26 November 2010

Cookie Exchange

Post-Thanksgiving Moments of Sloth and Momentary Lapses of Reason

1. I managed to avoid any Walmart Black Friday shoppers by doing my grocery shopping about 10 am today. Yay for uncrowded aisles.

2. Kindles are of the good. Unlimited funds with which to load the Kindle would be even better (or "would be Harlan" if you are a Stargate SG-1 fanatic. Komtraya!).

3.  Spending the entire day (minus the trip to the store) in your jammies, taking an early morning and late afternoon nap with your husband, and eschewing the healthy breakfast for the last bit of Captain Crunch is made of win!

4. It seems that wearing flannel jammie bottoms, socks and sitting in a chair with a blanket wrapped around me (and did I mention the socks on my feet?) does not somehow equal to the Spousal Unit that I might be cold. Must remember to check his logic capacitors.

5. Why, oh why, when I see a black lump in the middle of the road with a white stripe on it must I sniff as I drive by juuuuuuuuuuust to make sure that it's a skunk? Because the white stripe and the odiferous stench lingering in my car via the heater vent isn't enough? I just have to be that much extra sure? Pepe le Pew, indeed!

(Note: No skunks were run over during the making of this post. Contents may settle during shipping. Batteries not included.)

22 November 2010

Lessons in Attitude Adjustment, Part II

...continued from Part I

We lasted a year; one very long, very hard, very painful, very lesson-filled year. It was the kind of year where you wave the white flag and say, “Please God, enough with the character-building!” (It sounds even better if you can say it with an accent like Tevye from Fiddler on the Roof.) Looking back on it, we went through all of these steps in our process to both start what God wanted us to and then to try and make sense of it when it didn’t seem to go “as planned”.

First would actually be second or step number two: Am I using the benefits of God's "common grace” - the healing built into our bodies and the medical knowledge we have gained? Or, have I exercised due diligence for my particular situation? For our circumstances, it would be more of a question of using resources and knowledge properly and I believe we did. Both of us have a fair amount of business acumen gathered over the years, and we investigated loan rates, amounts, different square footage rates, renting in an already existing building versus building a place, suppliers. We also had previously followed Dave Ramsey’s financial planning advice and were completely out of debt except for our monthly house payment before we took on this assignment.

Numbers one and three are somewhat entwined for me.  I do think there is a general mindset amongst Christians that we have a right to certain benefits because we are followers of Christ, meaning that if God has called us to do something for Him, then He will undoubtedly bless that endeavor. I know both the Spousal Unit and I had to deal with this both within ourselves and with other Christians who were on the outside looking in at us during this whole process. Accompanying that is also the general “success” mindset in America today that if you work hard, keep your nose to the grindstone, be a good citizen, and so on, your hard work will be rewarded.

We started out okay as far as customers and profits went, quickly building up a small but loyal customer base – and just as quickly went into a period of some of the worst spiritual warfare I have ever been part of. It was like we had a target on our foreheads. It was like the shop became invisible to the town at large and some days we couldn’t get anyone in there for love or money. It was mystifying. It was scary-making, too, considering that money was tight (to say the least) and we didn’t exactly have reserves of cash, and it was angry-making as well. Y’know, kinda like “Hey God, you told us to do this. What exactly is the deal here?” (Those of you that know me know that is the highly edited, clean version.) In some ways, I think it was harder for my husband than me. While both of us had been raised with one heck of a work ethic, when I failed to complete the appropriate, high-school-to-college-to-marriage-within-five-years track, my family pretty much labeled me a failure so, in a way, I was okay with things NOT working out “as planned” The Spousal Unit, OTOH, had done the success track and had gone very far in his chosen career with nothing more than a high school diploma – a subtle nose thumbing at his family who had all gone to college and had degrees except him. Now, despite all his good, solid planning and hard work, things weren’t working out the way he/we had figured they would.

I don't think I can adequately describe the anger and fruutration he felt, or the fear.  Submission is a difficult thing and so much of submission talk gets centered around Ephesians 5 and how wives should submit to their husbands.  While this is true and Biblical (something I believe so much in that I had the guy who married us put submit back into my vows), I think men sometimes have the more difficult job.  Men are to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her (NIV).  Dude, Christ died for the church in submission to God's plan for him.  Now I was watching some of my husband's ideals and stumbling blocks being broken by his being willing to submit to God's plan for us and it wasn't pretty.  It was hard to watch.

We had agreed together this was God's plan for both of us so, in my role as a submissive wife, my job was to continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with him and support him in every way possible whether that was through working more hours at the shop after my other job; telling him verbally or by text what a great guy he was, what a good job he was doing and how proud I was of him; or by praying for him and asking for others to pray for us too.  A prophet once told us that the Spousal Unit and I are like balloons.  When one of us is down, the other is inflated and seeks to pump the other one up.  I was pumping as hard as I could.

One of the things I noted were the changes occurring in me.  Money has always been a hot button issue of mine ever since childhood when my dad wasn't quite so good at getting things paid on time.  When things started to go wrong in our eyes, I was surpringly, weirdly...okay about it.  I wasn't weirded out.  I wasn't freaking out over where the money was going to come from to pay bills. People talk about the peace that passes all understanding and if that's it?  It's one of the oddest feelings ever.  Nice...but odd :).  Shortly before the shop had opened, I had been in the shower (God likes to talk to me in the shower and I'm not sure why) and God had said, "I will give you enough."  And he did that whole year.  It may not have been my definition of enough but if you looked at the books over that year, there are several instances where there was absolutely no way the math should have worked.  Yet we had food, a roof over our heads, and we were able to keep the doors open to the shop longer than we should have.

Even in the midst of all the spiritual warfare, there were bright spots.  One night, there was just nobody coming in and it was so oppressive that the Spousal Unit finally said, "You know what?  I've had enough."  He grabbed his guitar, threw open the doors and sat on the stage playing and signing worship songs for a couple hours.  We learned how to pray and give thanks for the good amidst the bad which can be really hard to do.  We learned how to start getting out of God's way by letting go of our expectations.  We gave thanks for everything He had given us because none of it was anything we had done on our own.  We were able to counsel many young married couples, do pre-marital counseling and also counsel a long-term married couple and keep their marriage together.  We also managed to convince one couple that getting married was probably NOT the best thing for them right now.  I was able to give cooking lessons to some of the young women in the church and give some guidance to a young woman who was getting married and becoming a stepmom - same as I did.  These are all people we wouldn't have been able to touch had we taken the job in London and moved two years earlier.

We prayed before the shop was built and while it was open that it was God's to do with as he would.  We asked that it be an extension of our church and I believe He did make it that.  In doing so, we committed ourselves to a deeper level of service, I think, and God required a deeper level of faith from us.  Hence point number one - no necessarily quick or dependable release from suffering.  He grew both of us in a way we were not expecting (and is still stretching us) but God has become much more the shelter from the whirlwind than the whirlwind itself.

(...to be continued)

20 November 2010

Lessons in Attitude Adjustment, Part I

I have been reading Philip Yancey's book, Prayer, over the past few months (just finished) as a kind of morning devotional.  Prayer is something that has always been kind of...elusive for me in a "how-to" way that made sense and made me feel like I was actually talking to someone versus out loud to the air or to some nebulous guy with a white beard wearing the Old Testament version of a onesie up on a cloud.

 I so watch too much Family Guy...

The book itself is great.  There are a lot of yellow highlighted pages in it and some things I will probably be pulling out over time and writing about as I mull over them some more.  One of the chapters that really struck me right away was on prayer and physical healing although not for the actual topic itself.  Under the sub-heading of "Checklist for Healing", Yancey talks about how Jesus' healing miracles are a sign of how the world should and someday will be.  However, at the same time, the Bible also has examples of illnesses that are healed and unhealed.  He says, "In search of the proper balance, when I desire and pray for a miracle I ask myself a series of questions."

  1.  Am I expecting a miracle as entitlement?  (God does not necessarily provide a quick, dependable solution to all suffering.)

  2.  Am I using the benefits of God's "common grace” - the healing built into our bodies and the medical knowledge we have gained?  (The best healing is when a person lives so a properly aligned soul and body can direct bodily healing prompted by good medicine.)

  3.  Do I wrongly blame God for causing the suffering?  (God is a source of comfort, not torment.)

  4.  Am I prepared for the possibility that physical healing may not take place?  (Jesus never said he would erase all suffering or human need; rather, he talked about a kingdom that values the needy above the self-sufficient.  In other words, as Yancey writes, "God offers us a minimum of protection and a maximum of support.")

 This particular part of the chapter resonated with me not due to a physical ailment that I had been wrestling with or praying over but instead a financial one.  Long story short, the Spousal Unit was out of work for six weeks due to surgery.  When he came back, the SU's job said, "Hey, we don't need you anymore.  Here's your severance check.  Goodbye."

 Whoa.  Yeah.  Wow, SU's job.  Yea, verily.  You suck.

Ah, but the SU has a prodigious talent in a particular field and there shortly came an offer of a new job.  Saved!  Not to mention the job was in London.  For $250K a year.  Tax-free.  To borrow from the native language of my SoCal youth: Duuuuuuuuude!

So we went to God and the conversation went something like this:

Us:  "Hey, God.  We've got this great new job opportunity.  Isn't this cool?  It's everything we wanted."

God:  "Yup.  That's nice.  But what I really want you to do is to stay in Podunkville, Redneckland and build a coffee shop."

Us:  "Beg pardon?  Oh, that was a joke, right?"

God:  "I do have an excellent sense of humor but, no, I was really quite serious."

Long story short, we took a deep breath, cashed in the 401K, and did what God told us to do.  The idea was basically “Cheers without the alcohol”.  Coffee, sandwiches, desserts and live music a couple nights a week – mostly blues but with some other stuff thrown in, using local artists, the SU and friends of the SU both locally and from Metropolis.  We prayed over it constantly, had others do so, checked in with God, and always got the message that we were on the right track. It took us almost a year to get the place built, inspected, supplied and so on and so forth.  Then we opened the door.  

(...to be continued)

14 November 2010

Mixed Messages

I was driving to Fresh Market yesterday and saw one of those marquee signs that flashes messages in big red letters every few seconds. The first message was "Be happy with your body!".

The next message was "Get liposuction!"


06 November 2010


The heat died some time during the night in the apartment.  Maintenance has been called.  Socks *looks down*...ok, a couple pairs of socks are being worn.  Send help :P.

05 November 2010

Inigo's Dictionary: Misogyny

I’ve been online for a number of years but it’s been over the past two or three or so that I’ve started to notice a particular trend in the entertainment-centered communities and journals I read. That trend seems to be a growing bent towards a hair trigger temperament regarding any dialogue or scene that doesn’t have equality or empowerment or gosh-darn-it-ain’t-diversity-great either at its core or else somewhere explicitly stated within the scene/program/movie, et cetera.

Case in point? The way so many people keep throwing around the word “misogyny” if a male character dares to say something uncomplimentary about a female character on a television show (see latest example “The Walking Dead”).

In the first place, I don’t recall where broadcast companies ever developed a contract with the general public to make programming that showed a perfect world where everyone behaved with utter propriety and gentility towards their fellow man. That would be unrealistic – not to mention boring. Drama and comedy are both built on conflict, the fact that people are different from each other, and the working out (or not) of those differences.

That is not to say there is not misogyny both in the real world and portrayed in entertainment. However, there is a very big difference between misogyny, sexism and, frankly, just being a dim boor. Context is important and it’s the context of the comments characters make that is getting lost in the misogynistic battle cry.

Back to The Walking Dead for a minute. The premiere was on Halloween. Early in the premiere episode, two male characters have a conversation while sitting in their patrol car. One of them makes a couple comments about how women want men to talk about their feelings and so forth; standard guy complaints, essentially, that have been done a thousand times before. Cue journal posts and TWOP (itself a rather bizarre microcosm of the television-watching public) posts about misogynistic characters and how they won’t tune in again because that kind of crap has no place in appropriate or thoughtful programming and so on and so forth.

In the words of Stacy London: Shut up. No, really. Shut up.

It tends to boil down to two issues for me: television and the use of the word “misogyny” itself. To start with, let’s hit the television issue.

It’s the premiere. The first episode. Of a new series. The idea seems to escape some people that a character saying lines such as the ones mentioned above does not mean that the show itself is misogynistic nor, necessarily, is the character himself. Again, degrees of difference between misogyny, sexism and stupidity abound. If the character is a misogynist, it doesn’t mean that I have to (a) agree with what they are saying or (b) somehow see them as a hero just because they are on a show I like despite the presence of Misogyny Man. It’s okay to like a show and hate a character (see Battlestar Galactica Reboot and my everlasting grimace for Starbuck and Her Special Destiny). If the character does actually turn out to be a misogynist by definition versus a sexist or just a fool, then I can make a decision to continue watching the show based on whether I enjoy the show enough to put up with him and if I truly feel the show is somehow giving a platform to or endorsing misogyny.

The other thing about it being a premiere that makes me go “er?” is that I find it astounding someone is really going to judge an entire series based on less than five minutes of dialogue from a character that they’ve seen for less than sixty minutes. Okay, then. I mean, seriously. You (general you) as a woman have never made a similar, stereotypical comment about a subset of women that annoy you or a comment about men, perhaps? Applying similar logic, doesn’t that mean, then, that you’re also a misogynist or a misandrist?

The second issue is the use of the word “misogyny” by some women as a kind of catchall for any phrase or action they deem remotely offensive. Misogyny is defined as a hatred of women – prejudiced hostility or animosity, abhorrence, detestation, revulsion, loathing, disgust, et cetera, according to the dictionary and thesaurus. All of those are very strong words. As far as The Walking Dead goes, some guy making a general comment about women that is on the level (to my mind) of a Tim Allen Home Improvement episode is not misogynistic. It’s dim. It makes me wonder exactly what a (potential) girlfriend might see in the doofus. I might find it offensive or eyebrow-raising depending on the comment and the context if it happened/happens again and would place it alongside what I am learning about the character and use it to continue to evaluate his personality but I’m not going to rush right out and stock up on tar and feathers because he’s a jerk at first blush.

In the past I have worked with men whom I would consider to be much more towards the sexist/misogynist bent. When I worked security for concerts, one of our jobs was to go up in the stands during “no camera” shows anytime we saw a flash so we could confiscate the camera. When I started up the stairs, my erstwhile partner would shout “Rape her! Rape her!” When I was a crew chief on an Accommodations crew, I had a couple guys who would try to refuse the duties I assigned them because I am a woman.

I spent the last five years as a fighter and instructor in an MMA gym and that’s probably where some of my attitude about this comes from. You want to talk about a place that is rife for sexism and misogyny? Oh yeah. Respect is definitely earned in a place like that and, as a woman, there were times you had to work harder for it and you made definite choices about what was offensive and what was not. Context.

We had a “rage fighter” at the gym. Once you got to know him, he was one of the absolute sweetest guys you could meet. He trained me, worked with me, supported me and cheered me on more time than I could even recount and his support meant the world to me. Heck, he would tell newbies I was his hero, but some of the stuff that came out of his mouth when we were talking or training would make you want to smack him upside the head, and would have the people up in arms over The Walking Dead and other shows screaming for his blood. Yet I know that he most emphatically does not detest women. He doesn’t loathe them. In fact, he loves his wife and baby daughter and is working to be the best father he can be. Is he perfect? No. Could he improve? Sure (as can we all). Was he trying? Yes. People that are quick to jump to conclusions (about a fictional character no less, never mind a real human being) would never have the opportunity to find that out, though.

I’m not saying people don’t have the right to choose what offends them or where their line in the sand is to be drawn. Still, I find it hard to fathom that some people want to spend so much time and expend so much energy looking for prejudice when none may be intended or even thought of. It sounds very draining to me and I don’t think I’m the only person staring at my computer screen with a blank look and wondering what the Sam Hill you’re banging on about.

So, in summary? Misogyny is a bad thing. I think we can agree on that. However, when people immediately start playing Misogyny Bingo the moment a fictional character says or does something that they may find personally offensive but yet doesn’t even come close to fitting the definition, they are the ones diluting the gravity of the word and the charge it brings, not the show or its writers or actors

03 November 2010


My sinuses have conspired against me.  They must die.

And the colitis is back which means my sphincter is like Sergeant Schultz:  "You poop no-THINK!"

So, yes.  Picture entirely appropriate today.

Ed Note:  Thank you, God, for the creation of 7-Up, thereby assuring me that I am still only a nominee for the Pukeys and not a winner.