Friday, June 22, 2012
And words like incredible, wonderful, joyful, outstanding, sweet, painful, devastating, and sad come to my mind today. The Stonecroft ladies of Bartlesville have climbed over some unbelievable barriers and entered into a world that is wildly different than their own.
The sheriff and law enforcement people are grateful.
These very wonderful, honest to the core, loving friends visit the gals living in lockdown once a week. They lead Bible Studies, listen, hug, cry with the inmates, pray with and for them...and did I say LISTEN? Once a month they have a special "lifeskills" program.
Being a small part of a Mom's Panel here in Tulsa, I was included in the invitation for yesterday's lifeskill event. The Mom's Panel is made up of 6 moms of various stages of parenting. We've brainstormed and come up with lists titled, "The Top 10 Things I Have Learned or Am Learning about Parenting." We've spoken at various events in the area and have had a great time. We love each other and have learned much. We have a mom of a pre-schooler, elementary age, high school, college, married with children, and one that talks about life that "doesn't work out as you dreamed it would."
Yesterday was our first gig at a prison.
Sitting before us were 25-30 women, dressed alike in orange jumpsuirs and flip flops. They were all ages and stages of life, now living confined to that small place. Their best days include hearings that give them hope that one day they would be free again, free to wrap their arms around their children, free for a fresh start. They are very aware that they have made some really bad choices and the painful consequences are wrapped around them like a straight jacket. They can't escape them.
I looked each one in the eye. I had no idea what circumstances brought them there, what horror they had experienced or performed, how long they have left to serve or where their deepest pain might lie.
We all shared our lists. There was laughter and tears, hugs and stories. After it was all over, there were more stories, stories that nearly set my hair afire, more hugs, more pleas for prayer and help. They are very grateful for these meetings, if only to get out of their cells for a while if nothing else.
Some will be released with a challenge to do life WITHOUT their children because their parental rights have been taken away to protect little ones. Some are looking at a very long stay!
Eight of those women indicated that they're ready to wave the white flag and admit that controlling their own lives, doing what they wanted to do at any given moment was what landed them in the slammer in the first place. They have decided to re-think this business of life and now want to try to do it God's way. They are learning that they need HIM to make life sane.
Good for them. I hope that desire is strengthened by the support of those regular visits from their new "on the outside" friends. I heard plans of arranging help for them once they are released.
I'm thinking that sometimes JAIL might be the very best place for a person. These women are removed from bad influences, distractions, abuse, confusion, horrible family situations, and the many opportunities to break the law. They are relatively safe physically.
They have lots of time to think. And some ARE thinking, regretting the past, trying to live peaceably in the present, fearing the future.
Hard work is being done in that jail. Most accomplishments are invisible, progress is taking place in hearts and minds.
Pain is hard but it certainly teaches people reality.
Friday, June 15, 2012
Honeybuns has a friend that lives in another state on a very LARGE FARM. During a visit recently they began discussing the guys business. On part of his land he raises free range cattle. You know, the "organic" kind! The cows feed off the grass, roam the pastures and are very happy!
They grow big and their destiny is fulfilled at the State Fair, the Long Horn Steakhouse, OR Billy Sims Barbecue! Who doesn't love a big juicy hormone free, steak! You know the kind! Those that are grown the old fashioned way, not in cattle pens where they are fed chemical filled scientific feed, but sweet green grass.
It's the expensive meat in the grocery store! It's all the rage now.
BUT, Houston, we have a problem.
The latest governmental mandate has come down. Normally "organic" farmers build ponds on their property for their herds. The cows lazily eat the grass of the pasture, share moos with their friends, have their babies, and often stroll over to the pond for a drink of water or perhaps a few laps on a hot summer day. This plan has worked for as long as cows have been growing in these United States.
Until now! We have a new environmentally correct law and it goes like this. Every farmers pond must be fenced so that the cows cannot get to the water. A pump must be installed to carry the water out of the pond to a watering tank on the banks of the pond so cow-thirst can be quenched there. The purpose of this "improvement" is to keep dirty cow feet and possibly bodily waste from cows out of the water. The theory is that such nasty things contaminate the water which would then soak into the ground, mingle with the underground water table and thus make the H2O unfit for human consumption.
Someone that has never seen a farm spent a lot of time on this one!
Now, let's think about this.
First thought: I know no one that drinks pond water!
Second: IF a cow is standing on the banks of a river or pond and nature calls, that waste sits there until the first rain. It then is washed down through the soil and layer of rock WITH the rain water to the under ground water table, just as it does if the cow is knee deep in pond mud.
(Someone PLEASE TELL our Washington employees that NO one carries little plastic bags or pooper scoopers around the pastures of America.) That's the way farms and cows have operated for hundreds of years.
And now you know! When you see a farmer standing in his pasture just shaking his head, contemplating a revolt or a tea party, give him a wave. He's wondering how long it will be before the powers that be demand that we all become vegetarians!
He's having a hard time and grieving over the lack of common sense in our country. Gotta feel sorry for him.
I'm having a hard time with it myself!
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Yesterday I was speaking to a group of women in Fayetteville, AR when I noticed the sweetest little girl looking up at me with huge brown eyes. She stood out in the crowd because she was obviously not from the area, not even from this country. Her pitch black skin and many pig tails wrapped with ribbons in her hair drew every one's attention. I watched her from the podium as she grinned, interacted with the people sitting at her table, and played with her food.
She was introduced as one of the members granddaughter, who had come to live with her new American family from UGANDA, just one year ago. Rhoda looked to be 8 years old. She was beautiful.
As part of my talk I ask the ladies to identify their attitudes by choosing a song title to describe them. That is usually accompanied by lots of laughter, soul searching and hesitancy. They choose a country western song title, a tune from their past, or make one up and then write it on a card, and we review them. If I know the song we sometimes sing a duet, right there in front of God and His people!! The titles they choose are VERY revealing about their joy, sadness, frustrations or grief. I pay very close attention to what they write.
After the meeting I made a special effort to talk to Rhoda, to thank her for her sweet expression as I spoke to the group and to tell her that I thought she was the cutest thing I'd seen that day. She smiled shyly and I wondered if she understood English.
She understood alright! Maybe she understood better than all the older ladies in that room.
She handed me her card on her way out. She'd given some thought to her life, her attitude and decided upon a song title that described her. She'd printed in bold letters, "I AM A SURVIVOR."
She trotted out the door holding onto her very American, white-protestant, grandmother's hand.
WOW! What a smart little girl! She happily went on her way as I wondered what all she had seen and where she had lived for the first seven years of her life.
She has SURVIVED, something!! Her stories would probably set my hair on fire.
She WILL survive whatever comes along now! At eight years old, she has already made that determination.
I hear the news of thousands of Rhoda's in third world countries, children that have seen and experienced adult atrocities. Most of them will NOT survive.
BUT, for now, Rhoda is safe, and fed, and clothed, and loved. Her American family is very blessed to have her in their lives. She will teach them much! She will teach them to order their priorities, to ditch their complaints for thankfulness, and to see beyond color and cultural barriers.
I'm so glad Rhoda attended yesterday. Her presence was certainly more important than my talk.
Rhoda has much to teach us if we'll listen.
Sunday, June 10, 2012
JERSEY BOYS is in Tulsa! Yippee, Skippee!
It's the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. Remember them?
For those too young to nod, the group was one of the hottest pop groups of the 1960's and 70's! Only now are we privy to the stories of their lives behind the scene!
This musical uncovers all the dark history of four blue-collar boys living on the wrong side of the river way back then. Growing up, before stardom hit, the guys were in jail, in love, in trouble, interacting with the mob and basically swearing their way through life. (Their vocabulary was difficult to bear at times!) They came from tough part of town and Jersey was portrayed convincingly onstage. They scraped and scrapped their way out of all that mess to the big time! I'm sure it was much like that for many of the groups at that time. There were many!! Most didn't make it big!
A few years ago the remaining members of the group gave their permission to "tell all" as they were interviewed. Their wild, improbable, TRUE, flat out falsehoods and foggy remembrances were the foundation for this story.
The story can stand on it own and be interesting, but when they added the music the producers created something audiences of several generations clamor to see again and again. It's been running on Broadway since 2005 and won a Tony in 2006 for Best Musical.
Honeybuns and I loved it!
How could we not, when we knew all the lyrics and were singing with them, "Sherry," "Walk Like a Man," "My Boyfriend's Back," "My Eyes Adore You," "Let's Hang On," "Working My Way Back to You, Babe," "Rag Doll," and "Can't Take My Eyes Off of You." The adult crowd attending last night went wild. No one was dancing in the aisles but ALMOST and probably would have been if it had not been a full house!
It was very interesting to learn how these songs came into being, telling a story of what was going on with the boys at any given time in their lives. Each song revealed a tale of love gained, loved lost, heartache, joy, or pain. Knowing the situations behind the songs made us love them that much more.
"Oh, What a Night." Remember that one? You're tapping your foot right now, I'm sure of it!
We are amazed that a city the size of Tulsa can support such a fabulous Performing Art Center that is capable of bringing Broadway to T-Town!
What's next, you ask? Mary Poppins, Jekyll& Hyde, Peter Pan, West Side Story and LION KING!
Coming SOON, to a theater near US!
Saturday, June 9, 2012
Our house has a library! Yep, when 5 bookcases of 6 shelves each are stacked to the max, its a bonafide LIBRARY!
The grandkids love it!They have 2 shelves designated for people under 10 years old. We play library sometimes, complete with library cards, date stamps and fines! I never get to be the librarian and I am always told to "shush." Kindly, of course!
I sneak into the "children's area" often and thoroughly enjoy Dr. Seuss, Patricia Polacco, or Skippy John Jones!
Once in a while it's time to PURGE! Those 30 shelves can hold only so much abuse. I've long abandoned the practice of "bring one book in, take one book out" plan!
Yesterday was the day. And getting rid of ANY book is almost physically painful for me. (I know, it's a disease, but as yet, there is no known cure! Science is working on it as we speak!)
How could I possible say goodbye to Jodi Picould, Ernest Hemingway, Barbara Kingsolver, Jim Fergus, Alexander McCall Smith, Harry Potter, David Baldacci, John Grisham, Andy Braner, Carl Mederis, Francinne Rivers, John MacArthur, Chuck Swindoll, Max Lucaddo, John Piper, Ravi Zacherias, Lee Strobel, Ray Stedman, Warren Wiersebe, John Steinbeck, Erma Bombeck, Tom Clancy, David Platt, Timothy Keller, Steve Saint, Gracie Burnam and so many others? We have lived together a long time, We KNOW each other. I would miss them terribly, I'm not sure how they'd feel about being evicted!
So I didn't!
BUT, THIS stack on the chair IS going to charity and the 1981 entire World Book Encyclopedia is headed to the garage! (WHO wants THAT complete set? I checked online at eBay and Craig's List and there are lots of folks out there trying to sell their once valuable reference books! No buyers! Shall I save them for future generations in case someone wants to know what a "book" actually looks like?)
Today I am proud to say, I have room for a few pictures on those shelves, and extra space just in case I find a few "new friends" that are calling my name!
I've promised Honeybuns I'll finish the 11 books I've checked out of the Broken Arrow Library BEFORE heading to Barnes & Noble! My addiction is a budget buster, can't get out of B&N under $50.00.
Thank God for the public library! It's saved this marriage!