God the Father and the Rolling Stones

May 29, 2014

I can't imagine Christ trusting his Father enough to go to the cross.  I wouldn't trust mine to go to the store to bring back a gallon of milk.  And my mother, was a long way from being the Virgin Mary or anything near that description. The concept of God the Father, has escaped me for most of my life, because for the most part, other than my Grandfather, I didn't have a father in my life. One absentee sperm donor, and two step-fathers torn by their own families (who were both very good to me), just weren't the same as the connection that I see my friends have with their own biological fathers who love them unconditionally. I loved my Grandfather dearly and he was my best friend, but was not fair and he was weak; although his love for me was unconditional, his distribution of his love and wealth were both cruel, neglectful and disproportionate.  
 I have often wondered "If God and His angels determine the families that we are born to, why I was born to this one?"  I think of how God asked his son to sacrifice himself for all mankind- and I can imagine my mother doing that- so that makes sense. Still, it all seems a little selfish to me and I'm not sure that I'm down for that program- probably why I left the fundamentalist protestant church a long time ago.
I am much more inclined to believe that God is more like Andy Griffith.  I imagine God to be the kind of father who lets us learn our lessons the hard way, punishes us for our transgressions, allows us to separate from Him when we go against His laws -even though that is difficult for
Him, and He ultimately loves us no matter what.  Sometimes I think of how He grieves when we allow our own selfishness to separate us from His love,  just as we often grieve as parents when our own children separate themselves from us through their choices.  God still loves us, just like we love our children, and His heart must be broken when we make decisions that hurt Him.
God's distribution of love and wealth still seem as disproportionate to me as my Grandfather's did, and I wonder why on a daily basis.
I wonder how many generations back are the sins of the Father being visited upon the child? I wonder how many generations back on either side of my family that I would have to go to find a set of parents who truly loved all of their children equally,treated them fairly-with love, respect and compassion. Does that exist in ANY family?
Maybe God sends us to imperfect parents to perfect our own souls and make us better people? Maybe He isn't as perfect as we would like to believe or He could have come up with a better system than sacrificing His own son for this fallen world?  Maybe Jesus being human, just like us, was part of His journey- and He (Jesus) made the choices that led Him to the cross? It is possible that God allowed it to happen because He is a good Father and didn't want to make Jesus' decisions for Him? Regardless of all of the doubt and questions that I have, I do know that God's all I've got in a Father in this world and the hereafter.
I think of the times when I needed help and a miracle and like my grandfather, God was there for me. His gifts might have seemed disproportionate to me as I look around and see others enjoying lives of privilege and ease with a true birthright, but God still was there to listen and I felt His comforting presence as my soul became still and full of peace.  He is the only one who knows the inner depths of my soul- every last secret and and detail of my life. He has never made me feel like that He isn't listening, because I can feel His Spirit. Perhaps that's about as good as it is going to get?
God may have been more inspirational to the Rolling Stones than we know because "You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometime...you just might find...you get what you need."

I'll Clue Ya...

May 29, 2014

My Grandmother and my Mother, when truly wanting to stress a point , squint their eyes, point their index finger and say "I'll Clue Ya..." It is sort of like if the mafia threatened to cut your throat and then said "bless your heart".

Really?  What kind of clues? I always wonder if it is a murder mystery or are we looking for treasure?  Both are possible in my family.  Do I get to be Miss Scarlett? Did Colonel Mustard do it in the Library with a pipe wrench? Or, are we going to play Blue's Clues?  I love that song- "Everyone's looking for Blue's Clues..."

For years, my Grandmother ran a retirement home for other elderly ladies.   She had an upstairs apartment where she lived for about 20 years while she managed the retirement home.  For sake of convenience for her, since she was working a full time job in her seventies that confined her to her residents, our Christmases were spent at Holley House.

Each year, we loaded up all of our stuff and headed to Holley House for either Christmas Eve or Christmas Day dinner.  Usually we would do Christmas Eve with just our immediate family upstairs. Our immediate family consisted of my mother and step-dad, me, my husband, my daughter, my uncle and his wife and their two children.  We can basically all sit at one table- they have always been fairly low-key get-togethers.

The first year that I was married to my present husband, we did the 23rd of December at Holley House. I was so excited, my family was complete and we were going to have our first holiday with my whole family! Grandmother was going to be cooking a full Christmas meal for the residents, so for us she had prepared a ham, potato salad, baked beans, rolls, and deserts.  Keep in mind that this was after she'd already cooked three meals for 12 other people.

I was in the kitchen helping Grandmother, and my mother- who was running late as usual (this can normally range from 1-6 hours), called in to see what time we would be serving dinner.  She asked what we were having and I gave her the run-down of the menu.  She was LIVID!  "Dressing?  She didn't make dressing?!" She said it like the world was ending.   I replied "No, she has to cook dressing for Christmas day, so we're going to have ham.  No, I'm not crazy about ham, but it is what we are having.  So, come on now and don't be late."

"Well, then, I'm just not coming.  You are supposed to have dressing at Christmas and I want dressing! I didn't have dressing at Thanksgiving.  We have to change our Christmas and come there, instead of the farm, and we don't even get dressing? F that!  I'm not coming."  She slammed down the phone. My mother will always find a way to hurt your feelings and ruin a holiday if you give her enough time, so we were already off to a good start.

I called her back. F that?  Did she really say F that?  Yes, she did- to which I replied
"Your 71 year old mother has been on her feet cooking for a house full of people all day long.  She didn't make you dressing, says she doesn't have time to make dressing, but I....I am going to make you some dressing.  And when you get here you are going to eat every "F-ing" drop! So get your dressing eating ass in the car and come show some respect, because we're going to have Christmas and YOU are going to eat some dressing."

She showed up, grinned like a jackass eating briars, and had seconds, maybe thirds?  I can't remember now.  I do, however, remember my Grandmother saying this...

"We won't ever do THIS again, I'll clue ya!"

When You Strip the Labels off, What is Left?

May 28, 2014

As women, I think we tend to define ourselves with labels.  We call ourselves "wife", "mother", "friend", "committee chair", "attorney","doctor", "designer", "artist", "pharmacist", "teacher", or any of the rest of the labels that we stick on our shirts as the years keep speeding by us.  We start out being someone's daughter, and for a glimmer in our twenties and thirties, we are our own person- until many of us become someone's girlfriend, fiance' and then wife.  Then, we become someone's mother. We are proud of these label's- Jim's wife, Sarah's mother- and rightly so, but we have to be careful not to be defined by these labels and wrap our entire identity around them.
How often do we hear a friend say "somewhere along the way, I just lost myself" when discussing a failed marriage or business?  I think we all do that to an extent when we truly care because we want to make a difference in the lives of those we love and the careers that we love.
What happens when we close our business, when we retire, when the people we worked so hard to please and love are no longer in our lives?  Who are we then?  When you start peeling off the labels, and are stripped down to just a gal in a plain t-shirt, who are you?  What do you want to do or accomplish?  What do you like?  Do you even know anymore?
I challenge you today to pull of the labels until you get down to the t-shirt.  What would you do if you could do anything you want? When you wake up every day, do you feel content on your journey?  I remember as a child when things were difficult my mother would say to me "sometimes you have to do things you don't want to do, because that is what you have to do."  I realized then that we had fundamental differences in our philosophies of living.
I remember at age eleven saying "If it sucks, why don't you find a different way to do that? Why do you continue to do things you don't like?!  When I grow up, I won't do that."  Starting today, I am taking the advice of my eleven year old enlightened self and Deepak Chopra's advice by asking the following three questions:
1.  Am I having fun?
2.  Am I seeing results?
3.  Is it easy?

And the People said "Amen!" (Part 2)

May 25, 2014

The next thing you know, we were making a fast decision about what to do next.  Jason was 10, so he was always bossing me.  We knew that if we were caught "half naked" at the creek in front of the church people- me especially- that we would be going downtown to Fly Flap City.
We ran out of the creek and hid in the woods on the other side; there were trees there that we hid in and watched the baptism.  At one point, we thought that we could go down and cross the creek, and then sneak up to the house without being seen, but it was too deep down there. All we had to do was wait out the baptism and then after everyone was gone, we could sneak back up the hill and go in the side door without being noticed while Bigmama put dinner on the table, but it didn't quite go down like we had planned!
I don't ever remember anything ever taking so long in my entire life!  You know how you always have to pee when you are in your swimsuit and you are wet and freezing?  We were freezing and wet, and well, we needed to pee.  Now, on top of trying to be still and quiet, and invisible, we both had to pee and were doing a rain dance- but a quiet, still rain dance.  I remember Joe and Rufus and Thomas Earle in the creek with the people being baptized.  There were a lot of hallelujahs in the air and Rube Timothy  was standing on the creek bank praying and smiling that huge smile of his.
One after the other, the baptism candidates came to the water to wash away their sins.  But, it didn't stop there- shouting commenced and then there was hand waving and praying!  The Holy Ghost had apparently come to party, because Bigmama stood on the creek bank praying and speaking in tongues for what seemed like forever.  We knew she'd be the last one out of there and once she was done, we would probably be clear to head back to the house.
Finally, around 2 o'clock, after every single person had gone up the hill, Bigmama stood on the creek bank in her Thelma Harper dress, her Mason  catalog shoes, and her kevlar stockings.  She yelled in the highest pitched voice you've ever heard "Holllllleeee, Jaaaaaaason!  You boys had better get up that hill!"  She had known we were there the whole time.  She always knew- she had a sixth sense about things.  That day I won my first trip ever- a free ticket to Fly Flap City.

Sweetie, Honey, Baby, and....Schmoopie?

May 20, 2014

Remember the Seinfeld episode when Jerry and his girlfriend were into public displays of affection and they called one another "Schmoopie"?  They were completely ridiculous and made everyone around them uncomfortable.  Thankfully, before the episode ended, Jerry chose the Soup Nazi's soup over the girlfriend and we never had to see her again.

Tonight, while checking out at PetSmart, the clerk said "Here Baby, let me get that for you.  Awww, Sweetie, do you have a Pet Perks card?  Here, Honey, don't forget your receipt."  Of all of the things that truly get under my skin, strangers attempting familiarity with me, really just unnerves me.  It seems to be a thing here in Florida.  Since moving to Orlando, it has happened to me three times now.  I never experienced much of this in Birmingham, but here it continues to happen over and over again. Personally, I think it is unprofessional, unless you are a kindergarten teacher, and then there are limits.

Since I don't have a magic wand that makes people disappear or fires them on the spot without having to call their managers, I have decided that the next time that a clerk calls me "Sweetie", I am going to respond with "Geeeeeee! Thanks, Schmooooopie!"  Then, I am going to wink at him or her and blow them a kiss and say "Are you uncomfortable yet?"

Until tomorrow, Schmoopie...

Manny panties?

May 19, 2014

Did you know that these existed?  Men's underwear that come up to a man's chin?  I have coined these "manny panties"- similar to granny panties, but for men.
A few weeks ago, we made an evening run to the mall to the local Joseph A. Bank to pick up some new t-shirts for my husband.  Let me restate that, I finally drew a line in the sand and told him that it was time to get some new underwear.  I understand that the t-shirts he loved were really comfortable, and had that Adam Levine broken-in look, but it was just time for some new threads.  
When we arrived, the parking situation was ridiculous.  I could NOT find a parking space and we didn't have much time before they closed.  Reluctantly, I sent him in alone ( DO NOT EVER DO THIS) and I circled the store...and I circled the store, and circled the store, and circled the store.  I could not figure out what in the world was taking so long in there?
Finally, he emerged with his bag of new underwear, and we headed home.  Like any good wife, I took it all out of the package and immediately put it in the wash with some Clorox.  I didn't pay attention to the underwear or the t-shirts, I just threw them into the wash.  It wasn't until I was folding them, that I realized that my husband had purchased GIGANTIC underwear.  I'd never seen man underwear like this- were these factory rejects?  
I couldn't wait for him to try these on, because I was snorting and cracking up just folding them.  So, I said, "I washed your new underwear and I put a pair on the bathroom counter for you with your t-shirt." 25 minutes later, he emerged.  There he was, in the flesh, Steve Urkel as a 50 year old white man! 
When I say that these were some ridiculously large underwear,  let me explain that all he needed was some red dye and a cape and he could have had a  Nacho Libre outfit!  He looked down at the elastic band that touched his ribs and said "I think there is something wrong with these?"  I replied "No, they are perfect! You look just like Homer Hamilton."
Mr. Hamilton wore his  Sansabelt slacks up to his chest. Don't get me wrong, Mr. Hamilton was always dressed sharp and well-groomed, and probably one of the nicest guys you will ever meet, but he wore his pants just "a little" high.  
I know you are wondering how many of these he purchased...did he buy one package just to try them? Uh, no- he bought a dozen pair, so that he was STOCKED UP for a while! So, with his expensive manny panties in a pile, he went to Target and got some Jockey underwear so that the dog and I won't mistake him for Urkel. Moral of the story- make SURE that you don't let your husband shop alone and ALWAYS take the underwear out of the package before purchasing.
Did I do thaaaaaaaat?

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