Saturday, June 29, 2013

And then Jesus

At times I think if I can close my eyes quickly enough; I will miss it: the reel-to-reel replay in my mind.

I never do.

The full feature tumbles through my brain. Colored bits of a lie, an argument. Hazy grays and soundless pictures so that I shake my head to scramble them. And all over again I'm angry, embarrassed, shamed. 

Forgetting is hard, even though our souls bathe clean. Each of us sure that mine is different. Too much, too big, too bad for anyone to fix. And so we inch forward, heavy, like Atlas and his world.

It came one night, and e-mail from my dad. The refrain, simple. "And Jesus....and then Jesus" Nothing so great that those three words can't make them right, nothing too real, too ugly.

I was lost AND THEN JESUS found me. I was hungry AND THEN JESUS fed me. I was a wretch AND THEN JESUS saved me.

And then Jesus..........

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

We're mad at Paula Deen

“We’re mad at the Clearmans.”

First thing said as my great Aunt Dottany opened the door to my grandmother’s house. It was the 1950s and the drive from Tampa, Florida, to Hattiesburg, Mississippi, longer than now.

No hugs. No kisses. Just that the Foster girls were mad at their cousins. My great aunt’s response? “Yes, we are.”

Allegiances run deep.

And so I am mad at Paula Deen. Mad at her excuses. Mad at peers on Facebook that say her comments “aren’t really that bad,” “she grew up in the South,” “even black people use that word.”

I recognize that I am not black. I am a middle class, nearly middle-aged white woman. I grew up in a suburb in a coastal southern town. My first boyfriend had blue eyes and blonde hair and listened to Megadeath. My family were regulars at the large Baptist church on the beach.

Every day I am reminded that I am not a woman of color.

And every day I am reminded that my heart is.

It walks forever outside of my body is the beautiful creation that is my daughter, born of me and a black father. In the eyes of the law, she is black; in the eyes of the world, she is “something.” It is a question that has been posed more than a thousand times since she was born. “Is she Mexican? Hispanic?” “Her dad must have a great tan!” “She’s mixed, isn’t she?” This last one is usually whispered.

I taught her early. Always be proud and respond honestly. “I’m half black and half white.” Or “I’m mixed race.” There is no shame in any of her heritage. When she was younger, she had a move she did with her answer, “I’m mixed like a smoothie!” *hip shake* *shoulder shake*

But having to explain to her, at 4 years old, why she was the only one in an entire class not invited to a birthday party.

Having to explain that “n@gger” doesn’t mean ugly or black. Watching her 5 year old face when Barack Obama became president. “He is mixed like me!”

Listening to my former boss use the phrase “blue gum” in 2011 and not understand why I was outraged.

Having a family member tell me that “It is [my] own fault” that we experience racism because I decided to have a baby with a black man.

Those are why I’m mad at Paula Deen. I don’t know her, likely I never will. And I don’t know if what remorse she has displayed is genuine. But I do know, she didn’t readily admit (to any public knowledge) to this series of utter shameful moments when she cashed her Food network checks. And I have to wonder without being found out, would she ever have had a mea culpa?

To those who have said we’ve all made mistakes, yes we have!
But did she need think of all those people she was hurting by having a plantation wedding? Using racial slurs? A “sambo” burger?

To those who said she grew up in the Deep South in an era where “the N word” was used frequently. So did my grandmother. She used the word until the day my daughter was born. She told me once that loving my child suddenly made it very real to her, that every time she heard the word after that she thought of my baby’s face and how 70, 60, 50 years ago my child would have been treated. She forbade others from using it in her presence. She was nearly 80 and in Mississippi. Her change was genuine.

But I’m angrier at all of us! Why aren’t we all outraged, incensed? Why is it still acceptable to use racial slurs? Why is it acceptable to glorify the Civil War-era? Why don’t people see how these things can be offensive?

And why should I be told that I’m “sensitive because [baby girl] is mixed?”
I’m sensitive because it is wrong. It hits home because I have a mixed race child, because I see it almost daily. It is my prayer that one day I won’t.

But until then we’re mad at Paula Deen.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Like Lot's Wife

I wonder her name,
if Lot called it out as he felt
her start to pull away.
Or did he just let her turn,
Another reminder he could be rid of?

Quiet voices tell me to leave it all at
The Cross.
Just lay it there, at the feet of Jesus.
They never know
how to keep from picking it back up.
Until the path to His feet is tear-stained and threadbare
and you wish He would just let you forget.

It is the price of forgiveness.
Having to remember.
Just as the price of faith is
having no neon sign.

Over my shoulder I see it.
The Sodom of my making.
Beneath the shadow of His outstretched hands.
Knowing he will make it whole,
if I can leave it long enough.

Thursday, June 13, 2013


Downsizing seemed like a good idea. Until I was knee deep in baby girl's clothes, our books, papers. Oh my.

I lost everything. Once. Katrina.   How did so much stuff materialize so quickly? (My dad references George; Carlin's "Stuff" routine here.) And why does it matter so much? Last summer, I joined other bloggers during the summer of 7. Getting rid of stuff was fun then. A challenge. A competition?

But now. Moving in a few days. And about half the room. It is these occasional times I wish my ulcer would allow some wine. It doesn't.

So we sold. 4 chairs, 2 stools, statues, odds, ends. We gave away. I quit counting at 78 pieces of clothes and 13 pairs of shoes. We threw away. (Judge me here for not recycling or up-cycling.) And still moved more stiff than our new digs could hold.

And with our new 3 room place (Yep. Ours. Hers. Living/Dining/Kitchen) I was determined not too overcrowd.

So truckloads went to the Palmer Home thrift. And more to the trash. (Again. Judge me for my lack of green-ness. I was overwhelmed!)

And our rooms turned from cramped to cozy.

Around me I see the vase a friend brought back from India almost 15 years ago and the cake stand that I love. She sent it for a wedding gift. It holds our fruit.

Elizabeth is there. Husband and my  good friend. It was she who stood in when a parent was needed and mine were states away. The vintage Fiesta ware displayed on shelves built by a cousin.

The table that survived. Placed in the corner where Husband said it would look best. He was right.

The brown mug that Cathy and Vicki gave him. We smile every time.

There is the shelf that fell while Dad and Husband put them up. Two good men. Falling in love with one helped me begin to appreciate the other.

The brown pottery bird. The one Mom gave me the day I ran away from home. Old enough to know better, stubborn enough to still go. I brought it with me a month later when I returned. The first time I saw the prodigal son play out live, in person, in love.

This is the home we're building. Small enough so as to not be wasted. Big enough to hold all that is dear.