Word of the Week – Hot Dog

Word of the Week – Hot Dog

(A revisit from 2012)

Is summer hot dog season in your family? This year we’ve started grilling out on our campfire ring every Sunday with my mother-in-law, and hot dogs are pretty much always on the menu. But have you ever wondered where they got their name?

Well, a hot dog is defined as a particular type of sausage, usually served on a split bun. Check. And in the 1890s, sausages were sometimes referred to as “dogs.” Why? Well, ahem, there was apparently a suspicion that some sausages contained dog meat. And while I didn’t see any documentation on it, the articles said this suspicion was “occasionally justified.” Ewww. =(

Anyway. So earning the name “dog” was just because it was in the sausage family. The fact that they were served on buns made them a quick and easy meal when on the go, and apparently a little boy in the 1890s rushed up to a vendor and said, “Give me a hot dog! Quick!” and it stuck. (Yeah, sounds like lure, doesn’t it? LOL)

It was popularized by a cartoon that really got the name stuck. What’s even more interesting is that it only took 6 years from “hot dog” to go from the accepted name of that particular sausage to a verb used when someone’s showing off. By 1906, “Hot dog!” as an expression of approval had gained its place too. So now that we’re moving toward the season of picnics and cookouts, you’ll know why you’re tossing hot dogs on the grill and not frankfurters or weiners or plain ol’ sausages. 😉

Word of the Week – Quantum

Word of the Week – Quantum

I’m currently reading Siri Mitchell’s State of Lies for my book club (SO GOOD!!!!), in which the heroine is a quantum physicist. (Which her 6-yr-old son calls a fizziest, which made me giggle.) I’ve been thoroughly enjoying all the science jokes on her T-shirts, and her musings about things like black holes.

And I also thought it would fun to take a quick peek at the history of the word. Quantum is directly from Latin, meaning “as much as,” which them in turn came to be “one’s portion.” This word has always been there in Latin, but it wasn’t borrowed for scientific purposes until Max Planck decided to use it in 1900 for these small portions of energy. It was Einstein who then took up the word and made it part of our vernacular, beginning in 1905 when he used the word in his Theory of Relativity; and then in 1912 actually coined the phrase “quantum theory” and, in 1922, “quantum mechanics.”

I do find it rather entertaining that if you look up the word in Merriam-Webster, the noun version means “small increments or parcels,” but the adjective means “large, significant.” Hmm…not sure how that one happened!

Thoughtful about . . . Watching, Speaking, Listening

Thoughtful about . . . Watching, Speaking, Listening

—Ezekiel 33 begins with the talk of a watchman:

Again the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Son of man, speak to the children of your people, and say to them: ‘When I bring the sword upon a land, and the people of the land take a man from their territory and make him their watchman, when he sees the sword coming upon the land, if he blows the trumpet and warns the people, then whoever hears the sound of the trumpet and does not take warning, if the sword comes and takes him away, his blood shall be on his own head. He heard the sound of the trumpet, but did not take warning; his blood shall be upon himself. But he who takes warning will save his life. But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, and the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand.’

When I read those words the other day, I just couldn’t shake the thought that some of us, the faithful in the Church, are appointed to be the Watchmen, like Ezekiel. We’re called to watch. We’re called to sound the alarm when we see the enemy at work. We’re called to protect those around us with that knowledge. If we speak when we ought, and people ignore us, it’s on them. But if we don’t… 

If we don’t…then their punishment is our guilt.


Those Watchmen, my friends, are responsible for the blood of their neighbors—literal or figurative, if we’re looking at the eternal—if they do not share the message God has given they. 

Sometimes we’re afraid of the things God has called us to do—afraid of failure, afraid of disappointing people. We’re told to be afraid of God instead, because we revere Him. This is a kind of fear I hadn’t considered yet—the fear of what happens if we don’t answer the call. The fear that motivates us and gives us urgency. That keeps us alert. That makes us bold.

What warning have you seen as you watch the world? Are you speaking it? And if so, are you speaking it from LOVE? Because we all know just shouting it out from a soapbox isn’t enough. But even when we have the message, even we deliver it in the right way…what happens?

Later in that same chapter, Ezekiel says this in verses 30-33:

30 “As for you, son of man, the children of your people are talking about you beside the walls and in the doors of the houses; and they speak to one another, everyone saying to his brother, ‘Please come and hear what the word is that comes from the Lord.’ 31 So they come to you as people do, they sit before you as My people, and they hear your words, but they do not do them; for with their mouth they show much love, but their hearts pursue their own gain. 32 Indeed you are to them as a very lovely song of one who has a pleasant voice and can play well on an instrument; for they hear your words, but they do not do them. 33 And when this comes to pass—surely it will come—then they will know that a prophet has been among them.”

Again, this really jumped out at me! With their mouth they show much love, but their hearts pursue their own gain.

Anyone else go “WOW!” at that? Talk about summing up our society today! People talk so much about acceptance and inclusion and not judging others…but when it comes down to it, their concern for others falls short of their concern for themselves. And worse, we in the church all too often do the same thing. Our ideals fall away when it comes to actually sacrificing our own comforts for others’.

These verses make it clear that those two things are in complete opposition: loving others, versus our own gain.

What has He asked us to sacrifice? Have we done it?

It’s difficult—it’s meant to be. If we want to #BeBetter, we know work is involved. First in ourselves, so that then we can boldly speak it.

But these verses also show us what could well happen when we do. Our words SOUND good. They’re music. Melody and harmony. They tickle the ears of our listeners–in the case of Ezekiel, these are other Israelites, who should be following God. In our case, these could well be the people sitting in the pews around ours in church. They clap their hands and sing along in all the right places. “They hear your words; but they do not do them.”

Still, it was Ezekiel’s responsibility to speak—and it’s ours too, if He gives us a message.

I’ll leave you today with this benediction from our devotional book that really resonated as well:

Lord, you have appointed some to be prophets; give us ears to hear and mouths to speak. You have appointed some to sing of your goodness in the streets; make us bold to celebrate you. You have called some to be still, listen, and act; give us steadiness of mind and singularity of purpose. Amen. (Common Prayer, Claiborne et al, June 24)

Are you called to hear and speak? To sing His praises with boldness? To listen and act? Whichever category you fall into, let’s obey together.


Word of the Week – Fence

Word of the Week – Fence

Originally posted in May 2015

So, duh moment. Did you know that the noun fence–like, you know, the thing around your yard–is from defense? Yeah. Duh. I’d never paused to consider that, perhaps because the spelling has ended up different, but there you go! It has been a shortening of defense with the same meaning since the 14th century. Then sense of that enclosure followed in the 15th century.

It had a similar verb meaning at the same times too, with the “to sword-fight” way of defending oneself arising in the 1590s.

But the reason I looked it up was for the meaning that has a fence being someone who buys and sells stolen goods…and to fence being to sell those stolen goods. I expected it to be a pretty modern use, but no! As the verb, it’s been around since 1610, and it was then applied to the person doing it right around 1700–all from the idea that it’s accomplished under “the defense of secrecy.”
Helping or Serving?

Helping or Serving?

In the church today, we hear a lot about helping others. Volunteering. Making sandwiches, serving at a soup kitchen, that sort of thing. “Help those less fortunate than you” is a phrase I’ve heard for years. And the work—the work is good! Necessary.

But something about how I hear some people talk about it has been rubbing me wrong, and it’s taken me quite a while to really put my finger on it. If I even have, LOL. And I think it comes down to this: many times when I hear this, it sounds like someone is saying, “I have and you don’t, so I’ll help you out. You’ll benefit, and I’ll feel good for having helped.”

That is really what gets to me. That I’ll feel good about it thing. I’m not entirely sure why it rubs me wrong—because yes, of course when we’re doing God’s work it’ll put joy in our hearts. But I guess I want to make sure I’m not doing good works because it makes me feel good. I’m not helping others because of what it does for me. Or even because I’m “supposed to.”

As I talked through this with my husband a while back, I tried to pinpoint the difference between helping—you know, “helping those who are less fortunate”—and serving. Perhaps I’m nitpicking or drawing an arbitrary distinction, but here’s the difference as I’m defining it.

When people want to help, they want to offer what they have to “those who…” But by thinking of it like that, they’re drawing a distinction. The Haves and the Have Nots. The Us and the Them. There are the Less Fortunate and the More Fortunate. And both parties are expected to know who is who—and never to forget it. I helped you.

Serving, on the other hand, removes those barriers. More, it switches them. Serving is Jesus washing the disciples’ feet. Serving is the spirit-filled men of Acts making sure everyone gets dinner. Serving is humbling yourself, lowering yourself, and putting the one being served above you. Serving is when you say, “We’re the same, you and I. God loves us both the same.” Or even, “Forgive me for not doing this sooner.”

Of course, the funny thing is that the exact same action could be taken, and it could be either what I’m calling helping or serving. It’s the heart of the worker that makes the difference—and the attitude we take.

But it’s a crucial distinction. I’ve read a few articles in the past few years about “humanitarian tourism,” which is basically people who volunteer with some relief organization just to spend a few weeks seeing what’s going on. They go in, think they’re helping, and go home feeling good about themselves for seeing how the “less fortunate” live and making it a little better. But they don’t. According to these articles I’ve read, many times these “tourists” do more harm than good. Professionals have to go in behind them and undo their mistakes, redo their work. And you also end up with things like state-of-the-art kitchens in brand-new facilities…but no food to put in them.

Then I think of missions. On the surface, these groups look very similar. But long-term missionaries aren’t out for that “feel good” experience. They know when they sign up for it that it’s work. And more, that it’s work for a purpose beyond the physical, though the physical will be included. It’s about really living with the groups they’re ministering to—serving them, loving them, learning their ways, and telling them about the God who created them and sent His Son to die for them.

I think this perfectly showcases the difference I’m trying to highlight here. Anyone can HELP. But SERVING is something different. Serving is embracing the upside-down Kingdom of God, recognizing that the last—those living on the streets or starving in a third-world country—are the FIRST. And if they’re the first, then it’s right and natural for us to humble ourselves before them and serve them. Not as the rich Americans deigning to give a little of our time or effort or money. But as slaves of Christ, recognizing that He has called us to take the lowest seat, the bottom rung, and say “I’m no richer than my poorest brother.”

For the last seven months, my family has been doing a daily devotional called Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals. There are occasionally things in there that we don’t quite see the purpose of having been included…but there are also a lot quotes and insights that make us sit back and look at the world around us in a whole new way. And one of those was at the beginning of the book, where the authors quote an early Christian father who said we shouldn’t just give a coat to someone in need—we should fall to our knees at their feet and beg their forgiveness for having not seen their need before, for having extra when they had nothing.

Beg their forgiveness. That really is a radical thought for the Church today, isn’t it? We’re happy enough to quote the parts of the Gospels where Jesus says, “As you do unto the least of these…” But do we take it a step further and recognize that not doing it is sin? Sin we need to beg forgiveness for?

I’m still working on this—it requires changing a whole mindset, not to mention habits. But it’s an understanding that I need to develop. Because I don’t want to be one of the people who “does good” just to feel good. I want to be one of the people who serves others because Christ first served me.