A Good Ol’ Fashion Bra Burning…

A few weeks ago I began asking some women around me if they thought of themselves as a feminist. I took it a step further and asked if they did, why and if they did not, why not. I asked friends of varying backgrounds, different sides of the political aisle, and even those with no idea what the aisle even means. I asked some women who are younger than me, some who are the same age as me, and some who are older than me. I asked women who are moms of kids, women who are moms of pugs, and women who can’t keep a fake plant in one piece. I asked friends from down south in Arkansas, here in North Carolina, from Boston and all the way out in Los Angeles.

My point is, I asked a lot of women, I wanted all the perspectives.

Merriam-Webster defines feminism as the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes; often times viewed as an organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests.  The first known usage of the word was a few years ago, back in 1895. Folks that was the same year words like “cowboy boot,” and “coat hanger” came about. Point being, it’s been around a long time.

You might be wondering why I’m blogging today on feminism, and the answer is simple actually:  the ideology of feminism is something I’ve struggled with for a few years and I felt like now is as good a time as any to get acquainted with what I believe and what role I can play in today’s society.

There have been several “waves” of feminism starting back in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, with the second wave coming in the 60’s and 70’s, followed by this third wave that began in the 90’s and is still rolling along today. Each wave has been marked by differing circumstances and situations.

The first wave that occurred between the 1830’s and the early 1900’s was centered around the desire of women to bring about changes to the political agenda around issues like sexual, reproductive and economic matters. The idea that was born was that women could contribute as much, if not more, than men. And I have to say, that makes a lot of sense when you stop and think about the topics discussed were occurring in the bodies of women.

The second wave came about during the 1960’s through the 1980’s. This second wave was portrayed with the strong graphic of Rosie the Riveter. This wave was focused on the workplace, and again sexuality, family and reproductive rights. A lot of folks write off this time period to the “plight of middle class white women’s problems.” That is an unfortunate misconception because during this time period women were joining movements for all equality like: Black Civil Rights, Anti-Vietnam, Chicano Rights, Asian-American Civil Rights, Gay and Lesbian Movement and so many more. It was during this movement that the infamous, “No More Miss America!” protest took place in 1969. This protest consisted of 400 feminists who tossed feminine products, pots, false eyelashes, mops and other symbolic items along the Atlantic City Boardwalk in protest to the national pageant. These items were thrown into what was called a “Freedom Trash Can,” similarly to what had been done with the “draft card burn.” This march was a protest against what they saw as “American society’s normative beauty expectations.” Thus the term “bra burning” began.

The third wave which our nation appears to still be riding today has become as varied as the women who adhere to the ideology; with ego-cultural feminists, the radicals, the liberal/reforms, the electoral, academic, eco-feminists and the list goes on and on. The wave that rolls today is intended to focus on ending violence against women in our nation, and abroad. January 21, 2017, a march was held on Washington D.C. to advocate for legislation and policies regarding human rights and other issues focused on women’s rights. This demonstration was held in protest, as well, to the inauguration of President Donald Trump.

Many could argue that President Trump is the “unlikely force” behind the revival of the women’s movement. Politically there are conservatives, even those with jobs in the Oval Office, who argue that this women’s movement is “pro-abortion and anti-male,” and that my friends hits the nail on the head of why I have always struggled with feminism.

I have no issue getting behind equality for all, in fact, I’m totally on board for that. I have been blessed to be raised by a mother who has worked her tail off putting herself through college and graduate school to become a licensed social worker and now a CEO of a mental health facility. I’ve seen the amazing change you can bring about by having women in executive positions. I’ve been afforded a great education my entire life in a private school, private college and now two masters programs. My life has been blessed, undoubtedly. My point is not to brag on that, though I am incredibly grateful to God and my parents, but rather to say, I was raised to believe I can and should do everything my heart desires; and that the color of my skin, the fact that I wear a bra, the fact that I am a Christian, or that I am from the south, should never stop me from pursuing everything I want in life.

When Jimmy Stewart played Mike Connor in “Philadelphia Story” he said,

There’s a magnificence in you Tracy, a magnificence that comes out of your eyes, that’s in your voice, in the way you stand there, in the way you walk. You’re lit from within, bright, bright, bright….

and with those words, the world was reminded that chivalry is not dead. I don’t know if it was growing up in the south, but the idea of chivalry is ingrained in my mind. The idea of a man with courage, honor, courtesy, justice and readiness to help the weak.

I know right now some of you reading are rolling your eyes, but it gets worse…I love for my husband to open doors for me, and I adore that he is already teaching our son to open doors for ladies and letting them walk in first. Maybe it’s the southern part of me, but I just love it. I love “yes ma’am” and “no sir.” I love when men stand from their chairs when a woman sits down, or walks in a room. I’m not hardcore about it, but I love it nonetheless.

And in the same breath, I think America is ready for a female President. Perhaps not the most recent candidate, but there’s one out there. I can think of a few off the top of my head who I think would be phenomenal. I’d burn my bra in a barrel to have Condoleezza Rice run, just saying.

I mentioned earlier that I asked my friends their stance on feminism. I found that it was far easier for my friends who do consider themselves feminist to explain why, than my friends who are not to explain why not. The ones who are, shared similar sentiments with each other: equal rights and opportunities. One thing that stuck out to me was their shock that people still view feminism so negatively, that the “archaic idea” that it’s about bra burning or just a two topic ideology, anti-abortion and anti-men. One friend said she viewed her feminism as a journey to help remove the obstacles in place for women to live the way they want to live.

As a Christian, I have seen many that I have attended church with struggle with the theology of feminism that it might be some “worldly” mentality. I have to say, I think that’s bunk.

The idea that helping women to become more educated, more self-sufficient, more productive members of society would be against the will of God seems ludicrous. The God I know and believe in created ALL people in His image and I highly doubt if I wear a bra He doesn’t want me to live my best life that he blessed me with. And I sure can’t imagine just because I am a woman He would want me not to share the Good News of Jesus Christ. Now sure, I know abortion isn’t typically a kosher belief in the walls of evangelical churches. And I’m trying not to open a whole other can of worms and talk about free choice, pre-destination etc….that’s another blog, for a real scholar. But I know this, without a doubt, God loves me no matter what decisions I’ve made, or will make. I’ve not had an abortion, I’ve thankfully never been in a situation where it was considered and I don’t pretend to understand what women are going through when they’ve been raped, or anything of the sort. But I’ll say this, God loves them, He cherishes them, no matter their decision.

And please, save your “love the sinner hate the sin” rhetoric, my Jesus died on the cross for my sins NOT because of what I have done but because of who HE is.

Christian friends, do yourself a favor. Read the Bible for what it says…there are women in more parables in the Bible than I can count, women were being educated in Luke, Jesus NEVER shamed a woman when most of the world would have like the story of the woman at the well, there were women in Luke and Mark who were financiers and evangelists, and women were advocated for all the way back in Luke 7 and Mark 14. I’m just saying Church (with a big C), Jesus died for men and women alike and if He didn’t separate their rights, why should you decide you can?

We’ve unfortunately gotten to a place in society that by saying something matters, you assume the person is insinuating that something else does not matter. Like by saying “Black lives matter” that does not mean that black lives matter more than other races, or that you are anti-white. It just means they matter, because they do. And being feminist does not mean you are anti-men, you just think women’s rights matter, because again, they do.

I preach this mini-sermonette today to say, I’m still not sure I would define myself as a feminist. But I do believe in equal rights for all humankind, whether you wear a bra, burn a bra, never seen a bra or even know what a bra is. And I applaud my friends who march for equality, I’m not a marcher myself-I hate crowds, but I do want to be a voice for change in our society and I believe we can all play a pivotal role.

So go burn your bras friends, and spend a grand to buy another one b/c now that is a plight for women how expensive they are, just saying!

Plaid on Plaid

When I first started dating my now-husband Arron he did not have the best fashion sense. We worked at the same company and I got a message from a mutual friend one day at work that said, “Have you seen what Arron is wearing today?” I had not at that point, but I ventured out for a stroll to see. I thought for sure my eyes were deceiving me. My handsome man sat confidently at his desk on a call wearing a plaid shirt and plaid pants, neither of which matched, as if that would have made it acceptable. All I could do was laugh, and the highlight was his confusion over what was wrong with his outfit.

I fell in love with Arron Ross Asberry because he is smart, funny (though I don’t like to give him too much credit on that), he’s the kindest person I’ve ever met in my entire life, he loves and trusts Jesus with all that he has, he cares about people so deeply with no requirements on them, he would give you the shirt off his back whether he knew you or not (though it might be plaid), and his smile lights up any room.

You see we are different.

Arron is a 6’3″ cuddly, big African American man. And I’m a 5’10” (on a good day) Caucasian woman. Arron grew up in a town that doesn’t even make a dot on the map on a farm in Waldo, Arkansas. I grew up in the home of the Arkansas Razorbacks, the always growing town of Fayetteville, Arkansas. Arron is exceptionally smart in mathematics and it took me quite a few times to pass basic college algebra.

Our skin-tones do not “match.”

Though are skin-tones do not match, we were both created by the same Creator. In Heaven there was no line for the black/brown humans to be created and a separate line for the white humans to be created. The white humans were not at the front of the line and the darker skinned humans in the back of the line.

You see, we were all created equal in the eyes of God.

I’ve thought long and hard about what to say about the events in Charlottesville, Virginia over the weekend; along with the subsequent statements by President Trump.

Beth Moore, the popular Christian speaker/writer, tweeted on Saturday night, “We cannot renounce what we will not name. It’s called White Supremacy. And it is from hell. Call it. Condemn it.”

And I do, in the strongest terms possible, condemn the actions that transpired in Charlottesville on Friday/Saturday.

Though the organization may have acquired the legal permit to march through that city in what was alleged as a stand for a statue, what took place that day was a disgrace to this great nation and to the men and women who fought and died to defend the ideology of freedom against the tyranny of Nazism.

I can assure you if you defend the actions of those who marched that day chanting things like, “Jews will not replace us,” “Blood and soil,” “Whose streets? Our streets!” you are on the wrong side of history. Was there violence by both sides, yes. The Neo-Nazis were founded on the premise of a hatred for Jews, a love for Hitler and Nazi Germany and a deep hatred towards minorities, and homosexuals. White supremacists and their bigotry do not represent this country but they do anger a lot of people, and honestly, rightfully so-though violence is never the answer.

I was disgusted by the statement Donald Trump made on Saturday, focusing rather on “many sides” than calling out the hateful acts of domestic terrorism. I felt like the statements he made yesterday in NYC were deplorable, at best. His rant inside Trump Towers yesterday during a press briefing on infrastructure were a recanting of his comments on Monday when he finally condemned the KKK, Neo-Nazis and White Supremacists. Which only leaves us as Americans to assume he does not condemn them or their actions. And I truly wish I was wrong about that.

It is not a matter of semantics however, it’s a matter of what is right and wrong. This is not a political issue, it’s a moral issue.

Racism is a personal issue to me. My little boy is the biggest blessing the Lord has given to us. He’s smart, he’s funny, he’s adorable and has the best hair. All that being said, his cute little smile with big dimples reside on the face of a little boy who is biracial. He deserves all the wonderful things that life can afford him. He has his Daddy’s sweet spirit and would never be able to process someone hating him just because of his skin color, just like his Daddy.

President Trump, do the right thing.

Stop promoting the hate with your silence and wavering on taking a stand. Once and for all, condemn racism and evil acts of domestic terrorism associated with it and never look back. Do not accept the support of men like David Duke. Denounce the KKK, the Neo-Nazis, and the White Supremacists. There is a special place in hell for those who do harm and wish harm on others for their differences. There is no position in this world, President or not, that warrants accepting their support.

And to my fellow citizens, help me create a safer, more accepting, more loving country for my little boy to grow up in. Help me raise this next generation to not see differences in skin-tones as a negative, but a beautiful “non-matching” pattern created by a loving God. Condemn racism with me.

Above all, love your neighbor as yourself.

And one last thing, as a personal plea: pray for those of us who’s families “do not match.” Life can be scary sometimes, even in the greatest of nations.



Dear Dad…

Dear Dad,

Even after all these years, writing this letter seems surreal.  Ten years ago today you stepped into Eternity.  I’ll never forget being up early with Tusk, being the handful of a little puppy he was, at Sarah’s house in Little Rock and getting Mom’s phone call.  It was well before 6 a.m., we had a house full of girls who were on their way home from the funeral of their pledge sister’s mother.  I was sitting in the floor of the kitchen playing with Tusk, longing to be back asleep in my bed.  My phone rang and it was Mom, which I thought was weird so early in the morning. I answered the phone as I have a thousand times before.  But this call was different than any other call I’ve ever received.  She was crying, there was more pain in her voice than I’d ever heard.

She just kept saying, “he’s gone.” I don’t know if it was the stupor of the early  morning hour, or the haze of life at the time, but I had completely forgotten you all were in Georgia on vacation.  I had missed the call from you all the night before letting me know you had arrived safely.  That’s just one of my many regrets-not taking that last call from you, just one more chance to hear your voice.  I don’t remember a lot of details from the call other than you had a heart attack and as she kept saying, you were gone.  We talked countless other times that day with details unfolding, decisions to be made and siblings to contact.

There was some crazy law in Georgia that you could not take a deceased body across state lines for a certain period of time, with Mom stranded in Georgia all alone the only option was to have you cremated to get you both home as soon as possible.  I never saw your body again.  The last day I saw you was November 23, 2006.  It was Thanksgiving.  I left that night to get home to Little Rock so that I could go to the Arkansas/LSU game with my friends the next day.  Just another decision I regret.  If I had only known it would be the last time we’d be together on this Earth, I would have stayed forever.  LSU won that game 31-26.

Mom flew home to Little Rock as soon as possible.  She stepped off the plane carrying your remains in a small box.  She had a hell of a time getting those on the plane.  They had the nerve to tell her at first she would have to check “them.”  But you know Mom, I’ll be damned if she is told what to do when she has already made up her mind.  We left for Bella Vista as soon as she touched down.  Just me and Mom, and your remains, oh and Tusk of course.  It was the longest, quietest, most painful drive ever.  So many words unspoken, the grief was so thick in the air I swear it would have taken a sword to cut through.

Getting home was brutal.  Everything was as you all had left it.  It never felt like home again.  Your memories were so strong there and yet it just made it more obvious you were gone.  The next few days are a blur.  We planned your funeral around the kitchen table, you would have been pleased I think with some of your closest friends speaking and some of your favorite singers singing…and of course, “Off We Go” played.  We buried your remains in the wall at the National Cemetery.  You would have been tickled pink by your Honor Guard salute.  It was so cold and windy, but sunny thankfully.  We were all there, all your children and Mom. So many friends joined us, we would have never made it without them all.

The days, weeks and months that followed that first year were so hard.  So many memories, so many firsts, so much pain and heartache, so much emptiness and so much grief.  But we carried on, together.

You’d be so proud of Mom.  She has walked through this loss with the strength of gods, the courage of valiant soldiers and the resolve of the greatest fighters.  She’s the CEO of the health center back in El Dorado now.  I’m not sure what you’d think about the location, but you always wanted her to achieve that dream and she has done so with so much beauty.  Life has been a roller coaster for us all since you left.  I finally got married to a man that you would be honored to call your son in law.  I’m not sure you would ever have approved of him, but then again, you would never have approved of anyone for me.  He’s an incredible man though and has so many of your qualities.  Most importantly he loves me unconditionally, just like you always did. And he holds me on days like today when all I can do is cry and grieve, still.

Last December we had a little boy.  We named him after you, Judd Franklin Asberry.  He’s amazing.  He’s beautiful (if you can call a boy beautiful).  He has your serious smile, your chin and our eyes.  He has my curls.  And he has already mastered “the Pierce look.”  He’s so funny and so loving.  We named him after you with hopes that he will become the type of man you were and mean as much to people as you mean to us.  He’s off to a fantastic start.

The old saying goes, “time heals all wounds.”  I don’t know who the first person was to say that, but I’d probably slap them in the face if I could.  It’s been ten years today since you passed away and the wounds are still there.  Sure the scabs have grown over the open wounds,  but they never go away.  The empty seat is always there.  The hole never grows over in our hearts.  You were just so much larger than life.  You weren’t supposed to die. Not then, not there, not that way, not so soon, maybe not ever.

But you did.

God’s ways really are higher than our ways.  It’s hard to imagine what life would have been like if you hadn’t died.  But I look back now and I’m so thankful for your life.  I’m thankful for your service to our country in the Air Force.  I’m thankful that you married my Mom and that I now have her as my very best friend.  I’m thankful that you taught me about Jesus and took me to church every time the doors were open.  I’m thankful you showed me how to serve others.  I’m thankful that you taught me to be giving.  I’m thankful that you taught me to be stubborn too, although my husband isn’t as grateful.

As odd as it feels to say, ten years later, I would not wish you back here.  You made it to your final destination.  You are at rest and in complete peace.   You have met your Maker face to face, and I can only imagine the reunion that was.  I know today you are worshipping your Savior in Heaven with no thoughts of Earth, and that’s how it is supposed to be.  You are reunited with your friends who had gone before, your brothers, your sister, your Mom and Dad and your daughter Vickie joined you this year.  With each passing year I’m reminded that this is not our home and I am so thankful for the Hope that reminds me that one day we will be reunited again.

I miss you Daddy, it hurts still, the tears still fall.  But God is good and He has been faithful, and will continue to be.

We love you so much!

Love, your baby girl

Hillary Clinton Did Not Win and That’s Not Fair…

Before some of my Republican readers start typing out their angry replies to this post, bear with me, I’m not saying “I’m with her!” Hear me out…

In 1916, the Georgia Tech football team beat Cumberland College by a score of 222-0.  Seriously.  And no, that’s not a typo.  In an LA Times column in 1983 Paul Aurandt called that game “the biggest blowout in football history.”  Ironically, Cumberland College lost to Sewanee that year 107-0  as well. [1] And as of today,  100 years later, Hillary Clinton leads Donald Trump in the popular vote by 2,302,743.  Back in 1916 even with the most lopsided victory in college football history, Georgia Tech didn’t even win their conference outright (they tied with Tennessee for all my Vols friends).  And even with a 2.3 million lead in votes, Hillary Clinton has not won the Presidential Election.

We tell our children that life is not fair, and it is not, but is it not because we make rules and standards, and even Electoral Colleges, to prevent it from being fair?

So the question is, do we force life into not being fair?

A common news topic post-Presidential Election of 2016 is that we should abolish the Electoral College.  This isn’t really a new idea.  Folks had the same cries in 2000 when Al Gore lost the White House to George W. Bush.  In all actuality, this complaint has existed since the election of 1824 when the House of Representatives had to choose the President as none of the four candidates secured the required majority of electoral votes.  In fact, John Quincy Adams was elected by the House of Representatives even though Andrew Jackson had received the most votes.  It happened again in 1876.  Samuel J. Tilden received the majority of the popular vote, and yet, you have never heard of President Tilden because Rutherford B. Hayes won a controversial Electoral College vote as 20 votes were unresolved. Again in 1888,  the incumbent President Grover Cleveland secured the popular vote (albeit by a narrow margin) and still lost to the Republican nominee Benjamin Harrison.  There were even some who said that Nixon beat JFK for the popular vote in 1960 due to a split in electoral votes for the Democratic nominee.  [2]

And you know what?  I bet Al Gore, Andrew Jackson, Samuel Tilden, and Grover Cleveland would tell you, that life is not fair and they’d most likely blame the Electoral College, a manmade institution.

So what does this have to do with college football?

Some of you are not sports fans, and trust me-there are times during stressful games like the Iron Bowl, when I wonder why I am.  But for a little background, let me introduce you to the BCS.  The Bowl Championship Series (BCS) created in 1998 and consisted of four bowl games:  Rose, Sugar, Fiesta and Orange.  The goal was to match up the two highest-ranked teams in a championship game at the end of the season, thus the BCS National Championship Game was created in 2006 and played its final game in 2014. [3]

Why you ask?  Because many of the coaches, teams, administrations, boosters and fans believed the system was not fair, another manmade institution.

In 2014, the same organization created the College Football Playoff system, where a four-team single elimination tournament began.  This system is a manmade bracket competition with the selection seeds for the four teams being decided by a 13 person selection committee.  I know you’ll be shocked to find out that even though this system is seemingly better than the BCS system, it is still criticized as being unfair.  The complaints surround subjectivity of the committee, and a lack of representation for schools without conference championships.  Additionally, there has been some criticism on the qualifications of the committee members.  In essence, there are some who believe the manmade process is not fair. [4]

There are those who believe they have dreamed up the perfect solution to the Electoral College flaws.  Some believe a “district plan” where there electoral votes would be awarded based on congressional districts would be better.  In this plan, the two Senate votes would be considered as “at-large” awarded to the state’s most popular vote winner.  We actually already have two states, Maine and Nebraska, that operate under this plan.  Many believe this would preserve the “small state advantage,” while allowing diversity within the states to be reflected in national election totals. But the reality is this manmade plan could have the opposite of the intended effect because of lopsided congressional districts that always swing a certain way.  Another solution that has been created is the “proportional plan” where we would still have the Electoral College but the electoral votes in each state would be allocated based upon a percentage of the popular vote won.  Can you even imagine what would happen in a close election then?  Or an election with multiple candidates of the same party?  Or  a runoff?  [5]

Truth be told, all the manmade options would likely end in the same feelings, “this isn’t fair.”

There are those who have spoken out about adding teams to the College Football Playoff system, allowing 8 teams instead of 4.  And there are others who have said that taking the top two teams from each of the Power 5 conferences would be more fair.  But in reality, there are still those who would say, “this isn’t fair.”

I’ve given a lot of history in this post, but honestly I felt like it was necessary to actually get to the point.  Life isn’t fair.  We aren’t lying to our kids.  And the reason it’s not fair is because everything we deal with is manmade and as humans, we cannot see the bigger picture.  Only God knows the end of the story.  In all actuality, it’s not fair that Hillary Clinton didn’t win.  (And I do say that with gritted teeth)  But with over 2 million votes separating the candidates in the popular vote it’s clear the country thought a different person deserved to become the 45th President of the United States of America.  But we have laws and systems in place to protect us.  The ideology behind the Electoral College was not to shut down the popular vote, it was actually to give a voice to those in smaller states and rural areas.  The fact is though, not everyone can win.  And not everyone can play for the National Championship in college football.  There are winners and there are losers in our society.  I’ve never been big on the whole participation trophy thing.  Because of the way our culture is designed it’s important to teach kids that there will be ups and there will be downs, there will be victories and there will be defeats.  I’d much rather teach my child to lose with the same integrity and dignity that he may win with.  In the words of Emmitt Smith, “Act like you have been here before.”  Too many kids today grow up and find themselves in a competitive sporting atmosphere and are pitching fits and throwing tantrums because the outcome was not favorable and they are yelling, “that’s not fair.”  Being gracious in defeat is just as important, if not more, than being gracious in victory.

So where does that leave us politically?  Well, in a recount.  A system of checks and balances is important.  If something was done wrong, counted wrong, not counted, it should be discovered.  Due diligence is vitally important.  It is a tough pill to swallow knowing that Secretary Clinton spoke against Mr. Trump saying he wasn’t sure he’d be able to accept the results and now she is having trouble herself with acceptance.  But it’s understandable, because you know she’s thinking, “this isn’t fair.”

And in football?  We are left with a lot of one loss teams who might be able to knock off the perineal teams that seem to always be playing for the Championship, but instead are back home in their locker rooms saying, “this isn’t fair.”

There’s two sides to every story, and really probably more than that.  The truth is, it’s not fair for President Elect Trump either.  He’ll constantly live out his Presidency with folks saying, “That’s not my President.”  Just to serve as a wakeup call, he IS your President, whether you voted for him or not.  That’s the way the law works, that’s the way the Constitution was written and that’s “the way the cookie crumbles.”  And he deserves the same respect that those of us who voted for him would need to have shown to Secretary Clinton had she won.

You don’t have to respect the person, but you should respect the office.  Just like, as much as I hate Alabama (as an Auburn/Arkansas fan) I’ll have to respect their run if they win the National Championship again.  Trust me, life has very rarely ever been fair for Arkansas fans!

If you have ever lost a loved one before their time, you know that life is not fair.  If you have ever seen a mother bury her child, you know life is not fair.  If you have ever walked the maddening road of cancer with a friend, you know that life is not fair.  If you have ever watched an innocent child suffer at the hands of illness, you know that life is not fair.  If you have ever had a coworker who worked their tail off and still lost their job, you know that life is not fair.  You’ve heard the question, why do bad things happen to good people?  You’ve undoubtedly asked that question at least once in life, and if you have, you know that life is not fair.

But maybe that is where we are missing the mark.  Maybe our expectations for fairness are our fatal flaw.  And if that’s the case, we know that yes, it’s not fair that Hillary Clinton lost when she won the popular vote.  And we know it’s not fair that our favorite college football team, with only one loss, doesn’t get a shot at the National Championship.

But life isn’t fair, and our expectation that it ever would be is unfair to life itself. The beauty of life is in our pursuit of never giving up, even when it’s not fair.

So pour yourself a drink, put on your pearls (or bowties for the guys) and keep on keeping on.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1916_Cumberland_vs._Georgia_Tech_football_game

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_presidential_elections_in_which_the_winner_lost_the_popular_vote

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bowl_Championship_Series

[4] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/College_Football_Playoff

[5] http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2004/11/the-electoral-college-enlightened-democracy

‘Tis Better to Give than Receive…

Today is #GivingTuesday and I thought what better way to start off this site than to share some nonprofit organizations that are helping others thanks to the generous donations of folks like you and me.  Check them out!

Homes for Our Troops

I had the honor of helping to build a house in 2008 in Minnesota for a veteran and have since been a donor very frequently to this organization.  HFOT is a nonprofit organization that builds mortgage-free, specially adapted homes nationwide for severely injured Veterans Post 9/11 to enable them to rebuild their lives.  These veterans have sustained injuries including multiple limb amputations, partial or full paralysis, and/or severe traumatic brain injury.  These homes mean freedom and independence for these veterans.  The homes help them to focus on their families, recovery, and rebuilding their lives.  Nearly .90 cents per dollar goes directly to the program services for Veterans.  Charity Navigator has given HFOT 4 stars every year since 2008 and Charity Watch has given HFOT an A rating and listed them as a Top-Rated Military & Veterans Charity.

To Write Love on Her Arms

To Write Love on Her Arms is a non-profit dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people who are struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide.  TWLOHA exists to encourage, inform, inspire and also invest directly into treatment and recovery.  Donations to TWLOHA allow their organization to act as a bridge to help for those who are suffering, to continue to create a positive community that believes in the reality of recovery, to challenge the stigma of mental health through merchandise, speaking, tours, social media and various other programs, and to invest in treatment through grants to centers and support counseling through scholarship funds.

The Cancer Card Xchange

CCX collects monetary and gift card donations and then distributes them to verified cancer patients simply to brighten their day, and lessen their load.

Puppy Rescue Mission

TPRM fund raises and assists in pet rescue, foster and re-homing when needed, in particular pets of soldiers, especially those deployed in war zones.  They assist with requests, logistics, administrations and fundraising for the adopted stray dogs of war rescued and bonded with soldiers.  They help cover everything from vet care, supplies, transport, and related issues.  They work with other organizations to help our soldiers bring their companion animals home from war.

Special Olympics

The mission of Special Olympics is to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities.  This organization gives them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community.  My Dad began taking me to volunteer at Special Olympics about the time I could walk.  It has been a part of my life ever since.  I’m thankful for the years I spent with him helping train these amazing athletes and then into college as my social club volunteered at the state games in Arkansas every year, and on to my time in Minnesota in 2008 when I volunteered at their games.

Thirst No More

Thirst No More is also an organization my Dad introduced me to through his friend Craig Miller.  TNM’s mission is to help  transform communities through the power of compassion.  Their projects are usually centered around regions where people have been ravaged by war, tyranny, or natural disasters.  TNM is actually an association of like-minded churches, cooperating in relief, development and church planting.  One of the main focuses of TNM is getting clean water into needy areas.  Six thousand deaths occur every day from unsafe water and poor sanitation, sadly 90% of those deaths are children.  So many of those deaths could be prevented with clean water, improved sanitation and hygiene training.  The World Health Organization estimates the ROI on $1 invested in water and sanitation to be anywhere from $3-$34 depending on the region and the technology.

Together We Rise

TWR is a nonprofit organization that is comprised of motivated young adults and former foster youth.  Their vision is to improve the lives of foster children in America.  They collaborate with their communities to bring resources to youth and use service-learning activities to educate volunteers on issues surrounding the foster care system.  TWR works with hundreds of foster agencies, social workers, CASA advocates and other partners.  Their foundation provides thousands of foster youth across the country with new bicycles, college supplies and suitcase so that they don’t have to travel from home to home with their belongings in a trash bag which is typical in their situations.  94% of all their proceeds go towards the things they give the foster youth.

Ronald McDonald House

Not going to lie, I find the actual Ronald McDonald character creepy b/c I hate clowns.  But what this organization does is life changing.  RMHC has been giving families a place to rest and refresh right next to medical facilities that their children are in since 1974.  RMHC has helped lessen the burden for more than 7 million families since its inception.  You can’t put a price tag on being able to be close to your child who is sick and receiving care.  RMHC does several things including obviously building the homes next to medical facilities, but also building resting areas for families right inside the hospitals, Ronald McDonald care mobiles bringing healthcare to children where they need it, grants and scholarships.

The Moyer Foundation/Camp Erin

The mission of the Moyer Foundation is to provide comfort, hope and healing to children and families affected by grief and addiction.  The Moyer Foundation was created by former Major League Baseball pitcher Jamie Moyer and his wife Karen.  It started in Seattle with a broad mission to help children in distress but has grown into a national organization with signature programs reaching thousands of children impacted by grief or addiction in their family in over 50 cities each year.  Camp Erin was named after a young girl named Erin Metcalf who died at 17 of liver cancer.  The Moyers felt that a grief camp for children would be a befitting tribute to her life.  Now there are over 45 Camp Erin locations across the country and over 18,5000 campers have attended Camp Erin.

The American Widow Project

Since 2001 over 6600 U.S. service members have lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan.  This number doesn’t even begin to touch the additional thousands who have lost their lives due to sudden illness, accident, homicide or those who have taken their own lives due to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  These staggering figures have also left behind 3600 young military widows facing their worst nightmares.  The AWP believes that every widow deserves the opportunity and tangible tools available to rebuild their lives.

Jen Hatmaker and Billy Graham Walk Into a Bar…

Some of the best jokes start this way, am I right?

378585_10150379513335172_528280171_8493138_1626959676_nI’m sure Billy Graham needs no introduction, but some of you may be unfamiliar with Jen Hatmaker, so let me take a few minutes to give you some background.  Jen Hatmaker is a wife, a mom, a sister, a daughter, speaker and author.  She is married to a preacher in Austin, Texas by the name of Brandon Hatmaker.  They have three biological children, and two adopted children from Ethiopia.  She and her family also appeared on HGTV’s “My Big Family Renovation.”

So why is Jen Hatmaker relevant today?

On April 25th, 2016, Religion News Service website published an article called, “Christian Author Jen Hatmaker takes stand for LGBT inclusion.”  I’ll get to why I think the title is an oxymoron shortly, but let me explain what all was in the article first.  The opinion article by Jonathan Merritt was in reference to Hatmaker’s Facebook post two days prior where she said, So whatever the cost and loss, this is where I am: gay teens? Gay adults? Mamas and daddies of precious gaybees? Friends and beloved neighbors of very dear LGBT folks? Here are my arms open wide. So wide that every last one of you can jump inside. You are so dear, so beloved, so precious and important. You matter so desperately and your life is worthy and beautiful.”  She concluded the post by saying, “Anyhow, my message to you today is simple, LGBT gang and all those who love you: You are loved and special and wanted and needed. The end.” [2] Since her post and follow up article of an interview with Merritt published in October of this year, LifeWay Christian Resources, a Southern Baptist chain, discontinued selling her books in all 185 of their stores and online as they said her statements “contradict LifeWay’s doctrinal guidelines.”  [1]

So why do I view the title of Merritt’s article as an oxymoron?  Glad you asked.

I am bewildered by the necessity of an article to declare a “Christian” taking a “stand” for “inclusion.”  Come on now.  The entire Christian faith is built on the premise that Jesus Christ, the Son of the ONE true God, came to Earth, died and was resurrected again paying the price for the sins of the world so that we might be saved.  The Christian faith teaches that Christ died for all sins, for all men, for all the world.  Call me crazy, but that would be the truest definition of “inclusion” I can think of.  As if His death wasn’t enough to show that Christianity should be identified by “inclusion,” His entire life on Earth, His entire ministry was flooded with “inclusion.”  Mark 2:15 says, “While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with Him and His disciples, for there were many who followed Him.”  In verse 16 the Scripture goes on to say that the Pharisees asked His disciples, “Why does He eat with tax collectors and sinners?”  And in verse 17, Jesus has a drop the mic moment when He says, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.  I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”  This is one of my favorite moments in Scripture.  I cling to these words of my Savior more times in a day than I can count.  You see, He came for EVERYONE.  Everyone was included.  No matter what they had done in life, there was no exclusion from His grace, no exclusion from His mercy, no exclusion from His salvation and most certainly, no exclusion from His friendship nor His love.

So what does all this have to do with Jen Hatmaker and Billy Graham walking into a bar?  You really ask great questions!

When asked by Jonathan Merritt if Hatmaker supports gay marriage she responded by saying, “From a civil rights and civil liberties side and from just a human being side, any two adults have the right to choose who they want to love. And they should be afforded the same legal protections as any of us. I would never wish anything less for my gay friends. From a spiritual perspective, since gay marriage is legal in all 50 states, our communities have plenty of gay couples who, just like the rest of us, need marriage support and parenting help and Christian community. They are either going to find those resources in the church or they are not. Not only are these our neighbors and friends, but they are brothers and sisters in Christ. They are adopted into the same family as the rest of us, and the church hasn’t treated the LGBT community like family. We have to do better.”  [3] I know right now some of you who are my real “churchy” friends are having a stroke about this statement.  But what I hope you see is the same “inclusion” that our Savior showed when He was walking this earth.  This is not a conversation on what is right and what is wrong, or if God made Adam and Eve or Adam and Steve.  This is about the fact that we are all human, all falling short of the Glory of God and all in need of a Savior.  A Savior who chose “inclusion” over exclusion every single moment of his time on earth and still to this day chooses to include us in His salvation, never excluding anyone.

At the millions of crusades Billy Graham has preached at during his ministry he is known for saying, “God proved His love on the Cross.  When Christ hung, and bled, and died, it was God saying to the world, ‘I love you.’”  Rev. Graham never said that God was saying to the world, “I love you if you love someone who is of the opposite sex.”  He said, “I love YOU” and inclusive YOU. [4]cf3116897cae6e12eb4c7af948014597

Billy Graham also is quoted as saying, “Courage is contagious.  When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are often stiffened.”  [4] Financially, it wasn’t the easiest decision for Jen Hatmaker to take the stand she took.  She’s losing out on who knows how much profit on book sales by being banned from LifeWay.  Her comments, her opinion, and her beliefs on the matter of gay marriage and the LGBT community stiffened quite a few spines…I’ve read the posts, articles and tweets of many of those stiff spines.  The reality is I saw more of Jesus in Hatmaker’s post and article than in any of the critics’ responses.

God is a God of inclusion, and His followers should be also.

Cheers Jen and Rev. Graham!

[1] <http://religionnews.com/2016/04/25/christian-author-jen-hatmaker-takes-stand-for-lgbt-inclusion/>

[2] https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=946752262090436&id=203920953040241

[3] http://religionnews.com/2016/10/25/the-politics-of-jen-hatmaker-trump-black-lives-matter-gay-marriage-and-more/

[4] http://www.crosswalk.com/faith/spiritual-life/inspiring-quotes/40-courageous-quotes-from-billy-graham.html



Welcome to Pearls and Vodka…

We appreciate that you took the time to come by and visit our site.  With all the content available at your fingertips today, we hope that at Pearls and Vodka you will be able to take part in a community of voices that strives to respectfully present different viewpoints and opinions on topics ranging from politics, to news, to worthy causes, to Broadway, to Hollywood, from places like Wrigley Field to inside the Staples Center.  This website will cover a variety of topics and provide a variety of voices to all things relevant.

So why the name, Pearls and Vodka?

This website is owned and operated by a southern girl who lives by the famous words of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, “Pearls are always appropriate!”  It has been said before, “If you give a girl pearls, she can conquer the world.”  And the vision of this site is to conquer the world together, piece by piece.

You may not know the story behind how pearls are made, but it’s actually a parasite that enters an oyster, mussel or clam and their defense mechanism is to form a fluid that coats the irritant.  After many layers are coated, a pearl is formed.  There are typically three types of pearls that are placed on strands to be worn-the everyday wear quality, the special occasion quality and the heirloom quality.  With each level of quality comes a new perspective.  The everyday wear is not perfect; it’s flaws though cannot typically be seen from a conversation distance.  Sound familiar?  The world of social media has built a society where we have two lives, the one we display online and the one we live in-person.  The special occasion quality requires a hands-on examination to see the flaws.  I’m sure in your life today you can think of your circles and how you let some in, and you keep some at arm’s length for fear if they really knew you or your thoughts it might change their opinion of you.  And finally, the heirloom quality.  Only a trained pearl professional will see any flaws.  This is where “your people” come in to play, “your tribe,” “your squad.”  They know you, they know the nitty-gritty…they know all the “parasites” you have that are refining inside of you to make you the highest quality of person you can be.

That explains the pearl in the name, so why vodka?  A better question is, why not?

You’ve heard the old saying “A drunk man’s words are a sober man’s thoughts.”  This website has been created to provide a voice for everyone, not just the like-minded, not just the educated, and honestly, not just the overly opinionated.  This site has been founded to allow everyone to come together and refine ourselves together through topics, trends and truths.

So please enjoy, please stop by often, please tell your friends, please share and please be respectful.