Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Recent strangeness

In the lunchroom today I waited for my soup to warm up in the microwave. Facing the microwave, holding my spoon, thinking about mom always saying not to stand in front of the microwave and wondering what it was doing to me at that very second, I overheard a comment at the table behind me.

“I just wish the sun would come up once a month as a black light.”

Say what?

And then…
“Think of what that would do to your teeth.”

I decided I should maybe snag my soup sooner rather than later and leave. Maybe there’s something to those microwave warnings!

At JoAnn’s last Friday night (that’s how I spend my Friday nights), I waited in line to get my fabric cut. The woman next to me—in all seriousness—asked if she could ask me a question. Sure. “If you were poison ivy, which color would you be?” And she held up two glittery hues of green. I pointed to the dark one assuredly. She said, “yup, me too.”

And I wondered why I opted for the darker green? Why not the lighter one? I probably wouldn't have gone glittery either way. And more importantly, how the heck is she going to dress up like poison ivy for Halloween?

On that same trip to JoAnn’s, and in fact, at the same counter, the woman cutting my fabric was incredibly grandmotherly and friendly—exactly what you’d expect a woman cutting fabric at JoAnn’s in the Midwest to look and act like. She pushed her glasses a bit further up on her nose and suddenly exclaimed that there was a new movie out that day and she really wanted to see tomorrow. I asked which movie, thinking it was probably Nicholas Sparks’ latest tearjerker or perhaps a cartoon for her grandkids? Instead, she excitedly and proudly said “JackAss, you know, the 3D version!”

Yesterday on the way to work I saw a cop car and a regular car pulled over on the shoulder. One naturally thinks the cop pulled someone over and would be at the regular car’s driver-side front window taking information. Except this particular cop was sitting in his car, and regular guy in baseball cap and Vikings jacket/black jeans (what else would he be wearing, really?) is standing at his window, chatting him up.

Huh?

I promise a more meaningful, thought-provoking post next time.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

What's the scuttle, butt?

A friend of mine is a teacher, and she recently used the word “scuttlebutt” in telling me a story about her kids.

I have to be honest. I got stuck (which I’m prone to doing) on that one word and didn’t go any further with my friend’s story…my mind wandered. Did she say shufflebutt? Is that the right word? How is it spelled? I suddenly thought of Ariel, from Little Mermaid using a dinglehopper (a fork as a comb). And then I recalled that it was her friend Scuttle who pointed out to her what a dinglehopper was. So, did my friend say scuttlebutt? But then my mind jumped back to shufflebutt, and I got an image of a bunch of highschoolers doing a dance down the hallway…you know, the shufflebutt. (People, this is how my brain works! Scary! Why can't I just follow my friend's story like a normal person?)

So, I had to look the word up. Shufflebut? Scuttelbutte? How is this thing spelled and how should it be used? Where did it come from?

Well, it is, in fact, scuttlebutt. Its initial definition was from the late 1700s and meant an open cask of drinking water that was used for sailors on a ship. Then with time, the word’s meaning transformed; it became “gossip” or “rumors,” because that’s what sailors shared around the cask of drinking water—the scuttlebutt.

Ok, friend. Sorry. I’m good now. Continue your story. What were your kids doing a few days ago?

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Garments of love

For class I just read the book of Genesis in its entirety in one sitting. It took me more than three hours, and when I was done, I wanted to go for a run and cleanse my mind of the dirty soap opera! When you only read chapters or verses of Genesis at a time, you miss out on the oh-so-tangled web that the patriarchs of Genesis wove. Woah! Like one of my classmates said, “If we had to provide therapy to that family today?! That is one messed up family system.”

But reading the book in its entirety also made me see a reoccuring cycle: God promises and gives; His people doubt and reject; God loves and redeems (even though “love” is rarely associated with the God of the Old Testament).

One of the first times we see this is with Adam and Eve. So, God gives Adam and Eve a beautiful garden. They’re naked, and they don’t notice, let alone care. It doesn’t take them long, however, before they disobey God. Really disobey God! As soon as they do, their eyes are opened, and “they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.” I’d kind of like to see these fig-leaf outfits, by the way. What did they sew them with? How did they stay on?

God, of course, finds out about their disobedience and scolds them (and us). The ground we walk on? Cursed. Child labor? Horrible. Work? Tough.

But after he scolds, we’re told in in Genesis 3:1 that the Lord “made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.”

Really? He made them garments? I mean, he could have easily let them continue traipsing around in their fig leaves. After all, they just terribly disobeyed him! He could have let them make their own garments out of skin. But he didn’t. He made them garments, and he clothed them. Don't get me wrong. God is not a softy. He banishes them from the garden, but he clothes them first in garments of skin.

Friday, October 01, 2010

This day

It’s an Alexi Murdoch kinda day here in the Twin Cities.

A cool, quiet, turning fall day. Burnt orange and yellow leaves slowly swirl and make their way to the ground, and you pull your sweater a little tighter around you. It’s a day for strolling through used book stores, drinking coffee, and wearing brown corduroys.

I post this song for the one I love who is so far away, and yet fills all my days.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Like a child

Recently I’ve had numerous friends ask me to pray for them. I, of course, say sure, and I have been praying for them. But I have to admit, I think “why me?” I am not a prayer “warrior,” as they say. I’m more like a prayer “fraidy cat.”

I’ve been around some really eloquent pray-ers. People who can make one small request last for three minutes! People who can make “Dear Lord” sound like the most eloquent plea ever. I once was on a mission trip in South Africa, and I got a pretty nasty head cold. I was miserable. One of my fellow travelers asked to pray over me and for four minutes straight asked God repeatedly to “remove the demons making me sick.” Now, I had some serious issues with her thinking demons were making my nose plugged, but I envied her resolution and enthusiasm and persistence. When she was done, she asked if I felt better. I did not. Par for the course for my colds, it moved through my head to my chest and landed in my ears.

In contrast lately though, my prayers have been short and whispered under my breath while driving to and from work. “Lord, help me.” “Lord, help my friend.” Which is precisely why I have found myself wondering why my friends really want me praying for them. There have got to be some better pray-ers out there to pray for them. I feel small and inadequate, and even doubt that I’m heard sometimes.

I don’t always feel this way. Like most things in life, my prayers ebb and flow. Sometimes the connection to God feels crystal clear. Other times, I can only hear static. I get frustrated, and I want to hang up!

So, I recently pulled out Philip Yancey’s book Prayer that I read a couple years ago. With down-to-earth and real words, Yancey addresses the very things any pray-er has got to think from time to time. Is anyone listening? What if I can’t find the right words? Does it even matter? Quantity versus quality? What if it just feels like a chore to check off the list? I flipped through the book and suddenly remembered something: Jesus prayed! Ha! Of course he did. I realize this is a pretty elementary fact, but what a great reminder when you’re wondering why the heck we pray.

Hebrews 5:7 says “During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.”

I don’t know if his prayers lasted three minutes or were said under his breath super quickly on his way to preach. But we’re told that he prayed and he was heard. Thus, we pray, and we are heard! Even if we can't see or hear answers.

And interestingly (or maybe not so interestingly), I overheard two women in the bathroom the other day talking about prayer. (I work at a Christian institution so this is not as odd as it would be in most places!) The one woman was telling the other woman that it’s “all about praying like a child because really, that’s what we are, children of God.”

I smiled behind the door of the stall. How does one pray like a child? They say, “Lord, help me.”

Friday, August 27, 2010

Give an art, take an art




Recently I went with a friend of mine to an “art swap” down in Uptown.

How it works:
Bring $2 and a piece of art—one you did maybe, or perhaps one you were given and don’t want! You show up and they take a photo of you holding your artwork as well as a sign that says “I Brought.” Then you turn in your art and $2 to begin browsing what’s at the swap: someone’s sketchy (and I don’t mean sketched) home video, a three-year-old’s crayon masterpiece, a painting of a woman who looks like she’s dying in serious pain, a hollow mannequin leg filled with sticks, a doll, etc. When you’ve selected the piece of art that you want but someone else didn’t want, they take another picture of you. This time with the art you selected and a sign that says “I Got.” Then they post the photos in an online gallery and you go check periodically to see who snagged the art you brought. And you can also see who made the art you selected, which is, I think, both fun and disturbing.

I won’t tell you what I brought. I mean, what if it’s artwork you gave me?! But I will tell you that I got a pair of homemade earrings out of the deal.

As we walked out the door of the small store front on Lyndale, the woman who took our $2 and photos said, “thanks for swappin’ by!”

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Remembering a neighbor

The late afternoon Friday phone call from a “310” area code took me off guard, as did the news that came from the other end of the call. It was a manager at the apartment complex I used to live at in San Diego. He tracked me down, found my number in the apartment records (thankfully, I have yet to change it even after three years), and wanted to let me know that my old neighbor Grif died.

My heart started beating faster, and I could feel the tears well up.

Many of you have heard me talk about Grif or read my blog posts about him. Old man. Diabetes. Married and divorced three times. No children. No living family. I checked on him nearly every day, and he did likewise with me; our front doors were about 10 feet apart. I usually wouldn’t go to bed until I heard his TV turn off (usually set on MASH very very loudly!). That meant he was OK and on his way to sleep.

Since I’ve moved, he and I continued our correspondence. I last sent him a little note along with our wedding announcement. I have visited him on trips back to Cali, and he has sent me packages, most recently a set of coins. I found it odd that I hadn’t heard from him after the wedding announcement and fully intended to send him some pictures and a letter telling him all about it. Additionally, I’m headed back to San Diego next month and was hoping to swing in and give him a hug.

These plans were stopped with the phone call. The guy on the other end told me that Grif had been getting increasingly sick. He urged Grif to go to the hospital. When he finally did, they discovered a large tumor in his stomach. He went home for a bit, but quickly landed back in the hospital. He died July 5—a Monday, four days before our wedding. This guy visited Grif a number of times and told me that Grif talked about me and all of my letters were lined up on his kitchen table. This guy said he knew I was important to Grif and wanted to let me know.

So disconcerting is the quiet and speed with which Grif left this world. I was told that his ashes were being sent to some fort, along with an American flag; he had been in the military. I heard the news—that he was sick, in the hospital, and now dead—seven weeks late!

What about a funeral? What about people crying outside his hospital room? What about a long line of cars driving to his grave? What about giving money to a memorial in his name? It seemed odd—eery—that life had continued on for me as normal for seven weeks without knowing that someone dear to me was gone.

Recently, as BJ and I were organizing, I came across the set of coins (in a nice case, engraved with my name!) Grif sent me last. They were not cheap, and I was touched that he would have spent this amount of money on me! It was a gift that will last; the coins will be worth a lot more at some point in the future. Chances are good I'll never cash them in.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Seeing myself

It’s amazing to me how BJ has acted like a mirror in places of my life where before...there were no mirrors.

On a humorous note, he has pointed things out about my habits that I was unaware of. I did not realize that I brush my teeth like a teapot. The elbow of the arm with the toothbrush goes up very, very high, and my other hand immediately goes on my hip. I promptly start brushing my teeth! And apparently should be humming “I’m a little teapot...” BJ comes behind me, laughing as he brushes his teeth “normally.”

I also did not realize that I never quite shut any of my drawers—bedroom drawers, bathroom drawers, kitchen drawers. For some odd reason, they’re always slightly open...just an inch. I can’t explain why. When I tried, I suggested that it’s because I don’t want to make a lot of noise. Now, BJ quietly comes behind me and shuts them all. I didn’t realize that I could easily burn others with the temperature of my water. I apparently have no nerves because I can wash dishes and shower and wash my face in 200-degree water. BJ comes behind me and yelps. Alone, I never saw...never knew these things. I didn’t know how weird I was.

When we went through pre-marital classes, I discovered, as BJ and I compared each other, that I internally process. I knew that I was an introvert, more quiet than loud, and generally prefer to be alone than in crowds, etc., but I hadn’t realized that much, if not all, of my thinking and processing and decision-making takes place in my head. Or maybe what I hadn’t thought about before is that others do all of these things out loud for the world to hear! After 15 minutes in front of pastor, BJ talk talk talking about our love and future and me silently nodding, pastor said he was going to go out on limb...he was going to guess that I internally process and BJ externally processes. Um, yes. BJ will walk you through his decisions. You will know the hills he went over, the wrong turns he took, the options he considered and the transportation he chose to get to his decision before he actually tells you his decision. And then he might very well change his mind. I, however, will take that same journey alone in my head, and then just tell you only what I think you need to know at the end...my ultimate decision, which will most likely be final. What we also learned is that BJ sometimes gets nervous in my silence, wondering what I’m thinking, where I’m at, what’s going on in my scary head. I sometimes want to tell him to cut to the chase: what is he wanting, what is his point?!

All this to say, with BJ around, I’ve looked in mirrors that I hadn’t been able to see before. And these mirrors are only possible when he holds them up. Alone I can’t see much. I will tell you that sometimes the mirror reveals things about myself that I don’t want to see. My selfishness suddenly seems big and ugly, when before I didn’t really notice. My little habits and routines look silly and funny and unnecessary!

Anyways, I started thinking about this concept in terms of God too. The things we don’t or can’t see about ourselves when we don’t have God next to us, holding up a mirror. Without God, I tend not to see that I’m a sinner. I’m self-centered, I turn inward. The things of this world are all I can see, and they become most important.

I lose perspective, slipping into the mindset that the world revolves around me and my family and my friends. I’m currently reading a book called Crazy Love by Francis Chan, a pastor of a large, growing church in Southern California. The title refers to God’s crazy love for us. Chan likens our time on earth to playing an extra in a movie for two-fifths of a second. In the grand scheme of things, we are nothing! We are like the back of a head the shows up in a movie for .35 seconds! Chan says bluntly that we need to get over ourselves! There's much more to living than the car we drive, the money we make, the house we own, and the job we have.

When we sit close to God, we are put into our place, like it or not. Perspectives become much more realistic. We are not the world, and the world does not revolve around us or our two-fifths-of-a-second part.

Now, having BJ in my life, has not just made me see my downfalls or idiosyncrasies or ridiculous habits. I have also seen good things that I’ve never seen before in myself. I recognize a capacity to love and accept and forgive unlike I have before. I didn’t really know I could spend 24/7 with someone and still want more of them. I didn’t know that a person could draw out my laughter and goodness in this way. I didn’t know that I could do so many nice things for a person, and it still wouldn’t seem like enough. I still want to do more nice things for him.

It’s the same with God. Sure, next to him, we’re put into our humble place. But next to Him, we also see a much more complete, much better, version of us. A version of us that we’re unable to see when He’s not around. We see how beautiful and precious we are to him. We see that we can be loving and servant-like, despite our selfishness. And although sinful, we are clean. When we see ourselves next to God we become a “glorious inheritance.”

Chan says, “The very fact that a holy, eternal, all-knowing, all-powerful, merciful, fair, and just God loves you and me is nothing short of astonishing...He doesn’t need me or you. Yet He wants us, chooses us, even considers us His inheritance (Eph. 1:18). The greatest knowledge we can ever have is knowing God treasures us...The Holy Creator sees you as His ‘glorious inheritance.’”

Friday, July 30, 2010

Still on 94




As you’re nearing downtown Minneapolis from the northwest on I-94, there is a very tall pole with a car on top. Inside the car is a mannequin. I think it’s located at an auto junkyard perhaps? Or a mechanic shop? I’m not sure. But it’s been around for many years. I can recall seeing this strange icon even as a little girl.

To weirdify the car-on-pole-with-mannequin even more (oh yes, it can get weirder), there’s a Bible verse posted on the side of the car. As I sped past the icon last night, I silently repeated the Bible verse in my head—Psalm 46:10—wanting to look it up when I got home. And I contemplated what the verse would be about. Had it not been in Psalms, I would have guessed it’d be a disturbing verse on hell or something.

My car and my mind continued on last night. I rushed on to my destination, glancing at my watch. Would I make it on time? I had rushed out of work, there had been traffic, I needed gas but didn’t have time to get gas. Would I have time in the morning before work? Could I make it that far without running out of gas? What exit again was I supposed to take? Fender bender pulled off on the right shoulder. Ambulance going the opposite direction on 94. A semi passing me. A billboard for depression. Oh, I can’t forget to pay my Target bill…

And on and on and on…

This morning, I remembered to look up the verse. What I read caused me to smile.

"Be still,
and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth."


Of course that's what it would be. How brilliant. The millions of people going 70 mph past the car-on-pole-with-mannequin (who, by the way, wears a rain slicker?!) each day are the furthest thing from still! Me included. What a great reminder to slow down. To be still in God’s presence. To see and hear Him amidst the busy-ness of life.

So, happy Friday, friends. Take some time this weekend to be still. Or at least a little still-er to exalt Him!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Horse of a half wagon

I don’t know why, but two colloquial phrases just never cement in my brain. Other people can say them just fine. But when I want to say one of them, the other one comes to mind and messes me up, and I cannot find the right word combination.

"a horse a piece" and
"six of one, half dozen of the other"

Both phrases mean that it doesn’t really matter. Same difference, if you will.

So, a few months back, in conversation with BJ, one of these phrases would have been perfect. I stumbled..."it’s a...six dozen...um...a...horse" and then frustrated blurted out, "it’s a HORSE OF A HALF WAGON!" He looked at me incredulously, eyebrows raised, as if to say, Excuse me? YOU are the English major and the journalist?

"Yeah, Ok," I said, "I don’t know, but you know...you know what I’m trying to say!"

In thinking about these two phrases, I realized that the "six of one" makes perfect sense. I get it. But the "horse" one? What the heck does that mean? A horse a piece? And then I wondered if I maybe knew the phrase's origin, if I'd be able to verbally execute it correctly in the future with confidence.

So, I did some research. Now, I realize the internet is not always the most trusted source, but I found in multiple places the same explanation for the origin of "a horse a piece." And interestingly one place said that "a horse a piece" is just the easier way to say "six of one half dozen of the other." (for some, maybe)

What I learned: the phrase "a horse a piece" originated in the Midwest where a common game played at the local bar was called "bar dice." If you were losing in this game, you were said to have "a horse on you." If everyone was a loser and had a horse on them, then it was "a horse a piece." Everyone sucked. Now, I couldn't find out why a horse. Why not another animal? Does it go all the way back to when people rode their horses to the bar and tied them up outside?

Well, whatever. I suppose it's a horse of a half wagon. Same difference. Ok?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Old? New? Who's to say?

Our house is a strange mixture of old and new. In our kitchen are bags filled with boxes containing new dishes, kitchen appliances, and more—all wedding gifts—which I’m unclear about where they’ll go or how they’ll fit! In the garage are boxes of my husband’s old stuff. His track and field jacket from high school, for example. And in efforts of making room for him, I came across my old graphing calculator (Do you know how bulky those things are?!) and dusty cassette tapes that my aunt used to make and send to me when I was a little girl. Then in contrast is a bright, shiny new copper bowl sitting on our kitchen table—a wedding gift said to remind us in the future that if not taken care of, a marriage will tarnish.

This mixture of old and new has raised questions and instigated discussions about what’s worth keeping and what should be thrown away. What has worth and merit. What doesn’t.

This then got me thinking about when things become “old.” Where is the line that once crossed means something is no longer “new”? When does a new house become an old house?At what point did my cool, new graphing calculator become bulky and uncool? When will our new food processor become just our food processor? And then at what point do we start referring to it as a wedding gift that we’ve had for so many years (meaning it's old)?

I don’t know. But in church on Sunday pastor made the comment that we all remain saints and sinners. At the same time. A strange mix of old and new.

In 2 Corinthians 5: 17-21, Paul writes: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come...We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us...Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

We may be old and sinful, but God--thanks to Jesus--deems us new. Forever. Always. Consistently. At no point does he think we've become old and bulky or meritless. So, I think "old" and "new" is not so much about the object as it is about the owner. And when God owns you, you're always new (even though you're old).

For the record, I got rid of the graphing calculator and kept my aunt's cassette tapes. Pretty sure that track and field jacket is still laying around though.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Construction begins April 13.

Really? I thought as I drove home from work on Tuesday. Everyone knows here in the Twin Cities we spend the majority of our summer sitting in construction traffic; our roads, which suffered tremendously during the frigid months, are in desperate need of TLC. So each June, July, and August, men and women dressed in the brightest coloring I’ve ever seen work around the clock to repair them before they get ruined again this winter. The orange signs throughout the metro area notifying us of detours and closures are out of control.

But on Tuesday, a new sign had popped up along the freeway that I drive home, warning us of construction between two locations starting April 13.

April 13th? Was someone having a bad day and it should be August 13th? April 13th? I silently counted…that’s 9 months away! And then the thought crossed my mind...had it been up since before this past April 13th and I just missed it?

Just how, exactly, is this sign helpful? How would I, could I, prepare? What exactly does it do for the general public? It gives me no information. Are we talking detours? 1 of three lanes closed? 2 of three lanes closed? Nothing.

Really this sign is just causing additional stress and irritation. Oh great, more long commutes ahead! Thanks for notifying me of this nine months in advance.

And now we’re going to have a huge ugly fluorescent sign up for the next nine months.

Well, that same day I had a conversation with my momma. Per usual, I was thinking too far ahead.

“Heather, don’t even go there,” she said. “You don’t know what it’s going to look like.”

She’s right, of course. I mean I have an orange sign telling me a few things. Which I kindly pointed out to her. I know some basics about the future. But I don’t know details. I don't know lane closures. And yet, I’m worried about them!

To this day, before I fall asleep, the words of the prayers that I was taught as a little girl go through my head. I don’t officially pray them on a regular basis anymore. But their simple words still provide a sense of comfort and closure to my day.

Now I lay me down to sleep.
I pray thee Lord my soul to keep.
If I should die before I wake, I pray thee Lord my soul to take.


Jesus, Savior, wash away all that has been wrong today.
Help me every day to be good and gentle more like thee.


Last night, I was struck by the daily-ness of them. They’re not about tomorrow.
Forgive me for TODAY. Protect me through TONIGHT. They focus on one day. The immediate.

There’s enough life construction today that needs my, our, attention. I don’t need to put up unhelpful signs about the construction that’s ahead.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Post-trip volume

Whether it’d be a camping weekend with friends, a 10-day trip to Israel for work, a weekend getaway with the girls, or a short trip back to Minnesota to see fam...I’d always return to a quiet, person-less apartment or home. Don’t get me wrong—I loved living alone, but I always had to take a deep breath and a big swallow, sometimes even fighting back the tears as I checked my mail and plopped my bags down.

For a brief time, I had gotten used to eating breakfast with others, sleeping next to others or at least sleeping in a room next to others, talking more than usual, laughing more than usual. More people had been around me while I was away. And suddenly I was, indeed, alone again. The sounds of myself brushing my teeth, doing laundry, emptying the dishwasher, zipping up the suitcase or duffel to put back into the closet...these things would all suddenly be very loud without anyone else around. With time, the quiet which had become so loud would fade, and my solo volume became just fine again. But I always dreaded that short transitional time after a trip.

Yesterday, I—we—returned from our honeymoon. As we walked into my—our—quiet house I had a momentary pang of dread... until I realized my best friend was right behind me, carrying his bags and mine. He went back outside to do manly stuff, I suppose. I started our laundry, but this time I didn’t hear myself starting the washer. Instead I heard BJ starting my car in the driveway to make sure I could get to work today. And later, I didn’t hear myself brushing my teeth. Instead, I heard BJ coming up the stairs.

Friday, July 02, 2010

My kangaroo paw


Last Saturday, a friend and I walked through a refrigerator of flowers searching for just the right combo of colors and shapes and sizes for my wedding bouquet. It was a daunting task filled with too many options, so I was happy to have my friend, who has done this before, along.

The process: You pick out the flowers. Flower woman orders them wholesale. You pick up the flowers, and then lucky friends and family help you make your own bouquets, corsages, and boutonnieres. (Because who really wants the easy route where a florist does all the work for you?!)

After an hour or so of talking with the flower woman and mixing and matching various flowers and plants, we found a combination that we thought was really good. The flower lady held up the bunch, and we liked. But these funky, fuzzy yellow things had caught my eye in the fridge earlier, so I asked about ‘em.

"Oh, the kangaroo paws?" flower woman asked.

"Uh, yes. Those paws," I said.

She went and grabbed a stalk of the paws from the fridge and put it into our bunch and suddenly...music and bright shining light...the ensemble was complete. The paws finished our floral masterpiece.

Kangaroo paws are bright (sometimes red, sometimes yellow) and velvety and sturdy, which apparently makes them great natural perches for birds. And, as you may have guessed, they’re native to Australia, but are now commercially grown in Israel and Cali too.

The stalks of the paws were pretty expensive compared to everything else, but I decided the bouquets needed them. Much like I need BJ. He's my kangaroo paw in life's bouquet.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Best Woman

Not too much time, but thought I’d hop on a little bride soapbox for a second. I realized two nights ago that I have very strong feelings about the titles "maids" and "matrons" of honor.

My dear friend is standing next to me at my wedding because she knows me inside and out, because I think we were separated at birth, because she prays for me faithfully, because my life is better and more fun with her in it.

This friend happens to be married. So, tradition calls her a matron of honor. Now, when I asked said friend to be in my wedding, she said of course, on the condition that I do NOT refer to her as my matron of honor. I laughed and thought this was funny at the time, but as BJ and I finalized our program, I realized this isn’t just funny!

Why does the girl have to be identified as married (matron) or not married (maid) when the guy can be BEST MAN forever...both before and after he’s married? That means we should get to be BEST WOMEN!

And at first I thought the word “matron” was bad. But actually what’s worse is the term “maid,” which means “virgin” or “female servant” or “biddy” (which means “hag” or “chick”). Now, for the record, I am honored to have stood next to friends in their weddings as a bridesmaid. And I realize these meanings never came close to entering the minds of those involved in the wedding. But you know I'm a word freak, and the more I think about it, the traditional titles just don’t seem all that cool. You’re the bride’s biddy? No! You’re the bride’s confidante and friend and companion!

So, anyways, the woman who will stand beside me will be there NOT because she’s my matron of honor, but because she is my dear friend. She is the BEST WOMAN!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Guest Blogger on Worry

It's been a month since I've blogged. And I have good excuses (I think). I finished up two grad classes, ran a half marathon, and am planning a wedding. I get married a week from Friday, and I actually feel a bit frayed from not having time to document--write out--some of the fun and funny and humbling experiences that come with getting engaged and planning a wedding and accepting the unconditional love of another. So, I promise I will share more on these soon.

But when my mother emailed this morning and complained about my lack of blogging, I said, "well, look, since you've got sooooo much time to be reading blogs, why don't you WRITE mine today!"

She took me up on it. And, to be honest, I was surprised (and I shouldn't have been) at my mom's thoughtful, organized writing! So, here's what my beautiful friend and momma has to say today (completely unedited!). And I promise, more from me soon!


Me blog? Ha! Or at least that’s what I thought until my daughter suggested that I guest blog for her. I was giving her crap for going almost a whole month without a single blog entry. I suppose getting married and planning a wedding in 7 weeks precludes blogging. But still, isn’t she considering the rest of us out there that check in faithfully only to find May 27th still front and center?

As the mother of the bride, it’s been a hectic time for me as well, however, I will say that having a very organized, anal daughter marrying a very organized anal young man makes things go relatively smoothly.

What some of you don’t know about me is that I’m a worrier. I can worry about anything. Now only 9 days out from the wedding, I can worry about the weather. (Since the ceremony is supposed to be outdoors - in Minnesota this is a gamble!) I can worry about the color of napkins! I can worry about my dress. I can worry about shoes. I can worry about how the food will look, let alone taste. I can worry about logistics. I can lay awake at night (or early morning) and worry about any number of things that I have no control over. I worry.

This past weekend I gathered together with my college girl friends for our annual weekend reunion. One of my friends had just gotten back from a trip to Germany and other bordering countries and was telling us about a 30 year old young man and his father who were also on the trip. The young man was wheel chair bound and his father was there to carry and lift him whenever needed. Apparently, in Germany and many other countries, this was needed constantly since they don’t have handicap accessible spaces as we do here. One time he needed to be carried up several flights of stairs after de-boarding a plane that couldn’t get close enough to the tarmac. After watching for several days the incredible love this man had for his son, my friend finally asked the father how he did it. He replied that two things needed to happen. First his son had to let go of his wheelchair and trust him and second his son needed to hold tightly on to him. He said it’s the same way our heavenly Father is with us. In order for Him to help us, we need to let go of our ‘wheel chairs’ and hang on to Him.

This picture has come back to me many times since this weekend. Every time I catch myself fretting over yet another detail, I think of this young man and his father and the beautiful picture that is now painted in my mind. I need to let go of my ‘wheel chair’ (or in my case, wheel chairs) and hang on to my heavenly Father. He’s just waiting to help me!

9 days and counting!
----the bride's mom

Thursday, May 27, 2010

A love better than life

The Dr. Seuss ABC book sits on my passenger seat bringing perspective.

You see, on Tuesday, my office was planning on having a baby shower for our colleague who was pregnant with her first child. We were all to bring wrapped baby books. I stopped at the store on Monday before class and picked out the Dr. Seuss ABC book with lots of colors. Upon leaving class I checked my voice messages to learn from another coworker that my pregnant colleague had been in a horrible car accident on her way back to the office from her ultrasound. She—only 24 years old—was at the hospital and not expected to make it. She and her baby passed away later that night.

The book I purchased never left the Target bag. And actually I’ve now been to Target twice since my coworker passed away, and I cannot bring myself to return it. So there it sits on my seat, reminding me that life is precious and quick and important. It is also unfair and painful and sad...the ABCs of life. Not the same ones Dr. Seuss rhymes about. But the facts, nonetheless.

I’m always amazed by people who immediately turn to God in prayer in situations like this. I cannot form the words. Instead, I stare, blank-faced, speechless in His presence. I know better than to ask why (there are no reasons). So, in need of comfort, as well as in anger and sadness, I stare at God not saying anything and know that in some way this alone is my prayer.

On Tuesday morning, I opened my Bible to a random Psalm, hoping David might have some words. I fell upon Psalm 63 and was brought to tears.

O God, you are my God,
Earnestly I seek you;
My soul thirsts for you,
My body longs for you,
in a dry and weary land where there is no water
I have seen you in the sanctuary
And beheld your power and your glory.
Because your love is better than life,
I will glorify your name.

(1-3)

His love is better than life...
It is one to die for.
It's also one to live for.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Chopsticks

In a recent email correspondence, I was telling a friend that I have a dead German boyfriend, and his name is Deitrich Bonhoeffer—that I’m reading him and Karl Barth for a class.

Her response...

I regret that I did not study enough Bonhoeffer in school. But I definitely fell in love with good ol' Karl. I think some of his writing keeps me a Christian when I become disillusioned or dismayed by the church. What do you think of Barth? Sometimes I find his writing so opaque that I have to read passages of it out loud, slowly and deliberately until that "ah ha" moment hits. To be perfectly honest, that ah ha moment sometimes takes three or four vocal readings. But you know, when you hit that breakthrough, it feels like Handel's Messiah ... HALLELUJAH!

To be honest, with Barth, I sometimes never hear Handel's Messiah!

Well, this is one of the reasons we're friends. Some people fall in love with sexy movie stars. Me and my friend? We like the studious theologians...preferably wearing glasses, probably sporting cardigans, usually at the pub—not to get plastered but to smoke pipes and talk philosophy over a few pints. And I guess they can be dead, too.

She's right. Barth is opaque. You know when you have more question marks than exclamation points in your annotations, you've got yourself an opaque one. And if you ever start thinking you're smart, just start reading Barth, and you’ll quickly discover you know nothing. Barth's not messin' around. Don't think for a second that you can casually skim through his Dogmatics—all bajillion trillion pages of it. Oh no.

From last night's homework, in honor of my friend, here's a little Barth on ethics:

"Before he [man, woman] was, before the world was, God drew him to Himself when he destined him to obedience to His command. But, strangely enough, it is just because of this that the impossible—sin—presses so insistently. For man is not content simply to be the answer to this question by the grace of God. He wants to be like God. He wants to know of himself (as God does) what is good and evil. He therefore wants to give this answer himself and of himself. So, then, as a result and in prolongation of the fall, we have ethics, or, rather, the multifarious ethical systems, the attempted human answers to the ethical question. But this question can be solved only as it was originally put—by the grace of God, by the fact that this allows man actually to be the answer."

What the heck, you ask, is he saying? It’s interesting. Ethics always sounds good. To pose the question, "is this ethical?" makes you sound like you’re very moral and very good. And I think what Barth is saying is...um, no. Try again. We only need ethics because of our sin in the first place. With ethics, we think we can somehow determine what's right and wrong, which means we think we can be God, who is the ultimate judge of right and wrong. This shouldn't really come as a surprise. We were told this would happen.

In Genesis 3:5, the serpent tells Eve that she will certainly not die if she eats the forbidden truth. Rather her "eyes will be opened," she will be "like God, knowing good and evil." Which is so not a good thing, evidenced by the world we live in.

It's a shame we need ethics at all! I'd rather not have to be ethical.

Barth goes on to say that Jesus doesn't give the answer, but "by God's grace, he is the answer to the ethical question put by God's grace."

I'm not sure I really hear Handel's Messiah. Maybe more like Chopsticks...but...babysteps.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Roger that

Last week, I sat on BJ’s bed staring at my laptop, writing a response piece for class. A typical night together looks like this: me doing homework, BJ making me dinner, bringing me water or sometimes a glass of wine, every now and then (so as not to distract me too much) making me laugh, bringing me a bowl of cookies'n'cream ice cream. You get the idea. I don’t deserve him.

On this particular night, I looked up to see what BJ was doing at his desk. He was opening up a new pack of batteries and then pulling out these two black bricks from an old-school, red cardboard box, circa 1980.

What, may I ask, are you doing? And what are those black things?

HJ!, he turns to me excitedly, eyes lit up. These are my old walkie talkies from when I was a kid. I found them at home over the weekend.

OK. Why do you have batteries though?

I’m going to put the batteries in and use the walkie talkies.

I didn’t know whether to laugh, go back to my homework as if that’s normal—a 29-year-old wanting to use walkie talkies when our cell phones are sitting idly nearby, or continue the question game. I chose the latter.

What are you going to do with these?

As he carefully put the batteries into the black, boxy walkie talkies seriously the size of bricks, and then pulled out the long silver antennae, he said, I’m going to put them in my car for emergencies. To be prepared.

(Duh, Heather. Obviously.)

He then hands one to me, presses the button on his own, and says, Heather, can you hear me?

Uh, yeah. You’re sitting two feet away!

No, c’mon. Try it. Use the walkie talkies.

I press the button on mine. I can hear you.

I can’t hear you. Press the button.

I press the button again. I am pressing the button!

Now I can hear you.

I press the button. Ok. Really? Are we really going to do this?

I can’t hear you. Press the button.

Using the walkie talkies, he informs me that he’s now going to head downstairs and outside to change my oil (I told you...I don’t deserve him) and that we need to stay in contact.

I press the button. OK.

I’m heading down the stairs.

I press the button. Roger that.

I’m heading outside.

We continued in this fashion until he had successfully changed my oil and returned to his bedroom. He was thrilled that his walkie talkies actually still worked and carefully put them back into the box to go out into his car. I was wondering if any of his neighbors were watching him talk into this thing. I was also wondering how I got so lucky...how I have someone who wants to be in constant contact with me, who wants to walk and talk with me through life.

Roger that.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

My mom, the baker

I make a dozen muffins on a bi- or tri-weekly basis. I freeze them in individual Ziploc bags, and then pull them out for my breakfasts in the morning. By the time I get to work, settle in, check my email, they’re ready to eat. Last week, I mentioned to mom that in between working late, the gym, and homework, I hoped to make more muffins because I was completely out. What was I supposed to eat for breakfast?!

I got home later that night and sitting on the bench in my entry way were muffins. Mom made them for me. To help me. To save me time.

Yesterday, on the verge of a tearful meltdown in part due to three looming school papers, a magazine deadline at work, and too many unknowns, a dessert was about to push me over the edge. I suddenly remembered that I was in charge of bringing a dessert tomorrow for a coworker who is recovering from surgery. And, I’m in class tonight until 10:30! And you must know that I will choose to lose sleep to bake something at home and actually have the meltdown, before I buy a pre-made dessert at the grocery store! Absurd, I know! But guess what? I blame this on mom. And so, I sent her a frantic email, knowing she'd understand. Help! Give me a simple easy recipe that I can make before work early tomorrow morning!

She came up with a better idea. She’s making the dessert for me, and I’m picking it up on my way home from class tonight.

And on Sunday, Mother’s Day, I made mom dinner, but I actually left with bread dough she made. Nourishment that I can bake later this week. As I headed home that night, I thought so typical! It’s Mother’s Day, and she’s giving me stuff!

I’m in class right now (on break, ok?). The woman next to me has five children, and she’s wearing a bright, yellow shirt that her kids made for her for Mother's Day. In puffy paint, they’ve made outlines of their hands and then written words that they use to describe their mom: breathtaking, respectful, friend, fun, loving.

If I made my mom a puffy paint T-shirt today, it’d say baker. Baker of love and help and encouragement. And, of course, muffins and desserts and bread.

Thank you, momma. I love you.
And you're breathtaking, too.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Waffles with Gordon

On Saturday morning I found myself talking about the weather over waffles with old people.

I was asked to speak to a group of retirees from the university I work with. They meet quarterly for strawberries, whipped cream, waffles, and sausage links. Seriously. That’s it. Don’t even think about switching it up with bacon. And it’s been like that for 50-some years. They used to meet in the president’s house, but when the number of retirees got to be too great, it moved on campus into the dining center. At each gathering, they hear from a current university employee—this time, me.

I am not one to talk in front of people. In fact, I strongly dislike it. I’ve gotten better as I’ve gotten older, but it’s not my favorite thing to do. Especially at 8:30 on a Saturday morning at work! But I kindly accepted the offer and prepared a 15-minute talk about my background, my role at the university, what’s ahead for the magazine I edit, etc. I arrived in time to eat breakfast with the crowd of 50 or so before taking the microphone.

As planned, I talked for about 15 minutes and then with a sigh of relief, took a few questions from the crowd. I survived, and I think it went well. Afterwards, I stayed to chat and mingle. I didn’t really need to move. People came to me to thank me and ask me more questions. I had to explain to someone that I am no longer “in a grade.”

Out of the corner of my eye I could see Gordon, a 90-year-old former dean who I’ve had phone conversations with before for various reasons, slowly making his way to me with his walker. When at last he reached me, I thanked the person I was talking to for the kind words and turned to him.

With one hand bracing himself on the walker, he took his other hand and squeezed my wrist. He leaned in very close and rather loudly said: “I couldn’t hear a word you said, but you were great!”

Monday, May 03, 2010

The meant of sacrament

Over the past week for class, I’ve spent some time reading about sacraments. They’re rites or oaths or activities that affirm your faith. The Roman Catholic Church decided a long time ago that they would have seven: marriage, confession, baptism, confirmation, ordination, last rites, and communion. Protestants decided they’d have two: baptism and communion.

It just so happened that my cousin, also my godson, was confirmed yesterday and participated in one of these sacraments—communion—for the first time. For Lutherans, confirmation means affirming what was said for you by others during your infant baptism.

Despite the debate over the number of sacraments as well as God’s activity in them (like, is it more about us coming before God or God coming down to us?), the author I’m reading says that they are ALL outward expressions of an internal faith.

And I got to thinking about how if that’s the case, then shouldn’t life be a sacrament? Why would we limit our outward expressions of faith to 10 minutes on a Sunday? Don’t get me wrong. I understand and respect the importance and significance of both baptism and communion. They are fundamental to the Christian faith, as shown throughout the New Testament. But, perhaps this particular author’s definition (maybe even our own) of them needs to be tweaked or clarified a bit more. I hope my life, my interactions with other people, my words, the decisions I make...I hope they are ALL sacraments! I hope they all externally reveal an element of my internal faith.

As I listened to the words associated with communion yesterday, I first recognized how odd or even creepy the “eucharist” can be. Partaking in Christ’s body and blood? Ok, that’s weird. It’s only normal to me because I’ve heard it almost every Sunday of my life, which--I did the math--is now nearly 1,500 times. But the phrase alone--drinking someone else's blood? (My eyebrows are up right now and my mouth is kind of crooked.) Also the author I’m reading uses the phrase “ingest.” As in we “ingest” the bread and wine. Weird! Can we just say “eat?”

But what’s most important is what’s behind all this wording. Christ’s body and blood refers to his death on the cross for us. His selfless love for us! I’ll ingest that and then hope to outwardly display it--continuously confirm it--throughout my life.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Some underwear and an ipod

Matthew 19:21 has always left me feeling a little guilty.

Jesus says, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

Well, I want to be perfect, but how does this look today? I mean, I need a car to get to work every day. And Jesus isn’t literally standing outside my front door waiting for me to shut my windows, lock the door, and follow Him, as He was for his disciples 2,000 years ago. I have these images of me standing forlornly at the end of my driveway holding a big stick with one of my beach towels tied at the end holding a few pairs of underwear and perhaps my ipod? Maybe? I’ve gotten rid of all my possessions, am looking up at the sky and wondering...ok, now what?

In his book, Discipleship, Dietrich Bonhoeffer—my fake boyfriend who my real boyfriend is getting jealous of—has some insight.

“My faith, however, is not tied to poverty or wealth or some such thing...The main concern is not whether or not I have any worldly goods, but that I should possess goods as if I don’t possess them, and inwardly I should be free of them. I should not set my heart on my possessions. Thus, Jesus says, 'sell your possessions!' But what he intends is that it is not important if you actually do this literally, outwardly. You are free to keep possessions, but have them as if you did not have them. Do not set your heart on your possessions.”

I was recently talking to my grandmother. My grandpa was in the military as they were raising a family. So she had to move with him and their three boys more times than she can count. I told her I couldn’t imagine having to pack up and leave so many times. Having to say goodbye to houses you loved, or neighborhoods, or schools. She said that she learned quickly that it was not anything external that was important—the house, the furniture, boxes of stuff, etc. Rather, it was what was inside the house that mattered: as long as her boys were happy. As long as there was love.

I think the same is true with God. Carry that ipod in your beach towel—it matters not, if loving Him is most important, if obedience in following Him is priority.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Enter the exit

What do you do when you’re walking out of Target, about to go through the second automatic exit door (not the double, sliding kind, but the single open/shut kind) and there’s someone on the other side of that door, waiting to come in. You know if you keep going, that person is going to get hit by the automatic door as it opens, and yet the person is not moving to make way? But you need to get out.

Well, I don’t really know what you’re supposed to do, but I’ll tell you what the other person does. They stare at you like you’re a moron. Like…hello?! Hit me!

As if it’s perfectly normal and even expected that one would not only try to enter through the door clearly labeled exit, but actually stand in front of that door which will hit them smack in the face. Like if you don’t hurry up and walk out the door, they’re going to get really mad.

Ok. Fine. She wants to get hit? Fine. I’ll exit. Thankfully the door was slow enough that she was able to take a few steps back before getting hit.

As I walked through the exit and passed her entering, she stared me down, disgusted.

I looked over my shoulder as I got in my car, worried that maybe she had followed me out. Silly me though. That would have required her to go OUT the exit door.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Last Saturday night…



Did you know that last Saturday was Record Store Day? It was. And did you know that BJ plays in a bluegrass band called Fort Road 5? He does.

To celebrate the day, Fort Road 5 was invited to play at Hymie’s Vintage Records in Minneapolis.


BJ sang, the late-afternoon sun shone through the basement windows, good friends and family laughed, the smell of vinyl records lingered, a dog named Irene padded around...and I smiled, grateful.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Take me outside to the ballgame

Here in Minnesota, we are obsessed with our new Twins baseball stadium. And for good reason. We get to watch baseball outside...the way you're supposed to. The one-million-square-foot stadium is big, new, and pretty. I imagine it having that new-car smell. It seats 40,000 fans in chairs that are supposedly wider and have more legroom than your average stadium seats.

Right now, we cannot get enough of the "firsts" associated with our new stadium.

First exhibition game in new outdoor stadium!

First real game in new stadium!

First win in new stadium!

First strike out!

First homerun!

First Tuesday game!

First Wednesday game!

First weekend game!

Come May, I’m guessing we’ll be hyping the first game played in the month of May. Woohoo!

We’re even proud of the first bad things.

First rain in the new stadium!

First loss!

First loss on a Tuesday!

First loss on Wednesday!

First loss of the second game in a series in the new stadium!

First loss of the third game in a series!

First injury!

I think we secretly like our new stadium because it makes us feel like we have good weather and we can try to convince non-Minnesotans of this (that we are not cuh-razy for living here). Winter? Oh, it’s not that bad. Need proof? Well, we have an OUTDOOR baseball field! Actually what this means is that we live in the tundra and are subsequently very tough--we will still be outdoor baseball fans in April even if it is snowing because, for us, as long as it’s above freezing at that point...we’re good!

Well, tonight I’m going to the first night game in the new outdoor stadium. And I'm happy to report that it's not snowing.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Smirking silence

The thing that will ultimately push me over the edge for getting a new car is not the fact that I’m going through a quart of oil every week and a half or so. Nor is it that the muffler falls off. It’s not that there is a horrible chugging, which, in addition to giving me and passengers whiplash, scares the drivers around me. It’s also not that sometimes I can’t open my front door. And it’s not that I just spent the past five days driving dad’s car because he was out of town and preferred I drive a reliable vehicle while he’s far away.

Oh no.

It’s actually that now I can’t listen to music. My car has lost control of its volume. Try as it might to hold it in, it simply can’t help itself. It must decrease the volume to ZERO as quickly as possible all the time. And I swear it laughs as it does this.

I turn the volume up to 21 and then watch it decrease to 0 within seconds. Silence.

Try again. Turn the volume up. 21 20 19 18 17 16 15...All the way back down to 0.

Oh, you like that song? Sorry.

Oh, you actually wanted to hear the weather for the day? Well, look online.

Oh, you don’t need to know about traffic.

No matter what I do--press really hard, use two fingers, say nice things to the button--I watch the volume numbers quickly decrease. 19 18 17 16 15 14 13 12 11 10... in a matter of seconds, it’s silence.

Try again. Back up to 21. Nope. All the way back down it goes with a smirk.

So, I drove to work this morning in silence and decided that was it. The final straw. My car has gone too far. I don’t care that it’s addicted to very expensive oil. And the chugging? It’s ok. I get cramps too. I understand. But making me drive in silence? I think not. Not gonna happen.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Religion or grace

For one of my classes, I’m studying theologians Karl Barth and Deitrich Bonhoeffer. Both challenge human assumptions made about God.

Last night I read an address that Bonhoeffer gave in 1928 in Barcelona. I underlined and starred the following passage. I don’t have time to dissect it at the moment, but it’s certainly food for thought on this pretty spring Tuesday in Minneapolis:

“What are we to think of other religions? Are they as nothing compared to Christianity? We answer that the Christian religion as religion is not of God. It is rather another example of a human way to God, like the Buddhist and others, too, though of course, these are of a different nature. Christ is not the bringer of a new religion, but rather the one who brings God. Therefore, as an impossible way from the human to God, the Christian religion stands with other religions. Christians can never pride themselves on their Christianity, for it remains human, all too human. They live, however, by the grace of God, which comes to people and comes to every person who opens his or her heart to it and learns to understand it in a the cross of Christ. And, therefore, the gift of Christ is not the Christian religion, but the grace and love of God which culminate in the cross.” -DB

Hm. Do we live by our religion or by God’s grace and love? What do others say we live by?

Friday, April 09, 2010

Egregious expectations

I am sick of hearing about Tiger Woods. I’m tired of seeing his name and face. And when your mom knows about the latest info regarding Tiger’s sexual escapades...it’s gone too far! In a recent conversation with my parents, they shocked me by knowing the most up-to-date news about Sandra Bullock's marital woes as well as all the gossip surrounding Tiger Woods.

Duh, Heather! This stuff is all over the news! They said.

Oh, sorry. Some of us have our noses in theology books. (that nose is very high in the air as I say this!)

Anyways. The Masters. Tiger Woods. The other day Billy Payne, the chairman of Augusta National Golf Club where the Masters are, had a few choice words about Tiger: "It is not simply the degree of his conduct that is so egregious here; it is the fact that he disappointed all of us, and more importantly our kids and our grandkids. Our hero did not live up to the expectations of the role model we saw for our children."

Seriously? Our hero? Live up to our expectations?

The thing is, Tiger never raised his hand and said, yes, I will be Billy Payne’s grandchild’s role model. Had he I think I would take Payne’s point a little more seriously. The fact is Payne made him that. We’ve made Tiger that. And, I would argue that maybe that’s the problem!

Now, Tiger did raise his hand and tell his wife that he would be her husband. So, she has some serious leeway on her expectations. But me? Not so much.

I don’t agree with or condone any of Tiger’s recent "egregious" actions. But he’s human and always has been. We’re the ones who have chosen to view Tiger and a bajillion other celebrities/athletes as not-normal, above average. We've put them on pedestals, and then we’re shocked when they fail like the normal human beings that they are.

We may do well to check the placement of our expectations?

ps. I promise to make my next post happy, less ranting. :)

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Oh sweet givens

If.
I’m so sick of this tiny little two-letter word, that I could use a four-letter word right now. I mean, for how weighty “if” is, you’d think it’d be 22 letters.

On the condition that
In case of...
Supposing that...
If this, then that...
If that, then this...


Everything hinges upon something else. Using the word "if" means you don’t know something. You’re lacking confirmation on something. And let me tell you, for a girl who plans and confirms, plans and confirms, plans and confirms, IF is nervewracking. Please, someone, "roger that" for me!

Chances are you have "ifs" in your life: health, job, finances, relationships. But those "ifs," wherever they may be, I think, can be good and healthy because they cause you to contemplate or hold on to those things that are not iffy. The things that you know for sure. The givens—oh sweet givens. And I think maybe those are the things we should be focusing on all along! Like those people who place no conditions on their love for you. Those friends who are your best friends no matter time or distance. Like God’s forgiveness, which doesn’t suppose anything. And His grace, which hinges on nothing but our acceptance. Not our plans or paychecks or report cards.

You know how wonderful the givens are. How great it is when someone says "I'll be there no matter what." or "I love you no matter what." Do we return the favor? Where do I place "ifs"--the very things I hate!? Do I give friends "ifs" sometimes? Do I give God "ifs"? If he does this for me, then I'll be happy? Or if he doesn't answer this prayer...I'm not going to believe...

I love givens, and I want to be a better given.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

If momma ain't happy...

Yesterday I sat at the hair salon, eavesdropping on the conversations around me. The woman cutting hair at the station next to me was talking to her client about her two young children. “And my husband knows that being a mother is not my top priority in life,” she explained. “I need to be happy first, and if I’m happy, then my kids will be happy.” She then went on to talk about a trip she had taken to L.A. without her kids or husband.

What?! That is precisely what’s wrong in our society, I thought to myself. We only care about ourselves. Me Me Me.

Shouldn't it be the around way around? Serve others. Take care of others. Put others before yourself. And chances are you will be happy because the relationships you build—and your children—will be healthy and strong and meaningful.

I wanted to asked her if she really believed that later in life her adult children would say, "Yeah, mom was great. She always put herself before us. We really appreciated that."

Tomorrow's Easter, and I look forward to celebrating the fact that our heavenly father put us first, giving up his son to die for us.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Good night, traffic

When I was little, I sometimes got to sleep on a cot in my grandma and grandpa’s bedroom. Their bedroom windows were always cracked (even when it was COLD!), and you could hear the constant whir of speeding cars and semis from the freeway just beyond the hill.

My grandpa would tuck me in by making a fort around my face. He’d take the blanket and smoosh it and fold it in just such a way that it covered my head but still left a little hole or opening somewhere for me to breathe. Then he’d shut the light off, and I’d feel safe and sound—face covered—listening to the traffic, knowing grandma and grandpa would be right next to me throughout the night.

Depending on which direction the wind blows, I can sometimes hear traffic from my own bedroom window now. Last night I could. As I crawled into bed and made my own fort around my head, I smiled—thankful for the warmer weather allowing for open windows and the sound of whirring traffic...and for a grandpa who made forts.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

C'mon, make fun of me

I make a lot of fun of the people who work out at the gym alongside me. Running on the treadmill affords a great opportunity to listen to the guy who grunts when he lifts weights, read people’s silly T-shirts, watch the girl in the purple spandex try to show off for muscleman. And then, of course, there are the people who leave the ridiculous requests and complaints on the bulletin board above the water fountain.

But, I have to tell you: on Monday I practically begged my fellow gym-ers to make fun of me.

As per usual, I was in a hurry as I got ready at home. I pulled on my tight black cropped pants, threw on a sports bra, grabbed a t-shirt, and because it was so nice out—no snow!!—I just wore my running shoes instead of bringing an extra pair.

To the gym I go. On the treadmill I hop. My keys go on the ground next to me, water bottle in holder, and ipod in ears. I am good to go. Bring on the people watching. As I started running, I felt something between my legs. I inconspicuously bent forward a bit and pretended like I had to scratch the inside of my leg. To my horror, there was a large, soft lump on the inside of my thigh. What you ask was this lump? Oh, my black underwear from the day before which blended in with my black pants and which I failed to notice as I got ready.

Crap! What to do? Did the five people behind me on stairmasters see this? Had they spotted the lump? Had they spotted my mortified face? Were they wondering why I had one large thigh?

What was my plan? I could pause the treadmill, get off, and go to the bathroom to dig my underwear out from my pants, but then what would I do with them? Put them down on the floor next to my keys? Hook onto my water bottle? Carry? The only possibility was stuffing them into my sports bra, but when you’re not that big on top, that’d probably be noticeable too! (I have a friend who can actually throw her cell phone in her sports bra during runs, and her phone won’t move. Oh the luxury!) I was cursing the nice weather. Had it been cold or nasty out I would have worn a coat in which I could have hidden underwear!

As these options ran through my head, my lump slowly worked its way to the back of my thigh. Trying to stretch my T-shirt down, down, down over my lump also crossed my mind. Maybe people feel sorry for me, I thought. I have an ugly growth on my leg. Or maybe people didn’t notice. Maybe they were too intent on the cable show above them about some girl who didn’t know she was pregnant until she was in labor.

Anyways, I didn’t get off the treadmill. I thought that may actually draw more attention to the situation. Instead I pretended as though I didn’t have an extra pair of underwear in my pants, and I vowed to never make fun of my fellow gymers again.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Shut up, Helga!

BJ and I took a road trip this past week, driving some 1,800 miles across seven or eight states to visit our grandparents in Indiana and Arkansas.

For Christmas BJ received Garmin—a GPS who he (fluent in German) quickly programmed to “Helga,” a woman who speaks automated German. He clipped Helga to the inside of the windshield as we pulled out of the driveway. “Biegen sie links in. .3 kilometers.” (Oh good. Just in case we didn’t know how to pull out of the neighborhood.)

Additionally, I borrowed dad’s hefty atlas, which is painfully large, but so fun because you can—when things get really boring—follow town by town, often ripping on names like Effingham, Mo., and Peculiar, Mo. (Missouri has the worst town names ever. Iowa may be a close second.)

But just in case these wouldn’t suffice, BJ also printed out Google maps, including both the directions and the maps for each leg of our trip. We were more than prepared. “We couldn’t get lost even if we tried,” BJ said. “True that!” I piped in, proud of our preparedness!

Well, that was until we entered Illinois when suddenly Helga was telling us to go one way (she practically yells us!), our Google maps suggested another way, and dad’s atlas showed another way that I thought would probably make more sense. In a matter of seconds we had to make a decision. Who was going to trump whom? Which way? Which way? The exit is about to pass!

BJ: Heath, which way?!

HJ: I don’t know. Who do you want? Helga or Google?
(and Helga yelling RECHTS RECHTS RECHTS was not helping)

Our preparedness was suddenly useless. Having not made a decision at the beginning who or what would be our default, we became decision-less and paralyzed at very critical junctures!

I quickly became annoyed with Helga, too, who only yelled at us louder when we’d take the Google route. And when she led us astray twice—taking us to nonexistent coffee shops—I had had enough.

But anyways, isn’t that how it always goes? You think you got your ducks lined up. You’ve got life figured out, and you are prepared! You know exactly where you’re going. And then suddenly there’s road construction and a missed sign and your “preparedness” becomes laughable. Which way are you going to go?! You can’t really rely on your own sorely lacking knowledge.

There’s great comfort in deciding to let God trump all my silly plans and maps and directions and societal pressures. Admittedly sometimes I wonder, really? You want me to go that way? And I also still tend to panic at critical junctures, but I shouldn't. He’ll always get me to my destination. And he won’t even arrogantly flaunt his know-how in German!

Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight.
Psalm 119:35

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Genius

A white screen blinked an outline of a file folder and a question mark at me.

I had flipped my mac on an hour before class last night to finish up homework. It did that introductory sound...auuummmm...and then tried and tried and tried to do something. I could hear it working, like a train going up a hill, “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can...” and then...the blinking file folder.

I wanted to talk back to it. Yes. Yes, I know. That’s my question to YOU! Where exactly is my folder of homework. You tell me. And come to think of it, please also tell me where my photos and my journal and my finances and internet “favorites” are too!

I suddenly felt naked and deprived and, quite honestly, helpless. There was simply nothing I could do, except restart a few times, only to have the same thing happen; take a few deeeep breaths; and turn to my work computer to redo the homework I needed for class. All the while, I tried to hold my panic at bay. My baby...my lifeline to the world! I wanted to stroke her and tell her to breath deeply...it’ll be OK! What am I going to do? Panic Panic Panic.

Well, I’ll tell you what I did. I immediately made a reservation at the closest Genius Bar: Apple’s help desk in the mall’s Apple retail store. A genius bar is a genius idea, really. I mean, geniuses are people with extraordinarily high intelligence ratings; they have a natural capacity for certain abilities. And they are all at a bar ready to help ME and my computer!

So, I promptly plopped my not-so-genius bottom down at the bar today at 12:20 over my lunch hour. I handed over my baby to bartender David in a bright blue shirt. Help her...fix her...do something, I pleaded with David. Make the folder go away, please! I can’t take it anymore. I don’t know what to do!

A song from Sunday school went through my head: “Cast your burdens...unto Jesus...for he caaaaaaares for you.” It’s from 1 Peter 5:6. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

I casted some serious concerns over to Genius David, and we were about to see how much he cared for me.

David told me he’d be right back. He was going to go in back and see if he could resuscitate my baby. I waited at the bar, and with that song in my head, I started thinking about other things in my life right now in which I feel somewhat helpless and deprived. Things that I just want to cast across the bar. I’m getting frustrated with them because I keep restarting and rebooting and it’s not working. I’m getting question marks! Blinking question marks. And panic can set in if I don’t make a reservation with God to hand over my burdens.

What a relief when I realize that I can throw my biggest problems and concerns at him and say HELP...and know that he has my best interests at heart. God is a genius willing to take our work problems, our fears, our worries about the futures, our financial woes on himself!

David didn’t have the greatest news today. My baby will be breathing again very soon, but not without losing a lot of precious info. It’s not the exact response I wanted, but I am incredibly grateful for the genius bar and felt so much better the second I handed my burden over to them.

It’s genius.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Three dates a day

Yesterday I chatted with a 91-year-old gentleman.

His wife is in a nearby nursing home. I found out that every day—like clockwork—he drives to the nursing home at 11am to take his bride out to lunch. Then he goes to work (yes, he still works). At 4:30pm he heads back to the nursing home to have dinner with her. He goes home and finally returns to the nursing home at 8pm to be with her as she goes to bed. She knows exactly when he will arrive and leave, and he will not disappoint.

It is a gift to be able to do this—he told me—to drive to the nursing home three times a day. It’s a treat because he feels like he gets to go on three dates every single day. He said he is lucky and blessed.

I was speechless.

Such perspective. Instead of being sad that his wife is in a nursing home, instead of begrudging the fact that he "has to" drive to the nursing home three times daily...he is happy.

And such love. Such loyalty. It takes my breath away.

So does the love of a certain someone, whom I would be lucky to visit three times a day many years from now.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Who's in front of me?

A few nights ago, I interviewed a woman who has been working in a makeshift tent hospital in Haiti since the January earthquake. She has performed leg amputations. Delivered babies. Put protruding bones back into bodies. And gotten no more than five hours of sleep per night for two solid months.

I sat on my comfy couch in my warm living room and listened to her share stories. About how the patients at her hospital sleep outside because they’re traumatized. They had been buried in debris, and with recent aftershocks are terrified to sleep under a roof. About how one 10-year-old named Rosemond was pulled out from under his house three days after the quake only to discover that his mom and dad and three siblings had already died. He now vacillates between laughing and playing soccer with kids in the neighborhood--like a normal little boy--and sitting somberly in the corner, alone--like no boy should have to. His 8-year-old buddy at the hospital was amazingly reunited with his parents a few days ago. Rosemond sat in the shadows, quietly watching his friend joyously hug his momma.

I silently dabbed the tears forming in my eyes. As she told me about her average day, I couldn’t help but feel a little guilty. What am I doing for the good of humanity? What difference, really, am I making sitting in my office working on a computer? While she’s fixing a skull fracture, I’m running on a treadmill at the gym!?

An overwhelming sense of responsibility and guilt bubbled up inside of me. And it's happened before. It happened after I returned from planting gardens in South Africa for 10 days. It happened when I built homes in poverty-stricken Mexico for a weekend. I felt so bad for having so much and doing so little. I started feeling guilty about the simplest luxuries. Why do I get toothpaste when so many others can’t even get water? Why do I get to go to five different shoe stores to pick out the “perfect” boots, when so many others don’t have anything on their feet? I should be somewhere doing something helping lots of people.

And yet, logically, I know it can’t work. We can’t all drop what we’re doing and go help people in Haiti forever. In fact, we’d probably make things worse there!

At the end of the conversation, I asked my interviewee why she’s doing what she’s doing--why she intends to spend another month far from home, tending to others’ physical needs. After a few moments of silence, she said that being there right now is extremely overwhelming. There are too many people with too many needs, but she reminds herself each day that Jesus was not about quantity. He was about quality. He was about helping the one person in front of him at any given time.

I sat up a little straighter. That’s right. We are the hands and feet of Christ. And we can’t all be in the same place at the same time doing the same thing. Sometimes I think I should put those blinders on...the kind that horses wear? Or one of those silly white megaphone-looking things that dogs where. I can sometimes get so overwhelmed by the enormous size and quantity of humanity's problems that I am blind to the ways I can truly make a difference. Instead, I feel guilty for the ways I can't make a difference.

So, the question is: who’s in front of me? Right now. Right here. How can I help him or her--even if it means only getting five hours of sleep?

Friday, February 26, 2010

On BB

Here’s the thing with palm pilots and blackberrys and smartphones--and whatever other handheld devices from which you can email. It may be uber speedy for you to respond to my email via this device as you walk through the airport or sit down in your meeting or wait at the doctor's office. And you may actually think you're doing me a favor by responding so speedily. But, it takes ME three times longer to decipher your blackberry response than it would to read your email response. And they're supposed to increase or enhance our communication, but I think these devices might be doing the opposite.

“I need the numbers for chart.”
becomes
“I nee the nmbersfor chart..”
Say what?

This morning, receipt letter became rect letter. And the responder sent the accompanying message “hope comes through.”
I mean, it sounds like we're dealing with the morse code.

A friend of mine requested a meeting for something.
Instead of receiving “Everything ok? Sure thing, let’s meet.”
He got “What for?”
And then was stressing about the terseness. Did he offend? Was the recipient mad? Oh no, they’re just ordering a latte as they answer your request to meet tomorrow.

I ask about a lunch date.
The response I get: “I can do T the 12 at 2 or W the 13 at 1.”
Ok. Great. But Tuesday is not the 12th; it's the 13th. And I said I could do 1pm on the 12th and 2pm on the 13th. And this is all assuming that T is Tuesday, 12 is the date, and 2 is the time, etc.

And you know it’s bad when the responder takes the time to apologize for their blackberry usage.
“Sorry. Am on BB.”

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Chirp chirp

Crickets.
You know the sound...the sound of no response.
Whether it be to a verbal comment (surely awkward!), a text, an email or a voice message...it’s the sound of simply not answering.

Knock knock. Hello? Anyone there? Comprende?

Even if it’s not the response you want, an acknowledgement is always polite and considerate.

With some people though, the sound of crickets triggers concerns. I told a coworker yesterday that I was worried about another colleague. His lack of response to our request was extremely abnormal. He always responds—and responds quickly. I feared something was wrong. Sure enough, come to find out, his computer was one of 30 on campus that had been overtaken by a virus. He was in the process of recovering his hard drive. Additionally, his mother had been rushed to the emergency room the night before, and was still in the hospital. Yet, he was on our request. He had gotten it and was halfway through it.

A friend recently asked me what one was supposed to do when they keep praying, keep talking to God, and seemingly hear crickets?! Hello? God? You there? Listening?! When you’re asking for direction and you’re getting nada? I don’t really know what you do. But I think the crickets mean something’s up. God’s on it. He is one of those people who does respond. So if there’s some lag time, you can be sure something's up. He’s probably very very busy on something very very good.

Chirp Chirp.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Fix the dent

Another request posted on my gym’s bulletin board...

Gym user: “Please fix the dent in the bathroom floor by the drain. I almost sprained my ankle.”

Gym employee response: “State law mandates a slight slope in the floor along with a drain to prevent flooding.”

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Hidden

I couldn’t find my black flats this morning, and, of course, I was in a hurry. I quickly went down the shelves in my closet, feeling in the dark for the soft suede. Each time I went down the same shelves coming up black flat-less (I skipped the top shelf because why would I put a pair of shoes I wear often on the very top shelf which I can barely reach?!), these shoes began to mean more and more.

What would I do without them?
I’d have to change pants!
And they’re so comfortable.
I can wear them with anything.
They’re pretty much like the greatest pair of shoes ever!
Where the heck are they?!

In reality, they’re not that special, not that expensive, and they’re all crusty now from the winter salt. I gave up and returned to the bathroom to finish getting ready. I’d resume the search later.

The other night in church, the pastor read the beginning of Colossians, Chapter 2. Paul’s talking: “My purpose is that you may be encouraged in heart and united in love—you’ll have the full riches of complete understanding, and know the mystery of God, namely Christ, in who are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”

I, not surprisingly, got hung up on things completely unrelated to what the pastor was saying. God…a mystery…in which treasures are hidden….Images of Disney’s version of the Swiss Family Robinson came to mind. Hidden treasures. Pirates.

Why hidden? Why does God need to be a mystery? I continued pondering this through much of the message—instead of listening to the message.

Hidden things are all the more precious when you seek and eventually find them. Think of gift shopping. We've all done the easy amazon.com order, which takes two clicks and two seconds. Useful, practical? Yes, maybe. But super personal or meaningful? Maybe not. But then there are those gifts for which you search high and low. You look everywhere for months. When you finally find it, it's the most amazing gift ever and you can't wait to give it away. I think maybe it's a little like God.

My own faith only gained meaning when I was forced to look for it, to question it. For me, God’s mystery is far from fully revealed. The whole treasure chest has not been opened, but God often pulls out pieces of sparkling treasure when I search for him. Glimpses of his amazing love and his crazy plan and his undeserved grace shimmer clearly through people placed in my path, opportunities put before me, and even challenges to overcome. He's going to take more than two clicks and two seconds though. You're going to have to look a little.

Anyways, by the time I found my black flats this morning—on the very top shelf, mind you—I could have kissed them.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Monday morning staredowns

This morning I sat on the bench in my entry way, staring out the front glass door, waiting for my dad and wishing I had taken a shower. Dad and I traded cars last night because the driver-side door handle just decided enough was enough. It snapped off, and I’m pretty sure it had a smirk on its face as it did it. So, dad was going to fix today on his day off. I realized last night though as I got home that I had left my garage door opener in my car; I’d have to go through the side door in the morning—I made a mental note.

I get up uber early this morning because I know I’m going into battle with traffic, yet again. With another 2 inches of fresh snow in the Twin Cities, the morning commute was sure to be a doozy. And the first piece of armor one can put on is to leave crazy, ridiculously early. I kind of want to pat myself on my back as I brush my teeth and start the shower: I didn’t press snooze ONCE! Take THAT traffic! Watch me beat you this morning!

I hop in the shower and immediately hop out like a madwoman. It’s freezing! What the? Towel wrapped around me, now shivering, I run downstairs and look. Yes. the water heater is still there. I stare at it. Yup. There it is. Right by the furnace. Looks good. I mean, really, what did I think I was going to do? I lean down, and turn the knob past the point where it says “Warning, May Cause Scalding.” I run back upstairs thinking to myself that scalding wouldn’t be so bad at that moment. So, I wait. Do more staring. This time I’m staring at my running water, as I wonder how much clean water I’m wasting when people in Haiti need it, and if my next quarterly bill is now going to be more than $58. Ok. Let’s try this again. I hop...NOPE. AH. FREEZING.

Fine. Traffic, not only am I going to beat you this morning, I’m going to kill you by a landslide because I just shaved like 25 minutes off my prep time without showering! I get ready, showerless, blowdrying my sweater before I put it on for warmth.

I am still smiling as I think of beating traffic and head out to my garage’s sidedoor. With my lunch bag, my work bag, my gym bag, and a gift bag for my friends who just had a baby in hand, I jiggle through my keys for the right one. Put it into the door. It won’t move. I stare at the lock. I’m staring again. Ok, I can do this, but at this point, the smile goes away. I run back inside, drop the bags off because I couldn’t just put them down on the walkway because they hadn’t plowed the fresh snow yet. Go back outside. Try the key again in both locks. They are frozen. The key will not budge either way in either lock. Frozen. Of course! I do some more staring at. the. lock...OPEN...PLEASE...before I relent and go back inside to call dad.

And as I plopped down on the bench in my entry way to wait, I had the strongest surge of desire for spring, for summer, for warmth. I also had the strongest surge of rage for winter. Suddenly, all of my problems were winter’s fault. I mean freezing cold water wouldn’t be that bad if it was 90 out! And my door handle may not have gotten so pissed if it wasn’t spending all of its time in below-zero weather. And my locks would surely not be frozen shut. Maybe I wouldn't need to blowdry my clothes for HEAT! I could go on and on. I started staring again. This time at the snow, willing it to disappear. The white landscape before me turned to luscious green. I could smell freshly cut grass. I had purple flowers hanging from my porch. My deck! I could see my deck. Oh, and a hint of fresh basil. Flip flops. Lawn chairs. Tank tops. Oh my gosh. I was in a desert seeing an oasis. Birds were chirping. The sun was shining on my face. I could smell sprinkler...

And then dad pulled up with de-icer and my janky car with the jerryrigged door handle.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Credit, please

"But it’s not our trash."

Pick it up.

"Even the cigarette butt?"

Pick it up.

It used to be the lamest day of the year for me. The Saturday that ended our vacation up north. For many years, my family, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, rented out an entire resort for one week. I looked forward to it all year long. I counted down the days until we got to go to “the cabin” and spend seven whole days sunbathing, waterskiing, staying up late, eating skittles, fishing. Because we lived down south and people didn’t have cabins and lakes were strange phenomena, this was a big deal! The week passed by so quickly though; the end would always come so suddenly. It would be early Saturday morning, and we’d be packing up the car to go home. And I knew what that meant...I’d have to spend the afternoon at the laundromat with mom. Sick.

But part of leaving was heading down to the beach to pick up trash with Grandpa. We were to leave the resort in better condition than it was when we had arrived. That meant we were picking up others’ chip bags, because we, ourselves, were a pretty tidy bunch.

I can remember thinking though that the owners weren’t ever going to know that we had done this for them! We should leave a note: “Thanks for everything. We took it upon ourselves to clean up everyone else’s mess FOR YOU. No sweat. You’re welcome!” Give us some credit for being exceptional renters!

I was thinking about this earlier this week. About the things we do when no one’s looking or listening. Knowing there will be no recognition, we should still go the extra mile even though cutting corners would be so much easier.

And then this morning, I read Colossians 3 and smiled.
“Obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” (22-23)

What a perfect reminder (and timely for me) that we do, in fact, get credit from the only place where it really matters! Someone is most definitely watching, and He is who we work for. Who we pick up others' trash for.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Bejeweled

Oh, February.

How I do love thee. You have bejeweled me every day on the way to work.

You fill my eyes with wonderfully bright red sparkly rubies. Every now and then these jewels dim, but mostly they just stay lit up, not moving. Thank you! There are so many pairs of them! They’re lovely. And they just encircle me. I cannot move.

And to the left, you offer shiny white little diamonds that go on forever and ever, as far as the eye can see. Again, thank you! So many pairs! I can hardly stand it.

Between these jewels are others who don’t seem as awe-filled as me. Their cranky, janky expressions and middle fingers seem to suggest that there are either too many jewels or the jewels are simply too bright for them so early in the morning.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Check your margins

It's February 10, and I have not blogged in what, for me anyways, is a long time. And I must admit, I feel untethered by this, similar to how I feel when I go too many days without talking to my dear friend in Cali. The other morning, I left for work a bit earlier and found myself sitting behind a stopped schoolbus, and junior highers were getting on. Movement in my rearview mirror caught my eye. A boy with a very heavy backpack was running awkwardly to catch the bus. He passed my passenger side and did manage to get on the bus, but not before having to bend over and pick up his dropped cell phone in the snow.

That's me, I thought! That's how I've felt lately. Trying to catch up on life. Trying to catch up on homework, on work work, on working out, on home projects, on sleep, on returned phone calls! You know it's bad when 20 minutes of time at home seems like a really large chunk of time to get stuff done. Or when you hit up Caribou three days in a row for coffee because you've gotten home too late or been too tired to grind the beans you've got at home.

Dad emailed to check in on me recently and kindly suggested that I may need to consider building more margin into my life. Yes, that would be nice. If he could just go into Microsoft Word, click on the tools tab and show me how to set a fatter margin on my week, I'd greatly appreciate it.

I just don't think I do margins very well. I don't do white space. If my calendar is empty, I feel the need to fill it. I need to host a dinner. Meet someone for coffee. Work on my hobbies. Learn more. Life's short! So I fill and then wonder how I can possibly be so busy! That 20 minutes of time at home that I mentioned? Well, that's good for a quick shower, dishwasher emptying, mail getting, and throwing a load of laundry in. At least! I mean I could maybe even get a few pages of homework read. I can learn something!

The untethered feeling, I think, is what happens when life doesn't just seep out of the margins, because I actually prefer to fill my margins--I thrive on being busy. I think untetheredness is when life has actually gone through the margins and is now off the 8.5x11 sheet of paper on the floor somewhere.

Anyways, dad's right. A woman needs some margin, I suppose. Or maybe a woman just needs to keep life on the page. Keep a post on the blog for goodness sakes.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Real rest

Jesus resumed talking to the people, but now tenderly. "The Father has given me all these things to do and say...No one knows the Son the way the Father does, nor the Father the way the Son does. But I'm not keeping it to myself; I'm ready to go over it line by line with anyone willing to listen.

"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly."


Matthew 11:27-30 (The Message translation)