Wednesday, December 19, 2007

How to Know You're in the Mall at Christmastime

Christmas is here. You can tell it by going to the mall. You know that feeling of being so heavy, so tired, so thirsty, and so hot you just might die? Its a sure indication that you have accidentally wandered (with your coat on) into a mall at Christmas time. In that land, only the ridiculous is allowed. The FIRST of all ridiculous things at the particular mall we got sucked into tonight, is that Dillards is in two locations. After braving the mad crowd and making it into the store (many, many hot miles away from the parking place, mind you), you are curtly told that the section you want is in the women's store, which is the building on the opposite end of the mall. Yes, whomever thought that arrangement up must have been on his fifth month of non-stop Christmas shopping, and had already lost his logic.

Another indication you're in the mall at Christmas, is when the salespeople recommend at least four times (I am not exaggerating) that you head to the store next door instead of continuing to search in theirs. This is exactly what the jewelry-store guy did to us, even regaling us with a description of the pendant he bought for his girlfriend next door at Zales, where they have much cheaper quality stuff (I'm quoting, not de-endorsing). Since she was so young, he said, she didn't know the difference between nice diamonds and bad diamonds. We really should go over there (for the fifth time) as they may not yet be all sold out of said pendant. (We did go over there, and I did find what I believe was the pendant in question. I cannot even begin to describe the tackiness. Big cross of diamonds, with a gold heart twined around it, and in the center a bright pink fake sapphire. Wow. Wait, hold on, I may be able to find a picture online...
It was much worse in person, I assure you. Huge. And the stone was pink. What could the man's girlfriend have done, be she 25 or not, to deserve to be treated to such?

Anyway, having been many times thwarted we headed toward the used-games store (I can say all this because the gift recipient never reads my blog, I'm pretty sure). On the way we passed a booth. One of the many. Do you know, these mall booths all pretty much strike me as being on about the "above-board" level as, say, a pawnshop? So this particular one was advertising 30-minute teeth whitening. Yep, sit down, please! While I was ogling the ink-jet printed sign advertising the sale price of $75, Elizabeth claims she was observing many depressed people waiting there, willing to plunk down their money to sit in the fake leather chair and try to pull their legs in far enough from the aisle that the hordes did not all trip over them as they got their teeth very publicly and very un-dentist-involvedly, whitened. I can't blame them too much. It's just the sort of thing a crazed, thirsty, materialism-oppressed person might do at 9 pm after walking the mall all evening being attacked by demons of lust and self-hatred and inferiority. And that's just in front of the Victoria's Secret store. Just imagine when they walked past the rest! After all that, it's no wonder they thought $75 was a good deal. My sister asked, "WHO is going to plop down in the middle of the mall, bare their teeth, and get a bleach job?" And I countered, "WHO is going to trust the $6 an hour bleachers?" Oh, it makes me want to run back there and rescue them, now that I've gotten a good 5 glasses of water in me and have sat still for a while!

We did make it to the target spot, where we found a rack of used games and a frail, pale, underdeveloped boy to assist us. Yes, frail. It's just the best word. You could tell by his head that his body should have already grown much bigger than it had. He needs to stop gaming, poor boy! (He was probably much older than he looked, too, for he was barely the size of a 10-year-old.) I didn't have the words to help him, though, and so we continued on, having realized we were poorly equipped to choose the right game from that mess.

Lest you think it was an entirely unsuccessful trip, let me tell you what good has come out of it. A determination (mostly on Lizzie's behalf) to never go into another mall again. And on my part, a determination to always leave hat, gloves, scarf and coat in the car if I do! I can deal with heat, and I can exercise authority over demons. But heat and demons together makes me want to just sit down and cry. Is this Christmas?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

I'm Melting

Have you ever been in an icestorm's meltdown? This is what the world looked like this morning:

Behind my house is forest. What had been see-through, scraggly trees became a hoary, opaque whitishness. It reminded me of flying through clouds. Now, the sun has come out. A melting ice storm is like hail mixed with rain, all under a sunny blue sky. The wind comes up and small pieces of ice litter the air, constantly falling in tiny,medium, and large chunks, dripping sweet, clinky splots of water onto the puddled ground. The roof sounds like the day the acorns fell, and the baby hasn't taken her nap. How could you, when outside is a wonderland of nature's best sequins floating through the air and lining the trees and roofs, and music like you've never heard the best orchestra play (or, in Glorie's case, the best ipod selection)?

We did have some fun, instead of sleeping, playing around with some of the Christmas decorations. We found them in the windowsill. I'll have to try to rearrange it all before Lizzie comes home, but it was worth it!

This was indescribable fun. She kept putting it on her head and over her shoulders, as she just learned to do with hats. How did she know white tulle is so appropriately placed there? Dressing for weddings must be an instinct of the very youngest of girls.

Do you know how delightful it is to push chairs around the living room? Glorie does.

It's something we need to learn, this taking joy in simple movements and new noises. I feel I'm melting like the ice, though it takes me longer and is often not so beautiful. What was treacherous is now just moist. What was hard is now pliable. What was fear-inducing is being banished by the Son.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Impending Ice

Kansas City is bracing for tons of ice to fall from the sky, starting at about 5 pm today. Being a transplant from Chicago, I have to say I have never experienced anything quite like these KC ice storms. When every inch of pavement, asphalt, yard, house, tree, and power line has a glass-like sheet of fresh ice covering it, stepping anywhere near your car is like taking your life in your hands. The experienced here have jugs of water, generators, stores of food, and a way devised to keep themselves warm if all the power goes out. The inexperienced have treadless shoes, weak car batteries, and a gleeful attitude.

I hear tell of a storm a few years ago that took out power for two weeks. Friends were crowded into houses that had working fireplaces and no one took showers. Doesn't sound too fun. Although, if the heat doesn't go out, and one is safe at home with no need to leave it for a few days, it could get kind of cozy and fun. I'm from Chicago, where mayors are elected and/or deposed based on how swiftly the city salt trucks clear the streets after a snow storm. This hilly Missouri is an odd land indeed, where one can count on never seeing a salt truck on a side street. Days after the main thoroughfares are drivable, neighborhoods like mine are still snow- and ice-locked. Sure, Red Bridge and Grandview roads are ok, but getting the five blocks to them could kill you!

Last year Kim and I almost died (that could be an overstatement) driving to the airport during one of these storms. My sister and her children were arriving after a harrowing overnight delay in a strange airport, and I happily set out to get them, having yet had no experience with storms such as these. It started raining ice when I got in my car. Three blocks from home I had to pull over to scrape off the layer that had coated my windshield. It had only taken about 30 seconds to completely blind my car. So, I get Kim and we head toward the highway, where, to our dismay, the white truck that had preceded us up the on-ramp tried to merge into the lanes, spun out of control, and did several 360's across the four lanes.

Everything went in slow motion for me. I remember watching the man's face. He looked horrified and helpless and...waiting for the worst. His eyes were on us as he spun, and during the seconds his truck was facing us (and all the oncoming traffic) it seemed to me that he was sure he was going to kill us and was quite sorry and grieved about it. I didn't hit the brakes, because I knew my car would do the same thing his was. And I tried to let my instincts gauge both my speed forward and the speed/trajectory of his spin sideway, so that I knew whether to try to avoid him by moving cautiously into the left lane or the right lane (hoping, of course, that I also didn't spin out when I tried to change lanes). That sounds great, but is kind of hard to do when both vehicles are going about 40 miles an hour and there're only two car lengths between them. As I said, time slowed down for those two car lengths. Kim says I gripped the wheel and said slowly: "Kim, whaaat shouuuuuld I do?" I remember saying that. I also remember obeying the little physics calculations in my head and choosing to move to the right hand lane. I had to do it SLOWLY, or we'd spin out too. It worked. We missed him by a few feet, just in the nick of time. Angels orchestrated that, I'm pretty sure.

So, we lived. I felt like I'd left a fellow human behind for the wolves, though, for it was impossible to stop or help the man, who ended his spin in the middle of 4 lanes, facing the oncoming cars. I pray he lived too.

That is what Kansas City is like in an ice storm. Like I said, get within a few feet of your car, and you've taken your life into your hands. Kim is currently on a grocery run, stocking up on the food three households need to get them through a possible ice-in. Normal food for her and Lizzie, milk for me. How could I face houseboundness sans tea with milk? That would be impossible!

Last night at 2:30 AM, driving to Lizzie's in my pajamas, glasses, and coat (they were going to the ER, and I was coming to watch Glorie-baby), I almost hit a deer. Once again, either quick-thinking or sluggishness saved the day, for I didn't slam on the brakes and both the deer and I lived. Odd, these deer. Even odder, these intermittent ice-storms.

If the ice doesn't knock down the power lines, you might hear more from me in the next few days. Writing novels and blogging seem like natural sorts of things to do when iced into a house. Do you have any better ideas?

Friday, November 16, 2007

Turning Things Around

I'd thought it wasn't coming, or was going to be a dull flop, or that it'd passed me by.

Autumn. Fall. Cool beauty and days of conscious enjoyment of the current good. Unfortunately, it helps us be thankful when we know that worse times are ahead--and Kansas City's winters can supply plenty of those times.

Which is why I felt I'd lost something tangible when the summer turned into a wimpy, slow sort of fall and the trees turned dead, rusty brown instead of golds and oranges and reds. And then, and then I got sick and was indoors for a week. An entire week. Talk about going from bad to worse. It barely registered on my consciousness that they were an unexpected boon of balmy days, and that I was missing what little beauty I might have salvaged from the season.

Until I recovered, and emerged, and found to my joy that trees that have begun to lifelessly fade can, in rare instances, be turned glorious by a particular sequence of unlikely temperatures. KC has erupted into beauty I'd given up hope of seeing! Yesterday I walked into my sister's house and was blinded by the glow of a red sugar-maple in the back yard. It swept through the kitchen windows, spread glory in the hall, and lifted my head as I stood in the front entrance.

GlorieBee and I spent some time trying to enjoy the gift as much as possible:

This is what life ends up being like, isn't it? We see disappointment coming, we brace for it, we endure it, and we forget to imagine that God has joy and restoration up His sleeve. But He turns things around (most usually our hearts) after we've given up human hope.

I have an admonition for you. When He does this, let yourself rejoice. Don't hold onto the disappointment, don't keep bracing for the next downer. He's big enough (and interested enough) to guide your fragile heart through the next adversity when guiding is needed. But He certainly wants us to actually eat the feasts He provides and walk in the joy of the moments.

Take your inheritance: no more fear of disappointment, no more distrust of God!

Friday, November 09, 2007

And...One Last Report to Make

So, Kim did come over with Nyquil. And while we talked, and she sat on the floor and leaned against my dresser... (you won't believe this) ...the large antique mirror sitting atop it FELL, SMASHED, and landed upsidedown on top of her. When it was all over (which seemed to take eons while I sat frozen watching) she was sitting in a pile of glass with a beam of wood on top of her head. I've never, actually truly and honestly, seen that much broken glass. Not just broken--I now know what "shards" actually means. And "smashed", and "shattered", and "splintered", and yes, even "smithereens". Besides being bigger and scrolly, I guess antique mirrors were thicker than they are now...about four times thicker.

Two roommates came running. A split second after they reached the door, the bulb in my overhead light gives a greenish flash and dies.

"I'll get the vacuum," says Nicole. "You'd better put shoes on," says Kim to me after I've extracted her from the wooden frame. So I swing the door aside to get my shoes, and the mirror on the back of the door falls off. At least it wasn't smashed to smithereens (I'm entitled to use such words now, now that I know what they mean), but WHAT ON EARTH?!

Who knew so many adventures could happen to someone who hasn't left her house all day. So we run around trying to deal with glass bits and shards all over my room, only to discover that two police cars and an ambulance have pulled up outside. Turns out they were there for the nice old man who lives next door. I think he's going to be fine, as he seemed pretty aware and awake when they wheeled him out. He broke his hip a while ago.

All I can say is, I'm glad Kim was here. She's a great cleaner, logical in emergencies, and takes everything in stride. In my sick-state I might have just sat in the glass, in the dark, and cried if she hadn't been around. The end result? I'm drugged up on Nyquil, have a blank wooden mirror frame above my dresser, and no mirror on the door. If I want to see what I look like, I'll have to climb up to the little decorative one hanging above my bed (which, right now, is actually a blessing. you can tell by looking at the photo posted one blog ago). Besides that, the only other good that came out of all this is that the vacuum I mentioned two blogs ago was put together, and my floor and dresser were swept and dusted.

If anyone has an interpretation I'd love to hear it, cause this seems like the sort of thing that needs interpretation.

A little more cheerful

Well, here's an update:

I took some ibuprofen,
Kim's bringing me Nyquil,
I found some V8 to heat up and pretend is tomato soup,
AND, I took a pitiful picture of myself eating it.

All of which makes me feel much more cheerful.

Here is the photo. Enjoy the fact that you're not me at the moment!

Oh Sally, Thank You

It was a beautiful fall day ... yellow sunny leaves, warm air ... and I spent it inside with a cold. Yuk! I did get an hour of reprieve as Dora took her webcam around their new house in Hawaii and I got to see the pad, watch Arden walk, and imagine what 80 degrees would feel like just about now. Sam has gotten home from work early and they're heading to the beach. The BEACH. (No, that's not envy you're hearing. Just the boredom that comes from feeling too sick, for too long.)

When one is sick and home, one hatches all sorts of plans. "I'm going to..."

1st try: Vacuum my floor and dust my room. NOPE. Old vacuum doesn't work and the new one needs to be assembled. Feel too sick to assemble things with screwdrivers.

2nd try: Take a nap. NOPE. The sudafed I took was "non-drowsy" and the tea that feels so good on my throat was not decaf.

3rd try: Prepare a book proposal. NOPE. If I have trouble proposing books when I'm fully myself, how well do I think I'll do when my head is so stuffed up I hear my own voice through miles of tunnels?

4th try: Wash all my jackets and coats in prep for winter; sort the drawers and clean out everything I don't wear. NOPE. No good reason, just "nope".

I could go on. But I may try to tackle a few of the other things that I Can Do, even while sick. Let's a magazine, find a recipe for Thanksgiving turkey, and write a blog. While listening to a few good operas. But even that gets difficult with stuffed up ears. Maybe I'll have energy to put Rick Joyner on tonight, but I sure won't be going to the meeting in person.

A very nice thing did happen today. Sally asked if she could bring me something from her grocery store trip, and I asked for frozen orange juice (it's lots cheaper than fresh, you know). She showed up an hour ago with my very favorite, Simply Orange (it's fresh squeezed, not from concentrate, and has no added sugar). She had no idea, of course, that it's exactly what my little heart actually craved, nor that I even liked that kind. Jesus knew, though.

Last night Nicole and I tried to watch Tommy Boy on my computer. (Don't take that as an endorsement--I hadn't seen it since it came out over 10 years ago and there are definitely some must-fast-forward parts.) The dresser did great as a TV stand, and the bed as a couch...until we sat on it! At which point it (box-spring and all) collapsed down onto the floor. She's about as tall as I am, and the frame is rickety with unstable slats, and, well... Both of us are about the weights God intended us to be, but the bed-frame makers didn't confer with God when they made the specs, I guess. Or, it could be that we were putting two on a twin. Whatever the problem was, it decided not to bow out gracefully even after we hoisted the mattress off, fixed the slats, and remade the bed. A play button pushed; a gingerly-done climb onto the bed, one by one; a gentle scoot to get into comfortable positions; and whalah! Another collapse. At least the second time two of the slats stayed in place and we didn't end up on the floor. So we proceeded to watch. I can't recommend the whole show, but I can recommend the getting-changed-in-an-airplane-bathroom scene. I'm surprised the bed made it through, cause the two of us were almost crying we were laughing so hard.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Summer Recap

I've been lax, so lax...beautiful summers come and go, and blogs must record them or posterity will suffer the loss. So, a few recent happenings...

On Kim's birthday we all went to the Fray concert to see their show and meet Isaac. I was so glad to finally meet this guy I've been hearing about for over 10 years. He's been a good friend to Kim, and that makes me like him very, very much.

I also liked their show very, very much. I did receive a lot of flak for my ear-protection-preparedness. One never knows how loud these concerts might get, and wanting to both hear without the distortion effect of loudness, and also keep my hearing for later listening experiences in life, I came armed (and modeled my gear for a photo). Unfortunately the only gear I had happened to be bright orange: (notice the ear)

We were very honored with vip seats and backstage passes, and Isaac sang Kim two birthday songs (because he forgot to preface the 1st one with "happy birthday, Kim"). She deserved two, having survived a night of horror under the spider-trees at our ill-chosen campsite (which pictures I will not include here, not only because of the trauma, but because they're on her computer, not mine.) We had our own little celebration later on. I'm sure Glorie-Bee thought all the singing and pretty candles were for her...

Much of the summer has been for her, though. It involved many waterpark outings in the front yard:

A visit from Aunt Annie (this is a bad photo...we were both extremely hot after hours in the sun at the botanic gardens. They were having an exhibition of full-sized dinosaur models, which Peter was very keen his 9-month-old daughter should see):

Glorie's first taste of Strawberry Frappachino...

...of vanilla custard...
...and, almost, of Winston's slobber. I snapped this photo then dived to save her as she threw herself toward the most interesting thing in the yard...and of course, one always puts the most interesting things into one's mouth. Cheerios? Nah.

Glorie has been my summer obsession. I've been watching her 2 days a week, and have plenty more photos I could regale you with. Glorie being fed, Glorie at the petting zoo, Glorie in the water, Glorie sticking her tongue out, Glorie eating humus...and videos, yes, videos...Glorie pushing her car, Glorie knocking block towers over, etc. I won't. But, if you ever visit me in KC, you'll not only be visiting, Amy, but also Aunt Mamy, and I'll force you to agree that she is the sweetest thing in the world!

So much for the summer recap. Yesterday at Anna & Jim's engagement party (oh, that's another of the summer happenings-an engagement) I met a man who grew up on a dairy farm. Unbeknownst to him, the heroine of my current novel spends some time on a dairy farm, and I thought I could pump him for some info. The poor man probably thinks I'm obsessed with milk (which, well, perhaps I am)....homogenization, pasteurization, how feed affects milk taste...I even wanted to ask him about milking etc., but he was looking rather pained already and making small "I'll have to ask my father," and "hmm, I-I've never heard of that," sort of comments, so I pulled Kim into the mix on the rousing question of whether "cow tipping" is an urban legend, and left him in peace.

I'm off to finish writing a new scene for my novel...(no, it's not set in the dairy). Actually, I may go for a hike through the fall-colored woods with Kim before that. Here is a parting photo-one of my favorite from the summer. I know it's kind of overexposed and my hair is sort of sticking out everywhere...but, I love being with my sister Annie and this is so "us" sort of calmer, she sort of bubbly...

Monday, October 22, 2007

Red Grape Accent

I was picking through the green grapes when a produce worker walked up to me. You should buy the red ones, he said, resting his hand on the rosy colored side of the display. The green ones aren't looking so good, but the red ones are sweet. Ok, I said, moving toward the red side, which also advertised $.93 / lb. He walked away and a wave of well-being swept over me. His accent!! It settled down an indescribable feeling...of being home, of being cared for. I believed him and chose a bag of red though I prefer the taste of green (not so dry).

It was an Hispanic accent of some sort. I'm not very good with things like that, so I couldn't pinpoint the country. I wandered the rest of the produce section wondering... Did I feel so cozy about it because I've been living in Kansas City and (surprise, surprise) things are pretty homogeneous around here? Chicago is filled with accents of every sort, and especially Hispanic ones, so I grew up hearing English spoken in that particular way. Perhaps it just made me feel home again.

Or, I thought, maybe it's Guatemalan. I have a Guatemalan friend back in Chicago whom I really respect. Perhaps the produce man's voice reminded me of him! As I couldn't shake the feeling of well-being he had given me, and he was enough older than me that I was pretty sure he wouldn't think I was being fresh, I decided to ask him. I had to crisscross the aisles a bit, probably looking incredibly indecisive to any security camera watchers following my particular cart, but I finally got myself back around to where he was, gathered my courage, and stepped up to the plate.

"Mexico," he said with a smile. Ah, Mexico. A short conversation ensued. Guadalajara. Beautiful. Haven't been but hope to some day... and I walked away slightly confused but very happy to have asked. Maybe, I decided, it was just that his voice reminded me of home and all my years in Chicago.

It wasn't until I was half-way through the drive home that I laughed at myself and my one-track mind. Once Guatemala had gotten into it, it was hard to get it out, but there is a very good reason my little heart leaped happily at the sound of a Mexican accent. And my dear friend (& once co-worker) Elsa, should know what it is! Now, I have no idea if Guadalajara is anywhere near where she is from. (Actually, I'd be shocked if my accent-impaired ear could actually pick up on any regional distinctions.) Just in case you're sitting there doubting the veracity of my self-deprecation...let me share a little something: the first time I met Elsa I thought she was Romanian!

There are two other potential explanations for the comfortable feeling he gave me. He may be a believer. Or perhaps an angel. I don't know. I wouldn't be surprised. But one thing is for sure: that believer and/or angel had a Mexican accent! :)

So, now you know a new thing about me... (I miss Chicago) ... and, based on what sort of fuzzy feelings that accent triggered, a few things about Elsa also.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Footie Pajamas and Fatherly Emotions

I'm going to be doing some occasional blogging for It won't take the place of this blog, but I may post a link from time to time (if I think you'd be interested).

Footie Pajamas and Fatherly Emotions


Friday, October 19, 2007

At Church and Fest

I'm going to slowly release news of Arden's visit here. Here are some pictures of Sunday, when we heard Lou Engle preach (and sat in the very, very last bit of carpeted bleachers), then repaired to Weston, a little Irish town with an overpriced Irish Fest and a few great swings. I'll let Arden narrate...

At first we thought the bleachers were specifically designed for playing (which they probably were)

But then our attention was captured by the sermon .... Lou, you're brilliant!

And we calmly grabbed each others' water bottles until the end, when Glorie pulled out HER FIRST CLAP in praise of Lou's calling to end abortion in the U.S. -- Hooray! I caught momma and aunt mamy both crying, and we got so many kisses afterward.

Then we went to Weston, where Glorie learned that she is Irish (we both are, actually).

And thought that was great news...

And we all did some swingin'

Other than that, Weston turned out to be expensive and boring, so we ditched it in favor of food and an apple farm,

Where we found a big bell to ring,

But not any apples on the trees (aunt mamy went looking),

And Way Too Many pumpkins.

I decided. I don't like pumpkins.

Neither does Glorie.

The next day we had more pumpkin adventures, but I'll wait till later to tell you about them. Aunt Mamy is getting tired of uploading my pictures onto blogger. Love you all! Here's a parting shot of me, momma, and aunt mamy. I was ready to go home by then. We all were.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


I have to blog photos in small batches. Here is a little sequence that is not the highest photo quality but is indicative of what these two cousins do when they get together. If one is a little slower in following the other (unusual), the first one stops, turns around, and does a few words of jabber-talking. Always does the trick. The other is pretty quickly on the heels of the first.

Glorie and Arden BFF

We've been having a really fun time with Dora and Sam. Glorie and Arden have totally hit it off too. They're usually partners in crime, and often become obsessed with whatever toy the other one is currently holding. I'm going to post more photos eventually (Anna :) but wanted to whet your appetite with these. One niece in each arm is a handful (armful?) and heavy, and a little unwieldy...but also almost the best feeling in the world. Peace! (For those of you who haven't taken a course on translating current IM vocab, nor have an in-house teenage expert, "BFF" = "Best Friends Forever")

Friday, October 05, 2007

Love and Earrings

This morning I threw on a simple blue shirt and almost dashed out of the house without earrings, but at the last second reached for my little jewelry box. I have a pair whose colors match this plain shirt perfectly, but for some reason I felt I shouldn't wear them. Perhaps I'm going to lose my earrings today, I thought, and I'd hate to lose those ones as my mother gave them to me. Well, I couldn't figure it out but went with the feeling and slipped a pair of plain golden ones in. The minute it took me to rummage for them was going to make me a minute late for babysitting my niece.

My sister is speaking at a conference today, and when I got to the house she was wearing a pretty golden necklace with rusty red beads--one I'd actually given her for her birthday. But she had on dangly blue jewel-toned earrings, because she has no golden ones. Were discussing the lack briefly, as sisters do, when she suddenly realized my earrings would solve the problem. We quickly pulled them out and switched pairs. The jarring blue was gone from her ensemble, and I'm now wearing evening-worthy jewels above a plain t-shirt!

I caught a glimpse of myself in the bathroom mirror. :) Very odd looking combination, and I could just take them off, but Glorie-Bee is fascinated by these things and it's awful fun to be rolling around with her on the floor then suddenly see her expression change, her little mouth part slightly, her eyes fix on my ear, and her face come toward mine, entranced. Then her fingers reach them and gently push, tug, tickle against my neck while she plays. Absolute sweetness. That feeling is worth the danger that she'll suddenly grab and pull, leaving me with a torn ear.

I think the world trains us to expect love to be this way. A lulling; a gentle, delightful sensation; but always the possibility that a very painful twist will cause permanent damage at the end. And it keeps us stiff, on guard.

I know a Man who is not like this. If he applies pressure, it is not to tear but to heal me. And I'm wondering if it will be easy or hard to trust a husband like this. With Glorie, I know the possibility of pain is there but still allow myself to enjoy the movement of her chubby fingers. Yet always my hand is ready and near, my muscles poised to rescue myself. When it comes to love I don't want to keep a protective hand on call; I don't want to have emotional muscles ready to defend myself. I know it means I may be hurt occasionally, accidentally. But there is nothing like the freedom to enjoy love that I have in God's arms, and it's the same freedom I hope to have in my husband's.

There is one thing I will never hope for, though, no matter how great (or poor) his sense of style is. This husband of mine is never going to be able to arrange my sister's successful be-jeweling by whispering a simple instruction in my ear as I'm running out the door. Nope. Only a Very Happy God does that sort of thing!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Commando Lawn Mowers and Romans 5 Days

I glanced out the front window this morning then stood, fascinated. You know how GI’s after WWII came home and took any job they could find? Well, I think some green berets must have just gotten discharged from Iraq, because commandos were mowing the park across the street. I’m serious. So were they. They had these riding lawnmowers that acted more like ATVs, with fast, big back wheels and perky swiveling front ones. There were two, being driven by men in full camouflage, and they were going FAST. Had to be over 30 miles an hour, back and forth in tight little spaces, scuttling around like zippy bugs, covering more terrain in 60 seconds than I thought possible. If I had a digital camera, I would have taken you a photo. Their fellow-worker was a sad sight comparatively. On his feet, tentatively wielding a weed-whacker and dressed in plain clothes, this normal guy would have been in great danger of being mowed over if not for the bright yellow safety vest with the reflective stripes he had tossed over his t-shirt.

I think the lawn mowers must be related to the garbage men, who have to have at least been army sergeants in a past life. I have never seen men hustle like these. It could just be that I’m from Chicago, where the road construction crews take turns on whose day it is to work and you still have 10 minutes to get your garbage to the can when the noise of the garbage truck first turns into your alley. Or, it could be that these are truly extraordinary fellows. I think, in all honesty, it is the latter! Their garbage truck sails down the road going at least 30 mph, not slowing at each house. The guys hanging on the back of the truck jump down already running, grab the black trash bags by the curb, swing them into the truck, and jump back on…all in one smooth motion. They alternate houses, so that one gets about 5 seconds breathing space while the other jumps down. The only way you could get a forgotten bag out to the curb in time to catch them is if you were a trained speed skater, because it takes them less than a minute to do a whole block. These guys have to be some of the strongest in the world, cause they do this all day, sometimes in over 100 degree heat. I just hope they’re being paid ENORMOUSLY well.

This is not, however, the reason I’m feeling so bright and cheery today. Sally and I did our normal morning walk, but decided to go through another section of our freedom booklet afterward. With coffee in our cups and one of the prettiest rooms in the world to curl up in, we opened to the chapter we thought we’d left off at. There, staring me in the face, was the very scripture the Lord had shown me yesterday…

“…we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” Rom 5:3-5

It had taken me some hours to move from the reality of tribulations into the act of perseverance. (In the meantime I almost gave up on the novel I’m currently working on.) I flipped pretty quickly to John 16 and Jesus’ assurance that I’d for sure have tribulation, but to “be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” Tribulation, it turns out, means: stress, pressure, anguish, adversity, crushing, squashing, squeezing, etc. And I’d thought it meant persecution! This is the perfect word to describe my current state, and let me tell you, it feels good to have God tell you exactly where you are. I’m not crazy. The pressures I’ve been feeling are not only real, they’re predicted. And they’re not only predicted, they’re useful (to produce better things like perseverance and character and hope). And they’re not only useful, they’re already overcome by Jesus. And for all these reasons, I should actually glory in them. Um, recently, I think I’ve been wallowing in them instead.

So I shared all this with Sally, and we threw back our heads (at least I did—there was a very comfy, pillowish couch cushion behind it) and thanked God for His Word and His realities. Which, of course, turned into repenting to God for our own wallowing and self-pity. And I’m left with the understanding that Jesus HAS overcome all the tribulations I’m facing or will face in this world, and that my job is to rejoice in them to the same extent that I’m letting Him create the purified, lasting things in me by my journey through them.

So…the KC garbage men are the strongest in the world, and KC-bound Amy is going to pick up her tribulations as well. They’ll be tossed into the truck and squashed, but in the process, they’re building a pretty strong spirit into me! And for that I thank the Lord. I left Sally’s house and found an almost perfect day outside…cool air, hot sun. The world is breathable today, and I’m determined to spend a lot of that breath singing to God about how good He is (and NOT giving up on my novel!).

…oh, by the way, I discovered (no, Lizzie introduced me to) a musician whose lyrics ring in my soul. You’ll want to check it out… This is Lizzie and me enjoying his small outdoor show on the most beautiful farmland I’ve ever seen, just after the sun set…

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Harlequins, Eiders, Mallards and Humans

I have to share these little cuties with everyone.
They're called Harlequins. I had to do some research on a particular breed of ducks for the novel I’m working on (random, I know) and I came across this photo… These aren’t the ducks I needed, but I gazed at their markings in surprise and thought, once again, about God. Almost any bit of nature, if considered closely, leads to such thoughts. I found an entrancing description of the habits of Eider ducks by James Audubon, and began imagining owning a few ducks of my own. They bond to their owners like dogs, and produce eggs and pillow stuffing at the same time! But what about the common Mallards I once admired from a distance? My appreciation for them was shrilly disillusioned when I took my niece to the pond. As we fed and watched them, it became apparent that the worst sort of kleptoparasitism (commonly found in man) was being manifested before our eyes. They fought and squawked and quarreled over Ariel’s little bits of bread. They ambushed and undercut one another. They stole. They became, not a brood of happy feathered waterfowl, but a mob of undisciplined children, displaying the flesh nature in all its worst glory.

So, I wonder, though these Eider ducks sound so great (according to Audubon), might they actually be as unredeemed as the pond Mallards? Or perhaps living in an artificial community like a pond and being fed rather than gathering their own food is what has created their Lord-of-the-Flies souls? Perhaps my Eiders (who are extremely cute in their own right, on the right :) would be perfectly natured, if left in perfect nature.

But no, I think better of that. Creation itself is eagerly waiting for the revealing of the sons of God (us), and in the meantime is subjected to futility. It’s yearning for redemption and deliverance. What’s in the Mallards is in the Eiders. I’ve got to stop creating perfection in my head, and expecting to find it on the earth!

(By the way, a pretty good review of some of my recent life –August—can be found on my sister’s blog: for instance. And yes, I did lean all the way over Elizabeth and say very loudly to the valet, “valiD, with a “D”. I wasn’t meaning to sound rebukish. It just happened, that sometimes letters have to spoken boldly and succinctly…otherwise they sound like other letters, and everybody gets confused…)

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Petting Zoos

My little sister Annie came out to KC to spend a few weeks before she begins her senior year of high school. What fun! (coming to KC, not another year of school) We've been taking care of Glorie-Bee full time, designing little "adventures" to have with her, making dinners, cleaning the house, watching movies, doing bible studies, and GETTING ADDICTED to Facebook and DINERDASH2 (which I keep calling DinnerDash). Yes, so sad. Getting addicted.

Check out Annie's blog for a more detailed list (with photos) of our days' adventures. So far, the most fun we've had (lots of it consisted of taking photos, which makes for very self-conscious fun) was taking Glorie to the petting zoo. Giggling at almost all the scenes in Sense and Sensibility was a good second. Here are some fun glimpses of our excursion, including a "big grass", some wading in the footpond, a little handwashing at the pump, the small family feeding the duck, some anna-joy amongst the flowers, and a cramped bit of pretty obvious proof that the adults usually enjoy petting zoos more than the kids...