Friday, December 24, 2010

This I Believe...: The courage of Linus

This I Believe...: The courage of Linus: "My daughter, Laurian, has a security blanket that's really soft and cuddly. It gives her comfort not only in the way it feels, b..."

The courage of Linus

My daughter, Laurian,  has a security blanket that's really soft and cuddly.  It gives her comfort not only in the way it feels, but in the way it makes her feel.  It makes her feel safe for many reasons, but the biggest reason is one that she can't explain.  It was given to her even before she was born, so it's always been with her.  She was swaddled in it since day one.  Its mere presence is what gives her comfort.

It's no surprise that most people have heard the Christmas story recited by Linus in Charlie Brown's Christmas by Charles Schultz.  Linus is unassuming.  We take him as a little bit of a weakling, and that makes us feel good about ourselves.  He sucks his thumb and carries a security blanket!  We probably all relate to Linus, though.  Like Laurian and Linus, we may not suck our thumb or carry a security blanket in the form of clothe, but oh, more often than not, we carry a security blanket.  It may be in the form of a liquid, a pill, a person, a thing, a position, or a number.  I find it ironic, though, that my most secure state of being never has anything to do with something I can see, touch, smell, or taste.  Linus's monologue gives us a rare scene where Linus lets go of his blanket.  What gives him courage to let go?  It is in the telling, no...the believing in the story of the birth of Jesus.  Its longevity and constancy is why we, like our little cartoon friend, can find courage to let go of false securities and feel the swaddling of a Love that has no measure.  In the birth of that Son is where we find peace, love, comfort, acceptance, and hope in the One who has always been present among us.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Save money, avoid stress anxiety in December

So I have unlocked the secret of how to save money and avoid stress and anxiety during the holiday season.  I can only recommend this strategic plan if you have that gene in your DNA (which my husband and I both possess) that allows you to go through life with the attitude, "If it doesn't get done, chances are no one will notice.  If I don't answer that call, they'll call back if it's important.  If I miss that event, meeting, party, etc. life will go on.  I will delete those 22,000 messages in my inbox later."  I know some of you are breaking out into hives right this instant.

Here's the secret:  Don't even think about shopping online or in stores until December 22nd!!!  Seriously, that is the way we've rolled this year.  Partly because I had back surgery this fall, and that just set me way off schedule...as if I had one.  We've also been cursed with the flu.  No, we haven't had the flu shot.   Of all the things that I can deal with "putting off",  this will not be one of them EVER AGAIN!!!

When your kids are young, their list changes by the day!  In years past, here are a few list changes that took place within days of Christmas: a Top Gun military fighter pilot suit, a snuggie (before snuggies were cool), and solar panels.  Yes, solar panels.

So get your flu shot in November.  In December, sit back, grab a cocktail as you decorate your house, if you feel up to it, go to those parties you remember you got invited to, and enjoy almost the entire month without breaking a sweat...until the last few days!

happy parent?



This was actually written in november on my other blog- I'm adding it in case you who have been following this one missed it...enjoy!

Are you a happy parent?

Sometimes I don't like the word "happy" because I think it sounds trite, or it diminishes the real state of being that one really means to express. Don't get me wrong. I love to be happy! I love to laugh and be silly! What I really like more than being happy, though, is to be content. When I'm content, I'm void of want. I don't obsess about material things, and I'm not trying to control everything and everyone around me. I'm at peace with my very existence.

I don't mean complacent. I possess enough self-awareness to acknowledge my flaws. I'm very aware of my shortcomings, but find freedom in the fact that I'm a work in progress. I have to make a conscience decision to give myself and others grace and mercy, because the grace and mercy bestowed upon me is immeasurable!

I like this article below because it encourages us to find genuine happiness in our life WHILE we raise our kids. Parenting is not for the faint hearted and weak. Parenting is not for power, either. The title of "parent" comes with no pre-requisites, and does not promise any rewards. I'm not guaranteed "happiness" because I've been given these little humans with wills of their own and souls that are being shaped...by....me?

The trophies are not ours, the grades are not ours, nor the personality and impeccable manners! The disappointments, the pain, the hard-work, the inconveniences, the embarrassments....those things ARE ours!  This is when we breathe through the nose...breathe through the nose...and deal with it!

If we depend on our children to be the source of our happiness, then we have replaced them with our Creator. Being a parent is a sacred task.  With the proper perspective, we can enjoy the process of raising our children.  Do you find fulfillment while you parent? Do you find that your emotional state depends on the mood of one or all of your kids?  What is the source(es) of your "happiness" or "contentment"?  If the majority of our happiness is dependent on your kids, where will it come from when they leave?

http://www.allprodad.com/top10/other/10-steps-to-make-your-life-as-a-family-man-happier

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Midtown Church Made Offer to Purchase


Midtown Church Made Offer to Purchase

REDEEMER CHURCH IN MEMPHIS MADE AN OFFER, BUT NEVER HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO NEGOTIATE!

This is a great article from Tom Bailey Jr. of The Commercial Appeal revealing details not known to the public.  My vigilance for the preservation of this building is primarily because it is a historical landmark that anchors my Midtown community.  If CVS wants to do business in this Midtown neighborhood, I do hope that in good conscience they will withdraw their contract in order for a local church to worship and serve the community.  It wants to make a fair market offer to St. Luke's Methodist Church.

CVS is deceiving the people in my community by claiming the church is beyond repair.  Check out my last post.  You will see two different sets of interior photos of the building that have not been seen by the public.  They refuse to allow outsiders, including the media, inside the building.

http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2010/dec/12/no-negotiating/

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Interior of UAMC/ JFK


Union Avenue United Methodist Church
http://www.flickr.com/photos/carlfoxiv/sets/72157624783227476/ - a set on Flickr
  

***photos taken by Carl Fox, Memphis,TN 

***I took the photos in the following set, fall 2009 http://www.flickr.com/photos/53254535@N07/sets/72157625573508220/

Please take time to view and enjoy them.  Next Thursday, December 16th, a court will decide the fate of this historical landmark that anchors the landscape of my neighborhood in Midtown Memphis,TN.  The legacy of The Union Avenue United Methodist Church will be put to death if CVS is allowed to purchase and demolish this building.  Local organizations have expressed serious interests.  I hope they will be given the opportunity to purchase it and the honor of restoring it to a place of worship for the Midtown community.

***These photos were taken by TN Representative Steve Cohen, when he was 12 yrs. old.  It was the only day in which Kennedy and Nixon were campaigning in the same city.
(The building in the background is the Union Avenue Methodist Church.)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Please don't let CVS demolish this historical building in Midtown Memphis!

CVS plans to demolish this architectural gem that is listed on the National Register of Historical Places.  CVS has signed an agreement to never demolish a site that is listed on the Register.  

If you have a facebook account, join Mempis Heritage and Save Union Ave. Methodist Church!

Google "CVS lawsuits" ...will update later!

Please send this to anyone you know (you don't need to be a resident of Memphis) who is interested in helping Memphis Heritage and the community of Midtown Memphis!

Friday, November 26, 2010

: Texas, history, and a frat boy


I'm sitting beside him, and only because of seat belt laws and the huge suburban console, I resist the urge to sit right underneath his right arm. Don't act like you don't know what I'm talking about. A Mississippi gal knows how to cuddle up right next to her man while cruisin'. Anyway, being in Texas transports me back to the beginning of "us". It sends my heart to that young love state...you know, like when you were young, and in love, and you had that feeling that you only had only when you were really young and only newly in love, and had nothing else to do but be young and in love. It never fails that while in Texas with Chad's family, I'm reminded of when we started dating. We were at The University of Mississippi and the trip from Oxford, MS to Cleburne,TX was about 8 hours. We either had plenty to talk about or were comfortable in silence. Comfortable silence. Now that is hard to find.

I heard someone explain that something happens when you get married; your value is either doubled or halved. This I believe to be true. I know without a doubt my value has been doubled! I married Chad not only because he was the greatest guy I dated, but he made me want to be a better person. We were young when we got married, compared to today's standards.
I was 24, Chad was 23. I feel like we've grown up together. We are not the same people I see in our wedding picture. I mean, we are and we're not. We're both pretty independent, but now we function more as a "we" than an "I". Our views on so many things have changed, and thankfully have traveled in the same direction. Of course there are issues on which we agree to disagree, but that keeps things interesting.

There is something mysterious about the rugged Texas landscape. My husband sets free his inner Texan the moment we drive along the more barren part of the state, closer to his mom and dad's home. There is no denying that a sunset in Texas is breathtaking. The composition that my eyes behold resonates with me in a spiritual way. With Robert Earl Keen, John Prine, and Nancy Griffith tunes on our playlist, all my senses are heightened, yet completely satisfied. It's then that I get a glimpse of my ruggedly good-looking husband and something inside me does that twisty turning thing that you know exists but could never explain...and rarely admit. I remember falling in love with this guy! He still makes my heart jump!

I think it's good to be reminded of the things that made us fall in love. It's a good thing to remember what life was like before we created those little beings that share our DNA. It's also important to remember that in spite of some really ugly stuff, we still love each other. He saw me give birth to our children. Let's be honest. When seen as a life-giving event, yes, it's a beautiful thing. The actual, real-life, real-time, real-people, real deal is sort of bloody and slimy and usually involves very colorful language...and yet he's hung in here with me. We all tend to suffer from a "grass is greener" mentality. The advice I have given a lady friend of mine is this, "I know you think the grass is greener, but you know what's still on the other side? A MAN...one who hasn't loved you through sleepless nights and diaper duty, one who doesn't already know you don't like tomatoes on your burger or how you take your coffee, and he sure isn't the guy who loved you in spite of that big hair you had 20 years ago." And I'd tell a guy the same thing. There will still be a woman with hormones, who doesn't already know your insecurities, wasn't with you through business failures and successes, doesn't know how you take your coffee, or knows that look that reassures you that although left to yourself you'd be an outright pig, she's your biggest cheerleader.

I don't ever want to forget that I share history with this man I choose to spend my life with.
I think it's important to give history it's due, and appreciate all the little things that got my attention in the first place. Our shared history is what makes us, "us". So while we're
in Texas, between our moments of utter impatience and just plain annoyance, I'll cherish those little glimpses of that frat boy who rocked my world.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Picking up Butch...What ESPN taught me about serving others


"Picking Up Butch"...What ESPN taught me about serving others

     

http://search.espn.go.com/middlebury/videos/6

      I walked into the kitchen on Saturday to find my sweet husband cooking breakfast and watching ESPN. I poured my coffee, my source of kindness in the morning, and then complimented him on what a very fine job he was doing.  Minutes later we were glued to this story, and both us were a little teary.
     OK, so ESPN didn't really teach me anything in the literal sense, but this video certainly got me to thinkin'.  It's worth 10 minutes of your time. It was featured a few years ago, and won SportsCenter an Emmy and a prestigious Edward M. Morrow award.  It's a true story that exemplifies how to serve others.
      I admit I’m not so great at being a servant.  I want to be, but Selfish-Self seems to take over and she has a much more domineering personality than Selfless-Self.  I wrestle with her and she usually wins, but my hope comes from the fact that I know God is way bigger than Selfish-Self!  I’m reminded that Christ came not to be served, but TO serve.  Even if you don't believe in God - or maybe you believe but just don't like him - you have to admit the whole "love your neighbor as yourself" thing would be a great mantra by which to live.  Surely it would reduce prison overcrowding and reality tv...not that there's anything wrong with that...I do love those Kardashian crazies!
      However, we live in an extremely self-centered world, and we go against our proper design when we esteem ourselves more highly than others.  Jeffrey Lancaster, my pastor at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Memphis TN, has been teaching a series on love.  Just yesterday he encouraged us to love and serve all mankind, like Christ.  We are to love and serve those who have different beliefs, different faiths, those who don’t look like us, those who don’t think like us, those who are difficult, and even when it calls for us to sacrifice something, and oh, goodness…even inconvenience us!  We’re supposed to love and serve not only when it’s easy, and not because we get something in return.
      I admit, I need to be more intentional about serving those who live under my very own roof!  How often do I push my own agenda because it pleases me?  How often do I tell my kids to "be quite" simply because I'm tired of hearing their voices or that I'd rather hear what Ryan Seacrest is saying?  We have such a warped view of what it really means for us to "serve".  It has become some passive little duty that ones does subserviently.  Really, "serving" is something we actively and intentionally choose to do!  How often do I serve my sweet husband?  Does my (your) "I am woman, hear me roar" attitude keep me  from serving this great guy that I love like crazy?  How messed up is that?  He loves me!  Husbands, how do you serve your wife?  How do you serve your kids?  Does your time trump time spent with your kids?  Do you consider yourself above your wife and kids because you are "the man of the house"?  Way messed up!  But you know I'm a big fan of hope!  The good news is, not a single one of us is beyond repair.  We'll never be so far gone that we're beyond God's grace.  
     Let's all try to see where there are needs in other people's lives, in our city,  in our own homes, and do our best to serve.  I'm thinking I'll start with the 3 little Gillys!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Conscience? Conscious?

A Lesson in Humility...Conscience or Conscious

     So, I'd like to point out that on my last post, I misspelled a word!  Well, truthfully, the word is spelled correctly, but it's the WRONG word. There, that was sort of painful for me to admit, but hey, it's not going to be the last time it will happen.  I'm new at this blogging thing, so bear...bare...bear...ok whatever...hang with me and be merciful.
     I tend to over-informationalize.  (yes, I just made up that word...and I'm cracking myself up!)  Anyway, I love to read and for some reason have always had this obsession with words and their meanings.  I have pages and pages from college of lists of words.   I've got to understand what I'm reading in it's full context, so if I'm unsure of the definition of a word, I can't go any further.  So, for the past hour or so, I have had the pleasure to visit my dictionary!
     In the second paragraph of my last post, I used the "conscience" when I should have used "conscious."  I may be wrong, but I'm thinking there are quite a few of us who oftentimes suffer a brain fart.  We're completely insecure, get all red, and clammy when we utter the word, "conscionnnnnn..s...s".  All the while having the wits about us to break out into a coughing spell.  Secretly, we hope that our listener didn't really understand what just happened.  We hope their minds calculated what we almost said, tried to say, but didn't say, but really, really were absolutely positively sure about whatever it was that we were talking about!
     So to all my dear, faithful friends around the globe, I share with you what I have learned today.  Today is the day that we will hold our head up high with an air of certainty and creativity to engage ourselves in a conversation in which we interject either the word "conscience" or "conscious"!!!
    CONSCIENCE, according to some of the definitions from a few different sources:  A sense of consciousness ( seeeee...the OTHER word) of the moral goodness or blameworthiness of one's own conduct, intentions, or character together with a feeling of obligation to do right or be good.  (be good...for some reason that just makes me giggle) A faculty, power, or principle enjoying good acts.  Part of the superego in psychoanalysis that transmits commands and admonitions to the ego.  Moral judgement which qualifies conduct as right or wrong.  A sensitive regard for fairness or justice. Knowledge of right/wrong with the compulsion to do right.
     Being CONSCIOUS is having an awareness of your feelings, sensations, or external things.  It's knowing that something is happening or something is in existence.  An awareness of oneself as a thinking, feeling, being.  Cognizant.  Painfully aware of oneself as in self-conscious; embarrassed.  Like, I'm self-conscious when I'm trying to figure out which of these words I'm supposed to be using.
     I see my CONSCIENCE as my inner witness.  It's that little voice that says, "Self, is this right or wrong?  What is your motivation?  I'll be right here...I'm not going anywhere...not really keeping score, just looking out for you (because, in case you haven't noticed,  I've taken up residence in here and tend to drive your heart and mind), trying to keep you from harming yourself or those around you."  I like to say that it is knowing without prior knowledge.  It's our notion of right from wrong or good from bad that has always been in our possession.  It's our inner navigational system. Sometimes we cannot explain it, we just trust it.  God works in mysterious ways, and maybe this is just one of them. There is so much here for another day...but suffice it say, I think the Holy Spirit sometimes whispers in a way that guides and protects.  It empowers us with an acute sense of self-awareness that allows us to feel conviction when we've chosen to willfully turn against the guidance of our conscience.   Hence the saying, "I can't go against my conscience!"  Ugh! You know that pit in your stomach I'm talking about. This, at first, seems to cast a negative light on the situation.  Ah, but remember you can't have a shadow without the presence of light.  So in essence, this conviction is our opportunity to right the wrong!  The yucky feeling of recognizing that we have acted in opposition to where our conscience was guiding us, starts the process of a do-over, or at least a turn in the right direction.
     In a nutshell, I'm CONSCIOUSLY aware of the fact that I am a very flawed person who tends to be selfish, who doesn't always put others first, can be mean and impatient to the ones I love the most, never lives up to the expectations that I have for myself but am learning to let go of guilt and embrace mercy, who often acts against my CONSCIENCE which sends me to a place called remorse where I'm served a big o' slice of humble pie, seek forgiveness and find the cup of grace waiting to overflow...and a clear conscience to start anew.
     I like the idea of our CONSCIENCE being a gift.  We own it, but we didn't buy it or do anything to earn it.  It was given to us without our prompting or even our recognition that it's something we so desperately needed!
     It's Friday, after 5 o'clock, so cheers to being CONSCIOUSLY CONSCIENTIOUS!