Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Where in the World is Ben Cartwright?

One of my all time favorite shows is Bonanza.  Reruns are aired everyday at 1 PM on a local station and if I'm at home, I usually try to watch while having lunch and cleaning the kitchen.  Bonanza was one of the TV shows that my parents allowed us to watch (on DVD) when we were younger and I've enjoyed getting to know Ben and Little Joe, Adam and Hoss all over again. 

Now, keeping in mind that these are fictional characters on a TV show, I can't help but ask, where in the world is Ben Cartwright?  Or more specifically, where is he on TV today?  Ben Cartwright is a man's man.  He carries a gun, herds cattle, fixes fences, breaks horses and commands his hired men.  He cares for his neighbors and friends.  He gives of his resources to help out others in need.  He defends those who are too weak or helpless to defend themselves.  He's always respectful of women.  He's kind to children.  He's tough and gentle with his sons who he has raised to manhood.  He's a man that others respect (except the lawless element of course).  He thinks before he speaks and rarely speaks rashly.  As far as I know, he didn't receive any formal education (college) but he reads a lot and is always improving his mind.  He's intelligent and wise and is able to solve problems using brains rather than guns.  However, in that time, sometimes guns were the only option and he knew when they had to be used but was careful and did not shoot unnecessarily.  He believed a man was innocent until proven guilty.  He believed in and trusted his sons.  He knew how to take a joke and could laugh at himself instead of getting defensive.  He was, in some sense, the ideal man.  To measure a flesh and blood man against him today would be, to a certain extent, unfair.  But to measure how men and fathers are portrayed on TV today against Ben Cartwright is not.  So again I must ask, where is he today?  There are a few modern TV shows that my husband and I watch - Everybody Loves Raymond, Seinfeld, The Big Bang Theory, The Office.  And I see previews of TV shows during football games so I have a fairly decent handle on what TV shows are like today.  Not once have I seen a man or father portrayed in a positive light, let alone coming close to Ben Cartwright.  Men act like spoiled children, fathers are stupid and the butt of the joke, women and children mock men and never give them any respect.  It amazes me that men are willing to play those roles for TV. 

Where are the men who are respectful of women and kind to children?  Where are the husbands and fathers who lead their families with love and kindness and a firm commitment to the right?  Where are the men that we, the viewers, can look up to?  It's frankly nauseating to see how men are portrayed and treated in TV shows.  Hopefully it sickens you too. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Weekend

I love the weekend.  I get a couple full days with my husband.  Usually we'll run a few errands on Saturday or do some work outside.   We go to church on Sunday morning and, during this time of year, watch football Sunday afternoon and evening.  This past weekend was especially fun.  We did some work around the house on Saturday morning and then went to Perfect Peace and Hobby Lobby on Saturday afternoon.  I was looking for some nice stationary at Perfect Peace (which I did not find) and the hubby wanted to see if he could find a puzzle at Hobby Lobby.  He got a pretty neat puzzle, we got a cross made from large nails or spikes to hang on the wall above the stairs, and we got Josiah a kids nativity (Mary, Joseph, Jesus, and a sheep).  After shopping, we stopped at Brahms to get some ice cream and then went over to Sedgwick County Park to walk for a little while.  It was a gorgeous afternoon.  The leaves are starting to turn and fall from the trees.  It was sunny and about 70 degrees.  Josiah was sleeping so we just put him in the stroller and enjoyed some time together, talking and walking. 

The sermon on Sunday morning was about being a learner.  As Christians, we're supposed to always be humbly learning from the Bible and from others.  No matter how long we've lived or how long we've been a Christian or how much we've studied, there's always more to learn.  It was a good sermon and I was able to pay attention since Josiah is now in the nursery.  We had lunch with the hubby's family and then came home to do a few chores and watch some football.  Most of the wins and losses weren't surprising.  The three teams who I care about won - Chiefs, Broncos, and Packers.  The Packers and Broncos games were nail biters in the beginning but both teams have good quarterbacks and receivers and beat the other teams handily.

I was especially impressed with my Packers.  We've had terrible injuries this season and Aaron Rodgers was down to one veteran receiver.  The others were rookies who started in the last couple weeks.  However, if you have a good quarterback (which we do), he'll put the ball right into the hands of the receivers.  He was a little more careful with the new guys and didn't give them any risky throws.  But his one veteran receiver, Jordy Nelson (a K-Stater), can catch anything and when Rodgers couldn't find an open receiver, the ball went to Jordy.  One reason I really like Rodgers is because he does include the younger, less experienced receivers.  You look at other teams and the QB always seems to have a favorite receiver.  Tom Brady has Gronkowski (when he's not injured), Christian Ponder has Adrian Peterson, Peyton Manning has Wes Welker and Demaryius Thomas, etc.  But part of having a good team is bringing rookies on board and letting them get some confidence and experience on the field.  And it seems to be working for us. 

The one surprise/not surprise was the Chiefs.  They're the only undefeated team in the league (every time an announcer says that, it's always coupled with a "I just can't believe it!").  Last year, they were the worst team in the league.  I think all fans and people who are interested in the Chiefs are holding their breath and waiting for the other shoe to fall.  It just seems too good to be true.  They do have a new QB and I think they have a new coach but still... it's almost impossible to revamp a team in one year.  You have to have a good foundation and build on that and when you're the worst team in the league, you don't have a good foundation and you don't build that in a year.  Some of their wins have been easy and some have been hard fought, but the teams they've beaten all have more loses than wins right now (except the Cowboys who are 4-4).  I just don't think they can stack up against the really good teams - Patriots, Bengals, Colts, Broncos, Saints, Seahawks, 49ers, even the Packers or Lions.  But, only time will tell.  The rest of the season should prove to be exciting.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Christmas Giving

It's that time of year to start thinking about the holidays.  Thanksgiving will be upon us in another month and Christmas will follow on Thanksgiving's heels.  As I contemplate this time of year, there are several thoughts I'd like to share with you.

First, I'm saddened by the number of stores that are deciding to open on Thanksgiving to start the Black Friday rush.  I don't hate Black Friday as some people seem to but I do hate what it seems to do to people.  The selfishness and greed and hatred of others that dominates on that day is a sad way to end our day of national thankfulness.  Here we are, a nation that God has blessed beyond imagination, and we're willing to trample someone to death if it means we get the "toy" that we have our eye on.  It must truly grieve God to see us on that day, and I hope it grieves all of us as well.  As Christians, I don't think we should necessarily avoid Black Friday shopping.  Stores do have some good deals and on a grander scheme, it does give a boost to our flagging economy but please, keep in mind that we are to love people and use things, rather than love things and use people.
Second, and related to the first, as you're picking out gifts for your friends and family this year, keep in mind that there are people in our country and around the world who are desperately in need.  Spend some time praying about what organizations you'll support this year.  Christmas is not about us.  God gave us the incredible gift of His Son and out of His love for us and our love for Him, we are to love and serve others.  Practically this means giving to organizations that send food and clothing and medical supplies to people living in poverty.  Or perhaps your church does a coat drive at Christmas.  Buy a coat and throw it in the bin.  Maybe you know of a single mom who's struggling to make ends meet and doesn't have the money to get gifts for her children.  Buy a gift for the kids and maybe even one for the mom. 

Third, it's important to be an example for your kids when it comes to gift giving at Christmas.  As a kid growing up in a family of eight, I remember my parents being generous even though we didn't have a lot of money.  I remember them giving to Angel Tree, an organization that's part of Prison Fellowship and that purchases gifts for children who's parent(s) are in prison.  That made an impression on me and my husband and I now give to that organization at Christmas.  My parents and siblings and I would also do a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child.  At the time, I was conflicted.  Here were children that I didn't even know getting new things or things that I didn't even have.  But I was also happy that we were giving to children in poverty at Christmas.  Again, that made an impression on me.  For the last few years, my husband and I have put together a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child.  We also support this really awesome organization (Samaritans Purse) that puts out a catalog of different things you can purchase for people in poverty.  We always like to buy a goat or some chickens that will be given to people so they can have a sustainable food source.  I don't say all this to brag about what we do but to brag on my parents.  I had a good example of what it means to love and serve and give to others and because of that, my family will continue that legacy.  I will teach my son the importance of giving by being an example to him as my parents were an example to me.   

Matthew 25:35-40
'For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'
Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'
The King will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'

Monday, October 21, 2013

Dear Martha

I'm a Martha.  I enjoy running my household.  I enjoy keeping my house clean, doing the laundry, cooking meals, gardening, and the many other things that housewives must do to maintain their home.  When I know that company is coming over, I go into overdrive and clean clean clean.  When I don't know that company is coming over and someone just shows up (which, thankfully, doesn't happen very often), I tend to panic and sometimes things get shoved into closets and drawers before the front door is opened. 
But you may notice from the story of Mary and Martha in Luke 10 that Martha was the one who was gently admonished by Jesus.  Now if you're a Mary, your tendency will probably be to look at the story and use it to justify your filthy house and the frozen pizza dinner for the tenth night in a row.  But I don't think that's the point of the story.  The point wasn't really what each sister was doing at that exact moment but what their priorities looked like.  After all, if Mary was always sitting on the floor doing nothing, Jesus would have admonished her for that as well. 
Ever since Josiah came into our lives, I've had to make conscious decisions every day to realign my priorities.  As I walk by my son for the fifth time and he still has his arms up, wanting to be picked up and held, I need to set down the load of laundry and pick him up.  I need to stop planning the perfect dinner and sit down and read him a book.  I need to stop worrying about sticking to a schedule or a list and spend time with my son.  My tendency will always be to keep house first.  But the house will always be there.  The dirty laundry will always be there.  The pots and pans in the sink will always be there.  My son won't always be with me and I need to reprioritize so I can spend lots of time playing with him, talking with him, reading to him, and rocking him to sleep.
A little caution for the Mary's whose tendency it is to always play with the kids and just watch their house fall down around their ears.  Part of being a good mother is teaching your child to work hard.  If you're always leaving the dirty dishes or laundry for tomorrow, your child might grow up thinking that work isn't important at all which will be very detrimental to him/her.  There are many warnings in the Bible about laziness.  Besides, always being at your child's beck and call is not a good thing to teach them.  They need to learn to entertain themselves and as they get older to eventually realize that sometimes mom can't just stop what she's doing to read a book or play in the yard.  The key is balance.  If I'm spending all my time cleaning and no time with my son, I need to scale back the cleaning and play with my son.  If there's only play, I need to wash a few dishes and vacuum the floor. 
But since I'm a Martha, I write specifically for you other Martha's because I know how you feel.  Don't miss out on your kids because your housekeeping got in the way.  Teach them good habits, yes, but also teach them that family is magnificently important and spending time with them is a wonderful thing.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Joys of Parenthood

It seems an eternity since I last wrote.  One of the biggest changes that can happen in a person's life happened for us 7 months ago yesterday when our baby boy was placed in our arms.  Our whole life changed.  Our priorities changed.  Our schedules changed.  The way we spend our time, how we spend our money, who we spend most of our time talking about, it all changed.  As any new parent will tell you, some of it sucks.  Getting up at night to feed him is not my favorite thing to do.  Changing a dirty diaper is even farther down on the list.  And getting peed or thrown up on?  I can definitely say that's the least favorite.  But to stop at that only tells a small sliver of the story.  And I think it does a great disservice to couples who are thinking about starting a family.  Most of what we heard from parents before we got our son was:  "You won't get any sleep.  The baby will be crying all the time.  You'll always be covered in pee, poo, and puke.  Your sex life will die.  You won't have any money.  Basically, your life will be over."  And truthfully, there are little parts of that (varying in percentages depending on the baby) that are true.  But do you know what?  Most of the time it's super awesome!  In fact, I'd say it's 95% awesome and 5% suck.  Being a parent is in the top three of the most amazing things that has happened to me.  I LOVE my kid.  I love seeing him smile and hearing him laugh.  I love watching him explore and learn new things.  I love giving him a bath and rocking him to sleep.  I love how he holds onto my leg with all the strength in his little arms and hands because after standing up, he can't figure out how to sit back down without falling down.  I love how, as soon as he catches sight of me in the morning, the biggest grin pops onto his face.  I love how, as he catches sight of Daddy coming home from work, the biggest grin pops onto his face.
I know the tendency is to talk about all the bad things about being a new parent.  But maybe parents should spend more time talking about all the good things.  I don't usually like to go the whole "what if he/she dies!" route but maybe that will add a little perspective here.  The way some parents talk makes it sound like they'd be happier if they hadn't had the child and that's really sad.  So, fellow parents, let's resolve to spend more time talking about the good things about being a parent.  The joys, the laughter, the love, the incredible blessing that we hold in our arms.