Wednesday, January 26, 2011

2 B Or Not 2 B, Th@'s Th ?

I enjoy languages, and in school had an ear for them and did pretty well.  I had one year of Latin and one of French in high school, followed by Latin at Meredith.  When I returned to Chowan to finish my BA in Religion I had a year of Spanish and then they added Greek and Hebrew to the curriculum.  I had a year of each.  Five languages on top of my native English.  Proficient in none, but I can still work my way through Greek.

English gave me fits in school and it wasn't until I took Latin in the 9th grade that the parts of speech began to make sense.  Up until then I could read and write very well, but I couldn't diagram a sentence for the life of me.  The definition of a verb confused me greatly and I was constantly mixing up verbs with nouns when I had to identify them as parts of speech.  It never bothered me if something dangled when it wasn't supposed to.  I didn't care if something was modified or not and I didn't care which word was the modifyer and which was the modifyee.  Just let me read and write and I was fine.  Leave the technical stuff for those who enjoyed inflicting pain and distress on young, helpless students by making them do weird things to sentences.  "Diagramming" looked nothing like anything I learned in art class!

For all my woes and trials with sentence structure, I could spell the words that made up those sentences!  And despite all those awful diagrams, I could write a decent sentence, and paragraph.  I could put paragraphs and thoughts together and write a readable paper or story.  Whatever I was assigned to write, I could write it and get "A's". 

Today, English is becoming a foreign language for me.  Text-speak is changing all the rules!  It's changing the "alphabet" and sentence structure.  It's becoming the Evil Twin of Algebra!  As long as "math" was "math" in school and nothing but numbers, I could do it and I naively thought that's all there was.  What a RUDE awakening ALGEBRA was!  All of a sudden the alphabet was thrown in with the numbers and my so-called "math ability" tanked.  Big time!  Now, we're adding numbers to our alphabet!  It's a world gone mad, I tell u!

B4 long, th way we spel wil b ?able. "Lol" wil proly b in the dictionary.  2day we hav a gr8 language.  Wht re 2morrow?   C, we r bcoming 2 illiter8 & @ ths r8 b4 2 long u will c bg probs n communic8ions.  Ur yung flks wont b able 2 spel & write a crct sentnc.  Wil we b lol then?

Pepl r communic8ing n texts & tweets.  FB givs 420 characters 4 ur status.  Twitter givs 140 4 a tweet.  What's nxt?

Here's a thot: Let's save our native tongue b4 it's 2 L8.  Sure languages evolve; we don't speak King James English anymore.  We don't even speak with the same sentence structure of the NIV anymore.  Don't blieve me?  Check it out.  English will continue to evolve.  Do we have to kill it?  Do we have 2 commit languicide?

The world is changing, but it's supposed to.  Nothing human stays the same forever.  The English language will continue to evolve; it's supposed to, too.  Thank goodness!  I'd h8 to have 2 write in Shakespeare-ese.  But is the country ready for Text-speak?  Frankly, ready or not, it's here.  How are we going to handle it?  It's going to be a problem for our children who are coming along and will have to learn how to spell, write, and put together proper sentences and paragraphs.  No matter where technology takes us, they'll have to learn how to read and write.  Proper written communication is still important and they have to be prepared.

Whoever thought English would one day become the national second language behind Text-speak?  I can c it happening.  Can u?

So here's to English!  Pure English, without numbers or deliberate misspellings.  And here's to language and communication!  Let's use and not abuse them.  We're living in a world of technology that's ever evolving and with it comes opportunities and challenges.  Let us not get stupid, sound stupid, or write stupid.  Technology should enhance, not dumb down.  Likewise, we should become more intelligent with our use of our English language, not become illiterate.

I believe in our ability to stem the tide.

And I am gr8ful.

(When I wrote this FB did keep a strict count of characters in a status. That has, mercifully, changed).

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Fine Art of Fishing

Growing up, I despised fishing.  Yes, despised.  The fish (IF they really were under that water somewhere) were way down deep, and me, well I was up above the water and I had to keep completely quiet and still lest I scare them away.  That never made any sense to me.  Don't get me started on how I felt about baiting my hook with live, slimy worms...of various sizes, sliminess, and general yukiness.  Come to think of it, because that's how I felt about worms and baiting my hook, I refused to bait my hook and whoever was nuts enough to take me fishing had to bait it for me.  That nut was usually my Daddy.  Somehow I don't have very many memories of going fishing.  Oh well!

Fish must have sensed my feelings because they would jump on all hooks around me and leave me catchless.  What a waste of time!  My all time favorite fishing story is when I was in high school, my family vacationed at Nags Head and took a friend of mine with us for the week.  My Daddy got all 5 of us on a chartered deep-sea fishing expedition.  The boat was filled; 77 of us fisher-people out to catch "the big one."

I can see it now.  My Mama, me, my friend, all in a row.  All with rods and reels.  Somewhere on that boat were my Daddy and brother.  They probably didn't want to be seen with us.  Everyone on that boat was hauling 'em in.  My Mama even caught a fish.  It was deformed and she threw it back.  No joke, my friend immediately caught that same deformed fish.  She threw it back.  I never did catch anything, not even that deformed fish!  A deformed fish bypassed me and went from my Mama to my friend.  Fish despised me, too!  When that boat landed, drum roll please, I was the only person out of the 77 on board that caught absolutely nothing!!!!

Fast forward 30-some years to the present.  Somewhere along the way Jesus found me by my own "Sea of Galilee" and he didn't care about my fishing history.  He didn't actually take me fishing but he told me to go  fishing.  Up until today I thought I still wasn't catching any fish.  I thought "fishing" and "catching" only counted if someone who didn't know Jesus came to Jesus because of something I said or did that created an "aha" moment for them and they bowed to Christ.

I was tremendously blessed to be told today, by a fish that just about got away, that Jesus has used me, me!!, to reel her back in.  There are a lot of fish like her that are wriggling off their hook or who have actually been thrown back by other fisher-people who need to know that the Great Fisherman has a place in his boat for all fish!   He doesn't look at any of us and say, "Now, that's one deformed, troubled fish!  Back in the water you go!"  No fisher-person that He has called to go fishing should fish with that attitude either.

There's one less fish trying to wriggle off her hook to go swimming aimlessly in the water.

And I am grateful.

Monday, January 10, 2011


My Mama sewed most of my wardrobe when I was growing up.  We would go to Belk Tyler's, look at what I liked on the rack, and then she would say, "Let's go down to the basement and look at patterns and material."  There I found patterns better than what was on the rack upstairs and materials that suited my tastes...and she let me have my picks.  I particularly gravitated towards patterns that weren't reflected in my friends wardrobes and material that had unusual prints.  I had quite a wardrobe, let me tell you!

Through the 8th grade, though, I dreaded hearing those words about looking at patterns and material.  I wanted to buy off the rack like everyone else.  I didn't appreciate having a cheap Mama until I got to high school.  Yeah, she was a talented seamstress and my clothes looked like they came off an upscale rack as far as quality, but she made them because she knew she could buy patterns & material cheaper than she could buy ready-made.  She was, and still is, cheap.  And I am grateful, as I find I am too and I apparently learned from the best.

She could knit, too.  All my sweaters were crafted by her.  I don't recall EVER having a store-bought sweater....till I grew up and had to supply my own wardrobe, that is!  I don't knit, or sew.  I don't have a particularly noteworthy wardrobe anymore either!  Alas and alack!  I didn't appreciate what I had till I no longer had it.  Oh, Mama's still alive and kicking, but at 80, her sewing and knitting days are pretty much behind her.

I didn't just have lots of neat clothes (which in high school I was actually envied by some girls for), she kept ALL her scraps of cloth and yarn.  Anytime my brother or I needed supplies for projects, we'd pull out that bag and the world was our oyster!  What other people may have seen as useless pieces of cloth and yarn, actually filled a purpose and came in quite handy.  We never lacked for remnants!

I ponder "remnants" a lot.  Not of the cloth & yarn variety, but people as it pertains to the church.  I love that God always kept remnants of the Israelites.  No matter what they were going through, God has never allowed them to be completely destroyed and devastated.  There has always been that remnant of the faithful.  Today, we talk of the church being in decline, but no matter what happens, God keeps a remnant everywhere.

"Remnants" by nature are small in number.  Sometimes it seems remnants think they are all that is left and they are alone.  God reminds us that is simply not true, that He has people all over the earth, even if they are scattered.

Sometimes I think the larger churches see us smaller ones as useless remnants.  I've heard pastors of large churches (hundreds of worshipers in their churches every week) even say that small churches shouldn't be allowed to exist because they drain resources from larger ones.  They tend to ignore God's longstanding pattern and nature of "ministry of the small."  They tend to ignore that Scripture testifies, over and over, where God's heart is.  It is with the weak, lowly, least, last, small, marginalized.  I believe it is also with the small church.

Yesterday (Sunday January 9, 2011), it was bitter cold and the church wasn't heating up fast enough and it was just about as cold inside as it was outside and didn't really warm up good till it was about time to go.  Yet the door kept opening and people kept coming!  We even had a new teenage face!  Our older ladies were in attendance, bundled up but with smiles on their faces, laughter in their hearts, and stories of faith that would make you cry and rejoice at the same time! 

We are one of those micro-small churches.  One of those larger churches don't understand why they are allowed to exist.  One of those that they think drain resources...of the "bank" kind.  We don't have the kind of resources they refer to.

What we do have. however, is a collected faith that will make some larger churches envious.  We have a God-given purpose in our community and we need to be small.  NEED to be!  There is never any doubt that God uses us and meets our needs; we can't pat ourselves on the back and think we accomplish anything under our own power, because we don't. 

As a micro-small church we can quadruple our worship attendance and still be "small."  God has his hand on us and as long as we keep our collective eye on Him, I have no doubt that we will be around a while! 

Like the remnants in my Mama's bag, we are small, we serve a purpose, and we come in quite handy!

And I am grateful.