Monday, June 20, 2011

Three, a birthday blessing

Three is so big,
So much bigger than two
And the world is so full
Of new things to do.

I wish you bubbles and markers
And a trip to the zoo,
Good books and a garden
And pretty new shoes.

I wish you sunshine
And nights of good sleep.
I wish you edamame
And other good stuff to eat.

I wish you music
And a big space to dance,
Kittens and patience
And life not left to chance.

I wish you the sweetness
You've had from the start.
I wish for Jesus
To be at home in your heart.

So many people love you--
Way more than you know--
But bigger than all that
Is how God loves you so.

He's always taken care of you,
And I trust Him to today.
I know He holds you in His hands
While you sing or sleep or play.

Oh yes, three is so big,
So much bigger than two,
And the world is so full
Of new things to do.

But God's love is biggest--
You already know.
He's already there
Wherever you go.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Easters past

So I've been thinking a bit about past Easter sunrise (or sometime after) services with our little community. It seems like we have ended up with one particular sentence that kind of summed up each. Last year was: "If you can't count on dead people staying dead, what can you count on?" I may mix the order of others a bit. One was "Christmas is about God with us (Emmanuel), but Easter is about God in us (the hope of glory)." I think that was the year Emma painted a sun for us to hang in our living room since it was snowing at the lake. Before that: "Who are you in the Easter story? Maybe you're the rock." And before that: "Our God does impossible things--let's act like it."
And this Easter . . . is still a few weeks away.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

pecanning again

It is spring break, and I am blessed to get to spend at least a chunk of it harvesting pecans! Hooray! (Truly no sarcasm there.) I am realizing that perhaps one reason this seems such a right thing to do during Lent is that I spend most of the time on my knees. And I know that most people say they can't do that because of back issues or knee issues, but I think the part of us that extended time in this position most hurts is our pride. It is definitely a worker's position and one of submission. While I feel a bit achey in back and legs in the evenings, the only spot of my body that really hurts is my left wrist. This is actually quite telling. I constantly lean on my left arm in order to reach with my right hand to grab that "one more pecan" that is slightly out of reach. Regardless of the fact that I will in moments move my little boogie board forward (where they would easily be in reach), I cannot seem to stop the urge to lean and reach--just a few more.
I am reading one of Nouwen's books called "Reaching Out." The firs third is about solitude. There's something to make you say Hmmmm. ( I have sadly just revealed to a handful of you just what a big fan I was of a certain late night talk show when I was in college.) Now, I find myself surrounded by things that make me say Hmmmm. I don't think the world is more full of Hmmm-worthy stuff. I think I am more capable of Hmmmming.
I recall very clearly during those college years a single line spoken by the Holly Hunter character in Broadcast News. (Can't tell you anything else about that movie at all.) She has just made a rather strong suggestion about how to fix a problem and someone looks at her and says, "It must be nice to know better than everyone else in the world." She says, completely serious, "No, it's awful." I totally identified with that line for years.
One of the joys of getting older is knowing that you know very very little, and not being worried about that. Knowing everything is not my job. And on the days when it feels like it is, I have to admit that I'm sure it is not a task God assigned me. Which begs the questions, Who did assign me that task, and why am I taking assignments from them anyway?
Long enough inside though--back to my knees with the trees.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Ash Wednesday Again

Here we are at the beginning of Lent again. How life can change in a year.
I'm not giving up silence this year. I'm giving up the guilt about how much solitude I need at this point in my life. I'm also giving up TV for Lent, which is kind of funny since we are such non-TV people around here. I'm not against all TV as entertainment--I'm against mindless drivel, trash, time waste, and addiction. I hadn't watched much TV for quite a while before I realized that I can watch what I want to at the time that's convenient for me (i.e., when I have to be in bed resting anyway) online. A couple of years of life with toddlers destroyed my attention span for full-length movies--a gift, I'll add, that was absolutely 100% completely worth that destruction! Last year, I started watching 3 shows regularly (One has been canceled and one's fate is yet to be determined). Then as I've been sick a lot the past few months, I realized that has gone up to about 8 or 9 shows that I pretty much keep up with. Less good. But my two abstinences are connected because I realize that while I have been taking more time alone (My current tolerance for time with people seems to be a period between 2 and 3 hours these days.), I feel so guilty about choosing to be alone rather than with people that I escape by focusing my attention on something far from me--like a good story on a TV show. Thus, I still haven't been getting the actual solitude that my heart was starving for. Sounds stupid now, but that's part of the point of Lent, right?--realizing that our pacifiers aren't giving us any nourishment.

One of the twenty-somethings living with us asked me the other day: "So are you the kind of person who says little things all along out of frustration and anger, or are you the kind of person who saves it all up for one big explosion?" Uhmm, no. Raised eyebrows. I'd never really explained this side of who I am before, so it was actually good to put it into words: I'm the kind of person who believes that words matter, that words have power. So I'm the kind of person who will use all my self-control to try not to let harmful words enter the world through my mouth. That's an aspect of silence I'm not giving up.

Thursday, February 24, 2011


I just want to harvest pecans. All the time. Until it is too dark to distinguish them from the dirt and leaves. And then I can sit in the lit garage and sort them, separating what will go to the sheller from what will serve a different purpose: composting into fertile soil. I do not see a single pecan as waste, not even those still undeveloped and encased in a hard clingy black outer shell. I feel productive. I occasionally pause to savor the meat from a shell that is already cracked. And I feel fortunate. And I do not want that tender richness to lie ungathered. So I pick up another pecan. And another. I don't know how to decide, “Oh—this is where I will stop. I will put this pecan in my bucket but not that one to its left and not that one by my foot. They are fine too, but I am going to walk away now with my full bucket and have some lunch. And I will leave those fine pecans on the ground.” It feels difficult to leave them there, but not painful. I don't feel guilt for my choice. This is perhaps why I want to stay in this field doing this forever—I cannot do damage here. With their unique stripe patterns, the pecans are beautiful. Some of the lighter ones make me think of fragile bird eggs. Gratefully, they are not fragile. (Not like people.) I can do something worthwhile—by carrying the good food from the ground to the table. But I cannot do harm—If I miss a lovely pecan and leave it for the birds, if I mistakenly pile one empty old shell in the bag with all the full healthy pecans, if I step too heavily and crush a nut into bits, I will not cause harm. Moreover, the pecans, their trees, the wind—they are all comfortable with my silence, unoffended by it, unhurt by it, not even the least bit disrupted by my wordlessness. Most places that feel this safe do not offer opportunity for me to give anything at all to the world from my protective cocoon. But this is different. Here I can carry one pecan after another after a thousand from the gentle but unappreciative ground to the table where they will find their way into hungry mouths and delicious pies. Here I can feel safe and still make the world a little better as I go. No wonder harvesting pecans is addictive to my soul.

Monday, January 31, 2011


I actually had the thought this evening as I was packing up to go home after my classes: I feel so sorry for all the people who did not get to spend the last hour with my writing class. Really. I am so blessed.

Saturday, January 29, 2011


"It is flawed and fleeting, and sometimes it is work to love it.

And maybe in the work of loving it is the greatness."
--DaMomma on life as mom


I realized today that Saturdays are hard now. In a different way. They used to be hard because we were trying to prep for church spiritually and clean the house for church and do necessary errands and we were pretty much guaranteed to hang with a little kid or two for the day. Now, I wake up when I wake up on Saturdays, not when a little voice gets me up. I look at the day ahead and it looks comparatively empty. Not that I feel any boredom, and not that there aren't millions of things on my need-to-do list. It's just crazy different. I step into the hallway and glance toward the living room, immediately aware that only light cleaning is needed to prep it for church. The days of trying to shovel our way through toys and various other things to just find the sofas have passed. Even before cleaning, the living room looks fine. Really. Probably part of the lack of mess is due to the fact that I haven't learned how to live in those front rooms again yet. I still find myself doing almost everything in that same little spot on my bed. I have forgotten what all that space is for. The space in the house, the space in the Saturday.
One morning this week I suddenly became aware of the reason that the other half of our bedroom is piled with huge stacks of everything under the sun. The boxes and books and papers and clothes are all there for one reason: Em's crib isn't there. This is true not just in that sense that unoccupied space draws clutter like a magnet
but also because I have not been able to bear the obvious absence of the crib. Of course, we had been planning for the crib to move out for quite a while, but I realize now that all of my plans for rearranging the room still involved making a sleeping space for Em somewhere in there, just without the cumbersome crib. Thus, the piles of junk have been more comfortable to deal with than an Em-less rearrangement or worse yet--an empty space--would be. So I am no longer thinking in terms of clearing everything out of those piles or rearranging our room. I'm just going to try, a few times each day, to put five or ten things away from those piles. Baby steps.
My hope is just a habit.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

As usual, great thoughts from David Lose at this week:
"When I was in graduate school, one of my teachers, Dr. Cleophus LaRue, would regularly address me as "Dr. Lose." Eventually it made me uncomfortable enough that I said to him, "But Dr. LaRue, I haven't earned my doctorate yet. I don't think you should call me that." "Dr. Lose," he patiently responded, "in the African-American church we are not content to call you what you are, but instead call you what we believe you will be!" Blessing. Unexpected, unsettling, nearly inconceivable, yet blessing nonetheless.
So here's the question I am left with this week, Working Preacher: What would it be like just to bless the congregation. To tell them that God loves and adores them, that God wants the very best for them, that God esteems them worthy of not just God's attention but God's blessing.
Whatever we do, we need to think hard about how to help people hear and believe that they are blessed because, as Dr. LaRue knew, we become what we are called, and calling our people blessed will over time transform them to be God's blessing in and to the world."

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

birds of a feather

You know how being surrounded by sleeping cats makes you think it's exactly the right thing to sleep all day? I think I have that kind of misguided connection with characters in the books I'm reading sometimes. If I'm reading about a writer who scribbles poetry down on napkins, that behavior suddenly seems so much more "normal" than usual. So I'm thinking it is not a good thing that the main character in the fluff novel I'm reading on the bus is a 16-year-old-girl who is excluding people from her life one by one (for their own safety of course). At least I wrote it down. Good news is that I'll be done with this book tonight. Maybe I need to choose the next bus fluff more carefully, given my tendency toward over-identification with characters.

1,2,3,4, Really?

I was counting out copies of a worksheet for my class and got this song stuck in my head: "1, 2, 3, 4 monsters knockin' at the door." Yes, Feist via Sesame Street. I promise we have not played that youtube clip once since Emersyn left in November. And yet . . .

Sunday, January 23, 2011

What happened to the UNsilence?

I know. Looks a lot like silence around here. And I'm not making any promises to be less silent. I feel like I may be moving into a cocoon for some transformation, and cocoons are pretty quiet.
Emersyn the two-year-old who was sharing our room, moved out with her family in late November. Thus, no cute Em stories to post. I still miss her every day, but I have gotten past the point where I burst into tears every time I hear a toddler cry or have to redirect my shopping cart away from its habitual path toward the diaper aisle. Who knew NOT buying diapers could make you cry? But I know that I still walk around with a gaping hole near my heart.
I still have a full and incredibly blesses life. My 12-year old daughter is one of the most creative and open-hearted people I have ever known. As I sit silently hidden away in our room, I can hear my remarkable husband having theological conversations with whichever twentysomethings are around at the same time that he paints walls and washes dishes. My classes at El Centro Community College made and are--as usual--filled with delightful students from a huge spectrum of backgrounds. I feel so fortunate to still have both of my precious parents just a few hours' drive away. Our twentysomething guys seem to be making positive steps forward in their lives. The people who I am privileged to be church with locally are amazing.
But still, the cocoon calls.