Saturday, October 29, 2011

Narcissistic Me

Is it all about me?

On Wednesday, a friend and I met for coffee. In our time set aside for each other, I ask about her discoveries on a recent weekend getaway, she asks how I am doing with my list. We take turns listening and talking. We open our calendars and set aside more time, an evening to enjoy dinner together with our husbands.

Our coffee time runs over our allotted time. We depart 30 minutes later than planned. We are worth every minute. Our friendship is one of transparency, admiration and respect. We share our pain. We encourage each other through adversity and celebrate God's gifts. We embrace a willingness to grow and change.

Yes. At times I am unaware of struggles in her life, and at times she does not know all that is going on with me.

Yet, as I tussled in my summer cave
- my exhausted humanity fondling the idea of pushing people off the ledge - my friend comforted me with prayer.
She came without unsolicited solutions. With open hands, she simply and quietly held onto our friendship.

Others demanded more of me, begging to be pushed off the ledge.

And the pushing felt narcissistic.

To whom are you closest in an emotional sense? Personally and professionally? Could you articulate what is most important to them in their life? - Allan Josephson, M.D., Narcissism

In response to the question above:

A list of 7 names comes quickly, the people with whom there is connection. I pencil a quick articulation for each, their actions speaking louder than my words, lives often vastly different yet delicately harmonious with mine. We share a willingness to grow
and change. The list of 7 names is surrounded by the white space
of the ample page. I briefly examine the need for more names,
the 3 that come to mind are people for whom I cannot pencil a
quick articulation. - Rw

I did not emerge from my summer cave with malice, pushing people off the ledge. Eroded by the winds of life, the rock of friendship softened. We were unwilling to grow and change. The fragile harmony once found within friendship slips away like sand.


Photo Credit


Friday, October 28, 2011

John, Jon, John and 1 John

My friend John and I quit our jobs a couple of years ago, to follow after Christ, change the world. In the early days of our friendship, he once told me he disliked puns. I remembered it as him 'hating' puns, but hate is too strong a word. John is thoughtful, intelligent, compassionate - the kind of man who wouldn't love a flavor of ice cream, love is a sentiment reserved for his wife, the woman God designed with him in mind. I'm often less careful with my words.

My friend Jon writes books. The book he published this year "No Will of My Own: How Patriarchy Smothers Female Dignity & Personhood" is right up my alley. "What's With Paul and Women?" is on my reading
to do list. Jon too is careful with words,
a man who loves his wife, enjoys her company. I understand Jon also enjoys golf and a nice glass of wine, but I expect he'd avoid using the word love in describing either experience. Jon and I met at the Int'l Christian Conference on Prostitution and Human Trafficking,
a gathering where careless use of "my John" when I really mean "my friend John" raises a few eyebrows, the pun unintended.

John and 1 John are books from the Bible, written by the John referred to in this prayer.
Matthew, Mark, Luke and John,
Bless the bed that I lie on.
Four corners to my bed,
Four angels round my head;
One to watch and one to pray
And two to bear my soul away.
In a summer series of podcasts exploring John's writings, for
the first time I saw the Bible as a library, a collection of books, realized that the New Testament as it is published today did not exist in the early years of following after Christ.

I've not yet read the Bible cover-to-cover. I've not even made
it through the entirety of the New Testament. I often feel ill-
equipped to discuss Biblical texts and my lack of confidence is something I've often whined about with God. This summer, God answered, and I found freedom in this discovery: early Believers in geographically diverse areas often possessed the teachings of only one author, perhaps John, perhaps one of the others - God provided what they needed. God will do the same for me.

“All people are like grass,
and all their glory is like the flowers of the field;
the grass withers and the flowers fall,
but the word of the Lord endures forever.”


No Will of My Own

Thursday, October 27, 2011


Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God's way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us.  
2 Timothy 16-17

Reading these words is changing the focus of my heart. Scripture is not about rebuking and correcting others. Scripture is about examining my own life, my own actions, my own integrity.

[in-teg-ri-tee] noun
  1. adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.
  2. a state of being whole, entire, or undiminished: to preserve the integrity of the empire.
  3. a sound, unimpaired, or perfect condition: the integrity of the ship's hull.

Becoming the woman my Creator intended is about examining the woman in the mirror, honestly revisiting my past, asking for forgiveness, then accepting God's grace.

So very often, I take the first three steps, then skip essential fourth one. I hold onto satan's whispers of diminished worthiness and impaired morality, punishing myself, refusing to let God make me whole.

For years I held tightly to the illusion of purity as a perfect essence to possess and preserve - while living in a fallen world,
a place where nothing is perfect. After scuffling with promiscuity in the summer of my 23rd year, I summarily dismissed strengths, talents, gifts - the potential God placed within me. I held tightly to my failings, embraced the brokenness as true me.

This is not what God intended.

Or, as a wise woman once said, "God don't throw the baby out with the bathwater."

In this year of discovery, I am throwing out the bathwater, the cruel societal labels of promiscuity and purity. I am taking the fourth step. I am accepting God's grace and letting go of my brokenness - choosing to be a woman of integrity.


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

More Questions Than Answers

"... think about stories that you tell and the stories that others tell about you. It may help to think in terms of general categories ... Weather ... Object ... What kind of car did your family have?"
—Dan Allender, To Be Told Workbook pg 11

Dad drove Fords. For decades, I refer to the first family car held in my childhood memories as a 'Ford' Tempest. Today, my discovery? Our Tempest was a Pontiac.

Nestled within the stories of my family of origin, is Dad's career change from lineman for Midway Telephone Company to technician for Midwest Breeders Cooperative. Dad's new job came in the mid-1960s. I was in kindergarten when we relocated. In my softly faded childhood memories, I am comforted as Mom reads to me a book about the adventure of moving. I am excited when Dad takes me to pick out a black lab puppy. We name her Lady.

I didn't realize it at the time, but Dad was a young man on the forefront of a new industry. Dairy farmers across the upper Midwest were no longer keeping bulls on the farm, but diversifying the genetics of their herds using frozen semen.
Midwest is the world's largest member-owned artificial insemination cooperative. It was formed January 1, 1967, with the consolidation of Consolidated Breeders Cooperative of Anoka, Minnesota, and Badger Breeders Cooperative of Shawano, Wisconsin. Ken Peissig, director of operations for the cooperative, reported that in 1967, the cooperative provided service for 44,176 members in six states, including Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Missouri. Sales volume for the year was $3,975,984. First service cows bred for members totaled 679,576. The cooperative has 401 employees including 320 direct employee technicians.
Thursday, March 21 ,1968

Pipettes of semen were held in a stainless steel tank, kept cold by liquid nitrogen. The tank weighed more than my sister and I combined - and didn't quite fit in the trunk of the car. The trunk lid was modified, probably by a body shop, so that our Tempest had something else no other car possessed - a 'hump' much like a large hatbox protruding from the center of her trunk lid.

a tank from ABS - Midwest's tremulous competition

remembering our family car - a brown Pontiac Tempest

Nestled within the stories of my family of origin, is a story of Mom, a woman coming of age in the Kennedy Camelot Years, now a young wife and mother. She and Dad share the brown Tempest, which she takes to the supermarket to purchase groceries. We laugh when she tells the story:

... the carryout from the supermarket was a young man. He followed me out to the car with my groceries, politely putting the paper bags in the back seat. Just before turning to walk away, he asked about the hump in the trunk lid. Without blinking an eye, I replied, "Oh, that's where my husband keeps his semen" then got into the driver's seat and pulled away. It was a minute or two later that I blushed, realizing what I'd said, picturing that young man laughing as he told his buddies all about it.

As I examine the objects of my childhood - cars, bikes, books, toys, clothes - I uncover more questions than answers, yet in these memories I am discovering more to love about my parents, unearthing their humanity.


Stick with what you learned and believed,
sure of the integrity of your teachers

Pontiac Tempest
ABS Tank

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

blue, two, three: strangers

Just a few minutes ago, in an email to a dear friend, I wrote:

"Your blog on leadership today was thought provoking ... my parade [Whispered Hopes] often feels like a series of New Orlean's funerals - sad then jazzy then sad ..."

This journey with God is unexpected. There are days when I am inexplicably teary and days when life is lavishly celebrated.

I'm pretty sure that I never formally said yes to leadership, but simply shuffled my feet slightly forward while uttering the word fine! toward God. On this journey, the route often curves in unexpected ways as God connects me to extraordinary voices here at home and abroad.

This fall a local woman passionate about assisting victims of human trafficking brought the book "When Helping Hurts" to my attention. The authors' words expanded my collective images
of poverty, giving me opportunity to see the flaws in my own perceptions, and explore cultural differences in how we view time (monochronic v polychronic) and ourselves (individualism v collectivism). The U.S. norm is not mid-range on either scale.
I am not surprised.

Today, it happened again, in an online friendship formed during the Self-Reliance 30-day writing challenge - a community of bloggers, mentors and peers, from across the globe. Gabi writes of a train ride, meeting among others, Muhammad from Sudan ... "We talked about attraction and homosexuals in Sudan ... religion, human rights and equality, and lots of practical things."

I am awed by her transparency, inspired by her eloquence and courage. Like the authors of "When Helping Hurts" Gabi's blog gives me opportunity to see flaws in my own perceptions, and explore cultural differences in a new light.

blue, two, three: strangers: Last night's train ride was tedious, but interesting. The train from Frankfurt started 10 minutes late and arrived in Düsseldorf 12 minutes...

It was only yesterday that I was an outsider to God's ways ... didn't know the first thing about the way God works.  
Ephesians 2:11-13

I may never fully understand. I am seeking wisdom, casting aside the blinders of indoctrination, and lavishly celebrating God at work in every human breath.


Monday, October 24, 2011

Second Story Windows

bottle of Windex
roll of paper towel
sturdy wooden chair
one 20' ladder
razor blade scraper
brad nails
2nd roll paper towel
trash can (empty often)
putty knife
glazing compound
3rd roll paper towel
husband to move ladder
2nd bottle Windex
felt weather stripping
wood stain and brush
spoon to remove dirt from glazing compound

In the long list of benefits living in an old house offers me, "washing windows" is not included. Yes, new windows, fabulous vinyl replacements, are an option for many, but I am a bit stubborn. Entrenched actually. Preservation and restoration.

Our upper sashes are 'permanently' held in place by 113 years of weathering and maintenance, freeze and thaw, dust and varnish. Unlike my more open-minded sisters with vinyl replacements,
I wash four of my second story windows from porch tops, crawling out and standing on pitched roofs, one foot lower than the other. Washing the exteriors of the six remaining second-story windows requires climbing a 20' ladder, perching at the top to wash and glaze. Precarious positions for a woman with hips as old as mine.

A previous owner protected the windows with storms, so in addition to the original stationary upper sash and removable lower sash, I wash upper
and lower glass panels from the storms, their 'combination' screens, and the tiny dirt-
catching channels
that align and combine screen with glass.
(Add Q-tips to supply list above.)

There are chance encounters with box elder bugs, spiders, bees, wasps, tiny black flying bugs the spiders seems to enjoy, and those lady-bug looking insects that are not really ladylike or lady bugs at all.

There are random and annoying smudges of white paint on clean glass, created by Windex resting too long on the metal frames of the storms. There are paint splatters older than the storms, crisp dry paint waiting patiently on the exterior of the upper sash, removed by the simple scrape of a razor blade. How did I miss those last time?

There are dents and dings, tiny places where finish is scrapped away from wood, blemishes left by my unpracticed hammering of brad nails that hold the stops in place. With delicate brush strokes, these blemishes will be covered with Minwax Woodfinish 210B Golden Oak or Red Mahogany 225 - whichever is a better match. I size and cut felt weather stripping, placing it into the voids and spaces inherent in old windows.

There is a dusting of fine black dirt atop the glazing compound after the open container falls from the top of the ladder and lands in the freshly turned soil of the flower bed. Before replacing the lid, I scrape the misty blackness from the snow white paste with a kitchen spoon.

There are challenges to overcome - my fear of heights and aversion to spiders, the dirt in the glazing compound. The work is physical and intricate, taking days longer than I'd planned.

On this beautiful autumn day, when the sun streams in through clean vintage glass, I am grateful for the physical stamina to do the work and the undeniable satisfaction of a job well done.

Moses did everything just as the LORD commanded him.

God gave Moses a long and intricate list of tasks to accomplish, and the stamina to do the job well.

I am grateful.


brad nails
window sash

Saturday, October 22, 2011

When Helping Hurts

"... our failures outnumber our successes ..."
—Steve Corbett & Brian Fikkert, When Helping Hurts

As I am reading this book there are moments of affirmation, and tons of light bulbs, those 'ah ha' moments, points where fresh ideas and personal experience connect, where I see my past in a new and different light.

My seemingly good ideas that fizzled, like Red Hot Society and VolunPeers and a dozen others within Fellowship, provided learning opportunities and growth.

The process of trying something new, then failing to realize my vision, prepared me for the journey of Whispered Hopes. Growth came when my hands and heart opened, when control was relinquished to God.

Within this book, I discover words to express diversity of poverty, not simply the material plight of the people I view as poor, but the poverty that exists in all our lives - poverty of Being, Community, Stewardship, Spiritual Intimacy with God.*

In our Being: low self-esteem and god complexes.

In our Community: exploitation and abuse, self-centeredness, entitlement.

In our Stewardship: loafers and workaholics, the loss of our sense of purpose.

In our Spiritual Intimacy: choosing to worship false gods and the American idols of money, achievement, success; denying God's existence, authority, abundance.

Each of us resides in poverty.
Each of us is flawed and fragile.
Each of us is infinitely capable in Christ.

As I explore the pages of this book, my greatest discovery is:

"We are not bringing Christ ... He has been active in these communities since the creation of the world, sustaining them
'by his powerful word' (Heb. 1:3)."
—Steve Corbett & Brian Fikkert, When Helping Hurts

As a Whispered Hopes volunteer I am often asked, "How many women has your team converted to Christ?"

My answer? "None. Christ is already there."


Photo Credit: Flat Light Bulb

* Adapted by Corbett & Fikkert from Walking with the Poor: Principles and Practices of Transformational Development by Bryant L. Myers.

Friday, October 21, 2011


Thursday morning I was one of the people in county jail... of a couple dozen ministro and three ministra in a meeting. That male/female ratio doesn't bring out the best in me. I tend to be suspicious, to engage the sandpaper of perceived patriarchy before entering the room. My discomfort is self-inflicted. I push it aside as best I can, say hello and shake hands, introduce myself. A couple of the men remember me. That feels good.

We begin with prayer, a little 'housekeeping' and a guest speaker, then leaders in jail ministry share a bit about their work. We break into smaller groups to identify needs within these ministries and
I re-discover something I already knew: people make a huge difference. Relationships are connection points for Christ.

Christ invites the people ministering within our jails, and beckons others to walk side by side with persons recently released: one-on-one friendship, encouragement, mentoring, connection to already available resources (food banks, faith communities). As each group reported back identified needs, not one mentioned MONEY. The need was more people, volunteers willing to give TIME in the critical weeks after incarceration ends.

In American culture where the question, "What do you do?" so often means "Where do you work?" we place much (too much?) value on money. We forget the value of volunteerism, the giving of time.

When the collection plate is passed, do the dollar$ we give represent all that God is asking of us? I don't know the answer. With God, I often end up with more questions than answers... but that's another blog.

In an economy where many feel the pinch of making ends meet, is God asking us - you and me - to tithe another gift? If financial giving does not bring delight, perhaps God is offering another way, an opportunity in time.

God loves it when the giver delights in the giving.


No me habla en español.
Estoy inspirado de este artículo.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

PMS Tea and Genuine Maple Syrup

The tea packages are tamper evident and moisture proof. Good thing too, as this precious cargo has resided in my stash for more than a decade. I've never tasted the stuff. Dandelion Root and Uva Ursi Leaf don't appeal to me. The power is in the packaging. On any one of THOSE days, when life is getting the best of me and I want some peace and quiet, I indulge in the thought of laying a package next to my keyboard, or moving all four to a strategic location in the cupboard that holds our coffee mugs. One of THOSE days when I want to hang one from the rear view mirror in my car, like a pine-tree air freshener, only more combative.

It is usually a day when, to put it delicately, I am less than my best? When being nice to me is like embracing a porcupine? Dangerous to the initiator of the hug? When I so badly need a hug? I am reminded of Elf, the scene where Buddy hugs the raccoon. I laugh.

I see the violence coming, but I watch anyway. Today, I laugh again at the simple off-beat childlike character. He's clueless and genuine. His love is sticky sweet like the maple syrup he lavishes on every plate of food.

Today, as I touch the unopened packages of PMS tea, I feel time rushing past too quickly. I think about the genuine unfiltered love offered by the movie character Buddy and the burdensome amount of real-life time I spent being a porcupine.

Today, it is time to pass on the PMS tea, not as a weapon of selfish indulgence, but as a reminder to accept all the sticky sweet hugs and genuine love life offers.


Will Ferrel plays Buddy in Elf

This is my 100th blog. I was going to start with that, but it seemed too big a risk. Now, I'm celebrating!

Then, I realize the software counts better than I, it is the 95th.
Now, I need a hug.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Ready to Receive

Today, as I move the ribbon in my devotional, I realize that for the past 274 days, I've held this book in my hands. I remember the moment it was gifted to me. The reason for my tears. The room we were standing in. The kindness of the giver. My embarrassment at accepting the gift. Her gentle insistence. Her faith that I would keep it. On the 'presented to/from' page she wrote my first name, then her own. Beneath that, Jeremiah 29:11.

On days when I think about giving the book to someone 'who needs it more than me' the writing of our names keeps it in my hands. I imagine the awkward moment when the inscription of our names is discovered, my feeble attempts at explaining why I passed it on without finishing, the unspoken message that perhaps it isn't such a good book after all.

"Go gently through this day, keeping your eyes on Me."
excerpt Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young, Oct 18, page 305

Go gently.

Today, in the photo there are dog bones and a butter dish. Is there a point? I'm not sure. The butter dish is by Longaberger Pottery, a remnant of our years of gluttony, when money was easily spent. The dog bones are treats for our canine companions, Dozer and Harley.

Companionship. Friendship. Walking together. Being gentle.

Harley and Dozer never doubt. Several times a day at the end of each walk, time spent in our yard, or a ride in the car, the dogs come into the kitchen and wait for the treats. Confident in the caregivers. Ready to receive our affection.

"For I know the plans I have for you," says the LORD. 
"They are plans for good and not for disaster, 
to give you a future and a hope."

I will someday gift my daily companion, the book of 365 days. But not today. There are 91 days yet to be embraced. Time to grow and learn, become more confident in The Caregiver, ready to receive Jesus' affection. For now, the book belongs in my hands. There is no one who needs it more than me.


Monday, October 17, 2011

Tired and Congested

Yesterday, I visited a church outside my home community, with a new friend in another city who is seeking a way to connect. Many things about this church were comforting and familiar; the few that were different left me longing for my home community.

Back at home, as I walked through the front door (a few minutes after kick-off Packers-Rams game) I could smell onions and recently cooked food. In my absence my husband had warmed up some nachos for lunch. Then, early this morning, as I gave our bathroom a quick once over, I could smell the cleaning products, and it dawned on me that I have not smelled anything since August when I came down with a summer cold that left me tired and congested weeks later.

I thought about the year I had polyps removed from my sinuses, remembered my post-surgery appointment. After extracting 12 feet of gauze from my nose - or was it 12 feet from each nostril - the doctor asked, "Can you smell anything?"

Apparently, there was a risk I could lose my sense of smell. I was more than a little angry at the doctor for taking that risk without informing me. He explained that patients actually report losing their sense of smell MORE often when they are told ahead of time about the risk. My odds were better if I didn't know.

This morning, my sense of smell is back, and its return leaves me wondering what else I am missing, things I am not experiencing because my body or my mind - or my heart - accepted a risk as a truth.

In my fragile humanity, I am prone to taking a temporary setback and letting my fear transform it into a lifelong disfigurement.

God keeps me from tripping over my own two feet.  Psalm 25:14-15


Sunday, October 16, 2011


I like watching HGTV, especially the shows where people tackle projects. I am drawn to the sharing of a vision, the demolition, the rebuilding. I am captivated by the moment of hopelessness when a problem 'bigger than expected' is discovered.

There is difficulty and pain in the moment of hopelessness, yet the joy in the finished project grains depth, becomes greater. The homeowners appreciate the completed room with a bonus: they view themselves differently, more capable and knowledgeable. Self-image is remodeled too.

The LORD merely spoke,
and the heavens were created.
... breathed the word,
and all the stars were born.
... assigned the sea its boundaries
and locked the oceans in vast reservoirs.

As the green leaves splash on autumn color, and fall gently glides into another day, I am learning to embrace the remodeling of my self-image, the unfolding of my strengths and weakness, my moments of hopelessness and joy.


Saturday, October 15, 2011


I don't know what day I read the Seth's Blog, the one prompting me to send out for the Q-tips that arrived in my mailbox on Thursday.

The blog is dated Oct 7. The package arrived Oct 13.

I opened it this morning.

As I read through the information that came with the Q-tips, I am aware that I am afraid of needles and more than uncomfortable with hospitals. Especially as a patient.

And a donor of bone marrow, if matched, would be asked to be a patient. I waffle. I stall. I think about returning the unopened package, then open it anyway. I flip through the booklet. Page 12. A picture of a boy and his dad. The caption reads: "Just to see Luke out running and playing and doing things children should be doing is awe-inspiring ... You can be the miracle somebody needs."

I remember a friend who died from leukemia when we were in high school. I didn't think about his parents at the time, but today I contemplate the depth of their heartbreak.

I read the simple directions, use the Q-tips to swab the insides of my cheeks, seal the postage-paid envelope, and walk to the post office. My Q-tips begin the journey back Oct 15.

And to be truthful, I am afraid. I don't want to be a patient. The idea of medical personnel drawing marrow from my hips makes me queasy. Even the nonsurgical PBSC donation - much like giving plasma - isn't something I want to do. Needles. Did I mention that I am afraid of needles?

I'm going to carry the booklet with me for awhile. Keep it open to page 12. Ask God to prepare me
for the next step. The waiting. 

Like jury duty, I may never be called.

I'm going to ask others to help. Will you to answer the registry questions, order your own Q-tips?

The site asks for a donation. And to be honest, I didn't donate.
I am assuaging my guilt with positive thought, mentally giving Seth the opportunity to pick up the tab. He's the one that started all this.

Seth's Blog: Eliminating the impulse to stall

Oh, if your still waffling, Seth's offering a profile on his blog and $10,000. He writes: "Here's the deal: if you are a match for Amit and the marrow donation happens, I'll profile you or the project of your choice on the blog and send you a check for $10,000 for you or the charity of your choice... You win the prize if you're the first certified match, but donating is completely up to you."

I glance down at my booklet. Across from the picture of a boy and his dad, on page 13 the text reads: "The marrow completely replaces itself in 4 to 6 weeks" and "You will get more information every step of the way."

And God said, “I will be with you..."

I want to believe that if faced with a crisis, circumstances or opportunity, to push someone out of harm's way, to get hit by the bus for her or take the bullet, I wouldn't hesitate - that I would step forward in Faith.

Jesus said, "Go and do the same." 

The Q-tips offer an opportunity to push someone out of harm's way without risking the bullet.

Why did I hesitate?


Friday, October 14, 2011

I am grateful

My sister's house celebrates a family tradition, designing costumes and dressing up for trick-or-treating, turning the garage into a haunted house then inviting 'unsuspecting' guests to explore, celebrating the abundance of autumn, sharing yummy fall snacks or a warm meal, campfires at night in the yard outside her kitchen door. Boxes of decorations and
props are pulled from the garage. Pumpkins grown in her husband's garden are carved and painted. Halloween becomes a celebration for all ages, a bringing together of friends and family. An warm and inviting open house. A season of generosity. Generations of family within a community of friends.

I change the cover on my dog treat jar from school bus to ghost, buy candy for the trick-or-treaters, turn on the porch light.

Sometimes it feels as though I do too little. Others might argue that we both do too much, negative people choosing to pick at us like ravens. Criticism lays bare my sister's abundant joy and my simple pleasures. Cruel words hold the potential to unleash the worst critic, the enemy masquerading, the cruelty that seems to come from within – within her, within me, within us all.

And, I am grateful?

Yes. I am grateful for comfort and protection in God's Word – available to the critics, to the joyous, to everyone.

"...You're here to be light, bringing out the God-colors 
in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. 
We're going public with this ... Keep open house; 
be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, 
you'll prompt people to open up with God, 
this generous Father in heaven."

In Christ we find the power to banish the darkest enemy and take back the night.



Thursday, October 13, 2011

Perfect Fit

As I read the story of Moses being asked by God to lead His people out of Egypt,
I am captivated by the barefoot man who stands before God and replies:

"Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue."

God promises to help him speak, teach him what to say. Moses declines:

"Pardon your servant, Lord. Please send someone else." Exodus 4

Compared to the tired I Caaaaan't whine of my summer 2008, Moses' words are so respectful, so eloquent.

In the midst of our Bible study, I laugh. Leaning left I whisper into the ear of the woman next to me, "Great shoes. Are they comfortable?" In that moment, something within me envisioned God as Master Cobbler, a Maker of perfect-fitting shoes. I am a sloppy flip flop and leather clogs girl myself, but the friend sitting next to me wears stilettos with fun bows and buttons. Her shoe collection is a delicious visual shopping spree, a candy store for feet.

In 2008, as I let go of my fear, I quit whining I Caaaaan't and in a single breath shouted a Fine! filled with attitude.

God took it as a yes and offered me a pair of shoes called Whispered Hopes.

A perfect fit.



Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Destiny's Prayers

I love it! My friend Destiny ends her blog with prayer. Reading the words of her prayer her gratitude, her compassion, her faith
I feel a stronger connection to God.

Lord I come before you this morning and praise you for the beauty of today, thank you for the warm sun in october and the chatter of the squirrels outside. Thank you for wanting to hear our prayers,wanting to listen to me, I find it amazing that the God who created the entire universe actually cares enough about me and what I think! Please please please let my friend feel you all around her today, let her feel love, give her the strenght for today, strenght for the moment, heal her brokenness and renew her life! thank you God! I know you can do it! amen 

Destiny is an amazing gift. Her writing casts aside the cumbersome confines of punctuation, sentence structure and spelling opening wide her heart. As many of us let writing get bogged down in
APA Style and the Chicago Manual, Destiny leaves these tomes unopened, choosing a perfect guidebook. Her Bible. God's Word.

And so I pray...

Creator God, thank you for the voices of praise and thanksgiving and encouragement all around me, Please give me the strenght to let go of perfection and to embrace the flawed and human potential You placed within me, thank you for Destiny's prayers. amen


Monday, October 10, 2011

The Message

Use all these words in whatever you write today: fiction, essay, poem, journal, blog.
force  garden  stocking  bizarre  simplistic

There is an allure in writing, a rhythm in words, an ancient urge to tell my story. The allure is tinged with selfishness, a grasp at immortality, a hunger to live on in the retelling.

As I picture Woman in the garden, speaking to the serpent, I am drawn away from the simplistic nature of our culture blaming her for the fall, for all that is wrong in the world. Where is Adam?
Is he beside her? Is he apart from her? Close enough to hear? Is Eden so vast that he is too far away to sense what is happening?

Or, is Adam complacent?

I am not a Hebrew scholar. I am a child exploring stories. My time spent in study is short. I only just recently opened the pages, began reading for myself. Yet, the doctrine of my childhood faith and my life experiences collide in the seemingly bizarre question, "Where is Adam?"

I ask this question within the framework of my life, as a woman walking beside a man for the past 26 years, a wife partner to this man for the past 2.3 decades, the mother of his children, a co-collaborator in painting the fresh canvass of an empty nest.

As simplistic as this may sound, he knows. My partner on this earth, my husband, senses it when I am up to something.
When I am being tempted, he knows.

So, where is Adam?

As I read the Bible, I am stocking up on questions for my Creator. As silly – or even disrespectful – as that sounds, I am curious.
I want to understand.

And, I am grateful.

I am grateful for the man walking beside me every day and the grace of my Creator in every breath. I am most grateful that neither seeks to force me into actions or thoughts or words.

I am given the freedom to journey and discover and question.

Today, as I open the pages, The Message breaks away from the 'thou shalt not' texts of my childhood and becomes an inviting collection of stories and songs, prayers and conversations, sermons and visions.

There is an allure in the writing, a rhythm in the words, an ancient urge within me to read and discover The Story.


The Message is a contemporary rendering of the Bible from the original languages, crafted ... in everyday language.
The Story is all about ... God’s great love affair with humanity. 

Plaza Suite

In high school I was cast as the secretary in Plaza Suite. I wasn't much of an actress. Our drama adviser told me to be more alluring. Not quite understanding what she meant, I became even more unsure of myself. Perhaps I never read the whole play, nor learned my lines. Even during rehearsals, when the audience was cast and crew, stage fright stole my words.

After opening night, a friend of my mother's loaned me a red blazer. I'm not sure that helped.

Today as I read the synopsis, apparently my character doesn't warrant a name...

In [the first act], a relentlessly chirpy wife indulges in a scatter- brained fit of sentimental nostalgia. She revisits the scene of her honeymoon—but was it 23, or 24 years ago? —with secret hopes of reigniting the ardors of early love. Her husband is a taut rather than tired businessman who has kept his eye on his weight and his secretary. The wife has suspected as much: "You were working three nights a week—we weren't getting any richer." She seems put out that her husband had no more enterprise than to pick his secretary as bedmate. Along with the jesting banter and bitchiness of the much married comes a feeling of poignancy for two people who find that love, like the sand in a thousand breakfast egg timers, has run out.

... and I am intrigued.

Not by the lack of a name for the character, but by the relative innocence from which I approached her, a single layer in a theme of innocence in my life today. In the third week of May, a man I greatly respect spoke into the messy story of my earthly life the idea of innocence.

" as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves."

... and I am intrigued.

At first it seemed far-fetched that a woman with nearly five decades of life behind her could maintain innocence. Yet, I look back and see a pattern, places in life where for whatever reason when evil visited, I held on to innocence.

Exposure to pornography while babysitting, a high school teacher sharing inappropriate jokes, the scuffles with promiscuity in the summer of my 23rd year... all held vast potential for harm. In journaling this fall, I discover 34 separate conversations and events, moments where innocence was assaulted. A dozen are accounts shared with me by others, detailed stories of evil told to me by random strangers and close friends.

In the verse given me by the man I greatly respect, there are two gifts. I am innocent. I am shrewd.

God is using both these gift in me ...

... and I am intrigued.


Plaza Suite by Neil Simon 1968
A Heart Not Big Enough 2011

Saturday, October 8, 2011

12 Pictures: A Roll of Film

On my desk is a photo of a toddler, a girl with a bow in her hair playing with a litter of puppies on the lawn of a farmhouse. In the background there is a car parked on a gravel driveway, a barn and an outbuilding.

The photo is black and white. The date stamp reads: AUG 63

The album that first cradled this little girl and her puppies, holds many, many years. Flashbulbs, film and processing were costly.
A young family recorded only the most precious moments.

A roll of film, 12 pictures, often captured a whole year.

Which leaves me wondering what is special about this day?
Special enough to take a picture of a little girl and her puppies?

Clues to the photo reside in the background. The barn and out- building in relation to the gravel driveway tell me location, a farmhouse owned by my paternal grandparents in the Town of Deer Creek, not their house but a second farmhouse just down the road and around the corner, within walking distance of the house where Grandpa and Grandma live. I do not recognize the car. In the foreground the lawn is dotted with dandelions, an indication of early summer. The AUG 63 stamp on the border tells me which summer. This is the summer my sister is born.

Looking more closely at the photo, I notice something new. The little girl
is not sitting, but squatting, as toddlers do when caught up in exploring the world.
One hand
rests on the side of her leg, the other is blurred. She
is in motion.

Is she coming in closer to explore the puppies? Or is she moving onto the next thing, discovering the person behind the camera?

A duplicate of this photo, a girl and her puppies, recently made its way to me from my maternal grandmother, a woman who lives more than an hour from the farmhouse. On the back of the photo Grandma gave me, handwritten in black ink, is my first name.

The little girl is me.

This is not a surprise, but today my heart is on the move, asking how and why, questioning, exploring.

Is the person behind the camera a maternal grandparent? Who then sends a copy to my parents?

Or, is it a moment of childhood captured by a parent, then gifted to my grandparents?

I am intrigued.

...where God is making new life,
not a day goes by without his unfolding grace.


The vintage camera from my parents looks something like this one.


Thursday, October 6, 2011


Today there are cupcakes.

Not that I need one.

Or two.

I just felt like baking, Wednesday night, spending time in the kitchen
– a rare urge for me.

Before going to bed, I hid the chocolate treasure in the cooled oven, for save keeping overnight.

At sunrise this morning, I poured
the last of our coffee stash into the white ceramic canister beside the coffee maker, then walked across
the kitchen to write "coffee" in black dry-erase marker on the whiteboard that captures our grocery list.

I opened the oven door, took out the cookie-sheet filled with cupcakes, and set it on the counter. I poured a mug of coffee and grabbed a cupcake to take upstairs with me, to my office.

On my way out of the kitchen, I pass the whiteboard. I glance at the list, is there anything we need? Today? It appears our cupboards and refrigerator contain all we need. I know at a glance because I don't always write in black. I sometimes use blue marker, or even red, depending on the urgency of need.

(Yes. I am a firstborn.)

I settle in at my desk, take a bite of my cupcake, and open the list of blogs I follow. There is a new post from my friend Kimberly. She writes, "As we were chatting over coffee, Matt sent me the news that, after much seeking and negotiating, our annual orphan-food-purchase quote had come in ... extreme drought and consequential debilitating food shortage means food in Africa is going to be much, much higher ... My first response was an inner tsunami of fear..."

I cannot imagine her fear. I cannot quantify her faith.

Here, cocooned in my middle-class midwestern life, I need to put away my red dry-erase marker, and pray provision for the orphans.

Nothing on our grocery list is red-ink-urgent when today there are cupcakes.



Monday, October 3, 2011


Do you make room for “accidents” in your writing plan, and allow opportunities to explore creative diversions? Take a few minutes and look at one of your current writing projects. What can you do to loosen the plan just enough to ensure you don’t make the same mistakes that Tharp mentions below? Smash365
These mistakes — relying too much on others, waiting for the perfect setup, overthinking structure, feeling obligated to finish what you’ve started, and working with the wrong materials — are deadly. Any one of them will undermine your best efforts. ~Twyla Tharp, The Creative Habit, p. 128 

This morning
as I listen to the 09.25.11 podcast by one of my favorite teachers,
I search for 
my timeline, something gathered together as homework
for a class
14 months ago, a synopsis of my life. I can't find it. What I leave behind is a mess. Bins and boxes, unfinished scrapbooks, a room full of bits and pieces. The dried and crumbling bouquet of calla lillies from my wedding rests atop a photo of my father as a Marine. I am lured by the promise
of a perfect setup, a flawless filing system, a well-structured story of my earthly life. If I only stack neatly the memories in closet and armoire, then I can pull together the words. I wallow now in the chaos that just minutes ago rested unseen in dark spaces behind tidy doors.
I want the disappointing memories, bottomless emptiness, inky blackness to disappear – and the beauty of a life created to emerge within my words.

Perhaps what I need is a Word?

I didn't find my timeline. Instead in the chaos I discovered the workbook that prompted the homework: Believing God.

We spent 12 weeks on 5 statements, a pledge of faith:

God is who He says He is.
God will do what He says He will do.
I am who God says I am.
I can do all thing through Christ.
God's Word is living and active in me.

Our of respect for her work, I resist the urge to replace the author's use of He with my preference S/He. The non-gender-specific pronoun is my weakness, a need to be reminded often that I too am created in God's image.

Taping together one sheet of paper for each decade of my life here on earth, I put my birth father's birth date on the left edge. Scaling the timeline at about 1/2 inch per year, I mark my birth mother's birth date, my own birth date, and the birth dates of my siblings, and my children. Then I added more paper to the left side, space for my grandparents' birth dates, great-grandparents birth dates, perhaps more.

Today, recreating the timeline brings perspective.

Each day is 1/365th of the space between two birthdays – the slash marks at the right so close together that the text is unreadable. The whole year is really such a tiny slice of life when compared to all that came before, all the time God devoted to designing today for me.

And for you.