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Showing posts from 2009

Thanksgiving: Part One

The Holiday Season has been progressing in complexity during my life. The first 14 years were the simplest because we simply shuffled between my dad's family (a special version of laughter and tensity) and my mother's family (the bigger the gathering, the more step-relatives I never knew I had). Complications increased when my parents marriage ended, but after 8 years of that schedule (Christmas Eve in Mansfield with mom, then back to Columbus with Dad for Christmas morning) we had finally adjusted. And then I went and got married and threw in a whole other family on top of it all. This was Dave and I's first year negotiating what, in my family, is already an area of extreme territorialism. Yeah, there were a couple fights.

In the end, my gracious Dave volunteered we spend Thanksgiving with my father's family. For the first time in a few years 3 of the 4 children were going to be at my grandparents' Akron home with most of the grandchildren, so I called my Nana to t…

Motivation

Prayer has wrought a mess of good havoc in my life.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about how praying had boosted my self-confidence and given me a "holy spunk". One of the essential ingredients to that lesson was the taking away of both a fear of Man and a desire to please Man; they were invaders in place of holy desires to fear and please God.

An unexpected new issue has arisen in the wake:

Apathy. And a resulting lack of motivation.

I couldn't place where it came from at first, mostly because it neatly coincided with the end of Fall Quarter. But as the days passed, the apathy remained in atypical forms. I usually pack my schedule full of hangouts with different people, cramming in coffee with someone at every gap in my day. But for some reason now, even with multiple whole days free from work and school because of the break, I would feel no compulsion to schedule time with even a single person. It was such an uncharacteristic thing that I started asking questions about my m…

Day 365: Paper Anniversary

One year and four days ago, I woke up quietly at seven in the morning, wide awake long before my alarm went off.  The metal rungs of my bunk were cold against my feet as I climbed down. Energy was surging in me, a great and quiet pulsing.  The house was quiet that last morning; all the girls were still asleep.  The stairs creaked under my steps as I went to the first floor bathroom.  I pulled aside the brown shower curtain, and reveled in the hot water.  If it could be washed or shaved or scrubbed, I did it all twice.  I came out of the bathroom in a cloud of steam; it was cold outside, but the sun came warmly through the dining room window.  I ate a bowl of cereal at the sunlit dinner table.  The quiet throbbed with anticipation.  After I had rinsed out my porcelain white cereal bowl, I laid down in the tan leather couch to edit my vows in green ink.  Then the floors began to creak, doors slammed open, and the happy shrieking began.  But for an hour, the morning before my wedding jus…

Holy Spunk

I wore a uniform from my first day of 6th grade all the way through to my high school graduation.  For seven years, my only clothing options were a limited number of colored polo shirts, navy blue or khaki uniform pants, and a plaid skirt.  Technically I could've worn a jumper too, but the socially cognizant stopped wearing those the day they left the 6th grade.
Options to stand out were rather limited, and with that high school herd instinct, not many wanted to.  Even though we got to choose our own shoes and socks, there were a lot of girls wearing black Mary Janes and white knee highs those years in order to fit in.  I, however, chose my shoes specifically because of their uniqueness: a pair of purple Converse All-Stars.  It was my small way of defying the status quo.
Some people think the words "God" and "church" equate with losing your individuality, and a mandated rigid conformity.  If that were the case, I can say honestly that I would not still be here.  …

The Unlocked Gate

In her life, my grandmother has tried many tactics to get the love she longs for from her family.  She'll throw a fit at my brother's ballgame to draw attention.  She will show up unannounced on doorsteps.  Many Christmases I've received a set of "Thank You" notes under her tree.  She is generous; and often that generosity comes with fine print.  She works very hard in all the wrong ways to get the affection she's so desperate for.
All my life she's been like a woman holding a handful of water, not understanding that the tighter she grips, the more drips away; rather than having more control, she only has less of it to hold.
My grandmother is an intelligent and well-read woman who has been in church almost every single Sunday of her life.  I have no doubt that she's read and heard and been taught the story of the prodigal son many times.  And I wish so badly that she could've really listened to it and heard what the story had to say about who God is…

Becalmed

A baked ship on a listless sea lies limply on the waves.  White light tramples on the splintery boards as the vessel rocks in the glare of the sun.  Deck is bare and sail is empty; the lonely helm creaks as the weak current catches the rudder.
I stumble up on deck, a bottle sloshing in my hand.  My eyes are unable to focus; puking over the side helps the hangover.  And I look over to the wheel from the railing, remembering the storm that drove me below decks.
The storm came quickly; I had not been scanning the skies for the hints. Suddenly the rain had begun; a gust pummeled the sail as the tide kicked at the rudder beneath.  I clung to the wheel, already straining to breathe, to stand, to steer.  I lashed the wheel as another of the storm's tantrums pounded down upon the deck with heavy waves grasping at my shoes.  I battled over to the mast and fought to furl the hysterical sail. The salt and the raindrops stabbed into my bare hands, as the storm's shrieking began to grow.
Loud…

We Dying Immortals

A few months ago, my boss took everyone in the office out for drinks to celebrate a new big client that one of the lawyers had just signed on.  We cheerfully paraded out of the office at 4:30, ready to drink to the occasion.  The evening sun sparkled through the tall bar windows on my glass of rum and coke as we swathed ourselves in a haze of laughter at the corner of the bar.  A few stools down the other legal receptionist, a middle-aged Southern blonde, politely declined the appetizers because her husband was already at home cooking dinner for her.  One of the lawyers joked that her husband was trying to get her in the mood; she replied with a smile and quickness, "He doesn't have to work that hard to get me in the mood."  We all laughed.

That laughter has gone.
At the beginning of October, she called off work one Thursday.  She had taken her husband to the hospital the previous night with severe abdominal pain, and the doctors couldn't identify the cause.  After sev…

Normal

Normal is underrated.

Three weeks ago, I had a cyst removed, and for the next week I was in post-scalpel misery.  Even while popping painkillers like Pez candy, I was rendered virtually immobile.  I couldn't lie on my back.  I couldn't walk.  I couldn't sit.  Not without pain rocketing throughout my body.  While lying on the floor with an oversized pillow and watching bad TV drama to distract from the throbbing, I often thought back to before, when I stupidly took those normal actions for granted.
Those times without are when we understand the value of normal.  It's when I'm at the bottom of the deep end that I realize how sweet air is.  It's when I'm too busy to eat lunch that I get to dinner and remember how good food tastes.  Normal is a delicacy we've become accustomed to dining on.
Being married to and loving Dave feels so normal now, almost alarmingly normal.  Telling him I love him is part of my daily routine.  Watching him sleep while I get ready f…

Wholeness

I hate my flaws. 

I hate having them, hate seeing them, and the work of hiding them.
But life seems to breed the issues I'm so eager to conceal, as though every day is a walk through a thorn bush wearing a pale silk dress.  I just want to make it through the day with my clothing in one piece, but the environment makes that impossible.  Of course I'll lie down at the end of the day bloodied and scraped with rips and tears.  But why do so many other people around me seem to reach their beds unscathed?  Is it something wrong with me?
So I'll stay awake late into the night, needle and thread hacking my frayed dress back together.  Because what if they see?  I can't let them see the holes.  Because that's the message out there: You must not be flawed.  Why else do more than a million people a year inject Botox into their aging cheeks?  People flash white smiles and don't talk about their teeth whiteners, just like magicians don't reveal their secrets.
That's wha…

Bare Feet

I have this lovely pair of brown flats that I like very much.  However, judging by what they did to my heels when I wore them last week, the love is hardly mutual.  In the time it took me to walk to my first class from the bus stop, I was already limping and fantasizing about Neosporin and a box of Band-Aids.
My heels were lucky enough to be raw on a warm and dry day, and the bulk of my path happened to be across the campus Oval, a grassy park area criss-crossed with sidewalks.  With my shoes in hand, the undamaged soles of my feet padded through the soft Bluegrass blades of the Oval's circumference.  And I endured a surprise lesson on the terrain.  
In that short walk, my toes sunk into a miniature swamp, and then were covered by a patch of sand on the opposite side of a sidewalk.  One moment the turf was luxurious, then a looming pine tree would choke out the grass with its shade and needles.  And just when I'd think I'm in the clear again, I realized from the acorn lodged…

Autumn

Autumn is a woman taking her clothes off.  The sun falling upon the leaves of her garments, her cheeks and fine clothes blush one more time before she starts taking off the beautiful layers of summer.  Summer-green pumpkin vines bulge with warm orange, and corn husks open to reveal checkered orange and rust-red.  She unfolds her arms and apples come spilling out into pie crusts and cider pitchers, herself a cornucopia of bounty.  She laughs in the plenty and dusts her hands on her cornfield apron.
She smiles first when someone bites into that tart early apple.  There is always a piece of hay in her hair and a pie on her sill.  Her scent is sweet in the corn maze and the child's trick-or-treat bag; she smells of warmth and change.  
But she never visits long, with her rosy orange cheeks and gentle breath.  Because Autumn is a woman taking her clothes off.  And the apple trees are shaken and picked clean, and the pumpkin vines shrivel and turn brown, and every day another tree loses i…

Kite

(I wrote this back in March)Writing is flying a kite, and as of late I have been trying to fly it with a stiff iron pipe. Holding the cold metal in my hand I should know better – I’m merely trying to hold my kite to find the pre-approved Jesus section of the sky.  And I’ve endured enough sub-par creativity to know what a failure kite-flying is under such stiff direction.I pull a loose yellow cord, bright with hope and fearful lack of control, from my front pocket to attach to the kite.  The bright cloth dangles loosely from the string, and perspiration rolls from my palm to dampen the cord.  What control do I now have?  A running start of inspiration, a frantic toss into the air, and dragging the kite along until it catches the winds and begins to climb.  The wind bucks and weaves, bellows and quiets, and the satiny square floats upon the gusts, what I can only pray are the breaths of the Spirit.  This is no child’s kite, to crash into branches and electrical wires with laughter, beca…

Operation: Yard Sale FAIL

Long before I knew I would be getting married in December, I knew for a fact that I would never have an outdoor wedding.  I would not be able to handle the stress of planning 2 locations for the ceremony and making paranoid visits to weather.com for the prior 3 weeks.  I'm also a person that when I develop a certain expectation (such as getting married outside) I would not be able to roll with the punches if it rained.  In fact, I just might start punching people.
Why didn't I remember this key aspect of my personality before I started planning my yard sale?  Hours and hours of rooting and tagging and pricing and ad-placing  - and what do I get?  Torrential downpour, one tentatively dry hour, and 7 lousy guests during an 8-hour day.
My damn yard sale got rained out.  And I want to punch someone.
The good news?  At least I've earned a little more money than I spent advertising for the dumb thing.  The bad news?  I've made an equivalent of $2.50 an hour.  That right there i…

Holden Beach: Day #6

I'll remember this day for years.
We girls woke up and read together; shortly after our discussion was over the natural movement toward the beach began.  Just before leaving, Brandon and Thomas showed up.  I hunkered down at the kitchen table with my laptop to do a little blogging catch-up.  One by one Thomas and each of the girls took their towels and walked out the door, but Brandon sat down across the table from me.  For 40 silent minutes I continued to write and he sat waiting until I closed my computer.  "Alrighty, I'm heading over to the boys' house to have lunch with Colin."
"Ok," he murmured. "I wanted to ask you something, but it can wait until after lunch."
I paused over my beach bag.  He'd been waiting forty minutes, I might as well hear him out now.  It probably wouldn't take too long anyways.  So I went back to the table and asked, "What's up?"
"Well, I've been feeling an increased need to get baptised t…

Holden Beach: Day #5

After the I led the morning reading and we had our daily dance party, I tried to get a hold of Dave so we could go out for our date day.  While everyone else was waiting for the evening to go out for Date Night, we wanted to drive 45 minutes to historic Wilmington for a date day.  When I didn't immediately hear back, I of course donned my bathing suit and went for the beach.  I joined the group and watched 8-inch fish leap out of the water every few seconds all along the beachline.  Dave was on the beach shortly after, and we waded out into the water, watching Gordon's raft get smaller and smaller.  Schools upon schools of fish shimmered and leaped around us, darting between each other and even between our legs, the girls shrieking in terrified laughter.  Regardless of the temptation of such a fishing situation, we left shortly after and got cleaned up for our day out.


After a lunch at Hardee's, we crossed the Cape Fear River and wandered into historic downtown.  Across the…

Holden Beach: Day #4

This was the girls' house for this week, "Tig na Mara".  Every morning we've been getting up and reading  and discussing passages from an unpublished book by Dennis McCallum about the church as we feel the house sway slightly.  Every morning after we finish reading we then crank up the music and have a mini dance party on the steps.  Every morning we all put our bikinis on and then take off for the beach together.  And today we were lucky enough to see SUNSHINE.  What a glorious sight after all the overcastness, one that we capitalized on.



In the afternoon, after some fun at the beach, a lot of boys and Emily Morris and I went to the second annual tennis tournament.  Last year's tennis tournament happened on the day where happy hour involved headdresses, so most bystanders were Arabian from the earlobes up.  This year, Cynthia and Emily Maxwell cheered us on from the sidelines, minus the headdresses.  They cheered me on to a magnificent 6-0 loss to Emily Morris.  …

Holden Beach: Day #3

Another grey morning on the beach, but at least it makes hot tea taste better.  As the day went on we experienced a lot of erratic weather, a little bit of sun then misty rainfall, but it was another day mostly made for being indoors.  We spent some time outside in the early afternoon helping Grace realize her vision for a sand-sculpted turtle bigger and better than last year, but aside from that we were indoors for a lot of the day - so it's no surprise that the theme of the day became food from lunchtime on.


Katie came down to the beach trip for the first time this year.  And I love her.  And we already have nicknames for each other.  With a little bit of butter and a box of noodles, she turned out a delicious meal for me: sauteed mushrooms, red sauce and angel hair pasta.  Way better than the box of mac-n-cheese waiting for me in the cupboard.  We sat in the tall-backed rockers and waited for the sweet corn to cook, talking about siblings and high school and phone numbers with G…

Holden Beach: Day #2

So it rained today.  Not the kind of weather one hopes for at the beach.  In the morning it was simply grey, but we had heard the forecast and knew what the clouds were bringing later that day.  Since it was our first full day, we all went down to the beach, sun or no sun.  As the girls laid out their towels and stretched out, their sunning positions were almost laughable.  Myself and a few others opted to play in the waves; Thomas taught Cynthia how to bodysurf since it was her very first time in the ocean.  She and I weren't very good at it, and the pre-storm waves were pretty forceful.  As we got sucked and dragged and crashed against, battered by the waves and currents, this is what it felt like:

It was brutal fun.  And as we were out in the surf, we figured out why they were so many fisherman lining the beach.  Many many times as a large wave would swell, just before the crest would break we could clearly see entire schools of two-inch long fish, which we later learned are cal…