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.