Humbled by an insult.

I have been in my current job for the last 4 1/2 years.  In those years my job description has changed quite a bit, with different responsibilities,  bosses, schedules and titles… but one that has remained the same is that of “Front Desk Receptionist.”  I’m the first person that people see when they come into the church office, I answer the phone, and I determine who the best person is to serve whatever need is before me.  As the assistant to both pastors, I also arrange their appointments, assist in their correspondence, and vet any requests that come their way.  I wear many hats in this job of mine.  One that I also wear, being the front desk person, is that of transient assistance.  Our church is located right off the interstate and directly up from a railway station – being in a beach town, we get a lot of transient traffic, and I’ve often commented that I could write a book on some of the experiences I’ve had – you just can’t make this stuff up.

Last week was one of those times.  I was on the phone when I heard the door open and a deep voice say “Um, EXCUSE me?!”  As I looked up I saw a tall woman with a lot of makeup, large sunglasses, huge blonde hair, a tight top that accentuated a large chest, and a short skirt.  A very short skirt.  That didn’t quite hide the VERY hairy masculine thighs.  This was quite obviously a man dressed as a woman.  When I completed my phone call I asked politely, “Hi!  How can I help you?”  to which they* asked to see the pastor because they were in the middle of a family crisis and needed to talk to someone.  We have two pastors on staff – one was off site at an appointment and the other had just stepped into a meeting.  I haven’t been in this job this long to not know that “I need to speak to a pastor” is usually code for “I need money and I think if my request goes to a pastor, or comes from a pastor, then my chances are better at getting what I want.”

*I do not know if this individual was transgender or was a transvestite, so just to keep it simple, I will refer to he/she/him/her as “they”

I explained that both pastors were unavailable, but I would be happy to help them with anything they need, to which they  looked down their nose at me and said in a haughty voice “Oh no, because my issue is spiritual and you couldn’t possibly help me because YOU are only a secretary.”  I honestly was speechless (and if you know me at all, you know that’s unusual!)  I have been cussed at, I’ve been threatened, I’ve heard the voice of demons from a possessed person ( oh yes… ), but I’ve not been so blatantly insulted and dismissed.  I crossed my arms in front of my chest and said “Alrighty then…”

They sat down in the office armchair and said “I’ll just wait until the pastor is available for me”  I could tell that they wouldn’t listen to anything I had to say, so I told them to wait.  About 15 minutes later one of our pastors came in and I explained that their attention was needed for this individual.  He asked me “Do they want money?” to which I responded, “No, they said it was spiritual.”  He took them into his office, came out 5 minutes later and said “Their name is Alex, and they need money.”  I’ll admit, I looked at him and said “Would you please explain that I couldn’t POSSIBLY help them since I’m ONLY a secretary?”  Yep, I was feeling snarky.  The pastors and I have a pretty good relationship, we know each other’s personalities and respect each other greatly, and they know that I don’t normally get this defensive or resistant to offering help.  But I was!  I was offended!  I could have helped them – but no, I was cast to the side.  I held on to my righteous indignation as fuel for why I shouldn’t be asked to help them.  If he wanted to help them?  Be my guest buddy, just don’t ask me to help this insulting individual!

I won’t go into the details, but my pastor and I did help Alex.  But I’ll admit, I bristled over this for quite a while.  I turned the attention back on myself in every retelling, saying “It’s not every day that you get insulted by a transvestite in a church office!”  Which is definitely true… and makes for a fantastic intro to a story… Just think, I could write a book called “Tales from the Front Desk” and that would be the first sentence.  Talk about an attention-getter! New York Times Best Seller list for sure!

But then a few days later I read a post on Facebook from a lady whose son performed in a drag show in Denver.  And she, her mother, and her other children went to see him perform. “He was fantastic,” she wrote, “but what shocked me more than anything was the bartender that called me “mom”, and called my mother “Grandma”.   Throughout the night, none of these young people could believe that we were there to support my son.  They hugged me, they cried, telling me how their own parents wouldn’t talk to them because they are gay, in some instances told them that they should die and weren’t wanted anymore.  I gave out more hugs than I have in the past year on that night.  These kids need their mom.”  And my heart broke.  I sat on my couch silently crying… as a mom, crying for any child who yearns for their mom and is turned away, for the broken relationships and judgement.

And then it hit me.  As I sat there in my cozy air conditioned office in a beach town, with my white heterosexual marriage and 3 kids picket fence life… did I really SEE Alex in front of me, or was I too consumed with feeling insulted?  What was their story?  Did I even stop to ask?  Where was their mom?  Did I turn them away like so much of the world has?  Yes, I did.  I grabbed onto the insult  and hurt feelings and, like a dog with a bone, gnawed on it over and over and wouldn’t let go.

Not that it makes the insulting words ok… it doesn’t.  But that’s not the point.  The point is, as I told this story to others, I started off with the joke.  Because it was easy.  The way they treated me didn’t have anything to do with how they dressed or what gender they identified with… and yet I included it in the punchline.  Because it was easy to do.  It was an easy joke.  It got the reaction I was looking for, the laugh, the disbelief.

I most definitely wasn’t Christ at that moment.  In my position I have the opportunities to be a blessing… and on that day I didn’t look at Alex and see a hurting child, I saw an insulting person who didn’t treat me in a respectful manner.  I didn’t set my own agenda aside and take the opportunity to witness, to be gracious, to extend mercy instead of judgement.  It felt good to be the insulted one, to carry my cross of “look at me!  can you believe what happened to me”

And I’m ashamed.

You can bet that from now on every person who walk into my office will be Alex to me.  I’ll set my own stupid pride aside and ask Christ who He wants me to be in that instance.  To try and see them as He sees them, no matter what they may say or do.  After all, I’m not “only” a secretary… I’m doing His work, being His hands and feet, to every person no matter how they act.

 

 

 

 

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RADS

Yesterday while trying to sort through a difficult situation involving an acquaintance I am in regular contact with, a situation in which I was unnecessarily reprimanded and belittled, I came up with the acronym RADS – Rise Above, Don’t Strangle.  Initially I laughed and it carried me through the day – the minute I started to dwell on the injustice and frustration, I would tell myself to “Rise Above” and it would calm my heart.

 

But the more I thought about it, the more I realized just how applicable it is… not just in the quippy lighthearted “save me from wanting to strangle this person in this moment” sort of way,  but symbolically – if I dwell on the feelings of frustration and replay the scenarios and responses over and over in my head, I will be “strangled” by those emotions.  They will overwhelm me and steal from me the air I need to breathe and grow.  They will poison rather than encourage growth.

RADS – Rise Above, Don’t Strangle.

ye royal hodgepodgeyness…

 

1. The last place you visited/patronized where you felt like you were given ‘the royal treatment’?
Ok, this is going to sound silly.. but I went to the grand opening of a new store here in town last month, and as they opened the doors for us, all of the employees applauded as we came in, shouting and cheering.  It was kinda cool.

Before that, at my cousin’s wedding a couple of years ago – definitely the most elegant affair I have ever been to!
2. The last task you completed that was a ‘royal pain’?
Cutting down an overgrown bush in our front yard. But it’s done!  Now to figure out what to put there that will be pretty, but low maintenance, but not grow so tall that it covers our house numbers.
3. How have your strengths helped you succeed? How have your faults hindered you?
My communication skills have helped me in my job, to help my bosses communicate effectively.  My faults -I can take things personally when they aren’t meant to be personal.
4. If you found a remote that could rewind, fast forward, stop and start time, what would you do with it?
Oh man – I would revisit when my babies were babies, enjoy the precious toddler and preschool and elementary days, I would go back and visit with my grandparents – I mean, REALLY visit with them.  I don’t know that I would fast forward – some things are better left unknown.
5. Any special plans for the Memorial Day weekend? Will you in some way honor or recognize the meaning of this day (remembering people who died in service to their country)? Have you ever been to Arlington National Cemetery? Does your town do anything special to mark the day?
This Memorial Day weekend we are visiting my in-laws – I’m really looking forward to getting away for a few days!  my hubby has a conference up in that area this week, so the younger kiddos and I are driving up, and our eldest is flying up, and we all be together – away from school and work and free to take naps and lay by the pool and go kayaking and drink wine and… ahhhh….

 

AND, we’ll get to see a fried of ours that we haven’t seen for a really really long time!  A friend that served with my husband in the Air Force, and they almost lost their lives together during a mission.  Appropriate to see them on Memorial Day weekend for sure, a time when we remember those who didn’t come home.

We visited Arlington Cemetery on a trip to DC 14 years ago – it is an incredibly awe-inspiring place.  I loved the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier as well, though I didn’t get to stay long as I had a crankypants toddler with me at the time.
6.  Insert your own random thought here.

In the word “scent” – is the ‘s’ silent, or is the ‘c’? 😉

Blessed…

 

 

1. What’s a word that describes your life? A word you wish described your life?

The same word that describes my life is the same I wish it described…. blessed.  Truly. Blessed.
2. Back in my day we___________________________________?

Didn’t have computers in our houses, (or in our pockets!),  phones were only attached to the wall, and we had aluminum foil on our rabbit ears antennae that we would have to adjust to get a clearer picture.

3. When it comes to takeout are you more likely to opt for Italian, Mexican, or Chinese food? Does a typical week at your house include takeout?

I would have to say Italian, because we get pizza.  Hubs and I have been trying to eat cleaner and better, and so when we “splurge”, that’s our treat to the kids, and to ourselves.
4. Think about the people you most respect. What is it about them that earned your respect?
They don’t speak often… but when they do, you listen because you know it has been well thought out and is full of wisdom.  They also love well.
5. What’s something your friends might see and say is ‘so you’?

Anything with tulips, a cute coffee mug, a soft blanket, an inspiring scripture or quote, an awesome llama picture like the one I saw at Homegoods yesterday and really kinda want for my house but have no idea where to put it or how to get it past my not-so-finding-it-funny hubs! 😉
6.  Insert your own random thought here.

ugh, I’m exhausted.  Ironically, I bought new pillows this weekend, but they aren’t squishy like our old ones, so I’ve actually been waking up in the middle of the night trying to get comfortable.  So I exchanged them tonight.  Here’s hoping for a good night sleep!  Good night friends!

Whales, worcestershire, and Dennis Quaid

Spring!  Even out here in sunny California, I get excited when my bulbs start popping out of the ground, the trees get new growth, and I start figuring out what to do with our garden.  We tried to transplant a small palm last spring, and it didn’t make it… so now we have a big hole in the back corner of our yard that we are debating what to do with.  Hubby wants another palm, I want a larger tree that my grand babies can climb and swing from someday… so, we’ll see what we end up doing!  But in the meantime, lets Hodgepodge!

1. On this first official day of spring tell us something (besides the weather) you’re looking forward to in this season of the year.

We are taking my dad whale watching this Saturday to celebrate his 80th birthday! I love that we live where the whales migrate every spring, and I’m truly praying that we actually get to see some on Saturday!

2. When it comes to spring cleaning would you rather wash windows or wash baseboards? Clean out closets or clean out the garage? Dust ceiling fans or dust bookcases? Wipe down the patio furniture outside or wipe down the light fixtures inside? Any of these tasks recently completed?

We have some really really high windows that never get washed – so if I had a ladder tall enough, I would LOVE to wash those windows.  Or hire someone to do it.  I’d rather clean out the garage, because it always seems like it needs to be done, and since our laundry is in the garage, I see the mess often and it drives me crazy!  I’d rather dust the ceiling fans, and wipe down the patio furniture.

Most recently I cleaned out the garage, but all of the other items are on my “to do” list.

3. Your favorite thing to make/eat that calls for cream cheese? Sour cream? Whipped cream?

Cream cheese – can’t go wrong with cheese cake!

Sour cream – I have a yummy chicken sour cream enchilada recipe!

Whipped cream – topped with strawberries, fresh lemon zest, and blueberries… yummmmm!
4. I read here a list of commonly mispronounced words. What is a word that gives you trouble when it comes to pronunciation?

Definitely worchestershire! Stumble like a drunk sailor over that one every time!
5. What’s a song you love with the word ‘rain’ in the title or lyrics?

Bring the Rain by Mercy Me... just listen to the lyrics.

6.  Insert your own random thought here.

Hubby and I took our youngest to see “I Can Only Imagine” the other day.  It is the story behind the song by Mercy Me.  I’ll admit I’m not always a huge fan of movies with a Christian theme, mainly because they tend to be either poorly acted or poorly directed… but let me say, this movie was neither of those.  It was very well written, well acted, and conveyed the story well without being overly orchestrated.  Absolutely fantastic – I highly recommend it!

Side note – hubby and I were in Dallas last month and heard Mercy Me in concert, and at the end for the encore they brought out Dennis Quaid, who played Bart’s dad in the movie!  He just happened to be in the area and surprised them!  (You could tell it was a surprise because he hadn’t been sound checked or anything – couldn’t really hear him!)  He came out and played a song that he had written for his grandmother – it was beautiful, and made for a cool end to a fantastic evening!  Oh, and I highly recommend Mercy Me’s newest album, Lifer… fantastic lyrics and melodies that I have been singing every day since the concert!

Tea for two…

A lament…

Oh, sweet Hodgepodge… if you were a person I would buy you a bouquet of flowers and send you a card that said “Sorry I’ve been neglecting you – I still think of you often!”  So yeah, sorry blog… sorry Hodgepodge… I’ve been a bit remiss.  I’ll try to do better!  OK, enough lamenting… lets Hodgepodge!

1. What keeps you blogging?
HA!  Ok, I seriously did NOT read the questions before writing my into paragraph… I love blogging, it’s a creative exercise, an outlet, and I love the friends I have made as a result of it.

2. Some people like to travel in the winter months. Do you enjoy the beach in winter? According to Southern Living the best U.S. beach towns to visit this winter are-
 
St Simons Island (Georgia), Hilton Head (South Carolina), Bald Head Island (North Carolina), Seaside (Florida), Bay St. Louis (Mississippi), Cape San Blas (Florida), South Padre Island (Texas), Folly Beach (South Carolina), Chincoteague (Virginia), Duck Key (Florida), Nags Head (North Carolina), and Fairhope (Alabama)
 
Have you been to any of the towns listed (in any season)? Which on the list appeals to you most this winter? 

 

Um, excuse me… WHY are there no California beaches there?  harrumph!  Oh, I guess because the article is from Southern Living – all right, I”ll give it to you then.  I have been to Nags Head and Fairhope… both beautiful, but as a California girl, sorry, there’s just nothing like my west coast cliffs and ocean waves!  (this is where I live, by the way!)

IMG_3106

3. What’s a song you’re embarrassed to know all the lyrics to? Are you really embarrassed or do just think you should be?

The Copacabana by Barry Manilow.  And yes, I’m truly embarrassed.  😉

 Also, The Rhinestone Cowboy by Glenn Campbell.

4. When you were a kid what’s something you thought would be fantastic as an adult, but now that you’re an adult you realize it’s not all that fantastic?

Staying up until midnight on new years… I mean, seriously…

5. Share a quote you hope will inspire you in 2018.
“Nothing is impossible – the very word says “I’m possible” – Audrey Hepburn
6. Insert your own random thought here.

So, I’ve been getting into drinking tea at night – please give me your recommendations!  (I do NOT like green tea in any way shape or form though!)

A seasonable Hodgepodge!

Happy Wednesday friends!  Before I run off for the day, lets Hodgepodge!

1.  What’s something blogging has taught you about yourself?

I don’t know if blogging has TAUGHT me anything in particular, other than I like having a space where I can write creatively and share with my friends, and for that I am thankful.
2.  Leftovers…are you in the ‘reheat and eat’ camp or the ‘put them in the fridge until they spoil and then toss them’ camp? What’s your favorite thing to have leftover? What can you not abide as a leftover?

Oh I love leftovers!  I will take them to work for lunch, feed them to my family for dinner for days “What leftovers AGAIN?” – they are wonderful!  I love Thanksgiving leftovers – turkey sandwiches made on croissants (thanks to my mother-in-law for getting us on that tradition!) with cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, yum.  Probably my least favorite thing to have as leftovers are green beans – they just don’t taste the same.
3. ‘Me time‘…your thoughts?
Very important!  I think we often are so bombarded by people asking us to do things, making demands on our time and attention, competing for space, that it is good to separate some times and just be quiet, or to get away from it all. Even if it’s just a half hour walk, it is worth doing.
4. When people come to you for help, what do they usually want help with?
HA!  In my job, as church receptionist and pastor’s admin, it could be anything!  More often than not, it’s help getting someone’s contact information in the church, or to proof a document.  This morning I’m sending out a mass email to our entire congregation, so that’s on my mind today.
5. If your childhood had a smell what would it be? Tell us why.

When I was a child we remodeled our house and it took a VERY long time, as in YEARS, to complete – so therefore the smell of wood, in a hardware store like Lowes or Home Depot, always reminds me of home.  Also, the smell of oil, because my dad’s machine shop always smelled like oil!

6. Insert your own random thought here.

It’s advent, and like I mentioned, I work at our church, so this is a wonderfully crazy time of year in all senses of the word!  Constant demands on our attention, projects to get done, end of year reports, services to plan and implement, and amidst it all, trying to be still and enjoy this season… the lights, the smells, the reason we celebrate.  May God be very real and near to all of you this season!