Tuesday, August 24, 2010

I gave her $100 and expected change back!

A hundred dollar bill doesn't go very far

I haven't shopped in a grocery store in quite some time. Usually, I get one item or two and then I'm out. My wife laughs at my ignorance of what it really costs to live today. Yesterday, I went with her to the grocery store to get a few items. I produced a $100 bill, gave it to her and walked around the store with her. She was amused and I wondered what was so funny.

At the checkout we had: watermelon, Ice cream, lettuce, chips, cheese and a few other items. I watched her give the cashier the $100 bill and expected to get change back. The handful of items cost $100.45. I had culture shock. She rolled with laughter.

A $100 gets lost in a grocery store. She reminded me that we didn't buy washing powder, any meats, or other expensive staples, just a few knick nacks.

And I was expecting change!

We've been married for 36 years and she has been juggling, stretching and making ends meet with the chump change I've been providing for groceries. Her stock value increased tremendously with one trip to the grocery store.

She's been a good wife to make it all happen for a husband and three sons. Most of the time she had a husband who provided too little to cover it all, then expected change back.

She never complained, she saved coupons, watch prices and compared labels to make it happen for her family. We ate well and had what we needed. I didn't know how she pulled it off, but while I provided more than $100 for the regular groceries, I now see that what I did provide would not have covered it all had she not been an excellent manager and family planner.

Proverbs 31:27-28 says, "She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness. Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her."

She stretched a $100 and made it do miracles.

Silly me, I expected change back from the miracles.

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Saturday, August 21, 2010

Dr. Laura used the N-Word, but don't some of us use it too?

Is there a double standard when it comes to the N-word? Is it O.K. for blacks to use it to describe themselves in derogatory ways but not O.K. for whites to use it even in academically?

The N-Word issue popped again this week when Dr. Laura Schlessinger announced on August 18, 2010 that she would end her radio show, a week after she broadcast a five-minute-long rant in which she used the N-word 11 times.

A caller was appalled by Schlessinger's use of the N-word, the radio host said, "Oh, then I guess you don't watch HBO or listen to any black comedians. My dear, the point I am trying to make ... [is that] we've got a black man as president and we've got more complaining about racism than ever. I think that's hilarious."

Their exchange heated up after that. When the caller said she couldn't believe Schlessinger was "on the radio spewing out" the N-word, Schlessinger said she "didn't spew out" the N-word and repeated, "n****r, n****r, n****r is what you hear on HBO."

Is Doctor Laura right? Do we routinely use the N-Word to describe ourselves in conversation, laugh at ourselves in jokes and to belittle ourselves when we are angry. Do we even do it in public? Do our comedians use it HBO and in our music and we laugh?

It was extremely bad taste for Dr. Laura to repeat the N-Word on her broadcast 11 times in five minutes.

It is just as bad for us to repeat it even once among ourselves.

It does not refer to the best in us but to the worst that has been done to us and still remains in us. That's why we should not use it at all.

What should we say, then? Philippians 4:8 gives us a clue: "..whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things."

Will we ever stop using the word?

N-please!

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Thursday, August 12, 2010

She wanted Pampers not real diapers. What's the difference?

A young lady asked me for a donation to help buy pampers for her small children. She was poor, a single parent, with no income and getting pampers became a problem. I refused to give a donation to buy Pampers, but I offered to take her to the store and buy her several dozen plain white, pre-folded diapers.

She asked me, "What's that?"

"It's a reusable diaper. You use it, wash it, dry it and you use it repeatedly," I said. "You get a couple of dozen of these and your Pamper problem is solved. When you get back on your feet and can afford it, then you buy Pampers," I said.

She looked at me as if I had cursed her. She turned down the offer for the reusable diapers and continued her search for this week's Pamper donor.

If I'm not mistaken, a Pamper is a simulated diaper, in much the same way that a paper napkin is a simulated napkin. The simulated items save time, but neither is reusable, creating a recurring expense.

Most everyone in my generation wore plain diapers. When money was tight a couple of my boys wore Pampers. We saved a lot of money using real diapers. If the young lady's response is typical of her generation, there are many who would prefer no diaper at all, rather than use a reusable diaper.

As I recall, there was a container with a lid in which soiled diapers were kept. Those that had solids were rinsed in the toilet before putting them in the container, which was soaked with bleach and water. Every two days or so the diapers were washed, dried, folded and used again...no Pampers, no cost.

Luke 16:19 says, "Luke 16:9 (MSG) "I want you to be smart in the same way—but for what is right—using every adversity to stimulate you to creative survival, to concentrate your attention on the bare essentials, so you'll live, really live, and not complacently just get by on good behavior."

It appears that often we can get our hands on what it takes for us to live, but too often we lack the will or the creativity to use what we have until we can do better.

So the young lady begs for Pampers when what she really needed was to learn how to use a diaper...along with a little abstinence.

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Friday, August 06, 2010

Do you remember your worse whipping?

Do you remember your worse whipping? I'll never forget mine.

As a youth I was spanked, paddled, and whipped on many occasions. I was a very mischievous kid, a criminally deviant child, and a rebellious youth. Obviously, I was a chastised many times. I was spanked with a switch, extension cord, shoe and a razor strap. At seven years old when I became involved with a Oakland street gang, I was incarcerated in the Alameda County reform school for boys. In the reform school I was spanked with a paddle.

Back in Monroe I was whipped once with a barber's razor strap for coming in the house after sunset, I was 14. Teachers spanked me often for failing to turn in home work, talking in class and being a real fool. They used radiator fan belts, paddles and gin belts. They never really hurt any of us, but they got our attention.

I was trying my best to go wrong and the good Lord kept putting people in my life who were determined to make me go straight. They lectured me, prayed for me, helped me, and loved me but they also tore out a sizeable portion of my posterior.

In reflection, the chastisement helped me. Today, all of them would be jailed for child abuse.

The Lord does us that way. He loves us, but he has a way of "tightening us up" when we get off the path. He doesn't use an extension cord or a strap but we can tell when he's messing with us and whipping us. He loves us and is trying to get us back in line.

There is a bible verse that says, Hebrews 12:6 "For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth.."
There is another that says the whippings we get will be good for us in the long run.

Hebrews 12:11 "Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby."

I didn't like any of my whippings but the bible is true; they yielded a better fruit.

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Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Posession of crack won't get you five years anymore

A new law removes the mandatory five year sentence for possession of crack.

Yesterday, President Obama signed a law that changes the way the courts hand out sentences for crack cocaine; simple possession won't automatically require five years in prison. For 25 years the law slammed crack users of five grams (about two sugar packs) of crack in jail for five years. Judges had no choice. In the resulting time statistics showed 83 percent of those charged with crack were African-American. What was disparate is that it took it took 500 grams of powder cocaine to get the same sentence. Powder cocaine was the drug of choice of whites.

Groups have been trying to change the law for 25 years and in the meantime jails have been filling all over the country, running up costs and using up law enforcement time that could be better spent on major crime syndicates instead of low-level street corner hustlers. The government estimates that it spends $42 million a year locking up crack cocaine offenders.

When there is a 100:1 disparity that parses out along racial lines, there is a problem. The new law addresses the problem but doesn't make it even.
There will still be an 18:1 disparity in the sentences but it's a tremendous improvement. It is a plus for the Obama administration because it was no easy task; no repeal of mandatory drug sentencing laws have passed Congress since the 1970's.

The changes don't endorse crack use or powder cocaine use. It makes the sentencing more in line with reality and fairness.

It's justice coming late, but never-the-less appreciated. "The wheels of justice grind slow, but exceedingly fine."

Thinking of justice, I'm reminded of Amos 5:24 that says, "But let justice run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream."

Now, wouldn't it be great if the law applied retroactively to free those still serve disproportionate sentences?

That would be real justice.

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Monday, August 02, 2010

You can't keep silent, unless you speak up

The Supreme court has ruled: You can't keep silent unless you speak up

It's been an understood rule for about 25 years, if you are arrested by the police that you have a right to remain silent and the right to an attorney. All of that has changed just a little bit by the Supreme Court which has now ruled in two cases that you have to ask to be silent to trigger your constitutional right. The court in another case then added that after 14 days the cops can start questioning you again. without reading you your rights or providing you a lawyer. The court also ruled that while suspects have the right to a lawyer, they don't have to be told specifically that they have a right to a lawyer actually in the room when they are questioned.

Critics of the courts rulings will make it easier for police to squeeze confessions out of suspects; many won't know they have to speak up to be silent and the cops will get the information they want, legally.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor said the majority's decision "turns Miranda upside down."

"Criminal suspects must now unambiguously invoke their right to remain silent - which counter intuitively requires them to speak," she said. "At the same time, suspects will be legally presumed to have waived their rights even if they have given no clear expression of their intent to do so."

Those who profess a faith in Christ are also asked to speak up. We can't just assume that God knows that we love him, we have speak up to let the world know.

We must invoke His name, speak it and let the world know if we are not ashamed.

Psalm 107:2 "Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy."

The Supreme Court's ruling says to get Miranda rights you have to "say so." Those who are redeemed must "say so" as well.

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