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 Radiantmag.com. 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

Enjoy!

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

Cousins

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… www.charliedodrill.com This is Lizzie and me enjoying his small outdoor show on the most beautiful farmland I’ve ever seen, just after the sun set…