Thursday, December 29, 2005

A friend of mine e-mailed me from Cancun where his ten year old daughter parasailed 150 feet up in the air yesterday. This is the same girl who jumped off a two story platform into Lake Lucern in Switzerland while I held nervously to the railing and ultimately refused to take the drop off. Brave kid. My son also received a medal of courage when yesterday, at his grandparents, he toppled off Trigger, the half-alive three foot brown Shetland stallion. And, although quaking and crying, Cody re-mounted the pony when his grandpa righted the saddle. Progress!

And, so these children will be my examples of bravery for the new year as I think about some resolutions for myself.

One resolution is to still fight the urge to see religion as completely self-serving. There I said it. Its been a struggle these last six months to see it otherwise on many levels. I've been noticing the 'safe worlds' that we Christians create and justify which are often based upon creating a superior self-image compared to others. Yes, we may disguise this with humble self-analytical flagellation of sorts, but because we're engaged in this activity, we are a better person/nation/etc than others. All sorts of crazy actions/aggression/pronouncements result from this.

My church and its incessant building funddrive for bigger and bigger toys for the children's area (yet the substance is quite thin) and its huge re-iterated goal for the Christmas offering (which covers not just benevolence but administrative aims) also has pounded in this message to me lately. Cynicism becomes wrapped more tightly around the dollar as the dollar becomes the prized messenger of showing your 'love' to God, a phrase oft-used. Sigh. And, so the vision spreads, and I'm losing track of the humble, good, lovers of God. Fortunately, a couple of friends model this still for me. My goal is to not drift away into the cynicism and to keep my eyes on the simple elements of belief in God, agreeing to believe despite persistent doubts.

Another resolution: to acknowledge the tie between physical, emotional, spiritual health. Even as I write this, I am procrastinating my run. The week at my parents got me off track. I know that exercise does me a world of good in many ways (just like faith) and so I must continue. I even do like it much when doing it!

Another resolution: to parent as best as possible without becoming emotionally muddled during the heat of the battle. I love my teenager, but she is quite the strong-willed girl who will challenge us. I must learn to keep my side of the street clean. (I truly need God dependence here.). To parent with respect and love and hope that my children will not fall into the pit of despair.

Another resolution: to acknowledge all that belongs to my husband. As I walked and prayed one day, I prayed from my toes to my head in a sort of recommitment.

Another: to continue enjoying my friends, but to know when I'm becoming overdependent on a few of them (which at times happens). I do love friendships, though, and I thank God for them.

Another: to approach the move to Little Rock (in a year and a half) with an open mind.

Okay, obviously, I've rolled out of bed in a most serious mode this morning! I have a joke about a hot horse biscuit my dad told me this week if you're interested. :) Happy New Year to anyone who happened to have made it to the end of this posting!

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Christmas Eve ... as we drove back from church, through windows, I saw many families gathered around their dining room tables. Are they capturing a mood? Are they savoring the Savior? Are they anticipating the gifts? Are they happy and content?

My family was moody the entire night about one thing or another. This is the reality of love where you bumble along with each other and you put up with wayward emotions over a broken ornament, or something hidden inside, or a little brother who sometimes hits you. When we returned home, we sat in the living room and went around one by one and named two things that we appreciate about each other. Then, we said our Christmas prayer for God to help keep our family unified and focused on faith. Then, presents! Cody loves the present part. I do too!

We played Uno, and then retired to our separate rooms; me to softly pluck on the guitar, inspired by a musician at church; my husband to his numbers; my son to his games and bed; and my daughter to her new pajama pants (which she had to show me). This Christmas seems subdued; are we happy and content? Can we be happy and content with what we have? This is my utmost prayer and hope for the coming year.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

I'm on my way out shortly to meet another neighborhood mom/runner at the corner for our first run together. It's always interesting to see how paces match.
As I wake up this morning, I can only think of two incongruent things from last night: Calphalon skillets and Capote -- which both make me smile. The movie "Capote" is at the independent film movie theater; it was excellent, depicting how art impacts the artist, particularly when his art had its roots in gruesome, yet sympathetic, reality. Two girlfriends and I met up to see it; I would highly recommend seeing the film.
Then, my friend and I went to visit the store where my little cutie daughter works, and I was assaulted with a calphalon skillet almost as soon as I got there. "Mom, it's such a good deal!"
She and what seemed like a couple of other girls in red aprons gathered around me with intense looks in their eyes about this skillet, the last one left, wouldn't I want it? So, I bought it as a memory of Truman Capote's "In Cold Blood" which I'll think about as I fry my steak.
My daughter is quite the professional, yet when she comes home, she seeks me out as a daughter to tell me about her day on the job. It's a good time right now.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

I can tell that "Reading Lolita in Tehran" is going to be one of those books that make you feel that life, and its inhabitants, are beautiful and prized, simply because those inside it are memorialized in such fashion. We shall see. So far, it's excellent. Here's a taste:

"For nearly two years, almost every Tursday morning, rain or shine, they came to my house, and almost every time, I could not get over the shock of seeing them shed their mandatory veils and robes and burst into color. When my students came into that room, they took off more than their scarves and robes. Gradually, each one gained an outline and a shape, becoming her own inimitable self...."

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Okay, Cindy, at, here are five random things which you asked me to list about myself. I nudge Laura, Beth, and anyone else out there who would like to participate in this fun!

1. In the not so distant past, I have rappeled down a mountain cliff in Colorado.

2. As a girl, I used to fish alone for perch (or bass or snapping turtle!) all the time at our pond using bacon which I snuck from our refrigerator.

3. My neighborhood little girlfriend and I used to compose "routines" either on our ponies or on our septic tanks. :)
4. I can play tunes on the banjo, mandolin, and guitar.

5. The number one thing I liked to do on my summer European trip: climb! (towers, mountains, steeples, stairs) which I believe comes from my Ozarkian hill training. Yeah!:)

Friday, December 16, 2005

King Kong is one swervy, swinging, swooping sweetheart of a movie! You must go see it. I especially liked Peter Jackson's ability to employ still frames within the overall tremendous movement of the action. Strong action / strong emotion. Rare to have this kind of blend. Naomi Watts is excellent as Anne Darrow too. When I sleep tonight, perhaps I'll imagine I'm curled up in a rubbery hairy hand.:)

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Anyone taking a break from wrapping? Yes, I've wrapped my mind around accomplishing this task. The boys are almost home from their southern whereabouts, and I've almost got the holidays taped and folded up. Feels good, and I wonder, is there a spiritual strand in this. No, not really. Sigh.

I've had wonderful conversation these last two days, long coffees and lunches. I think I could do this for a living; however, I need a housekeeper, and some new cute hats, and some chocolate orange treats which may necessitate money one day. (Not to mention the practicalities of roof and nourishment.)

Have you ever applied a certain image to describe a conversation with a friend? Today, my friend and I engaged in meta-talk (and meta-laughed about this) as we imagined our conversation (and talks like it in the last ten years of friendship) as being like a vine, with offshoots, tendrils, and ultimately progression. I like that. A woman I met with on Monday and I always have circular talks -- it takes a while for us to communicate because our associations tend to be comprehensive, non-linear, and for two hours we knit together a weave of some sort that feels round, complete, but large with lots of inner content. It wears me out, but it's worthwhile gradually. It's funny how each communication takes on its own life.

Finally, I wonder ... what will tomorrow be like in Iraq? It's excellent to hear the positive reports about the election, after so much death of American soldiers, still yet, long-term what will happen? And, now there's the Iranian leader making claims about the holocaust being a myth created by European advocators of an Israeli state. Oh dismay. Then there's China, North Korea. Peace is quite elusive.

There's comfort in friendships and faith, n'est-ce pas?

Friday, December 09, 2005

All day, I’ve been marching around, shaking my head in a funk, until we went sledding with some homeschool friends. Why do I forget that fresh air is the antidote for so much? We scooted down toward a beautiful lake with visiting geese, honking and hooting, and silhouetting their graceful necks for our visual pleasure. Halfway through, one of the boys took off his shirt and, on the sunny, southern slope slid down happily topless.

Cody asked me why I didn’t want to do that. “Why not, Mom? Why do girls care? Those things are just their silly things!”

Why does the universe engage in ironic echolalia? A similar question was asked only a day earlier by an entirely different source, which strangely dismayed me and made want to cry for being committed to virtue (although the Pope was quoted yesterday in the news saying that being virtuous does not mean being boring – another ironic echo). It’s not that I want to be hedonistic – it’s more a matter of the immediate; I wanted the person who asked me that question to see me as interesting, not boring. Just that admission also dismayed me. My values have formed for valid, protective, and selective reasons, not to mention the role of Spirit-Teacher molding me.

Today, when I was reading the Psalms, I was reminded again to not put undue faith and trust (or time and desire of approval) in man, but in God, because only he will last and substantiate our efforts to live by values. How often I must be reminded of this!

Cody reminded me too, though, that I just needed to laugh and actually visualize myself as the subject of a potential byline: “Topless Mother Slides Happily Toward Lake of Geese.” :) Alas, I tend to fret, when I should giggle.

When God can, I think he tries to tickle us.
It’s darn cold this morning (2 degrees), and no running for yours truly. Cody and I just tromped outside where we jumped in the van to go to public school music and p.e. I have my hour now. Typically, I go to a nearby coffee shop and meet a friend, but that feels old this morning, and I just want to stay in and relax. I would love to take the day off, but yesterday we had a snow day. We had a sledding day at a nearby park. Even my teenager joined us for the thrill of the slope. A friend of mine told me that snow reminds him of going crosscountry skiing naked with old Wisconsin friends. Okay.

Tonight my husband comes home, thankfully. He’s flying in a small plane, piloted by his boss, back to Little Rock from a business meeting. Husbands need to be gone for a little while before we say, “I can put up with that!” He’s such a good man; I don’t think I could find anyone better for me.

My Bible is waiting for me on the table. I know that I need the “be still” time, which answers all of the reasons for faith, which goes down the shaft and pulls up water for the dehydration I often find myself in. May this be a day of increased awareness of God’s moisture.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

An Iowan friend offered to crochet a prayer row for my husband this week. With every loop and hook, she prays that he will travel safely so that he may return soon to the family that he helps hold together. Through my praying friend’s example, I decided this morning that I could institute a similar commitment.

As of Monday, I began to train for an April half-marathon, so I’ve crawled out from under my three Grandma Cora quilts and my flannel sheets to hit the streets and the frigid temperature. Brrr… 9 degrees this morning. However, despite the hurried cars zooming past for an 8 o’clock work day (God be with), I remember how peaceful winter running can be: the sky, me, stalwart trees, a few lonesome birds, and prayers. It seems such an empty expanse exists for a Presence who wants some words, some notice, like when you find someone out in the same barren place as yourself and you’re acutely grateful for seeing life which makes you speak out in fullness.

So to the rhythm of my feet, it’s not so hard to pray which made me think of the crochet prayer rows which I can replace with mile dedications. The helplessness I faced yesterday with my own reaction to my daughter needs, for example, a mile or two. A hospitalized woman from church needs a mile. Cody's development. Some parents in town who lost a son to prison. The war and soldiers in Iraq. The earthquake and hurricane victims. Many, many needs out there.

Perhaps I will be training for a marathon before too long!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

My daughter is going to her first job interview; she dressed in an appropriate skirt and jacket; she curled her hair; she took pains. Any moment, she will come driving down the cul-de-sac with a report on their reaction. I didn’t have the chance to give her tips, only as she was walking out the door did I return from errands. I yelled, “Give ‘em a firm handshake, talk about what you have done for your grandmother and for us, “ (This last part was done with a smirk, I’m afraid – she notoriously dislikes housework.)

My little girl is growing into a little woman. How does that happen? And, I must say, it has been difficult letting go of that small child who used to be my loving companion in many ways. Now, it feels like there are constant strains which I guess is supposed to happen between a teenage daughter and her mother. Still, it’s hard; I have more expectations than I thought for her development which she’s trying hard to debunk. I thought that I would have a kid who would value my opinion more. I thought that I would have a kid who would clean her room more. I thought that my kid would be interested in God and His ways more. That she would show more affection. That she would like a boy that I liked and deemed good. That she would be less interested in shopping like me.

I must admit that I do carry these disappointments around too much. Lately, it seems as if I am ready to criticize her on almost everything for being something that I want her to be. I do love her very much, though. She is a good kid in many ways. I feel like a canoe scraping gravel, stuck and not moving forward much. Father, please help me show her unconditional acceptance and love at all times, even within a framework of trying to guide her into a more full, safe, and productive life. Amen.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Did anyone else castrate cattle, as a family gathering, on Thanksgiving break? We did -- here's Cody grinning about being on the boy-safe side of the pen.

My 93 year old grandmother and her precious great, great grandson (my nephew's boy). We have a baby now for Christmas goggling! I'm sure that he will receive more presents than anyone has a right to. So cute, isn't he? Awwww!

Saturday, December 03, 2005

I’ve been giggling a little bit this last hour, while I soaked my legs in a hot bath and warmed up from being out this cold morning. When my friend and I entered the local 5k, we were both adamant about our objective and personality. I told her in a pleading voice, “This race is not at all about competing, it’s about participation.” And, she relayed to me several of the training regimen absurdities that her extreme-competition husband practices, which we laughed about.
When we planned for the run, we planned what we would chat about which would be no different than our Monday morning run together. We planned how we would look: tights, clean hair, a touch of makeup, fleece, a cute hat. We planned to have fun.
And, we did, but afterwards we walked sheepishly down the street with medals around our necks! I placed second in my age group, and she placed third. We managed to communicate only one story (about a woman who had a baby with the cord around its neck, etc etc) and the rest of the time we were breathing hard and focusing on getting under 30 minutes.
Wow! Winning makes participation much more fun!:)

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Sometimes the things I’m obligated to do becomes homeschooling hours for Cody (sound familiar?). Yesterday afternoon, I needed to watch a DVD that our church handed out to our 2000 attendees. The “interactive journey” is called “Jesus: Fact or Fiction?”

I popped some popcorn, and we settled down to watch the Jesus story film part (they were careful to explain that the man playing Jesus was just an actor, in case we believed erroneously that we were primary eyewitnesses on our couch with a tub of corn).

Anyway, Cody watched devotedly as Jesus was baptized, turned one basket into multitudes, allowed his feet to be washed by a woman. I tried to encourage dialogue and when a scene came on with a boat rocking in a sea storm, I said, “Oh, is this the place where Jesus walks on water?”

Cody noticing that Jesus was in the boat said, “No, Mom. He calms the water here.”
I said, “Oh, have you seen this movie before?”
He turned and looked incredulously at me, “No, Mom. I’ve read the book – duh!”

I guess he’s being brought up correctly afterall.:)

Another portion of this DVD includes scholars/famous speakers/theologians answering tough questions like: Does God exist? Is there historical evidence for Jesus?, etc.

It was excellent, and it follows with my prior post of being grateful for the grounding in this faith heritage. And it reminded me that there is a strong intellectual empirical basis for our faith (as well as testimonial through personal stories of transformation). Ravi Zacharias, a professor of comparative world religions, also differentiated for me the claims of Christianity and why these matter.

It’s amazing the things there are to learn. Life is good.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

I can attest that God at times uses unorthodox (a subjective word in itself) means to draw me closer to Him. Just this morning, I am feeling snug within my faith, within my perceived (and actual) relationship to a living, transcended Godhead as described in the Judaic and Christian testaments. I’ve been listening to an audiobook by Karen Armstrong called “A Short History of Myth” which timelines the stories and methods people, since the beginning, have used to stretch their arms upwards in a longing for spiritual meaning. She instructs me on how the Judaic story fits into this historical picture. She instructs me that the word “myth” is used to represent a transformative, transcendent belief system that people within certain circumstances use therapeutically or socially to improve their understanding of life.

She tells me about the age of enlightenment period in which empirical rationalism becomes a lasting force and, at times, disavows the subjective stuff of the heart and emotions. How science also attaches itself to weapons of destruction in today’s world. How adulation of icons from Hollywood do not speak to the epic need for spiritual tending which our history tells us is necessary.

I’ve always been interested in how all of this pieces together. How Baal in Old Testament came to be worshiped and how the Israelites worked (and fought) within this mythological framework. Yes, from this listening, it became important for me to accommodate and sift and draw from it the reason for why I believe and hold on to those subjective (and objective) truths of faith in Jesus Christ as a resurrected reality. Although I can’t speak for the other people who were born in other parts of the world, I know that I’m grateful to have this heritage, even though I probe and pick at it for understanding on how it developed in such a pluralistic world of beliefs. I know that the relationship aspect of it is true which makes it living and viable.

The religious consciousness has always fascinated me, and I hope to learn lots more about how and in what way humanity responds to this need.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

We just had a family meeting; my husband, o conciliatory one, talked while I kept quiet because I've had a disquietude about my daughter all day, worried that she'll be bad attitudinal forever, worried that she won't ever clean her room, worried that she'll spend the entire planet's money in one hour, worried that I will never ever again see her natural hair color again, worried that I'll blow up after all that fretting. The meeting went well; our ten year old son piped up that we need to start again to have those elusive weekly family fun nights, and now he's excited, planning, eagerly anticipating mom, dad, son, sister. Just tonight too our neighbor girl middle school friend came over, and she wanted my opinion on starting a cul-de-sac newsletter, of going caroling with one another, of finding out about each other's basketball and soccer games.
I guess, post Thanksgiving, that community is in the air, and I should just submit and quit hiding out listening to my ipod audiobook (another post):). Life happens all around. Kids really do rule the world. Submit.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

It was like walking in a black and white photograph today on my mother-in-law’s crop farm. The dark river soil announced its somber treasury, like a king on a costly battlefield, under a gray sky, below stark branch outline. Dark birds flew away looking for color in another faraway place. We walked around hunched, cold, picking up brown pecans with black flecked shells. The black and white farm cat (Cahokia) and the black and tan dogs walked around on the dead gray grass, looking up at us for attention. I half expected to see MacBeth go galloping by on a black horse directed towards an evil deed (I only say this for my friend’s Shakespearean benefit:).

I was surrounded by my family, though (hunched though we were – hunched not unhappily I might add), and they kept me adrift from sinking into any type of gloom. One kept teasing me about my burnt pie (may I proclaim that it has been a bad pie year for me!). My mother-in-law giggled something fierce about everything which kept me silly and lighthearted. The men were throwing balls around, hitting people whenever possible. My husband kept grabbing me for a kiss. The children were herding Cahokia’s kitten as if life held nothing more than small paws and purrs.

Yes, Spring emblazons all, but late fall around Thanksgiving forces you to take stock of what you have and don’t have around you. I felt full for what I do have: family members who regularly appear out of the haze to help alleviate the loneliness (and the beauty) of the starkness.

Thank you, thank you, gracious, gracious Giver.

Friday, November 18, 2005

“I have measured out my life with coffee spoons,” says the memorable Prufrock whose voice resides in my consciousness and squeaks out at various moments when I am most parceled out and undecided and flotatious. Crazy how fine literature becomes embedded.
Or, perhaps I’m just tired and fear that my forthcoming bed is the most solid position available to me at the moment.
My spiritual life is where? Could it be defined as mature without need of corresponding emotion? Could it be defined as cold and waning? Could it be seen as core comfort? Like many relationships, I’ve always felt the definition of it to be a bit changeable. At one moment, it could be described as thick, uncrackable, ice-skatable. The next, a splintering sound denies any projection of weight, of claim.
“In the room the women come and go talking of Michelangelo.”
I’ve entertained the same activity for several months now. Talking of something for the pleasure of the talk, the mouth, eyes, hair, friend behind the words. Bargaining with boredom for bits of diversion. Allowing the hour to hurry past within which I wander.
Like talking over coffee about Jesus and eyewitness differences.
How faith is not science.
How the afterlife is imaginative.
My preferred company of late is skeptical, material, satisfactorily diverting me to teaspoon talking on such subjects, Gentile to Jew who will refuse to ever believe in subjective signs of a spiritual nature. I’m paddling with our relational current, thinking I know my banks, solid ground, oak. One day, I could possibly be far out, though, left alone, and I will wonder how to get back home to solidity. And will it be worth it to linger in the chambers of the sea as Prufrock ultimately asks? To drown?

The swirl of the stirring by the teaspoon in the porcelain cup may break it. This I know which calls to consciousness his voice once more which says,
“And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,
And in short, I was afraid.”
T.S. Eliot => quite the genius to spread it all out like that, like a patient needing to be examined.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

While my son was entertaining one of our middle school neighbors, I sat in my room practicing my guitar and singing some songs from the big three ring binder which holds ALL songs which must be preserved. One year, I found an internet site that had lots and lots of bluegrass lyrics, and since my Dad was a master of “na, na, na, na”, I decided to make compiling a project. I printed off the site’s song title list, and he checked off the tunes that he “remembered” knowing at some point or time.I copied and enlarged and enumerated and alphabetized all of these into a songbook, which I had copied into about 15 sets. Now when I go to his house, we pull out the binder and work our way through from A (A Beautiful Life) to U (The Unclouded Day) which wipes me out completely but not him. :)

Since then, I’ve put in some other folk, alternative, rock classics which I use to practice chords (like “American Pie” for one) which aren’t too bluegrassy (E7m, Dm, A7, etc).
Anyway, because I started taking guitar lessons this week to learn how to read guitar music (I play by ear), I decided to practice up.

Soon I heard the middle school girl neighbor in the hallway listening, and she said, “Wow, that sounds really good.” We love this girl who is always welcomed in our home (she’s down in the basement now playing video games – Been here for about three hours!), and I would adopt her if I could. She’s great fun and is about the only person who is able to play with Cody for any prolonged amount of time. She’s the daughter of one of the two black families on our cul-de-sac (I’m glad our cul-de-sac is at least diverse – we have an Asian family two doors down as well.)

Anyway, I invited her to come in and sing with me, and we leafed through my songbook looking for a song that she knew. Hardly anyone under the age of 40 knows traditional bluegrass, so I flipped through these songs very quickly! Then slowly I flipped through the Beatles, Simon & Garfunkle, Lucinda Williams, Hank Williams, Pure Prairie League, John Lennon, Chuck Berry …. She thought she had heard of the Beatles, but she didn’t know for sure. Finally, we came to one we both knew, one we thought we could perform at a cul-de-sac celebration. Happily we sat on the bed together singing the only song we had in common: I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas.

Oooooh we were awesome together! We’re going to start a band together now and everything. :)

Thursday, November 10, 2005

I know that one should have an opinion on something when one writes a blog. My friend over at In a Strange Land (see side bar) is so excellent at opinions. I could see her with a radio talk show or something, leading her kind of tribe. Opinions have never been one of my fortes. I mean I possess a few, but they are typically subtle and feeling-full. Until they spill over in the form of an affective-style observation or critique or a connection that I have the means to articulate in some form or stutter. Perhaps it’s the musician or poet in me (I compliment my own self! Or insult!), it just comes along differently than my friend – and we’ve talked about how this relates to our individual Myers-Briggs scores (I’m an ENFP).

Anyhow, this has been a crazily social week. My panting extrovert side has conquered any meditative muse within. The Nickel Creek concert was excellent; however, being with thirteen of my friends made me happier. The Creek’s music was disappointingly soft also – I’m used to being encircled by the sound of these instruments – kitchen surround sound, I call it, when the Ozarkian bluegrassers besiege the dining set and use the chairs (for sittin’) and linoleum floor (for tappin’). The contained sounds always swirled so robustly in this musical wind tunnel that filtered out onto the dark yard where the kids played tag, or the living room where the women chatted. So, with Nickel Creek, I didn’t experience that immersion of sound as such that reminds me of bluegrass (although they’re more bluegrass pop). Although when Lucinda Williams played at this club, she immersed me in style, stories, songs. However, I was standing far back at the Nickel Creek concert, with lots of heads, shoulders, swaying bodies instead to see. They are an excellent band, though; we said hello to Sarah afterwards as she made her way to her bus.

Tonight, my book club meets at a friend’s house who has a reputation for making a meal that assaults any lack of appetite and forces one to surrender to a form of hedonistic saturation. I’ll be a willing captive. Mmmmm….. We’ll be discussing “The Secret Life of Bees”, a lovely life, healing affirming story (I can just hear definitive theological opinions, though, being given, about it; thankfully, this isn’t a one believer type group, so we should have a variety of opinions which is something we pride ourselves on.) These meetings have meant much to me over the last six years … and it’s tonight, yeah! I have a couple of apple pies to whip up in a couple of hours still.

If you don’t have a circle of women friends, or a book club, it’s my opinion that you should start one. It’s easy (that's relative, I realize); you pick a few people with whom you want to stay in touch with; they can pick a few people, and so it grows. We women desire such connection, and it’s marvelous when it becomes a haven from the world.

Only four more hours to go until I will be at the table, plunging with the fork and the tongue (or the forked tongue for the night if that's the protocol:) into the feast. Must go peel my apples and do my part!

Monday, November 07, 2005

My son has been practicing his husbandry skills lately. He boiled hot dogs, he set the table, he stirred up some Strawberry Kookaid, he washed himself with water and soap, and he paid the pizza man one night. (Oh, this last sentence is quite telling about our eating habits around here….)

Perhaps this coincides with the square dancing at school which has been making him into victorian gentleman. He’s noticed a change in himself as well because when he returned from P.E. (and square dancing) last week, he said, “Well, at least I haven’t pushed my girl partner down like I did in first grade.”

Some fine woman will be mighty fortunate to wed my well-mannered man some day. :)

Today’s a busy day. I’m running with a friend this morning, Cody has drum lessons at noon, and then we have our coop school in the afternoon. I have two more weeks of teaching creative writing to these awesome kids. We like to have fun. We like to play as we write. I love them! Next semester, I’ll be assisting a friend in her class.

Tomorrow, I coordinated a concert outing to see Nickel Creek. After purchasing their album, I discovered they’re coming to town tomorrow. Ten of my book club friends are going with me. How exciting!

Sunday, November 06, 2005

There is a love like a small lamp, which goes out when the oil is consumed; or like a stream, which dries up when it doesn’t rain. But there is a love that is like a mighty spring gushing up out of the earth; it keeps flowing forever, and is inexhaustible.
Isaac of Nineveh (6th century)

Monday, October 31, 2005

It’s amazing – Friday, and the entire weekend, I’ve been ruminating on “What was I thinking?” when I came to the conclusion to homeschool my hyper, special needs kid. These past three days, I’ve just wanted a solitary tunnel (preferably in France) (did you hear about subterranean explorers in Carthage, MO?) to hide out in without sound. Ah……. However, today, the rebound happened, and we’ve been happily working well together, learning about light, transparency, opaqueness, translucence. Then, we found Geographica, the complete illustrated atlas of the world, and flipped through, looking at life expectancy – the lowest at 33 in a country in Africa – and I showed him Syria and we talked about the happenings there, which always leads into talks of government types. Cool. We have several hours yet to go, after our break, and my switch has, fortuitously, been flipped on again, which always seems to happen, in the nick of time.
It’s all good, and, strangely, so enjoyable once more. Imagine!

Friday, October 28, 2005

Nickel Creek’s last album “Why Should the Fire Die?” fits the ending of this day as it conveys a wide emotional range (with the mandolin going at it in blows or trilling pleasurably). I already dove into some old vinyls that I received when a friend cleaned out her basement. Music is the best thing to help this day go down. So, now it’s Nickel Creek on my nano; earlier it was the Doobie Brothers, the Bel Airs, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Jackson Browne, Sea Train, Don McLean, the Beach Boys. Old record covers are fun to look at – such an attempt at philosophical portrayal or a non-attempt at philosophical portrayal!

My day was a disaster, beginning with the upper molar and sitting in the dentist office with Cody for an hour and a half, awaiting the magical attachment touch (thrust) upon the tooth (raw gum), which the dentist did hurriedly before running out for a golf game. I forgive him; I’m the moron who ate Airheads once more for an emergency visit. Or, the airhead who ate the Airhead …

We missed Cody's music and p.e. class. I missed my coffee hour. The homeschoolers, whom we need to know better, had a special rocket presentation which we missed. I ended up cleaning all day and wished to kick a puppy (thanks, Cindy, at Quotidian Light, for that unforgettable idea). Cody wasn’t home schooled. My tooth throbbed. My teenager wanted money. My husband was late. I missed a birthday dinner with friends.

Yet, I stayed home with him after a three or four day absence (he’s bonding with the boy right now). And, in my gloominess, I found reprieve in family and music.

Always a ray to be found in this sweet ole world (Lucinda)…….

Thursday, October 27, 2005

This is the second year in a row …….

that I’ve pulled out a crown with Halloween candy. The dentist, who laughed at me last year, will have to be called tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Rove. Libby. Cheney. Nonexistent promised retirement funds.

Claims of weapons of mass destruction. Ralph Reed, former Christian Coalition director. 2000 dead now.

American politics can interfere with a sunny gorgeous day. I should be focusing on recipe books or walking on a leaf-tattered trail, but I became a bit down when reading about the above list of disturbing news flashes. I feel like it’s my obligation to know current events as a Christian and my privilege as an American. And, I long to know the truth of situations, not just ideas in my head of how it should be. Nor, do I think “the truth” of these situations is simply relativistic – it’s just not the New York Times’ truth, which I get every morning; it’s not just Time magazines rendition of how many corporations have renigged on their retirement guarantees, with the help of Congress law rewrites – but journalistic stories can have merits on their own and need to be brought, with proof, to the surface.

Yes, we can claim political stance from every news medium; however, I do not want that excuse in my life to clog the actual event that happens or all reported things run the risk of being brushed off due to a preconceived political stance, an abstraction, or a selfish reason. Sigh. I believe in the American press’ participation in the democracy of our country. Yes, one must be critically minded, but one shouldn’t be dismissive of the issue, because it could be, and most likely, is based on reality.

Therefore, it would be nice to just go along the tattered-leaf trail, I think. However, some things signal you out of tranquility. The Rove, Libby, Cheney matter did to me today as I gained a clearer understanding of it. 2000. God help our country.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

I brought all of my emotional, reactive concerns regarding my church’s new building program and emphasis to a level-headed, discerning friend. She’s been involved with church plants, and
Traditional churches,
And people who want to squander the gospel for themselves when others don’t
“get it” the way that it should be gotten. A comfortable pre-defined way. A way
modeled in the antiquities, only.
And, I squeaked and rationalized deeply and grabbed onto
A current that ran swiftly and surely in a certain direction.
“But, what about this?” I asked emitting thoughts.

And, instead of having an attitude that church should be this and only
This, my older female friend said,
“Look at what has happened. People who have always been on the outside of
church have entered into the doors,
and I’ve seen unbelievable transformations
because they’ve accepted Christ as their Savior.”

It silenced me, because I entered the doors, needing assurance that
A plank was not hoisted to whop me one. Needing assurance
That the Religious Right, led by self-righteous deceivers,
Like Falwell, Baker, Swaggart – the Religious Right caricatured
In Time magazine as the violent zealots of society – weren’t
Waiting to seize me, shake me, and demand Holy Ghost infiltration.

I entered scared to death of churches and smug people. When I heard
Music I knew and reference to film and language that invited
Me to think about issues, I was okay with moving forward.

Which led me to finding God in small groups, within the arms and hearts of
Wonderful loving women. There have been so many who have carried me through, even if
They weren’t aware of it.

My friend Jackie reminded me of the mission, that it is what it is: seeker friendly, inclusive, okay with stages of development.

Relevant to lives.

I can sometimes be restless, and I definitely will still be a natural non-conformist and an independent thinker, and, I perhaps might seek a different type of church for myself in the future, but the reminder made me appreciate my church’s role in my life. I think they should carry on with their good work.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Ah, the merriest songs still fill the air, in their crinkly, raspy, needle to vinyl sort of way.

When we were young, my dad went somewhere for work, and when he returned, he gave us one of the only non-holiday gifts that I can remember: a Walt Disney’s Merriest Songs record. And thereafter, we three children would listen and listen and listen to happy songs (except for Chim Chim Cheree – kind-of eerie and gloomy, like the London it describes), and we would also act them out.

Yesterday, the acting part came back to me without reserve. When the song “The Wonderful Thing About Tiggers” played, I automatically tip-toed hopped to the words “They’re bouncy, bouncy, bouncy, bouncy, bouncy, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun!” Cody stomp-bounced beside me, because he was unaware of the possibility of the needle skidding scratchily across the precious record. The toes have memory!

Of course, I had to initiate him also into dramatizing “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf” which has the gymnast voices of the pigs squeaking, “Not by the hair of my chinny chin chin!”

And, then, I later played one of the other best albums from childhood: Johnny Horton’s Greatest Hits. “North to Alaska”, “When It’s Springtime in Alaska”, “The Battle of New Orleans”, and “Sink the Bismarck” => we acted out those excellent ballads too. Who sings them like Johnny Horton these day? What happened to telling the musical story?

Oh but life was so good when a record was spinning in our small house!

And, so after hauling the old record player back from my parents, I am able to slip back into time, with my kids, or alone (yes, acting out Horton's “I’m Ready, if You’re Willing”, especially fun – ha, ha, joking ..).

Even though my toes remember, I had almost forgotten how wonderful the music used to be presented.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Jeremy said, “I’m listening to the ‘Drive By Truck Drivers’ right now.”
And, he demonstrated a Led Zeppelin pose that they strike in deference.
And, he got all animated about seeing them in the local bar scene.
And, he forgot about the coffee urns on the counter where the parishioners were busy pouring. And, then he mentioned Kate Rusby, an English singer, “Oh, she’s beautiful. When I bought her at Streetside Records, they looked at me like ‘what’? [With his self-consciousness, I wonder if he ever reads his Bible in public, but then again, as a computer techie to the max, he’s got a Blackberry, an Ipod, and probably avoids the big leather volume lookJ]”
So I walked away from him smiling. He’s like this hidden resource that hardly anyone knows about but me; he’s like Lucas in “Threshold”, a bit nerdy, but he’s dynamite with his specific knowledge base: music, specifically, alternative country, folksy, bands no one else would give homage to. When he found out five years ago that I did, we had that cool connection gaze, that one where you nod your head at each other in appreciation that you’re similar.
And, every Saturday night, he’s coffee servant at our church and monitors the pour levels in each cup which means I can find him when I need him. Like tonight. I do love people in my church.
So now (with my marshmallows and chocolate bar nearby), I’m listening to music (indie, alternative country, alternative rock, perhaps christian), and trying to figure out what’s going on (I’m admittedly way behind like lots of people my age), and what I can download and enjoy.
Like Jeremy, I’m feeling animated about this right now. Send favorite artists if you agree that I need to become more enlightened!

Friday, October 21, 2005

Although difficult to admit, I anxiously pulled my Quest (for skeptics) Bible out of my red
canvas bag today during my usual coffee shop hour. I even found it necessary to challenge myself to bring it to the public place where there were eyes evaluating whether I was a cool reader or a thumper reader. But, I knew that I needed to continue my morning reading which I hadn’t made time for a couple of days. I knew that to miss it would be to invite further distraction. So, I read my allotted chapter in Corinthians, and, although not much soaked in admittedly, there we were: the Intent and me at the table, communing, barring regard from anyone, sipping hot relaxants. Fortunately, no police struck me from behind to drag me into prison (as in China and other oppressed countries) for choosing such an inciting book. Paul was allowed. And, we hung out tentatively together. All was good; awkwardness is allowed for the sake of its attempt. Grace is granting. Its taken me forever to learn this.
Then, I spent the rest of the time writing an outline regarding ethics and their origin. I need a mental project for this winter as the gloom told me yesterday. Altogether, it was a delightful hour, even though the sky compresses again with her color scheme this morning. There will be lots more delightful hours in the mornings/seasons to come, I’m sure of it.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

So gray out today. Thankfully, there are bright trees to signal you out of a stupor. There are moments of huge son smiles after doing well in many social situations of the day. Yet, I don’t mean to be bleak, but the grayness of the winter approaches; it has a way of closing over which I’m beginning to sense and dread.
Tonight at a church event, a planned celebratory one, I felt quite isolated, lost in the fog somewhere. Fortunately, there were people who knew and greeted me, sat beside me on a city bus tour (to reflect on our community mission), and with whom I could sit by afterwards at a service. If it weren’t for them, invisibility would be most palpable. I felt a few hands which were warm and real.
The grayness of the day has permeated, for certain. I hope that the yellow flashing leaves hold out for at least a little while longer. I hope that people still continue to see my outline in the dusk.

Off to sleep to restore ………

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.
2 Corinthians 7:1

Conviction creaks. Conviction speaks. When I read this verse this morning, I knew exactly what it is that contaminates my body and spirit. Something I long for, something that concretely grips, snags, calls my name, and causes me to walk on the edge without focusing on the fuller life Christ offers. We all have something.

Being aware of the crutch means learning to contentedly keep myself company. And, learning to keep even closer pace with God, who can help me pass doors from which wonderful scents pour forth, inviting me in, for just a little while which can stretch into a much longer, drier, laborious road than God intended.

It will be difficult. The verse is posted where it needs to be. Father, help me become unencumbered so that you flower within my spirit and carry me into areas which provide clean water.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

We're both laughing at the passing mule, it seems. Bo and I. Here's the famous Bo who jumps bales with abandonment for the sake of the jumping itself. He's a white lab who showed up as a puppy at my parent's farm about four years ago. Recently, a grumpy neighbor man asked, "Where'd you find that dog; I got one just like him."
No one spoke. Bo has become beloved. As you can see just by looking at him, he owns us.

Monday, October 17, 2005

I just finished running with the full moon and the “ghastly-ha” blown up pumpkins and Scooby Dooby Dos in the yards. At first, I was afraid to go out, by myself in the dark, an old fear of wayward others, but then I haven’t been running for three days, and when you start and continue, your body becomes desperate after awhile for motion.
So I ran at a fast clip, panting, fleeing from the shadows; however, it was quite beautiful out there. The moon, friendly; the smells of meals, sickening (while running), but domestic in a comforting way. Although I long for acreage, space, the old farm, I wonder if I’ll miss the ability to share the squares (of lots) (of homes that fit into said spots) of town life. The sidewalk shares itself in quite the neighborly fashion to me, allowing me to safely meander from my home, promising me a known return.
Regardless, I was glad to be under the full moon’s soft glow, breathing in rhythm, feeling my feet move, move, move deeper into a nocturnal type of song.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

It wears well: my dinner jacket of the week: a black, cotton, lined, white stitch embellished fitted blazer. I bought it at 85% off, for $12.32, at Dillards. During this spiritual retreat, which has become also mixed with a daughter retreat, I’ve worn it to four nights in a row of lovely food, conversation and giggles with my teenager. Now the jacket has become a ceremonious affectation signifying time together.

Our dynamic is interesting, much more Loralei and Rory, now that the boys are gone. I knew we still had it buried inside of us to enjoy each other’s company again, to laugh, be our some times crazy selves, to not want to be separated in one and three-fourths years. We’ve both been hurt by each other’s responses to one another’s issues and have carried these offenses like injured whimpering puppies in a basket.

Thankfully, we’ve had this week for healing. Last night, we recorded some of our movements together on the camcorder, just plain old silliness, singing of some country songs, filming our neighbor walking down the sidewalk with his dog (we’ve, ahem, always loved to laugh at people together). Then, we went to church, and an urban renewal (okay, black group) of singers led us relevant attendees into some hand-waving, foot-stomping, slap-clapping worship. I felt Pentecostal memories attack my brain (yes, that’s right, it’s hard for me to enter into that without cerebral interference due to some past issues). But, the joy sent out was real, fun, and my girl and I did it together. Then one of our pastors asked us to ‘share our story’ to the person next to us, and I was able to tell her about how God moved me back to him, signaling my tangled up time needed to come to an end.

So far, the week has been a blessing. It's interesting when you become so intentional about one thing (personal spiritual refreshment) and God helps to fill in the holes in another area, which highly impacts the state of the other, interlinked intimately. So thankful for his supreme guidance in things.

May we all allow Him to breathe through us.

Monday, October 10, 2005

It's All About You
Beth posted this over at Inscapes (see side bar for link), and she's threatened to leave used cigarette butts underneath my window if I don't post it for you to play also (right, Beth?:).

Leave your name and...

1. I'll respond with something random about you.

2. I'll tell you what song/movie reminds me of you.

3. I'll pick a flavor of jello to wrestle with you in.

4. I'll try to say something that only makes sense to you and me.

5. I'll tell you my first/clearest memory of you.

6. I'll tell you what animal you remind me of.

7. I'll ask you something that I've always wondered about you.

8. If I do this for you, you must post this on your journal. You MUST
Every Monday morning, we used to run and be those two women you see outside together, blabbing away, smiling, seeking understanding to a pace. This morning, we were again since my homeschooling boy is away. At one point, in this glorious morning of cool sunshine, I just wanted to cry for the joy of it, and for the stuff she's going through that I was unaware of it. Strange mixture of happiness and sympathy! Women friendships are so important in this tunnel life of ours. I've missed them so much in this last 1/2 year of being busy and/or keeping an arm's distance away. I must remember my feeling of this morning and make time space heart available.

Thank you for listening to my grumblings of church yesterday. I think my main question in this day and time about it is: How do we not become one of those material churches (cultures) that Mother Teresa saw as a self-obsessed hinderance to helping those widows and orphans in need? Can our children learn this outward action through inner spiritual commitments to the way of Christ while in a big plastic wow Christian world? Can the adults? I've been in the Christian glass bubble before and found it to primarily lean toward focus on personal material comfort. How do we stretch ourselves further in order to avoid trappings and distractions and shelves? (One can have that also in a pared down church. It's just more obvious in the more affluent churches.)

Is there really a trickle down effect? The church pulls people in with gizmos and then they become inspired to act outward? Or, will the church continue to pull people back to focus on their own defined culture, worldview, activities? I'm feeling this tug now, and it seems as if I'm being asked to not think critically about what's being projected as God's will. That scares me. I must always be able to weigh my own convictions without restraint.

Therefore, we're watching and waiting and praying and seeing if we should continue to move along in this direction. Regardless for now ..........

" Zippity do dah! Zippity day! My oh my, it's a wonderful day!"

May God grant you peace discernment happiness joy settlement on your path today!

Saturday, October 08, 2005

My church is a seeker oriented church. We use drama, rock music, video clips, and other “relevant” tools in order to speak to the unchurched. After being out of church for a painful ten years, I entered and found a different, engaging way of doing church besides Pentecostal guilt trips or liturgical exclusiveness. I agreed to a spiritual journey guided by God and many wonderful people (mainly women) within my nondenominational (Willow Creek associated) church. I’ve loved it, felt at home and community, and served in a leadership capacity many times.

Now, however, seven years later, I’m in a critical stage. I sit and sift through my pastor’s pleas for backing for a couple of new projects.

I’m not doing ecstatic cartwheels for the new children’s wing which will have enough intended zip factor to make the kids drag their parents to church (the repeated stated hope). I don’t necessarily believe that ball pits, video gaming, jungle gyms should be used as kid manipulation talking points (Toys R Us is powerfully annoying enough to adults). I feel somehow that the focus of God is being drained instead of being sought in Itself as the gainful goal.

Then, we’ll eventually be hosting video venues in various locations other than our church. Our pastor’s talks, our wonderful band’s music, and video clips or drama presentations will be replicated where there is space for people in outlying communities to see. Each site will have a pastoral representative for a local touch. Again, I have an aversion to replication of message and personality, of a draining of local churches toward a church that has the zing and the toys to deliver. The argument is that the ‘unchurched’ will feel safe going to these, and not those already at First Baptist Church on the corner, but I’m not so sure. The personal again is taken away, we look toward one more flashing screen, our accountability is unsecured. A sense of ritual as worship seems to be erased.

The way our pastor delivers the hope for these changes is quite salesmanly. We heard tonight that those who don’t go along with the changes are equated to “laggards”, a derogatory name on a chart showing a category of people who don’t respond well to change. Our pastor gave us a visual demonstration to help us understand the need for a change (which they are calling “A Revolution”) by standing behind a table with a rock, a hammer, and a automatic nail drill. He said that better tools are more effective. Hammering with a rock would be going backwards, for instance. The nail drill was the tool of the day, the tool to make a difference. I understand up to a point, yet it was an ironic funny mix of metaphors, though, to me. Isn’t the rock the solid ground upon which to stand? The constant? The most natural, nondependent upon other things to be. My husband said also that homes that were built the old-fashioned way were the ones that usually stood up better to the test of time.

Sigh. I love the contemporary and relevant in some ways. I love that our band sang a Cheryl Crow song one day which was connected well to the message. I love the smartness and the applicability of my church. But, I despise not being able to join in the throng, my friends, and support this venture wholeheartedly. But, I can’t seem to without being false to my thoughts about the way to worship God and reach out to others.

So, right now, I feel like one of the old Muppet men on the balcony, being contrary. "Aiiiy, yaiii, aiiiy, poo-ey to one and to all!" (I loved those two, though, didn't you?)

We’ll see how it plays out; I don’t feel like going to the Lutheran side quite yet!

Friday, October 07, 2005

For a while at least, there was sibling love in the corn maze today under the serene blue of the sky. Little do I know how quickly this will fade away (hopefully not the love) but the nearness of these two and the size of these two and my ability to arrange an outing for these two. In two years, she will be on her own, out they say, and he will be an only child. So, for today and this picture, I hope they know what it feels like to belong to one another, although not by choice, by the circumstance of the day within the rustling of the moment's corn under such a contented sky.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Like one of those described unbidden events (like when a fly buzzes into your eye), I received
an e-mail from my sister’s high school friend who desires my purchase of a nutritional supplement. After 20 years of not hearing from her, her first paragraph tells me that she started her cycle today, and it was great, and she no longer has irritable bowel syndrome due to this supplement. My immediate complaint to my sister gave me further description of what may be next if I gave her my phone number: a 3-way phone conversation with her, me and another consultant whose husband used to go every hour and now doesn't. Help, help, help.

Is this right?

Do I need to know the minutae about someone else’s husband's bowel movements?

Or, about her menstruation patterns on the day and hour? I can handle the talk of it, you know, in female magazines, informing me of something medical that my mother didn’t tell me about. Or, maybe when " the cycle " is referred to rhythmically, in syntactical singsong, in Heather McHugh poetical jargon, as a force of nature to be spun around by, up, like trampoline trapsing. Or, you know, perhaps, it’s talked about in connection with social injustice in Africa to women who no longer have the nutrient power to ovulate and menstruate. Or, perhaps in a re-reading of Anne Frank to make one appreciate the mystery, the friendship, the feminine favor, as also in The Red Tent, by Anita Diamante, which is a force to hold us women together, uniting us in our bonds, searing our existence into elemental meaning.

However, I do not need a phone conversation with this old sister’s friend after twenty years about her cycle which started today and was made great because of pills she wants me to purchase. It's just so ... unliterary!

Help, help, help. I need your sympathy and concern.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Next week my son will be practicing his shot like his mother did, his uncle did, his aunt did, and his grandmother still does. Despite the drought in the Ozarks, the walnut trees have a fair production. I can hear the walnuts now, hitting the inside of the five gallon, clunking, thumping as the level rises. I can smell that tart, earthy, bark-spun aroma of hands that have picked, tossed, shot a truck bed-full of walnuts. I can remember the thrill of the earnings -- $60 split three ways for Christmas gifts or for a new jacket.
Yes, Cody leaves for a week to be a walnut farmer, and my husband is going to his new job in Little Rock. My daughter and I will have amazing quiet and time together to hopefully knit a better former pre-teen relationship.
And, when she’s away at school, I’ve been dreaming of what to do without a constant boy’s presence. My first thought was to go out with friends, get caught up, meet at the trail for walks and runs. But I woke up with a certainty of what needs to happen instead. The lump in my throat is becoming larger as I think about what needs to happen. My mind is forming concrete plans of what needs to happen. It scares me because what if I come away from it still without answers, with ambiguity like I’m living in a movie that ends still in an existential vacuum, without a clear affirmation from anything besides nothingness? A fear, not truly grounded in experience, yet, always a possibility.
So, I throw out a line of trust to God, that next week when I withdraw from other-dependence that I can retreat and focus and understand what has been clogging my soul for the last year or so. I want to be true to Him and true to myself.
Please help me prepare for a thorough cleansing; help me to seek my identity through Yours, even if that doesn’t look like everyone else’s which it probably won't. Amen.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Two apple streusal bread, two apple pies, six hours, eight bags of apples to go. Back aches, but my whole house smells like heaven.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Holy Spirit,
giving life to all life,
moving all creatures,
root of all things,
washing them clean,
wiping out their mistakes,
healing their wounds,
you are our true life,
luminous, wonderful,
awakening the heart
from its ancient sleep.

Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179)

I've just awaken this early morning and in the pit of my stomach, I feel unclean, full of mistakes, full of relational insecurities, full of missteps. I want to ask everyone I know for affirmation, yet I know that this won't do: my dependence upon words will last for a moment and then I will be alone again with this feeling in my stomach that's empty.
However, when I recall, when I let the balm that Hildegard writes on above apply its properties, only then can I get enough and feel the hope of strength and care. I so much need the Holy Spirit's care of confirmation that I can move on in outward promise and security. I bow my head and submit.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

We jump outlined against the white pine, outlined against our wood fence, outlined against the black bouncy tarp with a blue ring. My hyper boy and I fling ourselves into the air as we fly away from impending enemies of dismembered lego men, arms, legs, trunks; of rolling murder balls of marbles; of flat-ish fatal footballs, basketballs, soccerballs, a volleyball. I submit to the penalties of being touched: 10 jumping jacks for these two balls, five for the rest; two for lego pieces; and three for marbles. Cody editorializes my memory lapse constantly and constantly shouts out my number of jumping jacks to do. My jumping jacks have never felt more light, more airborne. We're off again flying, avoiding the bouncing brigade, laughing, motionfull, close to the squirrel on the nearby power line who flits and floats and pounces down upon a wobbling shifting twig, tail waving us on, as we pounce, jump, and fling ourselves upward into the air of lovely drifting clouds.

And when I slide off, and touch my feet down to earth, I have my doubts. Someone told me just last night that her adhd son is doing well because of their structure; he will be able to succeed upon this ground because his habit will be practical, predictable, patterned. I trudge up my deck steps to the door to call my son back to duty, yet duty is hard for me as well, so will I be able truly to exact anything which can help him upon the solid back of necessity? Is motion only appropriate if it is forward?

No, I can spring again. We're good. Robert Frost and his birch knows it. Uvavnuk knows it when he writes:

The great sea has set me in motion,
set me adrift,
moving me like a weed in a river.

The sky and the strong wind
have moved the spirit inside me
till I am carried away
trembling with joy.

So, thank you once again, Poets, and all who know about such things. I affirm jumping, leaping, bouncing, rolling, upward toe-touching, soaring, bounding and springing just for the sake of a fuller understanding.

Now, we'll get to math.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Every Tuesday and Friday while Cody is at school for an hour, I go to my coffee shop where I get a Cheers patent greeting: an empty bottomless drinking device (mug) and a hello Norm! Many days, I go alone to grade papers or prepare for class or to read the National Geographic (the ultimate luxury). However, some friends are available enough to meet me. Yesterday, an old artistic/intellectual friend drove over, and we exchanged books with one another. He received “Socrates CafĂ©” by Christopher Phillips, one of my favorites because Socrates is one of those enmeshed heroes of mine for some odd reason (the love of the question); and, “Pilgrim on Tinker Creek” because Annie Dillard rocks with words and philosophical-spiritual musings and awareness of the natural world. Most friends I’ve loaned Pilgrim to, however, cannot finish it, but it’s one of my favorites.

And, I received typical-this-friend books: The Enlightened Heart: An anthology of Sacred Poetry, edited by Stephen Mitchell; The Enlightened Mind: An anthology of Sacred Prose, edited by Stephen Mitchell, and Mitchell's “The Gospel According to Jesus, A new translation and guide to His essential teachings for believers and unbelievers.” As you can tell, he thinks Stephen Mitchell rocks. Anyway, so I’m steeped in “The Enlightened Heart” this morning, and it’s lovely; the Tao-ist, the Buddhist, the Judaic, the Christian, despite their belief differences, resonate in similar longings expressed through metaphor or direct observation which tells of something higher. I’m not doing a theology study as I read this, just listening to the beautiful language that these authors/translators use. Enjoyable like a long bath. Hmmm….. om….. :)

I think my husband has been practicing his spiritual disciplines more lately. I’m feeling their influence even though mine has been lacking lately. It’s weird; we haven’t talked about it, but I’m feeling closer to him lately in a directed sort-of way. I’ll catch him praying over his Bible, or he’ll ask me to hold him accountable in an area which holds allure and temptation for any normal male. And, inside of me, I want to let go of my things that block or plug up my love for him. My distractions. I’m good at keeping at an arm’s length. And, then he’ll do things for me that make me unexplainably tear up. Sweet things. Like send me expressions via e-mail. Or, ask me to stop in the parking lot by the grocery store, by his employer, so he can walk over and kiss me. Or, offer me a gift of money and time for something luxurious for myself. And, he’s stepped up responsibility in the way of parenting my/our teen daughter. Anyway, something is different and good. He’s always been good, but now it seems like he’s tapping into that higher Good, which is influencing me! Oh my, I may have to give up even more so that I can make this good love more complete!

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Yesterday Cody had a meltdown in my class at the co-op school. He tore up papers, threw a couple of chairs down, shredded paper, and muttered, "I'm evil. I'm evil." He was frustrated because he was socially left out at an earlier class which transferred into mine. So, he then he felt like the rejection needed to be made complete by being as outrageous as possible, with the other boys staring at him like he was a total freak. That's my boy!
I felt all day and this morning like I had walked into a parenting sinkhole. Sad. Worried. Then, I checked on my Asperger at Home yahoogroup which had the following post; I sent it to my husband who cried like I did when I read it. I think it's worth sharing and keeping:

The Insider's View of Life With a Special Needs Child
Someone I love relies on me in ways you will never understand. Someone I love endures pain and challenges that break my heart and renew my spirit at the same time. Someone I love is unable to advocate for themselves for things that most of us take for granted. Someone I love will never have the opportunities that every child should have. Someone I love will need conditional love and support after I am gone-this frightens me to the core. Someone I loveencounters pity, stereotyping responses and prejudice at every turn, because they look, actand/or learn differently from others. Someone I love has needs that require me to allow "outsiders" to have power and input in areas that should be mine alone to meet. Someone I love will continue to look to me for everything in life long after other children are able to assume a place as part of the world. Someone I love has needs that require more time and energy than I haveto give. Someone I love has needs that mean I am not able to meet basic needs of my own. Someone I love has needs that have become the driving force behind major decisions my family makes. Someone I love has changed me in ways I will never beable to describe. Someone I love has taught me about love and about the really importantthings in life...
Copyright 2000 by Communication Skill Builders, a Harcourt Health SciencesCompany. Lori A. Hickman is the author.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Rita whirls forth across the Gulf tonight, and I am safe in the Midwest tonight (although a couple of nights ago a tornado could have spawned, could have thrown us into the straits of displaced others, could have stretched our faith into crepe paper thinness). I just hope it turns at the last minute and travels backwards to a miraculous gracious sea. Father Creationist.
I haven’t blogged for a while. I’ve been busy, internetting around on E-bay where I’m selling some items so that I may purchase myself something small, something selfish, something nano: an iPod. I’ve been imagining myself blissfully tuning out those sound irritants that take my attention away from what I’m reading in a public place. Imagining biking to my Helen bench with music in my ears, syncing my pedal, pulsating my peace. I’ve never wanted to thwart naturalistic sounds until this year. Now I want the music, some Chopin, some Green Day, some Jennifer Knapp, some musical friends, some Allison. Hmmmm…. am I growing old or growing backwards?
I’ve also been e-mailing frequently instead of writing here. I think my correspondence is a distraction that I may not be facing at the moment. We’ll see when the time comes.
I went to my women’s ministry meeting tonight reluctantly, yet, as usual, it was wonderful. My class laughed and shared and ate chocolate and planned on going to an artistic theater together. We talked about discipleship, unconditional love, prayer, stone massages, bargain books. I like one woman in particular who was in the pilot/aviation field before moving back to Missouri. We talked and laughed a while after class. Nice.
It’s quite predictable how, especially as it relates to church, reluctance turns into relief that one went afterall and heard what God had to say. I’m quite glad for his patient persistence in my case.
Rita whirls forth across the Gulf tonight, and I am safe in the Midwest tonight (although a couple of nights ago a tornado could have spawned, could have thrown us into the straits of displaced others, could have stretched our faith into crepe paper thinness). I just hope it turns at the last minute and travels backwards to a miraculous gracious sea. Father Creationist.
I haven’t blogged for a while. I’ve been busy, internetting around on E-bay where I’m selling some items so that I may purchase myself something small, something selfish, something nano: an iPod. I’ve been imagining myself blissfully tuning out those sound irritants that take my attention away from what I’m reading in a public place. Imagining biking to my Helen bench with music in my ears, syncing my pedal, pulsating my peace. I’ve never wanted to thwart naturalistic sounds until this year. Now I want the music, some Chopin, some Green Day, some Jennifer Knapp, some musical friends, some Allison. Hmmmm…. am I growing old or growing backwards?
I’ve also been e-mailing frequently instead of writing here. I think my correspondence is a distraction that I may not be facing at the moment. We’ll see when the time comes.
I went to my women’s ministry meeting tonight reluctantly, yet, as usual, it was wonderful. My class laughed and shared and ate chocolate and planned on going to an artistic theater together. We talked about discipleship, unconditional love, prayer, stone massages, bargain books. I like one woman in particular who was in the pilot/aviation field before moving back to Missouri. We talked and laughed a while after class. Nice.
It’s quite predictable how, especially as it relates to church, reluctance turns into relief that one went afterall and heard what God had to say. I’m quite glad for his patient persistence in my case.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

" insight came to me: that I'd been focusing almost entirely on being a "writer," on how my work would reflect upon me, whether it would be seen as the product of a professional or the vainglorious rubbish of an amateur. I realized that this self-consciousness was crippling, that the real question was not how others perceived my writing, but my relationship with the writing process itself and the characters I'd created."--Robert Charles Wilson

My Monday spirit-friend gave me this quote, and I love the part about the 'relationship' to one's process and creation. I can do relationships much better than chiseling out in the cold with nothing to hold onto. It's an interesting angle to think about, which might actually offer a difference. Always needed.
Thank God they discovered coffee has antioxidants marching around the mug in search of fiendish germs to finish off. As I swigged mine down today at two various coffee shops, I decided that I should answer any pleas for research bodies. Since I live in a university town, often we’ll get calls from young voices asking, “Would you like to earn a quick $35 cash? Come and answer our research questions! It’ll only take 30 minutes of your time.” The last one I did was regarding my feelings toward all things yogurt.
The young African graduate researcher in an agricultural department smiled and asked me, “How do you feel about the consistency of yogurt?” And, then she smiled at me as if it was a joke and I was auditioning for Jerry Seinfeld’s sitcom audience.
As a smiler from my maternal side, I, of course, reciprocated the smile. And, I pondered deeply for a split second before saying, “I feel good about it.” She wrote my response down, and we’d smile at each other all over again.
“Would you purchase yogurt with calcium supplements in it?”
“How do you feel about that?”
“Existential angst. Ha, ha, I mean, I feel pretty good about it.”
She would write that down. Then, I had to rank yogurts using these handmade cards that had numbers on them. I had to express my feelings about such meticulous yogurt ordering. I had to smile afterwards up until the point where, smiling, she handed me the cash. With most of my feelings thus depleted, I immediately went and bought a Polish pottery plate for a collection that I’m supposed to have because all women collect something homemakingish, which I’ve been very relaxed and eclectic and lazy about apparently.
Anyway, these memories flooded me during my coffee bouts this morning and afternoon. Cody has been at appointments, and I’ve been drinking it up.
How do I feel about that?
Bottoms up to healthy excess. I sit by the phone and wait to earn another plate.

Monday, September 12, 2005

It was one of those days where you whirl around remembering and forgetting things, being here and being there, speeding up and waiting. But, for me, it was promising like an upcoming pumpkin pie season. A scent of something substantial, a slice of goodness for a satisfying taste. For me, it was, not surprisingly, through a conversation with a friend who always seems to know what I mean when I say things poorly. Who nods and understands and relates highly to the unknowable, unthinkable, unwordable, irrational, subjective. We had about one hour this morning, within a ten-year friendship stint, to come together over a table, express, nod, relate, and then leave. I always notice the leaving as much as the other part. But, it’s okay – my friend is steady. It’s taken me a long time to realize and accept the truth of this. I notice, however, upon the leaving that something is taken out of me; I feel emptier but not in a sense of loss. I can’t explain it well, yet I feel it so incredibly much, so please just nod and understand if you’ve experienced the same. Maybe one day I will have words for it.

Relationships in general have been on my mind a lot lately. I walk a balancing line between being too needy and too independent. I despise being the former, so often I hold back and am the latter. I can’t figure it out. God must guide me in this continually as I am drawn to something I find mystifying.

The other wonderful activity today was teaching a Creative Writing class with 20 4-7th graders. At one point, they made ear-splitting barnyard sounds as I dared them to use sensory repertoires to experience the world. We laughed together, their fresh faces, minds. Awesome kids! I become enwrapped in possibility when I teach. I can’t wait for next week. So enjoyable.

That’s been my little moments in time. Thankful for His good gifts.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

The lobby was full of kids, and Cody and I took our wall, feeling pressed. Fortunately, he pulled out his warted thumb and said, "Wanna thumb-wrestle?" And, so we did, employing all the crazy moves that he's created to break the mold of "Southern" old-fashioned wrestling as he calls it (since his mom is from the south part of Missouri and still does some things too plainly).
Finally, the choir teacher came and called, "Okay, kiiiiiiidddddddsssssss. You need to follow me into the gym where we'll start choir." Cody and I gave each other quick glances, and then he was gone, folded into the chattery mix, beginning something new again without hesitation.
I love this boy. He's brave, despite other awashing anxieties. He mixes in and sees how it goes.
When I picked him up, he ran in squealing and ducking; a girl he liked last year is in choir, and, all of a sudden, he was knocked out of any operation of normalcy. We laughed and talked about it (later I had to cajole him to focus on science, focus on pollination, focus on adaptation, focus, focus).
I love this kid. He's a wonderful, whooshing force, a whirlwind sent message to me of energy, and essessence, and joy. Thank you, God, for your awesome gifts.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

It's late, and I should be sleeping, however, my mind is caught on a mill wheel in which water makes its circular rounds again and again....

For these last five days or so, I've been engrossed in two things only: 1) Hurricane Katrina; and 2) "The Shadow of the Wind" by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. Fact and fiction: horror and mystery; reality and escape. I know that psychologists say that focus on disaster is unhealthy, but I can't help it. I'm the type that can handle brutal war movies also. I want to know what certain circumstances are like, how people are coping, what reality is like. Some people would say that it's due to morbidity, but I would rather attach it to attributes of mercy (sounds better, right?). But, I do want to know what others' experiences are so that I can understand and feel it better. Knowledge, to me comes also through feeling and not only through thinking. Of course, feeling requires action as a subsequent step, and, besides contributing money, goods, and prayer, I'm at a loss as to what to do besides making myself aware. Awareness is good but should lead to activity.

The other fascination has been the book "The Shadow of the Wind" By Carlos Ruiz Zafon. Alright. I did not want to get caught up in this fiction written by a Spanish author (expect the realm of the subjective to engage with the objective in a seamless way); I mean the book is dubbed a 'romance' a 'suspenseful mystery' ... 'Gothic'. One character himself, Fermin, is highly satirical about religion/faith in a way that I, unfortunately, find humorous (a la Canterbury tales). However, the spell has swept me in; the mystery that the book unravels is too well constructed, so I've been muting the CNN commercials and diving into my chapters melding this weird existence of base reality into mysterious fantasy (although it's grim too). And, through the middle of this, my husband and I were in Little Rock where he interviewed for a job. The Hilton Hotel, with its giant headboard, on University Avenue, has a role in this cerebral, merciful stew as well. So does the Clinton museum bookstore. So does a few margueritas. Okay, no more ingredients needed.:)

Fortunately, all mysteries will be solved soon as I'm nearing the last 90 pages of the book. As a family person, I can't slip away so entirely like I did today. We're back home and things need to be washed and scrubbed and the kids need outlets (unfortunately, they don't consider books as such). However, if ever you need or want to admire excellent plot construction, you must read this book and lose yourself for a while in it. It's wonderfully annoying (if you're a sensitive Christian reader, though, you may find yourself offended in many ways). I think it's worth the plunge.

Dear Father, please help those who sleep on cots tonight wake up to reunion, comfort, and hope.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Boy Reasons with Creator.

"Please, God, we're only human ... we can drown. You made us this way. Please help the children in New Orleans not drown. Please. Please. They need you right now. You can do it. You're stronger than us. Please, please."

This was Cody's earnest prayer last night as we asked God to be with those suffering in the South. Although happy with his concern, I know that events like this bring up the flip side: why weren't you there? Why didn't you help that boy not to drown?

Life has natural laws, I know; yet, often as Christians we claim that our belief goes against those and God will break through and save the day. Often He lets happen what will happen. Disappointment, lack of faith, resentment, anger creeps into our concept of the Father who abandons. Our concept demands too much of Him. We forget that the spiritual relationship is not always a physical return of comfort, care, or life. Sigh.

Father, help stir the hearts and hands of those who will bring tangible relief to others. Please help them find as many people as possible. Thank you for creating all of us with the capability of humanitarianism. Thank you that while we live, you offer a higher solace even during grimness. Amen.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

My supply source for countless, countless therapeutic pie baking.
There are four other trees at my mother-in-law's that are just as promising. Isn't it ironic that there are people without such bounty in their natural surroundings? Should we praise the Lord for what other people don't have?
I praise him for nature's design, yet if these shriveled up, I must praise him still for something more than what the apple can portray.
Yet I thank him for such symbols. I thank him for the future aroma of his everlasting goodness to all who believe.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

I just exited my kitchen where I've been since 5:30 p.m. today. The apples panicked and announced their pending rot if I didn't focus on peel/slice, peel/slice for four apple pies. My mother-in-law has been picking her German fingers off for me (she had wildly producing trees), and, so it was baking time. However, she and the apples drove me less than the need for therapy. I'm tired. Teenager parenting issues have been exceedingly challenging lately. So, I rolled the dough, sprinkled with flour, formed a crust, peeled and sliced the apples, combined the sugar and cinnamon, carefully arranged apples into the pie plate, and wrapped the pies in plastic for the freezer. These are for later; I haven't had one warm slice for my effort. And so, for all the past energy and love I've poured forth for my daughter, I pray that the pie analogy will hold. Perhaps later, after this horribly-received boundary setting, she will remember my care and time, and perhaps we can know we love each other and feel each other's warmth and good intent. Please God watch over her and protect her with your higher love.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

It was an exceptional first day; Cody eagerly attended to all of our subjects, especially identifying the African animals in Botswana at Pete's Pond. He kept saying, "I do like homeschool." :) I kept thinking this is much better than the drifty summer where I was in one room and he in another when we were home. Today, we were on project, in togetherness. Even jumping on the trampoline together in a weird sort of game where we can't let the placed-on objects touch us (penalty of jumping jacks) was full of laughs and fun (even for me). Then, we ended the day with swimming lessons. I swam laps in the same lane as Cody and his instructor. It was pure pleasure to swim back to him and give him the thumbs up and see his huge smile before I dipped under and went back to the other end. Tomorrow, he goes to the local public school for music and p.e.; he knows the kids there, so it should be a little reunion. We'll see how it goes. So far, though, so good!