The Iceman Freezith (and it ain’t so toasty here)

For today’s blog graphic, I am using an actual National Geographic image of “The Iceman” A.K.A. ÖTzi.  The Iceman was found to have 61 tattoos, which – in my opinion – he had done because the continual jabbing of many  needles took his mind off of the COLD.  
He lived around 3,300 BC – during the Chalcolithic, or copper age – and his incredibly well-preserved remains were trapped in glacial ice for more than 5,000 years until his eventual discovery in 1991, by German tourists hiking in the alps near the border of Austria and Italy. Don’t say I never taught you anything. As you can see, OTzi (???) was clearing reaching for something at the time of his frozen-ass demise. My theory is that his wife was hogging the Pittsburgh Steelers stadium blanket and he was just trying to get a piece (of the blanket.) You know she could have shared a LITTLE of it. Mrs. OTzi was the Titanic’s Rose of her time. JUST SCOOT OVER ALREADY.

By: Jana Greene

Just a little hardy-har-har to thaw my sense of humor out. I’m trying to blog more often, so you get to read more pieces (oh boy!) I’m also trying to cut down on the length of some of the lighter items. And I’d like to punctuate the more serious pieces with things that might actually be fun to read, if not edifying.

It’s COLD here, ya’ll. Ok, maybe not to some of you Nanooks of the North. But here in NC, we’re not equipped to deal with such tundra-like conditions. I think our town has one snowplow, total. We are supposed to get snow, and we live at the beach, so for each snowflake that hits the ground (whether or not it sticks to the ground) is an hour they call off school / government buildings / bridges / and just about everything else. Stay warm ya’ll!

Diary entry: Decembruary 2, in the year of our Lord (Jack Frost) 2018.

We can hear the hail hit all around the house and on the roof. At least I hope it’s hail, and not brimstone. That would suck.

When I look out the windows, every walking surface is covered in a thick layer of ice. No thanks. I have trouble walking on the regular ground.

We are down to 1 1/2 loaves of bread. I suppose we’ll die.

The storm has the cats super freaked out; so much so that they are all napping right through it. Brave souls.

Hoping for actual snow, but because I live at the actual beach, I would have to make snow angels in my super unflattering, middle-aged woman skorted, bathing suit.

I am currently laying under 7 blankets. One is a Steelers stadium blanket, so it counts as 3 additional.

We have no Cheeze-its.

We have Nacho Doritos.

I guess this is how the Donner Party must have felt.

Learning to Love the Common Cat

It’s true that The Beggar’s Bakery is a blog heavy on the substance abuse recovery material. That’s my passion. But through the ages (the nearly three years I’ve been blogging) I like to mix things up a little on occasion. I am also a “recovering” cat hater. Truly.

Recovery is my passion, but it’s not my ONLY passion. There is also my family, and the kitty cats – animals of all kinds, really – and chocolate, and music, and clothes with elastic waistbands.

Here is one from a blog I maintained for, um….about two posts. But I’m re-posting it because sometimes you just need to write a little, er….FLUFF to go along with the heavier issues.

What’s fluffier than kitties?

This is Catsby, the first cat I've ever heard that is truly mine, a Mama's Boy through-and-through.
This is Catsby, the first cat I’ve ever had that is truly mine (Bob claims him, too, but he is a  Mama’s Boy through-and-through!)
I used to have a funny little blog about cat appreciation, but from the perspective of a person who grew up as a life-long cat hater. (Please, no hate mail! Remember that this blog is satire – or dare I say, “catire?”  – and all in fun!)
My name is Jana and I am a recovering Cat Hater. I come from a long line of cat-haters, and honestly, cat hating was all I knew growing up.
As a matter of fact, many in my family would equate penning this blog with signing my own commitment papers. But if there is anything being in my forties has taught me, it is this: We all own some degree of crazy. Own your crazy, without apology.
Really. “Normal” is just a setting on the clothes dryer.
And my love for cats?
I blame My Beloved  husband. He started it.
 Into our blended marriage, he brought one daughter and two cats, and I brought two daughters and The Best Dog Ever. Talk about life in the blender!  I had never been in the same room with a cat, so limited was my experience with them.
All of my life, I’ve had dogs, and I adore them. I’ve always  identified as a Dog Person. I think I will always identify as a Dog Person. I lost my Emmie, my Best Dog Ever, over a year ago. I cannot bring myself to get another. Until I’m ready, there are the kitties.
What I’ve found over the past eight years is that I don’t have to choose to be “either/or.” I can be an animal-lover, and appreciate all of God’s creatures for what they are. It is kind of long story, how this change came about – and it taught me a lot about myself, a lot about tolerance and acceptance.
Mostly, it taught me never to hate a cat for not being a dog, which as it turned out, was my main complaint about them B.C. (before cats.)
I strongly encourage others to expand their animal  “rePEToire.”
Of course, one does not become a Cat Person overnight. Thrust into cat ownership, I went through all of the stages of acceptance:
Denial: “I will just ignore the cats!” and  “The dog and cats will learn to get along.”
Anger: “Is there any surface in this entire house that is NOT covered in cat fur?”  “Go to sleep, kitties!”
Bargaining: “Please, PLEASE sleep at night. Please, I beg of you – SLEEP!”
Depression “This darn cat won’t get out of my pillow….. Hairballs are the most disgusting thing ever….Wet cat food smells like stink and I will never get used to it.  And the cats will never sleep through the night.   NEVERRRRRRR!”
Acceptance: “But I guess the kitties are kind of CUTE, and warm. And I love that purr thing.  And the pouncing … that is adorable.
They DO have so much personality……Yes, the cat hair is everywhere; I will just keep a lint-roller in my car for the fur. And maybe I will learn  to sleep through all of the zooming about at 4 a.m. A cat cannot change its stripes, so to speak. I suppose I must accept them.”
Once cats get under your skin and into your heart, there is NO stopping it. You will make runs to PetSmart for a certain kind of toy mouse. You will find batting at feathers adorable. You will answer your cat’s meows with “Tell me all about it!” You will think internet memes of cats captioned with funny text are the funniest thing you’ve ever seen. You will resign yourself to the fact that you have ‘dropped your basket’ and it is full of kitty cats.
I’ve done a 180, as they say, and I’m grateful for my allergy to the purry ones (as it forces me to a strict limit of two, okay maybe three….and no more.) Catsby greets me at the door every day and mews to be picked up and carried around on my shoulder, and sits on the edge of the bathtub to play in the water. He is kind of a doggish cat, and I love that. I love that he is co-dependent.
Hey, recovery is a process, right? Own your crazy, without apology.
Here’s looking at mew, kid.

The Flippin’ Sweet Whole Love of God

napoleanBy: Jana Greene

Last night, I was tossing and turning. Thinking about all the things that are oh-so wrong in this world. I exhausted my energies with worry, and then I implored my Heavenly Father to please comfort me. As I often do when asking God for favors, I quoted scripture to Him, when really – plain talk would have sufficed. He already knows my heart – a heart thirsty to be filled up with His love.

“I’m tired, Abba. Worn down. I need your strength,” my spirit said. ” I just need a touch, Lord. Just see me through today.” I reminded him of the woman at the well, who touched the hem of the garment of Jesus and was made whole.

Just then a woman who had hemorrhaged for twelve years slipped in from behind and lightly touched his robe. She was thinking to herself, “If I can just put a finger on his robe, I’ll get well.” Jesus turned—caught her at it. Then he reassured her: “Courage, daughter. You took a risk of faith, and now you’re well.” The woman was well from then on.” Matthew 9:20-22 (MSG)

And God, in His infinite wisdom and Holy magnificence, brought a very specific thought to my addled mind…. a scene from one of my very favorite movies, Napoleon Dynamite. Because – if there is anything I’ve learned about the Creator of the Universe – it’s that He has a sense of humor. He wants to relate to us.

SWEET (Yes, even this guy….)

The quirky film’s protagonist, Napoleon, is just trying to make it through high school. In one of the best scenes, he works up the courage in the lunchroom to talk to the girl he is crushing on, who is sitting at another table. In the most awkward pursuit ever, he commences to woo his girl – who is drinking a carton of milk – with this smooth line:

“I see you’re drinking 1%,” he bluntly states. “Is that because you think you’re fat? Because you’re not. You could be drinking whole if you wanted to.”

Why would the God of the universe bring that scene from the movie (CLICK HERE to see it)  so vividly to the forefront of my mind in the middle of the night? Because I’ve been drinking in about 1% of His word lately, and asking for the bare minimum of his power to just get by.

I see you are reaching for a touch of the hem of his garment. Is that because you think you’re not enough? Because in Him, you are enough. You could be filled with Holy Spirit if you wanted to.

I hear you asking for a touch. Are you drinking in God’s love in tiny sips because you think you’re not sure it’s real? Because it is. You could be having the real deal if you wanted to.

Are you asking for less than is already yours because you think only a portion of Me is available to you? Because it’s all here for you. You could be having more comfort than you can handle, if you wanted to.

The “hem of his garment” – the part of Him which is furthest from His heart and still tangible – is flippin’ sweet, as Napoleon might say.

But the heart of Him?

It’s ours, and He wants to fill us with it. And we cannot even begin to imagine the supernatural-ness available to us.

It made me smile, in the midst of my insomnia, that God would remind me of his Whole Power in such a way – a way I could readily understand and even laugh at.

Are you asking for just enough to make it through because you think you’re unworthy? Because you’re not. You could be having the Whole Love of God if you wanted to.

God’s pursuit of us is not awkward, but our acceptance of His love often is. I am learning that Holy Spirit is already in us in full, but our ability to tap into it, to have the Whole Milk Experience, is fettered by our own busy minds and insecurities. Courage, daughter.

Just follow your heart, as Napoleon says.

That’s what I do.




The Accidental Lobster

Somebody get this lobster a mike!
“Where ya headed, mister?”

A lobster walks into a Christian bookstore….

Sounds like the set-up for a joke, right?

But it really happened! Well, the lobster actually walked onto a Christian bookstore parking lot, and launched itself at me from under a nearby car as I was walking to my own car. Let’s just say I was ill-prepared, emotionally, to encounter a lobster in a parking lot.

I was just minding my business, having had just enjoyed a rare afternoon all to myself.  I had just eaten a scone and sipped an apple juice (unfermented, I swear!) in the lovely adjoining coffee shop, and browsed about the store, and walked outside.

When suddenly…a lobster!

I should tell someone! What if he sprung from the pokey of someone’s grocery bag? What if he had been hitchhiking all the way from Maine (in the picture, he does appear to be ‘thumbing’ it….)  What if my cheese had finally slid off my cracker, and he was but the crustacean manifestation of said cheese-sliding? Interesting. I always expected it would be pink elephants….

The unexpected can be alarming. My first action was to scream and dance about to avoid it.
And then to laugh. And then to share my discovery with the folks in the store.

And then to run back into the bookstore and alert the clerks that they might want to contain it, or call an agency (is there a “PETAL” -People for the Ethical Treatment of Lobsters?) or melt some butter and enjoy the bounty  God had mysteriously appeared, “manna from Heaven-style.”

Even though the people who worked at this particular Christian bookstore had always been discernible grumpy (I don’t to make any broad, sweeping generalizations here, but I have encountered many grumpy workers at an untold number of Christian bookstores over the years….)

Breathless, I ran in and told the two clerks behind the counter. I was the only customer in the front of the store. The woman and man working there were standing with their arms crossed across their chests, frowning. Just as they had been minutes ago.

“There is a live lobster in your parking lot,” I said.

The female clerk blinked at me slowly.

“It must have fallen out of a seafood truck,” I suggested.

Nothing. No reaction whatsoever. They must think I’m CRAZY.

“Could you come out and see it?” I asked, tentatively. “It seems pretty aggressive.” I snorted a little laugh then, because if it wasn’t a silly situation before, their nonchalant attitudes made it even sillier.

The young man uncrossed his arms and followed me out to the lot, where – sure enough – a very pale and angry small lobster was still under my car.

“Well,” he said. “That’s a lobster.” And he walked back into the store, with nary any suggestion of amusement.

I managed to pull out of the space without crushing the little guy – which in retrospect may have been a merciful act, what with the arid conditions of a Christian bookstore parking lot. And the frosty conditions IN the store.

It made me think a lot about grumpiness in bookstores that are spreading the gospel, and the general absurdity of things. I think God gets a kick out of us getting a kick out of absurdity. I think God gets a kick out of lobsters thumbing a ride in parking lots.

Because life is both serious and silly – and super short. And, although nobody is happy all the time, its meant to be lived with a generous measure of mirth. It’s important to share the mirth.

You know, not to be shellfish with it.





Sassy Pants Diet Update

This cat totally gets what I am talking about here.
This cat totally gets what I am talking about here, and has spent many a morning at Morning Enthusiasm Level 0.

This morning, I experienced the very first manifestation that I have not consumed sugar in any form, nor carbohydrate (ok, except for that one single cheat) since March. Traipsing into my closet with my usual morning enthusiasm (level 0) to get dressed, I considered wearing yet another pair of black pants. Black is slimming. I have a lot of black pants.

But no. I don’t know what it was about this morning – perhaps I noticed that my upper thighs were not chaffing in quite the usual way, like the legs of  a fat cricket  might – that made me choose the light gray slacks. But at any rate, I chose them, even though they have never fit me. (Yes, I bought them even though they didn’t fit. Because when I buy clothes in my actual size, I fear my brain will come to accept that I am my actual size, so I buy clothes one size smaller. Hey, it makes sense. Ask any woman.)

And I pulled them up, past my fat cricket, music-making thighs. And they zipped. They even buttoned.

Now, with an unprecedented morning enthusiasm level of 3, I finished getting dressed and walked into the kitchen, all sassy-like.

“BEHOLD!” I announced to my poor husband, who was just trying to have his first cup of coffee and read his morning Bible verse in peace. “ON THIS DAY, I WEAR THE PANTS OF YESTERYEAR!”

I suspect he is thinking, “It’s too early in the morning for this drama,” but he smiles and congratulates me.

Truthfully, it is a lot better than my usual morning drama, which goes something like this:

Slump into the closet woefully.

Try on pair of slacks that apparently shrunk in the dryer. Throw them on the floor, as I remember that I don’t put my pants in the dryer. Ever.

Put on skirt that will not zip. Grumble and fuss. Add skirt to heap on floor.

Choose a pair of black pants. Although they can be zipped up (technically) muffin top spills over waistband. When I attempt to breathe, muffin top becomes Bundt cake over top of pants immediately. Add to pile on floor.

Hate myself vehemently. Vow to buy new clothes, knowing full-well that I will purchase them in the same size as the ones on the floor – because, and well….WOMAN REASONS.

Grab pair of Fat Black Pants.

Finish getting dressed and head into the kitchen for coffee (and maybe a bagel …. what’s the point of even TRYING anymore?) and bitch to husband in high drama about how much I hate my body, while slathering cream cheese on said bagel.

Maybe cry a little, certainly spread my disdain around to my poor husband, who is JUST TRYING TO HAVE HIS FIRST CUP OF COFFEE AND READ HIS MORNING BIBLE VERSE IN PEACE!

Undeterred, he tells me I’m beautiful no matter what fits on any given day. I adore that man. I don’t know why he puts up with me, but I’m awfully glad he does.

Fat cricket legs, morning drama, sassy pants and all.



Christians and Swearing – mercy, mercy, mercy

"God, put your arm around my shoulder, and a hand over my mouth" - Anonymous
“God, put your arm around my shoulder, and a hand over my mouth” – Anonymous

By: Jana Greene

The office was silent, except for the gentle clicking of keys and an occasional throat clearing. I  took a bite of the carrot I’d brought for a snack.

CRRHHRUNCH. The sound echoed through the open space filled with short-walled cubicles. I had no choice but to finish chewing, each bite resonating.

“This is one crunchy-ass carrot,” I said awkwardly, without thinking – and to no-one in particular.

And then I felt guilty. The whole office knows I’m a Christian, and Christians don’t curse, right? Real Christians don’t.

It’s difficult to exist in a work environment 40 hours per week without saying a naughty word. And….is “ass” a naughty word?  Any fourth-grader can tell you that the words “ass” and “hell” are in the Bible. I suppose it depends on the context, since carrots don’t have asses, per se.

I’m a wordsmith. Sometimes, when I weave words, a strand of metallic thread makes its way into the fabric of a story. It can get pretty shiny, what with all those threads.

Sometimes, it is just pure laziness when I resort to the four-letter-genre. The societal standard for what constitutes a curse word is always changing.

Curse words are fuzzy territory to me, as a Christian – I know they shouldn’t be fuzzy. We aren’t supposed to say offensive words, period. But what is offensive, and to whom? The Bible also warns against saying, “by heaven or earth….,” but every translation of this verse is slightly different.

I have a slightly salty tounge, which I try to tame on occasion. Hey, I’m working on it.

Once, while trying to reign in my language, I tried substitute a particularly virulent word (said mostly in frustrating situations) with “mercy.”  For a two-week period, I refrained from said Big Daddy Curse Word, and instead, said “mercy. …until my husband remarked that I sounded a lot like his aunt, whose most favorite word in the universe is “mercy.”  This aunt  is a lovely Christian woman,  80 years old, and I’m sure she has never said either “ass” or “hell,” even in passing, unless reading scripture.  (If “by heaven and earth” is not biblically acceptable, what about “mercy?” I mean, if we are going to be legalistic.)

But I am not a lovely 80-year old Christian. I am a 40-something recovering alcoholic with three daughters, a full-time job, a passion for Jesus and recovery, a red-headed temper, and an occasionally salty tongue.

All of this wondering about potty words reminded me of a post I’d read by favorite blogger, Jon Acuff, about the subject. He is much more astute in his observations (and much funnier, I might add.)

“Christians occasionally swear. They don’t do it a lot. I’m not talking about thirty-second tirades laced with profanity. I just mean that every few days they’ll say a swear in the middle of a conversation. Why do we do it? I think we want you to know that we know those words exist. We want you to be aware that we are aware they are out there and we know what they mean. Plus, everyone knows that swears are nineteen times more powerful coming out of the mouth of a Christian. That’s a scientific fact right there. If you’re a nonbeliever and swear a ton, it’s just not that big of a deal. If you’re a Christian though and you swear, birds fall out of the sky. Trees shake to their roots. Magma gets fourteen degrees cooler under the crust of the Earth. Wielding that kind of power is too tempting to ignore.”

Mercy!  Jon Acuff is one funny-ass writer.

And I mean that with the utmost respect.

Sweet Bluegrass, My Beloved, and How I Ran off with Moms Gone Wild

A little humor from Redemption Feast about what constitutes a really hot date for the 45+ crowd.

More recovery blogging coming soon – I swear! For just this season, writing humor IS part of my recovery. Come to think of it, I hope all-things-comedic will be a part of my recovery for a long time to come. Happy Friday, all!