Wednesday, April 30, 2008

When Good People Do Bad Things

I'm currently doing a Beth Moore Bible Study titled "When Godly People Do Unglodly Things" so this subject has been on my mind lately. Perhaps I'm stretching things a bit, but recently I've read several books that caused me to think about this subject in very practical terms. The following books all seemed to deal with this issue to some degree, although the characters weren't necessarily "Godly," they all considered themselves to be "Good" people.

In "A Child Called It" by David Pelzer, David's mother would not feed him for days so he stole food from school. Did that make him a bad person since it is wrong to steal?

In "Perfect Match" by Jodi Picoult, the little boy dealt with this very issue, thinking that he was a bad person because bad things seemed to happen when he said or did certain things. His mother, who was a prosecutor of child molesters, actually killed a priest in court in front of a bunch of people. When she was in jail, the father explained to the boy that his mother did something bad and wouldn't be home for awhile. The boy later asked her if she was a bad person because she did something bad and she said "no." When it came out that a Priest molested her son, she told the boy that he was a bad person. I found it quite interesting how she judged the Priest as being a bad person but herself as still being a good person. (By the way, this is a good book and I recommend it highly. I love the twists it takes along the way.)

Another book I read recently that made me question if the people were good or bad was "A Gang Leader For A Day." It was a fascinating book about the inner workings of gangs in a low-income housing project in Chicago and how the community viewed them and related to them. A sociology student went to do some research to find out how it feels to be black and poor by hanging out with a gang leader who befriended him. Although the gang leader ran a smooth cocaine "business," he also provided protection for the sociologist and others in the community. When people needed a ride to the hospital because the ambulance wouldn't come in that neighborhood, it was the gang members who would take care of getting them to the hospital.

It was also the gang who used some of their money to throw neighborhood parties for the people in the project and buy clothes and food for some of the people. They provided money to their family to live in a better neighborhood. The "good" college student doing the research found himself in some sticky situations involving looking the other way while the gang beat up people, assisting in an assault at one point and personally knowing who the drug dealers were and who was making the cocaine without ever turning anyone in to the cops. Did that make the student as "bad" as the gang? I found myself asking this question. Mothers would do about anything to provide food for their children and try to keep them safe. When it comes to survival under horrendous conditions, these books certainly made me question what I would do if in their place. (Another great book that I recommend highly.)

The Bible warns us in Galatians 6:1 to "Take heed, lest we fall." In all these instances the conclusion I come to based on my own understanding of scripture is that people do bad things but that doesn't make them bad people. God loves all people even though he knew we would do bad things. In Isaiah Bible tells us "the heart is deceitful and desparately wicked." All people do bad things at some time or other. Romans 3:23 says "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." The way I see it, there are generally only two types of people in the world--the forgiven and the unforgiven.

The forgiven are those who have trusted in Jesus' sacrifice on the cross to pay the punishment for all their sin and his resurrection and have confessed they have sinned and put their faith in Jesus to be their personal Savior. (See Romans 5:8 "But God commendeth his love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." and Romans 6:23, "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."

The unforgiven are those who have not yet put their faith in Jesus as their personal Savior and asked his forgiveness. No one is a "good enough" person to enter heaven on his/her own merits. We all need Jesus! (Ephesians 2:8 & 9 "For by grace you are saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, not of works, lest anyone should boast.")

In which category are you? Turn away from sin and yield yourselves to Jesus today (Acts 16:31: "Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved--you and your household!"

--Karen Arlettaz Zemek, author of "My Funny Dad, Harry"
(available at,,

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Missing My Cat Friends

We get so attached to our pets. These are the cats I came to know and love and still think about and miss:

My Dad's cats My dad took fed and took care of the cats who came by his house. Some he let inside but always fed the outdoor ones as well. He spent more money on cat food and litter than he did on food for himself. He built a kitty motel for the strays in the neighborhood to give them shelter and food and even heat in the winter! (Read more about dad's cats in the book I wrote in his memory, My Funny Dad, Harry, available on and

Razzle Dazzle a/k/a Razzle Frazzle (right) was a very big and bushy cat. I think in may have been a Maine Coon. It's tail was huge. He was the dominant cat of the neighborhood for the most part. He was leary of people and it took a long time for him to trust me, but he finally got to the place where he even let me pet him! He'd let me pet him while he ate, but then would run away as soon as he was finished. My dad tried getting him to come in the house but this cat wanted no part of that! Once he did go in, but ran back out right away and that was as close as he got to being an inside cat.

Bootsie (top) was the first cat my dad took in because he noticed it was sick and although my mom didn't want any cats in the house, she relented and allowed my dad to bring Bootsie into the hallway. This was my first experience with a sick cat. My dad took it to a vet and got some pills that he was supposed to get the cat to take orally which didn't work! Bootsie was nice cat who liked being pet.

Blackie (bottom above) was my dad's very good companion. It would follow him around and watch him whenever he was working in the yard. Once my mom died, Blackie then became his first indoor cat. It liked being pushed around on the wheel chair and rolling on the floor.

Another cat that came in shortly after Blackie was Diamond Jim (right). Both lived upstairs at first. Diamond Jim is the one with the white flea collar. He was another all black cat that was very laid back. I don't remember what happened to him, but he was a nice cat too.

On the right Blackie is sitting in the window looking out and her friend, Timi, is lying on the chair. I named Timi that because he was so timid, but eventually he did let me pet him. He was actually more petable than Blackie. Timi never got over his love for the outdoors though and would often sneak out and then come back in a day or two. When Timi caught a cold that wouldn't go away, my dad and I took him to the vet, but before we got in the building, he busted out of the carrier and ran away!

Here's a picture of my dad, Harrington ("Harry") Arlettaz with one of the strays he took in, Sweet Thing a/k/a Whacky. Sweet Thing was such a nice cat. It was a bit shy and didn't let just anybody pet him, but he let me pet him a lot. He also liked it when I brushed him. All I had to do was stand by the table with the brush and up he'd jump. He was friends with Softie (below right). They would both jump up on the kitchen counter and eat together every morning. Sweet Thing's favorite spot to lay was on top of an air conditioner which was still in a box in the middle of the dining room. My dad bought three at once because they were on sale but only got one installed. Both Sweet Thing and Softie lived in the upstairs of my dad's double house.

Softie was all black with big eyes. She loved to play with the feather on the string. Her fur was so smooth and soft that I named her Softie. She was a fairly small cat and very playful. Sometimes Sweet Thing would chase her but she didn't seem to mind. She liked looking out the front window.

Sylvester looks like a little bobcat. He had feline aids and had to be separate from the other cats so had a private bedroom upstairs with Sweet Thing and Softie. My dad replaced the wood in the bottom panel of the bedroom door with plexiglass so they could see each other and so we could see in to see where he was before opening the door. My dad put a chain lock on the door so it would open only so far so in the hot summer months, Sylvester's door could be open slightly to get air from a fan. The air conditioner in the dining room (one was installed in the window) worked very well. Sylvester was usually great with people. He had a bad case of ear mites at one time and scracthed his one ear so much that it bled. I finally convinced dad to take him to a vet and we got it cleared up with some medication. Sylvester would lay on my lap and loved to be pet. But sometimes he'd get out and he and Sweet Thing would have a big cat fight. Softie just went and hid while they went at it.

(left) Striper was a pretty cat and extremely friendly and loved to climb. He would climb on dad's back and dad would walk around with the cat hanging on. Dad let him come in the house, but the other cats were not happy about it so Striper pretty much camped out in the basement. He liked laying in the clothes chute and climbing on dad's workbench. He didn't mind all the junk and clutter at all. He loved the cat nip so much that one day he jumped up on the kitchen counter, opened up the cupboard and helped himself to the catnip dad had put away in there. When he got sick, (some kind of blood disease) he climbed up into the drop ceiling of the basement and we couldn't get him down until finally after several days he came down on his own and we took him to the vet, but it was too late. I'll always remember that day because it was on the fourth of July.

Shortly after Striper died and Timi ran away, there was a litter of four kittens born. They are all huddled together in my dad's front yard here in the corner by the porch. The black and white one on top is the one I took to live with me named Spunky Rooey, later Spunky Bookie and now Spunky Doodle. Here she weighed about 3 lbs. and now she weighs 13 lbs. and is 4 years old!

This poor calico was a mess, but oh, so friendly! It was just starved for attention and found my dad's house. It always wanted to come inside, but my dad was 89 and already had three cats to take care of that he could barely manage. I felt so sorry for this little one, but knew it would need medical attention and I couldn't take in another one either. It would come over in the morning when it saw me arrive at my dad's and then follow me part way to the bus stop. One day when my dad came out to feed the outdoor cats, Scruffy went right by the door waiting to go in. My dad used a cane and could not move fast. He knew Scruffy would run inside if he opened the door, so he waited on the porch for two hours until the cat left to go back inside. My dad was a very patient man!

Please know that there were many more cats who frequented the kitty motel, but these are the only ones I have pictures of. My dad was such a gentle, kind hearted man that he let his cats rule the house. Even when he had trouble walking because his legs were so weak, he'd still climb the stairs if he could and go outside, even in the winter, to feed his outdoor friends and give them water.



From Redhead Writer at Life-A Memoir of Existence June 2011 and Sharkbytes at My Quality Day and P. S. Annie Jan, 2012:

From Reading, Reading and Life Feb. 2011:

From The Bumbles Oct. 2009:

From Modern Mom on 8/25/09:

From Rene at Designer Frog News

From Sue at Stay At Home Mom:

From Liza at Mommy's Little Corner

From Angel at Health and Happiness Today:

From Mary at Mother Nos Best:

From Chris at Living Well Naturally:

From Bola at Mums Dads Children:

From Blogging Us--Exploring Colorado:

From Tahtimbo at Everyday Living and Simple Married Life:

From Sara (Mountain Woman) at Red Pine Mountain:

from Jewels of Being Number 5:

All About Karen & Gerard

We are happily married and live in Parma, Ohio with two nice cats, Spunky Doodle and Manny. Our first cat, Moe, died 1/1/08 at age 15 1/2. I wrote "My Funny Dad, Harry" in memory of my father right after he died Feb. 16, 2007. We both enjoy reading, sports, and the zoo. I like playing games on (screen name is PlSwts), and participating in online forums. We both love Jesus Christ and trust Him as our personal Savior. I have received great joy from serving Christ in various ministries practically my whole life. I currently teach a 5th grade boys Sunday School Class and we're both on the puppet team at Parma Heights Baptist Church. Gerard likes working in the yard and cleaning the house. I do the banking and feed and care for our cats.
Our email is
(Lighting the Unity Candle picture taken by Mike Solomon)

Tidbits about Karen:
(1) I never liked reading until after I was married, then even wrote a book!
(2) I don't cook, never did, don't intend to start anytime soon. My husband married me anyway!
(3) I slept with stuffed animals my whole life (even after I got married) until we needed more space for the cat who joined us on the bed during the night. Cats rule, you know!
(4) I hate high heels, hard to run for buses in them!
(5) I was a Tom Boy growing up--always thought boys had it made and would much rather play with trucks or cars than dolls. Later loved sports rather than reading.

Tidbits about Gerard:
(1) I am the lone wolf, not big on socializing unless you want to talk about Boston sports.
(2) I am very afraid of needles.
(3) I like buying clothes and things for Karen.
(4) I like cleaning, even the basement weekly!
(5) I take Leo, our stuffed lion, along when I go places.
(6) My favorite show is the Bachelor, another topic I am willing to discuss.
(7) Used to be over 300 pounds in high school (FAT), now weight 138-140.

Here are some posts about us you may want to read:
How Gerard and I Found Each Other
Anniversary of The Day We Met
13 Changes In Our Life Since Marriage
Praying Together Again
25 Random Things About Karen
25 Random Things About Gerard
Hubby List First Time Ever Meme
We Still Miss You, Moe
Gerard and Spunky Doodle Playing
8 Things Meme
My Most Romantic Valentine's Day Gift