The restaurant that shall not be named

I didn’t eat Chick-fil-a on Wednesday, but I’m also not going to boycott them forever.  So I don’t really fit into a “camp”.  I know I’m late in the game here, but I had trouble sorting out my emotional reaction to Wednesday.  I’m sad that I’m on sabbatical right now, because this is great material for a sermon, Sunday school class discussion, or youth group.  It’s a great “case” to start discussion about a lot of theological and practical issues – it’s all about needing a good dialogue with people of every viewpoint.

Why I do like Chick-fil-a and will go again

  • The food is good, and healthier than most other fast food options.  Except the milkshakes, they are way too good to be anything close to healthy.  I think maybe they put crack in their waffle fries, because…oh, so good.
  • It’s very kid friendly – my kids LOVE it.
  • They give out lots of coupons (which never actually expire, despite what the date on the coupon says), and you know how much I LOVE coupons.
  • They give out free bowls of cheerios for babies, and you know how much I LOVE free stuff.
  • You can dress like a fool and get free food once a year.  Some people even dress up and go to three different CFAs  to get three different free meals, can you believe it?!
  • The restaurants are clean, they even have sanitizer wipes on all the high chairs.  And you know how my OCD self LOVES clean stuff.
  • The employees are extremely polite and helpful, carrying my tray to my table when my hands are full of children and getting refills for my drinks without me having to get up, all without expecting a tip and while wearing a smile
  • In college, there were several times for a fundraiser or other student event that they would generously donate food (every time I asked, they gave)
  • Their WinShape Foundation does support a lot of worthy causes, ones I certainly agree with, but I do hope this recent controversy gets them to at least take a closer look at the anti-gay organizations they support and rethink where they send their money.  Because it does matter, especially to their GLBTQ employees and patrons.
  • I truly believe the owners and executives are guided by Christian values and doing their very best to be faithful in their personal and business lives, even though on this particular issue I think they are wrong.
  • They close on Sundays (even though I always crave it on Sundays)
  • They are a very successful business and employ a lot of people in a difficult economy, straight AND GLBTQ people.  So boycotting their restaurant would be hurting their employees who work hard and need to earn a living just like the rest of us, and if I boycotted every company that did things I didn’t like, I would have no where to eat or shop.  Thanks to this guy for reminding me of that.
  • I respect CFA for not promoting the Appreciation Day, and I think it would be really great if they donated a portion of their record breaking sales to a cause that the GLBTQ community would support, like The Trevor Project or any bullying or suicide prevention group.  I think that would do a lot to build some bridges without compromising their personal beliefs.  And wouldn’t it have been really awesome if all those people who bought CFA food on Wednesday would have taken it to homeless people instead of eating it?!
  • One CFA is doing something really cool by partnering with a Pride Fest.  Isn’t it amazing what can happen when we sit down at table together for a conversation instead of throwing around words and instagram photos?!

While I do like CFA, I also did not want to in any way be a part of  Wednesday’s Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day.  It literally made me sick to my stomach – my stomach was in knots all day and the day after as people kept posting pictures of their “successful” days eating at CFA.  I’ve been thinking about it a lot, and I think I was so upset by the whole thing because it seemed that everyone forgot that there are real people, real children of God involved in this “issue”.  Every time one of my facebook friends posted a picture of their crowded CFA, my heart hurt for all of my friends and the people I don’t know who are truly hurting because of the current words being spoken and the policies in place and the potential bans being lobbied for in states all over the country.  People who work just as hard as the rest of yet are denied many civil rights because of who they are and who they love.  People who have loving families.  People who have great faith and love God.

The words that kept popping into my head on Wednesday as I scrolled through facebook updates were smug and pharisaic.  I know you were not intentionally either of these on Wednesday.   For those of you who are my friends who participated in Appreciation Day, I know you are loving and kind people.  And I understand the reasons you went to CFA on Wednesday, really I do.  But I just have to say, from the outside looking in, to people who think differently from you, it did not look kind and loving.  Jesus was always on the case of the Pharisees who strove to live by the letter of the law (First Amendment Rights!  “Biblical” Definition of Marriage!) but who failed to see or help people who were hurting.   People are more important than issues and causes and being right.

I didn’t find out until afterward, but actual churches were rallying behind CFA and telling their members to go on Wednesday.  Really?  Is that what we are called to do?  The whole Bible for me, and the whole mission of the church, can be summed up in these (condensed) words of Jesus:  Love God, Love Neighbors.  No “love CFA”  No “love the first amendment”.  How was the demonstration on Wednesday anywhere close to loving God or loving our neighbor?!

What I think Wednesday did was to confirm in the minds of many GLBTQ folks and non-Christians that all Christians are anti-gay and judgmental.  There was a study done a few years ago, and those were the top two perceptions non-Christians had of Christians, and I doubt the perception has changed.  I think Christians need to concentrate more on the Love God, Love Neighbor stuff if we are ever going to seen as relevant again.

I know that not all people who went to CFA went because they hate gays and that many of them had good intentions.   But even though you may say that you don’t hate gay people, you have to look how they are treated in society and see why perhaps they have their guard up and feel hated by what happened on Wednesday.  When CFA gives money to organizations that spread lies, fear, and hatred of the GLBTQ community, it feels like hate.  When CFA gives money to organizations who actively promote bans on gay marriage, it feels like hate.  When the COO of CFA says he wants to strengthen families, yet also wants to deny GLBTQ people the right to be a family unit with all of the benefits that come with that, it feels like hate.  When he goes on another interview and says, “”I think we are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, ‘We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage,’ and I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to try to redefine what marriage is about,” it feels like hate.   When hundreds of thousands of people flock to Chick-fil-a in a counter protest and post celebratory pictures and status updates, it feels like hate.   It just does, so a little sensitivity is needed when dealing with these “issues”, yes?

I really hope we can all learn something from these last two weeks, me included, as we keep striving to be the people of God in a  complicated world.

In closing, I quote John Stewart about my hope for the future, “In 10 years, America will have a lot more gay marriage and a lot more Chick-fil-a restaurants because they are both quality products.”  You really should watch his whole bit! It’s crass at some parts, but hey, it is The Daily Show.

Other things that inform me

The Bible is not anti-gay by Neely Stansell-Simpson

Dan Cathy Interview

Some Words For Christians on Both Sides of the Chick-fil-a War by Rachel Held Evans

5 Reasons Why the Church Failed Yesterday by Mathew Paul Turner

Would Jesus Appreciate Chick-Fil-A?

Now onto things we can all get excited about!  Olympics!  Funny Kids!  College Football!   Back to School Shopping!  Sabbatical!

adults

I know that at this point in my life, I should probably feel like an adult – a real bonifide grow-up person.   But I just don’t.  Maybe it’s because my other half can get the student discount at the movies.  Or maybe it’s because I spend a lot of my life with people who are one and four.  Or maybe it’s because I spend a large part of my work life with teenagers.  (Last week, we were trying to come up with group names for our NEW! Evening Women’s Group at church as well as our NEW! Middle School Girls Bible Study.  I made a few suggestions at the women’s group – some not-so-serious like “ladies of the night” – but some others that I thought were great like “soul sisters”.  The women did not like any of my ideas, but the middle school girls LOVED “Soul Sisters”  which you can pronounce “Soul Sistas” if you’d like, so perhaps I do think more like a middle school girl than a grown-up woman).

I do feel more like a grown-up today, however, than I did a month ago.  In the past month or so, our tasks have included:

  • Refinancing our mortgage
  • Celebrating the FOURTH birthday of our firstborn
  • Taking our second born for his 15 month well visit
  • Making living wills
  • Making wills*
  • Meeting with two different lawyers and a mortgage broker
  • Making copies of aforementioned living (and post-death) wills as well as copies of the keys to our firesafe box to give to our executor and alternate executor.
  • Switching banks (from a mega evil bank to a local bank – which we hope is less evil)
  • Switching information on all automated payment accounts because of bank switch (FYI – this is a pain in the butt)
  • Switching cable/internet providers
  • Organizing our files
  • Buying a shredder
  • Interviewing for residency programs (ok, this is just Russ)
  • Making plans to start a DMin program next year (ok, this is just me)**

All of these words just sound boring and grown-up.  And the actual doing of the tasks that include these boring words is just a bit overwhelming.  Perhaps this is why the last few weeks has also included the use of a heating pad on multiple occasions because of back and neck pain.

*Whilst making our wills we had to calculate all of our assets (house, cars, bank accounts, investments) and liabilities (mortgage, car loan, student loans) and we have a negative net worth, so I guess we’re not so grown-up afterall…or maybe we are.  But not to fear, Russ reminded me again that if he dies, his student loans go away, so I’ll be ok.  If I die, Russ is screwed – for the next four years anyway…after that, he won’t really need me.

**That’s right folks, we’ll both be Drs.   Our poor children.  Also, this DMin (Doctor of Ministry) is REALLY exciting.  It’s a DMin program that will have a satellite HERE – so for a majority of my classwork, I don’t have to travel anywhere (if we stay HERE for residency anyway..and even if we don’t stay here, where we go will be close enough and my parents will still live here).  Also, it is a DMin program that will most likely include one course in SCOTLAND.  Also, it is a DMin program that will include only women, most of whom I already LOVE – CAN YOU TELL I’M A LITTLE EXCITED?!

Ok, so maybe being a grown-up isn’t all that bad.

looming loans

The other day, we were killing time at Target, because it is air conditioned and not inside our house.  We didn’t buy anything; just wandered around.  As we were leaving, Russ asks “Hypothetically, if I came to you and said that I had a great idea for a business and that I could guarantee that I would make $150,000 a year with it, would you let me take out a $200,000 loan to get it started?”  I knew what he was implying, but I still said “no” – mainly because in the entrepreneur/business world, you cannot guarantee success.  We went back and forth on the “hypothetical” nature of the question…because apparently my brain doesn’t work with hypothetical all that well – too much of a realist I suppose. My argument was that he couldn’t (with 100% certainty) guarantee success.  He kept saying, “But let’s say hypothetically I could”  And we repeated ourselves several times before we got to the root of the question.

We have been fortunate that we won’t be stuck with $200,000 in student loan debt when Russ finishes…but that is the average amount of medical school debt over four years.  (Not all med students are lucky enough to have a high earning sugar mama to keep them afloat).  Regardless of the amount, the hypothetical situation is basically what he is doing now.  I like to think the odds are pretty good that he will be a doctor one day and will be able to pay off the student loans rather quickly if we stick to our current lifestyle for a few years post-residency (I mean we’ve been doing it for eight years, what’s a few more).   But it’s still a pretty stressful cloud looming over our heads.

Today, I ran across this article about whether or not student loan debt was worth it.  It’s sad that all the people featured say “no”.  But they all had expectations of the jobs they would have after school that are not coming to fruition.   I suppose the same could go for medical school…but I’m still optimistic that Russ will be a part of a practice one day and that the student debt will be worth it.  And that we’ll be able to pay it back.

Though Russ did give me some good news yesterday.  If he dies while he still has student loan debt, it goes away; I’m not responsible for paying it off…hmmm….food for thought, yes?  Just kidding.  I thought it was odd that he shared this bit of information with me while we relaxed on the couch.

Russ’ loan for the fall came in this week, so we feel a little less poor (even if we are more in debt)…so we celebrated by going to McAlister’s for some sweet tea and to split a piece of chocolate cake four ways, because we are just CRAZY like that.

if it’s free, it’s for me

So you know how we’re broke?  Well, we are doing our best to have fun with it and also be smart.  So today I started hawking stuff on craig’s list.  Anyone want a really cute table with drop leaf sides and 2 chairs?

And while on a walk this morning, I ran across a sock in the road that Caleb lost on Wednesday’s walk.  I picked it up and carried it home in order to wash it and put it back in his drawer so he can wear it again.

And we also planned not one, not two, but THREE trips to three different Chick-Fil-As for Cow Appreciation Day.  Breakfast was a hot date with just me and Russ.  We were the first “cows” of the day and the only ones the whole time we were there.  I looked around at the people paying for their food and thought “SUCKAS”….but then they were probably thinking the same thing about us.  For lunch, we met Grammy so she didn’t have to go by herself (Pops is NO fun).

Then for dinner, we dressed up the whole family.  Taylor was pretty excited.  And THE chick-fil-a cow was there.  Caleb wouldn’t stop pointing at him – he was mesmerized and even got to practice saying “cow” and mooing.  Taylor on the other hand was terrified.  Go figure.

I didn’t think it was possible, but I am Chick-Fil-Aed out…even with the different menu choices.  It’ll probably be a long while a few weeks  a week at least before we go back.

And I did save the spots and ears for next year.

woe is me

Once upon a time, we had a savings account.  Seriously, we graduated seminary with savings.   We both worked three part-time jobs and got scholarships and financial aid and were ridiculously frugal.

Then I got a full-time job, so surely we would continue to save, right?  notsomuch, Russ went to school and more school.  And we bought a fixer-upper of a house.  Then we had a baby.  Then said baby got older and we had to pay for daycare.  Then we had another baby.  Then I had surgery (DUDE, medical bills are ridiculous).  Then second baby needed to go to daycare.  Then our second car died and we had to buy a new one.  And along the way, there were the normal kind of expenses and such.  Just in the last week, Russ’ car died for the last time, Russ’ phone died and had to be replaced, our AC broke, and Caleb got another ear infection (requiring a office visit and prescription copay).

So now our savings is no more.   For the first time we are really having to watch what we spend.  We’ve always been frugal…but now we’re taking it to a new level.  It’s a weird feeling, this living paycheck to paycheck thing.

But all of this is pretty ridiculous because above all else I am extremely humbled because our entire existence has been supported by the generosity of others.  Growing up, our parents provided everything we needed and much we didn’t.  In college, we were both on scholarships given by people who loved the college and invested in our future.  Same thing in seminary.   We even took it to a new level in seminary.  We got free meals whenever we could.  We drove old cars passed down to us from our parents without car payments.  All of our furniture was passed down to us from family.  Nothing was new – except the CD rack – we bought that for $20.  Russ’ grandma bought us a washer and dryer.  A refrigerator was left behind by previous tenants.   All of the other nice things we had were wedding gifts.  And even our jobs were at the seminary or the church, so our salaries were based on people giving.

And still now, I earn a living on people’s generosity.  So it makes me unbelievably grateful and humble.  And it really makes me at least attempt to be a good steward of what we have….not wasting ANYTHING…couponing…giving when we can…etc.

It’s weird to feel poor but to also look around at all of the people and things in my life and feel an embarrassment of riches* in light of true poverty and and problems in the world.   So whenever I’m feeling woe, I need to remind myself of this…and also to remember it won’t be like this forever.

I am really looking forward to being a doctor’s wife and not only not worrying about our own cash flow, but being able to be extravagantly generous with others as others have been with us.  It’s going to be fun.

*I stole the phrase from Girls Gone Child – I love it because it really describes how I feel a lot of the time.

MedSchoolMonday: S3

A few questions:  How can the church make its worship relevant to the lives of its people?  How does the church incorporate mission in its worship?  How do we pass down the faith and the importance of mission to our children, not just by our words but by our actions?  How does the church offer ways to make stewardship a way of life and not just a once per year campaign?  How does the church make sure the Table of the Lord is more than just a place for our bread and wine to sit every once in a while and is a symbol of possibilities, faith, and service?

I’m beaming with pride about our church.   On Sunday we began our Second Sunday Stewardship (S3), a monthly missional/educational/stewardly/worshipful/intergenerational act of faith.  Instead of the plates being passed around for the offering, people were asked to bring their financial gifts and items that we identified local charities were in need of to the communion table during the time for the offering.   Unfortunately, I didn’t get pictures while folks were bring their gifts forward, but it was quite a sight, and the front of the sanctuary around the communion table was packed with the offering of God’s people, dedicated for God’s work in the world.   Here are some pictures from after worship as items were being sorted (so these are just a few of the offerings) and our design, created by one of our very own youth.

coupon fairy

I have always used coupons and tried to find the best deals, but I am new to the true art of couponing.  I know that people who do it well can save 50% or more on their grocery bill, but I am still learning, so I average about 40%.  Publix is our grocery store of choice because they take competitor coupons, have a good organic selection, give free cookies and balloons to kids, and the staff is really nice.

I was especially fond of their weekly penny item.  (you take in the coupon from the weekly flier and get the mystery item for a penny).   I was quite bummed when they stopped putting the penny item in the flier and hiding it in the regular Wednesday paper (which we don’t get).  So I decided to give up on the penny item.  Then I thought that getting the $.50 paper would still be worth it if we needed the mystery item.

Yesterday, the mystery item was supposed to be Publix cookies, so I decided not to waste my $.50.  BUT THEN.  I walked into the store to see that THIS Publix was selling white grape juice as their penny item, which was already on my list, because, well, you know.   I was running late, so I didn’t go back to buy the paper and search for the coupon and decided to suck it up and spend the $3.64 on the juice.  BUT THEN, when I was in the check out aisle, the cashier asked the man in front of me if he had any coupons, and he said, “Only the penny item coupon – what is it today?”  When she told him, he decided he didn’t want the juice and said, “Well, can you just save it and give it to someone who could use it?”  SCORE.  So I said, “I could use it – I have to buy the juice anyway and didn’t have the coupon.”  He said, “Great” and I said “Thank you so much!”

Then I felt like I was in one of those Liberty Mutual commercials.  Because I turned around to see the older gentleman behind me looking for the grocery divider thing, so I grabbed it and handed it to him with a smile (something I would have probably done anyway), but he responded with a “thank you” as enthusiastic as mine to the coupon fairy.  It was just one of those brief moments in the midst of a busy day that gives you a little hope (and saves you $3.63).