Thursday, March 20, 2014

Two Very Different Roads Less Travelled

Two women, now well past 50 both began their journey on this earth in Northeast Kansas.  As much as I hate to admit it, our zealously strict upbringing may have even caused us to be school chums in our early years.  The Gregorian calendar dates are interesting in that she was born October 31, 1957 and I arrived in March of 1958.  The calendar of our Creator places our arrivals in the same Biblical year with hers in the 8th month and mine, the 13th day of the 12th month.

In Kansas there seemed to be very little differentiation between the various religious independent fundamental groups, back in the 60s and 70s.  The difference was in leadership control only.  There had to be several small groups to accommodate so many independent "leaders."  The offspring had the dubious honor of simply being outcasts in the public school system, and yet, even in being made fun of and bullied, school was a refuge for some of us.  One was ultimately freed of the zealous bondage, while the other remained.

Obviously, one of these women is me, and the other is Shirley Phelps-Roper.  As the title of this article indicates, I'm not in agreement with Shirley, but rather have found an interesting "opposing parallel" in the lives we've lived.  Although, I don't think we have yet come to the end of our earthly journeys, the difference in our paths now seem to reflect a remarkable difference in our countenance.  As mentioned previously, we are very close in age and have even attended a few of the same events, but on opposite sides of the signs and sidewalks.

We grew up in very strict households and as even recent headlines show, Kansas is all about corporal punishment, and the religious households fervently cling to that thinking.  Kansas Christians are free from the law, but religiously uphold their Old Testament right of corporal punishment, yet I digress.  Back to Shirley and I.  Although we didn't know each other or grow up in the same small Kansas town; I'm guessing, by High School, she and I were both aware that we really didn't fit in well, and still somewhat naive, as to why.  For those unaware, there was a time in which Fred Phelps was a respected attorney quite active in the fight for civil rights.  By definition, we were both religious odd balls at school, and yet our parents still wanted more.

I planned to graduate after my junior year, but in a school transfer, the new school did not allow 1/2 of a credit from my junior year, so I decided I'd had enough, obtained a GED to go to college, but instead of college, became a teen-aged unwed mother.  Shirley also became an unwed mother, although I believe she was a little older.  She returned home in her pending motherhood.  I tried to return after my child arrived, but I simply could not raise my child in fundamental zealotry, so I left.  Sadly, I had no real plan of direction, just determination to not be a conservative Kansas fundamentalist.  Also sadly, Shirley stayed in the fundamental zealotry until the line between fundamental and "funny mental" has been made overbearingly apparent to most of the rest of the onlooking world.  Both of us did, however; continue further education.

In her staying, she married a man who adopted her child, and I believe they had ten more.  In my escape, I also got married, and married, and married; ultimately seven times, buried two children, lost pregnancies to miscarriage, and adopted three children.  Family wise, although very different stress; I'd say we've both experienced rather extreme family stress, as well.  My twenties and early thirties were not lived in a G-dly way, but at age 36, I came to YHWH in Messiah, and was indwelled with His Spirit.  That changed everything!

Shirley and I are both grandmas now and here's a little view of the way we've influenced the future generations.  These photos are images of events we shared with our grandchildren.  The first photo does not specify which of Fred's great grandchildren they are, but they are children of WBC, participating in a protest.  This photo of three of my grandchildren is for the front cover of a cookbook,"Sweet Memories and Happy Plates."  They tested the dishes, I wrote the recipes with vignettes and Scripture, and we published it together.


Both Shirley and I greatly resemble our fathers, and even though my father is considered a very handsome man, even in his 70s, he would not have made a pretty woman . . . Shirley and I are not beautiful women, but it's not our features that I noticed, it's the countenance.

In all fairness to her, I am not sure how recently these photos were taken so, I've done two of each of us that I think are about the same time frame, and under similar circumstances.  We were both, hopefully trying to look our best for the press . . .

Here is Shirley giving an interview, and mine is the back cover of one of my books, "Simply Abundant," published in 2009.

The next two images are later, in which she is participating in some gathering covered by the press, and my photo is for the press release of "Can We All Be Wrong?" published in 2011.


To be as accurate and fair in establishing the time and age in our photos, I have also included one recent "selfie" taken as I was preparing for my press pass photo in January of this year.  Shirley and I are not Facebook friends, so I don't know if she has a recent "selfie."

Clearly I have more gray, but Proverbs doesn't indicate that to be a bad thing at all!  The different paths of nearly 40 years definitely shows on our faces.  We may have started in the same place, but our direction has taken us a world apart.  The difference of our countenance is literally the difference between hateful religion, and a loving relationship with our Almighty Creator.
Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of G-d; and every one that loveth is born of G-d, and knoweth G-d.He that loveth not knoweth not G-d; for G-d is love.In this was manifested the love of G-d toward us, because that G-d sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.  ~ words of the beloved Apostle

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