Thursday, September 29, 2005

that would be me

The form looked simple enough. Name, grade, homeroom number-- no problem. Type of medication--check. Dosage--check. Time of day to be administered--check. Today's date--got it. Parent's signature.

I freeze. I stare at it blankly. The panicked thought comes out of nowhere-- My mom is camping. She can't sign it. What am I going to do?

Then I chuckle, grinning sheepishly in my empty kitchen. Parent's signature. Duh.

I AM the parent.

Heaven help us all.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

confessions of a slacker mom

Okay, so I stole the title. But it’s such a good one. And it is so how I feel tonight.

I have never known guilt like I’ve known in the last seven years. It is impossible to convey in mere words the sheer gut-wrenching, panic-producing, stomach-acid-creating, I’m-a-complete-failure-let-me-lay-prostrate-on-the-floor-and-and-slit-my-wrists feeling that comes over a woman the moment she first discovers she’s pregnant and doesn’t shake loose, so I’m told, until the day she dies. They slap a cute little nickname on it—Mommy Guilt—but there is nothing cute about it. It is all-consuming. And it will eat you alive if you let it.

Today was a typical example. The first grader was home with pink-eye, but the phrase “was home” is used very loosely in our household. “Staying home” from school today meant we went for our morning walk, went to the doctor, went to the pharmacy, ran into Grandma at the pharmacy, invited Grandma to join us for lunch with Poppa, went in Grandma’s van to meet Poppa so I could get something notarized at his office, had lunch together, and, finally, came home and “stayed home.” Until the grocery trip after dinner…

Of course, since we’d run around all morning, nothing had gotten done at home. Since I work part-time (more Mommy Guilt), this is a bigger deal than it sounds. Nothing picked up, no bills paid, no calls or emails returned, no projects worked on. Nothing. And after being gone 90% of the week last week, I’m still trying to catch up from the previous week’s picking up, bills, emails, and projects, to no avail. So, I get the toddler down for a nap, head for the office with my mental to-do list on overload, and the first thing I hear is, “Momma, will you play with me?”

My stomach sinks. Nothing triggers Mommy Guilt like the pleading tone of a child asking to be played with. Especially when you can’t stand playing with your children.


There, I said it. I hate playing with my daughter. AAAAAGHHH. Seeing it in print makes me want to run from the room screaming. Mothers aren’t supposed to say that. Still more Mommy Guilt. But it’s true.

There are many things I love doing with my children. I love to sit and talk with them. I love to sing to them. I love to go places with them and do activities with them. I love to read with them, play games with them, make music with them. I’m not a bad mom. I swear. (This is the first sign of Mommy Guilt—the compulsion to swear to people you are not a bad mom.) But, quite frankly, I do not enjoy playing pretend with my children. And it’s not just my children—I don’t enjoy playing pretend with other people’s children, either. I abhorred that part of babysitting—I don’t like to be told how to pretend. Makes me crazy. And this is what my daughter wants most from me.

This is what she asks for this afternoon. This is what she asks for several times, daily. And this is the one thing that I am loathe to give her. I would rather cross everything off my to-do list than play Barbie’s with my daughter. I hate that about myself. I hate the frustration that builds to a near-panicked frenzy when it becomes apparent that I cannot accomplish both my to-do list and my daughter’s. I resolve to myself that the next afternoon I’m home, I will play with her. Then the next afternoon I’m home, I make the same guilt-ridden resolution. But the issue never resolves.

I know in my heart there is much I do well as a mother. But I worry that if it is not what is important to her, it won’t matter in the long run. Will she remember that I would talk with her every night before bed, or will she remember that I rarely played Barbie’s with her? Will she remember me constantly telling her, “I love you,” or will she remember me constantly telling her, “Momma’s got to get her work done first?” Will she remember me writing her stories and playing cards and going to the zoo, or will she remember me at my computer?

Then there are the real questions. Will the effort I’ve put in be enough to sustain our relationship through the teenage years? Does she really know she is loved and valued? Do my actions show it more than my words? Will it be enough to keep her from dabbling in sex and substances and selling her soul to please other people? Have I done the best possible job I can? Will it pay off in the long run? She adores me now—will she when she’s older? And is it lame to pray for the strength to be able to play Barbie’s with your daughter?

There are no answers. Or, rather, the answers are out of my hands. The Lord taught me long ago that there is not a bit of it that is up to me, but, much like higher math, it is a lesson I still do not fully understand. So I just pray that, much like the homework, the equation somehow always manages to balance out in the end.

I am not a bad mom.

I am not a bad mom.

what's in a name?

I changed my name. I am no longer looking for my voice. I have found it. I like what the new title reflects—I am no longer aimlessly searching, but performing a piece in a free style. Hope you like it. If you don’t, don’t tell me. I’m much too insecure.

properly chastised, she returns to her writing...

Insecurity is like a boomerang. A yo-yo. Seventies clothing. You can toss it aside, but it always comes back to haunt you like a ghastly fashion nightmare.

I swing, if you haven’t noticed, between extremes. I can go, within any given point of time, from “Damn, that’s good!” to “This isn’t half bad…” to “Oh my God, I suck. College freshman in ghastly seventies clothing could do better than this. I’m never writing again!” I suppose it’s part of my charm. Or my neurosis. Or one in the same.

Honestly, though, at 35 I’m finally finding a middle ground. Most of the time. Most of the time, I read what I’ve written and think, that’s not too bad… My goal isn’t literary greatness. My goal is to write what’s on my heart, hopefully do it well, and if one, two, or maybe three people think, “I can really relate to that,” I will consider myself successful. It is a start. I have started well, and I am pleased with that. I will press on, trusting that I’m not the only mother in Cow Town who struggles with insecurity and mommy guilt and a morbid hatred of aerobics instructors.

I will try not to let it happen again. The boomerang, the yo-yo, the bell-bottoms—out with the trash this time. What goes around does not have to come around.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

apples to apples

I must learn to stop reading other people’s blogs.

Was going to write tonight. Thought I’d check some sites out first. One thing led to another and now I’m intimidated and depressed and disgusted and wondering why the heck I ever thought I could write. God, I hate it when I do that…

What is it about us that compels us to make unfavorable comparisons? Or, rather, what is it about ME?

If I’m writing about MY life in MY voice, why do I care what Belle the journalist in NYC is posting and that it’s a whole heck of a lot better than what I’ve posted? Or that she got 41 comments for one post? Or that her famously wonderous, fabulous, brand-new blog got featured somewhere or other? I’m not a journalist in NYC. I’m a mother of two in Cow Town. And yet, I do. Care, that is. And compare.

It gets me every time. I never did fully grasp the whole apples and oranges thing—they’re both fruit, after all.

So now I shrivel here in my insecurity, the words within me dying on the vine for lack of belief in them. I’ve got to quit doing this to myself…

Somebody stop me.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Via Colori, 2005

P9254654, originally uploaded by as we see it.

One of my favorite things to do. Next year, I'm doing a square. Really. I'm not going to just TALK about it. I'm doing a square. Next year...

the difference between my husband and I

There is approximately one third of a piece of Kalua cheesecake in my house. With real whipped cream. From the Cheesecake Factory. It sits downstairs, barely protected behind the wooshing temperature seal of the refrigerator door, and it taunts me upon my weak-kneed return from aerobics.

The cheesecake entered my home on Saturday evening, a consolation gift for my husband for allowing me to accompany Beth on her impromptu, late night escape. Two large clouds of whipped cream dotted its dark, stormy landscape, and I was quite certain my Six Carb Original, sans whipped cream (sans anything, for that matter), was a February day in Ohio by comparison. Beneath the cumulus whipped cream lay three layers of rich, fatty goodness—first the light, fluffy coffee layer, creamy brown like hot chocolate, just the way I like my coffee. Then a lighter colored layer, thicker and creamier although unable to be properly identified, but certainly scrumptious just the same. Then, oh… Then, the chocolate and hazelnut crust… dark-dark-dark-rich-crumbly-fatty goodness. Perfection. I presented it to my wonderful husband with great pomp and circumstance upon my return, and awaited the opportunity to watch him relish this rich, fatty goodness and all the while proclaim what a wonderful wife I was for delivering it to him.

That is where the difference between us became apparent.

He didn’t eat it.

Really. He thanked me profusely, and promptly placed the cheesecake in the refrigerator, remarking that he just wasn’t very hungry at the moment. There was a full half-minute of mystified silence before, completely dumbfounded, I questioned what the heck hunger had to do with anything when there was a piece of Kalua cheesecake in the house. Did he not see the puffy clouds? The dark-dark-dark-rich-crumbly crust? The creamy brown perfect coffee layer? Not hungry?

(For the record, I am, at this exact moment, not hungry. But there is a piece of cheesecake in my fridge and if it were not for the fact that I just tortured myself again at aerobics this morning, it would not be in my fridge any longer. Are you catching my drift?)

Last night he powered down the computer and came to join me in bed, where I was happily reading and trying to pacify the 20 lb. cat who nibbles you until you pet him, and he began to eat his cheesecake. Next to me, in bed. I was not happily reading any longer. I was coveting my neighbor’s cheesecake.

He graciously offered me a bite and, pretending to be nonchalant, I accepted. I clamped my lips down around the fork, determined to pry every possible morsel from the utensil. I closed my eyes, and I sighed. It was all I dreamed it would be. I savored the texture, the flavor, the essence of it for but a moment, and then it was gone. Gone. I resolved that I would not ask for another bite, but that if he offered, I would, of course, accept. It would be rude not to. I began to pray that he would offer. Not really, but I did hope and wish. And he did. A second moment of heaven, followed by more dumbfounding perplexity.

Two thirds of the way finished, and he announced he was full and would save the rest for tomorrow. Today, where it now sits tormenting me from the floor below. “What?” he asked as I half glared, half gaped at him with widemouthed amazement. Five to six bites left, and he cannot convince his five-foot-eight, one hundred and fifteen pound frame to pack them in. More mind-boggling is that he could, but he chooses not to. It is beyond my comprehension. Where was I when that gene was passed out?!

Probably eating my cheesecake. Which, by the way, had approximately a 20-minute life span. My husband’s is at 39 hours and counting. Hours. I’ll let you figure the difference.

I’m going to go look at the cheesecake again.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

no tired work

I'm spent. Three trainings led and one staff retreat attended since Saturday, one full day of clients and another training to lead yet to go before I rest. My eyelids have been heavy since 2:00 PM. My heart is stirring within me to write, but is being over-ridden by all other major systems. I will sleep. I will write, God willing, tomorrow. Or not. But for now, I must rest so as to be of worth to those for whom I am responsible before God.

Rest. It is wrong to force work. Rest until Life, Eternal Life, flowing through your veins and hearts and minds, bids you bestir yourselves, and work, glad work, will follow.

Tired work never tells.

God Calling

Monday, September 19, 2005

What can I say? I'm a proud momma...

P9194518, originally uploaded by as we see it.

First place for first grade girls! Third place in her grade, overall! Not that I'm proud, or anything...

whom do I follow?

When you trust God, and a friend, there is a question whether it is God you trust or the friend; but when the friend has left you, and only God is near, no question remains. If you and I are walking together, and a dog follows us, who knows which is the dog’s master? But when you go off to the left and I turn to the right, all will see who owns the dog, by seeing whom he follows.

Charles Spurgeon

Sunday, September 18, 2005

in a nutshell

P9184385, originally uploaded by as we see it.

Hiking today at Blackhand Gorge, outside of Newark. No, I'd never heard of it either. This sums up our day!

Saturday, September 17, 2005

before the big race

P9164345, originally uploaded by as we see it.

I was too excited and forgot to take pictures at the finish line! (And all the pictures of the race itself are a bit of a blur!)


My daughter's time in her first big race!

15th place in the one-mile Fun Run at her school, out of over 100 K-3rd graders!

We find out on Monday where she placed within her grade- we think she might have been third, which equals a "trophy," but we're not sure. We keep emphasizing that it was a "Fun Run" and that she did her best time ever, and that is what is important. I hope she remembers that come Monday!

Can I just say that I cannot even run a mile?!?!? Amazing.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

time's up, session's over

I’ve come to the conclusion I don’t do real life well.

It’s something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately, but as I drove home from the ladies night half of my small group tonight, it really hit me. I don’t think I do relationships well.

My mom always told me I should be a teacher. When I began exploring the idea of counseling, she became even more persistent with the teaching suggestion, and would tag on to the immediate end of every comment something along the lines of “You’ll never be able to do counseling. You’ll take everything home with you.”

She was wrong. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve “taken something home” with me—the times when a client’s pain clung to me like second-hand smoke, unable to be escaped from until I’d properly showered. I remember the night a marriage literally ended right in my office and I missed my exit coming home. And my street. And my driveway. I remember the mother whose 18-month-old had been hit and killed by a car—I remember because my own daughter was 18 months old and after this precious woman would come and sob for her weekly hour I would go in the next room and sob as well. I remember the 23-year-old widow whose husband was diagnosed with cancer on their wedding day and I couldn’t sleep for several nights after each session. But these are the exceptions, not the rule.

I have always believed that was God’s grace. I have always believed I was able to not carry the weight of the world because I was walking in my calling and God was putting his grace on what I was doing. I still believe that to be true. But I think there is more to it than grace… and it’s not all from God.

We talked tonight about being open, vulnerable, real. We talked about being more intentional, making more time, pressing one another a little. We talked about how that happens, and about what happens when it doesn’t work like it’s supposed to. We talked about how vulnerable it is to put your stuff out there in the open and have someone walk away with a trite “I’ll be praying for you” while you stand there bleeding. We talked about sharing intimate, scary, painful things and then never hearing from the people we’d talked to. And that’s when it hit me.

I’ve done that to some of these women. If not all of them. I’ve sat with them in their pain, I’ve prayed with them, I’ve prayed for them, I’ve followed up with them from time to time, but I’ve never walked it out with a single one of them. Maybe not with anyone, ever. The realization devastated and confused me. And that’s when it really hit me.

I’ve always considered myself a caring person—and it’s not that I don’t care about the people who populate my life. I care for all of them deeply. Deanne. Laura. Penny. Faith. Terri. Marylee. Jane. Bonnie. Beth. Tammy. Karen. Cindy.
Josie. Jen. My family. My husband’s family. So why don’t I show them? Why don’t I show them more? I know that I care. But why don’t I care enough? It’s more than just busy-ness, although I give busy-ness its fair share of credit. It’s not just having young children, although that is a key factor as well. Laziness plays a role, as does fear and insecurity and even, to be honest, probably apathy. And that really sucks to say. But they are not “it” in their entirety. There is something more that holds me back—keeps me from sending a card, an email, making a call, going to my knees daily—something that keeps me from walking through the trenches with them.

And so I wonder, on my way home, how to find the balance. How to really care for people in real life—clients, friends, family, the world—enough to allow God to use me in their lives but not to the point that it completely overwhelms mine. And that’s when the realization comes, smacking me upside the head with a big ol’ THWACK. I’ve attempted to create that balance by living my life in one-hour sessions. Life, to me, apparently, IS therapy.

The client comes in once a week, our time is intense and I am fully present and caring and invested, and then they leave and I do the same for the next person. And the next, and the next, and the next. I think about them throughout the week. I pray for them. I think about their struggles and I seek wisdom in how to approach them and I pray for them some more. But I don’t call them or email them or send them pretty cards or call them up and ask them how it’s going, because that would be inappropriate. And that is all well and good.

Somehow, though, this has become my life, and I don’t know what to do with that, or if I even should.

Is it God’s grace that I do not carry every burden that is brought into my presence, or is it a laziness and lack of caring on my part? Is it wisdom, or fear? Is it good or bad? Or is it just what it is? I look for no answers from you—I know you don’t have them anyway. But the questions are out there, nonetheless. I don’t know how to do this real life thing. And it’s really messing with me.

But hey, my time is up—session’s over. We’ll talk about it again next week.

silver bowls

A few of you will know what this lyric means to me, and why it smacked my upside the head when I first heard it a day or two ago…

Empty hands held high
Such small sacrifice
If not joined with my life
I sing in vain tonight
Lifesong, Casting Crowns, © 2005

It feels as if my bowl is empty...

Monday, September 12, 2005

that which does not kill you...

…leaves you half-dead.

I began a new aerobics class today. Now, I’ve already mentioned that I’ve lost 65 pounds in the last one and a half years, so you have to assume that I’ve been exercising at least a little during that time, and to lose that large of an amount, probably more than just a little. And that is true. I walk an insane amount of miles at what I’ve been told is a “kick ass” pace, and I do a workout with hand weights at home. I figured I was up to this “intermediate” level class.

I was wrong. Alas, five to seven kick-ass walks a week and three nights of go-at-your-own-pace hand weights does not an aerobics-class-champion make.

I thought I was going to die.

Really. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

I should have known, from the moment I dropped my son off in childcare amidst all the muscle-showing racer-bra-wearing blond-ponytail-waving mothers that I was out of my element. But I did not heed my inner alarm and proceeded to class anyway, where I was instructed by similar women to drag out all the equipment I would need from the closet at the other end of the room. I’ve never been in a medieval dungeon, but I’m sure the torture devices had to be similar in nature. Hand weights, resistance bands, weighted body bars, step risers, and floor mats. All for a one-hour class. I guessed at what I needed, based on the amount of weight I was using at home, and created my own little space in a spot I hoped would be inconspicuous, should I need to pass out or fall to the floor in a heap.

Our instructor bounced in, and I hated her instantly. She was perfect. Blonde. Tan. The perfect body—probably about five-foot-ten and buff. Not an ounce of fat anywhere. Did I mention I hated her? So, in she bounced, clapping her hands and hopping about with a more enthusiasm than any one person should be allowed to generate, let alone subject others to. The woman did everything with a bounce or a hop. Every step, every movement, everything. I believe I mentioned I hated her.

And that was before she began to torture us.

There was no warm up. Not for me, at any rate. For the 15-20 women who looked as if they could teach the class, I’m sure it was an actual warm up. For the 5-10 of us who actually looked like we needed the class, we hit the ground running and our poor little hearts just never had the chance to catch up.

I have never known such pain in my life, outside of child-bearing, which did not, for the most part, require the use of the muscles in my legs that are now crying for mercy at every turn, bend, and lift. About a fifth of the way through, my legs began to burn. A fourth of the way through, they were quivering. A third of the way through, I abandoned all pride and walked past the entire class and declared my not-in-shapeness by trading my weights for a lighter set, so as to not collapse before we even got to the half-way point. When faced with the choice between shaming myself and dying, I decided shame was an option I was much more comfortable with, and, quite frankly, much more used to.

My only consolation was that I was not the only one who couldn’t keep up. The 40-year-old and the 50-year-old and the one that was 50 pounds overweight couldn’t either. It was a small comfort, but a comfort nonetheless. At least I was not alone.

I struggled through the best I could, trying to keep up whenever possible while also trying to not pass out or throw up. Finally, we got to the cool down, which really was a cool down, and I laid there on the floor, sweaty and panting and weak, and nearly cried. I hate working out. I hate it with a passion. I love sitting. Sitting and reading, sitting and writing, sitting. Walking and hiking are okay, but only if they include or culminate in sitting. Physical exertion is just not my thing.

At home, when I work out with the weights, I have to confess that I often do conclude my workout with tears—partially because the point at which I reach cool down coincides with a couple of songs on my Rita Springer CD that just really move me, but, to be honest, I really am crying because I hate what I’m doing and I know I have no choice and I hate that I have no choice. And I feel weak and spent and tired. Tired of the fight, tired of the pushing through, tired of the work out that is the life-long battle with my body. And so I cry. Usually. But not today.

Today, I pull my sweaty, quivering body up off the floor and go to pick up my son from childcare, who literally wants picked up. I try to explain to him that if Momma picks him up she will die, but he doesn’t understand. He throws himself on the floor, his mere 25 pounds mocking me, but considering I’ve just tortured myself, I refuse to take the bait. I coax his whiney body out to the car where my yogurt smoothie is waiting and I chug it down so that I can muster the wherewithal to drive home and remain conscious. And I wonder all the way back what the heck I’ve gotten myself into.

I went to the class willingly. I did this to myself. I’d say I don’t know what on earth I was thinking, but I really do. I was thinking about ten more pounds, about maintaining the monumental amount lost, about burning fat and building strength and all sorts of that horrible, torturous stuff they tell me is good for my body yet feels like crap. I know, in my intellect, that it is good to be strong, to be healthy, to be fit. I just wish it felt as good as sitting.

So, I suppose, in this case, that it is true—that which doesn’t kill me will make me stronger.

The problem is, I’m not entirely certain that it won’t kill me…

finally approaching a well-watered place

Bless our God, oh peoples!
Give him a thunderous welcome!
Didn’t he set us on the road to life?
Didn’t he keep us out of the ditch?
He trained us first,
passed us like silver through refining fires,
Brought us into hardscrabble country,
pushed us to our very limit,
Road-tested us inside and out,
took us to hell and back;
Finally he brought us
to this well-watered place.

Psalm 66, The Message

Sunday, September 11, 2005

My daughter's quilt...

P9114333, originally uploaded by as we see it. finally finished. She had the great idea of making her week at Grandma's this summer a "Quilt Camp." They had a great time and she took part in every bit of the process. Then my mother had the great idea of sending the unfinished project home with my daughter for ME to finish. I don't know what the heck she was thinking--the woman KNOWS me. I don't finish things well. She's asked my daughter EVERY week since then, "Does Momma have your quilt done yet?" I began resorting to high school tactics to get her off my back... "Almost," I would answer, as it sat in the bag, untouched. I didn't really lie... it was almost done.

So, at any rate, TWO MONTHS LATER, her first quilt is complete. She drew all the pictures herself, picked out all the fabrics, sewed it and tied it, and Momma (finally) basted the edges. At least, I think I basted the edges. I can't remember, for the life of me, what that two-hour-long tedious process is actually called in the quilting world. I sewed it all up good, at any rate!

If you're ever over, be sure to check it out! We did a great job!

Friendship Girls Overnight

P9104277, originally uploaded by as we see it.

Thirty first grade girls and their mothers, and a multitude of horses and various other smelly creatures... campfires and smores and hayrides and barn dances... bunk beds and sleeping bags and sleeping aids so as to actually SLEEP... friendships developed, both young and old alike.

A good time was had by all!

Friday, September 09, 2005


I haven’t watched a single bit of the news about the hurricane. I check the headlines when I check my email, but I have not been able to bring myself to sit, glued to the television, for hours on end. Between the obvious, heart-wrenching devastation and the nauseating political posturing, it is just more than I can bear to subject myself to.

When 9/11 happened, I was glued to the television, around the clock, for days, if not weeks. I can’t do it again. I sobbed for days—depression lingered for months. I don’t expect you to feel sorry for me. I lost nothing that day. But I felt it all, nonetheless.

Africa. India. China. Indonesia. South America. New Orleans. I avoid them, shamefully looking away, shielding my heart from the contagiousness of their suffering. Shielding my heart from feeling what they feel—from feeling, indeed, at all.

I’ve lived my life this way for far too long—partially a result of the fear of man that plagues me from time to time, whispering in my ear, again, that I am “too much.” The sensitivity I feel is too much for myself sometimes, let alone those who don’t understand it. But more directly it is a result of conditioning over time—a child whose hand has been burned is not quick to work at the stove again. Self-protection has taught me to turn down the dial on the emotional burner to “low” in an effort not to repeat injury. Movies, news, reality—all avoided in an effort to protect my heart and maintain the illusion that it is whole.

But the truth is, I really want my heart to be broken—for friends, for children, for the poor, the lost, the needy. For orphans in Africa and victims of the sex slave trade in Central America and refugees from all walks of life, including my own. For friends in hard marriages and friends without marriages and friends who just can’t get their heads above water. For clients and coworkers and co-laborers in Christ—I want to lay my heart before the Lord and ask, Here it is. Please break it as yours is broken.

But oh, the risk in that prayer. Can I really bear to have the heart of Christ for the world? I can hardly bear having the heart of Christ for my own children, let alone a big, miserable globe full of them, hearts broken, bodied broken, lives broken. Wounds that will not heal. I have not asked yet, I am ashamed to say. But you’ll know when I do.

Believe me, you’ll know when I do…

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

broken hearts and wayward balloons

I thought it was tied to his wrist. At second glance, there was, indeed, still remnants of the ribbon tied securely in place, but somehow it had gotten severed getting him out of the carseat. The balloon was gone before I could do anything about it. Crap, I thought, this is just great. I decided to try a chipper approach, hoping to affect his response for the better. "Look, bud! There goes your balloon! It's going to fly away!" Chipper didn't work.

He looked at it, dumbfounded for a moment as it became smaller and smaller. The confusion on his face began to turn downward as the realization of what just happened sank in. "I want it to come back," he cried, tentatively at first. "I want it to come back!" As the full impact of the loss hit his two-and-a-half-year-old heart, he began to sob. "Get it, Momma! Get it!" If only I could.

I rubbed his heaving little back, feeling the full impact of his sorrow against my chest. I struggled not to tear up, all the while recognizing it is not rational for me to tear up about my son's lost balloon. But this is how motherhood is for me. Lost balloons and skinned knees and missed parties and hurtful words on the playground--I feel them all.

I try to tell myself that it is only natural that a child who felt things deeply would grow to be an adult who feels things just as deeply. Despite many years spent trying not to feel at all, I cannot deny who I am. I cannot deny that my heart breaks for broken hearts and wayward balloons, for invitations not received and parties canceled due to illness, for disappointments and unmet expectations and things just not being fair. Their hearts break, and mine breaks with them.

We watch the balloon until we can no longer find its blue against the clear September sky. I wipe his tears, and we go inside to put the groceries away, resolving to be sure the next balloon is still attached next time. This wound will heal. Thank you, Lord, that this wound will heal.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

bad day at work

Some days, it is all I can do to not curl up next to a client on the couch and draw them into my lap like I do my daughter, stroking their hair and letting them cry until they are spent. Some days, it is all I can do not to go after their fathers, their mothers, their husbands, their wives, their boyfriends, their babysitters, their classmates and wring justice from them like a sponge. Some days, it is all I can do to look them in the eye and answer, “I don’t know why God allowed ______________ to happen to you/your husband/your father/your daughter, but it sure sucks.” Some days, it is all I can do not to go charging up to God’s front door and bang on it until it opens, demanding those answers myself.

Some days, it is all I can do not to hang up the towel and believe that I have nothing to offer these people. And so I sit with them in their pain and I cry out to God for the sins committed against them and I offer to them all that I have that is worth offering and they take it or they leave it. Grace. Forgiveness. Repentance. Peace. Acceptance. Salvation. God.

Some days, it is all I can do.

Monday, September 05, 2005

as but in a mirror dimly...

I used to think truth was eternal, that one I knew, once I saw, it would be with me forever, a constant by which everything else could be measured. I know now that this isn't so, that most truths are inherently unretainable, that we have to work hard all our lives to remember the most basic things. Society is no help. It tells us again and again that we can most be ourselves by acting and looking like someone else, only to leave our original faces behind to turn into ghosts that will inevitably resent and haunt us. As I sat there in the cafe, it suddenly occurred to me that it is no mistake when sometimes in films and literature the dead know they are dead only after being offered that most irrefutable proof: they can no longer see themselves in the mirror.

Lucy Grealy, Autobiography of a Face

official results

10th in his age bracket...

...and 27th out of 270!

Top 10%!

"Way ta go, I-da-HO!"


My hubby ran his 5K today--first race he's run since HS. His goal was to break 21 minutes and finish in the top third. His time is above, and we think he actually made the top quarter. "I'm beat--but that was AWESOME!" he panted from beyond the finish line with a big ol' smile on his face. Way to go, babe.

Almost two hundred runners, only one person wins. But the funny thing is this-- for all I could tell, only about ten of them were running to WIN. The rest of them were running to run--running to beat not the guy in front of them, but to beat the voice inside themselves that said they couldn't do it. Ten-year-old girls, 60-year-old women, 75-year old men, all excited just to finish the race and possibly beat their own best time.

I will never run a 5K. I will never win the Noble Peace Prize for literature. I will never receive a Caldecott or a Newbury. For all I know, I may never even be published in my lifetime, or ever. There are many "prizes" in this world that will never be within my reach... but if I can beat the voice in my head that says You can't do it, I will have won all that is worth winning.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 2 Cor 9:24

Friday, September 02, 2005


The pond is almost pretty in the morning light, steam sliding across its silvery surface. Somewhere near the middle, ripples reflect early morning rays—sunlight in its liquid form. The shocking-blue expanse of sky is wide and clear and bright—it is officially going to be a beautiful day.

Along the gray-gravel path, purple something-or-others line up next to white something-or-others next to yellow something-or-others, all against a backdrop comprised of at least six hues of rich, deep green. A blue swallowtail falteringly flutters by, a broken corner of its wing revealing the reason for its plight. We ooh and aah at the striking-ness of iridescent blue on black, and I coax it for but a moment onto my finger, before it falters away again.

The morning is, indeed, beautiful. Normally, such mornings bring great joy to me, especially now that they are growing more temperate again. But all I can think of, as my feet crunch-crunch-crunch in their steady pace along the path, is how much I still hate to do what I’m there to do.

I find no joy in exercise, particularly when done alone, and I must further confess that I think all of those who do are weird, sadistic freaks at the very least. I don’t get it. My husband is one of those freaks. He’s running a 5K on Labor Day. He runs for fun. I run if I’m being chased, say, by a bear or an attacker. Needless to say, fortunately, I don’t do much running.

I try not to think about walking, pressing my pace, pushing my son, prodding myself to go another lap around the pond. I catch a whiff of an almost-fall smell and I am momentarily distracted, caught up in warm autumn-glow thoughts of the upcoming change of seasons. I try not to think about the discomfort, the resistance, the sheer boredom of it all. I try to think, instead, of nearly 70 pounds lost and five more to go. It is enough to make me keep walking, but never enough to make me enjoy it.

I round a corner, entering the two-thirds of the trail that are blessedly embraced by cool, tender shade. The breeze caresses my sweat-streaked face, kindly and gently reviving me if but for a moment. I assure my son that we will NOT go around the pond again, all the while feeling a twinge of guilt for not wanting to.

We conclude our morning by feeding the inhabitants of the pond—whole wheat bread because Josie told us that white bread is bad for ducks, and we are fresh out of cracked corn. It is my son’s reward for doing absolutely nothing but enjoy the ride that my manpower provided, and for doing it quietly. He quickly develops a rhythm—charging me for the morsels I dole out sparingly as the ducks follow at his heels, hungry for the entire loaf. Then he turns, charging the water, and the ducks momentarily scatter, then quickly swarm the two-foot radius around his body where his throwing reach extends. The pattern continues until our hands are empty.

This back and forth—it is where I have lived with my weight, with food, with exercise. I vacillate between wanting to sit in the grass with them all gathered around me, eating out of my hand, saying “Can’t we all just coexist without fear and stampeding?” and longing to cast it all out into the middle of the pond where they can never snap at my toes again. I don’t want to exercise. I have to. For the rest of my life. My husband says, in his “well, DUH” kind of way, that we all do. I think he’s mocking me. I don’t want to accept his statement. I try to anyway. I long to like exercise, to not merely tolerate it or, worse, view it as torture.

Bread gone, the ducks retreat, muttering under their breath about the lack of cracked corn. I watch them go, my anxious thoughts leaving with them. Another day down, an undetermined number yet to go. I will take them one beautiful, bright-blue morning at a time, praying for the day I finally wake up and think, “I can’t wait to work out today.”

Thursday, September 01, 2005

interesting question...

"Language supplies us with ways to express ever subtler levels of meaning, but does that imply language gives meaning, or robs us of it when we are at a loss to name things?"

Lucy Grealy, Autobiography of a Face
(Which, I might add, is an incredibly good read.)