Saturday, July 30, 2005

progressing

How I'm managing to spend more time on my computer yet less time writing is beyond me-- somehow I've piddled away hours upon hours this week, but have a no more than a few tidbits of redeemable prose stashed away to show for it. The problem with blogging is that you start looking at other people's blogs, and then you can't stop... And if you can't stop, you don't ever get to writing, which is why you started the blog in the first place. Do I hear any other frustrated sighs?

I want to write. Ideas percolate in my head constantly--I rush to get them down on paper when time and space allows. Have you ever tried to dig a pen out from the bottom of your mom-sized purse which sits at the farthest corner from where you are strapped in and hurriedly scribble an idea down before your saturated brain wrings it out all over the floor while driving? On a 2X4 inch tablet? While driving a manual? I'm not a very good driver when I'm merely driving--it has become a bit of a hazard, I must say...

So these ideas make it from these barely decipherable scribbles collected in the bottom of my purse into my laptop and I save them in a file folder labeled "In Progress." It is next to the "Finished Works" folder. In my "Blog Ideas" alone, there is over 2500KB of space filled with outlines and snippits of meaningless drivel within my "In Progress" folder waiting to be wordsmithed, while a mere 1500KB of complete, finished, and posted works is saved. And the ratio in this folder is actually the best of all of them--poems in progress, essays in progress, childrens' stories in progress, articles in progress, books in progress. But I need to progress past being in progress.

They call to me all day, for days on end. I long for the few precious moments I have a few evenings a week to curl up with my laptop and shoo away the cats and return to these ideas and breathe life into them. It breathes life into ME. But these moments are, alas, few and far between at this stage in my life. I return to that which is necessary, and my "inner writer" peeks wistfully out of her window, yearning to come out and play.

It boils down to this: I do not want to merely be a scribbler of ideas. I want to be a writer. A writer of paragraphs and pages, not fragments and outlines. I want to complete thoughts and even entire trains of thought. I want to complete something. Some days, I achieve something close to this. Some days, I am "almost" a writer. Most days, though...

Well, most days, I am in progress.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

morphing

Some days she is sixteen already. Her petite face appears thin and striking—all chin and cheekbones, lashes and lips. Her sandy-brown curls argue with being pulled against their free will into a ponytail on the back of her head, accentuating the aforementioned features. Some days, she is stunningly beautiful. The maturity blindsides me, causing me to catch my breath and to play with her longer, while there is still time to play. Some days, I can see her as she will be.

Some days she is two again. Her face is fleshy and full, round and ruddy. Piggy-tails punctuate her innocence—eyes wide and grin large. Some days, she is irresistibly impish. Her heart is on her sleeve and her baby-faced glances search my eyes for reassurance. I am quick to give it to her, lest she look for it elsewhere. Some days, I can see her as she was.

But most days, she is somewhere between the two—kind of like watching a “before” picture morph into an “after” picture and somewhere in the middle all the aspects of both are there and you think to yourself, “Boy, that looks weird.” Her shifting features catch me off guard, as do her shifting moods, interests, and allegiances. She is, to borrow a phrase, somewhere between the “now and the not yet,” and it can be, at times, unsettling.

I wonder what it is like for my parents, seeing my thirty-five-year-old face juxtaposed against that of my six-year-old “mini-me.” Is it as surreal for them to actively watch the passage of time in the face of their daughter as it is for me in mine? Or more so, to see it happen on two screens as opposed to my one?

Perhaps this is why I’m more of a snapshot girl—I long to capture a single moment. I want to isolate it, protect it. No morphing for me—I need to see things as they are in a given space and time. But to my dismay, life doesn’t work that way, and neither do children. The reality is that both are there—the babbling toddler prancing around in my shoes and the giggling teen preparing for the prom—and I can either shy from them, or embrace them before they shift yet again. And they will, indeed, shift again.

Some days, she is six.

Some days, she is ageless.

Monday, July 25, 2005

those who know me well will chuckle

I have a daily flippy-calendar thing that sits on our breakfast table. I'm not normally into these, but it was a gift and it is Timothy Botts, whom I LOVE, so we continue to flip through it. This particular one goes through the various names of God.

So, looking for an enouraging word, I flip over to today's name and devotional, which, of course, is for my birthday, and I nearly choke.

Today's name is "Refiner and Purifier."

It reads, "This description of God is found in a prophecy meant to deal with a complaining people who had forgotten God's faithfulness. Now, as then, God seeks saints who are willing to permit Him to refine their character as well as purify their lives." (Malachi 3:3)

Of course, July 24th was "Life-giving Spirit..."

Beth? Tammy? Karen? Cindy? Anyone rolling on the floor yet?

Sunday, July 24, 2005

on the eve of my 35th birthday...


...my husband surprised me with a party!

My husband is awesome.
My family is awesome.
My friends are awesome.

I am, among women, richly blessed.

Thank you, thank you, thank you...

my favorite present


(No offense to my other presents- I love them all as well!)

Her name is "Happiness." She is what I want my 36th year to look like.

not chuckling any more

So, instead of writing tonight, I spent four hours trying to figure out how to make my archives list the titles of my posts, and then link to the posts (rather than make people look through 40 posts to find what they want). Despite obediently following the blogger help directions (because I am an obedient girl, if nothing else), I continually could only get as far as showing the titles, but not linking to the posts.

As a sidebar, I highly recommend following their advice to save your code before you @#$% with it.

If my blog had one of those annoying little moodometers, mine would currently be flashing red and screaming, WARNING WARNING WARNING!!!!!

Has anyone else tried this? John? Dan? Help?

Saturday, July 23, 2005

a little chuckle between God and I...

Had to laugh that this verse came up in my reading the very morning after I posted the "bearing fruit" poem...

Sow for yourselves righteousness,
reap the fruit of unfailing love,
and break up your unplowed ground;
for it is time to seek the LORD,
until he comes
and showers righteousness on you.

Hosea 10:12, NIV

Friday, July 22, 2005

bearing fruit

This began in writer's group as my response to the prompt for the evening...I think it's done, but I'm not sure...

Crusty, caked hands,
dirt under the fingernails—
“Man, I hate that”
I think to myself—
wondering how they’ll ever come clean.
Chastising myself for
forgetting my gloves, I plunge once
again into the soil—
dirty work, this is.
Turning and overturning,
plowing and tilling,
working the soil until it yields to
my hands—
dirty work, indeed.

Beside me,
packaged in tightly sealed packets,
lay the promises
of tomorrow,
awaiting life to be awakened
within each
tiny capsule of
hope.
I pour them out—
bushel baskets full of bounty
reduced in the palm of my hand—
and with great care
I resolutely
release them to
the earth.
Pressing and patting,
poking and prodding
I place each possibility
in its own
grave—
and I bury it
completely.
My task complete,
I contemplate
the fate
of each
miniscule
life-giving
life-awaiting
vessel.
Which of them
presses through the cold,
deep soil toward the sun
and which of them rots in
the damp
darkness
is no longer in my hands.
I have sown
my seed.
I have watered.
I have fertilized.
I have weeded and
tilled and
generally futzed
over it to no
end,
but I cannot make it grow.

Bushel baskets of potential
all within the hands of
the one
who causes the sun to shine
and the rain to fall
and the seed to crack open wide
and embrace life.

I wait
to see what
bears fruit.

check out a friend of mine

I finally found my long-lost friend Dean's blog. Dean and my hubby were roommates senior year, but I really found him first. Check out his site- he's a hoot!

www.deanabbott.com

Tell him Lorie sent you!

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

I have nothing to say...

What is it within certain ones of us that causes us to feel as if we have nothing in all of creation to say that is of any consequence to anyone while others seem to think the entire world cares what miserable schlop they ate for breakfast, lunch and dinner, seven days a week?

I remember playing on a teeter-totter with my husband once while in college—isn’t much fun when you weigh twenty-five pounds more than the person on the other end (especially when it’s your boyfriend). One of you is stuck in the up position, the other, of course, in the down. There is very little in-between. You’ll note the word “once” in the sentence above—it was not an experience I cared to repeat.

This is how writing feels to me—no in-betweens. Again, I am stuck at the bottom with too much weight holding me down. It is a tension I didn’t like then, and I like it even less now…

Twenty-five pounds of doubt and criticism. Twenty-five pounds of “No one is ever going to read this—who cares what I have to say?” Twenty-five pounds of unbelief and fear. Twenty-five pounds of self-consciousness and rejectionaphobia.

So why the hell am I still sitting on this teeter-totter? Even my two-year-old son knows when it’s time to get off…

Is it a not knowing when to quit? Or is it finally acknowledging that I can’t?

Those of you who write as well understand the double meaning in the title of my blog. It is not merely that I am trying to replace one creative outlet with another so as to miss singing less. I am trying to find my voice as a writer—trying to determine what I have to say and whether or not it is worth saying. It is thrilling. It is terrifying. It is torturous.

Twenty-five pounds is a lot of weight to lose…

I'll pull this out when she's sixteen...


"It's you and me, Momma," my daughter says. "It's the key to love..."

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

an offering

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Romans 12:1-2, The Message

…the diet… the weight loss… the inability to exercise for six weeks… the panic about gaining the weight back… the screaming, whining, fighting kids… the frustration of not having a bigger impact in my parenting… the urge to do things to my children that would have Children’s Services at my door if I put them in print… the lack of sleep… the splitting headaches… the fear of intimacy in my relationships… the fear of intimacy in my marriage… the tension between the desire to be fully known yet the fear of the same… the desire to write … the time to write… the actual writing, if and when it happens… the singing… the lack of singing… the lack of music… the worship… the quiet time… the not-so-quiet time… the desire to control it all…

It’s all yours.

Every morning
I lay out the pieces of my life
on your altar
and watch for fire to descend.
Psalm 5:3, The Message

minor miracles and major inconveniences

Slept on my stomach tonight for the first time since my surgery.

When I could sleep.

One excedrin migraine before bed can really @#&* up your night...

Monday, July 18, 2005

ugly monsters

A really hideous monster has been rearing its ugly head in the life of my normally good-natured daughter lately. About a month ago I began to hear it first gurgle and grunt within her. It now is bolder and louder, and says things like, “But that’s mine!” or “I was playing with that first!” or “He always wants what I have!” It speaks in ear-piercing, whiney tones resembling something along the line of a beginning violin, and its presence is often accompanied by tears and a great deal of melodramatic foot-stomping, eye-rolling, and a quite impressive turned-down pout. It is gravely concerned with fairness, complete equality, and getting its own way.

“What has possessed this child,” I think to myself incredulously. I consider it seriously for a moment, but then dismiss all thoughts of demon-possession as ridiculous. For the moment.

But this thing within her has reached a roar and charges on, unstoppable. No amount of threatening, lecturing, shaming, starving or isolating it brings the savage beast under control. No amount of talk about kindness, selflessness, or thoughtfulness deters its relentless focus on itself.

Again, I delude myself into asking, “What is going on here?” But it is merely denial.

The trouble is, I recognize this monster completely.

The trouble is, it looks a lot like ME.

I know what’s going on. I just don’t know how to deal with it. How do I teach my six-year-old a lesson about selfishness that I have not fully learned myself?

My children ask for a bite of food off my closely guarded plate and I snarl like a dog at its dish. My husband dares to have an agenda of his own one weekend and I throw a tantrum to rival my two-year-old son. My life, when I am honest, is carefully orchestrated to make sure I am safe, secure, comfortable, and cared for. It’s not pretty.

I get away with it because most people would not immediately recognize this about me. I give of my time, talents, and resources. I help out people in need. I try to please and bless other people when it is within my ability to do so. And I even suppress my whining and tantrums, for the most part. I just do them quietly, internally. Kind of like when people have seizures that you can’t see—inside I’m really throwing myself on the floor. So I do not appear, to those who don’t live with me, to be completely selfish and self-absorbed.

But I am.

I want to do what I want to do, when I want to do it. I want to have my own way. And I don’t want anyone else to play with my toys. (Or eat my food.)

Yes, I recognize this creature within my daughter, and I recognize where it comes from. It is her sin-nature, and she inherited it from me, and I did from my mother and she from hers. We were born with it, every one of us. And we spend our lives trying to overpower it.

So how do I help my daughter slay this beast that roars so loudly from within her delicate frame?

I slay my own.

I commit myself to the daily exercise of looking not only to my own interests, but also to the interests of others. I commit to better love her father so that she can better love her brother. I commit to study Christ, to seek to please Christ, to emulate Christ, and to teach her to do the same.

We will talk about it together. We will pray for one another. We will serve together. We will serve each other.

And so I will share my food and my time and even my toys and I will pray that along the line she will be learning to do the same. Not just because the whining and arguing is driving me to the point of becoming a homicidal maniac, but also because her heart depends on it.

There will be more monsters to fight.

We will both need to be ready.


Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus…

Phil 2: 3-5


© 2005

as posted on my fridge...

love
generously
praise
loudly
live
fully
Elias Porter

Sunday, July 17, 2005

wanting more...

Don't love the world's ways. Don't love the world's goods. Love of the world squeezes out love for the Father. Practically everything that goes on in the world--wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important--has nothing to do with the Father. It just isolates you from him. The world and all its wanting, wanting, wanting is on the way out--but whoever does what God wants is set for eternity.
I John 2: 15-17 The Message


Lord, help me to want what YOU want me to want…
My cry is for more of YOU…


Why is everyone hungry for more? “More, more,” they say.
“More, more.”
I have God’s more-than-enough,
More joy in one ordinary day
Than they get in all their shopping sprees.
At day’s end I’m ready for sound sleep,
For you, God, have put my life back together.
Psalm 4, The Message

things i am NOT good at

(in response to a comment from a friend)

...sports of ANY kind... gardening... cooking... cleaning... dusting... keeping my car clean... keeping my car full of gas... higher math... physics... science... returning phone calls... giving people grace... pretending to be someone I'm not... losing weight... keeping it off... living with discipline... daily quiet time... walking and drinking at the same time... walking and doing ANYTHING else at the same time... driving and talking on the phone... dealing with pain... dealing with adversity... dealing with people who've hurt me... dealing with temper tantrums... quieting the self-conscious thoughts in my head... painting... playing the piano... or the guitar... playing pretend with my daughter... reading with her... balancing my time... reaching out past my walls when it's uncomfortable... reaching out past my walls when it's moderately comfortable... forgiving... forgetting... computer programming (despite my father's best efforts)... sewing (despite my mother's best efforts)... listening without distraction... listening without interrupting... patience... the rubix cube... pretending I'm not hurt or offended... humility... being in the background... being unnoticed... not being bossy... not being compulsive... ending lists...

Saturday, July 16, 2005

more thoughts on mid-life

Been thinking more about my conversation with Cindy earlier today. We talked about discontent, disillusionment, disbelief. We talked about the fact that there is no going back. We talked about the fear we have in moving forward, given the tired bleakness we see in the faces of the fourty-something women dragging through life around us. We talked about grieving—all that is that shouldn’t have been, and all that should have been but isn’t. We talked about getting older…

But, see, here’s the thing. I’ll be thirty-five a week from Monday. It is what it is. I will never completely fit in with the hip twenty-somethings on staff because I’m TEN YEARS older than they are. Once I finally GOT that (albeit a few short months ago), I started to become okay with it. I’m not a young adult anymore. I won’t ever be again.

But here’s the other thing… I LIKE my life. I really do. I couldn’t say that even five years ago. Despite the lack of time, lack of freedom, lack of spontaneity, and lack of sanity, I am, if I am completely honest, living the life I always wanted. Is it perfect? No. Do I struggle with discontent? Yes. I see friends who are dating, friends who are traveling, friends who are doing what they want to do when they want to do it. I see friends who don't have tuition payments and ballet lessons to sit through and bedtimes to tie them down. And I struggle with jealousy big time.

But at the end of the day, I have a husband of almost thirteen years who still thinks I’m hot, and a son and a daughter who adore me, and I come back home to cheers and smiles and hugs every time I go away. I have a job I love and a home I love and a family I love and the time and resources to enjoy them. I know who I am and I know who I am not, and I have friends and family who love me anyway. I can live with turning thirty-five.

This is one of my favorite songs, ever. It’s not Bono, but it’s true. I thank the Lord that I am living my dream.

The Stuff that Dreams are Made Of

Take a look around you
change the direction
adjust the tuning
try a new translation
Don’t look at your man in the same old way
take a new picture
Just because you don’t see shooting stars
doesn’t mean it isn’t perfect
Can’t you see…

It’s the stuff that dreams are made of
It’s the slow and steady fire
It’s the stuff that dreams are made of
It’s your heart and soul’s desire
It’s the stuff that dreams are made of

So what’s this about your best friend?
She’s got a brand new shiny boy
and they’re moving out to Malibu
to play with all his pretty toys
And you feel closed in by the same four walls
the same old conversations
with the same old guy you’ve known for years
but use your imagination
and you will see…

It’s the stuff that dreams are made of
It’s the slow and steady fire
It’s the stuff that dreams are made of
It’s your heart and soul’s desire
It’s the stuff that dreams are made of

What if the prince on the horse in your fairytale
is right here is in disguise
And what if the stars you’ve been reaching so high for
are shining in his eyes

Don’t look at yourself in the same old way
take another picture
Shoot the stars off in your own backyard
don’t look any further
and you will see..

It’s the stuff that dreams are made of
It’s the slow and steady fire
It’s the stuff that dreams are made of
It’s your heart and soul’s desire
It’s the stuff that dreams are made of
It’s the sails against the sky
It’s the stuff that dreams are made of
It’s the reason we are alive
It’s the stuff that dreams are made of

Carly Simon

for cindy...

I don’t care if people think I’m lame for posting a twenty year old song from the eighties. I’m not twenty-five any more. I’m not even thirty any more. And I’m not uncomfortable with that ANY MORE. Treasure these years, my friend. The best are yet to come…

This is what it's all about...

Turning Thirty

I’ve got a house down by the ocean
the rent is not too high
and I love to watch the ships come in
and hear the seagulls cry
And lately I’ve been taking stock
of all that I’ve been through
for tomorrow is my birthday,
feels funny, but it’s true
I’m turnin’ thirty

I’ve got a wife who really loves me
she makes my life so sweet
and a little baby daughter
who plays games around my feet
and my world is very different
from those lazy bachelor years
but if I had the chance to go back
I’d rather stay right here
turnin’ thirty
I’m turnin’ thirty

And I have friends who care about me
they’re the best I’ve ever had
and they always stood behind me
whenever times got bad
and I love to play my music
though the road can be a trial
but every time I walk on stage
it’s worth each dusty mile
turnin’ thirty

well, now, thirty ain’t like fifteen
and it’s not like twenty-five
my back’s a little stiff
and there’s some lines around my eyes
but I’ve still got my energy
and I got most of my hair
and I’m not to old to rock and roll
and I’m not really scared
of turnin’ thirty

Oh, the 80s look like tough times
the world is turning sour
so I’ll keep on serving Jesus
and await the final hour
And though I’ve often failed him
in these thirty rocky years
His mercy’s brought me this far
and His love has dried my tears
I’m turnin’ thirty
(I’ll treasure these years)
I’m turnin’ thirty

Randy Stonehill, © 1983, Word Music

Thursday, July 14, 2005

surgery and other unrealistic expectations

"So," I thought to myself, "it's only a one-inch incision and one or two stitches through the abdominal wall to pull everything back together...that can't possibly hurt that bad..."

Dont' know which hurts worse, my stomach, or the shock of how wrong I can continually be...

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

"I Have Had Singing"

Stumbled upon the memory of a song we performed in Toledo... one of those songs that choked me up every time we sang it. It was my heart. There is no other way to say it. It was my heart set to music... "Here I lie. I have had treasure enough. I have had singing..." Tears fill my eyes just to hear it in my head, to feel it within me. I ache to have singing again...

I was reading my friend Dan's blog last night, and this comment about having his ability to drum restored after a serious injury to his elbow really resonated for me:

"And on the way home from church I realized that I express myself this way: When I speak I feel like I get out 20% of my true feelings. When I write I get out 50% of my true feelings across, when I photograph maybe 60% on a really good day, and when I drum I get 100% of my true feelings across."

Writing, for me, is a passion and an outlet, but it is still not singing. It clearly and capably conveys something of my heart, and more importantly, something of my Father's heart...but when my heart speaks the language of the Carmina Burana, or Handel's Messiah, or John Rutter's Gloria, well, there just aren't keystrokes for that. And all that is there goes unspoken.

Got the news last night that if concert attendance does not improve, the professional choir my husband currently sings in will be folding after their 2005 Christmas concert. I am doubly sad: sad for Tom that this outlet may also be lost for him. And sad that there may truly not be another opportunity to ever experience again the caliber of choral singing that we experienced in college and in our choir in Toledo. At least not here, not now. I grieve again tonight for that loss, and pray that the Lord will see fit to one day again "give us singing."

Monday, July 11, 2005

lame excuses for not writing tonight...

...day seven or eight of the same !#@*! headache...work a twelve hour day tomorrow...it's already 11 PM and I'm just getting started...gave in to the granola this time..."Great, now I have guilt!"...the laptop is making my lap sweat...did I mention the !#@*! headache?... my perfectionistic streak isn't satisfied with what I'm currently working on...just looked at Dan's blog and got intimidated all over again...don't feel like toying with vulnerbility tonight...haven't seen my hubby all day...just wrote a piece for somebody ELSE'S site...the cat won't leave me alone...the other cat won't leave me alone...the hubby just smashed a light bulb all over the floor...I'm too busy creating excuses..."I'll try again tomorrow..."

"There is no try. There is only do."
Yoda

Friday, July 08, 2005

this one's for my mom...


I promise I won't post 50.000 pictures of my kids. Really. But can ya blame me?

Thursday, July 07, 2005

the tyranny of what i want

Some days, there is just nothing profound to say. Saw eleven hours worth of clients with only one break. Don't want to go back in on Saturday. Wanted to eat everything in the house when I came home. Skipped my weight work-out because it was already 9:45 and hadn't eaten dinner yet. Freaking out internally about my weight and the upcoming surgery and what will happen when I can't exercise for six weeks. Trying not to obsess about food, weight, exercise, appearance, etc. Saw my kids for two hours this morning- both were in bed when I got home. Guilt, guilt, guilt. Tom works online across the room while I sit here with my laptop feeling the cool breeze float in through the front door. Mere yards between us, yet miles apart. I am tired. I am overwhelmed. And I want chocolate. Lots of it. Or cinnamon granola. Or ice cream. Or anything else that will quickly yet momentarily fill the void that is screaming within me.

When will this battle end?

Since Jesus went through everything you're going through and more, learn to think like him. Think of your sufferings as a weaning from that old sinful habit of always expecting to get your own way. Then you'll be able to live out your days free to pursue what God wants instead of being tyrannized by what you want. 1 Peter 4:1-2, The Message

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

flipping the switch

It was legend among Mrs. William’s kindergarten class—the moment when all the mysterious arrangements of letters on the page came together into words and God “flipped their switch.” Nobody knew the hour or the day when it would happen—you couldn’t flip your own switch, or control when it finally came on. But one by one, her classmates began to experience that current of energy running anew through their brains, powering a heart for reading.

Mrs. Williams warned them, as all good teachers do, that not everyone’s switch flips at the same time. But she assured them, as all good teachers also do, that everyone’s switch would get flipped. And so we waited for the legend to be carried on in our daughter.

And we waited, and we waited, and we waited… We stared at words on the page, confounding configurations of letters that confused the five-year-old mind. We uttered strange utterances and we stuttered and stammered, and still nothing happened. Letters on the page remained mysterious and mystical, and very few came together in ways that made any sense at all. But with patience and practice, she persisted.

One day, she was making up the story and stringing into it the few sight words she recognized among the pages into tales that sometimes went along with the pictures, and sometimes did not. The next day, she was reading.

Reading.

Not sounding out, not recognizing a few words here and there, but READING. Entire books at a time. I am in awe of the difference one day made in the life of my book-loving daughter. It is the stuff legends are made of.

There is nothing more miraculous than when God flips your child’s switch.

Scrunchy-nosed squishy-faced smiles are the BEST!

Sunday, July 03, 2005

independence day and the sex-slave trade of six-year-old girls

For reasons I will never understand, I was born into this country. I did not have to struggle and scrape and pray and hope to come to America. I did not have to flee with grave fear for my life to get here. I did not have to leave it all—home, children, parents, siblings, belongings—to arrive at where I am today. My freedom cost me nothing. I gave nothing to get it. It is merely mine by birth. I was born into freedom. My daughter was born into freedom. Politics aside, I cannot deny the incredible and awestruck gratitude I have for those two facts.

Such gratitude convicts me, in our world of consumerism and super-sizing. I am shoulder-shruggingly ashamed of my constant struggle with discontent—my desire for a bigger house, brighter car, better stuff. I pray daily that I would receive the Lord’s eyes for the world around me and that I would stop comparing myself to the wrong people. I pray that I would have a global mindset that turns my world around. But I also secretly and quietly pray, I’ll admit, that it wouldn’t require too very much of me.

My daughter attends a fairly expensive Christian school—a decision we agreed upon long before her father and I were even married. We are thrilled with her school, but it is not without a few potential pitfalls. We experienced one of them right out of the gate in kindergarten. It involved the discrepancy in lifestyles among her friends and playmates.

My daughter is fairly gregarious and friendly, so she has been invited from time to time over to the homes of her classmates to play. This, in and of itself, was not a problem. The problem arose when she came home from play-dates exclaiming that some her friends lived in “castles.” And she was pretty darn close. At her young age, this doesn’t bother her. I pray that it won’t, ever. But I’m embarrassed to admit that it bothers ME. I have a HUGE struggle internally over this. Why doesn’t my daughter deserve that? Why do they get that and we don’t? Why does God seem to bless them and not us?

And so my daughter is asleep upstairs in her own bed in her own room in our own house, and I am complaining that things aren’t fair. Today she had three full meals and a few snacks to boot and even a chocolate peanut butter milkshake with the cool squirty-can whipped cream on top before bed. Our pantry is full, as is our refrigerator and freezer. We have so much stuff in our 1400 square foot home that we must regularly give stuff away to Goodwill to have room for the new. And with two sets of grandparents nearby, there is always a lot of new. She sleeps across the room from a bookcase filled with more books than we can possibly read in a month’s worth of bedtimes, next to her CD player with more CDs than she can play in a month’s worth of “chill out times.” In the fall, she will walk out my front door completely free, for the most part, from the threat of harm, get into my car, and she will go to school where she will learn freely (although not for free!) for the next twelve years all that she needs to know to put her on solid footing in our global market. She will learn about God freely, will worship freely, and will play freely. She will have a childhood, and will laugh and run and play. And yet I shake my fist at God and ask, “Why don’t we have what they have?”

And why DON’T I have what other people have? Why did I have the good fortune of living in America? Why was I given freedom of choice limited only by my financial resources, which, by global standards, is an incredible amount of wealth? Why do I have a roof over my head and the choice of how warm or cool I heat my home? Why am I not skin and bones, sending my children out to scavenge through dumpsters and trash heaps for our next meal? Why am I so fortunate that I do not have AIDS, or my daughter? Why don’t I live in a mud hut, dying and alone, worried about who will take care of my children? Why don’t I have to fear for my life as I watch thousands of friends, family and fellow countrymen be slaughtered in gruesome genocide? Why don’t I have to flee my home and homeland for my safety? Why am I not persecuted for my beliefs? For the color of my skin? For my gender?

I’m worried because I can’t afford to throw my six-year-old daughter a party at the Rec Center for her birthday and invite 50 of her closest friends, while there are six-year-old girls, all over this world, even within this country, being sold to grown men who know better to be tortured and raped repeatedly in order to pad some slime-ball’s pockets and enable him to get some his next fix. SOLD. I look at the innocence in my daughter’s eyes—the na├»ve joy on her face—and I shudder. Why are we so fortunate? Why is my daughter not one of them?

She was born free.

I will teach her to never, ever, take that for granted.

Hopefully, I will learn that lesson myself, along the way.

© 2005

Saturday, July 02, 2005

now I've done it...

So, I’m down at the gallery hop and run into some friends and I tell them I’m blogging.

Great. Now I’ve done it.

Now I have to keep at it because someone may actually read this. I wasn’t counting on that… Of course, you can remind me that the whole point of getting my fanny in gear and actually writing is the hope of someday being published, which would eventually mean (gasp!) that people would read what I’ve written. But there is still, despite this logic (you will find that disregarding logic is a common theme), a vulnerable and exposed feeling that just feels flat-out junior highish.

Yuck.

I am convinced, given what I have observed of people, that the vast majority of us live in some degree of constant tension between the desperate desire to be fully and completely known and the sheer, stark terror of the very same. I feel it daily, like the way your thighs quiver when you’ve been squatting for too long—the strain somewhere between clenching and releasing. I want to be authentic. I want to live my next 35 years without fear and inhibition and insecurity. I am too old for junior high.

I believe this tension exists because we were made to be fully known, but we screwed it up. The desire compels us relentlessly because we were created to be fully, completely, freeing-ly known. But that connection was severed, and what was the first thing that happened? We hid from God, from each other, and from ourselves. Just as it is intrinsically within our perfect nature to be known, it is hardwired into our fallen nature to be hidden. The two are by nature at odds with one another—and I expect will never be completely reconciled this side of heaven.

I read a quote once that made me cry—“If you want to have an exceptional child, you must be willing to have an exceptional child.[1]” I’ll discuss that at more length another time, but my point in bringing it up is that it logically follows that if you want to be fully known, you must be willing to be fully known. The overcoming of fear requires risk. It requires no longer wishing I was doing something, but actually doing it.

I’m going to DO it.

And tomorrow, I might even give another other person my link…

© 2005

[1] From The Highly Sensitive Child : Helping Our Children Thrive When the World Overwhelms Them, by Elaine Aron, © 2002.