nonsensical text

Saturday, September 29, 2007


It occurred to me, as I looked at the 199 next to the word ‘posts’, that I should probably write something special for number 200. The only problem with that logic is that I really don’t have anything special in me right now.

I could rant about already having to write an email to one of the instigator’s teachers, or I could tell the tale of the mysterious incident of the water in the hallway (which, by the way, is not in the least mysterious). I could tell a cute story about the littlest of the littles.

Instead, I will repost a poem that I posted before (now set to photography courtesy of the Oddmix) and marvel at the fact that one year of blogging passed me by some time ago, and I didn’t even notice.

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Thursday, September 27, 2007

fuzzy logic

There is a cardboard box in my kitchen. It isn’t an empty cereal box or the packaging to ravioli or canned fruit purchased in bulk. It has no kitchen-like function.

On Monday, I received a few relatively small books by way of the U.S. Postal Service. Of course, they arrived in a box five times larger than needed – the extra space consumed by brown packaging paper. Well, I guess that’s better than Styrofoam peanuts.

The box sits on the floor of my small kitchen. It is empty except for two small “bouncy balls” and a piece of junk mail. The lid flaps are rather unwieldy and will not stay flattened because it is a sturdy box.

Tell me, please, why this box remains in my kitchen when I trip over it every single time I walk through the room.

Maybe I should blame it on the Harvest Moon.


Wednesday, September 26, 2007

know your ingredients

There is a commercial currently running on the television for a label maker. A group of children sits around a table as a cake is carried in. It is mouth-watering in appearance. A slice is placed before each guest as excited mutterings flow over the scene. Forks are raised to mouths when, suddenly, foul expressions cross the faces of the guests. ‘Spit takes’ abound. Cut to the kitchen and the label maker: labels are applied to two identical containers of white crystalline matter – ‘sugar’ and ‘salt.’

As I bake bread today, I examine the labels on my own ingredients, hopefully working toward recognition of the gratitude within.

The Great Commission, a tenet of many Christian religions, is not one that I have been overwhelmingly good at putting into action. My incredible introversion is certainly a factor in this, but there is more. As one who has been hurt in the past by organized religion, as one who recognizes how the world at large views hypocrisy in the church, as one who respects the beliefs of others (even in disagreement with my own), as one who quite clearly sees the stumbling block of hypocrisy between beliefs and action in her own life, speaking out to others has never come easily to me – even when there is certain knowledge that it would be helpful.

I never seem to be able to get past the fact that I cannot speak out without shining the flashlight on my own weaknesses. Theoretically, I know that we all have weaknesses, but I am always made more acutely aware of how my own personal weaknesses could end up causing harm where I mean to apply balm.

It hurts me, so many times, to see people recoil from the love of God because we, the church, manifest our beliefs in harshness, judgment, and “shalt nots” while the penetrating, aching love of God for His creation goes unfelt by those in the greatest need. I’ve always compared it to Wheel of Fortune. When watching the show, as soon as the puzzle solution occurs to me, I am suddenly unable to see how anyone else could NOT see the answer. It seems so incredibly obvious to me, but, mere moments before, I was just as clueless. Christianity can be like that. When a person suddenly sees, they sometimes forget what it felt like to be blind. That can come across to others as condescension – perhaps because it often is. This is not a true representation of God. He does not look down His nose at us with a smug and superior tone lacing His words. But how do we, how do I - as an imperfect creature – convey the true nature of God’s perfection through this broken vessel?


I will never be perfect while I am alive.

My heart bleeds for people in pain, but my own weaknesses hold my sympathies in check.

With a grateful heart, in church one Sunday morning, I felt a prompting to start blogging. Through the written word, I am better able to capture my heart-voice without the wall of self-doubt. Less stifled by my inability to speak in confidence of this Great Love through my insecurity, perhaps a clearer picture would come through of that love. Perhaps my tongue could be unloosed.

And my heart has spilled forth through the keyboard. Frail though my words might be, they have flowed more freely here. The introspective mirror can reflect my weaknesses and God’s strengths with greater abandon when I am not bound by the ties of proximity and all of its associated fears.

But, I know how real each person is, even if my only contact with them is through black text on white page. I know the blood that courses through their veins, and the hurts that have piled on their backs to create tender spots which flare when touched by the slightest misfortune in turn of phrase. I know that the power to inflict unintentional hurt on another is not limited to those with whom we have physical contact. And so, after brief stints of posting more regularly and slight increases in readership, I find my insecurities feeding and growing. Fear of failure begets failure as I sabotage myself through silence. The nerves are severed as my fingers are temporarily paralyzed mere centimeters from the keyboard.

Truly, there are many valid excuses for my silences. I never manage to accomplish the things I should do in a day, and allowing myself to spend the time to compose and comment induces great guilt. The guilt joins the mounting pile of recriminating evidence against me, and my confidence wanes even further.

But, but, but, there is a seed of gratitude buried deep. Because, you see, somehow I keep coming back. My words are not gospel. My path is not blameless. My motives are not always selfless. My love is not always pure and unconditional, but I do care. I do love. I do break inside over the suffering of others, and deep down, I am so very grateful for that. I would not want to have a heart of stone.

"Woe to me!" I cried. "I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty."

Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, "See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for."

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?"

And I said, "Here am I. Send me!"

-Isaiah 6:5-8 TNIV

God, Help me remember my guilt is taken away. Help me be willing. Help me not to cause pain through my flaws. Help me to remember my gratitude. Help me remember that, in order to love others better, I need to grasp hold of the fact that I am lovable in your eyes.


Friday, September 21, 2007

always saying sorry

So, obviously I have been absent yet again. I can pin it off on being busy, because I have been, but there is more to it than that. On Monday, I wrote the first paragraph of a Sleeping with Bread post after which I promptly fell asleep. On Tuesday I opened it up, started the second paragraph, deleted it then gave up entirely when the husband came home from his meeting. On Wednesday, I had an hour of free time in which I read a few blogs and nodded off in front of the computer yet again. Yesterday we had Back to School night at the instigator’s school – a first for this homeschooling family. It didn’t start off well with both his homeroom and first period teachers being absent. I have to say, though, that I quite liked the rest of his teachers. I think we may have made the right decision. But on to the “more than that.”

I can open a blank document with a mind full of ideas on what to write. I can slip into the comment sections of my favorite blogs, but when faced with a blinking curser, I am suddenly made small. Ironically, this most frequently occurs when my thoughts are at their deepest. It seems that my insecurity level and the depth of my thoughts are directly proportional. Perhaps this is why a friend gifted me with the poem “Please Hear What I’m Not Saying” when I was a teen.

I am feeling deeply. I am reacting strongly to what I read. I am wanting to reach out, yet, like Helen Keller in her pre-sign language days, I am struck mute. This is a regular cycle with me, so I have gotten rather good at apologizing for my disappearances through the years.

Today, I make no promises that I will get better at saying what I am not saying, but I do commit to at least trying to say something through the fog.

And that bread? Maybe it’s meant to be a sourdough…


Wednesday, September 12, 2007

the art of blogging dangerously

“It will be a grand scale comedy!” the inner voice pitched as I attempted, in vain, to concentrate on Good Eats. “People will bow at your door in utter amazement of your comedic stylings.”

“But, I’m not funny,” I replied. “Besides, one has to actually have subject matter in order to attempt a Hump Day Hmmm of the lighthearted variety.”

“Let me just set up the scene. C’mon, what harm could it do? There’s this kid, see, and he keeps forgetting to call his mother between school and band practice…”

“Doesn’t sound like much of a comedy to me.”

“Well that’s where the snake, the buffalo, and the band of singing hamsters come into it.”

“Will you just leave me alone?” I muttered as I trundled off to check my e-mail.

Oh look, my long lost friend, Hank, has some performance enhancing tips for me! I’d better put the kids back in bed. One would think it would eventually sink in that I am going to KEEP putting them back in no matter how many times they climb out.

shuffle, shuffle, shuffle, clomp, clomp, clomp (steps, you see)

“Pssst. Pssst. Hey, look here. If you aren’t going for that idea, how about this one: There’s this mom, see, and she’s trying to figure out how to make her kids stay in bed. So she goes out and gets a mule, two geese, and a bucket of spiders…”

“Just go away, won’t you?”

shuffle, shuffle, shuffle, ow (sooner or later I will STOP banging my shoulder on that door frame)

A little blog reading, that’s what I need. I will NOT go to Julie’s site to be reminded of the assignment. I will not, I will not, I will not. Oh look, Julie has a new post….

I might as well just go to bed.

shuffle, shuffle, shuffle

Mmmmm pillows, soft blankets.

“Pssst. Pssst. Hey, listen, it’s obvious you have taste. No mere trifle is going to satisfy you. Just your luck, I’ve come across something that will completely win you over. There’s this woman, see, and she can’t remember whether she locked the front door…”

It’s a sad fact of life that you’re rarely funny when you actually try.


Tuesday, September 11, 2007

where did I put that gluten?

I haven’t baked bread in much too long. It’s interesting really that almost all of the bakers seemed to simultaneously go on hiatus without any kind of discussion. I did mean to post a few times, at least to say that maybe bread would make an appearance again once the school year began. Then school actually descended upon me with the force of the stay puft marshmallow man during a stint in a full-body cast.

I am most certainly not a morning person (unless you count the part of the morning that occurs before actually making it to bed). Historically, my writing is much more abundant in the hours after dark and before dawn. That seems to be the only time that I am able to channel the incessant brain chatter into a conscious stream. I am, lately, having to s-t-r-e-t-c-h which is not such an easy task when your elasticity has lost its boing.

Oh the woes of the downtrodden (a.k.a. the desolation)!

Fear is often my greatest weakness. There have been so many times that I have printed off Bible verses pertaining to fear just to carry with me in the still hours of the night. My imagination, in this regard, is not an asset.

My oldest son will soon be seventeen. In some ways, he is so sure of himself – so mature and strong-willed. But, that in itself can bring about the Fear. I fear that he will hurt others unintentionally; that he will grow into an insensitive man, but I also fear that he will be hurt (and he will). I fear that the hurt will come in part because I haven’t prepared him fully enough for the evil of the world. I fear that he will not reach his fullest potential because of mistakes I may have made along the way. I fear that I will blink, and he will be grown and gone – never to be the heartbeat away that he has been for his entire life.

My second son has traveled off into the world of public school. The Fear delights in this development. No longer does the majority of input come from within his safe and loving home. He is not a friend-maker. People like him easily, but he rarely allows anyone access to the workings within. I know from experience the kind of pain that is the fruit of that tree. I also fear my weaknesses have handicapped his ability to reach the highest peaks. Consistency is not my strong suit, and I am quite sure there are times I have fallen down on the job. I know I haven’t done enough to ensure that this still water which runs deep has an outlet for the emotion he so infrequently expresses aloud.

My freckled boy has inherited from his mother a certain enigmatic air. The Fear walks close to him for many hours of every day. Is it nurture as opposed to nature? Am I silly to feel mama-guilt even though much of it is the latter? Will he delve the deeps or overcome? Will he try to accomplish both?

The prince of melodrama calls Fear to my side by the searing intensity of his emotions and the trusting nature that leads him to preach to the masses on whatever he is told by one unreliable friend. It is a subtle Fear – that he will easily be led down a crooked path, or, contrariwise, that hurt will awaken the power of the grudge in him (a power that runs strongly through some of the family lines).

My curly-headed imp embraces the Fear – emulates it. Sudden bursts of joyful energy or pain-induced rage send him streaking through the air like a comet bent on planetary contact. The Fear chases me down as I picture the explosive conclusion. Will he ever be understood? Will emotion send him off on a dangerous journey?

The girl – I see so much of myself in her, and it scares me. Her body-language is already so well attuned to getting what she wants, yet so often, what she wants is most certainly not what she should have. Her eyes delve deep. Fear – it curls around my joints as I pray that she will never pull away from mother or father in righteous (or not so righteous) indignation. I Fear she will always look at what she doesn’t have when compared with others – never seeing the bounty stacked high upon her plate. I learned, but the battle was long and hard. Will she have to fight such battles too?

Personally, there is the fear that all of the swirling emotion that runs in my deepest vessels will spill out – untempered – and overwhelm me.

But Joy of Joys (the consolations)!

My oldest son holds fast to faith. Though he knows his inexperience in many of the ways of the world open him up to a special kind of pain, he declares himself glad for his vulnerability. Though mistakes have been made along the way, he has never doubted my love for him (or God’s). He will not be perfect, but he starts his journey with many strengths.

My second son is being afforded the opportunity to shine. A studier by nature, he now has a broad realm to test his strengths (quietly, internally, perhaps, until he is sure of his steps). He has the strength of will to stand by his convictions and the humor to reach beyond the harder days.

My freckly one is blessed with deep empathy and compassion. Though he may sometimes choose the rockier path, he remains on the path. He seeks (and usually finds) means with which to express the excess emotion. His faithful heart holds fast to known love.

The blue-eyed prince holds tightly to righteousness. Though his path is bound to be filled with drama, he will hold fast – resolved to take his bows after each performance. And although he may take direction grudgingly, he takes it. He cares about doing the right thing.

The curly one has too much fire to be consumed by a mere planet. He shows remarkable agility at avoiding personal harm. And besides, he has a praying mother.

The girl? She will never be shallow. She will love deeply and be loved deeply. She holds fast to her prayers of growing big and strong (and driving a car, and having a big-big-big-big bed, and wanting everyone else to be big and strong, and, and, and…).


There was a time when I had only three children, but those children were all quite young. In those days, I came very close to losing my sanity on more than one occasion. There was never a downtime. The first was a night-owl, the second a morning person, the third could swing both ways. Sleeplessness (which was not self-imposed) was the rule more than the exception. Even having the audacity to go to the bathroom was a dangerous gamble. Mustard and chocolate syrup finger paintings (with a refrigerator shelf canvas) were some of the least dangerous concerns. Every breath held the anticipation of the next catastrophe. The Fear preyed on my inability to see beyond those early years.

God sends relief in strangely wrapped packages sometimes.

Caleb died. Suddenly, having my every breath consumed with concern over my three sons was not a worry but a joy. If every moment was spent concerned with them, surely, I had proof every second that they were there with me. I could breathe them in and revel in the sweeter taste of love when administered by chocolate fingers. The blessing.

Now, older children grace the house. Though three young ones also reside with us (and they are just as resourceful), I don’t have to take them to the store when all I need is a gallon of milk. I can go to the bathroom and blame someone else for their inattention if craziness ensues. I can laugh a little more easily at the creative efforts. I can actually forget what it felt like to be so starkly on my own.

I can lean firmly on God and know, from experience, that a little raw emotion isn’t going to scare Him away - that He is already encouraging me to spill it out on Him. And about that stretching? My God has very long arms.


Sunday, September 09, 2007

web weavers

All summer, there have been several rather large spider webs attached to the wall just outside of my back door. This prime real estate resulted in enormous quantities of trapped insects and a resultant boom in egg sacks hanging in the uppermost web.

These webs were not very attractive, but I left them where they stood for the entire summer. There was always an instant science lesson for whoever wandered into the back yard. The insect population inside my house (from childhood associated repeat screen door flappage) was less acute than might have been.

People were coming over for Labor Day, and the husband placed the power washer into the N boy’s hands. The webs couldn’t withstand the fervency of his delighted spraying. Suddenly, an entire summer’s stockpile was gone with very little time left before the cooler weather decreases the food supply.

Tuesday morning, I walked outside to find two new webs where the old ones had been. Today, I see that they are beginning to serve their food pantry functions. Though all was lost, life continues onward – and death as well.

I could learn a lot from that spider.


Friday, September 07, 2007

as a matter of fact

I feel like I need to grow white fur and sprout long ears – my continual inner monologue consisting entirely of varied mutterings concerning my lateness. Some time ago, August 18 to be exact, Mary-LUE graciously benefited me with the Nice Matters Blog Award. Apparently, I matter (I’ll make sure to let everyone in this house know that I now have justifiable cause to insist upon them paying attention to me).

Go ahead, click on the link. Find out what this is about; I’ll wait.


Well, since being told that I matter, I have managed very few posts – let alone posts with any merit to them. Be that as it may, I will practice simple gratitude by saying, in my sincerest humble voice, “Why, thank you, Mary.”

Now, on to the business of passing this award along:

Be warned, most of my choices are having as much difficulty posting lately as I am. Though their words may be sporadic, however, they are always worth the wait.

For never failing to touch me with the gentle beauty captured through the lens, for the raw honesty of his family love, for his love of furry friends while embracing the circle of life, and for the way his comments never cease to make me feel special, I proclaim the OddMix to be very nice indeed (he even went so far as to add a wonderful photograph to a poem I posted long ago. With his permission, I will post his version at some future date).

For the love of inanity, the perspective that comes from experience, the efforts to touch the lives of others through her work (not to mention sidewalk chalk and bubbles), I must pass this award along to Mel. The birds and furry critters of her back yard menagerie join me in applauding this great honor.

For touching upon subjects both personal and global, and often controversial, while maintaining an atmosphere of acceptance to viewpoints other than her own; for welcoming new voices to regular “commentversations”, and for always forgiving me when I disappear for inordinate amounts of time, there is simply no choice other than to pass this honor along to Julie.

My last four choices are very different women, but women drawn together with the tight knit cloth of understanding. Each of these women knows what it is like to say goodbye to a child without ever getting a proper hello. For years their presence and compassion in my life has mattered even though I have yet to meet any of them face to face.

For her joy in her hard-won twins and the Norman Rockwell-esque beauty with which she paints the canvas of their daily lives, I simply must compensate one Minnesota Momma that embodies the term ‘nice’.

For the beauty captured in mother/daughter, mother/son, and wife/husband deep and intricate love, jouette takes home top honors. The niceness quotient of her optimistic intensity is beyond compare.

For the genuine compassion that somehow manages to peek through even the most scathingly witty remarks; for holding her friends in her thoughts amidst the craziness of globe-trotting, periodic single-parenting, and repeated close encounters of the MRI kind; for silver linings (presented bilingually to boot), and for the ability to look past my weaknesses (or poke fun at them – but somehow only when she knows I can handle the jest), I crown Heather with many crowns.

And finally, for the indescribable depth of passion (hidden ever so slightly by the scientific demeanor), for the slightly unexpected way her camera’s eye can catch the importance of a scene, for the mama-pride that blushes over the surface-speak about her ‘normal’ children, for the careful choice of words that manages to grasp - entirely, exactly - what my heart is often wrestling, and for holding firm to honesty in a less than honest world, my spidermama friend earns her reward.

I exhort you all; play nice!

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