Can’t We All Just Get Along?

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Never in my adult life have I seen our dear nation so terribly divided.  The events of the last two weeks (shooting in a Charleston church and the Confederate flag fallout; the Obamacare ruling and the Marriage Equality ruling by the Supreme Court) have prompted me into writing…poetry!  Here’s how I’m feeling.

You and I
by Pamela Nogueira
6/27/15

You are Black, and I am White.

You lean Left, while I lean Right.

You are a Donkey, and I am an Elephant.

All these differences and none are relevant.

I am a Christian.  You are a Wiccan.

I’m a Stay-at-Home Mom!  Your career is the bomb!

I homeschool!!  You take me for a fool!!

I must be dumb!!!  You must be Gloria Steinem!!!

You love organic food?  I do, too!

Concerned about ISIS?  Hey, Girl!!  I’m with you!!

Worried about the National Debt?  I am!!!  You bet!!!

See, we come together on many issues inside.

That’s what it means to have national pride.

Respect, caring, generosity, love.

These we have in common, and these come from Above.

May your friends remain your friends ’til the end–regardless of what you both believe.  May the spirit of love remain in your hearts now and forever.

God Bless America!


1 Corinthians 13:4-8New International Version (NIV)

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.

Get Real!

ImageReluctantly entering the shower, Magic Eraser in one hand, bleach spray in the other, soap scum stared me in the face. After my friend Kathy from my hometown of Carteret, NJ asked if she could come to stay with me in NC for a few days, I suddenly found the motivation to tackle a task I’d cast aside for far too long—cleaning the shower! I couldn’t let her see the shower the way it was. I’d die! I quickly and maniacally started spraying and scrubbing the embarrassingly-neglected tub and tiles.

As I degunked the bathroom, I started thinking about how awful it is that I had let the shower go. You see, I want people to see me in a “Pamela Perfect” light. (That was my nickname as a goody-goody grammar school girl—true story!) I’m far from perfect—I now it and the people who know me know it. Why do we feel the need to make everything look shiny and clean to others? We all have our weaknesses, but we also have been given special strengths to balance it out. We should not be embarrassed.

Alas, in this Facebook-Twitter-Instagram world, we can very easily make ourselves look very good—no, better than that—amazing! On any given day, I see friends’ selfies, often in the same pose every time. You’re gorgeous, girls, even on the self-perceived “bad” side! Sometimes, I see pics of beautiful expensive cars, freshly waxed. Let’s see a picture of your car after the pollen covers the hood! Then, there are people who post pictures only if they are in them. Please, let us see a picture of your sweet child by him-/herself on that special occasion. Workout statuses and health club check-ins can also flood the newsfeed. We know. You’re just trying to motivate us lazy people! Also, statuses (or is it “stati”?) about meal plans occur daily. Doesn’t anybody ever just have a bowl of ramen noodles instead of rack of lamb and lobster tails? Finally, there’s the “karma” memes. Have so many people been burned by others so many times? Sheesh!

People, it’s time to get real. Show us who you really are. Let’s see you in sweatpants and no makeup, awkwardly positioned next to your dirty clunker of a car, with your kids in mismatched playclothes, with a check-in at the fast food joint in front of the Planet Fitness you joined for only $10/month (but never go to), while posting a meme about forgiveness instead of karma! Now that’s real. That’s how God sees us. He doesn’t see what we want Him to see or read what we want Him to know about us. He sees it all, and He loves us just as we are.

Let’s show our true selves to one another. Let’s build genuine bonds with each other. Let’s keep the Magic Eraser and the bleach spray in the shower and out of our Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, and Instagram photos. Let’s not erase who we really are.

 “…for in the image of God has God made mankind.” (Genesis 9:6, NIV)

 

Sriracha…Because a Rut Has Gotcha!

ImageHellooooooo!  Long time, no blog!  Please forgive me, but I was stuck in a rut!  Usually, my creative juices have no problem flowing.  Lately, I have been feeling stuck in a boring routine.  Wake up, make breakfast, get ready for the day, pray sometime during the day, homeschool, make lunch, homeschool some more, internet time, dinner time, throw in some wash so we don’t have to go commando, TV or more internet, brush teeth, crash!  The next day, just hit the repeat button!  I need to switch things up in my life because right now, as grateful as I am for everything and everyone in my life, it’s boring!

In the middle of this stay-at-home mom pity party, my little sweetheart of a daughter Paloma asked, “Mom, have you written a blog lately?”  I told her, “No, Baby!  I have been drawing a blank.”  Then she told me, “You could write about Sriracha Sauce!”  Excellent idea!  Why?  Because it is new and exciting.  She and I are addicted to the stuff.  If you haven’t tried it, you MUST!  It’s sweet and spicy with a ketchupy feel.  It makes all things have zing!  It’s a party on your plate and on your palate!  Sriracha makes simple sweet potato fries into a naughty delicacy!  Burgers become royalty when crowned with the fiery-sweet treasure!  It’s not just for Thai food anymore!

It’s not just for Thai food…hmm!  I’m onto something now.  What else can I use in unconventional ways to “spice of my life” and get out of the same-old, same-old routine of life?  Maybe these ideas can help you, too!

Homeschool:  Ditch the routine!  The weather is nicer now, so it’s time to do some outschooling!!!  Reading on a blanket outside feels different!  Have a Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts gift card lying around?  Take the kids for a decaf latte and bring some math with you!  Volunteer and give the kids some real life experience.

Mealtime:  Try a new recipe.  Don’t be afraid.  Don’t feel like the kids won’t eat it.  If they are hungry enough, they will eat!  Eat in a different room!  Using your formal dining room.  Eat outside.  Put citrus fruit slices in your water glasses.  Try Sriracha sauce!

House:  Light a candle, try a new scented plug-in, or just simmer some water, cinnamon, and cloves on your stove in a pot.  Dance while doing housework!  I was inspired by a viral YouTube video recently in which the woman had salsa music and a broomstick!  Use paper plates once in a while and give yourself a break on the dishes.

Entertainment:  Got Netflix?  Try watching a new TV series!  My family and I watched Season 1 of “24” in less than a week!  It was so fun and a special time we will all remember.  Change the radio station!  Try listening to country if you like Top 40 or Rock if you are all about R & B.  You might find a new favorite song to add to your playlist.   Get out!  It can be as simple as a walk around the neighborhood or a trip to the local fruit and vegetable stand.  Entertainment can be found everywhere.

You:  Change your lipstick, change your life!  After my winter of wearing peachy-brown lipstick, I opted for hot pink today.  Wowza!  I feel like a Jean Nate woman…there’s nothing I can’t do! (Under 40 crowd might not understand!)  Switch up your hairstyle.  Try sock curlers.  Put in some highlights.  Get out your bronzer and brush on a new glow.  Wear something that’s NOT neutral.  Think color, darling, it’s spring!  Smile!

Technology:  Shut off the phone.  Take a quick Facebook vacation.  If you can’t do that, allow yourself to be photographed on your “bad” side, which looks good to us!  Post meaningful statuses.  We know you work out every day (just like you know we don’t!), we know you’re gorgeous, we know you want Karma to smack someone in the behind, we know you have 5,472 friends, we know your child (whom we never met) so well that we could find him in a crowd, we know you play Candy Crush into the wee hours of the morning, and we know how “life is good”.  Now, get real.  Share the real you.  Share your pain.  Cry online.  Let us see that you are not a Fembot.  Let us see you during your bloated ponytail and sweatpants days.  It’s OK to tell us you don’t feel OK.  Connect.  You’ll be glad you did, and so will we!

Prayer Time:  We should all pray every day.  Carve out a time to talk to God.  Or, try changing your Morning Quiet Time to Evening Quiet Time or Drive to School Quiet Time.  We can pray anywhere, anytime.  Try a new book of the bible.  Habakkuk is calling out to you!  Write down your prayers.  There have been times when I wanted to pray but I couldn’t—the words would not appear in my mind.  I found it extremely helpful to just sit down and write out my prayers to God!

My friends, make just one of these changes and you’ll feel good today.  Implement a few of these ideas, and you’ll feel like a new woman.  I think I will try a bunch of these so I can feel like I’m out of my rut.  Now, what can I put Sriracha sauce on today?

Precious

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It was a busy day.  Homeschool the kids, then leave for a special dance rehearsal down in Charlotte with my daughter.  We arrived home at 8:30 PM tonight and I literally grabbed my friend’s newly-published book and high-tailed it down a few towns to catch a minute with her at a book signing that was ending at 9!!!  Whew!  I made it!  I did not want to miss her big moment.  She is one of my favorite people in the world!  She taught me so much about Jesus as leader of our small group.  We’ve exchanged coffee and laughs…too long ago.  She quickly embraced me as a friend when we met.  Then, when I went back to homeschooling, I couldn’t do coffee dates during school, and didn’t see her in person for a long time—but I saw her tonight!

I also saw more friends from my small group tonight.  These are awesome girls.  I’m talking about the kind of women you want to be like:  beautiful inside and out, generous, loving, intelligent, and real “God’s Girls”.  I love them, but haven’t seen them much either—but I saw them tonight!

I should be happy!  So many of my girlfriends in one place!  How convenient!  I got into my car and read what my author-buddy had written in my book:

Pamela,
You know you are precious to me.  Love you!

I cried!  I cried because I felt so undeserving of that comment.  Precious?  I feel like I have been a terrible friend—to her, to my other small group friends, to my Jersey BFF who I don’t keep in touch with enough, but has always been there for me in my toughest times, to my local BFF with a heart the size of Texas who braved the snow to bring a nebulizer for my daughter, to my former co-worker friends who I’m always going to “get together with real soon,” and so on.

Let me make this clear.   I love all of my friends dearly.  I think of them often.  I pray for them.  In the busyness of life, I can replay good memories in my mind and be happy for a while; however, those moments have, unfortunately, been fewer and fewer.  I do so long for the personal connections of true friendship.  That’s when the insecurities creep in.  It’s all Satan-speak:  “I can’t invite her over—my house is a mess!  I don’t want to bug her—she’s a busy woman!  She has so many other friends and I don’t think she’s auditioning potential BFFs right now.”

What’s ironic is I do Facebook friendships a lot better!  I care about those friends, too.  It’s so nice and easy to just check in with them for a line or two of chat at my own convenience (and they can’t see my messy kitchen either!).  I’m not as insecure online.  I love to write.  I love to joke.  I love to offer a virtual shoulder to cry on.  In the same way, I appreciate those friends who “like” what I have to “say”.  It’s also a wonderful feeling when someone thinks of you when they read something and posts it to your wall.  So, online friendships fill the in-person friendship void, right?  Wrong!

Facebook, Twitter, chat rooms, and bulletin boards cannot measure up to a face-to-face conversation with a good friend.  Emotions, conveyed through downward glances, furrowed brows, or toothy grins cannot be precisely detected through words or even emoticons on a screen.  <<Hug>> feels nice to read, but isn’t as good as the real thing.  I try to express my emotions as clearly and accurately as possible on social media, but I never really thought that a surprise phone call might be a refreshing change and just what somebody needed.  I need to stop typing daily birthday greetings and start sending some Hallmark cards through the mail.  Next time I want to post a picture of my delicious and beautiful meal, perhaps I should actually invite someone over to enjoy it with me.

Good intentions, I have aplenty!  Now, it’s time to put them into action and stop being a friend of inaction.  I think I’ll start by becoming better friends with Jesus!  With Him by my side, I should be able to shoo away the doubt and insecurity the enemy loves to give me.  You know, I can’t help wondering if my author-friend was conveying a message from Jesus through hers:  “You know you are precious to me.”

If you are reading this and you consider yourself a friend of mine, I am sorry for not giving it my all in our friendship.  Know that I love you and care for you and think of you often—and I really will see or talk to you soon! ♥

 

Some quotes about friends and friendship: 

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work:  If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!”  (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10) 

“Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead. Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.”  (Albert Camus

“Winter, spring, summer, or fall, all you have to do is call, Lord, I’ll be there, yeah, yeah,
you’ve got a friend. “  (James Taylor, “You’ve Got a Friend”)

The Grass is Always Greener

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Dateline:  January 21, 2014.  Winter Storm Janus descends from the frigid Arctic down to the Northeastern U.S.  The NY/NJ metropolitan area gets pounded with 8, 10, 12 inches of snow.  Schools close.  Businesses let their employees out early.  Supermarkets sell their last loaves of Wonder Bread and gallons of milk.  Everyone hunkers down for a long winter’s nap.  How does this make a former Jersey Girl/current Carolina transplant feel?  ENVIOUS! 

Envy is ugly.  It makes one desire what other people have.  I want snow!  Why are the northern states Mother Nature’s favorites?  We get less total yearly snow than they get in a single snowfall!  Grr!  Besides snow, you know what else I wish I had?  A vacation.  We haven’t had a real one in several years.  Everybody I know gets away on cruises, to Las Vegas, and don’t even get me started on my Disney Freak friends who go to see the mouse once or MORE every year.  Some of them even run in the marathon there.  I wish I could run a marathon.  I wish I had the body of a runner.  I want rock-hard abs, too!  And I want to eat out at great restaurants every week (and still maintain that great runner’s body I want, too).  And how about those single friends who go out all the time?  Even the ones with kids get to have a few fun nights all by themselves.  Oh, what that must be like!  Naturally, to go out to exciting places, one must have a proper wardrobe.  My clothes are so old.  I wish I could go out without my kids to buy some nice clothes to wear to a swanky restaurant with my perfect body that ran in the marathon at Disney on one of my trips that I needed so bad because it always snows in the winter!

Taking a deep, oxygenating breath!

See how ugly envy is?  It starts with a simple, “I wish” or “I want” and it grows uncontrollably like a deadly infection.  Envy infects our hearts.  It makes us forget ALL that we have.  Every person has been bestowed blessings by our Father God.  They differ from person to person.  It’s hard to remember sometimes that no one person “has it all”; no one except Jesus!

So, with that reminder, maybe it’s not so bad that I don’t have all the objects of my envious desires.  In fact, maybe somebody out there wishes they had something that I have.  Putting it all into perspective:

I don’t have nice, fashionable duds…………………. but I do have warm clothes with no holes.

I don’t have an exciting social life………………………… but I do have a fun, loving family life.

I don’t have the freedom of singlehood……………. but I do have the commitment of marriage.

I don’t have an amazing body………………………………. but I do have a generally, healthy one.

I don’t have vacations every year……………… but I do have a neighborhood pool, parks, etc.

Finally, there’s the snow envy!  I still desire to have a nice dusting of the white stuff, but when I look outside, I see nothing but a sea of green—the beautiful green lawn my wonderful husband works so hard to maintain.  See, the grass is always greener—outside my very own door; and chances are, it’s greener on your side, too!

After Language, Liquor, and Lewdness…a Quickie!

“Seven-Second Delay”
by Pamela Nogueira

Wouldn’t it be great if we had a “seven-second delay”?
Think of the over-the-top, selfish things we’d never say.

Friendships surviving.  Marriages thriving.
Feelings intact.  Non-fiction fact.

But since we don’t, we must mean what we say,
For all words are permanent without a “seven-second delay”.

Language, Liquor, and Lewdness

ImageMultiple profanities.  Flowing martinis.  Sexual descriptions.  No, I’m not describing the latest Cinemax series.  These words describe the 71st Golden Globe Awards!

All my life, I’ve loved award shows!  What will the actresses wear?  Which movies will win big?  How will the host(s) perform?  This year’s Golden Globes truly disheartened me.  The theme must have been “Language, Liquor, and Lewdness.”

Bad language ruled the night!  There were many bleeps during the festivities.  Television’s “seven second delay” got a serious workout.  Some words, however, remained unbleeped:  “masturbating,” “Yeah, B—-,” and “vagina” certainly pushed the envelope.  I was so happy my children didn’t watch it with me!

Perhaps the premium liquor poured throughout the evening contributed to the poor choice of words.  Some speculate Jaqueline Bisset was drunk when receiving her award.  Her loss for words could have just been nerves.  I will give her that.  The hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler came out on stage with drinks, as did Emma Thompson.  

Finally, there was sex talk aplenty.  At the end of the show, Amy Poehler exlaimed, “I made out with Bono!” She did jokingly lip-lock with the U2 frontman upon receiving her award for Best Actress in a TV Comedy.  The worst sexual description of the night occurred at the beginning of the broadcast–a joke about Jonah Hill’s “self love” at a pool party in The Wolf of Wall Street.  This, unfortunately, set the tone for the evening.

Perhaps I’m getting old.  Maybe it’s just being a mom.  Perchance I am truly being changed by the Holy Spirit.  While the younger me would have praised the 71st Golden Globe Awards, the mature me was bothered by it.  Fortunately, there were some bright spots in the darkness.  Jared Leto won an award after a six-year hiatus from acting to pursue music.  Jennifer Lawrence proved once again you can be a franchise heroine like Katniss Everdeen and still win awards in other films.  Leo DiCaprio looked and sounded like old Hollywood at its finest.  His acceptance speech was focused, not on his role, but that of Director Martin Scorcese.  As Ron Burgundy would say, “Stay classy, Leonardo!”

Next year, Fey and Poehler are slated to host the awards again.  Will they rise above or sink below?  Stay tuned!