Food, life

The Making of Huevos Rancheros

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As I was whipping up a simple guacamole about an hour ago – red onion, avocado, lime juice, cilantro, salt, pepper and the slightest wisp of cumin – I started thinking about people who have nerve. Nerve has been off and on my mind since it arrived in my inbox this morning. From WordPress. To prompt me.

I kept thinking about nerve as I followed the making of the guac with the making of a 3:00-in-the-afternoon huevos rancheros. My first meal of the day. And you are correct if you are guessing that I am not yet dressed.

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Ordinarily I would grate the cheese directly onto some tortilla chips and then melt the cheese/toast the chips in the oven, but I’m lazy today so I grated it directly into the egg pan. So as not to dirty a cookie sheet. I agree, I need to stop being lazy and clean my stove.

Anyway, I was thinking about a young woman I met a few weeks ago.

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I was hoping the cheddar would become crisp – like grated Parmesan in the fry pan does – but it didn’t. So I just globbed it on.

The young woman, upon learning that I am an abstinence speaker, asked how long I have been speaking on the subject. I told her I started my ministry 13 years ago, and that I was speaking on the subject long before that as the director of a crisis pregnancy center.

I’m not sure if any of my answer registered, because she then asked, “Have you ever heard of Pam Stenzel?”

I smiled and nodded yes.

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Make sure you keep the eggs over easy so the velvety, buttery yolks run onto the chips below.

Her  question reminded me of all the times during the twelve years I was directing the pregnancy help center, appearing in promotional videos for Right to Life and writing letters to the editor on the subject of abortion, that people, upon discovering the work I was doing, would ask, “Have you ever heard of Roe v. Wade?”

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Put a little jarred salsa on there. Organic.

The young woman proceeded to tell me all about abstinence; all the things she tells the high school cheerleaders she coaches.

I smiled and nodded and, when I could quickly squeeze a word in, said, “They are fortunate to have you.”

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Now pile on the guac you just made and sprinkle a little extra cilantro on top. Because you can never have too much cilantro. Just smile and nod you cilantro haters.

Why do people do that?

Is it just plain old nerve?

Or do they think they are always the smartest, most well-informed person in the room? Even when there are people in the room who have been devoting their lives to whatever-the-subject since they were in diapers?

Or do I just look like I’m a moron?

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See what I mean about the yokes running? Ya’ gotta’ have that. The hub doesn’t like runny yokes. His loss.

Please God, don’t let me ever be so eager to show off what little I know (I do hope I’ve aged beyond that) that I cause someone I meet to nod and smile.

#nerve

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life

Public Service Announcement: It Ought to Come with a Warning

Last I heard, six partners or more is considered medically promiscuous. That’s six total partners – consecutive and/or concurrent.

I grew up with a girl who became sexually involved with a man from the neighborhood. She was sixteen, he was thirty-two and married – he said his wife was a bitch. She was too young and naive to know that the wife is always a bitch, and never that he is simply a cheating bastard. So she gave him her virginity and he gave her HPV (human papillomavirus) – the gift that keeps on giving. He gifted her with one of the strains that causes recurrent genital warts.

She was not promiscuous, medically speaking, and yet she still contracted a disease. Because it only takes one rogue partner.

I remember how much pain she was in when the doctor burned them off, how she couldn’t sit down.

After all that, the warts came back.

She is married now and avoids intercourse with her husband when she has an outbreak, which is good, I suppose, but HPV is contagious even when there are no lesions present.

She is lucky, though, because the strains that manifest as warts are usually not the strains that cause cervical cancer.  Those strains have no visible signs.

I learned about the connection between HPV and cervical dysplasia/cervical cancer years ago at a conference on the epidemic of STDs among adolescents. I also learned from one of the speakers – a doctor specializing in adolescent health with a practice in the Boston area – that the AMA (American Medical Association) made a decision to NOT share that connection with patients.

My head reeled, sitting there in the audience, as my stomach and my naive trust absorbed the blow: Doctors withhold information at the direction of the AMA?

I raised my hand, “How can they not tell?”

“There’s nothing doctors can do about it, there’s no cure for HPV, so why get patients upset?”

“Well there is something patients can do about it,” I countered, “they can choose to be less promiscuous, they can make informed decisions about their sexual behavior.”

“There are people who don’t want them to be less promiscuous,” he shrugged. “Sex is a huge money-making industry.”

Don’t get me wrong, the speaker is a good guy who takes time away from his practice to travel around the country speaking to kids about the risks casual sex poses to their health. He was just telling it like it is.

As I drove home from the conference I thought about friends who had cervical dysplasia and who had no idea they were at risk of developing cervical cancer; who had no idea of its connection to HPV. I thought of the “medically promiscuous” teens and young adults who came to the center for free pregnancy tests. I thought of the young client I had seen recently, the one who had already had seven different partners and she was only seventeen.

I started to sob those I-need-windshield-wipers-for-my-eyeballs kind of sobs.  “Lord, you have to warn them,” I begged.

I shared what I learned at the conference with the volunteers back at the pregnancy center. One of them, a nurse, confided that she was diagnosed with cervical dysplasia – a pre-cancerous condition – and she had to really press and insist before her doctor would tell her the cause of her condition – HPV.

She was a virgin when she married her husband and her husband had had only one previous sex partner – his first wife. So how did she contract HPV? His first wife was unfaithful, hence their divorce.

A few years later I traveled to Houston for a conference on adolescent sexual health. The main speaker told the story of a man whose wife – her patient – died of cervical cancer at Scott and White. He remarried. His second wife also became a patient at Scott and White and she also died of cervical cancer. The man became angry, blamed the hospital. The hospital pointed out that they were not the common denominator, he was.

Testing showed that HPV had made a comfy home for itself just under the surface of his skin. No warts, no visible signs on his body. He had lost two wives to a virus he did not know he carried.

One of the aims of that conference in Houston – though it was not advertised as such – was to introduce a new vaccine that was about to hit the market, a vaccine that would protect against six of the over one hundred strains of HPV. The keynote speaker was on the team that developed the vaccine.

Not too long afterward, I received a postcard in the mail urging me to “Tell Someone.” It was from the maker of the vaccine.

This is the postcard I received in the mail, to which I added some of the facts I learned at the medial conference.

This is the postcard I received in the mail, perhaps you received one, too, minus the facts, which I added based on the information I was given at the medial conference.

Oh yeah, now you want me to tell someone, now that there is money to be made.

I’m not even going to go into the pros and considerable cons of the vaccine. Not today anyway.

Here’s the bottom line: You can be a sixteen year old virgin, have sex with one rogue guy and get HPV. You can save yourself for marriage and marry someone who had only been with his (cheating) wife, and end up with HPV. So how the heck do the “medically promiscuous” think they are going to escape disease?

The American Lung Association (or maybe it’s the American Cancer Society) has been running frequent ads featuring people who were filmed speaking with voices distorted by tracheostomies and showing torsos maimed by surgeries and painful lung drainage tube removals, who have since died, in an effort to convince smokers to quit smoking. Though I hate to watch the ads, I am glad they are being shown so frequently and I pray the campaign will be highly successful.

If it is, then I pray it will be followed by a similar campaign featuring infertile couples (last I heard, infertility rates were up 300% – much of which is due to scarring from pelvic inflammatory disease caused by chlamydia and other sexually transmitted bacterial infections); featuring women fighting cervical cancer, men suffering from epididymitis; men and women battling virulent oral cancers caused by HPV, etc.  Show young and old what can come of the fun, cool, casual sex they see on tv. Perhaps urge them to do what God told them to do in the first place:  Keep their (future) marriage beds pure.  Without mentioning God, of course, so people will listen. Keep it purely scientific, without giving props to the One behind the science.

Sex ought to come with a warning – a parental warning, a medical warning, a societal warning, like it used to – before infertility rates were sky high and STDs were epidemic.

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life

Hate Me Now, Thank Me Later

I talked to some parents last week.  I always talk to the parents at the school I’m currently speaking in to give them an overview, a chance to ask questions and some tips on how to get their youngsters through middle school and high school unscathed.

I always end by showing them a clip of my daughter telling her story at that retreat 5 years ago.  To encourage them.  Because she went to the school where their children are now enrolled. Thought it might encourage some of you, too:

She was 20 then.  She’s 25 now.  Her heart is still intact and she is still looking forward to a great marriage and a great family.  In the meantime she’s working on her masters in counseling.

What did you do to get your youngsters safely through those treacherous years?

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pornography, restoration

I Still Break Her Heart

This Friday afternoon I will spend close to two hours speaking to an assembly of 7th graders.  I will be showing them why it is important to guard their hearts and I will be giving them practical suggestions on how to keep them sticky – for a marriage bond that will last.

After a short break the youngsters will learn to discern media messages.  And in the process I will warn them to steer clear of pornography. I’ll tell them that pornography is especially dangerous for kids their age and I’ll tell them why:

When you are young – a toddler, a pre-schooler, an elementary school kid – your brain is like a sponge.  It continually soaks up all kinds of information.  Every piece of new information that comes at you gets attached to existing information and synapses (connections) are formed.

Then, when you become around 11 for girls and 12 for boys, your brain starts to prune itself.   It’s like little scissors start to snip some of the connections.  Random info that you don’t really need gets snipped away.  But the connections that are reinforced – like by practicing the piano; adding, subtracting, multiplying every day; listening to the same song over and over until you have the lyrics memorized – those connections become really strong and tough.  They are too thick for the scissors to snip.

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So if you are a 10, 11, 12 year old kid looking at pornography on your computer, smart phone, whatever, your brain will make a connection between inappropriate images and sexual arousal.  And if you reinforce that connection by looking at it again and again, the connection will become strong.  Very strong.  Too strong to be snipped.

Years from now, when you marry the beautiful, godly woman of your dreams, you’ll have a difficult time being aroused by her – especially after the newness of your marriage wears off – because you have trained your brain to be aroused by lust, exploitation and flesh rather than by love and intimacy with a beautiful soul.

There was an article in Time magazine several years ago that said pornography is as addictive as heroin when it comes to the effect it has on the brain.  When I was a social worker, I often saw moms choose heroin over their children.  Not because they didn’t love their children, but because heroin is so powerfully addictive.  So is pornography.

Five years ago I took a group of young people on a retreat to pilot a Bible study I was writing.  On the morning of the final day I asked them to share their stories.   Here’s RJ’s story:

I first met RJ and Beth when they came to lead worship at the retreat.  I hired RJ over the phone, sight unseen. It was clearly a divine appointment.  I still keep somewhat in touch with them through Facebook.  They now have a band, a precious little boy and another baby on the way.  They are a darling couple and their lives are good, and hard.  Sometimes REALLY hard for Beth.  Every time her husband chooses to indulge his addiction he is choosing to break her heart. When his lifeless eyes reveal that he has fallen off the wagon, when their browser history reveals that he has been googling “how to get around Covenant Eyes” at 2 am, he breaks her heart again.  REALLY breaks it.

And though she forgives him, that forgiveness costs her a lot.  And he keeps letting her pay.

Which breaks MY heart.

I asked my retreat guests to work through portions of the Bible study and give me feedback.  I collected them at the end.

In the chapter entitled “Know Your Enemy” I asked:

Is the enemy trying to rob you of the glory of your future marriage by appealing to your physical need?  Is he trying to get you to prove your desirability?  Is he offering you immediate gratification with a cheap imitation of the “naked and unashamed” marriage God has planned for you?  Couples who are living together and sleeping together are being tricked out of it and it’s a darn shame.

Beth highlighted those questions and wrote:

This kind of trickery does not stop once you get married.  It just begins to happen in new ways.  Also, Satan does what he can to get people to have sex outside of marriage & he does what he can to keep you from having sex when you are married, unless it is w/ someone other than your spouse.  We need to fight this tactic!

I wonder how many young wives, whose husbands are addicted to pornography – whether through actively partaking or through revisiting the images that they cannot snip from their brains – are tempted to prove their desirability elsewhere.  To somebody.  To anybody.

Mamas, watch your babies.  Talk to them, explain things to them.  And when you have a minute, read this:

Jamie is 13 and hasn’t even kissed a girl.  But he’s now on the Sex Offender Register after online pornography warped his mind.

© 2015, The Reluctant Baptist

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life

S-E-X

I was signing in at the office of a Christian school today on my way to talk to an assembly of eighth graders.  Security at that school is tight so while I waited for my bar-coded, time-sensitive nametag to print, I chatted with one of the administrators.  She said her daughter had heard my sixth grade presentation last year.

The woman shared that her daughter came home from school that day and enthusiastically told her all about what I had said.  Then her daughter covered her mouth and whispered, “But she said the s word.”  The mom asked, “What?”  The girl, mouth still covered, whispered “the s word”.  “What?”  “The s word.”  It took awhile but the woman finally figured out what her daughter was saying.

I told the woman that I used to refrain from using the s word with sixth graders.  Instead I would let them pick a word – like vegetables.  As in “Vegetables are only for marriage.”  Because, according to them, sex was too powerful a word for their little ears to hear.

But I stopped using substitute words because sex is not a bad word, and I don’t want the youngsters to get the idea that sex is bad.

Sex is good.  It was God’s idea.

As I walked into the adjoining office to hang up my coat, I overheard the administrator say to her colleague, “Sex is good, it was God’s idea!  I like that!  I’ve never heard anyone say that before.”

Sex is not “the nasty”.  It’s one of God’s greatest inventions.

In its proper time and place.

Just thought I’d mention it here in case you’ve never heard that before either.

Oh and the eighth graders were great.  We had a lot of fun, God had a lot to say and they were all very attentive.

Next Friday I talk to the seventh graders.  Say a prayer.

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