to be the change {dirty hands}

{image source}

if i knew i could, i would get my hands dirty

i'd be for twice as many things as i'm against
i'd love bigger

i wouldn't wait until my kids were older
or i was an expert

i'd write my heart out out and live Truth boldly

i'd listen more and judge less
i wouldn't be a cynic

i'd invite you over even if i hadn't mopped
(i never mop)

i'd do something tangible and stop keeping my distance
i'd be more present and more playful and
i wouldn't wait 'til later

mother teresa said, 'if you can't feed a hundred people, then feed just one.'

i'd take that first step

shared with the gypsy mama's five minute friday community.  prompt: "if i knew i could, i would"


fear this

fear is not my bag.  i'm not a huge worrier and don't envision threats around every corner.  actually, a healthy dose of fear wouldn't be such a bad thing if it make me more prepared sometimes.

i took a quarter of self defense in high school.  every now and again i remember to hold my keys ready in case of attack, but most days, between juggling toddlers and groceries, it's a miracle i don't lock myself out altogether.

you know what does remain ingrained in my memory from that class long ago? 

the ability to punch out candles.

i doubt i could punch a person without breaking my hand, but not only can i punch out a candle with my fist of fury, i can actually point it out with one finger.

(admit it, you have no idea what the junk i'm talking about.)

according to my gym teacher (who i wouldn't necessarily consider an authority--so there's that), the ability to punch out a candle through sheer will and air slicing is connected to proper punching form.

i don't know about that, but it makes for a fantastic party trick or apres-thanksgiving dinner dare when the in-laws doubt the veracity of your tale.

(if you want to be a doubting thomas--yeah, i said it--just ask jim:  nailed it!)

we had a self defense demonstration at MOPS (mothers of pre-schoolers), and i learned i could probably stand to be a bit more vigilant.  strangely, would-be-attackers are not deterred by pointing and air punching!

it wouldn't hurt me to have a little holy fear in certain areas, but could someone please talk me out of the two irrational fears staking claims in my head space?

1.  an open dishwasher.  even since garden state, i am paranoid about tripping over the dishwasher door and becoming a paraplegic.  i think about this weekly.  poor zach braff--and his mom!  CRASH.  good luck exploring the infinite abyss!

2. john deere tractors.  after that horrifying scene in mad men [i'm linking, but i wouldn't recommend watching. you've been warned.], they make me exceedingly nervous.

today, jim borrowed one from camp to pull out shrubs from the yard.  he turned it off, pulled the parking break, and sat the kids up on it.  they were as happy as could be, turning the steering wheel and waving at friends, but it was all i could do to keep from picturing bloodied clothes and mangled toes.

to summarize:  i am fearless [except for those irrational fears].
bad:  fear [see: irrational], dishwashers, tractors [for ad execs, moms].
good:  candle-punching, garden state, mad men, fear [see: holy], tractors [for toddlers, handy dads].

the end.


here's a hymn to welcome in the day

it's been a whirlwind of a week, but one packed with grace.  these blessings are from the last four days only.

an ongoing record of God's goodness, #228-257

a maundy thursday meditation on the disciples' (and my) fleeing Christ's nonviolent path

a moms' retreat coming together

the spare tire in the back of the car and a husband able to change a flat

entertaining babes on a bridge to nowhere, thankful for warmth as we waited

a trip into pittsburgh

a real live date

dinner without cutting meat into tiny portions

cocktail sipped and pita dipped

adult conversation without cajoling anyone to "one more bite!"

birthday tickets to an amazing decemberists' show

a night without tears (except the ones i may have cried at the crane wife 3)

the lovely benedum theater

them closing with june hymn on a perfect spring day

a generous friend who took good care of the babes

a great team to stage the journey to the cross good friday at church

the earned tiredness of hard work

creating a space for worship and reflection

meditating on Christ's sacrifice

jim's parents in for easter weekend

james saying "grammy! ball!"

being the "expert witness" at saturday's great cloth diaper change.  (when i track down photos of this, i will post more)

gelato with james in a favorite outdoor care

tulips in bloom in time to celebrate resurrection

a playful red fox scampering through the fields 

dinner with family and good friends

egg hunting merriment and dylan's pure joy

easter ham

chocolate eggs

a rousing game of scattergories

an empty tomb and the return of the alleluia


Today, while he dies, do not turn away

Annas, Caiaphas or Pilate...may have been the ones who gave Jesus the death sentence, but a large part of him had already died before they ever got to him -- the part Judas killed off, then Peter, then all those who fled. Those are the roles with our names on them -- not the enemies but the friends. [...]

I remember being at a retreat once where the leader asked us to think of someone who represented Christ in our lives. When it came time to share our answers, one woman stood up and said, "I had to think hard about that one. I kept thinking, ‘Who is it who told me the truth about myself so clearly that I wanted to kill him for it?"’ According to John, Jesus died because he told the truth to everyone he met. He was the truth, a perfect mirror in which people saw themselves in God’s own light.

What happened then goes on happening now. In the presence of his integrity, our own pretense is exposed. In the presence of his constancy, our cowardice is brought to light. In the presence of his fierce love for God and for us, our own hardness of heart is revealed. Take him out of the room and all those things become relative. I am not that much worse than you are nor you than I, but leave him in the room and there is no place to hide. He is the light of the world. In his presence, people either fall down to worship him or do everything they can to extinguish his light.

A cross and nails are not always necessary. There are a thousand ways to kill him, some of them as obvious as choosing where you will stand when the showdown between the weak and the strong comes along, others of them as subtle as keeping your mouth shut when someone asks you if you know him.

Today, while he dies, do not turn away.
Make yourself look in the mirror. Today no one gets away without being shamed by his beauty. Today no one flees without being laid bare by his light.

{Barbara Brown Taylor, "The Perfect Mirror," Bread and Wine: Readings.}


the fast you have chosen

i suck at lenten fasts.

once in college i gave up free-cell [my time-waste of choice in that pre-facebook/twitter era] and didn't make it past march.

another year i fasted from meat...until taste of asia culture night.  white rice and lychee weren't gonna cut it then or later when our whole apartment wafted with aromas of leftover lumpia, pancit, and half a dozen handmade-with-mama-love curries. 

i am the very worst ascetic.

this year i gave up white sugar.  not all sugar, treats, or dessert, mind you.  just white sugar:  the stuff i shouldn't be eating anyway in my desire to feed my family whole, real food.

i did pretty good, for a while.  i said no to pie and after-church goodies.  i made pudding with honey and molasses.  i drank my coffee with turbinado sugar or none at all.  my friend steph made me an insanely delicious olive oil pound cake with a honey blood orange compote for my birthday which we devoured in one weekend.  we also enjoyed vodka cocktails with her spicy homemade ginger brown-sugar-syrup, so life around here has hardly been devoid of merriment.

and yet, i totally fell off the wagon. i had cake at a birthday party, and since i'd already had cake, why not stop at rita's for custard?

jim brought home a tray of coffee cake from camp's kitchen, and after having a piece (or four), what's a bowl of  ice cream for dessert?

slipping is incremental.  exactly like sin.

but why do i feel like since it's all shot to hell, i might as well give up and sin bigger? what is that?

i also vowed to not turn on the computer until i'd spent some time with God.  again, this worked pretty well for a while.  until it didn't.

i'm beginning to think the vows themselves are missing the point.

if i "fail" by checking my email before heading to my meeting (or cracking open my bible) and never consider picking it up again because the day was already "ruined," my fast isn't driving me to the throne of grace.
You cannot fast as you do today and expect your voice to be heard on high.
something is amiss.   

there is nothing spiritual about a discipline that is all about me and my goals and none about grace and my King.

praise God that his mercies are new every morning--including this one.

sabbath rest and collaborative goodness

my friend (and relevant roommate!) hyacynth is writing a series on sabbath-keeping at undercover mother, and she kindly allowed me to share her space in a collaborative piece.
Practicing Sabbath means committing to intentional living daily; it means having a decided heart about what actually is most important in life because there simply isn't time to dip our fingers into the shallow pools of the unimportant.
truth bomb, no?

won't you click over and say hello?


past meditations here on the practice of sabbath:
remember the sabbath
shabbat shalom

fantastic resources:
Mudhouse Sabbath: An Invitation to a Life of Spiritual Discipline
Receiving the Day: Christian Practices for Opening the Gift of Time

also, this is post #2 today (look out!).  ShoutLaughLove is also live, so please do click over and link your own postcard from along the pilgrims' way.

peace and joy, friends.


weekends are for recovering from the crazy

yesterday was one of those days.

the kind where dylan climbs on top of a chest of drawers to help herself to a bottle of belladonna and shares 150 or so tabs with her friend and little brother.

thankfully, you can't OD on homeopathy, which i know because this in not the first time dylan finished an entire bottle of homeopathic meds in one sitting.

mom of the year, right here!

we did put in a call to poison control, and all is well.

we'll see if my friend and her son ever come back to play.  she did mention something about eve tempting adam to sin...


i got james to sleep and had just cozied up on the couch with dylan for a little pre-nap story, when we heard a strange commotion out the open window.  it sounded like screaming.

i ran outside to find our neighbor's minivan parked and her in the yard yelling and gesturing at my dog WHO WAS TRYING TO EAT ONE OF OUR CHICKENS ALIVE.

i called the dog off, and poor florence shook in a heap on the ground.

it did not look good.

"i wanted her to stop!  but maybe i shouldn't have made her stop because she's not dead yet!"

heh.  like the monty python sketch.

well, either chickens have nine lives or it's an easter miracle, but florence got right up and seems good as new.


clearly, keen reflexes and loud voices--not good fences-- are what make good neighbors.

not dead yet!


i thought today would be more chill, but it's already entailed jim going to work at 4:30 AM, a trip to urgent care for inflamed-toddler-bug-bite-turned-ring worm-impetigo, and a giant pee puddle at the giant eagle while waiting an eternity for prescriptions (after wrangling both children to the germ-infested med express restroom no less than three times).


as i type this, i wonder to myself, aren't both those ailments contagious?

something they failed to mention and i didn't think to ask about...

here's to the sabbath and a sunday that is unlike the crazed days leading up to it!


the Church of strangers and aliens. {like me}

there's a couple at my church in their late seventies, and they're the sort of people who don't have a filter--they just say whatever pops into their heads.

she told me once, when james was an infant, "it's a good thing you had that baby. you were getting really FAT!"

i never feel offended. i just shake my head and smile and wonder, exactly how old do you have to be to get away with that sort of thing?

we attended a particularly colorful dinner party with them just before the 2008 elections, and i will never forget the wide-eyed looks and chair-squirming that accompanied the salad course and their spirited political pronouncements (which we found to be both deeply amusing and spot-on).

last night at our lenten church supper, someone addressed the group from an elder-care organization the church supports. the wife, whose vision is weakening, shared how much the organization had meant to her in recent months, since they gave up their home and moved into senior apartments:
"i can vouch for them. my volunteer comes with me to my appointments, and last time i told her to take me to the mall, too.  do you know, she had never in her life ever been to a MACY'S? or TALBOTS? so we went. we help each other."
she's so right. we do help each other, and often not from our sameness or in the ways we might expect, but how many of us ever get the chance?

we don't have many reasons to associate in meaningful ways with anyone we don't expressly choose to, except perhaps at work. we don't know our neighbors. we aren't made to do group work like in school growing up. we join affinity organizations (sports teams, homeschool co-ops, civic groups) but may never interact with those whose age, politics, class, or race are different than ours.   

the more we huddle up, the easier it is to pigeonhole, misunderstand, or even demonize those who don't look like me or share my views or experience.

the Church is one of the few places left where different sorts of people come together and have to figure out how to get along, but if you look around, we're not so varied an organization either. it is said that sunday mornings are the most racially segregated hour in america, and we splinter by age and family category too, into ministries and small groups geared specifically for people just like us.

talking about family stuff with young moms is fine, but potty training doesn't exactly get my heart pumping. what does is justice and community, ecology, theology, food, faith, art, and politics, and i know my gender, generation, and tax bracket hardly have a monopoly on any of those passions.

maybe i need to take an old lady to talbots sometime. not to buy a silk scarf, but to discover the common threads that weave our stories together.

the Body of Christ functions best when it functions together. all of us.

warts and all.


summer swells anon

the weather warmed and the sun shone brightly for, well, several minutes at least.  the warmth lasted until it rained, though, and we made the most of a morning outside--our first since last year.

it was, of course, just a little over a week ago that life still looked like this:

it's hard to imagine--especially with that snow--but by the end of next month, horses and summer staff will be filling that barn.

summer camp. 

next month.

we haven't had near as much snow this year as last, but it's been cold and grey and spring has been more than fashionably late for my taste.

but she's here now.  our weary daffodils--which were touch-and-go for weeks--are lifting heads to sky, in blooms of butter and gold.

it was warm enough to give the kids a little au naturale time in the sun and fresh air, which allows irritated skin to heal.  i put legwarmers on them, along with shirts and shoes, and let them run around with the rest hanging out, so to speak.

(dylan: "my bum is going to smell like clementines!"  you can't make this stuff up.)

for modesty and privacy sake, i have no photos to share, but oh. my. goodness.  they were a sight: james in green lizard leggings and dylan in stripes, their two tiny bottoms bare, running around amidst the chickens.

the earth is fragrant with growth, and rumors of resurrection whisper at every turn.

i breathe it in with each and every breath.


for the love of books. and boys.

{image credit}

if you met me

at ten, my knees were skinned
from racing fast and falling hard on skates.
i inhaled books like air,
hiding them in my desk and
reading in the bathroom by nightlight.
bridge to terabithia always made me cry hot tears.

at twenty, piles of books still
kept me company:  history now
and theology, too.  i danced late and
woke early to mix mochas and print papers.
i loved skinny boys who played guitar best.

at thirty(one), i share tales of
runaway bunnies and miss lina's ballerinas
to two tiny readers-to-be.
books longer than those are
strewn about the house, as
unfinished as the laundry.

my still-skinny love strums
songs that make short legs dance
and my heart burst.


wed me in the spring

"I'll kiss you for each leave on every tree"
they were friends from church.  he asked her out for ten months before she agreed to a date.  for almost an entire year bethany turned him down.   

weren't they just friends?  he wasn't really her type.  she didn't want to lead him on.

jerod is a persistent, patient fellow, and it paid off:  the texan and the vegan are marrying next month in brooklyn at the church where they met.

(an aside:  their pastor and his wife are the welcome wagon, whose album endears itself anew to my heart every lent.)

i was home with james this weekend to shower bethany with love and blessings.  she is more beautiful and happier than i've ever seen her, and we're so thankful for this new chapter unfolding in their lives together.

photography by the lovely amy reams.  see the rest of the artful shoot here.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...