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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Sweet Clementine!

The likelihood that I will succumb to scurvy anytime soon is slim. That's because I'm addicted to Cuties, otherwise known as "Crack Balls" in my world. Cuties are a hybrid of a sweet orange and Chinese mandarin. The little buggers are easy-to-peel, delightfully sweet, and seedless. And they mock me in their cute little wooden crate, so I eat them. A lot of them. And, I take great joy in peeling the pith from the little pulpy pods.

Below are the Cutie carcasses from today's lunch. I won't tell you how many I consumed. Hint: more than two, less than fifty.

When I was in high school, I wrote poetry (not that I would actually ever share any of it with any of you). One time I wrote about an orange, and how it makes a "sonic boom" when it's pulled apart. You know what I'm talking about, right?

It's been a slow news week. Sue me.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Orange Juice

I feel weird talking about this, because I don't want to come across as boastful, holier-than-thou, championed, or self-righteous. But I do want to record my feeling of elation yesterday, and I do want the people I care about to share in my joy. I need to talk about this.

I walked out the front door on Friday morning and was met with cold and rain. It was a normal day's drive to work, and as crossed the bridge above the train yard on Broadway, I saw a homeless man bundled up and hunched over on a bus stop bench. All of his belongings were arranged around him, as if he planned to be stationed there for awhile. I felt that familiar pang of sadness in my heart. But, it was fleeting, as I was already late to work.

At eleven a.m. that morning, I left to meet Katie at Qdoba for lunch. Again, I saw him, and it appeared as if he'd barely moved. The wind was biting, so I can't really blame him for being so bundled and hunched up. I wondered who he was and why he was there. And how long it had been since he'd eaten. And then, my stomach growled and all I could think about was the poblano pesto chicken burrito I was about to consume.

With a full belly, and the promise of a Gigi's cupcake later, I got in my car and headed back to work. Again, I passed this man. This time, he was pacing around, digging in his stuff, and generally killing time. I almost felt a since of relief... he's moving on, and then I wouldn't have to see him and I wouldn't have to feel that sadness anymore.

Four hours later, I absentmindedly grabbed my purse and left work. I had plans last night to hang out with friends, one of whom was cooking us a gourmet meal, not void of good drink and good dessert. As I rounded the corner of 10th and Broadway, I saw him again. He'd shaped himself back into that huddled position. I felt like God was telling me to feed that man. But God, while that would be noble, it's quite an inconvenience for me. I argued this all the way down the road, until I found myself pulling into a McDonald's drive thru, and ordering a Big Mac supersized and a large coffee. What am I doing???

My hands were shaking as I drove back to work, parked the car, and grabbed the greasy bag and hot coffee. My heels clicked confidently on the brick sidewalk as I approached him, but I was all nerves.

Evidently, he'd been joined by another homeless man while I'd been in transit. As soon as they both saw me coming, he grinned really big. I told him that I brought him some food and some hot coffee, and I acknowledged that it had been a really cold day. The first thing he said: "what church are you from?" Inside, I was thrilled. I'm glad he associated this act of service with the church, and hopefully with Jesus. I replied, "Brentwood Baptist," and he got distracted and began talking about other things.

In the meantime, the other gentleman began eyeing the steaming bag, and asked what was inside. The man grinned big, and said, "it's a hamburger...would you like half of mine?" Talk about being humbled right then and there. A homeless man who probably hasn't had a hot meal in a long time (even if it is a sub-par fast food value meal), is willing to offer this other hungry person, whom he doesn't know from Adam, half of his burger. I don't know about ya'll, but I don't like to share my food. Especially when I'm hungry.

I interrupted, and looked at the other man, and said, "I'll be happy to go get you something too. What would you like?" He grinned, and said, "I want the same thing, but can I have an orange juice instead?" Of course.

It felt like I was dancing on clouds as I walked back to the car. I couldn't get back down to McDonald's fast enough, and I couldn't wipe the big smile off my face.

I laughed to myself as I pulled up to the window a second time in ten minutes. The girls at both windows didn't seem to notice that I'd not only ordered the same meal, but that I'd even been through before. And even though I'd ordered the largest orange juice possible, I was shocked when the 32-oz transparent cup full of OJ was passed through the window.

My heart hadn't stopped pounding, as I pulled back into the parking lot, and retraced my steps back to these two gentleman. They saw me coming, and the one requesting the juice jumped up from the bench, and began to flail his arms in joy when he spotted the bright orange liquid. "Oh man, you got some juice!" the other man said. Again, a big dose of humility. When's the last time I jumped up and down because of some orange juice?

He thanked me as I handed him the bag, and I asked their names. Vincent and Melvin. They asked mine. After another minute of pleasantries, we wished each other well and departed ways. I've not stopped thinking about them since.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Cost of Life

Did you grow up in a home where all of your basic needs were met and surpassed? Were you given the option for the higher education institution of your choosing? How much differently would your life look if none of the above applied?

"In spite of the commitments made by governments to provide free and compulsory quality basic education, millions of children remain deprived of educational opportunities, many of them because of poverty. In a world where 1.2 billion people live on less than $1 per day, education is perhaps the most powerful instrument for reducing poverty and inequality, improving health and social well being, and laying the groundwork for sustained economic growth." -- Global Kids

Global Kids is a NYC-based organization addressing the urgent need for young people to possess leadership skills and an understanding of complex global issues, in order to succeed in the 21 st century workplace and participate in the democratic process. Partnered with Microsoft, Global Kids created an online game called Ayiti: The Cost of Life, to create awareness in kids (and adults) of the cycle of poverty.

Help the Haitian Guinard family get an education and improve their lives. The game takes place over four years, divided into sixteen seasons. At the beginning of each season, each family member is given a role: work, school, or volunteering. You have different options for jobs, but you may or may not qualify. You have a variety of different schools from which to choose, but you may not be able to afford the "good ones." And while volunteering doesn't bring home the bacon, it contributes to your overall mental health in a positive way. So, in third-world Haiti, how do you contribute to your bottom line, pay for school, and stay healthy and happy at the same time? And don't forget about severe weather, political unrest, and the possibility of rogue violence.

Are you up for the challenge? This ain't your momma's Oregon Trail.

For more information, visit Global Kids and Unicef.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Training Wheels

For the past couple of years, I believe God has revealed to me time and time again that I am on the path to marriage. As a result, I've been keenly aware of the relationships between couples associated with my own life. I won't lie...I've been taking notes...of both the good stuff, and the bad stuff. Your marriage experiences are proving to be incredibly valuable to me, and it's realizations like this that make singleness in my late twenties worth so much!

Anyway, I recently read an article in Christianity Today about a woman who got so fed up with her husband's antics that she marched out one day while he was at work. When she got to her parent's house, her mom sat her down and had her make a list of all of the heinous things her husband did to tick her off. And then, her mother asked her to note how she reacts to her husbands actions out beside each bullet. You can read the complete article here.

Now, I'm not married yet, but this is already a good lesson for me. In the past couple of weeks, I've encountered a few situations where people that are close to me hurt me. And immediately, my reaction is anger, confrontation, bitterness, unkindness, distrust, pride, and so much more ugliness. My wise roommate Amy and I had a long talk last night about our attitude toward others that hurt us. How do we retrain our attitudes to exhibit grace and mercy? How can we put ourselves out there to pursue these people with love, when we're confident that love might not be reciprocated? We haven't come up with the answer to this yet, but we're working on it.

Another one of my wise roommates, Emily, made a comment recently that I find apropos in learning to love others: "I can't hold them responsible for something that Christ hasn't yet revealed to them."

Last week, I stumbled upon a blog called Refine Us. The co-authors of this blog are a husband and wife team who write a series called the "8 Things That Destroyed Our Marriage." The first reason is this: We rarely prayed together, and the way we prayed for each other was selfish.

So, as I apply this to my current single life in preparation for marriage someday, I realize that my prayers for others are selfish. When someone wrongs me, I don't default to prayer about how I will handle the fallout. Instead, I pray that God will convict them, that he will punish them, and that he will change their erroneous ways. I want justice! Clearly, my motives are a bit off. This has been a hard lesson for me to learn...ummm...still learning.

The point? I am in a unique position in life to learn these lessons before marriage. How thankful am I for the opportunity for independent growth in my twenties! What a blessing!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Spring Thaw

It's been more than a week since I've blogged, so I'll make up for it in one post...

The dates of my mission trip were set last week: July 11 - 19. I will be traveling to Los Angeles to spend a week fellowshipping with the homeless in the Skid Row area. Skid Row is a four-block district of downtown LA, home to the largest homeless population in the United States. Last Sunday night, I was privileged to meet the pastor of Set Free Skid Row Church and learn more about his ministry. Not only will I be able to serve alongside him in July, but my church is planning a homeless church plant for Nashville, based on the model created by SFSR Church. Expect to hear a lot about this in the coming months.

I went to the ENT doctor on Friday in an attempt to officially diagnose my recurring sinusitus. For years, I've blamed my crud on my ping-pong sized tonsils (or the weather), and so I was convinced that eradicating the suckers would be the answer to all my problems. My ENT feels otherwise. After describing my symptoms, he believes that it's not my tonsils, but my sinuses. He asked me how I felt on that particular day, and I replied, "fine, no issues." He laughed, and told me that was hard to believe, as my sinuses appear to be 100 percent blocked. So, this is my normal. Anyway, I have to get a CT scan at the end of the month to map my sinus cavity and determine if I have any polyps.

On another note, I encountered an opportunity last week that I am not at liberty to discuss in the blogosphere at the moment. It's possibly a large risk, but also has the potential to yield great reward and results in the future. I won't lie...I'm rather fearful about it, and am praying for discernment as all of this unfolds. More to come soon, hopefully.

Saturday night, I worked a fundraising event for Emily's employer. One-half of Montgomery Gentry was in attendance at the event, but heck if I knew it. I registered Troy Gentry, and for all I cared, he was just another schmuck with a fat wallet. I even asked him for his last name, and then I confirmed with a "Troy?" as I pulled the file folder. Am I the only one in Nashville that couldn't pick Troy Gentry out of a line-up?

This weekend, I realized that I am now out of three of my beloved lip glosses. The first, is Paul & Joe's 05 lip gloss, in a mauvy-rose-brown. While 05 still exists, the color changed. And my similar red-sparkly shades of Victoria's Secret Beauty Rush lip gloss in "Oatstanding" and Tutti Dolci lip gloss in "Apple Torta" are running extremely low. The problem? All of them are discontinued. Sigh...

As winter comes to a close, and an influx of early-spring warmth, I've become a little discontent with my singleness. It always happens to me this time of year. I'm lonely. To quote Al Green, "I'm so tired of being alone."

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