So, Do You Come Here Often?

*Fair warning to any male readers. This is not your usual love story.

I walked in to the dimly lit and crowded room. I could hear the white noise buzz mingled in with the sounds of soft jazz playing overhead.

I noticed my heart begin to pick its pace up a bit.

Calm down" I told myself.

"I'm not scared"
I replied.

Slightly apprehensive, maybe that would be a better way to describe it. I mean, this is my first time and all and I have heard the sordid tales about this very moment in other women's lives and I must admit, it was all just a bit intimidating. Sordid tales of torture that would chill you to your bones.

Then she walked in.

And she smiled at me.

I gulped. For lo, soon she would have me in her firm cold grip and at her mercy and there I was half naked and no where to run.

For any woman, the word mammogram strikes a chord of trepidation deep within the heart. Ahem, the, er breast if you will, and please, pardon the pun. Because with that word comes all the unknown possibles that tag along on its coattails like some stranger's snot-nosed whiny kid throwing a tantrum in the grocery store. Not yours, not cute and definitely something you'd like to just walk away from with your fingers in yours ears saying "la, la, la, la" at the top of your lungs.

Being an intelligent, well-informed, 42 year old woman who is concerned about her physical well-being, this should have been my third or fourth walk down mammogram lane. Should have been. IF I happened to actually be an intelligent, well-informed woman who might be concerned about my well-being. Or perhaps it would be better said if I weren't such a big stinking scaredy-cat.

I am woman, hear me whimper.

And whimper I did indeed. Not only did I whimper, I whined and pouted like a three year old faced with a bowl of cold spinach. But, stamp my feet and pout as I may, along I went - albeit kicking and screaming (all inwardly of course!) all the way to the Dr. to have my first ever mammogram this week.

And you know what? It wasn't that danged bad. In fact, it was rather painless, quick and simple. And I'll be darned if I didn't come away with the cutest little flower and rhinestone bandaids!


Any who, that said, as a woman I feel it is my duty to put an end to the horrendous lies that have been needlessly perpetuated on down through the ages.

And since I've discovered over and over that my imagination is a far scarier place than anything I've yet faced in my life, I wanted to put the truth out there for all to see. Uh, so to speak.

Now, before you go thinking I'm some sort of masochistic sicko, I feel I have to qualify my earlier 'not that danged bad' statement with I wouldn't put it up there with going to the spa.

Except maybe for the cute little bandaids.


Yes, well, where was I?

There was the usual small talk. Light hearted chit-chat and banter to make you feel a little more comfortable. Although I'm not sure just how comfortable one can get with a total stranger handling such an intimate area while casually flopping you to and fro like you were that night's pizza dough. You know, lightly floured, kneaded and hand-tossed. Bring on the rolling pin.

Once the technician gets all familiar with your....self, decorates her for her close up and gets her situated on the metal serving dish, the acrobatics begin. Hold this arm here, that arm there, hug this, turn your head so, lean to the side and hold.

The tech walks away and says this will just be a second. Pushes a button, a low hum comes from the machine and your eyes follow as the little plastic plate over your...self...lowers, and lowers, and lowers. Hold. Okay, breathe. You are free.

Wait. That's it? That was all? I mean, what happened to running my girls through the old-fashioned clothes ringer and slamming them between two blocks of ice?

NOT that I want THAT to happen. But THAT is exactly what I've heard a mammogram is like. And let me tell you, what a relief to find out that it is not. All that whimpering and whining was for naught.

So my lovely ladies. I beseech you, do not be afraid. Love yourself enough to go forth and mammogram.

Afterward I removed my adornments and threw them in the trash with all the other discarded decorations left from so many others who've passed through her life. As I dressed I wondered to myself if she would call. Would I ever see her again? We had such a brief few moments together, would I miss her? I can still hear our song.

I wasn't expecting to hear from her so soon, but she called me back the very next morning. What did this mean for us? I fretted as I waited on hold to speak to her. Her voice was unemotional, even after all we shared. But she did say she wants to see me again. Well, at least part of me.

More pictures? Different angles? Sure. When? Soon? Okay. See you then. Bye.

Sigh. I feel so easy.

Houston Thanks YOU

Question: How do you feed a half a million people?

Answer: One meal at a time of course.

And that is exactly what the Red Cross, The Disaster Relief Team of SBC and Americorps have been doing for the past 4 weeks.

Our church, my work, has literally housed 150 volunteers and the parking lot has been a staging center for these teams as they work together around the clock to prepare roughly 30,000 meals a day for the City of Houston and surrounding areas.

Sadly, they are leaving us this week and I wanted to give a big Thank You to each of them. They have not personally fed, clothed or sheltered my family. But they have, so willingly, done this and so much more for many others.

Without question, Ike has left an indelible mark on Houston. Some of its effects are clearly visible. Just take a look around and see the buildings, trees, curbs and rooftops bearing the wounds and scars all over town. Some of the effects are not as easy to see, but no less profound.

Like these volunteers. They have left their very own indelible mark on my heart. They have come from all over our nation to provide a ministry to our city and this speaks to me of the love we can have for one another, regardless of anything we choose to lay claim to and define ourselves with.

I notice them each and every day in their meetings, in the comings and goings of their daily routine and they almost always have a smile, a readiness to talk and a kind and kindred spirit. This in spite of the fact that they don't get much rest and when they do sleep it's on a cot or an air mattress in our GYM. This in spite of the fact that they've worked 4 weeks straight under less than pleasant conditions. This in spite of the fact that all they have done since their arrival is give completely of themselves.

Here I am thanking them, and rightly so...yet, there is a poster just outside our Fellowship Center thanking us! Go is the most amazing thing to read, check it out:

Not sure you could read that. Here is a closer shot.

And more kind words.

And even more.

This poster truly touched my heart and every time I pass it I stop to read it again. It made me so thankful for what we as a city have seen rise up out of the loss and destruction. Love.

But you know what? I think of all the words written on this poster, these below in blue mean the most to me.

Comes in 666 Flavors I Might Add

So today in Sunday class we walk over to the snacky-snack section where we have a veritable smorgasborg of breakfast selections. There's the standard bacon or sausage and egg tacos, fresh cut seasonal fruit, orange juice and of course yogurt.

Me, I have my sustenance already in hand. That's right children, a grande bold brew from Starbuck's.

Also known as The Cathedral of St. Arbuck's. And since it is Sunday and I do love my does seem apropos.

My husband goes for the yogurt.

I eye the brand and give my two cents about the nutritional value of that particular brand. (cause I's the expert now. um. not.)

He looks at it and says "Naw, it's okay. It's Damnation yogurt..."

"Hon, I believe that says Danimals."

I'm pretty sure you can find the Damnation-Free Yogurt (with live and active script-cul-tures) on aisle 3, right between the Testamints & Veggie Tales.