My Fancy Pants Weekend: A Pictorial

Alternately titled: A million pictures of me.

I took a walk and was all “What’s up 90210?!”  Thank goodness no one was around.

I spent a lot of time here.

We may or may not have eaten free cupcakes at Sprinkles (thank you social media) and then headed down the street to Crumbs and had another free cupcake…at 10:00 in the morning.  Don’t judge.

Talking with Don Hahn, producer of The Lion King.  The photo is blurry, I know.  I am dying to get my good camera back from her stint at the spa.

Because I might be the biggest nerd ever, I thought Robert Neuman’s presentation on how they took the original 2D animation and made it 3D was incredibly fascinating.  He used terms like Stereoscopic and Depth algorithms.  When Sloan started complaining about math today, I told him about Newman and told him stick with it, because he might be able to make cartoons someday.

Who knew math could be fun?!

We got an hour long African Dance lesson.  It was so fun!

My favorite part of the whole weekend was meeting Tony Bancroft (Pumbaa’s Supervising Animator) and Mark Henn (Simba’s Supervising Animator).  They were funny, amazingly talented and have drawn many of the most beloved Disney characters of the past 20 years.  Mark Henn drew Ariel, Tiana and Belle just to name a few.

We each got a signed picture to take home.

Who needs Valentino when you can bust out this rockin’ dress that cost less than ten dollars?!

 

What's with the face? I just don't know...

Meeting Moira Kelly, the voice of adult Nala.  She was so lovely and friendly and down to Earth.

Walking the red carpet green astroturf and smiling like a Cheshire Cat.

Listening to an Organist inside the El Capitan theater play Disney hits.

 

Headed into the After Party

Rick Schroder. Because I am a proper child of the ’80′s.

With Melissa Joan Hart and Jen. Notice the ridiculous amount of swag in my hands.  I collected all that I could to bring home to the kids so I wouldn’t have to buy gifts.  Thrifty, I am…

 

I ended the party with the obligatory self photo in front of the Hollywood sign. You see it, right? And again, I don't know why with the face...

I finished my day relaxing poolside at the Beverly Wilshire.  Not bad for a minivan mom from the midwest, eh?

It really was a fun, wonderful weekend and I felt totally in awe of the opportunity.  I’m also so glad it was to cover The Lion King.  I had forgotten what a wonderful (epic?) film that was.  I have seen it so many times, but there was something magical about seeing it on the big screen again, particularly with the 3D effects.  I will definately be taking my kids to see it.

My official post on the film and the movie will be posting live over at 5 Minutes for Mom in a couple of days.  Happy Wednesday, friends!

Disclaimer: Disney and Click Communications paid for my travel, hotel and food expenses for the three days I was in LA.  I was not compensated for this or any other posts.  Any and all opinions expressed are my own.

Third World Symphony: Not for the Simple-Minded

Alright, friends, lean in close.  Im’a bout to get real with you.

I’ll be the first to admit that I am one with deep faults.  I just am.  I know what most of my flaws are, although every once in awhile a new one (or old one that had been ignored, whatever) crops up that takes me by surprise. 

You mean I have to deal with that now?!

One of my biggest struggles and greatest weaknesses, however, is one I’ve known about a long time.  It just may be the thorn in my flesh.  Simplicity.

How is simplicity a fault (sin – let’s call it what it is)?

I’ll tell you.

I’m a “Jesus Loves Me This I Know” sort of person.  I always have been.  I’m not analytical.  I don’t sit and question and ponder and search and try to figure things out.  Since I was a child, I just knew and accepted my Faith as my own and I’ve never ever doubted who Jesus is – not to the world and certainly not in my life.

This is my greatest weakness – but it’s also my greatest strength.  It means that very little has ever shaken my faith.  Even the nasty, ugly trials of life never really knocked me off the foundation of who I believe God is.  And I’ve been through some ugly.  I’ve questioned Why, not ever really expecting or needing an answer but just because it felt good to ask, “Why, God?”

But in the end, I am very comfortable with the answer, “Because I Am.”

This spirals into weakness, however, when I find myself with little urgency to seek scripture for answers outside of, “God is Love.  God is Grace.  God is Mercy.”  I just don’t seek Him.

But blogging has challenged me in a lot of ways – or,more specifically, reading blogs has challenged me.  And the blogger that has most challenged me to think outside of my simple little box is Shaun Groves.  You’ve heard me mention his blog here before – I’m kind of a stalker.

Creepy.

But the fact of the matter is that Shaun’s writing has encouraged me in so many ways to search deeper into scripture.  Why do I believe what I believe?  What do I understand about God and who He is regarding the deeper issues of life?  Who is God?

Today, Shaun released his new album, Third World Symphony.  Inspired by his work with Compassion International, Shaun began writing and developing this album sometime last year.  And he brought his blog readers along the journey as he sought and wrote and dug into the heart of the gospel.

In case you hadn’t heard, this move has been kind tough on Lee and I.  Really tough.  Hard. About a week after we came down here, as I was wallowing in emotions, I hit play on Third World Symphony.  I had heard rough cuts of several of the songs, but this was the first time I listened to all of them.  And I sat in bed and wept.

You know that moment when lyric and song blend perfectly into a melody that doesn’t just please your mind but rather stirs your soul?  The moment when you hear harmonies so lovely that your stomach flip flops and your lungs constrict?  Yeah…I had a couple of those moments.

The album is really good.  You can see for yourself just how good it is by going here and buying a copy.  As an added incentive, when you purchase the album, I will personally send you telepathic fist bumps and feelings of all over awesomeness.

You. Are. Welcome.

I was not asked to write this post.  I just wanted to help spread the word about the album in the hopes that you can be as blessed by it as I was.

The End.

First Day of School: Homeschool Edition

Our beachside elementary school officially opened its doors yesterday. Children with a deep need for routine made beginning a week earlier than planned a necessity.  And so, with a great deal of excitement mingled with even greater nervous energy, we began our first day of school.

I got out of bed, my feet hitting the cold tile floor and my stomach flipped upside down.  Getting dressed, I seriously entertained the idea of packing the kids up and driving to Tampa to enroll them in school.  I looked in the mirror at the wide, scared eyes staring back.  What if I fail?  What if I irrevocably screw them up for life?  What if  damage our relationship with one another?  What if…

And then I stopped.  Took a deep breath.  Prayed.

What if this is the best thing that ever happened to our family?  What if I choose to rest in the now and what has clearly been laid out before us?  What if it’s fun?!

And that was it.  I walked out of the bathroom and down the hall and began an adventure I never thought I’d take.  And dare I say…we had fun.

Preapring to begin our day.

Walking to school. Really, we just made a huge circle and came back home.

There's something for everyone to do. Although my guess is Landon asked me roughly 462 times if he could please play the Ds.

The letter ‘F’ was on the docket for the first day.
Snack time was combined with recess.
Recess was at the park.
Picnic lunch on the floor in a pillow fort.
Landon gets hold of the camera while I’m not looking and takes 56 pictures of my backside.
Math, Geography, History and Literature are covered.
We covered Russian as well.
At the end of the day, we made our walk back home.

 

Whew…

Today we get to do it all over again.

I think I’m excited.

On Eve, Valentino and that Juicy Red Apple

The heat of the day made the walk pleasant, the sun lighting my face and quickening my step.  An unexpected blessing of a weekend, added to my list of gifts, made my steps light – my heart full.  Life, when looking through the glasses of thankfulness, is no more than a series of gifts strung together.  Thank you, Ann Voskamp, for helping me to better see and understand that.

I walked Rodeo Drive with wide eyes, unaccustomed to strolling amidst such wealth.  I came upon the Coach store and stepped inside, the girl in me clapping her hands with excitement.  I don’t even carry a purse – never have.  But I appreciate them and have convinced myself that I could learn to love it if the purse was made of spun gold, as I imagine the Coach purses to be.

I strolled and oohed and aahed.  I touched, but only with one finger.  There were no prices on the shimmery bags, a clear sign that I was out of my league.  But the looking was all I needed.  I lowered my ten doller sunglasses back down over my eyes and continued my walk.  I stepped into the Yves Saint Laurent shop and a sales person walked up to me with a smile.

“Can I help you find anything in particular?” she asked, her white California teeth glistening in the golden California sun.

“No,” I replied.  “I’m just here to dream.”  I didn’t ask her to tell me exactly how to pronounce the name of the store.  Didn’t want to seem that much of a country bumpkin.  Yez Saint Laurent? Y’ Vez Saint Laurent?  Vez Saint Laurent?  Is there a silent Y?  I JUST DON’TO KNOW!

And she smiled knowingly.  I think a lot of people come into these stores to dream, and maybe touch with one finger.

I moved on.  Gucci.  I found an outfit for Tia and texted Lee.  “For one month’s mortgage, I can get Tia a spectacular outfit at Gucci.  Whatcha think?  Huh?  Huh?”  I finished it with a good old fashioned smiley face emoticon so he wouldn’t know I was serious.  Didn’t want to send the poor man into panic mode thinking the glitz and glam of tinseltown had gone to my head.

He, shockingly, responded with, “Nyet.  No.” Oooohhh…No in two languages.  He was serious.  Maybe he didn’t understand my emoticon?  I moved on.  I came to Valentino and stopped, sucking in my breath.  The gowns in the window were stunning.  Really, really stunning.  I stared for a long time, my heart racing, before finally pulling myself away.  From there I walked to the GAP and bought a pair of shorts for 50% off.

That’s how I roll.

As Lee and I drove home from church yesterday, me in a zombie-like stupor from lack of sleep (the red eye flight home was not my friend), I mentioned my momentary affair with Valentino’s gowns.

“What is it about those gowns that makes them any different from a dress you could buy at Banana Republic or Dillards?” Lee asked.  And then I cried in shame.  Naw…I kid.  But I do think my eyes spaced out for a minute.  “As a girl, when I see those gowns I immediately begin to dream,” I answered all mooney.

“About what?” my manly man asked.

“What it must be like to even have an occasion for such a dress.  What it must feel like to be a princess for a night.  How it would feel to slip one of those gowns on and walk out the door.  I just…dream.”

“And the Coach bags?”  Lee asked.  “What is it about them that makes them any better than a purse from K-Mart?  Is the functionality any different?”

Hmph…Boys.

“No.  The functionality is not that different, except that maybe a Coach bag will last forever and a K-Mart bag will last six months.  But that’s not the point,” I answered.

“So what’s the point?”  I could sense his consternation.

“The point is, Coach bags are so preeeetty.” And then I sighed.  They are pretty.

We drove in silence for a few minutes before Lee spoke again.  “This is why the serpant went after Eve in the garden, you know,” he said with a grin.  “He held that shiney red apple up and Eve immediately felt her heart grow mushy.”

I wanted to deny it, but I couldn’t.  He’s right.  Shiney things make us girls act…like girls.

“And Adam is like every other guy who loves his girl in the world.  She held it up and told him she wanted it and he just nodded his head.  I would have said yes, by the way, if you called me up from LA and told me you wanted to buy a Coach bag.  Because I want you to have that princess feeling and I want you to have nice things that make you happy.”

Go ahead.  I know you want to say it.  Aaaaawwwww…

It’s amazing what power we as women can have over our husbands, isn’t it?  Knowing that they do want good things for us.  The Prince wants to take his Princess to the ball, to show her off.  My point here, of course, is not whether or not purchasing a Coach bag or a Valentino gown is right or wrong.  I don’t have any problem with people doing either one of those things.  For me, at this phase of life we’re in, such purchases would not be wise.  It would place unnecessary financial burden on us.  But maybe someday…

The point is this: My husband (and probably yours) would do whatever it takes to make me feel like a princess because he wants to give me the Garden. He wants me to have the best and if I’m not careful, I could manipulate him in such a way that I got all the pretty things I ever wanted.  But…at what price?

“I don’t expect those things from you,” I told him quietly.  “I wouldn’t be comfortable in a $1,500 dress anyway.  But it doesn’t mean I don’t want to dream every once in awhile.”

The truth is, I’m not sure the apple is always worth it.  It sure wasn’t in the garden.  The apple was beautiful, a vibrant red shining in the warm afternoon sun.  A diamond.  Eve touched – with just one finger?  Unfortunately she didn’t stop there.  She plunged her teeth into the center and I have no doubt that apple tasted as good as it looked.

But the price was far greater than she imagined.

It’s a loose analogy, but the point is this – we ladies have more power than we realize over our husbands.  Your man wants to be your Prince – what is the price he must pay to do that?

Image Credit

These things don’t happen often

I walk off the plane, the weight of my bags tugging my shoulder uncomfortably. Flicking my eyes left to right, I notice I exited at the gate nearest to the baggage claim.

That never happens to me. Ever.

I follow the crowd and make my way to the escalator, watching the older gentleman in front of me move slowly and deliberately. I decide to stay close to him as he’s a bit wobbly. As we approach the moving stairs, three people push past me and halt in front of the older man who is now fumbling with his two bags. I worry, I cringe and finally I tap the oblivious young man in front of me and ask him to help.

The older man is seconds from falling down the stairs as the three discuss their favorite Fiddy Cent song, totally unaware of his plight. (Really? Fiddy? Fiddy? Gawd…Fifty.)

I step off the escalator, glad the older man made it okay and I see my driver standing there. I giggle because I have a driver. Maybe some of you are used to that, but I’m not. I have to fight the urge to clap my hands and jump up and down. He stands with a sign: Ms. Stuart.

That’s me. He’s waiting for me. I giggle again.

I’m quickly ushered to the waiting Town Car. “You’re headed to the Beverly Wilshire?” he asks. “I am?” I reply, all wide eyed and surprised. “That’s what the order said,” he answers back with a smile. He sees my awe.

And off we go, him giving me a brief history lesson on LA and me wondrous at the sights. I’ve been here before, but never under such circumstances. Always the tourist – never the press. This is different.

“There are three rules you need to know in LA,” he says to me, his eyes darkened by Ray-Bans.

“First, every actor is a god and is to be treated as such.”

Um…huh?

“Second, if you’re invited to a party in the Hollywood Hills, never invite someone who doesn’t understand rule #1.”

Wait…what?

“Third, be nice to everyone. You never know who’s going to be the next big thing. It may even be you.”

We’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto.

He pulls up to the Beverly Wilshire and I can’t stop myself from humming Pretty Woman under my breath. I exit the car and am suddenly painfully aware of my black yoga pants and brown tennis shoes. They don’t even match. Paparazzi stand at the gates and glance my way, then quickly turn. I am not exciting to them.

I’m pretty sure it’s currently obvious that I drive a minivan.

I walk up the stairs and am greeted with a cold bottle of water. My bags are whisked away, I’m checked in and given my press kit. I meander through the hotel, my heart racing. These things don’t happen to a suburban girl from the midwest…who drives a minivan. The elevator door opens and I laugh.

There’s a bench. I fight hard against the urge to quote it.

“Oh look, honey. There’s a runner in my panty hose. I’m not wearing any panty hose.”

“Well color me happy, there’s a sofa in here for two.”

Instead, I adjust my sunglasses atop my head and push the 6. I’m cool. Can’t you tell? I do this all the time.

Drinks at the bar, a movie screening, more drinks and food. Someone says that’s Paris Hilton’s mom. I don’t believe them…but what do I know. Bruce Willis is here somewhere. I don’t see him. I do see Rodeo Drive out the lobby window, though. I make my plans to visit in the morning. I wonder if I could walk into a store and say, “I was in here the other day and you wouldn’t help me. Big mistake. Big. Huge.”

Probably not.

But wouldn’t that be fun?

It’s time for sleep. This bed is like a cloud. I might never wake up…

Leavin’ on a Jet Plane

I am sitting in the Tampa airport, sustanence in hand, on my way to Tinsletown for the premiere of The Lion King in 3D.  If you need me, have your people call my people and they can track me down by the pool at the Four Seasons…

Okay, I’m just kidding – I’m not that cool.  Just send me an email or a text, m’kay?  Or you can follow me on Twitter.  I’ll be posting updates there over the weekend.  If I remember.  I’m not a very good Twitter-er…Tweeter…Twitter person.  Whatever.

Buh-bye now!

And Then We Wept

An iron will combined with pure determination make her beauty a little tougher to penetrate.  Life ebbs and flows under her watchful eye and she pours forth emotion only when unaware that anyone is watching.  Fierce love and sheer delight dance in her eyes, though, and it’s here that her tough exterior shows weakness.  The best kind of weakness.

Compassion.

Her white blonde strands dance in the wind and her baby blues swim with concern.  Her brother has just been punctured by a catfish – his first fishing wound.  As blood seeps and he cries, she makes her move unaware of my observance.  She slips an arm around his shoulder and squeezes tight.  Concern.  Fear.  Pain.

She feels it all.

She feels my watchful eye and turns to look at me. I nod, showing as little emotion as I can and for a moment, I see her compassion falter. But a maturity is setting in – one that hasn’t been there before. She is five and a half now. She reminds us every day.

What I see is more than an age, though. It’s God. It’s a given nature settling in, begging to be watered and fed. She is seeking and questioning. Who is God? What is Grace? What did Jesus do for me? She asks and I answer. Then we wait.

“I want to know Jesus,” she says from the backseat. “But I’m not ready yet.” And that is okay. We will let her wait and question and seek, because the time is coming when faith will call and she will make it hers. But it will be in the time that feels right to her. She would have it no other way.

I would have it no other way.

He would have it no other way.

Her younger brother cries. In a fit of laughter he took the corner too fast and head met wall with force. He wails and I look down. Her hand on his ankle and tears in her eyes. She looks entirely surprised by this reaction. Empathy has never been her first reaction. But lately…she’s changing.

“I don’t know why I’m cwying,” she says, her eyes bright.

Compassion.

I say the word to her. Over and over we discuss it. Compassion. I tell her every day now. “You are compassionate. You care. And that’s a good thing.” She needs to know. Because by nature, her independence prefers distance. She likes control and predictability. But compassion…it is unpredictable. You don’t know when it will strike and the tears will flow. Compassion requires surrender.

Late in the evening as a storm meanders off in the distance and the clouds paint the sky in a Master Tapestry of shape and color, she and I walk hand in hand. “Do you want to call her?” I ask. She has been talking about her friend Noelle for several days. I hear the ache in her voice. The tender age of five has not tempered her longing for companionship. She misses her friend.

“No,” she says and shakes her head hard. This is her sign. She doesn’t want to talk. She doesn’t want to process. The tough exterior is up. We return to the condo and I watch her move.

“Tia. Why don’t you want to call Noelle?” I ask, when the bustling movement of masculinity dashes to another room and we two are left alone. She looks at the floor, then at me. Again her eyes are full and bright and sad. She shrugs. She won’t talk because the emotion threatens and wavers and her first reaction is to fight for control.

“Are you afraid that hearing her voice will make you sad?” I ask. And she crumbles. We lay on the bed and weep together. Me for her…and for myself. I miss them too. The friends and loved ones. I miss them. And so does she. She’s only five, but also…she is five.

We spend some time talking about our friends. We remember all the fun we had with them and we rejoice in the blessing of dear, sweet friendships. Then we pray. She clutches to my chest, her hot tears dripping off her nose and together we plead for new friendships to fill the void. For me.

For her.

And one more time before the lights go out we discuss compassion. I stroke her silky soft hair and tell her again. It’s okay to feel. It’s okay to cry. It’s okay to love. She possesses all of these emotions in full but letting them out is the trick. It’s the magic.

It’s what makes her so unique and wonderful.

Takin’ Care of Business

I haven’t slept well the last couple of weeks.  I don’t know what it is, but I’ve been walking around in a sleep deprived stupor.  By the end of last week I was barely functional by 2:00 every afternoon.  So this week I have made it my mission to get my behind in bed no later than 10:00 every night when the real fatigue strikes.  Usually I push through that fatigue and go to bed at midnight or later only to find I’ve got my second wind and I can’t sleep.

Apparently I’m getting old because that no longer works for me.

Dang it.

I am proud to announce, however, that for two nights in a row I have received 8 or more hours of sleep.  And the strangest thing has happened – the little red squiggly lines in my eyes have disappeared and I have been able to function in the afternoon hours.

Guh-lory!

This, however, means that it’s been a little more difficult to do my bloggin’ thang.  I like to write blog posts at night before bed and work on my book in the early morning hours.  But when I go to bed too late, I can’t get up early and it becomes this terrible catch 22…or something like that.  Mostly it means I’m a tired mess who’s only half accomplishing worthy tasks.

Alas, that was a terribly long lead up to telling you this:  I have nothing to write about today.  But I have some lovely links to throw your way!

Have you read Stuff Christian Like?  I have heard a lot about it and have read it here and there, but this post made me laugh so hard that I think I will have to officially add him to my blogroll.  I know…he doesn’t even know how lucky he is, does he?

Did you know I have a Facebook page?  Is it wrong to shamelessly promote myself in such a way?  Ahem…well, I do have a Facebook page and if you “Like” it I will make sure to send you a telepathic high five.

Did you know that Angie Smith has a new book coming out?  She is some kind of amazing.  I can’t wait to read it.

Speaking of books, this one isn’t new and the rest of you have probably already read it since I’m sure you’re all way more on top of these sorts of things, but I started Ann Voskamp’s book this week.  Uuuummmm…If you haven’t read it, you’re not my friend.  Wait!  That’s not right.  That’s a terrible thing to say!  What I meant was, you should read it – it’s spectacular.  Her writing makes mine look anemic and sad.  Which is okay. Now go buy her book, then visit her blog.

Okay.  That’s all for today.  I’m off to have a practice morning of school with the kids.  They’re going to be thrilled when they find out.  Surprises are just so much fun, aren’t they?

 

 

The Day I Talked with Harry Connick Jr.

I love my job.  Have I ever mentioned that?  I get to work from home in my pajamas.  I get to work as often or as little as I want.  And I get to talk to hunky movie stars on the phone.

How fun is my job?

The best thing that ever happened to me career-wise was joining the team over at 5 Minutes for Mom a few years ago.  I love those ladies.  They have great hearts, they are the hardest workers I’ve ever known and they share amazing opportunities with the team of writers they’ve put together.  It’s an honor to be a part of that and I’m constantly grateful for the chance to further hone my craft, use my journalism a little bit and have experiences I would never have otherwise.

Like next week, when I am flying out to Los Angeles for the premiere of The Lion King: 3D.  That is an experience that never would have been possible were it not for the lovely ladies at 5 Minutes for Mom being willing to share the fun with everyone else.  (I won’t tell you that I was supposed to go to Bolivia for them earlier this month but had to back out due to the move.  I won’t mention that because it still stings a little.)

Anyway, last week I had the opportunity to speak with Harry Connick Jr. and his daughter Kate about their partnership with  American Girl benefitting the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music in New Orleans.  Here is our conversation.

Harry Connick Jr. and his daughter, Kate.As parents, we all want to instill a sense of heritage into our children. Whether we’re starting from scratch, hoping to create a new story for our kids or we’re drawing from the past and passing history on to them, we all want to send our offspring into adulthood with a sense of identity.

For Harry Connick Jr., the desire to share his love for the city of his youth and the culture that nurtured him into the man he is today only heightened six years ago when Hurricane Katrina wiped out New Orleans in one fell swoop.

“I think [passing on heritage] is paramount,” Connick says, “and that’s why I take my family to New Orleans regularly. Growing up in New Orleans, the culture was so much a part of the fabric [of life] down there. It was so interwoven into everyday life that you didn’t even think of it as heritage and culture. It was just part of the norm.”

Hop on over to 5 Minutes for Mom to read the rest and find out how you can be a part of the continued work in New Orleans.

On forgiveness

 

One of my favorite Sassy Bloggers (we should form a club…), Jessica, posted her Plank Pullin’ series today.  I like this series.  I admire Jessica’s courage to put her planks out there.  You’ll notice I haven’t put any out there myself.  There are two reasons for this:

- I’m lazy

- I’m a scaredy cat

BOOM!

But Jessica’s post today hit a particularly raw nerve with me.  Forgiveness.  It’s such a loaded word, isn’t it?  It requires action and intention no matter what end of it you’re on.  If you’re the one needing forgiveness, you must intentionally act.  If you are the one to extend forgiveness you must intentionally act.

Sometimes you must do both…at the same time.

Oh forgiveness…why dost thou tease me so?

One thing I have always valued highly, a trait that was instilled by my parents, has been loyalty.  I value loyalty over just about everything else.  I believe in it and I try hard to live by it.

Because loyalty is so important to me, restoring relationships that have been damaged is also important.  It pains me to my core to think that I have ever offended someone and generally I will go to great lengths to try and restore that relationship.  Sometimes this is hard.  It requires the swallowing of the pride.  And my pride?

It can be a big pill to swallow.

Huge.

Ginormous.

Megatronic.

You get the picture…

Even if I don’t understand my offense against someone, I try to make it right.  When Lee and I were newly married we made our first married couple friends at our church in Texas.  We had barbeque’s and took walks with this couple feeling ever so grown up and…married.  They were our closest, and only, married friends in town.  Or so I thought.

Lee came home from work one day and gave me a look.  “I talked with Bowzer* today,” he said.  “We have a problem.”

“What?” I asked.

“Princess Pea* thinks you don’t like her.  She feels offended because you have never called her to get together one on one.”

*Names changed to protect the innocent.  But wouldn’t it be funny to have friends named Bowzer and Princess Pea?  I bet they’d be a really fun couple…Can you tell my kids have been playing a lot of Super Mario Bros?

Now, let the record show that I think this is a silly little thing to get upset about.  I did then and I still do.  But that wasn’t the point – the point was that I had somehow inadvertently offended someone and in doing so a friendship was damaged.  Never mind the fact that I am suckalicious at talking on the phone – always have been.  That’s why I don’t call people very often.

Suck.a.li.cious.

I sat on this for a few days mulling over what to do.  I mean, it really was kind of petty.  Because the fact of the matter was this girl had never called me either.  But I couldn’t feel right if I didn’t at least call and make things right.  So I did.  It was terribly awkward and uncomfortable, but I asked her forgiveness for hurting her feelings and asked if she’d like to get together for coffee.

We never did do that.  And I haven’t heard from that couple in almost ten years now.  So the issue obviously wasn’t mine, but I felt better knowing I had tried to make things right.  I wanted forgiveness, truly and deeply.

Recently another issue has cropped up that has affected me a bit.  A friendship ruined over something silly, trivial and petty.  I tried to make it right and instead met resistance.

Hurtful.

Painful.

And unity was not restored but was, instead, further denied.  And I had a part in it.  That makes me sad.

I don’t like that.  I hate disunity with others.  I want it to be right.  I feel all Monica Gellar…I want her to like me, dang it. (Five points to anyone who remembers that FRIENDS episode)  And I keep questioning myself, looking inside, trying to decide what action I need to take to restore unity.  But I’m a little scared, because last time I tried that it only got worse.

Forgiveness.

It’s a tough one, isn’t it?  Forgiving, moving forward and loving unconditionally.  Whew.  As Jessica put it:

“It’s one thing to forgive someone and a whole ‘nother thing to be reconciled with them, and Christians can be so dad blame unrepentant of their arrogance, or unhospitality, or fill-in-the-blank that I occasionally find a very hard time building bridges with them.

And yeah, I’m on the guilty/unrepentant end sometimes, too.”

So on I press, ever aware of the fact that I am only responsible for my own actions.  How can I live today in a way that restores unity and peace with others?  Because I value loyalty.  I don’t like to end or walk away from friendships.

So what is my plank?

I think it is my indignation when others don’t value loyalty as I do.  I tend to get judgemental.  I don’t like it.  I’m constantly working on dying to myself and I am an admitted work in progress.

My deepest desire is to continue to search my own heart and seek to live whole with others, making things right when I offend and offering grace if ever needed.  And drop the judgement.  It’s very unbecoming.

It doesn’t match any of my outfits.

So Jessica, consider that my first plank pulled.

BOOM!