June weddings, anniversaries, and children

Bride and Groom Cake TopperHistorically, June was the month when most people wed, and there are some interesting reasons for this. “During medieval times a person’s annual bath… usually fell in May or June, meaning that June brides still smelled relatively fresh…but just to be safe, brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide their body odor.” This informative fact is from the website for the Topeka and Shawnee [Kansas] County Public Library. Another reason in the past for the popularity of June weddings from a Huffington Post blog by destination wedding planner, Sandy Malone, is that “the tradition dates back to the Roman times when they celebrated the festival of the deity Juno and his wife Jupiter, who was the goddess of marriage and childbirth, on the first day of June.”

“On a practical note, others chose June in order to time conception so births wouldn’t interfere with harvest work,” the same Topeka library reports. It’s not very romantic to think about smelly summer brides or babies scheduled around a farmer’s calendar, but weddings continue to be planned to allow newlyweds and their families to arrange work vacations.

Now days, Malone finds that even destination weddings occur almost as frequently in most summer months since there are reduced rates available in the off-season. As for 2014 statistics, it appears June (15%) is still the most popular month, but October (14%) is a close second from www.prnewswire.com. May through October are all strong months, with December gaining ground. But I admit that having a June wedding myself fourteen years ago, found me nostalgically reminiscing about the life-changing event that a wedding is. After all, wedding anniversaries serve as a tangible reminder of the love story that two people share. Even the most unromantic of folks would have to admit that reliving the beginnings of their relationship can rekindle the wonder of how they found their way to each other out of all the human beings in the world.Bride bouquet

Yet the day-to-day grind, hectic schedules, and trying to constantly share, can leave even devoted soul-mates perplexed at the concept of doing life together. In many ways, perhaps, this is why statistically speaking, marriage is on the way out. That part about, “Until death due us part” has lost its luster for younger folks who see how poorly those of us of former generations have done it as indicted by the divorce rate. “After decades of declining marriage rates and changes in family structure, the share of American adults who have never been married is at an historic high,” reports a September 2014 column from the Pew Research Center. Specifically, they cite about one in five adults over 25 equating to 42 million American adults as having never married, although they frequently marry later. The opinion about “the role marriage plays in society” is a vital factor as Pew Research also finds, “…with young adults much more likely than older adults to say society is just as well off if people have priorities other than marriage and children.”

Still, children are being born, and experts say that they fare better when they live with parents who are married. “Children raised in intact families have, on average, higher academic achievement, better emotional health, and fewer behavioral problems,” states www.familyfacts.org. Other websites also confirm that married parents are usually at an economic advantage, and have more time to spend with their children. It appears whatever month a wedding occurs in, it is more than a union between two people. It is also about their offspring, extended families, and society in general. That’s why a wedding anniversary is such a milestone. It is a statement of celebration and hope.

Larry & Christina If we do make it anniversary after anniversary, there is an incredible reward in having someone know us better than anyone else. Hopefully in also having that same someone in our corner during the rough times and celebrating the good times. Marriage isn’t anything like a romantic novel or movie, which creates unrealistic expectations. Admittedly, it would be pretty impossible for an ordinary man or woman to live up to the leading characters in a Nicholas Sparks’ film.

Love isn’t movie-script predictable. It’s always a risk, and sadly divorce can happen to anyone, rendering emotional heartbreak. Yet hearts heal, and anything worth very much in this life is generally a risk, but some risks are worth taking. That’s why an anniversary can be a wonderful reminder of the miracle of real love!

Christina Ryan Claypool is a freelance journalist and inspirational speaker. Contact her through her website at www.christinaryanclaypool.com.


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“Keep Calm and Carry On”

Keep Calm and Carry OnFor some reason, many Americans admire all things British. For instance, we are often impressed by the accent of those hailing from across the ocean. When an individual from Great Britain says something, they sound a great deal more intelligent than those of us born in farmland USA. Even though we fought for freedom from our Mother country over two hundred years ago, we are still tied to her apron strings by our fascination with England’s royalty, culture, and celebrities. Can I get an “Amen” from a few Beatles or Downton Abbey fans?

That’s why it’s no surprise that an historic five word phrase originated by the Brits has caused an ongoing marketing stir stateside. “Keep Calm and Carry On,” can be found on coffee cups, T-shirts, infant attire, phone cases, decals, tote bags, aprons, wall plaques, and you name it. In 1939, it all began with a few World War II posters designed by the Ministry of Information, the public relations branch of the British government created to encourage the country’s citizens during the war. According to the www.keepcalmandcarryon.com website, “With a bold coloured background, the posters were required to be similar in style and feature the symbolic crown of King George VI along with a simple yet effective font. The first two posters, ‘Your Courage, Your Cheerfulness, Your Resolution will Bring Us Victory’ and ‘Freedom is in Peril’ were produced by His Majesty’s Stationery Office (HMSO).”Keep Calm and Carry On 2

Both of these positive propaganda posters were displayed all over England on buses, store windows, and in public places. While the third poster with the words, “Keep Calm and Carry On” was not to be issued until Britain experienced a crisis or invasion. Multiple sources estimate that approximately 2.5 million copies were printed, but never released. It is speculated that following World War II most of the posters were destroyed. Fast forward over 50 years when a “Keep Calm and Carry On” poster with a red background was discovered in Barter Books, a used bookstore in northeast England. In 2000, the bookseller’s owner found the copy among some old books he purchased from an auction. The poster was then framed and hung in the book shop. Copies were eventually made and sold, as customers embraced the motivational message.

The Story of Keep Calm and Carry On produced in a short video by Barter Books channel on Youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FrHkKXFRbCI reports that, “Since that time, the poster has been reproduced, parodied, trivialized, and has become a truly iconic image of the 21st century.” A parody in www.dictionary.com is by definition “a humorous or satirical imitation of a serious piece of literature or writing.” Parodies of the famous slogan include: “Keep Calm and Have a Cupcake,” “Keep Calm and Buy Shoes,” “Keep Calm and Read a Romance,” “Keep Calm and Tweet On,” “Now Panic and Freak Out,” and “Keep Calm…Oh Who Are We Kidding,” along with countless more. Like the last two parodies portray, it’s not easy to remain tranquil in a world filled with ongoing chaos. Still, the British are known for their stiff upper lip of  exercising great restraint in the midst of calamity. The poster’s popularity is also benefiting Americans seeking the virtue of self-control, because its timeless wisdom appears universal.

But how do we “Keep Calm?” Citing the stressful situations life produces, New York Times Best-selling author Joyce Meyer offers some advice in her article, “How to Calm Down and Cheer Up,” on her website, www.joycemeyer.org. “We need to have a change of attitude,” writes Meyer. “The right attitude and approach can completely turn a situation around. Instead of stressing out and tensing up, calm down, take a deep breathe and try to get some perspective on the situation.”Joyce Meyer

The evangelistic lady speaker admits, “You may not be able to control the situation, but you can control how you respond to it.” Meyer sounds like an NFL coach in the locker room before a challenging game when she advises, “Take an offensive approach and decide beforehand what your attitude will be.” To “Keep Calm and Carry On” appears to be a faith-filled choice that one can make in the midst of daunting circumstances. However, not only carrying on, but becoming hopeful about the future as well.

Personally, the verses from Matthew 6:25-27 NLT resonate with me, “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? 27  Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?” I freely admit that I am a “One Day at a Time” person due to an ongoing struggle with anxiety. That’s why remembering that God’s always got my back, makes me rest a lot easier. How about you? What do you do to deal with the pressures of life? The bottom line is that with God at our side, we don’t ever have to worry about anything again.

Christina aloneChristina Ryan Claypool is an award-winning freelance journalist and inspirational speaker.
Contact her through her website at www.christinaryanclaypool.com. She has been featured on CBN’s 700 Club and on Joyce Meyer Ministries Enjoying Everyday Life TV program.


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Why we celebrate MLK Jr. Day

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

In 1986, our country celebrated the first Martin Luther King Jr. day. It all began just four days after King’s April 4, 1968 assassination when U.S. rep. John Conyers Jr., D-MI, first submitted legislation to commemorate the slain civil rights leader’s Jan. 15th birthday. Then in 1970 Congress received petitions with more than six million signatures in favor of the act. Finally, in November 1983 President Ronald Reagan signed the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Act.

Christopher Columbus and George Washington are the only other individuals having a national holiday in their honor. Some critics have questioned why one national leader, regardless of how esteemed, should have his birthday celebrated claiming there were presidents and statesmen who also deserve recognition.

Twenty years ago, Seattle Times reporter Paul Andrews wrote, “The odds against the new holiday were imposing. The arguments opposing it – cost to taxpayers, singling him out over others – have been used for decades to resist creation of any new holiday.” Still, there are imposing reasons for it. The late minister appears not to have been motivated by political strategy or notoriety, but was a nonviolent warrior championing the rights of all men. Born Jan. 15, 1929, in segregated Atlanta to a pastor and a former schoolteacher, King later followed his father’s professional footsteps.

He enrolled in Crozer Theological Seminary after earning his Bachelor’s degree in 1948 from Morehouse College in Atlanta. By 1955, he had completed his doctoral dissertation. He and his wife, Coretta Scott King moved to Montgomery, AL, to begin a pastorate at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church. It was there that King’s fight for civil rights began when he mobilized the black community during a 382 day boycott of the Montgomery bus lines. It was sparked by an incident when a young African American woman named Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus. At first, the new pastor was reluctant to get involved, but eventually he accepted leadership of the movement.

Rosa Parks is booked.

Rosa Parks is booked.

His leadership was based on “a doctrine of nonviolent protest taking the Christian principle of turning the other cheek out of the pulpit and onto the street,” according to a 1997 A&E television documentary. King said, “We strive to advocate nonviolence and passive resistance and still determine to use the weapon of love.”

Later, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that segregation in public transportation was unconstitutional. But there had already been a cost to King. He had to overcome arrest, violent harassment, and the bombing of his home. He also began receiving “up to 50 letters or phone calls a day, that he should leave town or face death,” according to King biographer David Garrow. He said, “King was resigned to the fact that his leadership role inevitably meant that sooner or later he would be killed.” King persevered in his nonviolent battle against segregation, despite the fact that the violent persecution against him never ceased. He was stabbed in New York in 1958. He was also jailed in a state penitentiary in the early 1960s for sitting at an Atlanta lunch counter that was for whites’ only.

1963 March onWashingtonIn 1965, there was the “Selma” movement as King Jr. led the cause of gaining equal voting rights, despite documented violence. The recently released movie has been highly debated for historical inaccuracy regarding the portrayal of President Lyndon Johnson. Still, it is not a documentary, but an important Hollywood remembrance of a bloody 50-year-old struggle. Perhaps though, King Jr. is best known for the glorious moment in 1963 when he spoke to a crowd of 250,000 people gathered for the March in Washington, which was organized to support the Civil Rights Bill.

Yet he didn’t want to be remembered for earthly accolades. He told this to the congregation of Ebenezer Baptist Church two months prior to his assassination. That day, King spoke about the kind of funeral he would like to have, wanting there to be no mention of his 1964 Nobel Peace or countless other awards. Rather, he asked that someone say, “Martin Luther King Jr. tried to give his life serving others.”

MLK Jr. was a world changer, but not a perfect man. He was a flawed human being like all of us, who had a dream and followed it, despite the weighty cost. His own Christian theology would assert that he is “free at last,” living in the “promised land.”

Christina Ryan Claypool is an Amy-award winning freelance journalist and inspirational speaker. Contact through her Website at www.christinaryanclaypool.com 

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Clemmie’s Colorblind Love


Philadelphia’s Valley Swim Club made national headlines again last month. The now bankrupt organization gained notoriety over a June 29, 2009, incident when Black and Hispanic children from a nearby day camp were subjected to racial remarks from club members. This happened, even though the Creative Steps camp had legally contracted for their children to swim there.

“73 members of the camp will share a settlement of $700,000 to $1.1 million, pending approval from a federal bankruptcy court judge,” according to an August 19, 2012, Philadelphia Inquirer article titled, “Campers hope swim-club settlement will help fight racism.” During the racially turbulent sixties, as a Caucasian child growing up in west central Ohio, I didn’t know anything about racism. Therefore, it seemed natural when Clemmie came to take care of me and my siblings, while my mom was seriously ill.

 Clemmie was an extremely overweight Black woman who had a heart as huge as the girth that surrounded it. My financially struggling family couldn’t have paid her much of a salary, yet she lovingly looked after us. With Clemmie there, I instinctively knew that everything would be alright.

What I didn’t know then was that a Civil Rights movement was being birthed out of the frustration regarding injustices that African Americans like Clemmie could no longer bear. Not yet a first grader, I couldn’t imagine anyone hating such a wonderful woman, simply for the color of her skin. Eventually, my mother regained her health, so Clemmie no longer came to care for us. Yet her colorblind love, which was based on her faith in the Gospel’s message, “…Love one another, as I have loved you…” had made a lasting impression.

A few years later, on June 11, 1963, President John F. Kennedy gave his memorable Civil Rights address calling for an end to the acceptance of segregation in educational institutions, retail establishments, restaurants, and hotels. He also demanded that African Americans be able to vote without the fear of harmful consequences.

Just hours after Kennedy’s eloquent speech, Medgar Evers, a Black Mississippi Civil Rights leader was brutally gunned down by a white Ku Klux Klan member. Evers, a World War II Army veteran had survived the Battle of Normandy, but that June night he lay bleeding to death in his own driveway. Fifty minutes later, he died at a local hospital.

Although I’ve never been grievously wounded like Evers, I do know what it feels like to lie on cold asphalt too hurt to move. As an eight-years-old girl walking to school, I tripped and fell so hard that it momentarily knocked the wind out of me and scattered my science project everywhere. I was blocks from my family’s house, but an older middle-aged woman heard my cries, and rushed down her porch steps to care for me.

I didn’t know my Good Samaritan who shared Clemmie’s mahogany complexion. My grandmotherly rescuer tended my cuts, and then she carefully helped me to put my science project back together. She smiled with maternal satisfaction when she finally sent me off to school. That beautiful smile is a treasured memory, as is the remembrance of Clemmie’s massive arms hugging me to her bountiful chest.

It’s important to remember the selfless acts of compassion of others. Because whatever our race, everyday society gives us the choice to tolerate racism based on the justification that someone of another ethnicity probably once mistreated us.

The late Jewish Holocaust survivor, Liesl Sondheimer, often shared a profound truth regarding racial forgiveness. Like Nazi Hunter Simon Wiesenthal, Mrs. Sondheimer spent decades retelling the painful account of the extermination of more than six million European Jews during World War II. Unlike Wiesenthal’s quandary concerning forgiveness outlined so poignantly in his book The Sunflower, my friend, Liesl, always maintained that, “You must forgive, but never forget, or Hitler has won.”

Christian apologist C.S. Lewis once wrote, “…if we really want to learn how to forgive, perhaps we had better start with something easier than the Gestapo.” But Mrs. Sondheimer didn’t have that choice.

Neither did 12-year-old Mikkel McKinnie who made a decision not to let the prejudice of others destroy his dreams. One of the claimants named in the Valley Swim Club lawsuit, Mikkel has earmarked his possible settlement for higher education. He hopes to someday be a physician.

We all have a daily choice about permitting racism, which continues to be just as deadly to our society, as Hitler’s gas chambers once were. But sadly, not everyone has a Clemmie or a Liesl to teach them what compassion for their fellow man is all about. Still, if we follow Jesus’ command to, “Love one another,” it would be a much better world.

Christina Ryan Claypool is an Amy Award winning freelance journalist and inspirational speaker.  Her Website is www.christinaryanclaypool.com. This column originally appeared in Ohio’s Sidney Daily News..


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