What Should Be in a Church Restroom?

All the lambs have needs

All the lambs have needs

You’d think church restrooms would be a no brainer. I mean all you need is a plumbed porcelain seat and a sink. And both of them should function properly.

But honestly, I’ve been visiting a number of churches of different denominations lately (what with Holy Week, meetings, and presentations), and let me tell you… I think Lutherans could beef up their bathrooms a bit and be in the running for “The Best Place to Hide Out if You Want to Avoid ‘Sharing of the Peace.’”

For those of you who don’t know about “Sharing of the Peace” it’s a custom in which a person turns to the person next to them, extends their hand and says, “Peace be with you.” It occurs after the sermon and blessing, and then congregants are encouraged to share the peace with one another.

That’s when all chaos breaks out for Lutherans. For years we’ve been taught to sit quietly in our pews, chairs, or whatever sitting device is being used. No waving of the hands, or shouting random “Amens”, and sermons are rarely interactive.

But things have changed. At first, folks were reticent, but they’d been sitting a while, listening to a sermon and speaking the liturgical script, so they were ready to stretch their legs a bit and whisper a shy, “God bless you to their neighbor.” But now…like many changes…we start wearing it like we thought of it. At the mention of “Share the peace,” folks jump out of their seats, grab hands and start pumping them, adding a blessing. Borders are crossed. People who have sat in one section of the church all their lives take a tour through other sections. The choir makes a break from their music stands.

If it’s cold and flu season, we’ve been instructed not to share our germs, but many “Peace-givers” cheat by bumping fists and even rubbing elbows. My Lutheran ancestors would be wide-eyed with shock.

As you can imagine, there are some who don’t care for the practice, but they’ve found it’s a great time to make a bathroom exit.  (After all, sometimes the sermons are long, and we’ve just had 2 cups of strong, Lutheran coffee).

You thought I’d forgotten about the topic, hadn’t you?

For Your Restroom Beautification Pleasure…here’s your checklist…

  • Good smelling soap (Well, of course, this is a committee smell-test project)
  • Hand Lotion (Not the stuff that didn’t sell at the church rummage sale)
  • Hygiene products for our soft parts
  • A plunger (Nothing’s more embarrassing than trying to find someone to tell about the toilet that’s overflowing).
  • A box of tissues (Make that two boxes. The restroom is a favorite crying spot.)
  • A step stool for our “little soon-to-be-women”
  • A couple of tasteful wall decorations. (One holy and one non-liturgical to appeal to both members and visitors.)
  • And for St. Peter’s sake, put the trash can next to the door!! We use the same paper towel to dry our hands AND grab the door handle. Don’t make us heave the towel across the bathroom as we exit.

I recently had the chance to use the Award-winning “Best Bathroom” in Vancouver, British Columbia. (I’m not kidding…there was a contest.)

I submitted these pictures to our church property committee, hoping they’d make structural changes in our old restrooms.

A two-seater in the same stall. Because women like to go to the bathroom at the same time.

A two-seater in the same stall. Because women like to go to the bathroom at the same time.

The door is appropriately marked

The door is appropriately marked

 

 

 

 

 

 

They’re still laughing.

Any more bathroom recommendations?

Fancy-Toilet.1

Advertisements appear in the mirror. Who needs a newsletter? Just go to the restroom and check the mirror.

How to Get Women Working

Lutheran Ladies Circle: Thanks for Leaving…Book 3 has launched.

I know I should talk about it, but hold on for just a moment,  I really want to discuss the woman in this picture. Taken in 1942 It’s called “Girl in a Bubble.”( Photographer, Alfred Palmer, War Information Office )
It was going to be the cover of Thanks for Leaving, but it ran into a few snaggles.

Beta/Focus/and Critique groups said, “We like it. What the heck is she doing?”

WE’VE COME A LONG WAY, BABY.

This WWII photo was a carefully crafted propaganda shot to encourage women to leave their approved place (the home), and go to the factories.
Note:
• the carefully displayed wedding ring. (Message: Men, let your wives work).
• the lipstick and manicured nails. (A woman could work and not lose any of her daintiness. As a matter of fact, many factories had charm classes).
• Stylish head covering and colorful uniform. (Many women objected to covering their curls.)
By 1945, 6 million women had entered the workforce for the first time to build planes, bombs, ships and ammo. Which is phenomenal when you consider most women had never even worn slacks. For better or worse, it changed women’s roles forever.
Sixty-eight years ago, everyone would’ve known this woman was working on the nose cone of a B17.
Today, most viewers  thought she was working on a spaceship.

I think that’s a blessing.

Many words like: blackout, plane spotter, loose lips, meatless Tuesdays, and rationing aren’t part of our daily conversation anymore.

Book Three

Book Three

And women continue to work, to support, and to grow in wisdom because of all those gals ( our foremothers) “did what they had to do.”

But that’s another story—a funny and touching one—with a different cover.

You can read about it at Lutheran Ladies Circle/Books.

Did women working or serving in WWII change your family’s story?

The Candy Diet

candymakesmuscleI KNEW IT!!!

I’ve known it since I was five-years-old, but those adults in my life tried to tell me a different story about candy.

So while I was researching WWII era recipes for the next Lutheran Ladies book, I discovered what had already been proven during the 40s: Chocolate really is “Fightin’ Food.” It’s full of protein, makes muscles, and probably cures cowlick, too. (I don’t know….I can’t read the small text on the ad.)

One of the great concerns on the home front was raising STRONG kiddos since meat, eggs, and dairy products were rationed.

This explains: Vitamin donuts, and that gummmy white-bread to build bodies 12 ways. (which we mostly rolled around on the kitchen table and made dough-marbles out of.Food_vitaminDonuts

Food_Bread

And , as any “Boomer” kid knows. You had to clean your plate. I always thought it was a “Lutheran thing.”  But now I know I can blame WWII for our parents teaching us to eat everything on our plates. Now, let me add, the war was over and done with, but the “rules” remained. I quickly learned how to work the system, even at such a young age, and didn’t put icky, always-overcooked vegetables on my plate, but somehow they  appeared there anyway, and I had to force them down with lots of whining and complaining.

If Mom, would’ve read a few magazines and served us chocolate or these souped-up donuts, there would’ve been ZERO arguments at dinnertime.  But we’re Lutheran. We don’t change. So…to this day, ox-tail soup and home-grown veggies from Victory gardens that we never stopped planting, still appear on our dinner menus. We still say grace over it and count it as a blessing. (And if you look at us, you’ll see…we’ve learned to eat it all.) 

rationing-food-is-a-weaponNow…bring on the chocolate. It’s time for a change.

The Chickens of Change

Let me get this out of the way right now. I think chickens are stupid.

peepsNow….before some of you get your feathers fluffled, let me give you my chicken credentials, so that you know…that I know these fowl dummies.

I grew up in the era of getting little purple, pink, and pastel-dyed chicks for Easter. No…
not the marshmallow kind..

chicks_Easter

The live kind.

Oh…stop gasping!!!  Remember, this was the era of no seatbelts, leaving kids in the car while you went into the grocery store….and people smoked in every closed building.

Live chicks were no big deal. After they grew their coming of age-pullet-feathers, we put them with the other chickens. The weather-hardened ones. The ones who stood around, gawping as a chicken hawk soared down and took them for a little road trip. The ones I put in a box and they’d go to sleep because they thought it was night. The ones who couldn’t figure out how to get back on the other side of the fence to their chicken buddies—even though they were standing in front of the open gate….You know…the  stupid ones.

Maybe if I wouldn’t have put the purple or pink chicks with the dumb ones, they would’ve grown up to be geniuses. By the time I was old enough to stop receiving baby chicks for Easter and start asking for a chocolate stash, I was convinced that chickens didn’t have the good sense God gave a whisk broom.

That’s why this trend of urban chicken farming, amuses me. I have a friend who waxes on for fifteen minutes about the pleasurable sounds of chatty chickens. For her, it’s a whole brilliant, new world of discovery as she talks about when they roost and how to get an egg that doesn’t break in her hand.

I keep my mouth shut. Why?

“Stardust Melody” 1927
One of the most recorded songs of the 20th Century

Because years after I became too cool to raise color-tinted chickens, I discovered “good” music. I once went on and on about this great new song. I even sang a couple of verses for my Dad. He let me have my moment of discovery. It was a while before he told be that “Stardust Melody” was a hit when he was young. It was just making the rounds again.

Oh.

Things change. Things stay the same…kinda the same…

I still think chickens are stupid.

Before You Die: Regrets of the Dying

LutheranLadies.comAn interesting list appeared while I was doing research for the next Lutheran Ladies Circle novel. It comes from a palliative nurse, Bronnie Ware, as she worked with folks who were catching the bus to the next world.

It was a LIST OF REGRETS OF THE DYING

That makes sense.  Death doesn’t wait until we’ve watered the plants, put the mail on vacation-hold, and paid all the bills. It comes, when it’s time. And it’s not necessarily synced with our personal schedule.

Some Regrets of the Dying…

*)” I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”
This was one of the top regrets, and easy to see why.  We worry about what others will think of us and then we make decisions based on fear of their judgement.   Later….we ask ourselves, “Why did I do that?” or promise, “I’ll be smarter next time.”  And sometimes we are…if we don’t run out of time.

*)” I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.”
Most  folks don’t say, “I wish I would’ve done more laundry and washed more dishes.” However, constant work would NOT have been my ol’ German grandpa ‘s regret. He was a hard-driving man. Every moment (besides sleeping and eating) had to be spent productively.   He said it kept away his fear of being hungry. I suppose, not every person has the same regrets. Granddad was certainly an exception to this one. At a very old age, he  toppled to a stop  while pitching hay  onto a wagon.  His heart thumped to a halt a few moments afterward and I bet his last thought was,” I wish I could’ve finished getting the hay in.”

*) “Why didn’t I stay in touch with my friends?”
We let go of friends for so many easy reasons.  Our interests don’t run in the same circles anymore. Our politics don’t match. Our personalities don’t match.  We get busy. Soon friends (and sometimes relatives) are relegated to the Once-A-Year Christmas card.   And then the end nears, and the ghosts of those old forgotten relationships haunt the heart.

*) “I wish I’d let myself be happier.”
Hindsight  is twenty/twenty they say.  How many times have worries curled around my feet like a slinking black cat, tripping me—only to end up never happening and thus wasting uncounted hours of cursing the cat?

When standing at the end and looking back…

  • It’s easier to see the line-up of catastrophes that never appeared
  • Or how life seemed to work out, even when problems fell.
  • And then there are even more regrets for wasting that time and encouraging early-appearing  white hairs.

My research was to gain insight into a outspoken character, Aunt Ula, who takes off on a wild trip, gathering  the pieces of her past. But as I read the list, I found myself making new rules for my own life.

REGRET  can be a strong motivation for CHANGE.

There’s a joke that goes: How many Lutherans does it take to change a light bulb?
Answer: We don’t know.  We don’t like change.

Perhaps it’s the same for Roman Catholics, Episcopalians, Baptists and others. But hope still beckons. Sunrises, kindnesses…even the cute but irritating cat are reminders not to allow the past to dictate NOW.  We remember that we live in a state of forgiven grace—warts and all. We make adjustments and move forward.

Because even in the last twilight of life, we’re all still moving forward.

Twilight near dresdenNote:  OKAY, Okay. I received you emails. I turned the comments back on. It’s just that I know I can’t always get back to reply to every comment. But some of you emailed me. Your admonitions made me snort root beer out my nose at the predicament I put all of you in by tethering your talk-back . I’m sorry. Please don’t take offense if I don’t reply to every comment.

Oh…never mind. You can be as offended as you want. I’m changing so I can avoid Regret #1 above.  “Stop worrying what other people will think.”
AND…..Regret #3:  Losing touch with friends.

Let ‘er rip. Tater chips. Comment to your heart’s content. I’ve missed you.

AND….please, please come back and check the progress bar at the top, right-hand side. I’m sequestered at the keyboard this month knocking out the initial draft of Book 3 in 30 days. (National Write A Novel Month). I could use your support or a swift kick in the patoot every now and then. Thanks.

(List source: The Top Five Regrets of Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departed,  Photos: clock-Marsmet546  , man-Shanoor Habib, cat-Doug88888, Sunset-Wikipedia )

Dishwasher Wars

Unwashed dishes in a sink; an authentic situation.

Load according to whose side you’re on

If you volunteered for clean-up at the church Fall Festival, then you
need to choose a side in the dishwasher wars about:

 WHAT NOT TO PUT IN THE DISHWASHER

It’s the church women who ignore the list of No-Nos on the
wall over the machine. Years of dipping their hands in hot water and grease-eating
sulfates have hardened their kitchen-warrior attitudes.

 Vera says:  “If a dish won’t stand up to a good scalding, then it hasn’t earned a spot at a potluck dinner.”

 That’s not meant to be harsh. It was actually the men who put up the list. They frequently try to explain how the washer works….

WALT: “Now, look here. Most dishes can’t stand the heat.  This machine gets so hot, you could wrap salmon filets in foil, run ‘em through a couple of cycles, and they’d be cooked. Completely cooked!”

 VERA: “Oh good grief. That sounds like something you’d do.
You must have stock in the detergent company if you want us to hand wash
everything.”

 The men’s list of “Taboo Items” include:

  • Wooden Stuff
  • Plastic stuff
  • Fancy stuff/Crystal/chinaware

 There’s more, but The Ladies have
crossed them off the list (even though they ignore the list).

  •  *Cast iron skillets
  • *Insulated travel mugs
  • *Teflon

 VERA: “What kind of an idiot would put a cast iron skillet in a dishwasher? It’d turn it into a rusty doorstop. Not even you would do that, Walt.”

 WALT: “Nope. I never wash any of my cookware.”

 VERA: “I have no doubt.”

 So the kitchen debate continues with each event. It makes for interesting clean up.

 In the spirit of controversy some joker has added a few “Allowed” items on the list.

OKAY TO WASH ON TOP
RACK

  • *Toothbrushes
  • *Baseball hats

 The Ladies haven’t marked off these items. Vera says…
“JUST PUT ANYTHING BUT A PRICELESS ANTIQUE IN THE DISHWASHER AND FORGET ABOUT IT.”

 After all, the dishwasher was invented by a woman who got tired of the servants chipping her fine china.

A hand crank dishwasher.

 Josephine Cochrane is said to

An electric dishwasher. Both were in use in 1917

have exclaimed, “If nobody else is going to invent a dishwashing machine,
I’ll do it myself!”

 In 1886 she created a
motorized washer. Her company is now part of Kitchen Aid.

 I don’t know if Ms. Cochrane was Lutheran, but I bet if she were here…

she’d ignore “The Not Allowed List” too.

The Lutheran Ladies: Out of the Church and Into the Front Yard

You know these women. You work with these women.

The Lutheran Ladies’ journeys continue. Now they’re out of the church and setting up shop in the front yard. They aren’t afraid to tell you:

  • Your shirt doesn’t go with your pants.
  • Your casserole needs more seasoning
  • You’re dating the wrong man.

Join them as they travel….

ThroughKnothole_CVR_SmashwordsThrough the Knothole
(in the Lutheran Ladies’ Series)
Book 2

Length: 60,000 words

Kay McCabe is about to lose her house. As a single mom, it’s taken her years to create a safe, cozy home. But when two old Lutheran women need a place to stay, she’s pretty sure she’s about to lose even more.

When Kay’s job falls off an economic cliff, her knee-jerk solutions of renting rooms to the Lutherans and working in a bar, plug up life even more. Now she’s stuck in a new job she hates. Exhausted, she comes home to a couple of comical old church women who barely restrain their opinions, especially about her romantic interest. It’s like living with her mother again—actually two mothers.

She’s lost her privacy. Lost her humor. Lost her faith in others. And God isn’t answering his email.

Now Kay must decide: to try to get life back to normal—or squeeze through a knothole toward the new and unknown.

AVAILABLE NOW IN PAPER AND E-BOOK
Paper ($8.49) or Electronic($3.99):

Get Your Favorite Version Here:

Amazon
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SmashwordsApple…it takes longer to get to the sales shelf on Apple. Sorry.  Email me here, and I’ll notify you when Apple has Through the Knothole ready.

Laugh, Enjoy. And Tell Others…because you know someone just like these women.

One is looking for normal
One is a charming nutcase
One is Manager-in-Training-for-the-Universe

WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG?