VINTAGE BEDROOM BEATS
"CAN'T HELP LOVIN' THAT MAN" JULIE LONDON
"FEVER" PEGGY LEE
"BLUE PRELUDE" CANDIDO CAMERO
"I'VE GOT A CRUSH ON YOU" ELLA FITZGERALD
"I JUST WANT TO MAKE LOVE TO YOU" ETTA JAMES
"MAKIN' WHOOPEE" JULIE LONDON
"AS TIME GOES BY" KAY PENTON
"BECAUSE YOU'RE MINE" NAT KING COLE
DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE ROMANTIC SONG
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I don't know about you, but I believe that there is something very romantic about the 1950's. It goes beyond the "cool" design aesthetics in automobiles and home interiors. And as much as I love fashion, I must confess that it also surpasses the level of celebration and honor in fashion trends for both genders. The 1950's were a time when gratitude was high in the hearts of the American people. It was post-WWII, families were reunited, children were safe to play in the streets (even after dark), and although homes weren't burgenoning with material goods, people were less stressed and generally more happy. Faith, marriage, family and the roles of responsibility there-in were still held in high-esteem. My precious father, who was born in 1940, taught me that gratitude infuses all of your relationships with a level of honor and respect. It is sadly very hard to come by nowadays in our entitled, "It's all about me" culture. Speaking of gratitude, I am certainly grateful for all of the modern advances in medicine, technology and living conditions that we get to enjoy. However, there is a part of me that looks back with a sense of longing for a beautiful, more simplistic era gone by, an era that we can only experience now through the stories of those who were blessed enough to live it and live on to tell it.
Author, Ronilynn Brissey-Ramos
"LIGHT HIS FIRE" THIS CHRISTMAS
Is romance dead?
Some would say that it is completely dead and buried. Our tech-obsessed, sex-crazed, distracted, stressed out and self-absorbed culture might be to blame. Or is it? A very wise man once said, “Your past may explain you, but it does not excuse you.” In this case, I say, “Your culture may explain you, but it does not excuse you.”
Before we can truly ponder the question and answer to this dilemma, we must first understand what romance is. We must open ourselves up to the idea that we have strayed from the essential romantic path that leads to a life of true, honorable, and lasting love.
Merriam-Webster defines romance as a medieval tale based on legend, chivalric love, and adventure, or the supernatural; a prose narrative treating imaginary characters involved in events remote in time or place and usually heroic, adventurous, or mysterious; a love story especially in the form of a novel and something (as an extravagant story or account) that lacks basis in fact. Lastly, it defines it as an emotional attraction or aura belonging to an especially heroic era, adventure, or activity.
When we ask our friends, “What is romance?” We tend to get a totally different variety of ideas. Most people think of what I consider acts or expressions of love versus a literary or historical ideal. Things like sending roses, writing a lover’s poem or song, surprising gifts, extravagant or well-planned experiences, etc. often top the list of answers given. What if we consider the notion that true and lasting romance (the kind that real life love stories are made of) is a combination of both Merriam-Webster’s definition and our collective ideas of love?
Many of us long for romance now more than ever. The disconnected way in which we do life and the prevalence of casual sex without emotional connection have left us increasingly lonely and longing. There are more people turning to alternative solutions (like pornography, romance novels, manufactured vaginas and dildos, and high-tech virtual aka “video game” sex) for their “love fix” than any other time in history. Much of this may be due to an ease of accessibility, but what if we are actually sabotaging ourselves by forfeiting the basics? By forfeiting things like human connection, respect, virtue, honesty, chastity, and the like.
How do we begin to combat this epidemic and return to REAL romance? First, let’s dive deeper into the definition. Chivalry has long been viewed as an essential component of romance, but I believe that we have lost an understanding and appreciation for it all together (to the point that young men don’t know how to treat a lady and young ladies don’t know how they should be treated). Chivalry was a high example for us all that fell onto the ash heap of history somewhere along the way. Courteous behavior, especially that of a man towards a woman was once the norm. Many men were truly chivalrous in their relations with women. They were models of gentlemanliness, gallantry, courtesy, politeness, graciousness, and restraint. To be otherwise in dealing with a lady, one would be shunned and labeled a classless brut. However, men are increasingly seeing women primarily as sexual objects and treating them with little to no respect whatsoever.
Ladies, the weight of responsibility in all of this does not rest on men alone. We too have changed our modus operandi over the course of time. We have lost our appreciation for femininity, mystery, and (dare I say) inherent nobility which lends itself to self-respect. Along the way we were told that we must be like a man to gain respect, but what if we were being fed a lie? What if “respect” was peddled to us as a guise for rebellion and dominance? What if that female dominance was the very thing that robbed us of chivalry? And what if the lack of chivalry robbed us of romance? And what if the absence of romance robbed us of our true tales of life-long love?
I’m reminded of the classic and great song chorus by The Fixx, “One Thing Leads to Another.” May we reconsider what our choices are leading us to. May we revisit the qualities that created countless life-long love stories that fill the pages of history. Stories that are not mere literary imaginations of fantasy and legend. They are real and not just a thing of the past. They exist today, and we hold the power of choice to make them our reality for the future if we choose to put down our hand-held devices (phones, tablets, and even sex toys) to reconnect with the humanity around us. Take time to honor and respect, know and become known. Be trustworthy so that your life-long love can give themselves to you with reckless abandon, nothing held back in safe keeping because you are worthy of their all, their most precious self, their true essence and their love…for a lifetime.
So, “Is romance dead?” I say, "Not if you CHOOSE to keep it alive and FIGHT for it."
Copyright ©2016 by Ronilynn Brissey-Ramos
Google the word “dating” on the internet and find a long list to “To-do” items. Things like how many days you should wait before calling, the protocols for texting and facebook, the list of non-negotiable things you are looking for as a potential life long mate, how to impress on a first date… the list goes on and on.
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Some single women cringe at the word, thinking they could never handle them.
Some married women long for them, hoping that their empty home will one day be bustling with them.
Some men exploit them, selling them on the streets, our streets, for sex every single day.
According to Psalm 127:3, children are a BLESSING and a GIFT, and at Street Grace, we have devoted our lives to ensuring they are treated as such. When Street Grace first opened its doors in 2009, children who had been trafficked for sex were treated as criminals rather than the victims they really were. Traffickers received a misdemeanor, and a mere $50 fine. In May of 2011, House Bill 200 was passed into law increasing the penalties on traffickers to include a possible life prison sentence and a $100,000 fine.
Although we have come a long way, children are still vulnerable and are still being bought and sold for sex in our own backyards. As I reflect on the depravity of our culture today, I am reminded that for generations, children have been looked down upon, considered “less than.” We really aren’t all that different from the Roman culture that Jesus experienced when he walked the earth. As Christians, if we are called to be “Christ-followers” then it’s vital for us to understand how Jesus treated children.
In Matthew 19, we find the story of Jesus and the Little Children. Jesus is busy going about his business, you know healing people from life-threatening illness, raising people from the dead. It’s just an average day as God’s son when Jesus is interrupted by parents who are bringing their children to him. Imagine the scene. Hundreds, maybe even thousands, are surrounding Jesus, just to get a glimpse of this miracle man. As most parents today, they wanted the best for their children. They wanted them to experience Jesus firsthand. I mean his shadow alone can heal! They push to the front of the dusty crowd and tell little Samuel or little Rebecca to go and sit by the nice man only to be told by Jesus’ closest friends that they are not welcome. They are not welcome? The innocent little children, created in the very image of God, are not welcome? Not only are they not welcomed, but they are rebuked (verse 13) and rejected for trying to get close to Jesus. It’s almost unfathomable.
What does this encounter tell us about the Grecco-Roman world and Jewish culture at that time? It tells us that children were not only de-prioritized, but they were considered a nuisance, a bother to society. Children, along with women, old men and slaves were considered physically weak and burdensome. In the time of the early church, babies were often discarded and abandoned along the side of the road to die if they were unable to add value to society. According to Wikipedia, "Infanticide was common in all well studied ancient cultures, including those of ancient Greece, Rome, India, China, and Japan.”
From the very beginning, the early church prohibited any such behavior because to the Christian, every infant, male or female, had value. The early church provided social services that the government did not at the time, by caring not only for their own but by caring for those vulnerable populations who could not care for themselves. They did it so well that the Galileans started getting the attention of notable leaders including emperor Julian, who loathed Christians because he suspected their benevolence had ulterior motives. According to sociologist, Rodney Stark:
In the fourth century, the emperor Julian launched a campaign to institute pagan charities in an effort to match the Christians. Julian complained in a letter to the high priest of Galatia in 362 that the pagans needed to equal the virtues of Christians, for recent Christian growth was caused by their “moral character, even if pretended,” and by their “benevolence toward strangers and care for the graves of the dead.” In a letter to another priest, Julian wrote, “I think that when the poor happened to be neglected and overlooked by the priests, the impious Galileans observed this and devoted themselves to benevolence.” And he also wrote, “The impious Galileans support not only their poor, but ours as well, everyone can see that our people lack aid from us.” (Stark, The Rise to Christianity)
Why would the early church go to such great lengths, at times even risking their own lives, to care for the vulnerable? I believe it’s because the early church closely followed the words and actions of Jesus. After all, according to Paul in Acts 20:35, Jesus himself said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” And there’s also the time Jesus said in Luke 6:31 to “Do to others as you would have them do to you.”
And that brings me back to the story of Jesus and the children in Matthew 19. The apostles have just rebuked the parents for having the audacity to interrupt and bother Jesus with their insignificant children. Mom and dad are likely hurt, saddened and perhaps even confused. Jesus, like only he can, chooses this time in history as a teaching moment, knowing that Christians for hundreds of years to come would be able to learn from this encounter. His response? “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” As people of faith, we are called to emulate the words and actions of Jesus, which means we too are to embrace, welcome, serve, and love children. Why? Because the kingdom of heaven belongs to...CHILDREN.
Cheryl DeLuca-Johnson is the President and CEO of Street Grace, a community-based organization that provides solutions for ending Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking (DMST) in the United States. Because children are priceless, Street Grace provides programs such as Not Buying It, a demand reduction partnership with Attorney General offices across the country, as well as training initiatives to educate first responders providing protective oversight to children such as teachers, counselors and law enforcement. Street Grace is working toward a day when all children can live happy, healthy, and productive lives that are free from all forms of injustice and exploitation. To learn more, visit www.streetgrace.org.
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