Sunday, July 25, 2010

THE GROCERY STORE WOES--Guest Blogger, Peggy Griffin

I invited my writing friend, Peggy Griffin, to inspire us today. She's the lady from Southern Mississippi who keeps me in stiches reading her emails. I hope you like her sense of humor that can only come from the backwoods, and how it combines with her love for Christ.


Much to my aggravation, it’s time to go to the squeaky-buggy world of the grocery store. My mission is a research article for The Dogwood County Surprise. That’s our weekly, award-winning, in-depth newspaper. We’re up to ten pages now, and I’m the mystery reporter exploring the buying habits of the general public in today’s yucky economy. I must answer the question—What draws people down the primrose path of impulse buying?

More interestingly though—-my straying mind is snagged—-why do people dress like nobody’s going to see them at the grocery store?

So, here we are, our van circling the parking lot, dodging runaway buggies, a couple of—-never mind what they’re doing--alley cats, and a gaggle of turkey buzzards cruising slow and low.

Uh-oh! A Daisy Duke just came out of the store, sashaying around in barely-there, cutoff jeans at high noon.

"Don’t look, Hubby! You’ll be stunted for life!”

I hop out of the van while hubby makes another loop, looking for a parking space. Once inside the store I see an interesting subject—a lady shopper. Looks like she put the soap operas on DVR to record, and ran out in her slippers for . . . ? Well, now for what I don’t know. Whatever could be that pressing? A steam iron? Hair color? Safety pins? Duct tape? A razor? Hard to say. She could certainly benefit from a day—-make that a week—at Becky’s Barn of Beauty and Bail Bonds.

Under my breath, I send her some good down-home advice, “Mercy, lady! Say no to the stretch pants!”

My buggy not only squeaks, it’s making a wicked left-hand turn. Guess I’ll have to steer with both hands and one leg, while holding the grocery list in my teeth.

Watch out! Another alert. Folks, we have a diva in the produce section trying to tell a lettuce from a cabbage. Why do they not label these exotic veggies more clearly? What a cute baby she has though. Hope she wears gloves over those longgggg fingernails when she changes his diaper. That lil’ sweetie pie could be wearing pink before the sun goes down! But those jeans on his mama! My my.

"Don’t bend over, princess! If a seam pops, you’ll shred more cabbage than The Catfish Joint will need for the Saturday night buffet!”

Just then my attention is grabbed by someone on the PA system, trying to bellow over Kenny Rogers singing about Ruby taking her love to town.

The announcement blares, “Listen up, shoppers! Don’t go down isle three. That’s isle three, y’all. We have a cereal . . . incident.”

Then there’s a muffled commotion as the mike is shushed for an inner-office communication. “They’re doing what? Mamas, round up your curtain-climbers! Somebody’s brood is making Rice Krispie Treats in a hubcap! I repeat, stay away from aisle three.”

I don’t need to be told twice. I steer clear of the aforementioned aisle. But I can’t help but smirk. Sounds like someone’s little angels need a halo adjustment. Glad my own brood has polite behavior.

My attention is snagged again. Here’s a cute young couple going at it over the reduced-for-quick-sale basket. Let’s see, he wants rice, she wants instant potatoes.

“Well, duh! Put gravy on it, sugar! It’s six of one, half a dozen of the other. And real gravy doesn’t come in a can! Get over it and get trottin’. I hear a t-bone singing my tune.”

Hopping on one foot, shoving the mutant buggy wheel with the other, I steer into the meat market. Ugh! There’s that pesky little ole man that’s always lurking near the good steaks! Does he live here? I have to duck him every trip. Naturally I’m not one to talk behind my hand, but he looks like he lives a little too close to the chicken coop. Anyway, he takes the meat out of folks’ buggies as fast as they put it in, telling them to go to the market that his brother owns down the street. He says the meat there is better and cheaper. Y’all know the butcher—he’s right proud of his thumb. Weighs it real often.

As I drool over a couple of 24 oz. sirloin strips, I have to whip a kink in the monstrous momentum of my overloaded, squeaking, left-turning buggy. To keep from turning a pokey elderly couple into roadkill, I run over my steering foot, dump a mountain of chocolate, and send two chickens flying.

If only Ma ‘n Pa Kettle would decide on a soup bone before my deodorant goes. While I wait, I sneak a peek at the old couple’s buggy. Research, y’know. Dry beans, cornmeal, flour, grits, coffee, tea, and molasses. And finally, thank you Lord, a soup bone.

Since I nearly decapitated Pa with my airborne chickens, I don’t reckon this is the time to ask questions. I was sworn into journalist accreditation on a fifty-pound Webster’s Dictionary, and can’t flat-footed lie in my article. I’ll just say they don’t hold with junk food.

As I wedge a gallon of rocky road ice cream between the diet Cokes, I feel that familiar pecking at my heart’s door. Attention, my wayward Child.

Y’all know about those inner-spiritual communications that bring us to our knees. A Scripture flashed through my smug brain like a high-beam searchlight. Mathew 7: 1-2 Judge not that ye be judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

Now here’s a fine howdy-do as I listen to the still small voice of God. This molasses-sopping country girl doesn’t have to stomp cow patties to know she’s in the pasture. I revise my entire article for The Dogwood County Surprise quicker than a floppy-eared hound on a hambone.

Thank God He made us individuals! What a sorry sight this world would be if everybody were like me! I have more faults than a valley of volcanoes. My cheeks are blushed with shame.

Here’s what God helped me to see at the Piggly Wiggly:

The woman that should’ve said no to the stretch pants couldn’t. Her house burned to the ground last night and she has no clothes.

The diva who didn’t know lettuce from cabbage doesn’t have a mama like mine. Her parents are addicted to meth.

The young couple arguing over the reduced-for-quick-sale items lost their jobs last week. They only have money enough for one more meal.

The chick in the Daisy Duke cutoffs just ran smack-dab into her preacher. I don’t think she’ll be playing show and tell again.

Ma and Pa Kettle with the soup bone are retired missionaries. They live on a shoestring budget to send every extra penny to hungry children.

The pesky little man who could use a run through the carwash is homeless. His brother, the butcher with the heavy thumb, sets a place for him at the supper table every night, but the homeless man won’t take charity. He only comes in to eat when he’s earned it.

I really hate to stir up the Rice Krispie incident, but the Lord has latched on to this confession business tighter than—-you know I’m gonna say it-—tighter than a sullied possum. So let me get this over with in a hurry.

You remember those curtain-climbers in isle three and the Rice Krispie incident. Well it turns out, they were my own adorable grandkids. My daughter bent over to wrangle the caterwauling darlings and had a major jeans blow-out. The button skinned Pa Kettle’s bald noggin, and I’m too chicken to ask where the zipper tab landed. ‘Nuff said?

Uh-oh! Something else coming from On High to me! Get out of the pasture and keep humble, young’un. You’re not ready to rope the bull yearlin’s yet!

Saturday, July 17, 2010


I have believed for many years that the Lord not only has a sense of humor, but that He has a poetic mind. Where else would we have received our literary and artistic talents if not from the giver of all good things?

And He’s gracious. He speaks to us in ways we understand, just as Jesus spoke through parables.

The Lord still does this for us today…if we listen…if we trust.

Last November I felt the Lord nudge my heart to take a giant leap of faith. Would I trust God enough to put aside my own agenda for my career and the writing of my fictional work to do a special task for Him? Children’s Camps International needed someone to write their story, but did not have the funds to pay for it. Would I trust the Lord enough to provide for my family’s needs while I completed this assignment non-gratis? In other words, could I trust God to pay my wages?

The tug of the CCI story was too strong to ignore. How could any writer not be pulled into the true-life adventures, the testing of God’s power, the fulfilling feats of faith, and the miracles of such a worthwhile ministry to children? I simply couldn't’t resist, and threw our financial needs into the lap of my heavenly father as I set hard to work. Besides, what’s more important than helping people preach the gospel of Christ to children? Life is too short to worry about building greater metaphorical barns and houses for myself.

Seven months later, I’m 2/3rd’s of the way through the book, but God has taken my breath way with His faithfulness to our family. Someone once said you can never out-give God.

It doesn’t make any logical sense that while I’m not bringing in a ‘proper’ wage that God in so short a time has eliminated ALL our debt, lowered our monthly mortgage and household expenses by the intricate transaction of our house sale. I may have lost the equity of a fairly large backyard at my old house, but I now look out on gently rolling pastures, where just beyond a line of trees the might Fraser River flows. From my office window my ‘back yard’ view grew exponentially larger. I may not own the deed to that land, but I sure can enjoy its beauty.

The other day from my kitchen balcony, I watched the farmer across the road harvest his field. His tractor gathered up the sweet smelling hay into bales. The next day his tractor rumbled along his fields to take the bales away to store in his barn for the winter. As the sun set over the coastal mountains, the rays caught the grassy dust so that the air and the field shimmered like gold.

Only God would know how much those sights and scents would mean to me as I write the CCI book. The theme of the camp work in India and other parts of the world centers on the farming seasons of seeding, cultivating, and harvesting. Only instead of sweet smelling hay, the fragrance wafting up to the Lord is the incense of a great spiritual harvest—millions of souls loving Christ as savior.

I took care last November to not make any bargains with God as I committed to this task. I’m old enough and have been through enough life with God to know He doesn’t barter for our faithfulness. He asks, and waits for our obedience. All I knew for sure at the time was that He would provide what I needed.

Only thing is, He is such a wonderful father, and gave me more than I ever dreamed. I can’t thank Him enough. But enough of chit-chat. It’s time for me to get back to the task he entrusted me with last November. With His power and enabling, He will finish the CCI literary work at the season’s end.

Saturday, July 10, 2010


Last weekend, for the first time in four years, I missed posting my Sunday blog story. Due to moving house, being surrounded by boxes in various stages of being emptied, or flattened for recycling--and not quite sure where everything was--I think I can go easy on myself. For the last two months our lives have centered around cardboard. I'll be glad to see the end of it.

The other issue that disturbed my writing routine and self-imposed deadlines, was that I had no internet or land line phone. Unless I go to the local library I'm out of touch with the rest of the globe. But the phone company has at long last assured us we will have internet service by this coming Wednesday. I guess I can wait that long. By then it will be almost three weeks without daily email. So, it's been quiet. Too quiet.

Like many people today, I've become accustomed to staying in touch with others all over the world by simply tapping a few keys on my laptop. For writerly souls like me, this is total bliss. After all, writing is my favorite form of communication. Because I like to dig deep to the very sinews of my heart and share with people in a sort of detached way on the other side of the globe, I need to make sure I connect with people in a tactile way.

On a normal day for me I can be so engrossed in the world of the books I'm writing, that I can look up after many hours, stary about me with bleary eyes, and realize my life is very quiet. Too quiet.

That's when the Holy Spirit nudges me and I call up a friend or family member and go out for coffee.

I'm glad church attendance is so deeply embedded into the routines of my life I don't think twice about getting up on Sunday to worship with others. As a creative person who's comfortable with long stretches of solitude in order to get the work done that I've been called to do, I need to also make sure I don't miss those moments of corporate worship. It's important to feel like an integral part of community, to share thoughts--not on paper--but face to face with others.

Being without internet these two weeks has made me feel out of touch with people. I'm anxious to know what's going on in my friend's lives. This reassures me that I am ultimately a community-minded person, a person who needs to be connected. Sort of like that metaphor of the branch the Lord spoke of--He is the vine . . . we are the branches.

We don't need internet to stay in touch with people, although it's deliciously efficient. What we do need is the Holy Spirit, reminding us to stay in close touch with the Lord through prayer, and with each other in some form of communication.

So, pick up the phone, dig out your stationary, buy some stamps, make a skype call, drive cross town to knock on some one's door, or even just holler hello over the fence. Stay in touch.