Monday, April 15, 2013

Finish the Course

As I write this, the death toll from the Boston Marathon explosions has risen to three people, including an 8-year-old boy.  The injured are more than 130 in area hospitals.  My heart is so heavy.

I haven’t lived in Boston for over 11 years.  I wasn’t even born there.  But I grew up in Watertown, just ten minutes outside the city.  I went to college in Chestnut Hill.  I spent many Friday nights in Harvard Square.  I danced away my college weekends in Kenmore Square and Brighton and downtown Boston.  I worked on Newbury Street in the Back Bay.  I wandered the MFA on countless Saturday afternoons.  I ate pizza and gelato in the North End.

Fresno may be home now, but a piece of my heart will always be in Boston.  As I’ve said so many times in the last decade:  You can take the girl out of Boston, but you can’t take Boston out of the girl.

Bostonians are fiercely proud, and I love my city.  Hearing the news reports today made me feel heartbroken, angry, confused, hurt, frustrated, and left me incredulous.

A few of my friends ran the Boston Marathon today.  They trained for months.  They ran for good causes.  Sarkis ran to raise funds for Dana Farber – he ran in memory of his two grandfathers and in honor of a young boy fighting leukemia.  He raised over $20,000.  My friend’s sister, Katie, ran with an autistic boy.  Incredible people doing incredible things.  Sacrificial things.  Good things.

I’ll leave the investigation and quest for justice to the Boston Police Department and the FBI.  I’ll choose to focus on the good.  Because despite the pain and fear that marred this day, there was infinitely more good achieved.

So why am I still crying?  Why does my chest hurt?  Why is it hard to breathe?  Because lives were lost, limbs were lost, and the suffering will continue for a time.  But there is a way out.

There is a way to dry the tears.
There is a way to heal the heart.
There is a way to renew the limbs.
There is a way to regain hope.
There is a way to reclaim victory.
There is a way to rebuild life.
There is a way to run again.

There is one way.  And life on this earth is too short and too unpredictable and too sucky to keep it to myself out of fear of being branded a fanatic or being unfriended.

Satan thinks he’s so clever and he may think he won today, but that is a lie.  His fear is a lie.  His hopelessness is a lie.  Because Jesus already claimed victory on the cross.  He is the only way.  The only truth.  And the only life.

Whether you believe that right now or not, in the end, every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.  And after reading this, you will not be able to claim that no one told you.

God put these verses on my heart today:  “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.”  (2 Timothy 4:7-8)

Keep the faith and finish the only course that matters.

OK, I’m getting off my shoebox now.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Summer Lovin'

We were at my beloved Target last week purchasing several things in addition to the one item I actually went there to buy, as is always the case with Target purchases.  As our young female cashier rang us up, she bent over to put our items in a bag.  I got a full view of her entire front side, clear down to her belly button.

Forget, for a moment, that I don’t want my husband and boys seeing that – *I* don’t want to see that!  And as summer approaches and the weather warms up, I thought I’d share a few tips to keep you looking cool, collected and classy despite the heat.

1)      Unless you’re Madonna circa 1985, I don’t want to see your underwear as outerwear.  Please invest in properly fitting bras and panties and make sure they are not visible once you’re dressed.  That means that bra straps should not show!  If you’re wearing something strapless or with spaghetti straps, wear a strapless bra.  If you’re wearing a top or tank with a racer back, wear a racer back bra.  I know from being married that when a man sees a bra, he immediately thinks of what’s IN that bra.  So keep those straps under your clothes or pull on a cute cardigan or light jacket to cover up.

2)      When I think of bare midriffs, I think of the jocks in my high school who wore those wide gym pants and cropped tops.  Not a pretty picture!  I’m not a fan of revealing your belly button, no matter how toned you are or how pretty that new belly button ring might be.  If you were to raise your arms, you would reveal too much of your lady parts, and if you bend over, your backside and the top of your panties would show.  The line between classy and trashy can be a fine one.  Steer clear of this hazard.

3)      Maxi skirts are a really pretty option for staying cool and looking stylish in spring and summer.  But something I learned the hard way is that maxi skirts can often be sheer in the sun!  Although you may be covered down to your toes with fabric, once outside the sun may silhouette your legs.  Invest in an above-the-knee length slip to be safe – they’re lightweight and will save you from any see-through surprises.

4)      I loved watching the Dukes of Hazard when I was growing up.  Daisy Duke was the only featured female character and she was so cool because she could hold her own against her cousins Bo and Luke Duke.  Daisy was known for her short shorts (which also makes me think of the Nair commercials – “Who wears short shorts?  We wear short shorts!”).  Okay, I think you know where I’m going with this.  Shorts are cute and fun and a summer necessity.  But let’s not get ridiculous.  Stand up (yes, now).  Put your arms down by your sides.  Wherever your longest finger lands is the shortest your shorts should be.  Thank you.

5)      I’m noticing a LOT of sheer/illusion tops and peek-a-boo cutouts in stores this spring, and I’m curious how anyone is supposed to wear a bra with these tops.  The best way to wear these otherwise cute tops is with camisoles or tanks underneath.  I promise it won’t look any less cute and the attention will stay positive.

6)      A word to the guys reading this:  you’re not completely off the hook.  Keep your eyes up and look deeper than what’s on the surface.  And challenge yourselves to go beyond the t-shirts and shorts you’ve worn since you were 12.  Maybe invest in something other than sneakers or flip flops?  Give it a try.

OK, I’m getting off my shoebox now.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Mean Girls

Let’s face it, ladies.  We can be mean – and not just to each other, but also to ourselves.  We self-hate constantly, whether it’s our “frizzy hair,” “pudgy rolls,” “uneven chin,” “short frame,” or “weird body parts.”  (Okay, that’s just me.)  We tend to be so critical, nit-picking all of the physical attributes we deem faulty in our own bodies, and then, so we don’t completely crumple, turn our judgment on others.

I am guilty of this as well, though I try not to be.  Years ago I worked at a modeling agency in downtown Boston.  I learned very quickly that those beautiful models you see in magazines and at fashion shows are some of the most insecure women around.  To keep their “perfect” shape, some of them would starve themselves, take laxatives, smoke cigarettes, do drugs, or binge and purge.  It was so very sad.

The time I felt most beautiful in my life was during the 18 months of my two pregnancies.  I felt absolutely, unequivocally beautiful – from the inside out.  I loved my body, my belly, my shape, my skin, my hair… not because they were somehow miraculously perfect, but because of the miracle happening inside me.

I feel this way when I see any pregnant woman – they are the most gorgeous creatures alive.  Even though there are a plethora of reasons not to feel gorgeous at that time (don’t worry – I won’t go there), it’s just an incomparable feeling.  Seems not everyone thinks so.

Poor, pregnant Kim Kardashian has been getting a verbal lashing lately – but what else is new, right?  Except this time it’s especially hurtful because she is being bashed for her pregnant body, being called “huge” and “fat” and being compared to Shamu.

Disclaimer:  I have ambivalent feelings about Kim Kardashian.  I don’t think she deserves the hate that she gets, but I’m not exactly sure of her greater good, either.  I definitely don’t agree with her getting pregnant before getting married, but it’s her life to live.

Is society so vitriolic as to attack a pregnant woman?  Is there no collective shame in this?  Are we so quick to pick up a stone and add to this inexplicable communal rage?

And then the heavens opened up and an angel came forth – a Victoria’s Secret angel, to be exact.

Helena Christensen, the Danish supermodel (she played Chris Isaak’s girlfriend in the “Wicked Game” video), posted an open letter on Huffington Post in Kardashian’s defense.

“It is disgusting and despicable the way that certain media constantly harass the pregnant Kim Kardashian,” Christensen writes. “It’s enough that they persistently project a negative focus on women’s physical shapes; but a public bullying and attacking of a pregnant woman because of her growing shape is just lower than low.”  She continues, “There should be some moral compass.  It doesn’t matter who the woman is or what she does.  No one should ever be publicly judged for their body, but to attack an expecting mother is sacrilegious and just plain wrong. A pregnant woman should not be criticized for her shape, period!!”

I’m impressed with Christensen’s bold and public defense.  Too often we don’t speak up, and we need to.  Christensen, someone who made a living with her appearance and knows the impact of beauty perhaps more than anyone, spoke up to help a woman she doesn’t know.  And in so doing, she helped women everywhere by setting the example of a woman helping, supporting, and encouraging another woman.

OK, I’m getting off my shoebox now.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Act a Fool

Today is April Fool’s Day.  Interesting that it followed Easter this year – the most important day for Christians as we remember the resurrected Christ.

Today was also our final day of spring break, and it ended up being a productive one.  I got the house organized, uncluttered our hall closet, did six loads of laundry, washed the bed sheets and remade all of the beds, went to the grocery store, visited my in-laws, and baked two packages of cookies and two packages of brownies.

But all day I kept thinking about April Fool’s Day and Easter – one a complete waste of a holiday, and the other a completely remarkable holy day.

We got together with family to celebrate Easter yesterday, and that always means taking lots of pictures.  As my sister-in-law was taking pictures of my 6-month-old nephew, I stood behind her waving my arms, making weird animal noises, and loudly fake-sneezing to try to get him to smile.  I looked like an utter fool, but his beaming smile was worth it.

This got me thinking about some other people who did very foolish things:

·      When the ark of the covenant was brought into Jerusalem, King David, wearing only a linen ephod, was “leaping and dancing before the Lord,” enraging his wife, Michal. (2 Samuel 6:20)
·      Queen Esther entered the inner court of the king’s palace – without being summoned – in the hopes of speaking to the king to intercede for her people.  Anyone coming to the king without being summoned would be put to death by law.  (Esther 4:11, 5:1-2)
·      Peter stepped out of the boat and walked on water toward Jesus.  (Matthew 14:29)
·      Noah built an ark, without a raindrop in sight.  (Genesis 7:14)
·      The widow put two small copper coins – probably all that she had to live on – into the treasury.  (Luke 21:1-2)

These “fools” had something in common – faith.  Faith in something real, something powerful, something immutable.

If you’re going to be a fool – today or any day – at least make it count.  Be a fool for Jesus.  I am.

OK, I’m getting off my shoebox now.