Jun 18th, 2010 by Sonja

Today you get two for the price of one … because I forgot yesterday.  Or got distracted.  Or something.

Without further adieu …

What’s the one food you feel like you couldn’t live without? What’s the one food you’d rather die than put in your mouth?

I cannot live without ice cream.  Chocolate ice cream.  With nuts.  And/or brownies in it.  Ice cream is what God eats.  But it doesn’t make Him/Her gain any weight.

The food I’d rather die than put in my mouth?  Canned fish, not tuna, but things like sardines or mussels, or octopi … horrible snotty bits of oily smelly seafood that look like turds in a tin.  [shudder]  LightHusband and LightBoy love these in a very primal way.  It makes my stomach turn just to write these sentences.

If you could take a train journey through any part of the world, where would you go?

For all of our married life LightHusband has loved to tease me with the idea that he is going to take me to Kenya and we’ll live in a hut there.  Now, lest you think I’m a suburban princess who cannot get by in a hut, that is not why I find this forbidding.  It’s the heat and humidity.  Sub-saharan Africa has always looked like hell to me because I hate heat.  Cannot stand it.  I’d much rather be cold than hot and I’ve been this way since I was a very small child.

So when I daydreamed about this question I was very surprised by the pictures that came to mind.  I saw myself in a train, a very old-fashioned steam powered train (by the way), traveling slowly through sub-Saharan Africa!!  This train went through lots of small tiny places and I got off everywhere and walked deep into the bush so that I could visit the back of beyond and meet people.  It was a fabulous trip.  And I loved it.

P.S.  The train was not air-conditioned.  I just wanted all of you to know that.

Aunt Jemima – International Women’s Day Synchroblog
Mar 7th, 2009 by Sonja

In celebration of International Women’s Day, Julie Clawson of One Hand Clapping challenged us to find some unsung heroines of the Bible and celebrate their stories today in a synchroblog.  So I pulled up BibleGateway and put “daughter” into their search engine.  I think it came back with about 110 hits … or something like that.

Some daughters just got honorable mention.  That is, they were simply mentioned as so and so’s daughter and that was the end of that.  Others had an actual story attached to their name.  Sometimes the story was fairly mysterious.  As in the case with Caleb’s daughter.  She was married to her cousin, by Caleb’s younger brother because Caleb had promised his daughter to whomever won a particular battle.  His nephew won the battle, so he married off his daughter.  This is not very acceptable by today’s standards, but in that culture we can understand it.  The next couple of verses recount an event that is odd.  Caleb’s daughter went to him and asked for some additional land.  When he gave it to her, she also asked for a couple of springs.  So he gave her those.  And there the story of Caleb’s daughter ends.  With the gift of springs.  It’s mysterious, really.  In there for a reason, but why?

So I moved on and found the story of Job’s daughters:  Jemimah, Keziah and Keren-Happuch.  This story can be found in Job, chapter 42 … the very end of the book.  Job has come through his trials with some version of success:

1 Then Job replied to the LORD :

 2 “I know that you can do all things;
no plan of yours can be thwarted.

 3 You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?’
Surely I spoke of things I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me to know.

 4 “You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak;
I will question you,
and you shall answer me.’

 5 My ears had heard of you
but now my eyes have seen you.

 6 Therefore I despise myself
and repent in dust and ashes.”

7 After the LORD had said these things to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has. 8 So now take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and sacrifice a burnt offering for yourselves. My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer and not deal with you according to your folly. You have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.” 9 So Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite did what the LORD told them; and the LORD accepted Job’s prayer.

This is curious to me, because here we see the result of what happens to friends who might give you (however well-meaning) an incorrect perspective of God during your trials.  Those friends will have to sacrifice in your presence and have you pray over them.  This is an interesting perspective that I’ve not heard taken away from Job … but more on that another time.   I’m just thinking we need to be very careful with what we say to people about God when they are experiencing trials.

In any case, the account goes on tell us what happens to Job in the rest of his life:

 10 After Job had prayed for his friends, the LORD made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before. 11 All his brothers and sisters and everyone who had known him before came and ate with him in his house. They comforted and consoled him over all the trouble the LORD had brought upon him, and each one gave him a piece of silver and a gold ring.

 12 The LORD blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the first. He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand donkeys. 13 And he also had seven sons and three daughters. 14 The first daughter he named Jemimah, the second Keziah and the third Keren-Happuch. 15 Nowhere in all the land were there found women as beautiful as Job’s daughters, and their father granted them an inheritance along with their brothers.

 16 After this, Job lived a hundred and forty years; he saw his children and their children to the fourth generation. 17 And so he died, old and full of years.

Wait?  What?  Three short sentences.  That is all we have of Job’s daughters.  They were part of a family of 10 siblings.  We don’t know where they fell in the sibling order.  We do know who among the girls was eldest, middle and youngest.  We know they were beautiful.  Most astonishing of all, we know that “… their father granted them an inheritance along with their brothers.”  That’s it.

It’s a genealogist’s worst nightmare.  We have names and nothing else.  We know only the most bare facts of their existence.  But we know one more thing.  Job gave them status.  He told the world that his daughters were equal to men.  His daughters were not chattel to belong to their husbands.  They owned something of their father in their own right.  I’m not certain I can fully convey how remarkable this was for that time.

It was miraculous.  Unheard of.  Women were not considered capable of owning or managing the things that men did.   But Job did it.

These are the just sorts of passages I do love.  Open-ended, without a tidy message.  We don’t know what happened to Job’s daughters.  We do know that Job lived to see “… his children and their children to the fourth generation.”  I believe that would be his great, great grandchildren if I’ve figured correctly.  My guess is that his daughters married and children of their own.  So how did they use their inheritance?  And … did they pass it on to their daughters?  What was their inheritance?  Was it land, animals, jewels?

I wonder about those things you see.  We have things (land, jewels and the like) that have been only passed to women in my family.  Our summer lake house is among them.  When my aunt left it to our family, she left it to my mom (her relative).  Her will stipulated that if my mother had pre-deceased her, it was to go to me and my brothers.  She was emphatic that it stay in her family.  In the 100 years prior to that, the house had always passed woman to woman.

They are so intriguing to me.  Those daughters.  Jemimah, Keziah and Keren-Happuch.  They are the opposing book-end to Job’s first three daughters.  As I thought about them and let their names rattle around I came to another realization.  I’d heard two of the names before.  Jemimah and Keziah were common names given to girls who were slaves in the American South.

I started looking for confirmation of that.  Of course, I quickly ran into a brick wall … because records of what slaves were named by each other were … um … slim.  Nobody thought it was important to keep track of what they called each other.  Sometimes just the gender and the slaveholders last name is recorded.  Certainly, no inheritance was given to these men and women.  It is intriguing to me that Jemima and Keziah were used as girls names though.

I wonder … could those names have been picked on purpose?  Are they names of hope?  We’ll never know for certain.  But we do know some few things.  We know that some slaves were given Christian training.  Some were even given Bible teaching.  We know that some of the stories resonated with their experience and certainly Job’s would have been among them.  It’s not a terrible stretch to imagine naming your daughter Jemima or Keziah out of hope … hope that one day you would have an inheritance to leave her, hope that she would be known as the daughter of a man who was blessed by God, hope that your trial would be ended in blessing rather than curses.

I think there might be something to that.  None of Job’s other children are named.  Not his first ten children (seven sons, three daughters) and not his second seven sons; just these three daughters.  So, it seems to me that these names spring to the top as names that are symbolic of the hope of a good outcome at the end of horrible trials … the kind of trials endured by slaves in the antebellum South.

Aunt JemimaThus I came to the Aunt Jemima pancake empire.  It was begun in the 1890’s by two men who, having created an instant pancake mix, needed an icon to name it and represent.  One of them ducked into a black-face minstrel show and there heard the following song:

The monkey dressed in soldier clothes,
Old Aunt Jemima, oh! oh! oh!
Went out in the woods for to drill some crows,
Old Aunt Jemima, oh! oh! oh!
The jay bird hung on the swinging limb,
Old Aunt Jemima, oh! oh! oh!
I up with a stone and hit him on the shin,
Old Aunt Jemima, oh! oh! oh!
Oh, Carline, oh, Carline,
Can’t you dance the bee line,
Old Aunt Jemima, oh! oh! oh!

The bullfrog married the tadpole’s sister,
Old Aunt Jemima, oh! oh! oh!
He smacked his lips and then he kissed her,
Old Aunt Jemima, oh! oh! oh!
She says if you love me as I love you,
Old Aunt Jemima, oh! oh! oh!
No knife can cut our love in two,
Old Aunt Jemima, oh! oh! oh!
Oh, Carline, oh, Carline,
Can’t you dance the bee line,
Old Aunt Jemima, oh! oh! oh!

Shortly after hearing the name, Nancy Green was hired to represent Aunt Jemima.  She was currently working as a servant for a judge in Chicago, but had been born and raised a slave in antebellum Kentucky.  Aunt Jemima and her pancakes were introduced at the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 in Chicago.  It was held from May to November and Nancy smiled, sang, told slave tales, flipped and served almost a million pancakes during that six month period.  In the hundred and ten years since then she has become perhaps the most well-known African American female face in history.

Yet, there is something vaguely disturbing about that.  This name, Jemimah, started out as a name of hope, blessing, inheritance and beauty had become a term interchangeable with disparagement, slavery and bondage and now … commerce.  You never hear Jemimah as a name anymore.  There are no young women with that name … no fathers or mothers hoping to pass on that message of hope, blessing and inheritance to their daughters with that name because it’s lost all of it’s power.

We still hear Keziah.  You might not recognize it.  You’ll hear Keshia or Aisha.  Both of those names have their roots in Keziah.  A name of hope and blessing and inheritance for girls.   That’s just what we need to give our daughters today … a sense of hope and blessing and inheritance.  What sort of inheritance will you give your daughters?


This is my contribution to the International Women’s Day Synchroblog –

Here are links to some others –

Julie Clawson on the God who sees
Steve Hayes on St. Theodora the Iconodule
Sonja Andrews on Aunt Jemima
Sensuous Wife on a single mom in the Bible
Minnowspeaks on celebrating women
Michelle Van Loon on the persistant widow
Lyn Hallewell on the strength of biblical women
Shawna Atteberry on the Daughter of Mary Magdalene
Christine Sine on women who impacted her life
Susan Barnes on Tamar, Ruth, and Mary
Kathy Escobar on standing up for nameless and voiceless women
Ellen Haroutunian on out from under the veil
Liz Dyer on Mary and Martha
Bethany Stedman on Shiphrah and Puah
Dan Brennan on Mary Magdalene
Jessica Schafer on Bathsheba
Eugene Cho on Lydia
Laura sorts through what she knows about women in the Bible
Miz Melly preached on the woman at the well
AJ Schwanz on women’s workteenage girls changing the world
Teresa on the women Paul didn’t hate
Helen on Esther
Happy on Abigail
Mark Baker-Wright on telling stories
Robin M. on Eve
Patrick Oden on Rahab and the spies
Alan Knox is thankful for the women who served God
Lainie Petersen on the unnamed concubine
Mike Clawson on cultural norms in the early church
Krista on serving God
Bob Carlton on Barbie as Icon
Jan Edmiston preached on the unnamed concubine
Deb on her namesake – Deborah
Makeesha on empowering women

I’m Not Dead Yet
Feb 20th, 2009 by Sonja

I'm not dead yet ...

Wow … I took a little blog vacation there.  I didn’t mean to.  In fact, my writing has really suffered for the last few months.  I think I’ve finally found out why.

I was beginning to think I was going to have to say a fond farewell and just turn my back on this place I’ve called home for the past few years.  The thought was breaking my heart.  So I just wasn’t doing anything at all.  But I didn’t have anything to write either.  And well … let me tell you the story.

In some ways it starts with my dad.  But if I tell you that part now, I’ll be giving away the ending.  I’ll just say that there is an autoimmune disorder that runs in my family and leave you hanging with that for the moment.

In other ways it also starts about sixteen or seventeen years ago as well when one of my doctors noticed that something was enlarged.  It was mysterious, there was no genesis for this.  And, apparently nothing to worry about; no tumors or growths.  It was just enlarged.  So we waited and watched.  Then a few years ago it shrank back.

And then this also starts with my fall off the cliff three years ago.  As it turns out depression and panic attacks are markers of this malady I am currently dealing with.  So what is it?

Well … here’s the story.  Around the time of the Inaugural Ball (for which I still owe you photos, although there are not many), I got a low grade infection/irritation in my nether regions.  It was not a big deal and something I’ve dealt with many, many times in my adult life.  I did not go to the doctor for several weeks as I was trying to heal on my own.  It didn’t work.  Went to the doctor.  He prescribed a round of antibiotics.  But it wasn’t long enough.  So they called in another round of antibiotics.

Through all of this I was just exhausted.  I can’t even begin to describe how very tired I was all.  the.  time.  I would fall asleep in my chair around 8 every evening and do nothing all day.    I was so cold all the time.  And gaining weight just looking at food.

I felt as though I was not shaking the low grade infection even on the second round of antibiotics.  So I went back to the doctor.  To my actual doctor this time, not just anyone in the practice.  At some point in the past month, I’d had blood work done.  Lo and behold … my thyroid is beginning to quit.  This explains almost everything.

It explains why I can’t hold a train of thought long enough to write.  Or even read.

Why my hair has been falling out in handfuls for three years.

Why, although my panic has been controlled, we can’t get it to go away completely.

Same for the depression.

Why (as my brother with the same issue said) I can’t walk by sandwich without gaining three pounds.

Why I can’t stay awake past 8 in the evening.

And several other things that I can’t remember right now.  I’ve joined my family’s dysfunctional thyroid club (with my father and my brother).   So my doctor put me on synthetic thyroid hormone.  Things are beginning to clear up for me.

I’m doing some research and will continue to do so on what the best form of treatment for this is.  I know that tweaking the hormone replacement can takes months or even years.  But it’s do-able.  For the first time in a long time I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.  I might even find me there.  That is good.

Ball Gown Odyssey & Rant
Jan 17th, 2009 by Sonja

Note to clothing and pattern manufacturers –

Large women can, do and desire to wear tailored beautiful clothing.  Flour sacks went out with, well, I guess pig stys and muu-muus.  A large, dumpy, unfitted piece of clothing only serves to make one look larger and sort of unfinished.   But an article of clothing which fits well and is constructed for one’s body type will actually serve to make one look attractive, no matter what their weight or size.  We need to loose the notion that wearing flour sacks covers things up … it doesn’t.  It just makes you look worse.  And sloppy to boot. Hint to manufacturers … watch Tim Gunn.  He really does know what he’s talking about.

I spent Wednesday afternoon with the pattern, tracing it onto sewer paper.  Then cut it out to make a mock up.   Thursday I was overwhelmed.  Then Friday morning I decided I hated the original pattern; it looked too old and not dressy enough.  I ditched the first pattern.  Did some quick internet pattern shopping here and found two patterns I loved and could purchase at my local sewing store on the way to roller skating with the LightChildren.

Problem – even though both patterns would look stunning on the larger figure, neither was sized for anything above an 18.  Pooh!  Good thing BlazingEwe and I know how to pattern draft.  She’s a whizkid at it because of her background in architecture, I pretty much fumble around in her shadow.  But that is why we share a brain.  So we spent yesterday afternoon putting the two patterns together to make one dress and resizing it for me!  Even if we’d done nothing else, we’d have needed to add five inches to the length of the skirt because I’m taller than the average woman.

In any case, I thought I’d post pictures of the patterns here.  They’re made by Kwik Sew.  I’ve never used this pattern manufacturer before.  I really like them so far because the pattern is printed on real paper, not tissue paper.  We’ll see how the directions and everything else goes.  But I’m impressed at this point.

Kwik Sew 3382

I’m using the bodice from the above dress.  I love the V-neck and the tucks in the bodice.  You can’t see it here, but it’s also got a V in the back bodice as well.  I haven’t decided whether or not to make a wrap from the organza or use a velvet wrap I have.  It’s going to be in the teens or 20’s on Monday night.  I have a feeling time is going to make the decision for me.

Kwik Sew 3307

See view A?  I’m using that skirt with the bodice from the pattern above.  I’m using the patterned organza in the flounces.  No sleeves.  We briefly thought about re-structuring the arm-holes in the  bodice from the first to be able to add bell sleeves.  But … time over-rode us.  It’s easier to make a sleeveless dress at this point.

Well … I need to finish cutting it all out before LightGirl’s hockey game today (we leave at 10:30 a.m.) and get my sewing space organized for the onslaught.

“I Was Afraid Of My Big Fat Butt”
Jan 15th, 2009 by Sonja

“Well … I was!”  That’s what BlazingEwe said to me yesterday as she tried on my dress.  “I didn’t think my butt would fit in that dress.”

“I knew it would.” I assured her.  As is usual for us, we were sharing clothes in a fashion emergency.

What could possibly be a fashion emergency for two 40+ suburban moms with not too much on our minds?

I’ll tell you what.

Last minute tickets to an inaugural ball … that’s what.

BossManDan gave LightHusband his four tickets to the Texas State Society Black Tie and Boots Inaugural Ball.  As a lifelong Republican, he would not be very interested in celebrating the inauguration this year.  But he knew we would be, so he gave the tickets to us.  Yippee!  He’s a very good friend.

It’s a fashion emergency because neither of BlazingEwe nor I have ever been to a black tie affair.   Never anticipated it either.  So neither of us happen to have a ball gown hanging in our closets.  We also happen to have a certain zaftig, curvy … full-blown figure.  Hers is more hour-glass or pear-shaped.  I’m more of the apple variety.  Together, we make a nice fruit salad with our nutty husbands.

Generally speaking, we’re not so happy about this state of affairs.  But we’re not so unhappy that we’d actually do anything more than complain to each other about it.  Most days we can find clothes that we like and feel beautiful in.  This day was not that day.  Just try finding ball gowns for a certain zaftig figure …

They make polyester, shiny flour sacks and put a few baubles on them.  And charge about $200 for them.  To make you look fatter than you already are.  Don’t even fool yourself that anyone will make a silk gown in that certain size.  What kind of fool are you to think you can be zaftig AND beautiful AND dress in silk?

Being beautiful is only for thin folks.  As the saying goes … you can never be too rich or too thin.

But I tend to be stubborn and willful and have this insane desire to tilt at windmills.  Reading Don Quixote in Spanish in 11th grade didn’t help.  So I decided to make my dress.  And I am.  I found some gorgeous emerald green dupioni and a beautiful matching print silk organza.  I might even have time to make LightHusband a matching green bowtie to wear with his tuxedo.

But what would BlazingEwe wear?  Then I remembered the dress I’d bought for the company Christmas party and never worn (because it was too much and my back was in full spasm by then).  It had shown up on the “evening gown” page of the on-line store where I’d purchased it.  But it was not evening gown material for me … I’m too tall and it would not be long enough.  BlazingEwe though?  She tried it on and sure enough.  It fit.

I’m thinking though about this dearth of beautiful clothing made from natural fibers for larger women.  It might be a windmill worth tilting at.

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