Some tweets make me want to cry.
Some tweets make me want to cry.
A friend of mine who is a math teacher says she was teaching symbols in her class.  She would draw it on the board and her kids would yell out the name.

So she drew “#.”

And her kids yelled “hashtag!”

Hashtag.  Of course # is a hashtag. Ten years ago, it was a pound sign, but to a ten year old, # isahashtag.

And while #isahashtag everything else #hasahashtag.

A parade #hasahashtag.  A church #hasahashtag.  A feeling #hasahashtag.  Life #hasahashtag.

Shoot,  I find myself often listening to an intelligent news commentator dressed in a $9000 suit sitting in front of three fancy cameras reading to me what Joe Smith tweeted from Wichita, Kansas.  #iranoutofthingsofmyowntosay

Did it occur to them that if I wanted to read what ignorant people have to say I would be on Twitter instead of watching Fox News?  #whyaretheypayingyou?

Whether or not I am a fan, I’m having to face the fact that Twitter is here to stay.  Or at least as much here to stay as any element of technology in our changing world.

And maybe Twitter does bring some good things to our world.  It levels the playing field.  Anyone can be heard.  In 144 characters or less.  If they have the right hashtag.  Sorry, I meant, #iftheyhavetherighthashtag

Or maybe it doesn’t level the playing field at all.  It isn’t about your money.  It isn’t about your education.  It isn’t about your looks.  But it is about your followers.  #otherignorantpeople

I might not know about the power of twitter if it wasn’t for my friend @debostic. 

But I do.

For example, Delta airlines (who may account for more of our business credit card bill than any other vendor) has little respect for our financial contributions to their quarterlies.  Between business, ministry, and personal travel, you’d think they’d at least stop showing me how to buckle my seat belt.  But not only do they have no respect, they have no inclination toward flexibility.  When you want to change a ticket, you are just a tiny speck of sand on the Delta airlines beach.  They will charge you hundreds of dollars more than you already paid to get on the same plane and eat the same pack of pretzels a few hours later than you previously planned.

So, Daniel tweeted about them.

And the next thing we know, Delta is bending over backwards to change tickets.  New flights were being scheduled.  Open seats were appearing.  And Delta was giving out frequent flyer miles like they were a hot potato.

So, apparently, while #Moneytalks, frankly, #Twittertalkslouder.

Then there was State Farm.

We are lawyers.  We were suing them.  We were dragging them into court on behalf of a compelling plaintiff in front of a jury of people who know well why we call it “Snake Farm.”  And they seemed to be treating it like the briar patch.

But a few good tweets and State Farm was ringing our phones.  They couldn’t write a check fast enough.


And that’s just the beginning.  Companies like Toyota and Enterprise have a lot of concern for their social media reputation. More, in fact, than the actual implications of their actions, their repeat customers, or the signature on the bottom of a legal document.


Apparently, even though it is no longer a pound sign, # gives weight to words in a powerful way.

And in the end, nothing has really changed except that instead of the pen being mightier than the sword, it is now the pound that is mightier than the sword.

That is, the hashtag.

There Are Worse Things than Nothing to do on Valentine’s Day

I’ve had some terrible Valentines Days. I’m not gonna lie.

But there is at least one bad Valentine’s Day that I can finally laugh about. I’m over it. It just has just taken about, well, twelve years.

Our church had an annual Sweetheart Banquet.

The reason that matters is that this particular year, they decided to do things more informally and just have a dessert and a program. The program was to be put on by two couples that I knew were excellent musicians. Translated: It would be good.

Kevin was taking Allyson, so my sister Erin and I (we’ll share equal blame in this part of the story) thought that it would be really fun to go too. Mom and Paul we’re going to be out of town, so, good sport that he is, Dad said he would take us if we really wanted to go.

The next Sunday after church, Dad decided that he’d better put his plan into action. Just as Dad was ready to hand over the money for the tickets, I raced over to the table. I had changed my mind. What on earth had I been thinking? I didn’t want to go to a sweetheart banquet! Going as a family would be like advertising the fact that…well…never mind.

Dad had his money poised in the air, and the lady had the tickets also poised. Dad was buying tickets for the two of us girls plus my grandma and another friend of ours, Meg, who had happened to be sitting in church with us that day.

Dad said since he had already asked Meg, he really shouldn’t change his mind. I agreed and braced myself for an evening of feeling foolish sitting with my sister and grandmother eating dessert with a bunch of married couples.

Too bad Sweetheart Banquets hadn’t gone extinct prior to that year.

Later, at home, we had a big discussion. Erin had changed her mind too. Dad didn’t want to take Meg unless we girls were going, etc. We all groaned and travailed, but finally came to the conclusion that we would come up with something else to do and have Meg over for that. It was an unfortunate waste of ticket money, but anything was better than being stuck at that awful sweetheart banquet.

Before I was able to tell Meg about the change of plans, things got worse. She was so excited about getting invited to the Valentine Banquet that she announced it in Wednesday Bible Study. The news got back to us in the form of “So, I heard…”

It was too late to change plans. Everyone knew that Mom was going to be out of town and that we were coming—we were ALL coming—to the banquet. Oh, I wanted to die.

So the next Sunday, our youth pastor announced that the church would like to provide babysitting for the banquet. I poked Meg, who was conveniently sitting next to me, and asked her if she would rather babysit than go to the banquet. She hesitated, but said both sounded like fun. That did it, I ran to Pastor Steve afterwards and volunteered Meg, my sister, and I to help babysit.

Ahhh! The sweet taste of freedom.

Well, the dessert didn’t start until 7:30, so one of the girls at church invited us all over to come to her house first. Even better. We’d go to Leslie’s for dinner and then babysit. We’d get out of going to the banquet, have some fun, and make a little money in the process. Maybe I wasn’t going to have to dread Valentine’s Day after all.

That brings me to Tuesday. I was minding my own business when Pastor Steve gave me a memo about the Valentines babysitting. I glanced at it briefly and then let out a squeal. The babysitting was supposed to begin at 5:00 so parents could go out to dinner before the dessert. Now I had double booked myself.

So I talked to Pastor Steve about it. Surely he would let me come at 7:00.

Pastor Steve said that he wished he could let me off, but he only had one other person to babysit—a teenage girl with no experience. I couldn’t leave her stuck there by herself, so I would have to cop out on the dinner invitation.

Then I asked, innocently, “How many kids are signed up to come Friday night?” He handed me the list.

There were 36 names!

36 kids ages 6 months to 13 years for four hours among the four of us. I nearly croaked. We had 11 kids under the age of three. That alone would take four of us. He said he’d try to get more help.

Oh, the tangled web…I was just trying to get out of going to a Valentines Banquet and here I had just put myself, my sister, and my friend on the struggle bus.

Wednesday I talked to Meg again. Wouldn’t you know it, she was going to have to work Friday night! All this and she wasn’t even going to be able to come at all. I just wanted to sit down and cry.

But I didn’t have time to cry. I had to try to figure out what three babysitters were going to do with 36 kids for four hours. I was seriously considering getting married in the next two days so I could ditch the whole mess.

Things got worse. Erin said she saw enough of kids during the week. That put us down to two. I tried to do some recruiting, but most of the other single girls at church were also school teachers or else they had other babysitting plans. Pastor Steve was running into the same problems.

Thirty six kids. Two babysitters. Four hours.

This was February in New Hampshire–it was far too cold too take the kids outside even if we could control them once we were out there.  The church approved list of movies was far too short to be of any use. The large spread of ages made it difficult to try to plan anything meaningful.

I was getting an ulcer.  And I love to babysit.

Who invented Valentines Day and where does one go to file a complaint?

When all else fails, recruit Dad.

Like a trooper, my dad (who had taken my Mom out before she left town) said he’d help. Now we were back up to three babysitters. Whoohoo! 

So Valentines morning, I had to work for eight hours, teach a music lesson on my lunch break, make a fast run to Wal-Mart for activity supplies, and then came back to church for four long hours of 36 kids ages 6 months and up.

The point of this story—and there is one—is that I have a wonderful Dad. How many men do you know who would invite four girls to a Sweetheart Banquet, get dumped by them all, and then come and help babysit? I know only one, and I’m very, very grateful I do. As a return favor, I sweet-talked the church secretary into giving Dad his ticket money back.

As my memory has gotten dim, I don’t remember what they paid us. But I do recall that the donations jar was sadly neglected if not wholly unloved.

Just the same, I swore to myself that if I heard any of any single people complaining about their boring evening, I’d gladly provide their names to Pastor Steve for the next Valentine’s Banquet. Just so they can come to appreciate having nothing to do on Valentine’s Day.

Sage Advice for Men at Valentine’s Day

So—since I seem to be able to peer at Valentine’s day from a safe distance, I thought I’d give a third party perspective of the Valentine’s Day dilemma. For whatever good that might do for the health of relationships—both foreign and domestic.

For years, I’ve heard bits and pieces of complaints from wives and girlfriends about what a neglected holiday Valentine’s Day is. For some reason, the 14th of February just isn’t treated with the respect that it rightfully deserves. What, with being a celebration of the life and martyrdom of the great St. Valentine and all.

On the other hand, men at various times and in divers manners gripe to me about Valentine’s Day being a conspiracy between Hallmark and the Babysitters Club. A perpetual battle of expectations in which there are no winners—only losers and quitters. Some have taken it upon themselves to battle Valentine’s Day like the bubonic plague on the payroll of the Russian mafia. A few misguided souls have gone so far as to also turn their bitter wives into artificial haters of Valentine’s Day as well.

Which is unfortunate, since St Valentine was a pretty good guy from what I’ve heard.

This puzzles me, because from my perspective, I think Valentine’s day is a gift to men. Easy points.

In fact, it’s like getting points for the shots you took during the warm up.

True, women expect something at Valentine’s Day. She expects it even if she says she doesn’t. She expects it even if she says “just save your money.” She expects it even if she’s not in the same state as you. Pretty much, whatever she tells you about Valentine’s Day, don’t believe her.

She expects you to do something. And that’s a bummer.

But here’s the gift part. Usually, romance is kind of like ice skating: you get technical points, and you get creative points. But in the end, it’s the creative points that matter. You could have all the technique down, land all your jumps, nail your spins, be skating at all the right speeds, and still be the little girl crying on the podium at the end of the day if you aren’t creative. Heartfelt. Convincing. If you didn’t pick the right music and put your whole soul into it, you’re probably going to lose.

That’s why we call it romance and not chess. The rules change every time. The pieces move differently every time. The judges love you sometimes; hate you sometimes. The crowds will forgive some major mistakes if they like your passion and your style, but they will not forgive boring.

That’s what makes Valentine’s Day such a gift.

You get a creativity pass. The date is already on the calendar. The stores are bloated with ideas. Greeting cards jump out and bite you when you walk down the aisle at the grocery store. Flowers.com has two dozen red roses for $24.99. Chocolate is sold in heart shaped boxes in all shades of pink and red. You can buy a teddy bear at a gas station. For men who completely fail to plan, they even offer child care at a local gym. And if you are hard up for things to say, you can get inspired by pre-printed messages on Necco hearts.

While, yes, there is a bar there that they do expect you to get over, it is set really, really low. Fail to get over it, and—well, that just puts you in a very small percentage of incompetent losers that get stuck on a speed bump. If you don’t do anything despite all that help from retailers, then, frankly, you deserve the wrath you are likely to incur. You are in a callous subset of loveless creation with cockroaches, pit bulls, and black widow spiders. Some would argue with me regarding the pit bulls.

So why are you fighting Valentine’s Day? If you’re looking for something to fight, fight muscular dystrophy. Fight child obesity. Fight racial discrimination. Fight extinction of panda bears.

But don’t fight Valentine’s Day. It’s a fight you won’t win and you will forfeit all of those easy points.

So…that’s my advice. It may not be of much help, but at least I can have the satisfaction of knowing that I did my part to make sure St. Valentine did not die in vain and that his cause is being championed by the noblest of men in the most predictable ways.

The Value of a Woman (Part II)

This is a continuation of my last blog, so if you didn’t read The Value of a Woman, it won’t make much sense. You can just skip it…pick it up next time.

So…if nothing else, my last post taught me a valuable lesson. And some humility.

But before I get to that, I’m going to finish the thought.

As context, (because we love context) the Bible gives a unique history of women from the Creator’s perspective.

God said it wasn’t good for the man to be alone. So He made woman.

And He does seem to value her…more than 30 shekels of silver. Even above rubies.

God heard the cries of Hagar. He opened the womb of Leah. And Rachel. And Hannah. He restored to a widow her son on more than one occasion. He granted Sarah and Elizabeth each a baby in their old age. He provided a loving husband for Ruth. He saved Rahab and her family. He delivered a wicked ruler into the hand of Deborah. He sent one of His highest ranking angels to deliver a message to Mary. Jesus would release an adulterous woman and forgive her sin. He would take the time to reach out to the “woman at the well” despite the social taboo and her sordid past. God would write the sacrifice of Mary’s ointment into history. He appeared to Mary Magdalene personally after His resurrection.

In one of my favorite stories, Scripture tells us specifically that Jesus loved Martha and Mary. He even cried with them over their brothers’ death even though he knew he was about to do what men love to do: fix it.

God would later inspire Paul to write that there was neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female before God—all given the opportunity of salvation and the ability to approach the throne of grace.

So with God’s evident care for women as a backdrop, I had two possible answers as to why God would set a lower value on women’s labor.

One was the idea of reducing market incentive. Keep in mind that if a woman was sold as a slave or a servant, it probably wasn’t because she was getting the money. By setting a lower price, it would be less likely for men to see their daughters as dollars. Outrageous as it is, mercenaries have sold their own daughters into slavery from the earliest of times to the present. Perhaps by setting a low price, God discouraged this practice. A wife or daughter would be worth more to her family by contributing her industry directly rather than through her wages.

As an alternative (or possibly to cure potential abuse on the other side of the deal), perhaps God was taking into account the tendency of a task master to be determined to get the benefit of his bargain. If a purchaser pays 50 shekels, he is going to want to get his 50 shekels worth. He will push harder, expect more, and forgive less than if he is paying 30 shekels. Maybe the lower payment would make an owner more understanding of the other callings on a woman’s life–things that weren’t income generating for the master but are unique to women. Having kids, for example.

But as it turned out, my warm, fuzzy explanations are a bit unnecessary and maybe just plain wrong.

Here comes the lesson I mentioned: never blog about what you thought you heard while sick on your bed doped up on chicken soup and herbal tea.

The fact is that on further study to finish the blog, I realized that the scene I laid out in part one was not exactly correct.   The part about the values was actually a separate discussion sandwiched between two passages about the year of Jubilee. See Leviticus 25 and 27.

So while the discussion about Jubilee was correct and the idea of calculating values based on an upcoming year of Jubilee was correct, the passage which set the value of women at 30 shekels and men at 50 shekels (ages 20 – 60) actually had to do with people making a vow before God (chapter 27) and not the annual wage calculation of slaves (as best I can tell).

None of you called me on my mistake which is a little troubling since it was mostly men who commented on the last post and ya’lls brains are supposed to be worth like twice as much as mine. Just sayin’.

Some of my observations still stand, but the correct context does change the evaluation a bit. To make sure I got it right this time, I tried to look at some commentaries. The first thing I discovered was that I didn’t own a commentary on Leviticus 27. The second was that none of the online commentaries I found had anything helpful to say about Leviticus 27. Now there are two issues–1. why did God set different values on men and women; and 2. what exactly did He mean when He was talking about vows involving the valuations of persons? I can’t even quite picture the scenario in my head.

So, with regard to the first issue, I would proffer that while there probably is a practical explanation consistent with His character, all we know for sure is that God made men and women different and didn’t feel compelled to always treat them exactly the same. He loves and cares for both in His own sovereign way. He makes no apologies for his design or his decisions. He’s God and He really doesn’t have to explain himself to Hillary Clinton or anyone else. As an aside, everywhere Christianity has gone, the position of women had been elevated. I would rather be a Christian woman than…say, a Muslim woman.

With regard to the second one, perhaps my annual Bible reading is going to be enhanced this year by the peak in curiosity that is making me search out things like vows based on the value of persons. I’m hoping some of you with brains worth 1.67 times what mine is have figured this out.

And when you are sick, curled up in a ball in your bed listening to your Bible app, don’t compose blog posts in your head. It’s a really bad idea.

But I DIDN’T forget which helicopter I was in. Just sayin’.

The Value of a Woman

image001Every other year, I make it a point to read through the Bible. This is my “every” year and being sick has helped the cause tremendously because—even though I could no sooner stare at a page of the Bible than run a marathon—I was able to listen to Exodus and Leviticus in large portions (compliments of my free Bible app.)

The people who complain about “all the Old Testament laws” were never sick on their beds listening to someone read the US Code. Or the Code of Federal Regulations. Or the Federal Reporter. Or the Internal Revenue Code. God condensed an entire country’s laws into a book a lay person could understand between cups of chicken soup and herbal tea. That’s remarkable.

Anyway…so here’s the piece that really got me thinking this time. In fact, I dare you to chew on this:

To give it context—God sets up the year of “Jubilee” every 50 years (roughly once in each person’s lifetime). During the year of Jubilee, every debt is forgiven and every slave is freed. The year of Jubilee gave everyone a new beginning as they would be restored to their lands; reunited with their families; and given a year off while the land had rest.

As further context, if someone was selling themselves into slavery to pay off a debt, they would count the value of a person based on the number of years left between the sale and the year of Jubilee. Apparently, there was no inflation in Israel’s commodity based system, and for a man, the value was 50 shekels of silver per year; and for a woman it was 30 shekels per year.


Talk about a wage-gender gap. The value of a man age 20 and up was 1.67 times that of a woman.

I’m no feminist. In fact, all the chatter of a wage-gender gap in current culture has never ruffled my feathers.

From what I’ve read, the more reliable studies show there is no wage-gender bias.

From what little I know from life itself, if you work hard and earn your keep, people will pay you. And if they don’t, one of the beauties of this great country is that you can go work somewhere else. If no one will pay you what you think you are worth, then chances are you are not worth what you think you are worth—whether man or woman. Pretty simple.

So back to Exodus. The price of men was 50 shekels. The price of women was 30 shekels.

That’s what God said.

I chewed on that for a while. Was it because the jobs that were available—tending fields and herding flocks—were just jobs men were better suited to? Women in those rolls weren’t able to keep up and it would take 1.67 of them to do what men could do?

This explanation didn’t seem quite right. Some women can out work some men in the field. God knows that.

Besides, surely whoever was out hiring servants also needed people to cook and clean and watch kids—things that women tend to excel at. It just might take 1.67 men to do what some moms do in a day. And anyway, in our culture, we’ve done a pretty good job of convincing ourselves that those things are just as valuable even if they don’t tend to pay as well.

If anyone ever had the ability to equal out the pay and settle that debate once and for all, it would be God right at that moment. So why didn’t he?

As a second thought—was it because of the law of supply and demand?   Were more women than men to be sold into slavery? Was the price lower so that women could find the security of a buyer? Men at the front of the store. Women on the clearance rack.

I thought about “Pirates of the Caribbean”—perhaps the most politically incorrect ride at Disney— portraying women being chained and sold on the auction block to drunken sailors and thieving reprobates. That just seems so outrageously inconsistent with the character of God. God is not an inebriated pirate.

So why the difference in value? Is God the sexist bigot that certain unbelievers would paint him to be? Has he changed since the days of Leviticus?

I thought about the well-quoted verse in Proverbs, Who can find a virtuous woman? Her worth is far above rubies. Apparently, that is what Solomon’s mother told him. And apparently, despite the fact that he probably had the rubies available to buy his way to the top of an eligible bachelor contest, he never found one. Or maybe he found several. We don’t really know. But at any rate, put in context, that statement appears to be some motherly advice and not an attempt to put a dollar value on a woman’s work.

Still, it just seems that there must be reasonable explanation consistent with God’s unchanging character.

And after mulling it over, I’ll tell you my conclusion. Next blog.