Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Remembering Pamela Whitby Strong

It has now been 5 years since the fabulous Pamela Whitby Strong lost her life to that murderous s.o.b. - cancer. She died when Canon (my eldest son) was 5 months old. I have photos with the two of them together. It seems like an eternity ago, yet sometimes only yesterday.
We have a ritual of remembrance which we observe twice a year. Once on her birthday, November 18 (1946) and once on June 21st, the anniversary of the dark day of her death. We dine at the Cheescake factory. Mmmmm.
In the spirit of the Passover Sederists who set out a special goblet to be filled with wine for the prophet Elijah, we order a Cosmopolitan and set it at the end of the table. I don't drink the cosmo because I don't like to drink liquid fire with a cranberry twist. But we take a tiny taste and giggle, wondering what she ever saw in that beverage beside fact that Oprah introduced it to her.
We order anything we want for the main course, but when it comes to dessert, the white-chocolate rasberry truffle cheesecake is a must. Mom and I used to split it. Unfortunately I will never branch out to a new dessert at the Cheesecake Factory, for that would feel like betrayal.
Sometimes, I bring pictures which jog memories of cherished days gone by. Sometimes others join us, particularly if they miss her too.

I grieve for you Mom. My heart aches for you. I miss you so much. I can't believe you were stolen from me - my children have been robbed of a relationship with you. There is a hole in my life that will never be filled.

You made me who I am today - well, the good parts anyway. I am grateful for the 30 years I had with you. Please come visit me in my dreams.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Did I seriously go there?

We took our 3 little kids to the pool today. Canon, the 5 yr old is learning how to do all sorts of fun things like jump off the diving board and slide down "that giant, giant, big blue swirly slide". There is a fun, challenging activity where a person, holding onto a net overhead, attempts to get to the other side of the pool on "lilly pads" which are flotation pads connected to the bottom of the pool by a single chain. My son and I were having a great time until the strangest thing happened. Canon fell off the first lilly pad, so instead of making him go back to the end of the line, I helped him out and put him back where he had just started.
Suddenly, from 20 feet away on the side of the pool I hear, "HOW DOES THAT WORK?!" A teenage girl was shouting at me to make Canon go back to the end of the line.
I was actually being bullied by a teenager. This has not happened to me since, well, since ever!

I lovingly walked Canon back to the end of the line and told him to wait there. I then walked calmly over to the young woman to -ahem- express my heart.

I actually got into a mouth-off with a teenager! I couldn't believe it. I won't share the exact words, but I have to say I was holding my own. I had some real zingers. The Nikki of the distant past would have been so proud. Then when she started talking ungly about my son, the mamma bear came out in full force.

While getting into a pissing match with someone half my age was pretty invigorating, I thought about this strange interaction the entire rest of the night. I told my husband about it and after we had an awkward laugh, we began to pick apart the conversation and discuss the situation like real grown-ups and the nerdy pastors that we are.
I asked, I wonder how I could have handled that in a more pastoral way.

I think about that girl and what it would have been like to meet her under different circumstances. What if she showed up at my church or youth group or campus ministry? I wonder about her family life. I wonder if she acts like a bully so that she can protect herself. I wonder if there is any softness there that could be nurtured. Is there anyone singing her songs of love and trust and goodness and peace? I wonder how she views herself. Does she even see her beauty? What messages has she been given her entire young life? Is she a wounded cat in a corner, having to fight just to survive?

What is my excuse?

Friday, June 8, 2007

Chipotle shares the love.

We barely got in the door. The last people in line because we jimmied our way in as someone was exiting. Hey, it was 9:59.
As we inch our way toward the front, we have time to breathe in the smell if grilled peppers, fajita meat and corn tortilla chips. I declare my love for Chipotle. I can't believe that there for a few months I got drawn into claiming Freeb!rds as my favorite. Chipotle surely felt betrayed, but has welcomed me back with open arms, no hard feelings.
The line was out the door because Chipotle (nationwide) spent the day giving away free burritos to anyone who brought in a canned food donation. They do this kind of thing all the time. And the brilliant thing is that their marketing is largely done by the general public - word of mouth! Know how we found out about the canned food donation give-away? Someone at our university started a facebook event this afternoon alerting all friends of this free delicious dish.

We could really learn a lot from Chipotle. For one, their website is amazing - it's creative and clever; a whimsical journey of pure goodness. Second, they advertise in unique and fresh ways. They have somehow mastered the art of creating a buzz, so that they have to do very little advertising - - we do it all for them! Campus ministers, let's figure out a way to do that! If any of you have tapped into buzz marketing in any successful way - please share! And finally, "free stuff". We have heard the manager at our local store say multiple times humbly, "It's free food. People always come out for free food." It is so fun to give away free stuff! And with just a little effort, you can often get your free stuff for FREE! Should we bribe people into the Kingdom? Absolutely.