Sunday, July 20, 2008

grapes for sale

I was at Food Lion yesterday, buying out the entire store.  I'm heading to Charlotte for a week of training and desired to leave my cupboards stocked.  Not that I'm so naive to think that McDonald's or Burger King won't enter the picture, it's just that I want to give Hubby options.

I had put the Southern peaches in my cart (yea!), and was turning around for the grapes when an older gentleman called out for the produce guy.  It was one of those awkward moments where I watched the man call for him and the produce dude didn't hear him, so the man called out again--truthfully not loud enough--and I was wondering, okay, should I help him?  What should I do?  A few more tries and finally Mr. Produce heard.

The gentleman wanted the deal on grapes.  It was explained to him that it had been a one day sale on Wednesday.  The man apparently didn't understand.  I snuck in to grab my grapes with an "excuse me" that wasn't heard by either.  As I moved on to broccoli, their seemingly unending conversation loop continued.

My heart was sad for the older gentleman who appeared unkempt and very needful of a sale on grapes.  I wondered about him and his situation.  Did he lose his wife?  Does he have adult children nearby?  Does anyone check in on him?  The imaginings in my head were making shopping difficult. 

So, I rang up God.
I prayed for him and his situation.  I thanked God for my blessings and my situation.  (It was difficult not to feel really, really blessed while filling my basket full of good food for my family.)

While checking out, I glanced outside the front door.  The same gentleman stood outside with three police officers.  He was being arrested for shoplifting. 

So, obviously I was a sobbing mess unloading groceries into my car.  And, what can I do?  If I started a crusade, joined an organization or helped an individual every time I drove around town crying, it would turn into a full time job.  God works on me, though, in those moments.  

He works on me, still, regarding the gentleman who wanted a sale on grapes. 

Saturday, July 19, 2008

culture vs colloquy

I yearn for a heritage to celebrate.  A rich, cultural backsplash to my life.  Something permanent with ritual and tradition shared by my group of peeps. 

Ethnic peoples have tight communities and millennia-old traditions and celebrations to bring them together to laugh, cry and fight in grateful praise of God, family and culture.

We of Western European descent claim regions of the Americas to define our belonging, and those lines are ever more blurred today in our mobile society.  Our ethnic identity arises from a geographical point of reference: Midwest, East Coast, West Coast, Southwest...etc.  

Depending upon where you grew up, you say: purse or pocketbook; couch or divan; highway 101 or the 101; y'all, or youse guys; kitty corner or catty corner; next week or this coming week; and, knapsack or backpack.  

If you end your phrases in prepositions, like "where do you live at?" or add "at all" to the end of a query, you're from the Midwest.  They will invite you to stay longer or stay over, and you will be expected to know to decline because no one would want to be an imposition. 

If you put "the" in front of a highway number or street name--even if it makes zero sense such as "the El Camino" (which translated means "the the road")--you're from the West Coast.  Ditto if you could correctly order a skinny half caf two shot latte in a local coffeehouse before Starbucks went national.

If you talk faster you're from the North, and slower, from the South.  Southerners will put a lacy blanket of gentility over any disparaging remark by adding "bless her heart."  Northerners do not talk to strangers in the elevator or on a train because that's suspect behavior.  Southerners will mean it but not say it.  Northerners will kinda mean it and say it forcefully.

If you're from Texas, you ask, "How are yooooou?"  And, you expect a one word reply.  If you don't own a gun they'll know you're not a native.  If you don't buy a gun soon, they'll know you "just ain't right."

Highway, Interstate, Freeway, and Parkway can all mean the same type of road.  Soda, Coke, Pop, and Tonic can mean any type of fizzy non-alcoholic beverage.

So for many of us, our cultural identity is defined by mannerisms and lingo, not by background, religion, shared history spanning the ages, or food--unless you count the yummy regional specialities like North Carolina pulled pork, Memphis ribs, Iowa corn-fed beef tenderloin, or Texas smoked beef brisket.  (You can tell I'm a carnivore.)

We celebrate the diversity of America, especially in the summer, with Fourth of July, Memorial Day and Labor Day picnics.  We shoot off fireworks and eat potato salad.  We take vacations to Disney World and the beach.  We pass each other on I-95 or I-80.  We share a culture of sorts.

But it's not the same.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

role reversal

Just finished a full week of work.  I haven't had a full time job for over a decade.  It was sad and wonderful, too.  Hated being away from the kids, especially since I'd planned to spend the summer with them, but loved being back in creative business building.  Fun!

Hubby's doing Daddy Day Care.  A total role reversal for us.

Lounging at the pool with the fam on Friday, Hubby turned to me and said to me proudly, "I managed to keep them alive this week."

"No," I responded, "they didn't kill you."

I didn't want to rain on his sunny day, but parents keep their kids alive until about age 5, and from then on, parents move into self-preservation mode or face peril.  

Don't believe me? Here's the evidence:
  • Kids will jump on you suddenly without notice and you will lose your breath, break a necessary bone, or choke on your bite.
  • Kids will speak loudly in your ear in the middle of the night and if you don't have a heart attack from the shock, you will most certainly fall down the stairs and break your neck while navigating Legos in the hallway shuttling them back off to bed.
  • Kids will disappear suddenly in crowded, unfamiliar territory and a lifetime later (usually a few minutes) a security guard will hand them back to you, regard your shaking, snorting, mascara-running state of disrepair and offer to call your husband because "you don't look like you should drive."
  • Kids will interrupt you every 2.4 minutes with all sorts of emergencies (hunger, not sharing, web issues, missing toys, etc.) and due to this constant interruption your brain will become spastic and you'll be unable to think, talk or stay continent.   
So, Hubby survived his first week as stay-at-home dad.  And, I'm proud of him.   

Here's something hard to admit: Hubby's much better at laundry than I.  He ROCKS at laundry.  Okay, maybe not totally rocks 'cause none of its folded, but still, it's all completely cleaned.  Our house harbors not one stitch of dirty clothes (ignoring what we threw in the hamper last night).  He was still managing loads on Saturday.  While I watched.

I've had the past nearly seven years with the kids on my own, now it's his turn for a summer.  I think this will be a good thing for all of us.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

newspaper article

So, Wendy Lemus is the editor of the Cary News. She sat down with Howard and me a few weeks ago and we unpacked some sexual abstinence fears, myths and stories with her. She is a remarkable woman and we had an interesting time chewing over secular abstinent dating, and highlighting the past decade of Reborn Virgin.

Our time was compiled in a piece on the front page of the Cary News on Wednesday. In case you missed it, check it out at:

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

email turmoil

Having major problems with email. If you sent me an email this week, I did not receive it. Please resend your thoughts. Always love hearing what people are saying about stuff. My old email is my newest: Perhaps this debacle is worthy of a post somewhere down the line...we'll see.

Monday, July 7, 2008

perfect fit


I know this job is going to be the best ever because it won't feel like a job at all.  I started today as a Blood Center Coordinator with the American Red Cross in Cary.  It's a perfect fit.  Great team, excellent boss, super company and my skill sets will be fully utilized.  I'm thrilled!  I can hardly wait to sincerely dig in.

Only thing is, I'm so incredibly happy that I feel weird about jumping around like an excited Chihuahua (yeah, really, I'm THAT excited) while my church is exploring "suffering" in a series.  They're having a prayer event tomorrow and have asked people to write their burdens on butcher paper taped to the walls.  We're to circle the ones over which we've prayed.  There's a lot of suffering in our church and in the world.  

And, I'm celebrating with glee.  

Hmmm...back to the waves.  Up and down, up and down.  Such is the course of life.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

nervous prayer

At lunch with James, he prayed over us and the meal I could literally feel God’s warmth encompass the table.  It’s not often that happens. 

Honestly, most of the time people pray, I’m nervous.  I try so hard to concentrate on their words and not let my mind wander.  I’m simultaneously embarrassed and honored if they’re praying for me. Life Group prayers make me really edgy.  Who’s gonna talk?  What are they going to say?  Will every single prayer request get mentioned, or is someone going to be left out?  Did Robin already pray for Ally?  How long will this bit of silence last?  I’m on the edge of my seat until the final “amen,” then I can relax.  It’s over.  (Blow out big breath.) 

I talk to God all the time.  Praying I guess.  He’s always there, and that’s a good thing.  I ask, wonder, yell, cry, beg, praise…the whole gamut.  It’s very comfortable for me, this ongoing private conversation with God.

Group prayers and someone praying for a group are uneasy positions for me.  Even in church, when my pastors pray, I’m holding my breath, trying to hear the words, waiting for it to end.  Yeah, yeah, just get to the point, I’m thinking.  Not disrespectfully, mind you, but kinda like swallowing chalky liquid medicine.  Choking it down, wishing for the water that comes after.  Just get it over with, God and I can hash it out later.

And yet, when two or more are gathered in His name…shouldn’t group prayer be something I’m driven toward and not away from? 

I don’t know why I have such a hard time with group prayer.  Most of the time, I’m not even involved so it can't be performance anxiety.  I just have to sit there in correct posture: hands together, head bowed, eyes downcast.  Pretty boring position, though, considering I’m used to addressing God while engaged in an activity: maneuvering through traffic, sorting laundry, or painting walls.       

But James’ prayer was comfortable for me.  Just the three of us, holding a circle of hands, heads bowed, and his sure words floating across the restaurant.  And, God there with us. 

I want that to be how I feel with every prayer.  I’ll be working on it…

Friday, July 4, 2008

lunch with james

If you’re not doing God’s purpose for you, you’re not doing anything. 

You can get sidetracked by even noble endeavors and never get around to God’s purpose for you, says James, waving his arms broadly, and you can see him playing basketball, even now in his button-down shirt and tie.  You have to be diligent to stay on course, he says emphatically.

Hubby and I lunched at the knees of a wise man on Thursday.  James, tall, lean, and graying, leads from experience and faith.  We covered a lot of ground in two hours over fish burgers and garlic fries at Red Robin.  (May I recommend Tyler’s Taproom by the way for the most excellent garlic fries.) 

We talked about God, “BC” life (life before Christ), Primerica, Reborn Virgin, basketball, family, death, happiness, and passion: a lifetime of wisdom and insight exuding as sage guidance from his lips between bites.

You can’t care what others think, he explains to me, leaning in intently as I confess my fear: when I promote RV people will think I’m after the money, when the reality is that I just want to help people live better lives.  He corrects my thinking: you have to concentrate on the goal, on helping people.  Others will believe what they will.  You can’t control them.  However, you can control what you do.

James turns to Hubby.  He addresses many concerns, but one stands out: you have to be careful to not run away from Primerica, like you did the corporate world 5 years ago.  You need to run TO something.  Find your passion and pursue it.

So, James’ message is basically, find God’s purpose for your life, pursue your passion with due diligence, focus on the goal not the distractions (whether iniquitous, imagined, or even righteous), and you’ll fulfill God’s will. 

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


No questions, just pray with me, first:

Dear God, please help the doctors taking care of Nicholas determine a correct diagnosis and begin a course of treatment.  Please watch over Stacy, Robert, Mackenzie and Nicholas and keep them in your loving care.  Give Stacy strength to take care of her sick little boy, and please heal Nicholas.  Amen.

Thanks for praying with me.  Nicholas is 2 years old and the sweetest little boy you've ever seen.  He has a winsome smile and "pinchable" cheeks.  He is suffering from an unknown ailment.  He is being attended by specialists from all fields of medicine at Duke, and has undergone so many tests in his young life that every time they get into the car he shakes his head in protest and says, "no doctor!"  

They can't figure out what's causing his illness.  He's recently taken a turn for the worse, being nearly unable to eat or move about much.  Even the top medical professionals are stumped by his unusual symptoms: extremely low iron, off the charts high B12, achy legs, eye problems (strabismus) and surgery, lethargy, out of breath, no appetite, etc.  They've started to test for rarer diseases because they've eliminated the more known varieties.  Everyone involved is desperate for a diagnosis.  

Thanks for caring about this cute little boy.  I will keep you posted.