Standing on a Box of Soap

Quote: “Going forward, our intent is to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena,” Chik-fil-A said in a statement last week.
Yeah….that’s kind of closing the barn door after your chickens escaped.  Last night I went to the new Chik-fil-A that opened by my house.  The service was friendly, the food good, the place packed.  But, I felt uncomfortable.  Because, suddenly, a chicken patty smacked between two buns has turned into a political statement. 

During an interview on The Ken Coleman radio show, Mr. Dan Cathy, president of Chik-fil-A, agreed to the statement that he opposes gay marriage because of Biblical principles.  And, there it is in First Corinthians and in First Timothy, letters written by the apostle Paul and then translated from Greek to English.  But Mr. Cathy wasn’t speaking for himself, he spoke for his entire company when he said, “We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives.”


In defense of Mr. Cathy, I don’t think he realized what was about to happen.  How the gay community, those that support gay marriage, and those that have gay loved ones would be hurt and offended by his personal stand made in a very public forum.   I don’t know if he realized how divisive his comment was – how he is marginalizing part of our population.  Maybe he did, but felt it was the right thing to do.

When I was in-patient at Hopkins, Chik-fil-A came to the hospital and provided lunch for EVERY PATIENT AND PARENT in the entire children’s center.  A beautiful and generous gift.  One I will always remember.  Books and other kids’ meal toys are educational.  The franchises have a reputation for being incredibly welcoming and helpful.  Sunday the stores are all closed in observance of Sabbath. 

But there is a feeling of betrayal from those who support gay-marriage because Mr. Cathy didn’t just speak about his personal feelings.  He used a very public soapbox to speak for the entire company and he uses company funds to promote his agenda.  He comes across as judgmental and controlling.  Americans don’t like to be told what to do.  We hold onto our FREE CHOICE like a hedgehog with a mealworm (i.e. tightly). 

It is certainly his right as the owner of a private company to disperse funds and his opinions are protected under the First Amendment.  I don’t know WHAT the mayors of Boston, Chicago, and San Fran were thinking with their outrageous reactions. They look foolish as they now scramble to ‘clarify their position’ and otherwise back down.  Corporate sponsors are also normal in our world and the logo shows the brand.  Then the public will either go or not go to the restaurant/business.  In America we all get to say our piece.

I know several people are proud of Mr. Cathy for taking a stand – and an unpopular one.  Christians want to support him because he’s championing the word of God.  But what’s really happened is now an “us vs. them” mentality.  Us being people who love Christ and Them being the others… those who aren’t married to their first wives…those who are gay…those who don’t have a traditional family unit.  And he doesn’t get to speak for me, because I believe that Jesus Christ, son of God, came to bring people to the kingdom of heaven regardless of race, background, and sexual orientation.

There is a separation of church and state for a reason.   Remember when the masses wanted to make Jesus a king?  John 6:15. 

“Therefore when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He departed again to the mountain by Himself alone.”

Jesus’s purpose was more important than the fleeting overthrow of a single government, or the passing fad of cultural icon, or the futility of changing men and women from the outside in.  And that is what Mr. Cathy tried to do.  To impose his personal beliefs onto believers and non-believers alike.  To create public policy and force a Christian agenda through a set of laws.  That’s never going to win people to Christ.  Never. 




Tough Spot

Quote: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.  I do not give as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”  John 14:27

This picture is me literally squished in a tight spot between two booster seats in a minivan with four-year-olds who NEED you to sit there to prop up their pillows so they can sleep.   We are less than one hour into an eight-hour drive from our house in Maryland down to Topsail Island, North Carolina.   The travel was a challenge for other families joining the vacation too.  My sister’s family came down from Pittsburgh.  At one point my nephew was repeatedly singing “Popeye the Sailor Man.”  He’s twelve.  Our friends in Virginia travelled by car AND plane with a 22-month old.  They didn’t complain about security.  I don’t know if that was stoicism or a satisfactory experience.

My thoughts wandered, as they do at 3:30 am when the kids finally fall asleep and you and driving husband are too far away to politely converse.  I thought about how it would be worth it when we got through this part.  Then I thought about how authors have to put their characters in tough spots and make it worthwhile when they get to the end.  And how, as the author, I know how and why it will work out (usually).  And I will strive to find the best solution for ALL the cast, not just my favorite characters.  Conflict, in literature and real life, is the catalyst for growth and change…I fell asleep somewhere around there.

And then we did all arrive and it was lovely.  Cabana on the beach, hunting for little clams, putt-putt and a roller skating rink.  Getting yelled at in the roller skating rink.  Board games and night hunting for ghost crabs.  Meeting up with our friends Karen and Jason who live in Wilmington, N.C.  Their younger son (3) inviting Anna (21) to get in the hot tub with him.

 Throughout the trip, we adults told stories.  And discovered that all of us were in the late stages of tough spots, ones that had lasted a LONG time and required a GREAT DEAL of perseverance.  Mine, of course, was remembering how two years ago we came back from Topsail and Evelyn was diagnosed with leukemia.  How at first we thought she’d just picked up an ear infection while we were away. 

Then we heard about the Colorado massacre TOUGH SPOT.   This one is big, full of random, senseless pain.  And tangled with more and more information coming in.  Confusing.  It is going to last a long time and it is going to leave scars.   

 I wondered how God, author of our stories, is going to bring love and healing to this TOUGH SPOT.   As if in answer, Patty’s FB wall echoed my thoughts from the beginning of the week.  “The Bible never once says, ‘Figure it out.  But over and over it says, “Trust God.”’  He’s already got it all figured out.” 

So simple it’s nearly impossible.  Because facing conflict, or even just hanging on by your fingernails, is not a comfortable process.  Not something we’d seek out and choose.  My heart breaks for these families.  And honestly, maybe it wouldn’t if I hadn’t gone through crisis.  Maybe this would just have been a sad headline.

’80s Barre Night

Quote     Me:  “So, my friend Stacie and I are going to dress up and then go to an ‘80’s night at a local bar.   Cool?”

                Mike Woosley: (without looking up from the newspaper) “Sure.”

                 Me:  “I’m a little disappointed in your reaction.”

                Mike Woosley: (turns the page, still doesn’t look up) “Okay.  You can’t go.”

                I’m a firm believer in both the power of exercise and the Hawthorne Effect (fancy sociology term for participants working harder when being observed) so when I saw the bright, shiny poster of a toned woman grinning at me from under the ad for a Barre class at the Bel Air Athletic club, I thought, “Yes.  That’s for me.  And my friend Stacie.”

                After all, I’ve taken ballet for years.  We get to dress up in leg warmers and side ponytails.  There will be some nostalgic ‘80’s music playing while we plie and arabesque.  What, I thought, could go wrong?

                Let me tell you.
                The night we attended was special – a 90-minute session to perk up your workout and your glutes.  All five barre teachers were there and they rotated.  So, one would lead a section and then run to the back of the room when another woman took her place.  Thus ensuring that the students would be moving continuously.

                When we walked in the first lady wore a sweatband and a grin like Richard Simmons.  I soon realized this was NOT a ballet class – we’d stumbled into an ‘80’s workout video.  We were doing all the funky moves with our pink three-pound hand weights.  I could hang with this.  Then we moved to the barre. 

                Don’t forget the soundtrack we have going while we’re ‘pulsing’ and ‘repeating’:

                                Lunatic Fringe    (anyone remember the movie VisionQuest)

                                Eye of the Tiger

                                Disco remix of Pink Floyd’s Another Brick in the Wall(Just not right)

                The barre was supposed to be easy for me.  It wasn’t.  We weren’t ballerinas.  Instead, we had these soccer balls we had to squeeze between our hamstring and calf and then start again with the pulsing and the repeating WHILE we were balancing. 

                Relieved when we moved back to our mats, but OH NO!  Here comes the PLANK lady.  I hate this move anyway, but now I’m supposed to be dipping and then let’s try the plank on our forearms. Sweat was dripping into my eyes.  My water bottle was empty.  I was trying to look at the clock, but couldn’t get my head far enough under my arm to see it.  I might have blacked out for a bit here.  Did I mention that I hate the plank position?

                Finally, we are on the last lady.  She pulls out this Styrofoam thingy – called, aptly enough, a roller.  She wants us to put the roller under our leg and then roll our body all about.  She said, “Give yourselves a nice massage ladies.”  It did NOT feel good.  I might have said, out loud, “I wouldn’t tip for THIS massage.”  It didn’t help that I was right in the front.  I blame my friend Stacie for our position.  You know I wasn’t early enough to pick our spots!

                Anyway, we’ve got Duran Duran going and Bon Jovi and then, my body aching and shaking, it’s time for the cool down.  Guns ‘N Roses “November Rain.”  Do you have any idea how LONG that song is?

                Afterwards, Stacie and I limp to the door, propping each other up.  There’s a table set up and the five perky barre women invite us to partake of food and beverage.  Really?  I just went through THAT to burn off calories and you want me to put them back on?  Still, I looked it over with a polite smile. 

                Staci.  I think you’re with me on this.  Next time I’m heading to a bar without the ‘re.’  I will not wear leg warmers.  There will be martinis instead of cauliflower and hummus.  And if there is any booty-shaking, it will be me dancing and not pulsing.
Disclaimer:  The BAAC instructors all had amazing bodies.  I’m just going to have to go a different route.