Saturday, February 27, 2010

All That's Left is the Dirty Laundry

This was a week of regrouping for me, both mentally and physically. After plowing through the Beth Moore book and uncovering several knotty roots that need digging up from my life, and finally seeing (ohpleaseGod,ohpleaseGod) the tail end of a familial bout of illness that started way back at New Years, it was time for me to shake off all things deep and dark, take a few deep, cleansing breaths and boil the h-e-double-hockey-sticks out of all of our sheets. Do y'all do that after everybody's been sick at your houses? I do it every time - it's like a ritual to me, gatherin' all those nasty, stale linens up into a pile and carting them down to the laundry room where I shove them violently into the washer and run steaming, purifying water down over them and add a shot of bleach and plenty of foamy, fragrant detergent. Puttin' the clean sheets back on the beds, crisply tucking and snapping tight, soundly asserts with shaking fist to the weeks that've seen me weak, ragged and helpless, "Mama's still alive and kickin', and she's back in charge!"

Within myself, I've done a bit of ritual cleaning, too. I've been wallowing in emotional mire for so long, really, and the Moore book brought the stale, mustiness of my struggles to a higher level of consciousness. I joke around here quite a bit about being a perfectionist and holding myself to a higher standard than that to which I hold anyone else, but what I haven't said, because I'd never really looked at it this way, is that this perfectionism, and this higher standard I strive to reach are not signs of a noble heart or even someone who truly wants to please God or anyone else. They are symptoms of my own pride. What I'm saying to myself (and to the people around me) is, "Just doing enough - just being enough? Those are fine for YOU. But I am better than that."

Seriously. That's where perfectionism comes from, ultimately.

Think about it, (and don't confuse my criticism of perfectionism with a message that nobody should ever try to do her best or reach her ultimately potential, because that's not what I mean) WE KNOW BY NOW THAT WE CAN'T BE PERFECT. It's the truth. We are human beings, flawed deeply each in our own ways. My brain knows this, yet I die a little bit inside -- I allow myself to be deeply, deeply discouraged about who I am -- when I fail to live up to this perfect self I think I am. Even when I perform to par, but I'm just not THE BEST. THE PRETTIEST. THE SMARTEST. THE WITTIEST. Or THE FAVORITE.

It eats me alive!

I'm not living my own truth there.

Thing is, in looking at it all under the light of Beth's teaching and the scriptures she uses to illuminate her theory, I wonder how on earth I've missed this for so long? That I truly, at my core, believe that I am better than other people, and that's why my own inability to be perfect is such a HUGE and unnecessary stumbling block in almost every aspect of my life! Because I just can't accept that someone born to be SO AMAZING is just. plain. human. after. all.

Listen to what Beth says about what that kind of pride can do (and it can, oh yes ma'am it can, I'll be a witness to it!):

"... It's about ego, and we all have one. Let's face it. Sometimes people and situations make us feel insecure because they nick our pride, plain and simple. All the blows of life aside and every other root [of insecurity] yanked out of the ground, we wrestle with pride. Give some thought to the glaring connections between the two:

We're not the only women in our men's lives, and that hurts our pride.

We're not the most gifted people alive, and that hurts our pride.

We're not the first choice every time, and that hurts our pride.

We're not someone's favorite, and that hurts our pride.

We can't do everything ourselves and that hurts our pride.

We're not someone else's top priority, and that hurts our pride.

We don't feel special, and that hurts our pride.

We don't win the fight and that hurts our pride[...]."

And check out how Christians, specifically, use our Savior as a springboard for feelings of pride:

"Created in the image of God, we instictively know that something enormous is inside us. Pride is the result of mistaking the eternal for the temporal. We end up looking in to look up instead of looking up to look in. We get fixated on every self-gain or self-loss until, in our inordinate self-protection, we end up licking our wounds to the point that they can't heal.

Pride. A root of insecurity if there ever was one. We will never feel better about ourselves by becoming more consumed with ourselves."

Oh, I walk away from this book with so much, y'all. So much validation for what I've always THOUGHT were the roots of my own insecurities, but also this huge AHA! that has hit me right upside the head - that there's this fundamentally WRONG belief in me that is ALL MY OWN, and that frankly adds enormous, highly flammable fuel to what really may have been tiny little brushfires without it.

And this pride of mine is the festering, putrid load of dirty laundry that has to be boiled back to purity first, before any of the other issues in front of me can be successfully washed clean.

Y'all can subscribe to FriedOkra's feed here.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Like the Energizer Bunny, But with a Bad Case of Vertigo

If it's possible to be completely obsessed with a topic but also totally scattered and disjointed in one's treatment of it, I have officially perfected that artistic combination, y'all. I'm STILL writing about Beth Moore, and I'm STILL not gettin' said exactly what I want to say, but Sumpm just keeps pushing and pulling me to keep tryin', so I'm TRYIN'!

As I've struggled lately with my sense of value and worthiness and significance, it's come fully and forcefully to my attention that the time has well and truly come to face these issues in myself head on. What once were a flock of annoying crows that'd swoop down and land on my tiny acre to peck away at my self-esteem at random intervals now present a threat much more sinister ... read the rest at 5 Minutes for Parenting.

Y'all can subscribe to FriedOkra's feed here.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

And They'll Be Coming for My Presbyterian Card Later This Afternoon

I'm about a quarter of the way though So Long Insecurity: You've Been a Bad Friend to Us by Beth Moore and y'all?

OHMYCOUSINFATIMA is it exactly what I've been lookin' for/needing.

I'm a Presbyterian (Frozen Chosen) so it just goes against EVERYTHING in my being to raise my hands in praise or worship but I'ma tell you right now, I've been reading this book with one hand and keepin' my other hand tucked between my knees because it WANTS TO FLY UP IN THE AIR AT THE END OF ABOUT EVERY PARAGRAPH. OH YES, SIESTA! YOU TELL IT! AMEN.

I want so badly to sit down and write blog post after blog post about it but right now the answer I get about that is NO. Or maybe NOT YET. So I will tell you that I love this book and what Beth has to say so far and that if you so much as suspect you may be dealing with even the teensiest bit of unhealthy (because maybe there are some kinds of insecurity that are healthy?) insecurity, I hope you will consider taking a peek at this very heart-felt, passionately penned and researched book.

But speaking of Beth Moore, I wanted to tell you how much I really appreciated the support and honesty that y'all shared in the comments on my post The Ultimate Perspective. I always hit Publish on posts like that with a quiveringly heavy load of trepidation riding on my shoulders, because hey, I am the last one qualified to "preach" anything, so I just expect people (with deeper Biblical knowledge than I possess, aka just about everyone) to criticize and point out where I've gone wrong or just click away because WHO IS THIS WOMAN TO TELL ME ANYTHING ABOUT GOD WHEN SHE SO CLEARLY DOESN'T KNOW GALATIA FROM GALGOTHA (Do you see why I need Beth's book?) (Or do you just see why I need a concordance?) or for the non-Christian readers to think "Oh here we go! She's going to trot out her Jesus show again. Clickety-click, b-bye!" So hearing that those words were helpful and that you could relate to them was very encouraging for me and I feel so blessed to have spoken with you in a way that did some good and didn't turn you away.

With all that said (in a very long and verbose way), I also wanted to share JUST ONE MORE sermon of Beth's with y'all, which is available at the same link I gave you on the other post, but is the FOURTH link in the sermon series entitled "A Refuge in A Storm." I point you to that segment of the sermon specifically because so many of you said you are right where I am in the "insignificance" place (a very difficult place to be, Mama) and then from ensuing conversations I've gleaned that you're not only feeling what I feel, you're livin' what I'm livin', which is a life very full of small people and small activities, and that in addition to insignificant, you are also feeling TIRED and perhaps a bit empty inside from all the constant pouring yourself out for these small people, even as much as you love them and WANT to be doing just that.

There is a line that Beth speaks in this part of her sermon that just went ZING, right into my gut. I'll have to paraphrase it but you will hear it for real when you listen:

"If you are doing it day in and day out but not FEELING it, you need a BREAK from it."

And that is me. I am doing it these days. I do all the Mama things. I do basic needs, I do smiles and cuddles and kisses and I even occasionally get down and play with my kids. But there have been more than a few times lately (and chronically) that I hold a child close to me and kiss a head and stroke away a tear and say, "It's okay, no blood, no broken bones, you're going to be fine. I'm sorry that happened," and my body and voice may be doing the right things, but my heart just feels NOTHING. No compassion, no empathy, just sort of a dry, dusty, hoarse emptiness. It's almost like I have to choke out the right words, because inside I just basically, gutturally wanted to ignore that sad little hurting person because I'm just DONE that day. That's just an example (one that is horrifying to confess), but I think as Moms (or as servants of any sort) we can probably all relate to just having poured out so much of ourselves that finally we go to pour out a little more and there's nothing left in us to pour.

Can you?

Well, this snippet of sermon validates that numb/empty/dry feeling as a human feeling but also as one that God Himself recognizes and wants us to bring to Him. (You see, I hide it. When I feel that way, I won't even tell Al. And I certainly won't pray. I won't get in front of God because I feel so ashamed of not being full of gratitude for what He's given me - I don't want God to discover my heart in that condition, and what I'm learning now, finally, is that THAT is one of my biggest mistakes.) Going to God to be filled up, well, that's a message I've heard before but never, ever in my life has it been so relevant and never have I heard it delivered in a way that really, clearly felt so meant for me right where I am in life. If you're here with me, I hope you will give Beth your ear for about 4 or 5 minutes. I think you will feel lighter and less guilty (I feel hideously guilty about my emptiness) and your feet might find a path that gets you to a better, fuller, more connected life among your little people.


Y'all, I feel so pulled lately to speak my mind about the HARDER parts of being a Mom - to open up a little and let the light shine on my vulnerabilities in a way that makes other Moms (Dads?) feel less alone, less ashamed of any similar feelings they might have. But I never, ever want to go down a whiny or negative road with y'all (I save that for Al, the poor man) so if you feel me pulling you DOWN instead of helping to lift you UP, you will let me know, right?

No you won't because you're too sweet for that, so I guess I'll just have to be vigilant, won't I?

Now go listen to Beth, okay?

Y'all can subscribe to FriedOkra's feed here.

The Sweetest Memory - You Capture KISSES


Peabody's first bath at home, August 2008.

It's funny/astounding to look at this picture today and remember how reverent she was with him then, so gentle and hushed and awestruck -- a stark contrast to the crazy love she showers on him now, a boisterous, rough and tumble and smoochy-woochy and bowling-over kind of love that doesn't respect a single millimeter of a boundary between them.

Back then, he was precious and pretty and perfect, but still a tiny stranger.

Now, he is simply hers.


{Happy Anniversary to You Capture, a wonderful photographic/blogging experiment that's captured the eyes and hearts of many a happy shutterbug, both professional and well, you know, naturally-gifted-but-totally-inept, like me. (Hee hee.) You Capture is the brilliant brainchild of Beth at I Should Be Folding Laundry, and if y'all don't hop over each Thursday to see who's taken pictures of what for each week's creative assignment, you're missing out on some great photos, great perspectives and some really nice people.}

{Congratulations, Beth!}

Monday, February 15, 2010

What a Lovely Way to Burn

I spent my entire Valentine's Day in BED sippin' the bubbly. It was HOT, y'all.

(Read the sordid details at 5 Minutes for Parenting today.)

Y'all can subscribe to FriedOkra's feed here.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Peabody Has Some Thoughts He'd Like to Share


We cannot do great things on this earth;

(For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others;)


Only small things -

(For beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness;)


With great love.

(And for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone.)

-- The amazingly wise and loving Mother Teresa

(and the incomparably beautiful and benevolent Audrey Hepburn)

Y'all can subscribe to FriedOkra's feed here.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Ultimate Perspective

Hmmm. About that post I wrote Monday.

Now I'm not recanting or anything. It's out there and I said it and I meant it and I'll say it and mean it again, I'm more sure of that than ever. And there is no shame in feeling insignificant. It's one of, if not THE great human dilemma, isn't it? We all feel it: the working mamas,the stay-at-home-mamas, the daddies, the neurosurgeons (I guess. Are there any neurosurgeons readin' this who can confirm that? No? Yeah, I kinda thought not, but anyway.) every one of us deals with feeling insignificant at some point. You kind of have to, don't you?

But I've been schooled this week, y'all, and insignicance? Is a LIE. It's a big, nasty, evil lie spoken into our lives by the world to dim and destroy who we're capable of being and what we're capable of doing in God. I've been thinking about it SO MUCH since I wrote that post and I've reflected on all of the wonderful, insightful, TRUE comments there and I've been praying and looking for the real truth (because there is always a real truth to tromp on the power of any lie, don't you know?) and the real truth is that I am SO VERY SIGNIFICANT. You are too. And when we feel anything other than significant, valuable, FULL OF PURPOSE and meant for great things, we're measuring ourselves by the wrong standards. We're measuring by HUMAN standards.

This past bout of insignificance for me, I think, has been brought on by my hard-headed insistence on looking to the people and things around me define who I am. And then further complicated by my struggle to make myself significant by doing things on my own to prove to others how amazingly smart and strong and brilliant and fabulous I am. All on my own.


Lately (Okay, mostly. OKAY! Always.), I've been all about my own glory. And when the world around me has refused (as it will most of the time) to stand up and take note of my glory and bow to acknowledge just how amazing and astounding I am, I've been crushed, downtrodden, defeated and broken by the the lie that comes back, time and time again: NAH. YOU ARE NOT ALL THAT. YOU ARE NOTHING, REALLY.

I'm fundraising and I'm blogging and I'm Twittering and Facebooking - I'm putting myself out there into the World and every time I don't get a new donation, don't sell a cookbook, don't get a reply or a "re-Tweet," don't get a thumbs up on my status update, a little chip of my man-made significance falls away. The Blissdom attendees are all loving on one another and sharing beautiful pictures and recapping and being residually fabulous and sought-after, and I AM NOT SAYING ANY OF THAT IS WRONG, PEOPLE, meanwhile I sit here in complete unfabulousness, not having had real conversation with another adult in a week, wondering what that must feel like, to be that significant to so many other people. Wishing I could feel that way. Wishing for the success, glory and value those women appear to have in spades.

But those? The next big donation? The coveted re-tweet? The fabulousness and fame? Those are all temporary, human, things. Things of a broken, fallen world. I've had, and will have again, my eyes focused in the wrong direction, and each day I continue to seek a "fix" to my insignificance by "dings" on my computer or dollars into my fundraising account or praise from the lips of the people around me, is a day I write myself a prescription for certain pain, meaningless and emptiness. None of these things, even if they are showered upon me, will ever satisfy me fully or allow me to experience my TRUE significance, because these things aren't the things that matter. What matters is my value to God. He made me, He calls me to a purpose, He loved me deeply and profoundly BEFORE HE EVEN CREATED THIS CRAZY WORLD. And He means for me to have significance and impact that is completely personal, un-duplicatable, unique and eternal. It can't be taken away, it isn't one-size-fits all and I don't have to have the right shoes or a catchy tag-line to tap into it and have it shine from me every single minute. I don't have to spend my days or my money or my life's energy trying to convince people of my worth. I don't have to earn the right to be here.

That's been done for me already.

I am God's child - He's made me to be ME and no one else and to Him, and with Him, I am precious and perfect and I CAN BE JUST LIKE HIM.


Why on earth would I ever want anyone else's definition of significance (including my own) placed upon my head?

Now, lest you think I came to all of this on my own, allow me to share something I found (totally randomly but, of course, not by accident) today and immediately devoured. IF you are feeling as I have been feeling and IF you REALLY want to NOT FEEL THAT WAY IMMEDIATELY. Go listen to these Beth Moore sermons on "God's Purpose for You." (You'll have to scroll down a bit on the page to the links underneath Beth's biography to get to the links.)

And y'all? Be prepared to have those bootstraps yanked right up. Be prepared to KNOW your worth, even if it's just for a minte or two and you've got to go back and listen/read those scriptures again 400 times to quiet your human doubt. Be prepared to laugh and to cry, because you will do both!

I didn't listen to the full 20-sumpm minutes of each of these audio links - I skipped to Beth's sermons and turned them off when she was done speaking. I think once you've listened to all three clips it's a total of about 12 or 13 minutes of total lesson, but it's 12 or 13 minutes well-spent if you're in need of a little reminder of who you ARE and who you can BE and WHO'S YO DADDY.

And who doesn't need a little bit of THAT perspective, from time to time?

Y'all can subscribe to FriedOkra's feed here.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


In the flurry of excitement over my new tag line, I forgot to tell y'all that I posted over at 5 Minutes for Parenting yesterday. I wrote the post not because I needed to whine or vent, (even though I sometimes do) but because I think the feeling I describe is one to which I think other Moms (and Dads) may relate. There are some really good, uplifting and definitely empathetic comments already, as I knew there would be, and I'm guessing y'all will have a lot of great stuff to add as well.

We're off this mornin' to try and beat the blizzard headed this way and get Bean registered for her first year of kinny-garden.

Y'all, this registration thing has got me SO fidgety nervous and uptight. (RECIPE FOR DISASTER.) I feel like I'm goin' to take the SAT or sumpm! I've got my tax bill and Bean's birth certificate, which, by the way I just discovered has Colombia, South America listed as her mother's state of birth.


I've got the names, address and all 5 phone numbers of my emergency contacts and my proof of identity and my recipe for chicken pot pie and cash register receipts from the local Wal-Mart dating back 4 years and I've got immunization records for everyone we're related to on both sides of the family goin' back to my Aunt Gertie (the one with the mustache).

I've got my ... ugh ... checkbook. (Wheez.)

But what if I goof up? What if, on my first interaction with the public school system in this ittybitty little town, I do sumpm so stupid I'm immediately branded as One of Those Mothers and I can never undo it?

(Y'all can extrapolate by now, I'm sure, that I am fully capable of leveling this little hamlet with the sheer gusty, swirling force of my own confuddlement just by opening my mouth to speak, can't you?) (Allow me to assure you, I most definitely am.)

What if I perpetrate an act so horrifically embarrassing that Bean's forced wear a bag on her head for the next thirteen years?



God save El Presidente, y'all.


Y'all can subscribe to FriedOkra's feed here.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Always Did Get My Best Ideas While Up to My Neck in Bubbles

My college friends used to call me Wally the Walrus.

This is because as an English major, I had a modestly estimated 416 papers due every week, and even way back then, I secluded myself in the bathtub to write. Things just flowed better there. And I guess they still do.

Which is why the other night I was soaking away in a tubful of Bath and BodyWorks Aromatherapy Energy Orange Ginger Foam Bath, an idea just popped into my head.

(Aside) "Just popped into my head" is a phrase that gets a considerable amount of air time in our household since the day last summer when Al and Nana and the kids and I went and visited my Grandmama and Granddaddy Clover at the "retirement village," and we stepped off the elevator to find the two of them sittin' out in the common area as if they were waitin' for us, even though they had no idea we were coming. We walked over to them and they looked us over carefully, and it was a little bit awkward but then all of a sudden, Grandaddy Clover (who has Alzheimers pretty badly now) fired off, "AL FRIEDOKRA!" And my husband jumped a little and said, "Yes, yes, that's me, Mr. Clover," and Granddaddy smiled his great big wide smile that always makes ME smile, and he explained earnestly and with no small amount of surprise in his voice, "I don't know how I know your name - it just popped into my head." And everybody laughed until we were wheezing and wiping tears out of our eyes.

So now, at random intervals, Al'll just randomly shoot out an "AL FRIEDOKRA! I don't know how I know your name. It just popped into my head," and then we burst into laughter all over again.

I do not fully understand it, myself, but I think it may have been one of those "You have to laugh to keep from cryin'" things. You know what I mean? (/Aside.)

Anyway, bein' a direct descendent of Granddaddy Clover and all that, I guess I inherited the "It just popped into my head gene," so as I was splashin' away merrily in a cloud of Orange Ginger bliss a few nights ago, all of a sudden, two and a half years into my bloggin' life, a random thought hit me BANG UPSIDE THE HEAD from out of the blue.

It's a tag line, people. Which I have sworn since day one I would never-ever have, not because I have a personal grudge against tag lines, because I surely do not. On the contrary I think tag lines are as charmin' as a duck on a junebug. I just didn't think I'd ever have a tag line because a tag line might indicate to the random reader who might pop by that I had arrived at, you know, some actual purpose for filling up page after loquacious page of internetty acreage. Which I think we can all agree is simply not the case. If there's one thing I am, it's careful always to remain fully and firmly convicted in the purposelessness of my ramblings. And I would never want to mislead anyone into believing I'm actually ever planning on making an actual point. That would be inauthentic!

And yet, people.

It just popped into my head.

And once it did, I knew. My tag linear destiny had arrived in spite of me. Like the old saying about love - how you can't find it by chasing it, you just gotta sit still and let it find you? (They do say that about love, don't they?) (Maybe I made that up. It did work for me, though!) But anyway, it just popped into my head, I am happy to report that it is plenty vague enough that I don't feel the least bit confined or restricted by it. We can co-exist happily, me and my tag line, and best of all, with this tag line, FriedOkra can maintain its strict adherence to its Absolutely and Uncategorically No Purpose or Point Whatsoever policy.

And there it is, up there, by the porch swing, under the okra.

My Shiny New Tag Line!!

(If you put your nose to the screen and sniff really hard, you can still smell orange ginger bath foam.)

What do y'all think?

Y'all can subscribe to FriedOkra's feed here.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Dibs on Bein' a Beta Tester!

So I was just scrubbin' my kitchen floor and thinkin' of the countless hours I've spent at that endeavor since I had the childdren and it got me to thinkin'. The FriedOkra gang spends a lot of time and covers a lot of territory wanderin' around in this kitchen all day, there should be a way to harness all that wasted energy and make it work for me! So what do y'all think of this:

Swiffer® Socks for the Whole Family

... an idea whose time has come?

Y'all can subscribe to FriedOkra's feed here.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Hot Off The Rack: Cooking for a Cure, On Sale Now


The First Edition of
Hot Off The Rack:
Cooking for a Cure
lovingly produced by the members of
Team Cure or Bust
and benefitting
The Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure
is on sale now for only $15/book!
(Shipping charges apply for mailed orders, see order form for details.)

Hot Off the Rack, y'all, is a an absolutely adorable hard-cover, spiral-bound cookbook containing 250 recipes from members of my 3-Day team, Team Cure or Bust, and our families and friends. This work of love is dedicated to all of the dear ones we've lost to breast cancer, and honors those who are survivors and those who are still fighting today.

In the book, we've included a dedication page, a list of breast cancer facts, our team's mission statement and many, many helpful tips and tools for the home cook.

We're proud to offer these little beauties to you at only $15 per book.

Y'all can order your copy of Hot Off The Rack: Cooking for a Cure HERE.

(As a favor to your old pal FriedOkra, since orders will be coming from all over the place, kindly add a little "FO" after your name in on the order form so I can properly thank you from the bottom of my heart.)

And, people, don't do like I do and forget to plan ahead! These sweet little cherry pink treasures, chock full of wonderful appetitizers, beverages, mains, sides and luscious desserts, would make wonderful gifts for the other cooks in your life.

Y'all order plenty so you'll have a supply of unique, meaningful gifts on hand for all those gift-giving opportunities in the months to come!

Valentine's Day
Mother's Day
Wedding Showers
Housewarming Gifts
Hostess Gifts
Party Favors
Bunco or Bridge Prizes
Just Because I Love You, Sis-Mom-Bestie-etc.
and more!

Order now and I'll throw in a complete set of ginsu knives! And a toaster! And the amazing Belly-Be-Gone, as seen on TV!!!!

Okay not really, but do order now, as supplies are very limited, (and I'm not kiddin' when I tell you that they are FLYIN' off the shelves faster than you can say, SAVE ME ONE, PLEEEEEEASE!) via our convenient on-line order form, or contact a member of Team Cure or Bust (that would be me) or HER HUSBAND (if you happen to know or work with him, HELLO LADIES!), to get your cookbooks on their way to you today!

**For those of you who will be ordering books to be shipped, please add $3.50 to your total for shipping 1-2 books, $7.00 for shipping 3-6 books and contact me directly for shipping charges if you're ordering more than 6 books. Thanks!

Y'all can subscribe to FriedOkra's feed here.