Monthly Archives: November 2014

Told…

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My dear friend Rachel Wagner’s kickstarter campaign has funded! Woohoo!

It’s not too late to be a funder, though. Follow the link and jump on the bandwagon. You’ll find a lot of happy beautiful people on there. Wink wink. Maybe if we get enough money we can actually buy a literal band-wagon. Dream big, people!

Rachel’s kickstarter page!

So, today I’m going to introduce you to a song from her last album. The song is the title song of the album called “Untold”.

The lyrics of “Untold” talk about fear and trust. Rachel and I have talked a lot about how much comes down to fear. Bringing out the wounds and confronting their ragged edges is scary. We fear rejection from others. We fear rejection from God. We fear because death is painful and death has to be the first step to resurrection. We fear that our dead places are beyond hope. And all of these come down to one insidious fear that God is not who he says he is.

“Untold”

“Fold it up, fold it in, tuck it away and then
No one will ever know
And the truth is alone, in your pocket of stone
And your hands are so cold

But who can you trust?
These words, are they enough?
Afraid you will say too much
So you stay untold

Looking out, looking in, looking away again
You don’t look him in the eyes
Staring down at the street, you trip over your feet
He catches you by surprise

But who can you trust?
These hands, are they enough?
Afraid you will lose too much
Will you stay untold?”

Untold

How many of our stories of healing and redemption lay untold because we let fear keep us from that first step?

I like to think back to all the times I have taken the crumpled packet out of my pocket that felt so heavy, and unfolding it slowly, letting the contents show to a compassionate God, to compassionate friends, letting the air and the light begin to heal it almost immediately. It’s something you have to prove. It’s something that you have to practice. It’s scary to unfold. And yet, how joyous to begin to be told.

The Daily Exercise…

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I saw a daughter walking with her mother. Their haircuts were the same, though one was white and one was black. The face under the white hair was confused, lost in trying to find the significance of their actions here on the street in the sunny afternoon. Her daughter pulled her on, the tension visible in her face and the tautness of their two arms meeting over the “v” of space between them.

I recognized the face of the daughter, it was the one I make when my options are out and toddlers must tag along and their short legs become, somehow, a personal insult. I recognized duty born of love, duty that beats desire every day of the week. I recognized the conflict in the daughter’s face between impatience and requirement. There was no space for selfishness in this walk.

I saw how easy it would be to be impatient with someone who doesn’t understand, can’t understand. I saw how much effort it must take to keep latch over her tongue to prevent herself from voicing an unreasonable frustration to an unreasonable mind.

It was a sad picture. And it was a beautiful picture.

I thought about the long space of time before the daughter’s memories had ever begun, when she had been the one pulled against resistance, not understanding why they had to leave her pretty game, not comprehending the patience with which her mother led her.

And now it was the daughter’s turn to spend love on a mind that wouldn’t remember. It was the daughter’s turn to be unable and sometimes unwilling to explain again why it is important to keep the old legs moving, the aged heart pumping. The same street where mother learned was now daughter’s space to trust in the importance of this relationship.

There’s a reason. And when she can’t immediately remember it she trusts. It’s there, she found it once and when she has the chance, later, in quiet, in silence, she knows she’ll remember the reason she does all this again.

I wondered if my daughter would ever have to do this for me. I thought I should write about it here and now in case the moment comes and my mind is too lost to discuss it with her.

It’s a sad picture. And it’s a beautiful picture.

We Have a New Mantra, Ladies…

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You know the scientific symbol for female, the one that’s the circle with a cross coming down from the bottom.  And then, there’s the male symbol, the slightly more wonky circle with an arrow flying out of the top.  The female one is steady, anchored down, because our reproducing tidbits stay put.  It’s the male bits that leave and fly all over the place, hence, the wonky arrow.

This is how they define male and female in organisms with different more unrecognizable features.  The male flower spreads, the female flower stays, anchored and waiting, in fish, in mosses, in humans.

In some ways I feel like this is accurate.  I stay … at home.  Daily life mostly revolves outside me, kids leave for school, husband leaves for work and I am anchored somewhere in the middle.  People return to me.

But in most other ways I feel that this is highly inaccurate.

Because if there is one thing we women do, it’s change.

We get our periods.  And we keep getting them. Then we have babies.  Our bodies change and our bodies go back, or don’t quite, as the case may be.  Then we lose our periods and, according to many trusted sources, continue to deal with ebb and flow of hormones … FOREVER.

We change. And most of this volatility is within us.

Pregnancy for me is pervaded by a sense of betrayal.  My body becomes a mysterious stranger waiting to sabotage me with a heavy club of nausea around any appropriately smelling corner.  Three times now have I been amazed anew at the way my body stretches, the way it opens, and stunned at how stinking long it takes to get back to normal!

I say it when I’m pregnant.  I say it at least once a month, “What is happening to me?!”

I’m a woman.  I change.

Perhaps this is why men are known for their distinct mid-life crises and women are not.  We do it by bits.  We aren’t overthrown by time all at once.   We get it in phases.

Phases!  Everything since my first son was born has been a “phase”.  Sleepless nights, clinging babies, teeth razoring their way to the surface have all been “phases”.  I have been beset by so many phases that I don’t think I’ve had a lick of normal in six years.  Do we talk of phases to make each other believe that there is a normal somewhere?  Thinking that there’s a normal somewhere that I’m missing is rather depressing. Do we want to believe that things will go back?

I can never go back to many things, my old bra size, my ability to sleep through anything, my ignorance of four other peoples’ bowel movements.   I am more efficient, more ambitious, and I’ve learned how to work.  I don’t want to go back.

I, then, hereby vow that I will not utter the deceptive phrase “It’s a phase” to any Momma, anymore.  I will instead choose to believe that we are in a boot camp of the most intense kind.

I will learn to duck and weave and roll.  I will become a delicate ballerina.  I will let it make me a master of change.  Like anything else in life that’s well practiced it will become a habit with me.  So, when the gray hairs come and I find my shirt still clean at the end of the day; when it’s finally time to get off this crazy monthly roller coaster of fertility, I will not be overcome.  I will be anchored in something steadier than myself.

It’s what we’ve been given to practice, Ladies.  Let’s do it well so our sisters, daughters, and daughters-in-law can do it better.

Our new mantra can be, “Normal is not a thing!”

The Rusty Nail…

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It’s official.  I’m becoming my mother.

My sisters will smile sweetly and exchange glances.  They know.  They’ve known for years.

For one, I am embarrassingly over helpful to strangers looking for items in the grocery store.  Then, last week I tucked my undershirt into my pants.  And the other day in a movie a heroine made a poor decision in her love life and I muttered the words, “Choose wisely.”  I just said it!  I didn’t even have to think about it!

Yes, folks, the evidence seems insurmountable.  Maybe the resemblance became stronger when I had kids.  Maybe I just began noticing when we lived together last year, it was right in front of my face, and things did seem more … comfortable.

Maybe ninety percent of it is my maturity.  That’s right, I said maturity.  Thirty-four is quite old enough to entertain this particular theory without outright rejection, don’t you think?  Old enough to embrace with grace the similarities and draw lessons from the faults as I hope my own daughter will.

And let’s be honest, a lot of my problems with my Mom are rooted in teenage angst.  Most of that has nothing to do with her.  I used to get so frustrated at my parents’ ability to sit on the couch and DO NOTHING.  I’m past that.  In fact, I am on board with that.  Put me on the couch and give me nothing!

Yes, I’ve gotten to the point where I can find the value in an evening of fine BBC programming and a rusty nail.  That’s what my Mom drinks, a rusty nail.  It’s scotch and more scotch.  Last night I stopped teasing her about her ridiculously outdated drink long enough to try one.

Last time I tried one I was annoyed with her and it tasted awful.

But yesterday she had just helped me fold ten loads of laundry and put my kids to bed.  It was delicious.

That’s one rusty nail down my gullet and through the heart of an adolescent attitude.

Becoming my Mom has perks.  There is liquor there.

Writing Contests…

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The very first slot machine I ever played did not win anything. Even in that disappointing moment I felt the universal sagacity in this.   As everyone knows, if you win the first time you’re hooked.

This is why I see all writing contests through a filter of rosy glass, because I won second place in the first one I ever entered. In all fairness the contest was made for me.  The Young Adult category only asked for the first chapter to be submitted.  And I am excellent at first chapters.  I’ve been writing stellar first chapters since middle school.  I have more first chapters than stains on my white couch, and I have three kids.

I won a cash prize, one hundred dollars, and a letter that offered congratulations. The letter, which I still have somewhere, says something like, “This contest was formed to encourage unpublished writers to continue in their efforts.”  And, holey-moley did it!  It came at a pivotal moment when I was deciding how far I wanted to take this whole writing thing.

I have since learned that most writing contests aren’t something that experienced writers pursue. And some of the worst ones are little more than money-making scams.

Still, there is something about hitting that slot machine the first time. So, I enter when I have something that fits.  And when it’s put on by an organization I know with a reasonable entry fee.

So today I submitted three entries to a Kindergarten Story Contest. For someone who has no deadlines, no agent, and no editor I find it helpful to write to a word count and a deadline.  Like any good exercise I can feel the healthy working stretch.

So now I am on a high and I will use this wave of adrenaline and ambition to drive my writing until the end of nap time. I also might congratulate myself with another cookie.  Yes, I said “another”.  This makes it sound like it could be cookie number two, but it would really be cookie number four.

(Winky emoticons to all you mothers, you know you eat a congratulatory nap snack, don’t pretend you don’t.)