Monday, June 27, 2011

break my ♥

I recently had the privilege of hearing Hillsong United live.  They sang a song that contains this line:
Break my heart for what breaks yours. . . 

A few weeks back I completed reading Let the Great World Spin.  I won't give a detailed book report, but one of the main story lines was about an Irish man who'd taken a Catholic vow of  service.  He moved to NYC in the early 1970s, lived in a project, and opened his home to prostitutes.  He let them use his bathroom for what bathrooms were created for {ie toilet facilities}.  He befriended these [working girls] and developed strong relationships, trying to [be Jesus to them] even though heroin kept them from cleaning up their act.  Again, the book's setting was NYC in the 70s, during the height of Vietnam and drug abuse.  Culturally, this is what was happening.  It didn't seem one iota like the world I'm living in.  But maybe, it's not really that different.

Culturally, Lexington {my city} is currently billed as "a great place to raise kids", a "well educated" community with many residents holding graduate degrees.  We don't exactly promote our street walkers, drug users and young mothers who work as prostitutes.  Yet, maybe we're not so different?  

Back to the song I mentioned at the beginning of this entry - I can't stop comparing it to a current news story in Lexington.  A man's on trial for hitting a policeman with his vehicle and killing him.  I am not going to go into whether I think he's guilty, innocent, etc.   But reading something in the newspaper Thursday morning really got to me.  The defense tried to argue that a woman [White], not the man on trial, was actually driving the vehicle.   Here's an excerpt:

"Did you consider yourself a crack addict?" Larson [prosecutor] asked.
"I was a crack whore. I know what I was," White replied.
White, 25, now pregnant with her fourth child, said she has been trying to get clean for the last year.
"The past three months is the longest I've been clean this whole entire time," she said.
This young woman, 25 years old and pregnant with her {fourth!!!} child, admitted on the witness stand that she was willing to sleep with men, for money, to purchase crack.  I'm not so naive as to be shocked by this.  But it does cause me grief.  Grief because, my gosh{!}, this is so unnecessary!  Isn't there some other way for her to live?  

White claimed she and the defendant had been to Applebee's together sometime before the accident.  Applebee's!  I have been to every Applebee's in Lexington except for one.  Who knew that in the booth next to my family, as we were enjoying that ridiculous appetizer platter, maybe sat a {crack whore and the man paying her for her services}? 

And that breaks my heart.  I'm sure it breaks God's.  I'm living my {mostly} happy life, while young women are out there, most likely even in my East Loudon Avenue neighborhood {it's not known as the ritzy part of town}, selling themselves for crack cocaine.  It really makes me want to scream.  And figure out how to help them.  

I'd like to track down Ms. White.  Yet I don't know what I'd do if I found her.  Yet. . it breaks my heart that her life has led her to the place where she can publicly label herself a {crack whore}.  What a badge to unproudly wear.

Sunday, June 19, 2011


There's a group of men that meet at my workplace twice a month.  Their purpose:  a fatherhood committee.  They discuss the importance of fatherhood and what they can do to improve it in our community.  Apparently, there are a bunch of men out there who aren't good fathers [you probably knew that].  One of our workplace initiatives deals with kids who have a parent who's incarcerated.  As in jail or prison.  We recently received an application from a family that desired a mentor for one of their children.  How'd they answer the question regarding the child's father?  
"He's locked up,"  written in big print in the right margin.
So, on a day to day basis, I hear a lot about  I think we've almost made it so that if your dad and mom are married, he has a job, and he doesn't abuse you, you've got it pretty good.  Which in itself is quite sad.  There's so much more potential to be something better.

Which is why I'm writing this entry.  It's Father's Day and I'm thankful for my dad.  I know I don't say it enough, much less tell him enough.  So, I'm writing it today for all the world to see.  [Okay, most of the world won't see this, and much of the world can't read English, but. . . . you get the point.]

My dad was a good father in 1968 [the year of my birth] and is a good dad today, 43 years later.  Not just because he's never spent a night in jail, but because he's done more than keep the "good dad checklist".  

I have a few {special} items in my room that I'd never part with.  One of them is an extremely worn t-shirt my dad purchased for me at the 1978 World Series.  He went with some friends and brought it back for me. Another is a necklace he gave me one year for Valentine's Day.  

My daughter Allie modeling the shirt and necklace.
Through the years my dad has bought me a lot.  The usual stuff:  ice cream cones, clothing items, piano lessons.  Yet, I keep these two items because they, though not highly valuable in a worldly sense, mean a bunch to me.  In 1978 I was a Dodger fan, and I knew my dad loved baseball.  Despite the fact that he really didn't like the Dodgers all that much, I realized at a young age that going to a World Series game was a dream come true for him.  So, in a small way, I'll always have a piece of that dream come true in my dresser drawer.  The necklace signifies my dad's love for me.  Every Valentine's Day he gave not only my mom, but also my sister and I something.  Sometimes a box of candy, sometimes flowers.  But always something that helped me realize he cherished us as girls.  I knew to look for that quality in a husband.  Not necessarily someone who lavished me with expensive gifts, but someone who wanted to show he thought I was special.  

My dad and I.
I'd love to meet my dad in St. Louis today for a Cardinals game.  Or buy him and my mom a cabin on a lake.  Since neither are going to happen, today I wish my dad a very happy Father's Day.  And send a big thank you.  For never getting thrown in jail, for spending approximately $1.2 million dollars to raise me [perhaps a slight exaggeration], and most of all, for being the solid, stable, rock that a girl needs.

Thursday, June 16, 2011


My sister and I go way back.  I, believe it or not, vaguely remember bringing her home from the hospital in 1972.  [Obviously I'm older.]  She is my only sibling, and one of the few people on the planet who I can joke with about the 3 boys that used to live next door to us who liked to streak around naked in their backyard and had an Iranian mother.  [Whew!  That was a long sentence.]

When we were children, I wrote stories for her.  They were silly, didn't really make sense, and were created spontaneously mainly to make her laugh.  Her birthday is June 19, and so to honor my sister on her 39th birthday, I dedicate this blog entry to her.   

My daughter [Catherine Alexis] is named after my sister [Catherine Ann].  Often my daughter, who we call Allie, will do or say something and I'll think, "Wow, that's something Cathy {my sis}  would have done or said, way back when."  Their personalities are in many ways different, yet in some ways very similar.  It's interesting, because I doubt anyone else in the world would see it this way.  It's often a deju vu type moment.  A quick glimpse of Allie, and I'll remember how Cathy looked at 13.  Thin and lanky.  Nice hair.  They have the same ankles.   

The sister relationship is different than all others.  The memories shared.  The perspective of growing up in the same place, at the same time.  I remember so many childhood incidents that we shared.  To others they'd seem unimportant, or anti climatic, but to us, significant, maybe funny now.  People we knew, places we went, things we did for fun.  For example, we had a tree house in our backyard - in an orange tree.  Growing up in Arizona afforded that.  There was a family at our church whose children had t-shirts printed with this on the back:  "My mom is a mother trucker."  She really was a semi driver.  [Really]  If I bring these people up in conversation, my sister and I crack up.  We can both recall those crazy green shirts [at least I think they were green. . . . . ].  We share memories of places that are no more.  Fed-Mart and Chuck's Market on 8th Street and eating Mother's Day lunch at Sir George's.  When there's just two of you, and you're both girls, you generally receive the same Christmas gifts from relatives, only in different colors.  Mine were always pink, hers always blue.  Today the interior walls of her home are blue, and I think it's because of this.  

My sister lives 716 miles from my home.  I wish she was closer.  I wish we could meet every so often and eat lunch together.  I wish I could watch her kids sing at their VBS program and she could attend my kids' band concerts.  But that's not where life has taken us.  She has a reason to be in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, and there's a reason I live in Lexington, Kentucky.  I find myself a bit envious at times.  Some women might run into their sister at the grocery store.  That's not going to happen to me.  Some sisters can babysit for each other, or double date on Friday nights with their husbands, or bake each other a birthday cake.  That's not going to happen to us on a regular basis.  Once a year or so, if we're fortunate.  

Yet I know my sister loves me like only a sister can.  She knows some things about me I'm quite sure nobody else on the earth remembers [she can recall occurrences from 1980 like nobody I've ever met].  She was my maid of honor; I was her matron.  Nobody else on the planet [or Jupiter] could have filled those roles in the same manner.  

So instead of sending a card mass produced by Hallmark, or something else she doesn't really need, I wrote this entry for her.  

Happy Birthday Cath!  I love you.

Thursday, June 9, 2011


June 9 is my wedding anniversary.  This year marks 21 years

I became a wife at 21 years of age; I was 2 months from being 22.  So sometime in this year of marriage, I'll pass into the time of life when I'll have been married longer than I have not.  That's an interesting concept.  I will soon have lived with my husband longer than I lived with my mother, father and sister.  

When you live with someone day in/day out for 21 years, you know him and he knows you.  There are things you cannot possibly comprehend on your wedding day.  If I become fatally ill, how will he handle it?  If I make a huge mistake, if I'm tempted and I succumb, will he offer forgiveness?  Sure, you can say, "love will get us through. . . . anything."  But I've come to realize that nothing is guaranteed.  Marriage is a long term investment.  It's risky because so much can happen.  

College and graduate school, jobs, apartments and houses, children, children becoming teenagers.  In sickness and in health.  For richer and for poorer.  Forsaking all others.  

I was a naive girl in 1990.  In many ways I grew up with my husband.  We learned so many things together about life, finances, people, ministry.  And we're still learning today.  I realize more and more that sometimes I don't have a clue.  Not.a.doggone.clue.  After 20+ years, I often still don't know how to be someone's {other half}.  No amount of premarital counseling or books by Dr. Dobson can prepare you.  Sure, those things can be helpful.  And I don't advocate marriage without seeking a great deal of counsel first.  But when the rubber meets the road, when the honeymoon's over, when life throws a big heap of poop at you. . . . . it takes more than an "I love you sweetie" to get you through.  

It's a commitment.  It's a promise.  It's an "I do."  Even when you feel like "I don't."  Because the story needs to keep going.  There are more chapters to write.  Even if they're short chapters, or dull chapters, or chapters filled with the adventure of a lifetime.  

My greatest accomplishment is the story of Chip.and.Deb.  It includes a lot of places, thousands of miles, 2 lovely children, a pesky pet,  some under cooked dinners, a few financial blunders, and a car accident in the snow. much.... more.  I look forward to year 22, and 23 and all the rest.   

Happy Anniversary to Chip and to me! 

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

{Princess Catherine Alexis}

When my daughter was young, I made up "Princess Catherine Alexis" stories for her.  I usually just made them up on the spot, and she greatly enjoyed them.  This one is in honor of her 13th birthday.  

Once upon a time, there was a princess named Princess Catherine Alexis.  She lived in a castle with her dad, the king; her mom, the queen; and her brother, Prince James III.  One day the king realized Princess Catherine Alexis's birthday was days away.  Because this was to be her thirteenth birthday, he decided to make it a grand one.  He thought, and thought, and thought some more and finally decided what to do.

The king approached Princess Catherine Alexis while she was in her dog barn, providing water for her 372 dogs adopted from the Humane Society. The king decreed,
"Princess Catherine Alexis, I have decided to allow you a great privilege on your birthday.  You will have the opportunity to make a new law, which will be enforced on your birthday, June 11.  If proven successful, after one year, the law will become permanent and will be forever part of our land."
"Wow!" exclaimed Princess Catherine Alexis.  "I'll really have to think about that."  The princess wanted to make sure she came up with a good law.  It couldn't be something unimportant like invoking a National Ice Cream Day or National No Meat Day (the princess was a vegetarian).  

She decided to get input from others close to her.  She asked her brother, Prince James III, if he had any ideas.  His only input was that every young child should be provided with a snare drum at age four, then presented with a new set of drum sticks every year on his or her birthday.  That wasn't quite Princess Catherine Alexis's cup of tea, so she decided to ask someone else.

She asked her mother, the queen, for ideas.  The queen had long been an advocate for chocolate, believing that every citizen of the land deserved not only access to good chocolate, but the ability to purchase free trade chocolate at a reasonable price.  She actually had pushed for a law requiring the government to provide Brazilian dark chocolate bars to all women born after 1965.  The bill got held up in Parliament and never amounted to anything.  

Much to the surprise of the princess, her mother the queen didn't offer any input regarding chocolate, but did suggest implementing a tax incentive to those citizens willing to grow fruit trees in their yards.  Princess Catherine Alexis liked the idea, but decided she wanted to reach for something bigger.

The princess asked advice from her friend, Carolina Amelia Francesca Jones.  Her pals called her Ginger (she had flaming red hair).  Ginger recommended a law that would help kids, as well as kittens, as well as school custodians.  She mentioned school custodians because she'd witnessed some gosh-awful messes at the neighborhood middle school.  Especially in the bathroom.  But this is a nice story so we won't go into detail.  

Despite Princess Catherine Alexis's love of all animals, she didn't want to single out kittens.  Plus, she loved animals, but had a hard time liking cats.

Princess Catherine Alexis asked Monsieur Renoir (yes, he was a distant relative of the impressionist), who served as the mote bridge keeper his opinion.  "You must follow your heart, Mademoiselle Catherine."

The more she thought about it, the more she knew what she had to do.  She must create a law that allowed homeless people access to free meals.  She just needed to put together the details.  

After a few days of intense thinking and drinking lots of Kroger brand chocolate milk (is there any better?), she had a plan.  She typed it up, printed it out and presented it to the king:

I, Princess Catherine Alexis, propose a law that would enable homeless people access to one free lunch per day.  One McDonald’s in every city in the land must stop serving fast food between the hours of 1 pm and 2 pm, and offer homeless people a lunch consisting of Annie’s brand mac and cheese, an apple, a fresh green salad and a glass of cold, Kroger brand chocolate milk.  Every Saturday, a brownie will also be served with lunch.

The king read the proposal.  A look of sheer delight came over his face.  "What a splendid idea, Princess Catherine Alexis!  I love it!"  

On Saturday, the eleventh of June, in the year of our Lord 2011, the king announced the law.  It didn't have to go through Parliament because he was the king and could do whatever he pleased.  As soon as it was announced from the castle balcony, the crowd below began shouting "Long live the king!  Long live Princess Catherine Alexis!"  The local television station, WKNG, got word of the story, and news soon spread throughout the kingdom.  

Two days after the announcement, the owner of Chick-fil-A put the following ad in the popular Kingdom Herald newspaper:

We too support the good work of Princess Catherine Alexis.  We shall also serve the homeless lunch, just like McDonald's, at not just one per city, but every Chick-fil-A location in the kingdom.  Except on Sundays, of course.  Our stores are closed on Sundays.  And we'll also provide dipping sauces for all who would like them with their mac and cheese.  

Rumor has it that Chick-fil-A wanted to serve homeless people chicken, but the princess, being a vegetarian, didn't feel right about offering them greasy meat products.  Or killing innocent chickens.

After one year, the law was deemed a success, and still stands to this day.  Everyone in the kingdom lived happily ever after.  

The end.

Monday, June 6, 2011

happy {13}

Before this week is out, my daughter will turn 13.  She'll go to bed on Friday night as a "tween" and awaken on Saturday a teenager.  

Am I ready for this???  Am I prepared?  Can anyone possibly be prepared?  I recently posted this on Twitter:
"Parenting isn't really parenting until your daughter is 12. Now it has begun."
Honestly, and I'm not trying to pick on parents of preschoolers, there's a huge/vast/enormous difference in parenting a child you can pick up and carry everywhere than in parenting a child who:
  1. Could quite possibly pick you up and carry YOU
  2. Can text 755 characters per micro second
  3. Knows the words to every Katy Perry top 40 hit even though YOU'D never expose her to this [questionable, at best] music
  4. Must abide by her school [and Dad's] dress code
  5. One minute is happy and sweet, the next is moody and not so sweet
  6. If left alone in a Target store, could spend upwards of thousands of dollars in a few short minutes
  7. Doesn't eat meat [by choice] and prefers only products not tested on animals
  8. Has her own political views and seems to prefer Canada to the US [though she's never been to Canada]
  9. Can run faster than you'll ever be able to again [meaning there's a chance she could flee on foot, if provoked]
  10. Could watch [for hours on end] those ridiculous real life tv programs about some poor woman murdered and left beside a gravel road in the woods by her 2nd cousin's boyfriend who was once gay but is now a polygamist.  
Seriously, parenting changes.  The risks get greater and the odds of her falling in love only increase with age.  I miss the chubby little blond girl who loved hamburgers.  Yet, I adore the lanky, thin, vegetarian that lives with us now.  She is beautiful because she's who she is and I love her a bunch.

Happy 13 Catherine Alexis {aka Allie} Monck!