Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Congratulations are in order and Fleeing Eyes!

Alivia has arrived! Some of you know our good friends, Rocky and Joyce Sagely, the ecstatic grandparents, and Brook and Chad Cowherd, the proud parents. Hopefully, pictures will soon follow. Mother and baby are both doing well.

Alex had his 6 month check-up yesterday. He's 18 pounds and healthy as a horse. Yes, yes, more pictures of him coming soon, as well.

Kathryn enjoyed imitating Dr. Hamm last night with me as her patient. Her favorite instrument is a slotted spoon. She used the handle to check my ears (no comment there). Then she peered at my eyes through the slots. As she's looking very seriously into my eyes, she says, "This (spoon) is to keep your eyes from running away!"

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

MLK Day ~ My Thoughts: Part Three

It is with a bit of fear and trembling that I post this final installment in my series. I've thought very carefully about what I am to say, but it's not very politically correct. Also, to those who've commented on the previous two blogs, thanks for your thoughts. Please consider this post as my response.

Racism is wrong. It is sinful. To consider any race as inferior or superior is to contradict the Creation account. God created one race. He died for this one race. And to comment on one of my pet-peeves, ethnic nativity scenes, he wasn't white or black. I grew up believing that the black race was descended from Ham, and the color was due to a curse received from looking upon his father's nakedness. Sad. If this topic interests you, check out One Blood: The Biblical Answer to Racism by Ken Ham, Carl Wieland, and Don Batten.

Racism/prejudice and all the hate that stems from them are born from the union of fear and ignorance. I've heard so many times: "I just can't stand how these Mexicans stand behind me in line and talk in Spanish~ I just KNOW they're saying something nasty about me or planning something criminal." Well, I've been in line before myself, and speaking Spanish, I can assure you that 98% of the time Pedro is asking Luis how much he's paying for that head of lettuce. Fear. Ignorance. They are a big, big deal in this topic.

Leaving political correctness behind, let me say I believe cultures can (and should) be judged. It's much more p.c. to say that culture is to be observed, celebrated, embraced for whatever it is. That the American culture is no better than the French culture or the Iranian culture. The idea that culture is some sort of amoral association which cannot be held to any standard is ludicrous. Behavior is definitely moral or immoral. Is not culture just a collection of shared behavior, belief and history? A culture is better or worse as it lines up against the word of God.


Leaving theory behind, this is where I stand:

I have carefully thought through the following statement. The idea of being color-blind is possible (note comments about children after Part 1), but the idea of being culture-blind may not be possible, nor even wise. If there are a group of men wearing swastikas on their armbands and going around chanting "Heil Hitler", I should exercise caution around them. They are publicly and purposely identifying themselves with a dangerous ideology. Well, guess what? I’m going to stop feeling guilty when I lock my car doors going through certain neighborhoods or beating myself up when I feel the lurch of fear at the approach of a group of hip-hoppers in a dark parking lot. I’m not taking my children to play at playgrounds known for drug-dealing. And I’m not buying property I know will significantly depreciate because of its surroundings. And I’m through feeling guilty about all of the above. I'm judging a culture. Not pre-judging, but judging based on statements it has made about itself.

I am not against blacks. I am against the hip-hop culture and its promotion of sin. I am against infidelity in marriage. I am against violence against the innocent. I am against looking for government handouts when work is possible. I am against using illegal drugs. I am against public profanity. I am against the disease and destruction caused by casual sex. I am for condemning the sin and loving the sinner.

I am for all people receiving equal opportunities in education. I am for all people receiving equal opportunities in employment. (Skill alone should be the determining factor for employment. ) I am for Christians living in unity within the body of Christ. I am for the Church stepping up to help the poor. I am for teaching someone to fish, as well as giving them a fish dinner.

As an admitted ‘recovering racist,’ I am actively seeking to line up my gut-reactions with the Word of God. At the moment, I am also reading through Setting the Record Straight: American History in Black & White by David Barton. Any thoughts you, dear friends and lurkers, may have are welcome.

Monday, January 21, 2008

McWane Center, Birmingham
~Went out with great friends Brian and Paula Miller and their 5 kids. It's like a big science/play place for kids. They had a blast. It was Kathryn's first IMAX experience, as well. She kept saying, "It's so dark I can't see anything" and "That scared me to deff!" ;o)

Paula with youngest cutie~ Kaelyn

Brenna and Alex getting some quiet time in the chaos

Kathryn in front of a wind-tunnel thingie~ doesn't this look like an ad labeled 'fascination' or 'wonder' or something?

I want to say Kathryn's pretending to shop at Publix, but it looks more like she's shopLIFTING! ;o)

Nathan + hundreds of little shrieking children = this! (Don't be offended, ye lovers of munchkins~ this was after four hours. For an engineer, that's an eternity!)

Sunday, January 20, 2008

MLK Day ~ My Thoughts: Part Two

(Ever had too many thoughts at once? How to make a coherent unit of them~ that is the question... )

Martin Luther King. The man whose face is stamped across the civil rights movement, whose death sparked the fires of passion in his followers, whose legacy is skewed and unclear. Some in the older generations have told me of how happy they were on the day of his assassination~ even those who were just children. Just think, one less communist. One less troublemaker, one less rabble-rouser. One less womanizing loser. I don't pretend to be an expert of the history of MLK, but this was the perception of him in the White South. Whatever else he was, he seemed to stand for equal rights and opportunities for all, regardless of race. That I can agree with. So what has become of his legacy?

Let's talk reality here. The black community in America is suffering. The social ills are documented and disturbing. The statistics on fatherless homes, illegitimate births, crime, recidivism, market value in their neighborhoods, and drug-abuse are staggering. The oppression of the past certainly doesn't help. The victimization mentality adopted by many doesn't either. Certainly the government's attempts to repair the situation have gone awry. Affirmative Action. Government hand-outs. Reparations. Apologies. What good have they done? Take affirmative action as an example. It goes against all the civil rights movement stood for. Equal opportunities, equal rights? How about preferential treatment because of the color of your skin? To say the blacks need this hand-up implies they can't intellectually compete in our society. Posh! Condoleeza Rice, anyone?!?

One of the most damaging movements in black America is hip-hop. Gangsta rap, whatever you want to call it. The black community has allowed these people to step in and become their main identifying movement. Saggy pants may be annoying to some, and rap may not qualify as 'music' to me, but this is barely the tip of the iceberg. It's a whole generation moving to a soundtrack of glorified casual sex, public profanity, violence, rejection of authority, drug abuse and prostitution. I tuned in by chance (while lost in Cincinnati) to a black Muslim radio station around Christmastime. The hatred toward authority figures, white people, and cops that I heard spewing out over the airwaves shocked me. And this wasn't music. This was just people who now believe this stuff. It was positively scary.

The truth of the matter is that the black community has lost their leaders, and subsequently, their youth. I've been pleased to hear black evangelical leaders courageously stepping into this volatile situation. Books, such as Can I Call You Soldier? by Dr. H. Davis, encourage black men to take a positive role in their families and in society. So much of the repair of the black community has to be done internally by themselves.

More to come...

Saturday, January 19, 2008

MLK Day ~ My Thoughts: Part One

As the country slows down this weekend to honor Martin Luther King, I'd like to post some of my thoughts on prejudice and racism. This is an HONEST look at the evolution of my interaction with the African-American (hereafter referred to as black) community. I'm trying to give an objective look at my history, without skewing it to please my readers and lurkers (sorry).
There are several segments to my story: my personal history, my present position, and my thoughts on topics touching the black community. I realize this is a hot button topic. In part one, I've not tried to analyze or apologize for my upbringing. My goal in writing this mini-series is to encourage us all to take a look at this perhaps uncomfortable part of who we are as a nation, and to become more Christlike as we interact with others.

I grew up in a very, very white part of the country. I remember seeing posters announcing KKK rallies in nearby areas. The one black family that moved to our school district was quickly pushed out by cross burnings in their yard. I remember people wondering if they were NAACP spies. Our school didn't get out for Martin Luther King Day. It never would have flown in our area, so they called it Teacher Workday. In 1990, my family moved to Columbus, GA to a small pastorate. I attended a school under forced integration (that meant black children were bused across town to fill the quota of 50%. Other ethnicities could count as either one. This was the first time I remember being within ten feet of a black person in my whole life. I was 10 years old. And terrified. I walked into my first day of school, and there was my teacher. A perfect Aunt Jemima~ she was black, big and her name was Mrs. Means. I honestly thought I would probably be killed by her or some of my classmates during the day. Interestingly enough, she became a second momma to me (I was picked on for being a goody-two-shoes.) I cried on her plump, loving shoulders more than once, and she listened to all my dreams.

Long story short, since we lived near Fort Benning, this was also my first exposure to other cultures as well. We had military kids in every class. My best friend was Puerto Rican and my 'boyfriend' was from Guam. And then we moved back to that very, very white part of the country. I've always loved a good fight for the underdog, so I set out to change the paradigms of my little world. I remember yelling at a great-aunt who attacked me for having 'nigger' friends. Looking back, I'm not sure my motives were all pure. I loved a good fight, as I said, and I loved the attention of being different than all my peers. Enter the "Mexican War" of my life. Because of my Puerto Rican friend, I'd developed an interest in Hispanic language and culture. Just in time, since a huge immigration began into our area~ the all white area~ in the early 90's. By the time I was 17, I was working as a Spanish translator at a local poultry plant, much to the chagrin and dismay of some family members. I became the butt of jokes and was ostracized at school for befriending the illegals. I was a 'wetback lover.'

Then I married Nathan and moved to Tuscaloosa, where I made spare money by tutoring in the public school system. I was not welcomed by the all-black schools where I went to work with the few Hispanic students. The students called me a "white girl" and nearly trampled me in a gang fight in spite of my staff badge. I had to defend myself with an umbrella.

Now in the Bessemer area, we live in an very, very black area. Whites are in the minority. I've come full circle. It's a little shocking at times. I cringe at the loudly blasting vulgarity from the passing cars. When Alex was on the way, I witnessed a white on black scene with a shoplifter at Wal-Mart. It turned into a brawl, and cops rushed in and threw the man against the wall. Kathryn has never asked anything about the racial difference. We attend Tarrant Bible Methodist where the Sunday School department is full of black children bused in from the surrounding neighborhood. The place we live is in a nicer section of town, probably 30% black and 70% white. Conversations still happen about the racial/cultural differences~ but I've noticed they're typically whispered. I've not heard anyone say 'nigger' for a long, long time.

More to come...

Smidgen of Snow

Yep~ please hide your sneers, ye northerners. It has snowed. It melted by noon, but things looked so magical for a few hours. The last time I saw snow around here was New Year's Eve of 2001. So pictures are definitely in order. By the way, I know this may seem unbelievable, but whenever it snowed like this when I was a kid, we'd get out of school. They wouldn't send buses down country roads in even a smidgen of snow.

Don't you love the footprints? No wild animals here; that's the signs of a dog in distress on his morning toilet run ;o)

OK, and I just HAVE to post this pic. It makes both of kids look like they're... well, fill in the blanks. It just cracks me up.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Teaching Our Kids The Bible

To all interested parents, check out It's a new site I found through the Focus on the Family organization. Looks interesting. Haven't been able to look at it all the way through, but it's a day-to-day guide to teach children the Bible. Endorsed by the wonderful Howard Hendricks, author of Living by the Book. I'm all for resources, so I'm just passing this along to you readers.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Miscellaneous Smiles

~ Kathryn announced to me yesterday that she's an "Indian sheep." She meant chief. I had amusing mental images of sheep in head-dresses and loincloths.

~ For all you who've fed babies out of those plastic resealable containers... stamped on the foil seal inside it says, "Do not use if foil seal is missing." If it was missing, how would you read the warning? OK, anyways, moving right along...

~ And back to my laundry room we go for the latest and greatest news of the day. I'm rewashing a whole load of laundry because I accidentally washed a used diaper (bundled up of course & hopefully just wet~ I wasn't courageous enough to check) with the load- ewww!

~ In response to those of you who want to know where I got the pattern for the baby shoes, check out the Sew, Mama, Sew blog link on my page. You'll have to do a search for them. But they're relatively easy, and so cute.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

What's Going on in My Laundry Room

Besides the thump-thump-thump of drying tennis shoes (which traipsed into mud, worn by a disobedient little monster~ not my child, of course), there are a few more interesting things in there. One is this surprise I found in my laundry basket yesterday. Once again, adding charm to my charmless tasks.

Pic #2: When I asked her to 'open your mouth and smile real big'- this is what I got ;o)

And yes, I'm learning to sew. Risking accusation of shameless self-promotion and an inflated ego, check out my first pair of baby shoes. (These are yours, Sylvie. Although if Alex's feet are anything like my Alex's, you may have to save them for your next one...) They aren't perfect, but this is coming from the person who fails all spatial reasoning tests. Yes, I was the kid behind you folding up scraps of paper to answer the "If this were folded, what shape would it be?" questions. The mere idea of anything even remotely 3-d emerging from my sewing machine is truly amazing!!

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Holiday News and Pictures

Dear readers, friends, lurkers, etc. The following is a short summary of our holiday trip to Nathan's parents~ of course, these are just the highlights. Many fun memories were made, and Kleenexes used as we struggled with a family-wide cold.

*Got together with dear friends, Jonathan, Trisha, Timothy, and Arlette Makcen for Jonathan's birthday at a yummy restaurant called Buckhead. Enjoyed catching up with old friends.

*Kathryn infected us all one by one with an insidious cold and runny nose. Mom Brown was the first to succumb, taking to her bed for a few days to recover. We were thankful we were on vacation and had the time to lay around and take it easy.

*Christmas day was to start with a brunch hosted by yours truly. It was a disaster as the crescent roll dough had been frozen inadvertently, etc. making the nostalgic sticky buns impossible to make.

*Dad salvaged Christmas brunch with some of his expert egg cooking. After an enjoyable meal, we settled down to the business at hand~ that being, keeping children still during the Christmas story, watching kids open presents, watching kids open more presents, and yet more. I must have qualified as a kid this year, because I was quite spoiled. I got a lovely Battenberg tablecloth for my dining room table and most everything off my Amazon book wishlist. Marianne gifted me with a fabulous scented lotion from Bath and Body Works- the Japanese Cherry Blossom~ I'm loving it!!!

*Kathryn decided to make a break for it the day after Christmas. She had been playing downstairs in the 'clubhouse.' We were all upstairs and about, so we're not quite sure how or why she decided to go outside. (She has never done this before, thank God!) Panic ensued momentarily when we found she was missing. We found her covered in mud, asleep on top of the well-secured hot tub cover. Despite being out without a coat and infected with a cold, she was not even chilled. It took all of us several hours to begin breathing again! Thank God that He watches over us and our kids in ways that are amazing. It's easy to play the 'what-if?' game- but all was well in the end.

*Spent Friday, the 28th, with dear collegiate friend, Sylvia Decker nee Lucaschi. Her husband, sweet baby Alex, brother-in-law Mike and sister-in-law Rachel were along as well. We met at a mall in downtown Indianapolis. We had such a fun time! I think we'll be making this an annual excursion. This day was eventful for me personally. I set a new record for myself: lost in two major US cities in ONE DAY! Indianapolis going, and Cincinnati coming. Tom-Tom is being put on wish list for next year.

*Missed out on spending New Year's Eve with dear friends, Tara & Derek thanks to yucky sickness and our heading home on a different day than originally planned. This was the saddest part of vacation.

*Two fun things that happened: Mom's orchids were in bloom and drop-dead gorgeous! AND Aunt Carol (that would be Mom's sister) was able to come for a few days after Christmas. She's always a welcome addition and as you can see, Chips enjoys her pampering. She's such a fun person to have around~ full of the zest of living. It must run in the family... :o)

*Came home to find back door blown open by wind. House is a balmy 48 degrees. Leaves and bird poop on kitchen floor. Thankfully, nothing was disturbed. Slept curled up around Alex to keep him warm as thermostat labored along. Toilet seats were colder than 48, just so you know!

*A tired mommy slept through the arrival of 2008! Those who plodded through this post~ Happy New Year's. Those who didn't~ oh, well. I wouldn't have either, most likely ;o)