Grits and Ice Cream

I’ve been slack in the blog department lately. I haven’t been slack in writing, just in blogging. Now that the manuscript of my book is complete, I’ve been working on the not-so-fun stuff like getting all of the front matter components ready for submission, copy editing, proofreading, and learning about the Chicago style of source citation. Before I go any further with this, let me say a word or two about the book. It’s something I’m self-publishing with Inspiring Voices, a house associated with Guideposts. Does it bother me to go this route, the self-publishing one? Not at all. Sure, I’d prefer to have a contract with a major publisher, but well, that’s a subject for another day.

This morning I’m postponing my editing and jotting a few things down so that I won’t forget some thoughts and impressions of the weekend. If you’re interested in some ramblings of a regular person describing some specific events and revelations, read on. If not, then feel free to skip forward to the next blog. However, I can pretty much guarantee that something in here will strike a responsive chord if you stick with me.

Friday was what my husband described as a good day. He’s right. We got to do and see several things that wouldn’t have been possible had we been living in another country, say Libya, or if we’d made different choices in our younger years. For instance, if we had dropped out of college and taken a different career path, we’d probably have to work on and on and on and not had the freedom to have a play day on Friday. Our son-in-law Kacey remarked that he’d sure like to have a Friday off to do what he wanted to, and I glibly replied that if he worked another thirty years, then he could. Choices, choices, choices.

Before we saw Kacey, we had already visited Whitney’s school for Grits for Grandparents. It was a delightful experience. Not only was the breakfast tasty, but the ambience was energizing and fun too. Loved the ice crystals in the orange juice. Kids were laughing, holding their grandparents’ hands, and gaily greeting each other. I haven’t been in a school cafeteria in a couple of decades, and this one was especially nice.

Scenes of the Lugoff community were painted in murals all around the room, and we particularly liked the one of the old Pecan Station, a landmark that stood for years in the fork of two main highways leaving Lugoff for Columbia. Whitney’s favorite painting is of the bridge between Camden and Lugoff, and she took me over to get a closer look. Giggling, she pointed out the tiny mouse sitting in a float, chilling on the river.

We chatted with several children and adults while in the school, and every conversation, sight, and sound told me that while there might be some things we could improve in public education, there is also some excellent stuff going on. For instance, Aunt Brenda who works at the school, reminded us that it would soon be time for art, thus stressing the need for structure and schedules. There were people everywhere, big ones and little ones, and it was fascinating to watch the interaction between them. Being in school prepares children for what’s ahead in life, whether work or community service or being a stay-at-home-mother. A person has to learn how to interact with others.

Moving along, we then visited with Kacey at his restaurant and were amazed and impressed with the changes he’s making. With an hour before we were due at Sallie’s school for ice cream, we stopped by Lauren’s to see Baby Charlie. Lauren was volunteering at Hannah’s school that morning, and I thought of how marvelous it would be if more mothers could and would spend a few hours per week at their children’s school(s). Not only would it send a clear message to the children that education is important, but it would also help the teachers.

Jumping in the truck, we then headed to Sallie’s school in Blythewood for an ice cream party arranged for grandparents. Sallie seemed genuinely glad to see us, but as soon as she’d eaten her chocolate ice cream, she was eager to get up and run and play with her friends. It was delightful to watch all of the children run and play with such energy and joie-de-vivre.

Leaving Blythewood, we ran errands and then went to see The Debt. Two of six people in the theatre, we couldn’t help but note the merits of coming to an earlier show. We could sit where we wanted to, and it didn’t cost as much. Munching on popcorn, we sat back and enjoyed the show. “Enjoyed” might not be the exact word I’m looking for here. While it was riveting and suspenseful, it was also unsettling at times, and I still feel a little tightness in my chest when remembering the train station scene.  Helen Mirren was excellent; so were the rest of the cast.

Saturday was spent “homecaring,” writing, walking (training for OBX half marathon in November), shopping, and attending a birthday party for a two-year-old. His grandmother had invited me, and I rarely turn down a opportunity to celebrate, especially when cake and ice cream are involved. Luckily for me, there were some “sisters” there, and we chatted about girl stuff. Little Jacob’s sweet mama is in Charleston receiving chemo this morning, and my thoughts and prayers are with her and her family.

Sunday was great. Before, during, and after church, I picked up a lot of food for thought. For instance, I began the day by rereading some of C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity and was enlightened on why men should be the heads of families. It has to do with emotions and is too involved to go into this morning.  Although I was at first inclined to differ, I could soon see Lewis’s point. More on this later!

At church, what I primarily thought about was the importance of families. Neither years nor distance can completely separate us; we’re connected. For some reason, I felt especially near to my parents yesterday. It was almost as if their spirits were close-by. (If my sister reads this, she’ll declare that I’ve gone bonkers so let’s keep it between us).

After a pizza and salad lunch with DH, I worked on a photo journal book that I’d purchased from Living Social (great deal), read, and walked. Later we watched a Madea movie, and in-between the laughter, I kept thinking that it’d be so cool to have someone like her in charge of kids today. We both loved the part when she slapped the smart-mouthed, disrespectful child not once, not twice, but several times. He never had a problem saying, “Yes Ma’am” after that. It’s not that we advocate harsh physical discipline. It’s that we think children should respect their elders, mind their manners, and do what they’re told. If they don’t, they’ll have a tough row to hoe in the working world.

So yes, it was a nice weekend. I was reminded of the value of attending school and of the terrific job the teachers and staff members are doing. I got to visit schools, attend a birthday party, glean some gems from reading, rub shoulders with some of my favorite folks at church, create a photo journal about the beach, and view a couple of really good flicks. I also got to talk to Izzy and see Michelle’s pink sparkly shoes, things that wouldn’t have happened if I’d stayed home from church. And lest I forget, I got to walk under a full moon and while talking to my daughter and one of my brothers on the phone. It’s all good.

Yes and No

I’ve been pondering about why some people seem to delight in making disparaging remarks about other people’s religion, including mine, and wondering why in the name of heaven they do that. As my sweet mama would have said, it’s uncalled for. Does it bother me? Yes and no

There’s nothing like a brisk walk in the chilly, invigorating fall air to stimulate some deep thinking. For sure, not all of my thoughts were deep (Where did she get that cool jacket? What size turkey should I buy for Thanksgiving? I need to vacuum my car.), but some were.

I was thinking of how some people seem to delight in making disparaging remarks about other people’s religion, including mine, and wondering why in the name of heaven they do that. As my sweet mama would have said, it’s uncalled for. Does it bother me? Yes and no.

Yes because no one wants to be insulted, and when one’s religious views are mocked, it’s hurtful. I’m not sure whether it’s because the person (me) identifies with the religion so much that attacking it seems like a personal affront or what.  But here’s the real reason for yes. It’s upsetting because “sweet is the peace the gospel brings,” and I’d like for everyone to feel that same sense of serenity and calm. So yes.

But no too. No because whether people join me in my belief that God is our Eternal Father and that Christ is His Son and the Savior of the world doesn’t change the truthfulness of it. I LOVE the writings of C.S. Lewis, and I’m copying something right out of Mere Christianity. “Perhaps we feel inclined to disagree with Him. But there is a difficulty about disagreeing with God. He is the source from which all of your reasoning power comes….When you are arguing against Him you are arguing against the very power that makes you able to argue at all: it is like cutting off the branch you are sitting on.” Gotta love that!

So yes and no. I was thinking yesterday of a verse in John that I recently discovered. Christ has just asked the twelve if they will go away, and Simon Peter answers, “Lord, to whom shall we go?” Exactly. Where else is there? Who else? What else?

Cold, Self-Righteous Prigs

I recently rediscovered C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity, and while the entire book is fabulously thought provoking, one particular passage grabbed my attention earlier this week. My daughter Elizabeth and I were talking about sin, what it is and isn’t, and what it means to be a follower of Christ. Is it a sin to miss church a Sunday or two? Is it sinful not to pay tithing? How about committing adultery? Is that sinful? Is gossiping about other people wrong enough to be considered a sin? Is homosexuality a “sin against nature” that offends God? As we were chatting (I was doing most of the talking while she listened somewhat patiently), I recalled a passage from Mere Christianity. I loved it when I first read it, and I love it now. It’s fantastic.

 

“If anyone thinks that Christians regard unchastity as the supreme vice, he is quite wrong. The sins of the flesh are bad, but they are the least bad of all sins. All the worst pleasures are purely spiritual: the pleasure of putting people in the wrong, of bossing and patronizing and spoiling sport, and back-biting, the pleasures of power, of hatred. For there are two things inside me, competing with the human self which I must try to become. They are the Animal self and the Diabolical self. The Diabolical self is the worse of the two. That is why a cold, self-righteous prig who goes regularly to church may be far nearer to hell than a prostitute. But, of course, it is better to be neither.”

 

That’s pretty powerful stuff, Folks. The church pews are filled with self-righteous, back-biting, gossipy people who tend to judge others unfairly and who are so filled with pride that they’ve forgotten the source of all their blessings. At the same time, there may be someone who’s “strayed” from the path and yet who has a heart full of love.

 

Which had you rather be? Can you see yourself in both? I’m not enough of a Christian scholar to know for certain why Lewis felt this way, but I’m wondering if it’s because the sins of the Diabolical self hurt other people so much. What do you think?