Monday, April 5, 2010

Just another manic Monday

I was in the dentist's office today, waiting for Noah, when I heard the "Manic Monday" song. Growing up in the 80s was fun.

Anyway, YES!, I managed to semi meet my deadline. I will give you the gory details in the weeks to come. Unless you are a formula writer, this endeavor is far harder than it appears.

We'll talk tomorrow. Many thanks to those of you who have remained loyal through the stoppage - you can stop emailing me now. I'm alive. And, Jared, I owe you an email.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

My apologies

I am working furiously on my book, hoping to have it to my agent by March 30th. Bear with me. I miss you too.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Up (and downs) in the Air

Last night, one of my closest friends took me out to celebrate my birthday. Yes, my birthday was in October, but we have both been so busy that we just got around to it.

We went to dinner and talked about where we come from. We shared our family history, and I realized that as we both talked about grandparents and old situations, there were many times we said something like, “I’m not exactly sure what happened there. No one ever talked about the details.”

After dinner, we went to see “Up In The Air” a new George Clooney movie. It was a very sad tale, really, about isolation and loss and secrets.

It’s amazing the secrets we carry within us, isn’t it? Whether it’s simply refusing to verbalize an opinion or staying mum about something that we did in our youth (or yesterday) that we are ashamed of, we just keep things to ourselves. Often we have fantasies, or dreams for ourselves, that we never tell anyone. Mostly I think we internalize those out of fear that they’ll never come true.

I have been working on a book for 2 years. I told everyone about it, and even got an agent fairly quickly. Things were humming along, and parts of it went to focus group and everything. When the process stalled, I started to keep things to myself. I’m not sure if it was embarrassment or a sense of failure or what – but for some reason I kept all those feelings to myself – fear, disappointment, questions.

Now that things are humming again (yeah, you’ll have a book in 12-18 months!) I am trying to examine why I am so open with success and closed with failure. I sense, after our conversation last night about family history, that is critical for our children and our world that we start to express our inner selves a little more.

Someday, when my great-granddaughter is out for her birthday with a friend, I want her to be able to articulate who I was and WHY I was. Of course, she won’t know everything, but perhaps it will be an encouragement to her life to know the ups and downs of mine.

Thursday, January 14, 2010


I currently sit on the Safe Schools Advisory Council for the school district we live in. It is a large district, with over 3300 students in the high school that only houses 10th, 11th and 12th grades.

After the Columbine incident, many schools have taken a proactive approach to school safety. Even though I fully support having a plan in place, as I sit and discuss things like “armed intruder drills” in our elementary schools, I can feel my heart breaking.

How did we become so troubled?

I also serve on a school committee that advocates the Olweus Program. It is labeled an “anti-bullying” program, but I see so much more happening. One of the key components is building empathy. The program has designed routines and activities and ideologies that promote empathy.

EMPATHY: noun; the intellectual identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another.

For the world to ever be safe, empathy is the key. Now, if you’re a Christian, you may be thinking, “The world just needs Jesus!” Well, yeah, but what was He about? He is the consummate example of empathy = descending to earth to live as a man. Talk about walking in someone else’s shoes!

Empathy takes time and effort, it is intentional. I want to have this empathy flag that waves in front of my face every time I am tempted to feel judgmental or jealous or even annoyed. And, frankly, I do.

The Spirit of God is my empathy flag, and He reminds me of grace and compassion. He encourages me to remember that my perspective is limited, my point of view is self-centered and my outlook can be self-serving. Then He gently tells me again that the grace I have received is the grace I should dispense.

Giving and receiving grace. Everybody’s safe.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Look up

I have been attending a lot of basketball games in recent days. All three of my children play, my oldest on two teams, and so the schedule is pretty packed.

The last two nights have been Mia’s team. If you have never seen a basketball game involving young girls you really haven’t lived. My husband, the coach, is incredibly patient as they learn and develop the motor skills necessary to play.

One of the phrases that he yells out often is, “Look up! Look up!” Girls (and young boys) have a tendency to look down at the ball when they are dribbling – part of learning how to control it – but they fail to see the court and their teammates and the basket when they do. Steve is encouraging them to dribble without watching, to keep their eyes set on the entire game – a skill that requires practice.

Over the last two nights, the phrase has been ringing in my ears: Look up! Look up!

It says in the book of Philippians chapter 4, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Don’t watch yourself dribble today.

Practice looking up.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Straight away

I am writing today while sitting in the waiting room at the orthodontist’s office. My son, JJ, is getting his SECOND set of braces put on, after wearing his first pair for 2 ½ years.

The process of getting braces put on is two-fold. The week before the wires and bands, little tyrants called “spacers” are placed between the teeth to make room for what’s coming. As you can imagine, both steps in the braces process, spacers and wires, HURT. JJ says that, for a few days, it feels like a constant toothache.

Pain is an interesting phenomenon, really. Think of the lengths we go to in order to avoid it. And, yet, if I read my Bible correctly, pain is absolutely INTEGRAL to becoming like Christ.

When they placed JJ’s spacers in last week, he continued to be AWARE of their presence – mainly because of the discomfort they caused. Often in my own life, when my relationships are out of sorts or broken, there is a discomfort – a pain – that reminds me of a problem. I suspect this is a very good thing, even though I do not like it. Sleeplessness, a disturbance in my spirit and the inability to forget are the impetus we need - to act, to change, to respond. Pain is God’s way of keeping us alert.

When JJ learned he would need another set of braces, I’ll admit he cried. Funny though, when he was younger and knew he was getting braces, he was actually excited. What’s different this time? He KNOWS what it’s like from experience – he anticipates the pain he will have to endure.

True for me, too. I know, without doubt, that the way of Christ is death and resurrection. Things must die – attitudes, habits, people, even really GOOD things – in order to make way for the new thing that God wants to do in our lives and in the world. Yet, after we experience this death a couple of times, we become gun-shy. Though we know it’s right and good and best – it HURTS. We anticipate the necessary painful process as we grow closer and closer to God, but it is still hard to welcome it. Learning to accept it straight-away, instead of practicing avoidance techniques, is a result of experiencing the freedom and wholeness that comes from completing the process.

Embracing pain as the cleansing, growing and teaching agent that it is can be difficult. God knows that – remember He went to the cross – proof positive that temporary pain creates a path for healing and redemption.

Oh, and straight teeth.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Pride cometh before the fall...

I am really crazy about my children. As a matter of fact, I must admit to some pride.

My eldest humbled me yesterday, however.

I heard some rustling yesterday morning about 5:00 am. I figured someone was using the bathroom and allowed myself a few more minutes to doze even though I am usually up at that time.

I woke with a start at 6:15 am, realizing I had overslept, and ran into my son’s room to wake him as well. He was under the covers as he is most mornings, so it never occurred to me that he had been up and around already.

Minutes before the bus was to arrive, he asked me if the printer to the family computer is working. I explained that it is, but is running low on ink, so he’d better use Dad’s printer. I then innocently asked why he needed to print something when it was almost time to catch the bus.

I won’t bore you with every sordid detail, but suffice it to say that Noah had gotten up at 5:00 am to write a major English paper that he was supposed to be working on for the entire Christmas break. And, yes, he was back in bed at 6:15 am.

The paper was based on “Our Town” by Thornton Wilder. Just like its character, Emily, Noah was asked to ponder the important things in his life that he takes for granted – things that he would realize are precious if he suddenly died.

Hmmmm. I can immediately think of a variety of things he could choose from, not the least of which is his mother’s steadfast love and attention.

What do you suppose Noah wrote about?

SHOWERS (yes, the kind where you use shampoo), WEARING CLOTHES (there was even a forced reference to those poor naked countries where people apparently are forced to work in the nude) and HANGING WITH FRIENDS AT SCHOOL.

I have been purged of my hubris. Thank you, Lord.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Picnic anyone?

We had a lot of holiday revelry at our house over the past two weeks. Between our friends and family (and our kids’ friends) we had parties, holiday gatherings and sleepovers.

I have decided to deal with the aftermath piece by piece. I woke early this morning to tackle my kitchen, but right before I turned on the dishwasher, I decided to run downstairs and see if I could find any stray dishes I had missed. Sure enough, there were two soda bottles on a video game shelf that I had not seen earlier, and I grabbed them.

It wasn’t until I was back on the steps that I realized that the bottles were covered in ants. You may be wondering why it would take me so long to see it, but frankly, I was not EXPECTING ants. For heaven’s sake, it is way below freezing in the part of the country were I live, and ants on a soda bottle in my family room did not even occur to me. As a matter of fact, I was borderline shocked at the discovery.

As I rinsed the bottles upstairs, I pondered how the little critters got there. All ants should currently be hibernating, right? Or do they die each year? I must do some further research – or call an exterminator.

This may be a crazy stretch for you, but right at my sink I had the strangest notion that Christians should be like ants.

The grace and kindness and patience we are to embody in the world should seem so out of place, should almost shock those who touch it. Christians are out of place in many ways, but not the ways we’ve chosen.

Case in point: I have a friend on Facebook who is an old pastor friend of mine. He taught a class I was a student in years ago, a class I enjoyed very much. He has since taken a church in Texas, and so I have not seen him in quite a few years. I do read his FB updates, however, and apparently he believes Texas is “God’s country.” His view of Texas must corroborate his view of being a Christian – and he often makes scathing commentary on the rest of us being Socialist or not standing up for family values or whatever is itching his conscience at the moment.

For some reason, American Christians believe that being the vocal moral conscience of our nation is the way to influence change – or why the Bible says we are to be in the world but not of the world.

What if – and I say this after washing them down the drain – we are to be more like my ants? What if our love and graciousness is to be so tangible that it is simply out of place in a world that lives below freezing? People certainly aren’t expecting it, it may even produce further research.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Merry, Merry Christmas

Make Peace.

See you in January.