Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Piercing Stare of the Prophet

How many times I got “saved” under the ministry of David Wilkerson is anyone’s guess.  I got saved a lot as a child.  I had a lot of guilt.  The guilt was always temporarily relieved by saying the sinner’s prayer.  I encountered David Wilkerson in person, through multiple readings of The Cross and The Switchblade, his magazine or a tract.  It seems from his bursting on the scene in Brooklyn in the late 50’s, he was always part of my life. 

I don’t remember when I first heard of him.  I remember watching him on our old black and white TV as a small child.  His choir had familiar faces including those of my brother and my soon to be sister-in-law.  Teen Challenge invaded our little Norwegian church.  It was one of the rare times there was color in that church.  These were true sinners, the first I ever encountered.

I now view my adolescent rebellion through the lens of grace and understanding.  Absent is the guilt that drove me to be repeatedly saved.  Absent is the need for attention.  Yes, I was a troubled youth.  But now I understand the trouble stemmed from the abuse of my childhood.  It was a different time.  Not only did people not understand the impact of abuse, they didn’t even know my story.

I’m reminded of those days as I ponder the death of David Wilkerson.  My spiritual life was so impact by this giant of the faith.  I remember his mother.  I remember his brother Don.  They went to church with me at my second childhood church, Calvary Tabernacle.  I remember rows of men from the “boys” home and rows of women from the “girls” home.  I remember rice and bean suppers on Clinton Avenue.  I remember Sister Benton and her warm embrace.

It is hard to shake the pietistic attitudes of my Norwegian youth.  Judgment was common.  My mother and father lacked understanding.  They only saw my meager attempts at rebellion and never my cry for help.  They viewed the cardinal sin of wearing make-up as a ticket to damnation.  Because of this it is a story I don’t often repeat.  It’s a story of encountering the steely blue stare of the prophet. 

In my impressionable youth, there was no prophet like David Wilkerson.  He had a reputation for seeing right through you.  He would expose your sin with his stare.  He saw right through religious smiles and attempts at hiding your sin under the cloak of righteous appearances.

I had given Marji Benton a note.  I had a plan.  Like my brothers before me, I planned to run away.  I planned to go to Port Authority and take the bus to Bridgeport CT.  I chose Bridgeport because I knew someone there.  A Polish guy I had met at Word of Life Camp one summer.  We had been pen-pals for a while.  I thought he might help me find a place to live.  I was 14 years of age.

My parents were thoroughly convinced I was headed for damnation.  I always was a good actress.  They believed my tales of sin and mayhem.  Everyone did.  Everyone thought I was a make-up wearing, cigarette smoking, glue sniffing, sex experimenting teen headed for hell.  I needed saving often.  In spite of all my trips to the altar, it seemed it never took.  Most of my stories had little or no truth to them.  I was a good liar.  I was desperate for attention.  One got attention by being saved through Teen Challenge.  It seemed a good route for me.

Marji, daughter of the leaders of the Walter Hooving Home for Girls, now just a “girls” ministry of Teen Challenge, gave the note to her mother.  Written on a deconstructed offering envelop it said I was thankful for their help and that I was running away on Tuesday.  

Monday afternoon as I walked the block from the bus stop to our home on 6th Avenue, I saw the familiar red station wagon driven by Sister Benton.  I had taken trips in that wagon before.  I had been treated like part of the family.  As I walked to the steps she met me.  She said, you’re coming home with me tonight.  Your mother knows and we agreed you’d come with me. 

Before the rice and bean supper that night – Before the prayer time as they agonized for my soul, we took a trip to Brother Benton’s office.  After a short conversation we went into David Wilkerson’s office.  I was terrified.  He looked at me with those eyes.  His face was stern.  He mentioned my plan to run away.  With that piercing stare, he said: “How old are you young lady?”  With a disgusted shake of the head, he dismissed me. 

I saw him again many times as he graced the pulpit of my church or those around me.  I saw him when I was in a neighborhood youth choir at 52nd Street church.  All my Norwegian friends were there.  He looked at us and told the choir we still needed to repent.  Many did.  Our parents prayed for revival.  Most of those repenting were far more righteous than I. 

David Wilkerson is now home with the Lord.  I can only imagine the welcome home he got.  And yet, as I ponder his greatness in the Kingdom, I am reminded that all of us are loved by our Father.  He loved me when I was a confused teen-ager.  He loves me in the frustration of today.  Last night, rather than worrying about my soul and repenting of the days sins as I read a Teen Challenge publication, I thanked God for David Wilkerson and prayed for his family.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Vigil

My Easter worship came last night.  This seems to be a year of liturgical firsts.  Last night my Easter worship came at St. Ann’s Roman Catholic Church.  It was a long Mass.  It was an interesting Mass.  I had a personal reason to be there.  My oldest daughter has decided to become part of the Roman Catholic church.  I watched her be baptized for the fourth time in her life.  I thought of her first baptism.

My husband was the first to spot her.  She stood by the side door of the church.  I looked.  I looked again, and again… I thought is that Bethany?  Her hair is now a subdued brown much like my natural hair color.  I looked several times.  Once again, it was looking in the mirror.  I thought that can’t be Bethany.  She’s a woman. 

I’ve known in my head that she’s a woman for a long time.  Yet, looking at her last night I saw myself.  I saw myself when I was that age.  I saw myself and realized I was a woman then.  I was no longer a girl.  It made me feel old for I often see myself as that age still. 

I wondered for a moment what happened to my beautiful blond haired little girl.  The one who wore pigtails.  The one who on Valentine’s Day in 1982 followed the Lord in Water Baptism along with her brother Jason. Oh the love, hopes, and prayers I had for them both that day.  I was so proud.  I prayed for the day they'd be adults serving the Lord and doing amazing things for the Kingdom.  Perhaps they'd be missionaries, or pastors.  

I’m not criticizing her decision.  It just made me wonder.  It made me sad.  It made me sad that she was rejecting the tradition of her generations.  Yet, I was also proud of her.  I was proud of her for following her heart and seeing this to completion, even though I'd prayed she wouldn't.  I was happy for her that she was happy.  I was thrilled she is seeking after God.  I prayed that she would find Him more real.

In spite of my sadness, I found the baptismal ceremony profound.  In some ways, like most things Catholic, it seemed so impersonal.  The priest didn’t know her name.  There was no joyousness as she bent her head. She was one of many.  It seemed so detached.  Yet the words were there, I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  

She had renounced the devil.  She had affirmed their belief in the ancient Apostle’s Creed.  We all did.  The priest asked us all to renew our baptism.  He sealed our renewal with the sprinkling of holy water over us.  A drop hit my forehead.  My heart remembered my baptism.  My soul renewed my commitment to the faith of my mother and father.

As they anointed her for confirmation, I knew she already had the Holy Spirit residing in her.  I prayed that she would receive the gift in all its fullness.  I prayed that the Holy Spirit would guide her.

The Mass was beautiful and meaningful.  I will never know when to stand on cue or kneel.  The ritual is so ingrained in a lifelong Catholic.  Ritual is meaningful.  I’ve preached about that and you can listen to it here

I thought, I’ll probably be seeing a lot of the inside of a Catholic church now that she is Catholic.  I whispered to my husband that the next event would likely be Maria’s baptism.  I wondered if that negated her dedication to the Lord that I performed with a little water from the Jordan River when I was her Pastor Nana on Easter four years ago.

Like so many times, I went back to Bethany’s dedication.  Alone I stood.  Alone I stood and presented her to the Lord.  No husband.  He was gone.  He had beaten me while I carried her and deserted us.  My mother was there, but she was reluctant.  Her heart was not there. 

I presented her to the Lord.  Through the rebellion and chaos of her youth I would go back to that moment.  I would give her again to the Lord.  I would drive the streets of Hartford night after night, to the wee hours of the morning, looking, looking for her.  Praying that I would see a glimpse of her, that she was not dead, I would remind God of her dedication when I gave her back to Him. 

This woman who followed her heart last night is that same little girl.  I’ve given her to the Lord.  As I handed her the gift I had purchased, Rosary Beads from the Holy Land, I thought how odd it was.  For centuries no one in our generations had prayed the Rosary.  Yet, the card said it all, it said this is the beginning of great things in God.  I hope and pray that it is.  And if the Saints in Heaven do pray for us, her generations are joining in that prayer.  God's ways are not our ways, maybe this is where she'll find the risen Christ.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

May the Day be Long and Sweet

It’s been a long time since I was excited about Easter.  From a spiritual perspective, I always am thankfully excited about Resurrection Sunday.  But Easter as a holiday has been very flat for a long, long time.  I reminisced about my childhood Easters on Kingdom Bloggers this week.  You can read it here.

Earlier this week I told you about sewing at midnight for my children.  I’ve told you about the Easter that my oldest son Nathan was dedicated to the Lord.  Easter does hold many precious memories.  However, I honestly can’t remember when was the last time we really celebrated the holiday of Easter. 

I am preparing to grill out tomorrow.  I always have to remember that here in the south if you say you are going to Barbeque it means something entirely different.  My daughter and her children are coming.  Our other two children that live in the area will be here.  I’m excited.  I bought some treats for the kids. Shh, don’t tell them.  I have hamburgers and hot dogs for the grill.  I’m making potato salad just like my mom’s.  I’m making a pasta salad.  We’ll have strawberry shortcake for dessert.  And will wash it all down with sweet tea.

I hope the day is long and sweet. 

Preparing to grill out reminds me of my mother.  My older children may remember the lazy summers on her deck or the joyous gatherings with my step sisters.  My mother loved to cook out.  It seems there were times when she really came alive.  This was one of them.  Like me, she loved to have her family gathered on special days and ordinary days.  I miss her.

Tonight will gather to worship in a tradition foreign to me.  I’ll watch my daughter follow her heart and become a Roman Catholic.  It’s rare we all gather to worship.  I pray the Holy Spirit moves tonight and melts the sadness from the hearts of my family.  It’s been a rough week, a very rough week.  I understand we’ll gather in darkness.  I know we’ll hear of the Light come from Heaven.  We’ll reflect on the glorious burst of life that brought Jesus back from the dead.

It’s going to be a good Easter.  I see new life and new hope all around me.  It’s been a long time coming, this sense of newness and hope. 

Christ has come.  CHRIST HAS RISEN.  Christ will come again.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Revelry and Sacredness

It was a beautiful Tennessee night last night.  The air was cool.  The trees were luscious with new life.  Flowers were blooming.  As I walked into the church last night, I noticed the small dogwood near the cross in front of the church.  The cross was draped with royal purple.  Encompassed in a circular planting, the dogwood stood behind it.

I didn’t know what to expect as I turned the gold handle of the glass door to the church.  It had been a struggle to decide to go to church last night.  The little Methodist church that I have been attending was having their Maundy Thursday service.  I had never been to a Maundy Thursday service.  I knew they were going to wash feet and have Eucharist.  I knew the foot washing was optional.  I knew I would opt out.

I had an internal struggle all day.  I am uncomfortable when I attend this church.  It isn’t the formality of the service.  It’s that I feel so out of place.  I know only a few people there.  Of the ones I know, I have no close bonds with them.  The Pastor is cordial.  

It came down to my desire to watch American Idol, or go to church.  Finally conviction of the words, can you not tarry with Me one hour sent me to turn the handle of that glass door.  In total, there were less than 20 people there.  The liturgist was an elderly gentleman with an accent I couldn’t identify.  The Pastor was dressed in a black robe with a purple stole.  A galvanized metal tub graced the front of the church with a gourd dipper beside it.

As friends greeted each other and chatted, one woman came and ask my name.  Her name was Ginger.  I appreciated her greeting.  The Pastor said hello.  Otherwise, I sat in silence on the wrong side of the church.  To make my separateness more complete, it seems everyone save one, sat on the opposite side of the sanctuary.  I’m used to going to church alone but my aloneness was acute last night.

The processional began as the Pastor came in with Christ's candle.  The liturgist led us in prayer and recitation.  The short homily spoke of the Exodus from Egypt.  The three children in attendance asked questions on cue.  The foot washing was simple but profound.  The Pastor himself seemed uncomfortable with the ceremony and opted out of having his foot washed.  It seemed my fears of being the only one to opt out were unfounded.

The Sacrament of the Lord’s Table was served by two of the children in attendance.  I walked the aisle to receive the Sacrament with people I don’t know.  Yet, at that moment, we all partook of the grace of the Sacrament.  I felt glad I had come.  As I meditated on the suffering of my Lord as He prayed in the garden, I realized my meager sacrifice and discomfort was nothing.  He was alone even with His disciples close by.  He was alone as He cried out to His Father.  He was alone as He faced the agony of the coming crucifixion.  My aloneness was nothing. 

The Pastor explained the stripping of the church of the reminders of Christ.  The small gathered saints began to sing Go to Dark Gethsemane.  I decided to leave.  I felt uncomfortable participating in the stripping of the church with these people I didn’t know.  It seemed that was a “family” activity.  I am not family. 

As I turned the handle again to exit, the sound of their hymn collided with the loud raucous sounds of the bar down the street.  I thought of the comments on Facebook I’d seen.  People ready to party because they had a three day weekend.  The nightlife in tiny Kingston Springs was declaring the same thing.  

On the same street were a small group of people inside the church, participating in ancient rituals to remember the soberness of Maundy Thursday.  They were preparing for the pain of the Cross and the glory of Resurrection.

What a contrast on a beautiful night in Tennessee.  Revelry and sacredness in one small block.  I looked back and saw the glow of the stained glassed windows of the church.  I was glad I had chosen to worship on Maundy Thursday.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Sewing at Midnight

It was spring of America’s Bicentennial year.  It was the year my step sister married her husband.  Like this year, Easter must have been late.  The wedding came before Easter as their anniversary celebration did this year. 

My sister’s wedding was a big deal.  She did it up right!  Everyone was beautiful.  The bride was radiant as all brides should be.  Dressed in a powder blue tux, her husband was the dashing prince.  Her huge wedding party did not include me.  I was asked to be the guest book attendant.  That meant I got to choose my own dress, as long as it was blue.

Granny dresses with pinafore ruffled sleeves were popular.  I knew how to sew.  I liked to sew.  In my little trailer home I made a floral blue pinafore granny dress.  I had little room for a sewing machine. Nevertheless I would sit for hours constructing garments for myself and my children.  Then it was economical to sew.  I loved the idea of creatively constructing something unique to me.  There would never be another creation just like mine.

As Easter neared, I tucked that pinafore dress away in the closet.  The world still dictated that your Easter dress was something you had never worn to church before.  I had a plan.  Like so many other designs that float in my head, I was going to wow them this Easter.  I was going to show the world that I had some talent.  I was going to show the world that even though I was a single mother living in a trailer and on welfare, my kids could look great on Easter.

I had lots of patterns for little girl clothes.  My little girl was going to steal the show on Easter.  Her beautiful blond hair was coming in but still too short for the pig-tails that would become her trademark.  I used the same pattern that I had from another jumper I had made for her.  On a muslin yoke, I embroidered flowers and the words, Jesus Loves Me.  Oh how I wish I had a picture of that dress.  I can see it in my heart.  I had labored to put flowers on the muslin yoke.  I had prayed as I embroidered Jesus Loves Me.  I often sang her to sleep singing Jesus Loves Me.  I wanted her to know she was loved by Jesus even though abandoned by her father.

In a few hours I had crafted a dress just like mine for her to wear on Easter.  It was a mother-daughter outfit just like my mother had made for her and I but a few years before. I made a matching bonnet.  I had made many bonnets for her.  I was so happy to have a little girl to dress in beautiful frilly things.  Her outfit was completed with white gloves, white patent shoes and white shirt.  But the look was not complete.

It wasn’t unusual for me to get an idea late Saturday night of an outfit for my children to wear for church the next morning.  I would labor all night to complete my idea.  I already had new shoes and trousers for my boys.  I probably had begged someone for help to buy them.  Then the Saturday night light bulb went off.  As soon as they were bathed and in bed with a bottle of Diet Coke nearby, I took out the sewing machine.

I spread yardage of fabric over the kitchen table.  I took out my scissors.  There was just enough of the floral blue fabric to make the yoke of two boy’s western style shirts.  The rest of the shirts were muslin since it was cheap and available.  I always struggled with button holes so I pounded in snaps.  Our unity as a family was clear.  We matched. 

My children don’t remember those days in that trailer.  I wish I had a picture of us together in our matching Easter outfits.  I wish they remembered the look on people’s faces as we walked into the sanctuary that Easter Sunday.  I wish they heard the comments of shock that the welfare mother had talent enough to make the most beautiful Easter outfits. 

But I remember.  The way we were:

Monday, April 18, 2011

Looking in a Mirror

It was a bit like looking in a time warp mirror.  There sat my daughter, my oldest daughter.  The one that has always been told she looks so much like me.  When she was about 8 my favorite Tante, my Tante Bitta saw her and started to laugh.  In Norwegian I could understand she said “she looks just like you did when you were that age.” 

As an adult, we still look a lot alike.  Her youngest daughter looks just like her (and me).  It’s like the two of us all over again but with dark hair.  My daughter is beautiful.  The stress in her face often hides it.  I have often wondered how she could look like me and still be beautiful. 

As I sat across a table from her at a local IHOP, I heard her lament.  Trouble, sorrow, and want never seem to be far from her.  This time her lament was deep.  Life is beating her up once again.  I have admitted long ago my inability to fix things.  Oh but I wish I could.  I always look for magic wands and such, but her problems aren’t easily solved.

My life has been filled with troubles.  It’s not been an easy life by anyone standards.  But when I compare it to that of my beautiful first born daughter, I realize my life has been much easier.  I wish it were the other way around.  I wish her life was only filled with joy and happiness.

She sounded just like me when she said, “I’d wish for something good but that would mean that I had a life of luck and miracles.”  I heard myself.  I saw myself.  I saw that same gaze of despair.  I wondered did she learn it from me?

I wanted to say all those things that people say to me. 

Things like “oh it will get better!”
Or maybe quote the Bible and say “All things work together for good.” 

I know a few people who do that and when they’ve done it to me when I’m feeling my worst, I just want to scream at them to shut up!  I flunked Polyanna-ism.  I've seen too much pain for that.  Life is very harsh sometimes.  Often there are no good answers.  Hopes die.  Dreams die.  People die.  Reality sets in and you look to the heavens and say “can I get a break?”

It’s Holy Week.  I wonder if Jesus wondered if He could get a break.  I wonder when He sweat those drops of blood asking for the cup to be removed in Gethsemane, if He would have wanted the disciples to tell him:

Just wait awhile, Paul’s going to write in Romans before long: “All things work together for good.”

Jesus knew that.  But He asked for prayer, not words.  He asked His disciples to sit with Him and pray.  He cried out His deepest agony to His Father.  Waiting and lamenting in prayer for those in pain.  Right now, that’s the best she can do, and the best I can do.  It’s the best anyone can do. 

The cross became our victory.  Does God always make something good out of bad and pain?  I honestly don’t know.  But I do know, He’ll never leave us or forsake us.  

Whose pain can you help carry in prayer this Holy Week?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Only Trust

I just finished my weekly blog on Kingdom Bloggers.  It’s a pretty good blog.  I hope you’ll read it.  But as the late Paul Harvey would say, let me tell you the rest of the story.  In that blog, I speculated about the crowds of Palm Sunday and the crowd who yelled, crucify Him.  If they were the same, perhaps they were so angry that Jesus didn’t do what they thought He would that it drove them to bitterness and hatred.

Now before I go any further, I have never been guilty of such heresy.  Thankfully, I have never reached the place of consuming bitterness and hatred.  But I’ve had moments.  Perhaps I could spot that potential so well this morning, because I had one of those moments just last night.

I like to listen to talk on the radio.  It has nothing to do with my politics.  I can listen to NPR or Rush Limbaugh.  I just like to listen to talk.  My primary talk radio choice in Nashville is politically conservative.  As I flicked on the radio last night on trip home from dinner with my baby girl, I heard a familiar voice.  It was the Plain Jane Wisdom radio show hosted by Devon O’Day and Kim McLean.

I went to school with Kim at Trevecca.  I remember her sitting near the back, near the door, of Hebrew class.  I remember the first day I talked to her and found out she was a songwriter.  Another classmate asked her if she was any good at it.  I laugh with embarrassment when I think of that question.  Songwriters often don’t become household names but if they did, she would be a household name.  Anyone who can get Dolly Parton to sing back-up for you, has to be good.

Through Kim I met Devon.  I’m not close to either of them even though they live in the same town as I do.  They just travel in different circles.  When I first heard they had this radio show I was both happy for them and very angry.  I thought why them?  Okay, they are good people, they are talented, but haven’t you blessed them with enough success?  Kim’s already ordained in the Church of the Nazarene, on faculty at Trevecca, they both do a national Christian conference, not to mention the books Devon has and the songwriting Kim does.  They both have Wikipedia entries!  

Last night was the first time I heard their show.  Their guest, interestingly also named Joyce, was talking about a ex-husband who was unfaithful, about divorce, about feeling like you had no reason to live, and just wanting to die.  I thought yep, I know that feeling.  I remember lying in bed nightly for a couple of years begging God to not let me wake up.  I remember saying to Him, if you have a purpose for me, let me live and find it – otherwise, take me out of here, I can’t stand this pain.  This prayer has been repeated other times since then.

I thought wow, that’s good.  She has a good story to tell.  She quoted Isaiah 54.  I thought yep, God’s given me that verse too.  Good stuff.  Then she said it.  Then she said that God miraculously opened the door for her to serve on the Pastoral staff of a church.  She gave up a great job and answered the call of God.  She had no formal training or education for pastoral ministry.  She didn’t apply for this job.  She just got a call to come and serve. 

Like the short fuse on a stick of dynamite, that sentence ignited all my frustration.  I was alone in the car.  I ranted and raved to God.  I asked Him – so what about me?  Why do you open all these doors for people and not me?  I know you can do miraculous things.  I went on and on.  I blew up.  All the frustration of waiting, all the frustration of disappointment came spewing out of my mouth.  

The woman on the radio went on to talk about serving on International Boards and her book that was not self-published – It was just another log on the fire burning inside of me.  I gave God one more chance at the end of my rant – I said “God, I hope I have to repent of this but it better be soon.  I’m old.  I’m in debt for this education I got to prepare for Your service.  Time is running out for both of us.  But I do hope you show up and “open some door” (sarcasm in my voice) for me.  If you do, I’ll repent of this conversation.”

Wow – some would worry about my eternal soul after reading that.  Today, on a beautiful morning in Tennessee I realize that maybe my cross is the waiting.  When it comes right down it, no matter what other frustration and anger I may feel at times, Jesus is faithful and true.  I may be called to preach and teach yet never get the open doors.  But most importantly, I am called to trust Him.  

Monday, April 4, 2011

A Sermon Based on Mark 2:13-17

Now that we've had some fun with women's hair rituals and devoted a whole blog to Spoolies, I want to get serious.  The headlines are very disturbing.  Afghan riots over Quran-burning: 2 days, 20 dead.  The article goes on to tell that 80 were also injured.  That's 100 people who've been hurt or killed because of Dr. Terry Jones.  I wrote a blog about "Dr." Terry Jones last September.

I was hopeful after he backed down.  I hoped that the damaged could be minimized.  But he put the Qur'an on trial and found it guilty.  I am not sure guilty of what.  I also wonder what authority he feels he has to make such a decision and maniacal behavior.

We often hear that freedom isn't free.  Now people are paying the price for Dr. Jones freedom.  The damage has been done.  The damage is irreparable.  Like a game of "telephone" where one person tells another and by the time it gets to the end of the line, it no longer resembles the truth, this story will build and distort and continue to incite for years to come.
Someone explained to me the difference in how Muslims view the Qur'an compared to how we view the Bible. I respect the Bible.  It is God's word.  I desire to follow its teachings, including loving my enemy, to the very best of my ability.  But I don't love the Bible like I love Jesus.  Muslims love the Qur'an like I love Jesus.  That takes it to a whole new level.

It's Lent, the Christian season of repentance, self-reflection, sacrifice, and preparation for the remembrance of crucifixion and resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus, the Christ.  A supposed Christian minister, pastor of "Dove" World "Outreach," filled with hate for his fellowman claims that it is a Christian act to burn a Qur'an.

Think of the contradictions.  Dove, a symbol of innocence, peace, love, and the Holy Spirit names his church.  Outreach, an act or practice of visiting and providing the services (of a charity or other organization) to people who might not otherwise have access to those services."  An finally, Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ, the son of God who came to earth to bring salvation to all by willingly submitting to the cross and who calls us to love our enemies and do good to those who mistreat us (Matthew 5:43-48).

As we pray during this Lenten season, as we seek a closer relationship with Christ, as we repent of our sins, we need to think about Dr. Terry Jones.  We need to examine our own hearts to see where we have areas of hate and prejudice.  We need to seek to be like Christ.  When you ask what would Jesus do in this situation?  I think He'd just do as He did with outcasts of His day, He'd go find a Muslim and share a meal.  


Lin won our contest and named the pink do-dads.  Congratulations Lin!
There back - the good old days are back!  You can now buy spoolies again.  Interested? Go to

The good old days can be relived with spoolies.
On a serious note, I understand that some of the proceeds from the "new" spoolies go to a mission project that helps girls go to school.  For that reason, I changed this blog (I don't get anything out of this).

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Saturday Night Baths and Sunday Morning Dress-Up

I think every child loves Saturday.  Saturday is that day when you don’t have school.  It is the day to sleep late and play.  It was on a Saturday that my father would take me on excursions of delight.  Holding his hand, we’d place our token in the turnstile to ride the 4th Avenue local.  However, there was one part of Saturday that I did not like.

Saturday night meant a soak in the tub.  Ours was an old tall claw bathtub.  We had no shower.  While we each had our own bathwater, one by one, we’d make the trip into the tub to be clean for Sunday.  I often entertained myself in the tub with boats sent to me from my relatives in Norway.  I enjoy the tub.  What I didn’t enjoy was the shampoo.  I’d cover my eyes with a washcloth as the cups of water were poured over my head.  Usually some got in my eyes and I’d wince or cry.  My ears, between my toes, and my neck were all checked to see if they were clean.  There was a woman we knew who always had a dirty neck.  My mother would remind me that I shouldn’t be like her.  I should always wash my neck.

It was Saturday night.  My father would sit in his green recliner reading the Sunday Daily News.  He always got the first edition that came out early on Saturday evening.  As Lawrence Welk counted a-one, and a-two, and a-three, and the Champagne Music Lady sang, my mother would tackle the tangles in my hair.  When I was a little girl I would yell – ap-puls, ap-puls.  As I got older discipline demanded I be stoic.  I was Norwegian after all. 

My mother always preferred pin curls
made with bobby pins
Out would come the rollers.  It was common to see all manner of women walking 5th Avenue Brooklyn with their hair in pin curls, curlers, and later rollers on a Saturday afternoon.  As if some commandment required styled hair, women spared effort to tame their unruly hair, especially for church.  In order to endure the torture of sleeping with curlers or rollers in your hair as an adult, training began early.  My hair was twisted around rubber curlers that were carefully stored in an old cigar box.  My mother preferred pin curls. 
I thought it was so old fashion to wear these
in my hair when I was a kid.  But they only poked
a little when I slept on them.

Along came rollers, now those weren't easy to sleep in!
But Dippity Do always helped unruly hair.

Once I was clean, hair detangled, and wrapped in curlers it was time to read the funnies.  I never found them funny or understood them, but they were bright and colorful.  Off to bed with curlers covering my head, sleep would be fitful as a I tried to keep the curlers from poking me.
I should give a prize if you know what these are.
Comment if you know.
Eventually we rolled our hair around
empty OJ cans
Sunday morning meant Sunday School and Church.  Dressed in my finest clothes, cleaner than I had been all week, with as curly a mop as my mother could make, I was ready for worship.  My mother was in her best.  My father in his suit. 

We sang a song in that church in Brooklyn, “Give of Your Best to the Master.”  I guess that’s why we always had to dress up and be extra clean.  This was our way of giving our best.  I thought of those days this morning as I put on dress pants to go to church.  I almost never dress up any more.  I have no reason to do so.  I thought about wearing jeans.  It would have been okay if I had.  It was nice to feel like I looked my best for Jesus once again.

As I looked around, I spotted a friend from Brooklyn.  I thought about how she probably had to have her hair curled, and be extra clean as she walked 5th Avenue to Mass at Our Lady of Perpetual Help.  Here we were, both sitting in this little country church in Tennessee far, far from our childhoods in Brooklyn.  For a few moments, I remembered Saturday night baths and Sunday morning church.