A Simple Look at a Not-So-Simple Life

Archive for the category “Smiles”

She Laughed!!


There is something about the arrival of spring that brings on a nesting instinct in me and my oldest daughter, Anna. As the days grow longer and the temperatures grow warmer, we get this urge to make our house more homey – inside and out. Yesterday afternoon, as the younger kids played with neighborhood friends, we sat in the sun and dreamed up the things we would like to accomplish to make the yard look better and the interior more attractive. We dream big. Never mind that her spring break is over now and she’s in for the busiest six weeks of the semester. Never mind that we’re in the middle of Lent, with Holy Week and Easter right around the corner – something sure to fill my time for the next month. By the time we both come back up for air, the weather will be hot, the humidity high, and our nesting instinct extinct. But this weekend – look out! We hit the ground running. (No pun intended, but you may want to keep in mind the “hit the ground” part.)

We started inside. As most homes do – I pray ours isn’t the only one – clutter piles up in every corner. The clutter had to go. With trash bags in hand, we chucked any possible sentimentality for objects we’ve collected into the bags along with the objects themselves. We made our new vacuum cleaner work overtime. We made multiple trips from our upstairs to the trash can outside. On one of those many trips (once again, no pun intended) I had a trash bag in my hand as I started down the stairs. I was wearing my favorite old flip-flops. (Emphasis on “old.” The bottoms are worn slick. And maybe I need to add another qualifier – my former favorite old flip flops.)

Somehow, I’m not sure how since it happened so fast, my slick-bottomed flip-flops slid off the edge of one of the steps about halfway down the staircase. I landed on my bottom – hard – but I didn’t stay there. After a very brief pause, I continued my bump-bump-bump journey down the steps, unable to get any traction with my feet. Apparently there was a smidgeon of sentimentality left for the trash in that bag, because I managed to hold it up safely during the entire ordeal.

I know what you’re thinking. Anna came running to make sure I was okay, right? Only half right. She came running, all right, and arrived in time to witness my final bumps down the stairs. But instead of checking to make sure that dear old mom was in one piece and okay, she rolled in the floor (literally) at the top of the steps, laughing so hard that she couldn’t breathe nor talk.It’s a sickness in my family. Really, it is. It comes from my mom’s side of the family. Whenever witnessing a fall, certain members of my family (my mom and my daughter, for example), dissolve in laughter.

I remember going with my mom to the Holiday Inn in Anderson for a reception of some sort back when I was a preteen. A woman tripped on the steps in front of us and fell. I was mortified because my mom laughed.

Years later I worked with my parents, my grandfather, and an aunt and uncle to demolish an old tenant house on the farm. We were on top of the house, removing the tin from the roof with crowbars. My grandfather, pushing 80 at the time, stepped off one of the rafters, The wood beneath him gave way. He would have fallen all the way through, only he was straddling a rafter beam. Yeah – ouch. My mom and my aunt laughed!

They aren’t being mean or rude or heartless when they laugh, although I’m not sure that a bystander would get that. I think it is a reflex reaction to anxiety, sudden unexpected happenings, and maybe even pain. Back when we lived in Landrum, our family doctor said he wanted to be in the delivery room on the day Anna gives birth to her first child. He said this because every time he treated her for an athletic injury, and there were many, many of those in the ten years we lived there, she laughed her way through the examinations. He said she would probably be the first woman ever to laugh her way through labor and delivery and he wanted to be there to see it.

No, I wasn’t hurt too much in the fall. Yes, I laughed, too. I guess I have at least some of the genes in me as well. I survived with a skinned elbow, a bruised foot, and a very sore tailbone.

Anna didn’t go to church today, which may have been a good thing. Something tells me that each time I gingerly took my seat during worship, she would have remembered yesterday’s bump-bump-bump debacle and would have giggled her way through church.

And I maybe would have giggled with her.


Revisiting: Frisky Bird

I’ve been revisiting some of my favorite posts from the past. While this may not be my best writing, it is one of my favorite funny memories. Sometimes I have to learn things the hard way. This was one of those times. I first posted this piece on February 28, 2005

I was asked to tell a little more about item #6 on my “Ten Things” list. The story is a bit too long for the comment section, so here it is:

I was in Miami with another pastor friend attending a Church Redevelopment Conference. We walked down to the open air market on the bay for a little sightseeing and fresh air. We happened upon an outdoor kiosk where a man would take your picture with his tropical birds – $5 would buy you a Polaroid memory. The birds were beautiful. Since I’m not much of a bird expert, I can’t tell you what kind they were, only that they were large and very, very colorful.

I stopped to admire the birds. The man asked if I wanted to have a picture made with them. I declined and began to move away. He called me back and asked if I would like to hold one of the birds. Sure! So he had me hold up my arm for a perch and placed the bird on my forearm. I was surprised at how heavy it was! Then he asked if I wanted to hold the other bird, too. I told him that I wasn’t sure I wanted to hold them both, but he shushed me and turned the second bird over on its back and had me cradle it in my free arm like a baby.

So here I stand in the middle of an open air market, one bird perched on my right forearm, another cradled against me in my left arm. Then it happened. The cradled bird began to, ummm, let’s say it began to try to nurse me – roughly! There was nothing I could do!

My friend doubled over in laughter. The man stood there with an expression that was a mixture of triumph and amusement. A small crowd began to gather. And there I stood. After a brief moment (that seemed like an eternity to me), the man lifted the frisky bird from my embrace and said to it, “Sorry, friend. No booby today!”

My advice to other gullible women out there: if you aren’t going to spring for the photo, don’t hold the birds!!!

Ten reasons why men should not be ordained as ministers or priests:

* Hat tip: Ralph Milton and the Rumors e-letter

1. Their physical build indicates that men are more suited to tasks such as picking turnips or de-horning cattle.
2. For men who have children, their duties as clergy might detract from their responsibilities as parents. Instead of teaching their children important life skills like how to make a wiener-roasting stick, they would be off at some committee meeting or preparing a sermon.
3. According to the Genesis account, men were created before women, presumably as a prototype. It is thus obvious that men represent an experiment, rather than the crowning achievement of creation.
4. Men are overly prone to violence. They are responsible for the vast majority of crimes in our country, especially violent crime. Thus they would be poor role models.
5. In the New Testament account, the person who betrayed Jesus was a man. Thus his lack of faith and ensuing punishment stands as a symbol of the subordinate position that all men should take.
6. Jesus didn’t ordain men. He didn’t ordain any women either, but two wrongs don’t make a right.
7. If men got ordained, then they wouldn’t be satisfied with that; they’d want more and more power.
8. Many, if not most, men who seek to be ordained have been influenced by the radical “men’s movement” or “masculist movement”. How can they be good leaders if their loyalties are divided between leading a church and championing the masculist drive for men’s rights?
9. To be an ordained pastor is to nurture and strengthen a whole congregation. But these are not traditional male roles. Rather, throughout the history of Christianity, women have been considered to be not only more skilled than men at nurturing, but also more fervently attracted to it.
10. Men can still be involved in Church activities, without having to be ordained. They can still take up the offering, shovel the sidewalk, and maybe even lead the singing on Fathers’ Day.

I Would Have Paid Good Money . . .

. . . to see the chaos in a certain house at the Montreat Youth Conference. Anna is there with the youth group from a sister church. This is her 3rd year to go with them. For two years they stayed in the same house on the main drag. This year they have a new house somewhere behind Assembly Inn. Her only comment on it after arriving yesterday was that it is a nicer house, but it has more bugs. Anna HATES bugs and all creepy-crawly things – especially spiders.

Tonight she was just getting out of the shower (washing off sweat from an upper-90’s day at Montreat – ouch!) when she glanced in the mirror and thought she saw a big spider on the wall behind her. She started screaming as she whirled around to get a better look. It wasn’t a spider. It was a bat. She confesses to yelling “Holy sh*t, it’s a bat!” before fleeing down the stairs.

I learned that much from text messages. Finally she called me to fill me in on the action. The whole crew is now upstairs in her room. One of the chaperones taped a kitchen strainer to the end of a broom. They trapped the bat against one of the windows and were trying to either slide a paper behind the strainer so they could carry it out or somehow drop the bat in a plastic bag. This was a multi-person undertaking, quite complicated, and as of a few minutes ago it was still unsuccessful.

I overheard another of the chaperones in the background saying, “How many Presbyterians does it take to catch a bat?!” I don’t know when I have laughed so hard!

On a Lighter Note

Funny things can happen in a hospital.

My sister’s room was like Grand Central Station in the hours leading up to her surgery. Family members and friends showed up in a massive show of encouragement and support. An inordinate number of them were clergy. I think we counted 6 ordained clergy in the room at one time, with at least another 4 who made appearances at different times.

Now some background information. One of the pastors who came is the man who is now preaching at the church where my father served until retiring about a year ago. Until he retired in ’06, this man was the Big Shot Senior Pastor at the Biggest Presbyterian Church in our presbytery. He now enjoys supplying in smaller churches. It is common to hear folks in that city say that Biggest Presbyterian Church is far more Baptist in theology and practice than their own First Baptist Church. I remember a particular presbytery meeting that took place about 5 or 6 years ago at the BPC (as it shall be known from here on out). Several of my colleagues and I were to make a special presentation. Two of us are female pastors. Dr. Big Shot Senior Pastor doesn’t really approve of female pastors. The question came up prior to the meeting about where we were to make the presentation from – the pulpit or the floor mic. Dr. Big Shot quickly spoke up and said, “Oh, from the floor, of course. Only a select few are allowed to enter the Holy of Holies. Ha, ha.” Yeah, right. He tried to play it off as a joke, but we all knew how very serious he was about this. No woman pastor would be allowed to enter his self-described Holy of Holies. Whatever.

Dr. Big Shot was kind enough to come to the hospital on behalf of my father’s former congregation. He hasn’t changed lick since retiring. Dr. Big Shot then, Dr. Big Shot now. While he was there, a nurse came in to take care of a few pre-surgery tasks and asked the men to leave the room for a few minutes. (Those darn airy hospital gowns, you know.) My niece, Rosemary, and I remained in the room with her. While the nurse went about her duties, I decided to check email on my Blackberry. I had several, including a really cute joke from my music director. It wasn’t a dirty joke, but it was maybe a little colorful. I won’t retell it here. Let me just say that it involved a man’s underwear drawer and Miracle Grow. ‘Nuff said. I went to my sister’s bedside and quietly read the joke to her. Little did I know that the nurse had given the okay for the others to return to the room. As I finished reading the punchline I heard movement, looked up, and saw Dr. Big Shot himself standing right there. He flushed just a little and said, “Maybe I ought to go back out for a few minutes.”

So yes, folks. Preacher Mom, with all her social graces and finesse, told a ‘colorful’ joke in the presence of Dr. Big Shot, Keeper of the Holy of Holies. Aren’t you proud?

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