Bible Verse

Beg as loud as you can for good common sense. Proverbs 2:3

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Being Audrey Hepburn by Mitchell Kriegman

This was a delight to read!  I think the reason for that is it didn’t take itself too seriously.  There were serious issues, to be sure.  The heroine, Lisbeth, had to hide in a closet to avoid epic battles between her mother and her sister.  But even when she’s explaining what is happening and why, she has a sweet spirit about her.

Things get started when she is given the chance to try on the little black dress Audrey Hepburn wore in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.  Her friend Jess works at a museum where the dress is on loan for an exhibit. She is an ardent Hepburn fan who feels that every situation can be dealt with by a Hepburn film.

As though trying on the dress is not enough excitement, she appears at a gala being given in the museum that very night posing as her version of Holly Golightly from Breakfast at Tiffany’s.  After a wild night that includes meeting the most popular rock star around under rather bizarre circumstances, she becomes increasingly involved in people’s lives, all who just happen to be amazingly rich.

While all of this is going on, Lisbeth is a waitress at a diner nicknamed “The Hole”.  One of the other waitresses is her friend Jess from the museum.  The wait staff also includes Jake, who dreams of becoming a rock star with his band and keeps asking Lisbeth to come to his gigs.

This book was one of those I-can’t-put-it-down kind of things.  Near the end, things got very serious, and that’s where the story started bogging down. But not for long because the end matched the beginning with the same sense of humor and light touch.

I have seen only a few Hepburn films, so I know I missed a lot of references to them.  It didn’t matter, though, because things were always explained.

There is mild swearing throughout this book, but 
always used appropriately.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Busy with Bios

Alas, the life of a writer/speaker is not an easy one.

Take, for example, the bio.  This short little paragraph will be the death of me yet.

Every social media thingy requires a bio:  Facebook, Twitter, Goggle +, Linked In.

I like to read Edie Melson’s blog because she knows her stuff and shares it so freely.  She advocates having several bios of different lengths written and ready to go at a moment’s notice. 

You have no idea how long I work at just this aspect. 

The shorter the bio, the easier it is for me to write because then I only feel the need to be clever (there’s a stretch for you!).  Unfortunately, the longer it is, the dumber I appear.

I have very little previous experience, even though I’m billing myself as a Christian speaker.  I have no education to speak of other than being a Certified Laughter Leader. I’ve been to a couple of speakers’ conferences.  I’ve spoken to a handful of very polite people who laughed at all the right places.  I’ve had a couple of short devotions or stories published.

If you’re thinking that makes for a pretty good list – well, it doesn’t.  Other bios include phrases like “best-selling author,” “keynote speaker,” “author of 6 books,” “member of the National Speakers Association,” and I could go on and on.

So why don’t I get busy and have something to put in my bio?  Other than being downright lazy, I have no desire whatsoever to write a book.  I think I may be the only person at a writers or speakers conference who is not lugging the first 5 chapters of a book I’m peddling to publishers or has no idea for a book I’m peddling to publishers.

Keynote speaker would be good, but so far no one has asked me.  By the way, I have no credentials for that, either. (Not sure what those credentials would be, but I’m guessing they are more than I’ve got.)

To be a member of the National Speakers Association, you have to have at least 20 presentations under your belt.  There’s lots more to it, but I quit reading after that.

According to blogging experts, if you are running a business of writing or speaking, no one is interested in the names, ages and/or pictures of your grandchildren. Well, shoot – that would have added several words to the word count.

You see, each bio is a certain number of words:  25, 50, 100 and 150.  Everything you write and submit for publication should have a bio attached to it.  The writers guidelines will usually mention how long the bio should be.

Ah, the writers guidelines.  Each publication has its own set of rules and regulations to follow.  It has to be a certain number of words, or at least a certain number of words, or no longer than a certain number of words.  It has to be in a certain font in a certain size.  It has to be submitted by e-mail, sometimes as part of the e-mail itself and sometimes as an attachment.  And if the guidelines are not followed, they will automatically reject it for consideration.

Have you got all that?  Mercy!  And you thought I just sat around all day thinking up semi-witty things to say.

But, seriously, folks – if this Christian humorist thing gets any further than it is now, it will definitely be by God’s hand. 

And there is nothing more exciting than that! 


Friday, August 22, 2014

Loving My (LGBT) Neighbor

I know that this blog usually looks at the lighter side of life and of being a Christian.  But occasionally I post a review for a book I have read through NetGalley.  Loving My (LGBT) Neighbor by Glenn T. Stanton is one of those books.  I received a free copy in exchange for my honest review.  I hope you'll take the time to read this post and comment on what you think about it.  Thanks.

This book fills a need for Christians who are troubled by mixed feelings when it comes to loving those who are gay.  How do we love the sinner but hate the sin when the sin involves so much more than just telling a lie or missing plenty of opportunities to call your mother?

The author begins by pointing out what Christianity is by listing six truths that put everyone in the same boat.  No one is sin free; everyone needs Christ as their Savior.  No exceptions.

The author does a most thorough job of helping the reader know the background of the gay movement and what it means in the times of today. He rightly points out that we need to “understand why those we disagree with believe as they do and what motivates them.”

As much as we’d like to bunch everyone in the LGBT camp into one entity, Mr. Stanton explains in detail how each part (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual) fits into the whole “Love your neighbor” quandary.

It all boils down to relationship:  relationship with those who identify themselves as LGBT and those who support them.  It’s the old saying of “Make a Friend, Be a Friend, Bring a Friend to Christ”.  It takes time and effort, which, sadly, most Christians will not take.  It’s easier to lump everyone together and hate the sin and the sinner.

What is most troubling to me, personally, is the demand I hear for complete acceptance of the LGBT community’s practices with little respect shown for the Christian’s beliefs.

I agree with the author that this issue is extremely important in showing the world that God’s love extends to all, no matter what the sexual orientation may be.  I also agree with the author that those who identify themselves as Christian should look again at how Christ (who Christians are named after, for heaven’s sake) loved everyone.

In addition, the author also tackles the same-sex marriage issue, an issue that is also very troubling to most Christians.  We say we are against it, but we don’t know why, other than a vague reference to the scripture in Genesis about husband and wife cleaving together.

I appreciate Mr. Stanton’s explanation of not only Genesis, but also what Jesus had to say about it.  By expressly quoting Genesis, Jesus put his stamp of approval on man and woman marriage.  He fulfilled a lot of scripture that changed the Jewish faith in dramatic ways, but he made clear that the old, old Genesis definition of marriage was still correct and is still correct today.

I like the author’s approach to the issue of homosexuality as a sin.  As he points out, being a homosexual will not send one to hell; not having Jesus as one’s Savior will.  This basic truth is somehow lost or ignored when debates or arguments spring up. 

If a person identifies themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgendered, their sin would be in carrying out their thoughts and urges.  The same can be said for those who identify themselves as heterosexual.  Their sin would be carrying out anything that goes against God’s teachings regarding marriage and being single.  It’s what we do with these thoughts and urges that’s important.

As to the it’s-a-choice vs. born-that-way arguments, Mr. Stanton thoroughly explains what studies have been done and shares what the American Psychiatric Association has established: there are no findings to conclude that sexual orientation is determined by any particular factor or factors.

I have a few concerns about the author’s commendable attempts at trying not to sound superior.  In the story of Sam and Nicole, the quote about the “Walmart-shopping, football-watching, NASCAR cheering white male,” and later in the same story the quote “I’ve heard of such people, but thought they all lived in Mississippi,” are insulting and condescending to we who live in the South.  I don’t think they belong in a book about loving your neighbor.

In another story, he quotes Caroline as saying “Michael Jackson was still black…” This sounds racist to me and doesn’t belong in this book. 

I realize that Mr. Stanton was quoting other people, but surely after all his years dealing with this subject, he can come up with better stories without remarks such as these.

But here’s a remark that is the author’s own:  “However, I don’t want or need any that are either ‘Star Trek’ or Adam Sandler fans.”  I know he’s just trying to be funny, but it really doesn’t work.  Snobbish comes to mind.  

But the reference to an Alabama fan and an Auburn fan is spot on.

I’m afraid the superior attitude shows itself again when Mr. Stanton is talking about Weird Al Yankovic.  I’m not a fan of his, either, but I think there are more tactful ways to make a point than a putdown to his friend who is a man “with otherwise good taste”, not to mention any other Weird Al fans reading the book.

In the Homes and Churches chapter, the author writes “Too often Christian parents do this, but it is also frequently just run-of-the-mill parents…”  I feel that referring to non-Christian parents as “run-of-the-mill” is disrespectful. 

In the chapter Navigating the Dilemmas We Face in our Homes and Churches, under Number 6., What about those who are disagreeable and disruptive, Mr. Stanton tells about a husband and wife who led worship in his church with no shoes on.  They came to church each week barefooted and refused to change.  Surely Mr. Stanton can come up with a better story than this.  Bare feet is such a minor issue.  I’m sure there are stronger issues that have a great story behind them.

On the whole, I think this is an important book that addresses very emotional issues that need to be discussed in every church that professes Jesus Christ. 

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Why You Should Keep Your Camera In The Bathroom

My last post had to do with toilets and what surprises could await us therein.  Along that same line, I mentioned that a cat I had years ago used the toilet to pee instead of the litter box.

Nip was one of my favorites out of a parade of cats we’ve had over the years.  He had all of the best attributes I want in a cat:  He was sweet, loving, and smart.  He loved to be kissed on the top of his head, which happens to be my favorite place to kiss a cat.  He loved to sit in my lap, purring to beat the band. 
And then one day, I was in the back of the house folding laundry.  As a mother, I knew where my kids where and, as a wife, I knew where my husband was.  And none of them were in the house.  I heard some tinkling noises and realized someone was peeing in the pot in the big bathroom down the hall.  I immediately, and with great apprehension (who knew what I was going to find – a thief using the facilities before he robbed us maybe?), and peeked in the door.  It was Nip squatting on the pot with his back to the door.  I don’t remember what I said or what noise I made, but I do remember that Nip turned his head toward me, gave me his best aggravated look, jumped down and ran out of the bathroom.

So of course, I wanted to talk to him about it, but he would have none of that. He meowed at the back door, so I let him out.  But I wanted to know how he knew that the toilet was the place to pee.  He was in the bathroom a lot with me (mothers never go to the bathroom without someone hanging around), but I never told him what I was doing.  And even if he heard the sound of tinkling water, how did he grasp what it was and why I was doing it?

I would have thought that training a cat to use the toilet would at least require a discussion on the merits of such behavior.  And, as all cat-lovers know, training a cat is usually futile.  They end up training you to give them treats for minimal exertion on their part. 

I remember one night when David was calling Nip in for the night. I could hear him cajoling Nip with promises of treats, a new toy mouse filled with catnip, and all manner of things.  Nip just sat there on the other side of the driveway and stared at David.  It was as if he had suddenly forgotten how to get from over there and across the driveway to the house.

Next thing I know, David had gone out there, picked him up, and brought him into the house. 

“You know you’re going to be doing that from now on, don’t you?”  I asked.

“Not after just one time,” David said confidently.

I never said I told you so, but the cold, hard fact is that Nip never came to the door at bedtime again. He was instantly trained to wait for somebody to come and get him.

But I digress. Back to the toilet.  Nip continued to use the toilet from then on, but he hated to be interrupted and would quickly jump down.  I wanted to get a picture, so I would immediately start to look for my camera when I heard him in there.  It would have to be a quick shot, but I was determined to get at least one good picture.

I finally had to put my camera in the bathroom and leave it there.  And it still took – no kidding – about a year before I finally got the shots I wanted.  I don’t know how well the picture below shows it, but on the original you can see the stream.  Proof positive finally captured by my camera!

I had to have extras made (this was way before digital cameras and printing your own copies).  My mother had one that she framed and showed everybody who came to her house for any reason.

I really miss old Nip.  He was a sweetheart.  And, unlike the 2 human males living in the household at the time, he never dribbled on the toilet seat.

You just can’t ask for more than that, can you?


Friday, August 1, 2014

What’s the Deal with Toilets?

I recently read where a woman walked into her bathroom, lifted the lid of the toilet and found a squirrel frantically trying to get out.

See, this is why I can't go into the bathroom after dark without flipping on the light and checking the toilet.  For years, I thought it was just snakes I had to worry about.  But now I see that squirrels are an equal threat.

It does no good to try to convince me that finding a snake or a squirrel in my toilet is highly unlikely.  If I sit before I search – well, it gives "shy bladder" a whole new meaning.

And it doesn't help that I have probably put off going in there at all until the last minute available to me.  So if I did find anything that could be classified as a non-toilet item, I would probably just lose it anyway.  If you know what I mean…

I have twice found a chipmunk in my house, but he did not bother the toilet.  He only uttered ear-piercing chirps and desperately tried to find the exit.  He did leave a deposit that would have been more suited to the toilet, but I was grateful that he just finally found the open door to his freedom.

I had a cat once that actually peed in the pot.  I don't know how he discovered how to do it.  He had shown no overt interest in it.  We had not previously discussed it, and I had never explained to him what I was doing while I sat there.  He just decided, on his own, that he would use the facilities available to him.  Really.  I have a picture that I took of him in the act and it shows without a shadow of a doubt that he was using the pot.

Squirrels, snakes, chipmunks, cats… and with the bears from the toilet tissue in there, it's getting kinda crowded.  Think I'll just head on over to the Jet Pep and use their restroom.  It sounds safer to me somehow…