Since I spent the first eight years of motherhood in a really unique situation, there are many standard parenting experiences that I am now getting to try for the first time. One of those happened this week. Our first trip to Chuck E. Cheese.

I would like to go on record here as stating that this is the biggest racket I have ever seen in my life!! Where else can you take your family for a meal and pay $33 for a pizza that tastes more like the boxes that the frozen variety come in at the grocery store, and desperately collect tickets in order to get "prizes" even more cheap and flimsy than those toys that come out of the machines in the front of stores for a quarter!! When my husband came back from the counter and told me that in order to add some semblance of nutrition to our dinner by ordering salads, this childhood-mob-controlled "fun" place wanted $4.99 EACH for a salad bar that consisited of bagged salad mix, some of those processed 'baco' bits, and three (I am not kidding) choices of salad dressing!

When my nephew was little, I was horrified to discover that my brother and sister-in-law had actually told their kids that Chuck E. Cheese had burned down, and they could no longer go. I thought that was the worst parenting technique I had ever heard of. Well, I owe them an apology, because now my eyes have been opened, and I can begin to understand why they would be driven to such a deception.

I fervently hope that Carissa promptly forgot that place as soon as we walked out of there. Otherwise we may have to call her Uncle Rick and have him tell her his Chuck E. Cheese story!

Home Again, Home Again

I made a quick trip to NC this week to meet my enchanting new nephew and see my beloved brother bask in his "new dad" glow. I knew we would not all be able to go down together for at least a month, and I didn't want to miss this special time when a new life is so NEW to all of those around them, so I just jumped in the car and ran down for a couple of days. (I figure, "Shoot! If I can bring two kids into this world myself then I can drive myself down the road to see my family!")

Since I had so much time alone on the six-and-a-half hour drive I got a lot of overdue thinking done. Sounds scary, huh? The following represents the highlight, or at least the only part I could legally put in print.

I spent time with those who know me best and love me anyway. The ones who have seen the good, the bad, the ugly, and the downright indescribable in me. The ones who remember what I looked like in Wonder Woman underoos, and know all of my childhood nicknames. I listened to the voices and looked into the faces of those whose DNA I carry, whose own stories have shaped not only who they are, but who I am as well. I drove around and saw the places where monumental things happened in my life. My Ebenezer Stones, so to speak. The places where my sweetheart kissed me. The church were we discovered God's call on our lives, and where we pledged to love each other until death. The hospital where my baby boy was born, and where one life ended for me and another one began. And I realized that doing these things grounds me again-it makes me remember who I am and what I can do. It also reminds me of all that God has done in my life. It serves as a kind of plumb line, bring me back into alignment with the core of who I have been and who I am today.

The constant push and pull of expectations and deadlines that make up being in ministry tend to reshape me like the tides redecorate the shore every day. Being surrounded by people who don't know your whole story kind of redefines who you are, as you morph into only being what those people see in you. The reflection of more shallow waters. But I have come back stronger and more centered from my quick trip home. I not only drove several hours to cuddle my baby brother's baby, I launched myself back out into the deep waters of who I am.

Warning! Political Discussion Ahead!

OKAY! It has now been a little over a week since Rosie O'Donnell joined "The (Supposed to Represent Many, but Really Only Represents One) View" and I am amazed that I have kept myself from having a heart attack already, but today finally did it!

I told Chris he was going to have to block the ABC station at 11 am on weekdays so that I would not have a stroke or throw things at the tv when I heard Rosie was going to be the show's "moderator" (boy is that the biggest oxymoron I have ever heard in my entire life, or what?). Again, I have proven myself right.

During a discussion about the war on terror today Rosie made the comment that "Radical Christianity is just as big a danger to this country today as Radical Islam." And her statement was followed by applause from most of the audience.

I beg to differ with you, Rosie (and that ain't just an expression, I would beg on my knees to be able to differ with you in person), but you are dead wrong. I am a born-again Christian and I probably would fall into Rosie's category of a "Radical" Christian because of my belief that the scripture is the inherent, infallible Word of God and my mostly right-wing political views. Yes, I believe that homosexuality is a sin, although I think it is no more a sin than lying or stealing. Since I freely admit I am a sinner I have no right to judge Rosie or anyone else and pass sentence on their sin because I, too, am guilty. I adamantly believe that only God is able to judge hearts and is the only being holy and righteous enough to decide someone's eternal sentence for their sins. So although I might caution Rosie that she was transgressing God's law and therefore sinning, I would never sentence her to death for that transgression.

However, no matter how the politically-correct crowd wants to spin it, the Koran calls for the death of anyone who is not a Muslim. So while Rosie would be perfectly safe in my presence, if she were to come under the authority of a "Radical" Muslim, she would be summarily executed on the spot, no questions asked, no religious debate allowed. I think that qualifies as much more of a threat than my "Radical" Christian beliefs, don't you Rosie?

Rosie "The Mouth", as I am now affectionately calling her, went on to say that she just didn't understand why President Bush engaged us in a war in Afganistan after 9/11. Has she never heard of the Taliban? How hard is it to understand that the Taliban government was freely giving Osama Bin Laden the freedom and land to run terrorist training camps and train the very people who would eventually fly planes into buildings and kill thousands of Americans. I enjoy a stimulating political debate as much as the next person, but only with someone who is intellectually educated of the facts, and Rosie proved today that she does not fall into this category.

What really disturbs me most about this morning's show was the fact that this viewpoint about "radical" Christianity was deliberately applauded. Chris reminded me to keep in mind the probable makeup of the audience, which were probably all liberal, New York women who could not differ more from a Christian point of view if they tried, and I will give him that. But is our society really coming to believe that the moral views that are the compass of my life are dangerous to other people?

The Emerald City


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