Happy “Thanksgibing” back….

It’s Thanksgiving day people, not TURKEY DAY.  Yes, many people eat turkey, I get it, I eat plenty of it myself.  But this was a day set aside to give thanks to God for all of his blessings.  A day started by a group of people who had seen the worst kind of heartache, and for a extended period of time.  And still, they had been provided for, and recognized that.  And were deeply thankful to the One who had given them life.

So HAPPY THANKSGIVING everyone.

And “Happy Thanksgibing back.”

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The Project-Friend

A new friend of mine asked me recently if I had picked them as a “project friend.” I knew immediately what that meant, I’ve just never been asked that question before, point blank.

 

The “project friend”: a person one takes on for an undisclosed amount of time to guide them through, convict them of, and teach them things that they genuinely couldn’t receive anywhere else.  (*sarcasm)

 

The “project-friender”: a person who frequently chooses to surround themselves with people who they perceive to need their help, and proceed to give their help throughout the relationship.

Project friender

 

 

Everyone loves a good project friend.  

Rephrase, us first-born, type-A personalities love a good project friend.  We get to boss them, pinch them, squeeze them, and watch them grow.  And sometimes, just SOMETIMES, we stay friends.

 

I’m a fixer.  It’s what I do for a living.  Think Olivia Pope of ABC’s “Scandal”, with a slightly less-fabulous tan. People pay me to boss them around, essentially.  To tell them what’s wrong with the situation, and tell them what needs to be done to fix it.  I give advice, compel people to action, and challenge them to find what’s buried deep down within them.  How on earth does one keep that from permeating other areas of life?

 

Wrong question, lady.  OF COURSE it’s going to seep through the cracks of one’s professional upstairs floor and end up all over the living room couch, but you can certainly control who sits on the couch, can’t you?

 

The right question is, how do you view your friends as peers?  Equals?  With each of you bringing to the table strengths and weaknesses that build, sharpen, and encourage each other?  The right question is how do you do this for at least PART of the time.

 

Well, to start off with, ask the Father to SHOW you their worth. He gave His son to be murdered in their place, (and, need I remind you, your place as well) so I’m fairly certain that they mean a great deal to Him.  What, that isn’t good enough for you?

 

There will be times when advice is needed of course, and God will put you in front of them, with the experience to give the advice, at that moment.  Everyone is messed up, each in our own ways, and to varying degrees.  You might need the advice next.

 

Another right question: WHEN DO YOU SHUT UP?  Just because you have great advice to give (whose advice doesn’t sound perfect in their own heads, right?) might not necessarily mean that you need to deliver it yet, or ever.

 

“I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.” 1 Corinthians 3:6-7  ESV

 

It’s God who gives our words fruit, meaning, and a responsibility. Our advice is useless, unless God, in His infinite power, makes it effective.  And so often, I myself become gravely convicted, taught, or encouraged myself through the giving of advice, whether it goes on to “help” the other person or not.

 

When my friend asked me this question, my reaction was so strong, I had to take a break from the conversation.  WHY?

 

Hellooooo conviction.  I do have a tendency to fix my friends.  And what else is that skill than using your friends to make yourself seem or feel more relevant/powerful/important?

 

It’s PRIDE.  At its simplest, and yet its deepest.  As if I couldn’t possibly learn anything from this clearly inferior person.

 

Think back, to “that person” or “those people” in your life, who have been the most influential.  Was this person or these people trying to fix you, change you, judge you?  Not usually.

 

It was the person who was THERE FOR YOU.  Just… there.  Listening, giving advice when asked, and being open to what God was showing THEM through the experience.

 

That’s the kind of friend I want to be.  That’s the kind of friend I’ve asked God to turn me into.  That’s the kind of friend that I, just a few days ago, realized I am nothing like.  Yet.

 

“LISTEN, Lady….”

I am fairly convinced, at this point in my life, that Walmart exists for the sole purpose of reminding me that I am not God.  To remind us mortals exactly how broken we are.  To test our patience, and our ability to love and deal with annoying people.

 

The retail giant has developed quite an impressive reputation for its ability to attract the scum of the earth. Sounds harsh, but you know it’s true. So why do I shop there you ask? Well, for all you know I could be the scum of the universe as well. That’s why this anonymous blogging thing is so exciting. Kind of like internet dating. I could be anyone.

 

So I’m in line at Walmart the other day.  A lady walks up to the cashier who’s ringing me up -who is already moving at a glacial pace.  The woman bears a bag full of merchandise.

 

“This was left in one of the buggies,” she says to my cashier.

 

(You see, here in the South, they’re not called “carts,” but rather “buggies,” which I believe is a truer representation of their dixie souls.)

 

My first thought was: how sweet of this lady to bring it back, rather than just run off with the free stuff.  Maybe there is hope for the People of Walmart.

Mad Walmart smiley

 

The cashier, who obviously would rather be in a dentist’s chair than at work that day, replied with attitude, “well, I can’t do anything with it, you’ll have to take it down to Customer Service.”

 

The woman, who appeared very proud of herself for bringing back the lost goods, threw her hands in the air at the suggestion of a greater inconvenience.  She huffed.  She puffed.  She stood there in disbelief that further action had been requested of her.

 

Then, muttering something under her breath about “just trying to be nice and do the right thing…” she stomped over to the trash can, rid herself of the abomination, and stormed out of the store.

 

Come on.  I mean, COME FREAKING ON.  Listen, lady.  I’m sorry that you didn’t get your expected gold stars, but don’t volunteer to “be nice and do the right thing” unless you’re willing to, um, actually do it.

 

Nobody held a gun to your head and forced you to turn in the goods.  You volunteered of your own volition, and heaven forbid you be asked to follow through with it.

 

Why did this outrage me so much?  Was it ridiculous? Yes. Was it selfish? Yes.  Did I feel convicted?   Hmmmm.  Possibly.

 

How many times have I done something like that?  Against people.  Against my God.

My relationship with God is a beautiful mess.  He’s the beauty, I’m the mess.

 

I, too, am inconvenienced at the thought of having to follow through with something that I know and believe is the “right” thing, and perhaps have already volunteered to do.  But how DARE anyone actually hold me to it.  Or the circumstances hold me to it.

 

Don’t you know…  I’M God.  I make my own decisions.  I can’t be bothered with things as troublesome as service, selflessness, or generosity.  And if so, it will be on MY TERMS.  In MY time.

Come on.  I mean, COME FREAKING ON.

 

 

 

 

The 7-year Itch

THE FOLLOWING IS A REPOST IN HONOR OF MY 7th WEDDING ANNIVERSARY, WHICH IS TODAY.

“We’ve heard tell of the 7 Year Itch, and its nasty effects on unsuspecting marriages everywhere.  But honestly, unsuspecting?  Really?  You’re telling me that when half of marriages end in divorce today, you didn’t EXPECT it to be difficult?  Husbands, wives, expect it.  It’s going to happen.  You’ll be tempted.  You might even indulge.  You’ll get bored.  You’ll get hurt.  You’ll inflict pain.  (And if you disagree with that last one, you’re in deeper doo doo than you think.)

Itching

People, it happened to me.  I’ll spare you the horrid details, but the general outline is this: I’m a sinful person, married to a sinful person.  We both sinned.  It was epic.  We shattered what we had.  It was in a million little tiny shards all over the floor, and now digging into our bare feet.  And at the time, I was shattered along with it.  But now, years later, I see that it was a part of the plan.  God’s plan.  He allowed us to shatter what we had, knowing that if it had only been broken in a few places, we would have tried to fix it ourselves.  Someone get the Krazy glue.  Anyone who has ever been in any relationship with anyone, KNOWS that you can’t fix it.  WE CAN’T FIX IT.  People have been trying for eons.  There are countless books, movies, blogs, and entire religions based on the frustrations of trying to fix it.  I should have received a medal for how hard I tried.

But you can’t fix something that wasn’t designed to be fixed.  We are sinners, married to sinners, children of sinners, shuffling about, bumping elbows with other sinners.  And this makes it oh-so-clear how much we need the wonderful, beautiful Grace of God.  Hear that?  You can stop trying now.  The great hamster wheel.  You’ve haven’t even been going anywhere.

In my marriage, this lesson was YEARS in the making.  It’s still in the making.  But, it’s much more habitual now than it was right after the epic shattering.  Then God created something completely different for us. Isn’t it funny how we were trying to put this thing back together, as if it was the end-all.  But HIS plan was so much better than what we could dream up for our own marriage.

So, back to the 7 Year Itch.  It exists.  The rumors are true.  Be prepared for it.  And you know, there might even be an itch at year one, or two, or three.  Or anytime really.  But instead of allowing the magnetic pull to break something in your marriage (even if it seems harmless, it will break trust) turn the end of that magnet towards your spouse.

My 7 Year Itch has given me a new passion for getting to know my husband.  Something IS unsettled in me.  Something IS bored.  Something IS wondering if there’s more.

THERE IS.  And it’s right in front of me.  Drinking a beer on the couch. There are millions of questions I haven’t ask him yet.  There are millions of things he doesn’t know about me yet.  We’ve never played Truth or Dare in a crowded restaurant.  We’ve never made out in a movie theater.  We’ve never been to the circus together.  There are places we haven’t been, positions we haven’t tried, and things that we still can’t read in each other’s minds. There are spiritual breakthroughs yet to be had, prayers yet to leave our lips for one another, worship songs yet to be sung.  Knowledge of God’s faithfulness yet to be demonstrated through this man.  Through me.  Further evidence to be discovered that God’s ability to love us perfectly is mind-boggling.

There’s so much more.  More intimacy to be found.  And I’m going hunting for it.  My husband is in for it, Lord help him.”

New series … What would you choose?

Thinking about launching a new series.  Can’t decide on a topic.  Might have to do all of them.  But, where would you start? 
decisions

 

1. Character building  – stories and experiences that I’ve found to build character.  (First edition: needles.)

2.  Confessions.  (Sounds exciting, but I really have few good confessions.)  

3. Shoes.  My favorite pairs of shoes, and things that happened while wearing them.

4. Music celebrities, how I met them, and what it was like hanging out with __________.

5. How I fooled people into thinking that I have met alot of celebrities.

6. My favorite pranks, given and received.

7, Remember when?  My top childhood/young adult memories.

8. Best inventions no one’s invented yet.

9. Top 5 Romantic Comedies

10. [Suggest your own series topic]

How to get accepted into Black culture

White among Black

I am white.  I live in a very white part of town, (Mid-sizedtown, USA) go to a very white church, and hang out with mostly white people. Being white is okay, but it’s a little…vanilla for me. Had I gotten to choose the culture from which I sprouted, it would hands down be African-American.

Now let’s get one thing straight right here, I am NOT racist.  It seems as though that term is launched at every other person who acknowledges that there’s a difference between being Caucasian and being Black.  I, in no way, mean any disrespect, I just don’t see the point in trying to argue that we’re all the same.  Yes, we’re all of equal value, but WE’RE NOT ALL THE SAME.  And that’s totally awesome! We must acknowledge that this world of ours is made up of a vast array of experiences, skin types, languages, hair colors, and cultural background, and there’s so much to be learned from people who had a different upbringing from ourselves.  How to fry chicken, for instance.  Among other things.

Even though I’m white (on the outside), I have lately been paying more attention to who I am on the inside: BLACK.  I’m not a buxom, middle-aged Black woman, with spiral-curly hair, who waves her index finger, arches her eyebrow, and purses her lips when she talks.  I am the tall, slender, fashionable black woman, who never wears animal prints. My kinky curls are under control.  I’m loud and boisterous only when the situation calls for it, and can manifest the appropriate amount of attitude when people need a good verbal slap across the face.

The problem?  I’m not black.  But I’ve been trying a few ways to get accepted into Black culture, and I’ve hit on some foolproof actions.  Follow these 6 steps, and you’ll be guaranteed a spot in the club.  And in this club, somebody always getting krunk.

1. DON’T ASK PERMISSION.  If you ask for permission to join the group, the answer will most likely be no.  But if you assume that you’re “one of them,” no one will ask questions.  (This usually goes for most social groups in any setting.)  Let’s say you’re at a crowded restaurant at lunch time, and all the tables are taken, except for one large “communal” style table, almost-full of African-American women.  Don’t ask “do you mind if I sit here?”  Walk right up, pretend you’ve been friends with these ladies forever, and say “you girls are so sweet for saving me a seat!  You be looking out for a sister, I appreciate that.”  And sit down.  Just sit down.

2. USE SLANG.  Without being over-the-top.  You gotta know what you can pull off.  For instance, some people can get away with “B!+@&, while we out hanging at AJ’s crib, she showed us her threads she be throwing down the Benjamins fo, and then that new playa of hers roll up, and give this sermon on keeping up wit’ all her bling…” Others of you, will have to make do with “girl, when we went to AJ’s house, she showed us her expensive clothes, then her boyfriend came in and complained about buying all of her nice jewelry,” with a nice “it was cray-cray” thrown in there.

3. DRESS A LITTLE ON THE WILD SIDE.  Black women are daring, in ways that us boring white girls would never have the imagination to be.  Now, you have to know how to work it no matter what you’re wearing, and don’t go too far off the deep end.  It will look as though you’re trying too hard.  Whatever you wear, you gotta throw in some attitude.

4. ALWAYS THANK THEM.  You’re out shopping, and a black woman says that she likes your purse.  Don’t just smile.  Make firm eye contact, cock your head and bit, and say “thanks girl.”  And if you want extra points, you can throw in a “you know I love me some leather/stripes/buckles/whatever.”

5. PUT “ASS” AFTER ANY WORD.  You might be offended.  But it’s true, and you know it. It works.  100% of the time. In fact, this is a great one to start with, since you don’t need no have developed any of the other aforementioned skills to pull this one off.  “My lazy-ass cat won’t even go in the litter box.”  “Her ugly-ass dress should never have left the store.”  “That hot-ass barista is looking at you.”  Even stuff white people like can have an urban flair when you throw this word in.

6.  BE LOUD, and LATE.  For those of you white folk who are a little too white, this one will be tough.  But the basic idea is that you want to speak loud enough to draw some attention to yourself.  And always run on CPT.  (For those who don’t know what that means, you’ll have to Google the Urban translation, because if you’re white, you’re not allowed to say it.)

Are humans basically good?

I’m generally a good person.  I tip 20%, brake for squirrels, rarely use curse words, have never been arrested, etc. Isn’t it funny how often people say that? “I’m a good person, ya know?”  Usually followed, (exactly how I did) by a list of reasons that prove it.

But you know what else people say quite a bit?  “Nobody’s perfect.”  I realize that “perfect” and “good” are not the same word, but it’s interesting to be in a culture where two almost-opposing terms are used more than please and thank you.

Sad box-person

“Is the heart of the human race, basically good?”

I know plenty of people, but since I can’t speak for them, I’ll examine myself on this one.  A friend recently bought me dinner.  We had agreed to go dutch, but she swiped the bill at the last second, and refused to take my money.  Several hours (yes HOURS) later, we got up to leave, and I forgot to thank her.  I, the “good person” had been blessed by my friend, and just completely forgot to feel grateful.  I don’t know what to call that, but the word that comes to mind certainly isn’t “good.”

good

 [goo d]

adjective, bet·ter, best.

1. morally excellent; virtuous; righteous.

I was not consumed with moral excellence, I was consumed with selfishness.  But since no one was intensely hurt by my actions, or lack thereof, it’s harder to call it “selfishness,” isn’t it?

“Well that’s not THAT bad.  It was a small mistake, more forgetful than malicious.”  But who are we, but a collection of small actions?  And if the heart of the human race is basically good, then making extremely small, good decisions should be a piece of chocolate cake, right?

So driving home, I’m hit with this sense of conviction.  “Phew,” I remind myself, “good thing I’ve never murdered anyone.”  But the second wave of conviction wasn’t far behind!  The underlying reasons I do all these “basically good” acts is self-serving too!  Maybe not 100%, but I don’t think anyone could deny the presence of some selfish influence.  The reason I tip 20%: because I want -and expect- good service, because I want the server to like me, and I want the people I’m with to be impressed with my generosity.

The reason I don’t often curse: because I want to be respected as an intelligent person who can use a wide array of terms to describe situations.  The reason I brake for squirrels?  So I don’t get blood on my car.  How inconvenient would that be?  The reason I’ve never been arrested: (notice I didn’t say committed a crime) is because I have a reputation to uphold.

But nobody’s perfect, right?  Many people in our world today would arguably maintain that if one person’s crimes against another weren’t physical, then it’s not as bad or evil as it could have been.  Stealing a purse isn’t as bad as hitting someone, verbally de-valuing someone isn’t as bad as punching them, raping isn’t as bad as murdering.

Let me ask this, how many people do you know who have been through something physically traumatic at the hand of someone else?  (Beating, raping, abuse, shooting.)  Maybe a few come to mind.  And these few were no doubt greatly affected by these experiences.

Now, how many people do you know who have been through something emotionally or relationally traumatic?  (Divorce, verbal threats, end of a friendship, breakup.)  Ummmm, let’s see, EVERYONE.  You.  Me.  My friend who bought me dinner.

Isn’t it strange that we consider these “little” things we do to one another to be no big deal and just part of life as “basically good” people?  But in reality, these selfish, hurtful things affect everyone we’ve ever met, more often, many could argue, than physical crimes against one another.

Basically, the things that we use as examples of our “goodness” are most often the culprit in dividing friends/lovers/families and causing our own happiness to deteriorate.  The very actions that we offer as proof that make us “not as bad as the people who do such-and-such” are usually the ones giving the “nobody’s perfect” statement its truth.

Less than perfect is, well, IMPERFECT, now isn’t it?  Synonyms include: flawed, deficient, below-par, and defected.  Hmmm.