Archive for December, 2008

31
Dec
08

RIP

As I finished typing the last few words of the previous post, Picasso, my man-cat, brought home a lovely present. A squirrel half his size lay on the bathroom floor, lifeless. With my husband out of town, what’s a girl to do? Get that thing the hell out of the house, as fast as possible. I picked it up, tried not to look, and heaved that thing into the trash can as fast as possible. I was proud of myself. Yay, me. And RIP, you poor squirrel.

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31
Dec
08

this last year

Two thousand and eight. Is it possible that people have been chronicling the process of time for that long, and longer? Apparently so, because here we stand at the precipice of another moment in time, the ending of another tally mark and the beginning of the next. Sometimes it blows my mind that there was once a time when the internet was nonexistent, when papyrus was the stuff on which thoughts were written. Was there ever really a time when to travel, you journeyed by boat, caravan, or foot? And a time when eating local was easy because it was the only choice you had? A time when your family was to be cared for, lived with, and worked with, because that was the nature of life? A time when houses were made of mud and straw, and not the nicks, and nacks, and fabrics, and details that seem so important now? Was there really a time when the church was a group of people committed to living a way of love? 

Oh I guess, if you get down to it, yes, those times existed, and even continue to exist in certain reaches of the world, unfortunately too far from my doorstep. There is the tendency in this post-modern, overly analytical world in which most of us live to settle on the fact that things are so wrong with so many things. To want to change things from the inside out… to want to get back to the basics.

And yes, I agree, I have too much stuff, and I am way too spoiled, and I do not think enough about the needs of others. That sentence could be incredibly long if I continued to reflect on all the ways that I foil myself and fail this world. But today, I want to accept where I am, where we are, and this mess that we live in.

This last year has been one in which I have cried, worried, obsessed, and yelled more than I like. But I also think that with those points of emotion come the counterpoints that remediate any hopelessness I might have been left with. 

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I learned that I really love to write. That, when I write, my soul is opened up and peeled back in a way I have never experienced and that I am spilling from the heart.

I learned that students everywhere are not the same. But I also learned that though they are not the same, they are beautiful and precious and mysterious and challenging.

I learned that my children love me. I knew this of course, but I learned that they admired me in ways that I had not anticipated.

I learned that Davy is so supportive. I always know he is. Yet, when this is acted out in tangible ways you learn all over again why you love your spouse.

I learned that my mom is perhaps one of the most self-less people when it comes to her two children. She is probably selfless to a fault, but I will love her for it all the more.

I learned that I have a few really amazing friends who accept me, encourage me, challenge me, and who I really think love to be with me.

I learned that I may not know what I will be doing in five years. I have realized, the future is a like a set of pattern blocks, and in a way, I am given the chance to play with them, creating the design that I like.

I learned that I need time for self-care. Yes, self-care. Reading, running, back rubs, thinking. I know it kind of makes me gag too – to write that. 

I learned that people will share a secret with you if you listen. I’m not usually the best listener but this year someone gave me a chance.

I learned that I have too much stuff and am still trying to figure out what to do… 

I learned that I am not very selfless, that I want to be more sacrificial, and that I need to figure out practical ways to give to others.

I learned that I harbor some major negative feelings about Christian-like experiences. Once again, I’m not sure how to turn those ashes into something beautiful, and I am thinking that forgiveness may be the only answer. 

I have learned that taking the time to think a little really matters. What I think matters, what you think matters. 

I have some resolutions. I’m not telling you until I see you. I would love to see all of you sometime, someday… for now though… just know that I will be here… and will try my best to listen.

29
Dec
08

necessary angels

I read this article today and was left speechless. It’s a little long, but for those of you who like to be encouraged by things that are happening in the world, please read. It is one of those tales of redemption, purpose, and self-respect that will make you say, “That is how it should be.” 

The article is called, “Necessary Angels”.

The pictures also tell this fabulous story, so be sure you look at the photo gallery that goes with the article.

29
Dec
08

the other night

The other night, Christmas night to be exact, we had some of our dearest friends over for dinner. We laughed, and ate, and talked. These are the things we do best. The conversation turned to things of importance, as it always does with these particular friends, and I think there were several things that fell out of my mouth that I want to take back. I’m not sure if I desire the takeback because I really didn’t mean the things that I said, or simply because I was embarrassed that I said them. I think a couple of my thoughtless statements went like this…

I hate the Bible.

and

My life is inconsequential.

At least these were the two things marked and highlighted in my head that night as it laid on the pillow. I chastised myself over and over for having the naivete to say whatever was running across my mind at that particular moment, and for my inability to filter my thoughts before blurting them out to be looked upon. I prayed a little about the things I said. I told God that I hoped he would understand why I said them even if I have no clue why I say half the things I do. But I also wondered to myself…

Do I really hate the Bible?

And is my life really inconsequential?

Truth be told, I think there is the possibility that I feel this way in tight moments. In the moments when push comes to shove I lose some of my faith and I forget what is really true. Probably normal. Maybe not. Whatever. And do I immediately regain my footing? Not really. It’s hard to continue sometimes when you have so many questions and when you are just not the type of girl who likes to do what they are told.

Where does that leave me? Any wiser? Definitely not. I am only more convinced of my foolishness in moments like these. I’m okay with that however, because if my friends can look me dead in the eye, listen, and love me all the same, then I have no doubt that Jesus can too.

Now I can breathe. I think I held my breath through that whole post. Thank you for listening to this fool.

28
Dec
08

the gym towel

I know that following the holiday celebrations, a lot of you were expecting to see some cute photos of my children dressed up in flannel pajamas, or maybe a post about the importance of contemplating the birth of Jesus. I hate to disappoint but in reality, I could not bring myself to write about the obvious. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy my holiday, it’s just that tonight, all I could think about was a single thing.

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Several years ago, when Davy and I were living in Colorado, our home was a log cabin. Honestly, a Lincoln-log look alike, drafty as hell, real potbellied wood stove log cabin. In winter, it was only warm when we burned up an eighth of a cord of wood in the stove each night, and then, it was only toasty in the main, original, glorious room of the cabin. Honestly, I thought I was kind of tough for a girl, and yes, I could build and sustain a good fire in that lovely wood stove, but on all levels it was hard work. As the fire would pop and crackle, the rest of the house remained at least 10 – 15 degrees colder, making the movement from room to room rare. At some point, being a person that was born and raised in Houston, a city where Christmas day temperatures can reach 85 degrees, I became disillusioned with the cold, and angry with the fact that each night it took such a regal effort to heat the house. I also realized by now that mountain winters are long and that I was beginning to unravel a little bit with all the darkness and cold. So, what is a girl to do?  I joined a gym. A fitness center. It was about twenty minutes from the cabin and seemed world away to me.

Upon my first night to actually show up in an attempt to reverse the seasonal affective disorder that had begun to set in – I was encountered with a pre-heated, fully lit, room teeming with bodies, and sweat, and humidity. Of course. And then to my surprise, I was presented with a gym towel. To me, this was like winning a mini – gym – lottery, for all the gyms I had ever been a member of required a towel fee to use their towels. But not this gym. No, they gave me a towel, actually required I use the towel. So, of course, I accepted the towel, used it and then threw it into the bin at the end of the day, where they kept all the stinky towels used by gym patrons.

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But tonight, as I stepped out of the shower and glanced at the towel rack that hangs in my home here in Houston, I paused before I picked up a towel. I paused, for no particular reason, and was buffeted with memories and sentiment. I picked up the white towel, the small one, the one I always use. It is my gym towel. It is, as all gym towels are, too small, scratchy, and this particular gym chose a style that has a thick blue line running down the middle of the white backdrop.  My gym towel, at some point, made it into my gym bag back in Colorado. Don’t tell my gym, I think that is why they chose the design of towel with a single dingy stripe bisecting the small piece of fabric.

But that towel became, even in Colorado, one of my favorite things. I am embarrassed to admit it is a little like an adult blankie or lovey or binky or whatever. I obviously realized at some point after I had snatched it from the gym, that my mistake could be corrected by simply returning the towel. But in my little outhouse style bathroom, where the temperature hovered near 60 degrees on a good winters night, it appeared to have an obvious function. It was the perfect size for wrapping my thin, quick to dry, short hair. I discovered I could get my hair turban extremely tight because of the size and nature of this particular gym towel. Some nights I would wear the towel in my hair for hours. The towel was only two feet by three feet in dimension, which I believed would never suffice to cover my body, at least in the wraparound sense. But one night in a moment of dirty towel panic, I grabbed my gym towel to cover me as we made the mad dash through the frigid Colorado night air to our hot tub, and discovered to my wonder, that the towel wrapped around me perfectly. It fit me like a glove, or a postage stamp, or something very small, but it fit and stayed as I tried not to slip on the ice on the back deck as we sprinted out to soak.

My gym towel has stayed with me through the Colorado cabin years, the move to Houston, and now the family years. During the changing of body size, twice due to my pregnancy, it was resigned strictly to hair usage. It has been used as a cool compress on nights when either food, drink, or illness, has caused my body to humble itself and succumb to the best solution at the moment. It has been my makeshift bath pillow at times, since I spend inordinate amounts of time reading and soaking, soaking and reading. It has been a cape, towel, and do-rag for my oldest child. It has been a hand towel at times, a face towel at times, and of course a real towel at times. But it began as a gym towel. A sweaty, little, cast aside daily piece of material.

It is my velveteen rabbit, my special something that I carry with me. It reminds me of the cabin, the cold Colorado winters, the hot tub, the freezing bathroom, the move to Houston, both pregnancies, my husbands smile as he sees me wrapped in that tiny thing, and it reminds me that something very ordinary can become something magical if you simply allow it to be carried with you.

Until tonight, I never knew the gym towel carried so much for me. I knew I loved it in a strange and absurd way, but I never thought about the fact that I loved it. I simply used it and used it, not identifying my attachment to this piece of fabric until tonight. There will be a day possibly, when my gym towel will have to be retired. But tonight, I am going to hang it up in it’s special place, pause for a moment, and think about how an ordinary, uninspired, and forgettable something can become an important, cherished, and loved something when it is simply placed into the right hands.

20
Dec
08

a tale of two friends

OK, so I have these two friends, let them remain anonymous. Not to offend any of my readers here, but they are quite possibly two of my favorite people in the world. They have never seen each other face to face. They have never spoken with each other person to person. They live in different states, are different ages, with different struggles. I love them both beyond measure. Somewhere along in their journeys, their paths have crossed. Not in the way that you think. They have never bumped into each other at the store or hiked a rocky mountain trail together. They have never shared a pizza or cried on each others shoulders.

But they listen to each other. And they respect one another. And they love one another.

I know they do. I sense that they deeply love each other… even though separated by many layers of many things.

They can detect  a common heartbeat that wells up from deep within each of them.

Thank you dear friends. Your journey is inspiring. The heartbeat is audible. I hear it. Keep sharing. Keep listening.

LOVE JUSTICE PEACE KINDNESS HONESTY FORGIVENESS FREEDOM

20
Dec
08

a gift

Yesterday, my students exited my classroom for the holidays. I envisioned their leaving to be a moment of exultation, a celebration that I had made it half way through my journey of this year. But I stood there, right before they left, actually feeling something different than what I had expected. Was I wistful? Was I nostalgic?  Was I sad? Was I happy? I couldn’t quite pinpoint what it was that I was feeling. I was not angry with them, I was not annoyed. I’m pretty sure, at that exact moment, I was thankful? I was feeling thankful for the fact that in the end, I was genuinely touched by each student in their own unique way.  In return, yesterday, I  felt affection welling up from within me. So, you know what I did? I stood there by the door and gave each of them a hug. And surprising, every last one of them received my hug with open arms. I learned more in that moment than I have in months put together.