Monday, December 24, 2012

Should I in 2012

Should I in 2012?

Write the usual Christmas poem?

All within me doesn’t want to express

The fragments and make them a whole

Infant which carries the world’s weight.

Much has raveled out: the church,

The massacres, the cousin who is

Suffering in another county.

I can stay upstairs and read my book

Of essays; I can fix my Christmas eve

Chicken; I can look forward to travel.

But still the hush creeps into me, and

I think of the baby who changed

Everything and who introduced a

Tear into this universal shroud which

Speaks death all day long and maybe

Tomorrow.  The baby slit a hole

For us to escape and for us to consider

A Love that we’ve never known. A

Purported Love for even me.

While others are enraptured over

The true belief in this, I must still

Be quiet. I must still go to the “stable”

And look and stare. I must put all

Peripherals in a drawer, and I must

Bow and see in order to worship and believe.

And so I sit, typing out a nativity re-enactment

But one in which the baby reaches out,

Through  time-encasement, through historical

Decay, through modern disillusionment, His

Little human finger, sparked with love, to me.

In 2012, despite all, I know the touch and choose belief.


Friday, October 26, 2012

swivel chair spin

When I hear the garage door
open, I feel the impulse to 
jump up and begin cleaning, 
throw away all artistic pursuits, 
black out the dancing
gyration show, and look up
with a smile (or a


My son sits on the swivel
chair spinning, spinning like
so many swivel chairs before
when the doctor knocks
and sticks out his/her
hand, and the room rights
itself and greets
the inevitable.


My friend dresses with
flair, has hair that
curls, has fine teeth,
and welcomes with
her arms in reach.
All around her, art
revolves around the
gallery wall, and she
blends, represents,
portrays the outward grace
which sometimes clashes
with the awful art displayed.


I have essays to grade
and so I turn to poetry
where organization and thesis
correction aren't allowed
up in the treehouse
where I've kicked the
ladder down.


And so the good doctor sat
with a gentle smile,
with a smile used at home
with a smile that went
to the high and low,
with a smile that drew
a picture graph,
with a smile which
wanted to help, if only
it had something it
knew how to do.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Peeing on both poles

I'm back after a tearful
threat at a table full of
teachers looking concerned,
not knowing what to do
with my son who they've
described in black and white
lines upon official paper.
I'm reminded of the old
well room attached to
my rundown childhood home.
The door was helplessly ajar
and the cats would find all
kinds of curl places in the
dark, wet, cool, trashed-out
place where they were
safe from storms and people.

I have a secret in my purse.
It is an object
which I feel guilt about
because I have already
given so much money away
this year and now
I am encumbered more.
with this object we will
have a moment and his
eyes will widen and
before he thinks about
his wife being in debt, he
will only think of how much
he is loved.


When I go to the mall with
my daughter, no thing is simple.
So many unspoken words,
hopeful intentions,
repressed feelings accompany
our rack search. In the sock
department in JC Penney, I
bizarrely blurt out bits about
God and our prayers for her.
She says her usual, "Hmmmm"
and picks up a really cute
pair of discounted tights.


Moses, the black lab version,
is one of my running partners,
but he only greets me after
he has sniffed and peed
on both poles.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The pants just stink

The coffee pot creaks,
the Bible app reads.
My cats are where they
want to be. An expectant
morning quiets the
soon rush sounds and
we sit together once more.
I show my age but morning's
face is seamless and fresh,
but she will be thrown down
as noon takes her life,
while I will be made-up
and alive.


And the students are captured
away from their beds
where late nights up trapped.
And now they're caught speaking
of chivalry and Chaucer,
courtly love and confession
in chatterly groups of four,
and I'm happy that in America
freedom isn't entirely


You sit down in the highback chair
if a cat isn't there first. And you
look down the fretboard to your
fingertips. You see what they do and
how they move. You see that they can
make sound. You see that you are
capable of something in this big
uncontrollable world, and you look
up at your lesson teacher.


If I could bottle up all of the Old
Testament wrath, all the swinging ass'
bones, all the conquering nations'
drumrolls, all the slews and all the
slays into a pretty black bottle, I would
have hurled it today at the heads
of the three students
who turned and laughed at my son.


I have a black pair of jeans
which smell.
I've washed and washed
until they're faded out, but
still the dye is a stench.
If I were not so modest, I
would ask someone, somewhere,
"What do you do when your
pants just stink?"

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


Today, I was reminded of my "Water & Light" notepad book, compliments of the City Utilities. I use it to jot down moments and the layers of meanings in so much. That's life. Here are a few:

The white horse picture of the Apocalypse rears above my
computer reminding me of Grandma's wall. The flashlight-beaming
eyes of the rider scoped the room where a furtive 13 year old girl, who
argued with her sister, even to this day, squirmed. Grandma Faye knew
the Holy Spirit convicted. And she would watch me with a smile
because I looked cute in my warfare agony.


My feet are on an Oriental rug,
and "Ode to Joy" is being played
on the piano. The light fully brightens
and forges a paper shadow which right
sashays and quickly skips back to the left.
A lovely piano instructor friend counts
time and smiles back at me regarding
my son's  musical impetuousness. Today
he's striving and ordering and being a
bit shadowy on a page. However, he's
a teen, and I'm being too


I called upon my son and he
disappeared into the hallway for
the ritual bathroom break. As I
taught, he stayed away, and I imagined
him circulating various rooms in
the cavernous church finding another
lonesome piano needing just one
plunk to make its day.


I could have poured out
a thousand lessons,
a million verses,
a score of aphoristic advice,
however, we sat and drank lattes,
my experiential ex-student and I,
and then vistied art galleries.
She made plans to buy a repulsive bug
necklace which didn't concern me.


St. John's Hospital -- all roads lead here.
The Bible verses on the wall reassures;
the XL nun portraitures on the wall
overwhelm; the cream sparkled tile
leads you on and down and around until
you appear in the doorway of the
designated room full of hope
that your mother is eating her
rolled-tray morning meal.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Working, waiting, hearing

Lapsing in the blogging journal area, I see! But, this morning another thirst for words, focus, figuring things out grabbed me, and here I am.

Right now, I'm sitting in a quiet kitchen, except for a clock's sound and an occasional cat-licking. My husband would know how keen my ears are, how painfully sensorified I am. And, I just heard my daughter's text from my phone in the back bathroom . . . she is upset at the local news for charging for online reads. I'm smiling. She called them her favorite adjective: "Stupid!" Ah, the teen years still surface.

Spiritually, things are alright. Today, I feel disorderd, yet don't we ride our emotions in order to arrive in a safe pasture one day? Riding.

I am now working with one student in my educational therapy business. He is autistic and nonverbal, yet inside he is brilliant. However, it's difficult for him to answer my questions like describing his dog or telling me about his morning. He echoes. He can write fairly well. Something is blocking -- auditory, cognitive. I look at him, a nice young good-looking 20 year old, and I think, "If only this didn't happen to him!" If only he could communicate his feelings to his mother, if only he could be running around with guys his own age, if only he could navigate directions on his own. However, he can't, and I still rail the "If only's" inside, just like his mother does. Well, much much less than she does in proportion.  She has reported that the therapy has really helped him already, though. I go to bed wondering how I can help unlock his barriers. I pray for him. I sleep on it. Yet, I know he is a blessed child of God as he is too. May I continually acknowledge God's stamp of approval on him. May I acknowledge his joys in life and his abilities. Thank you, God, for this opportunity to work with him. And, for this student and for the others to come:

I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,
and in his word I put my hope. (Psalm 130:5 NIV)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Political gladness instead of madness

Be glad, earth and sky!

Roar, sea, and every creature in you;
 be glad, fields, and everything in you!

The trees in the woods will shout for joy
 when the LORD comes to rule the earth.

He will rule the peoples of the world

with justice and fairness. (Psalm 96:11-13 GNT)

A friend last night told me that I don't like contention, particularly political contention. She didn't think I would enjoy a political discussion over dinner, which I might have been invited to if I enjoyed contention.

On one hand, she's right. All the dirt hurling back and forth, back and forth, is ugly. Why dwell in mud when you can operate in a pasture? Yet, I know that we need to have people who are willing to enter into the political messhall so that they can get attention by throwing food too. If they fight for the good, then the fight is necessary. However . . .

But, what I didn't tell my friend (I wasn't fast enough in my mind which is another reason why I don't like politics!) is the sentiment of the above verses. All politics will disappoint, be ugly, be villainous; no ruler, be it Obama or Romney, will make people happy. Our governmental systems can aim for justice and fairness, but they will be off the mark continually due to our human nature. Why do we put our confidence in man and not trust in the Lord? Why do we get ugly as Christians by assuming that a man can save our nation? Why do we spew hatred and violence which is often the result of political contention whether we aim for this or not? A political discussion can only be moderated if we choose to be moderate about both sides -- and, that is so rare. We put our interests first over unity.

Politics will always divide. Yet, this is the world we live in. If one feels called to enter into the political contentiousness, I hope one can do so with the above verses in mind, the eternal perspective, that God will ultimately be in control. Our political contributions will melt away. He will rise up no matter the debate and only He will rule "with justice and fairness" for which everything will be glad instead of being mad.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Fruit seed to finales

Trusting in the Fruits

We belong to a generation that wants to see the results of our work.  We want to be productive and see with our own eyes what we have made.  But that is not the way of God's Kingdom.  Often our witness for God does not lead to tangible results.  Jesus himself died as a failure on a cross.  There was no success there to be proud of.  Still, the fruitfulness of Jesus' life is beyond any human measure.  As faithful witnesses of Jesus we have to trust that our lives too will be fruitful, even though we cannot see their fruit.  The fruit of our lives may be visible only to those who live after us.

What is important is how well we love.  God will make our love fruitful, whether we see that fruitfulness or not.

- Henri J. M. Nouwen  

The above is from the wise Henri Nouwen; his passage relates quite well to my feeling in last post, and, I'm sure, all of ours as we struggle with impatience. 

However, yesterday, I tasted immediate fruit. Quite enjoyable. I sat at a Compassion International table all day, waiting for sponsors to get that soul tap. I waited, smiling and talking to an old man about tomatoes (really listening to a man about his tomatoes). I didn't feel uncomfortable or hurried. And, it was delightful to use my experience with CI to talk to others and answer their questions. For once, I was immediately well-suited to a job! That doesn't happen very often! At the end of the day, eight (possibly nine) sponsors, women, came forward and around the world, children will be encouraged in daily and spiritual life. Thank you, God, for letting me be there at the time these fruits were gathered. I did nothing but show up to a work already started. More fruits will follow for these children and sponsors. 

Thank you, Lord, for fruits and the entire process from seed to reap to pie to sustenance. Amen.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

August earliness

"In this day's labors or trials say, "The LORD God will help me." Go forth boldly. Set your face like a flint and resolve that no faintness or shamefacedness shall come near you. If God helps, who can hinder? If you are sure of omnipotent aid, what can be too heavy for you? Begin the day joyously, and let no shade of doubt come between thee and the eternal sunshine."

Charles Spurgeon admonishes so early in the morning as I wake up in a distraught August state.

I learned last night that the board at my school is not taking any action to help struggling learners. They received a message to "be in the Lord" this season without needing to change anything. But, their students still attend, so there's no reason for rush (a skeptical outlook). I heard last night a fellow, trusted colleague compare us to autistic people as we pray erroneously to God -- in stilted language with barriers (others laughed). I reacted emotionally, in front of a group.

I am shamefaced and disappointed, feeling like a failure. Charles Spurgeon reminds me, as an individual with her mission pitted against a group and their mission, that God will help. I am carrying too much, feeling like it's all my load. I'm supposed to quit clutching and avoid grief, skepticism, unforgiveness -- bad fruit not reflecting a solid trust.

Father, let me rest in Your knowledge without being deterred from the path you have set me on. Allow me to walk in peace, knowing you are with me and will help me, even in the delays and the disruptions and the rejections. Help me to have the guidance of your Holy Spirit which comforts me even in distress. Help me not to react in dismay which doesn't account for the hope in you. Help those struggling children find help. I know you care and that you want good action from those responsible. Thank you that I can hand off to you when I am incapable. Amen.

Monday, August 06, 2012

Prayers, not so easy

"We are not here to prove that God answers prayer, but to be living trophies of God’s grace . . . . When prayer seems to be unanswered, beware of trying to place the blame on someone else. That is always a trap of Satan. When you seem to have no answer, there is always a reason— God uses these times to give you deep personal instruction, and it is not for anyone else but you." Oswald Chamber

Prayers. Yesterday, I begged for my son, for all kids with developmental disabilities. I prayed for coverage, for full force grace duing this school year, for a break, for goodness, for kind people. Mid-way through my prayer I thought, "What if my prayer goes unanswered like many have seemed to before? Can my faith handle the disappointment of feeling ignored, feeling like God doesn't involve, feeling alone in it all, watching my son sputter, watching the tide roll over him?" So, I stopped begging and prayed for the grace to be able to let my son learn lessons even if the situtation was difficult on him. I prayed that my son could love God and keep on going, being faith adaptable and not so dependent upon answered prayers that life magically smooths itself. We still live in this rumpled, rumbling life. There will be issues. After I prayed that, I continued begging again.

However, I like what Chambers says above =>  "We are not here to prove that God answers prayer, but to be living trophies of God's grace. . . .  When you seem to have no answer, there is always a reason."

Yesterday at church, our pastor said that there's one side of the ledger in which we keep reasons, grievances, lists of times and places where God doesn't seem active or alive. The shootings, the sicknesses, the pain, the seemingly unanswered prayers. However, there is another side of the ledger to acknowledge -- one that shows His loving activity in the small things, in the help that comes, the smile that is given, the things that align to truly give you encouragement or aid, the gentle movement towards a fuller Christ life in which you become freer from certain strongholds.

Acknowledgement -- a theme. Grace can be stared at and mirrored.


Saturday, August 04, 2012

Leaning and believing

O Lord of hosts, blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) is
                the man who trusts in You [leaning and believing on You, committing all and
                confidently looking to You, and that without fear or misgiving]! (Psalm 84:12 AMP)

A good verse for an early morning fearfest when a teacher frets about her oversized class, and lack of compensatory pay. When mothers talk about their sons' growth all week, and again, I look upward and ask, "Why not my son? Why one more big thing on him?" When I start a business, and I worry about my one client and the clients who will come. Will I know enough? Will they come? Will I help the nonverbal young man turn a corner? Who else should I serve? Why doesn't my school pick up this mission to help struggling learners? My mind and heart are in a knot, around and around it goes, tightening.

The above verse does not apply right now. But, it should. But, how? How does a person trust in God, leaning and believing, committing all in confidence without fear or misgiving? There are battles to be fought, steep grades to go up, huge challenges of worry and action.

"Looking to You" perhaps is the answer. "Looking to God." Not looking at the fear, trusting God in the hard stuff, in the battles, in the advocacy, in the shadows, in the Light. Help me to do so, O God!  Thank you for the blessings, but the long nights are tough. May perspective be illuminated and good choices made. Amen.

Friday, August 03, 2012

Body Hope

The body says, "It is finished!"
And, sulks like a pony-tailed girl
refusing to budge against a doorframe.

Or, crosses arms like an old woman
mad at the intruder who ate all
of her hot bread prepared for church.

The body creaks, "I can't any longer!"
And it slumps like a boy who went
to bat and swung, swung, swung out.

Or, staggers like the old guy who
thinks he can make it from his
wheelchair to the bathroom alone.

Sometimes the body can rejoice
with climbing a mountain path
or riding a bike with no hands

Or casually walking down grocery
store aisles without one care, or
dancing with convulsing kids.

It's a wait in a freeway line,
though. When cars move one at
a time, speed up, slow down, honk.

The destination, a hospital bed, or
at home, when the body has one
last final whisper before arrival.

The body, transformed, renewed,
breaks cocoon and zooms into
countries, dances into ballrooms,

Swings into luminous matter,
runs toward all-eternal wholeness
enters and, upon a Christmas finally come,

Squeals off rheumatoid complaint,
shoe-shuffles, hip-hops, sashays
everlastingly to mountain holiday songs.

TWW 8/3/12

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Running fully

William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, as he was interviewed near the close of his life. This is what he said: “God had all there was of me. There have been others who had greater plans, greater talents and greater opportunities than I; but from the day I got a vision of what God could do, I made up my mind God would have all there was of William Booth.” 

What would it take for God to have all of a person? We can see the example of Mr. Booth above and a few others we've heard about. But, what about in our own lives? I should probably ask, "What percentage am I at now? How can I make it higher? What does this truly look like anyway?" At times, the quest for a greater percentage seems to be another excuse to wallow in guilt. How do I go beyond the need for guilt, goodness, purpose, comfort, control, false humility, peace, distraction, and give all to God? Do I even want to or am I content serving him as I do now? Right now, there are flashes of intense giving and goodness, but what would it mean to serve God fully? I'm sure it would look like much more.

I remember the codependency class taken at church in which we examined the ill-effects of the savior complex, the need to fix, the desire to control God or others through actions. At times if I "gave fully to God" the codependency tendencies might be unleashed despite my sincerity. One must be rational and proceed with caution.

Yet to be used fully. A bumpy road. Sacrifice. Conflict. A full outpouring of resources.

A better question might be: what prevents me from fully being used by God? Today, right now. Can I admit that some of these things might not be purposeful -- they might be time-wasting -- they might reek of vanity and smooth highways? Sins?

Father, help me to give more of myself daily. I know that I can't be like William Booth or Mother Teresa; I know that daily life as a mother, wife, teacher looks a certain way. However, help me to cast off restraints that prevent me from running fully and joyfully in your service to make this world a better place -- to show you -- to become more like you. Help petty mindgames explode into rain which waters and grows.  Amen.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Pacific pathways

I just returned from Los Angeles. There, I

met others who actively care for struggling learners;

discovered that SoCal has mountains and cool air;

reunited with a cousin and met her black husband and biracial children;

spoke on a walk with her about her pain from her parents' banishment;

received a certificate to practice educational therapy;

had a dog pee on my bed;

was reminded each morning how much God cares for me;

had dinner and wine with California valley girls;

spoke and had dinner with visitors from South Africa;

learned new techniques on how to stimulate cognition for learning growth;

ate lots of chocolate;

became more convinced of the path and mission which I'm on;

sounded like a dinosaur with my lips covering my teeth;

received highly complimentary remarks about my writing!;

swam with my little cousin after our own personal manicure;

was told that I need to practice one of the brain rewiring methods for my own good;

got hugged to death by my teacher at the end of session;

dipped my toes in the Pacific;

watched the start of the Olympics with my cousins;

navigated the morning and evening commute on the freeway;

dreamt in phonics;

enjoyed the support from a loving husband back home;

sat by a wedding dress sales lady on the plane;

forgot where my van was parked in the 106 degree day;

drove up to home feeling happy all-around;

hugged family;

slept to wake with a start!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Haunts of violence

Have regard for your covenant,
because haunts of violence fill the dark places of the land. (Psalm 74:20 NIV)

Shakespeare couldn't have said it better. Our morning news is splashing with the same kind of language especially today as 12 were killed and 32 wounded when a shooter opened fire at an Aurora, Colorado movie of Batman (the Dark Knight) early today.

Truly, evil trails good. Evil overcomes earthly good. We have cries and cries coming up from our ruptured, ruined world.

Optimists believe that the world is our oyster; the benevolent Universe will work things out for our good.

Yet for those who bought tickets for this movie and sat in the line of fire, evil felled them, and the personified "Universe" was puzzled and passive.

David asks that God remember his covenant with the people of Israel. They are being whipped up by evil-doers who want their inheritance, who want their lives, their land. They are wicked without regard for God or for those who are oppressed. They carry evil like a backpack full of grenades, tear gas, quarrels.

In our country, "haunts of violence fill the dark places of the land" all over the place. Our human nature is capable of doing good or doing evil. Those who are planning attacks on others are planning attacks -- have given in to the dark forces inside of them which reap despair and destruction.

Father God, have regard for your covenant. Remember that you will take us if we delight in You and trust that you have a ticket for us out of the mayhem which is sometimes called this Earth. Thank you for those who follow you and do good; may we step it up in your Name and forget the little quibbles which distract us and which promote small violences. Thank you for your covenant which is true. Amen

Thursday, July 19, 2012

A David re-work

But as for me, my feet had almost slipped;
I had nearly lost my foothold. For I envied the arrogant
when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. They have no struggles;
their bodies are healthy and strong. They are free from common human burdens;
they are not plagued by human ills. Therefore pride is their necklace;
they clothe themselves with violence. From their callous hearts comes iniquity;
their evil imaginations have no limits. They scoff, and speak with malice;
with arrogance they threaten oppression. (Psalm 73:2-8 NIV)

Envy of those who have.

Yes, my eyes and heart trail along.

When I look at my poor garments

My poor endowments

My stumblings up a hill as

I view others going the other direction,

Smiling on the downward slope,

Gliding well-toned in gossamer.

No one seems to be shouting "Push!"

on their side. I seem to serve an

imaginary Giant who lives to dangle

thoe who agree to be dangled.

Yet going in a lateral direction

isn't a gravitational choice.

If I turn directions to glide,

I become subject to a tripping

game from one to another. One

can't be outshone in the rivalry

of prosperity. Those moving upwards

focus on their own push and, at

times, encourage those they pass.

Intermittently, one will give in

and slip and, inexcusably, try to

knock others off the path. One

must be alert at all times.

One must ask the question too of

"What kind of Giant do I serve?

Is the effort worthwhile? Why

do they on the other side

smile with the luxury of ease?

What kind of Master will I meet?

"When I tried to understand all this,
it troubled me deeply till I entered the sanctuary of God;
then I understood their final destiny. Surely you place them on slippery ground;
you cast them down to ruin. (Psalm 73:2-8, 16-18 NIV)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


For he will deliver the needy who cry out,
the afflicted who have no one to help.

He will take pity on the weak and the needy
and save the needy from death.

He will rescue them from oppression and violence,
for precious is their blood in his sight. (Psalm 72:12-14 NIV)

I sat at a table last night with other swirling mothers. I had a good cold green chili beer and a smoked salmon pasta dish in front of me. All seemed good. Yet cries of the needy reverberated in my head and spirit as I listened to the moms talk about life with their autistic child.

Sad, worried. Resolutely hopeful within hopelessness. Trouble, crisis. Loneliness. Marriage tension. Smiles, tears. Adrift, adrift, anchor casting and pulling in.

When I see the above verses, I can't imagine being God. Just think about all the cries of the needy. I had one table; God has a whole world. Yet the claim that "precious is their blood in his sight" attests to His especial care for the needy, for these stricken with autism, for those who fight for dignity in every corner of their lives. God gives them dignity and love. But a wall is up between this fact and recognition.

I lift up my table of swirling mothers, Lord, of the children they represent, help us all to know without a doubt your true character and interest, that we can rest in your care and loving regard. Please help all practical needs. Please rescue. Please stabilize. Please, please, take pity. Amen.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Daily bears

Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior,
who daily bears our burdens. (Psalm 68:19 NIV)

I wonder how selfish our burdens are, at times. I know, I at times become desirous of creature comforts and that wrong-focus can become my burdens. Yet God can help me escape from them as he bears my burdens. I need to think of that when I become rolled up into a coil of barbed wire.

In other thoughts, I have been watching news documentaries on near-death experiences. Those affected mostly have such a peaceful encounter. The stories make me lean forward in anticipation of death, although I want to stay on earth as long as possible.

Most of the people who experience them return regretfully back to earth. They know it wasn't a dream or their brain's last dying contractions. They know that the experience is more real than anything experienced -- a "sensory explosion" one man called it. One man said that it made him doubt the reality of this earthly life since that one was supra-real. Comforting. Narnian. Grateful.

Well, today, I must tend to my flower bed and then a friend and I are playing music at a local square dance. I must also stop worrying about what my son does after high school. I must also be pleasant to be around (burden!:). I must also do some training pieces for my educational therapist designation. Much life to be lived before true life.

Thank you Lord for daily bearing our burdens and turning them into joy. Amen.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The crickets are too much with us, late and soon

Right now, as I sit on my outside bench, the crickets are much louder than the birds. Has it come to this that the lowly insects take over the morning song of the bird?

In my spirit, I feel many insects taking over a more lovely sound of assurance. Back in June, I petitioned my school board regarding serving students with learning struggles. One woman in particular, an attorney, interrupted my presentation, asked questions, couldn't see how the school could possibly offer this without lawsuits, was more interested in how the school could serve the gifted. My perceptual hearing there, of course.

Today, I'm discouraged. I've been waiting on God to bear good fruit, to prompt someone to take up the cause of the student who gets denied or discharged because of needs that they have. I'm waiting on someone to connect Jesus' ministry to the oppressed to educating and loving on Christian school students of many different ability levels. I'm waiting on someone to eschew the Greek model of excellence in exchange for the Christian/the Jesus view of excellence as compassion, love in action. But, all I hear are insects and nothing else.

I'm waiting in a hard place, and I'm impatient. And, I'm mad.

I see all kinds of outrage on Facebook right now regarding Obamacare. I see phrases of "my money!" "money!" "money!" One Christian cousin, right after she posted a lovely Bible verse, posted a photo which said to "run the bastards out of office!"

I'm sick of the insects this morning. Sick of the focus being on the dollar, the anger. I am angry. I'm sick of people evading the question of how best to take care of others. What are our responsibilities? The poor will always be with us. There is a responsible approach, but there's also an irresponsible approach and focus. I feel like too many wrong questions are being answered with outrage.

"The world is too much with us" writes William Wordsworth, and all I hear are the stupid drone of the insects, living a short life, and trying to reproduce more insects for the future. I could be one of them trying to make my whine a song. Jesus, help us all to transcend the angry racket and hear one of your simple melodies we can imitate.  Amen.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Unnamed birds

The wind is coolish, pleasant on the deck this early morning. A couple of birds are cawing, chortling -- but they're not crows. I wish I knew the names of birds like I do plants. But, unfortunately, I am an ignoramus to who they are! I thank them, though, for making my backyard more alive, along with the leaves rustling, chasing away the bowl of record heat which has been here in the Midwest for about a month.

I wonder what my Compassion International kids are hearing around them in nature, in school. One of my kids, a 15 year old from Hondorus, just became my Facebook friend, which is probably against policy. She seems like a fairly typical teen, instead of one of those starving children on the World Vision commercials. But, showcasing can be truth and manipulation -- it is that bad in select places. But in others, a typical teen struggles with poverty and opening her heart to Jesus first, despite the boys, despite the home life, despite, despite, so I pray for her on that. And, I hope she prays for me. One of our children, a boy from Rwanda, wrote and told me he has my picture taped on his bed so that he can remember to pray for me. I'm grateful! It goes both ways, from Africa to the United States and vice versa, in all of our poverties. The bird sings on.

Yesterday, I had coffee with a mother who has two children with chronic life conditions. Her 14 year old son has brain bleeding and, thus, strokes -- he's wheelchair confined at the moment, recovering, recovering from another bout which has been a life plague. Her eight year old is a nonverbal autistic child. We talked, laughed, commisserated for a couple of hours even though we were strangers at first. We're both trying to figure out and accept the spiritual layer of suffering; she has been hurt at the hands of Christians; she's often at limbo in trust. It was good to share the complexities of the eternal questions of "Why?" "Where?" and the realities of the shake-fisting, apologies, repenting, releasing, tiring, rejuvenating cycle of the spiritual life. We can't shake Jesus because he won't shake us (sang a knowledgeable songwriter I heard recently). I saw the true warrior in her. I pray she keeps marching, stumbling, leaping toward eternal hope and glory.

Regarding good works mentioned in yesterday's writing, here's an excellent quote which puts the topic in better perspective, taking it from self to the transcendent:

Self-realization only leads to the glorification of good works, whereas a saint of God glorifies Jesus Christ through his good works. Whatever we may be doing— even eating, drinking, or washing disciples’ feet— we have to take the initiative of realizing and recognizing Jesus Christ in it. Oswald Chambers

Perhaps in doing so, we can name the Singer of the chorus that takes us outside of ourselves as the all-source for companionship and love which we can sing for the benefit of others.  The unnamed is named and identified. The good bird sings on, and we know His tune. Amen.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Lazy scaredy-cats and such

I really shouldn't post an entire "My Utmost for His Highest" devotion from the morning's reading. However, today's entry has so much meat, bite, describes the passive stance we take -- I can take -- much of the time.

Chambers speaks about the tension between being and doing. Lately, I've been thinking that the phrase "good works" as a byproduct of faith has taken a back seat in the evangelical world. The Catholics and the Jewish faith still hold these responsibilities high (for those who follow). But, in my church, it seems that "good works" have been canceled by grace. "You can't earn your way to heaven! 'It's not by works but by faith/grace.'" True, yet we are definitely called upon to be active.

I'm guilty of being passive and too active both. My codependent tendencies want to save the world, and say yes to everything without good discernment. My selfish tendencies want to walk the safe path, disregarding controversy and weirdness or giving-with-draining. I think it's imperative to be active, though, with good guidance and listening to what God wants of us. Yet at times, when this seems silent, we need to strike out and just prove to others that he has earthly arms, hands, feet, love. And, so I re-post just to record this excellent reminder:

 In The Spiritually Lazy Saint Jul102012

Let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together . . . —Hebrews 10:24-25

We are all capable of being spiritually lazy saints. We want to stay off the rough roads of life, and our primary objective is to secure a peaceful retreat from the world. The ideas put forth in these verses from Hebrews 10 are those of stirring up one another and of keeping ourselves together. Both of these require initiative— our willingness to take the first step toward Christ-realization, not the initiative toward self-realization. To live a distant, withdrawn, and secluded life is diametrically opposed to spirituality as Jesus Christ taught it. The true test of our spirituality occurs when we come up against injustice, degradation, ingratitude, and turmoil, all of which have the tendency to make us spiritually lazy. While being tested, we want to use prayer and Bible reading for the purpose of finding a quiet retreat. We use God only for the sake of getting peace and joy. We seek only our enjoyment of Jesus Christ, not a true realization of Him. This is the first step in the wrong direction. All these things we are seeking are simply effects, and yet we try to make them causes. “Yes, I think it is right,” Peter said, “. . . to stir you up by reminding you . . .” (2 Peter 1:13). It is a most disturbing thing to be hit squarely in the stomach by someone being used of God to stir us up— someone who is full of spiritual activity. Simple active work and spiritual activity are not the same thing. Active work can actually be the counterfeit of spiritual activity. The real danger in spiritual laziness is that we do not want to be stirred up— all we want to hear about is a spiritual retirement from the world. Yet Jesus Christ never encourages the idea of retirement— He says, “Go and tell My brethren . . .” (Matthew 28:10).l \=\

Monday, July 09, 2012

One hand

As for me, I call to God, and the Lord saves me. Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice. He rescues me unharmed from the battle waged against me, even though many oppose me. (Psalm 55:16-18 NIV)

Last night I watched a Barbara Walters news show in which the idea (or reality) of heaven was investigated. Most Americans actually believe in heaven (9 out of 10). A collective hope and recognition truly seems to me to make the intangible understood. Barbara, of course, covered the wide varieties of heaven belief.

I found the Muslim belief to be the strangest, with the waiting virgins, which is not only a terrorist-martyr's claim, but a scholarly and non-extremist Muslim acceptance too. Of course, the virgins could be male or female depending upon our own gender. For myself, I really don't want countless male virgins! I think one man, like my husband, is way enough anyway. Why would sex be catapulted into the more-the-merrier realm in heaven? Bizarre (unless the belief was written by a lustful, young man . . . ). The Hindu belief too of reincarnation, the ascension into higher human form or lower into animal form, was strange as well. I love animals, and am imaginative and compassionate enough to think of them as "human-like" but I can't really see them as "bad" or "good" based upon their past lives. It's our duty to treat them with respect, though, for being living creatures. (I must confess to helping stranded worms get off drying sidewalks as if truly does matter to save them. Guilt grabs me if I walk by without helping them when I could have. Shouldn't I apply that to humans moreso?)

While the  religious representatives above were a bit grim, the Dalai Lama of Buddhism was an engaging person who seemed to embody sweet and attractive qualities, like compassion and humility and a giggle which delighted. Yet the philosophy was strange, and I wondered about the leaps of faith this belief requires. Many leaps, many hoops. Of course, I'm a western Christian without much understanding or training.

When Barbara interviewed the Christian representatives, I noticed a difference in their affect. They had light in their eyes -- grace, truth, fervor, hope. A devoted Christian's eyes are quite different. Yes, Joel Olsteen looked like a crazed-out vacuum salesman, but he had the light going too. The light validates the story, enflames it as other-worldly reality.

In the above verses, I can see David solely focused upon God, upon a relationship with an Entity who "saves," "hears," "rescues." The Personal is a trademark of Judaic Christian faith. When death occurs, the individual meets the individual Father, the Groom, the Friend, the Comforter, the Judge, the Word, the Redeemer, the Shepherd. Many words designating a One.

Much is based upon what David models: in this life, one hand can hold another, one voice can be heard by one outside our consciousness, one can relax into the battles the one Lord will fight for us . . . until we are reconciled in Heaven one day to meet the One who has been designated for each one of us. And, why not?

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Flourishing fullness

But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God's unfailing love for ever and ever. (Psalm 52:8 NIV)

A fresh, yet still wind, blows upon my deck where I'm sitting. Somewhere, somewhere it is raining on parched corn fields, on spotty grass grazing pastures, on pines ready to burst. I have confirmation of this from farmer parents, from Facebook posters. Ah, precious water falling; you have been on retreat for too long. Come into the steaming, parched world now and minister to the thirsty!

(A little poetic apostrophe there for you:)

I copied the above verse which caught my heart. Much resonates in it. Last night, as we attended the wedding reception of my husband's high school friend, he heard about everyone's successful children. The men measured themselves against one another in this area or jobs or even physical fitness.

One daughter is a doctor. Many fathers are coaches for their athletic children. Scholarships have been offered. Talents and smoother roads abound.

But, we are especially chosen parents, I told him. We know new dimensions of courage, individuality, challenge, suffering, joy that other parents are unaware. We are blessed, and my husband knew it to be true. We love our son tremendously; we sometimes just grieve for him and are not comforted by those things that other children can hold onto as normal rites of passage. Yet everyone has their pain, their path to hoe, their droughts amidst hot winds.

I like that we can all be "an olive tree flourishing" because of "God's unfailing love." We don't have to succeed like the world says to succeed, or my private Christian school, or a group of parents who do not have second sight due to experience-lived. We can all be a flourishing olive tree, full of fruits, full of favor.

With the parenting of my son, I feel full of favor. I pray that he will also feel this fullness in his life, knowing that he has been infinitely blessed by being who he is. Please God help him find purpose and, especially, your unfailing love. I pray for every reader's child too that they can be kind, compassionate, and also one which waves in the wind, well-watered, bearing fruit, and praising your name in all they do. Amen.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A maze to exit

But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love, to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine. (Psalm 33:18, 19 NIV)

A maze is embedded in the verses above -- a maze of the mind, a maze of relinquishing up the knowledge that one is lost, a maze of trusting that Someone will provide the way out, a maze of expectation.  I read these verses knowing how difficult this is, especially under duress. When things get tough for me, I often want to blame God. I become mad, bitter, and my eyes are downcast upon disbelief. I think about all those Haitians who died under the rubble, Christian and non-alike. I think about the raw course of nature which consumes people. I think of children who are routinely abused in our evil world. I think, "Where was God then? Is He something we make up during our times of reflection and comfort? Is He nothing but a creed?"

The act of faith, though, obliges me to believe in the confusing presentation of hope seen in the above verses. I must choose, and I must choose with admittance which disbelieves in the opposite of what the verses proclaim. I must choose to believe that:

a) the eyes of the Lord are on me, because I do fear him
b) He has unfailing love which provides me with hope
c) that He will deliver us from natural death
d) that He is our hope and shield.

Why does my spirit still doubt? I think of my friend's husband who died of brain cancer; she believed in healing and rescue more than anyone I know. Yet she still preaches on the hope and the love of God. I wish I could reconcile my doubt and my choice and my longing of belief. But, I must choose because I want to and because I love God. I must trust Him with all answers to hard questions.

Lord, I am allowing your words to enter into my spirit. Please torch and let my confidence become enflamed into a bright light. Today, I will meditate on these verses in belief and confidence. I will seek understanding and trust.  Amen.

Sunday, June 24, 2012


You have not given me into the hands of the enemy but have set my feet in a spacious place. (Psalm 31:8 NIV) I really like this verse as it has room for interpretation. Room, get it? Relates to "spacious places." I think about my own life and how God has not left me in the hands of the enemy. My enemy would be worry, fear, passivity, non-engagement, wrong loves, but God has known to plant my feet in spacious places when I sought him. In these places, I can roam freely, like I can in my girlhood home in the woods where I don't have to worry about men-predators, where I am safe, where I can enjoy my thoughts and the beauty around me. I also think of fields where I've roamed. God can lead me to see the beauty in the summer heat, in the droning of the crickets, in the subtle designs of nature. I also think that God places my feet in spacious places because I can be free to move in His direction and in the direction He has for my life. I've been lifted from the tangled path and placed more purposefully upon good ground. My enemies have been thwarted; God has seen to my needs and safety. Grateful.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Bubbles and Darwin

As I'm reading about Charles Darwin's voyage aboard the Beagle in which he observed all kinds of geology, cultures, animal life, and more, I can't help but think how limited our scope is inside our own worlds. We live in a glass bubble in which we're quite concerned with our own language, dress, relationships, beliefs and modes of life. We can become fixated on these as the sole vistas of truth.  I know for some of my kinfolk in the Ozark hills, the act of reading Charles Darwin would be seditious; they would scoff; they would maintain the safety of their views, shaped by their worlds, by where they drink their own knowledge and worldviews. Some alternate views are considered dangerous. Often, from my Christian texts at my school, the name of Darwin is spitted out by editors who present him as the arbitrator of foul and erring lies which go against God as creator. Although, like Darwin, I will connect life to God, I also believe there is much wiggle room in our interpretations. Especially wiggle room given our glass bubbles which block the views we seek mainly from our own chairs. Darwin didn't intend to undermine God, but he went out and looked and expanded his view away from his home country, away from his town. Yes, conclusions can be wrong from any vantage point, however, why do we limit what there is to observe? The book inspires me to look for and know more and piece together the amazing picture called life.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Greater joy

"You have filled my heart with greater joy than when their grain and new wine abound." Psalm 4:7

Ah, the teaching year is over, and I can make time for contemplation, reading, and writing. My year was the best one yet; it first started with anger and grief over exclusion of children with learning disabilities, but it ended with purpose and plans to counter this in my school. Change currents have been released; God is working. I was able to let go and grow even closer to my students, nurturing them, giving to them, loving them. Although I had a bit of resentment for their and parents' inability to give much back, I've grown in my ability to just give without thinking or expecting. Typically, a person like me, a recovering codependent too, gives more, and that's just that. As a matter of fact, I must guard against giving, but I follow my heart much and give -- this year, I monitored my expectations of what people return and why I gave. I tried to be very mindful of that and was, thus, not full of resentment but just happily gave. It worked out fairly well, and I have such fond memories of loving and nurturing my students this year and receiving love back, especially from the wonderful senior class. I will miss those students!

I'm finally through with Job in my reading and have entered, thankfully, into Psalms. The above verse jumped out at me. Last night, we went to our neighbor's house; they wanted us to come over to see their new patio and remodeling. Just one house over, we saw the difference between those who spend money on their living comfort and us, who save our money more than spend it. I saw the beautiful pots, plants, water pool, lights, outdoor seating, and when we went through their house, I saw the lovely attention, care, new fixes that their interior had. I came home with desire to spend our own money; I came home looking critically around me.

It's such human nature to compare what we have with someone else. If someone who is poorer came to my house, they would feel inferior too. I truly despise that inside of us we can easily become unhappy for what we don't have or to showcase to others what we do have. In the United States, we love to show what our money can buy.

I know our neighbors lack faith, and the man thinks it's a bunch of nonsense. And, even though he sat in comfort, we realized he was getting soused in front of us. How often does that happen with his collection of fine wines and beers? We heard details of trips, things, but nothing higher. Their focus was on what their money could buy. I am tempted by that too. I came home dissatisfied with the little money we spend. I envied them and their carefree but comfortable lifestyle. Yet I know I must see beyond --  into their greater need. I don't want to say that I have something of greater value for the sake of comparing and making myself feel good. Rather, I want to know what is truly valuable and hold it dear to my heart -- so as I read Psalms this morning, this verse helped me focus on why one should eschew material pleasures as the end-all, be-all.

Grateful. May I not be judgmental, Lord, but discerning as to where true joy really resides. May my neighbors also be aware. May we live for you and others rather than for ourselves. May we grasp your true joy which only you can give. Amen.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

The Beauty of Shyness?

The Beauty of Shyness

"There is something beautiful about shyness, even though in our culture shyness is not considered a virtue. On the contrary, we are encouraged to be direct, look people straight in the eyes, tell them what is on our minds, and share our stories without a blush.

But this unflinching soul-baring, confessional attitude quickly becomes boring. It is like trees without shadows. Shy people have long shadows, where they keep much of their beauty hidden from intruders' eyes. Shy people remind us of the mystery of life that cannot be simply explained or expressed. They invite us to reverent and respectful friendships and to a wordless being together in love."

- Henri J. M. Nouwen

A lovely reminder from Henri Nouwen. Shyness was once my painful burden to bear, and I'm sensitive to those who also are afflicted. It may be beautiful to those who wish to peer through the shy person's leaves and see potential wildflowers there, but to the shy person, fear grips them like a tight-paw-clawed monster who knows no countryside boundaries. Even though I have fought off this monster and can speak words fairly easily now, I still have a dream which indicates stuck language in my throat as a mucous-like mass which I attempt to pull out and pull out and pull out. I still have memories of being unable to speak, of fear, of words which bite me back upon utterance, upon a terrible self-consciousness which grabs my throat, upon the inability to ford a bridge, get upon a raft, approach another wanderer in the woods, tell anyone my name, have an opinion to be verbalized, speak. I always felt like an object to be looked at, one which puzzled and sometimes, like the above, intrigued. I much rather would have liked to have had words to fend off others or to be known.

But, God is a Word-Spirit, thankfully. He helped me write, gave me phrases-inside, pushed me to love language and to try, try, try to speak until that inside mass thinned, pounding on chest and back until I could clear myself, my throat, and utter exquisite speech. Today, I read in Luke chapters 7 and 8 about all the healings Jesus gave to those, all the hopes realized, and I feel healed from this monster of shyness. It was a process but God wanted me to be able to not hide one day. May I remember that when I want to shift into timidy on important issues pressed into my heart which need to be articulated for good effect.  Amen.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Into the depths courtesy of Earl Scruggs

A banjo rolling; the sounds of crickets; the women chattering; the children screaming and laughing; the banjo rolling; the guitar G runs; the mandolin chortling; the fiddle tying it up; the tenor reaching the full moon; the banjo rolling.

My dad played Earl Scruggs style; he would sit and play over and over the above album; he would listen to the licks; he would work them and work them. Then during the afore-described music parties, he'd roll his banjo like Earl. We kids would be in someone's yard playing Red Rover or Chicken or lay-in-the-ditch-and-jump-up-when-a-car-comes-by-and-wave-and-scream. The women would be talking about us in the living room, our problems and stages. The men would be beating their tapping feet on the kitchen, instruments and ears poised, smiling, smiling, singing, singing, diving into the root depths, plunging, swimming, swimming.

It would get late. The moon would be high. We kids would have eaten all the cookies allowed; we would have played all the games imaginable; we would have started drifting indoors, hoping our fathers would notice, hanging on the edges of their circle. But, they would remained sitting with fingers flying and smiles smiling, and Earl Scruggs licks zipping. Finally, a guitar player would slow it down and begin to wail, "You spurned the love, I gave you darlin'. A love you once was proud to own . . . ." A midnight desire made public, crying confession; our feet would sink into a chair or a carpet space; our eyes would fight and suffer as our Dad would not notice us. He was overboard now in slowed down songs, the sadness of lost love, stabbed love, love of blue eyes now with someone new.

Finally, once we were fully slumped, the sound of chairs scraping, instrument cases being clicked shut, heavy footsteps caused us to break sleep's beginning stage, and we would sleepily go to him with all the men teasing us without our shy care: "Can we go home now, Dad?"

Time for the long hilly, curvy ride home.

But, on the way, in our ears, in our lives forever more, the banjo rolled in sound grooves, in the ancestral depths of plaintive and frolicking standards, in our blood, in associations, in love.

Good night, Earl Scruggs. Play one for us in the kitchen of the Angel Band. Thanks for the full moon and the bluegrass memories.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Precarious courses and loving eyes

In this faraway small shot stands two of my most precious worldy accomplishments. They stand precariously, especially the boy who is just learning to snowboard from his sister who stands victoriously as she has learned the skill and now flies down mountains. I am sitting on a coat by a conveyor belt which carries little ones up the gentle learning slope. I am older and sickly (from a bad cold) and take the role of watcher, cheer-er.

This morning, I went through a scrapbook I made for my daughter, covering birth through high school. How could I ever doubt our relationship, my intense efforts to make up for gaps, to funnel love, to direct in good directions? It floods every page. I do not have much more than the usual parent in the way of regrets, rather I was an exceptional parent. Yes, the high school years were brutal. I look at her pictures with friends she found, with boys, and I feel again the loss of who I wanted her to be.  Yet she is her own person always -- independent in one way, vulnerable in others, and beautiful. I worry, like a normal good parent will do, but I really have done my best even in some difficult circumstances. I'm always there encouraging, cheering, and redirecting even through precarious courses.

In the scrapbook, I see myself as a young mother, not knowing, not knowing, all that it would take, all that it would give. Lord, have mercy on a young parent. Flood our world with your loving guidance and rest to grant us all. Thank you for my ability to see my two children grow in maturity, with familial love, and with Your grace throughout all of our lives. Amen.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Generation gap and bridge

My last post was rather sad, but it captured a feeling and a regret and a hope. This weekend, we're going to be traveling to see my daughter, and I'm looking forward to that quite much. She is such an independent and private young lady -- which makes a mother worry. I'm glad I have God helping me with my anxiety and helping me recognize His work in her life. May she receive and be blessed with peace. She deserves a full dose of a loving and trustworthy Father in her life.

I've been reading Chronicles in the Bible, and the opening phrase when introducing a new king:  "He did right in the eyes of the Lord" is powerful. If a king does "evil in the eyes of the Lord" then ruin and problems happen throughout the entire kingdom. What I can't understand is when a God-seeking King, like Hezekiah who was rewarded both in wealth and victory for his devotion to God, has a son like Manasseh who did "evil in the eyes of the Lord, following detestable practices . . . ." Was he not properly trained by his father? Was he blinded to the work of God in His kingdom? How can the foundation of faith established with the priests, etc., during his father's reign be altogether rejected by the son? I just can't fathom it, yet time and time again, this pattern of good-to-evil happens from one generation to the next. Sigh -- it doesn't bode well for the rest of us. However, other places in the Bible, like in Proverbs, tells us to raise a child in the way they should go, with expectations that they will choose to seek God. And, lots of evidence points to the fact that children continue on with the faith of their parents.

I simply pray that my children know that I seek God and am rewarded with hope, relative peace, and love. I pray that those fruits will be ones that they also desire to open their hands to receive. Amen.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Children are strangers

"Children are their parents' guests. They come into the space that has been created for them, stay for a while - fifteen, twenty, or twenty-five years - and leave again to create their own space. Although parents speak about 'our son' and 'our daughter,' their children are not their property. In many ways children are strangers. Parents have to come to know them, discover their strengths and their weaknesses, and guide them to maturity, allowing them to make their own decisions." Henri Nouwen

"In many ways children are strangers."

I don't like that statement, but it's true. It was especially true of my daughter (and still is).

From watching excellent mothers at my school, I live vicariously through mother - daughter relationships which are good. Based upon mature parenting and wise choices, unwavering biblical foundations, tremendous engagement. I stare and am happy and am sad --  always happily sad that it's possible, and it's happening for some.

I was always there for my daughter, yet complications and forces grouped to batter.

I have many wonderful, close moment-memories of my sweet, shining star. Early on, we were a loving, inseparable pair, engaging and holding on. For what I could offer, I offered. Good choices, solid, foundational, guided my love for her.

Yet I did not parent perfectly, correctly. My hands were tied in some cases.

In other cases, I underestimated and underused my hands.

Some people say that you stop maturation at certain moments of abusive crisis. I wonder if I remained at 23 and 24 too long.

I wonder if I learned anything beyond my parents.

I look at those teenage daughters who do not run away, do not, do not, do not, and I see who I was at their age. Loving, God-entrenched, parent-respectful. I see expectations of unrealistic duplication given her circumstances.

I wonder what happened, but I know, and much was as it is. A wandering child. A pit and a climb. Both.

Now my daughter and I love each other, but there's a span of hurtful years, and there's a divide, and I wonder did I learn anything beyond my parents, beyond mistakes and pain? Is halting remedy enough.

I don't think she wants to know me truly and really. Maybe she isn't capable of that yet. Are any of us? Will she learn beyond her parents, beyond mistakes and pain?

God has been a parenting anchor for me even though the sail has whipped in the wind. Even through my inadequacies and blunders. Even through remedial rewiring. Even through, even through.

Bless this relationship and her, dear Lord. Thank you for new doors of grace and understanding and repair. Fracture happens but you, O good Father, restore beautiful light for shining.


Wednesday, March 07, 2012


I see teaching books around my desk within my grasp but outside my digestion. Superb classroom teachers are simply born -- there's a gifting given, developed, pronounced. Some gifted teachers make it in the classroom, others don't. We have a gifted teacher at our school.

Today, I was especially critical about my own teaching ability. I was feeling insecure like a 12 year old. I moped and sputtered inside; I felt like quitting immediately and running away to play my mandolin under an Osage Orange tree, where my unfettered mind could wander from one jumping grasshopper to the next within the crest of a thick summer humid-wave during August in the Ozarks where I would soon die anyway and be buried by my ancestores to finally rest in peace away from student life of any kind. Ah. I was feeling tired, weary, underappreciated. Wail!

As I walked across the parking lot to an appointment with a friend at a local cafe, I immediately decided then and there to just resist. Resist the temptation to compare and to despair. Resist the temptation to lump a feeling into a reality. Resist stupid acceptance of falsehood.

I decided to accept that I am human with limitations. I decided to accept that my sporadic outstanding teacher moments make up for my fair or even poor days. I decided that my qualities of giving love, appreciation, and encouragement to each individual student (whom I truly love) are enough. At the end of the school year, there will be accolades for our gifted teacher as usual which he deserves because of his care and love for students. But, inside, I will be applying accolades to myself and other teachers who do the day to day with hope, care, attention, without much mention.

I do receive rewards, notes, comments from my students from time to time. Those matter tremendously. But, after all is said and done and the last chapter is closed in the literature book, I work mainly for the approval of God showing his way of individual love for each learner (of all ages). I hope to learn all I can from his loving encouragement of me.

Amen and amen.


It's 6:16 in the morning, and I should be tying up the fabric of my day's lessons plans.

But, my throat feels rawed by sand paper, and I'm in a tired-sick stupor.

If I can't focus now with these minor symptoms, I wonder how someone can who is really sick, who is chronically sick.  Yesterday I read an article about Ed Dobson, a once (well-known) pastor who's now chronically ill. He said that he found it hard to pray at all, to access that common devotional life which girds us during the day. Yet he's managed somehow to weakly walk the path (and to write a book about it with the help of his son!).

I, rawed-throat-only, believe in the challenge.

In so many aspects, it must be a difficult thing to have one's health taken away. I pray that those sick today can be, even if vaguely cognizant, aware of the following oft-repeated biblical promise:

"God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble." Psalm 46:1

Ever-present sounds like a feathertop mattress we can ride upon the turbulence.


Tuesday, March 06, 2012


A spring snowstorm of papers flew from my son's backpack last night as I attacked. He wandered the periphery coming when called, working on his Huck Finn paper, being generally an obedient teenager in the midst of the parental gale. I e-mailed teachers too; I'm contacting his learning specialists. I'm basically being the parent who ya-deal-with, a nice version, yet still life is busy in the building, and there's an attitude that parents should remain on the periphery. They say that a student who is a teen must make his/her own independent decisions.

Yes, we all should encourage that, however, there's a sense in the high school culture that parents should stay out of the learning process with the student. Sure, if parent wants to bake for the faculty appreciation day, or volunteer for the hog roast, or do concessions, then involvement is good. But, if they're buzzing like a fly around the school day, then where's the swatter? I've been there as a teacher. Yet I also know that the squeaky wheel gets the grease. I also know that most IEP students don't have parents who are trying to improve their lot. I know that the teachers forget about kids with learning challenges in the rush of the mob who's needing them at the moment. Some teachers are resistant to any different kind of help. So, I'm squeaking for some greasin'.

Plus, I think we have it wrong. I think we should encourage the parent to be involved in the classroom, to be communicating. If a student fails, it's easy to blame the parents for that, but the culture of stay-away-for-independent-growth at the secondary level also encourages lack of involvement, apathy, disengagement with parents. One hand beckons, one hand halts.

It's a balance, but I believe that parents aren't enablers if they get involved. Personal responsibility is important, but the parent should be there encouraging and simply requiring it.

Squeak, squeak. Okay, I feel better now.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Creating a Home Together

Creating a Home Together

"Many human relationships are like the interlocking fingers of two hands. Our loneliness makes us cling to each other, and this mutual clinging makes us suffer immensely because it does not take our loneliness away. But the harder we try, the more desperate we become. Many of these "interlocking" relationships fall apart because they become suffocating and oppressive. Human relationships are meant to be like two hands folded together. They can move away from each other while still touching with the fingertips. They can create space between themselves, a little tent, a home, a safe place to be.

True relationships among people point to God. They are like prayers in the world. Sometimes the hands that pray are fully touching, sometimes there is distance between them. They always move to and from each other, but they never lose touch. They keep praying to the One who brought them together."

- Henri J. M. Nouwen

The above was written by Henri Nouwen -- how true, how true. I confess being interlocked destructively in the past; it's quite difficult, even as a God-following person, even when wandering away, even when you're just coping with the world at large to not want to cling, especially when you've found a person (or people groups) with whom you are compatible. However, yesterday I was truly thinking about how my husband has become my best friend. We laughed at church; we laughed at my son's soccer game at our jokes; we've truly advanced to that stage where, even with girlfriends, my husband is my true and constant, and yes even fun!, friend. I admit that in many stages of our lives that wasn't the case. God truly had to push us closer to one another. The final big push came about four years ago -- it was a painful push, off a cliff of feeble constructs, but, at the bottom, we clung to one another. I'm grateful for that time. God does care about how we love those closest to us -- he wants us to be safe and cared for; he wants to teach us how to love well back. We mirror him the most in this capacity. True relationships, as Henri says, truly do point to God.  Amen.

Saturday, March 03, 2012


"The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him." Lamentations 3:25

We read Shelley's "Ode to the West Wind" this week in class, and a blowing wind does typlify the recent movement between my ears. I must remember that at times I'm prone to being a tumbleweed. So, this morning, I thought about all that's making me roll across Kansas in Jayhawk territory when I should be at home planted in Missouri in lovely Tigerland.

Here's the list:

Career => what-to-do-be. But, I got out the yellow pad, and I'm cheered with my analytical findings. Some roots based upon wise choice -- to think!

My house => scattered yet this morning tidied. Some people in Indiana wish they had a house in one piece right now. But, mine looks good, and my husband will be happy when he comes home. I will probably get a thousand kisses while in the kitchen. Ajax is part of his love language!

Bad news => a local girl jumped off a cliff; tornadoes spiked and rumbled over all in the Midwest, killing 30; friends' struggles; a family all killed in a car accident; three kids shot at a school. God, fragility reigns, but here we are still to gather strength to fight off what we can. To fight. To run after the powers of bleakness. To chase it out the hallways, which a school coach did to the shooter before more were hurt. Heroic response instead of despair and indifference.

Faith => all the above unsettledness caused me to sway, sway. And, I realized that I was unsteady. I realized that even though I have an inner strong personal belief in God, something was frittering away at me which I needed to push back on. Then I found the above verse, and others concerning seeking God. Each of them promised reward, a finding, to those who seek God, who hope in him. Rather than doubt and sway, I was reminded to choose the footing that these words offer. It's all about choice, right? And, it's all about acknowledgement. I am choosing to recognize. To be firm and to chase away darkness.

The verse above => I like how the plural pronoun those becomes replaced by one. There's some dividing to be done; a singular, individualistic direction to make as one chooses to look, hope, and find the treasure to be found in God.

Amen. The Saturday ticks on.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

The larger loaf

I have lots of thoughts rumbling around in my head, particularly about faith.  My last post made me think quite a bit about cognitive acceptance of faith and what that's like. But, the day after my post, I became aware of another factor in faith cognitive acceptance:  bad news. Tornadoes, car wrecks, sickness all greeted me as e-mails or headlines. Many were calling out for prayer, comfort, higher love. When faced with such a thing, we tend to forget the questions which are flattened like apples in a driveway. We need support. We turn to God. Sure, there are questions lurking in our head like:  Will I hold your lack of help against you one day? Or, will you actively help and will I recognize it? Or, please, are you there? But, there we go instinctively and with hope and with offers of trust. We hold onto Bible verse promises (those of us who know to do so). We approach. We receive comfort if we're not too angry to be blinded. We feel as if we're actively engaging in a process of relief.

And, we are. Questions shouldn't pre-empt our natural inclination to travel down a path to find God who can comfort and embrace. A God who can offer an eternal perspective. Our minds will just have to quit nibbling at small crumbs of a much larger loaf. Quantifying can only go so far. Our western mindset in that regard is just limited.

Father, help those who are suffering. We all turn to you in time of need and trouble. That is a huge Signifier in itself. Thankful.