Thursday, March 27, 2008

Good Girl/Bad Girl

Cleaning out a closet at church lent to some interesting perspectives from formerly wayward Christians. Some of us (and I'm totally not naming names here, but I'll probably spill my guts--or protect your identity--if you buy me lunch) battle the guilt and regret of former lives/choices/whatnot. "Bad Girls Gone Good" would be the title if we cared, but we don't.

The Bad Girl in me hasn't gone away, she's just morphed.

The Bad Girl: We're in the middle of a drought and today I washed my SUV in my driveway for all the world to see. Used soap and the whole nine yards, including allowing my daughter who was scantily dressed in an "oops, we forgot your bathing suit, let's run to
WalMart!" sequin-clad white bathing suit to water the trees...and the plants...and the bushes...and the sidewalk chalk art...and the scented pine cones left over from Christmas. Tomorrow I'll fill up the gas tank of this shiny vehicle and leave my enormous carbon footprint on Hwy 64 and Hwy 1.

The Good Girl: our recycling bin overflows every week,
thank you very much, and I always turn out the lights when I leave a room, well...most of the time. Our SUV is "California standard emissions," btw, Al.

Monday, March 24, 2008

God Gave Us Taste Buds

He talked in short bursts of pipe-smoked professorial verbiage, and your mind was always working it out a bit after the fact. Mel worked with Hubby for a time, and brought me a smile and a sample from his kitchen every time we met. I could only understand about half of what he said, but he said it so emphatically that I had to agree with him.

Our anniversaries were in November, Mel's and his wife's, and ours. His wife was in California caring for her sick mother one November, yet relishing an excuse to celebrate, Mel crafted a gourmet anniversary dinner for three in her absence.

He delighted our palates first with crème fraiche atop sweet and spicy pumpkin soup, then succulent pork tenderloin stuffed with truffles and herb dressing, plus fresh asparagus from the Farmer's Market delicately seasoned, and he finished strong with my personal favorite profiteroles au chocolat.

He was the gourmand's gourmand, and though appearing a bumbling intellectual, he was comfortable in any upscale eatery or behind the scenes in his own kitchen.

Even his fruitcake (yes, fruitcake!) was a taste extravaganza bursting with nuts he'd toasted himself, exotic Pacific dried fruits, and laced with Amaretto. Mel taught me that God gave us taste buds so we could enjoy His bounty. God meant us to enjoy food.

That is a huge lesson to a woman who's spent most of her life on a diet. Food to me is pleasure followed guilt. I have a love/hate relationship with every morsel that enters my mouth...relishing in the sensations and delights, and loathing the hangover that makes me fret about jeans and zippers.

But not at Mel's table. He reminds me that God is good and God wants us to enjoy all of His creations. I enjoy God's creations...and Mel's creations.

And, I miss Mel, and his fruitcake, and his profiteroles. He died suddenly and unexpectedly a few years ago from an errant blood clot.

And with his death ended the opportunity for more, as happens every time a friend leaves our circle. Hubby and I had meant to get together with Mel and his family that last Christmas, but then I just got busy and rushed, and I didn't get around to picking up the phone. We often "get busy" and wait for "another day" to plan a dinner, or coffee, or a concert with family and friends. Our lives are hectic and we run out of time. (
Speaking of, when DID it turn from "Can we meet next weekend?" to "Can we meet next month...or the next month?")

Sure, I schedule out months in advance. Maybe my friends and acquaintances think I'm nuts, always calling to have them over or go do something. But, I don't want to miss out on communion with them because I was "busy." I've been down that road.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Walking the Walk

The smudgy faced boy looked up at his dad and asked, "Do you think they know Jesus?"

Dad said to ask them. The brown, questioning eyes stared up even higher to the man next to his dad.

Hubby smiled down into the wondering face. "Yes, we know Jesus."
We were at the end of a long, winding walk through forest and field; time spent sharing tidbits of history, parenting truths, and shepherding wayward kids. Gusty winds whipped around the warm Spring day like freshly melting snow creeping into a brook. We'd met up with a father and five of his seven offspring while exploring a battlefield where the North had handed the South a final defeat.

Not just Christians in name these people, his kids watched out for ours while traveling over a roadway to talk to a local farmer on his tractor. They offered and we accepted bottles of welcoming icy water from their cooler to cut the dust. Had we stayed, we would've played baseball with them. They asked if we knew Jesus. They didn't just talk the talk, they walked the walk.

As we drove off and waved from open car windows, the dad shouted to us, "See you in Heaven!"

We sure will.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Coffee For A Gay Day

A friend sent me a website to join the movement to protest a protest. I protested!

It's called the Day of Silence, a day to end the silence against the abuse and bullying of GLBTs (Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals and Transgenders) in schools. So, teenagers spend April 25th with their traps shut while immersed in their studies...maybe not a bad thing? So, of course, there is outcry from the other side. Parents are organizing to keep their kids home that day in protest.

So, here's the choice: protest by keeping quiet, or protest the protest by staying home. There's got to be another option. What could it be? Coffee came to mind, naturally.

A day of silence just seems a little silly to me. So does sitting on my couch watching the 700 Club. Jesus taught us to hate the sin and love the sinner, love the person--all people. I think a day of taking a gay person out for coffee would be better. Buy coffee for a gay day! I think I'll start a movement.

Now, you must know that I have befriended many gay people. They are family members and life-long friends. I lived in San Francisco, fer cryin' out loud. Hard to walk down the street there and not bump into "them." Ahem. So, there's my disclaimer. I know that they are humans, capable of a full range of emotions. They are not a movement and they are not anti-christs. They are people.

And, I think that's the point. Getting to know someone, not just spending a day in protest, is a much better salve for our society. Protesting accomplishes nothing. As my pastor says, "knowing the poor" (or the sinner) lends to action (love is verb not a noun!). You can't ignore the poor when you know them. You can't ignore gays, or embezzlers, or prostitutes, or alcoholics if you know them. I don't advocate letting dangerous people into your life; you have to be judicious in your actions. I mean, it's never a good idea to let a drug addict have access to your kids or bank account. But, how well do we know the people we rail against?

We can't spread God's hope for everyone to have a good life if our mouths are shut, or if we're not reaching people who need help the most. If more people talked, we might have less problems in our society. We might not agree, obviously, but at least we'd understand differing points of view. And perhaps, those of us inclined would be able to spread the word of God when we talk and interact...rather than move about in silent protest for one view, or hole up at home for another.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Up In Smoke

Hubby drew long on a rare cigar and nodded in agreement, his silver and black beard concealed in the sweet but pungent smoke.

I had made my point, rather emphatically, that our society is one of being "blank-poor." We're house-poor, technology-poor, hobby-poor.

So many of us are caught up in something that keeps us running in the red. Did we buy a house that pushes us to the ceiling of our incomes? Does the guy at the Apple store know us by name? Did we really need a second golf club membership? What is it that keeps us "blank-poor" and fighting to keep our head above water each month?

On our deck in the warm spring night illuminated by candlelight we extolled the virtues of living well below ones means. As a society, we need to set limits...we need to not have the latest and greatest...we need to be smart to bring peace to our lives. But mostly, we need to live with a large gap between our incomes and what we spend.

Here's a breakdown of good living:

Church tithing: 10%

Giving to charity: 5%

Savings/Investments/Emergency fund: 15%

Housing (mortgage and monthly utilities, etc.) 25%

Food: 10%

Transportation: 10%

Insurance: 10%

Clothing: 5%

Medical/Dental: 5%

Misc: 3 %

Hobbies/Spending money: 2%

Hubby and I working on getting these numbers where they should be. Hubby's a financial guru and yet even WE need to keep vigilant and work on it. It's so easy to let your budget run your life and not vice-versa.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Breathing Room

After a roller coaster week of interviewing for the position at my church and meeting with multiple peeps there, shuttling the kids around as usual, gearing up for an all-day training school in Greensboro, and getting back into the swing of routine after a lovely respite down south (I even lost a pound while on vacation!), today, I finally have time to breathe.


So, I didn't get the position at my church. And, I'm................relieved. This is why I love my church: they didn't hire me, not because I couldn't totally rock in the job, but because after two years of duty they feel I wouldn't be fulfilled by it.

And, they're right. Darn it.

I would love to work at the coolest church on the planet. It would be awesome to be surrounded by these godly, creative, intelligent people--hey, maybe some of it would even rub off on me!

But, it's just not right. It's not the right time, it's not the right season of life, it's not the right job.

I was asked: if the First Impressions Director position and the Communications Director position (a job yet to exist) were on the table, which one would I choose? I didn't even hesitate before answering, "Communications Director hands down." And, two years later, I would still be challenged and fulfilled by that role.

Someday, it might be a possibility. Who knows what the next year will bring for me, my family, or my church? (Well, God does, but the rest of us just have to keep trusting that He knows best.)

Today, I'm just glad to spend these warming days of spring chauffeuring my kids to and from schools and activities, and looking forward to a long summer poolside in the sweltering Carolina heat. We have travel plans to see friends and family, and more trips to Grampa's and Gramma's Beach House--with and without G&G. We have plans to take day-trips on Saturdays to local historic sites or the zoo, and spend Sunday afternoons snoozing on the couch. We have plans to make more time for family and friends and less time for working nights and weekends. We have plans that don't have me working a part-time job at church, but immersing myself in a full-time one at home.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Blogging with the Dawg

We just got back from Floridaaaahhh where we visited the folks' Beach House. A whirlwind weekend where time stopped so we could revel in familial love. We came back sated, exhausted and exhilarated.

While there, I plugged my dad (AKA Schmidt-Dawg) into blogging. He's a great writer and I'm eager to hear about his world and views in these delicious snippets, each post an amuse bouche for the soul.

Check out his blog: