2.23.2012

The Final Freaking Rose.

Let me preface this post by saying: I have no right to write about pop-culture.

I sort of gave up that link to social relevance (along with regular hair cuts and a proper collection of shoes) when I moved out of the U.S.

But.

I have cable TV.

And my cable TV includes network television programming from Miami.

And my husband coaches football on Monday nights, so there's nobody here to work the remote control for me.

And that's the only way I can explain how I've seen the last four episodes of "The Bachelor".

And ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?! That show is everything that's wrong with the world. 

It's true.

If you're unfamiliar with the Bachelor (perhaps because you live on a submarine in the Bermuda Triangle), the premise is that a whole bunch of women meet ~and miraculously fall in love with~ one dude, and then he dates/makes out with all of them at once, and then, at the end of each episode, he kicks one or two of them to the curb.  Each weeks "winners" get a red rose and another shot at beating out the competition on the path toward the "Final Rose Ceremony", which culminates in a marriage proposal from, basically, a total stranger.

It's terrifying.

I'm sorry if you love The Bachelor. And I'm sorry if you think that Neanderthal Ben is soooo dreamy and you wish that Psychopath Courtney would perish in a freak accident so that Ben could ride off into the sunset with Nicki on Lindzi's horse... to your house, where he would dump Nicki and give YOU the final rose.

But, dear sweet baby Jesus, have we grown so apathetic to the human condition that we've turned Love into a gameshow?

I've been sitting there watching the carnage of The Bachelor on Monday nights with a cocktail of glee and pity as woman after woman gets her pathetic little heart stomped into the ground.

Do I enjoy this?

Um... I kind of do. 

It's so bizarre.

I'm simultaneously horrified and amused. I want 5 minutes with these women because I want to tell them how they're too worthwhile to be embarrassing themselves in this appalling circus act. But I also want to karate chop them in the throat, and tell them what a bunch of stupid idiots they are for signing up in the first place and that if they're gonna be a bunch of stupid idiots then they deserve to be crushed and humiliated in front of everyone on the planet.

It's a real dichotomy.

So I sit there all by myself on Monday nights, saying, "Change the channel, Jamie." Over and over again, I tell myself, "This is bullshit. CHANGE THE CHANNEL. Do not be a part of this crap. CHANGE THE FREAKING CHANNEL."

But I keep watching because I'm "just curious" as to who will walk away at the end of each episode with the elusive red rose that denotes her superiority over the competition, and who will collapse in shock when they realize that they have not been chosen by the douche with the roses.

Not gonna lie, it tweaks my heart a little when they interview the dumped girl as they drive her away in a limo. It kinda gets to me when she does that squeaking, gasping, crying thing, and then she croaks out her rejected dismay from behind a snot bubble. I can practically hear what's left of her tattered soul, begging the universe for answers - "If I can't find love on the Bachelor, then how will I ever snag a man before all my eggs shrivel up?!".  I want to reassure her that she'll be ok as they send her packing with nothing but a broken heart and, presumably, a cold sore.

The show itself is a travesty. And yet, as I watch, I can't decide which is more devastating; That the show exists at all? Or that, in my brokenness, I help it exist?

I am, however, reminded of one simple truth as The Bachelor wreaks havoc on the Earth with those damn red roses every Monday...

We need you, Jesus. 

We need your Grace. We need your Hope. And we really, really need your Love. 

Cause this thing we're doing? Where we turn pain into profit, and love into a gameshow, and then we put everything we have on the line for a final freaking rose that has no value...?

Yeah.

I don't think it's working out that well.

....        ......      ....

What about you?
Are you a Bachelor apologetic? Or do you think it comes straight from the bowels of hell?


It's ok... you can tell us if you love it.  ;)

2.18.2012

The Tourist Gospel

A million years ago, El Chupacabra and I spent a weekend in Manhattan.

We stayed in a fancy hotel, we rode the subway and the Staten Island ferry just for fun, we saw Rent (be very jealous). And we ate. We ate every quintessentially “New York” thing that crossed our paths; massive slices of pizza, fat bagels, cheesecake, hot pretzels, hot nuts, hot knishes, hot dogs, and anything at all with the word “deli” in front of it.

I loved that weekend so much.

But of all the wonderful things we experienced and of all the incredible calories we consumed, my favorite moment happened one night when we were walking back to our hotel from Washington square; A car pulled up beside us and asked us for directions!

Not even kidding! Isn't that cool?!

Of course we weren't able to offer any real help to those lost souls, but we were kinda thrilled that the occupants of the car had mistaken us for actual, legitimate, they-look-like-they-live-around-here New Yorkers!

Yes, I can understand how one might think that being stopped for directions under a street lamp on the corner of an iconic city isn't a very big deal, but I think it's pretty much the coolest thing ever. And it's not like I have some longstanding yet unfulfilled dream of living a sleek metropolitan life among the grit and glitter of Manhattan (Ok, fine. I do.), but, the thing is? I have this crazy huge aversion to looking like a tourist... I just hate it.

I know that you know who I'm talking about. We've all seen them; goofy, overly impressed, oddly dressed, picture snapping, map gazers, huddled in the shadow of the empire state building. Not that there is anything inherently wrong with looking like a complete douchepickle while you're on vacation – I'm not saying that. I just prefer to blend in, that's all.

I've thought about this a lot since we moved to Costa Rica, where no matter how hard I try not to, I will always stand out as a Gringa. Where, even though I've never subscribed to the missionary uniform of Chacos and rolled-up safari pants, I'm still obviously foreign. And where, even though I refuse to wear a backpack and a floppy hat on the bus, I still look distinctly out-of-place. The truth is, if someone figured out that they were lost in the little town I live in, I'd be the last person they'd look to for answers. A smart person would look for someone who at least appeared to be at home here.

So, all of this has got me thinking about what happens when, as Christians, we let ourselves be so far “set apart” from the world that we end up looking like a bunch of tourists, instead of the ones with the answers. It got me wondering if maybe Paul knew what he was talking about when he said, “I have become all things to all people, so that by all possible means I might save some. I do this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessing.”

All things to all people? Man, I love that. And not despite the gospel, but “for the sake of the gospel”.

All things to all people so that the blessing of the gospel might be shared. 

But here we are, the Church, huddled together in awe and fear of the big, scary world, wearing ugly-ass shoes and a stupid-ass hat, and talking like a bunch of foreigners - but we've got our fingers crossed that the people will see how we're so totally set apart, and then they'll come ask us for directions.

Hmmm....

....          .....         ....

>> Insert cheesy question to encourage conversation here. <<

2.09.2012

This is STILL not a food blog. But...

 I've been bakin' Picaken.

Yes. The incredibly odd "Picaken" has taken a foothold in my house, where we celebrated 3 birthdays in 3 weeks, each calling for its own version of Frankenstein's monster; a cake with a heart of pie.



I already posted a play by play of my first Picaken experience; the diabolical grafting of a blackberry pie and a lemon cake. But people are still asking for the recipe (which I don't have, because I just make it up as I go), so here's a general guideline:

Step 1. WORK OUT. I am not kidding - go burn some calories. You'll thank me later.

Step 2. BAKE A PIE. Really. Any pie will do. If you aren't into baking pies from scratch, then buy one. I promise people will be too filled with horror and intrigue when they see that you've crossbred a pie and a cake to wonder whether or not the pie was fresh or frozen.

Step 3. PUT IT IN A CAKE. Pour about a cup of cake batter into a prepared springform pan, then... dump a pie in it. I really HATE this part. This is the awful, awful moment when you loosen a gorgeous, freshly baked pie from its tin and flip it into cake batter as if it wouldn't have tasted perfectly delicious all by its lonesome.

You may need a drink to get through this. It will mess with your head that much.  

Step 4. THROW THAT SUCKER IN THE OVEN and bake it until it's done. You can check for doneness by any manner of child abuse: shake it, slap it, stab it, poke it with toothpicks. If it's not done when you think it should be, shout "What is WRONG with you?!" at it.  

(If, at some point, it looks like a Gremlin that you fed after midnight, you're doing it right.)

STEP 5. COVER THE 8 1/2 LB PIE/CAKE THINGY IN AT 2 LBS OF BUTTERCREAM. 
For the love of all things holy, make your own icing. That stuff in a tub may be fine for an ordinary cake, but this is no ordinary cake. This is a Picaken, people, A PICAKEN


But, really, make your own icing. It only takes 5 minutes! (plus 2 and a half hours to clean up the layer of powdered sugar dust that will inevitably cover every surface of your house)

Step 6. WORK OUT.  I am NOT kidding. You're gonna need it. 

Ok. Let's recap: 

You make a lemon pie. You put it in a vanilla cake. You cover it in buttercream.


Then, if you're me, you make a cherry pie. You put it in a chocolate cake. You cover it with buttercream.



And here's a handy tip: If your Picaken doesn't seem rich enough or decadent enough or sickeningly sweet enough -with its pie and crust and cake and frosting - add ice-cream.


I can honestly tell you, I'm Picakened out. I go to bed at night and pray, "Please, God, no more Picaken."

Making it is a real pain in the ass. And eating it is.... making my ass a pain.

But I don't get a lot of opportunity to spoil my family rotten, to do extravagant kinds of things for them. If I can give them something extraordinary on their birthday, something beautiful, something kind of amazing in its own weird way, I'm gonna do it. And I'm gonna do it as well as I possibly can, just to say "I love you. You're worth my time. You're worth a pie AND a cake."


And I hope, when my son's face was bright with candlelight and the rest of us were boisterously singing about how happy we are that he was simply born, he knew that he is loved and cherished, and that he is surround by people who pray that his wish will, indeed, come true.

Even if that wish is for a pie baked into a cake. :)



....    ....   ....

HAPPY 14th BIRTHDAY, Dylan!!! 

and 

HAPPY 18th BIRTHDAY, Stephen!!! 

May your wishes come true...

....      ....     ....

Have you bought into the "Picaken" trend? It's so weird, right?!

2.07.2012

I confess; I SUCK at email.

Soooo... How's it going?... How was your Monday?... Did you see the Voice last night?...

Ok, ok. Fine. I'll cut right to the chase (even though I have no idea why we say "cut to the chase"):

I owe dozens and dozens of you an apology.

Many months ago, I invited you all to participate in a series of Saturday guest posts about how ~ in your everyday, ordinary, not-a-missionary life ~ you share your Faith in non-douchey ways with friends, neighbors, coworkers, families, transients, hobos, hookers, girl scouts, plumbers, babysitters, and trash collectors.

And then my inbox went KAPOW!!! Full, I mean full, of submissions. And then I curled up in a ball and took a nap, because I just couldn't get my tiny brain around how to organize and respond to all. these. freaking. amazing. posts. 


I managed to stay on it for a minute and then I just... left it behind. Left you behind.

And I'm really sorry about that. 

I feel like a huge tool.

I just SUCK at email!

Other things I suck at? Blogging. Schedules. Common courtesy. Flossing. Opening a cereal box without tearing the top.

So you can easily see why it was not a great idea for me to be all, "Hey, Everybody, send me an email that you've dumped your heart and soul into!" (And, also, why the cereal is stale.)

So here's where I'm at:

I'm gonna re-launch the "Missionary Positions: How a _________ does it." series, because I think it's good and that it has value. And because I have a ton of really great, well-written, heartfelt pieces of work sitting in my inbox, waiting for their 4 seconds of pseudo-fame on the interwebs.

But. I'm just gonna post them whenever. I can't do the whole Saturday thing. Apparently, committing 5 minutes to do something every single Saturday is just too much for me. (Yes. I'm kind of pathetic like that.) I will coordinate each guest post with the author of the post - other than that, you'll just see 'em when you see 'em.

If you submitted a guest post (and then you never heard back and now you think I'm a heartless bitch for ignoring you), you'll be hearing from me soon. I promise.

*Sadly, I can't use all of these wonderful posts. I have too many "stay at home Mom" submissions, and too many "I'm a missionary, but" submissions, and a couple of posts that simply don't capture the spirit of the conversation we're trying to have, or are just too long. Plus, if I used them all, this series would last for like 3 years, and that would be weird.*

Also - I'm not accepting new submissions at this time. Sorry. Just can't be done.

So.

First, I'm asking for your forgiveness. 

I dropped the ball. I neglected some souls. I failed to heed God's leading and I failed to care for the gifts He has given me.

And I'm really, really sorry about all of that. 

Second, I'm asking for your patience as I make a silly attempt at organizing the mess I've made. I swear, this is like asking a 4 year old to give a car an oil change - my inbox feels that complicated and overwhelming to me. But I'm going to do this. I just am.

Third, I'm hoping that you'll stay tuned. The series will continue in a jiffy. (Yes. A jiffy. Why do we say these odd things?!)

Anyway.

I really like you guys. I don't say that often enough, but I'm so grateful for how you've turned a blog into a community. Thank you for that!

....      .....      .....

Are you good at inboxing? Or, like me, do you suck at email??

If you've got tips for how to stay on top of the email monster, I'm listening! Help!!



2.02.2012

For today...

Faith for an uneasy soul.

Hope for a reeling mind.

Love for a tender heart.

And Grace, amazing Grace, to bind it all together. Grace to wash over it all. Grace to fill in the cracks. Grace to salve the wounds. Grace to light up the dark.

Grace. 

To make you whole.

...

Amen.