Monday, December 6, 2010

Advent tnoughts

I am grateful to be able to be more fully present in advent this year than I was in lent. Although we are feeling a lot of joy in our lives and are so blessed by the love and support of so many people, the dominant feeling of the season is definitely longing. Longing for peace and justice and the Kingdom come on earth. Probably partly because our soundtrack this season seems to be Andrew Peterson's Behold the Lamb of God. The whole CD, which starts the Christmas story back in the Old Testament, is so rich, but we're especially moved by "Deliver Us" just now.
Our hands-on lesson in active, faith-ful waiting: We are repainting our living room. Part of the room will be deep redwood, which is a few shades more intense than the color we had there before. But when I opened the paint container and saw the paint, I almost freaked out. Really--it was fuschia. (If you don't know this, we are really not big pink fans around here.) I kept stirring and stirring it, but it was still fuschia. Brianna said, "The guy at the store said it will change to the right color as it dries." Still, covering our walls with anything that color just felt so wrong. But we kept on --doing our part of putting the paint on the walls anyway and waiting for change to come. I am wondering if we are really quite slow at getting the point of this lesson since this paint job has required a full 2 coats and in some places three. Each time we raise the fuschia-drenched brush to our wall is painful for me. But we keep painting and waiting, and our walls are now deep redwood. May we be as faithful in all the less visible ways that we are called to actively wait this season.

Friday, December 3, 2010

'Tis the season in Dallas

Generally, there is just not a much better way for me to start the day than by eating pancakes and listening to Frank Sinatra with the homeless people at the downtown Dallas McDonald's. It is one of the few places in Dallas where I really feel "at home." This morning, however, even the homeless people and security guards are in the midst of passionate (read: loud)debates about professional sports events. Sigh.
"It's autumn in New York."
A couple of guys are even getting testy with each other over the sports section from today's newspaper. But they're on their way out.
"I get along without you very well."
But since I am settled in for a while to grade papers, I am still there when these guys head out and a woman comes in, sets down her assortment of bags, smiles, and says to me, "Doesn't this music just put you in the right frame of mind?"
"Don't change a hair for me, not if you care for me."
She leaves her stuff while she goes to get some breakfast. She comes back and addresses a fashionably-dressed college student: "Are you from Texarkana?" The befuddled student looks blankly at her and finally says, "Uhm, no." "Oh, 'cuz you look like someone from Texarkana." Ah, the right frame of mind.
"Let's face the music and dance."

Sunday, November 14, 2010

comic relief

A few days ago, Emersyn--the two-year-old who shares our room--came over to me and said, "Say DIH!" Because she has trained me well, I said "Dih!" She said more clearly, "Dih." i repeated what I heard. Again she said, "Dih." I said, "Dih." She said, "Dih;" I said , "Dih." The she stopped and looked at me seriously and said, "Why you saying dat?"


I am feeling way too sick to join my precious daughter and my magnificent husband on today's road trip, but maybe I can use my few bits of consciousness well here. Before they departed, my husband brought me a cup of soy milk in a Christmas-y paper cup from Starbucks. The sight of the red and snowflakes caused happiness to bubble up in me inexplicably. A few minutes later, I realized the cup says:"Stories are gifts. Share." So here I am.
I woke up this morning with a memory on my mind. It was of a chilly Monday morning in New York way before I met Paul. Another English teacher, Dean, and I had recently started our own ESL school after getting frustrated with working long hours in a school that was only for Chinese and frequently didn't manage to pay its "highly esteemed teachers." Our school of course was tiny but we loved having a blend of the various cultures of the city gathering in the ballet studio we rented during weekday mornings. Dean and I had had a discussion on Friday about the fact that we really really needed to have tables for our classes. We had both gone into debt to start our little endeavor and were not going to make money anytime soon at the ridiculously low prices we were charging. There was just no way we could come up with money to buy tables. As we parted ways on Friday, I had said, "Just give me and my family and friends the weekend to pray on it." Dean, not a believer in any sense, had sweetly smiled and said okay.
So Monday morning I trudged through the snow, unlocked the ballet studio, and turned on the lights wearily. Set up neatly before me were three of what I always refer to as "fellowship-hall-tables," just waiting for our classes. The entire building was still dark at that hour (except for the little Dunkin Donuts at street level). I just kept walking around the room staring at the tables. at that point, Dean walked in the room and froze. I said, "I take it you didn't have anything to do with this?" He shook his head no and finally said, "I might have to think about all this God stuff differently if I keep working with you."
It turned out that the little Chinese newspaper office across the hall owned the tables, had used them in the ballet studio on Sunday, and had forgotten to take them down. Since we often helped them out with proofreading anything they wanted to publish in English, they were quite willing for us to use the tables whenever we wanted as long as we would take care of putting them away after our classes! To this day, I am overwhelmed to look back at all the grace pouring down over my life in moments like that.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Fish Out of Water

Fish Out of Water

You're a fish out of water, flopping on dry land.
Your lungs ache with the effort it takes just to sigh
And it seems like a chore to keep breathing all day.
There's nothing easy here, no matter what you try.
Your awkward feet and elbows are always in the way.
There's nowhere to hide from the gawkers who stare
like you're some oozing, reeking aliens stray.
Nobody looks like you or wears clothes like you wear.
If blending in could just be bought, you'd gladly pay.
Despite your discomfort, you know people don't die
Just from being out of place, but then again you may.
You can't seem to leave although you don't know why.
So, confused and uneasy, you seem destined to stay
A fish out of water, flopping on dry land.
In Honduras once--sometimes twice--a year
Hundreds of fish rain down from the sky.
They're all the same species, which doesn't live near.
Call it an unexplainable phenomenon--it's still dinner to fry.
The people say it's a miracle wrought by a saint
Who prayed three days and nights for food for the poor.
as an explanation, the story's , well, quaint,
But if it's not true, what are fish falling for?
So you're a fish out of water, flopping on dry land.
Maybe you're just a freak, more weird than rare.
You feel like an oddball, and I understand,
But you might just be a miracle, an answer to someone's prayer.

Fish out of water

Monday, September 6, 2010

"In my mind . . .'

Last night during a big serious family discussion about changing some of our patterns, I said to Brianna, 11, "I think maybe the good mother you see in your mind doesn't discipline at all."
"Well of course not, Mom. In my mind, I never do anything that needs to be disciplined! In my mind, I never do anything wrong!"

Last week, Brianna said, "I can't wait to tell Mark that I'm learning Latin. I'm going to walk up to him and say, . . . Oh, I forgot--I don't actually know how to say anything yet."

Settling into the fall semester. I am teaching at El Centro as usual, but ended up with ESL reading and Listening/speaking and A NON-ESL class! I picked up a developmental reading class, which I am actually thoroughly enjoying. I got very lucky and have a small group of highly-motivated students with several older students. (Rather than the frequent dev. rdng. scenario of a room full of recent high-school-graduates who still act like they are in high school.)
Brianna is taking a full load at our homeschool co-op for her 6th grade year: Bible-based writing, life science, math, texas history, clay, latin, and creative writing. We may end up dropping something--we'll see how our pattern-changing goes the next 2 weeks. So she's in class from 8:30 to 3:30 on Tuesdays, then goes home with her best friend. They swim and find interesting creatures outside and do their homework for texas history and life science. They are also learning calligraphy. Their house actually has a schoolroom--quite different from our current living situation, so Brianna also gets quite a bit of other homework done there. She spends Tuesday night and wednesday night there. Then we meet up at co-op at 9;30 on Thursday. During at least one of Brianna's classes, I work with her friend one-on-one on some issues with dyslexia and dyscalculia. We head home by about 1:00 on Thursdays. Now I just need to figure out a plan to get Brie out of our house on Mondays and Fridays so that those can be at least half as productive as the middle of the week. She is so remarkable, and this is our year to correct some things we wish we had done better. Hopefully we will find our way into more and more things that work for us as we all learn the art of self-discipline and persistence and allow each experience to shape us more into His likeness.

Friday, July 9, 2010

e-mail to lgbc, our church

lgbc will gather at 1507 grantbrook this saturday evening. Snacks out at 5:30--Bring some to share if you'd like. Dancing-singing-shouting worship (Read a little loud and a lot kid-friendly) at 5:45. Worship continues (possibly calmer and quieter) at 6:00 p.m. After worship, at least some of us will head out to GirlShow which begins at 8:00 (Kelly Nygren performing on Saturday evening--along with many many other female artists. In fact, on Friday night of GirlShow, our own Cynthia Miller is one of the featured photographers! (We'll be there on Friday night too--Let us know if you'd like to meet up to go together.
See for more details on GirlShow.

Looking ahead: August 7th, we'll do a pot-luck dinner and catch up on stuff: For example: reports from those who've been distributors of Mercy Funds for the past year and decisions about where to go next with that experiment in corporate stewardship. Also, finalizing finally the monthly giving to Heartline ministries in Haiti. And you never know what else will come up--Pray and seek God's word for our community in decision-making. It's not just a business meeting--there will be food! And more importantly, some great stories of God at work.

The next part of this e-mail is confessional. I feel like I need to put it out there for the whole postcard readership but feel free to stop reading if it's just too much information for you!
Over the past few weeks, I have been spending more time seeking out the Holy Spirit and His purposes for us as a community. Here is the biggest thing I have been struck by: We exist to worship God. That's why we're gathering together as one little chunk of the Body. Paul and I had some great worship times during our car trips. Those hours have changed some of our daily patterns already. I was very convicted by the sudden realization of one way our community life has changed: When I used to plan/lead worship at lgbc, when someone else was doing the teaching, I would spend at least 3 or 4 hours during the week just worshiping and seeking prayerfully choosing each song, scripture, and reading. Eventually, leading worship became a responsibility (?) that was passed around. Often we figure out who's doing it the day of the service, and I know that if it falls to us, Paul usually rapidly picks some songs while I finish cleaning the living room. Wow--that's a pretty big change, but it happened by tiny degrees. So--I feel that I am being called to plan/lead worship on Saturday evenings again. I am unspeakably excited about the opportunity. So--if you are interested in playing an instrument and/or whatever else, send me an e-mail. I will plan to e-mail at least a song list to you by Friday each week--hopefully sooner in the future. At any rate, we do want to apologize to you as part of our community for letting this foundation get so shaky. God's mercy--that's all we've got.

Father and An Excellent Day

So I picked up the Madame Guyon classic, “Experiencing the depths of Jesus Christ” in a used bookstore in some little town in West Virginia. I had read about her, but had not read her own writing. Already I can tell she is going to be an important teacher for me. I'll probably want to write more about her later, but this is my first aha moment.
Particularly for those who cannot read, she says, “Begin with the word, 'Father.' As you do, let the full meaning of that word deeply touch your heart.” Attempting this, I realized—as I have less consciously many times before-- that the word 'father' does not actually have much meaning for me. I've never used the word father in reference to my own dad or anyone else's who I know personally. I never say, “He's a good father”--I say “He's a good dad/parent/daddy.” For me, father is a formal and distant word, and –oddly, I know,--very British.
I have always felt enormously blessed in my comfort with God as dad because my own daddy is truly one of the most godly people I've ever known and his love for me has always been undeniable, deep and wide.
Interesting, then, to find that I stumble on the word father. So . . .
“Begin with the word, 'Daddy.' As you do, let the full meaning of that word deeply touch your heart.” Oh. I get it. Or at least I begin to.

Exceptional Day
I kind of struggled against vacation this year. It seemed so unreasonable to pay a sub to teach my summer classes, to spend precious hours shopping to fully stock our house before leaving town, to prepare to be away from our church for two Saturdays, to trust that our household would function without us for an extended period of time. But the thought of me in Dallas while Paul and Bri were in Virginia for over a week pushed me over the edge, and I agreed to go after all.
Since Bri was off to hang with Paul's mom and then meet us near Virginia, Paul and I had a long road trip together. More time than we have spent just the two of us in ages. I finally got into the vacation mode and planned out where we would spend each night on the way to Virginia. Paul discovered that the place where we would spend Friday night, Charleston, West Virginia, was actually having its annual Festivall while we were there. I delightedly checked the schedule and planned accordingly.
Thus, we pulled out of Jackson on Friday morning to begin a fantastic day. Having mostly run through our audiobooks on day 1, we ended up talking about worship and worshiping together for a big chunk of the drive. We found cheap or free refills on drinks throughout the drive and enjoyed our peanut butter sandwiches in the car. Lovely, lovely. We pulled into Charleston, a town we had loved when driving through once, checked in and headed immediately to the Sing-Along-Sound of Music! We ended up parking across the river from downtown and walking over the bridge looking at water taxis while jazz wafted up to us. We made our way to the theater just on time and got our goody bags: a bell, a plastic sprig of eidelweiss, a square of curtain fabric, a glow stick, and a popper (for the first time Maria and the Captain kiss). Then we got our instructions about cheering for Maria, barking at Rolff, hissing at the Baroness (although one contingent at the front followed every hiss with “It's not her fault!”) saying aawww at Gretel's cuteness, and yelling, “Liar!” whenever someone tells a fib. Amazing how well I know the lyrics to all those songs. Fun to sing them badly with a theater full of other fans. Hilarious to hear comments: Our favorite audience comment was when Maria was comforting the heart-broken Leisl--”You'll see, you'll fall in love again one day and everything will be wonderful--” Huge audience roar: LIAR! Followed by rolls of laughter. So much fun. Then we walked back across the bridge in the moonlight and drove to our perfectly acceptable little hotel room.
The next morning, we headed to downtown and meandered through the art fair. Blocks and blocks of tents sheltering a wide array of artists. Cool kids' area where we missed Brianna greatly. But someone let Paul make a whirlygig for her and someone else gave us the kit for weaving her own coinpurse. Not actually being kids, we didn't push to do the marbling or clay or tambourines or hats. Didn't even see all of the kid options. It was fun to see all the different art, talk with a few artists, and overhear the conversations between locals: 'I didn't know you wrote—Is this your first book?' and 'I haven't tried your idea yet about painting vegetables—maybe this summer.' We also found an excellent bookstore along the way—In addition to a wide enough assortment of interesting books to make us wish we had hundreds of dollars to spend on books for everyone we know, there was a coffee shop, an art gallery, and a clay studio. Check that off on our list of things that make a city a perfect place to live. We had an amazing local pizza for lunch and headed on through beautiful mountain roads. Really just one of my favorite days ever. Not to mention the sheer joy of spending that much one-on-one time with the love of my life. Sweet.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

On Spiritual Gifts “Tests”

As we have been thinking and talking more about living in the power of the Holy Spirit, of course, the subject of spiritual gifts has come up. Looking back at some of our notes from year's ago, I am amazed by how easily we had skipped gifts of tongues and healing. :) While we feel confident now that there is no single set list of the gifts of the Spirit, I think the questionnaire-type evaluation can be helpful in some situations. Besides, I love filling out questionnaires. So I found one that had a very broad list and looked at it. I haven't actually completed it or submitted it, but I feel like I learned a lot through the process of answering the questions.
1.After 13 ½ years of marriage, it is sometimes hard to tell where Paul's gifts end and mine begin. There was one statement that I started to give myself a fairly high mark in until I realized with a start that our “ability” in that area is really Paul's. As for me alone, I had to score a zero. This discovery was actually not terribly disturbing since I am not me alone. Also, it rather confirms our idea that a marriage is like a micro-church. Since gifts are given for the eqquipping of the Body, it makes sense that we would individually bring to our marriage gifts that equip our joint ministry. Interesting.
2.Also, I recognized as I read various statements that my answer/score would be very different if the statement said , “I do....” instead of “I can ...” Hmmmm.
3.As I finally noted my own hesitance and second-guessing, I realized that I was still answering the quiz from a place of brokenness rather than health. I thought I had become a lot healthier spiritually over the past month, and I still think that's true. It was just a little disarming to realize that there is still so much brokenness that affects me and my thoughts so much. Interesting again. So, I'm not quite sure whether I'm supposed to beg for complete healing and get on with it having put the injuries behind me or whether the truth is that I have to speak from who I am now, carrying that injury rather than pretending I can have the same responses I would have a few years ago. Are the injured responses the ones that God could most effectively use now? Is the answer somewhere in between? Regardless, I feel grateful for the realization that I am not yet “all better”—I hate to walk around not knowing that I'm bleeding.

Friday, June 18, 2010


"if thou of fortune be bereft,
and in thy store there be but left
two loaves, sell one, and with the dole
buy hyacinths to feed thy soul."

I think that was probably the first poem I memorized as a child. I don't remember ever not knowing it. Perhaps that explains a lot.

So a few weeks ago, Paul had to stop at Lowe's to get some house repair stuff. as usual in such stores, I said, "Come find me in the garden area when you're done." As I walked into the garden area, I saw about ten big shelves with a sign that said, "Clearance--All you can pile into a shopping cart for $10." And I spied some petunias, which I had meant to buy this year because they're supposed to help your tomatoes, and some lantana, which is one of my favorites because I remember the flowers that are themselves tiny bouquets from my grandmother's yard. So I pretty much had to go and get a cart. Interestingly, the task of filling the cart brought out two definite parts of my character. The first is the tender-hearted lover of all things living. I just kept thinking, "They're probably going to throw these out tomorrow if they don't sell. I can't stand for them to just be thrown out to die--poor babies." And then this challenge somehow brought out my competitiveness, which I sometimes tell myself does not exist. :) I was going to get the maximum number of plants that I possibly could for that ten bucks. I was going to surprise them with how many plants they would have to give me for my money. Of course, these two characteristics wrestle back and forth because the competitive cheapskate wants to just pile as many plants in the basket as possible, but the life-cherisherer wants to make sure that no single plant suffers any more crushing or damage of any kind. Yes--it took a long time to fill my basket. And of course, the very sad thing is this: Since summer has hit Dallas, I can only physically stand to be outside before 8:30 a.m. Now my summer classes have begun, so I leave the house at 6:30 a.m. Monday thru Friday. So some of the precious plantlings that I saved from death by commercial garbage bin are now slowly dying of thirst and lack of root space while I try to make room for them in the few tiny spots of decent dirt we have.
But . . . I did fit sixty-something plants in that shopping cart.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

reasons #5744 and #5745 that my daughter rocks

5744. Last week, Brianna came in wearing a new-ish skort and said, "Mom--I think since it's getting hot, we should set some limits about the length of my shorts and skorts for the summer. I know that while we're at co-op, the rule is down to the fingertips, but when we're not at co-op, it seems like this length is still appropriate--a couple of inches above fingertip length. Does that seem alright to you?" Me: "I think that is a very appropriate length, and I trust your judgment. You know, I just don't want to see you in short shorts like X wears." Brie: "Oh, mom...there's no way I could ever be comfortable wearing anything like that!"
5745. Also last week, one of our current housemates Rashad had just gotten new dreads. He was sure he'd be able to bribe Brianna to spend time doing the monotonous rolling back and forth that is required to get them started well. So he began, "Hey, Brianna, wanna earn some candy money?"
She pauses from reading and looks up at him: "Why would I want candy money?"
Rashad: Don't you like candy? Wouldn't you like to have money to buy more?
Brie says, "Well, I don't really eat that much candy."
Rashad: Okaay, but there has to be something you'd like to have money for --you're a kid. What's your vice?
Brie: Really, I have plenty of money.
Rashad (turning tome across the room): C'mon, Julie--help me out here. What does she really like?
So Brianna pipes up, "Oh, I really like books. I read several books a day. Books are great."
So rashad says, 'Ah--there we go--wouldn't you like to earn some money to buy more books?'
Brianna: "Why? There really aren't very many books I need to own. Could you take me to the library a few times a week?"
Rashad: Well, no--I don't have a car. There has to be something.
I finally gave in and said, "There are 2 things that motivate Brianna externally--ice cream and old episodes of MacGuyver."
Brianna says, "Oh yeah--those'll work."
Rashad starts in with "oh, I can download you whole seasons of whatever show on my computer."
Brianna says, "There are already about 50 episodes I haven't watched that are available free on-line. Mom just doesn't like for me to sit and watch a lot at one time."
I chime in, "Yeah--no matter what you download--I'm still the mom and I decide how much time she spends on the computer. And I also decide when she gets to have ice cream. I think you're going to be rolling your own dreads."
Rashad sighs and I think: "Yes--I have a daughter who is unbribe-able--except by me!"

I know, I know, the blog has been silent

I am struggling with a season of severe fatigue. Making it through teaching at el centro and some kidcare and homeschool but unable to stay awake more than half of most days. Many blog entries in my head but not enough arm strength/awake time to post them. Going to try for a couple today though.
Animal updates--'cause that's what you're really holding your breath about. Tiny injured kitten Max is very healthy and scampering all over the house. He has managed to charm everyone except the female cats, who don't take to newcomers well. Thought he might bring out their maternal side, but no. And, the sweet chihuahua is no longer with us--She was claimed by her owner. Joyful reunion for them, cloud of sadness for our house. Anybody have a puppy looking for a home?

Sunday, April 25, 2010

One more four-leg

Yea--Some day I'm going to write a blog entry that does not involve the addition of a member to our household. The newest addition is a tiny black kitten with some white markings. We figure it's probably about 5 weeks old. It showed up in our friend Gary's yard with a very hurt foot. We hope to make it to the vet tomorrow, but brie has it eating pretty well--formula form an eyedropper mostly and it lies very close to Brie or me as much of the time as it can.
Two of our three young men that live here start training for census jobs on Tuesday, so that will adjust schedules here a bit. I am gearing up for the last few weeks of this semester with my ESOL classes at El Centro. This time of the semester I am often as nervous as they are to see how they do on final exams.
We are producing an event called Songs of Hope, Stories of Haiti on May 12 at the Backbeat Cafe. I'm really excited since in between some great musicians doing brief sets, missionary Tara Livesay and her daughter Paige will be sharing their own stories from Haiti. Hopefully, lots of funds to support Heartline Ministries in Haiti will result.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Is this the right house?

I flew in from amarillo on Tuesday night and came home to a house that I am still not sure is my house. It's just so much more fun and, well, functional than the house I left. Not a crisis in sight. There were stacks of folded clean laundry in the living room, and no pile of dishes in the sink. The kitchen may not have been clean by my mom's standards, but by our house's experience, it was almost immaculate! Joel was cooking bacon in the kitchen (yum!) and Rashad was cuddling with Henna on the sofa as she wound down with a movie. Brian and Aimee and Emersyn were peacefully asleep. It was kind of freaky. Before falling into bed, I touched base with Joel and Rashad about goals for the next day. Then they headed out to walk both dogs. Ah yes, a new dog in the house, a calm and adorable chihuahua.
Wednesday morning, Others got up to let me rest in a little. In fact, by the time I got up--which I don't think was that late--Joel was already out doing yardwork for a neighbor who had hired him. And Rashad was in the kitchen, cooking up an egg concoction. Later, he went out to help Joel, so they got the work finished. They want to line up some more yards in the neighborhood.
I got into work with time to do extra prep and then had great classes. After class, Paul and Brie picked me up to go to Backbeat Cafe for great music at Trinity Arts Live. When we got home, there was baked salmon and a fancy veggie dish waiting for us. Paul said it was delicious, but I had to wait and have mine for lunch today because I was too tired to chew. Joel was headed out for a walk with little dog and others were settled or settling in peacefully. I could get used to living in a house where things get done and people are nice and good food is served. I can identify several possible causes for this lovely state, but I suspect it is a combination of those and others I can't identify. Mostly I suspect it's grace.

Unsilence post-Lent

Well, apparently the unsilence will continue. I'm hopeful that it will involve less yelling. I yelled at people 3 times during Lent, which is more than I have yelled in the last 10 years put together. But I've come to believe that my silence was in its own way a sin, and you really aren't supposed to pick your sins up again when Lent is over!
As a kick-off for continuing unsilence, I ended up somewhat in the role of family spokesperson during my grandmother's death and funeral this past week. She was 99 years old, had lived a full and serving life and made lots of people laugh. As my African students said, "Oh! 'Tis such a blessing!" Her last little bit was not a high quality of life and we are joyful that she has moved on to her mansion. I cannot possibly say enough good things about The Arbors in Amarillo where she lived for the last few years. What a gracious and loving staff. They were all in and out of her room frequently for the last week just to tell her they loved her, and as soon as her spirit left us, her room was filled with tearful nurses, aides, and others. It is humbling to realize that on a day-to-day basis, that staff will experience her loss more painfully and frequently than I will.
It felt a bit strange to be the one answering questions and making choices and speaking at gatherings since I have always felt like the odd-cousin-out. But Grandma and I bonded a lot when I was in college and beginning to date since she was also beginning to date after almost 20 years of widowhood. And the fact is that I was the one who was able to be there to step up alongside my dad during those few days. I will always be grateful that God --and my most excellent husband-- allowed that. It was a joy to remember and honor so much good and so much fun, and it was also a delight to meet one cousin I had never met!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

And it goes on

So I gave up on getting a lot done yesterday since I really had to be able to show up to teach my classes last night and had to leave at 3 to catch the bus downtown. But I was highly cranky while I was at home. anyway, Paul took an earlier flight that was supposed to get in around 7 but due to thunderstorms actually got in closer to 11. I had planned for Andrea to pick Paul up at DFW then pick me up from work about 8:30 then all head home. So I waited a bit at El Centro, found out he was supposed to get in at 9:40, arranged for Andrea to come get me and take me back to DFW to get Paul, found out that Andrea was stuck at DFW because the car was on empty and he had no cash, called around a bit without locating a ride home, found out the flight was delayed again and figured El Centro would get locked up, lost my last change trying to get a get a drink out of a machine, walked in the rain to catch the bus and overpaid to take the bus ( no change!), was relieved that the rain had stopped for my walk home from the bus, and got home about ten minutes before Paul did. Gratefully, I walked into a living room that I was not sure was ours--Brian and Joel did some amazing cleaning in the living room and kitchen while I was gone. Brian overdid it and can barely move today though.:(
I still need to do floors and will jump into that soon. First, cute Em story of the day: I of course wanted to linger in bed and she did not want to linger in her crib this morning. She asked to get out. I changed her diaper and set her up with milk, bread and this cool creation book that has flannelboard like stuff to put the animals on inside. Fine for a while. then she stood up and said, "Done" in words and sign language. I explained, Oh, but see if you're finished reading that book, you can take all the stuff out of the cool pocket on the front and pput it back in again and take it back out again--that will be so much fun!" She looked at me for a minute, then looked down and lifted her shirt. She --still standing in her crib--started checking her pants for pockets and actually turned in a circle like a dog chasing its tail. Then she shook her head and said, "No ma'am. No pockets." She makes it really hard not to smile.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Managers of Their Catastrophes

Yes, Managers of Their catastrophes--That's the book Brianna and I want to see. Schedule thing blown for today. While we were at homeschool co-op yesterday--on schedule--the toilet at our house got clogged and flooded. The bathroom, the hall, the big girls' room, the kitchen--all apparently an inch or so deep. It only stopped there because Andrea happened to come in from the back and found it. With efforts from Andrea, Aimee, Mike, and Gary (and Paul via cellphone in South Carolina), water was turned off and lots of towels were put down and some stuff was lifted out of the water. Obviously there was a lot to do when we got home. First was trying to work through some of the emotional flooding that the event brought on for people who were around. And the repercussions thereof.(Brian managed to unclog the toilet around 10 last night, I managed to clog it again around 3 in the morning, he managed to unclog it again around 9 this morning . . . )
I got the bathroom floor mopped and really most of the bathroom scrubbed up and some ruined papers and magazines and such thrown out. Then I got the floor in the girls' room dried and mopped, all the dividing draperies they use piled into the huge mound of wet and dirty laundry, and helped Brianna go through all the stuff under her bed to see what was ruined. Thanks to her amazing organized underbed storage--(i know--Whose kid is she?)--very little was damaged. She just had to change out some containers and dry off others. All of the yarn for her knitting project got soaked and went to the trash though. Bummer. I put through about four loads of towels.
Then I was pretty much done in by a coughing spell and ate something and tried to rest for the night, not successfully of course. So today--mopping all the other floors and continuing to push laundry through. Although there is not a pathway evident for the water to have gone there, it also accumulated in the corner behind the piano where a lot of Henna's bedding and stuffed animals were. So moving the piano today too.
Did I mention that both little girls had multiple vaccinations yesterday and are thus--particularly Em--feverish and achy and cranky. Em would be better if I just sat and held her, but that's obviously not happening.
Don't even feel physically capable of walking through the house really--so tired.
So --manage that, somebody. Please.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Not easy

I really have been trying to not be silent, to blog, to have conversations, to communicate, but it has been a struggle. As someone said, "Darn. I should have just given up chocolate." :) My allergies have gone crazy the past ten days. I am up a lot during the night trying to either breathe or just stop the cough for a while, so I am fuzzy-brained all the time. And actually talking out loud for more than one minute tends to set off rounds of coughing. This does not inspire unsilence. But these are of course just things that enable my addiction to isolation. The core of why I don't get together with people or at least blog or e-mail still comes back to my own choice. I am not making good choices in this area. Maybe I should go to time-out. Ooh--my heart thrilled at that notion. Hmmm. Maybe I should go to time-in.
I am ever challenged and inspired in this pursuit of honestly and transparency and vulnerability by the Livesay (Haiti) Blog. Tara is amazing in her openness.
Brianna and I tried a detailed schedule yesterday. (Yes, I ordered "Managers of their Homes.") We got started late due to allergies and alarm clocks apparently turned off by cats, but we still did fairly well. We'll keep working on it.
I so wish Brianna did not have my type A personality, but she does. So we need to learn how to reduce and manage her perfectionism and stress.
Need to pause. My table at homeschool co-op has been co-opted by a bunch of boys with video games. They are not silent.

Friday, March 12, 2010


Already the female struggle to express your own wants rather than simply being polite? At 18 months, really? It appears that we may have over-trained the politeness. When Em starts to kind of whine for something, we say, "Use your words!" She immediately smiles sweetly and both says and signs please. Her pronunciation sounds mostly like "beese." We say please what? What do you want? And she goes through the same angelic smile and double please. And this goes on for a while. I know, some of you are thinking, "Did it ever cross your mind that she might actually want BEES?" Well, yes, but she can't have 'em anyway, so if that's what she's saying, it's easier to just misunderstand.
She also goes ahead and says "tenkyoo" when she reaches for something that she hopes you'll give her. Very optimistic.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

sick enough to stay silent

Some of our friends have labeled 2010 the year of sick. I think that fits our household too--we've already had swine flu, several bouts of stomach flu, several rounds of severe colds, asthma, and various injuries. Bri and I are making it to our weekly homeschool co-op about once every three weeks. Not cool.
And yet . . . so excited that our house church is adding a weekly evening of prayer and praise for Lent. I am so in need of just being in the midst of worship.

Em (18 months) is trying to tolerate my staying in bed more and thus leaving her in her crib longer. This morning, she began with a few whines and the sign for out. She gave up, sat down and looked at a book for a while, then stood again and clearly said, "I want out. Wake up." I said, "Look, you have a bagel and milk and books in your crib. You're fine. I have to rest more." A few more quiet minutes. Then she stood up,made eye contact, and said, "I wanna hug." Amazingly, I resisted, partly fatigue and partly that I don't want to train her to use her adorableness to manipulate. She settled in complainingly for a few more minutes before standing again and saying, "I poopy diapey." And I'm up.

With my incredibly short attention span this lent, most of what I really believe I want to read has gone unread. But I am loving the daily lent posts by Cheryl Lawrie on Several have hit me right between the eyes, but with my theme, I thought I needed to quote this one:

1. she escaped to the wilderness for silence: stillness, tranquility, noiselessness, peace
2. but there the gods kept silence: secretiveness, reticence, taciturnity, uncommunicativeness.
3. she was reduced to silence: speechlessness, wordlessness, dumbness, muteness.

Realizing with dismay that this year it feels easier to plan the easter egg hunt than to be present in Lent for this one day. Makes me feel like I am a stranger to myself.
Scratchy throat is annoying,even when i'm silent.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Subtract one animal, add one human

So Roxes, the dog that Joel saved from being torn to bits by another dog 10 days or so ago, took off a few days ago. We are hopeful that he has returned to the home we felt sure he had somewhere since he was such a great dog. A little less juggling now trying to keep unfixed boy dog roxes away from unfixed girl dog Lilly.
Last night, Andrea moved back in. he is a thirty-something singer/song-writer who has been at college for a while since he last lived with us. Paul did a great job of making a second separate room next to Joel's in the back room.

Spiritually, still don't feel like I'm making much headway out of the deadness. My prayers seem more like business memos to heaven. Except for a few. I am still able to pour out my heart for the people of Haiti and some particular missionary families there, and for my precious daughter Brianna.

Tiny baby steps still out of the silence.

Monday, February 22, 2010


Just so exhausted. fatigue and illness are definitely the enablers of isolation and silence. Rrr. Last night we got in from Treehouse around midnight. Treehouse is always a highlight of my month, but even it was dimmed a bit by my exhaustion yesterday. Still hung with cool people and heard great music and poetry.
Anyway, we unloaded and fell into bed. About which time Em, the 1-year-old, woke up, apparently with painful reflux or something else awful. As I was coming back from getting her medicine from the kitchen, I almost slipped on something wet and discovered a huge puddle of Lily pee in the hall, then look up to see Lily pooping in the hallway. (Fortunately, Lily is the dog, not a kid.) Then she goes to where her leash hangs and poops again. I know you want to blame us and have pity on her --except that Paul had just taken her out 15 minutes earlier! Began clean-up, went back to Em and realized there were no diapers in the house. You have got to be kidding me! Em finally starts to settle down and I walk out in the hall to check on Lily. There I find Brianna crying because Lily has totally torn up her bed and then peed on it too! So I got Bri settled on the sofa with a repentant Lily. We all apparently got some sleep because here we are in the middle of Monday. But not remotely meditative or able to think of personal growth. But I have blogged again. Baby stes. Oh yes, and the P on my keyboard doesn't seem to be working without extra pressure. Baby steps.

Friday, February 19, 2010

what silence?

I've never really been that much of a talker, even before this last phase of silence. I have tended to think carefully before speaking and to do most processing internally before verbalizing anything. Eventually God and others convinced me that I was a prophet and had the obligation as well as the need to speak in many situations. I was still careful, and still frequently begged God to let me off the hook when the speaking was hard. Being a female prophet may be Biblical, but it's definitely not Baptist (in my experience--please don't feel a need to argue this in comments). So little hammers chipped away my voice that way, all hammers who were sure that they were doing the right thing. But I finally became a bit more comfortable in my own voice. I found a tiny core of two other women with whom I could learn how to speak not just God's heart but my own. Encouraged, I began to actually speak my heart unguardedly. For whatever reasons, that turned out to be too much pressure on the relationships. Because I had fought hard to reach that level of vulnerability, I think I tried pretty hard to keep it going. But I just didn't know how. The whole thing had been a new experience for me, so I didn't have any prior knowledge to fall back on. Then it seemed that those I was most open with were telling me again and again how hurtful my words were, how destructive. So I tried less and less to keep talking. Discouraged but still sure there was something in what I had gained that I was not supposed to lose, I even tried to resume relationships with people I had long ago achieved a high level of openness with. And I totally sucked at those efforts too.
I found that I had no words that could heal the people right next to me who were in deep crisis. I did try for as long as I could but I heard from multiple people how wrong my efforts were.
First to go was the phone since I've always had some phone phobia. I completely stopped communicating by phone and let Paul relay all messages, check on people I was concerned about, etc. I realized recently that it's been at least six months since I've e-mailed anyone other than my parents about anything non-logistical or non-business-related. I have tried to keep up with at least occasional teaching at our house church because that's my responsibility, but I have definitely been in the role of teacher rather than prophet, and I have mostly relied on parroting the words of others (although very high quality words). And I have frequently just not been able to show up.
Some time back, I was doing my lectionary study online with the revgals group. I wiped away tears at a few of the current struggles shared briefly amidst sermon title talk and smiled at the warm encouragement given, and I was hit by a warm feeling: Now this is my community. Of course moments later I was chilled by the realization that I have never once posted a word, that I am a lurker there. Ouch. That's a sick concept of community.
I've started calling Paul often on difficult days and saying, "Did you have a flash of inspiration of someone who might help us? I just don't feel like I'm going to make it through the day." And for months, he has continued to say, "I'm sorry honey--I can't think of anybody to ask. Do you need me to take the rest of the day off work?" Which is of course ridiculous, but has occasionally turned out to be necessary.
I've been having dreams fairly often in which Paul and Brianna aren't part of the existing world and I find myself completely alone with no one to talk to or lean on in any way.
So, I'm sure that at least some of you have been wounded, offended, disappointed, or angered by my silence. I'm sorry. It really wasn't about you, and I really didn't feel able to do anything else, but I'm sorry. And I really am working to give my silence up for lent.
(Sigh. Hitting post before I can decide to delete.)

what to give up for lent

So I struggled a bit--or more than a bit-- about entering Lent this year. Often it is a season I delight in, but this year, I just feel exhausted and dead inside. During one of multiple long nights, the thought came to me to give up pastoring for lent. (Weird, i know.) I just feel like I have no resources left to pastor and when I got even more honest I was able to admit that I haven't actually been pastoring for a long time. In the interest of honesty, it seemed like a good idea to just finally say out loud that I'm not able to do this and stop trying to make whimpy little efforts. I hesitated only because it would dump everything in this busy season on my beloved co-pastor and husband. When I talked about this with Barbara and Paul, we had a huge laugh over the t-shirt: "I've given up pastoring for Lent. Don't tempt me." (We generally enjoy making signs like this or even shirts like this. It's most fun of course when you're giving up something like complaining or cussing.) Another night of wrestling and some snippet somewhere about Elijah running away, and I realized the call might be to give up silence for Lent, which also sounds weird because it is a season when many people intentionally seek more silence. But the silence I would be giving up would be my own. In other words, I would have to find my voice again, and use it.
The two seemed to pull in different directions until I wrote that down on paper. Then I heard something that I had been told in the past, and it clarified the unity of the two. Some time ago, exasperated and rejected, I told someone, "Okay, fine. I will stop pursuing a friendship with you." She said, "Is that what you've been doing???? 'Cause I definitely want you to stop what you've been doing." And maybe that's how it is with pastoring: maybe God and my flock would say, "I definitely want you to stop what you're doing, but I wouldn't call that pastoring."
Ah. So it may be difficult to even maintain the illusion of pastoring from the place of silence, particularly if you're supposedly a prophet.