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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Rock that Tiara!

Dictionary.com's Word of the Day today is fructuous \FRUHK-choo-uhs\, adjective: Fruitful; productive.

And, here, I will use it in a sentence:

I have not been terribly fructuous with my blog over the past week, because I am completely and hopelessly obsessed with all things related to the Olympics.

I was actually going to do a post about the Olympics this week ... truly, I was.

But, this hilarious Olympics-related post by Real Simple Managing Editor Kristin Van Ogtrop came across my e-mail the other day and it conveniently summed up pretty much everything I had been thinking (minus the Curling one ... with that, I'm more on the side of being thankful it isn't in prime time (sorry, Curling fans...)) ... it's titled "Those Times in Life When You Need Your Tiara"!

And to her list, I think I would add ... signing my first book contract! :-) Now, go and rock that tiara!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Overheard at Tiny Tigers Taekwondo ...

There are about twenty of them standing in four rows, their little bodies perfectly erect, hands pasted to their thighs. They range in age from 4-6 years, and they look beyond cute in their white uniforms. You can see their admiration for the instructor in the way their eyes follow him around the room. They are listening carefully, as he talks about a very important topic:

Instructor: "You've got to have integrity."

Tiny Tigers, in unison: "Yes, SIR!"

Instructor: "Do you know what that means?"

One Little Boy: "No, SIR!"

He may not know what it means, but he's definitely got it! :-)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Shelter

We arrive at the shelter in the morning with eight carloads of first, second, and third graders. They are energetic, eager, sometimes distracted. In concept, they understand that they are helping, but do not yet know how much.

From our cars, we pull out bags of mittens, socks, children’s books, teddy bears, coats, and blankets. In addition, they have collected cans and bottles since the start of school, and have raised $106.00 to share with this place called Father’s Heart Street Ministry.

We tour their very organized warehouse-like surroundings, led by the founder. She is small in stature, but clearly a force of nature. She has been called for this purpose, and is passionate about serving those who have no place to call home. She is adamant they be treated as equals and called by name. There is no such thing as a John or Jane Doe.

It smells of cigarette smoke mingled with laundry detergent. We hear the click-click of a zipper as clothing is tossed about in a nearby dryer. Visitors are able to wash and dry their clothes once per week. Comforts of home have been recreated in the form of a living room area, with cozy couches covered in once-popular fabric colors arranged in rows in front of a large-screen television.

We learn that a second shower has been added recently thanks to the blessing of donations. The shelter is always open during the day. At night, they are open when the temperature drops below freezing. Mats line the walls in perfect piles. We are told that these mats – on frigid nights – are used by those needing a warm place to lay their heads. They take the mats, and find any open space they can on the cold, concrete floor.

A few of the school children remain distracted by the surroundings … the voices from the television, early visitors having a bite to eat. Most of the others have a look of concern as they simultaneously listen to the leader describe what led her to create this haven while watching an older gentleman, curled up on a mat, coughing deeply. It is sinking in.

I am having trouble seeing clearly, as my eyes fill with tears. I will not cry. The individuals here have smiled at us as we’ve walked through the facility. They don’t want our sadness, they have no interest in pity. They simply want our minds to be aware; and, if possible, our hearts to stir us to action. I blink back the tears by focusing on the sheer magnitude of organization throughout this place - - coats, sweaters, socks, shoes … meticulously arranged and labeled with care so items can be quickly and easily located.

My eyes connect with my son’s … literally and figuratively, they are wide open. He is clearly saddened by what he is seeing and hearing.

We hear of children who come and visit this place to have a meal, take a shower, read a book, and maybe receive the blessing of a soft teddy bear. Something to hug when they are scared, or cold, or hungry.

I suspect that each child’s grand illusion of how cool it would be to live in a car is slowly being replaced by the reality of what that really means, as we hear of families literally doing just that, or sleeping under bridges, or - if they are “lucky” – rotating through the homes of friends and families who have some extra space for a night.

The high walls of this large space would likely tell stories of both heartache and healing … those who have found hope, and those who are still seeking. The space is remarkably tidy and our guide shares that – upon opening the doors that morning – those waiting in line picked up a mop and broom, and started cleaning before doing anything else. They respect this space in which they are given the same.

I leave with an unrelenting feeling of tension in my chest that lasts well into the afternoon. But, that feeling is slowly replaced by others which linger long after the day is over … among them, gratefulness, heartbreak, inspiration, and hope.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Did I Hear You Correctly?

Mondegreen \MON-di-green\, noun:

A word or phrase resulting from a misinterpretation of a word or phrase that has been heard.


Timing can be a funny thing ... last week, I wrote about me and a friend misinterpreting the question, "How was the hike up?" for "How was the vodka?"

Mere days following that post, Dictionary.com sent MONDEGREEN as their Word of the Day.

So, as it turns out, "How was the vodka?" is a mondegreen. Did you already know of that word? Please ... be nice, and tell me you didn't.

I suspect mondegreens abound in the world of song lyrics. My personal favorite hails from a time before I could read. I had memorized many of the songs we sang regularly in church. There was one song, in particular, that included a phrase that stumped me every time we sang it. Nonetheless, I sang the words with all the confidence and vocal power I could muster, "P for Pine-sol, the highest good."

I remember being uncertain as to why we were singing about a cleaning product and how the church had picked Pine-sol as the best one. If I remember correctly, I even consulted with a dear friend. She agreed with the words, but didn't understand them either.

When I learned to read and decided to double-check the actual words ... imagine my surprise in learning that the phrase I had been singing, so often, as "P for Pine-sol, the highest good" was actually, "Be for my soul, the highest good." Ahhhh ... that made much more sense.

Think back ... do you have a favorite, funny mondegreen?