Saturday, March 24, 2012

where did this week go?

Oh Friday how can you be here already?  I just changed the sheets and scrubbed the bathrooms.  Just yesterday I finished the laundry every last load- there was one washcloth and a tiny pair of panties left in the basket.  And today the basket is full and there are rings in the tub and under my eyes and I am sitting down to write a post on Friday Saturday when it should only be noon on Tuesday.  The days fly by.

This week, we . . .

Had a potty-training party.  Josie has become quite picky about her diaper, as soon as it's wet she is crying to be changed, and she demands cloth not disposable and at night she just takes them off and tosses them over her crib.  I'd say she's ready, though on our first day we did not have great success.

Did not sleep.  She's having trouble sleeping at night.  Just when she got over teething, she is waking up 8-10 times during the night again . . . I forgot about the sleepless two's!

Wore shorts!  One cannot live in the midwest without commenting on the weather . .. sunny and 80's in March!?

Got a night out with some friends to hear Abraham Verghese.  Fantastic.

In the kitchen . . .
Ina Garten's cranberry orange scones (better when they're fresh)
Brooklyn Girl's Penne Arrabiata (we all loved this)
Pizza with Kale, Roasted Garlic, and Four Cheeses (Sam and I loved it, others not so much)
Pulled Pork BBQ (easy and good)

Got to see some friends, play at the park, walk to school, wear sandals, drink iced tea . . . feels like Summer to me!

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

tell about it

Tonight I was on my way out the door for a walk and paused to wave to the girls just as the sun was setting through the window in the bedroom.  The room was lit pink, and their bodies were caught center-stage, god-like, awash in the glow of a holy moment.

But it was just a sunset.  Just a moment, nothing holy, really.

Last night Jim and I and our friends Jo and Larry got to hear Dr. Abraham Verghese speak at Playhouse Square, and he was fantastic.  He is a physician, professor, and author, his most recent Cutting for Stone which I reviewed here

Verghese spoke about the practice of medicine in a way so awash in tenderness and beauty that even a non-scientific minded person like me found it fascinating.  He drew us to the power of touch, of time and respect given to a patient.  I kept thinking how inspiring is a passionately compassionate person. He has given his life to noticing the sacredness and beauty of the human body.  I felt called to love.

Today Rachel Held Evans posted the Fifteen Reasons She Returned to The Church, after her post yesterday, Fifteen Reasons I Left Church.  I could relate to many of her reasons, on both lists.  

On her list of reasons she returned, two that stood out to me were #4 and #10, Anne Lamott and Madeleine L'Engle. These two women would certainly be on a list I would write, as well.  

One of the first posts I wrote on this blog was a tribute to Madeleine L'Engle, and how she came (or was it Mrs. Whatsit?) into my home as a ray of light during a particularly dark time.  

And on my walk tonight I kept thinking about Mrs. Whatsit, about Verghese and L'Engle and Lamott, people who call me to love and tenderness, to hope and wonder, back to faith.  How thankful I am for them, how much more alive I am because of their way of looking at life, how glad I am that they told about it. 

And what if everything matters, what if every moment of life is holy, awash in pink, and it is my choice moment by moment to see or not to see.

I am reading in the book of Leviticus, and today this verse lit up:
5:1 “‘If anyone sins because they do not speak up when they hear a public charge to testify regarding something they have seen or learned about, they will be held responsible.

So I realize we no longer take our instructions for living from the book of Leviticus, but what if it were a sin, not to tell about what you have seen or learned?  

It makes me think of another ray of light, Mary Oliver:  
"Instructions for living a life.
Pay attention.
Be amazed.
Tell about it." 

Sunday, March 18, 2012

a human burden (Kony 2012)

 I have been quasi-following the Kony 2012 chatter, and I wanted to post a few responses that I thought were excellent:

Viral Video, Vicious Warlord by Nicholas Kristof
When a warlord continues to kill and torture across a swath of Congo and Central African Republic, that’s not a white man’s burden. It’s a human burden.
Jen Hatmaker 
I believe we can engage a complicated crisis with respect for one another. We need not resort to name calling and slandering and throwing rocks at the soldiers on the frontlines while we write blogs on the couch. The lowest common denominator should not be our benchmark any longer. If you want to take a stab at someone, go for child predators and human traffickers and corrupt officials and complacent, indulged elitists who have made a living out of criticizing while not lifting a finger for their fellow man. Or Joseph Kony.
As for me, I’m going to move with the movers.
Kristen Howerton
Should we bask in blind privilege while being apathetic and ignorant to the rest of the world, for fear of someone chastising us for our privilege if we try to help someone less fortunate?  Ridiculous.  White privilege exists, whether someone is making a documentary about the Acholi people or working a corporate job in ad sales.  Frankly, I’m a little sick of it being levied as an insult for anyone who dares to advocate for people of another race or culture.
Sadly, a day or two after each of these posts were written, we learned of filmmaker Jason Russell's arrest and hospitalization following an apparent mental breakdown.  He was obviously broken by all of the criticism and stress.

I feel such heaviness and compassion for Jason and his family.  The only response to the open failure of another can only be sorrow for our common human frailty, an acknowledgement of the brokenness in each of us.

We are every one of us so conflicted with both heaven and hell, virtue and sin- we are all capable of both greater good and greater evil than we think we are.

And because it is the sensitive soul that bears these rare qualities of raw compassion and courage required to dream visions and make art, it is also this soul most easily afflicted, most tormented.

I want to believe that all is not lost- that the work of Invisible Children may only become more alive because the mission now is clearly not about elitism, but about the wounded fighting for the wounded, frail humanity speaking out on behalf of frail humanity.

I hope this footnote to the Kony 2012 story will help us to face the limits of ourselves, and humble us to live in vulnerability and courageous art.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Friday re-cap 3.16

The weather is so great here this week.  Yesterday when I opened the door to let in the fresh air this is what I found.  Apparently I live with a family of squirrels.
Speaking of squirrels, the kids spent hours outside yesterday, but in the evening I was cleaning up the dishes and Josie was begging to go out but I wouldn't let her, and she stood there sobbing, "Pease Mama!  I want to see da bunnies!  And da wabbits!  And da squiwels!  And da biwrdies!  And da wobins!  Pease Mama!"  and how do you say no to that?
I had one moment of panic Sunday evening, after the birthday party was cleaned up and I had tucked my two-year old in for the night.  I don’t have babies anymore!  And there will likely be no more babies on the horizon.  It has been what defined me for so many years- diaper bags, sippy cups, nap schedules, lullabies.  I love it, and I eventually found a certain confidence in mothering, and a safety in the simplicity of my role, the way that it eliminated so many other options.  But now as my baby is growing up I find that my role is changing as well, and I am beginning to think about what is next. I am so unspeakably grateful that I have been able to be a stay at home mom, and I don't intend to give it up anytime soon. It is always a little unsettling, change. Dwell in possibility.
Everything is lighter, simpler, easier these days.   We are sleeping!  (I know I have mentioned it before, but I am still surprised and rejoicing over this fact every morning).   

This morning at the grocery store my sweet Annie who normally can become overwhelmed in the store was nothing but sugar, bouncing and singing beside me.  Annie singing "you shall go out with joy" in the aisles of Costco today may be one of my favorite memories ever.  She is taking a little ballet class and loves it.  Josie sits and watches the whole time which is 100x better than I expected.  I think it helps that the class falls right before her naptime.

Speaking of Costco- I feel a little uneasy shopping there.  Does something feel unethical about buying these giant quantities of toilet paper or is this just me?  Because it is nice to not have to shop for toilet paper for the next fifteen years.
And Sam is losing teeth!  I can't help but be a little sad to see them pop out so easily, remembering how hard she worked to get them.

The fresh air and sunshine have me thinking about summer.  I am oh-so ready for school to be out and for plenty of uninterrupted time with Sami.  I can't believe how much I miss her, or how short the time is that we get to see her after school.  

Well that is my Friday afternoon recap.  It was a peaceful, sunny week, and I am thankful.  I think I will try to do these on Fridays, just the little random bits of home that I don't want to forget.  

A peaceful and sunny weekend to you!

Monday, March 12, 2012

I have been thinking about existence

I have been thinking about existence lately.  In fact, I have been so full of admiration for existence that I have hardly been able to enjoy it properly. . . .
I feel sometimes as if I were a child who opens its eyes on a world once and sees amazing things it will never know any names for and then has to close its eyes again.  I know this is all mere apparition compared to what awaits us, but it is only lovelier for that.  There is a human beauty in it.  And I can't believe that, when we have all been changed and put on incorruptibility, we will forget our fantastic condition of mortality and impermanence, the great bright dream of procreating and perishing that meant the world to us.  In eternity this world will be Troy, I believe, and all that has passed here will be the epic of the universe, the ballad they sing in the streets.  Because I don't imagine any reality putting this one in the shade entirely, and I think piety forbids me to try. 
from Gilead by Marilynne Robinson

the very best kind of weekend . . .

heading out to a birthday party . . . for the first time alone

guest room ready for company

 she's TWO!

Gossie's red boots are missing again 

her best buddy

 Happy Tuesday to You! (Josie version)

At the end of a fun, busy, happy weekend . . .

 some feel like dancing

some become pensive

some just fall asleep.

It was such a great, full weekend, which is why the Engineer didn't have time to write his follow-up post . . . hopefully coming soon!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Kony: idealist vs. scientist

Yesterday I watched this, not realizing that it was "trending" and "viral," and I cried, along with half the planet.  I found it incredibly moving, and was struck by how amazing compassion + creativity can be when put to good use.


Today I have caught bits and pieces of the criticism that has since been unleashed.

I am the first to admit that I can be easily duped, that I respond first with my emotions.

I am an optimist.  An INFP idealist/ optimist.  I believe everything.  I can't help it, I was born that way.  Since I have been married I have been allowed to see what a pain in the ass that sometimes makes me.

The problem is that I am married to an INTJ scientist, which means he lives in a world of rationality and logic (things I find irrelevant ;-).  And to be honest, sometimes that is a pain in the ass.

And sometimes I am slow to admit that my husband is often right.

But sometimes I am right too.

I love the idealism of this movement.

I found it irritating to listen to the naysayers today.  Why for every idealist out there, must there be an army of bloggers ready to rip him to pieces.

And yet I reluctantly admit that the critics are necessary too.

There is no perfect organization or strategy.

But isn't it inspiring to find people who are trying anyway?

I, for one, am praying for the children of Uganda, and for the capture of any evil person, something I hadn't been doing before I watched this video yesterday.

The video reminded me that idealism, and passion, and hope, are beautiful . . . and miracles are possible.

And I am asking myself what is the good that is in my power to do, with every creative resource God has given me, however small and flawed?

Rachel Held Evans has a good list of Kony 2012 resources

I have asked Jim to watch this video and respond on my blog tomorrow!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Book + Link

Breaking news . . . after so many years without sleep, I just have to say how easy life has suddenly become . . . and not only at night.  This week I noticed a rather unnerving calm in our house . . . nobody crying, no up-all-night, no clinging to mama all day long . . . and I didn't even have to pay for it with every puzzle box upturned or baby lotion coating the bathroom.  The girls are all in a sweet and hilarious phase.  I laugh a thousand times a day. 

The Shaping of a Life
My criticism of most memoirs is that they are twice as long as they need to be.  This one was different, it was four times longer than it needed to be.  I like Tickle's approach to life, and there were some interesting chapters, but I plowed through the last half of this book (skimming) out of shear determination to get. it. done.  Even the editor must have been bored by the end because one paragraph repeated itself entirely in the last chapter.

I was hoping to learn how Tickle managed to balance her family of seven children with her career and writing, but this book only traced her "shaping" years- the years leading up to her family life.  I liked her Farm at Lucy series, and I plan to read The Divine Hours next, but this one tested my endurance.

Here is one paragraph that made it worth it . . . kinda.
It was in Pelzer that I first learned to trust and record without requiring a prior understanding or a logical cohesion.  Whatever else that may mean or imply, it means first and primarily that my mind and will had at last been honed enough to recognize and engage the commerce of the interior life; it means the mind and will alike had learned to barter and tithe, buy and sell, the goods of the body; it means that mind and will were at last selecting for themselves which merchants in the spirit's world were to be trusted and in which stores to shop.  It means that youth was almost done.

In which I reject the temptation of negative definition of the kingdom of God
And I think that the Kingdom is every good and perfect moment in our life serving as a taste, just a small taste, of what God truly intended. It's making your tinies laugh. It's sleeping babes curled into their mother's breast and the heft of holding another soul. It's silent nights of snow and cold water in your throat on a hot day. It's wisdom and beauty, peace, love and joy and then it's also good coffee and real food, late afternoon sun and handmade quilts. It's the renewal of morning and the intimacy of night.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Lent: Hope

warning: this is a long one.  Read it if you like, but I wrote this as a lecture to myself.

I feel pressed to write about Lent as training in hope, though I do not quite understand it myself and certainly do not deserve to write about it.  I become discouraged, my hope withers, all the time, and yet I feel continually called back to hope; to illogical, stubborn hope.

It is the most important thing in the world, Hope.  I do not know how I would live without it.

I think that it is the most courageous thing we are called to, and it happens beneath the surface, in the dark, this long stretch of grey before spring.

Hope rails against the impossible.  In fact impossible is a necessary ingredient for hope- if it is logical, probable, possible, it is not hope.  It is at the end of hope that hope happens . . . the end of our understanding and logic, at the end of who we thought we were or who we thought God is, at the end of what we believed that God would do.

I think of Lent as this grey of March.  It is the season that gives voice to our failure and regret, lack of understanding, our impossible.  We are incapable of love, incapable of any good thing . . .

Almighty and most merciful father,
we have erred and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep,
we have followed too much the devices and desires of our
    own hearts,

we have offended against thy holy laws,
we have left undone those things which we ought to
    have done,
and we have done those things which we ought not to
    have done.

This is why I need to lead my children through Lent.

Because someday life will grow dark.

Much of life is spent here, in the fog and failure, wrestling our why's before God . . . they need to know this.

To teach my children to hope- the reason for hope- is my most important job as a parent.  It is the greatest gift I can give them.

We were reading our book of Bible Stories during breakfast and on this day I opened to the story of Abraham offering his son on the altar . . .

"Abraham didn't understand, but he was sure God knew best.  He would obey."

I looked up to find questions in her eyes and I could only look back with questions.  And honestly?  I was angry.

Every day I tell them how good God is, so very good, that He loves and loves and loves.  Every day I call out to them the good things he does, and gives, and every evening we thank Him for His goodness.  We had just read about the miracle of Abraham and Sarah conceiving Isaac and see, isn't God good?

And I am sure that this passage can be dissected and explicated and and debated . .. but I can only understand it as the place where we choose to give God everything.  To surrender to him all of our understanding and love most and even His very goodness, what we understand of his goodness, we give it back to Him.

I was angry that morning because it just seemed like too much, unreasonable . . .

Later I read about Abraham in the new testament, a verse I hadn't noticed before:

 Heb.11:19, Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead . . .

This was new for me: Abraham's faith wasn't in his sacrifice, but in his hope. 

And this is Lent: the journey to Moriah.  The wrestling in the Garden.
And this is faith: full surrender.
And this is hope: Easter morning.  God can raise the dead.

I cannot rejoice in the resurrection without the Cross, and before the cross is the Garden.  Before Abraham laid Isaac on the altar, they climbed the mountain.

I cannot rejoice in hope without this reasoning, wrestling, the logical dismantling. . .  finally laying aside all doubts and fears and choosing to surrender to hope.

And this is the other impossibility of hope: it extends beyond my lifetime.  I may never understand in this life, but God can even raise the dead . . . 
13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. 14 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Hymns for Lent

In my post about observing Lent with children I mentioned that one practice I am being more intentional about during Lent is singing hymns.  

A few weeks ago the topic of the adult sunday school class at church was on hymns, and we were asked to each share a favorite hymn and why it is meaningful, and then we enjoyed an old-fashioned a cappella hymn sing.  It was one of the most uplifting times I have experienced recently.  Hymns that I'd not heard in years came back to me, and I felt again the power of God through the rich poetry of old familiar hymns.

The sermon message later was on the importance of the arts and music in worship.  The speaker described the way that people experience God, some through intuition and some through reason, and that typically, those who rely more on intuition tend to experience God more easily than they who rely on reason.  The speaker referred to an article (that I wish I could find) saying that one way more rational people can practice the presence of God is through music.  

I missed most of the message because I was with the kids, but Jim told me about it later and it made so much sense, especially after my morning experience in the presence of God through the beauty of hymns.  

This is why I am re-learning hymns for myself, and teaching them to my kids.  There is power and beauty in the hymns of our faith, and who knows how one day they may bring comfort, remembrance, hope, even faith, to our children.

What is your favorite hymn?

Be Thou My Vision

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

Be Thou my battle Shield, Sword for the fight;
Be Thou my Dignity, Thou my Delight;
Thou my soul’s Shelter, Thou my high Tower:
Raise Thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.

High King of Heaven, my victory won,
May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heaven’s Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.

Words: Dallan Forgail (8th Century)