The Help

July 22, 2020 by  
Filed under Faith, Faith Articles

By Pam Kumpe –

When the movie “The Help” popped on my radar, I found myself drawn to the story since the premise of the film portrayed a group of black maids sharing their stories in a book about life in Jackson, Mississippi in 1962.

Some of their stories appeared scandalous, while others sad, and yes, plenty sounded like they were going to be downright hilarious.

In the movie trailer, I saw the maid Aibileen who cared for children and offered her lap, her heart, and her hugs to a little girl, Mae Mobley.

Minny, the sassy maid, offered sarcasm, shined with her wit and she had a knack for making fried chicken and pies.

I had to see the movie especially since the script offered seeds of change. And if there’s one thing I think we all need, it’s stories that make us think, those that require change in us.

The first time I bought my ticket and popcorn, the theatre was packed, and I found myself sitting on row three. Row three is too close and dizzy spells ensued.

I missed plenty of points and illustrations since I spent most of the time swirling in my seat and tilting my head up to see the screen.

So after my first viewing, I had to go back. This time I watched with fresh eyes.

I’d love to play Aibileen since she’s brave and gentle and she’s constantly reminding the toddler Mae Mobley, “You is smart. You is kind. You is important.”

Imagine children growing up hearing, “You is smart. You is kind. You is important.”

In Ephesians 2:10, it tells me that we’re God’s masterpieces or handiwork. And yet, we often stop there, but the second part to that scripture reminds me to do good works.

We may at times forget to take our masterpiece self into the day with the idea of doing good works, or taking joy with us, or offering kindness and encouragement to someone else.

After all, when life is hard—thinking you are smart, kind, or important would be the last thing on your mind.

This is why I expect plenty of folks may see themselves as Minny who is quite outspoken, a perfectionist in her chores, and who hides her private pain behind the pies and pieces of chicken fried in Crisco oil.

In one scene Minny holds up a can of Crisco like it’s her best friend—saying it holds the answers to everything—nearly.

Now the racism in the movie is painful to watch, but it’s the sort of story that I believe needs to be seen, because it challenges us to do better in our walk with our neighbors.

When Skeeter (little miss straight out of college journalism major) embarks on this writing journey with the maids, it’s the words of her own beloved maid (who is missing) that I’ll never forget, “Ugly is something that grows up inside you.”

I have had ugly things growing inside of me—at times. And I’m not terribly proud of their existence. It’s like the ‘ugly’ can stick to us like crust and we find ourselves stuck in the frying pan of life surrounded by Crisco oil and other pieces of chicken.

We can’t find our way out of the past—or the pan—and the fried stuff that coats our hearts and weighs us down only gets crunchier.

However, when you put certain people together like Aibileen who feels invisible, when you mix in Minny who refuses to be invisible and Skeeter the journalist—these three women push past the icky stuff that separates folks—and hope rises up.

This movie is the best thing since fried chicken because everyone, all of you—‘is’—smart, kind and important—worthy of pie, of living with joy and being loved—you are not invisible. Your voice matters. And on days when Crisco doesn’t make life better, try soaking in God, He’s the Crisco to our hearts.

Grape Soda or Orange Soda?

May 5, 2020 by  
Filed under Faith, Faith Articles

By Pam Kumpe –

At a special needs home in Arizona, a place for about a dozen adults, my dad worked as a cook. This was his second job, and yes, by trade he was a cook at his primary job too. I figure he was the best in Arizona, I’m sure of it.

I was in high school during his time there and one summer I worked with him. No, I didn’t return for another summer because the job required me to help in the kitchen, and you know how much I love to cook, let alone clean, dust, or do
chores.

One day my mom stopped by for a tour and she met the residents and learned that for every couple of roomies, they had a staff member who assisted them. The home had a recreation room with ping pong, pool table, exercise equipment, and a library where residents could read (some could read) or paint and color
pictures.

Mom said the residents also enjoyed outings to the zoo and my father prepared their picnic lunches for them to eat at Papago Park. And they also went to the movies and other places.

While on tour, she witnessed two young women who were involved in a verbal disagreement. Since it was time for snacks, the ladies were arguing over who would get the grape soda.  It was the last glass, although there was orange soda available.

The staff member told them, “Come with me, I need to address this.” She did her best to convince one of the ladies to take an orange soda, but they both said no.

This is when it got odd, strange or weird, I’d say. The staff member told them she’d have to get the judge to decide the outcome. Wow. A judge for this?

She walked to another room, returning with a bag (one similar to one that is passed around in church for the offering), and she told my mom that in the bag was a blank card and a card with a picture of a robed judge. Whoever drew the judge out of the bag would decide who got the grape soda.

Now this sounds like a great idea. Wouldn’t it be nice to use this when your kids argue? Or maybe if you argue with a spouse the judge in the bag could decide the outcome? It would be much cheaper than court costs.

Anyway, Loretta and Alma agreed to the process since this was the standard way small disagreements were decided, and the residents always were happy with the decisions from using this bag.

Each woman drew a card and Alma drew the judge card.  Ms. Staff Member said, “Since you got the judge, it is your decision on who gets the grape soda.”

Alma stood, pondering her decision. She looked at the judge on the card. She glanced at the soda.

Now my mom thought it was a no-brainer, because Alma had the judge card—surely she would take the grape soda.

Finally, Ms Staff Member encouraged Alma to make a decision. “Alma, what is your decision?  Who gets the grape soda?”

With a sly grin, Alma smiled and said, “Loretta gets the grape soda.”

The two ladies left the room arm in arm, smiling, Alma with the orange soda and Loretta with the grape.

Now we can learn something from Alma. She chose her friendship with Loretta over grape soda. Maybe we should elect to react like Alma by using our heart in making decisions.

If other words—when I take God’s Word to my heart—without using the face of a robed judge in a bag, when I remind myself that a friend will stick closer than a brother—there’s no need to worry about what’s for dinner, what’s in the picnic sack or what soda will I get today.

I simply want to have a heart like Alma’s, don’t you? Besides, I like orange soda much better than grape any ole day.

My First AA Meeting Shines with Hope

March 26, 2020 by  
Filed under Faith, Faith Articles

By Pam Kumpe –

It’s not every day I attend an AA meeting. After I picked up a young lady at the rehab facility for her off-campus day outing, I discovered our first stop was—the AA meeting. I drove about 10 minutes to a white building, tucked near a park, on a dead-end street. Women and men, young and old walked inside taking a seat, some greeting others, while some simply took a seat.

I sat next to my friend on the wall, and I heard the testimony of Tim, a nice looking middle aged man, who spoke of his journey of alcohol and its hold on his life. He shared the victories in his life without the drink, and his discovery of ice tea at restaurants instead of beer. His new philosophy—keep it simple and take it one day at a time—with God at his side.

Larry spoke of attending his son’s high school football game, and going there sober, and of knowing he was going to remember the night with a clear head. He cheered his son on at the game and was confident he’d go to the next game.

Arturo lost everything a few years ago, and he spoke of his divorce and how that personal chapter sent him into despair. He thought, living without the woman he loved was not possible, so one night he ended up on the highway, got arrested and spent some time in a mental facility. He’s taking his recovery seriously, says he’s still lonely, but he is trusting in God with his life, and living in the present, and he’s staying focused and finding support from friends.

Britney shared how she spends a lot of time in the Bible processing what God says, and she mentioned she knows it involves surrendering her all to God, but she’s not quite there yet. She was quick to say she loves God and is working on becoming the woman she was meant to be.

Cliff shared his heart while sitting in his wheel chair. He’s an older man who leans on the group spiritually and emotionally, and is hanging on to his day, always looking for answers.

As I sat there in the room, I noticed a common thread—our need for love, our need for Jesus to be a part of our lives (even when we don’t know this), and how the heart of the broken and bruised is not only found in AA meetings—it’s all around, because we all hurt or feel lost or find ourselves lonely from time to time.

As simple as God’s love is, this bridge of hope can seem so far to the wandering heart. In reality the Lord is near the broken hearted, and in Matthew 11:28 Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

On that morning, I found rest with some friends, and somehow, I needed them more than they’ll ever know. I never expected to cry—I never expected to feel the love—I never expected to find such hope; but when Jesus is at the meeting—grace and mercy rise up and take the front seat of our heart.

Standing for the Wrong Thing

February 16, 2020 by  
Filed under Faith, Faith Articles

By Pam Kumpe –

This example of a young and energetic American missionary who went to Venezuela for his first term reminds me of how we may sit through church services not understanding or even trying to comprehend the message.

This missionary did try to understand by taking the time to learn the language, but he didn’t really get it. On his first day in Venezuela, he was late for church. He walked inside and slipped down the aisle to the only pew with a seat—on the front row.

During the service, he struggled to understand the message so he decided to pick someone near him to imitate. This way, everyone would think he knew the language.

The man sitting next to Mr. Missionary became the best choice and he started mimicking every action.

When the congregation worshiped and sang the missionary peeked at his neighbor’s

hymnal to see the page number. When the man stood up to pray, yes, the young missionary stood up too. When the man sat down, Mr. Missionary copied the move.

This makes me wonder how much we pay attention in church. After all, we do speak the same language don’t we? We should understand our preacher, right? But do we go into remote and forget to listen?

We stand. Sing. Sit down. Turn the page in our hymnals. We open our Bible. We mark the place with our finger. We look up and make eye contact with our preacher. We appear to understand.

We even use a yellow marker on scriptures. We nod in agreement. And we say amen at all the right places. But I must ask. What did your pastor preach on last Sunday? Now I’m meddling, back to Mr. Missionary.

He sat on the pew and tried to look just like that man. Do we do the same? Are we simply trying our best to look like everyone else?

Next, in this service the preacher gave announcements. Everyone clapped at something the pastor said, so Mr. Missionary joined in clapping his hands too. Then the preacher said some words that were even more confusing and the man next to the missionary stood up. So Mr. Missionary stood up too.

Suddenly a hush fell over the entire congregation, even a few people gasped, and a few fingers pointed at the two men—the only two standing. Mr. Missionary looked around and saw that nobody else was standing, so he sat down.

After the service, the preacher shook hands with everyone as they left. He stretched out his hand to greet the missionary and spoke in English, “I take it you don’t speak Spanish?”

The missionary replied, “No, I don’t. Is it that obvious?”

“Well, yes. I announced that a family in our church had a new baby boy, and I asked the proud father to stand up. Seems there’s some discussion on who the father is now.”

As usual I see a lesson in this story because many of us attend church. We love to sing. We have our Bibles. But do we listen?

If you are imitating a person, be careful because before you know it—when you least expect it, you may find yourself standing up when you should remain seated.

So this Sunday if you are happy to remain an imitator then sit in the pew beside someone and copy him or her, clap and stand at random.

Or try this. Sit up front. Listen with your heart. Take notes. Apply the message to your daily walk—because John 8:47 reminds me that whoever belongs to God hears what God says.

Just be you, it’s better than imitating others—it frees you to sit on the pew of life with understanding, and you’ll clap at the right time. You’re the only you—there is, fearfully made and wonderfully loved by God. Beside, you don’t want to get caught standing for the wrong thing, now do you?

Refuge in the Storm

December 5, 2019 by  
Filed under Faith, Faith Articles

By Pam Kumpe    –

When a tornado warning comes over my television, I gather up personal items and disappear to my bathroom. Some of my friends tend to make fun of me when they hear that I run for cover, and they laugh at the way I gather up belongings and pack them into the tub, but after the tornadoes I’ve heard about this year in Alabama and Missouri, I’m convinced more than ever to run and hide during storms.

I’ll continue to grab blankets and pillows to protect my head, my laptop, my back up drive, my schnauzer Macy, my Bible, two or three candles (lighting them prior to the electricity going out), my purse, eye glasses, and a flashlight.

Once I’m in the tub, I keep myself posted on the weather with updates on my cell phone, but it since it takes only a few minutes until I get bored, I’m ready to snap pictures of my dog as she sleeps on the quilt at the other end of the tub. She’s spent too many nights with me during storms and considers this a place to nap.

On my most recent visit to the tub a hail storm pounded the roof on my house and the winds ripped off branches from the trees in the back yard. And although my husband teased me, he joined me in the hall bathroom after sirens sounded off.

Our night ended with hail damage to both our vehicles and to the roof, but when I listened to the survivor stories in Alabama and those is Joplin, Missouri I found myself grateful and saddened—all at the same time.

A young lady described her night of terror, as she stepped back into her bathtub, the only remaining spot in her house. She folded up, got down on her knees, tucked her head in and said she had held onto the side of the tub.

Many people only had piles of debris in the places where homes once sat and block after block of houses lay splintered in massive heaps of rubble.

A man told his story, of how he too had crawled into the tub, taking his two dogs with him. At one point the suction pulled his pets into the air. They were flying above the man’s head and moving away from him.

The only thing that saved his dogs—he had them on leashes.

One man told of a donut truck flying through his living room. Another man got hit in the head by a Jeep.

A father cried as he looked for his six year old son, and yes, they found the boy alive some time later.

I saw a photo of a man holding a paper sack with these words: The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Psalm 9:9.

Another photo showed a cross in a yard and choir robes in a destroyed church were unharmed in a closet.

Another photo showed a man as he flipped through a damaged photo album and diesel trucks were tossed into piles along the road, they looked like Tinker toys.

People hugged, many with their hands covering their mouths, and groups stood in the street shaking their heads. A man cuddled his cat. A dog looked for his owner.

Then I saw a photo of a Bible, a black leather one and it was sitting on debris.

A teenager walked around with an American flag draped over his shoulders.

Storms are scary, no matter if you hide from them in the tub or ride them out in the closet, and talk about fear—when deadly storms rush in, there’s not much a person can do—but hold on and pray.

And the next time I’m headed to the tub, I’m putting a leash on my dog so she won’t get away from me if the suction pulls on her. Maybe I’ll put a leash on my hubby too.

Speaking of leashes, this reminds me of how God’s leash of love is extended to us. He is ready to hold onto the broken hearted; those who are trying to recover and move on after devastating storms.

So let’s pray for the hurting—lift them up, lend a hand if you can because these folks need God’s hope. And to make it through to the next day, I pray God is their refuge in these hard times, and they find refuge in His love.

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