Monday, 11 February 2013

Dropping our iPhones, iPods & iQs

So, it's 7:40 at night and I'm sitting in a small independent coffee shop, sipping on a 24oz oh-so-lovely Soy Chai Latte, which, by the way, does not have a bitter taste, despite the $6 price . . . for today it was free, (I had a coupon).

As I sit with my iPod and laptop, my favorite tunes are being drowned out by the overwhelmingly loud drum of female voices.The small cafe is packed tighter than my size ten thighs in these size six jeans. A quick head count shows fifteen women, all between the ages of thirty-five to fifty, divided into three groups with one lone ranger sitting by the window . . . that would be me. 

One group is having a book club meeting, but clearly none of them have read the book as they're discussing much, but nothing to do with literature.

The other table has binders open and appear to be a study group, although I can't imagine what such a mixed menagerie of peri-menopausal women could be studying.
And right next to me, a table of three who, if I were to assume by their appearance, must have met at a gym and are now each enjoying their fat-free, sugar-free, caffeine-free lattes, (or as they're called here, 'Why Bothers'). Their table also lacks muffins, cookies, brownies . . . or body fat. I immediately dislike them.
Behind me, the barrista is banging around, steaming and doing her thing and I wonder to myself, 'How did we get here?'
Thirty years ago, women my age would have been at home drinking their own coffee, at a friend's playing bridge, or perhaps in front of a tv doing the grape-vine with Jane Fonda. Now we spend $6 to sit in a noisy coffee house and fight to hear and be heard over others.
A new group comes in, and I watch, amazed. They order, then balancing their ridiculously over-priced drinks, in some comfortable, familiar ritual, drop their iPhones, iPods, and iQs on the table. As a generation, we've been duped. We buy things, that we really don't need or can afford, to impress people that-if we were being truly honest-we really don't like. How can we like each other when we're all putting on masks and pretending? Living lifestyles none of us can justifiably afford?
Vowing to get real with myself and my financial affairs, I'm suddenly aware that this may be my last coffee outing for a awhile. Tilting my head back, I am sure to get every last ounce of my oh-so-lovely Soy Chai Latte. Dropping all decorum, I use my finger to clean the foam off the sides too. Normally I wouldn't be so uncouth, but hey, what the heck, I won't see any of these women in here again. Besides, I was kind of hoping the table of skinny chicks would envy me for a change . . .  
(Wrote this back in March, 2010 but thought I would share.)
photo compliments of <a href="">Cup Of Coffee</a> by Petr Kratochvil 

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

WILD day at the SPA

I went to the spa the other day. Now, before you go jumping to conclusions, the last time I went to a spa was to get a pedicure—having not seen my feet in nine months.

My youngest is now sixteen-years-old.

So, no, I don’t schedule ‘spa days,’ nor do I ‘do lunch’ either, for that matter.  I am a hard-working middle-class mother who spends her disposable income on frivolous things like heat and toilet paper

This mid-week pleasure was due to a $90 gift card from a group of well-meaning upper-class citizens who, I guess, felt it was time they spoiled me. (Or perhaps they just got a glimpse of the rain forest growth on my chin and decided—EcoEarth or not—it was time for some clear-cutting).

Regardless of the motivation, I made an appointment at the local spa to get my first ever facial—at forty-seven-years old.

As it turned out, the days leading up to the great event were crazy. My oldest was leaving for her last semester of college (she was going out of country; I was going out of my mind) and I had numerous publishing deadlines to make as well. Having dropped the deserter college bound child off at the airport, I drove directly to my ‘day of pampering’.

I was greeted by a young, upbeat attendant whose body parts were even perkier than her demeanor. Looking around, I realized that I had underwear older than most of the staff.

No worries. I am here to be pampered. To be taken care of. To indulge!

She led me up the spiral staircase to the women’s lounge area. Once inside the teak-encased changing rooms, she handed me a robe and flip flops.

That’s when I realized what I had done.

Oh, the horror! Oh, the shame! Do I turn and run? Here I stood in the fanciest, most uppity place I had ever been in, surrounded by women who ‘fit in’ . . . and I hadn’t shaved anything in . . . seasons.

Understand people, that when I was a double-income, no-kids person, I would clean before the maid came. Standing there covered up in my jeans, runners and jacket, I already felt naked around all the la-de-da ladies. Ask me to strip down into a robe with legs that had not seen the sun or a razor since summer? I think not.

But, alas, there are cancellation rules that must be adhered to, and being Scottish in decent, I was not going to kiss off fifty bucks.

Clearly that is the price of my pride.

So, I went ahead and exposed my fuzzy legs to all while I enjoyed the steam, rain-shower, snacks and lemon water circuit several times. When they finally called my name for the classic facial I had sweat off at least five pounds of water weight. (I had chosen the ‘classic’ as it sounded so chic . . . and was the cheapest one on the menu.)

Ushered into a dimly lit room of tranquility, I slipped off my robe and hid my Neanderthal legs under the pre-warmed starched sheets. The technician quietly entered, and took her spot at the top of the bed, her warm hands wiping my face while she examined my neglected pores.

And then . . . it started.

The crummy commercial.

For the next hour, she gloriously exfoliated and wondrously massaged, her hands moving in almost nonstop, mesmerizing motions. Unfortunately, not only did her hands move nonstop, but her lips flapped at an even faster tempo.

Gifted, healing touches were defiled with sixty-minutes of constant product flogging.  For a minute, I thought about interjecting to ask her what on earth gave her the impression that I could afford a seventy-dollar cleanser? Was it my perfectly manicured hands? Oh wait, no, not one of my nails matched in length and I still had melted chocolate underneath a few of them. My sculpted body? No, the only figures I had been worried about were the ones in my bank account.

She was on auto-pilot and only doing what she had been hired to do. Up-sell.

McDonalds does it, Starbucks, even staff at Staples ask if you found everything you need. Why would I think a spa would be any different?

Because I was tired. And weary. And had waited over two years to use a precious gift card that I felt I couldn’t ‘waste’ on ‘just me’.

Sigh. So I left two hours later, thirty-five dollars over my gift card limit, a small pouch of free skin care samples tucked into my well-worn jacket pocket.

Walking in the door, though, my husband, Don, and my baby-girl, Mia, were speechless when they saw me. I thought for a brief moment that maybe it was worth the aggravation of listening to the never-ending commercial. I must be so youthful . . . so radiant.

Then, I looked in the foyer mirror; I looked like a corpse bride.

The last thing the technician had asked before I left was whether I would like a ‘complimentary mineral make-up’ application. She had me at complimentary.

I went upstairs and washed the make-up (and all the expensive products) off my face.

Lesson learned. I am not a woman who does spa days nor do I think I really want to be. I guess I'll just continue to pamper myself with superfluous things like . . . heat and toilet paper.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

So Done With Stuff

I was out driving with my sixteen-year-old, Mia, when she said something so amazing, I found myself covering my mouth in shock, (once I pried my white knuckles off the dashboard).

She told me . . . that . . . she . . .  was . . . "So done with stuff."

Now, to put things in perspective, we were driving around one of the nicest neighbourhoods in Lynden, Washington and I was oohing and aahing over the lovely lawns and different architecture. I mentioned that one of the houses was just like the one we had looked at buying last year.

And that's when she declared her freedom from the bondage of consumerism. Never had I been more proud. And relieved.

She went on to say that she was just, "Over it."

As a typical mom, I wanted to 'shrink her' and get a full definition of exactly what this entailed. But, in God's grace and mercy, He shut me up and I just mumbled an encouraging, 'Good for you, God can really use you if you are free and content.' Or something to that affect. I don't really recall WHAT I said as I was still reeling and bursting with joy for her maturity at such a young age.

So many of us struggle with filling our closets and homes with 'stuff' that we think will fill a void or make us happy only to find ourselves frustrated later with clutter. I know for years I was a shopaholic and blew way too much money on clothes. It was . . . out of control! I was addicted to the warm, fuzzy feeling from getting a good deal or buying something pretty. Until my Visa bill came and then the only fuzzy feeling I felt was nausea.

For others-especially men-shopping or acquiring things is just a way to 'keep up with the Jones' not realizing that the Jones maybe even more unfulfilled than ourselves.

Anyhow, my daughter's epiphany twigged my memory of one of my all time favorite VeggieTales movie.  Check out Madame Blueberry!  Watch it with your tinies, tweens or teens. Or with your friends. Or by yourself. Just watch it . . . and then send me a message when you've cleaned out your attic, garage and storage.

Because there is such freedom in being 'So done with stuff!'

Jump In!

This morning I was asking the Lord to fill me . . . but at the same time, I had been meditating how in Ephesians He tells us again and again that we are in Him!

His Spirit lives inside us, but He also surrounds us . . . but we get to choose how much of His Spirit and presence we will take in.  Immerse yourself!

Had this picture in my head and after trying all kinds of different vases (unsuccessfully) I found these two fit.

Which is funny . . .  because HE IS THE REAL THING!

Be filled and surrounded today!

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Super Bowl Sex

(Disclaimer: the following is a true story but contains mature subject matter and may be disturbing to some readers)

Our eyes met and in a brief, half second glance, I knew she was in trouble. Car still in motion, without any thought of my own safety, I opened the door and beckoned her to come to safety. She jumped in, only to be attacked seconds later by a previously rescued girl in the seat next to her. Throwing the car into park, I leapt from my seat to separate them as they were now duking it out on the pavement. Suddenly my forehead came into contact with God only knows what. Stars floated before my eyes and I could feel a lump expanding along my hair line.

Gathering my wits, I stood and looked up and down the road. In a split second, the terrified girl was gone. I searched for hours but the opportunity to rescue her from the street was lost. It happened so quickly, I was merely a bystander in the girl on girl drama. I cried out. People stared but I did not care. She clearly communicated she wanted to be rescued, and I let her down. I was devastated.

I had been reading on Fox News just that morning about sex traffic victims that had been rescued in New Orleans. They had been brought into town to meet the higher demand that so often occurs at events like the Super Bowl. Encouraged to hear that people were making a difference, I posted a few educational posts on Facebook and determined to do whatever I could to help as well.

Truth be told, my story took place in my own suburban hometown, not New Orleans. And, the damsel in distress was not a sex traffic victim, but rather a lost, scared puppy.  The dark antagonist . . . my territorial terrier.

The whole ordeal got to me though. The look in the lost dog’s eyes would not leave me. They haunted me as I tried to get my Saturday chores done, sending me out again and again, leash in hand, to walk up and down the road searching for her. I imagined her huddled beneath a bush, cold and scared . . . or worse, a victim of the busy street.

Finally letting go and allowing myself a much needed shower, I cringed when my hand brushed up against my forehead. The bump was in full form now and too tender to even approach with shampoo. I allowed myself a few tears for the mangy mutt that stole my heart.

“God, why? Why would you allow me to grab her, only to have her run? Where IS she? Please let me know she is safe. ” As I often do when I pray in the shower, I leaned forward to press my forehead against the tile, only to have the tiny, tender lump send me recoiling back. “Ouch! God, seriously? Why?”

And then, as only can happen when you’re truly broken before the Lord, He answered, “The girls in New Orleans."

If I was upset before, I was now crushed beyond what I could bare. The eyes of that sad, scared pooch and my irrational, instant decision to risk all to reach out to her. The pain I was feeling for one small hit when sex trafficked girls get viciously beaten regularly.  God took this whole puppy interlude to show me His love for these girls. To remind me how desperate and scared they are. How he wants us to care. To take action. To reach out. To pray!

Before my brief dog encounter, I had planned to be involved in spiritual warfare all weekend. But, in typical ‘busy Lori’ fashion, instead I got distracted by a messy basement and was only half-heartedly praying for the 2013 Super Bowl city and all the darkness surrounding it.

But, He used the heart-wrenching eyes of a stray to compel me to truly intercede in prayer.  

Please join me! Pray for the victims, those who are out trying to rescue them, and lastly, pray for the men who drive the demand. Jesus died for them too.