Monday, March 31, 2008


They come to gymnastics in their designer jeans teetering on designer high-heeled shoes, their designer sunglasses perched atop their designer dye-and-straighten jobs. They are pushing designer strollers wearing designer coats and toting designer purses filled with designer snacks and water bottles. Twelve carat designer rings perch above meticulously-done designer nails, and their equally meticulous make-up matches their accessories which match their outfits which match their shoes which match their purses which match their diaper bags which match their strollers which match the interiors of their color-coordinated, designer SUVs. And they look fabulous. Because, of course, it is terribly important to look fabulous when you are sitting at the gym or running to McDonald’s and the grocery and the library. Of course.

I hear them as I read, sitting off to the side, still in my work-out clothes. They discuss make-up brands, Coach purses, Grey’s Anatomy, which local pool is the best, where you simply HAVE to stay at Walt Disney World. They wobble down the bleachers in their three-inch heels and make their way back to their cookie-cutter designer houses, where they will cook name-brand macaroni and cheese in their designer finery and watch TV all day and night in between picking up the kids from school and doing loads of their children’s designer laundry. They have no interests. They have no hobbies. They have no personalities. They are vanilla. Rich, expensive vanilla, but vanilla, nonetheless.

It’s not that I don’t like these women. Truly. I just don’t know how to relate to these women. I mean, I can talk about sofa upholstery for 45 minutes if I really have to, but if I don’t really HAVE to, why on earth would I WANT to? And truth be told, I’d really rather use my 45 minutes of uninterrupted time to read or write than to do anything, and I do mean ANYTHING else these days (except, perhaps, eat chocolate), so it isn’t such a big deal to sit here and try not to overhear their trivial conversations.

But then, despite my best efforts to focus my attention elsewhere, there is that strange tension between complete disdain and childish jealousy that develops, twisting itself around my thought life and breeding rampant sarcasm. There is truly nothing within me that wants to BE these women—but if I’m really honest, I sure wouldn’t mind some of the designer accoutrements. And I find that it is, unfortunately, easier and much more fun to be judgmental than to sit here feeling jealous.

Another woman comes and sits down near me—and I immediately notice she is similarly curly-headed, which is delightfully shocking in this day and age. She, too, is made up and well-heeled, but I am intrigued by her obviously hand-crafted jewelry, her bright, unusual clothing, her pile of books with her. She is studying Korean—to test for her black belt, I find out as I begin talking with her. I listen to her talk about her days as a champion collegiate hurdler, about how boring aerobics is so she needed a challenge, about running marathons and teaching yoga and entertaining local celebrities. I am smug with self-satisfaction at my new-found friend. She is not vanilla—she is Jeni’s Thai Chili, Salty Caramel, Queen City Cayenne. Finally, there is some flavor!

We talk for ten minutes and she never asks me a single thing about myself. I am perplexed and put out at first. And then it finally dawns on me—SHE thinks I’M vanilla.

Designer irony. And, wouldn't ya know, it doesn't match a single thing I'm wearing...

five and nine

My Girlie-Girl, after finding the horse barn Grandad made for her.
I tried last night to talk her into staying eight for another year, but she would have no part in it...

Buster Brown in a submarine at his fifth birthday party in February.

easter at my folks'

My Mom made the quilt above the mantle... pretty impressive, eh?

Friday, March 28, 2008

Thursday, March 27, 2008

more martha hiaku

still struggling to find/make time to write, but i will figure it out. managed to write these during my quiet time last night:

can't sit still

sitting at your feet
doesn't come naturally--
can't we walk instead?

kp duty

i putz around in
the kitchen while you are there,
patiently waiting

duties, desires--
all my own, warring within...
i've not chosen well

up to my elbows
in my own mess, i beg thee:
teach me the "one thing"

Monday, March 17, 2008


(subtitled: Did I Step In Something?)

"The first thing I must be willing to admit when I begin to examine what controls and dominates me is that I am the one responsible for having yielded myself to whatever it may be... There is no power within the human soul itself that is capable of breaking the bondage of the nature created by yielding... No release or escape from it will ever come from any human power, but only through the power of redemption. You must yield yourself in utter humiliation to the only One who can break the dominating power in your life... It is easy to sing 'He will break every fetter,' while at the same time living a life of obvious slavery to yourself. But yielding to Jesus will break every kind of slavery in any person's life."

Excerpted from My Utmost For His Highest, March 14

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

the final 28

76. I am surprised I might actually FINISH this list of 103 things you may not know about me.

77. I get chronic headaches--just about every day of my life. I have one right now. It hurts.

78. I am an Air Force Brat.

79. I have had to move because of Emminent Domain. There is now a turnpike exhange in the spot where I grew up.

80. While I don't enjoy working out, I DO enjoying walking and biking. WITH other people...

81. I don't like to be alone.

82. Correction. I DO like to be alone sometimes. Like when I'm trying to go to the bathroom. Or read a recipe. Or follow directions to something. Or need just one flippin' moment of peace and quiet FOR CRYIN' OUT LOUD!!!

83. I regularly thank God for my heated mattress cover and flannel sheets.

84. I need them because I USED to be hot all the time, but now, even though I've weighed this weight before and never been cold, I am cold ALL THE TIME since I've lost weight.

85. I want to take art classes. All kinds. I want to learn how to throw a pot, and make batik, and enamel stuff, and paint, and...

86. I sang my first solo in church when I was in first grade. I was hooked.

87. When I was a kid and was somewhere boring, I would count how many circles I could find in the room.

88. When I was older, I graduated to very complicated doodling. I'll post a picture of one later. I was known in grad school for my doodling, of all things...

89. I DON'T doodle in session.

90. I'm running out of ideas.

91. Every time I watch my daughter do gymnastics, I'm convinced she's going to break her neck. Now she's going to be on a team. I'm going to need a nerve pill, I think...

92. My head still hurts.

93. I attended my first writing conference when I was in third grade. You can read about it here.

94. I furrow my eyebrows when I'm thinking. Everyone thinks I'm mad.

95. I'm not.

96. I constantly tense my shoulders. Since I sat down at the computer, I've had to relax my shoulders at least seven times. I just had to do it again.

97. I am part German, part English, and part Hillbilly.

98. When I get tired or am around my grandmother (or her family), I develop a drawl.

99. I also like to go barefoot, say "y'all," and call people "folks."

100. I love live music. Especially jazz.

101. If I lived in the city, I'd stay up all night with a telescope looking in people's windows. I'm terribly nosy!

102. When we went to NYC and I couldn't sleep, I did just that!

103. I'm going to go take some more aspirin and go to bed.

104. Oh, and I'm an overachiever, too...

105. I always have to do more than is asked, because more is always better.

106. But I also know when it's time to quit and go to bed. Good night!

Saturday, March 08, 2008

snow daze

Got at least a foot in the last 24 hours--some of the drifts are as tall as my little guy!
Tell me again why we live here?!?!

After hearing our stories about the blizzard of '78, the kids were thrilled to get to build their OWN snow "fort!"

Friday, March 07, 2008

today's lesson is brought to you by the letter "D"

Today, my sensitive, spirited daughter learned the "D-word." Curled up in her booster seat, she sniffled noisily as I maneuvered my way through the slush-covered streets. We were supposed to be headed somewhere else, but because of the snow, we were headed home. My heart broke for her, but there was nothing I could do.

Disappointment. Today, he and my daughter became well-acquainted.

Selections for district speech meet representatives were made in January. One child for each category from each class. "I really hope I get picked this year, Momma," she confided one night. And so I helped her prepare. Every night we rehearsed, and, sure enough, she came home beeming one afternoon. It was the first year she'd been selected, and she was as pleased as punch with herself, as she should have been. I was thrilled for her and frightened for her at the same time. If all went well, it would be a great experience. If not, well...

And so it was that I was prepared for her to forget a line or fumble a sentence, but was not prepared for the weather. Speech meet was cancelled, in the midst of a midwestern snow storm, not to be rescheduled. I came into the classroom to pick her up, and her nose was red. She held it together until we got out to the hall. "They aren't going to re-do it, Momma," she cried into my coat. "I'm not going to get to go. I worked so hard, and now I don't get to do it."

I teared up for her then, just as I do again, now. This is a hard lesson for a third-grader to learn. It is a hard one for a tender-hearted mother to watch, as well. We curled up on her bed at home, the colorful outfit we'd negotiated the night before now splotched with her tears, and I let her cry herself out. "Mrs. Smith told me it was nothing to cry about," she sobbed. I sat her up and turned her toward me.

"You listen to me, Sweetpea," I said. "This time, Honey, your teacher is WRONG. This is the PERFECT thing to cry about, and you can cry all you need to, do you understand?" She nodded, burying her head in my shoulder again. "This is a very disappointing thing, and it is perfectily okay to be sad. Don't let anybody tell you differently, Baby."

I waited for a break in her emotion, and I went on. "But here's the thing, Sweetie. You be sad now while you're sad, and you get all that sad out. But then you've got to take all that sad, and you've got to put it all in your hands, and you've got to give it to Jesus. And you've got to tell him, 'Jesus, I'm so sad. Will you please help me not to be sad anymore?' And then you've got to choose to stop being sad, and focus on what's next. Be sad all you need to right now, Honey. But in a little bit, we need to give it to Jesus, so you won't need to be sad anymore."

She looked up at me and nodded, and in a few minutes looked up again and said, "I'm ready to be done being sad now, Momma." And so we took that sad, and we placed it at the foot of the cross, and we got up, and we went sledding.

Disappointment is painful, but it is not fatal. Perhaps she and I will learn that one together, as we both continue to grow up. Perhaps our hearts will toughen up, perhaps not. But at least she is learning where to go with that tender heart to receive peace. I pray that THIS lesson is the one that sticks in her mind the most.

Asleep now, after a night of movies and dancing and chocolate, she looks like a contended angel. I am cautiously relieved. We made it through the evening. And though I would have given anything to see her recite her poem, I have never been more proud of her than I am at this moment.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008


51. In addition, I carry five different shades of tinted lip balm in my purse.

52. I also carry bandaids, ointment, sanitizer, lotion, toiletries, cough drops, aspirin, a mirror, and a nail file.

53. I don't use any of them.

54. I would argue that James Taylor is quite possibly one of the greatest songwriters of all time.

55. My favorite classical composers are Vivaldi and Aaron Copland.

56. I have sung the Carmina Burana with the Indianapolis Symphony. It ROCKS.

57. I have sung the Mozart Requiem with the Toledo Symphony. It's pretty darn good, too.

58. I can sing the alto part of Handel's Hallelujah Chorus by memory. I've sung the Messiah approximately seven or eight times.

59. One can never get tired of singing the Messiah.

60. One can, however, probably get tired of hearing it.

61. I cannot be trusted alone in a book store.

62. I dream in color.

63. I consistently use up all the hot water when I take a shower. It is the best place in the world to sing...

64. I've remained married for fifteen years DESPITE the fact that I always use up all the hot water.


66. I have managed to remain married for fifteen years despite the fact that my husband IS.

67. I never could understand why my mother couldn't have me an OLDER brother.

68. I love photography. I tend to look at the world as if I am composing a shot. It can tend to get annoying--especially when you frame a GREAT shot and don't have your camera!

69. I have had the West Nile Virus.

70. I still don't understand who the heck thought Jesus and all his men were going to get fed if Martha weren't in the kitchen...

71. I relate more, unfortunately, with the older brother than with the prodigal son.

72. I love to read the Epistles.

73. My favorite book of all time is Hind's Feet on High Places. I prayed for years to be transformed into "Grace and Glory," only to find out many years later that Lorie means "Glorious Victory" and Anne means "Grace." I'd been Grace and Glory all along...

74. I do not often live, unfortunately, as if my name were Grace and Glory. Or Victorious, for that matter.

75. But I am working on it....

a martha haiku

I will be studying Martha for a while--I hope you'll enjoy reading about her!

Lord, where is the time
in the midst of the urgent
to sit at your feet?

How do I choose the
better over that which is
true necessity?

And how do I find
you in the bills and battles
and betime routines?

Sunday, March 02, 2008


25. I could eat pizza for every meal. And sometimes I have.

26. I have also been known to eat an entire plate of chocolate chip cookies for dinner.

27. I have, despite a fear of heights and falling, climbed three mountains. And I would do it again in a heartbeat.

28. I have been "saved" at least 12 times. I lost track somewhere around Jr. High...

29. I work out an average of five times per week. I HATE IT.

30. After a decade of trying to make my naturally curly hair "feather," I made an inner vow to never blow dry my hair again. And I haven't.

31. If I ever won the lottery, I would get a tummy tuck. Suffice it to say that pregnancy was not kind.

32. I am a compulsive shell-picker-upper. You don't want to go to the beach with me, unless you like to do so, as well. (And if that's the case, stay out of my way!)

33. I read Calvin and Hobbes religiously while it was in print. It is my favorite cartoon of all time.

34. I've been in every state east of the Mississippi, and a handful west.

35. We have a goal to see all fifty states before our youngest graduates from college.

36. When I was pregnant with my youngest, I craved Chipotle incessantly. I went at least twice a week, and for the entire last month of my pregnancy they gave me my food for free because they were afraid I'd give birth in their dining room!

37. I love to hike. We do so several times a month. My oldest can do eight to ten miles, and my youngest just made it to two or three.

38. I love to camp. As long as there is a real bed, a real toilet, and a real shower.

39. I am still close friends with the first friend I made in kindergarten, despite the fact that he lived in Japan for ten years.

40. I collect rocks. And shells. And handblown glass ornaments. And "blue things." And artsy cat knick knacks.

41. Apparently, I collect collections.

42. I am running out of shelf space.

43. I don't have cable, and you can't make me get it.

44. My 20th high school reunion is this fall. I am actually looking forward to it. But now that I've typed that, I realize that I'm also scared to death about it...

45. I wish I'd started using Mary Kay about ten years sooner.

46. When I was fifteen, I told my boyfriend's mother I could see myself working at a church, talking to people about their problems, and praying for them. So I went to college and majored in music. Fifteen years later, God reminded me of this conversation, as I sat in my office at the church, counseling people and praying for them.

47. Music was just the first of five majors. I still graduated in four years, and still minored in vocal performance. (I was also one credit hour short of a minor in French.)

48. My husband had ONE major, decided upon it when he was in late elementary school, graduated, and worked in that field for over 15 years. I don't understand that for the life of me...

49. I have known my husband now for longer than I didn't know him.

50. I always carry in my purse chapstick, cinnamon gum, a pen and paper, and a snack. I will not carry anything for you, so don't ask me.

More (perhaps) to come at another time!