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As I think back to 1970’s and hit songs from this time period,  Harper Valley PTA by Tom T. Hall, comes to my mind. In fact, it has been going through my mind the last couple of days. Why on earth can I remember the words and lyrics like the 70’s were yesterday? 

Tom T. Hall wrote this song, which was released and made famous by Jeannie C. Riley in 1968.  On Songfacts it basically states this song was written about “a fictional confrontation between a young widow Stella Johnson and a local PTA group.” For those of you unfamiliar with PTA, the article explains that “A “PTA” is a Parent Teacher Association. Popular in small towns of the United States, the organizations work to improve school conditions and encourage communication between parents and teachers. In some cases, the members of PTAs can be righteous and petty, and the characters in this song are depicted as such. The song struck a nerve with many women who felt some empathy with the character Stella Johnson.”

That’s it!  The reason I still can remember the words and lyrics to this song!  It “struck a nerve with me.”  As a teenager in the 70’s, who grow up in a small Kansas town, I can so relate! Need I say more?  The song depicted life in my small community more than life in the actual movie. In fact, I wondered if they were using a pseudonym.

I am not necessarily “throwing stones” here. It is more of a “been there done that” statement!  Been there done that and am not going back.   

 For a large part of my life, I see-sawed between a Pharisaic attitude or one in which I would cheer on those who are “down-and-out.” For me, the pharisaic attitude crept in, when I felt insecure within my own self or when I had on my “mask,” to cover up the mess of my life!  A hypocritical, condemning attitude is not the  me, I want to be!  The real “Gracie”  does not want to be one who stands back, points fingers and gossips to make myself feel better. 

The person I am striving to be is one who stands in the gap for those who are being persecuted. In the late 1980’s or early 90’s, I listened to an interview with Frank Peretti from Focus on the Family.  While I can’t remember the entire story, I do recall a statement. The assertion Frank made was in regards to those who were being ridiculed or persecuted while he was around.  He stated, he had determined “NOT on my watch.” I love this statement and what it implies!

As I continue down this “second journey,” I have determined to be the “watchwoman.”  Who knows, perhaps the “Stella Johnson” in my hometown needs someone to stand in the gap and makes sure it doesn’t happen to her (or him) “Not on my watch!”

What about you?  Are you going to be one who stands back, points fingers and repeats gossip to make yourself better?  Or one who has determined “NOT on my watch!”

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