About this blog

All opinions, perspectives, and beliefs on this blog are solely my own, unless otherwise stated, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions, perspectives, or beliefs of any past or present employer, denomination, church, association, friend, or family member associated with the author.

Saturday, July 05, 2014

The Work of My Heart

My heart never stops working
The always pumping muscle constantly in motion
Perfectly timed
Defying gravity
Never sleeping
Or on holiday
No taking a lunch break
Or coffee break
Generally not complaining about overtime

The work of my heart is like that of a mother's
Never ending
But felt when it stops

The work of my heart goes beyond traffic management
My heart works to love unhindered
My heart yearns to create beauty
My heart longs to heal cruel wounds
My heart desires to build reconcilation
My heart wants to end injustice
My heart toils in wants, needs, and desires

My body is too weak
The strong, unyielding work of my heart
Longs to break free
Lord, I offer up my heart's work to You.

Monday, June 30, 2014

If I were the owner of Hobby Lobby . . .

If I were the owner of Hobby Lobby, I would have done things differently. Let me be clear that this is not because I have moved from being pro-life to pro-choice. I strongly believe that abortion hurts and kills more than an unborn child. However, I have also come to strongly believe that litigation like that pursued by Hobby Lobby and legislation often pursued by other pro-life groups merely applies a pretty pink Barbie band-aid to a gaping, festering, and infected wound. Working with band-aids is somewhat quicker work, definitely cleaner, and you have something to show for it in the end. But I'm not sure that is what matters; I'm not sure that is the kind of witness we are called to be.

So, as the fictitious owner of Hobby Lobby the wound is where I would have focused my efforts.

Personally, the reaction to the ObamaCare policy that I see as much more of reflection of Christ's love is to convey this message to my employees in person, through video, and hand-signed letter:

Dear Valued Employee, (insert name),

I am follower of Jesus Christ. As such, I believe in the dignity of human life from the moment of conception, and some of the medicines and procedures we are required to provide in the new health care policy bring out a termination of life. I would ask that you respect that belief and not use the company provided insurance to procure such medicines and procedures.

But I also want to go beyond this to say that as a family-owned business I believe you are a part of my family. As such, I want to be available to help you in times of need. If you find yourself in a situation where you feel that these types of medicines or abortion procedures are the only option, I have contracted with a counselors in all store location areas, who can help you through these situations. These counselors are independent resources and do not report to me or store management. I am also including special cell phone number that I will carry if you want to talk directly to me.

(This is the first alternative I could come up with, but this is where I would pull together wise colleagues for help and ideas).

Kathryn A Lee
Not the Owner of Hobby Lobby

I know this method may not have garnered any media attention, and certainly would not have ended up before the Supreme Court. And, I'm sure to some it seems way too soft on the hard issues and touchy-feely. I am also sure that it would not have put a significant dent in the numbers of abortions the next year. But, for the one or two who felt loved, seen, and cared about - that is where it matters, that is the hands and feet of Christ at work.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Jury Duty Induced Denial

Last week I took part in a great American rite of passage:  jury duty.  Hearing so many before bemoan the duty of serving on a jury, I was not very excited about receiving a summons.  My husband, on the other hand, was completely excited about my opportunity to do my civic duty. 

On this side of the experience, I still do not think getting a summons will induce the same giddy excitement that an Amazon package does.  But, I do know now that it will be a very curious and interesting day of observing human behavior, which is why I am writing about it now.  Actually, why I'm writing about it NOW (a whole week later) is so that I am not found to be in contempt of court or some other legal babble that goes along the plain speak lines of "Do Not Discuss This Case."  However, now that the trial is over - let's discuss. 

There were 62 of us stuffed into every available seat of courtroom G in the Marin County Court House designed by Frank Lloyd Wright - that in itself proved to be fascinating and entertaining.  We were in a circular, wood-paneled room with recessed ring of bubble lights that I was sure were going to give birth to aliens that would eat us all.  Then, there was the exercise of the seating of the 62.  Who knew it would take a bailiff armed with a taser and handgun to get people to sit right next to each other?  Then there were the late comers to the room, who were forced to take seats in the jury box before the court clerk had actually called their names, who would give the bailiff a double take; please don't make me; oh, wait, she's armed look before shuffling off to their seat. 

Next, came the first round of name calling and the initial wave of denial.  18 names were called to play musical chairs with those unfortunately seated in the jury box and alternate's chairs, and all 62 of us were praying hard that our name wouldn't be called.  No one wanted to get called to the box.  If they did they would have jumped up and run to it like a contestant on The Price Is Right (Oh, yes I was going to do it.  You know it!).  The amazing thing was once they go to the box, their dogged determination to stay there as demonstrated by their answers to the judge's and attorney's questions.  Please note that the names and circumstances have been changed to protect the oddly determined and me (that whole contempt of court thing again), and to provide great comic relief.  By the way, this was a DUI case with no accident or injuries to anyone. Also note that I am not trying to making light of the crime involved in this case, only the reactions of the potential jurors. DUI is a serious and far too often deadly offense.

Judge:  Do any of you know the defendant?
Potential Jurors:  Nope.
Judge:  Do any of you know either of the attorneys?
Potential Juror #8:  Well, I actually know the defense attorney.  He was my first love in high school, we dated for 3 weeks, and then he broke up with me to date my best friend.  But, I can be impartial here, your honor, I swear.  The fact that every relationship since then has failed will not bias me in the least.  I know this will not affect my decision in any way.  Please, please keep me.

Judge:  Have any of you been arrested for DUI?
Potential Jurors:  Nope
Judge:  Have you ever had a family member arrested for DUI?
Potential Juror #3:  I have not had a family member arrested, but I am in this wheelchair today because of a drunk driver.  However, I have had extensive therapy, so I'm not bitter, and I can be completely impartial in this case.  I know it.  I promise.  Really, I can. 

These are just two examples of the jury vetting, between the judge and the two attorneys they eliminated 20 people on the basis of "um. . .sure, you can." So, I began to wonder what would lead to this deep seated denial and determination to hold on to something that nobody wanted at the start of this day.  I decided it was all to do P.E.  That's right, Physical Education classes.  All, but maybe two, people in the room that day had grown up with dodge-ball and kickball team picking in PE class.  That dreaded, anxiety-inducing ritual of hoping and praying that you would not be the last person picked for a team and the semi-athletic attempts to prove that you were worthy of being first round draft next class time.  And, all of this is ridiculous, because just like jury duty no one wants to be there in the first place.  Girls do not want to get all hot and sweaty in the middle of the school day, and boys would rather play football than kickball. 

So, maybe I am looking forward to my next jury duty summons as more and more non-PE educated folks join the ranks of potential jurors.  Will they try to hold on to the dreaded hot seat?

Monday, November 12, 2012

A letter to the CEO of Papa John's

Yes, I did actually print this letter and mail it in the old fashion form as well.  The address is there for anyone who would like to do the same.

November 11, 2012

Papa John’s Corporate Headquarters
Attn:  John Schnatter
2002 Papa John’s Boulevard
Louiseville, KY  40299

Dear John:

I have just read the news announcing layoffs and cut backs for Papa John’s employees because providing healthcare for those employees will cost $0.11 to $0.14 per pizza.  This news deeply saddens and troubles me.  To hear news like this makes me think that corporate America has reverted to the days of land barons, who sought to get every ounce of work out of the serfs they owned to make themselves more comfortable.  My hope is that this has been some mistake and you will reply to tell me that you are proud to take up the responsibility of providing for and taking care of your employees.

But, I know that my hope will probably be crushed because too often these days people are only concerned with what it will cost them, instead of what would be best for their neighbor or employee.   I do not understand  why anyone would not see it as a moral imperative to help their employees and their families have access to such basic needs as a living wage and healthcare.   I know many business owners would say that their business would fail because they are so small and run on such tight budgets, and that may be true for a small percentage of businesses.  However, I hardly doubt that yours would qualify in that category, so I do not think you can say that this news statement is about anything but yourself and greed.

I recently moved to an area where there are no Papa John’s, and initially I was disappointed by that.  But over the last few years, I have found myself moving away from buying products from companies that seem to go out of their way to get out of taking care of their employees.  It looks like Papa John’s may be added to that list, and if so, I will be just fine living without Papa John’s pizza.

Your former customer,

Kathryn Lee

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Hitting the books

When my husband and I moved to California, we put getting new drivers' licenses near the top of our to-do list.  This was not because we both wanted better pictures and smaller numbers for our weight, but because you have to have a drivers' license in order to get a library card.  Yes, we are that nerdy.

On my first trip to our new library, I picked up the book A Woman in the Crossfire: Diaries of the Syrian Revolution by Samar Yazbek.  I was curious to read a first hand account of what was happening in a country that I know little about.  I also put in a request for Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman by Robert K. Massie, which I had seen in bookstores as we traveled across country.  I have had a strange girl crush on Catherine the Great since jr. high when I read my first biography on her and went to a grand exhibit on her life where I even bought a t-shirt with her picture on it, which I proudly wore on a weekly basis for many years.  Again, yes, I am that nerdy. 

As I have read these two books, some interesting things began to happen.  First of all, reading the news has taken on new dimensions as I had some background and another perspective for the information I was receiving.  Although, I will admit that when reading Yazbek's book I wish I had known even more of the history and culture of Syria to give me more understanding of her account.  Second, I began to question the historical references I was hearing in the news.  What does it mean for the economic recovery measures of today to be compared to the New Deal of the 20's?  If a presidential candidate is compared to Ronald Reagan, is that a good thing?  I wasn't exactly tuned into the political scene during Reagan's time as president, so the only impression I have of his two terms in office is from the music video to Phil Collins' "Land of Confusion." 

The 50th anniversary also occurred as I read these books, and ignited in me a desire to get to all that history that got skipped or skimmed over in history classes while I was in school.  Been there, done that a hundred times over on the Civil War, the Revolutionary War and WWII (not sure what happened to WWI, but it is a little foggy for me).  But what exactly happened during those intense days of the Cuban Missile Crisis?  What happened down in Central and South America in the 70's and 80's?  I've seen vague references that those events are tied to the flow of immigrants from the area into the US.  What exactly did Che Gueverra do to earn himself a spot on so many t-shirts?  What about African history other than the focus on Egypt and the American slave trade of the colonial era?  I would like to do is fill in some holes from neglected continents and decades of the recent past.

I realize the easy route for this would be to watch the numerous and highly entertaining movies that are based on historical events.  I want to avoid those for now, because I realize that movies have to be abbreviated and condensed, so you lose some of the details, motivations and background for events.  Also I fear that in order to be entertaining and draw in audiences events are sometimes exaggerated in movies (not that inaccuracies are not found in books as well), but I want to have more than one source for my information.  I will probably read several books on JFK and the Cold War, so that I don't get just one perspective.  

Another fascinating thing about studying history is seeing how history could have been vastly different if one event had been delayed or happened sooner.  As I read the book on Catherine the Great this weekend, I learned of the nearly complete defeat of King Fredrick the II of Prussia during the Seven Years' War.  Prussia was spared defeat and more than likely dissolution of the country by Russia, Austria and France by the sudden death of Empress Elizabeth of Russia.  This brought her heir, Catherine's husband, Peter II to the throne.  Peter had an unhealthy man crush on the King of Prussia, and quickly hit undo button on all military victories and alliances Russia had over and against Prussia.  This begs the question: What if Empress Elizabeth had lived another year to see the war to its end and Prussia completely defeated?  Would we then have been spared World War I? 

Since my husband has gone back to school and has to read 30 plus books every 4 months, I have been inspired to continue in a  little academic reading myself and the answering of some of my wonderings above, filling the blank spaces and asking new "what if" questions.  For my reading list, I am using a list of the Best History Books from Good Reads, but I welcome your suggestions as well.  Until then, I have a lot of reading to do. . .

Thursday, September 20, 2012

An Ode to the Bicycle Man

Oh, bicycle man, where are you going?
You look like a CEO from a corner office.
Why aren't you at work?
Or have you found a money tree
that affords you the fancy bike and slick accessories.

Oh, bicycle man, why do you wear white?
No one should or wants to know
that your padded seat makes you sweat.

Oh, bicycle man, are you crazy?
This road has an 18% downgrade.
I will share this road with you
as long as my brakes work.
Now you are turning around
to go up once again.

Oh, bicycle man, why the funny shorts
that seem to highlight the fact that you
are a man with their white stitching?
I do not want to look, but your shorts
scream out like a sunburned obese
European tourist on a nude beach.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A New Adventure: Call to Confession

While on our road trip from Texas to California, my husband, Andrew, and I stopped in Iowa to visit his family and friends from his college days (they are now very much my friends as well).  One of our stops for the Iowa leg of our trip, was the church where Andrew's college roommate is the pastor.  As much as I loved singing from the Country and Western Hymnal, I really appreciated the Call to Confession and Prayer of Confession that they used for their service, and I wanted to share them.

Call to Confession (said by the pastor):
With trembling hearts, knowing that we seldom discern our own errors, we turn ourselves to God.  Now is the acceptable time to come to the One who takes no delight in burnt offerings, but accepts sincere prayers of confession.  Let us repent and believe as we pray.

Prayer of Confession (said by congregation):
O Sovereign God, we confess that our plans for ourselves ignore the needs of many of our sisters and brothers.  We try to shut out the larger world that does not fit our comfortable design.  We are angry when called to account and bitter when circumstances do not work out to our advantage.  We are quick to see the sins of others and slow to recognize our own.  Keep us from throwing stones, O God, and protect us from the missiles others would throw at us. Forgive our preoccupation with minor concerns and lead us to focus on sharing love and forgiveness.  Through Christ.  Amen.

Now I know many would say that a pre-written prayer could never work for confessing our sins to God, because we have to name them specifically in order to repent and receive forgiveness.  I don't know about you, but when I say this prayer out loud it definitely brings to mind the sins of omission and commission, especially in areas that if it were up to me, I would skip right over and keep going in my usual merry sinful way.  So, I would encourage those who have not tried a pre-written prayer of confession, give it a go.  You might be surprised what the Holy Spirit does through it.  Let this be a new adventure for you.