Monthly Archives: April 2013

Poetic Pause

April is National Poetry Month.

image credit: JMR Photography

image credit: JMR Photography

I’d hoped to throw a grand Poetry Slam Party like we did last year. As the month wanes, down to the last two days now, that window is quietly closing.

My friend Corey celebrated the month rightly, posting a different selection every day in April. These poems came as perfect, compact gifts. Sugar cubes to swirl in mint tea. Addictive, steady shots.

One poem Corey posted was written by our beloved poetry teacher at Carolina, Michael McFee. It reminded me why McFee was the teacher. Speaks to me still. And so I steal it from Corey, who stole it from McFee, so it may speak to you.

Michael McFee Directions

Read more poems by Michael McFee at The Poetry Foundation.

Pause and post your own favorite poetry selections in the comments if you wish.

photo credit: JMR_Photography via photopin cc

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Filed under family & friends, writing & reading

Beyond Holy Week

While I was on my spring blogging break, I checked the feed during Holy Week to discover the internet was in shambles.  

window bride

window bride

Lines were drawn in the sands across America. The days leading up to Easter saw pundits throw off their gloves to strangle each other in hand-to-hand combat. Facebook profiles hemorrhaged red equal signs matched by a flow of crosses. Twitter burned with the carnage of our civil discourse about gay marriage.

People ridiculed the Bible and took cheap shots at my faith. Folks in some religious circles seemed to suggest Christians just sit this one out. Political strategists advocated surrender, declaring the issue a lost cause in a zero-sum game. Do we want to be right or win elections? 

Scant little was said about how we might address the actual issue: Can we as a nation find a way to extend legal protections to long-term, monogamous gay couples while at the same time protect the religious liberty of those whose faith prohibits homosexuality? I could have missed it, but I haven’t heard much from either side about an equal-but-different, civil-union-type solution.

Maybe we don’t want a solution as much as we want a fight and a Supreme Court verdict like Roe v. Wade. Forty years later, we all know how well that settled the abortion debate.

My sweet father-in-law served two terms as a county commissioner. During his first campaign in 2000, we discussed Roe v. Wade. He expressed to me the frustration of pro-life Christians who felt blindsided by the 1973 Supreme Court ruling. “It happened,” he said, “and we did nothing.”

I naively thought this marked his generation’s legacy with silence and inaction. After Holy Week this year, I think I understand a little more of how he feels.

Proponents of gay marriage think they’re right and that this is a question of equality. If you express a different opinion, you’re labeled a bigot. On the other hand, many Christians think gay marriage is a threat to First Amendment freedoms and that this as a question of religious liberty. If our federal government “redefines” marriage to legally include both heterosexual and homosexual relationships, where does that leave the church? Where does that leave religious schools and institutions?

Will there be exceptions? Or will the state cross the line and require all churches to perform same-sex marriages, hire homosexual staff, and censor the first chapter of Romans or face prosecution for discrimination and hate crimes? Think it could never happen? Private sector examples like Hobby Lobby, Sweet Cakes Bakery, and Arlene’s Flowers show how eagerly religious liberty is being challenged. Is this too a zero-sum game?

The tidal wave of little equal signs and crosses on Facebook and the tumult of mainstream media bias during Holy Week chilled the dialogue of regular citizens. This debate has instilled fear in people to voice their convictions.

But bullying the opposition into silence isn’t progress.

rick warren quote

image from Pure Purpose on Facebook

Some of us are straight. Some of us are gay. All of us defy GodWe’re all guilty; that’s why we’re all in need of Christ. No one is in a position to condemn. But what does it say about my faith if I’m scared silent to speak what I believe?

EstherShadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and Daniel are in the Bible for a reason. So is the account of Jesus before Pilate. There is Truth that stands alone and isn’t relative to our whims, preferences, culture, courts, or circumstances. 

flag in Reagan National

flag in Reagan National

I disagree with the idea that engaging in the political process and conversation means you’ve traded faith in Christ for faith in government. God has blessed American believers the gifts of freedom of speech and religion, among the many other gifts of our Constitution. We are called to be good stewards of those gifts as much as we are called to be good stewards of all the resources God has given us. Use it or lose it.

No one enjoys being the object of ridicule, spite, and retaliation. We hope bullying doesn’t happen and we answer it with grace as best we can when it does. Christ promised that people would hate Christians the same way they hated Him. In all this, God is sovereign; His plans will be accomplished.

Americans may never unanimously agree on social issues like gay marriage and abortion. But I hold out hope we can find ways to live alongside each other in peace, with respect for our different beliefs, and under the protection of our Constitution. 

Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.”

“You are a king, then!” said Pilate.

Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

“What is truth?” retorted Pilate. John 18:36-38 NIV

How are you processing the events of Holy Week?

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Filed under America, faith

Heart of the Matter

Boomer, my yoga instructor, faced a life crisis earlier this spring when her 50-something husband had emergency bypass surgery.

faceted heart

faceted heart

She’s the more talkative of my instructors. Responsible for phrases like Vikings and temple dancers, bellies on vacation, and the duck index.

I like the banter.

“Stretch the myofascial tissue.”

“Stop carrying enormous handbags.” 

“Stand up straight or you’ll end up with a hump on your back and a walker!”

He survived the surgery. She missed a week or so of class. I don’t think she realizes it, but a new theme has surfaced in her coaching.

“Engage your thighs. You should feel them working, pumping blood up, strengthening your heart.” 

“Open your chest. Don’t let it close over your heart and lungs.” 

“Remember to breathe…” 

And then last class, this one.

“It’s amazing how easily the heart gets involved with everything.”

Yes, dear teacher. It is.

Guard your heart above all else,
for it determines the course of your life. Proverbs 4:23 NLT

Nothing Is Wasted, my new favorite song by Jason Gray. Listen. Take courage.

 What’s on your heart today?

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Filed under faith, life

When We Have No Words

We turn to the One whose words never fail.

Psalm 91:1-2

Please click to read the full text of Psalm 91.

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Filed under America, faith

Comic Relief

I mustache you to enjoy this emoticon moment on Twitter with blogger Jenny Dewey and her fiancé Mark.

happy mustache emoticon

happy mustache emoticon

Twitter does have some redeeming qualities. 

:3

A cheerful heart is good medicine,
but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength. Proverbs 17:22 NLT

And now it’s time for a silly song with Larry… Love me some VeggieTales.

What’s your favorite emoticon?
Please demonstrate in the comments.

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Filed under humor

Bullfighting on Twitter

This past Monday, I’d had it with Twitter. Rather than give up, I took the bull by the horns. Because that’s what we do here.

I deactivated my Twitter account @everydayepistle. Please follow me now @AimeeWhetstine if you like. 

matador, as seen in the Plaza, Kansas City

matador, as seen in the Plaza, Kansas City

Inquiring minds want to know. Why this change? Why now? Here’s the skinny:

1. Forgive me for being undiplomatic, but I hate Twitter.
Maybe I just don’t get it. People have explained Twitter to me as a cocktail party where you can chat with absolutely anyone. How cool is that?!

Eh. There’s something to be said for hanging out at a barbecue with people I already know. Dear Mr. Zuckerberg’s endless string of arbitrary changes is tiresome, but Facebook is more my speed. There’s context to Facebook—mutual friends, profiles, photos, a virtual paper trail of posts, comments, likes. Yes, some people present falsely, but only the hopelessly diabolical can keep up a Facebook farce for long. True colors shine through.

Meanwhile, Twitter is context-free. Commitment-free. A breeding ground for trolls and propaganda. It’s easy to hide behind 140 characters. Olé!

Unless you have a gazillion tweeting friends or followers, Twitter is also like an echo chamber. It’s you, standing alone in the arena, waiting for the bull to rush you. Your tweets disappear into the chaos of the crowd. Who knows where they’ve gone or who’ll read them? Who knows if anyone will read them at all or if you’ve just wasted two precious minutes of your life distilling a profound thought into an acceptable tweet. There isn’t enough time in the day, folks.

And yet, if I want to write, if I want to participate in social media, if I want to connect with people in the 21st century, Twitter is a necessary evil.

2. If I write it, my byline needs to be on it.
Ross Douthat has more than 21,000 followers on Twitter and follows 110. Peggy Noonan has nearly 75,000 followers and follows 85. Beth Moore has more than 300,000 followers and follows 50. Seth Godin has more than 260,000 followers and follows no one.

These are a few of my favorite writers. They don’t follow. They tweet and leave the following to others. They invest their time doing what they’re obviously good at and what I suspect they enjoy most. Notice it’s not Twitter.

They tweet with their own names—except for Seth who uses @ThisIsSethsBlog. It’s rather spiffy to use a cool Twitter handle, brand name, or blog title. It’s just that for me, for now, I want ownership and accountability. I’m no Peggy or Beth, but I want you to know who’s speaking and who you’re speaking to.

3. It’s time to clean house. 
The terrorist attack in Boston was less than two hours old this past Monday afternoon when a writer I was following tweeted something beyond irresponsible. I’ve told you here before that if you so much as breathe the wrong way on my child, Momma Bear will make an appearance. Well, kicking my country when it’s down isn’t a good idea either.

Liberal news outlets have carelessly, callously promoted inappropriate ideas since the bombing, but this writer was first to do it on my feed. I’d mistaken her for someone she isn’t. I’d been gored.

I've heard Spain is nice. Photo credit: Contando Estrelas

I’ve heard Spain is nice. Photo credit: Contando Estrelas

And you know what? It’s my bad. I’d assumed without knowing. I’d trusted without verifying. Her response to my calling her on the insensitive tweet showed she clearly couldn’t care less who I am or what I think or even how her tweet insulted citizens who still love America and emboldened those who hate us. (By the way, if you live in America and hate America, please consider moving. Abroad. Think of how much happier we’d all you’d be.)

That was the last straw. Within 24 hours, I’d closed my old Twitter account and started over, determined to make a fresh start. Ah, catharsis.

Between you, me, and the fencepost, I’d like to continue writing about things that are important to me, but life isn’t a popularity contest and Twitter doesn’t have to be a blood sport. Read and follow if you like. Block me if you don’t. I’ve got work to do. As myself. As Aimee Whetstine.

God bless America.

“Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:18-19 NIV

Pasodobles Españoles by Pepe El Trumpeta.

I cannot be the only person out there with Twitter malaise. Can you relate? Or if you love Twitter, won’t you kindly share a tip or two?

photo credit: Contando Estrelas via photopin cc

29 Comments

Filed under America, blogging

10 Things I Learned on My Spring Blogging Break

Hi. How you been?

solution focused

solution focused

My spring blogging break lasted longer than expected. Lots to tell you. Where to start?

Amy at Using Our Words writes a regular column of 10 things she’s learned each week. She’s the boss of this format, which I am not—and she’s funny, which I am occasionally. In homage to Amy, here’s my list of 10 things I learned while I wasn’t blogging.

  1. “Vacation” doesn’t capture the magic of a trip to Disney World. “Triathlon” would be closer.
  2. Sometimes the answer is as simple as giving the dog a new toy.
  3. There are a lot of mean people on the internet.
  4. Two and a half hours is a looong way to drive to the nearest Loft.
  5. Moms don’t exist until they’re on the phone, applying their makeup, or sneaking a nap at which time they’re indispensable and needed right away.
  6. When your stress level reaches a certain point, you can actually feel your axons and dendrites ache.
  7. Writing takes time. Writing well takes time and editing.
  8. Opportunity costs stink.
  9. Skype rocks.
  10. A good pair of khaki shorts never die.
still kicking

still kicking

Carry on.

Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. 1 Corinthians 13:7 NLT

Something good this way comes.

Guess what? (No spoilers if you know what.)

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Filed under blogging, humor, life