The 2nd Anniversary Annihilation

Later this week (the 21st) would have been the 10th wedding anniversary with my ex-husband. In honor of the fact that we’re still friends and it’s been so terribly long since the events which I’m about to describe occurred, I’m going to tell you the story of what happened that fateful summer of ’03.

First of all, I need to tell you about the wedding. It was HOT. Who gets married in late July in Houston? Heat indexes alone were in the 110s or some such nonsense that day. In the video of our wedding ceremony, you can see me oh-so-subtly take my arm from his, wipe the sweat from my armpit and then nonchalantly continue with the ceremony.

We were never going to have a cool, 80-degree anniversary in Texas, and yet, two short years later, we got the bright idea to go camping… in Texas. David and I bought supplies. In the end, I believe that anniversary trip to San Marcos cost us about US $1.8 million in tent, ice chest, camp stove, sleeping bag, new car(!) and camp site registration. We were very-nearly-almost prepared for camping and tubing on the river.

We meticulously packed the car. We painstakingly unpacked the same car upon arrival 2 hours away from our home, and set up camp.David made sure to tell the check-in people that he’d been a boy scout and finally convinced me to trust his skills at this camping thing.

We met the neighboring campers in the motor home next to us.

David bragged (well, you did, didn’t you?) about his Eagle Scout background to the guy with the motor home. As he bragged, I noticed, but it did not register, that the pinwheel stuck next to motor-home-man’s temporary abode didn’t spin.

We made dinner and cleaned up, and the stupid pinwheel never moved. David bragged to pop-up-family to our left about his Eagle Scout background before we headed for a walk along the river.

I sopped sweat from my temples and torso like I was getting married, and David admitted he felt pretty hot, but the general sense of foreboding didn’t hit us until we turned into our two-person green nylon tent for the night.

All the windows needed to be opened. We lay on top of the sleeping bag, sans clothes, on our anniversary… and on opposite sides of the tent because it was just too dang hot for physical contact. To my right, I could see that taunting pinwheel, motionless.

An hour later, we decided to leave. I’m not sure if he was tired of hearing me whine, I was tired of hearing him whine, or he thought his plans for anniversary fun might be more well met in a building with air conditionining.

David couldn’t pack up, having bragged to every breathing being in the campground of his mad skillz and Eagle Scoutness. So, he backed the brand new car to the tent. We surreptitiously repacked the car and then, rather than taking our tent down, he shoved it in to the trunk and we drove away, three hours after arriving in San Marcos. As I looked back, I saw the pinwheel, unmoving, unspinning, just… stopped.

What’s the application? What have I learned?

Don’t vacation in hell, and if you do, please, for the love of icy cold drinks, don’t brag about how it’s going to be great.

Tell me I’m not the only one with a holiday-from-Hades story!

Let Him Lead

My tiny dancers got to waltz, two-step and hip hop their shoes off at a wedding on Friday. At first, they danced with one another.

Then, they danced with me.

My mother is not the world's best photog...

**I deeply regret that what I’m about to relay has no photographic evidence: Then, as I was sashaying around the floor with my ultra-handsome date (who felt compelled to go buy something in brown because I said my dress was brown, but it actually looked gray- sorry, Mr.!), I felt a bit of a blur rush past me.

That blur, as it turned out, was Mia, dancing on past me with A BOY! He’d asked her to be his partner and everything. I’d noticed him before, getting his little boy groove on, which was adorable, but dancing with my daughter…

I didn’t have to worry long. Before my green eyes got misty, I could see that even the twinkle-toed Casanova was no match for my bossy baby. She ushered him around the floor like Jack Lemmon’s character in Some Like It Hot.

I leaned over to her after I dragged my placatory partner to the square of floor occupied by the pushy princess and her prince. In her ear, I whispered, “let HIM lead now!”

Ever let something completely hypocritical fly out of your mouth and not catch it until hours or days later? Guilty!

Every instance of not letting HIM lead me came rushing back when I reviewed the scene. Every time I tried a spin or step or flourish without God’s direction, I may have looked like I was dancing, but I was really struggling for control with my infinitely more assured partner.

The steps of a righteous (wo)man are ordered of the Lord – Psalm 37:23

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It’s true that Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, but backward, and in heels, but, it was choreographed, precise, determined and she trusted where he led. I want to be like Ginger, letting God lead me in the steps he’s ordered.

What’s your go-to dance move?

As a “dance” partner… how well do you follow?

Sleepless over Sprechstimme

Has God ever kept you up late at night, or awoken you from a deep sleep with a thought? It happens to me, sometimes, and it’s always motivational. First, it motivates me to prayer, then, once I’ve discerned the meaning, motivates me to action. Recently, I awoke with one word, not my one-word for 2011: green,  but Sprechstimme.

** This is an illusion**

 

It’s an operatic term, one I haven’t given thought to since approximately 1998, when I competed in Academic Decathlon and we studied opera for our musical selections. Sprechstimme means to approximate speech by messing with the tonal composition of song, there is lilt and rhythm, according to the free online dictionary, but not precise pitches.You can hear an example, here.

Tone markings are something like suggestions. You might sing higher or lower than the note on the page, singing around it, but not on target.

Why in the world would God speak to me through composers like Schoenberg? After prayer and seeking, I am starting to get it. I’ve been getting close, but not hitting the mark.

I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:14.

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It reminds me of a creative writing term: verisimilitude. Verisimilitude means to add enough details to create the semblance of truth in fiction.  Verisimilitude, like trompe l’oeil, it just a picture that stands in the place of reality. It’s an approximation of the truth, but not the Truth at all.

I don’t want to be missing the mark. I want to be hitting the target, shooting for accuracy, following what is written, not playing around with the pitch of my life.

I still need to follow this thought farther. I still need to seek discernment on this matter in my life. What is God trying to tell me? What areas of my life represent simulation and how can I strike the right note?

I wish  there were Spiritual decoder rings available, so I could move some dials and voila! the meaning to my late-night epiphanies would appear! For now, I’m going to be watching my life closely to make sure that my life isn’t a cheap imitation, or even an exquisite imitation, but the true mark.

Have you ever been woken up by a Spiritual message?

What word sounds just too, too, weird if you repeat it over and over?

 

 

Amelia Explains it All: Church Diversity

Mia is talking BIG WORDS today and one word, in particular, she recently learned as I’ve been blogging Scott Williams’ book Church Diversity. She’s also overly fond of a creepy doll she was given. Don’t ask, just watch.

As many of you pointed out, I’m losing my touch on my One Word for 2011, which is green. To be a good sport, I wore a green shirt for this video. Ha!

Your practical solutions to the problem of church diversity probably won’t compare to Mia’s, but… what are they?

 

Rocks will cry: A boobie post

Let’s talk boobies for a moment, shall we? If you’ll recall, I’ve talked about how breasts are precious in God’s sight,  before, but there’s more. In addition, guys, I know how much you hate talking about boobs or reading about them, but this is different, so, keep reading, ok?

A picture of boobies

China is developing a group of cows to replace boobies! You may or may not have “herd” it here, first, but here’s more information.

I’m not a breastfeeding freak, the kind that militantly demand that everyone planning on formula feeding their infant is deranged and abusive (and I’ve met some like that), but I did nurse both of my girls- one for 11 months, one for 17 months. They were not EBF (exclusively breast fed), but got enough of mommy milk to say they were breastfed, certainly*

So, even though I’m not a rampant opinion-giver on the issue of breastfeeding, I say… I think the cow business is bovine, I mean, asinine. Our bodies, our boobies, were made to feed children. Udders were made to feed… baby cows.**

I have no problem with cow udders supplying me with milk – I drink a ton, but, cow proteins are not easily digested by tiny little digestive systems, thus why infants should not be given cow milk.

From the article, the genetically modified milk is “80% the same as human breastmilk.”That’s close, but I’m afraid, close doesn’t always cut it.

My research has found that we share 96% of our DNA with chimps, 60% with mice and 25% with daffodils. With those kinds of numbers, maybe we should stop milking cows and start milking apes? Close is not equal.

I believe what bothers me most is that we’re looking for a substitute, a simulation, because it’s something we don’t want to do ourselves. Even with milk banks, breast pumps, storage systems, heck, even wet nurses, we’re looking to cows to feed our babies.

Now, you might ask, how are boobies like worship? (I know that’s what you were thinking!)

Our worship is organic, comes from within us, overflowing from a full breast in love. Jesus said that if the people would not worship and kept silent, the rocks would cry out (Luke 19:40). Substitutions will be made, but God desires the worship of his people, not the moss-covered green rocks or cracked earth!

Humans won’t feed their children human breastmilk, which is better for mother, baby, the environment, the economy and the bond between human beings, and so we must look to cows. When we refuse to worship, the rocks, like engorged milk-filled breasts, will pour forth praise in our stead.

What’s your favorite flavor or type of milk?

How much would you pay for a gallon of breastmilk from a cow?

*I realize this may disqualify me to speak on the subject in the eyes of many

** Click at your own risk, but I thought it was apt and funny.

Diversity WhoDunIt

Each Monday this summer, I’m blogging Scott Williams’ book, Church Diversity, because I won the book from Michael Perkins’ blog and because I’m puzzled by the phenomenon of segregated Sundays.

As you know if you read here regularly at MessiahMom, I love a good mystery, especially old English country house mysteries by Agatha Christie or Georgette Heyer. In those formulaic mysteries, the body is found in a locked room, everyone present at the weekend party is a suspect, weapons abound, etc. The reader’s task is to discover WhoDunIt before the inspector or amateur sleuth in the novel.

As Scott Williams does in his 2nd chapter of Church Diversity, readers must also face the “brutal facts” of the case. If we are to solve the case of missing diversity, let’s look at those brutal facts.

*According to Mark DeYmaz, pastor of Mosaic, The Multi-Ethnic church, in his podcast, 92.5% of churches are segregated by race and class.

*Curtis DeYoung found that only about 5% of churches are fully integrated (meaning, made of up of ethnic groups that constitute more than 20% of the population of the largest ethnic group).

*Sociologist Michael Emerson found that non-denominational megachurches are much more likely to be racially diverse (and otherwise diverse) than smaller, tradition-bound congregations.

These are the facts of the case. Let’s look at our cast of suspects. People investigating church diversity often point to THESE to identify the cause. So, Who is Kaiser Soze?

Pastor: People like to blame the pastor when their church doesn’t look like they believe it should. Pastors are expected to welcome visitors and drop ’round member’s houses and make hospital visits and create, share and execute the vision of the church. Pressure much? No wonder pastor burnout is a problem!

Sure, Pastors can be a contributing factor in church diversity. Like attracts like. Is he or she reaching out to minorities and actively pursuing diversity? What about Staff?

Staff: Associate ministers, Music Directors, Youth Directors, Church Secretary, Custodial staff, Nursery Director… I’m not asking churches to make hiring or calling decisions based on race, but given that our communities are diverse, it would stand to reason that there would be SOME diversity on staff. That’s something to pray about, yes?At the same time, can we encourage a diverse congregation with the staff we have?

Ushers: Some day, I’ll write about how a rogue usher almost convinced me never to go back to my former church. Ushers are the front lines of greeting in many churches, but they might also be serving as gatekeepers to determine who is in and who is Auf Wiedersehen (pardon my Project Runway ref). For instance, there was the story of the special needs child whose family was escorted out on Easter Sunday, to help create a “distraction free” worship environment.

Congregation: Couldn’t the people in the pews be inviting a variety of their friends and neighbors to church? Shouldn’t the people in the pews have reason to believe their church is open and welcoming to all races, ages, economies, abilities, backgrounds… what about those sex offenders?

Honestly, and I’m about to ruin a great Christie novel for you, so, turn away if you don’t like spoilers… I think that lack of diversity in the church isn’t a matter of WhoDunIt, but, like Murder on the Orient Express, we have ALL contributed to the segregation of congregations across the nation.

Our weapons were apathy, omission, snide comments, cliquishness, nepotism, risk aversion, myopia and distrust. Those weapons are not God’s weapons, they belong to the enemy.

This week, I’m asking you to pray for our churches. Pray for a destruction of the weapons that are so easily available to us.

What weapons would you like to see destroyed?

What’s your favorite mystery novel?

Fighting Ugly

Let me start with what this is NOT: This is not a fishing expedition. I don’t want compliments, mostly because compliments make it worse. I have never taken compliments well. Here’s what it is, it’s a recognition that you might have dealt with something like this, and what I’ve discovered might help.

Me and my mini-Mi(a)

I grew up thinking I was ugly. No, let me rephrase, I grew up KNOWING I was unattractive. I know now that I was never ugly, and the way I know that is that Mia, my beautiful, long-haired, gap-toothed, pidgeon-toed daughter, is my mini-me. There’s no question that she looks just like me, and she is gorgeous, so I must never have been homely. But, to my mind, ugly coated me head-to-foot like green slime.

It wasn’t just a fancy of my imagination. I heard it from someone very close to me. He made fun of my over-pointed nose, called me “Banana Beak” and said I should have to wear a bag over my head. That reinforced my media-fueled perceptions that I didn’t measure up. My first kiss was from a boy who was dared to kiss the “ugliest girl in class.” At least, that’s what he and his friends told me. More ugly green slime.

By the time someone else started telling me I was pretty, I had grown accustomed to denying or explaining away beauty. Compliments like “You look pretty today” received the “Oh, I got a new dress” or “You should see my sister, she got her hair cut…” I couldn’t thank them, because I assumed they bestowed those compliments out of duty or obligation, or, worst of all…. malice.

I thought they were joking with me, sarcastically commending me on something I most obviously DID NOT possess.

Every morning, I fight ugly in the mirror. I fight the image I’d created for myself because I listened to other people to find my physical worth.

Time didn’t help, lines appear on my face, around the eyes and mouth; I find infernal gray hairs every few days. Having children did not help, gaining and losing so much weight so quickly has left my stomach looking like a road map or bowl of oatmeal, depending on which way I stand (and now I’ve just guaranteed I will never attract a man through my blog – lol).

I do battle with ugly. My best weapon? Remembering that God put me together and formed my features. Bright olive-green eyes. Nice cheekbones. Graceful neck. He even threw in a beauty mark! (I always thought that ironic, before).

So, God created man in his own image. In the image of God he created them, male and female. – Genesis 1:27

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My creator is beautiful. I am a reflection of his image. My daughter is a reflection of that same image and a reflection of me. I am not ugly. I am beautiful. That reminder will be posted on my mirror.

Today, I’m posting a picture of me. No make-up, no hair fixing (not even a shower yet!) because I’m happy to say this is the image of my maker.

God thinks this is beautiful

Have you ever struggled with false perceptions of your beauty? What is your best feature?