There is absolutely no reason to believe actors, athletes, or any other celebrities are more knowledgeable or insightful than the rest of us about political or social issues. Like everyone, they are entitled to expressing their opinions – but those opinions need not be screamed out to the world as they do the actual jobs they are being paid so highly to do. As with most of us in this world, their work and their opinions should have separate venues for expression.
When I order food at a drive-thru, I don’t need to know the cook’s political views in order to enjoy my meal. He can most certainly act on what he believes on his own time, but I don’t expect those thoughts to be seared into my burger.
When I watch a movie, I want to be entertained. When I watch sports, I want to see a game. That’s all. I really just want them to do their job.
Facebook’s censorship policies are most certainly biased, but they are not illegal in terms of violating the First Amendment. The First Amendment gives protection against government censorship, not private companies – so it doesn’t apply here. Facebook is a PRIVATE company. The fact that it is publicly traded does not remove its status as a private company able to establish its own policies. Therefore, Facebook can censor or publish, support or cancel, promote or delete, whatever or whomever it likes provided anti-discrimination laws are not violated.
Am I defending Facebook? Sounds like it, but that’s not my point. I am actually just acknowledging the freedoms Americans have to start, own, and operate our own interests as we see fit. No matter how much I may disagree with some of Facebook’s policies, I refuse to be a member of the cancel culture. If I expect my rights to be respected – indeed, if I want to respect myself through this crazy time in history – then I cannot argue against the legal rights of another entity.
I am, of course, fully aware that the rights of many are being violated by the riots, restrictions, and exceptions currently being illegally and unconstitutionally permitted and supported across this country, but to argue against the rights of others will not fix that. Yep – gotta say it – two wrongs still don’t make a right. Any of us can and should still make the decision to be the example of American freedom of thought, no matter the level of agreement. Legally, we are all still permitted our thoughts and opinions, in spite of the fact that those who participate in cancel culture are working, often viciously and violently, to suppress voices they dislike. The point of America is supposed to be that ALL voices have the right to be PEACEFULLY heard. The VIOLENCE needs to be stopped, NOT the voices.
So – yes, I do disagree with Facebook’s censorship policies, but they have the right to those practices and we all have the right to leave the platform if we can’t deal with it. Nobody is forcing us to stay. At the moment, Facebook is a convenient free service for staying in touch with friends and family so I will continue to take advantage until I find something better.
All of this being said, if anyone knows of another, similar platform with less censorship – I’m listening.
If you are, like me, a mom of amazing special needs children, then you completely understand when I tell you that hope is the very air I breathe.
Some days I am left gasping amid the debris of shattered dreams. My lungs constrict with fears for my children’s futures, their wellbeing, their happiness, their faith. In these moments, I breathlessly cry out to God with all that is in my heart – and He hears.
He hears. And I rest in knowing that He is always there and He loves my children more than I can ever imagine, and my faith is strengthened. Hope again saturates my soul and fills my lungs for the beloved marathon of blessing my family another day.
I live in one of the top 25 most ethnically diverse cities in Texas. Within that city, I live in a recognized ethnically diverse neighborhood, on a very ethnically diverse street. My husband and I moved here in 1993 as newlyweds, raised our children here, and still remain safely and comfortably . . . here. Our neighborhood is a good, solid, lower-middle income bastion of teachers, police officers, blue collar workers, tradesmen, nurses, sales people, and small business owners. Folks who do important jobs but don’t earn important money. We also have our share of retirees, single income families, and first-time home buyers.
In our 27 years in this town, the population has boomed from 7,000 to 64,000. In all that time, with all that growth, we have not had reason to worry about safety or racial hostility. We love our town and conduct most of our business and have most of our fun here side by side with our neighbors. We shop, play, eat out, visit parks, attend movies, etc. in a community that is ethnically diverse and pretty much contented to be so. Our citizens like our police force (judging by all the support for them I see online) and appreciate first responders and those who serve. People here seem willing to make the effort to be generally thoughtful, informed, and kind in order to live everyday life in a safe, amiable environment.
We are an average American town.
So why am I sharing this? Because we are an average American town. Of course, we are concerned by what happens in the world. Of course. But most of us, in all our American diversity, are living out our daily lives, loving our families, caring for neighbors, doing our jobs, paying bills, supporting one another, being friendly and kind when we meet in public. Most towns like ours not only do just fine with ethnic diversity, we genuinely appreciate the differences everyone brings to the table.
Most of us are not caught up in rioting and protesting and hysteria. We are the quiet majority who do not believe that rage and violence are real solutions. We believe in America, we believe our people are generally growing and striving to do right, and we are patiently and actively waiting for this moment in history to resolve, hoping that it does not upend the lives we have worked so hard to build.
And – make no mistake – we are the builders and the heartbeat of this nation. We vote, we volunteer, we work hard, we care. We are the ones who hope, who believe, who persevere. We are patriots. And we are praying every day that our country will not be decimated by those pursuing destruction, violence, and power in a misguided attempt to wrest away the lives we cherish and the freedoms that make possible the lives, hopes, and dreams of millions of Americans.
We are not violent or loud or radical so the news media ignores us. But we are, in fact, most of America. We are still the deep root and solid core of this country. And we will remain.
Life has been crazy busy lately so a few months back I started dosing my morning java with a triple shot every day.
What’s that? You want the recipe for a quick and easy homemade triple? Okay – since one cup of instant coffee is a rounded teaspoon, you make a triple by dumping a heaping tablespoon of instant coffee into your cup before adding your usual amount of brewed very hot coffee (I use the largest cup setting on the Keurig) and follow up with any additives. I add almond milk and a dollop or two of sweetener. Ice if desired. Voila! Better than Starbucks! Well, at least cheaper and just as effective 😁.
Anyway – today I decided might be getting mildly(?) addicted to all the caffeine so should maybe cut back, and actually used a decaf pod to make my coffee! Aren’t you proud?
Of course, I still added the full caffeine triple shot. I’m not an idiot.
The complicated present world is going to give us all more than enough darkness and sorrow to bear – humanity has messed up from the beginning of time and we will continue to do so. But the God who loves, lives, and never leaves offers love, comfort, hope, and a future.
The world will not always be like this. Those of us who have read the Book know how it ends. There will be an epic battle – but there will also be victory and rejoicing and peace.
The thought of eternity might be thrilling or terrifying to you (maybe both) but I encourage you to embrace the forever hope we have in Christ. Embrace it, and pass it along to all those around you. Everyone needs hope. Everyone needs joy.
Don’t wait until life is perfect or until you think you are brave enough to speak truth. Truth is always a risk and life will never be perfect – all the prophets, apostles, and great men of faith who ever lived can testify to that!
Joy can always be TAKEN. Hope can always be GIVEN. Salvation is always OFFERED. The Lord can always be PRAISED – Because the Love of God is always present and will never, ever, ever end.
Internet communication and media entertainment and information are helpful and convenient right now, but do be careful in how you think of yourself in the realm of all you see. We can’t all be COVID-19 media famous! We can’t all be volunteers in our communities, or first responders, or have shelter-in-place exempted essential jobs. But you are so very valuable and whatever you are called to do in this moment – whatever is in front of you right now – is important. Even the small things matter. Especially the small things matter.
My husband and I have three brilliant, amazing young adult children with special needs, still home. Two are on the autism spectrum and one has autoimmune disorders and is immune system compromised so we are being careful. I help out friends when I can but my time is primarily committed to keeping our family moving forward and de-stressed as well as maintaining the household. We are not perfectly organized, not frenetically sterilized, and definitely not ready for YouTube! Our house is a bit small for five people and four pets, and we live in every corner of it. We are a single-income family and my husband’s hours have been cut so we are also working to pinch those pennies extra hard, but he is at least still employed and I am thankful for that. It is a crazy time and keeping everything running relatively smoothly with moderate peace in our home is more than a full time job. This is our life right now. Can you relate?
I laugh when the news airs segments about what to do with all the alleged extra down time! How to self-improve, new books to read, what media to watch, how to get in shape, and so on. I love my family so much, but they are time-consuming. Anxiety can be a profound issue with our beautiful early-20s children and sometimes my most important tasks of the day involve giving loving care, compassionate comfort, laughter and distractions, reassurances, and especially prayer. All these activities are precious but also intangible – no matter the hours or energy I expend, most of what I do leaves no lasting mark that will breathe beyond me on the world stage. Yet my job is so very important and valuable in the moment it needs to be done.
So here’s the thing – I am never going to be famous for my accomplishments during this time. You probably won’t either. Most of us won’t. History books will not reflect my name or my non-income job as a mom, home administrator, home lay therapist, and caretaker and say, “Wow! Look what this person did during the 2020 corona crisis!” When I see people doing amazing things on the news, I need to be at peace with the fact that I am not one of those people. But the person I am right now is the person God is calling me to be right now, doing my best to be patient and loving with what is before me right now (some days are pretty darn great and others have some epic fails!), and staying as faithful and committed as I can be – right now, in this moment, and each day as we travel this wild and unpredictable timeline in world history.
Mother Teresa said, “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” A slice of of wisdom that is both an observation and a challenge. Let’s meet that challenge.
Today, I was reminded of the importance of keeping love and passion alive within. While sorting documents, I found this letter I wrote in 1989 in memory of my maternal grandparents. The memory of their faith and love lives in my heart.
Dear Grandpa and Grandma,
I am writing this letter to you and sharing it with family and friends because I had to put into words what I learned from your lives. I’m sorry I didn’t understand it well enough to tell you when you were here, but maybe I didn’t know it then.
To live is to age. You taught me not to fear either.
A few years ago, Grandma, you told me about the time very recently when you were scrubbing the church floor with other women in the church. You felt a little faint from the odor of ammonia and stood for a moment, leaning against the wall. A younger woman came up and said, “Mrs. Roper, are you all right?” And you thought to yourself, “Good heavens, she thinks I’m old!” After you told me this, we looked at each other and laughed! Old? You? What a silly idea!
And Grandpa, I remember after Grandma died – I came in and sat on the edge of your bed and held your hand and you told me about her last few days and moments and we both cried. Listening to you talk about Grandma touched me deeply. Your love for her was certainly mature and strong, yet still so fresh and incredibly sweet. I knew then that you were not merely mourning the loss of complacent companionship – you were mourning the loss of a wife beloved with a passion stronger and more vibrant than the day you were married.
I have watched the two of you never grow old, for you waited upon the Lord and He renewed your strength, and you have flown on the wings of eagles to stand before the very throne of God in all your beauty and youth and vigor – just the way you were intended to be.
You were young when I knew you . . . You are younger now.
Oh, I am not afraid to live. In you, I have seen two who have followed Jesus to the last. I have learned that life is not so long that it is to be feared, and the reunion with the Father will surely be very sweet. I will always remember the maturity of your spirits and the sparkle of youth in your eyes, and I have great hope because your Lord is also my Lord and, like you, I will never grow old.
Thank you for loving me. I do thank God for you. I know that he understands how great a gift you were to me and I hope you understand it now, too.
I love you both and miss you, but plan to see you in the twinkling of an eye.
Last night, I made five pounds of meatloaf. I’m hoping this will last for two dinners in our family of five, although if we have meatloaf sandwiches at lunch – probably not. This recipe is so popular around here that my husband claimed he married me for my ability to make it. Well, some marriages have been built on less . . .
In the 1960s through early 1980s, my talented mom won or placed in a multitude of local and national cooking contests including two stints as a Pillsbury Bake-off Finalist. One of her best and most enduring recipes is Dilly of a Meatloaf, fondly and everlastingly referred to by the family as Mom’s $500 Meatloaf (the amount she won for creating it). Mom’s kitchen abilities were legendary, and time spent cooking with her was pretty awesome. Since she usually lived nearby, we spent many hours over the years sharing laughter and life while preparing meals for loved ones.
Mom’s recipe (below) tells just a small part of the story of actually making it. If you have a favorite recipe, I am sure you have some little tips learned from experience that never made it into print. The same is true here. I learned to make this and many other recipes at Mom’s side and my memory has mixed together the recipes with her thoughtful kitchen wisdom. So, just for the moment, pretend you are here making this ultimate comfort food and sharing these thoughts with us –
1. There is grace. While it is important to come pretty close to the original requirements of this recipe, the measurements don’t have to be precise. Meatloaf is not soufflé! It’s simple, everyday food – glorified hamburger. There is a place for order and precision, but perhaps not right now. This is relaxing comfort food so it should be relaxing and comfortable to make. Enjoy the process.
2. Consider what you are putting into it. Many years ago a lady I know tried this recipe and, rather disgruntled, called to say she did not understand how it won a contest when it didn’t taste good. When I gently asked about her cooking prep, she admitted making it with turkey burger instead of beef, leaving out the eggs and stuffing mix, substituting for the chili sauce, and changing the quantity of onion. We definitely understand the need for food substitutions in our family, so I get it! Recipes, like life, will frequently need to deviate from the original plan and change can often be quite beneficial. But if you decide to change things up, brace yourself for an unexpected outcome and just own it, whether good or bad. If you made the decision, then the blame or credit is yours. And this topic leads us to . . .
3. Balance. In case you were wondering, the changes listed above can actually work, but further adjustments for taste and texture must be made to achieve a tasty, balanced outcome. Mom and I used to laugh about how very seldom either of us actually followed a recipe as written, and we both think the need or desire to sub out ingredients probably made us better, more creative cooks – but we were careful to balance dry and wet ingredients and tried to be thoughtful about seasonings. Maintaining balance can be a delicate task, but leads to a much more satisfactory result.
4. A little fat in your life is a good thing. If the meat is too lean, the result will be dry; if it is too fatty, the result will be mushy. To make things come out just right, consider how much fat vs. lean is best for you.
5. Go all in – measure and dump all the ingredients in the bowl before mixing. There are times you have to throw all you’ve got in the pot and hope for the best.
6. Be willing to get those fingers gooey! When my mom made meatloaf, she cheerfully mixed up that mushy pile of raw ingredients with her bare hands and I do, too. She said some things don’t come out quite right unless you are willing to get your hands dirty. So scrub up and dive in!
7. In the recipe, you will see that you need to stop in the middle of cooking to add the sauce on top. Before you sauce it up, take a moment to tilt the pan gently and drain off the excess fat that has already cooked out. You will need to drain it again at the end, but it helps if you get rid of what is unnecessary along the way.
8. If you are using deep loaf pans like I do, check the center of the meatloaf before you shut off the oven, just in case the meat isn’t done. Bear in mind that some things take longer than anticipated! I learned from my mom to stick a large spoon or metal spatula right in the middle and draw out a little meat to verify doneness. You might end up with a funky-looking hole in the middle, but you don’t want to bring an unfinished product to the table just because you neglected to check. Finishing well is much more important than looking pretty.
9. Serve your meatloaf with whatever side dishes you prefer, and enjoy without guilt! There are enough things in life to cause discomfort – meatloaf shouldn’t be one of them.
My awesome mom went home to the Lord in 2018 and the many times we shared laughter and lives while cooking side-by-side are some of my sweetest memories. This is the first time I have made the meatloaf since she passed and I wanted to share the moment. I think she would be pleased.
LaVerne’s $500 Meatloaf
Prep Time: Approx. 15-20 minutes
Cook Time: Approx. 60-75 minutes
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix together: 2 lbs ground beef (we like an 85/15 meat/fat ratio – add a little water if you use leaner meat or turkey burger) 1 6-8 oz pkg of cornbread stuffing, including spices (we use gluten-free) 2 eggs 1/2 cup bottled chili sauce (sweet chili sauce, NOT hot – usually stocked near the ketchup) 1/3 cup finely diced dill pickle 1/4 cup dill pickle brine/juice from the pickle jar 1 cup finely chopped onion 1 tsp salt 1 tsp garlic salt
Place in a 2-quart loaf pan or casserole dish and bake at 350 degrees. Meanwhile, mix the following sauce: 1/2 cup bottled chili sauce 2 tbsp brown sugar 2 tbsp dill pickle brine/juice (You may wish to double this amount if using a wide, flat casserole dish.)
Remove meatloaf from oven after the first 30 minutes, drain any excess fat, and spread the sauce over the top. Return to oven and bake for 30 more minutes or until done. Depending on your oven and the size of your pan (especially if you use a loaf pan rather than a shallow casserole dish), cooking time may extend another 10 to 15 minutes. If you double or triple the recipe and are using loaf pans, count on additional time. Remember to check for doneness before serving.
Assessing the condition of my refrigerator is a good way for me to determine exactly how busy/blue/tired/energetic/perky/efficient/sane/whatever I have been recently. Like many moms, I get busy and ignore the need for self-assessment so the ability to discern my own emotional state merely by opening the refrigerator is rather convenient. (And I don’t think I’m alone in this – can I hear an “AMEN”?) If the interior is reasonably clean and the food is relatively fresh, I’m pretty optimistic about the day and can cheerfully and efficiently set aside those pesky concerns about progeny or spouses inadvertently poisoning themselves due to the tendency to grab and snorf edibles before actually observing or smelling said edibles.
However, I think it’s safe to say we can throw any little false efficiency scenarios right into our handy dandy 50 gallon trash today, because I just checked my fridge and discovered that certain no-longer-edibles have taken on entirely new states of being and are now capable of sentience. I paused with the fridge door open when I heard frightening conversational noises, and soon realized that we really need to move the TV out of the kitchen area because my leftovers seem to have become laden with B western dialogue as well as bacteria –
“How’s it goin’, Squashed?”
“Not bad. Gotta move a herd of pasta over to the south 40. Wanna lend a hand? Might have a few stray meatballs to round up, too – they’ve rolled out and gotten fuzzier than a cowpie in spring.”
“Happy to help, Broc, but how ‘bout that popped Tupperware lid over by old man Casserole’s place? We oughta burp that before them bad apples break through and infect the herd.”
“Time to get on it, Squashed! Saddle up that there rotten potato and let’s ride out.”
And then I heard – Star Trek? Seriously?
“Captain! There’s a mold cluster here that I’ve never seen before!”
“On screen, Mr. Chickenhov.”
“Great scott! Look at this, Mr. Spritzer! It appears to be . . .”
“Yes, Captain. It’s the infamous Unidentifiable Leftovers Cloud of Death. Life forms in the Cloud are generated spontaneously, behave unpredictably, and are usually deadly. Sliming their enemies is the only known form of communication. It would be illogical for us to survive any contact.”
“Bones! Do we have a bacteria killer that will purge this thing?”
“Dang it, man! I’m a Doctor, not a garbage man! Get a scrubber and do it yourself!”
“Spritzer and Chickenhov, there appears to be no way around. We’ll have to burn through. Warp speed ahead!” (Over the com.) “Spitty! We need more power!”
“This is all the juice she’s got, Captain! I’m doin’ all I can!”
“Incoming sludge! Set spatulas on stun! All decks brace for impact!”
But you get my point, which is . . . Sheesh – what is my point? Oh, yes. That a mom’s emotional condition and level of functioning can be gauged and/or assessed by the condition of her refrigerator. As you see here, simply attempting to purge the fridge affected my delicate maternal equilibrium. So, faithful and loving husbands, do your wife a favor: Check that fridge, check it often, check it thoroughly, and throw out anything evil-looking and anything that speaks (this does not include teenagers foraging in the interior). Don’t forget to wear your protective mask. And do NOT even THINK of eating the dark chocolate hidden in the crisper. EVER.