Twiddling my thumbs because they’re the only part of me that doesn’t hurt

So, since my back launched its jihad against the rest of my body (remember those war cries I mentioned…yeah, they came) and I can’t do a damn thing but sit here and watch my house disintegrate around my ears, I thought hey, I might as well blog something! So here it is.

 

Disintegrate is a difficult word to spell until you realize it is simply dis (as in not–most definitely and emphatically not) and integrate (as in to bring together, to be unified, to revel in the absence of used diapers scattered across the floor because one cannot hobble to the trash can)

 

What is the proper response to a three-year-old who comes to you with a q-tip and says “Mommy, there’s green stuff in me” ?
a) turn it into a learning experience by breaking out the microscope
b) take a picture of the proud moment and save the q-tip for the scrap book
c) turn your wave-sound-machine to maximum and return to bed

 

In the interest of obeying My Beloved, who gave instructions that I was to “take it easy,” I watched The Pirate Movie this morning. Aren’t I a good, obedient wife?? I found it at Target only weeks ago and was eager to share it with my kids.

 

Don’t let the scandelous cover art fool you. There’s no hanky panky in this movie (not to mention they gave KM actual boobs in that painting when in fact she has none). It is inane. It is goofy. It is the quintessential 80s kiss-fest, complete with pop music and plenty of winking and waving at the camera. It is in no way quality movie-making, by any stretch of the imagination. And I ((heart)) it with all my strength.

 

The movie stars teen heartthrobs in all their blond, permed glory, and I saw it for the first time whilst flying across the Atlantic in the middle of the night on my way to Stavanger, Norway. I was in ninth grade and my father had been transferred forthwith by Conoco to help them find black gold in the North Sea. I barely knew where Norway was until I looked it up on the globe at the time, and was full of all the anxiety that any midwest-bred hickette could contain. As the stars sang the final song through my little plastic headphones “Give me a happy ending…every time…don’t be unhappy…everything will work out fine…” it might as well have been the voice of God Himself speaking to me from above the roar of the jet engines and the stewardesses offering me hot washcloths and caviar (yeah, we got to fly first class…just once…and yeah, it’s All That. Caviar, notsomuch). Watching Kristy and Christopher dance around so reassuringly whilst singing those words ensured that the movie would lodge securely in the rift of my burgeoning heart, holding back the surge of overwhelming fear and dread before it consumed me.

 

Give me a happy ending…It’s a cute song in a cute movie full of cute people saying cute things. It could not have been a portent, a sign, or a prophecy. However, I did go on to have the time of my life in Norway. I climbed fiercely jagged mountains and stood here (okay, okay, so I crawled to the edge and peeked over. My brothers probably stood):

 

I broadened my horizons. I took trips to Europe. I saw the Mona Lisa (the Mona Lisa!) at the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower, and floated down the Seine river on a boat. I rode on The Tube in London and toured Shakespeare’s birthplace. I went to Denmark and prowled through castles. I got involved in high school drama productions and discovered that I could be a ham when I wanted to. I decided that I wanted to write, forever. I ate the best chocolate, bread, and ice cream I think I’ve ever had (and yes, I gained 30 lbs, but luckily some of it went to the proper places). I fell in love. Yes! Just like the movie. Our eyes met, and then we got married. Okay, so there was some other stuff in between, but those are the highlights.

 

My kids laughed at the movie; my second daughter groaned about how “gross” Kristy’s hair was. They enjoyed it. But I’m not sure they get my particular fondness for it. It isn’t exactly in the same genre with most of my other favorites. I guess it’s like they say; you had to be there.

 

Our bodies, our disgruntled union laborers?

I find it amusing (which proves that I am certifiably unstable) that after my last post my back has decided to stage a rebellion. All week it has been twinging and tweaking and sending warning messages to my Central Cortex that at any moment it might go on strike to renegotiate its terms. It wants less toddler toting and more hammock time. It demands massage and chiropractic care as recompense for years of twisting itself into impossible positions around snoozing and nursing newborns.

 

 

No! My brain replies, the Hardass Corporate Manager. No renegotiating at this time! You must continue to perform at your current level of productivity and be happy about it!
Oh really? Comes the challenge from the 3rd through 5th Lumbar Vertebrae. We’ll see about that. I’m warning you that if our terms are not met soon, numbers 2-7 Cervical are prepared to join us!
 

I woke My Beloved at 8:15am to tell him that the situation was becoming critical. I told him that my back was this close (holding my finger and thumb together) from going out altogether. My Beloved, having had his share of back problems ever since his 10th-12th Thoracic decided to take on a set of porch steps years ago, was properly sympathetic.

 

Oooh, I’m sorry honey…he mumbled, leaping from the bed to get everyone ready for church promptly going back to sleep.

 

Truthfully, the situation is less like union workers and more like guerrilla warfare. A union situation would imply that I actually had any say in the matter, when I know this is not the case. The spine is holding all the cards. It has donned its camouflage warpaint and obtained its contraband weapons. It only awaits the proper moment. My brain is at DEFCON 1, pacing the floor and shouting random ridiculous orders like Hold your ground, men! We do not negotiate with terrorists!

 

Oh, but we would if only we could. I could stop lifting heavy objects, like my three-thousand-pound three-year-old, and cease all cleaning efforts until the crisis has passed. But I know it will not be in those moments that the attack will come. Just when I congratulate myself on averting the war and appeasing the rebels, I will have the audacity to retrieve a cheerio from the floor, or lift my mascara wand to my eye, and the war shrieks will echo in my ears. Down I will fall, in slow motion it seems, with a resounding crash, and lay helpless in a crumpled heap.

 

 

 

It’s coming, and I cannot fight it. Looks like a beautiful day to get some yardwork done.
 
 
 
 

 

Our bodies, ourselves?

From the time we are born, our bodies make their desires known. We hunger, we hurt, we satisfy, we tend. Input is received, responses go forth. We are at home here, in our kingdoms of bone and blood; monarchs of our thoughts and feelings. We crown ourselves supreme.

 

If we become Christians, we embrace the scriptures that exhort us to “discipline our body and make it our slave” (1 Cor.9:27). The verse puts us in charge, makes us feel empowered (whether or not we do any disciplining in actuality). We want to “run the race to win” (1Cor.9:24) and “fight the good fight” (2Titus4:7)….these are actions we can get excited about, verses that make us want to put on our spiritual boxing gloves and get out there in the ring with a satanic version of Apollo Creed (yes, I know he switched to the good side in the sequels; the analogy only goes so far, give me a little room here).
 

But lately I’ve been convicted more and more about Who is truly in charge here.

 

I’ve always thought of my body as my own. It’s mine, you hear? Mine. I’ve had it for over 38 years and, for all its faults and flaws, I’m rather fond of it. I don’t want anyone messing with it without my permission. I want to eat the way I want, dress the way I want, and decide what’s best for *me*. But there are these scriptures that niggle; they aren’t my favorites…they aren’t anybody’s favorites, that I know of. Scriptures that tell me my body has been bought for a price (1Cor.6:19-20), that my body is the Lord’s (1Cor:13), that my body should be a living sacrifice (Rom.12:1). Sure, I nod in agreement that my body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. I want Him to be at home here, right next to me, as I pat the second-best seat cushion and smile indulgently for Him to put His feet up.

 

“Take a load off, Holy Ghost. Sit here. No, no, don’t get up; I’ll do it myself, You needn’t bother. I can take care of it.”

But who’s taking care of what? God holds my atoms together, causes my heart to beat, orchestrates the gas exchange within my very cells, numbers my days and the hairs on my head. He alone is the Author of all life; He gives…and He takes away. I can bite and claw and scratch and struggle against this idea; I can assert my own authority, refuse to give in, surrender no quarter…but who am I fighting against?

 

I belong to Jesus! I assert to the devil when I shake my fist at his schemes. I belong to Jesus! You can’t have me! Such comforting, powerful knowledge. Until I glimpse what that truly means. No, Lord. Not that. I can’t handle that. Don’t make me walk that road.

 

But I belong to Jesus. Every bit of me, and suddenly it’s not just a handy high-sounding phrase. He paid the price. He set me as a seal upon His arm, engraved me on the palm of His hand, wrote my name in His book of Life. Can I not trust Him to use me as His vessel, for His glory? Can I not trust that the comfort in belonging to Him when things are rosy will sustain me when all is bleak? Present your bodies a living sacrifice…it’s more than a suggestion. I have a feeling it’s the very pavement on the path to Heaven, and the first step in reaching the place where we can say Though He slay me, yet I will trust Him.
 

 

John 3:30

Arms upraised
in fear submitting
as You take
what’s mine from me

 

A sacred crime
a holy mugging
and all I
can do is plead
 
Wills collide
my heart is breaking
though You wound
yet You will heal

 

I am Yours
Your love unfailing
by Your word
I know I’m sealed

 

All the things
I call possessions
come from You
and by Your hand

 

Anything
I lose in Your name
waits for me
in Heavenly lands

 

Arms upraised
in true submission
laying down
each wish and way

 

Knowing that
Your will is better
and all I
can do is praise
 
 

 

Sixteen

Around here, turning sixteen warrants a celebration just a little above and beyond the norm. In general this includes an overnight stay in a hotel and a shopping trip. There are a couple of milestones that the honoree may or may not choose to accept, one being ear piercing and the other being makeup (obviously I’m talking about girls here….the boys, when they reach 16, are entirely under my husband’s jurisdiction). My thirdborn is introspective, creative, quirky, and interested in subjects ranging from astronomy to art, so when her 16th approached this weekend, her celebration included a visit to the Philbrook Art Museum in Tulsa. We (my two oldest girls were also in attendance) were pleasantly surprised by the quality of art displayed therein (let’s face it…it ain’t Boston we’re talking about)

Mary
(Mary, looking particularly radiant)


(i can’t remember which martyr this was, but he doesn’t look terribly perturbed about the knives)


(two cupids fighting over a heart. i just would have expected more from cupids)

but mostly we loved the botanical gardens out back.


(so okay, just what do you call that thing. i kept wanting to say “gazebo” but i know it’s called something else)


(not a bad little crib)


(miriam-the BG, molly-17, and rose-19)


(geez, mom, quit freaking out. it’s not like i’m going to fall in or anything…)


(sheep…a favorite of mim’s….these happen to be concrete)


(stairs mean pictures. don’t know why)


(columns are for peeking out from behind)


(miriam wants to pet a koi)


(but catches a tadpole instead)


(rose splashes in stinky mossy water)

The next day we hit the mall (cameras forbidden), where Miriam decided against ear piercing but managed to snag a few cute items of clothing along with her sisters. After my credit card exploded into pieces and burst into flames, we left for Utica Square to wind down. Utica is a highbrow section of Tulsa that boasts a lovely little shopping center (it has a Pottery Barn and a Williams-Sonoma, but I personally love “Petty’s Fine Foods” and “Miss Jacksons”, with their old-school vibe and their stubborn dignity still clinging to the idea that anyone actually buys driving gloves anymore) with all sorts of tree-lined avenues and peaceful benches upon which to rest your weary tootsies.

 

While there, Molly’s day was made when she spotted her all-time favorite doggy breed strolling with his master. We made introductions.

 


(*blue* and molly)

 


(he’s a cane corso–an italian mastiff. pictures honestly don’t do his beauty justice)

So with that (and some Starbucks frappaccinos) we decided our collective lives were complete, and headed home.

 

Happy birthday, Mimmy. May you continue to grow in wisdom and grace.

 

Trust

Singing in the tempest
when upon the waves i’m tossed
praising in the valley
when it seems that all is lost
lifting up my spirit
when my way is dark and dim
walking through the fire
putting all my trust in Him

 

 

Slowing with each footstep
weighted by a world of care
laying down the burden
when it seems to much to bear
i can feel His presence near me
and He whispers “I’ve been there”
and i find new strength in knowing
in His sufferings i share
 

And i know He’s in the shadows
He is on the stormy seas
His strong arm is never shortened
and His wings encompass me
He’s the Alpha and Omega
as He was He’ll ever be
every Word is yes and amen
and i’ll gladly bow my knee

 

For He laid His precious life down
and He didn’t call it lost
it was i He counted precious
as He shouldered His own cross
rising in the morning
He has shown the path to take
following His footsteps
in His image I’ll be made.

 

Knowing life is fleeting
i’m a vapor and a flash
reaching for the treasure
that makes all else look like trash
the world can keep its dross
for i do not need a thing
my destination’s Heaven
where i’ll dance before my King.
 

 

Symmetry

I held a hand today
warm and soft and tender in mine
trusting, familiar
fingers entwined.

 

I held a baby today
close and cozy, at rest and peace
a perfect fit
shoulders to knees.

 

I hugged a child today
arms around torsos, squeezing tight
heart greeting heart
such a delight.

 

I kissed some lips today
nose next to nose and eye to eye
words unspoken
money can’t buy.

 

I thanked my God today
for touch that proves His grand design
pieces we are
in puzzles divine.

Priorities

Emma got sparkly shoes for her 5th birthday. Every morning, whilst still in her pajamas, she slips these babies on and considers her “look” complete.

These shoes are worn for her own personal delight. She doesn’t care who else notices. They make her happy. She feels twirly. She feels sparkly. And pink. Which, as any girl worth her Pretty Ponies can tell you, is pretty much the sum total of What Makes Life Worth Living.

 

This morning, as I was brushing my hair, I got out my “everyday” hair clip. I had, just the night before, fallen under the spell of a particularly sparkly, captivatingly blue hair clip at Wal Mart, and so I bought it. But I had nowhere to go today. I was not going to be seen by anyone but my very own family. I was wearing a tee shirt. And denim pants. But suddenly I thought of Emma, and the shoes that make every step a celebration of Pretty.

 

I wore the blue hair clip.

 

Who says?

Scientists say
that we are mostly space
our atoms spin
their proton paths
with perfect grace
but between the nucleus
and outer rim
just space within.

 

 

Scientists say
that this is also why
we cannot shrink
we’d be too dense
and we would die
so all my girlhood daydreams
starring shrinking
I’m rethinking.

 

Scientists say
that although we are space
we do not fall
through floors and doors
without a trace
because we spin so quickly
within our cells
where matter dwells.

 

Scientists say
and I believe just once
because it rings
so true to me
I have a hunch
that what we touch is shadow
we do not see
reality.

 

Our bodies here
Our homes, our lives, our earth
these are the dream
we float unformed
until new birth
we see the mirror darkly
depend on lies
believe our eyes.

 

But what is real
is made of more than this
the One who came
fills up all voids
supplies what’s missed
He made Himself a vapor
and then He died
rose glorified…

 

His body renewed
He showed up in locked rooms
Not as a ghost
drifting as mist
but passing through
the spinning space of matter
could not withstand
this solid Man.

 

And so I pray
for eyes strengthened to see
beyond my realm
that I may glimpse
eternity
and reality that waits
beyond this veil
beyond travail
beyond fear, and tears, and sorrow, and yesterday, today, tomorrow, and worry and death and pride and loss and all the dross this life pours out with every breath we take.
It’s fake.
So trade it in.
Let truth begin.

Hosea

“Though I have redeemed them, yet they have spoken lies against Me”

 

 

I read this scripture in the dim earliness of this morning, and it lodged in my spirit like a splinter, poking and prodding me into active thought.
 

The Lord is speaking about His people, the chosen ones, the ones He has performed awesome deed after awesome deed for, only to see them continually flirt, court, and finally bed down with flashy imposters, all the while enjoying the fruits of His deliverance.

 

This speaks to me so profoundly. Israel didn’t leap into idolotry’s arms. It was the slow, gradual pull of easier things that led them there. Easy things. Moderate things. Don’t-rock-the-boat things. Why strive for the highest calling? Won’t the lower suffice? Why follow hard after His heart when a snooze in the hammock of apathy is so much more appealing?

 

Israel wanted the shortcut to blessing, and so do I. But even when the outcome seems laudable (hey, I love my kids, my husband, my marriage), when it eclipses my love for God, it is idolotry.

 

Idolotry! It’s such an ugly word. Yet the definition is so simple, and like Israel I continually place the good above the best and reap the consequences.

 

The consequences? I speak lies about God. When I set my children, or husband, or love of writing, or any thing above God, my perception of Him becomes skewed. I misrepresent Him, both to myself, and to the world. I view Him as colder, more distant, indifferent, and even cruel; someone who might at any moment inflict pain upon me for the sole purpose of watching me squirm. When I am in the midst of my idolotry I view the world as a terrifying place, one that is spinning out of control while God shrugs and mumbles “they asked for it.” Lies. He is not so, but I cannot see this through the haze of deception brought on by refusing to subvert the temporal to the Holy. His chastisement ceases to be that of a loving Daddy who cares about my eternal state and instead seems to be that of a harsh taskmaster who is determined to break me into pieces. Even reading His own words becomes difficult; I forget balance and see only the fire and brimstone.

 

When I view God inaccurately, my first response needs to be repentance. I need to examine my life and see what I have tried to place upon the throne where He alone belongs. He does not change. Yesterday, Today, and Forever, His character stands immovable and perfect: too wise to be unjust and too loving to be unkind. If I find His presence difficult to enter it is undoubtably because I feel the weight of His sorrow at my prostitution.