Tag Archives: tradition

The Myth of Us and Them

I watched a documentary about the Amish last night. It reminded me of drives to St. Jacob’s for the farmer’s market and Amish bakery. Sour Northern Spy apples. Giant sugar cookie pigs. Sweet buns and fresh bread. The quaint characters we craned our necks to see as we zipped past in modern convenience. But most of all, it reminded me of me.

The program explored this strange subculture, both good and bad. The ones who left. The ones who stayed. Neither ones the villains. Both the victims, in their own way.

The customs. The secrets. The lines drawn in the sand. Tradition. Conviction. Fear.

And it all sounded so familiar. Not only from family stories of our strict Brethren sect, but from my life here and now. Because we draw lines in the sand too. In different places, but they are still there.

This is something I wrote a few months ago. It is a little different. I usually keep the rambly “poetic” pieces securely hidden in journal pages, but I’m running low on time and energy, and feeling a bit brave today.

How do we separate “us” and “them”?

We try to wrap our skinny arms around it, digging in our nails, gritting our teeth. So we can throw it down and beat it into submission.

We’re the church, we’re big on submission. Not the doing, but the saying.

White knuckled and wide-eyed. You can almost smell the fear. In whispered rumors and wild innuendo… cause that sort of thing is contagious, you know? We have to keep that shit, excuse me, sin out. We cannot let them win.

So we create our own. Our own music. Our own slang. Even our own breath mints.

But we are them.

And they are us.

No matter what brand of candy we chew.

Culture was never the problem. Creating a new one won’t save us. Bullying “them” pleasantly, with our kind intentions, until “we”, happily deluded, feel safe.

But we are them.

And we are as full of shit as anyone.

And it’s clear enough, isn’t it, that we’re sinners, every one of us, in the same sinking boat with everybody else.

Our involvement with God’s revelation doesn’t put us right with God.

What it does is force us to face our complicity in everyone else’s sin.

Romans 3: 20 (MSG)

So here’s me, and yes, I used the word “shit.” If that’s all you can think about, then you probably missed the point anyway.

And I’m not kidding about the breath mints. “Testa-mints” – has anyone tried them? They’re like Certs, with a righteous after taste.

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10 Ways to Celebrate Leap Day

Sometimes it’s more of a curse than a blessing to have a child with a long memory. My, now 11 year old daughter clearly remembers celebrating Leap Day last time, when she was 7. Those were my homeschooling days when I spent a lot more time coming up with fun and “educational” things to do everyday.

Today, I have a sick child at home, 2 papers due for school (now that I’M the student) and a backlog of household chores that make me want to cry. But I’ve decided that they will still be there tomorrow.

February 29th only comes around once every 4 years. It hardly ever happens. I’m always complaining that I need more time, and here I have a whole extra day! Of course, it usually gets eaten up with the ordinary hustle and bustle. Just one more day in the rat race. What a shame! What a waste!

Why not take advantage of this bonus day to do something special?

Or, if you can’t think of something special, here are 10 silly ideas the girls and I came up with to celebrate Leap Day:

1. Play Leap Frog. The girls remember doing this last Leap Year with our friend Shannon, who was quite pregnant at the time. They were impressed!

2. Sing and Dance to “Jumping Songs”. If you have children, you can let them join in too!

    • 5 Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed
    • If You’re Happy and You Know it Leap Around
    • Jump Your Jigglies Out
    • Jump for my Love – Pointer Sisters
    • Jump Jump – Kriss Kross (remember them!)

3. Declare this to be EXTRA day – and give everyone extra. But only the good things: extra hugs, extra game, extra ice cream, extra Wii time…

4. Hide frog gummies all over the house. These are always fun, because you find candy in weird places for months to come.

5. Buy a box of EXTRA gum and hand it out to everyone you know.

6. Serve food that LEAPS: Kangaroo Steak, Bunny Tail and Jumping Beans for dinner. I suggest steak, mashed potatoes and green beans, but you can be as realistic as you like.

7. Watch Annie and try to work “Leaping Lizards” into every conversation.

8. Make a frog cake, then sing “Happy Leap Day to you!” Or you could be like me and buy an ice cream cake instead!

9. Write letters to yourself for next Leap Day, then put them in a time capsule to be opened in 2016. Futureme.org allows you  to e-mail letters and photos to yourself, and will send it to you at some future date. You can even include pictures. This is so much easier than trying to keep track of it myself!

You can even get an app for your iPhone or iPad – only $0.99!

10. Watch Larry’s Leap Year Lesson. I must admit that I floundered when they asked me why we have leap year, something to do with the earth’s rotation and how we calculate the calendar… Larry the Cucumber cleared it right up for me.

 I’m always looking for more ways to build memories and embarass my children. How do you celebrate Leap Year?

So here’s me, celebrating my made up holiday, because that’s how I want to use my extra time. I wonder what my kids will remember 4 years from now.


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