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Saturday, October 27, 2012

Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep

God is Great, God is Good or....

What’s up with all this praying stuff???

Dear Squirrely Girl,

I notice that you say you are praying for people all the time on Facebook and you request prayer sometimes too and I was just wondering, do you really pray that much? I mean if you stop and pray for every person you say you do on Facebook you would just be praying all the time. How do you have time to make a living and write all the crazy stuff you write if you are praying all the time? Do you think people just say they are praying for people to be nice? It all sounds a little crazy to me because I am not really a church goer but I think prayer is good I just don’t know if people pray as much as they say they do.

Signed, Amen

Dear Amen, (Well...AMEN!):

That is an excellent question and I am going to do my best to answer it as honestly as I know how.

Do I really, actually, literally bow down on my knees and say a prayer for every person when I say, “praying for you” on Facebook? No, I do not. But I will tell you what I do. At that moment when I finish typing “praying for you”, I stop whatever I am doing and I pray in my heart and in my soul. I stop, I pause, I close everything else out and talk to God.

I may be very wrong (it has been said I have been numerous times) but I think praying is how we communicate with God. I think a ‘personal relationship’ with God means I can talk to him any time I want or any time I need. Just like my mama and my daddy and my sisters and brothers and my best friends…I need to be able to call up and gripe, complain, cry, laugh, be sad, be joyful, tell them I love them and how much I appreciate them. Sometimes I need to share my deepest feelings with someone I know loves me, unconditionally. And I will be completely honest with you, even your parents, family and friends are human and they might not always be available…you know who is? God. 

If I had a friend who was very sick and my daddy was the most excellent physician in the world, I would call him faster than you can say Jack Rabbit to take care of them. To me, God is the Great Physician and He is available at all times..I don’t even have to make an appointment, all I have to do is stop long enough to take my ADD brain off myself and focus on the needs of someone else. The bible says all we have to do is ask and it will be given to us. Now does that mean every single prayer is answered to my satisfaction? Absolutely not, because I don’t always know what is best for me or another person, but I trust that God does. It is called faith. So I pray for God’s will to be done. It is not as mystical as it sounds. I once asked Mama Bess and Daddy Frank for a monkey, a pet monkey to call my own. I whined and I cried and I pleaded for a pet monkey or “Mighty Joe Young” because me and my sister had watched that movie like 54 times and we were both convinced we needed one. Thank goodness, our parents knew Mighty Joe Young was not a ‘monkey’ but a baby gorilla that would grow up to be bigger than our entire house. Over the years I  have learned the difference between praying for what I want and what I need.

You said you are not much of a ‘church goer’ so I have some really excellent news for you. You don’t have to go to church to pray. How ‘bout that? AND..you don’t have to get dressed up or put on make-up or even move a muscle physically. What you do have to do is a little harder though. You have to be still and be present in the moment. You can’t text or FB and talk to God at the same time. He pretty much needs your full attention as any good parent or teacher would.

Here is an example of a prayer I had one morning when there was no one around and no one else needed to hear it but God, but I still shared it with some folks who were going through some of the same things:

Dear Lord, today I feel weak. My intentions are good but I don’t think I have the strength to do what You would have me to do. Today, I feel like the enemy is attacking me from every side and I realize I cannot do it alone. Father, you are the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. You said you knew me before the foundation of this world, so you already know about my problems and my worries and I think maybe You are just waiting for me to look up at You instead of down on me. I am putting my trust and faith in you today. I am leaving the doubts and fears at the foot of the cross where victory was won. And for just today I am going to forget how small I feel and remember how big You are! Thank you for listening once again today…Talk to ya later. Amen

To try to answer your question more clearly…I don’t think prayer request and prayer chains are required for God to hear our prayers at all. I think He said “Where two or more are gathered”  to keep us connected to each other because He knew we should never face anything alone. Let’s get real... God knows He would hear a drug addict or alcoholic cry out a lonely prayer in a gutter without one single other human being around, but He also knows if that precious person’s family and friends were also praying for them they would have a safe place to come home to and heal. He knew we need each other. A prayer request, a prayer chain a National Day of Prayer, whatever we call it, we need it!  God doesn’t need to hear a number of prayers to answer one. He just needs a number of people to believe one prayer can be answered.

Hope this answered your question and you are right…. if I had to go to church or be in a formal setting to pray, I would NEVER get a single thing done. And who would rule over the Ninja Squirrels to defeat the Idgets??? I am so happy that no matter where I am or what I am doing, I can talk to God.  So go ahead and have a little talk with Jesus! It does a body good!

Squirrely Girl

Thursday, October 18, 2012



The Good, The Bad, and The Stupid

Dear Squirrely Girl,

I thought you might could help me with this, you seem pretty honest with people and don’t mind hurting their feelings so…please HELP! I have been dating this awesome girl for about 6 months. I really thought this was the one. She is the type of girl you want to take home to your mama. She is a good Christian girl, sweet and loving. She is pretty and has a good personality. We enjoy talking and doing things together. She had just broke up with a horrible boyfriend. He cheated on her, treated her bad and lied to her all the time.

She said she was thankful to meet a nice guy like me and I thought everything was fine, but now she says she needs to give him a second chance. So after all the good times we have had she is going back to a scumbucket??? Why? Why do good girls seem to go after bad boys? I don’t understand and not sure what to do. I know he will just break her heart again…should I be here when she needs me again? I know you will say no…but I really do love her.

Signed, The Good Boy

Dear The Good Boy (Bless Your Little Pea-Pickin’ Heart),

I hope I have never hurt anyone’s feelings…unless of course it was for their own good…then no apology necessary..but you have come to the perfect place with this question. I will try my best not to hurt your feelings but sometimes the truth is just downright brutal I must warn you. I can already tell you really are a very 'good' boy and I have some really 'good' news for you.

 Your problem is not unique. Your problem goes all the way back to one of the ultimate movies of all time “Gone With The Wind”.  Remember how Scarlett thought she was all in love with Ashley (aka scumbucket)? Sure, Ashley seemed like the “good boy” in the movie compared to the“bad boy” Rhett (aka hunk). But that was just a brilliant plot by Margaret Mitchell. Ashley (scumbucket) was ‘unattainable” …that is why Scarlett was so obsessed with him in the beginning and that.. my dear Good Boy.. is exactly where the secret lies. Everyone thinks of Rhett (aka hunk) as being the ‘bad boy’ because he was a rogue and treated her like the brazen independent smart woman she really was…but she was not obsessed with Rhett..until….wait for it….wait for it….he was ‘unattainable’ and by then…well, he frankly... just didn’t give a damn.

You see,  Ashley was the ‘bad boy’ because he was weak and needy and seriously wishy washy.  Scarlett felt like he ‘needed her’.(There’s the magic words.)  Rhett, on the other hand, was bold and unafraid. Rhett didn’t need saving and he knew Scarlett didn’t need saving either. He knew she was a strong woman and a good woman. YES...Scarlett was a good woman despite her name. Who else would help ‘birth the baby’ of the woman who took her man? Who else would make everyone work in the fields so they could eat and not put up with their constant whining, run a lumber mill, shoot an intruder and  wear green velvet curtains to seduce a man? That takes a woman who knows herself. That takes a good woman who was just a little screwed up.  Rhett saw that and he saw so much more but still Scarlett spurned him at every turn for whom? The one SHE COULD NOT HAVE and the one she thought she needed to save.

So believe it or not, a good girl choosing a ‘bad boy’ over you is actually a compliment. Trust Squirrely Girl on this one. No real woman reads or watches ‘Gone With The Wind’ and walks away in love with Ashley ‘Scumbucket’ Wilkes. No, they walk away wanting and being passionately in love with Rhett ‘Good Boy Hunk’ Butler.

Before you disagree with me, think about it. Rhett spoiled Scarlett rotten. He bought her everything she wanted, he took her to New Orleans for their honeymoon where she had the biggest tray of desserts I have EVER seen. He paid for her to fix up Tara and then bought her a mansion in Atlanta. And what did Scarlett do? She longed for ‘poor Ashley’. She decided being his “savior” was more important than enjoying a relationship with her equal. I wish I could explain why girls do this but I think it may have something to do with W, X, Y and Z chromosomes or something like that, I don’t do biology, but I am sure there is some scientific reason. The fact is …Scarlett grows up at the end of the movie. A little late…maybe…but when she becomes a real woman she is no longer attracted to the ‘bad boy’…she wants a real “GOOD MAN”.

I know it all seems really stupid and makes no sense whatsoever. Well, as a woman I can tell you, nothing we do ever will. The sooner you accept that little reality the better off you will be altogether. But promise me that you will hold out for the good girl who grows up to be a real woman who wants a Good Man like you. And I promise you…it will be worth the wait!

Signed ~ Squirrely Girl

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Mama Bess' Homemade Buttermilk Biscuits and Love

Maybe We Shouldn't Love People With Food...yeah...whatever...

So many people have requested Mama Bess' recipe for the perfect biscuit, so I am going to share it. But let me say...the reason her biscuits were so perfect and special had less to do with the recipe and more to do with the love she put in each one. Keep this in mind as you have fun making these for your family!

Mama Bess' Homemade Buttermilk Biscuits

(Preserved with love and wonderful memories by Squirrely Girl, aka “that baby”)

The stuff you will need to make ‘em:

1. An iron skillet is the best thing for making biscuits; if you don’t have one…then stop reading this right now and go out and get you one. Until then you can use one of those new fangled 13 x 9 baking pan contraptions. 

2. A can of Crisco or lard-depending on what decade you are living in. (directions to follow on how to use the Crisco or lard.)

3. About 6 cups of self-rising flour (Don’t go cheap on this. Get you some good old Martha White, Gold Metal or White Lilly flour. Cheap flour makes cheap heavy biscuits and it may say “pre-sifted” but they are probably lying. You should still sift it again if you want a nice light and fluffy biscuit. So get yourself a flour sifter, they are fun and the kids love siftin’ flour).

4. Some buttermilk-- I will get as exact with that measurement as I can later, so just get you a gallon so you know you will have enough. And please for the love of all that is good and right in this world, don’t get ‘fat free’ or ‘reduced fat buttermilk’. If you are making biscuits, a diet should be the last thing on your mind. Biscuits are for making memories and sopping up gravy, not for making you slim and trim.

*Extra Mama Bess hint: If you do not have buttermilk you can use heavy cream mixed with a little water (gooooood) or if you just have milk, add some sour cream for a really flaky biscuit.

So there you have it. Everything you need to make a perfect biscuit. Skillet, grease, flour and liquid, that is it! Now we will patty cake patty cake, baker's man, roll 'em up, roll 'em up....put it all together and throw it in the pan.

This is how you make ‘em:

Sift your flour in a nice big bowl, make a hole that looks like a little crater in the middle of the flour with your fist, (or fork if you don’t like to get your hands dirty…scratch that…if you don’t like to get your hands dirty…you can’t make a good biscuit). But you can use a fork for this part .You will put in about  1 cup of the Crisco/lard right smack dab in the middle of the hole then add about…well…1 ½ cup of the buttermilk to begin with (*Mama Bess favorite saying, “You can always add more but you can’t take it away!” Start mixing with your hands or your fork until it has the consistency of ..well..not too sticky but not too dry. You may have to add a little more buttermilk to get it into a nice soft ball of dough. If you think you have added too much, if it is really sticky..add some more flour.

( Listen --this is an art form, you may not get it right the very first time. You will start getting a feel for when the dough is right…it is part of the fun. So--have fun with it. If you mess up just roll it all out, cut it into strips and throw it in some boiled chicken broth and you have dumplings, the next best thing to biscuits.)

This is when you put that fork down, roll up your sleeves and get your hands into it. Just add a little flour and roll that dough around until you get a nice little ball, not too much, the more you fool with the dough the tougher your biscuits will be. Once you get it into that perfect cloud of dough, you can roll it out and cut them out (if you want those perfect little sissy city biscuits) or you can make a ‘real’ biscuit by pinching off about a golf ball (for normal) or baseball (for cat’s head) size of dough in your hand, roll it round ‘till it feels just right and place it in your greased pan, then pat it lightly with love and just a tad bit of vegetable oil and put ‘em in an already heated up (fancy folks call that 'pre-heated') hot oven around 450 degrees for about 15 to 20 minutes depending on your oven. When they look like they are getting a little brown around the edges (and this is important) you open the oven, pat them lightly again with some more love to make sure they are rising just right--then you turn the oven on broil and DO NOT leave that stove for any reason whatsoever—(I mean even if your youngest child ‘that baby’ has her finger caught in the “ringer” of the old washing machine and crying bloody murder) you stay right there until they are the perfect shade of 'done'.

Then you will take them out, put butter on top to make ‘em purty, then serve ‘em up hot with jelly or syrup or mater gravy and look at the faces of your family. You have just made yourself “ indispensable”!

Much love and happy biscuit makin' ~ Squirrely Girl

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

I Am The First To Say I Was Wrong

Once Upon A Time….

I started working with children as a pre-school teacher at a church over 30 years ago and it changed my life forever. I was expecting my first child but I was no stranger to taking care of kids. Most of my nieces and nephews sort of ‘grew up’ with me and I was absolutely positive I was a much better parent to all of them than their birth parents. They remind me often now that they were pretty much ‘babysitting’ me the whole time and they would be CORRECT!  But I was so very blessed to be a part of their lives.

The fact is, I was only familiar with children who were loved, safe and secure most of my life until that year. That year I saw mothers bring their children to me each morning to go to jobs that did not pay enough to put food on the table or they had jobs they were not properly trained for or the basic education to ensure success and they were soon unemployed again. More importantly, I saw Annie. Of course I have changed her name for her protection but I think her story may shed some light on my ...shall we say...somewhat strong opinions. 

Annie had the biggest and most beautiful eyes that sparkled like the stars. She would crawl up in my lap and look at me with a smile I will never forgot.  Annie understands why I am discouraged tonight. Annie understands why we all must take a step back and look at things a different way.

Annie was 4 years old when I met her, her little brother and her mom. Her mom was definitely struggling with various problems. An abusive relationship, addiction, lack of education, no formal training for any job and she lived in a prison of fear and uncertainty. What I heard from many of the elders of the church was she needed to take responsibility for herself and turn from her sins. But all I could see was Annie and her little brother who did not understand any of those things.  Annie’s mother didn’t get the help she needed. The politically correct philosophy of the day said it was all up to her and that we could not help those who won’t help themselves. I believed them and soon put Annie and her brother out of my mind until about 10 years later.

I saw Annie again, this time as her counselor in a summer youth work program.  She was just as beautiful as always but did not have the same sparkle in her eyes. She was still bright and did very well and I was so happy to have the opportunity to work with her again, but six weeks of summer did not allow for the intervention that Annie and her mother still needed. The next year Annie was pregnant with her first child at the age of 15.  She faced some of the same problems her own mother faced. The politically correct philosophy of the day said it was all up to her and that we could not help those who won’t help themselves and that Annie needed to learn to take responsibility for her actions.  I believed them and soon put Annie and her child out of my mind until about 10 years later.

I met with Annie and her daughter in my office where they came for assistance because they had been evicted from their home and were couch surfing between friends and family. So many problems and barriers for them both. The political philosophy of the day said….who cares anymore what it says?  The powers that be do not look at these faces every day or every year or every ten years. If I had done the right thing by Annie‘s mother years ago. If I had realized back then …whatever I did for Annie’s mother I was doing for Annie and Annie’s children and one day their children….maybe things would be different.

Of course we have to stress personal responsibility. Of course some will take advantage of any help we give them. Of course we can never predict which ones will and which ones will not benefit from a little support. But I would much rather err of the side of too much help than not enough. What is wrong with us? Why are we so caught up in the idea that all people who need help are out to scam somebody?

I actually heard these words from a church member very recently, “We just don’t help people on welfare or food stamps anymore. It is just a form of slavery and we cannot encourage or support those people on that path.”  Really??  Did that really just come out of that well meaning wonderful person’s mouth? YES it did. And I wept. And I believe Jesus wept also. You don’t know what might have happened in any person’s life to be where they are. You don’t know if a young and inexperienced person like me might have missed the opportunity to offer the full support that the child and mother needed at the time.

God forgive me and forgive all of us who do not stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves because they might not know how. It is a sad reflection of where we are in this country when a comedian gets the whole concept more than some preachers and church members:

 “If this is going to be a Christian nation that doesn’t help the poor, either we have to pretend that Jesus was just as selfish as we are, or we’ve got to acknowledge that He commanded us to love the poor and serve the needy without condition and then admit that we just don’t want to do it” ~ Steve Colbert

If I see one more quote about welfare like “We work so you don’t have to” I am going to ask whoever repeats or post it, “What have you done personally to make sure they can work? How much time have you spent with that particular individual to find out their whole story? Have you ever volunteered to talk to them for an hour and see how you might help?”

I am not saying there are not abuses. I have done this for a very very long time. I know that exist but I can tell you it is not as broad as most think. And whose job is it to worry about that anyway? Our commandment is to offer help to those who appear to be in need of help --not to evaluate their motive. That will eventually take care of itself… I promise. There is a huge misunderstanding that those of us who seek any government grants are just adding to the problem by building a dependence on assistance programs. Most of us are not doing that, we are just acknowledging that we all need a little help here and there. I am all for people pulling themselves up by the bootstraps…I just want them to have some boots to put some straps on..is that too much to ask?

I hear the terms ‘socialist’ and ‘redistribution’ thrown around like they mean ‘robbery’ or ‘burglary’. Half the time no one even knows their true definition. Do we really believe that almost half of all Americans had rather live off handouts than to be independent and successful on their own? If we do... we are in much worse shape than we thought. Ambition may not be instilled by a drug addicted mother who never heard the word or an absentee father who has never sat across the table from his son. Have we truly lost every last semblance of empathy? And I didn’t say sympathy, we don’t need to feel sorry for people and give them charity, we need to give them respect as a fellow citizen. That does not mean saying, “Cut them off completely from any help to teach them a lesson.” That means giving them the same tools some of us had growing up and a fair chance to compete in the game of life.

People love to quote Reagan about the  “City On A Hill”…but the original quote came from John Winthrop, a Puritan leader who also said: 

For this end, we must be knit together in this work as one man, we must entertain each other in brotherly affection, we must be willing to abridge our selves of our superfluities for the supply of others' necessities. We must uphold a familiar commerce together in all meekness, gentleness, patience and liberality. We must delight in each other, make others' conditions our own, rejoice together, mourn together, labor, and suffer together, always having before our eyes our commission and community in the work, our community as members of the same body. So shall we keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace, the Lord will be our God and delight to dwell among us, as His own people and will command a blessing upon us in all our ways, so that we shall see much more of His wisdom, power, goodness, and truth then formerly we have been acquainted with.

I don’t know about you …but I think Winthrop…ROCKS!

Signed ~ Squirrely Girl