Thursday, December 30, 2010

Where Have All the Ladies Gone?

     Lately I’ve been wondering whatever happened to genteel breeding and refinement?

     So many of the younger generation act, dress, and speak as though these qualities are a foreign language. If you have followed the postings of a few twenty-somethings and thirty-somethings on Facebook (or other social websites) for a few weeks, perhaps you have wondered too.

     I remember when young women comported themselves as ladies. It was a time when no self-respecting person would use the crude language in a public setting that is so prevalent among the younger generations today. It was a time when a young woman spoke and dressed like a lady. Her spoken and written language was devoid of the foul language that abounds today among the young people. Her clothing was demure, keeping her body private instead of wearing such skimpy apparel that very little was left to the imagination. Many young women today go out in public looking more like streetwalkers than ladies.

     I find I am often amazed at the way people show themselves in public. It is common to observe young women with very low necklines revealing much of their bosoms to the public. Many wear clothing so tight it looks like they have been melted like wax and poured into their clothing which adheres to every curve and cranny. It is quite prevalent to see young women who appear to make no attempt to hide bra straps under skimpy blouses and who wear cropped tops and hip hugger pants that reveal a lot of their torsos. There is little or no modesty shown in their apparel.

     Do you remember a time not so many years ago when pregnant women wore loosely-fitting clothing? Today I often see pregnant women wearing tight form-fitting tee shirts that accentuate their pregnant belly. I’m not sure whether they are announcing to the world that they can actually produce offspring or if they think others will find them sexy. Such flaunting of the pregnant body convinces few people that they have good taste in their personal appearance.

     It seems that good manners and good breeding have been neglected for several years now. It is blatantly apparent every time one ventures into public areas. I long to see young women who show they respect themselves by dressing with modesty and who show they are intelligent by choosing clean, decent words to communicate their thoughts. Anyone can dress like a streetwalker and talk gutter talk, but it takes a real lady to exhibit elegance and refinement in how she presents herself to the public day by day.

     I think being a lady in word and deed is a worthy goal for any woman. I encourage young women to transform themselves into real ladies.

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Unsought Role of a Lifetime

Mary has been cast in a role she never aspired to play. At this stage of life, she had envisioned spending her time in many other ways, but the role was given to her anyway. It is not an easy role to accomplish. It requires much study and her full commitment of time and energy. The scenario changes often and she experiences frustration as she tries to figure out what is needed from her to work through each scenario change.

She is tired and would relish a few days to herself to just rest; but, there is precious little time for relaxation—even if she could get her body to relax under this stress. However, she chooses to give this role her all-out effort and to remain positive and upbeat as she goes about her assignment.

You may be wondering why on earth she continues in this role that demands so much of her. She is honoring a vow she made more than 65 years ago when she married. Like many people in this nation, she has taken on the role of “caregiver” to her spouse who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease a few years ago. She stays true to her promise to “love and honor” her husband in sickness as well as in health. She tries to help him to live each day to the fullest degree that he is able. For as long as she can manage, he will live at home with her and not in a care facility; however, this takes a great toll on her personal well-being. Many of the activities she would enjoy doing must go to the bottom of the list or fall by the wayside. With the demands of her role, she simply doesn’t have the time or energy to do them. She is lucky to get a few undisturbed minutes for her daily devotional reading.

Yet, in the midst of all this, she is inspired to use her God=given talent in writing poetry as He puts the thoughts into her head. Recently she wrote two poems that are especially meaningful for those who live with Alzheimer’s disease on a daily basis. She has granted permission for me to share them here to edify those who are cast into a similar role in life. We hope you will be encouraged by these thoughts.
 This one is written from the viewpoint of the person who is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.


I’m Still Me
(Joy’s Journey)

It creeps in slowly, as the fog on the shore,
Until—one day the “normal me” has changed.
Some THING seems to have stolen my brain
And all the neurons have been rearranged!

The “old me” is slowly ebbing away
And the words often come out wrong.
I cling to my humor, at least I try—
Maybe I could put my words into song!

 I try to accept this as a challenge
Or just another road with a bend.
I need your help, understanding, and love.
Most of all, I need you as a FRIEND!

I don’t realize that I really forget
And things often get “out of whack.”
I will make things up as truly real
And sometimes I’m really off track.

I need you to know that I’m really trying
And sometimes I simply just can’t!
Look for the few moments when I’m “me” again
And past the times that I “rave and rant.”

I refuse to get angry at this each day,
For I know that God is ever beside me.
He never promised me days always bright
But that He would never, ever leave me!

So walk with me through this grim journey.
Guide me gently along the rough spots.
Hold my hand, encourage, and love me,
For in this we can’t always “follow the dots.”

Mary Andresen © June 26, 2010

This one is written for caregivers.

Promotion

You have just received a promotion,
And it’s one you never expected.
You never wanted this to come your way,
But it seems you’re the one selected.

There are plenty of books and directions
To assist you as this journey you start;
But I think the best advice you will find
Is to simply “Listen to your own heart.”

You see, this involves a valued loved one
Who deserves nothing but the very best.
There will be trials and many frustrations
And days when you think you’ve failed the test.

Realize that confusion often reigns
And sometimes you simply cannot break through.
That’s when you push your ‘slow down’ button
And let gentleness and patience be a clue.

Never point out the things now done wrong—
Just slowly turn the attention elsewhere.
They already know they are very confused,
So love them and show how much you care.

At times this ‘new life’ will not be easy—
We were never promised only smooth roads.
But the Lord did promise to be with us
And to always carry part of our loads.

Have you figured out your new title?
It is only given to the very best!
Patience and love are the rewards,
So count yourself VERY TRULY BLEST!

Congratulations, you’re now a CAREGIVER!!!

Mary Andresen  ©August 3, 2010

To learn more about Alzheimer's disease, go to http://www.alz.org/alzheimers_disease_what_is_alzheimers.asp

Monday, August 2, 2010

IMPORTANT RECALL NOTICE

Today in my inbox I found an interesting recall notice. I decided to post it here for you to read. Thanks to my friend, Bev, for sharing it with me. I hope you find it helpful. Here is the message I received:
RECALL NOTICE:
The Maker of all human beings (GOD) is recalling all units manufactured, regardless of make or year, due to a serious defect in the primary and central component of the heart.
This is due to a malfunction in the original prototype units code named Adam and Eve, resulting in the reproduction of the same defect in all subsequent units.
This defect has been technically termed "Sub-sequential Internal Non-Morality," or more commonly known as S.I.N., as it is primarily expressed.
Some of the symptoms include:
1. Loss of direction
2. Foul vocal emissions
3. Amnesia of origin
4. Lack of peace and joy
5. Selfish or violent behavior
6. Depression or confusion in the mental component
7. Fearfulness
8. Idolatry
9. Rebellion
The Manufacturer, who is neither liable nor at fault for this defect, is providing factory-authorized repair and service free of charge to correct this defect.
The Repair Technician, JESUS, has most generously offered to bear the entire burden of the staggering cost of these repairs. There is no additional fee required. The number to call for repair in all areas is: P-R-A-Y-E-R.
Once connected, please upload your burden of SIN through the REPENTANCE procedure.
Next, download ATONEMENT from the Repair Technician, Jesus, into the heart component.
No matter how big or small the SIN defect is, Jesus will replace it with:
1. Love
2. Joy
3. Peace
4. Patience
5. Kindness
6. Goodness
7. Faithfulness
8. Gentleness
9. Self control
Please see the operating manual, the B.I.B.L.E. (Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth) for further details on the use of these fixes.
WARNING: Continuing to operate the human being unit without correction voids any manufacturer warranties, exposing the unit to dangers and problems too numerous to list and will result in the human unit being permanently impounded. For free emergency service, call on Jesus.
DANGER: The human being units not responding to this recall action will have to be scrapped in the furnace. The SIN defect will not be permitted to enter his Kingdom so as to prevent contamination of that facility.
Thank you for your attention!
GOD
P.S. Please assist where possible by notifying others of this important recall notice, and you may contact the Father any time by 'Knee mail' because He Lives!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Character Witness

A few months ago at the urging of a family member, I got myself a page on the hot little social media website called Facebook. I had been looking for a way to involve some of the younger relatives in keeping in touch with us and this seemed a good way to connect with them. Many of the younger generation seem to really be into Facebook and such websites, so I surmised they might be more likely to communicate with me if I ventured into their world this way.

I’m still learning about the different features of Facebook, but I have mastered how to become Facebook “friends” with someone, how to read and send personal messages, and how to read postings of my “friends” on my News Feed. What I didn’t realize was just how much I would actually learn about my “friends” from their Facebook postings.

Some of the things people post on Facebook amaze me. Either I’m older than dirt (could be true), I grew up in a Victorian era (life was more genteel then), or I’m really out of touch with socially acceptable language and topics these days (very likely). Don’t people realize that when they post something on Facebook or any internet website, it’s there for everyone to see and will be from now on? The language I see in some postings makes me wonder where people’s heads are.

Some time ago I learned that TMI means “too much information.” TMI applies to a lot of things I’ve seen posted on Facebook.

For example, why would anyone need to know what’s happening in your sex life? TMI! That is very personal information that I don’t need to know about you. I would never even consider sharing with a good friend what is happening in my sex life, let alone putting it on the internet for the world to see. That is private business between my husband and me. No one else needs to hear about it.

For example, why would anyone need a picture of your child on the potty? TMI! The poor little one will be so embarrassed when someone pulls out that picture that is still floating around the internet years from now! Do people even think how their postings may embarrass their children in years to come?

I also wonder about the quality of their education when I see the way many of them spell. Perhaps the craze of texting messages on cell phones has also taken its toll on correct spelling of words. Whatever it is, it bothers this retired teacher to see misspelled words. I get the urge to post a correction right there after their comment, but I usually restrain myself (in case you're worried about being embarrassed by me).

Well, I may be bordering on being old enough to act senile, but good manners are still good manners whether it is on Facebook or in any other social setting. I’ve been trying to think of a way to tackle this topic and find a solution to such lapses of decorum. Here are some thoughts that popped into my head:

I wonder how the thirty-or-forty-something generation would respond if their parents starting using similar crude language as many of them have taken up? If you have adult children who have taken up crude language, why not give them a bit of their own medicine next time you are with them and see how they respond? This could be especially effective if they’ve never heard you use such language. They might pause and think about their own words.

How would this group react if their own children spouted off to them using the same crude language their parents use? Would they laugh about it or discipline the child? (I hope they would not laugh.) Would they be embarrassed if their children told intimate private details of their family life to their school classes? That thought conjures up some interesting pictures in one’s head, doesn’t it?

We all would be wise to remember that everything we say, do, and write is a witness to our own character. Being mindful of that, we must consciously think “What witness of myself do I present to my family, my friends, and my community?”

I hope you can feel proud of the witness you are giving to your character and that the character you display is a good example to others.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Snowy Day Memories

Well, the snow has started. There's a forecast for a monster snowstorm promising record snowfall here in the Stafford area over the next two days—perhaps up to three feet. Everyone has been warned to have plenty of supplies on hand for four to five days. This area is not used to getting much snow and it will take days to plow the roads to allow people to get to businesses again.

“Wow, this is gonna be a real zinger!” I’m thinking. “We could be marooned up here on the hill for most of the next week.” I’m wondering if I’m ready for this challenge. It would be easy for one to go stir-crazy in these small quarters if one is basically a captive.

Our little group of Laborers is huddled up here in our RVs on the hill at the construction site where we are helping to build a new church. Our lane from the main road to the site is at least the length of two football fields, maybe longer. None of us expected this kind of weather when we came to Stafford to help build the church. The locals tell us there's already been more snow in the past two months than they usually get all year, not to mention the additions promised this weekend.

Thinking about big snows brought up memories of a big snowfall when I was a child.

It was that awful "winter of ‘48” that we hear people talk about from time to time. I was six years old that winter and we lived just outside of Pine Level, NC on a small farm. One morning we awoke to see lots of snow and snowdrifts out our windows. It was more snow than I had ever seen in my short lifetime.

It wasn’t too long after we ate breakfast until my two older brothers bundled up and went out to play in the snow. Soon their friend Bobby came with his sled and the boys began riding down the snowdrifts on Bobby’s sled. They were having loads of fun and I was stuck in the house with no friend to play with in the snow.

Feeling sorry for myself, I bemoaned the fact to Mama.

“Put on your coat, gloves, and kerchief,” she told me. “I’ll go out and play with you.”

I hurried to bundle up as Mama put on her warm clothes and out we went. We decided to make a snowman and started rolling snowballs to get them large enough to create a big snowman. As we rolled the balls, we decided maybe we should make it a snow woman instead; so that’s what we did. To my six-year-old eyes, she was a magnificent lady. I was sure we must be the only ones who had ever made a snow woman. In my mind’s eye, I can still see her standing there in the backyard keeping watch over the kitchen door.

Later that day Daddy got into the fun. He gathered a huge bowl of clean snow and made a big bowl of snow cream. Then he took several small bowls from the cupboard and he parceled the snow cream out into the smaller bowls. Next he went to the cupboard and brought out the bottles of Watkins flavorings he had bought for Mama when the Watkins man stopped by. He added a different flavoring to each small bowl. We ended up with strawberry, coconut, pineapple, and several other flavors. I was sure we had the best snow cream of anyone around.

Big snowfalls like the one promised this weekend remind me of these special times. Such memories are precious—that’s all we have of Mama and Daddy now that they are gone.

What memories do big snowstorms bring back for you?

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Guilt Trips and False Promises

It was an innocent-looking e-mail forwarded by a friend. I opened it and began reading. Hmmm, nice message about relating to God, I thought as I read it—UNTIL I read the last part. “Oh, boy! It’s one of THOSE e-mails!” I know my friend sent this message to encourage me. She had no intention of irritating me—and yet I was irritated by the closing comments of the message. I get many of these forwarded messages in my inbox. The senders intend them to uplift and enrich my life. They include beautiful thoughts about God—some even contain prayers—or supportive messages about our military. But, they all seem to have a similar closing part: a “guilt trip” if you dare not forward them on or a promise of wonderful things if you do forward them. Here are samples of such closing statements: 1. “If you need God to open some doors for you, send this to ten people including me, and if you don't need God to open some doors for you, just delete it.” (Can I manipulate God?) 2. “Send this message to ten people in the next ten minutes and something good to happen to you tomorrow by 11:00 AM.” (Another attempt to manipulate God?) 3. “Forward this to at least seven people and see what happens on your screen. You will laugh your head off! “(A ruse to waste my time as nothing actually happens if I do forward it to seven people.) 4. “In 7 seconds share this message with 7 people and you will receive a miracle tomorrow. I hope that you don't ignore. God bless.” (Is this magic?) You probably have such messages in your inbox right now. They sit there waiting for you to read them and pass them along to your friends. Perhaps you don’t even notice the closing comments, but most of them have one. Or maybe such statements don’t irritate you. Well, they annoy me! They use guilt and fear to try to get people to act in a certain way. They appeal to one’s sense of superstitions, which isn’t biblical. “Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives' tales; rather, train yourself to be godly.” 1Timothy 4:7 NIV Often I wonder if the only reason I got a message from the sender is that she needs another name to forward the message to so she can gain some promised result. It seems many people only send forwards; they rarely, if ever, send me a personal note—even two or three sentences. So I wonder if they really want to uplift me or are just trying to access the magic promised in the message. For some time now, those closing statements have vexed me and made me do some thinking. Many of these closing statements refer to God, as does my first sample above. Those are the ones that concern me most. I wonder if the people who compose these messages believe what they put into them. Do the people who pass these messages along really believe that their decision to forward or not to forward a message causes God to act or fail to act? If they believe this, they are certainly misguided. My Bible does not teach such thinking. Such ideas are only man-made superstition. God acts because he is a loving Father who has our best interests at heart. No mere mortal has the power to cause God to act. We can RESPOND to his kindness, but we cannot MAKE him act by passing along an e-mail. I realize some people forward these e-mails without giving any thought to the closing statements. They like the main message and think it would be uplifting or informative to people they know. Some people don’t want to take the time to edit them before sending them along to friends. Perhaps they don’t know how to edit them. Perhaps they feel they are too busy to bother with editing. Whatever the reason, I challenge you to THINK CAREFULLY before you click the “forward” button and pass along a message. Will those who receive the message think that you agree with that closing statement that seems to say we can manipulate God? Is that really the message you want to pass along? If the main message is a beautiful thought you want to share with your special friends, take time to edit out that closing “guilt trip” statement. If you don’t have two minutes to edit it before you forward it, just hold it until you do have a few minutes available to edit it. There’s really no urgency to compel you to forward it immediately—unless you buy into the superstition. If you don’t know how to edit out the unwanted parts, ask someone who is more computer-savvy than you to teach you how to edit a message before you forward it. (It’s actually quite simple once you know what to do.) When I forward e-mail messages, I want to be sure they accurately reflect what I believe is true. I don’t want to misrepresent myself to others. I suspect you feel the same way.

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