My posts have been missing. There is a lost going on and my determination to write has been put on hold. Hopefully the next posts will fill you all in on what I’m up to.

I spent most of my childhood living in the “country” with practically no neighbors. I now live in almost the center of Wichita. Having neighbors has been an interesting experience for Ben and myself.

Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, and being and love your neighbor as you love yourself.”

Love your neighbor in the very same way you pamper, advocate for, and defend your own life. This seems pretty clear.

But, who is my neighbor? Could it refer to the people who we meet throughout our day? Does it literally mean the people in my neighborhood? What about the students in my classroom? Are they my neighbors? What about all the people who I just don’t like? Are they my neighbors? Or is it something more than all these?

My initial answer is that everyone I encounter is my neighbor, but with that my conclusion must be that I surely don’t love all these as I should. I fall short of the kind of love Jesus proclaimed every single day. There are students I don’t love at all. There are people I work with that I don’t think of as my neighbor. There are even people who I go to church with that I don’t like one bit and we are supposed to be “family”.

Our culture says love yourself because if you don’t, no one else will. Jesus says, because I have loved you so deeply when you were thoroughly unlovely, go out and love others in the same way.

Now that’s a love dare….

They are everywhere. Categories, groupings, stereo-types, classes. Black. white, latino, male, female, liberal, conservative, democrat, republican, gay, straight, poor, wealthy, young, old, christian, hindu, muslim, jew, buddhist… Do you see where I am going? In order to maintain large amounts of data in our brains we have adapted methods to sort and categorize all kinds of things, but especially people. It’s a natural thought process.

But we are smarter than this. The world does not exist in the neat manila folders in which we would like to keep it. People are not always what you think. My students prove this every single day.

Turn on your televisions and you can see the disastrous consequences of closed minded “code word” labels we like to use to scare and threaten. Historically words like Jew, Nigger, Catholic, Fairy, and Communist have been used to evoke fear, resentment, and anger in the United States. What words, today, evoke those same feelings? Think about this for a minute.

Jesus dined with the worst labels in His day; prostitutes, gamblers, and tax collectors. He rebuked the pharisees for attempting to stone an adulterous woman, without examining their own deserved sin labels.
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All this to say, look outside of your preconceived categories. Listen to what people are trying to say. Dialog to gain understanding. Work hard to withhold your natural groupings. For us to be God’s kingdom we must try harder than ever to get past political, social,and economic status to let our minds be stretched. In the days to come I pray to God for strength to see people as He wants me to see them. I will pray for you too.

Reading other people’s blogs makes me feel kind of like a stalker… However, I have some how overcome this feeling and now I do enjoy reading people’s thoughts, seeing what they are up to, and hearing their recommendations on books, food, fashion, and any number of other things.

My favorite is www.tablegrace.net . Sara Jane is a woman who grew up in my hometown and now lives in Dayton, OH. She is married with 2 kids, works part time as a Physicians assistant, and blogs a lot. She is smart and witty, and has a southern voice that comes through in all she writes.

I have also started reading the blog http://smittenkitchen.com/. I haven’t cooked very many things from this site, but I like how she writes and the photography is lovely. I want to try her recipe for home-made pop-tarts. They look wonderful.

There are a few ladies that went to Union University with me. I only knew 1 of them, but they are all interesting and artistic ladies. They graduated and have spread out, but blog to keep in touch. It’s worth reading. The link is http://redbrownblonde.blogspot.com/

Finally my Mom and my Uncle Ray have interesting things to say always. I am proud every time I get to read their blogs. Here is the link for each. Mom’s is www.pamkiper.blogspot.com and my Uncle Ray’s site is www.rbrim.blogspot.com .

Hope you enjoy any number of these!

I was recently directed to a webiste called Sojourners www.sojo.net She was talking to me about Glenn Beck’s command that all christians turn in their pastors if they are preaching “social justice”. He said “report them to your church’s officials”. So I turned my self  in to Glenn just to be safe.

That’s not really what I wanted to talk to you about though. I have been reading the blogs of the many and varied contributors to that website and have found it to be a helpful chrisian perspective on things happening in the world. What I have recently been looking for is solid Christian thoughts on Immigration. This is an issue with all kinds of opinions, some more valid than others. My interest in this is that fact that God seems to care an awful lot about those who are most marginalized in societies. Illegial immigrants fall right into that category. As a contributor said, “They live in the shadows”. I have found the contributors on Sojo.net to be extremly helpful in forming my thoughts on this topic and I hope you will stop by for a glance or two.

Please…Read it and tell me what you think.

Just in case you are using the fact that you need to scroll to the top to find this link to avoid checking things out, I will post it again. www.sojo.net

I love my dear friend Cassie and I miss her dearly. More than I can express. We started this blog as a way to keep in touch with one another’s thought life. She is one of the most influential people to my way of thinking and living. So here is some stuff about who we are. I stole borrowed this from a Facebook questionnaire for couples, but I thought it would be funny to write it about Cassie and me.

What are your middle names: Irene (greek for peace) and Dale (which I think is a family name).

How long have you “been together”: We have known each other since the fall of 2003 when we started college. We met at the very beginning of our college days and have stuck together since then.

How old are you both? I am 25 now and Cassie will be 25 in almost exactly a month.

What is the hardest situation you have been through together? I would say that our “separation” for the last 3 years has been most trying. I miss my friend every day. I am glad, however, that when we are together there is no awkwardness or difficulty. Catching up is easy.

Did you go to the same school?  We did not grow up together, but we went to Union University together (Go U U)

Same hometown? See above question.

Who is smarter? My initial  thought is Cassie. She is definitely faster at processing things then me. Neither of us are very Math smart, but Cassie probably still beats me in analytical and strategic thinking. She has made me a better thinker and writer for sure.

Who is most sensitive? We are both normal women and we have our sensitivities. I wouldn’t say that one of us is more sensitive then the other.

Where do you eat out most when you are together? In school our favorite place was Dumplin’s. Fruit tea, strawberry butter on fresh rolls, and cakes and pies that will make you “slap yo momma”. When I visit Cassie in Nashville we venture through the eclectic and fresh food restaurants of  East Nashville (It’s not a zip code, it’s a  lifestyle).

Where is the furthest you have traveled as a “couple”? I am embarrassed to say that it hasn’t been that far. St.Louis? Louisville? I’m not sure. We have traveled long distances to visit one another in the last few years, but that was not together. We need to remedy this soon!

Who has the craziest exes? We both have had a few doozies. I once had a guy I was dating chase another guy to fight him while driving my car. A liquor bottle was thrown at my car during this high-speed chase…We broke up shortly after that.

Who has the worst temper? We like to think of it as righteous indignation…

Who cooks? We both like to cook a great deal and we are both pretty good in different ways. We complement one another in the kitchen. I would also like to say that we like lots of variety in food and enjoy trying new things.

Who is a neat freak? We have both developed a desire for things to be clean. I know my house isn’t always clean, but I sure do like it when it is neat and dog hair dust free. I think Cassie feels the same. Don’t look under my couch though…

Who is the most stubborn? There could be an epic battle for that title. Needless to say, we are both pretty stubborn.

Who wakes up earlier? I think I do, but we both need a lot of sleep and have big girl jobs now for which we must wake in the early dawn.

Where did you meet? Union. It was wonderful! We first really connected when we realized that Roger and Hammerstein’s Cinderella was beloved to us both. We sat for, who knows how long, singing the different songs from the musical. It was magical…In my own little corner in my own little chair….Impossible things are happening every day…

Who is better on computer? Again probably Cassie. She likes to know how things work and I don’t care nearly as much.

Who drives when you are together? I forget where I am going when people ride with me. I talk and get distracted from my course. I blame my mom (sorry Mom). Cassie is a more focused driver than myself. On a spectrum of girl drivers we are both closer to the good then the bad. 

I hope this didn’t bore you too much. It is my Ode du Cassie…

I love you like my right arm…or my left pinkie toe…well you get the picture.

I used to like boys. A lot. Now I like one particular boy who makes me laugh every day and keeps my feet warm on cold nights. Before I meet Ben, there were lots of boys in my life.  I wish there hadn’t been so many sometimes, but, unfortunately,  I loved to flirt. I don’t like to relive these relationships, but I have thought, on more than one occasion, that these boys each added or removed characteristics for which I am glad to have or not have now. Here is the list:

Boy #1 Bobby- I liked this kid forever.  We were friends from 4-7th grade when he asked me to be his girlfriend. For reasons that I still don’t understand and regretted forever, I said I didn’t want to “ruin our friendship”. How does a 7th grader come up with this? TV I suppose. I told him the next day I changed my mind. I guess I was too late. I liked him for most of high school, but I knew that my chances with him were zero. Lesson learned: think before you answer the first time so you don’t have any regrets.

Boy#2  Steven- He is proof that a good boy is not enough sometimes. He was one of the nicest guys I ever dated. What was the problem, you ask? The truth is I have no idea. Honestly. But we broke up and got back together a few times. We didn’t have any mutual friends and our interests had changed (I quit playing basketball, etc). Lesson learned: mutual interests and mutual friends are important to a relationship.

Boy #3 Bradley- This was my longest continuous relationship in Highschool. He was kind and quiet and made me laugh a lot. My friends thought he was too quiet and it made me sad for a long time and also a little determined to make things work. He graduated and moved to Chattanooga (away from our small town) and, at that age, the distance got the best of me. Still a year and a half was a pretty good run for a couple of teenagers. The lesson Brad taught me: Patience and perseverance.

The College Years…

Boy #4- Jimmy- I met Jimmy at a concert. We went on a few dates, didn’t talk for about a year, and got serious (for about a month if that counts). I was pretty sure he was “the one”. He didn’t call me after a date and I didn’t hear from him again until about another year later. Luckily I was a little smarter the second time around. There are lots of things I learned from Jimmy, but to sum it up: hold all things loosely. (I could probably also add that the person who cares the least in a relationship holds the most power.)

Don’t worry…There are only a few more left.

Boy 5#Anthony- Anthony is a guy that I liked for his singing voice and good looks. I’m not sure what he liked about me because we were very different, but he taught me a pretty important lesson: Relax. Don’t seem desperate. It’s unattractive. It was a dose of a needed medicine.

Boy #6 Andy- We dated pretty seriously for a few months. It was probably good that we broke things off, but from Andy I learned to have fun and be spontaneous. Example: we literally drove an hour from Jackson to Memphis to get Girl Scout cookies from his mom who was a sponsor. I also learned that relationships don’t have to be full of angst. It’s actually a lot more fun when they aren’t.

Boy #7 Rob- Rob was one of the smartest guys I dated. He is now at Vandy working on his doctorate degree in Medical Physics (Andy is the other smarty pants…He is in Dental school now). He was a good and sincere guy and is now married to a wonderful woman (who is a pharmacist…Yeah, they’re going to be raking in the dough). From Rob I learned to make a clean break when you end a relationship. None of this “we’re still friends” crap. MOVE ON!

The Last and Greatest of them All:

Benjamin- I say often that I wouldn’t want to be single again. Ben agrees. The great thing about our relationship is that we suffered some injuries in our dating life, but there is so much to be said for what we learned. I would, by no means, recommend my dating life as the ideal, but when I met Ben I was ready for something good and lasting. So, here’s to all those boyfriends in my past. I hope your life is so rich as mine.