Sunday, December 17, 2006

Christmas--from Wii to We

Last weekend my husband and I joined the ranks of insane people who sit in camping chairs outside a retail store in the bitterly cold wee hours of pre-dawn hoping to get a Nintendo Wii system for our boys for Christmas. Yes. We did. Although we both wore thermal under layers of clothing, bone-chilling winter seeped through our coats and gloves and scarves. I pitied the lumps inside sleeping bags lying on concrete at the head of the line near the doorway, until I realized they were guaranteed a Wii. We were not.

We came prepared to pass the time with my laptop and a Christmas DVD, but instead, we found enjoyable conversation with the rag tag team around us, those who shared our mission. Even the DS Lite mom was welcome. (Actually, we were grateful because she wasn't trying to get a Wii system like the rest of us.) And the teen next to us, poor guy, got stuck joking with parents instead of the younger crowd closer to the door who'd spent the night. But the comraderie was infectious as the sky finally lightened.

At long last a Best Buy employee came out with a clipboard. After a cursory announcement, he handed out tickets for the 21 Wii game systems secured under lock and key inside the dark recesses of the store--and ran out of tickets just one lady away from Russ an I. Argh. Time for Plan B: a printout of a Wii console from the Internet with a note, "Your after-Christmas gift" along with a photo of us huddled in the line in front of Best Buy with a note, "We tried."

Although disappointed at our failure to snag a Wii before Christmas, our mission was made pleasant by friendly strangers. Author Charles Dickens wrote:

"I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round, as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people . . . as if they really were fellow passengers . . . and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys."

From Wii to "we." It's not about the gifts. It's about how we treat each other.

Merry Christmas, fellow passengers.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Don't read this (it might warp you)

When my Honors English professor announced last week that we must watch Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, for discussion in class next week, my heart sank. I posted my response on the class blog, and then decided to share it here, too.

Borat on YouTube was enough for me to "get it." But when the movie became an assignment, I did some research. (If you don't know about this movie, read a conservative review at PluggedInOnline.)

And I chose not to go. So what if it's meant to be funny? Just reading the reviews felt like sliding through sewer sludge. Blech. I have better things to do with my time and money, not to mention my mind. Life is too short.

I think I've hit on a new slogan: "BE BETTER THAN BORAT." How? One of the best ways to influence people's biases isn't to make fun of them, but befriend them (if they'll let you)--or do something kind for someone else to make our world a better place. So what if unselfish acts don't make the news or earn lots of moolah--what a difference it makes for those to whom we are kind or generous or supportive.

As for lawsuits, I just read an article about the villagers used in the opening scene of the movie: "They claim film-makers lied to them about the true nature of the project, which they believed would be a documentary about their hardship, rather than a comedy mocking their poverty and isolation."

Okay, so let's Be Better Than Borat. Who did you help--or befriend, or encourage, or be kind to--today?


Saturday, October 07, 2006

My friend Shannon

I met Shannon at a church picnic. Balancing paper plates and soft drinks in our hands, we happened to sit at the same picnic table. The first moments filled with the usual quick niceties, the forgettable things you say to a stranger.

Then, somehow, we both mentioned something startling--I'm a writer, one of us said. Me too, the other replied.

What do you like to write?
I asked, which I find myself asking casually when someone says they're a writer. Lots of different things, Shannon said. She continued, I was involved in a writers group a few years ago, but would love to be in one now..... What was she saying? Me too! I exclaimed.

Then I took a breath. It's not uncommon to meet someone who dabbles in writing, but in talking with this lovely woman, I learned she'd put in some serious time writing, as had I. In a flash, I sensed the potential for a much greater friendship, the rare kind that allows instant communication and understanding.

Forgetting all about the chicken and potato salad on my plate, I asked breathlessly, You're a REAL writer? Yes, she said, her face lighting as if she also became aware of the meaning of this moment. Suddenly, we laughed together at the wonderful, amazing coincidence. Then we laughed at the incredible luck of finding each other. And we laughed at other similarities, like being mothers and wives and having birthdays in August. And we couldn't stop talking about writing.

So it was that Shannon and I started meeting in our own little writer's group, just the two of us (at first), laughing that we were the "blind leading the blind." Over time, our twosome became a threesome, then a group of five--a fabulous working writers' group of women with amazing talent, drive, humor, and smarts. These women brought to our monthly get-togethers a love for each other and a desire to serve God in this calling of writing.

And I believe in giving credit where credit is due. It was only after Shannon started reading and critiquing my work, along with best friend and author Joan (Rawlins Biggar) Husby, that I began to see my work published. It's thanks to them and the other amazing ladies in my cozy little writers' group that I began my serious growth as a writer. Thank you, Joan, Carolyn, Sylvia, and Shannon.

So it's with great pride and awe to see Shannon rocket into publishing. She's an incredible writer with deeply touching insights that always, always make me cry. It's not easy to write what someone is thinking, much less feeling, and her ability to pull back the veil and help me and others see truth in the light of God's word is breathtaking. I am truly honored to call Shannon Woodward my friend.

Please visit her blog for special inspiration at For an extra dose of blessing, consider getting her books as a gift for you or a friend:
  • A Whisper In Winter: Stories Of Hearing God's Voice In Every Season Of Life
  • Inconceivable: Finding Peace in the Midst of Infertility