Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Tap Dancing to South Africa

I've written before about being chastised by the church for working in the theatre. I was even denied reconciliation because of my connection to the entertainment genre'.

My theatre family, however, has always been quick to recognize a need and to respond. I could not love and appreciate you more!

When my daughter was missing, it was my actor friends who saw to it that hundreds of "missing child" posters were plastered all over the city. Now Giana will be teaching tap dance lessons to South African orphans–and theatre moms and kids have once again shown their love and support. They are my shoe heroes!

My dear theatre family, you have blown me away with your resourcefulness and generosity. Together, you donated over 40 pair of new and used tap shoes (and another 20+ pair of jazz and ballet shoes).

So, to Lori, Lynn, Melissa, Tina, Sonja, Nadine, Collin, and Joseph, thank you so much for your donation of time, resources, and SHOES! Your kindness reaches to the other side of the world to the hearts and feet of God's kids in South Africa. How cool is that!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


On Sunday Pastor Dale taught on Daniel – a man of consistent and continual integrity. I've been thinking about integrity ever since.

That word was used a whole bunch when Giana was in rehab. The girls were encouraged to hold one another accountable by simply saying the word "integrity" when they suspected a teammate of being less than honest.

When Gia got home from rehab, I remember a time when I suspected her of lying to me. I looked at her and said, "Integrity". "Oh Mom," she retorted, "I heard that word every day for seven months. Do me a favor and find another word." I've always loved that she feels free to speak her mind around me.


adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.
the state of being whole, entire, or undiminished: to preserve the integrity of the empire.
a sound, unimpaired, or perfect condition: the integrity of a ship's hull.

We often say that integrity is being the same person – whether we're in public, or alone in our own home. As parents we strive to teach and model integrity. I remember being in a store one time when I saw a mom with a small child in tow. She was attempting to cash a personal check. The clerk was trying to tell her that her account had been flagged. Apparently she had, at one time, written a check that bounced. Hey, it happens.

The mom said, "My check is good. I'm a mother – I wouldn't lie." It occurred to me that she had the opportunity to model integrity for her child. Perhaps her check WAS good, but she had to pay the consequences of a mistake she'd made in the past.

As parents, I think we sometimes bully our children into becoming adults who lack honest integrity. Consider this scenario: One of your three kids leaves an artful masterpiece on your leather sofa, and they used a permanent marker for a brush! You march into their playroom and at the top of your lungs you bellow, "Who did this?"

The children cower into the corner.

"Okay, whoever destroyed my couch will tell the truth, or I'll call Daddy and we'll cancel our trip to Disneyland! You have five minutes to confess."

The kids discuss and commiserate and accuse. Perhaps they're all guilty, or maybe there's only one budding Picasso in the group. For whatever reason, however, the child with the artistic (albeit destructive) bent fails to come forward. So, one of the innocent kids throws up his hands, and in exasperation proclaims, "I'll say I did it. Geez! I don't know about you, but I WANT to go to Disneyland."

I was that kid. I took responsibility for a lot of stuff I didn't need to take ownership of. I naively believed that the truth would eventually win out. But here's the problem – I set myself up to be the fall guy. Even when I was innocent, I willingly took the blame, and others were eager to dump it on me.

Several years ago, a boss wrongly accused me. He was sure of my misdeeds because others had told him it was so.

"Why," I inquired, "do you believe them and not me?"

"Because," he replied, "they are people of integrity."

But wait, didn't the fact that these people came to him with gossip automatically mean they LACKED integrity?

Instead of loudly proclaiming my innocence, my naivete' once again prevailed, and I believed the truth would eventually find it's way free. I would be exonerated. It didn't happen that way. I had been groomed to take responsibility – even when it wasn't mine to take.

Look, I'm not perfect. I've made tons of mistakes. I don't hide my skeletons, I dance with them. I take ownership of my wrongs and I've finally learned to stand up to bullies. And, like Daniel, I've been thrown in the lions' den. But guess what? I survived.

I believe having integrity means acknowledging when I've messed up, absolutely. But, does a person of integrity need to carry the burden of someone else's weaknesses and lies?

Hmmmm.... It's food for thought, isn't it.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Makeup, Makeup!

As Tom and I arrived in Lake Tahoe last week, we stopped by the local Safeway to buy a few groceries so we could cook at the cabin. We'd left home that morning later than we'd hoped and traffic moved slowly. It had been a long, hot several hours.

I rarely wear makeup when we travel, and this day was no exception. I mean, no one's lookin' at me except Tom–and he's seen me looking far worse.

So, there we are–standing in the snack aisle looking at microwave popcorn options and I hear, "Hi Liz!" I slowly turn my head as a thousand thoughts run through my mind. Please oh please oh please let there be another Liz standing nearby. Nope...I was the one! The married couple standing to my left go to my mom's church. I hadn't seen them in many years, but I recognized them, of course. Then the man called out, "Hey Gregg, come here."

Around the corner walks a guy I hadn't seen since high school. Worse, he's a guy I once had a crush on - and me without makeup! Aaaaahhhhh!!!!

Gregg introduced me to his lovely wife, and I introduced Tom. They were in Safeway for the exact reason that we were, and they too had just arrived in town. What are the odds? We chatted a bit and wished one another a great vacation.

This morning I was at the gym. Call me crazy, but I don't wear makeup there either! An adorable older woman (who was wearing makeup) stepped off the treadmill and said, "You've got a twin that works at Roger Rocka's Dinner Theatre."

"Well", I said, "I think I'm her. But, you probably don't recognize me without makeup." She's a fan of the theatre and she loved The Dixie Swim Club.

You know, there was a time when I rarely farded (look it up) before running errands. I'm thinkin' those days are over. I'm almost 50 years old and, well...I look better when I glam up a bit.

From now on, if you're looking for me at the gym–I'll be the one wearing lipstick, mascara, and under-eye concealer.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Quicksand of Pride

Oh how sad it is that so many relationships get and stay stuck. They get mired down in the quicksand that is pride, jealousy, unforgiveness, and misunderstanding.
People move on, but relationships can remain interminably stuck.

I wrote a post several months ago about bullies. A friend of mine was buying gas when an almost unrecognizable man from his past walked up to him and apologized for the way he bullied my friend in junior high school.

My friend was relieved and grateful for the man’s kind words. Almost immediately, the old ugly relationship became unstuck. Two grown men were finally able to heal the brokenness and send the old hurts packing.

I recently saw one of my old bullies. We’re grown women – she’s a grandmother – but the relationship is stuck in a muddy swamp of judgmental condemnation. I’m courteous when I’m around her, but I can still see her cold eyes and her gnarled finger pointing at me from across the table during a conversation many years ago.

You’re weak.

You’re not a good friend.

You’re jealous.

God has graciously allowed my family and me to walk through incredible fires. I didn’t come out unscathed, but I learned many things about myself. I discovered I’m stronger than I could ever have imagined and I’m a generous and steadfast friend.

I learned that when we unfairly accuse others of jealousies and hidden sins, we’re actually revealing more about the state of our own hearts. When we point fingers at others, we shine spotlights on our own darkness.

I recently spent a bit of time with another old friend. It’s been years since I had a real conversation with him and the friendship ended badly when he called me a liar. While he and I are both cordial, the relationship is stuck.

Does he still believe I lied? Does he see me for who I really am? Does he care about what my family has been through—the miracles we’ve seen, or the life lessons we can share with the world?
I never lied to him – not ever.

People grow, change, move, mature, and evolve, but pride keeps relationships stuck.

So, how do we find our way out of the gunk and goop that keeps relationships in a bad place? Well, we don’t “find” our way out of it. We FIGHT our way out. We have to confront, tell the truth, chase away misunderstandings, and break the chains of pride and preconceived judgments so that we can be free.
I’m exhausted from trying to single handily pull relationships out of quicksand. I’m not even sure why it’s important to me, when it’s painfully obvious that it’s not important to those who insist on remaining buried in the past.

That’s not true. I know why it’s important to me. I value what once was, and losing you still hurts.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Making Waves

Tom and I spent this past weekend in Zephyr Cove, Nevada where we lazed away the days on the banks of Lake Tahoe. The water is cold and crisp, but that couldn’t keep me from hours of swimming in the clear blue water. Tom isn’t quite as adventuresome as I am.

In my next life I want to be a mermaid.

Labor Day traditionally marks the end of summer, and people all over the country did exactly what we did – they donned their Speedo, life vest, and snorkels, and headed out to bodies of water to swim, boat, ski, and parasail.

Did I just say “Speedo”? FYI, there is NEVER a good time to wear one of those skimpy hey-you-forgot-to-look-in-a-mirror swimsuits. But I digress.

During the off-season, Lake Tahoe is glass smooth and as still and quiet as a kitten’s purr. But on this busy holiday weekend the many boats and Jet Skis created thousands of water wakes and waves that literally pounded the shore with loud urgency.

Being on the lake’s edge made me think about the oft given admonition to “stop making waves”. I know people who would rather chew off their own toes than rock the boat of life. They are compliant, quiet, and courteous at any cost. Others take great pride and pleasure in raising every ruckus that comes along. For these people, making waves in an otherwise calm journey is what keeps life interesting.

Though the boaters created whitecaps and swells that rocked the swimmers and then slammed into the rocky shore, the wave makers themselves were unfazed by the rolling waters. They went about cutting their path through the ice-cold water – laughing as they celebrated the end of the hot summer.

Some people are like that. They zip through life, rocking boats, and making waves just because they can. They enjoy creating unnecessary uprisings, and they rarely deal with the consequences of their actions.

Look, I don’t want to discourage anyone from rocking the boat to bring about healthy change. Sometimes we have to make waves in order to wake the sleepers on life’s beach.

I want to make waves with a purpose. I want to rock the boat of apathy and create opportunities for dialogue, problem solving, and world changing. I don’t want to be a speed racer who tears through life’s waters with no regard for how my actions affect those with whom I share the journey.

I realize that some of you are floating through life on tiny little rafts and it wouldn’t take more than a ripple to knock you into icy waters. For you, simply asking “why?” or expressing an opinion that differs from yours is enough to blow the air right out of your river rat. You don’t want anyone rockin’ your boat.

The truth is, however, there are wave makers all around us. I want to be someone who rocks the boat of indifference, prejudice, and intolerance, and fights against small-minded apathy. I’ll keep my eye on the shore, and I’ll tend to those I might accidently shake up, but I can’t promise that I won’t rock a few more boats.

I do pray my motives are good and purpose-filled. As I speed through life, I hope I leave behind waves of hope, change, courage, and bold endurance.