Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Scared.... And Not Afraid To Say It

It's the week before Halloween and everywhere I look there are scary things: Ghosts, skeletons, witches, gravestones, spiders and their webs. Can I just say right off the top, I don't really care for Halloween. There are two reasons really. The first is that, being in the theater business, I'm dealing with costumes and dressing in character all year round. There's nothing really enticing for me to get into some kind of character or costume. In fact, I find it kind of weird that adults get so excited about it. When I answer the door for the Trick-or-Treaters, its just as likely that the parents are as dressed up as the kids. "Whoo-hoo" for them (Darth Vader and Marge from the Simpsons) but there's always that awkward moment of whether I should throw a Snickers or Skittles into their bag too (and why do they have a bag anyway?)
The second (and main) reason I'm not a big fan of Halloween is because I don't like to be scared. My boys will attest to the fact. I DO NOT LIKE TO BE SCARED. I avoid scary movies. I hate it when someone sneaks up on me. I don't like being in scary situations. On Friday, I am putting myself in a very scary situation by going to a play that I already know is, as my son Daniel put it, the "scariest play I've ever seen." I'm already really scared and it's still 3 days away. The play, titled, Woman in Black, is a ghost story that requires only 2 actors assuming various roles. I asked Daniel to send me the synopsis of the play, thinking if I read the plot, I would know what to expect. Wrong. I read the synopsis and now I am more scared than I was before. Thankfully, Isaac and Andrew (who, oddly, LIKE scary things) are coming with me. Their hands will be crushed by the sheer transference of fear from my hands to theirs by the end, I am sure. (You may be wondering why I am going at all, if I am so afraid. Its a long story but the bottom line is, its something I want to do to support someone who showed me a great kindness recently).
The funny thing is that the traditional form of scary fears I am referring to doesn't hold a candle to the fear I felt today. I got myself so worked up with fear, I actually threw up. No kidding.
Why? What was I so afraid of? Well, I had to make a few cold calls. That's all. My non-profit, Christian Arts and Theatre, is in the first few days of our 50 Day Year-End Challenge to raise $50,000. The Lord laid it on my heart to launch this challenge and so we did 3 days ago. I'm praying every day that the Lord is going to find a way but the truth is that clearly it is for me to do the work. Man, it's so easy on paper or when I am talking to my staff or board members. It's even easy to write about it (See, I am NOT scared now!) But this afternoon, I needed to call a businessman I had met last week to see if he had made a decision whether or not he wanted to help with the challenge and I was paralyzed. I was so afraid. I called my friend, Mary, who had introduced me to this very nice man and told her I was afraid. "What's the worst that can happen", she asked? Of course, I knew the answer (all together now),"He could say 'no'". That's right. The worst thing that could happen is that he could say no. What is so scary about that? Well, it will mean that I have failed. That some how I didn't use the right words to convince him of the value of helping CAT or the very real need we have or how sure I am that God wants him to give us a donation. I just didn't want to blow it. And I didn't want him to say no. And he was just the first call I wanted to (theoretically) make.
1 Chronicles 28:20 says: "Then David continues, 'Be strong and courageous and DO THE WORK (emphasis mine) Do not be afraid or discouraged for the Lord God, my God is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you." BOY! Now that's a fear-slayer of a verse, isn't it? Doesn't that make you feel confident? I have been given this task - this task of the 50 Day Challenge and I need to face my fear, pick up that phone and talk to everyone about it and leave the results to the Lord. I cannot control what Mr. Very Nice Businessman decides to do. I can only DO THE WORK.
[By the way, I did make the call and was sent through to his voice mail (maybe he was avoiding me, maybe he really was in a meeting....) and now I will need to call again tomorrow. So I get the chance to face my fear ALL over again. ]
What scares you besides the ghouls and goblins waiting behind every bush and tree this time of year? Hey, God's promise is for us all - he's with us and he won't fail or forsake us. So come on, join me in buckin' up on courage. I'll make more cold calls and you do your scary thing. I'll work on raising that $50,000 and you tell me what God helped you do: We've got 50 days to accomplish something big. I can't wait to hear your story and I can't wait to tell you the end of mine!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Time for Tea

Anyone who knows me even the slightest bit knows I love tea. From my youngest days my mom would fix me a hot cup of Lipton tea for breakfast or dinner. No sugar. No lemon. No milk. Tea the way God intended: Straight, strong and really hot. Of course, come summer, I switch to iced tea. "Iced.tea.no.lemon". My children order for me at restaurants. My staff, if they are picking up a drink for lunch for me, know. Clear, pure and refreshing.
Because I love tea, some people decided I should collect tea pots. I started receiving tea pots for birthdays, Christmas or just because. I never intentionally began collecting them and now I have dozens. Literally. Every shape, color, size and for any occasion. The very last gift my Grandma Mickey (my mom's mom) gave me before she headed off to heaven was a teapot shaped like a Christmas tree. It's one of my favorites. I also have a porcelain teapot and cups favored by Catherine the Great from the Lomonosov China Company in St Petersburg, Russia. My mother-in-law, Wanda, carried the set wrapped in the Russian newspaper, Pravda in a wobbly cardboard box tied with twine on her lap the entire flight from Moscow to Los Angeles without so much as a chip. An incredible feat to be sure! That teapot is also one of my favorites.
So where am I going with this teapot story? Well here it is. Talking about tea and a collection of teapots is safe. Friendly. Completely lacking in controversy. Now, what if I change directions just a tiny bit and talk about a tea party? Well, tea parties are for the most part non-controversial too. Lovely, dress up events that usually involve over-sized hats, cucumber sandwiches and scones served with devonshire cream and lemon curd. A yummy yawner of a blog.
No, I want to talk about THE Tea party movement and the incredible turn of events our country seems to be experiencing this fall. If any of my sons were reading over my shoulder right now, I know that a least one or two would be saying, "No, Mom, don't go there". So certain are they that I am going to offend someone with my wild conservative rantings. Yes, I rant at home and why not? You know what I think? (I get to say, its my blog). I think that for too long people (Women) who think like I do have behaved far too nicely. Nice girls keep their opinions to themselves, after all. When I was a young girl watching the students protests over the Viet Nam war or the bra-burning feminist movement, I was horrified. That's not how nice, Christian people behaved. I (literally) sang Kum Ba Yah around a church camp fire, volunteered at the Convalescent Hospital, and worked on the yearbook at school. My parents and their friends were all Republicans as far as I knew but they weren't passionate about politics. I don't think I heard my parents ever have a political discussion. They just worked hard, took nothing or expected anything from the government. The less intrusive, the better. I grew up with lots opinions about all sorts of things but never politics. Neither did any of my church friends. When I was a young wife and mother I was a speaker for an organization that held monthly luncheons all over the country. The clubs were cookie cutter alike and at each club luncheon they would remind the ladies that they only had three forbidden topics: We couldn't tell our real age, weight or talk politics. There it was again: Nice Christian women did NOT discuss or (gasp) offer an opinion about the political landscape.
It's one of the reasons (and a pretty valid one) that our country has slid down the slippery slope toward the massive mess we are in right now. We've gone to "heck" (children are reading this) because we've been too stinking nice.
Saturday Night Live has had a long run of making fun of conservatives like me. I have laughed while cringing. Tina Fey as Sarah Palin has gotten loud laughs from me. A writer I really love, Anne Lamott, wrote an editorial column in the L.A. Times (9/29/10), sarcastically ridiculing people I admire, musing that should conservatives win the majority in November, America will become an unrecognizable place of hatred, injustice, unbreathable air and a whole host of other terrors. I disagreed with her assessment 100% but does that mean I like her any less as a person, as a writer? Of course not.
But am I, a nice conservative Christian girl, allowed to express myself, to counter liberals like Anne with my own passionately-held opinions? Am I allowed, as the leader of a non-profit organization dependent on the kindness of grants and gifts from patrons and donors, to risk stepping up and out, lifting my voice for the things about this country that I hold dear? You bet! I am emboldened these days by the rise of a whole contingent of strong conservative women. Smart, secure, dedicated and passionate about our country and pressing the issues that I think are vital - a government that knows its place, protects the rights of ALL its citizens (including those yet to be born), and operates within its means, just for starters. There is a whole slate of them: Bachman, Palin, Fiorina, Angle, Malkin, Cupp, and on the list goes. What a turn around from my depths of despair just 10 months ago with the passage of the greatest boondoggle in America history, Obamacare.
A fire has been lit, we nice conservative girls have taken off our aprons, and stepped into the political arena. Things are going to get interesting!

Now, I'm certain that some reading this could not disagree with me more. That's ok. I'm all for the conversation. I love you as much as ever. Let's talk about it over a nice, hot cup of tea!