Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Textures and Smells

Sometimes I see little old ladies with grey hair wearing the same kinds of clothes Mom used to wear and I get transported to random moments of being with her. I see her slightly-stooped posture. I smell her favorite perfume (Cotillion by Avon), and I feel her hand reaching for mine – for steadiness or for affection, it doesn’t matter which. 

I never was one to want to wear my mother’s clothes, at least not the polyester pants with the elastic waistbands. There were one or two of her blouses that I might try to commandeer, but it never felt right for me to utilize her wardrobe. It was the stuff of mom-ness, and I was just a child. For so many years, I have been just her child. Now that I have been catapulted into the realm of raising grandchildren that I inherited through my husband, I have skipped typical motherhood altogether and have to navigate the combined realm of parenting and grandparenting the same children all at once. I am often at a loss for how to proceed through this new maze I’ve wandered into, but slipping on a pair of Mom’s socks or one of her hand-painted t-shirts or sweatshirts can somehow make me feel like I know where I am going. She would probably laugh at that, because she did not believe that things held any power. Maybe the only power in it is God using those textures to jog the memories of times when I saw Mom model the loving ways of caring for others. 

I wish opening a bottle of Mom’s old perfume or brushing up against some fine polyester would bring her voice back with answers to any one of my current problems. For now, just know that if you see me asking a little old lady for a hug or inhaling deeply when one walks by, I am not stalking. I am remembering.


Saturday, May 25, 2013

Bound and Gagged

It started with a phone call. Bad things had happened and more were coming. We rushed to be rescuers, but the damage was done. Life as we knew it was gone. 

The changes were huge and came at me quickly. I, who had so much solitude, suddenly was surrounded by others and had no place to hide. I, who was not a mother, was all of the sudden called to mother many. I, who had as a professional helped others through crisis, was suddenly in the middle of crisis. As much as I was prepared to help others through trauma, my own trauma left me feeling adrift. 

And almost immediately I lost my voice. There were no words to write. I could not even form an idea, much less find the words to express it. I used to lay my heart bare on a page and then share it with those travelers who stopped by. Now there was almost too much to share, but I had no voice. 

Had I even still had my voice, it could not be my own anymore. Every one of my words would have a profound effect on those who now wholly depended on me for safety and support. My story was no longer my own. The story of one had become the story of many. There was no way to separate any of us out from the plot line. 

How would I use a voice if I had one? The very ones that I must speak for are also the ones for whom I must also be silent. How would I use my voice for them if it came back? I cannot begin to imagine it.

There are some who view this as a necessary season of silence. Necessary or not, I feel bound and gagged. I wonder when this season will change. How will I recognize it? Will it start with a phone call? 


Monday, April 29, 2013

Post #200

I thought I would never have a family. I would end up living alone, except for a pack of little yappy dogs running around my ankles. I would talk back to the television just to have some company. Junk mail would be welcome just because at least somebody out there knew I was alive, at one point anyway. I would have to remind people of my name, because I was so utterly forgettable. There would be no help in time of need unless it was paid for. 

The only part I got right was the pack of yappy dogs. Instead of my low expectations I have...

...little arms that reach out to hug me...eyes that light up when I walk into a room...voices saying, "I love you" and "I'm glad I have you in my life"...beautiful cards that come in the mail...and boxes of toilet paper anonymously delivered to my house every month...

And now every time I wipe my butt I feel amazingly loved by my God and His people. I never knew that God could show up in the most common everyday things. How awesome.


Linking up with people who live wonderstruck in the everyday.


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Getting Lippy

"Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares." Hebrews 13:2 

The other night our family was reading from Luke 1, where the birth of John the Baptist is foretold. The passage says that John’s parents, Zechariah and Elizabeth, were “righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly.” Yet when Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, tells Zechariah that he will become a father, Zechariah questions him. A man who is seen as righteous in the sight of God back-talks one of God’s angels. That takes real chutzpah. 

I could not get that out of my mind. A priest who was burning incense in the temple getting lippy with an angel. My first thought was that Zechariah should have known better. He had been trained to be reverent. Why would he do such a thing? 

And then God moved His hand over my eyes. Things got a little bit clearer and a voice in my head said, “Haven’t you done such a thing?” What if I have been unaware of being in the presence of an angel? What if I – a woman who is surely unrighteous save for the cleansing blood of Christ – have been in the presence of one of God’s messengers and have been sarcastic, rude, snippy, indifferent, willful, or faithless? Just the thought of some my arrogant behavior made me want to crawl under the table and hide. Who has been watching this? Who have I been getting lippy with? 

The thought of my past behavior in plain sight of God was quite sobering. I have a feeling that I will be much more compassionate towards Zechariah the next time I read Luke 1. I surely cannot cast the first stone. 

Have you entertained an angel? If one appeared to you now, would you believe what he told you? Would you question him like Zechariah?


Thursday, October 18, 2012


So here we are again. It has been so long since we shared this space together. So much has changed. There are so many things I should have told you, but the words have slipped through my fingers. 


I, who have never been a mother, have been told to mother four children. However, I am supposed to always keep in mind that I am not their mother. Being without a mother myself, I am often at a loss when I find myself needing motherly advice about mothering. I need to know how to keep from smothering. 


I don’t hear God, but I know He is there. This could be a comfortable, companionable silence or it could be something else…


My new favorite new phrase is "fractured intentions" (from Still by Lauren Winner). What is your favorite new thing?


Monday, June 4, 2012

A Bad Country Song

Many moons ago, I had a college Speech professor who made everyone in the class answer a "question of the day" before we could move on to that day's lecture/activities. I always thought that hearing all of the different answers was fairly interesting.

The only question I remember after all this time is, "If you had to write a love song, what would you call it?". I don't remember the other answers, even though I recall most of us thinking that the married couple in our class got kind of mushy. However, I do remember my answer. 

My love song would be entitled, "Romance In A Blender". I do not have a way of explaining that now. You just had to be part of my life at that time to "get it". I never specified whether the song would be rock-n-roll, pop, rap, etc. I just knew the name.

For the sake of any small children around, I will not go into specifics on how my life after college began to resemble a very bad country/western song. In so many ways, I was the woman who did some poor ol' cowboy wrong. My redemption song would not be sung for a very long time, even though I had accepted Christ into my life as a young girl. 

I don't actually remember what triggered these memories today, but as I was thinking about it all, I wondered what the current title for a song about my life might be. This is what I came up with: "Some Families Are Blended, But We're Pureed". 

Do you have a song title that would describe part of your life? Please do share.


Once again I am joining up with Jen and the rest of the Soli Deo Gloria Sisterhood over here. Why don't you come see what the rest of the girls have going on?


Friday, May 25, 2012

We Need A Hoot!

Many of you know that my husband and I have a very, very full house right now. For the uninitiated, we have my father, our youngest son, my sister, and my brother-in-law filling up all of our rooms. There are also ten dogs involved (we run two separate packs and never the twain shall meet). 

This is, of course, the type of situation that requires creativity and humor to survive. So far, God has blessed abundantly with both. I pray that He continues to do so.

A little ritual that my sister and I have developed to keep a positive, humorous outlook is giving our household new "mottoes". When we first all converged together and were trying to develop a workable family dynamic, our motto was simply, "Go team!". Whenever one of us did something helpful for the rest of the group, my sister and I would throw up our hands and yell, "Go team!"

Some mottoes have been so fleeting that I don't remember them. However, I do remember that we say, "that should be our motto" quite a lot. The day my sister was telling me about a show she and her husband watched about dumb criminals, our motto was "brilliance abounds". Imagine us saying that with plenty of sarcasm.

Today I was telling my sister - who has still not found gainful employment - about a job listing on Craigslist that seems to be a good match for her Human Resources background. The job happens to be in the music industry (which as the wife of a former DJ, she really loves). She looked at me and used that tried-and-true Southernism: "Wouldn't that be a hoot?" My answer was, "Yes, and we could use a hoot right now!". So for the next few hours, at least, our motto is, "We could use a hoot!". 

I desperately hope that God is listening. I do not know why His plan seems to include our whole family's finances becoming more and more precarious. While a job in the music industry would definitely be a "hoot", at this point a job in plastic-mushroom farming would be a "hoot" for several of us. We aren't trying to get rich. We just want to pay all of the bills. 

So if you think about it, please lift us up in prayer. All you have to tell God is that my family needs a hoot. He'll get the joke. 


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

My Soundtrack

Since I was very young I have watched musicals - plays and movies. I have sung along with the Seven Dwarfs, The Bee Gees, Kenny Loggins, The Beach Boys, and The Smiths. ("You've Gotta Get A Gimmick" from Gypsy just started playing in my head. Oops.) For a very long time, I hoped that when I finally "arrived" in life that my very own soundtrack would start playing for everyone to hear. So far, the music is only in my head. 

Music is really the only poetry that I consistently like, and I find a certain type of quirkiness in the parts of the verse that stick with me. Most of my favorite songs are mainstream, because I have never put forth effort to go find the independent and lesser-known artists. I was angst-ridden enough as a teenager that you would think I would have raged against anything mainstream and "conformist", but I didn't. I was lazy, so I just took what came across my path and collected up the parts that caught my fancy.   

As I've gotten older, I've come to appreciate more the warnings I received as youngster about being careful with what ideas I put into my head. There are things that I will never be able to un-see, un-hear, un-smell, or un-feel. I cannot ever completely undo the damage. The music I listen to falls under that warning, doesn't it?

Even as I have been sitting here typing, a friend has sent me a daily email that she subscribes to. The title for today's email is "Sing A New Song". Here is an excerpt:
What are you speaking; what are you singing? Are you singing songs of self-pity, gloom and doom or songs of joy, peace and love? The choice is yours. Speak out to others in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, offering praise with your voice and making melody with all your heart to the Lord (Eph. 5:19) You begin by loving the Lord your God. Choose to be joyful in him and be in high spirits. If you are feeling down, if circumstances are holding you in depression, if you are in the midst of a trial choose to sing a new song to the Lord, and your feelings will be lifted, and you can go on your way holding your head high because the joy of the Lord is your strength. Praise goes before victory!
I will freely admit that I do not always follow that advice. There are many things that I feel - dark, melancholy emotions - that I do not find expressed in Christian music. I'm not saying that it isn't there. There are heavy metal and rap Christian artists that might have expressed some of these things, but in my laziness, I have not gone looking. It's much easier for me to listen to songs link "Coming Undone" by Korn. That song captures the complete inner chaos I experienced right after Mama died. But if "as a man thinketh, so is he", what am I doing to my heart by listening to music like that? What if my inner soundtrack is hurting me?

What is your inner soundtrack? Do you make a conscious effort to control what you are listening to?


Once again I am joining up with Jen and the rest of the Soli Deo Gloria Sisterhood over here. Why don't you come see what the rest of the girls have going on?


Monday, May 7, 2012

A High Class of Problems

Many years ago, someone said to me, "I have a higher class of problems these days." I did not immediately understand that comment. I was very sure at that time that my problems were dreadful and dire. What could be worse than the fact that I was suffering? What a melodramatic diva I was...

Today, I do understand that I have a higher class of problems. I have learned to be more grateful for what I have. I have come to understand that many people have far worse problems than I and that I should show them compassion and help when I can. Even so, I end up stressing out and loosing all sense of proportion sometimes. For example:

*Myself and several family members have found ourselves unemployed or under-employed. We are all squeezed together in one house trying to weather the storm safely. What do I end up stressing about? Whether I should use the green purse or the red purse (I picked red, in case any other divas care).

*My "adopted" son in Rwanda (sponsored through Compassion) has no way to refrigerate his food. What do I end up stressing about? The grocery store did not have my brand of yogurt and this other brand "tastes funny". (We have two refrigerators, by the way.)

* I worry about having to get rid of our extra car. I worry about having to wear sandals without a pedicure. I worry about not having money to buy more books when I have about 50 of them sitting here that I still haven't read. 

Yes, I have a high class of problems. Lord, deliver me from myself before I hurt someone with my whirling mass of ingratitude.

Thoughts, anyone?


Once again I am joining up with Jen and the rest of the Soli Deo Gloria Sisterhood over here. Why don't you come see what the rest of the girls have going on?


Thursday, May 3, 2012

My Anorexic Blog

I am hungry for words. Ravenous. But I won't let myself have them. And so my poor little blog is starving to death. 

What would happen if I would just allow myself those words? Would my blog be too "fat" or "heavy"? Would it not look as lean and healthy as other blogs? What if my words do not look as good as some others? Would it matter to anyone but me that I somehow failed in the comparison? Does it matter?

And so my "art" imitates my life and becomes disordered... maybe there is some clinical diagnosis for not allowing yourself to write. Or maybe I am just thinking too hard.

Poor little starving blog. You need some words.