Friday, June 29, 2012

Five Minutes: Dance

Each week Gypsy Mama chooses a word to write about for five minutes. No editing, stream of consciousness. Today's word is: Dance.

Ready.  Set.  Write.

I love to dance, but I am not very good at it.  Oh, I can bust a move with the best of them, but when it comes to legitimate dancing, I'm not your Ginger Rogers of this decade.

Dancing is so freeing.  There is just something happy and energizing by a good twirl around the dance floor.  I remember my Mom dancing around in the kitchen being goofy and then stopping and grabbing her back and saying "whew, I'm getting old!"  Sometimes it was true, sometimes it was just her having fun.  I recently confessed to doing the soul train dance in the zoo parking lot years ago with friends.  The thing I love about a good soul train dance?  You are free to do whatever you want.  Google "soul train dance" and you'll find videos that prove my definition.  When you dance like nobody is watching, it's so uninhibiting.  I suspect one day I'll be dancing in Heaven because what happier place is there than that?  Plus, in Heaven, I'm sure I'll be an excellent dancer.

One day I would love to really slow dance with the man of my dreams.  Sappy and romantic, yes, but I've danced with many a man in my life...but not *the* man.  There just can't be anything more heartwarming than the embrace of the man that adores you swaying back and forth on the dance floor.  No special dance moves needed.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

50 Shades of Subversion

The latest phenomenon surrounding the Twilight-inspired trilogy, 50 Shades of Grey, has fascinated me.  When I first began to see the media coverage, and being a lover of books, I was curious the obsession about this book that was labeled by some as "mommy porn."  What I've discovered has caused me to ruminate over this blogpost for weeks, finally deciding to compile my thoughts.

Disclaimer: I haven't read the complete trilogy, so let the tomato throwing commence.  But, what I have done is read tons of excerpts, lots of synopses, and multiple reviews that were pro and con towards the book.  After diving into just this limited amount of information, I couldn't read the book, plain and simple.  To point out, I was raised by a Mom who stood adamantly against book banning.  I was allowed to read Judy Blume as a pre-teen under the supervision of my Mom to discuss my ever-evolving life as a woman, so I'm not a book burner.  If you've read the book, that's your choice.  My choice is not to read it in its entirety.  That's the beauty of freedom.  And the freedom I have to express my opinion on the overwhelming whirlwind this book has had in the market, especially women.

The book centers around Anastasia Steele, a 20-something college graduate who is enamoured by Christian Grey, a good-looking billionaire.  The story begins as the two of them become intwined in a BDSM relationship (if I've just lost you, Google it).  So much intwined that Anastasia signs a contract to allow Christian to have complete control over her life, primarily in the sexual context.  The trilogy continues with Christian revealing his childhood and background.  An adoptive, abusive mother on crack and an affair at 15 with an older woman add to the level of disturbing events that shadow Christian's life.  The trilogy ends (spoiler alert) with Anastasia and Christian married with a baby son.  A supposed happy ending from all appearances. 

Since I'm the target market for such a book, I'm really wrestling with why women are completely enamoured by this story.  As someone who pours my life in ministering to women, and most especially younger women, I'm somewhat disturbed at the praises this book has been getting. 

The irony that the female population today are fighting for equal rights and resists against submission to men in any capacity makes the embracing of this book perplexing.  Anastasia, and her "inner goddess" falls prey to a man who wants to manipulate and control her in a submissive way that was never intended between a man and a woman.  I am more "I am woman, get my door" than I am "I am woman, hear me roar" but any book that encourages women to engage in a relationship with a man whose intent is to control her for his own power trip and sexual pleasure is damaging.  I have spent time with many girls who struggle with their worth.  Without help and the truth that God finds them beautiful and worthy, they sometimes even enter into the world of inflicting physical pain on themselves.  Why would I want a book like this to get into the hands of a girl who already is seeking someone to give them attention, of any kind, for validation?  This apparent "happy ending" is far from what most reality is in these situations.

I can't speak on this topic without citing the One who created men, women and sex.  The One who created that a man and a woman unite in marriage as a picture of the Gospel Jesus sacrificed for so we could live.  The world gets caught up in the Scripture "Women submit to your husbands" yet fail to read on to the command to husbands in Ephesians..."Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her to make her holy, cleansing her with the washing of water by the word."  Read that first part again.  Love your wives as Christ loved the church.  That means that He died for us, the church.  In the same way, a husband should be ready to die for their wives.  Jesus didn't come to put us in bondage and treat us like slaves.  He came to free us from the bondage of sin.  As women, we are to submit to men who love us so much they would die for us.  I submit to Christ because He loved me so much He died for me.  Christian Grey is the epitome of the complete opposite of what God intends for His daughters. 

I've been asked multiple times to give my commentary on this book and I've honestly had a hard time landing on all that troubles me about this trilogy.  As a single woman, until God brings a man that loves me as Christ loved the church, I press on. My worth is in Christ, not in a contractual agreement with a man in need of a Savior.  What I do know is this is a perverted view of the relationship between men and women.  We have enough grey in this world.  We need more of the black of white of the Truth. 

Friday, June 22, 2012

Five Minutes: Risk

Each week Gypsy Mama chooses a word to write about for five minutes. No editing, stream of consciousness. Today's word is: Risk.

Ready. Set. Write.

There was a summer about 8 or 9 years ago that my group of friends donned "The Summer of Fun."  At the time I was unemployed due to my company closing and many of my friends at that time were in grad school and when the summer hit, I became a college student all over again.  We'd hang out during the week until all hours of the night (and wee hours of the morning) playing games and just being goofy.  One of the staple games of that summer was Risk.  A game of world domination, everyone is tasked with a separate mission as you each try to build up your armies and take over your part of the world.  Folks, this game was serious business.  You rolled the dice and it fell on the lost a turn.  There was one fateful night early on that my friend Chris almost lost his patience teaching Tracy the nuances of the game.  That's what happens at 3am.

This summer was memorable and when the weather warms, I think about that time.  Many of those folks have moved on in in Georgia...Manhattan...or raising a brood of children.  One of our expert Risk players is about to be the father of twins...his fourth and fifth child.  You might not think about a board game when the word "risk" is spoken.  But I do.  Over the years I've become a risk taker.  When I think about that summer of "risk" and fun, I realize that when we take risks...when we take those steps of faith...we have to step forward knowing that God has our hand the entire way...buckle up and have fun on the ride wherever it takes you.  I was unemployed that summer, not knowing where my next job would be.  My friends, though some employed, others were training for a future in ministry...ministry that would bring challenges they would have never believed. Yet, we laughed.  We had fun.  Risk was merely a game preparing us to walk a road of faith we would have never dreamed was ahead.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Five Minutes: Path

Each week Gypsy Mama chooses a word to write about for five minutes. No editing, stream of consciousness. Today's word is: Path.

Ready.  Set.  Write.

The sun is shining brightly and the breeze is blowing.  As I step outside my quaint cottage tucked away in the shady tree nook of the mountain, I follow the path to my special place.  The well-worn path reveals the daily treks to this quiet place, always allowing me to find my way everytime.

As I travel down the path, I notice all of God's creations - from blooming flowers to singing birds, and as I get closer to my destination, I smell a whiff of the glory to come.  At the end of the path there is a garden gate.  I unlatch the wooden entry and follow the path in to an encircled home of radiant flowers with vibrant colors and aromatic fragrance.  Just taking a deep breath is refreshing allowing me to leave the stress and worries of reality behind. 

The path twists and turns throughout this lovely garden until I stop upon my special garden swing.  The place where I can find refuge and peace.  That place where I can have long conversations with my Creator about the largest of problems, to the smallest of niggly issues.  He listens as I talk.  I listen for His Voice.  I share my hopes and dreams, which all seem a little bit closer to reality in such a perfect place.  I cherish the path that leads to my little garden of hope.

Friday, June 08, 2012

Five Minutes: Expectation

Each week Gypsy Mama chooses a word to write about for five minutes. No editing, stream of consciousness. Today's word is: Expectation.

Ready.  Set.  Write.

In my life in sales management, managing expectations with clients is top of mind all the time.  From proposing what we think they need and will buy, to keeping them calm along the way of their campaign when things are delivering slow or billing issues creep in.  It's a never-ending battle.

In my non-work life, I am the girl with high expectations.  I live life with big dreams and thinking everything I do will make a dent in eternity, every relationship I have will be shooting with fireworks and be life-changing and never-ending, and somehow, maybe be like Enoch in the Bible and just walk with God and one day death won't happen, I'll just go with God.

Everything in life has expectations.  And sometimes my Pollyanna attitude crumbles when my bright-eyed thoughts of what will be don't turn out that way.  Being the resilient soul that I am, I bounce back and move on to the next thing in my life with the same high expectations I've always had, never letting past disappointments tarnish my hope. 

I love the cartoon Animaniacs.  One of the characters on the show was little Mindy.  She was a sweet little clueless girl with a dog named Buttons who made sure from all her antics she didn't kill herself.  She was oblivious.  No matter the obstacles in her way, she kept on skipping along with a smile on her face and at the end of each episode, she'd reply, "Ok, I love you, buh-bye!"  That's me.  No matter the outcome of what I expect, I'll keep skipping along, smiling and saying "Ok, I love you, buh-bye!"

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

African Violet Theology

I don't have a green thumb.  I've always wanted to be skilled at growing beautiful flowers and showing them off to my friends and neighbors.  The only evidence of my gardening ability was growing sunflowers as a young girl.  Each summer I would plant sunflower seeds on the side of our house and so would our neighbor.  He and I would compete to see whose sunflower grew the tallest at the end of the summer.  The beauty of sunflowers is their ease in growth. You plant them after the last frost and they reach maturity in 90 days...the exact time frame of my summer vacation.  There are Polaroids somewhere of me standing next to one of my award-winning sunflowers, posing like Vanna White while it towered over me.  I was so proud!

But, since those days, I've not been able to grow a blooming flower for more than a month.  On my birthday last year, our receptionist at work gave me one of those potted miniature rose plants.  Although her motive in giving was in hopes I'd help her keep her temporary job, I was still thrilled to have a blooming plant to take a whirl with again!  Within a week, it was dead.  Folks, this is why I don't have a pet.  I fear I'd be a horrible caretaker and they'd post a "Please Adopt Me" ad on Craig's List. 

About two weeks ago, I decided it was time to jump on the gardening train once again.  I'm reading a book this month for my book club - The Language of Flowers - and it rekindled my love for flowers and plants.  I went to a local market that carries various blooming plants and perused the selection.  I saw the miniature rose plants and shivered at the thought of going that route again.  Then I decided upon the African Violet.  I love the color purple and they require sunlight, but not direct and not all day sun, so I had the perfect place in my house for it to live.  I decided while I was there, I'd buy a bottle of African Violet food to help boost my chances of survival.  Off I went, $9 later, with my plant and tons of potential.

Once I got home, I looked online about "how to care for African Violets" and all the signs to watch for to indicate imminent death.  I prepared my water with the food additive and placed the pot in a dish of my enhanced water for 30 minutes.  African Violet leaves aren't to get wet (a sure way to kill your plant) so you water them from the roots up.  After the plant was fully refreshed, I placed it in a fresh dish and positioned it in its new home.  Every few days I rotate it between waterings so it gets an even amount of sun.  So far, so good.

In caring for this plant, I was reminded of a good spiritual lesson.  Growing in Christ takes tending, feeding and nurturing.  We won't grow in Him if we don't take the time to be refreshed by His Word or spend time in the rays of the Son.  So many days I want to whisk through my Bible reading or prayer, when I need to place myself in the midst of the Living Water and let it saturate me from the roots out.  I'm a much happier and vibrant Rose when I don't neglect my care with the Lord.  As my little African Violet keeps progressing, I'll always be reminded of the importance of growing and progressing in my pursuit towards holiness. 

Friday, June 01, 2012

Five Minutes: See

Each week Gypsy Mama chooses a word to write about for five minutes. No editing, stream of consciousness. Today's word is: See.

Ready.  Set.  Write.

In second grade, I got my first pair of glasses.  After being tested thanks to the health checks public schools provided, my Mom was told I needed to be checked out by a doctor.  I remember the first day back in class after I started wearing my glasses, I told my Mom, "Gee, the chalk is SO white!"  (Yes, I'm that old that they had blackboards with chalk.)

As I got older my eyes got worse and I got more nearsighted.  Eventually I got brave enough for contacts and they completely changed my world.  No more steamed up glasses when I went from one temperature to another.  No glare at night from headlights.  And, I could actually wear sunglasses!  It totally gave me a confidence I didn't have. 

Due to my RA, I developed cataracts on both eyes. This side effect of my chronic illness is common, though it made me feel like an 80-year-old.  My opthamologist (I love saying that word) told me that when they were ready, he'd remove them and replace the lenses, which is the common procedure.  But, what was even more thrilling was the improvement I would receive because of it.  The lens replacements would restore my vision to near perfect, except for the astigmatism.  What an amazing feeling after I had each eye done and I could wake up in the morning and see my way to the bathroom and read my clock from across the room.  Thank you medical technology and a condition that insurance covered to do the procedure. 

I never take my sight for granted.  I love to observe, read, craft, bat my sparkly eyes.  What a blessing that little three-letter word is...See.