Monthly Archives: January 2014

Morning Song…


Allow me to introduce you to a very dear friend of mine named Rachel Wagner. She is a writer, singer, songwriter, and burns genius in a lot of other areas, too. She is married and has four children. This video is her first music video and she did it herself. She did it in bits and pieces while her kids were at school and her husband was at work. She did it in between loads of laundry and maybe instead of mopping the floor that one time.

I love how the video conveys that patchwork so well, bits and pieces. Bits and pieces of ordinary that come together to make the music of a spectacular life faithfully lived. Little squares of common beauty brought in to be part of a greater melody. This video helps me to remember that the little beauties and humble tasks of my day are combining to paint a bigger picture of beauty.

This song quiets my soul when I’m irritable and lifts it when I am low. I find that I listen to it frequently on Monday mornings when I am usually both. I have come to call it my Monday Morning Song. May it bless your Monday morning.

Go see Rachel!

Miniskirts and Sweatshirts…


My only two children who can walk were zipping around the house like so many pinballs trapped inside the machine. The one who couldn’t walk was directing the whole episode, shrieking in the direction they were supposed to go next. It was that kind of day. I put my clogs on over my comfy socks and grabbed my keys. It was time to get out of the house.

So, I dashed away with the kiddos for a quick trip to the grocery store to get the few things I needed to complete my larder. The trip to the store ended with a walk through the shopping complex to the kiddy park past the large fountain. It was at this point I first saw her.

She was wearing a smart white blazer over a tight tan miniskirt, her legs descending in trim symmetry through the myriad of straps on her high high-heels. And believe it or not this figure was walking behind a baby carriage. It was the kind of baby carriage I’ve only seen a few times. The brand name was foreign to me as it wasn’t the type to condescend to peddle itself at the chain stores where I shop. The pink canvas was immaculate, stretched over the little baby goddess, hovering over a pink canvas carriage below. The baby was trimmed out in red velvet and white fur.

I thought lamely that she must be working or have just come from work? Because any other reason to dress that nice was escaping me at the moment. I wiped my baby boy’s drool on my sweatshirt sleeve and pondered this. Maybe she was meeting someone really nice? Maybe she thought this was a really nice place? My son spit up on me. I took a crumpled hanky and lamely rubbed it into my sweatshirt.

But there was something about her, beside that phenomenal butt. Really, you should’ve seen it. I’d be wearing tan miniskirts to the supermarket, too, if I had that butt.

But beside that, there was something so familiar to me, as I sat on the bench by the park, diaper bag open, attention courted from every slide by my ubiquitous children. I could tell she was a new Mom. I could tell she was trying to figure it out.

A few minutes later we were by the fountain, my children screaming in delight at the jumping water. And here again this woman comes up with her pink cloud of designer engineering, pulls out a perfect square of pink blanket, and places it below her daughter on the ledge of the fountain my kids were just licking. And I am totally absorbed with her as she holds her young girl on this square of blanket watching the water.

Do you remember that period, oh so brief? When you were suddenly a stay-at-home Mom of one, who, as busy as you seem, doesn’t really do anything? I mean… anything. I remember playing with my son for a fury of five minutes and then thinking, “OK, It is now 8:15. Now what? You wanna squeak that again? OK. 8:20. Dad will be home in… 8 hours. So… when do you think you’ll learn how to walk?” That period. This lady was there. That’s probably even why she looked so nice. ‘Cause this girl of hers just sat there on the rug for an hour doing nothing while she applied makeup and dressed to the nines… to go to the supermarket.

So, now I’m totally identifying with this woman, internally, obviously internally identifying, as I pick the teething ring off the ground wipe it on my sweats and put it back in baby’s mouth. And I thought I’d go over and give her some encouragement. Poor woman was probably dying to talk to another adult.

Do not be deceived, this took courage on my part. Especially, since halfway over I realize that I hadn’t brushed my teeth yet that day.

“Hey, Mamma,” I started. This is the universal greeting that means we are going to be talking about our children.
She fell into the conversation like a marble into water. She even fawned over my children who were enthusiastically loving her baby girl right into the fountain. She pulled off her designer glasses and gave me that look I remember so well shining from behind my own tired eyes.

It was hard, she said. She started so late; she was 35. It’s always hard, I said. It doesn’t matter when you start. She was worried her daughter got her teeth too late. No, that’s normal I said. She thought maybe she wasn’t getting enough calcium. She had been taking supplements. Good I said; it can’t hurt. Way to take care of your baby. You’re doing a great job.

You’re doing a great job.

It was a very short conversation. I had to leave so I had time to make dinner before my kids were forced to eat macaroni for the third time in a week. But, I came away with a few thoughts:

For one, I was glad that I wasn’t there anymore. It feels a little more comfortable three kids into it. And boy am I glad it’s my turn to offer the emotional support to other mothers. Lord knows I’ve had my turn leeching it out of them.

Also, I’m really glad I didn’t let her fancy stroller and amazing shoes trick me into thinking that she, obviously, had it all together. I was happy to affirm her as I have been affirmed. I was happy to be used.

I am not excused from loving someone because I haven’t brushed my teeth. I am not excused from seeing another human being, really seeing them, because they dress nicer than me in my dreams.

There is something I have to give. There is something I have to learn, from anyone-

-even supermodels with anti-gravity baby carriages.

An Acorn…


Today’s sermon was on God’s promise to Abraham. He told him, “Look at the stars, count them if you are able. …So shall your descendants be.” (Genesis 15:5) He told him this when Abraham didn’t have any children.

And what has God promised me, that He will do something big with what he’s given me, that my talent and motivation were not an accident or oversight, but will serve a purpose?

Do I laugh like Sarah, “Yeah, right! When? With what time? When exactly is all this gonna come about, all this productivity?”

But, then, Abraham never saw these descendants as numerous as the stars. He only had one son. Even if I don’t see the end result, maybe just have one tiny little offspring, one tiny little novel, one tiny little body of artwork. I must still believe God, that my purpose is global and my efforts in Him, eternal.

This is my righteousness, like Abraham, that I believe God. That I move forward in faith, acting like I believe what he says.

So, I will bury my ambition and my dreams deep like a little seed in rich earth. Not with faith in my own drive to make the time and make it happen, but in Christ, and His time. And I will trust.

Sand Got in My Shoes…

Sand Got in My Shoes

Sand Got in My Shoes

My Dad died suddenly in a car accident about six years ago. We got along swell him and me, both artists and writers. He taught me how to paint and encouraged me through numerous artistic depressions. You know, those moments where your vision far exceeds your burgeoning abilities? We were the other’s biggest support and not much passed through to completion without us first holding one of our little critiques.

Yesterday, while looking for a certain binder in the back of the music cupboard I found a poem or maybe they were meant to be song lyrics in his familiar scrawl. It’s still like a punch in the gut to fall upon slips of handwriting or old pictures, especially if it’s not what I’m looking for.

“Sand Got in My Shoes:

I got sand in my shoes/ Not by design/ But by a fortunate happening.

The socks in my shoes/ Felt glumpy and bulky/ Leaving them on for now.”

I’m not sure where he was going with this. I felt the now-familiar drop in my stomach of seeing his work unfinished.

When he died there was a painting half-done; I hated that it was half-done. I almost finished it myself, but couldn’t bring myself to do it. His second book was just published but never marketed. I found a host of paintings stuffed in the attic that I had never seen, never praised.

And this is a sometimes anxiety for me as I’m busy with children day after day that I may never get the time. I watch the sketchbooks slowly fill with hastily scribbled pictures and painting ideas. I have a document nearly constantly open on my laptop with story ideas typed quickly between lunch and naptime. –bits of poems scribbled on coloring pages. –images sketched on church bulletins and stuffed in my diaper bag. Will I have time? Will I ever have time to catch up with the ideas I’ve had before I get more? I don’t like the idea of leaving things undone, beauty unshared.

I wrestle with the fact that, if I do my job well, I will leave something unfinished. That this means I’ve lived correctly, creating until the last minute, never stopping, never saying “done”. I’m encouraged by other women and mothers before me that started later in life. I’m encouraged by the memory that my Dad didn’t start painting in earnest until I was in junior high.

God knows my time on this Earth and my time in this day. He is my Muse and has granted provision for the inspiration He’s given me. He will not waste my abilities. Nor is He so dependent on me that a need will go unfulfilled. So I will trust and go forward creating in this moment the particular beauty I have to share.

Unfinished Painting

Unfinished Painting

Hidden in Christ…

Hemmed In

Hemmed In

 “For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” Colossians 3:3

“You have enclosed me behind and before, and laid your hand upon me.” Psalm 139:5

“You will be called by a new name that the mouth of the Lord will bestow.” Isaiah 62:2

“I will give them an everlasting name that will endure forever.” Isaiah 56:5

“And I will give him a white stone, and a new name written on the stone which no one knows but he who receives it.” Revelation 2:17

Since I have become a mother I’ve really glommed onto this idea of being hidden in Christ. Barbara, the real Barbara, is hidden away somewhere. She’s hidden away somewhere where she cannot be reached by children, by husband, by chores, by worries or by sleep deprivation. It’s a snug place, but never claustrophobic. It’s not boring nor is it over stimulating. It’s a safe place and only God can access it. And inside there is the true Barbara. Not even I know that Barbara. She’s the Barbara I was meant to be. She has a different name. The name is more Barbara-ish than even “Barbara” can be. One day I will hear that name, see it on a white stone between my hands and recognize it to the tips of my soul as my true name. And I like to think He feeds me my name in little bits, when I need it most. During potty training. In the middle of writer’s block. While cleaning the toilets. In an ugly moment. When I lose my temper. When I think I’ll never create anything ever again. This is who you are. Get a taste. Not enough to be satisfied here in this place. Come closer. Come closer and receive more.

And, if your name isn’t Barbara, try reading this again with your name and with those moments at which you seem most lost about who you are.