High Heels and Vanity: A Recipe for Disaster

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The last time I wore non-plus size clothes Clinton was in office. I had been confined to shopping at stores packed with elastic waisted pants and matronly frocks that made me look like Lulu from Duke’s of Hazzard, a woman known not so much for her sense of style but rather the size of it. In April of this year, “regular people” clothes started fitting. That first non-plus size, size 14 golf skirt that zipped snuggly around my hips at Dick’s Sporting Goods started a shopping frenzy that ended with me buying a pair of ripped up faded jeans encrusted with rhinestone crosses on the back pockets and a pair of cowboy boots that had red roses and turquoise hummingbirds up the sides. I looked more like a modern-day female version of Porter Wagonner than the conservative CPA I am.

A few weeks ago, I ended up in the dressing room at Anthropology. All the hip, trendy girls I know shop there. When you see a girl with a unique sense of style, kind of boho chic, that’s typically where she comes from. I decided it was time to venture to the place where the in-crowd bought their sophisticated styles. Being a size fourteen, and on the top side of it at that, I am still nervous about shopping at regular stores. There’s that moment in the dressing room where you think, “Oh Lord, don’t let that zipper bust or the side seam split.” “How will I explain this rip to the anorexic sales clerk?” “Can I just buy it half stuck over my head because it ain’t coming off without dislocating my collarbone and arms?”

So here I was in the fitting room of what looked like a virtual who’s who of the latest trendsetters. The moment I had dreamed of happened. I tried on a patchwork patterned shift dress with three quarter length sleeves and tiny gold buttons. It fit. Tears welled up in my eyes as I stared at my reflection in the mirror. I had been buying “regular” clothes for a while but this was different. This dress was young, fun, and trendy, a term I had longed to be associated with. I paid the clerk as she wrapped the dress in amber-colored tissue paper placing it in an Anthropolgy bag. It was my membership card to the cool club.

This past Sunday at Church, I wore the dress completing the look with the highest, hottest pair of cork heels you’ve ever laid your eyes on, a long gold beaded chain necklace and Kim Kardashian bun atop my head. You should have seen me. Any moment, I expected a phone call from Marie Claire magazine requesting a photoshoot.

Walking out of Sunday School, I stopped to chat with some choir members waiting to enter the sanctuary and lead morning worship. As I caught up on the latest choir news, I leaned against the wall like the cool head cheerleader in high school leaning up against the lockers envied by all the other girls crowded around. Then, out of nowhere, for no reason at all, I gave new meaning to the phrase “drop it like it’s hot”. I fell head first, sprawling out in the floor. I’ve heard of slain in the spirit but this was ridiculous.

As I quickly jumped to my feet hoping and praying no one saw what my gynecologist sees once a year, one of the onlookers asked if I was ok. “Yes, yes, if no one saw my panties, I am”. Thank goodness, no one did or at least, they had the common decency to lie even though we were in Church.

I learned a valuable lesson in that hallway Sunday morning, high heels and vanity are a recipe for disaster.

Proverbs 16:18 Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughtily spirit before a fall. (Literally!)image

September 11, 2001

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Twelve years ago, I was a young twenty-something heading to work as a secretary at a small law office, running late as was my tendency back then. Scanning the dial for a morning jam to wake me up, I heard a radio announcer talking about a skyscraper on fire. Still half asleep, I thought it must be the L & C Tower in downtown Nashville. No big deal, I supposed. Nashville’s finest was on the job. As I rushed through office door and slung my purse down on my desk, I noticed my boss and his wife standing in front of the TV. That was completely out of character for my employer, a lawyer/CPA in his late sixties who worked practically every day of his entire life, Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter included. He reserved TV watching during office hours for tornado warnings, presidential debates, congressional hearings and matters of national security. Something big must be happening.

It was New York. The World Trade Center. A building I had toured just five years earlier on a Christmastime trip with Granny Grey to the Big Apple to celebrate my 18th birthday.

We didn’t work and the phone never rang as we sat glued to the television trying to figure out what had happened. And then, out of nowhere the second plane hit. I can still feel the complete and utter shock that overtook me and hear the sounds of our horrified gasps as we realized what was happening. We were under attack.

I don’t remember crying at that moment. That would come later. My twenty-three year old mind could not comprehend what I was seeing, live footage from ground zero now being shown by the news stations. Periodically, you heard a thud, something large hitting the metal awnings of the tower plaza and saw what appeared to be large objects of debris falling from the towers. One of the announcers realized it was people. People who woke up that morning, made a pot of coffee, put on their business suits, grabbed the morning paper on the way out the door and headed in to work just like countless times before. People who stayed up too late watching Monday night football but made it to the office on time despite the fact. People who showered at the gym after a morning workout, munching a granola bar, just barely making the elevator up. People who hugged their kids as they pushed them out the door to school and kissed their spouses reminding them to pick up milk on the way home that afternoon. For the last time. The last touch. The last words.

We sat blank stares watching the news reports. Then, without warning, the tower began to fall amid a cloud of rubble and dust. I was frozen in fear, in shock and in sadness. The falling building seemed to collapse in slow motion. I don’t remember any words being spoken. There was nothing that could be said.

Over the next several days and weeks, my faith in God was shaken. Why did God let this happen? Why these people? Why that day? Why New York? Why not me?

There were no answers then. And, I don’t have any today. Instead, I have security knowing God is faithful, when I can’t feel him working in my life, when it feels like he’s not present and hope is gone, when it seems like I’m all alone and no one cares. God was there that day even in such darkness. With the firefighters planting Old Glory in the midst of the smoldering ruins, with the congregations across the country gathering for prayer that night, with the volunteers working tirelessly for days desperately seeking signs of life at ground zero. He was there, then. And, he still is.

May God continue to comfort our nation and the families of those lost that fateful day, September 11, 2001.

Ecclesiastes 9:11 I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.

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Get Over It, Perfectionist

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In keeping with my southern heritage, I am hosting a Mary Kay party tomorrow night. We Southern ladies have a long-standing history of hosting parties where you invite all your friends and then try to sell them Tupperware, various and sundry skin care products, overpriced home decor, seriously knocked off handbags, or kitchen gadgets galore all in hopes of free merchandise for yourself. I’m not typically into hosting these parties but a friend asked and since I had just noticed the beginnings of crow’s-feet that day, I couldn’t say no to a free facial. Now, I’ve got ten of my girlfriends coming over for dinner and Mary Kay facials.

As I was getting ready for work this morning reviewing this week’s schedule that makes the President’s look easy, I realized I never finished redecorating from a remodel we did last November. I realized the quilt on the guest bed looked like it had traveled the Oregon Trail with the first group of pioneers. I realized my Christmas china was still in the dining room china cabinet, something Brian and I hadn’t notice until last month. By then, we figured the year was halfway over so there was no use in changing it out now. I also realized the spare bedroom had become a junk room eerily similar to the ones on Hoarders.

So today between meetings and conference calls, I scrambled to Bed Bath and Beyond to replace a funky shower curtain, find a new comforter for the guest bed and pick up a couple new dish towels to freshen up the kitchen. After a hard day at the office, I got in a workout and headed home. Hopefully, Brian wasn’t expecting anything extravagant for dinner. I barely had time to eat today much less cook. In the fridge, we had lettuce, smoked turkey lunch meat and roasted veggies leftover from last night’s supper. I chopped it all up, squeezed a little lemon juice and olive oil over the top, threw it on a plate and called it supper.

After my whirlwind dinner, I went through the house like a speeding bullet hanging the new shower curtain, fluffing pillows and wiping down countertops working up such a sweat I could have skipped my afternoon workout altogether. In the midst of yelling chores to my husband like a Marine drill sergeant, it dawned on me, these ladies are my friends not inspectors from the health department. My girlfriends are coming over to eat, laugh and furiously try to stop the aging process not interview me for the latest issue of Better Homes and Gardens. My house is not dirty, just a little cluttered. Thank goodness I came to that realization before I tackled the back bedroom junk room. Lord knows how long that would’ve taken. My house won’t be photographed by Southern Living any time soon but it’s my taste, as weird and eclectic as they be, and I like it.

Right now, in addition to fighting the urge to self medicate with a boxful of craisins over my displeasure that my home is not being exactly like I want it, I am fighting the perfectionist in me who wants to call an interior decorator, hand her my credit card and tell her to make me the next Design on a Dime episode. I just have to let go. I don’t have to be perfect.

Well, ummm, except for one thing….I’ve got to make a midnight run to Walmart for two standard pillows to fill up those shams I bought at lunch. After that, I’m done whether its perfect or not. Unfortunately, I’m not a miracle worker because that back bedroom looking like a Goodwill Store erupted in it sure needs one.

2 Samuel 22:31 As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the Lord is tried: he is a buckler to all them that trust in him.
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Don’t Bother Jesus

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A few years ago, I stood during an especially moving alter service at my Church with my eyes closed and head bowed asking Jesus to help me figure out how to shed these unwanted pounds. I’m not talking about losing the ten pounds you put on in winter and drink Slimfast for the entire months of April and May to drop before swimsuit season. I’m talking about losing enough weight to keep from being charged for two seats on a Southwest flight.

At first, I was ashamed I had even asked God for help. I mean, I’m sure He had his hands full healing the sick, finding homes for orphaned children and soothing the mourning souls of widows. Who in the world was I to take up his time with this silly weight loss thing? All I had to do was give up cupcakes, cheddar cheese filled casseroles and anything fried. Add a little exercise and losing 100 pounds should be a piece of cake.(Ummm, bad analogy with the cake thing.) How could I bother our Heavenly Father with such trivial nonsense?

My mother in her practical spirituality told me, “God is concerned with what concerns us.” Couldn’t get any simpler than that but could it really be that simple? I sure hoped Moma was right because losing this weight was not turning out to be the cake walk I had hoped. (What is it with all these cake analogies?) I knew it was going to take more strength than I had to resist hot fudge sundaes at Bobby’s Dairy Dip, Moma’s crispy fried chicken, Sister Shubert rolls and midnight sackfuls of Krystal’s that left you praying at 3 o’clock in the morning for Jesus to take you and spare you from their heartburn misery.

At first, I thought it was beneath God to ask him to help with something that I should be able to control. I must be incredibly weak if I had to resort to this. Why couldn’t I do this on my own? Why did I have to worry about this in the first place? Why did I get the fat genes in the family? Why, why, why? In the infinite wisdom of a phrase coined by the Anheuser-Busch company, “Why ask why?”

I eventually quit asking God why and began asking him for help. I guess Jesus wasn’t too busy for me. It’s been about eighteen months and I’m down sixty pounds. Seems like Jesus was concerned with what concerned me. Either that or he’s had some down time between healing the sick and feeding the poor.

Moma was right. Shhhh, that’ll just be our little secret.

1 John 5:14 And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us.image

It’s All About Perspective

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A group of men from our Church went to Guatemala on a missions trip to do some constructionesque type work at an orphanage near Guatemala City. This morning the recently returned group took turns recounting details of their trip to our congregation. My father was among those men.

Almost every man who spoke mentioned a trip to the city landfill. On their one day sightseeing, a stop at the dump had been placed on their itinerary. Why in the world? Weren’t all landfills the same, full of people’s garbage? This landfill was unlike anything the men had ever seen. Hundreds, if not thousands, of people living in tents that dotted the landfill, pilfering through the heaps of trash, swarming the garbage trucks as their contents dumped upon the mounds of debris. Men, women, and children, many of whom were some of the over 350,000 orphans living in Guatemala.

All the men who spoke talked about their perspectives having been forever changed after having witnessed the goings on at the Guatemalan dump. Watching men their age not being able to provide for their families, watching children wander aimlessly with hopeless brown eyes staring back at them, or watching a mother and son wait to eat the scraps of food left over from their noon meal. Their perspectives had changed.

What’s my perspective? I gripe because I am bombarded with food every where I turn. A fat girl trying to drop some weight so she fits in the new fall line at Ann Taylor this season. I gripe because life’s not fair, some people eating cheeseburgers and French fries all day while I have to settle for grilled chicken and a tossed salad with just the slightest drop of balsamic vinaigrette. I gripe because instead of worrying about where my next meal will come from I’m fighting the urge to stop by Baskin Robbins for a banana split.

I’d love to tell you about how my husband begged me to make a pan of cornbread today and I enjoyed one slice sans butter, how I got in plenty of cardio this weekend even though it was hot as blue blazes, and how last night I tried a new recipe with Ancho Chiles, an ingredient that made me feel like one of the cheftestants on Chopped. But you see, after seeing the pictures of those men working surrounded by razor wire and guards armed with AK-47s, being told stories of literal vultures stealing food from children scouring the dump for what we wouldn’t feed a dog, and hearing the heartbreak in my father’s voice as he describe unimaginable poverty, it just doesn’t seem important.

At least not today. My perspective has changed.

2 Corinthians 4:17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.
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No Food on Facebook

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Last week, our gym challenged the folks there to take pictures of the food we ate and review it with our trainers. Thus, began my foray into food photojournalism. I took pictures of plate lunches filled with smoked turkey and cucumber salad, afternoon snacks of chocolate flavored protein smoothies, and boring breakfast of greek yogurt dusted with the most miniscule amount of granola, just enough to make the yogurt palatable. I neglected to take a picture of the enormous bowl of buttery microwave popcorn I had one night while watching Project Runway or the two bites of peach cobbler I stole off the counter at my Moma’s house. Go figure.

One night during the week, we had a family dinner at my parent’s house. After fixing my plate, I headed into the dining room where my twelve-year-old nephew was already going to town on a piece of steak. I pulled out my iPhone and took a picture of my plate filled with an eyeballed six-ounce portion of filet mignon, sautéed yellow squash fresh from someone’s garden down the road, mixed greens dotted with itty bitty grape tomatoes, and just a dab of horseradish sour cream, the perfect compliment to a juicy steak.

As the flash on my phone snapped, my nephew looked at me disgusted and said, “Please tell me you are not posting that on Facebook?” I explained to him what was going on at our gym and he sighed, “Thank goodness, those people that post pictures of food on Facebook are weird and you are weird enough, already.” I rolled my eyes as he snickered and commenced to eating the steak on his plate like a lion who had just run down an antelope. Facilitating the middle east peace talks probably takes less patience than teaching teenage boys proper table manners.

I continued to documents my food that week but under no circumstance did I post it on Facebook. I had been guilty of that in the past and could no way risk my teenage nephews thinking I was any less cool than they already did. The comments by my blonde haired, basketball loving, dare-devil with a bicycle nephew made me really notice all the food on Facebook. My goodness, if I made that Banana Pudding Poke Cake every time it appeared as I scrolled through my timeline, the cashier at the grocery store would think I was running the Nashville Zoo. Let’s not forget all the breakfast casseroles out there either. There’s about fourteen of them circulating, one where you take a few pounds of sausage, a couple of slabs of bacon, shred a block or two of Velveeta cheese, whisk with a dozen or so eggs, pour in a 9 x 13 casserole and top with frozen biscuits. You can hear your arteries clog as you swallow this greasy gooey concoction.

It’s not bad enough, I am bombarded by food as I watch TV or drive down the road passing fast food place after fast food place. Now, Facebook has become a virtual cookbook filled with pictures of delicious cakes, pies and crockpot meals. For the love of all things good and holy, give it rest with the recipes, Facebookers.

Can’t we go back to the good old days of Facebook before all the recipes? You know, when it was just juicy gossip, political bashing and ever-changing relationship statuses.

James 1:3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.

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Taking Back the Temple

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Wednesday night, Moma and I decide to skip our regular midweek church service. Our preacher was out of town on a mission trip and y’all know how I feel about guest speakers. Instead of going to our home Church, we went to the Church of a pastor who had long been friends of our family, a preacher who instilled a healthy fear in my adolescent mind preaching hell, fire and brimstone on a quite frequent basis. Not that it helped me stay out of trouble, just made me pray Jesus wouldn’t come back on a Saturday night. This man who had baptized my Daddy and laid my Pawpaw to rest had recently handed over the pulpit to his son to carry on the family business of saving lost souls.

As the newly appointed pastor brought forth the word, he spoke matter of factly from the book of Corinthians. He looked at the congregation of about fifty and said, “I hear there are several in the Church who are trying to lose weight. It’s a good thing cause I see several who need to.” Talk about not mincing words. This one time heavy-set preacher’s kid who now runs almost daily, trim and healthy, spoke about our bodies being the temple of God. Most of the time, preachers use this verse to warn against smoking and drinking but this guy who loved a good cheeseburger just as much as the next took this temple thing to a whole new level. A level that left many in the sanctuary squirming uncomfortably in their seats, me and Moma included.

Oftentimes, we think since we aren’t hitting the crack pipe in a dark alley and don’t have vodka bottles stashed in the linen closet for a secret sip, we are treating our bodies as the temple God intended. Maybe you haven’t thought that but I certainly had. Shoving buttermilk biscuits, sawmill gravy and fried pork chops in my mouth until my pajama pants cut off my circulation couldn’t qualify as a misuse of God’s property as far as I was concerned. Laying up on the couch letting my muscles atrophy until I was too weak to walk across Walmart’s parking lot without getting winded wasn’t what God had intended for my temple.

I don’t think the preacher was saying if you’re overweight, you won’t make it through the pearly gates. I certainly hope not because if that’s the case and the trumpet sounded today, I’d be in a world of hurt. I do think he meant that we shouldn’t let things like food or laziness control us and that God desires, and maybe requires, us to take care of our bodies.

Just like Jesus barging in the temple and laying the law down, it was time for me to take back the temple. Maybe that’ll make me think twice before I eat until my pajamas don’t fit. Lord help me, when they don’t fit. They’re already big enough for a whole Girl Scout troop to camp under.

God had made me a steward over one of his most prized possessions, ME. My temple was in need of some remodeling, might even have to take it down to the studs and start from there. I better go. I got work to do.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (AMP) Do you not know that your body is the temple (the very sanctuary) of the Holy Spirit Who lives within you, Whom you have received [as a Gift] from God? You are not your own. You were bought with a price [purchased with a preciousness and paid for, made His own]. So then, honor God and bring glory to Him in your body.image

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