Christianity Under Attack!

Another church was destroyed this week.

I couldn’t find the number of churches that have been destroyed by fire or vandalized this year, but each week I read about another one. This past week a church in Mississippi was burned and a statute of Jesus was beheaded in Florida. Two weeks ago Bibles were burned in Portland. I never thought this would happen in America where we proudly claim to have freedom of religion. I admit I have seen signs of Christianity being dismissed over the years.

When I was teaching, it became popular for our Hispanic students to wear crucifixes. Someone had made them, and they were quite beautiful. One day I commented on one that my student was wearing. He told me he and others had been told they couldn’t wear them in Ms.__’s room. My response was, “That can’t be. It’s not in the dress code, and we do have freedom of religion.” At that point three others joined in and told me he was right. I knew this teacher was an atheist, because she had made it known, but I never thought she’d do this. I was wrong.

While teaching, I saw teachers tell students to leave their Bibles at home when they were found reading them at the lunch table. We had several Apostolic students and this was not uncommon. They stopped bringing them. When I told a group of teachers that I was amazed that an eighth grader asked why we celebrate Christmas, I was told by Ms.__ that I shouldn’t even be discussing Christmas. By the way, this was a student who celebrated Christmas but just didn’t know why.

I never heard of any of our Muslim students being denied or harassed for fasting or going to pray (we provided a quiet place) during Eid Al Adha. Most of my students celebrated the Christian holidays and believed in God, but didn’t go to church or know the Christian faith.

I believe we are one country under God and people of all faiths are welcome. Churches don’t have to be burned, statues destroyed or Bibles burned to have Christians be told not to express their faith.

Batty About Bats!

These little mosquito eaters are welcome to my yard!

Every night at dusk two brown bats come to my back yard for dinner. Bats can eat 1200 insects an hour. My neighbor has a small pond, so I think that is why Bart and Bertha come to dine. Sometimes Sylvester joins them for dinner. Yes, I named the bats. Since they come every night, they deserved to be named.

I’ve learned a lot about bats. Their excrement is called guano and is a great fertilizer. Since it is high in potassium nitrate (salt peter) it was used for gun powder during the Civil War and was used up to WWI. One hundred pounds of guano was needed to make four pounds of salt peter.

Bats are important to over 500 plant species. They pollinate plants and bananas, mangoes, guava and agave depend on them. The tube-lipped bat that bananas rely on have extremely long tongues in order to reach the nectar. Their tongues are one and half times the length of the bat’s body. Amazing!

When Halloween arrives, I will hang my black bats with a lot more appreciation for them. I learned a lot about these furry, flying mammals. Perhaps Bertha and Bart should star in an educational story for children.

Lavender Deters Evil Spirits!

Lavender doesn’t just smell great!

Lavender is a favorite is my garden and it has many uses. Some people use it in baking and make a lavender sugar. When I read about cooking with lavender, I learned that it is dangerous for cats and dogs to eat. My cats don’t seem interested in it, and I just enjoy the look and smell of it.

Lavender is grown throughout Spain and Portugal and is used in celebrating holidays by spreading it on the floors of churches and homes. It is believed to cleanse the area of evil spirits and negativity. Congress might consider spreading a little lavender in order to promote harmony.

Lavender is burned in bonfires on St. John’s Day in Europe which is also called Midsummer’s Day. It is celebrated on June 24 which is John the Baptist’s birthday. Today lavender is burned in homes to cleanse the air and like with the bonfire, it carries prayers to heaven. Smudging sticks can be made with lavender to purify homes. It is said to help bring peaceful sleep when burned in the bedroom.

According to lavender folklore, a woman in childbirth should hold it in order to gain courage and strength. Growing lavender in one’s garden will bring good luck, ward off evil, and attract fairies. Since I have lavender, I invite good fortune and fairies to my garden. I also encourage it to ward off mosquitoes like it is supposed to do! Marigolds are also said to keep mosquitoes away along with allium, lemon grass and lantana. I have three of these plants, and I have mosquitoes.

Tear Down Statues of Jesus and Mary?

People need to examine history carefully.

A black activist made news saying statues of white Jesus and Mary must come down because they represent white supremacy. It reminded me of the houses of worship being destroyed in Russia and priests being arrested when the Communists took over. Then there was Hitler who hung the Nazi flag in all the churches and arrested all pastors and priests who opposed him. I ask, is this the transformation of America? Do Christians have an evil history that requires our church to be destroyed?

No one can deny that members of the Christian faith used the Bible to support slavery. God has been used as an excuse to do terrible things throughout history. But why not examine the reason slavery ended in America? Christian abolitionists along with members of the Jewish faith ran the underground railroad and freed an estimated 100,000 slaves. They spoke out against slavery, wrote against slavery and campaigned against it. These people were beaten, arrested, and killed for their beliefs and using their first amendment right called freedom of speech.

Christians opposed the expansion of slave states and worked tirelessly to educate people on the evils of slavery. I believe without their relentless push to end slavery the practice of slavery would have continued. Maybe the Civil War would not have even been fought without these faithful people.

Instead of condemning white Christians and telling us we represent white supremacy, why not celebrate the Christians who fought for Civil Rights in America? I choose to look at the shining examples of my faith who worked to end slavery and also walked with Reverend King to change racists laws. As Doctor King said in his I Have a Dream Speech, he wanted his children to live in a nation where people were judged by the content of their character. When examining history, I hope people will not omit the contributions of Christians in the fight for equality.

Lawn Art for Everyone!

I miss the summer arts festivals!

These are two examples of lawn art in my yard. The kitty could use a fresh coat of paint, but he’s still cute. A few pieces placed among the flowers makes the yard fun. They are also good spots to leave clues for the grandkids’ treasure hunts. Of course if the clue mentions a mushroom, they have a problem because there are two in my yard.

I certainly don’t need any more items, but my husband would disagree. I know it’s unusual for the wife to tell the husband no, but that’s how it is. I do love looking and admiring the pieces. So much talent is on display at the art festivals. Pottery, glass, leather, weavings and metal are amazing creations to admire and buy.

The first art festivals were music festivals and they date back to the early 1700s in England. Athens, Greece held the first drama festival in 543 BC. Playwrights and poets competed to have their work performed. Auditoriums were created by cutting into the hillsides and 10,000 to 20,000 people could be seated.

Like most people, I love summer and this one is unlike any I have experienced. There are no outdoor concerts and no arts festivals. When they return next summer, I anticipate large crowds in attendance. I think it’s true that we don’t appreciate something until it’s gone.

An Old Enemy!

Honey bees are awesome until you step on one!

When I was little, people did not treat their lawns. They simply mowed their grass with a push lawn mower. I had three pairs of shoes. School shoes, church shoes, and tennis shoes. Summer meant no shoes. That’s where the trouble lay.

We had clover in our grass and bees love clover. I got this photo at the park which doesn’t use chemicals. Almost every summer I’d step on a bee. We played a lot of badminton and watching out for bees wasn’t on my mind until I stepped on one. I still remember the swelling but the itching was worse.

My uncle was a beekeeper. He and my aunt would put bees on their hands to get stung. This is how they treated their arthritis. One of honey’s attributes is that it reduces inflammation. My aunt substituted sugar with honey in almost all recipes. She was a nutritionist and taught home economics at the local high school. I hated her chocolate syrup but everything else was good.

My mother gave us tea with honey to soothe a sore throat and to quiet a cough. I read one could put honey on a burn for healing because honey has antibacterial property. Honey helps release oxygen from the burn and that is what promotes the healing.

My lawn doesn’t have clover and I have reduced my barefoot time. It was never the honey bees’ fault because they just want pollen. Honey is now one of my favorite words because I use it when speaking to my husband. He is the best honey!

There’s a Mask for Every Occasion!

Not Halloween yet!

I love Halloween, but I’m not a fan of masks. I find them scary. I didn’t even like the Lone Ranger or Zorro because they wore masks. However, I do find them interesting.

The oldest mask that has been found is from 7000 BC, but since masks were made from wood and leather it is believed they date back even farther. Most people know that Halloween came to America with the Irish. The pagan custom of wearing masks to ward off evil spirits came with them. I don’t know about evil spirits, but they certainly scare people.

During the 1918 flu epidemic masks were made from gauze in an attempt to protect people from the deadly flu. It wasn’t very effective. Today people are wearing masks in protection against the coronavirus and people have gotten quite creative with them. If this continues, I have the perfect Halloween material for a mask!

Masks for theater, meditation, funerals, and worship are all reasons to wear a mask. I learned that creating a mask with a large forehead meant wisdom and a mask with the eyes closed represented tranquility. The Romans and the Greeks were the first to wear masks for the theater and their masks were quite elaborate. I wonder if much character development was required when a mask said it all.

All cultures appear to have used masks to connect with an ancestor or the gods. Masks were made to represent ancestors to honor them and to receive a blessing from them. Perhaps insight into a problem? In worship, the masks were worn to honor a god or in fear.

I see masks worn on a daily basis and none are scary. I miss seeing people’s faces. I now see smiles in people’s eyes. I’ll send you all a smile without a mask. They’re the best kind!

White Flowers for those we Loved and Lost

White flowers have many meanings. Purity, innocence, reverence and bereavement.

People are suffering. They are angry, sad and hopeless. I grew up hearing, this too shall pass. Of course my response was, when? The unending reports of coronavirus have worn me out, and I’m sure I’m not alone. Now we have the tragic death of George Floyd. When will it end?

I have been included in a discussion of the latest tragic events and I must say I feel like I’m a square peg trying to fit into a round hole. I believe all the deaths and injuries that have resulted from the actions of a police officer (and those who watched) are to be mourned. We all saw what occurred, and we all were outraged. I have been surprised to hear that people don’t feel the loss of a police officer’s life is as tragic as the loss of George Floyd. Why? Aren’t we all created by God and loved the same? Isn’t every life precious in the eyes of God?

I will always remember one episode of Little House on the Prairie. Mrs. Olson, an opinionated woman, was walking with a little blind boy who was African American and an orphan. She told him people wouldn’t want to adopt him because he was black. He questioned what that meant and she tried to explain skin color which of course was lost on a blind child. I remember he said, but I don’t see color. I only see darkness. Why do we continue to see color? People should be just as outraged if George Floyd had been white. Color should not matter.

I was at Ohio State in the 1960’s and experienced the tear gas and the demonstrations. I had hoped that was all behind us. Voices were heard and laws were passed to address inequities, but laws don’t change people’s hearts. I weep for Mr. Floyd and for all the other victims of this terrible unrest. I will continue to pray for our leaders and for all those who have suffered. These white bleeding hearts are my tribute to those lost and loved.

Where do you find God?

I find God in nature.

I find God in nature and it’s a good thing because I can’t find him in church. As a little girl I would sing the songs I had learned in church while swinging. My mom said I was paving my way to heaven and entertaining the neighbors! I still remember thinking if my feet weren’t on the ground, then I could touch heaven.

Today I can go to a restaurant (indoors) and sit at a table that is six feet away from others and dine with up to ten people. On June 1, I can attend a wedding reception of up to 300 people, sit at a table six feet away from others and dine with ten people. However, I can’t go to a church service on Sunday. Maybe if we had tables instead of pews it would be approved?

I know pastors feel responsible for their flock, but if I can go to a restaurant without a mask, I certainly can sit in church with a mask and not be six feet apart! Perhaps three feet? Live streaming church services just isn’t the same.

If Satan exists, he must really be enjoying this. Houses of worships with so many restrictions I wonder if anyone will come when the doors open. I know that Satan is described as the Deceiver, and I’m beginning to feel deceived. My garden is a lovely place to worship and it will continue to be my house of worship.

May Memory

Eighth Grade Project!

May used to mean my eighth graders would present their Eighth Grade Project to the class and their parents. I loved doing this, and most of them did too. The hardest part of the project was deciding what to research. The instructions were to research something they were interested in, and I learned there wasn’t much. After the first two years I eliminated sports as a possible topic and changed the instructions to something they didn’t already know about, and would like to learn about. This made it tougher.

Students had to write a paper, teach the class for five minutes, and have two visual aids. This sounds challenging, but they were ready and did well. We heard about historical events, artists, professions, and a lot about food. Once they learned they could bring food in, it became a popular topic. I particularly remember the dishes a Somalian student prepared. The girl’s mother was there and was so proud! I don’t remember any of the names of the dishes but there was ground beef, vegetables, and sweets made with honey. Another favorite topic was ice cream. I will do a blog on ice cream because the history is interesting.

I have fond memories of those wonderful presentations but not about the snake. The student researched boa constrictors, and to my surprise her father brought in the snake for her presentation. That became another topic for elimination!