Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Community, Cold, and SueBee Honey

Welcome to true winter, my fellow Ohioans! Temperatures plummeting into the single digits, subzero wind chills, and … wait for it … snow! The latest “first measurable snow” in these parts ever.

Do these trees look cold? Because it snowed several inches on them.

Personally I prefer a milder climate. Snow is fine. Snow is pretty. As long as I don’t have to drive in or on it. Perhaps I should elaborate.

I grew up around these parts. I learned to drive in snow and ice on unplowed country roads. (I know nothing about doing doughnuts in a wide open empty parking lot, hee hee.) I can do just fine, even if it’s unpleasant. I also know enough to understand that sometimes people just shouldn’t be on the roads. If it’s not an emergency, it can wait. The three-level snow emergency alerts we have now have been a welcome advance. If the sheriff says stay off the danged roads, then stay off the danged roads.

I’m usually worried more about the skills and patience – or lack thereof – of other drivers on the road. And the Nervous Nellies. Newsflash! Sometimes twenty-five miles an hour is all you’re going to be able to do. But if you can do forty-five without sliding, then do forty-five.


Let’s all give each other some grace.

And if you win the Powerball this week and want to buy me a beachfront condo in Siesta Key, that would be cool, too.

This past Sunday morning I scooted into church while the plentiful precipitation was still a wintry mix. The roads were decent. These are back roads – there are five stop signs and zero traffic lights between me and my second home. So there was snow AND I was on time for soundcheck. One would have thought Hades had frozen over. 

By the time we left, it was a winter wonderland. Several of us piled into one vehicle to head to lunch. I didn’t have to drive. (Yes!) Conditions improved considerably by the time I was back to my car. What a pleasant first-snowy-day-of-the-season experience.

It would have been great to hole up under a blanket and hibernate, but I had plans.

Community is a word we throw around, mostly in the church I think. It might even be a Christian cliché. Saturday I spent all day in a “discipleship” class with some of my church community. One of the exercises was to write our Christian Elevator Speech. Those are my words, not our fearless leaders’. The point was to be able to tell others what Jesus has done for you in three minutes or less. How do you explain it to someone of a completely different faith? A Muslim? How, if you were raised in church and accepted Christ at age twelve or nine or fifteen, do you make your story relevant to an adult who has never set foot in a church? To an atheist? To an agnostic? What do you include? What do you leave out? What words do you use?

We stumbled through it awkwardly, practicing and critiquing one-on-one a few times. Thank you to my mini-community. You know who you are.

Cliché or not, community is important. I’ve gone through feasts and famines of it. If you don’t have others to help keep you sane, well you might not stay sane. Friends, family, even coworkers in some circumstances can fulfill the role. A counselor friend of mine says you’re in trouble if you don’t have at least two or three close friends willing to step in and tell you if you’re messing up or being a jerk in any given situation. During famines of community – often due to work hours, moving, and traveling in my case – I have deliberately sought it out. Sometimes clumsily, sometimes more effectively than others, but I have sought it. Because it’s important. You’ll find it in the bible, albeit without the modern day jargon.

By mid-afternoon Sunday the weather conditions were back to deteriorating. The temperature was dropping, a little snow was coming down, and the wind was fierce. Superfierce. I did think twice about heading for a meetup with my retreat peeps. But I went anyway. The restaurant is only ten-ish minutes from my house in good weather. I slid only once on the way there.

First order of business … hot tea. Our awesome server brought multiple tea choices and cream and honey without me even asking.

SueBee honey. I have learned the “Sue” comes from “Sioux”. Duh. Who knew.
We spent a couple hours catching up. Filling in the gaps between blog posts. Asking and answering questions. Listening.

I have several groups of community. Sometimes they overlap. Some of them have names … The Posse, Sistas, Ragamuffin peeps. Within my worship team community I acquired a rap name several years ago. There was already a Jennifer (of course!) … better known as JLo … on the team when I joined. So I was dubbed J-Gray. And it stuck.

My Ragamuffin peeps have become aware of my rap name. Mitch McVicker now greets me as J-Gray. Rap names have emerged for several members of the tribe, but we’re still working on others. Creativity will strike when creativity will strike. I’m all about brainstorming and doing what it takes to get creativity flowing. I am generally capable of being creative on demand. But sometimes it’s just not the right time.

That being said, I’m going to crowdsource this one. My Ragamuffin peep Sue has expressed a strong desire for a rap name. She nixed my first suggestion of SueBee Honey. Or maybe Sue B Honey in an attempt to be more relevant to hip hop culture. Too sweet. My second suggestion, Queen Bee, came out of that discussion. “But you could wear a bottle of SueBee honey as a necklace, a la Flavor Flav!”

I thought it was a great idea. But no.

Here is my request to anyone reading this post. Whether you know Sue or not (and especially if you do!), please suggest a suitable rap name for her … in the comments below, on the social media where you found the link that brought you here, or privately to me. Keep it clean. Keep it clever.

I’ll get back to all y’all on the results. Maybe we’ll have a party or something.

For more on the subject of “Community, Cold, and SueBee Honey” from my writing partners, see Sue Bowles at and Leisa Herren at

there’s a celebration
there’s a spot at the table
it’s a good time banquet
so come one come all
even if you don’t think you’re able
the bruised won’t be crushed
if you limp you’re gonna run again
now the thirsty come on and drink up
and as the hope flows before you
know you’re dancin’

there’s a party going on up in the sky
a party going strong wrongs are made right
no eye has ever seen the likes of
this party there’s a party going on tonight
a party going on heaven shines
a party going strong the angels fly
no eye has seen this sight before
there’s a party going on for evermore

the infectious grooves
just cannot wait for you
the roof is on fire
a holy fire
and everybody gonna love the dance
you’re gonna do
the red carpet’s rolling out
and they’re singing so loud
you’re the invited  guest
the long-awaited for guest
and you thought that heaven didn’t wanna mess with you

there’s a party going on up in the sky
a party going strong wrongs are made right
no eye has ever seen the likes of
this party there’s a party going on tonight
a party going on heaven shines
a party going strong the angels fly
no eye has seen this sight before
there’s a party going on for evermore

it’s stronger than anything in this world

~ Mitch McVicker’s “Partysong”

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