Spin

I thought I’d sit and write a list
to frame my disposition
a tally of my attributes
for others to envision.

 

 

I struggled much to keep it short
as you will plainly see;
I’m sure you’ll be as proud as I
of my humility.

 

As patient as a saint, I am,
unless things goes awry;
And honest as the day is long
until I’m forced to lie.

 

I’m firm with all my discipline
except for when I’m lenient,
I’ll gladly help you in a jam
as long as it’s convenient.

 

My faithfulness to faithlessness
will never find its equal!
The book that holds my final say
now needs to have a sequel.

 

I’m abidingly committed
to steadfast indecision,
and great is my unswerving trust
in sweeping skepticism.

 

When it comes to being grateful
I’ve got loads of thankfulness
and the only times I grumble
are on days containing “s”.

 

You’d find me quite impressive
in my triviality!
For there’s nothing more consistent
than my inconsistency.

 

You see, in matters ethical,
I would really like to say
that black and white don’t suit me well
but I’m quite in love with gray.

 

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Despite the unpronouncibility of the amazing poet/playwright’s name (or, in my eldest daughter’s words, upon hearing its proper vocalization: “that’s dumb”), I have the pleasure of participating in a meme on behalf of Ann Kroeker. She has asked anyone who might enjoy a little reflection to rewrite a particular bit of advice from whatshisname to suit his or her unique perspective.

The original goes like this: “One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and if it were possible, to speak a few reasonable words.

 

So here are my correllating thoughts, which I must admit were far harder to pin down concisely as originally anticipated: “One ought, every day at least, to walk amidst the ocean surf, blow a big fat raspberry on a baby’s belly, read to a child, and spend at least 30 minutes in absolute silence.”

 

There’s a lot I wanted to include there…things like “avoid Wal Mart at all costs” and “dance a mad jig” and “ride a bike at sunset” and “learn something new”, but hey, one has to exercise discretion somewhere.

A tribute

Haha! Just kidding! Wait! Come back! No really, I’m not writing a tribute!

Although it IS someone’s birthday………………….

 

MINE!

 

“My first impression of…myself…was that I was singularly funny looking, a notion that would follow me throughout my life and be unanimously verified by the mouths of my own children when viewing my baby pictures.”

 

But enough of that. This whole blog is pretty much a tribute to me, myself, and I, though, isn’t it? My thoughts on Just About Anything? And they ARE scintillating, are they not?

 

Damn right they are.

 

I have nothing much to say, really, except that I enjoy getting older. I always have. I’m not sure why the joy in turning older continued past the childhood/teen years, but I got veritably giddy when I turned thirty, and I hug myself with pleasure at the thought of forty. Maybe it has to do with seeing that the older I get, the more I enjoy being around myself. I’m almost bearable at this point.

 

But I think it has more to do with knowing that each and every day brings me closer to the day that I’ll stand face to face with my very best and oldest Friend, the one who loved me even before I knew who He was, and who even now is holding my hand as I traverse this uncertain and sometimes harrowing path.

 

So happy birthday to me! And happy UNbirthday to everybody else (except for PeeWee Herman)! Have some cake on me–today I have decreed that it shall have no calories. Ditto the ice cream.

flibbertygibbet

Sorry I’ve been scarce lately…we’ve been trying to get lots of school done. I am reeling from the fact that we are more than halfway done with August, rounding the corner into Fall and staring Christmas dead in the face. Oy!

 

When I was a kid and grown-ups would talk about how quickly time was flying, I thought they were certifiable. Were they living in a parallel dimension from my own, in which Time mosied and shuffled like an elderly owner, as I panted and whined and strained at the leash it kept me on?

 

But I woke up one day to find that suddenly Time had been replaced by a track star; he sprints and hurdles over the events of my life, dragging me along behind as I run my little paws ragged to keep up.

 

Ah, how much I would relish taking a juicy chunk out of his sinewy little butt, if only I could catch him!

 

Begging to Differ

I have moved a lot in my lifetime. Sixteen times at last count. I know a lot of people have moved more frequently, but for me that averages out to approximately one move every 2.5 years. However, we’ve now lived in this particular area, in this particular house, for 4.5 years. I start to get antsy. My husband, who moved even more frequently than I in his lifetime, starts to move furniture around. We start to discuss moving. We peruse the paper. We prowl different neighborhoods, scoping out the For Sale signs and going into Open Houses. So far, however, we’ve been thwarted at every turn by finances and a general inability to get our present house into show-worthy condition. Entropy works overtime in my home. And so we give Lowe’s a steady stream of money, and work on being at peace with what we have.

 

 

Contentment is a funny thing. How is it that I am so complacent about the inner world of my spirit while so preoccupied by the state of my physical realm? I spend three days repainting my dining room and three minutes in prayer. I’ll spend honest money on a new quilt to liven up my bedroom, change my theme, or freshen my surroundings, yet balk at forking over $15 for a book that might enrich my thoughts. When I *do* buy the book (since my balking is usually short-lived and what I want I WILL have!), it will sit on my bedside table, unread, until it is buried under home decor magazines–a slippery stack of remedial fluff that demands little by way of mental or spiritual engagement.

 

Blech! The things that we think are so pressing! Just blech! Yes, I can think of fancier words! How about: Immaterial! Corporeal! Ephemeral! Vulgar! Irrelevant! Pitiful! Profitless! Feeble! Myopic!

 

But I think a hearty “blech!!!” fits the occasion just fine.

 

I know I need to be different. I know I need to be changed. I know I need the wind of God’s Holy Spirit to blow through my heart. And I don’t mean “blow” as in la-dee-dah, now we are skipping through a forest and ahhhh isn’t that a lovely breeze that just ruffled my hair? How refreshing!

 

No. I mean, He needs to blow like a typhoon through my soul and destroy me. Blow the windows out. Remove the roof. Clear everything that I have built–every shoddy little structure, every proud monument that groans beneath the weight of my self-importance, every tree in my pathetic orchard full of rotten, wormy fruit–off the map. Lay me low. Wipe me out.

 

So there can be glorious, sparkling newness. True difference. Lasting fruit. Let everything that can be shaken, be shaken! Shake me, Lord.

 

“God is a consuming fire, and my filth crackles as He seizes hold of me. He is all light, and my darkness shrivels under His blaze” ~sister Wendy Beckett

 

I want to be seized by the hand of God. I’m begging for it! I want my filth to crackle because it has no other choice. I want to be different! I want to shed this old dragonish skin for the gentle beauty of new growth! But only He can do it*. And I’m on my knees, asking.

 

I asked once before, about a year ago. I was alone in the car, driving along, when a song came on that echoed my feelings so loudly that I had to sing along at the top of my lungs, one hand upraised at a time so I could keep driving:

 

You’re the only tie that binds my heart
away from You I’m falling apart
We need to be closer than we are
You’re all I need

So what can I do to get closer?
I know there is more my heart can bear
I give You control ’cause I need You
to take me there…

I am waiting…
draw me closer….**

 

I meant it with all my heart; I felt it in every fiber of my being. He knew that I meant it, because He answered. The answer was not what I expected (is it…ever?) I went through the valley of the shadow of death. I went places I never would have chosen to go…and I am different. I have been changed; parts of me have been charred and crackled up beyond all recognition. It hurt. I cried. He wounded me. He cut things out of my heart that were so firmly engrained that only His power could keep me alive while He did it.

 

And then He healed. And He healed me so that I am quite literally better than new. And I cry now to think that those times in the valley are so precious to me that I am willing to go there again, just to feel His presence guiding me in the vast inky darkness that pressed in and threatened to consume me. He was there. And He is here now, in my complacency.

 

But I’m asking again. I’m begging to differ.

 

*if you have never read the story of Eustace in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by CSLewis, I highly recommend that you find a copy immediately.
**Sanctus Real, “Closer”

 

39

Okay, so I hope nobody is sick and tired of these tributes I keep writing. Is it MY fault that the people I know and love keep getting older? I mean, *I* didn’t plunk them, willy-nilly, into my life, forever to make an indelible impression! So blame God. I certainly do (“blame” here meaning “thank from the bottom of my heart”).

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Seventh grade meant leaving the cozy security of St. Mary’s Parochial school (6th grade graduating class of 12) and walking a block up the road to (public-gasp!) East Jr. High. The campus of East was downright massive compared to the one-building structure that had been my educational home for the past 6 years. You even had to cross the street to a different building to get to some classes. The hallways teemed with teenage hoards whenever the bell rang; jostling, crushing, laughing, yelling, pushing, shoving, grappling with lockers and one another. There were 7 hallways to navigate, a gymnasium in which showering was required, and a massive cafeteria. It was a harrowing experience. To make it worse, none of my friends (all 2 of them) were in ANY CLASSES WITH ME. I was on my own; a pale, faceless waif in the madding crowd. Lockers were new to me. Changing classes every 50 minutes was new to me. Busses were new to me. Male teachers were new to me.

 

At least I had lunch period with one friend. She had gone to a different school than I, but we had been thrown together since first grade by virtue of our fathers working with the same company. I sought her out that first day of school in the fall of 1980, breathing a huge sigh of relief as her features came into view. But this tribute is not about her. This one is for the small blond girl who was sitting next to her. The one with the twinkling eyes and ready smile who was not afraid to exchange banter with me only moments after being introduced by that mutual friend. I remember to this day my first three thoughts regarding her:

 

“She’s really pretty.”

 

“She’s really weird.”

 

“I really like her.”

 

Apparently “really” was the only adverb in my vocabulary at that time. Nonetheless, it was sincere.

 

What are the requirements for developing a friendship? Familiarity? Common interests? Background? At that point in my life I didn’t even know how badly I needed, or would need, as Ann of Green Gables would say, a “bosom friend”. Yet here, right in front of my 12 year old eyeballs, was the answer to the unspoken longing in my malleable little heart. Even so, if we had been less thrown together in our ultra-structured jr. high schedules, the crossroads of our lives may have diverged irreparably without a backward glance. Providence being what it is, however, Sarah and I had almost every class together. I hadn’t noticed her in the melee up to that point, but upon comparing schedules, there we were, tracing the same orbit every day. I couldn’t have gotten away from her if I had tried.

 

But of course, I didn’t want to try. Being around Sarah made everything fun, and I was going to be around her every chance I got. We had our differences. My parents were together and I lived with four siblings. Her parents were divorced and she lived with her single dad and older sister. I was living in affluence, she was not. I was sheltered by a mother who did my laundry and cooked my meals and got me up for school. Sarah amazed me by doing all that herself, and more besides. I was an early riser, she was a late sleeper (I resorted to closing her up in the couch bed one morning in desperation–an act she did not readily forgive). My home life was not one to lend itself to sudden nighttime departures in which to execute all manner of unusual activities (we lived miles outside of town on 160 acres). She lived downtown, across the street from school, and thus opened my eyes to the joys of playing tennis at midnight and roaming the town in the dark. I sometimes marvel at all the trouble that could have found us and yet…didn’t. Our angels had their work cut out for them.

 

But we didn’t want to cause trouble. Not much, anyway. We had seen firsthand the effects of troublesome children in our own homes and weren’t anxious to cause more heartache. We were “the good kids”; wanting approval, and healing for the raw places in our hearts. We shared a love of stuffed animals and giant pretzels, string cheese and silliness. Yet I cannot say these are the things we bonded over. I’m still not sure what it was except the mutual need for someone to come along and say “Me too. I get it. I’ve felt that. I dream that also.” We were not part of any particular clique in school. We were neither Athletes nor Cheerleaders, Geeks nor Potheads, Band Kids nor Preppies. We were Us, and we were happy in that. We formed our own brand of posse, composed of other kids who didn’t fit in the Breakfast Club cubbies, and we laughed at all the others (okay, not to their faces, but nonetheless).

 

Even though I travelled to Norway in high school, our friendship weathered the separation (in spite of her erratic letters) and we saw each other every summer, during which time I would spend at least a month at her house, free as a bird and free-er, catching up on all the news and spending at least the first 48 straight hours in constant conversation. She came to visit me in Norway one Christmas and met her future husband. I married her husband’s best friend. We had our firstborns within 6 months of each other. Back and forth the shuttle of God’s loom has woven our lives together, silently and unseen, but always with joy and purpose far bigger than we realized at the time.

 

Our walks with the Lord have grown from vague acknowledgement of a Higher Authority to specific surrender at the cross of a particular Savior. I have watched her live her life with an abandonment to that Savior which has made me envious at times. Her joy in Him and her unwavering belief in His goodness has challenged me. She does not cringe from speaking His name in casual conversation, and she is both bold and gentle in sharing Him with others. She is iron to my iron, and I know I’ve been sharpened through our relationship

 

Sarah was a surprise package, an unexpected blessing, an exploding can of beans, a joy buzzer to the heart, a just-because-I-love-you gift from God plopped down before me in the garish din of East Jr. High cafeteria. Her presence in my life gave definition to the “friend who loveth at all times” spoken of in scripture, and on this, her 39th birthday, all I can do is keep attempting to return the favor. Happy Birthday, Sarah!

Answers

I talk to the Lord a lot these days. when I am riding my bike in the sultry evenings on the hilly country roads around these parts. I huff and puff and pour my heart out to Him as the cicadas vibrate the air around me in raucous accompaniment. Some hills take all my concentration, pouring on the steam in low gear and praying only to make it to the top, but then there is that crest…and the land spreads out to vistas of rolling prairie with swooping nighthawks and sunsets against clouds that billow higher than city-living could imagine.

 

Cycling into the presence of God sounds unusual, maybe, but for some reason it works. At home there are, to put it mildly…distractions. I send up little prayers throughout the day (mostly to the tune of “Help!!”), but dedicated prayertime is a luxury I have yet to achieve. If I get up earlier than my kids, I doze off. If I stay up late, I doze off. Mostly because I’m sitting. If I get up and pace the floor, I can focus, but I get a little dizzy wearing ovals in the carpet. On my bike I have very few distractions other than staying on the road and out of the bar ditches, and I can really make my mind focus on Him for some reason.

 

I spend time praying for the needs of various people I know, and for myself and my family. But after I get through laying those down, I’ve been asking Him some questions that rattle around in my head and refuse to bow to a pat answer. Like: “how do I delight myself in You?” and “what do You want me to do with my life?” and “will I ever learn to resist the devil?”

 

Sometimes He answers with a reminder of a pertinent scripture. Sometimes it’s a parable written in the panorama around me. But sometimes it’s an answer so clear that it reverberates like a thunderclap in my heart and drowns out even the cicadas.

 

That was the sort of answer I got the other day when I asked “just what exactly do you want from me, Lord?”

 

In a single word, He replied:

 

“Everything.”

 

Nothing much, no big deal, just…Everything. Every. Cotton. Pickin’. Thing. Everything.

 

And so I’ve been trying to muddle this one out. I’ve been looking at it from all angles, like some kind of modern-day Joseph wrangling to get the best deal from his nefarious brother in law. Okay…so I give You my whole heart and all its contents, my husband, my children (both born and unborn; factual and theoretical), my marriage, my possessions, my thought life, my dreams, my hopes, my future…did I leave anything out? Oh, yeah, my past too. Basically anything that I have ever considered “mine” to begin with, right? Right. And You? You give me….

 

Everything.

 

Really? Everything? I give You all of me, and You give me…all of You?

 

Yep. All of Me for all of you. The more you give me of yourself, the more I can fit of Myself into you.

 

That what you call a no-brainer in these parts. Yet I stand and hem and haw and awkwardly watch the birdies while I make up my excuses. What is my problem? What could possibly be the downside to such an arrangement?

 

There is none, of course. None but what my own skewed view of Who He Is will fabricate.

 

I am afraid of Him. I do not have the “perfect love that casts out all fear” spoken of in 1 John 4:18. Oh sure, I’ll say I do, but really I think He’s going to pluck my wings off, salt me down, or fry me with a giant magnifying glass. I don’t believe He loves me. I believe He’s out to get me. I believe He’s going to hurt me. I must, or else why should I hang back? Why should I hesitate to throw myself completely into His fathomless wisdom and grace?

 

I shouldn’t. And I’m getting mighty tired of gripping the end of this diving board with my toes, contemplating the pool of His Will before me. The time is over for contemplation and wrangling. I’m not going back down the ladder this time. My God is no Laban, and I know this. I’m giving up the apathy that accepts everything that satan whispers in my ear. I’m giving up on ever having the strength to walk this road on my own. I’m giving up on every dream that I have ever had. They’re no good in my hands anyway; puny pathetic things! Anemic and wasted from a steady diet of small visions and limited scope! How much better to hand them over to God and see what He can do with them? Or if they’re even worth building?

 

I have prayed for more of God in my life. I have begged Him for more of His Spirit, more of His presence, more of His grace, and mercy, and yes, Love, and more than once have I done it. But the fact is that my heart is too crowded. I’m taking up all the space around here. I never really wanted Him to come in or I would have made some room.

 

But I’m learning how. I’m leaving the board behind with a violent rattle and the liquid splash that follows. Anybody wanna come? Maybe we can hold hands up here and giggle as we hold our noses and give it…everything.

 

In which I find a mortal enemy, and exert my strength

So today I was in my garden and I spotted my nemesis. There s/he (yes…they have the audacity to be hermaphrodites!) was, just…sauntering about! As if s/he owned the place! Understand me when I say that this is a singularly amoral, destructive, and maleficent being. S/he deserved to die. S/he deserved, in fact, to be drowned in beer. Or salted liberally.

But I didn’t do it.

Instead, I photographed him/her (thank you to daughter Rose for holding the beast).

I don’t know if s/he knew what a precarious situation s/he was in, but I like to think s/he was cognizent enough to pull out all the stops in order to look charming. S/he modelled his/her spots. S/he sucked his/her eyes in and out (amazing talent…wish I could do that). S/he modeled his/her mantle hole (for respiration. It has a scientific name, but who cares?).

I found myself marvelling at this formerly abhorrant creature and finding it rather appealing, in spite of the fact that these creatures regularly engage in the act of eating each other’s penises off. What? No! I didn’t make that up! What kind of a person do you think I am? I found that lovely bit of information here, along with this delicious sentence:

“Slugs macerate food using their radula, a rough, tongue-like organ with many tiny tooth-like denticles”

Consider yourselves educated. No, no; no need to thank me.

So. I didn’t kill it. I instructed daughter to replace him/her back beneath the water spigot so he/she could be free to?live happily ever after, stuffed full of all the hostas (and penises) he/she can hold.

Okay, I’ll stop talking about it. I know you’re shrieking. This is why my blog will never, ever, win a Christian Woman’s blogging-type award.

After that, I felt far too soft-hearted and tolerant. I needed to exert my dominance over something.

So I challenged my 14 year old son to an arm-wrestle. He grinned slyly, figuring that his ancient mother would be an easy mark. Little did he know that I’ve been doing a lot of push-ups lately.



I won.

May all slugs tremble in fear of my biceps. Yeah. I know where you live.