my team”, and I wanted him to win. The suspense of the recount following the election prompted conversations and I started watching the news hoping to see my choice for the next President of the United States be victorious.  I was spending a good part of the year in Sarasota, Florida at the time, and it all boiled down to the Secretary of State in Florida making the state’s results official and giving the win to George W. Bush. I had voted in every election after turning 18, but as publicized as that election was, I found that I, too, was holding my breath over the hanging chads.

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In the months to follow, I kept myself pretty well abreast of what was in the news, but September 11, 2001 changed all that. As a result, to say that I listen to Conservative Talk Radio/ News a lot is an understatement. I want to be in-the-know so that I can inform others. I feel that as a stay-at-home mom, it is the least I can do, and I feel a certain sense of civic responsibility. Between the radio, emails, television, and internet, I know almost everything that is going on in real time. Thus, what I saw in church yesterday had me perplexed.

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The church I attend has themes that last 4-5 weeks, and this week kicked off the theme “We Are (Fill in the Blank)”. At the end of the message, a video was shown of the 9/11 Boatlift rescue. After being summoned by the U.S. Coast Guard, boats of all shapes and sizes transported 500,000 stranded people from Manhattan to safety as the World Trade Center buildings were toppled in a terrorist attack that claimed the lives of nearly 3,000 people…IN NINE HOURS!!!!!! It was a colossally successful mission!

I sat there watching the video as it rekindled the feelings that I had on that horrific day. As the video progressed and I heard the accounts of those involved, I began to feel such an inspirational pride that I hadn’t felt in quite a while. It was like steak to a starving man!!!! As it ended, I thought, “Why have I never seen this? Why isn’t this story told over and over again?” This film shows who we are as Americans. The fabric of our nation’s DNA was so obviously knitted into each of these heroic boat captains! Instead of our politicians, educators (it goes without saying this does not apply to all of them), and mainstream media cultivating disdain and divisiveness in our country, why not promote the amazing triumphs in her history? Are we flawed? Yes! Are we fabulous? Absolutely!!!! After all, WE ARE AMERICA!!!! Now, let’s start acting like it!

“I BELIEVE WITH ALL MY HEART THAT STANDING UP FOR AMERICA MEANS STANDING UP FOR THE GOD WHO HAS SO BLESS OUR LAND.” -RONALD REAGAN

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Note to Self-Proclaimed Feminists: Go Ahead and Devalue Yourselves but DON’T EXPLOIT YOUR CHILDREN

Every morning during the school year, I drop my daughter off at the front door of her Middle School and ask Siri, on my iPhone, to call my mom. I sometimes check in with her again in the afternoon or evening. We have a very close relationship…it’s what we do. I talk with her about dilemmas either of us may have (I admit, it is usually me that has the dilemma), current events, recipes (we both have a passion for culinary creativity) and a host of other things that might come up.

Last night, while waiting for my daughter to finish her dance class, I sat in the car and decided to call Mother to check in. She asked me if I had seen the commercial with 6-year-old girls dropping the “F-bomb”. I told her that I hadn’t seen it. When I phoned her again this morning, I could hear the news in the background, and twice during our 15-minute conversation, the subject regarding the ad was brought up. My mom was appalled to say the least. I could hear some of the discussion on the news which wasn’t very positive. I decided to check it out myself. I mean, REALLY, just how bad could it be?

WARNING: VERY GRAPHIC LANGUAGE

IT IS THAT BAD!!! At least, it is to me. The commercial in question is a pro-feminism ad about women’s inequality featuring little young girls, rumored to be around six years of age, and one boy, dressed in princess dresses. Hat tip to the cross dressers! After all, in our current culture, we must be diverse and tolerant of everyone and everything! I can’t imagine where a mother’s mind is that commends exploiting her child and glorifying the use of language like is on display in this ad. Do they really think it furthers the cause of equality for women? I think the “geniuses” behind this marketing campaign look like nothing more than ugly, trashy, and desperate women with no taste or sensibilities. To what end are they creating a video showing their children using such potty language? For posterity’s sake? Have they even given it any thought? If these classless women, who clearly lack any discernment, would like to humiliate themselves and it be put into the annals of internet history, go right ahead! Don’t exploit children! It is the unspoken rule of decency!

Thirty-two years ago this fall, I started my freshman year at the University of Georgia…GO DAWGS! My roommate and I were late getting in our application for dorm selection, so we were relegated to live in a co-ed dorm named Creswell, known more familiarly as “The Well”. Being from a small intimate town on the south side of Atlanta, I lived a pretty sheltered life. My roommate, from the same hometown, and I were both what I would consider “protected” in our upbringings. I remember exactly where I was when I heard the “F-bomb” for the very first time.

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Her name was Edna…Edna from New Jersey. She was drunk (again) and walking through the dorm hallway shouting something. She continued on her rant and my roommate and I were in our dorm room sitting on our beds looking at each other over the tops of our studying material. We both agreed that Edna was “at it again”. After she shouted out what we thought was a resounding, “SHOW YOUR BALLS!”, Shelly and I bolted from our bunks to look out in the hallway. It was anyones guess what was taking place! Seiously, we were living in a co-ed dorm! After we two Southern Belles figured out what she was saying, we realized that her enthusiasm for the upcoming home football game “between the hedges” was uncontainable. She was actually shouting “Shug-ah Bowl!” That is how out of place profanity was back then. It certainly hadn’t become a cliched part of our everyday language!

I am not going to sit on any high horse and act like a swear word is totally foreign to me, but I must say it did give me a warm fuzzy recently when my daughter was in utter disbelief when I spontaneously let “Shit!” slip when someone almost T-boned me while going through an intersection. “MOM!!!!!!” When my daughter hears profanity, I try to explain to her that they are merely words. It is OUR choice to use DIFFERENT words. I explain that anyone can use those words but they are ugly and trashy and make the person speaking it look similar. Why would these crass feminists use little kids as a means of pushing their agenda? Why not cultivate a child’s innocence instead of promoting vulgarity? To encourage young children to profusely use profanity that will be viewed by millions to promote something they have yet to experience is beyond despicable.

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In the offensive video, its message is to denounce inequality of women. Does repeating the “F-bomb” make us more equal? Does having little girls using words like f@#*, penis, and ass stop women from being raped and victimized by violence? This commercial is a disgrace to our gender and will not further the feminist agenda. It simply trashes them. I don’t know if the two crude loud-mouths in the video are mothers of these children or not, but if they are, they are the antithesis of a good parent, and I wouldn’t consider them worthy of equality in the parenting realm.  I wonder if they behave in the work place like they asked of these children. If so, they don’t deserve equality!  Nice work, Ladies!

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Ladies…oh yeah, I forgot that you amazingly find the moniker offensive UNLIKE you deem the language in your advertisement…Women, your absurd attempt at promoting equality is so unimpressive. But then again, feminism has worked so well for these two ladies:

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Live Your Life…Like a Boss!

“If your presence doesn’t make an impact, your absence won’t make a difference.” -Vincent “Vince” Lombardi

Every year, when my daughter starts school, I look for motivational quotes to write on her pencil box, planner or accordion file. For example, last year’s “It’s not how good you are that is important; it’s how good you want to be” was replaced with this year’s “Perfection is not attainable; but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence”-Vince Lombardi. I am not sure who said the first quote, but the second was spoken by a legendary and iconic coach who masterfully motivated his players to be “in it to win it” (source unknown;-)).

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In my search, I came across the aforementioned quote, “If your presence doesn’t make an impact, your absence won’t make a difference” and thought, am I making an impact? In church the last three weeks, the theme has been titled “Like a Boss”. The pastor spoke of how our culture has gotten away from the idea of work being a good thing. He went as far as to quote a Gallup poll that was quite startling. He said, as recently as 2012, those polled here in the U.S. that were 18 and over and in the work force were either a.) 29% engaged, b.) 54% disengaged, or c.) 18% ACTIVELY DISENGAGED, meaning those actively disengaged actually work toward the demise of the company who employs them! What is the root of this malaise?

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My pastor went on to quote Scripture regarding mankind’s responsibility to work. The pastor said to work “like a boss”…at EVERYTHING you do… including resting on the Sabbath. His list included marriage, parenting, employment, employing, studying, cooking, serving others, et al. His messages the past three weeks have truly resonated with me. In my own journey of the Bible, through the book of Proverbs and now into Ecclesiastes, I feel like I have had an epiphany! It is ALL ABOUT WORK! God’s Word is directing us to work “LIKE A BOSS”! It is up to us to choose to do our very best in all things. We must be intentional in our life here on earth. Amazingly, I feel that the tasks that I have formerly found to be repetitious and mundane have somehow become less tedious or wearisome. I am consciously looking at ironing uniforms (yes, I really do iron), making breakfast, and packing lunch through a completely different lens. What a difference it makes!

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As my daughter’s crazy schedule is now in full swing, it is easy to get caught up in feeling like I am on a hamster wheel as I drive the same routes over and over to school, swimming, voice, piano, dance, and a plethora of other activities in which she participates. Obviously, Vince Lombardi is not with us any more, but his legacy and passion for pursuit of excellence is still very present and is oft-quoted to motivate us to our highest level of performance. I now realize it is all up to me to motivate myself! I am hoping to be more deliberate in living my life like a boss so that I leave an impactful example and legacy for my daughter to follow. I wonder how my husband is going to like it when I tell him, “Honey, there’s a new boss in town.”;-)

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Rose-Colored Gifts of The Good Ol’ Days

Having described myself as a night owl for years, I have never been a fan of mornings. Oddly enough, since my daughter has started back to school this year, I have awakened between 5:00 and 5:30 a.m. without an alarm. When this had happened in the past, my usual choice had been to try to force myself back to sleep resulting in frustration if I was unsuccessful. If I was lucky enough to doze off, inevitably, I’d slip back into a near-comatose slumber. It seemed like mere seconds before the alarm jolted me back to life reminding me a little bit of defibrillator paddles. I would then experience a certain amount of sleep inertia and agonizing grogginess as I would grumblingly haul my body out of bed and heavily trudge my way to my work station in the kitchen. UGH!!!

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I have been opting, instead, to open my eyes and start allowing myself to go through a mental checklist about what I have on my agenda for the day. My mother and husband have both been on me for years to make a list. My response: “That’s not how I roll!” I now submit to the list! Though I see the merit in routine, I would never have described myself as being regimented. Just between you and me, I am enjoying going to the kitchen, starting a pot of coffee, and while it is gurgling, reading my daily devotional, two chapters in the Bible, and spending a little time with God.

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I once heard, that years ago, you weren’t considered educated if you hadn’t read the Bible. I thought, “I profess my Christianity, but how well do I know the Bible?” Soooo… I started with Genesis. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” I have made it to Ecclesiastes which is believed to be written by the wise King Solomon as he gets into the twilight of his years and reflects upon human existence. This morning a particular verse gave me pause in which I, too, was reflective. ‘Do not say, “Why were the old days better than these?” For it is not wise to ask such questions…When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider: God has made the one as well as the other. Therefore, a man cannot discover anything about your future.’ Ecclesiastes 7:10,14

Wow. I thought about all the times recently that I find myself lamenting the current state of affairs in our world, and, even closer to home, our country. The verse’s associated devotional suggested that we look for today’s gifts instead of our very selective rose-colored memories of the past. In my close circle of influence, I recognize a multitude of gifts: my family and friends, my health, my faith, etc. Technology has bestowed upon us Skype and FaceTime with which we are able to see our loved ones in real time. We have portable all-in-one computer/camera/phones the size of a deck of cards that we can easily slip into our pockets. They store thousands of our favorite songs, photos, and videos that can be uploaded to FaceBook and a host of other social media websites to be instantly shared with family and friends, some of which we haven’t seen in 30-40 years. That is really cool stuff! I get that.

What I am wondering about in my reflection? Are my memories rose-colored and selective? In the “good ol’ days”, our music was less vulgar and more discreet in its sexual innuendoes. For example, “Mama’s got her squeezebox, Daddy never sleeps at night” were lyrics of implied sexuality but it wasn’t as in your face as are the licentious lyrics of many contemporary artists such as Beyonce, Lady Gaga and even some Katy Perry. Thank heavens for a little Taylor Swift for our kids to listen to! I fondly recall Motown, Barry Manilow, Glenn Campbell, Disco, The Bay City Rollers, The Little River Band, Lynard Skynard, The Eagles, Bob Seger, Classic Rock, Gino Vanelli, Earth Wind & Fire, The Commodores, Toto…am I wrongly remembering a time of better melodies with acceptable lyrics? Popular music has devolved into harsh rhythms and gutter-speak that comes with a warning about explicit content. Where is the musical quality?

Years ago, I purchased a CD by Outkast that had a song “Hey Ya”…”Shake it like a polaroid picture”. Driving in my convertible, I was listening to the rest of the CD. I was sitting at a traffic light next to a minivan with its windows open that was loaded with children. The lyrics got so vile, I turned it off! What is the purpose? I haven’t listened to it since. Songs by Eminem, Beyonce, Lil Wayne, include lyrics that are overtly sexual or openly dropping the “F” bomb! Is it really music or is it profanity accompanied by an overzealous mixer that has a fondness for a heart-pounding, thundering subwoofer? Is it a contest to see how repugnant one can get?

When I was young, our sitcoms included The Andy Griffin Show, Gomer Pyle, Hogan’s Heroes, McCale’s Navy, Gilligan’s Island, Mr. Ed, The Munsters, The Brady Bunch, The Cosby Show, and Growing Pains. The shows were decent, AND some had parents, and even grandparents, around giving the children guidance. Today’s sitcoms such as iCarly, Good Luck Charlie, Victorious and Sam and Cat either have no parents on the show and they are being raised and influenced by peers, or the mother wears the pants in the family and the father is a blundering boob.

Who doesn’t prefer the nostalgic Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, The Little Drummer Boy or…wait for it…The Year Without a Santa Claus…”I’m Mr. Heat Miser! I’m Mr. Hundred-and-One!”?

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Even though we have the movies in DVD, I still look for these classics in the newspaper to find their showtimes. Only now, I have to search amongst a calendar starting Thanksgiving week that has 30 days of Christmas shows that are shown and repeated over the month. Nope…it isn’t as special as it was back in the “good ol’ days”, because then, we were only able to see them one time every December. In recent years, we have a twenty-four hour marathon of A Christmas Story  on TBS on Christmas Day. Who doesn’t love it when Ralphie escapes getting his eye shot out with the BB gun only because he is wearing glasses? Will we eventually be subjected to twenty-four hours of Shrek the Halls???

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Recently, my mom recommended that I get my daughter to come up with one meal per week: I will get the ingredients, and then she will cook it. We have now done it three times. It takes a lot of patience on my part, because I want to get it done as quickly as possible. Growing up, I remember my mom appointing me as her personal sous chef, so it is only fitting, that I have my own. I must say, she LOVES it. She enjoys taking ownership and is learning that the food doesn’t just show up on the plate. The memories that I have spending that time in the kitchen sure beat going to a restaurant or drive-thru which seems to be the preference these days. I even think some people that eat out all the time have adapted palates that would rather have a Chipotle Burrito then home cooking…not me! It is a labor of love that makes the house smell like a home. I think spending time as a family in preparing the meal is something that is going the way of the dinosaurs.

Perhaps, traditions are part of those rose-colored memories. Aren’t they what make us who we are? With the holidays quickly approaching, most of us look forward to rekindling those time-honored rituals that make us feel warm and fuzzy. Every year over the Thanksgiving holiday, my mom, daughter and I ice gingerbread cookies and take them to the firefighters and/or policemen to show our gratitude to those who are working over the holiday weekend. Due to the gift of technology, I greatly appreciate that I will be able to have a face-to-face conversation with my brother and sister-in-law on Thanksgiving Day! Better yet, standing in the kitchen slicing and dicing, basting and tasting alongside my mom and daughter will be most assuredly a timeless joy…just like “the good ol’ days”!