Wednesday, January 23, 2013

A Southern Girl's Response To Politics

I grew up "right"
Raised in Georgia, eating vegetables grown from our garden, playing barefoot outside till after dark, catching lightning bugs (aka fireflies). Watching the Braves play on TBS. And every fall, SEC football. SEC football in the south has been described as more a religion than a sport. It's a way of life. Cheering your favorite team, smack talk, rivalries. The joy of victory, the agony of defeat.

As a UGA fan, I'm obligated to hate GA Tech, Auburn, the Florida Gators and Tennessee Volunteers. I'm not sure's just the way it is. There are historical stories that define the rivalries but they make as little sense as the Hatfields and McCoys. It doesn't matter why, it's just the way it is.

And, with the exception of those who take it too far, it's fun.

As long as it's sports.

What happens when we have the same mentality in Congress?

Democrats versus Republicans. Favorite teams, smack talk, rivalries, competition.
The truth is these days, our government is more about factions than government. If something goes wrong, point fingers. Congress can't get anything done because they can't let go of the need to win. They are more worried about protecting their position than compromise. More concerned with keeping lobbyist and big businesses happy than solving problems. Because they need funding for reelections. Because they have lost sight of what is more important.

This year it has become more apparent than ever. Congress knew for months that the fiscal cliff was looming and did nothing. And when we were about to fall over, made a half hearted attempt to "solve" the problem while blaming the other side for the problem itself. In truth, it doesn't matter whose fault it is, but the problem belongs to both sides. Now the problem hits those with lower incomes, people who flinch at the loss of the $13 a week in their paycheck. People who were counting on their tax refund only to find out the IRS can't accept any returns until the end of the month...will they actually have the money to pay out the returns?

This month is supposedly focused on raising awareness of trafficking. But while politicians smile at ceremonies, attend dinners and make speeches, they failed to renew the Trafficking Victims Protection Act. An act that provides funds for education, prevention, rescue, and treatment for trafficking victims...not just internationally but victims who have been "imported" into the US as well as girls and women (and boys) born and trafficked in the US. Furthermore, Congress failed to renew the Victims Against Women Act. An act that funds prosecution of rapists and men who beat women, that funds medical treatment for women who have been victims of rape and domestic act that helps an estimated 200,000 women a year. Think of that. 200,000 American women will not get the help they need...and the funds needed to put their perpetrators in jail, not there. Because Congress couldn't get the job done.

If that were you...they'd fire you.

Now, here is what you are doing. You are blaming Obama, the Republicans, the Democrats...depends on which side you are are pointing fingers. The problem is, that it isn't one party's fault. It is a combination. I don't know if I'm the only one who had to take a government class in high school, the only one who didn't sleep through it, or the only one who is such a nerd I still remember it. But government is supposed to work as a whole. It's a system of checks and that no one has too much power and everyone has to work together. There is no working together these days. And we, as a people, are allowing it. We are cheering for our favorite team without holding them responsible. We are denouncing the evil Republicans, the sadistic Democrats...posting jokes about the President being assassinated...but we are not holding government responsible for doing their jobs.

Studies show that the majority of Americans no longer have any trust or belief in the government's ability to govern responsibly or effectively. We no longer believe they will solve the issues. And somehow, we feel powerless.

So, here is a simple Georgia girl's take on it.
It's time to hold them responsible. It's time to let them know the expectations. And it is time to let go of the idea that our team must win. That only works in sports. And even in sports there is supposed to be this thing called sportsmanship.

Confession...I didn't want to vote this year. Until someone gave me the "civic duty, think of the women who can't vote" talk. So I did a little research. Did you know there's a Green Party? I didn't either. Until I read up on it. So I voted for her. I knew she wouldn't win...not a chance. But it was my turn to tell the system that I was fed up with BOTH the Democrats and Republicans. I used my voice and actions to make a statement.

It's time to make a statement. It is time to give up some entitlement. To use that concept of "compromise" we learned starting in Kindergarten and "teamwork" learned in Little League. As Americans we need to become involved. And don't just listen to CNN or MSNBC but look at both sides. Media is terrifically biased these days and not always responsible. Do some research. It is our civic duty. It's our duty to our children, to ourselves, to our country.

Use your voice. Take some action.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

I Got Called...(The Sequel)

I promise...I didn't write Sunday's blog so people would feel sorry for me or say nice things to me...or even so friends would bring us food! (Holy cow, and thanks friend who shall remain anonymous so that no one knows you are secretly a nice person. LOL) But thanks to all of you for your kind words!

I'm sort of shocked that "I Got Called Fat" has turned into the most popular post I've written and published on this blog. I kind of expected a "well then, stop whining and jump on a treadmill" reaction from at least one person. But, interestingly enough, it seems to have resonated with a number of people.

Which tells me something that I already kind of knew to be true, but always hope it's not.

We all see the worst in ourselves. Sometimes to the point where we minimize or can't even see the good. It's like we're not allowed to think well of ourselves. We accept that God forgives us our sins and weaknesses, but we can't forgive ourselves.

My friend once said it was like God was whispering love in one ear and then Satan comes in and starts whispering hateful lies in the other and we shush God to better hear the vile things Satan is saying because somehow it makes more sense and is easier to believe.

My daughter and I have talked about it. She says that if a girl is pretty or has the perfect figure, she still has to say she is ugly and she still has to say she is fat...otherwise, she's called stuck up. Self confidence is not something to be proud of or attain to. And if they are saying these things out loud, whether they believed them at first or not, eventually they will. And heaven forbid that you actually look for the positives! Why then are we shocked that an alarming number of teenagers-both boys and girls-are struggling with image issues, self injury, and eating disorders?

Why are we doing this to ourselves? Or allowing others to do it to us?

Do you know that if a person has a good experience at a restaurant, the person will tell-on average-one other person. If that person has a bad experience at a restaurant, the person will tell a minimum of five people and-on average-usually seven. Child psychologists say it takes a minimum of five positive comments to negate one negative comment.

When Bree and Trey were smaller, we had a rule. If one of us said something that hurt the others feelings, we held up five fingers. And the person who hurt our feelings said five nice things about us. The idea behind it was to make all three of us more aware of the power of our words

"Negative is natural. Positive is on purpose."                  
I read this on the "I Am Second" Facebook page and thought "YES, how true!"

Positive takes work. When it comes to myself, others, situations. But I also think that it's like other habits, the more you practice it, the more natural it becomes.

Have you ever had a positive experience at a restaurant and asked to see the manager so you can brag about it? Watch how warily he/she comes walking up to you. Watch their face while you rave about how awesome the food or the server was, like they are waiting for the "but" and the nastiness to come. The realization that it isn't going to happen, that this is actually a good thing happening to them. Watch them walk away standing a little taller. It happens so rarely to them.

The next time a cashier is taking too long or the person in front of you had 5000 coupons, instead of snapping at her, be kind and understanding.

Practice being nice to yourself! Just for the heck of it, start every morning thinking of three good things about yourself or end your day pondering the things you got right. Or even the five finger rule, every time you think something negative about yourself, try thinking of five positive things about yourself.

Again, it is a choice (I keep using that word...must be trying to learn something). For whatever reason, negative is easier and more believable in the same way it's sometimes easier to jump back in the pit than stay on the firm path. Obviously, having let all my insecurities and quirks out there for everyone to read, I don't do a good job at this. But I'm trying.

So here goes:
1) I got called a good writer. Three times in the last two days. Since this is my second favorite compliment, it was a big deal to me. (In case you are wondering, "good mom" is number one)

2) I am still overweight but I've lost 30 pounds and broken a lot of bad eating habits. I've also recognized that I am a stress eater and have come a long way in working on that.

3) I haven't had a cigarette since 2005. Most people who know me these days who didn't know me then would even be shocked to know I ever smoked, but I did...for 14 years (starting at 18).

4) I am not a perfect mom...but my kids know, without a doubt, how incredibly much I love them. And they are awesome. (And they get a lot of credit for #3)

5) There is a lot of love in my life. I am ridiculous ways. By God, my kids, my family, my friends, several of the girls. When my Aunt Penny or Uncle John tell me how proud they are of me, my heart swells because they know how far I've come. When Jane gives me a hug, I'm pretty sure I'm close to heaven. And when my kids tell me they are proud of me, forget it. Trey will probably never tell me out loud again that he thinks I am a good Mom...the last time he did, I cried. LOL And I get the chance to pour love out. When people trust me with their stories, it overwhelms me with what they are giving me...and people trust me a lot (maybe they recognize that I'm broken and have no room to judge). In ministry and everyday life there are so many people to love and opportunities to show it. I am a lucky, lucky girl! (And if you don't like "lucky" then insert "blessed")

So there you have it...and I'm going to keep doing it...though, in future, probably in my journal. Feel free to start your own list. Share it with us, your friends, or with yourself. Write it on your mirror if you need to.

Make it a resolution. Practice positive on purpose. There is enough negativity in the world without our contribution.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

I got called fat in a Kroger parking lot...

Recently Jeff Goins blogged about writing the "dark side" of life...letting the world know the bad as well as the good, your dark spots, your weaknesses. I thought about how God has taken me on a journey to be more transparent but while reading Goins' comments, I thought "I'd never be that transparent with that many people at one time"

Never say never.

I've made a few remarks about 2012 and some of you have been surprised. If the most you see of me is on my blog or Facebook, you should be. I tell my kids all the time that Facebook was not meant to be your journal and I believe it. Nor is this blog...most of the time.

But I think that some of the things I have to say might be to someone's benefit.
Or something...all I know is I'm compelled to write...and make it public.

2012 had a lot of great times but in the day to day...basically it sucked.
I lost my Dad and I've had a hard time grieving over that. Partly because of my kids. My moods affect them and they weren't comfortable with my grief and so I swallowed it. Made it private. They didn't ask me to do this, I just did it. The other was because the loss of my Dad opened up an entire can of worms about childhood stuff, our relationship, his struggles, my struggles...

I struggled with being a mother. I fear I am failing in some way to teach Bree and Trey what they need to know to be successful. I think they have everything they need to be successful...I just wonder if they will be responsible on a day to day basis in order to achieve their dreams. I was too responsible at too young an age so their entire life I've struggled with how much responsibility to give them. Even now, it is entirely possible they are as responsible as the next teenager but I've never really talked to other parents for fear they'd make the "single mom" comment or think I was a failure.

You know...the "single mom" comment that pretends to give you some grace for your failings but just makes you feel worse? Condemned. Judged.

I've struggled at the work place. The vision for the job and the reality of the job are not the same thing and growing apart even faster. I'm not sure I fit in with my team and those insecurities almost guarantee that I don't. Or even if I do, I don't trust it.

I've struggled to leave OM. I wrote once that it was like leaving home and even now I'd say it was similar to leaving a safe house. Everything you learned about recovery and relationships feels different in the "real" world. It's not as safe or comfortable. While I've looked back and wanted to wonder, I can't tell you that I've ever honestly doubted that God's will was for me to leave OM and work at Wellspring but the question changed to "why?"

I've struggled financially as all single moms do but this year, it felt worse. Maybe it was the fact that I did have to act like an adult about it. For the five years we lived on OM property, my rent and utilities came out of my check. I got comfortable with it. There were just a lot of unusual hits to the budget this year as well. In fact, it felt like every time I turned around something was happening. Including moving twice in one year. I knew I had a raise coming up and sort of held onto this "It's going to get better" mentality. And then I found out that it's likely I'm not going to be getting the raise after all. It's not going to get better. I had to tell my kids that. I went to file my W-2s, excited because we'd gotten them early, thinking how much earlier we'd get our refund...only to find out Congress' woes mean they aren't accepting any tax returns till the end of the month (which means getting return mid-Feb).

I somehow thought 2013 was going to be like my fairy god mother and make all my dreams come true...or something like that, but it is starting out rough. And I find myself struggling with depression for the first time since before my kids were born. And it's scaring me.

This morning I got up wishing I didn't have to go to church. I had a hard time sleeping last night. I was feeling lazy. My body hurt. I was feeling...well, depressed. But I have a job to do. Bree has a job to do. So I got up.

The first song was a reminder to me. God is in control. And because He lives in me, I'm not as powerless as I had let myself think the past few days. As a matter of fact, allowing myself to feel that could be described as sinful because I'm not allowing God to be-God.

Depression feels like that monster under your bed. It's going to sneak out and grab you and wrap you up and smother you and there's nothing you can do about it. And for thousands of people, they don't have as much control over it because there is a chemical imbalance or something that causes it. Or because they haven't been able to walk the journey of healing as far as I have. But for me, right now, depression is something I would have to choose. Seriously. I would have to literally throw off everything God has done in my life and choose to wrap myself in the darkness.

I hate to be blunt. But that would be quite stupid of me.

You think at that moment I'd be better. But I wasn't. Someone walked past me and didn't acknowledge my existence and while that someone was totally distracted and I knew it rationally...I still struggled with hurt feelings. Trey did something goofy and I got hurt and he got mad because I got mad and then I went off about the dirty house and them leaving the kitchen in a mess after I begged them not to and I remembered the money problems and the work problems and the "woe is me" and I was immediately in a bad mood.

Then we went to Kroger to pick up spaghetti sauce because that's all I can really afford and thank God I already have spaghetti noodles but Trey doesn't like spaghetti and he isn't going to eat it and I'm guilty and mad at the same time...guilty because I can't feed him what he likes and mad because he's picky. And Bree is trying to have a conversation with me and "Oh no, she's not getting off that easy" and then we are in the parking lot and this woman isn't paying attention and starts backing up and almost hits us and I am already in a bad mood and I yell "THAT'S MY DAUGHTER!!!"

Turns out the woman in the car was in a bad mood too.

She put her car in park. Got out. And proceeded to cuss me out in a two minute diatribe that as horrible as it was, I have to admit was pretty impressive. I won't repeat it verbatim but to give you a clue, the nicest part about it was when she explained to me what a blind spot was and that it was impossible to see me, even as big as I was. In other words, on top of everything else, I'm fat.

I didn't say a word. I actually couldn't say a word. I don't know if it was shock or the Holy Spirit. I knew that the moment I opened my mouth, it would have turned physical. And Bree would have seen it. And I've been in fights before. And won. But I'm honest to goodness not that person. And I would never want my kids to grow up seeing that like I did and that is one promise, with one exception, that I've kept as a Mom.

With a parting shot, she got in her car and drove away.

And I sobbed all the way home. At first I was crying because I felt so belittled and hurt. How could God let this happen when I was already so fragile? And why, why, why? And then I remembered, I had lashed out. And she had lashed out. And God suddenly gave me just enough insight. I thought about all the times I had imaginary conversations in my head and how I would give someone a piece of my mind and let them have it and they'd be sorry. That woman is angry about something. And I was the last straw. So then I realized I was crying for her and me.

And then I came home, decided I was going to go to bed and cry. And feel sorry for myself. After all, I'd felt sorry for it was my time. And I got to do it too!

For about three minutes.

There have been very few times that I've been able to almost audibly hear God in my head. And if you are more comfortable with it, call it the Holy's the same. The Holy Spirit gives us wisdom and that's definitely what I was getting...the "get up and put your big girl panties on" kind.

"What are you going to choose?"
Seriously...I can't even have a good cry first? We have to do this now???
"What are you going to choose?"
I'm going to choose to sob my heart out and maybe take a nap. Then read a novel...maybe some Jane Austen since she always makes me feel better. And then I'm going to watch Downton. After that, we can do this...okay?
"Trust? Forgiveness?"
Okay...I forgave her in the car. You made sure of that. Now can I wallow in my low self image?
"What are you going to choose?"
I'd like to say I got up and accepted truth graciously...but I more or less stomped to the kitchen and started washing the dishes. The kids-in their wisdom-took the dogs for a walk to give me space.

So many times in life, our struggles aren't defined by our circumstances but our reaction to them.

Once upon a time, someone told me that my childhood had been defined by people making me a victim. But that as an adult, I had to choose whether I was going to be a victim or a survivor. It took me a few days to get over my pout but her words have impacted my life in amazing ways. As a matter of fact, it impacted my life so much that my Aunt uses both my story and those words to motivate people she sees on a regular basis (my Aunt is a magistrate judge...just to put this in perspective).

The reality of my life's not better or worse than most people I know. In truth, my life is better than most people on the planet could ever dream. But that doesn't mean it isn't hard. And I have to choose what my reaction is going to be to that.

And don't get me wrong...I'm not saying I have to be happy all the time. That's not authentic and it's a little creepy. What I'm saying is we can wallow or we can keep going. We can be survivors or victim. Life can completely undo us or make us.

And sometimes it the small steps that make the victory. I got out of bed. I did the dishes. I wrote this. I'm still praying for the woman in the parking lot. That might be it for today.

Everything else just kind of feels like too much to deal with right now. So maybe next I'll clean the living room. I'll cook the spaghetti. Maybe I'll go sit outside since it feels so nice. Maybe not.

But, I'll choose. To accept His strength is made perfect in my weakness. To accept that I'm going to fail at times but that doesn't mean I'm worthless. I'll choose to accept the parts that are my responsibility (yelling at strangers in cars) and let go of the parts that aren't (strangers who lose their temper). To trust that as shaky as everything feels right now, that we are going to make it.

2013 has started out rough...but I trust, no matter what else it brings, that God is always good. And I will keep living life like an adventure. And I'll walk the firm path He has set me on rather than jumping back in the mire...even when it feels like the mire is actually easier and makes more sense. (I know, I don't get it either...but if you are honest, you know sometimes it's true)

And...I'll keep doing my weight loss plan. Because, let's face it...being called fat in the parking lot just makes you want a cookie.

Friday, January 18, 2013

The Bright Side of 2012

No doubt about it, 2012 was a rough year. Leaving OM, dealing with fact that vision for new job and reality of new job were not the same thing, losing my Dad, moving twice, financial difficulties...

I waited for 2013 like you wait to break the surface of water so you can take a breath. I believed that 2013 was going to be better like the girl turning 16 believes she is going to wake up with a great body, clear complexion, a boyfriend and a new car.

What? It can totally happen. Case in point...

Then 2013 got off to a really rough start...and I had to remember that 2013 isn't a new book as much as it is a new chapter in the same book. In other words, you don't get a totally different story but a continuation of your story. This could have been depressing except for the fact that I remembered that altogether, I have a really awesome story. I mean, come on, all things considered, I have an amazing life.

With that said, knowing 2012 wasn't ALL bad, I decided to focus on the positive. So hear you go...and I give you my word, it's the last list for a while...maybe. It should be anyway.

January: perhaps the most amazing birthday of all times...or at least tied with the time we went to Shakespeare Tavern for Romeo and Juliet or the time that my friends and kids planned a surprise birthday party for me...and there was the whole cooking me blueberry pancakes at 6:00 in the morning. My friend Sarah was in town, we had an amazing girls night at Nikkos and then I had a do it yourself birthday party with all my friends from all areas of life and everyone brought snacks and games and I got wine and coffee and flowers and Phase was perfect (As a belated birthday present, my friend Jason took me to my first live comedy act ever. It was an experience!)

February: I've been wanting to do a period piece forever. And a small cast of only adults (if only biologically speaking) forever. Jennifer Dorrell gave me the chance to do both when she let me be her stage manager for Dangerous Liasions.

February was incredibly painful but there is no way I could pass it by without remembering how amazing so many of my friends were: Jessica's prayers, Jason making sure we had dinner, Jeff offering to bring my coffee pot to Macon, flowers, cards, phone calls, and even people driving to the funeral. I've never taken the fact we are loved for granted but I was overwhelmed at how much. Thank you.

March: Jason King introduced me to Jen Hatmaker (I still think we need to be best friends). Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (which both Bree and Trey performed in) opened and I managed to arrange it so the girls could come see it. Since we were also working on Dangerous Liasions, we basically lived at the theatre with trips to Taco Mac afterwards to eat and hang with friends. It felt like a month of distractions-good ones. At work, we had some great groups and donations. But my favorite part was the "Getting Into College" life skill class that I got to teach the girls. They were still talking about it months later!

April: Kathleen Kennard (friend and coworker) stops by my desk one day and says "You need a weekend at the cabin" So we took her up on it and headed to Elijay on Easter weekend. It was more than what the doctor ordered. It was amazing. The kids and I played games, watched movies, explored Elijay, hiked and hiked some more. And I made great use of the rockers on the front porch. Reading, drinking coffee...great view. It was positively holistic.

May: Best Vacation Ever.
'Nuff said.

June: Neverending Story. Our first show with Henry Players. And the show that gave Trey the acting bug! Bree was also doing SIT that month so I kind of felt like I spent my life in the car but it was totally worth it!

July: So I wasn't even involved with the Laramie Project at NTC-technically. But Bree was stage manager and Jen was director so I hung out, a lot. It not only gave me the chance to meet some of the most awesome teenagers on the planet and develop friendships with them, it forced me to think through some issues I'd put on back burner for far too long.
Also in July...Trey had a great time at CIY. My aunt and I spent quite a lot of time together (comparatively speaking). I got to speak at Adventures In Missions for the first time ever. I had a great intern.And, I got to tagalong with the girls when they went and fed homeless as service project.

August: The coolest group of college kids on the planet, with their amazing and fearless leader (I do not exaggerate) came from Florida to Tyrone to serve with Wellspring Living. And I'm still friends with most of them to this day! In fact, one of them even let me in on his top secret proposal plans recently! (No spoilers, he asked and she said yes!)
We also moved back to Newnan in August and have loved living just a mile from the Square (and NTC). The coffee shop is perfect. On the 30th, my aunt, my sister and me, celebrated my Dad's birthday and we laughed much more than I thought we would.

September: All things pumpkin flavored! Wine brought back from South Africa by my friend Ciska. Discovering the blog of Rachel Held Evans. A Christmas party to say farewell to Jessica. A wonderful group of what would turn out to be my only Immersion Project.
AND an overnight trip to Tybee Island and Savannah!
PS My son has mad photographer skills!

October: This moment at Catalyst.
Also, hearing Matt Chandler live and in person, Christine Caine's talk and running into the pastor that preached my Dad's funeral. A fire pit, hot dogs and S'mores with the neighbors. Bree and Trey getting to dress up like zombies and not only be in parade but perform "Thriller" in McDonough square!

November: Bree, Trey and I all got cast in Outsiders. I was also cast in Mrs Bob Cratchitt's Wild Christmas Binge...which was actually, sort of, a musical. So I sang...and danced...kind of. (Lesson, research show before auditioning!) We had a fantastic Thanksgiving with my Aunt, Uncle and family. Sort of went Black Friday shopping (didn't get started till 4pm) and watched a lot of football. Ann Marie and Crystal's friendship gives me so much to be grateful for...And we got to see the beautiful Amanda Lindsey (now McDonald) get married.

Did I mention Mrs. Bob Cratchitt's... had me doing a fan dance? Yep.

December: Oh the beauty of comp time! Had the entire week of Christmas off and it was deliciously lazy! We saw three movies in three days (Lincoln, Hobbit, Les Mis). So much fun at Christmas Eve Party. The kids had a great Christmas morning. And later that week we tagged along for some karaoke with the Henry Players. Bree fought her fears and actually got up and sang!
So...there you have it. In the midst of anxiety, tensions, sadness and difficulties there are triumphs, adventures, lazy days, friends, families and the days when your work matters. This isn't an exhaustive should include Arahdna concerts and baby love and Madeline Perouyx with Jason and Lamar. New friends like Emily Laney and coffee with Renee. Life is full. And life is wonderful.

No matter what 2013 brings...I'll remember that.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

When I was in high school, I took a broadcast journalism class. Even then I knew of my aversion to cameras but it was the only elective my school offered that had anything to do with journalism.

This was in the day I thought I'd be a world traveling, adventurous journalist...with a back pack containing my camera, recorder and notepad. (In case you are wondering, I haven't altogether given up on the idea. lol)

Obviously, much time has passed since those classes but one lecture still lingers in my mind. We talked about integrity in the media. I remember him telling us that during FDR's presidency, the media had so much respect for him they would not take pictures of him in his wheelchair or holding onto his cane. They understood the nation needed a strong leader and that pictures of him in his wheelchair would compromise that. So they waited for him to get up, for the cane or the chair to be removed...and then they took the pictures.

Similarly, during JFK's presidency, you heard little to nothing about his extra marital affairs. Apparently it was a well known "secret" but reporters didn't write about it. Of course, back then that behavior was more acceptable and we've come a long way since then but my point isn't about the right or wrong of exposing a president's adultery. It's about the media's responsibility and integrity.

I'm disturbed...and more than a little...about the role media plays in our culture today. It seems that scandal is more important than news. Bias more important than truth. Hype more important than integrity.

It seems we know more about what Lindsey Lohan ate for breakfast than we do about the war going on in Syria. Today I heard more about her firing her lawyer and refusing a plea bargain than I did about the hostage situation in Algeria. I wonder how much of a role the media has played in her undoing? It's almost like they've driven her to the edge and then gleefully made a meal of her. A gross image but assuredly a true one.

Another example, the Westboro Baptist Church. I firmly believe that the media created the phenomenon that is WBC and Fred Phelps. During the time after Matthew Shepard's death, Fred Phelps and his crew found out just how much attention they could get from protesting funerals and they've manipulated the system ever since. Even during the shooting in Newtown, CT they did everything they could to get attention. And the media gave it to them. Let's be real. WBC is not a "church" And generally speaking, they have less than 30 people at their "protests" (mostly Phelp's family members). They are bullies. And if you stopped giving them attention, they would be irrelevant.

Speaking of Newtown, today's internet and need for instant communication and "beating the other guy to the story" means that reporters are reporting before they get their facts straight. It's happened before but I don't think ever so blatantly as in this latest tragedy. The number of people killed, the story of the mother being an employee of the school and shot at the school, the story of the father being killed, the incorrect of identification of the shooter (identified as the brother of the actual shooter, his picture was taken from his Facebook profile and plastered all over the television). No one knew what to believe and what not to believe and it took days to straighten it out. Are reporters held to no standard of truth? What is their responsibility in verifying facts before writing a column? I read one column that listed the children killed where the reporter stated they would only give the last name of the victim if they family had spoken. I was incredibly impressed with the respect that reporter showed the families, so the fact that others didn't show the same respect bothered me even more.

I'm just kind of fed up. I'm tired of the bias and misinformation. I'm tired of this news station and that news station bickering like kids in a sand box. I'm tired of not getting information presented in such a way that we can think through and form our own opinions. And I'm tired of knowing there is so much going on in the world but somehow Kim Kardashian and Kanye West rate bigger headlines.

I think the straw that broke the camel's back was this week when a reporter from the AJC posted a flippant article about "sugar babies" at GSU. There is a website that apparently partners girls struggling to pay for college with elderly, well to do men. The entire article was flippant, made the comment "talk about Southern hospitality" and quoted a GSU staff as praising the "entrepreneurial" spirit of the girls. Suddenly prostitution is funny? The reporter and the paper was called numerous times, asked to remove the article, change the wording, anything to make this a more accurate portrayal. I was shocked. As many great articles that AJC has published lately about trafficking, the work that is being done in Georgia, etc it was incredibly surprising to see them post something that set the work we do back. And it dawned on me that they were enjoying the attention, the reporter especially. Notoriety and fame are the same thing in our culture. And the media wants it as bad as the reality star. I'm disheartened. If this is the way the media portrays the issue, so many Americans will view it that way.

So...what to do? Besides write a really long blog detailing the issue and griping a bit...what can we do? I think it is time, as a culture, that we hold the media to the guidelines we expect. We hold them responsible for doing their jobs. If WBC is threatening a protest, then we call our news station to ask them not to report on it. If they are biased or misrepresenting facts, we write letters to the general manager and ask that it be corrected. And then, if things don't change, we avoid their publication or show. Media is ruled by the law of consumerism-supply and demand. If you aren't buying, they will sell you something different. I think too many of us have forgotten that we have the power to change things. That our voice and-even more so-our dollars make a difference.

It's time to use them. I think if we do, we'll be surprised at what we learn.

Next on the "fed up" list...politics. Stay tuned.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Passion 2013...
60,000 plus attendees....
Somewhere around 3,000-4,000 volunteers
Just over 300 of those volunteers were assigned to Worship & Justice Team
Of those 300, 85 (give or take) were sent to C Building.
Of those 85, two were picked to be greeters.

Myself...and one other.

She took one look at me and said "I know you."

I had no idea who she was. Before I could bluff my way out of it or just be honest and apologize, her enthusiasm carried her on towards the explanation. Passion 2012 was the first she'd heard of trafficking and she was immediately motivated to get involved. Wellspring Living was mentioned during the conference, it was close, so she started there. With me.

We scheduled a meeting and she came to the office (as she was telling the story, I could remember her vaguely). In helping her figure out what she would really like to do, it became apparent that Wellspring Living wasn't the best fit for her. She'd be (and is) a great volunteer but her passion and what she really wanted to do wasn't something she could do at Wellspring. So I gave her resources and suggestions so she could learn more and gave her the names of two organizations that might be a better fit. The first one didn't work. The second one did and does. Not only has she been able to do what she wanted to, but it's developed into something more awesome.

There are several really awesome aspects to this story. First of all is the awareness of God and how He works. Sheila Walsh once said something about God showing us very clearly that He sees us. And moments like this make me incredibly aware that He does-indeed-see me. It was so encouraging to meet Ann (again) and see how a conversation that I could barely remember had impacted her in such a way. God used me and I wasn't even really aware of it. Since I'm all about connecting people to their passions, this absolutely made my day. And I really needed some encouragement that day. A reminder that I do make a difference.

It's also a reminder, you have no idea how your interactions are going to affect people. Conversations, encouragements, books and articles you recommend. God is working through all of those. So be willing to let Him. And make time for the opportunities.

The other really awesome aspect is the reminder. So many times people hear about an issue, their heart is touched and yet they don't do anything about it. Or maybe they start but something discouraging happens. If that is you, let me encourage you by introducing you to Ann. She knew almost nothing about sex trafficking in Georgia but what she heard at Passion '12 inspired her to find out more. And use her talents and passions to make a difference. Today she is a volunteer for Out of Darkness. She answers the hotline and goes to pick up girls and women who are desperately trying to get out of their situation. And now, she is using her knowledge and her experience as a nurse to train medical personnel on how to recognize signs of trafficking and what to do. You have talents. Use them. Don't be afraid to take the first step, to meet with someone and ask questions. To experience different things until you find the place that fits.

Let's all do our part to "End It"

Friday, January 11, 2013


So if you read my resolutions, you discovered I have a secret me in my head. Not quite as secret as Walter Mitty (please get that joke!) but a hat wearing, organic eating, skinnier, more disciplined yet adventurous kind of me...but still me. One of my resolutions is to do one thing every month that gets me closer to that me. Some of them are really random...okay, most of them are random but that's just me...the one in my head and the real one.

1) Buy hat(s)
I love hats and scarves. I loved hats and scarves before everyone was wearing scarves. Every time I go into a store, I look at the hats. I just never buy them. One is a money thing. The other is wondering if I will really wear them. And a secret fear I look like a dork.
I decided hats would be my January task. Considering January is practically 1/2 way over and I'm working two shows, I felt I needed to start with an easy one. And Charming Charlies obliged by having hats on sale. I bought two hats for less than $20. And I'm wearing the first one Sunday.

2) Cook something new once a month.
I love to cook. I love to eat. I'm basically a foodie wannabe. Embree and I actually used to do this but fell out of the habit...busy schedules, Trey's lack of eating anything green, and laziness. So, we're reinstating the habit. We'll also be visiting local grocer's and farmer's markets to get the ingredients. This will also help with the healthier lifestyle, lose weight thing since it is one more night we aren't eating "pizza, pizza" from Little Ceasar's.

3) Go to Serenbe.
How do I live so close and yet I've never been...? I don't know. I'll be fixing that. At least once, hopefully more. It took six years of living this close to Atlanta before we made it to the Shakespeare Tavern and now we're there at least once a month so...

4) Money God's way.
Insert excuses and justifications here___________. Fact is that tithing is a hit or miss with me. I get into the habit and do well...and then fall out of the habit. And savings-forget it. For a while after the Dave Ramsey class...but the rest of the time. Nope. This is where discipline and intentionality come in, I have to develop those habits to keep up the discipline of tithing. And even more importantly, remember that God can be trusted.

5) Get back to gardening.
I love to garden. I get why paradise was a garden and man's job to tend it. I also love the experience of cooking foods I picked from my own yard using herbs and spices that I have tended. It excites the creativity in me for some reason. Not to mention that it is a huge stress relief. I haven't had a garden in the last couple of years and I miss it-a lot.

6) Wear a costume to the Renaissance Festival.
If you have no clue what I'm talking about, click above. We flipping love Ren Fest. And every year we talk about "next year when we have costumes" I'm really hoping this year is the year. Which means I need to learn to sew...or find someone who knows how to sew...I know which plan I like best. (Have I ever mentioned the only time my Grandma gave up on me was teaching me how to sew?)

7) Attend Not For Sale's Backyard Academy...or the NFS Academy in San Francisco.
NFS's Backyard Academy came to GA last year and I didn't get to go. Looking on their website I haven't seen any dates so I'm not sure they are coming back to GA in 2013. I'm not sure how feasible going to San Francisco for a week would be, but I'd be willing to try. I want to learn more about human trafficking, not just sex trafficking. I got tunnel vision for a while but really want to focus more on learning about the issue as a whole. One of my resolutions was to purchase more responsibly and the kids and I had a great talk about it tonight at dinner (choosing to shop Target instead of Wal-Mart)

8) Decorate the house.
We got the major part of the walls done but need to finish the trim. We've got a lot of ideas and I'd like to do at least one of them a month. It's going to look great and be really comfortable for guests coming over. I may even attempt a project or two from Pinterest. Anyone up for a trip to Ikea?

9) Speaking of guests...
I never invite people over anymore. Another habit that needs to be night anyone?

10) Listen to a new album from an artist I know nothing about at least once a month.
Accomplishes nothing more than expanding my horizons. Feel free to make suggestions!

11) Explore the thrift stores and vintage shops in the area.
I know Jen, Caren, and Allison can tell me the best ones! Plan to spend at least one Saturday a month perusing and finding treasures (at a great price of course!)

12) Take a class.
Wine Tasting. Cooking. Pottery (ummm....Bree suggested and offered to join me so...). Something that teaches me something new and gives a sense of adventure.

If you read this all the way to the end, congrats! I realize some of this borders on ridiculous...maybe it's because I'm turning 40, maybe it's because 2012 was so rough and I want 2013 to be different, maybe it's because my kids are growing up and I'm realizing I really could end up the crazy cat lady...or worse yet the crazy workaholic who forgot she owns a cat...maybe it's just because I want to grab all the joy and adventure in life I can.

It might just be because I like lists. And that's not weird at all...

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

24 Books for 2013 one of my New Year's resolutions was to read 24 books. At least half the books were on my Kindle or my shelf waiting for me to read them. The rest I had friends put in their suggestions and picked from those. My hope was to get a good variety and hopefully some books that I'd never read otherwise. The boundaries were "nothing foul" and if it was fiction, it had to make an impact or make me think.

Without further ado, this year's list:

1) Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
Have you ever had that book you've always meant to read but never do...that's Les Mis for me. LOVE the musical, have had the book on my Kindle for a year, but never quite got up the courage. It's Hugo and 1400 pages...even for me, that's intimidating. So this is the year...

2) Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans
While I don't agree with everything she says, I love Rachel Held Evans' blog. And I'm really looking forward to reading this book. I think it will be entertaining and educational. I've also been told by one of my friends who has already finished it that I'll like it. Amazon having the Kindle version on sale for $1.99 didn't hurt

3) Wrecked: When a Broken World Slams Into Your Comfortable Life by Jeff Goins

4) When Helping Hurts by Steve Corbett, Brian Fikkert

5) Crazy Love by Francis Chan
I've had three books by Francis Chan on my Kindle since Easter of last year when Amazon gave them all away for free. I started Crazy Love but there are videos, etc that I wanted to make sure I got to watch and I just dropped it. So in 2013, I'll be finishing this one and reading the other two.

6) Forgotten God by Francis Chan

7) Erasing Hell by Francis Chan

8) The Hole In The Gospel by Richard Stearns
So I'm already bought into the premise but I think this book has had a huge impact...and oddly enough I haven't read it yet. In case you don't know, Richard Stearns is President of World Vision

9) Girl Meets God by Lauren Winner
A Jewish girl becomes a Christian and writes a book about it. Of course I'm going to have to read it! And I found it at Omega books!

10) Justice Project
edited by
Brian McLaren, Elisa Padilla and Ashley Bunting Seeber
Because I want to know what the issues are and what I can do about them.

11) Experiencing the Presence of God by AW Tozer
Because I want to read everything he wrote...and this is the start.

12) The Way of the Heart by Henry Nouwen

13) You Are A Writer (So Start Acting Like One) by Jeff Goins
Because Emily and I are reading it together. I might learn something. And it's only 77 pages.

14) Team of Rivals by Doris Kearn
The book that the movie "Lincoln" was (loosely) based on and a great suggestion by Melissa.

15) Switch: How to Change When Change Is Hard by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

16) Love Is An Orientation by Andrew Marin
A guy that I have mad respect for...check out his the book. I would l-o-v-e to do a project with Marin Foundation during Pride next year. Another book along the same line I would like to read is "Torn" by Justin Lee.

17) Wild by Cheryl Strayed
If Mandy likes it enough to recommend it, gotta be good. I liked the synopsis on Amazon. Done.

18) Unbroken by Lauren Hillenbrand
Three people put this on the list almost simultaneously...those that didn't cheered or put it on their "to read" list...gotta be good! Another book that I'd like to read, also titled Unbroken, is by Jonathan Fisk.

19) The Color of Water by Andre Braugher

20) A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah
Added bonus, it's available at the OM USA bookstore!

21) What Is The What by David Eggers

22) Ethel Merman: The Biggest Star On Broadway by Geoffrey Mark
Thanks Paul! 

23) Rooftops of Tehran 
So...the person who made the suggestion didn't give the author and I found two books of this title. One a novel and one a book of poems. I'm putting them both up here. The book is Mahbod Seraji. The poems by Sholeh Wolpe.

24) Thinking For A Change by John C Maxwell

I "had" to choose 24 so these were the ones I chose for the list. It wasn't easy! However, I put most of them on my wish list. I'll definitely be reading them at some point in the future! Feel free to continue suggesting books! Talk about the books you will be reading. This was so much fun, next month I think we'll do movies!

New Years Resolutions

Okay...I have, for some time now, avoided New Year's Resolutions. It seemed cliche...and more than that...seemed more like setting myself up for failure than setting goals. A few years ago, someone made the comment that they were looking for revolution rather than resolution in their life and I was all like "YEAH!" I about cliche. Anyway, any excuse to get out of resolutions...

This year seems a bit different. Maybe because I'm turning 40. Perhaps because the kids are beginning the transition to grow up, move out. Possibly because I'm feeling unsettled so I'm hoping that making goals will help. Or maybe it is because my friend Emily wrote a really fun blog about her resolutions and I thought "I want to do that!"

See Emily's blog here:

So here it is, in no particular order, my resolutions. Some provoking, some silly.

1) Minimize social media. I recognize the tool that social media is but I also think it is an easy way to swallow up my time. And I think I use it too much. One of my goals is about reading and when considering how many books I'd read last year, I was surprised. I think I used my Kindle more for Facebook, Twitter, and Free Cell than reading. I need to be intentional about how much time I spend on the internet for any reason but especially for Facebook and Twitter.

2) Read 24 books. Not just fiction books but books that will make me think, broaden my horizons, teach me something. Speaking of Facebook as a tool, it was a huge help in getting the list drafted. I've got some great suggestions but would really like some more before I publish the final draft. I'm particularly looking for books that wouldn't normally come to my attention.

3) Develop the habit of getting up early. I am NOT a morning person. At the same time, I'd love to be one of those people who get up, have their quiet time, take the dog for a walk...all before going into the office. Since I don't have to be in the office until 9:30 AM, this should be a lot easier than it actually is...any tips for developing this habit would be welcome!

4) Spend more time at cultural events. Not just theatre but concerts, museums, etc. I love to do these things but don't spend a lot of time doing them (well, with exception of theatre). Part of that is money, so my new raise should help. Part of it is about being intentional.

5) This one is probably the most important. As I become more and more aware of trafficking in the United States and across the world, as I realize the importance of my actions and voice in doing my part, I also have become more aware of the importance of knowing what I'm purchasing and the impact that has. (A huge thanks to Not For Sale for all the work they do in this area!). As a single mom with two kids working for a non-profit, "cheap" is not only a good thing, it is often a way of life. So I am not judging anyone's purchase habits. But I want to be more careful of what I buy and where...I want my walk and talk to match. So I am going to be more intentional about what I buy and where I shop. It will start as a practice, become a habit, and hopefully be a way of life by 2014.

6) OH, I hate the weight loss resolutions! But perhaps if I write it, I will feel more accountable. So here goes, I'm going to lose thirty pounds in 2013. No fad diets, etc. Just healthy life style and exercise. Since we live in downtown Newnan, there are plenty of great places to walk (including NTC which is mile and half away!).

7) Confession...I haven't been on a date since 2007. That particular date reinforced two things. One, never date a coworker. Two, if you are going to date a coworker...make it a lunch date so the agony is at least short lived. I'm making a resolution to go on at least one date in 2013. I'm not doing this in the hopes of developing a relationship as I am to conquer a fear and step out of my comfort zone. Obviously someone has to want to date me before this particular resolution is a success. My part is more to be open to the idea. I don't think I'm that unattractive. I just think my schedule and personality tend to scream "NO!"

Addendum: I will NOT put a profile on a dating site. Not going to happen. Not judging anyone especially since my friends Jason and Megan found great dates...but it's not something I want to do...and would make resolution #1 that much more difficult.

8) Write at least two blogs every month. I generally have lots of thoughts running through my head and drafts of blogs floating in my mind but don't have the discipline to actually sit down and get them down. So there are weeks of silence and then a torrent of posts. Again, this is about discipline and intentionality...and the hope people actually want to read what I say.

9) Do more theatre! And by that, I'm not sure I mean "more shows" as much as learn more and be better at what I do. I don't think I'll ever get paid to do what I do in theatres which is exactly the way I want it. Theatre is the one thing I do simply because I love it. But I want to do it well. So, maybe take a class, read books/articles, volunteer at a different theatre...not sure yet. I'd think I'd like to direct a show one day. Our Program Director mentioned wanting me to do trauma drama training and working with a therapist to do a group...whatever it looks like, theatre is going to be a major part of any year in my life.

10) Visit at least three states I haven't been to yet. Road trip anyone?

11) This is a hard one...but it's time. Bree and Trey are growing up. As a Mom, it is my job to help them in the transition. I'm not exactly sure what this looks like. Giving them permission to grow up and move on...helping them with responsibility. Learning what I need to do for them, what I need to let them do, when to help, when to let them fail...This will be a work in progress. I want to do it well. Experience, wisdom or advice is welcome...

12) I have this vision of me that is not quite a reality, but I'd like it to be. I'd like to eat more organic, wear hats, explore vintage shops, etc. Obviously this is superficial stuff but it's more the me that I'm hoping once a month I'd like to do something that gets me closer. Buy a hat, take a wine tasting class, get back to gardening. Those kind of things. I'll probably develop a plan and come up with one thing every month so that I can be more accountable.

13) I once heard a pastor say that everyone needs to have a Timothy and a Nathaniel in your life. In other words, you need someone in your life that is mentoring you...and someone you are mentoring. I'm not sure how "official" I want to make this but I do want to create this environment. I think I'd like it to be a group of us (and by group, maybe 3 or 4)...reading books, doing Bible studies, having discussions. I'd love to do "7" by Jen Hatmaker with a group (or at least a version of that).

So there you have it. Nothing earth shattering. In the midst of this is continuing to do my job, to get better at what I do, learn more, become more involved. Be a follower of Jesus. Be a Mom. All of those things that don't need a resolution but a lifestyle (oh, save me from the cliches...true as they may be!) Thirteen resolutions for 2013!