Preacher’s Wife Unplugged: Can You Keep it Real Without Being a Jerk?

Fake is out. Authenticity is in. And to prove it, there’s a popular catchphrase floating around: “I’m just keepin’ it real.”

It usually comes on the heels of statements that are shocking, gross, offensive, or extremely personal. But if ycoffeeou tack “keepin’ it real” on the end, you get a free pass to say it anyway!

Here are some examples of its usage:
“Sorry, I can’t make it to your Tupperware party. I’d rather have a root canal. Just keepin’ it real!”

“Ooooo, hey buddy! 1989 called. It wants those shorts back. Just keepin’ it real!”

“Man, my hemorrhoids are really acting up! Just keepin’ it real!”

So now that we have such a useful phrase at our disposal, we can over-share, say what we really think, and eliminate all vestiges of tactfulness without remorse!

Because nobody likes fakers. And nobody wants to be one. So let’s make sure that everyone knows we are the real deal by employing “JKIR” at every opportunity!

But I’m a preacher’s wife in a small southern town. Can you imagine what would happen if I were to “keep it real” around here on that kind of level? Oh, the calamity that would befall us all! I won't go into the possibilities here. That would be a little too…real.

Is that to say I’m faking it?

I hope not. In all seriousness, I do want to be real here in this town. Not necessarily in a “JKIR” kind of way. A better word is transparent, although “just keepin’ it transparent” does not have the same ring to it. My new friends sometimes make good-natured apologies to me for their own “realness” around me, their preacher’s wife, and I chide them for it. I don’t want them to put on an act because I don’t want to put on one, either. 

But being yourself can be risky.

Downton Abbey_1 Over the past several weeks, I have been fascinated by the PBS series Downton Abbey. It’s the off-season right now, but I have caught up by watching all the previous episodes online. It’s the story of a family of World War I era aristocrats in England who live in a palatial home, wear fabulous clothes, and are served by innumerable valets and maids and chauffeurs. Most British dramas are suffocatingly boring and plodding, but this one is captivating. 

It was an era of such civility and respectfulness - something to be admired, considering that it is no more. But it is so evident that the Downton crowd is so stuffy, so polite, so right-acting all the time, they experience all kinds of conflicts because of their constraints. The Downtonians, for the most part, do not keep it real or transparent at ALL.

So here are the top 10 ways I’m keepin’ it real on my blog today:

10. Playing the piano on Sundays is kind of fun. When my palms aren’t sweating so badly from nerves that my fingers slip off the keys. Just keepin’ it real.

9. No, my husband does not practice his sermons on me. That would be super weird and awkward. You’ve all asked me that, so now I’m keepin’ it real.

8. Sitting on the front pew every week feels pretty exposed. Kids beside me, choir in front of me, everybody else behind me. Another good reason to play the piano. Just keepin’ it real.

7. I have no idea about a lot of the church goings-on. Some things I do, but not all things. Maybe I should, but I don’t always. Sometimes folks think I know stuff, so if a question comes up and all heads swivel to me, I frequently shrug, smile, and shake my head. “Now, when is that church picnic again?” Uhhhhh…dunno!  (Smile.)  Just keepin’ it real.

6. There’s a good chance I know your face, but I don’t know your name. I want to. I really do. But I’m not nearly as good with names as you-know-who. Help me. Please. Just keepin’ it real.

5. I was on Facebook, then I deleted Facebook, then I was on Pinterest, then I deleted Pinterest, then I deleted my old twitter, then I started a new twitter, then I got back on Facebook. It’s all very complicated. We can discuss over coffee. Just keepin’ it real.

4. Yes, I really would love to have coffee with you. Decaf. I've got that mitral valve thing. Just keepin’ it real.

3. Yes, the rumor that I went on a cruise with the New Kids on the Block is true. I would be glad to discuss that too, although you might not be. Just keepin’ it real.

2. I am really bad at making tablescapes. Just keepin’ it real.

1. I did not grow up here like everybody else. But I am grateful to those who have welcomed an outsider with open arms. Even one who’s an Auburn fan. Just keepin’ it real…until next time.


Disney Doppelganger

I love the movie Tangled.  It’s cute, funny, touching, and beautifully done – all the required ingredients for a Disney blockbuster.  As we were watching it for the millionth time yesterday, I noticed something I had never realized during my previous 999,999 viewings.
Mother Gothel, the mean, scary lady who pretends to be Rapunzel’s mother so that she can exploit the fountain-of-youth powers of Rapunzel’s magic hair, bears a striking resemblance to a real-life person.
mother gothel cher b
No, really!  Look again!
Mother-gothel mad cher c
And isn’t it more than a little ironic that Cher’s hit from the 80’s, “If I Could Turn Back Time,” could most certainly be Mother Gothel’s own personal theme song?  If Cher had access to the fountain of youth, don’t you think she would take advantage of it?  Oh, wait - that’s what plastic surgeons are.
Just calling it like I see it, folks.
Turns out, I was right!  One of the directors of the movie revealed that Cher was, in fact, the inspiration for the villain.  "People keep coming back to this, but it's true!" he said. "I guess it's because Cher is kinda gothic and exotic looking and definitely she was one of the people we looked at visually as far as what gives you a striking character.  She is very tall, curvy and voluptuous…we're trying to say: this is not Rapunzel's mother."
Definitely NOT. 


Spelling Bee Grace

The National Spelling Bee finals aired on ESPN this past Thursday night, and we had a softball game.
No worries, though.  Thank you, DVR!  Bet you don’t know anyone else who DVR’d the Spelling Bee.
Those kids who compete, or rather, those adult-sized brains in kid bodies who compete, are fascinating to watch.  Intelligence shines from their eyes.  They each have their own mannerisms and habits as they carefully think through each word, some writing the word on the back of their hanging nametags, some writing it on their hands, some using their finger to invisibly write the word in the air, some remaining perfectly still until the very last second and then spitting out a string of perfectly correct letters before the buzzer sounds. 
They always ask the usual questions, “Can I have the definition please?  Can I have the language of origin?  Can you use it in a sentence please?”  And one kid even quipped, “Can you spell that for me, please?”
Even though the contestants may not have even heard the ridiculously difficult words before, they use the the answers to those questions as clues to help them figure out the correct spelling.  For example, one of the contestants knew that because “quattrocento” was Italian in origin, and not Spanish, it would be spelled “quattro” instead of “cuatro.”spelling bee
The 14-year-old winner, Snigdha Nandipati from San Diego, nailed “guetapens” to win, after her competitors misspelled “schwarmerei” and “schwannoma.”  In the run-up to the bee, Nandipanti studied 6 to 10 hours a day on weekdays and 10-12 hours on weekends.  And of course, she aims to be a neurosurgeon.  I guess if I had to have brain surgery, I would like knowing that the surgeon working on me could spell “shwarmerei,” wouldn’t you?  One of the contestants said that he reads 53 pages of the dictionary every day. 
Watching the Bee takes me back to sixth grade when I won the school spelling bee and the spelling bee for the area.  The words were a far cry from “schwarmerei,” but I was still proud, in my acid-washed denim skirt and white oversized sweater with large purple belt.  In the area competition, the other girl missed “aboret,” and I had to spell that one, plus “accreditation” for the win.  Then it was on to the Jefferson County spelling bee, where I remember being so nervous I almost puked, and where “piecemeal” was my demise.  Darn you, “i before e” rule!  I think I came in fifth place.  I was not national spelling bee material, but I got two cool trophies, and for a non-sports-playing girl, I was glad to have my “thing” that I did.
What I remember most about those Bees was the immense pressure for perfection.  In a Spelling Bee, there is no wiggle room.  No grace.  Either you spell it right, or you are immediately relegated to the loser’s bench.  One false letter, and you’re dead in the water.  You are not allowed, under any circumstances, to take a letter back once you’ve begun spelling.  If you have uttered it, it’s out there, and it’s either right or wrong.  That’s why I could not say, “Oops!  I’m sorry!  I meant to say IE!  Not EI!  You gotta believe me!”  Too late.  It’s all over.
Grace isn’t like that. 
In the course of a day, lots of “spelling words” cross our paths.  Think about it.  The kids are fighting.  You’re being asked to spell “PATIENCE.” 
“P-A-S-H-E-N-S!” you sputter and stammer in frustration and anger, seriously botching the word, and botching the opportunity to peacefully resolve the conflict before you.  BONK.  Wrong.  Sit down.  You’re out.
Your spouse forgets to do something you’d asked.  Spell “MERCY.”
“M-I-R-S-E-E!” you spell cluelessly, with your irritable response to him.  BONK.  To the loser’s bench you go!
Your co-worker ticks you off.  Spell “L-O-V-E.”
“Can I have the definition please?” you ask.  Stalling.  You know what the definition is.  But you still mess up and choke out an incorrect, “L-U-V,” as you tell everyone around you how mad you are.  BONK.  Have a seat.
You lie in bed and remember each way you fell short of perfection, short of the huge trophy, short of the scholarship that the amazing spellers get. 
But then…morning comes.
And instead of finding yourself still sitting on the loser’s bench, you remember this -
“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23
Because of Jesus, the fantastic news is that we get a clean slate.  A clean slate every morning!  We get new words to spell, and more chances to spell the words we botched yesterday.  The wrongly uttered letters are forgiven and forgotten.  We are still in the game.  One false step does not mean we have to sit down. 
It means we get to keep going. 
Even if we’re asked to spell “guetapens.” 


Small Town Sports Complex Means Business

As a follow-up to last week’s Little League observations post, I offer the following photo of a sign that greeted me when I recently walked my children into a neighboring community’s sports complex.  (I took the picture using my crummy cell phone camera, thus the poor quality.  Sorry about that.) 
woodland sports sign
Do we chuckle and applaud?  Or do we cluck our tongues and lament the fact that the sign had to placed there in the first place? 
Easy.  We do both.
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