Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Julie the Water Snob

Me (on the left) and my sister Kari, watching Grandpa feed the lamb- Skidmore, Texas 1979

As a kid, one of my favorite places to visit was my grandparents' house in Skidmore, Texas.  Unless you are born in Skidmore, or you are related to someone who lives there, chances are you have never heard of it.  But my grandparents house was incredibly fun.  At different times throughout my childhood they had chickens, sheep, cows, and even a Shetland pony that my sister Kari laid claim to and named Jennifer.  Grandma and Grandpa's house had woods that you could get lost in for hours and a little creek running behind the woods, marking where their property ended and someone else's began.  They had an electric fence that I was always afraid of, even though my cousins and I regularly dared one another to touch it.  No way was I touching it, even when they swore it was turned off.  There were fields that we ran through, careful to avoid the cow patties and the stickers. (I don't what you people call them outside of Texas, but they stuck to my socks and shoelaces and hurt like heck when you tried to pull them off.)  We slept on the hide-a-bed in the living room with the window unit air conditioner roaring loudly to keep us cool in the summer.  We woke up to the smell of coffee and bacon, and my grandpa could almost always be found sitting at the head of the kitchen table in his starched Wranglers and his ribbed white tank top undershirt working overtime to cover his belly.  We watched The Price is Right every morning, but the commercials in between were always muted.  Grandma's fragile nerves couldn't handle the volume of advertisements, apparently.  But with all of the sweet memories I have of my grandparents, one of the most memorable things about trips to their house was their water.  It was disgusting.

I tried to like it.  Really, I did.  And I even pretended to like it.  Grandma and Grandpa loved it, and I didn't want to hurt anyone's feelings.  So when we went go for a visit, I would buck up and get out a glass and drink right from the tap.  I didn't complain.  In fact, I faked liking it so well that when they broke down and bought a water cooler for their kitchen, complete with decent tasting purified water, I was the lone grandchild that stuck with the well water.  I was obligated at that point.  I couldn't give up the act.

The water was so hard that nothing rinsed off.  Many times I stood in front of the bathroom sink, trying desperately to make the lather from my grandpa's green bar of lava soap (which felt like sandpaper on my little kid hands) rinse off.  And it wouldn't.  Nothing rinsed off.  Even shampoo and conditioner stuck to my hair like glue.  I learned to be careful about how much of anything I applied to my body that I didn't want to stay there.

I don't know when I became a water snob.  I was so easy to please back in the day, drinking mineral-filled well water by the gallons, pretending to love it.  But somewhere along the way, I lost my tap water drinking roots.  And now, I drink 99.9% bottled water, unless I am at a restaurant.  And not just bottled water, spring water.  I don't do purified water.  I hate the taste of it.  I don't do Aquafina or Dasani unless it's the only thing available (and even then I have to be really thirsty).  Spring water.  Only spring water.  I feel like David Duchovny's annoying date Marcia on the movie Return to Me.  She requests a bottle of water (no Swiss, preferably French water, no bubbles, cold, no ice, no glass, just the bottle and the straw) and then doesn't even notice when Minnie Driver replaces her bottled water with water straight from the tap.  And I hate that.  I hate being high maintenance.  I don't want to be David Duchovny's annoying date Marcia.

My water snobbery has bled over into my ice preferences.  I don't like the weird, crescent-shaped ice that comes from freezer ice makers because it forms to the cup and blocks my drink, causing me to overtip the glass and pour my drink all over my face.  I am clumsy enough all by myself without having my ice and glass work against me.  Regular cube ice from ice machines is okay.  It's acceptable.  It works, but it's not my favorite.  I prefer Sonic ice.  It's small, easily crunched.  Dissolves a little too quickly, but you put it into an insulated cup and it's the perfect ice.  

Recently I read an article about the safety of tap water vs. bottled water.  Did you know that the guidelines for tap water are more stringent than they are for bottled water?  Spring water actually contains more bacteria than tap water.  And honestly, the visual of bacteria swimming around in my bottles of water is just kind of gross.  Plus bottled water is expensive.  I buy the cheapest stuff out there, but it adds up.  And the waste from the plastic bottles... every time I throw one in the trash I imagine my children (that I don't have yet) growing up and being forced to live in the middle of a landfill because of all the things I didn't recycle.  

And so... I am going back to tap water.  At least for now.  I have moved to a new city with water that doesn't taste like metal.  We are going to try to use the weird moon shaped ice because our new apartment has a fancy ice maker, which our last apartment didn't have.  I may not make it.  The water snob in me might resurface, and I might go back to buying what comes out of my faucet for free.  Well, not free, but almost free in comparison.  So if you come to my house, don't plan for anything fancy.  We will serve you tap water (because we rarely buy Cokes and such) and ice right out of our freezer, hard enough to crack your teeth.  You might not love the taste, but we will never run out.  I think Grandma and Grandpa would be proud.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Why I Hate Christmas and Valentine's Day... only not really. I just hate people fighting about them.

It starts every year about Halloween, and it doesn't really go away until Easter. Thankfully, we have a reprieve from spring through summer, but I always dread it when the warm days of summer end and I know it's coming around again. If you don't partake of the madness that is Facebook and Twitter, you still may have to hear about it via forwarded emails and such. And the more Christian friends you have, the greater the probability that your Facebook newsfeed is full of them. The Christian Holiday Complainers.

Halloween is too evil. Or maybe it's spiritual and we can witness to our neighbors and you are evil if you don't participate. And why do we skip Thanksgiving and go right to Christmas... If we do that, we will never be thankful! And why are the Christmas decorations out in July? And those pagan trees... my goodness at the pagan trees. And don't say Happy Holidays or shop anywhere that does say Happy Holidays if you love Jesus. Santa Claus is basically the devil. Red suit? Check. Scads of little helpers that no one ever sees? Check. Home that boasts extreme temperatures? Check. Busiest during nighttime hours? Check.  Letters A-A-N-S-T in the name?  Check.  See?  The devil with rosy cheeks. And Valentine's Day is a made up day for stores to make money so we shouldn't buy Valentine's gifts for people we love. Then there's Easter. Don't get me started on Easter. It's the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ mixed with bunnies and duckies and eggs. And chocolate. Don't forget the evil chocolate.

It's the topic of blogs and status updates and the subject of great debate. And the conversation gets old. It makes me want to avoid the newsfeed from October to March, but then I wouldn't know that you finally cut bangs or that you went to Destin on vacation or that your cute baby finally slept through the night, all of which are newsworthy things that I wouldn't want to miss.

You may feel free to disagree with me, but I don't think that a three-year-old dressing up like a princess and collecting candy is a threat to the cause of Christ. Jesus doesn't need us to get mad on his behalf about Christmas trees and overspending. God is still God whether your local discount store chooses to say Merry Christmas or not. Christ's resurrection is not made less powerful because we give Easter baskets and chocolate bunnies to children. (Besides, I like a chocolate bunny every now and then, especially if its dark chocolate. Or peanut butter eggs. As long as they are Reese's and not the waxy Palmer's brand kind. Those are disgusting.)

We all have opinions about holidays and commercialization and how Christ is no longer the focal point of holidays where he should be. But the truth is, we are surrounded by unbelievers. And we expect them to honor Christian holidays with the same kind of Christ-focus that we have. It's unwise to expect Christian behavior from non-Christians. It's probably unwise to expect it from anyone, other than ourselves.

So go ahead, decorate your tree or don't. Do it on November 5th or 25th. I don't care. Buy presents for no one or everyone.  Listen to Christmas music in July or only on December 25.  Dress up as a scarecrow or a Power Ranger or a sexy teacher (I learned this year that this is a real costume you can buy and I actually don't recommend it because you will look stupid and because there is nothing sexy about grading papers and cleaning boogers off of desks).  Give your children Easter baskets, only skip the dumb Easter grass because it just ends up all over your carpet.  And keep telling the stories of truth.  Read the Christmas story as a family.  Read about Christ's resurrection on Easter morning and celebrate that we serve a God that is alive and well.  And don't worry that the truth will be lost because of the fiction.  We all know that Santa's not real.  Unless you are a child and you are reading this.  In which case, Santa is very real.  And he's not the devil.  That was a funny joke.  And please stop wiping your boogers on your school desk.  The end.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Moving Day Eve

I am tired. Like I-could-pass-out-right-here-on-the-couch-and-not-wake-up-until-tomorrow-night tired. For the last few weeks, my days have been filled with packing, church work (at two different churches), sitting in the hospital waiting room (my sweet daddy had bypass surgery last week), and more packing. I have done more cleaning in the past 24 hours than I have in the past 24 weeks, which probably says more about my housekeeping skills and less about how busy my day was. But I am looking around at my apartment, piled high with boxes and littered with an assortment of books, shoes, and mail, and I don't wonder if I will get it all done. I know it will get done. It has to get done. We have to turn in our keys on Friday afternoon, and they expect for all of our belongings to be gone. The question is, will I break down and throw a huge crying fit and who will be harmed in the process. I guess that is two questions.  But there they are.

I should be a moving expert, really. I have had 27 different residences in my 34 years of life, if you count the three different travel trailers (used while we were missionaries), one mobile home (also while we were missionaries), and the four different dorm rooms for each year of college.  And each time I move, I envision something that never comes to pass.  I envision myself the night before the move with a clean house (except for neatly stacked boxes) and an early bedtime.  And this vision has never, ever come to pass.  Not once.  And really, I don't know what I'm doing wrong.  I do start early.  I started packing two boxes a day a month ago.  And according to that plan, I should have been in bed hours ago, knowing that my things were securely packed and my house was white glove clean.  But here I sit on the small corner of my bed that is free of clothes and magazines, typing this blog and praying that I am able to function tomorrow on the few hours of sleep I will get.

One of these days I will figure it out.  I feel like each move I get a little closer to perfecting the art, and maybe one day my vision will become reality.  But like I said, it will all get done.  I will move tomorrow, and I will not leave anything behind (although one time I did purposely leave behind a washer and dryer that were too old to be worth moving).  Today the new apartments painted a green accent wall in our living room, and I changed my address on the US Postal Service website.  I spent exactly 48 minutes on the phone with AT&T to get my internet service switched over.  My refrigerator, freezer, and oven are all sparkling clean (and seriously, I am going to learn to clean those things more often in this next apartment).  I have double checked every drawer and cabinet to prevent the "Oh my goodness, where the heck am I going to put all of this stuff?" reaction that I usually have when I come across a cabinet that I am certain I had already cleaned out.  In the morning, I will wake up and I will clean baseboards and scrub bathroom floors like there is no tomorrow, even though there most likely will be.  Although, let me assure you of this, if there is no Friday, I will be super mad that I did all of that cleaning and packing for nothing.  And you should be watching for that fit and careful of your proximity to it.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Facebook Flirting (It's the Same as Real Flirting)

I have a few ex-boyfriends as Facebook friends.  This past week, an ex-fiance (a victim of my indecisive, immature early 20's) added me as a friend on Facebook, and I accepted.  He has a beautiful wife and two kids, and it was great to see how his little family is doing.  I have accepted Facebook friend requests from lots of men- old colleagues, former college friends, and guys that I met on my mission trips.  If you are on Facebook, you are undoubtedly virtual friends with people of both genders.  I mean, if we are friends in real life, then being friends on Facebook is no different, right?  The problem is this.  Facebook feels different.  Digital communication in general feels different.  It feels controlled, and so people treat digital communication far more lightly that they would real, live, in-person communication.  I would not sit in a closed room with a married man and have a private conversation.  But married women will carry on private, super-secret Facebook (email, text, etc.) conversations with a man other than their husband, and will not think twice.  I know it happens.  And you probably do, too.

I assure you, earlier in my life, I would not have thought twice about this, but I was ignorant then.  I am not ignorant now.  At least not about this.  And let me tell you that I know how it works.  I know that good intentioned communication and innocent friendships can turn into something more.  And it happens in the lives of good Christian husbands and wives, ones that would never consider being unfaithful to their spouse... until they are.  And then they don't know how they got there.  Slippery, slippery slopes everywhere.

So let me be clear about something.  Flirting on Facebook is the same as flirting in real life.  Flirting via text message is the same as doing it face to face.  Email or instant message, same thing.  Expressing affection or admiration for someone other than your spouse, no matter what your communication method, is a dangerous thing.  It's not okay.  And it comes in many forms... questionable Facebook photo compliments, communication that your spouse does not know about, random text messages asking about your day.  Some of these things seem kind of innocent and people may shrug them off as fine.  But most likely, it's not fine.  If you hear from someone of the opposite sex and you light up a little, there's your red flag.  Run, don't walk, far far away.  Run.  Because if you don't, it could cost you everything.  Your marriage.  Your family.  Your home.  Your testimony.  Everything.

You may think I'm extreme in this.  And I may well be.  I can assure you, though, that I would rather be on the cautious side than find myself in a situation where I am confiding in someone other than my husband.  I can't see any harm in being too careful.  I see the potential for all kinds of destruction in being careless.  It's a chance I can't afford to take.  And if you are married, neither can you.

So what do we do?  We have to be in relationship with people.  We work with people.  We interact with people.  We catch up with old friends.  We can't avoid it, and I wouldn't want to.  So I will tell you how this works for me.  I have myself set up with all kinds of accountability.  My husband has access to my email and Facebook accounts.  He can check my text messages any time he wants to.  He doesn't, but he knows that he is free to do it.  If I hear from a guy, via Facebook or email or text, he knows about it.  I tell him everything.  And he does the same when he talks to a woman.  Before Jake, I had girlfriends that I counted on (and still do) for accountability.  If I received random communication from a married ex-boyfriend or guy friend, I would let them know about it.  And they would encourage me to make right decisions in response to that communication.  Every now and then, they still check in with me.  And this is invaluable.  I don't do this because I am a man-crazed maniac and can't control myself.  I do it because I am a regular person, a sinner, with the potential to do anything.  I want to protect my marriage and my ministry.  Constant communication about who I am in communication with keeps me from unintentionally starting down a dangerous road.  Very few people start out wanting to be unfaithful.  Most are just being friendly.  And without excellent boundaries, friendly can turn ugly very quickly.

So if you are single, feel free to flirt with other single people.  In fact, I encourage it.  Flirt in person, via Facebook, text, email, however you like.  It's a great way to change that Facebook status from single to married.  I did it in a little over 3 months.  But if you are married, for the sake of your marriage and your children, save the flirting and the admiration for your spouse.


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