Happy holidays to all! May you enjoy happy and restful holidays, and a wonderful, healthy, and prosperous new year! Thank you for all of your readership and support during 2017.
Happy holidays to all! May you enjoy happy and restful holidays, and a wonderful, healthy, and prosperous new year! Thank you for all of your readership and support during 2017.
If one does not have continual time to volunteer in and/or be active in church functions, is he or she no longer needed at church? And therefore, with regard to those within the church who make such decisions about others’ involvement, do they truly think before they act and/or put themselves in the others’ shoes? These are the questions that I will seek to answer in the present post, based on certain experiences I have had at my church and within my faith, in general.
Throughout my life and within my faith, regardless of the church of which I have been a member, I have noticed that if one is not continually available to help, volunteer, assist, and/or otherwise minister within the church, he or she is not needed, or at least, does not appear to be as valued in the church as those who do. Additionally, there appears to be a lack of consistency between people, philosophies, and perspectives in relation to value, importance, and need regarding members who volunteer and/or who are simply involved in various church activities. All it takes is for one person to be unappreciative, disrespectful, and/or offensive, and it casts a poor reflection on the whole group. This causes the church to potentially lose people and/or for some members to take their time and talents elsewhere.
Within the past five years, there have been four particular activities that I have been involved in at my church at St. John Neumann in Lilburn, Georgia, as well as two activities that my son has been involved in there, within which there has been this inconsistency of value, understanding, and/or appreciation toward us. In describing several of those activities to follow, suffice it to say that this number of activities (6) is too many within which not to be valued or appreciated, to the point in two cases to be downright offended by others’ conduct.
While there are also many activities, volunteer efforts, and other church involvements in which we have been valued and appreciated, it was during those times that we also had much time and energy to invest in such activities. They were also activities and efforts in which we were agreeable and accepting of the experience we had. They were activities within which the leadership was good and the event was safe, proceeding well. In instances, however, where leadership has been questionable and/or the event biased in some way, having identified those situations to church leadership and positive change was not observed, these have also been experiences in which feedback appears to have been used as a reason to alienate and/or exclude.
The mission of many Christian-based churches often includes being open to and accepting of all people. This, however, appears to be true only if one continually has much time and/or money to invest in the church, and/or as long as there is no disagreement with anything that occurs within the church. As an approved volunteer with a clean background check, I take offense when I am treated like a criminal in coming to pick up my child from youth group, find the church doors to be locked, and prevented from entering by the group’s volunteer leaders, as one example. While this, in fact, may be a safety measure, it can also be viewed that the leadership has something to hide. When I am unable to have access to my child, no less in a completely voluntary-type setting, and am treated as being guilty before being innocent, this is a major concern. The church has itself to blame, in covering up countless abuses of children by religious, and must not treat concerned parents as criminals.
Some time ago, at a church potluck dinner, I was admonished by two senior citizens (a man and a woman) for filling an extra plate to take home to my family. The woman stated that I should leave more food for others, and I explained to her my financial need. The man stated to me that I basically was taking too much chicken. In response to him, I was so offended that I said nothing. Why is it that people are unable to put themselves in another’s shoes, even in one’s own church?! Why is it that people see a Caucasian woman who reasonably takes care of herself and has a positive attitude, but they cannot perceive need? Would they enjoy living at or below poverty level for many years due to various hardships? Why is it that Caucasian single mothers are so often overlooked, blamed, disrespected, and offended by others? This is something that has often been discouraging to experience.
Now that my schedule has changed and I have had good work opportunities, it appears that the time and efforts of both my son and I are no longer needed by the church. This is another reason that I state that the church only appears to need those volunteers who continually have time available to minister and assist. When the call went out for volunteers to assist with vacation Bible school, I offered a day when my son and I could help, and was turned down. In the past, when we were both available to assist during an entire week, then it was fine. Now that we have limited availability, we are not needed, to the point of our time and efforts being rejected.
In having lectored for a few years, I was scheduled to read once in a six month time period. On that one day that I read, I took the day off to do so, reflecting the importance of the ministry to me…that I would sacrifice a day’s pay just to read at church! Then, on the one other day that I was available to read, on a day off from work, in a period of three months, I was not scheduled to do so. Others in the church, regardless of availability, often read two or three times in a three month period, yet being schedule once in six months truly shows me that I am not needed, my schedule cannot be accommodated, and people are unable to walk in my shoes. Once I complained, efforts were made to attempt to accommodate me, however it did not appear to be something that would ultimately work out. Thus, I do give the particular minister credit for his efforts as that is more than anyone else has done.
So, in answer to my questions originally posed, it seems that only a certain few people are able to think before they act in church and those certain few people are able to walk in others’ shoes, however it does appear that church members are no longer needed to assist, minister, and/or be involved in church activities and functions if they do not have continual time available to do so. It is much easier for people to pass judgment on others rather than ask, “What can I do for you?,” or “What can I do to make this better for you?”
Perhaps there are some churches that have so many volunteers that they actually do not need everyone and can turn people away, however it is generally my experience that when people are not needed, valued, treated as important, and turned away, that they take their time and talents elsewhere. That is why I left the previous church at which I was a member, and the one prior to that. And, while I keep in mind the many positive aspects of my church, there are also a great many things that can be improved, these being a few examples. Everyone needs to be treated with value, respect, and importance, and people must be able to walk in another’s shoes. In absence of that, some sheep may seek a different place to graze.
Already, another year of blogging has passed and I am into the next one. I must say that I have been somewhat remiss in keeping up with blogging about many interests and issues that I would have liked to, particularly in the past six months or so, however it is a comfort to know that this WordPress platform is here when I have the time for it.
Therefore, I would like to take a moment and express my appreciation to the 34 regular followers of my blog, for recently attaining 100 “likes,” and for amassing nearly 26,500 hits to my page! While I have not kept up with the specific stats this past year regarding the most popular topics on my blog, and it is not a goal to acquire an obscene amount of followers or hits, I am grateful that there are those out there who read and take some enjoyment from my posts.
So, thank you, again, and I hope you continue to have an interest in my posts on WordPress! 🙂
May all of you who are fathers enjoy a happy Father’s Day. Hopefully, you will get a chance to enjoy some R&R, and do something that you like. A special hat’s off to those of you who spend quality time with your children. They are the next generation of leaders, and need you to be good and positive role models for them. Be safe and enjoy this Father’s Day!
David I. Briggs, a distant cousin of mine, was a man who I never knew, but whose pain for his loss I felt through the hearts and spirits of his family – his mother, father, and sisters. David was the only son of Ivan Francis Briggs (1907-2000) and Louise (Gullo) Briggs (1915-1997) of North Collins, New York. He was 21 when he and most members of his battalion (C Company, 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division) were killed in heavy gunfire in Tay Ninh, Vietnam on November 23, 1968 (Small, 2001).
It is my understanding from having read an article in the Hamburg Sun, that David’s battalion invaded an opposing forces’ base camp, but underestimated their strength (Gordon, 2012). David and his captain were the first to have sacrificed their lives in that invasion (Gordon, 2012). Thirteen men of the battalion were killed on that November day (Small, 2001).
I met my distant cousins, Ivan, Louise, and one of their twin daughters, in my early to mid-teens while visiting them in North Collins, New York. Louise was a wonderful cook, and it is said that it is one of the reasons that Ivan married her.
From what I observed, Ivan and Louise also had a love for family. Anyone who knew them could sense the pain and loss they carried with them due to the death of their son, David. I remember after having first met Louise and Ivan that I asked my parents about the sense of deep sadness in them that I felt, and discovered that they still grieved the loss of their son, David.
At that time, I was astounded to know that Ivan and Louise still grieved for David after so many years, and realized that he was very much loved by them. I believe they carried that sense of grief and sadness in themselves from the time that David was killed until their own deaths. When I met them, nearly 20 years had passed, and they were still hurting from his death. Family said that it broke Louise’s heart when David was killed; she was never the same after that.
So, while I never knew David, nor, I believe, any men who have been killed during the course of duty in war, I know that they will always be remembered for their bravery and for giving the ultimate sacrifice of their lives. May we remember and honor all those who have gone before us, who have given their lives to make this world a better place. May God bless you, David, and may you rest in peace.
Gordon, C. (July 13, 2012). Traveling Vietnam wall coming to Eden, Briggs remembered. Hamburg, NY: The Sun. Retrieved May 25, 2015. http://www.thesunnews.net/news/916-Traveling_Vietnam_Wall_coming_to_Eden,_Briggs_remembered.html
Small, L.R. (2001). David Ivan Briggs. VirturalWall.org. Retrieved May 25, 2015. http://www.virtualwall.org/db/BriggsDI01a.htm
Happy Mother’s Day to all moms, moms-to-be, grandmothers, great-grandmothers, and anyone who serves in this blessed maternal role! Please enjoy this photo of a beautiful orange rose that I snapped yesterday in my neighborhood! 🙂
May this beautiful bouquet of Spring flowers find you enjoying a blessed and happy Easter!
We have had two or three days of rainy weather within the past week that have really brought out the Spring flowers and plants near Atlanta, Georgia. Floral buds are blossoming with fragrant and beautiful flowers.
Leaf buds are bursting with fresh, new leaves. The daffodils are already just about done for this year, however the azaleas are just beginning to bloom. I saw the first azalea flowers in bloom in my neighborhood today – they are on two red flowering bushes.
Please enjoy this collage of photos of some of the my neighborhood flowers, plants, bushes, and trees springing forth the new life that comes with Spring. 🙂
Even the dandelions are out in full force already!
I hope you enjoyed this stroll through my neighborhood, seeing many of the flowers and plants that have sprung forth with new life again this Spring. I can hardly wait until the azaleas are in full bloom!
On Thanksgiving, what I am always most thankful for is my family. My family is always there for me in thick and thin. My family has weathered many storms and enjoyed sunny days together; I can count on my family for love, compassion, and support, and I provide the same to them. I don’t have a very large family, nor do I have much money, but I have a big heart, full of lots of love. My love is shared with and among my family, for whom I am most thankful on Thanksgiving and every day.
Other things for which I am thankful include food, faith, community, freedom, education, technology, career, and health. I am thankful for food, though it is not easy to get by from month to month with food prices continuing to rise. I appreciate my faith because, if it was not for that, I would not be where I am today, and things would likely be much worse. I am grateful for community, such as organizations that provide fellowship, to my family.
I am always thankful for freedom and I remember my grandmother’s stories about when she lived in Communist Poland, with people fearing for their lives when homes were raided in the middle of the night and people were never seen again. I am grateful for education, though the large debt required to pay for it is a hardship. I appreciate technology that makes life easier. And, I am thankful for career in many capacities, including that of being a mother, as well as for the potential of a stable gainful and enjoyable employment in a workplace with decent people, if that is ever attainable. I am thankful for my good health so I do not have to pay out-of-pocket to see the doctor as a result of being without health insurance.
So often, organizations such as colleges, churches, and charities have fundraising drives to help give to those in need. When I am asked to donate, I reply that I could benefit from some assistance, myself. As a poor single white mother, so often such places overlook people such as myself, as has occurred again this year. People in my shoes are reduced to begging for even a little bit in return. People may maintain the perspective that whites have privilege and that is definitely a stereotype that hurts poor white single mothers such as myself because the majority of any aid, as I observe, goes to people of other races.
I am also thankful for the holes in some of my shabby clothes and worn-out shoes, the place that I live even though it is not my own, the student loans that provide opportunity, my nearly decade-old vehicle that is still in great shape, and that sacrifices that I am able to make for the benefit of my family. I am thankful for the $15 haircut that I get every two months instead of going to a salon and spending loads of money, and the $3 bottle of fingernail polish that I can use for a manicure or pedicure instead of going someplace to have it done for me. I am grateful for the free lunch that I eat twice each week at my apprenticeship, and for the store closing sale at the local KMart where I can save a few dollars on Christmas gifts for my son. I am thankful for what little I have because more is always spent than saved.
These are additional reasons why I am thankful for my family, particularly at Thanksgiving. Every so often, there is that rare person who comes along who might be caring and/or supportive, but with my family, I know they will always be there, in good and in bad, in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer. People should be more important than money and possessions, and indeed, my family is most important to me.
So, on this Thanksgiving, I invite you to think about family, values, and people in need. Think about and be thankful for people who are close to you. Think about people whom you see at work or in church every week who have little or nothing, and who are usually overlooked in their need. Take action on what you can do rather than what you cannot. Open your heart and mind to see what you do not want to see, and take action for what you otherwise would not have done. A little bit goes a long way, especially for folks who don’t have much.
Happy Thanksgiving! Remember what you are thankful for!
[Author’s Note: Within one day of posting this article, I was solicited by a man on LinkedIn, out-of-state, to contact him by whatever means necessary. People really need to get their heads out of the gutter, and be open to simply being helpful to those in need without being offensive and/or wanting something (inappropriate) in return. Solicitation is so offensive, degrading, and dehumanizing to me; is nothing that I have ever done; and it is incredible to me that so many men (I’ve experienced this many times on LinkedIn) do it. It is unfortunate and tragic for humanity that there are those who attempt (and succeed) in taking advantage of people in need in a sexual manner.]
When I first entered the University at Buffalo as an undergraduate student in 1989, I felt included. For me, as a woman, it is important to me to feel and be a part of any group or institution that truly “includes” women, both appreciating and respecting women. The atmosphere that is present at UB today, in 2014, however, has changed. UB has become a sexist institution that promotes a perspective and images that make men the priority. Women’s concerns and interests have taken a backseat to those of men, sometimes being entirely excluded. What happened?
The University at Buffalo (UB) is one of the four university centers within the State University of New York (SUNY) system. Being born and raised in Western New York State, I was aware of UB as an institution that was prestigious, with a reputation for educational excellence. As a high school senior, I was accepted at all of the eight or ten colleges and universities to which I applied. UB was actually my second choice behind Ithaca College, though I chose to attend UB because of the lesser cost, closer proximity to home, and excellent reputation as a research institution. I had been interested in pursuing a medically-related career at that time, and I am an individual who gets much enjoyment from completing research, so UB seemed the perfect place for me to go after high school.
After arriving at UB, I quickly gained the feeling that it was a place in which I could soar, and I was correct. In my first year there, I became a member of several student organizations in which I was interested; studied a science-related curriculum to prepare for a medical career; worked part-time in my dormitory complex; was active in the university wind ensemble and chorus; and was a member of both the indoor and outdoor women’s track and field teams. I was not, nor have ever been a “partier;” and I never put on the “freshman 15.” In fact, I became more busy and active at UB, getting into better shape, and structuring my life and managing my time so that I would be as successful as possible. While doing this, I also met new people, made new friends, tried out different avenues of interests and enjoyment, and stayed as focused on my studies as possible.
As a member of the women’s track and field team at UB, I was one of the Royals. The men were the Bulls, and the women were the Royals. My specialty areas were in field events, including shot put, discus, and javelin. In my last two years of high school, I was recognized as one of the top competitors in shot put and discus throughout Western New York State. While I also competed in nearly every other event throughout the six years that I was a member of my varsity high school team, those two were my top events. As a Royal, I was a proud member of the women’s team at UB. Today, women’s sports teams are only known as Bulls, a masculine term that excludes, overlooks, and denies the “femaleness” of women. As such and in the manner that it is used at UB, the term ‘Bulls’ has become a sexist word that excludes women, and in turn, prioritizes only the gender, concerns, and interests of men.
Throughout most of my time spent at UB as an undergraduate, I was also a member of the university’s pep band. The Pep Band was a group that played songs during men’s home football and basketball games to liven up the crowd. The Pep Band also played at one away football game per semester. In my schooling prior to attending UB, I had been a member of the band and marching band for eight years. Included as a requirement for being a band member in high school was participating in both the marching band and pep band. Therefore, while UB did not have a marching band at that time, I was quite familiar with what was expected and required of musicians, whether they were extremely serious or playing just for fun. The Pep Band provided an outlet for students to play their instruments socially and recreationally.
At UB today, there is the Thunder of the East Marching Band. The main logo that promotes the image of the group reflects a man playing a trumpet. Inequality and sexism are represented in the image because of this. There is no woman who is reflected in the logo. Women are completely excluded from being portrayed in the logo, though the marching band is not a group that is exclusively male. This reflects another situation in which men’s gender, interests, and concerns take priority over women, excluding women.
At UB, I never had a boyfriend. As a heterosexual woman, that was a part of my life that was lacking. At more than half way through my senior year, I was still a virgin, and was quite proud of it. I had prided myself in trying remain chaste for the “right” person. Certainly, I dated and always had many male friends, with many who were very good friends – respectful, caring, protective, and gentlemanly, more like good brothers. But, there was never one who could adjust to my busy and focused lifestyle; perhaps there was never a man who wanted to work as hard as it would be required to maintain an intimate relationship with me. My focus was on my studies and activities, ending up with completing two degrees in the less than 3.5 years, less than the amount of time that it takes most students to complete one degree. And, perhaps I was not willing to “make” the time necessary for which an intimate relationship would have required to be successful. Through all of this, it was still okay at UB for me to make my own decision in regard to the types and levels of intensity of my relationships with others.
In the latter part of 1992, in my last semester at UB as an undergraduate, a peer raped me. The rape occurred on a blind date with him that had been arranged by two mutual friends, one of whom was a fraternity member. This man was a fellow UB student, two years younger than me, from Downstate New York who was also a member of the same fraternity as our mutual friend. The morning following the violent and hurtful rape that I experienced, I informed my two friends about it, and one friend encouraged me to confront the rapist about it by phone, another hurtful experience for me. While four people knew of the rape, it was not reported until I reported it to UB campus police a few years later, having caused all those involved to protect the rapist so that he cleanly got away with his crime, as well as creating accomplices out of our mutual “friends.”
In later reporting the crime to public safety at UB, one of the police chiefs laughed about it, dismissing it and minimizing it. The case went through the legal system, but the perpetrator was never charged, nor prosecuted. He got away with a violent rape in which I was harmed and injured in many ways. No one at UB provided me with any support in coping with what had occurred. No one told me that women at college and university campuses may have a chance of being raped. No one told me that men who are members of many college and university fraternities believe rape is sex. No one told me that the assistant district attorney in Buffalo would deny that I was raped, telling me that I had not been raped. No one told me that my life would be forever altered by being trusting of a man who was twisted in his thoughts and actions, violently raping and harming me, and getting away with it. No one asks to be raped. And, when it happens, I have experienced that it is the victim or survivor who is blamed, revictimized, and punished by many in society who do not hold the offender responsible or accountable for his actions.
Colleges and universities in which there is a rape culture present within their fraternities are not only sexist and harmful, but criminal. When all those who are supposed to protect women from harm, and support them in their reporting and recovery, but do not do so, and instead, support the actions of the rapist, they embolden and enable such men to continue their criminal actions, believing they can get away with it, because they have gotten away with it. It has been my experience that this hidden rape culture within certain fraternities at UB has continued and has been perpetuated. The annual tradition of fraternity men creating snow sculptures of ejaculating penises is only one reflection that this hidden rape culture within UB’s fraternities still exists, and is very much alive and well.
Lastly, when I completed my studies at UB in 1992, and returned to attend the graduation ceremony in 1993, it was a Division III institution. There had been a lot of talk and news about the possibility of UB going to Division I. Many students did not think it would happen; in fact, many hoped that it would not happen, including myself. This is because there was a belief among students that football would detract from UB’s reputation as a renowned research university in the Northeastern United States. My experience, as well as that of many students and faculty, was to observe that to occur.
In 1994 and 1995, I returned to UB and took several classes as an open student. I completed undergraduate courses, a graduate course, and a post-graduate class. It was during that time that I realized that the atmosphere and mood at UB had changed. Football became the “all important” aspect of UB. An example of that occurred in my sociology class. In my class were three football players who had extremely disrespectful attitudes and toilet mouths. They were disrespectful to the instructor, resistant and angry about having to attend class (and often, did not do so), and sat in the back of the class, swearing and causing disruption. Unfortunately, because they were football players, they were “untouchable.” They got away with all of these behaviors, and appeared to have the support of the heads of the athletics department in their unruliness. They acted abominably and they got away with it. Professors were afraid to speak out and express themselves about the manner in which education was deteriorating at UB, having been replaced with football, so lauded and supported by the institution’s president.
Women who enter UB, as well as other colleges and universities, must be informed and educated about these types of issues that are present in institutions of higher education so that we can better empower, bond with, and protect ourselves. Our society so often teaches girls and women that we must sacrifice ourselves, our identities, our safety, our intelligence, our feelings, our bodies to men. In order to survive and even prosper, women have often learned that it is a man’s world, and that we must be submissive and/or subservient to men. There are men and women who perpetuate this societal standard when they promote issues such as sexism and inequality toward women, as well as issues including sexual assault and rape. Denying and turning a blind eye to resolving these issues only promotes a culture that becomes even more sexist, unequal, harmful, and violent toward women and girls.
Prestigious universities such as UB have an opportunity to get back on the right track. College and university leaders must remain open-minded when faced with issues such as sexism, inequality, and sexual assault on campus, including rapes experienced by both women and men. They must not attempt to hide, cover up, ridicule, deny, or minimize these situations. Doing so only worsens and perpetuates them. College and university leaders must promote environments on campus that are fair and equal, respectful and appreciative, caring and sensitive.
I went to UB to gain an excellent education. While I, indeed, obtained a great education from an outstanding institution, I also graduated from UB, unnecessarily, as a rape victim and survivor. 😦 No one did anything to prevent or stop it from happening then, and to my knowledge, the culture there has not changed for the better for women, thus still perpetuating its continuance now. UB did not make it better for me, but it can still make things better for others.
Author’s Note: This post – along with dozens of others regarding campus sexual assault – is listed on the National Center for Domestic and Sexual Violence website as of January 1, 2015 at: http://www.ncdsv.org/publications_sa-campus.html .