She said I’m the kind of mom who

Doesn’t know what to do

In these situations.

I looked at her hard then and

Looked away at the crying baby with the

Bleeding  hand  and the sister

Who shouldn’t have to be mama too

And the other three staring up at me

And I judged, hard.

There are many things I understand

But a mama who is useless isn’t

One of them.

I wiped and bandaged and comforted

Except for her, who I could not

look at or speak to

after that declaration.

They all recovered but later,

 my head hurt

From the questions I couldn’t ask

and the answers that are impossible –  

Why would a woman work so hard

At producing so much

of what she can’t care for? 

How do you avoid learning

With such an abundance of

opportunity?  And

How does it feel to hurt but

remain untouched

 by the one who brought you

to the dance?

We visited another church today; what else is new?  This one was “happy clappy” as our Irish friends would say. Meaning charismatic, only in this case, it truly was only a lot of clapping, movin’ and groovin’. Even the pastor did a bouncy jump up and down like-you’re-at-a-rock-concert thing. Of course, I was standing next to ‘Stick’ and ‘In the Mud’, otherwise Known as my family members.  So I kept it under control.

Friendly people. Good band. Didn’t recognize any of the choruses. Not a pew Bible nor hymnal to be seen anywhere. Nor a cross, for that matter. Which is oddly dissonant with the welcome packet handout that described “impassioned orthodoxy” as a chief descriptor of the church planting organization that is behind this church. Oh well. I wasn’t bothered; just couldn’t help noticing.

Afterwards, our lunch conversation centered around the fact that we have visited thirty gazillion churches in this town and we could not think of a ONE that had a service under 90 minutes.  A moment of silence for all those long-suffering nursery and children’s church workers! Wow.  In this one respect, my husband would be happy to find a radical departure from the norm.

Next week, Presbyterian. Hello, pipe organ and one hour service. Meet my family – they are so happy to see you.

If you build it………………..

 

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THEY

 

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Just might come!!

 

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Finally, I have an excuse for the closeness I’ve always felt with Kevin Costner.

The dream, the work, the spending of frivolous dollars , the passion for something bigger than oneself,

 the lemonade shared with James Earl Jones………………we did it!!  Begone ye 

scoffers, pessimists, and ne’er do wells……………

Bring on the monarchs, baby!

Request from a 16 year-old girl:

I will be driving to ____________ so can I have a parking permit?

My car tag # is __________ and my car is a 2006 red VW bug.

Thank you.

Dear 16 year-old Girl:

No, you may not have a parking permit because your car is 8 years newer than mine, is way cuter than mine, and is my favorite color. My car is white and your grandma wouldn’t be seen in it.  I have a master’s degree and have been working almost all of my life since I was 14, and I  have had only one even semi-sporty new car one time only, and by then I was in my 20’s and working full time.

When I was 16  I was working and going to college and high school. And paying for my own clothes. Because my dad would not. When  I got a car, my dad did co-sign for me, but that was the extent of his support.  I made every payment myself. And paid the insurance once I turned 18. And put all the gas in it.

I am glad to know you but you just happened to send me this request the same week my old car’s  door lock stopped working on the driver’s side, along with the remote keyless entry. The remote keyless entry was my favorite thing about my car. It helped me cope with other shortcomings. Your note has caused me to require repentance for the mean thoughts I’ve been having since I read it. Could you not have timed it better? I’m going on vacation in a couple of weeks; you could have sent it then.

I really like you and I’m sure I’ll get over this and get you a parking permit. Probably. In the meantime, I need you to hug your car every day and tell it how much you love it, how lucky you are to have it, and how undeserving you are. Because, trust me – you are. 

Best wishes,

Longsuffering Worthy Person

Last night I attended a church service in which the guest speaker was billed as a “prophet”. As I had never attended a non-pentecostal church that would host a “prophet”, I was naturally eager to attend. I’ll admit it – my motives were mixed. Of course I desire a life and a manner that reflect the work of the Spirit; but I also was dying to see how the priest would handle it if things got wild.

I am into the Spirit, but I’m all OVER the topic of leadership, and I figured this might turn out to be a demonstration of how a good leader can rein in a rogue speaker. It’s a skill that could come in handy sometime. At work, I present trainings with other speakers and I’ve dealt with a few colleagues who stray a bit from my carefully scripted and time-detailed agenda. But to have the courage to hand over the podium to someone who might not only start a rabbit chase of a story, but shout it in an unknown tongue, or who might approach an audience member and demand that the demon leave his body, well, that’s freaky courageous in my book. I absolutely couldn’t wait to see how it would be handled in this staid place.

The speaker was like others with similar beliefs to whom I’ve listened, meaning that the filling of the Spirit, in my experience, can make one “rough around the edges”.  It seems the Spirit is not James Bond smooth, but rather a cross between Homer Simpson and Andy Griffith. For example, when she got to the part of the evening to start calling people forward to pray or prophesy over them, she didn’t point and call them; she said “Sister Yellow Shirt, come on up here, quickly”! or “Brother Beard, come here”!  I found that a bit  irreverent. It didn’t help that some people apparently display the filling of the Spirit by laughing, and Sister Yellow Shirt and Young Man Directly Behind Me were chuckling from the get go. I didn’t know if they were laughing *at* her or *with* her, but it didn’t seem to matter to Sister Prophet. 

By the way,when Sister Yellow Shirt went forward and received prayer, she ended up lying on the floor and stayed there the entire 2 hours and 45 minutes.  I was thinking SYS was one smart cookie. Or very filled with a restful spirit. Either of which made me admire her. I am not the one to laugh out loud at a speaker in church and then lie on the floor and take a nap; I’m the one who got in trouble, along with my mom and brother, for getting a case of the giggles in church, thereby making my dad angry all through lunch – and yes, I remember it 35 years later. I get away with NOTHING! But not SYS; she was cozy as could be; they put a blanket over her, while I sat there cold but trying not to cross my arms across my chest and thereby send out a negative vibe to either Sister Prophet or the Spirit. I want to believe, Lord help my unbelief!

The speaker sang a bit, and her voice was beautiful, but then she let it drop that the CD we were listening to was one she recorded on a studio visit where God had given her and the band all the music and songs the day they showed up to record. She didn’t even know the words, she had to learn them afterwards. Okaayy, but hey, that melody sounds just like one of the Disney princess ballads, and I wonder if she was watching The Little Mermaid or Pocahantas before she left for the studio? Is it wrong of me to sit here and think that if God is going to provide you with music and lyrics, He would create something completely new? And if not, and He uses Disney themes sometimes to provide a melody, how does He feel about some Christian groups who have denounced Disney for providing benefits to gay couples? I am so easily distracted, it saddens me.

Since the priest chose to let things ride and there was to be no sudden clever tide change, I spent the time torn  between trying to keep my mind pried open long enough to acknowledge the beauty in some concepts presented (speak life into your family, speak Jesus into your children) on the one hand, and on the other hand, thinking how some of the prophecies were so general as to remind me of people who say they get messages from the dead and then proceed to tell you something very generic like “I see a loss”, when we all know good and well any woman over 15 has had some kind of loss that just about killed her or felt like it would.

I hate that I am so analytical sometimes and I sit and wonder what I’ll do if she calls on me and wondering if she does, how she’ll do it. Please oh please God don’t let it be “Sister Needs to Lose 50 Lbs, Come Here”!. Unless she can speak weight loss into me……but she’s not thin; she’s bigger than me. So I don’t think that’s an option.

I wonder, does the fact that I would sit here and ponder whether this lady could say something in an unknown language over me like “God take away all her fat and make her never want to eat one bite more than her body needs AMEN!” and it could work mean that I need serious therapy?  Or is that the beam of my little bitty faith shining through?  I can’t say for sure, but I trust the Spirit will eventually tell me. With an original melody and lyric. Please.

 

 

 

 

You know I just love this………….

and this……….

and this too………..

<

But this?


And this?

And especially THIS?

They make me ill. A gardener’s work is never done.
Time to kill things.

Buying a bathing suit for a teen or almost-teen girl is never easy.
But buying a bathing suit that is bigger than a sandwich bag, under $50, and still appreciated by the girl who will wear it is a task akin to
putting on the suit yourself and swimming the English Channel (which is not easy, I just read a great book about the subject).

I have one daughter, my THIRD, still living at home – Sweet Baby WAS her nickname. And I have one last, very last, precious, everlasting, persevering, God-Bless-It, nerve. The daughter, the bathing suit, and the nerve recently occupied the same time and space in my brain and they were not happy roommates. Toilet paper was not replaced, old pizza was left on the floor, there was pouting, oh, the pouting! Not pleasant.

Because this wasn’t enough of a challenge, circumstances dictated that the bathing suit must be purchased quickly and without the physical presence of the daughter formerly known as Sweet Baby. The only alternative was a late night trip to the mall and I’d rather traumatize her for life by sending her naked to swim or sending her in an ugly suit than go to the mall in the evening after a full day of work and shop for something contentious like a bathing suit. Seeeeriously. I did mention I have raised two other daughters, right? I didn’t fall off the turnip truck yesterday. Stressful as it is to buy the bathing suit under these circumstances, the stress of a late night mall trip when you’re desperate is the stress that eventually kills you at a young age and everyone wonders what happened.

The good news is that though it took 3 separate lunch hour trips to various stores and 2 returns, in the end there was VICTORY!! This purchase should be in the Mom Olympics. I would have won the gold. It was THAT good.

The mountaintop and the valley, all in a day’s work……. Yesterday’s work ‘high’? Receiving an an annual evaluation from my supervisor that could not have been better. Yesterday’s work ‘low’? Receiving a very sincere and serious complaint from someone that her coffee mug was “stolen” from the break room, causing her to ask “Can’t we DO something ABOUT this?” , in the same tone that most people would reserve for oh, let’s see – maybe for conversations about starving children or homelessness. In my work, I often encounter the flip side of some very good people. And sometimes the contrast is a bit much to take.

I used to have this little saying stuck to my fridge: A woman with many children was asked which one she loved the most. Her reply? “Whoever needs me most at the moment”. It’s a struggle for me to think of the person behaving selfishly as a child of God who is most in need of Him at that moment, but I know it’s true.

Then to make the connection that I am the conduit He has chosen for His love to THAT person who I only want to get away from………well, it’s startling when I realize that responsibility, and it doesn’t surprise me any less no matter how many times it hits me. Because I don’t have that kind of grace to extend. But He does. And so I accept and extend it from Him to that other person. Because in the end, the evaluation I want is “well done, good and faithful servant”.

Like most everyone, I have not always gotten exactly what I wanted in life. Of the things I had any control over, I’m at maybe 75%. Which isn’t bad. I’ve noticed lately that the things that haven’t turned out the way I wanted have a strange way of becoming easier to accept as I get older. I wonder if that is because I am wiser with experience, or if it is because I am more tired with a little age, and don’t have the energy to protest? Either way, it’s a blessing. God’s novocaine – acceptance.

It can still be hard at times. In situations with family, work, church, I want to tell people what to do and have them do it and see that I was right. But for the most part, I am aware that I did a thorough enough job of expressing my opinion so that there is no confusion on either of our parts about what I would prefer. It is not a matter of repeated telling; it is a matter of the choices of individuals and loving them enough to continue loving when the choice differs from mine. Not easy; but it helps that I am beckoned: Come to me all ye who labor and are heavy burdened and I will give you rest. Not “go to them”, but “come to Me”. That is acceptance, rest, peace.

This book. Oh my, this book.
This book wrapped around my brain and sent out tentacles.
It was not a good time to be consumed. I needed my brain quite a lot for work;
it’s one of the busiest times of the year for me.
I don’t know what’s worse – the fact that it is 820 pages, or that the subject matter
is deeply thought-provoking, or that the writing is so well-crafted that each page is
a lesson in story-telling.

I’m not saying there weren’t a hundred pages or so that could have been left out. Well……
maybe 50. Or that I enjoyed all of the technical jargon related to the space program.
But the author picked me up and dropped me on an air base in Canada in the 1960’s.
She made me read when I was sleepy, when I was hungry, and when I was running late.
I was not here. I was there. And like most really good books, 24 hours later, I haven’t quite
recovered and I’m still recovering fragments of myself from the story and fragments of the story from
inside of me.
Now I am in that strange place of not having a backup book ready to go. I just couldn’t think about getting another one ready before finishing this one. I was in love with that book. And I still love it, even though I read the cover right off it and it left me without a happy ending. Even though it had some dark stuff and some real stuff that I’d rather not think about. Now it’s over and I’m alone. Time to go looking for book love on the rebound. This time I want to smile and not think too hard. My brain has been “rode hard and put up wet” as my mama would say.

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GREAT QUOTES THOUGHT STREAM

"A biography of any literary person ought to deal at length with what he read and when, for in some sense, 'we are what we read.'" --Joseph Epstein, quoted in Proust and the Squid, by Maryanne Wolf ******************************************
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