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The Sixth Love Language

March 24, 2017

Gary Smalley, may he rest in peace, coined the five love languages:

  • gifts,
  • quality time,
  • words of affirmation,
  • acts of service (devotion),
  • and physical touch.

My wife adroitly pointed out a sixth love language all my own: Food.

She is so right. When I found out the kids aren’t going to be home tonight, my immediate thought was not “flowers,” but “Dinner!”  My mind raced through the possibilities. Fettuccini Alfredo, pizza, Public’s subs (the gourmet’s sub sandwich)… maybe a cheesecake, or Crunch bars (my wife’s secondary love language)… cook or take out? I’m breathing heavy just thinking about it.

My wife’s primary love language is Quality Time. We (I) blend hers with mine and we spend time over good food.

That’s why I’m fat, because I’m passionate.

Image result for surf and turf

Can I just say, “Heaven!”

Even our Valentine’s Day family tradition is home-made, heart-shaped pizza. Christmas, we eat enough food to stuff Chinese orphans all over the world.

My idea of Cupid is a fellow with a delivery cap and a hand out for tips (I normally avoid them by picking it up myself. I’m a lover, not a spender).

I love kitchen aisles more than other men love Home Depot. My kids get me cooking utensils and appliances for Christmas.

If I had more energy, I’d be a cook instead of a guest. I’ve often reflected that what I thought was a teenage love of chemistry was really a love for molecular gastronomy.

My idea of poetry begins and ends with A Visit from St. Nick, which combines my primary and secondary love languages, at least a metaphor for food and sleep. “…all snug in their beds while thoughts of sugar plums dance in their heads…” Sure, they aren’t asleep yet, but snug in bed is the heart of joy, and while sugar plums aren’t actually food, but an old English term for metaphorical sweetness (as in words – another love language, i.e. “sugar plums fell from his lips” which means he’s speaking sweet nothings) or syrupy romance (NOT a love language, I’ll deal with it.

Perhaps because I have no love of morning, I don’t eat breakfast before noon, but often after six. Breakfast for dinner is an ecstatic conundrum. (I admit, that’s why I don’t attend Men’s Breakfast at church. Not only is it a sin to wake up and move early on Saturdays, morning breakfast makes me gag. Am I the only one who wants Men’s Lunches? Maybe we could meet in the middle with Men’s Brunch?)

The fact that I like to eat at night speaks to the stars being the beacons of love. Hmmm, I wonder what starlight tastes like?

Is America a Christian Country?

March 20, 2017

The short answer is Yes, and No, and Sort Of.

First, I’m not sure a country can be Christian, which I’m pretty sure is reserve for people. That being said, the roots of America are decidedly Christian. Each of the colonies was a different denomination – they were all sorts of Christians. Some were so antagonistic toward each other that the founding fathers made it clear that on a federal level, no church would hold sway over the state choices.

Much is made of the fact that many of the founders weren’t Christians, or were bad Christians, or simply Deists. That view side steps the fact that the founders were at least informed by the Christian worldview and the moral principles of Christianity.

There’s also the pesky “Our creator endowed us with inalienable rights….” While many of the founders may well have been versed in several religion’s creators, they most certainly aligned with God the Father. (As an aside, certain politicians have gone on record that it’s the government who endows us with those rights; vote ’em down if they don’t know government merely secures the rights inherent in people. It’s a nightmare to believe otherwise.)

Then one has to ask, is this the kind of country Jesus would have founded? The answer is yes on the broad plane, in that he founds all of them; but is America going to be the model for the New Jerusalem? I’d think no.

Harken back to that fundamental miracle of the founders; the idea that all people are created equal before the law. That we all have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. This was not a unique thought (the Bible certainly ascribes to it, since Jesus came to set us free), but it was the first time government founders had such a thought.

We’ve become confused today, trading “fair” for freedom and thereby achieving neither. Equal and fair seem to have bedazzled America lately.  “Equal” refers to the law, in that a poor person should be treated the same as a rich one.  It does not equal opportunity. We have mixed up equal with pursuit of happiness.  Life isn’t fair.  Some will start on a lower societal rung that others. It is easier for some people (I am not saying “white people” because there are downtrodden white people), and harder for others. But few just walk into prominence, and those that do, still have to work to stay there.

We are a product of our choices and those of our parents and community. If those are poison influences, it may require Herculean effort to break free, but it’s up to you to do it. And sadly, if don’t make the effort, it isn’t anyone’s fault but your own. We can take steps to make it easier, certainly, but we shouldn’t guarantee it. Hand outs are seldom hand ups.

We’ve also allowed unbridled compassion to take us down some truly stupid roads, believing “freedom” means embracing immoral behavior. Compassion without morality is a fire that engulfs reason. I am not saying people who indulge in such behavior should be stopped if it isn’t harming anyone; freedom does apply to such people, but it’s wayward compassion that believes we must embrace such behavior. Redefining morality when morality isn’t ours to define has proven to be a trap.

Is America a Christian country? I believe God is very active here, that there is a vast remnant of believers, and that He blesses us beyond reason. It also welcomes (or should) people of differing mindsets, as long as they embrace the ideals of America. If you can’t get behind freedom, respect and individual pursuit of happiness, then don’t come here. If you desire to change America from the founder’s dream, then don’t come here and leave if you are here. You owe it to yourself to find a country that you can support, rather than trying to change ours from the original intent (which were bad at for a long time and are finally getting to place where we can try it for real).

God bless America and God bless you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Opinion Doesn’t Matter (except when it does)

March 14, 2017

I am a Christian American. And this blog is going to anger some people, and many of my friends may not agree with it (well, I have a diverse set of friends, so the reactions will be all over the map). Either way, if you’re immediately ticked off, read to the end anyway so I can tell you why it doesn’t matter.

I believe homosexuality is morally wrong. And I believe the transgendered people are mentally ill.

And it doesn’t matter.

It may surprise you that I have gay and transgendered friends. These are not beliefs I feel need to be shared with them. As a Christian, such sins are meaningless compared to looking to Christ as your only means of salvation. If they come to this conclusion, I’ll leave it to God to let them know about the other stuff.

Here’s the thing. Each and every friend I have, does or believes something I disagree with (except maybe Bonnie).

That’s okay, people are worlds.

No single aspect defines them as a person; virtually everyone I know agrees with me about more things than they don’t; gay, Christian, or whathaveyou.

If my opinion might be hurtful to you, I’m not going to share it. What’s the point? My only belief that matters is that Jesus saves.  Since that conversation should start with, “You are a child of God, made in His image, and he loves you TONS and so do I…” should take the edge off it.

So, I’m a Christian and if that angers you, tough. If what you believe angers me, tough also. In so many respects, our opinions shouldn’t matter to someone else.

Ah, wait! you say. Your opinions color your vote; you may try to get laws passed that I don’t agree with! So opinions DO matter!

Yeah, but I’m an American, too, and a strict Constitutionalist. I hold a plurality. I believe people should live one way, but our God-given, America-secured human rights say you can live any way you want, and I also believe that — as long as you aren’t violating anyone else’s rights while doing it.

Being gay isn’t against the law, nor should it be. In America, if you aren’t a danger to yourself or others, you can be as mentally ill as you want (which is a shame for non-violent homeless people who can’t have help “forced” on them).

You rightfully bring up marriage, which is the golden calf for a lot of folks. It’s a pretty shabby calf of late. Personally, I think the whole dust-up about gay marriage points out that there’s something wrong with the law. If you want to have legal contracts governing your relationship, who am I to say no?  Maybe government should get out of the marriage business and leave it to the churches and justices of the peace. If God has a problem with it, he won’t sanctify it. Good enough for me. That doesn’t mean there are some laws I’m for or against that you’re against or for, but that’s just life.

Interestingly, our truly talented and anointed pastor preached about the church who put up with Jezebel and the whole mess of trouble they were in for doing so. I’m pretty sure that means believing as she does, and doing as she does, not just “suffering her to live” (which in no way contradicts Chris’s sermon, just sayin’).

Because I believe my opinion doesn’t and shouldn’t matter to you, I pledge to listen, to ask questions, to empathize and to learn. I will not try to be hurtful, thoughtless or mean. You may not sway me, but you don’t have to, I’m sure you’ll teach me anyway. For anyone who I have wounded in my often-passionate dialogue, I apologize.

Oh, and I’ll still use this blog to express my opinion, whether it matters or not, because that mental lint-trap needs regular cleaning. Nor does it mean I won’t share my opinion with you if you’re interested; but I’ll do so in a respectful manner.  I don’t think this is a huge change, but I know I have some edges to round off.

This post is inspired by my frustration with the polar extremism of the American populace. I have my ideas about what the actual issue is, but I’m mortified by the manner in which the extremes are failing to communicate. I’ve been part of that, and I refuse to any longer. If we can’t have civil discourse, just talk to yourself.

 

D.C. Road Trip – Part 3 – Not in D.C.

March 8, 2017

I’m going to admit some things in this blog that could be used against me. Just warning you.

Getting out of D.C. during their early rush hour was… curse-filled. We followed our GPS for an hour right on to Hwy 29. It will be news to you as it was to us, that 29 is more a dirt road and back roads than freeway, but it was a pretty drive through some pretty land. Very pretty.

We’d had a snafu about rooms prior to leaving, so we switched from an Extended Stay America right across the street from Liberty University to a Microtel. As it turned out, while Extended Stay was indeed across the street, it required a very round-about way to get there. Microtel wasn’t too far, but it was brand new, wonderfully clean, and micro-small, but good enough. :0)

We rolled through Liberty University to track down my daughter’s friend. It took awhile because Liberty is a large, maze-like college with wonderful students who gave great daylight direction, but unfortunately, it was night. “The big golf ball building” doesn’t look like a golf ball in the dark.

Here’s the admission part: I don’t like school. Has to do with the fidgety thing I explained two posts ago. It’s funny, me being an educational professional (specializing in micro-learning). I’m not an auditory learner, so classrooms drive me nuts. My degrees are all in lab-related courses. That colors my review of Liberty.Image result for liberty university

It’s a great school. They have a strong academic curriculum, several colleges, and an amazing campus. And a mazing campus. It got a bit smaller as we wandered around, but I could never get a feel for the logic of the layout.

I was also impressed with the technology of the school, all of which will serve my daughter well. I’d hate to have her so far away, but it’s a good place. As we toured the school, our tour guides answered questions that aligned with what I’m looking for her. Strong academics, good spirit and teachings, maybe a bit more entertainment than necessary, but I didn’t see a single student who didn’t love it, and I embarrassed my daughter by asking many people.

Some people might think a college started by Jerry Falwell would be a super-strict, legalistic place. First, that would suggest they fell for a stereotype perpetrated by political donkeys. I’ve seen Falwell speak with love, compassion and tenderness, only for the same speech to characterized as mean, narrow-minded and harsh by the media. he’s been gone for a long time, suggesting our media went off the rails also a long time ago.

When I visit my son’s school, PCC, it makes me feel like teaching again. Liberty doesn’t have that effect, but my daughter isn’t me and has her own needs and wants. They have a strong International Government Studies degree right up her ally (ahem).

The drive home was uneventful if long, and the night ended with the best thing about a long road trip: Sleeping in your own bed.

DC RoadTrip – Part 2

March 7, 2017

That first day we walked 13 miles. Now I know why another name for legs is “stumps,” because that’s what they felt like. My calf muscles were as tight as an overstrung harp and the bottom of my feet felt like bruised blisters.  As previously posted, we visited the mall. Now it was time for the museums.

I love museums. History and I are buds. The parts that weren’t aching were all a-tingle about visiting the Smithsonian.

The American History Museum

I expected to be wowed.

I wasn’t.

Where was the American History? History should be chronological. Truthfully, the exhibit I remember was the First Ladies Dress Collection. I’m sure there was more. There must have been. Lunch for three, $53. For salad and sandwiches.

Air and Space Museum

OK, but the Air and Space Museum would make up for it. There it was: The Star Ship Enterprise, next to the Deathstar. Only it wasn’t the Deathstar, it was the Teledyne Satellite. OK, that’s all cool. I started looking around. There was space stuff; just like the ones at Kennedy Space Center, only smaller.

I’ll be honest, this was a great museum, if I’d had more time to dig into some of the exhibits. I love space exploration, and though it was small, it was rich in stuff I already knew.

Let me take a moment to reflect on what I pondered then. I am blessed. Pampered. Privileged.  I’ve been to major museums across the country. Kennedy Space Center, DisneyWorld, SeaWorld, Science Centers of several states, the Grand Canyon, Redwoods, Carlsbad Caverns, Mammoth Caves, and so much more. Each museum was filled with kids on field trips. Most were interesting in chasing their friends around, but a few were happily geeking out.  So was I.  Don’t think I wasn’t impressed and loving it, but the joy and amazement were absent.

The Smithsonian

I really liked the Smithsonian Museum about the Smithsonian. That was great, as was the 3D map.

DAY 2

The Museum of Natural History

This was the one I was waiting for. I wish I had hours to wander and that the running kids would let me get closer. The Elephant at the entrance was spectacular. The Ocean was my favorite section. There was some good stuff crammed in here. The Mammals were also fun (a mother pointed at the Rhino and said, “that’s the largest living mammal, kids!”  I shook my head at her and mouthed “Elephant – on land.” She frowned. “Second largest, kids.”  “Hippo” I mouthed. She gathered up her kids and moved off. I was just trying to help. And we’d even seen a baby blue whale hanging in the air not too far away; the adult dwarfing the land mammals.  Oh well.

Somewhere a kid whined, “Where are the dinosaurs?!”  I silently agreed with him.

The Smithsonian museums are hurting for space. When we finally got there, my inner little boy squealed at the T-Rex tail wrapping around the exhibit wall. I limp to see it. Another juvenile.  It was only two feet higher than me. I sighed and turned to see the Triceratops, my favorite dinosaur. It too was a baby. I remembered being astonished at the Rocky Mountain Museum in Montana at the vast size of the Trike. I’d had no idea they were that big. I’d thought they were, well, this big.

Still cool, don’t get me wrong. Some beautiful photography exhibits and Elephant Discovery stations had great views of the elephant downstairs, and examples of ivory horrors. There were also some gem and crystal exhibits.

Art Museums

As mentioned before, there were a lot of field trips going on. Down the street, a new African American Museum has opened. As I wandered the halls and rooms of pictures, I also saw scads of black children. Looking at a sea of painted white people. Even the characters of history who should have been people of color were white. As much as I loved the art, this fact saddened me. If there is an African American art museum, I wish they’d integrate it into these. I’ve seen some amazing black art that could have a room of a dozen of their own. The only black painter exhibit had no paintings of people. I’d like to see a greater presence of black scientists, artists, mathematicians, and national heroes integrated into the appropriate museums and not as separate exhibits.

Capital Building and The Library of Congress

We hobbled down to the best view of the Capital Building. Beautiful architecture. Then my wife said, let’s go around to the back. I wanted to, I really did. I’d hoped by this time my legs would have been numb. She insisted and I’m so glad she did.Image result for library of congress

We walked the mile around (ouch ouch ouch), and came face to face with not only the backside of Congress, but the Supreme Court and the Jefferson Building, Library of Congress! We couldn’t get into court, but I was all a-tingle again about entering the Library of Congress. After security we hit the information desk. I asked how to look up my book. “You can’t.” But it’s here! “You can look at the library card, but you can’t see the book.” That’s OK, I’ve seen the book, I just want to see that card that says it’s here. They gave me directions, but first we hit Jefferson’s Awesome Library (not it’s real name, but it should be). Then looked out over the reading room from the lookout.  We then looked at Indian documents. OK, cool.

Then my daughter called. She was done meeting with the Congressmen and would meet us out front. So I didn’t get to see my book’s card, but I did see the Guttenberg Bible.

Protesters

As we approached the back of Congress, off in the distance, we saw protesters in their natural environment!  I warned my people not to feed them, because they might follow us home. I prepared my list of questions for them (if I could get an article out of this, I could write the trip off on next year’s taxes), and stealthily moved closer. Then we realized it was another field trip. Sigh. No protesters. At all. That was on my list. Once I found out Trump had spoken at Congress the night before, I was expecting some wildlife. No such luck.

Now it was time to go get the car, brave rush hour traffic and get down to Lynchburg, three hours away. That’s tomorrow’s post.

D.C. Road Trip – Part 1

March 6, 2017

Roadtrip. This word strikes horror in my heart. Anyone who sits near me at church knows I fidget. A lot. The idea of being cooped up in a car for 12 hours…. Brrrrrr.

But my daughter had a CAP event where she got to meet with Congressmen and staffers, and I’d never been to D.C. and we could check out a possible college on the way back, so roadtrip it was. I’m going to break this post over a couple of days, because there is so much to discuss.

The Car (or My Kid’s Favorite Ride at Disneyworld is the Bus)

We rented a car so we don’t put the miles on ours. I always rent economy cars, because A) I’m cheap, and B) I’ve never actually gotten an economy car. They’re always out and I’m upgraded for free to a medium car. Except this time. We were upgraded to a Luxury SUV that still got 30 miles to the gallon.

I loved this car. There were more buttons and gadgets and icons than I ever learned how to us. This thing not only had the rear camera, it had proximity alarms and blind-spot warnings. Sure, sure, for some of you that’s nothing new, but my car doesn’t even have automatic locks. It also had seat warmers for back and butt. More on this later.

I still hate driving, but this thing at least made it a party. The trip was just five days. One day driving, two in the Capital, one in Lynchburg, VA at Liberty University, and the last driving back.

The drive up was smooth, fidgety and bad for my temper. The next day, driving to drop off my daughter in the outskirts of D.C. (two miles on the map; many more than that in actuality), with onramps and exits within feet of each other on opposite sides of four lanes… well, let me just say there is incontrovertible proof of God’s existence, in that the car doesn’t have a scratch on it. I don’t take spoken navigation well, and driving a car the size of a battleship with the power to push it (yes, 110 MPH feels just like 60 MPH), I too often prayed, gunned it, and hoped people had good brakes. My faith was weak, as hunched shoulders waiting for impact indicated, but God was there, not put off my cursing (my wife was), and saw us through alive.

The Hotel

I booked our motel online. We exited at Chrystal City, which is beautiful, shiny and new. And drove through to ever reclining environs. We found our motel, parked the ship in economy parking, swallowed hard for bravery and got out to check in. Very nice attendants. The clerk was an older lady, probably gripping a sawed-off under the counter, and greeted me warmly. I confirmed it was a non-smoking room, because my wife can’t handle the smell. The clerk giggled. I kid you not. Once we got the room, I understood. It didn’t smell like smoke, it had a unique smell all its own. But it was large, plenty of space, weathered, but really just fine. Really.

The Subway

They don’t call it the subway, they call it the Metro. But “Metro” refers to the bus as well as the subway. So when we were at Rite-Aid, we asked the nice Muslim lady if there was a subway station nearby. She smiled sweetly as she translated our words into her own language, then pumped her head and gave us directions. It was easy walking distance from our motel! To make sure we knew where it was, we carefully followed her directions… to a Subway. The restaurant, not the station.

For the station, we took a bus.  We bought our day passes, entered like lost sheep and descended into the bowels of DC. They were very clean bowels, and it was huge. I felt like I was in a forced-perspective movie set. The Blue Line came in, we boarded, everyone was nice, no one smelled, and it was an enjoyable experience.

The MallImage result for D.C. Mall

We stepped from the station into Arctic air and buildings all around. Fortunately, my wife has been there before and she guided us to the Washington Memorial.

It was nice. Shorter than I expected. I did a 360 and realized there was a huge city surrounding the Mall. You scoff, but movies don’t show that.

We stopped into the WWII memorial being built. It was also very nice.

We walked along the reflecting pool, which didn’t reflect anything, was dirty and had lots of floaties. No way an octopus would fit in there. Between this and the fact that the museums were a mile away, Night at the Museum II has a lot of ‘splainin’ to do!

Lynette pointed through a break in the trees. There was the White House! With buildings flanking it. Big interesting buildings (again, nothing I ever pictured. In my mind’s eye, the White House floats in empty space). I’d hoped to get closer, but the opportunity didn’t present itself.

We limped along and made it to the Lincoln Memorial. The first thing I notices was dozens of people taking selfies (I hate selfies). And then all the steps. I have a bad leg. Steps aren’t fun. Didn’t matter, no way I’d miss this, even as I wondered where the handicapped access was.

LM is amazing. Flat out amazing. It is the best memorial, best marble sculpture, and most touching monument ever made. It seemed to shimmer. If I was whisked back to Orlando at that moment, the trip would have been worth it. Angels didn’t sing, but my history-loving soul was singing a silent opera. Flat out, WOW! I read every word of the Gettysburg Address.Image result for lincoln memorial

Too soon, I stepped back out to the front portico and looked over the mall and surroundings. That sound you heard was a hundred books I’ve read realigning in my head.

If I was a city mouse, this would be the city for me. Fortunately, I’m a country mouse trapped in the suburbs.

At the other end of the mall was the Capital Building. I marveled at the designer’s ability to carve out a vast space and beat back the bustling city all around.

Next Post – The Smithsonian, the Capital Building and the Library of Congress.

February 22, 2017

I have posted some thoughtless things on Facebook. Bumpersticker Politics, Driveby Sniping, Brainbypass Commenting.

Donald Trump changed all that.

I don’t like him, think he’s all that’s wrong with Narcissistic America, and I did everything I could to make sure neither Clinton nor Trump won the election. Feel the power—NOT.

I called both of them things on Facebook, many of which weren’t true about Trump (all were true about Clinton). Things like racist and misogynist. Neither of which I think are true any longer.

Let me back up a bit. I’d changed my ways re: President Obama because I didn’t like the name calling so many of my FBF (Facebook Friends; not to be confused with RLF; Real-life Friend, although there is a lot of overlap) were engaged in.  So I purposed to refer to him as President Obama, or at worst simply Obama. Respect the office if not who holds it.

Then, after the election (I still pinch myself every morning to see if it’s all a bad dream), I saw posts of fear and outrage, many getting the facts wrong.

Then the whole immigration thing happened and Facebook went even crazier. Having done a little research, I’ve been concerned about how much immigration is happening. I’ve got nothing against controlled immigration, a lot against illegal immigration, and not nearly enough knowledge to have an informed opinion on the immigration pause. That didn’t stop everyone else from posting about it, but it stopped me.

Meanwhile, FBF who castigate people protesting abortion for sharing their opinion passionately, are suddenly protesting… okay, I’m not sure what they’re protesting… but they’re doing it passionately, and suddenly it’s alright to share their opinion loudly.

Here’s the thing: There’s enough wrong about Trump that you don’t have to make things up.

The man is a communications nightmare. I can’t listen to him or watch him. He’s his own favorite subject and speaks really badly about everything. But he isn’t racist for wanting to stop illegal immigration; and the criminals he spoke about as rapists and murderers are from the illegal immigrant criminal subset, not all Mexicans and not even all illegal aliens.  He speaks badly about a subset of black people who commit heinous crimes, not all of them. He said some awful things a long time ago about what celebrities can do to women. That makes him crude and gross, and saying what most male celebrities know to be true. Was he misogynist because he said it, did it or thought it? Because I don’t see anyone boycotting movies. He hires people of color and women to key roles. A racist and misogynist wouldn’t do that.

All of that to say I have been convicted to only make thoughtful or funny posts on Facebook. If I don’t have enough information, I won’t post. If it would hurt someone’s feelings without presenting the hope of the gospel at the same time, then I won’t post it.

It’s really tempting to take on the FBF who do. I did that once and he blocked me before I could block him. Posting wisely is easy. Commenting wisely takes some effort.

So, naturally I’m proud of myself for this conviction. Then at church last Sunday our really terrific pastor commented on the same thing (-ish). But I was doing it already!  Pride fizzles out like a balloon. Now no one will believe I reached that conclusion independently.

I also know in this post, I’ve probably ticked off a lot of readers (I have more now, and some of them are foodies! I love foodies!), using the words “illegal immigrant” and “illegal aliens.”  I use them for accuracy, not rancor. I strive for that because I’m a writer, and while I adore fiction, I love the truth. (FWIW, I like the idea of a guest worker program, and yes I understand food will become more expensive, but I eat a lot of processed food (sorry foodies!), so maybe fake food won’t be effected.

Make lasagna, not war!