Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Pining Away

What I miss about Florida:

After a tearful goodbye I hope you'll permit me a bit of reflection about my home state. Here's my top ten list of things I miss about the sunshine state.

1. Laughing with my family. Loudly.
2. Fresh food. Grown by God and my Daddy in the blackest richest dirt you've ever seen.
3. The smell of orange blossoms.
4. My kids with bare dirty feet from playing just as hard as I did when I was a kid.
5. Produce stands. Why doesn't Louisiana have any produce stands for heavens sake?
6. Spending a Saturday morning misbehaving with my sister making way too much noise while shopping and laughing so much that I have to cross my legs.
7. Steak dinners. I NEVER eat restaurant steak due to the inevitable failure to compare with what my dad and brother can do with red meat and a gas grill.
8. Church. Old hymns in three or four part harmony sung in the same pew with my mom and dad. Standing in the snctuary where I was baptized and my grandfathers funeral was held and my sisters wedding and countless Vacation Bible School processionals were made carrying a flag or Bible to the front marching in time to Onward Christian Soldiers. The nursery where my diapers were changed and the sunday school rooms where I became the fastest Bible drill kid you've ever known. (If you don't believe it, try me.)
9. A few square miles of a neighborhood where just about every street bears my family name.
10. Publix supermarkets and the general cleanness of just about every other public place. No one pukes or pees in downtown Lakeland.

So I guess even though my car sports a Louisiana tag, it'll take more than that to get Florida outta this girl. All this to give you a sappy glimpse at the heart of a FL native who loves her life as it is but still sometimes wishes Florida dirt was under her feet. A couple days back in New Orleans and maybe this lump in my throat will go away.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

A Little Church History/History of a Little Church

I spent a lot of time at work today going through church member files. I'm a church secretary, by the way. I'm in the process of making sure all of the data in our database is correct, such as birthdays, anniversaries, addresses and all of that.
It's an interesting thing, the church member file. I've been a secretary for other types of churches, but this one is a liturgical church. Older churches tend to keep thorough records. These records turn out to be tiny summaries of a person's spiritual life. Copies of letters their elders sent when they weren't attending church, and records of phone calls where the member explains why they weren't attending church. Did this member write a formal letter of complaint about what the pastor said on Sunday? Yes, in fact, I have a copy right here. Dates of marriages, dates of baptisms and confirmations, dates of divorces and dates of funerals are all there.
Did this person take communion enough in the year 2003? I can find out. How many times have they been divorced? The record of each husband's membership application can be found in a multiply-offending wife's file.
I'm not sure how I feel about these records. From the standpoint of one who loves history, it's fascinating. But with my background in less-traditional denominations, I don't understand why it matters how many times a year someone communed. I'm not sure I'd want some secretary to read about my personal medical procedure thirty years hence. Does God care if I transferred from a Baptist, Evangelical or Episcopalian church?
The funeral bulletins were especially sad, though. You read through a file and see how a husband and wife transferred into membership with their two children. You see the dates their children were confirmed and married. You see how much money they contributed to various efforts (roofing fund, new air conditioner, etc.), and then you see that an elder had to contact them because they weren't in church. Why? The spouse has been sick and can't leave the house. Then you see the funeral bulletin and the memorial checks that make their way to the church.
You have to sum up their lives in dates and factoids.
I had been considering the possibility of cleaning out those files once the data was clean and up-to-date. But really, you'd lose so much. The handwriting samples, marriage certificates, and cordial letters between divorcees tell so much more of the story.
And they remind you of how short life really is.

- Christy

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Chinese Take Out Happiness

I got chinese food take out today. I have something embarrassing to tell you about it. So just keep this between us, Ok? It was my first time!!! No kidding. Not the first time I've ever eaten chinese food, but the first time I've ever had it take-out, with the funky little boxes with handles and stuff. This could explain why I ordered about double what my family could eat. Either that or the lady who took my order is working on commission.

After we ate the food (yum!) and I was putting the leftover little boxes in my fridge it occurred to me. I had never done this before! But, I liked it! I was picturing myself as Sandra Bullock in Two Weeks Notice ordering chinese all the time. I brought home the little menu with the numbers and everything. I'm practicing saying "Yes, it's all for one." like the movie. Ha ha!

Ok, well... nothing too profound today, just thought I'd share a "first" with you!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


Today was a regular day. I was a regular girl. Doing my job, cleaning my house, you know the drill. I did some writing, made some phone calls. I made banana bread with some ripe bananas, did some laundry, ran the dishwasher, and made a yummy dinner. My kids are in bed now, and all is well. Nothing special to write tonight except... that sometimes nothing special is something special.


Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Candy and Crying

I started a new book today. Mind candy, I like to call it. It's fiction writing that I totally cannot do, but wholeheartedly love to enjoy. Mind candy is also my attempt to trick myself into riding my exercise bike. I love to read so much that I'll get on the bike for it, if I tell myself I can only pick up the story on the bike. So this morning, there I sat on my bike, pedaling away with a chick-lit book I picked up for the pure fun of it. I can never seem to escape from picking up something of value, though, even from the most light hearted mind candy.

The story I'm reading is about two older ladies in a small town, their friendship, and their well meaning antics. Sort of a Steel Magnolias crossed with Fried Green Tomatoes with a bit of Sunday School tossed in. (the little ol ladies are retired ministers' wives, ya see.) The book is written mostly as a conversation between the two friends, full of humor. Yet, at one point, I simply burst out into tears. Here it is:

"You see, Maxine and me, we weren't always Queen Mamas." "No, we were not." "Or queen bees." "Worker bees, more like it." "Regular drones." "Which isn't a bad thing now, but..." "But the time comes when even a drone has to stop and look around herself and say, 'I'ts time to create a buzz.'" "And Oh, what a buzz Odessa made!" "I did. Though I didn't do it just for myself. I did it for all of us." "The drones." "The meek." "The women who are strangers in their own communities." "Who are all fearfully and wonderfully made. There's the meat of the story, Maxine, right there."

I pedaled and read and wept. No kidding. This is supposed to be a humorous book. But the words "women who are strangers in their own communities" caught in my heart and in my throat. I can identify with that. I AM that sometimes, or at least I feel that way. Caught between who I really am and who I think I'm supposed to be to please everyone else. Desperately wanting to be known and loved just as I am, yet knowing and trying to live with the fear and possible fact that "just as I am" might not be satisfactory to those I hope will do the knowing and loving. Furthermore, I wept because I don't know a woman who hasn't felt this way.

Here's the other place I broke down:

"Oh--and don't forget to mention--" "The tiaras. This story is just jam-packed with tiaras." "Hey, a woman wears a lot of hats in her lifetime. Why shouldn't one of them be a crown?"

Why not indeed. Tonight I wish I had a crown of my own, and a crown to place on the head of every woman who feels like a stranger in her own community. For every child-bearing, vaccuum running, dish washing, tear wiping, diaper changing, hard working, creative thinking, deeply exhausted, seemingly unnoticed woman out there who is playing the part of drone as her inner queen bee wastes away.

So maybe it's just me (this could be true since I also broke down in the van as I listened to Alabama's song "If You're Gonna Play in Texas You gotta have a fiddle in the band." Don't ask me why.) But for some reason, those words got right to my heart today. Good thing mind candy isn't counted in calories!!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Mommy Dilemmas

I have been talking with friends lately about the process of growing up. I mean, I guess I'm already a grown-up, but I'm still a person in progress. One common point, especially among those of us who have grown up in the church, is that we remember the world being black and white when we were young. You know - making judgments between right and wrong was pretty easy, especially when you were armed with Sunday School dogma. We edit Bible stories for our kids and feed them only the parts that are easy to understand. We hand them an incomplete measuring stick to hold up to the world around them. We never try to explain the sin in the lives of Bible heroes - that makes it pretty tough to understand...well....to understand the level of personal perfection we are supposed to aspire to. I mean, if adulterers and drunks can become heroes of righteousness, couldn't anybody? We can't have that, can we? What if our kids think it's okay to sin?!?!
Life becomes so much more gray as you get older. That's a common human experience. What do we do with that?
I was reading to my kids tonight, and my son said something - I really don't recall what it was - that reminded me of his own tendency toward the black and white. He's a guy who stands for Truth, Justice and the American Way. Really, he's straight as an arrow (he was born that way). I suddenly wondered about his own transition into adulthood. How would he handle the muddying of his Scales of Justice?
I'm not claiming to have any answers here, it's a new question for me. I am struggling with the desire to make the world a place my children feel safe and at the same time I know that I am responsible to help them transition into the grown-up world. I don't think it's easy, and it's probably not right, to sit a six-year-old down and tell her about King David's little Bathsheeba issue. Maybe my nine-year-old could handle the picture of Noah, laying naked and drunk in his tent, but I'm not sure.
The ability to navigate life's murky spots is make-or-break when it comes to faith. And I want it to be a "make" for my own children. To clarify, though, I don't want it to be something I have driven into their little skulls with a rubber mallet - I want it to be a faith-affirming gift that I hand to them.
Of course, one of the keys is teaching them about grace. Grace for one's fellow man and for the issues that you may disagree about. God's grace for the miserable failure that I am and you are and they will be.
But I struggle, even as a real grown-up, with the concept of grace. It's hard for me to accept for myself. I'll never be good enough, but I am driven to try to be good enough anyway.
How can I pass on a gift to my children that is not yet in my own hands?

<3 Christy