Posted in Everyday Musings, God Loves Me!, Love Life

Judging a Book by Its Cover: When a Woman Desires to Be “Just” a Wife and Mother

This is short, perhaps just the beginning of an idea, a discussion.

It’s partly about the word “just,” especially when it means “only” and carries the implication of a self- or externally-imposed limitation.

It’s about choice, even when others think your choice is beneath your potential.

It’s about judgment, and others’ failure to recognize that most of us have more or different dreams waiting behind the scenes to become the focus of our lives and choices.

A friend of many years recently revealed two things publicly that have been received with strong responses:

  1. her dream was/is to be a “classic American” wife and mother a la June Cleaver, and that this is her American dream
  2. she recently filed for divorce from her husband

Responses to the second all follow in the same vein: sympathy, compassion, prayers, offers of support.

But responses to the first revelation have raised eyebrows and generated various levels of judgment that her dream is wrong, undesirable, bad, as well as condemnation of examples of newer variations on the American dream as entitled, lazy, absurd, and more.

My first response was personal:

I congratulate your choice to want and to strive to be a Proverbs 31 woman, wife, and mother, though I am baffled at the idea that there is only one American dream, the one anyone refers to as “the” American dream. I would prefer that no one impose any dream on my life and choices, much less a uniform “American” one. I would also prefer that no one judge me for my choice of dream, but as God didn’t grant me control over others’ minds, alas, judgment happens. I love you, sister, and pray for you support, comfort, and peace as you make your best choices moving forward into a new life situation.

But my continuing ruminations led me to wonder what kind of man does God direct as a match for a Proverbs 31 woman. A simple Google search for led to mostly articles and commentary on a Proverbs 31 husband, but my favorite presentation referenced Ephesians 5 and really focuses on the man’s role in lifting up his wife the same way Proverbs 31 focuses on the woman’s actions and choices. Be sure to click on the “Ephesians 5 husbands” in the Searches related to “husband for proverbs 31 wife” at the bottom of the results.

25 gHusbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and hgave himself up for her,

26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by ithe washing of water jwith theword,

27 so kthat he might present the church to himself in splendor, lwithout spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.1

28 In the same way mhusbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.

29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church,

30 because nwe are members of his body.

31 oTherefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and p the two shall become one flesh.

32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.

33 However, q let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she r respects her husband.

I’m truly privileged to say that I can easily name 20 men in my regular circle of friends whom I believe and have witnessed who are Ephesians 5 husbands and women who are Proverbs 31 wives. I try hard to be a Proverbs 31 friend. And I dearly pray to God to send my friend her Ephesians 5 husband.

This is by no means the end of this discussion – whether in my own meditations with God or out loud with friends in person or online.  I welcome your thoughts and especially your prayers for my friend and for all people to find the passion and acceptance to pursue the dreams they choose.

Posted in Children, God Loves Me!

Children’s Sermon – Genesis 2-3, focus on Rules and Forgiveness

Scripture: Genesis 2: 15-17, 3: 1-7

Props: house key

IMG_1663When I got old enough (third grade, age 8), my mom and dad decided that I could be allowed to come home right after school instead of going to after school. This meant that I would get on the school bus at school and off near my house in my neighborhood. And I would walk down the street to my house. And I used this key [hold up the key] to open the door and go inside and lock the door back. And the very next thing I had to do was to call my mom at work to tell her that I was home and that I had closed and locked the door.

That’s when my mom would remind me of the rest of the rules:

Rule #1: do all of my homework and leave it out on the dining table for mom to check when she got home. Who else has a “homework first” rule after school? That’s a pretty popular rule.

Rule #2: do all of the chores on the list on the counter. Weekdays, this would be some laundry and some part of getting dinner ready, like making a salad. What chores do you have to do at home?

Rule #3: pick up my room – all toys in the toy box, all dirty clothes in the hamper, bed made up

And sometimes I managed to do all of this in time to watch a show on TV. My favorites were Thundercats and G I Joe. That was my reward if I got everything done. But if I didn’t, my consequences would be an early bedtime, extra chores, and when I was older, losing my telephone time.

In today’s Children’s Church, you guys are going to read and talk about a time when God gave his first children Adam and Eve a rule to follow…and they didn’t follow it. What do you think God did? That’s right: He forgave them. He also gave them new chores and responsibilities to help them learn why following His rules will help them have everything they need. We are such lucky and blessed people that our loving God forgives us when we mess up, when we break the rules, because God knows we will try even harder next time to be better.

Will you bow your heads and pray with me:

Dear God,
Thank you for loving me
And giving me rules
To help me be a good person.
And thank you also
For forgiving me
When I make mistakes.
Help me to forgive others
When their mistakes
Hurt my feelings
Or someone else’s feelings.
I honor you now and forever.
Amen.

Delivered Sunday, March 5, 2017 at Palmetto Presbyterian Church in Mt. Pleasant, SC.

Posted in Children, God Loves Me!

Children’s Sermon: Matthew 5:4 (Beatitudes)

unnamed-image
My Nannie’s prayer shawl, gifted to her by the Franke at Seaside Prayer Shawl Ministry when she broke her shoulder.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Scripture: Matthew 5:4 – the second Beatitude

Props: something you have that someone else gave you as a gesture of comfort

This morning we are continuing to study the Beatitudes, what Jesus said at the Sermon on the Mount. Today’s focus is on this sentence: Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

What does “mourn” mean? Sad, someone died, someone lost something important

What does is look like when we see someone mourning? Crying, falling to the ground, wearing black

And we see and read right here that Jesus said that those who mourn will be comforted. Now, I’m a linguist, and that’s about the highest kind of English grammar teacher. And, like a lot of sentences in the Bible and many other books, when I read today’s beatitude, my brain fills in some gaps. Here’s what my linguist brain reads:

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted BY WHOM? Someone had to do the comforting, right?

Let me tell you about this blanket I brought with me today. It’s not actually a blanket but a prayer shawl, my Nannie’s prayer shawl. You see, there’s a group of ladies who love to knit and they love to pray, and many years ago, they started to pray comfort and peace and help into every stitch they knit. And then they gave the prayer shawls to ministers and doctors and caregivers to give to people who had broken bones or really bad illnesses in the hospital or at home. These knitting ladies don’t know who will get the shawl and their prayers; all they need to know is what Jesus promises in today’s scripture: that someone is mourning and deserves comfort.

And when my Nannie put this shawl around her shoulders (demonstrate with your own shawl), she could hug herself and it was like getting a hug from God and Jesus and wonderful people who cared that she needed help not being so sad anymore.

Now when you see someone mourning – who is crying or sad or hurt – who is here to give them comfort like a hug? God – yes, God gives us comfort, but does he have arms? Jesus – oh, definitely, but he’s not here on earth anymore. Who did Jesus leave to keep giving out hugs? US! Yes, US! We are all part of this one sentence in the Bible – whether we are the sad person who needs comfort or the person sees a need and gives a hug or prayer for comfort.

I’ll ask you to pray with me and think – believe – that someone here in the church today is sad and probably needs some comfort:

Dear God, Thank you for reminding us to look for and see who needs comfort. We will hug the people we can read and ask you to send hugs to the ones we can’t reach with our arms. And we ask you to bless us when we are sad and lost with hugs and prayers of comfort. Amen.

Children’s Sermon delivered at Palmetto Presbyterian Church in Mt. Pleasant, SC, on Sunday, February 5, 2017.

 

 

Posted in Everyday Musings

LinkedIn’s Programmers are Missing the Mark

LinkedIn tells me I’ve been a member (aka, had a free profile) since January 25, 2010. Twice I’ve subscribed to the job seeker upgrade ($19.99/mo) when exploring career change opportunities. Once, for an extended period of time, I joined groups and mined connections in an effort to populate a list of prospective clients for an employer.

Two of the features that made the connection mining successful were Notes and Tags.

  • With Notes, I could identify how I found or knew the connection and what communication exchanges we’d had.
  • With Tags, I could create a collection of features by which to define each connection that would make it easy for me to search for smaller subsets of clients based on what my employer-at-the-time was focusing in sales and products.

linkedin-notes-and-tagsAnd today, January 11, 2017, LinkedIn sent me an email to tell me, since they know I use Notes and Tags, that they are discontinuing the two features but that, if I subscribe to their new service Sales Navigator, I’ll still be able to capture similar information.

I’ve watched LinkedIn struggle to find/create an identity for itself as part of the rise of social media. But its continued attempt to be both a sales CRM, competing with giants like Salesforce and Zoho, and an ATS, competing with giants like Indeed and iCIMS, while providing no content filters to minimize political, entertainment, and personal ad posts is crippling this platform.

Yep, I said it. LinkedIn’s programming and development priority towards revenue-generating strategic repositioning should be to create and implement an automated and a manual system for filtering content.

Posted in Children, God Loves Me!

Children’s Sermon: Isaiah 11:1-10 – Jesse’s Root and Jesus’s Birth – Waiting

Scripture: Isaiah 11:1-10 with Romans 15:13

Props: cup/pot of soil and a Christmas tree seed (similar seeds for demo purposes only: pumpkin, cardamon pod, pepita/pine nut); slice of a Christmas tree trunk for counting the rings; photos of Charlie Brown Christmas tree, 6-8′ home tree (yours or online), and ask how tall the church Chrismon tree is

 

charlie-brown-pathetic-christmas-tree-3About 10 years ago when I moved back to Charleston, I didn’t know it but a squirrel or bird planted a Christmas tree in my front yard. The first year, it look pretty much like this [ask if anyone recognizes the tree; if not tell them it’s the Charlie Brown Christmas tree]. Yep, that’s what a 1-year-old Christmas tree looks like.

christmastreeNow, 10 years later, my front yard tree is about 5 feet tall. Can you believe that? It took TEN YEARS for my tree to grow only 5 feet tall. I mean, I’m still taller than my tree.

us_plants_homeThe tree you’ve got in your house – or will have – is usually about 6-8 feet tall, and that takes hmmmm 8 to 12 years to grow that tall.

Now take a look over at the Chrismon tree here in the church. I have it on good authority that’s a 12-foot tree. How long do you think it took for that tree to grow that big and tall? [take guesses]
chrismontreeringsWell, thanks to Mr. Jonathan who got us a slice of our tree, we can find out exactly how many years it took. [count the rings out loud] That’s right, FIFTEEN years. Are any of you fifteen years old? [no] Guess what that means? Our tree is older than you are!

In today’s lesson, the prophet Isaiah learns from God a really great description of who Jesus will be and what he will do for us. Now Isaiah lived 700 years before Jesus was even born. He says that Jesus will come from the root of Jesse and He will be wise and strong and so much more. And God’s people waited patiently and were faithful for 700 years before Jesus was finally born.

If you get a chance, ask your mom or dad to let you read the church’s newsletter. Both Pastor Mike and Ms. Crystal write about the word “advent,” which means waiting. And it takes two main qualities to wait: patience and faith. Sometimes we have to wait a while before a promise comes true, and when it takes an especially long time, it also takes faith to not give up hope that the promise-maker is really going to do what he or she promised.

Can you imagine waiting 700 years and still believing that God would make good on His promise? That’s some amazing patience and faith to wait and believe that whole time – 700 years – for God to keep His promise. We only have to wait 4 weeks every year – that’s how long the season of Advent lasts – where we prepare our hearts and lives for our first glimpse of the tiny seedling – the baby Jesus – who grew up to fulfill ALL of God’s promises as our Savior Jesus Christ.

Will you pray with me?

Dear God, Thank you for trees and especially Christmas and Chrismon trees to remind us just how long it takes to grow into what God has planned for me. Help me to be patient and faithful when I want things to happen faster than they are. Amen.

Delivered on Sunday, December 4, 2016 at Palmetto Presbyterian Church.

 

Posted in Love Life, Singing

Wedding Lyrics for Hallelujah (L. Cohen)

I wrote these scripture-based lyrics to Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” because a bride asked for it but did not like the generic wedding versions available such as here and here.

Mark 10: 6-9
In the beginning, God had a plan
Created woman for the man
To be no longer two but of one flesh.

Man leaves behind his former life
To be united with his wife
What God has joined, let none divide Hallelujah

 

Song of Songs 8: 6-7
Place a seal upon your heart
Like the seal upon your hand
For love is strong and always prevails

Blazes like fire, a mighty flame
Seas and rivers will only inflame
Unquenchable love in Christ Oh Hallelujah

 

1 Corinthians 13
Love is patient, love is kind
Protects and trusts and will always bind
Two lives in one perfect unity.

Now with Christ who is our guide,
In Faith and Hope and Love abide
And the greatest of these is love Oh Hallelujah

 

Ruth 1: 16-17
Wherever you go, so I will go
Wherever you stay, so I will stay
Your people will be my people, your God my God

Thou art my joy, be near me now
Then shall my soul contented bow
I am forever at thy side Hallelujah

 

Lyrics Copyright (c) 2016 by Catherine C. Mikell

Debuted September 10, 2016 at the wedding of Ali Mitchell Gentry

Posted in Everyday Musings, Hunting

Redneck Lessons (or Observations of a City Girl)

So a few months ago, some friends of mine in Kershaw began my official “redneckification,” an official course of study with courses and everything (I usually don’t know I’m in class until I do something unexpected that they think is cool). My curriculum currently consists of 4wheeler riding (mostly), dirt track, gun shows, shooting, and hanging out. To date, my study notes go something like this:

  • Don’t call a shotgun a rifle; you will definitely fail the course…and get to…I mean “have to” repeat the course.
  • A full night of riding requires at minimum two sets of clothes: the ones you’re wearing and ones to change into when you get wet, muddy, or both. Change of shoes optional depending on your personal preference.
  • Drivers (as opposed to passengers like me) will be honest with you and tell you when you need to get off the 4wheeler for safety…or so they can do some really crazy trick.
  • Don’t tease your driver about how muddy he is…or he’ll sit on you and squish the mud all over you too.
  • Cell phones are an essential tool on a ride; not only can you follow the weather and get away from the creek in lighting, you can also upload instant hilarious photos!
  • Girls will take a shower, do their hair and makeup, and want to look cute for the meet-up and photos. By the time the ride is over, no one cares what you look like.
  • Kids have some insane ability to stay awake and keep on riding…into the wee hours of the morning.
  • There are three ways for a passenger to sit: on the back rack (easy while riding, hurts like hell parked), on the back rack with a pillow (little more comfy, but slidey), and in a seat (a little raised up and a little more secure for bumps). In order of preference, I’ll take the pillow, the bare rack, and maybe the seat.
  • Find a way to wear your hair up, not down. When dry, it’s painful to brush out at the end of the night. When wet, you might as well not even try.
  • Goggles may look funny, but trust me when I tell you crying from dust and debris flying in your eyes looks even funnier.
  • Rain just might be the most painful natural event while riding…must be what being stoned (in the biblical sense) feels like. Is there such a thing as rainburn?
  • Take a snack pack…somehow. It’s no fun to be on an 8-hour ride with a hunger headache.
  • Trust your driver…and make sure he knows you do. He’ll tell you when you screw up his driving, and you’ll be thankful even if he’s snarky about it.
  • Ask questions if you don’t know something and want to. And be truly interested in the answer.
  • Your bra can keep your phone safe from getting rain soaked (at least mine can).
  • Mud is good…and best found and played in right after a storm!
  • Don’t play or ride near the creek when there’s lightning.
  • When your driver has to pee, hold on tight cuz he’s gonna stop fast.
  • Learn the basic operations of the 4wheeler; you never know when you’re gonna want/need to stop or move it…even if you’re just the passenger.
  • Ride with a man with a gun; he can shoot the snakes and bad people!
  • Don’t get your fur up when you’re called out. It’s either in jest so you laugh with it, or it’ll save your life so you’re thankful!
  • Snakes are bad. Run ’em over now so they don’t bite you later.
  • Guns fired at night make little fireworks. Get excited and keep shooting for extra credit!
  • The Monday after a great weekend will hurt, especially for a city girl who never gets a chance to get used to riding all the time. Smile through the pain and think of the fabulous time you had earning every bump, bruise, and scrape!
  • Be fearless for yourself and careful of others. You know what you’re willing to risk but you can never know how far the other person will go.
  • I LIKE shooting guns, and I’m not a half bad shot either.
  • Sooner than you think, you’ll see someone flip their 4wheeler; stay calm and let them freak out if they need to.
  • Everyone expects Sunday dinner at Mawmaw and Pawpaw’s house, even if they’re not home. Plan accordingly.
  • Do not expect real mud to come out in the first washing, so don’t dry it ’til you check it.
  • Sometimes you just don’t feel like riding, so you go to dirt track instead.
  • The country is the perfect place to just be quiet…no tv, no talking…just sitting together thinking your own thoughts or better yet, none at all.
  • Food tastes better in the country, even if you cooked it yourself.
  • It’s easiest to pay someone back in shrimp.
  • The ride schedule is always Friday and Saturday night at 7; meet at Joey Tolbert’s unless otherwise posted. Sunday and weekday rides are a bit more casually organized.
  • Sometimes it’s a good thing I ride without my glasses; I can pretend the snakes aren’t there.
  • Definitely…call the 4wheeler a “chariot” and ask your driver to bring it around; guaranteed to get a call and a laugh 🙂
  • The best time to go riding is right after the ladies have a sex toy party…yeehaw!
  • If you improvise a classic redneck solution–such as a trash bag and tape cover when your cooler hinges break–you only get half points for using packing tape instead of duct tape. “My office didn’t have any duct tape” isn’t a valid excuse because you should have had some of your own in the car.
  • The best archery teacher is a 6 year old 🙂
  • A pig takes a long time to cook, so be sure to bring roast oysters, bring your bows and guns, sing songs by the fire to keep from being bored.

I’m sure there are more lessons to be learned; I get a few every time I go up to the country for a weekend! I’ll add them as I learn them…and boy, will I have fun learning them!

Off for a Friday night ride in the creek!

It’s a dirt track night, and I’m melting in the stands. Another hour or so before the sun goes down behind the trees and we can cool off!