Sunday, February 2, 2014

Martha's Burden

I do not get excited about most western movies.  If Jimmy Stewart or Henry Fonda isn’t in it, I probably will not enjoy it.  I chose to watch Dead Man’s Burden (written and directed by Jared Moshe) because Clare Bowen (Scarlett on ABC’s Nashville) is one of my favorite actresses.  I began with the attitude that I enjoy Bowen’s work enough to tolerate a western.  Little did I know that I would watch this movie twice in one weekend. 

Moshe’s western has all of the “shoot em up” and acts of revenge you would expect from a western, but it is much more complex.  It is not immediately evident that Bowen’s character, Martha Kirkland, is the protagonist.  At first it seems like a typical conflict between “good guy” Wade McCurry (played by Barlow Jacobs) and Heck Kirkland (played by David Call).  Moshe downplays the star role to emphasize the insignificance of women who lived on the barren western front.  He demonstrates the psychological desperation of women doomed to this dirty, hungry, and barren life through Martha.  The landscape itself screams of dirt and oppression.  Even when the film seems to move a little too slowly, Moshe is demonstrating the psychological effect of living in this environment. 

We have seen many western heroines.  Maureen O’Hara uses humor to portray an overbearing, but loveable, wife opposite John Wayne in Andrew McLaglen’s McLintock.  Katharine Hepburn plays a tough woman opposite John Wayne in Stuart Millar’s Rooster Cogburn.  While these grand ladies entertain us, we do not have a true sense of the typical life for women during these times.  Bowen’s character has a different kind of strength – one born out of oppression.   Her character is believable.  The film might be titled Dead Man’s Burden, but the burden is clearly upon Martha Kirkland.    

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Journey to the Isle of Freedom

The Journals of Captain Cooke chronicle a long and sometimes incredulous journey. The seas were not always calm. The people who inhabited the islands he documents were not always friendly. Early in his travels, Cooke thought he was saving the savages by bringing civilization to their lands. Later he was torn with conflicting thoughts because he could see that civilization brought disease, death, and corrupted the natives. If he had been less intrusive or able to supervise the movement to civilization, it might have been different. His intentions were good, but the results were questionable.

I made a similar decision on my journey to freedom from the Nicodemon. I quit smoking several years ago. Smoking cessation is clearly a positive change. I had introduced a different way of living. I was diligent in this lifestyle change in the beginning. After a while, though, I forgot to nurture the journey. I thought it was over. After 5 years and 23 days, I started smoking again. I was depressed and stressed and thought “just one” would calm my nerves. It did not. I know now that this type of lifestyle change needs continuous supervision and nurturing.

My journey has been fraught with stormy seas for the last 25 months. I became even more depressed because I could not quit smoking. As a result, I smoked more. I can see a clearing on the horizon now. And there, just ahead, is a new island – The Isle of Freedom. I will reach The Isle of Freedom on January 24. I anticipated a rocky landing. My ship may be damaged in the landing. I will not let these little problems stop me from assimilating to the lifestyle of the island. I will find the darkest cave where the Nicodemon lives and slay that beast.

This is a positive decision! This is a positive lifestyle change, and there will be no regrets this time. This journey will end on calm seas!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Learning to Ride in Sand

Learning to ride a bike is not the easiest task for a youngster, but I don’t remember that part of it. I was never a graceful child and still lack grace as an adult.   I am sure that I had a few skinned knees and elbows, but I do not remember them.  I do remember my banana seat bike and the tassels on the handlebars.   The supporting metal for the seat made a perfect handle for Daddy’s hand to hold me steady as I learned to ride.  I never even knew that he let go of me when I first rode on my own.  We lived on a sandy road, so it was difficult for a little girl to pedal.  I guess it was difficult for adults, too, because Daddy flew over the handlebars when he tried to show me to how to get around a curve in the sand.  I did learn to manage the sand and spent many hours “exploring” on my bike. 
I have tried many times to stop smoking, but it is a little like riding in the sand.  I am still learning and not very good at it.  I took a five year ride before I fell and scraped my knees pretty badly.  It has taken me over 2 years to get up the courage to try to ride again.  I am there now and have set a date.  January 24 I will once again go smoke free.  In the meantime, I will prepare myself.  Part of that preparation will be blogging. 
I am going to ride my bike through the sand and slay the Nicodemon forever this time!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Everyday Blessing: Friends

Everyday Blessing:  Hearing from a cherished friend who had temporarily been parted from your life. 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

I spent my youth and young adult life in Church.  When I raised my children, I thought it was enough to keep them in Church and pray for the things that I needed.  I am just now learning that WHAT you pray for is important.  In the past, I prayed for comfort.  Only now in my ancient years have I learned to pray for how I can please God.  
These last couple of months I have struggled with my purpose.  I have a boring life with a job that has been on a fast track of changing into one that I do not like in the last year.  I am teaching less and less, and I see more and more racism in the workplace.  Perhaps it is only fair that white folks are now the victim of racism, but that doesn’t make me feel better about my job.  I am not happy at work, and I carry that with me too much.  That has influenced how I feel that I could not possibly be fulfilling a purpose in this job, yet I did not know what else to do.  It seems silly to leave a job that I am quickly growing to hate without a new direction.  Without direction, I still have no purpose. 
It is not like I never do anything “good.”  I worked hard last month to raise donations to a food drive, and I made it fun for everyone involved.  I make people laugh when they feel sadness.  I help lost students find their way.  Those are things that I do because it makes ME feel good.   God’s purpose for me cannot possibly be something that involves that type of selfish gratification. 
Today I found  purpose.  I am not searching for jewels to add to my worldly crown, so I will not detail this experience.  It does not matter WHAT I did.  It matters that I felt compelled to reach out to someone who just wandered into my office  -- my life.  I probably did not change this person’s life, but I made today better.  That much I know.  I feel good about that, too.  I don’t feel good that I did this great thing to help another person.  I feel good because I know that God walked this young lady into my life, and I helped her because He led me to do so.  Now I know my purpose.  At least I know my purpose for today.  I am sure He will continue to show me purpose in the days to come. 
Thank you, Dear Father, for opening my eyes and showing me how I can help Your children. 

I am blessed. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Number 8

If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will  be given you. 
                                ~~James 1:5 (NRSV)

Tomorrow I quit smoking . . . AGAIN.  This is the 8th time I will quit smoking.  The last time I was successful for 5 years and 23 days.  I am not really well prepared.  Last time I went through a program.  I bought things to help me with the crave.  I journaled.  I was prepared.  This time I have not done any of those things.  I have not really thought it through very well. 

I don’t have carrots.  I don’t have grapes.  I haven’t counted my puffs or examined my relationship with nicotine.  I do have God, though.  I do have this blog.  I will ask God daily to make me strong, and I will blog when I need the spiritual strength to stand strong.  I want to do this.  I need to do this.   

Lord, please give me the wisdom and strength to help me slay the Nicodemon. 

Sunday, February 19, 2012


Whitney Houston is THE news item of the day.  Her face is there when I turn on the television.  Her music is climbing the download charts. People are sharing her videos via social media and email.  Every news page on the Internet includes a Whitney story.  Her funeral was streamed live on Internet and television, and it was called a celebration of life.  It is easy to find something online that celebrates Whitney’s life. 

Unfortunately, it is also easy to find criticism and condemnation for this extremely talented artist.  In the hours that followed Houston’s death, we heard outrageous speculations that were sometimes passed off as truth.  She was high.  She was drunk.  Who left her alone?  Who was with her?  Who pushed her?  Thus far, I have not heard an autopsy report.  My mother was the picture of health when she had a sudden seizure that killed her.  For all we know, Houston may have died the same way.  Perhaps she had an aneurysm.  Any number of things besides substance abuse could have caused this tragic loss.  Indeed, I have no reason to believe that Houston was anything but clean. 

This morning I read a condemnation of New Jersey lowering the flag to half-staff for a “drug addict.”    Curiosity prompted me to search for a news article with details.  I got a whole host of hits, but I only read this one: .  I was a little surprised that the flag was lowered for Houston because I thought this honor was reserved for people who give their lives to service of the state or nation.  Honestly, though, I don’t know the accepted protocol.  We may have lowered flags for Princess Diana for all I know.   This was really the only thing that surprised me about Houston being honored by lowering the flag. 

Other people object because Houston fell victim to substance abuse.  The article quotes one blog that contends lowering the flag for Houston suggests it is okay to abuse drugs as long as they have a special talent or are a pop idol.  Of course, we do not want to glorify drug abuse.  However, we should well remember WHO gives a person celebrity status.  That would be US.  The people who support her financially by purchasing her art are responsible.  The people who share her videos are responsible.  The media that glorifies her are responsible.  The media that condemns her are responsible.  WE made her a celebrity, so it is hardly fair that we criticize her status now. 

One of the scriptures from todays devotion in The Upper Room addresses our nature to criticize and condemn others. 

                 It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles.
                                                                                                                              — Matthew 15:11 (NRSV)

All of us struggle with something.  I am overweight.  I struggle with a nicotine addiction that refused to let go, even after I had quit for 5 years.  I drink.  I take a prescription drug to control my emotions.  These things are easy to ask forgiveness for.  I know I am a weak sinner.   I am also opinionated and  quick to judge or condemn others, even though I realize that this is a sin – and that is a one of the BIG SINS!  Or is it that all sins are created equal?  Perhaps this is one that it is more difficult for me to ask of God forgiveness. 

Of course, we may object to the deed.  Many people will look at me and judge the types of food I eat.  I know the SPAM, brats, kraut, and other fried and sodium drenched foods are not good for me.  Add to that a fair amount of beer, and you have one fat lady.  I hope my friends, who mostly have healthy diets, don’t condemn me because they disapprove of my actions.  When I defend Whitney Houston, I do not condone substance abuse.  To the contrary, I am sad for her that she fell VICTIM to such an ominous evil. 

I put a lot of things in my mouth that defile the way I look, feel, and am perceived.  It is that judgment that is formed in words that come out of my mouth that are truly defiling.  I am guilty of judging people  based on their actions, and I must learn to embrace those people and glorify the goodness that lives in them, for God does not create anything that is void of beauty. 

  I pray my Lord Jesus forgives me for this sin and helps me control my tongue.