Friday, June 29, 2007

Leaning upwards

I should never feel guilty about floating around my flowers here at my lovely home. Yet last night at the Bible study I attend on Thursday, it struck me again how unfair life can be, and I'm glad for the beatitudes, promising good first to those who suffer here.

Many of the women struggle with poverty, addiction, racial, family issues which are foreign to me. When the sweet woman next to me, squirming baby in arms, tried to tell me about her DFS visit in order to find housing for herself with a drug record and an abusive man in her life, I could only listen and offer to pray. Sounds quite mild, although prayer is a rope.

The women just reminded me, though, of what is often distant to me: the trials of rising above circumstances, thick and heavy ones, the suffering. When I choose to draw near to it, and not just go to a more comfortable study in my affluent white church, I am made aware. It's difficult to be aware because pain isn't enjoyable to look at. It reminds me of the comment that Mary Sheehan, the anti-war mother who lost a son said recently that Americans are more interested in who wins American Idol than who is dying over in Iraq.

It's easier to look away and become distracted and indifferent. I came home last night with her baby's smell all over me, after taking turns with him. She's got an uphill to still press against. I pray for her and the other women there and ask for help in not avoiding how I can help. To not look away. To not become buried in my bounty.

The precious name of Jesus gives hope to us all. Amen.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

The calico stepmother simply wants to clean that spot she sees on the side of the young'un's head. Yet that always gets her into a wrestle and a thump. It's difficult being a Mom at times, we think in my household.

For those of you who haven't seen this while on the Mansfield shaggy square:), here is my new Bible which I received from my husband for my birthday. We went to the Christian store to preview the purchase, and I stared at the row and row of Bibles trying to make sense of it all. I saw "The Quest", which is my beloved first NIV version, yet it was a bulky hardback with a commercial looking picture on the front. Many Bibles employed the use of a famous evangelical guide (like Henry Blackaby) who commented bountifully upon the Scripture in forms of printed sermons tucked in between books. Quite arrogant, quite idolistic, I thought, no thanks.
I saw Bibles for men, children, teens, firefighters, nurses. Pink Bibles for women with pretty fonts grabbed my eye, yet again the didactic lesson-pointers/testimonies ruined the purity of the truth-language.
There were comparative Bibles, thick study ones with Greek and Hebrew, and parallel versions side by side, footnotes filling half the pages. Marginal boundaries crisscrossed all over, aiding the analytical reader in a pursuit of heady holy hermeneutics. Not a relaxing read for my morning coffee at the kitchen table, or on the deck, or in the coffee shop. Too intricate and dizzying.
Then, I saw her. A sweet, flower-embroideried, brocaded fabric with gold threads, and a leather hold which says: Holy Bible: ESV, English Standard Version, Crossway. Opening her pages, I encountered only the words of Scripture (with a few, few footnotes) for me to meditate on as I encounter them. Perfect!
We brought her home, my feminine window into God's language of wisdom and rescue and love (which isn't alway delicate, by the way), and I'm satisfied. We should be friends for quite some time if all goes well.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Summer graces

Some of my favorite summer flowers grace the front of my house right now: scarlet bee balm (monarda); and a white balloon flower. I drive up, always participating in their glory. The bee balm blooms fairly long too, approximately 2-3 weeks.

A summer bouquet for my table includes:

bee balm
loose strife
antique roses
corn flower
stoke's aster
tea rose

The back view of the arrangement; here you can see the Stoke's astor (blue); the daisy and a tea rose.

More Grace

I just joined another online support group for parenting an autistic child. This past week has necessitated it (it's better than beer and book in the long term:) per yesterday's post). And, it's a decidedly Christian one, making it a requirement to pray for one another. It's called PREACCH, or Parents Rearing and Educating Autistic Children in Christian Homes. When I read my first digest today, these lines encouraged. Looks as if if they're from a hymn.


1. He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater;
He sendeth more strength when the labors increase;
To added affliction, He addeth His mercy;
To multiplied trials, His multiplied peace.

chorus: His love has no limit; His grace has no measure;
His power has no boundary known unto men.
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus,
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again!

2. When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources,
Our Father's full giving is only begun.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Beer and mosquitoes

It's been an evil evening here: two beers and a book about Dracula for me. And, I have mosquito bites on my legs after taking them lovingly out to the deck. The beers had been in my closet for the last five months, leftover from someone's gift at a gathering. I chilled them today for the men who come over on Tuesday's for bluegrass, intending to joke with them and set one in the middle of the table to see who reached for it first (they all go to my church), to see who was in greatest need. However, one of the men was absent and so I thought I'd save them for next Tuesday. But, the beers remained chilled, and when I popped one open, took the first swig, I exclaimed, "Ah!" And, then I thought how if I weren't a pious Christian mother that I would be swigging the wonderful amber elixir more often and out in society and laughing in a carefree manner. Perhaps I'd be in Germany over a stein. Perhaps down at the local brewery. But, oh my, it tasted good with my spaghetti and homemade bread. Before I knew it, the second top had been removed. And there I was at my table first, and then moving to the deck, lighting some candles, taking my bookclub novel called "The Historian" (unfortunately about Dracula. But, with beer, I don't care nearly as much). I've waved my husband off from talking and ordered him to play with the son and tuck him in. Now, I think I'll make the evil evening more complete and find a place against the pillows in my room and hunker in for the total-experience.

Yes, such an evil, unforeseen evening, which I am grateful to swig.


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Butterfly weed

Language, words, dissection, redirection, reassembly.

My life as a parent of an autism spectrum child brims with re-words, redefining, re-clarification. Re-wind. I just took my son and a friend to a laser energy/light class, plunking him into a confusing nominative-classification driven discipline. He wishes that the teacher spoke English.

That's understandable. It's a jargon for sure. I felt the same way at times, being a right-brain learner.

Yet all the way over there, Cody perseverated on a gaming issue of his, a desire for hacking, which needed a motherly ethical overview, an empathy insight, a golden rule. It's exhausting, and challenging, to help him understand other views than his own encased one. Each word, jargon, of a new idea requires slowness, examples, a requested replay back from him for comprehension. And, then, suddenly, once you're satisfied, he'll ask the same question over again. The road towards understanding resumes with the same landscape features. A tangled vine, a patch of meadow, a stand of brilliant orange butterfly weed. Perseveration is the vehicle towards eventual destination, I guess.

This summer, Cody is going to a social skills training class at a local autism clinic. I met two mothers the first night. We had a small debriefing with a staffer and then we visited, shared. I mentioned something about "incessant counseling", and one of them laughed! Ah, it's nice to be understood in this particularly unique mode of motherhood! I would be abundantly wealthy if I charged the going rate!

Onward, backwards, and onwards we go!

Friday, June 15, 2007

Mulberry and friends

It must have been the recent birthday. Perhaps it's Alzheimer's setting in (today, my daughter had to write a check from her account for both our driver license renewals as I forgot my checkbook. A sign of things to come, I told her, get ready, defend your senseless mamma.) But, old things are coming back to me, like the feelings of the sudden death of my young boyfriend, encountered again per last entry.

And just recently Mom reminded me that I liked to climb things as a girl. Ah yes, trees in particular. But instead of climbing them just to conquer them, it was best to go live up in them, for hours at a time. The ultimate was our mulberry wide-branched tree, with an old teapot hung up in the "kitchen". When the cows walked under, oh that was a mighty giggly treat of twig aimin'. There were flowers and fruit and lots of rooms to scoot or climb to in the mulberry. But, mainly, it was nice to hang out in the tree and just think. There was an elm not too far away. A stately walnut with ladder branches. An oak with enchanting seeds. I still remember them well and sitting in their branches, and no one knew where I was. Then I'd hear the yellow ford truck horn honk three times for lunch or supper or town. The dog waiting below and I'd head on up to the house.

But the wind is lovely up high, and you're like a bird almost, and you make squirrels curious, and the tv wasn't blaring so Dad could hear it. And there were no other annoying sounds like the water faucet continually dripping. But the sounds were pretty and relaxing, and I wished to not be human and to be something more like a fairy.

I semi-forgot all of this; but, when I went to Europe two years ago, I kept exclaiming to people how the climbing of things was one of the best part of the tours. Comes back somehow.

I'm going to climb a tree before too long, and if my bones permit, just sit and think. That would be lovely.

Monday, June 11, 2007


The fact of the turnoff, behind brushy hilly growth, materialized at the last minute, and I swung the wheel to the left, to the narrow gravel road, up a jot, to the drive, though the open ornate gate. A small rectangular really of a field. Could not have been more than 50 markers. I drove up a faded, grassy, gravelly lane to mine and spotted his face smiling above his sixteen year old shirt selection of a day, of an eternity. Wide white collar above a tan bodice with white sleeves. His hair feathered into style, longish in the back, wide wings. His eyes' sparkle hidden by the glaze, yet known to those who remembered, whom he loved. Including me, a young and everlasting girlfriend.

Old plastic blue dirty flowers were leaning over next to his stone, contrasting with the bright new Memorial Day attire of those next to him. I pushed in my bright yellow irises and saw a future mission. Where were his parents? I think they moved to Ohio. They haven't visited for a while. Am I the only local one left for him and this cold stone? Why is the cedar tree closely planted? What are the roots destroying down below? The practical questions when one suddenly becomes a steward again. And then it hit boldly: the short life, one unlived, the parent's dream cut short, the wreck, the sadness, the unfairness snuffing a bright spark.

My son and I drove on, up curvy Highway 5, where trucks sail away, where tears are blinked. Twenty-six years ago. It still appears to shock.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

As I drove quickly through Lebanon, Missouri, enroute home today, I spied a sign which reminded me of the essential. It said,

Jesus is preparing "myspace" in Heaven.

Only in the Bible Belt would all things be perceived in evangelical vibrant possibilities. At Silver Dollar City, a basketball one-man show dimmed the lights to narrate a one-on-one to 21 between Jesus and Satan. There was a resurrection, after Satan won, but Jesus arose to win by two. He slam dunked, of course. The angels roared. A small sermon ensued, and then the lights came up and we were allowed to leave the theater. Transformed? Well, not quite, but sweetened by a dribble of faith syrup.

Perhaps it was to prepare us for the funnel cakes just around the corner. Everywhere, people were eating. I heard a man crunch pork rinds across a wide walkway. A group of cousins slurped some honey sticks. A family ate kettle corn on the green tram to parking lot C. We carried taffy and peanut brittle back to our men. I think I dreamt that night about swirling in a potato and sausage skillet hash, with a man hacking at me with a big wooden knife.

I think I screamed for escape, but, yet year after year, I ended up sizzling once more, jumping in due to some foolish nostalgia, paying the $43 entry fee for such an experience as this.

The cycle needs to end.

Silver Dollar City (aka Steal Your Dollar City) farewell!