Tuesday, October 01, 2013

One Small Change

I don't know if any of you read Addie Zierman's blog, but it's one of my current favorites. I have found her series One Small Change so helpful for a person like me who is trying to be more conscientious about wasteful habits.
In that spirit, I'm happy to introduce yet another way to reduce, reuse, recycle!  Linda, my talented friend and sister (her story is amazing, by the way) has made these adorable re-usable and washable produce bags that make my Walmart cart look so stylish. I was pretty sure that people were going to come up to me and ask to be my best friend based solely on my produce bags. (they didn't. their loss.) You can get your own right here!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

I Am From

Playing along with SheLoves Magazine today.

I am from one bath towel-a-week, from tuna casserole and Betsy-Tacy Books
I am from the small suburban brick home with a 1960's size backyard, room enough for 4 cars, a basketball court or a roller-skating rink
I am from cool-Clinique Aromatics scented air
I am from the redbud trees and the rose bushes
The climbing tree outside my parents window whose long gone limbs I remember as if they were my own

I'm from "DINNER!" and crying laughing
from Alice and Fay
I'm from leaning back on arms folded behind my head and singing harmony
and from prayer meetings
I'm from "others may, you may not" and "be careful for nothing" and "my friend the little sparrow..."
I'm from "It only takes a spark"
I'm from Texas
And the heavenlies
From fish frys and bran muffins and barley green
From rushing to practice the piano to get out of doing the dishes and Volkswagons and musicals and scared sleepless
and my mother in her chair every morning praying in the dark

Where are you from? 

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Bill sums up the Bible in about 300 words.

When Jesus was growing up, he gathered with other Jews to reflect on their heritage and hope, to hear the old stories about their ancestors. The world had begun in rebellion to God, who chose Abraham, who passed his faith down to Isaac and Jacob, whose descendants became slaves in Egypt, a multitude, crying out for deliverance, until God sent Moses, who led that multitude back into Jacob's land, Israel, where they struggled and grew into a great nation. God chose King David, a man after God's heart, and David built Jerusalem and worshiped God there. But inevitably Israel grew more rebellious than obedient. There was wickedness and revival, wealth and poverty, exile and return. Through it all, these words appeared over the doorways of Jewish homes through the centuries: "Hear, O Israel, The Lord God is One. You should love God with all of your heart, all your soul, all your mind, all your strength." Now, the most peculiar thing about Jesus was that he seemed to obey that commandment more completely than everyone else, but he was not harsh or self-righteous about his superior sensibility. By his unique nature and by his advancing devotion, Jesus developed into a superior position with God that made him truly humble, and then God called Jesus to begin his challenging ministry. But Jesus' message was too radical for the Judean authorities, who appealed to their Roman Governor, Pontius Pilate, so that Jesus was crucified on a cross outside Jerusalem. Within days, Jesus' followers began saying they'd seen him returned from death, and the movement that should have been crushed quickly grew by the thousands, spreading out from Judea to the rest of the world, believers like Peter and Paul spread the message and raised up gatherings of "christ-ones", who believed that Jesus was once more alive and whole on the earth, by his Spirit, dwelling within them. Thus, now as then, Israel's hope stands fulfilled as often as Christ multiplies in the midst of God's people, who reveal Jesus, God's magnificence, both to earth and the heavens.

-Bill Heroman

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Tents are hard.

Summer is over. 

It has been beautiful. I can't be too sad because I feel so rested and enriched and...re-set.

Last year was undoubtedly the busiest, most hectic year I have experienced to date.

Because of last year I have:

Become an expert in logistics.
Learned how to deal with setbacks.
Learned how to work hard and stay focused when I really want to just crash.
Learned that I don't have to cry when it gets too hard.
But if I do cry, nothing changes really, except that I cried about it. And that's ok. There are worse things than crying.
Learned how to find joy in practicing self-control.
Learned that I can actually lose weight! (20 pounds, and kept them off! That means I can do more!) 
Learned that I can comfort myself when I get stressed, rather than depending on someone to tell me "it's all going to be ok."  
Learned not to believe everything I think.
Learned to say "no" to things and not feel guilty. (sometimes) 
Learned that doing things I don't want to do often leads to enjoying more of the things I can do. (Why shouldn't I be capable of more? Why sell myself short?) 

Learning all of this and more was not easy. At all. It was very difficult. And I think that might have been the greatest lesson. I can do the hard stuff. I have had to do so much that I did NOT want to do. But I did it. Sometimes I did it joyfully and sometimes, not so much.

But I am better for it.

In the summertime, in Florida, I remembered how to rest. When we hit the brakes and all the activities stopped, I didn't know what to do with myself. I got to my sister's house and after a fabulous trip, the kids and I stayed with her for 3 weeks. I began to acclimate to a different pace.  I slept 8 hours a night and took a 2 hour nap every day. I read or we went to the beach, or wandered the historic district. We laughed together a lot and drank wine and ate well and were happy. I learned how to keep a slower pace and restore sanity. Just remembering that time fills me with gratefulness. I managed that pace here at home (in spite of chores and feedings and household things) for a while, until the camps started.

In the last month the pace has gradually been increasing and with a new job and carpool complications due to my new schedule, I have been worried. Dreading the pinch of another school year like the last. But you know what? It isn't going to be last year. I am going to take what I've learned and apply it. I'm not going to let my life slip away from me. Last year- burning, hectic, heartbreaking at times and wild- was a building year. Those bricks aren't going to fall down under me. I will continue to build, continue to learn, continue to grow and continue to do hard things.

By the grace of God,
and a large helping of gumption.

Here we go. 

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Christian Feminism: My first post on that topic. Even though I don't really mention Jesus.

My fourteen year old son has been telling me about film camp and the movie they produced. The very first thing he said about the movie a few days ago was "We passed the Bechdel test!"  

While he was writing the script, he went to the director and mentioned the above quote and then told the kid that he would like to make one of the female characters the hero of the story. Hooray! As an aside, he also mentioned that there was a boy there telling all these really bad jokes. One of which was:

Q:"What's worse than a bee sting?"
A: "Women's Rights."
Q: " What's worse than Women's Rights?"
A: "Two bee stings."

I was shocked (possibly naively) asked him how that joke would sound with "Women" replaced by a word such as "African Americans" or "Children."

It's my own fault. It's who I follow on twitter and subscribe to in my feeds. It's stirring and stirring and will no longer be ignored, no matter how much I tell myself that it. is. a. rabbit. hole. and that I don't have the time or effort to apply to understanding it, and if I don't understand or fully comprehend it and do something about it then I have no right to feel or talk about it. 

Funny how my self-talk is the antithesis of all that is rumbling inside me. The argument is lazy. It's easy. Frankly, it's embarrassing to admit that the reason I haven't read and pursued these issues (at present the three front runners are Feminism, Human Trafficking and Hunger) in the past is because I just can't imagine how I'm going to manage to SAVE ALL THE PEOPLE. Because that's what it means when you understand a problem, right? You have to do something about it.

I am afraid to post these things because I judge myself harshly on the whole "practice what you preach" issue. But  maybe I don't have to write books and preach sermons. I evidently have instilled some of this into my son without much preaching. Maybe I'm not the next Tillie Burgin.  Maybe I just live it. It's not large scale. It's not earth shattering. But it's where I am. My mantra for right now is:
Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.
On that note, here are some links to good sources:

Sarah Bessey is a fav and this is one of many good articles on Christian Feminism.

As is Addie Zierman's series One Small Change is freeing, eye opening and a relief to women like me who want to do something, but hesitate because it feels so "all or nothing."

Danielle Vermeer's blog is also wonderful

and of course, Rachel Held Evans. Bless her.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

We Looked and Looked.

Kids in the car at 3 am. 
A fill-up and the Harlem Shake at 3:15am. 

That's just how we roll when we feel happy. 

I know every one says that west Texas is a boring wasteland, but we were fascinated by all the space. You could look and look and still see horizon in all directions. As the sun broke over the eastern rim, the landscape began to separate and roughen. The colors turned into muted gray versions of green and pink and blue. We looked and looked. 

We crossed over into New Mexico where the earth turned red and craggy and the sky dazzled.  We looked and looked thinking that we had already seen more than we could imagine possible in 5 hours of driving. 

We took the scenic route into Santa Fe, and wedged between tall hills were hidden adobe homes, scrub and rocks. We looked and looked. 

Suddenly, snow and pine trees. Out of NOWHERE. We kept having to roll down the windows because we were fogging them up with our looking. 

Then the two most recent landscapes merged, and we were back in the dust and scrub, but were looking at snowy mountains.  All the space my Texas born heart could desire but with mountains crowning the edges of it and my soul grew. 

We went to bed that night, tired and eyes-full and even when I closed them to sleep the landscape stayed with me. I know why artists live there. The colors and shapes burn themselves into your retinas and you can't help but want to echo back a grateful response. 

"And if I were a painter I do not know which I'd paint 
The calling of the ancient stars or assembling of the saints 
And there's so much beauty around us for just two eyes to see 
But everywhere I go I'm looking"  
-Rich Mullins

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Raising Children.

When I found out that Van Cliburn died, I was sad. My dad was out of town, but when he got home, I asked him about it. As it turns out, Dad had known him from 2-11th grade. His cousin  "ran with the crowd Van was in" more during high school, but they were friends. He said he played with him after school, but only for 30 minutes because he had to go in and practice after that. I asked dad if he ever complained about having to practice. "No. Nope, not ever."

This gives me comfort. 

Van Cliburn was a single minded man. And apparently, a single minded child.

My daughter is fairly that way.  She may not be the Van Cliburn of the dance world, but oh, she loves to dance. She is not the best in her group, not the most perfect, but she rarely stops. She does situps on Sundays for crying out loud. I push her to be better, but I also back way off if I can tell that it's overwhelming her. The son is slightly more versatile in his interests, but is serious about film making. He asks me for feedback and I give it. Sometimes it's harsh. Sometimes it's 100% cheerleading.

Sometimes corrections by teachers feel too severe. It's hard to comfort a child who is being challenged to be better at something. Really, how do we do that? Stop the correction they are getting in their lives? Heaven forbid! But it's tough on them. I want to comfort them, want to make their ache and mine on their behalf go away. I have to consider very carefully the balance between respecting authority and comforting internal wounds.

Every day I question our parenting. Every day. Are we doing too much? Am I one of "those parents?" Are we doing too little? Is one getting more support than the other? I start to sweat, thinking about how I have the potential to "wreck" these lives, but then I remember, who better than us? Who could love them and know them more than us? As long as I am checking on their emotional and physical health each day, and reflecting on their response to what has been said and done, I think things will be ok. If the kids are not doing well and are unhappy, then we will change the schedule, shift the focus, push less/more, cheerlead less/more.
 I've seen enough children grow up to know that there is no way to 100% predict what the adult will be. Really, if they grow up to be thoughtful and polite, I feel that's no small accomplishment. For today, the kids are alright. As far as tomorrow goes, who can tell? We just keep moving forward.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

On Fear and Prayer

“Our struggle is--isn't it?--to achieve and retain faith on a lower level. To believe that there is a Listener at all. For as the situation grows more and more desperate, the grisly fears intrude. Are we only talking to ourselves in an empty universe? The silence is often so emphatic. And we have prayed so much already” 

In the struggle to repossess my relationship to God, I found myself without words before Him. Emptied of all that "worked" previously, I had nothing to say.

My doors had all closed to me. The ways I used to find Him are now just wardrobes filled with coats and paintings of seas and ships.  I was desperate, but could not figure out the way back to Narnia. 

With a mighty effort, I began to consider trying other doors. 

This considering went on for a while. 

For Christmas, Bill  bought me  A Year of Biblical Womanhood (which I had on the ol' wishlist, but was putting off buying and reading because I'm cheap, lazy and scared. Mostly scared.) . This is a marvelous book, and a peculiar thing stuck with me. It was her talking about a local church that had a woman on the teaching staff years ago and the problems/persecution they encountered because of this. 
It is wrong that a woman should be persecuted for speaking about Christ. I felt that very strongly, and I was all "Hey! I feel this very strongly! Hooray! Hey! I can do something about this! I can visit that church to show my support!" 

 One tiny little step, but lord, I was scared. Like edge of a cliff scared. Like what the heck will happen next scared. Swallowing my fears, excuses and judgments for about a month,  I finally visited. Taking that step has freed me to take a few others. There was no great revelation, no epiphany, just a quiet satisfaction that I was MOVING towards Him, even though this path is unknown to me and frightening.

If the old doors cease to work, there are always other doors. But one actually has to go up to them and knock or try the handle or push or pull or SOMETHING to get inside. 

One of the doors I am knocking on is prayer. Communication being key in virtually every relationship, and since I have no words of my own (still), and since my ears apparently aren't working anymore,  I decided that there is value in repeating the prayers of others.  This is humbling and gets me right down to the bottom of it. The simple basics. Saying prayers aloud. Repeating the same prayers. But not for any reason other than I must knock and keep on knocking. 

And each day, and with each prayer, 
I am reminded how closed I am, and how I can be open.
And how Big He is and how frail we are. 
And how scared I am.

But I believe He is worth all the bravery I can muster. 

“I hope I do not offend God by making my Communions in the frame of mind I have been describing. The command, after all, was Take, eat: not Take, understand.” 

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Full Disclosure

I work full time and my husband works long hours. 

My children are busy with activities. 

I spend a lot of mental energy wondering if they are too busy, or being pushed too hard, or being guided in the right direction. 

I spend emotional energy worrying about them, worrying about my husband, my marriage and my spiritual life.

To sum up,
  I essentially just spend my whole life driving around like a crazy woman and worrying.  

Sometimes we have a long weekend and we find a little time. 

Here's what that looks like in my house: 

Bo sits at his computer and edits edits edits and plots. This weekend it was the demo reel.  And calls me to look and give feedback. 

Emma puts on her dance clothes and dances. This weekend she choreographed to "Ain't No Sunshine When She's Gone." (I haven't yet asked her why that particular song.) And calls me to look and give feedback. 

This goes on for hours. 

In between my main roles as "feedback giver" and "feeder, laundry doer and grocery shopper," I am trying to find some space to let my own creative monster out to play. If half my posts seem like thoughts that just didn't get followed all the way through, there's a valid reason for that and I apologize in advance. 

But there's something in me that is determined to follow this road that's hard to follow and document the process. There's something in me that wants to hear from women who struggle to do it all and yet be solid, thoughtful, creative christians who speak and write and share and MAKE KNOWN valuable things. 

If I believe that women like that are valuable, then I must have value as well. 

And that is the moment when the whole thing shatters. No, no, no. 
Can't post that. Can't believe that. Too self-centered. Time to go fold the laundry for crying out loud. Don't finish this. Don't think it through. The laundry is important work! 

Yes, the laundry is important. But so is this. I cannot encourage other women to speak out if I am afraid to do so myself. And I want to encourage women to be strong and brave!

And so, frail, tone deaf and quavering though it be, I will add my voice to the women singing a chorus of hallelujahs in the midst of our modern busy lives. 

NOW I will go fold the laundry and try to advise Bo on the purchase of a new (used) lens. 

Monday, February 18, 2013

How He Tells His Story

(Originally written on January 22, 2012)

Yesterday I took my daughter to the ballet. Not just any ballet. The American Ballet Theater. It was, at the risk of sounding high-faluting and hoity toity, transcendent. I was so taken in by the stories they were telling and the clean, pure performance, I was flabbergasted. I couldn't even think of how to describe it. I thought about it before sleeping and I wrote about it in my morning pages, and I couldn't stop thinking about it. I had to call my mom to tell her, I told my poor husband a couple of times, and couldn't figure out WHAT I WAS SUPPOSED TO DO WITH THESE FEELINGS I HAD ABOUT THE BALLET! It was driving me kinda crazy!

I read reviews online that outlined the mechanics of the ballet, and the performances, but no one was describing what I had felt while watching and after processing. No one was talking about the STORIES they told, and how you almost forgot you were watching dancers because you were so caught up in the tale. I thought, "Probably it's just me dramatizing the effects of seeing this ballet troupe I've longed to see all my life." Then on Julia Cameron's facebook page came the quote:

"Trust your perception." 

Ok. Thanks for giving me permission. I think I will. Now we have that out of the way, what next? I still don't know what to do with these thoughts!

So I went for a walk, because although I haven't read all the way through "Walking in the World" the bits I have read, I have taken to heart, and believe that I could get some clarity just from taking a long, itouch-less walk. 

You'll never guess what happened.

I did.

I was walking and thinking about this idea of the story telling. How the dancing was so good that you didn't even notice it anymore. ("The play is the thing, Amy!") How when you read a great book, you think "What a great book!" Your first thought is not, "What a great writer!" (Though that is often said, but usually as a result of talking about the story.) Shouldn't that be the aim of any artist? To be good enough at their craft to disappear and let the story do all the talking? And it dawned on me.

God is telling a story.

He is the perfect artist, with the very best story to tell, and if I will just listen to his story, I will find my way back to him. Self-promotion doesn't necessarily seem like an M.O for the Most High, so I'm thinking that he has something he really wants us to hear about. Something so great that the entire earth and its contents is a dance, a novel, a play, a puppet show, a painting of a glorious reality. But a God-breathed dance.

So I can listen, and I may find Him. And I was very happy.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Search for God

I have a number of drafts in my queue from various attempts to put words to the place I've been spiritually for the last few years.  I realize that my tripping point has been in trying to lay a background so that the strangeness of the "Sarah the Skeptic"  might be as remarkable to you as it still is to me. In trying to do so, I get bogged down in the past, and think, "oh, there's just no way I can communicate all this!" It also made me horrifically aware of my own pride and self-centeredness. I have decided that it's more important to document this journey that I am currently on than to try to retrace the steps that led me here.

Am I afraid? Yes.

Does that matter so much? Not really.

Have I been sitting here for 10 minutes trying to find the courage to post this, knowing it will force me into a responsibility I don't really want?

You betcha.

Consider this my coffee stain on the blank canvas. A post to get me over the fear of starting wrong.

I will be brave.

God grant me courage and perseverance. And time.