What time is it? It's Hodgepodge time! Let's kick off with a question about patriots (with a lowercase p). Thanks to Joyce for coming up with these virtual conversation starters week after week. Somehow I think that if we ever meet, we will feel as if we already know each other--and still have plenty to talk about.
1. The NFL playoffs were held this past weekend and this year's Superbowl lineup will feature The New York Giants versus The New England Patriots. How do you define 'patriot'?
First off, as a loyal Ravens fan, the mention of the playoffs right now is a sore subject. For the uninformed reader, we lost on Sunday to the Patriots by a field goal. That's three stinkin' points. The kicker, at an easy 32 yards, missed it! Missed it baaaad! I'm talking a kick that landed somewhere in Nova Scotia. Half of us yelled, "Nooooooooooooooo!" and the other half were silenced by unbelief. For a city that bleeds purple, it was a crushing defeat. Our youngest child cried. Literally, he curled up in fetal position and cried. Yes, he tends to be dramatic, but like the rest of Baltimore, we were absolutely heartsick about missing our chance at the Superbowl.
But football aside, I would define a patriot as a person who has a strong allegiance to his native country.
2. What's something in your life right now that feels like a 'giant'?
We just got some bad news about an extended family member's health. I will share more when I'm able. It comes as a gigantic shock.
3. What's the first thing that comes to mind when you think back to being 18?
Misery. I was far from home, by choice, and I had wandered from the Lord, also by a series of bad choices. What I dreamed freedom of choice being like was an illusion. A painful, life-changing illusion.
4. Coconut-mashed potatoes-vanilla ice cream-mayonnaise...which white food would be the hardest to give up?
Mashed potatoes, no contest. Well, okay, vanilla ice cream would be a formidable contestant, but since I fix mashed potatoes much more often, I'd miss them much more often.
5. Describe an incident or a day you remember as the coldest you've ever experienced.
That's easy. And it wasn't winter. It was in early June of 2000. My friend Barb was visiting from Kansas, and had never seen the Atlantic Ocean. She wanted to stick her toes in it, at least, and maybe swim. The two of us went to Rehoboth Beach with my three older kids who were 12, 11, and 9. Ben was grounded for the first 15 minutes on the blanket for misbehavior, but the younger ones ventured into the tide. They were good swimmers with respect for the water, and obedient. The air was a bit cool for my likes, so I knew the water was too cold for me. The kids, however, seemed to be enjoying jumping up and down in the surf.
As they drifted farther out, I waved them to come in. Then I hollered at them to come in. Still they went out farther. I knew they weren't deliberately out that far, that they were trying to come back, but were being pulled out. Fearing for their safety, I ran out toward them, and then swam with all my might. Adrenaline propelled me. I got hold of Stephen's skinny little waist, but Sarah was beyond where I could reach or even touch the bottom.
The water was so cold I could hardly breathe. Every time a wave rolled toward us, I hoisted Stephen as high up out of the water as I could and said, "Hold on, baby!" and held my breath underwater. Jesus was underwater with me, as I prayed, "Please don't let me die in front of my children! Please save us all!"
Barb had yelled to a lifeguard, "I think they're in trouble!" and in a flash of red boogieboard and shorts, he darted into the water toward us. He got to us just in time for me to say, "Please help my dau--!" and then, just as if we'd been lifted onto a raft, a gentle wave took Stephen and me in to shore. The lifeguard rescued Sarah and soon were were reunited on the sand, shivering and shaking from much more than the temperature. I have never felt so close to death, and the worst of it was not the thought of my own death, but the possibility of losing any of my children. The second worst part was wondering if they were about to witness their mother's drowning.
That episode has kept me from truly enjoying the ocean the way I once did.
6. You're hosting a brunch...what's your favorite dish to prepare and serve?
I love to serve brunch. When the kids were little, we often had fancy brunches, complete with printed menus. We'd host invite special guests--grandparents, aunts, elderly neighbors, friends from church. The kids would dress up and be waiters and waitress while Paul cooked and I managed the staff. The kids' favorite part was finding a $3 tip for each of them, left by impressed and generous grandparents.
But you didn't ask about brunch memories. Sorry. I tend to wax nostalgic these days. My favorite dish to prepare is a sausage or bacon casserole. I can assemble it the night before and pop it in the oven 45 minutes before service time. It sticks to the ribs and I can sit and enjoy my guests in simple style.
7. How do you combat negative thinking?
With a trifecta of antidotes: prayer, scripture, and a prescription pill. Every day I need all three to keep me from spiraling slowly downward in my thoughts, which leads to a downward spiral of feelings. I used to believe that all I needed was more faith or more love. But then many people much wiser than I, and more compassionate than others, helped me see that my brain is an organ that sometimes needs help just as the heart or skin or pancreas or thyroid sometimes need help.
And yes, I do need more faith and more love, but that would be the case whether or not I struggle with occasional bouts of depression. I think it's heartless, naive, and utterly damaging to tell people that all they need is more faith.
8. Insert your own random thought here.
On the way to my future daughter-in-law's bridal shower on Saturday, we (my daughter, my second son's girlfriend, and I) had to pull off into a rest area for bladder relief. This rest area was not just a dog-leg off the highway; it was strangely way off the beaten path, and invisible from the road.
In the snow and fog, it was kind of creepy, abandoned, with only one junky ole tan truck was parked there. As we approached, I said to the girls, "Well, it looks likes it's just us and a serial killer. He preys on women between the ages of 20 and 46, who are wearing pink and black."
Just then a small car filled with two young men and an elderly woman parked beside us. I said, "And there are the witnesses."
At that moment, I didn't really care. I was thinking, "When it's your time to go, it just might be at the time you're "going"!