Prov 17:22

A merry heart doeth good like a medicine... - Proverbs 17:22

Friday, April 26, 2024

How is this Okay?

Have you noticed how often men are made to look stupid in commercials? With my radio on as I worked around my kitchen one day, I counted three ads within an hour that all used some variation of the same worn-out trope. Hubby is trying to repair or accomplish something. Wife advises him to call Business X or to purchase Product Y. Hubby refuses, insisting he’s got things under control. Except he doesn’t. By the time the 15 or 30-second spot ends, he realizes he should have listened to his wife in the first place.

Can you imagine if they flipped the script? Hubby suggests calling the plumber or the designer or the realtor but the wife resists because she can handle it herself. Then the dilemma blows up in her face and she acknowledges her husband had the better idea. How well would an ad like that be received?

I recently read the script for a stage play called The Smell of the Kill by Michele Lowe, described on its webpage as a “tantalizing new comedy that had Broadway audiences cheering.” In the play, a cast of three women complain about their husbands (who remain offstage). Granted, the men have behaved badly, so viewers naturally side with the wives. But when the husbands accidentally lock themselves into a frozen meat locker, the wives spend the remainder of the play trying to decide whether to free them or to let nature take its course so they can rid themselves of the losers. They discuss the pros and cons, arguing their points while the audience howls. Eventually, the women decide to vote.

A dark comedy, for sure. I understand that. I just can’t help wondering how much the audience would laugh if we reversed the roles. Imagine if some community theatrical company somewhere, miraculously, had more male than female members and decided to flip the script so that the wives were locked up and the husbands debated about leaving them to die? No matter that the wives had committed the exact same crimes as the men in the original version. I suspect you’d hear howling at that play, too, but not howls of laughter. Who would dare?

It’s a double standard. I understand—sort of—why we’re okay with it. Women have been trodden upon for millennia, therefore men became fair game. I get it. But how does belittling men elevate women? If anything, such scenarios make women look like children and keep us down. If it’s equality women want, then humor needs to be equally funny (or not funny) either way it’s portrayed.

This is one reason I love Jesus so much. I’m a woman who has wanted to throw her Bible across the room when I’ve read how horribly women were abused in the Old Testament, seemingly while God gives a thumbs-up. Then, in the New Testament, Jesus comes along and changes the landscape. He treats women with kindness and dignity. He grants them protection. He engages them in meaningful conversation. After his resurrection, he appears first to women, fully knowing their reports will be dismissed merely because they’re female. He tells us that if we want to know what our heavenly Father is truly like, we should look at Jesus—not at his creepy, misogynistic forefathers. The more we become like Him, the more we will respect our fellow human beings, regardless of gender.

The Battle of the Sexes will not go away simply because I decided to rant, but we need to remember that sexism works both ways. If we’re not okay with the one, why are we okay with the other?


Friday, April 19, 2024

Lessons from My New Babies

On the official first day of spring, I decided to start some seeds indoors for transplantation outdoors when the time comes. A new-to-me, money-saving venture. In two packages of zinnia seeds costing $1.50 each, I counted 60 seeds. Imagine getting 60 bedding plants for the price of one! I’d seen online where someone used cardboard egg cartons to start the seeds, one per cup, and then simply planted the whole tray so the paper could decompose and the seedlings would be evenly spaced. Seemed like a great plan.

I covered my kitchen table with newspaper and cut the lids off the five egg cartons I’d been saving. I stirred up some potting soil with water to make a nice mud, then spooned some into each egg cup, kind of like making drop cookies. After pressing the tops flat, I poked a one-quarter-inch hole in the center of each with a chopstick. Then, using tweezers, I dropped a seed into each hole and covered it with the soil.

I lined old cookie sheets with newspaper and placed the egg cartons on them, then lay them on a table in the living room where direct sunlight pours in for nine or more hours a day. I kept the soil damp. By Day Four, the first tiny sprouts appeared.

How many gazillions of times has this little ancient miracle played out on this earth? Yet still, it’s worthy of our awe. We can plant and water and fertilize, but we cannot give life. We cannot make a seed to save our lives. If God does not do his life-giving part, nothing happens. Partnership at its finest.

By Day Six, half the sprouts were up and the keeners among them reached for the sun. Now I’m watching, watering, and wondering. Will some fail to sprout? Will the plants become root-bound in those tiny egg cups before my garden’s warm enough to receive them? Will the paper disintegrate and everything fall apart? Already, I realize I’ll need to cut each cup apart or they’ll stand too close together to thrive in the garden.

Gosh, this gardening feels a lot like parenting.

Here’s the thing. If a seed fails, my first question is not, “What’s wrong with it?”

Instead, I wonder what it needs that it isn’t getting. I’m asking where I’ve failed.

Yet how often, when we see someone—perhaps ourselves—who isn’t growing like we think they ought, do we wonder what’s wrong with them instead of asking what they need? Seeds are made to grow. Given the right environment—soil, water, sun—they will. You and I were made to grow, too—physically, emotionally, spiritually, and mentally. We’re made to thrive, to become stronger the more we grow, the more challenges we overcome. When that doesn’t happen, it doesn’t mean something’s wrong with us. It means we need something we haven’t received.

Asking the right question can lead to better answers and help us to be kind to ourselves and others. My baby plants depend on me—without asking, begging, demanding, or worrying. They simply receive what I offer and do what they were made to do.

We thrive best when we allow the One who created us in the first place to be our source of light, our wellspring of nourishment, our foundation of love, our cradle of understanding, and our font of wisdom. When we stop striving and struggling. When we simply bask in his provisions and then do what He made us to do.


Friday, April 12, 2024

Where Do I Go to Renounce my Senior Citizenship? Part 2 of 2

Last week, I wrote about the humiliating fall I took on some ice and how unimpressed I feel with senior citizenship so far. As my Granny used to say, “Old age ain’t no place for sissies.”

The virus I thought I’d beaten before my fall swept in with a whole new vengeance, knocking me out for weeks.

My errands remained unrun. I stayed home from church, small group, and everything else. I rescheduled a chiropractor appointment—which might have been helpful after my fall—only to cancel again a week later when I was still barking like a seal. Thankfully, I had enough pre-written columns stockpiled to see my readers through, as long as I remembered to email them on time. No actual writing got done, only lots of coughing, sleeping, reading, watching of British period dramas on TV, and staring out the window waiting for the angel of death.

This is not me and I do not look this good when I'm sick.

I ventured out to the clinic with Hubby as my chauffeur, remembering with chagrin that when he’d had the same illness, he’d driven himself to the doctor. He took care of my errands. He even picked up my prescription for me—antibiotics and an inhaler. A week later, the drugs were gone and the symptoms still raged.

Our small group delivered a care package of soup, ham, muffins, cookies, cinnamon buns, and cheesecake—which almost made the ordeal worthwhile. Hubby was introduced to grocery shopping, and I was introduced to store-bought freezer meals and salad kits (which could all too easily become habit-forming).

Eventually, I discovered that by tackling one task per day, like cleaning a bathroom or throwing in some laundry, we could survive. But it was all I could manage. I’d crawl into bed and force myself to mentally count my blessings. Cozy bed. Warm blankets. My house. Cough syrup. Hot drinks. Tissues. Can you imagine going through a cold or flu with only fabric handkerchiefs and then having to launder them all with only a scrub board and clothesline? Yes, one can always find plenty for which to be grateful.

I know I’m not alone, and it’s not merely my age. Chances are, you’ve been plagued with a similar bug and its lingering symptoms. The difference is, I have a blog and get to whine about it in a public space. I hope you’ll consider this a rant on your behalf as well.

As I write this, I am finally seeing some light at the end of the viral tunnel which has kept my brain in a virtual fog longer than I’ve ever experienced. Will this worsen my already troubled lungs? I don’t know. Will my energy levels be even further depleted than before? I don’t know that, either. Is this simply what senior citizenship will look like for me? Heaven help me.

Which leads to my point. Though my daily posting of scripture memes on social media had come to an abrupt halt, two weeks into my illness a Facebook memory popped up where I’d shared a verse from Psalm 54 years before. “Surely God is my help. The Lord is the one who sustains me.”

Sometimes that’s all you really need to know.

Friday, April 5, 2024

Where Do I Go to Renounce my Senior Citizenship? Part 1 of 2

Six weeks in, and I can’t say I’m too impressed with being 65 so far. Due to Hubby being too sick to go out on my birthday, the plans we’d made to celebrate with an overnight date in Winnipeg were first downgraded to dinner and a movie. When his virus refused to yield, we downgraded yet again, settling for watching TV and ordering home delivery from a local restaurant.

I tried not to feel ripped off. After all, a certain amount of maturity should come with being a senior citizen. We’d simply postpone our plans.

Before Hubby fully recovered, his virus began threatening me too. I kept it at arm’s length with regular doses of good old oregano oil and stayed cooped up for several days. Believing myself on the mend, and with business at the bank and post office, I decided a walk might do me good. Oblivious to the ice storm that had recently pummeled us, I bundled up, slung my purse over my shoulder, and locked the house door. I took maybe three steps down our crushed rock driveway and it rushed up to meet me, face to face. Ow. 

It’s been said that if you want to know whether others see you as old, try falling. If they laugh, you’re considered young. If they hurry to help, asking if you’re okay, they see you as elderly. I still don’t know because no one was around to witness it.

My first thought was, “Can I get up before someone drives by and sees me?”

My second thought was, “Can I get up before falling again?”

My third thought was, “Can I get up?”

I eventually succeeded, which surely validated my relative youthfulness. I managed the three steps to the door and hurried inside where I could assess the damage. Dirty mittens and jeans. Two scraped knees, two scuffed hands, one sore hip and shoulder. A bruised ego. The rest would no doubt show up the next day. My list of “at leasts” kicked in.

At least I’m athletic enough to fall fast.

At least it didn’t happen at the top of the Tupper Street bridge.

At least that loud crack I heard was only my hip and not my expensive new cellphone. (Just kidding, settle down. Nothing cracked.)

The fall reminded me of the riddle I’d asked my grandsons recently.

Question: “What did the horse say when he fell down?”

Answer: “I’ve fallen and I can’t giddy-up!”

Between the humiliation of the fall and the lingering virus symptoms, I decided my giddy-up was gone for the day. A nice bowl of soup, a cup of tea, and a nap with my heated bean bag were in order. The errands could wait.

Little did I know how long those errands would wait. The next day a whole new issue swept in, worthy of its own column which I’ll share next week. Maybe then someone will take pity and tell me where I can go to renounce my newly acquired senior citizenship.

Proverbs 24:16 says, “The godly may trip seven times, but they will get up again. But one disaster is enough to overthrow the wicked.”

Since I’ve not yet been overthrown, I won’t consider myself one of the wicked. If you take this proverb literally and count my fall on an escalator a few years ago, I figure I’ve got five more good falls in me.

Here’s hoping nothing cracks when I take them.