Friday, August 31, 2012

{Five Minute Friday} Change

Five Minute Friday

It moves with grace and beauty, transforming night into day and summer into autumn...
It's there, the silent partner walking alongside my boys, dancing above their faces in the wee hours and stretching their limbs as they move and breathe and have their being...
It sighs sweetly in the habits of my day, as I smooth fresh sheets or fold a handful of napkins or pull a sweet smelling shirt over my head.
It even makes music as it clinks together in my pocket.
It walked beside a girl who made a promise to a boy one day and ended up with a new name.
And it ushered a heart of fear and trouble and endless questions into a life that continues to be renewed.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Out of the dust

This has not been a banner week for me.

*I have managed to have a sick child, who fell ill on the heels of another sick child, only to end up sick myself (in an ugly, tight-chested, burning throat kind of way).

*I've spent the week, well, the last couple of weeks actually, maniacally flitting from one idea to another, trying to land on the perfect design for how our homeschooling year will look.  Please don't ask why I am just now doing this at the end of August.  It's hard enough just to admit this.

*I had a full-on, heavy-metal, object-flying, expletive-blasting temper tantrum in the middle of my garage-- in full view of my very frightened children and wherein I actually stomped my feet and threw things.  And yes, I turned 40 last month.

*In the midst of one conversation, in which I was sharing all of my angst about the aforementioned ridiculousness, one of my children asked me to please stop putting all of my burdens on him.  It was just too much for him.  Evidently, I've taken frugality to the extreme and have resorted to laying on the couch and spilling my guts to my children, rather than to a paid professional who is actually trained to help someone as messed up as me.  Lord help us.

*I have spent dozens of hours negotiating entente cordiale with two powers, otherwise known as my two sons.  I don't know exactly what has sent this friendship careening so far off course from the once beautiful, fairy tale world it used to reside in but something tells me it has to do with something called hormones.  And to think, I used to be thankful I didn't have girls to stand between.  Nowadays, I feel like I'm living with Bruce Banner, times two (actually, make that times three--see the example of why you don't want me to get angry, above).

I'll stop.

But I think you get the gist of my not-so-awesome week.

Today, here in the dark morning light, I am trying to pick up the wreckage of my awkward and unproductive week.  In a weird, messed up way, I'm tempted to keep adding to the continue the tally of all the ways that I have failed my kids, my husband, myself.  If I'm going to air my dirty laundry, then let's do this right. Or something like that.  This whirlpool of whacked out thinking pulls with incredible force and, left unchecked, will seek to destroy any semblance of right thinking.  And, sometimes, it's tempting to just give in to that power and let myself spin apart.

But then, in this pre-dawn quiet, this comes ...

and suddenly, my heart turns to the familiar notes... that all that I have or haven't been this week, the ways I've made a wreck of just about everything, the things that I have touched that have simply crumbled in my hands and turned to dust...
all of this
can be remade.

I know this, not because I'm some pollyanna-type who thinks that all you have to do is turn that frown upside down and things will miraculously become wonderful. No. I know this because it has happened, again and again, in my life.  

My mess, my gloriously insane mess, can be redeemed.

It is redeemed every time that I give up striving to be more than I am, or, at the very least, give up striving to be like someone else.
It is redeemed when, on the heels of my short, albeit explosive, visit to crazy town, I sit quiet in the car and ask my sons to forgive me for being utterly ridiculous.
It is redeemed every time I choose diplomacy over warfare and love over hate when my boys can't seem to find the words to communicate with each other.
And it is redeemed in the fragile darkness, after the week I would rather forget, when I lie with my Aidan, nestling close in order to hide my face in his sweetness and he says to me, "You are a good mom."

"You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us"

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Valley of Dry Bones

I know this girl who has been rung hard
and left to dry on a line out back
and more than a few days have passed
with her hanging there
There are tatters at the end of her shirtsleeves
and her pant cuffs are as stiff as death
There has been no rain for months and yet
her listless flower head still lifts sheepishly every morning
looking for the sun

It is Love that longs to cut her from that noose
and have her fall, bones and all
to the dirt below
where the dust would fly and blind and choke
and then settle
down within the crevices cracked and brittle

I have heard of this valley of bones
that is dry as death and
where shadows creep among the once living
this place echoes empty
with the unheard cries of brokenness
no one lives in this place where
the thick black waves rise up from the dirt
painting thick mirages of seas long Dead

If only a wind would blow across this barren hole
where the forgotten lie in one big hopeless heap
from four corners a holy breath could whisper
and there would be a mighty clanking of
bones brought up from the nothingness
That would be a mighty day
if those dry bones rose up
and danced back home

Friday, August 24, 2012

{Five Minute Friday} Join

Five Minute Friday

In this space, today--
No extreme editing; no worrying about perfect grammar, font, or punctuation. 
Unscripted. Unedited. Real.

I see you there in the corner.  Book, or sketch paper, or dragon figure in hand.  Busying yourself with stories or drawings or make believe.

You're there
I'm here.

Where I am, well, it is busy and scattered and important.   I would prefer not to be interrupted, thank you.  A few or ten or 60 minutes more and I'll be finished.  Set aside.  Complete.

So you wait.

I catch glimpses of you from the leaky sides of my eyes but I plow forward anyway.  Just a few things more.  Then I'll be done.  And ready for you.

But then, in a moment, when I am distracted from my distractions by a Spirit wind,

I see you.

Sitting there.

In the corner.

And our eyes lock and a power beyond us seals my gaze.

And your eyes, the ones moist with anticipation and impatience and desire, that ooze love unending

they say it so simply.

Join me.


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

{This Sacred Everyday} Guest Post

When the inky night leaks away and the morning glories start their swelling, a familiar humming billows up and I stir.  This melody of sorts, it was being knit together, all the long night.  Like a fairy orchestra, wispy with night dew and moonbeams, it has danced in and around our sleepy heads.  The pink and coral sunrise becomes its crescendo and I wake.

I move amongst the early light, quietly padding across the tile, furtively pouring my coffee, plopping myself in front of a glowing screen.  I have stolen these hours from myself, the ones that once offered the deepest sleep and the most creative dreams, in order to hone a craft.  I come to this space hoping to quell the voices that spin doubt and distrust throughout my head and my heart and my life.  Every morning I pray that the opening of my everything  will bleed truth upon the page and I will find clarity and redemption once again.

That is the plan, at least.

Want to read more?  Then join me as I guest post over at Micha Boyett's blog: Mama Monk.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

To pray with St. Francis...

It's hard to stand on the outside of your son's heart, to see it wrapped in a dirty gauze, allowing only glimpses into sore spots.  And when there is no language to convey the constriction, that silent gripping that chokes and scares his understanding, and he sits there solid and unmoving...well, it's enough to make a mama want to scream at the sky.

Because, sometimes, the desire to understand still isn't enough.

I pray with St. Francis, begging for the power to love
deeper, longer, wider.

And, still
the silence.

What is this space?  This place of holy longing that slyly shifts into languishing?  Why are we stuck, feet thick and dumb?

I know the faithful thing is to stay the course, remain steadfast and long-suffering.  And I know that what is probably most needed is someone staunch and solid but how to be that, to do that, when all I really want to do is run until there. is. air.

I used to think that to be a good listener all I had to do was be patient enough and open enough and a space would grow and it would melt into this pool of knowing.  But the placid waters I imagined are stirring and I feel myself on the edges of a whirlpool, whose power is great and dark.

I see your eyes, brimming.  And suddenly we are both swimming and all we know to do is hold on.  Perhaps in this reaching out, this instinctual grabbing of each other, we will both be pulled under but I don't care because I want to smell your breath.  That way I know you are still here, even when you're not.
Love is so hard, sometimes.  It is at once fierce and vulnerable but it is also strung with a wild thread that hems me in.  I want the lens to focus in on my fancywork, my sampler for the world, so as to show off my deft skills and creativity.  But the hand of fear and unknowing adjusts the glass too far and I take mind pictures instead.  The ones that reveal the underbelly of this great tapestry.  Here there are knots and tangles and there are no neat stitches.  All the colored yarn jumbles together, clumping one on top of the other and who can make sense of it all?  Where, again, is the beauty?

They say we won't see it fully this side of heaven, this lifework we're weaving.  Glimpses, yes. But the fullness thereof, not yet.

Today, though, I want a foretaste.  I want your glory on my lips so that the sweetness will light upon my tongue and I can speak the language of the angels.  Just for today.  I have a song I want to sing to a little boy of mine.

Friday, August 17, 2012

{Five Minute Friday} Stretch

Five Minute Friday

Linking up with Lisa-Jo Baker for her Five Minute Friday writing prompt.
Taking five minutes, without worrying about extreme editing, perfect grammar, font or punctuation and offering up something unscripted, unedited, real. 
It is not perfect, nor probably is it profound.  Just five minutes of focused writing.
Today's word prompt is Stretch.

I can't help but remember that time when I was eleven and I begged my mom to sign me up for a gymnastics class.  I wanted to be one of those girls who bounced off mats and swung around bars and ended every jump with sparkly flair.  But first, I had to learn how.

They had some of the equipment set up, some of the fancy stuff that I wanted to get right to the business of learning how to navigate but

first things first

we had to take all kinds of time to stretch.

Insert extreme moan.

It was hard to be patient and go through the slow, steady work of warming up our muscles.  What did these boring, tedious exercises... that were beginning to get painful, by the way...what did these have to do with the fancy mat work that I longed to perfect?  I wanted to be a gymnast, remember?

But as I leaned into the poses, feeling every fiber flex and eventually, give in, I slowly saw their purpose.  There would be no high flying fantastical routines if I did not, first, do the daily, basic work of stretching.

For to stretch is to challenge, yes, but it is also to shape.  To shape, more fully, into what is possible.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Book Spine Poetry

My first foray into the world of Tweetspeak.
I've accepted the invitation to August's themed writing project: found poems around the theme of Rain.
This specific project challenges one to craft a poem using book spines as the prompt.
Below is my own found poem, inspired by books from my own collection.

Here and now
this common ground
is but dust
and to be on this road
is to
journey into the whirlwind

To accept this as our fate
is to etch out stories
in some grand dusty book of days
all the while

that this is not
the amazing grace
that reveals
our true being

is like carrying
water for elephants

It is in
the daily
that we find
the way of the heart

Monday, August 13, 2012

{On, In, and Around Mondays} The Storehouse

The Storehouse

The afternoon swells wide and wraps us in minutes long and fat
I have the desire to capture your quiet self
the one that speaks so loudly
within the structure of your head and your heart
yet masks itself with mute lips
on an ordinary day

In the beginning we come together
and there is tenderness
sometimes the closeness squeezes out tears
dripping belief that has yet to find words
perhaps that is the very definition of safe?

In the stillness that follows you reach for my hand
and in that singular moment
my heart is burned upon yours
bespoken for an eternity
not easily broken this corded strand

We sit opposite each other
so as to face the truth rather than sidle up beside it
because sometimes you have to look fear in the eye
and call out the demons
for there is nowhere to hide in love's gaze

And for the first time in a while
I hear you
You, replete with knowledge bursting,
are cloaked in doubt
and all I want to do is unwrap the lie

For you are my bonny love
and when the sun rises and sets
it drapes your silhouette upon my being
filling out the strength of my arms
into which I sheathe you now

 On In Around button

Friday, August 10, 2012

{Five Minute Friday}: Connect

(Today I’m participating in Five Minute Friday with Lisa-Jo Baker. It’s a flash mob of writers writing for five minutes without stopping to edit, over-think, or re-do. If you’d like to join in, just head over to 
Gypsy Mama.  This Friday’s prompt is connect.)

I've decided that I can no longer stand the grit on the floor so I get out the vacuum, determined to eradicate all that rubs my feet the wrong way as I try to go about my business.  I haul the loud machine all over the kitchen, sucking up the crumbs from a hundred breakfasts of toast and the dirt from a week of dog.  I am a woman on a mission.  I keep pushing the boundaries of how far I can drag the blasted machine before I have to stop and find a different outlet.  But my singular focus--a clean floor--clouds my awareness and, suddenly, everything goes quiet.  I've stretched the cord too far and suddenly, my power source is gone.

How many times have I done this?  And how many times, in that moment, have I turned on my vacuum? How many times have I cursed the blasted machine, blaming it for why I can no longer vacuum?

But the real problem is not the vacuum.

It's the disconnection.

Only by reconnecting the cord can the machine work.

When I am plodding through my everyday life, am I the kind of woman who looks for ways to make connections, rather than breaking them?  Or am I the the kind of woman who curses the very thing from which I've become disconnected?

I forget, a lot of the time, that my connection with those whom I spend most of my time is
the most important thing.

"Remain in me, and I will remain in you.  No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine.  Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.  I am the vine; you are the branches.  If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me 
you can do nothing.

If this is the reality in my relationship with God, if the result of not seeking out connection with God is that I can really do nothing, doesn't it follow that the same would apply in my relationship with those who mean the most to me?

When will I see that to seek out the connection is to begin the hard work of binding to another, just as a knot joins two strands together?

Five Minute Friday

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Joy Thief

It sneaks in under the cloak of admiration.  Through eyes made wide with wonder, that insidious ingrate moves in with stealth and purpose.  It oozes into all that is good and alive and sets out to make its home in my depths.  From here, it can graft itself to my vision and begin to blur what is true.  It wants what it doesn't have.  It is that simple.

And I hate the way it wants to bring me along for the ride.  It is not content to ravage alone and it is fueled by the weakening of resolve.  When I sigh or swallow hard, it swells.  This power...this principality... is most active when I am most open.  When I look around me and desire to embrace the joy and the wonder, it is then that it most betrays.

It's that time of year again.  Thoughts turn to books and papers and rainbow colors and core knowledge and living ideas and Triviums and new math and, one day into it, I am left spinning.  I become like a spectator at a tennis match, watching the exchange, from one side to the next, one serve answered by a volley here and then a focused swing there and suddenly the points are adding up faster than I can count.

And I look at these lovelies on either side of my heart and its as if I've lost the rule book and I'm competing against an opponent who doesn't even seem to know that I'm in the game.  I want to grab my littles by the hand and run into the quiet of the woods where there is no ceiling and there is a presence that muffles the chattering voices that run amuck in my head.  I realize that the noise has moved in and I need to make room for the hushing.  

For when there is quiet, there is more room for truth to bloom.

Sometimes it is so hard to extricate the things I would like to be from the things that I can never be and the Thief's goal is to forever blur the line.  But the quiet, that beautifully orchestrated nothing, it is a clarifier.  And when I wrap myself in its silence, slowly, another voice emerges.  

That voice sings the song of my heart, not that of another.  That voice weaves a tapestry from my own homespun yarn, not that of another.  And that voice doesn't care whether there is anyone else in the room.  This is the voice that I must memorize, that I must let burn tunnels in my ears, that I must let fashion and mold me.

When I drink in the quiet, when I fashion margin on the edges of my person, I am protected from thieving hands.  And protection is what I need because my heart, it is a delicate thing, you see.  I want good things for my boys, yes, but I also want clear vision.  Because that Thief, well he takes innocence and wonder and the slow glow of a life well lived and he mutates it.  He will bastardize my legitimate hopes if given any space to live and move and have His being.

So I am spreading wide my the fullest breadth of my that my boys and I, well we'll be protected from behind.  Like a line in the sand, I will stand my ground and I will not be moved.  And I know.  I cannot, will not, shade them from it all.  Because, to do so would be to cut them off from all that lies in front of them.  There is beauty and joy and hope in that view. There is scariness and disappointment and pain, in that view, too.  But, together, we can confront those things full on, with our capes flapping wildly behind us as the wind ruffles our hair.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

{What it means to be blessed} A synchroblog

We find ourselves in a ten acre waterpark and for as far as my eye can see, there are half naked people running and screaming and jumping and skipping and raising their hands as if in worship and my eyes brim with the excess. 

I just wanted to go have fun with my boys.  Just go where it was wet and sunny and smiley.  Find a way to forget that the thermometers are boiling.  Find some way to escape. 

But I just can’t.

I can’t stop thinking that as I watch 500 gallons of water fall, just for the hell of it, upon the heads of laughing children here that there are other children there who are walking miles to get just a smidgen of the same. Children who can’t even begin to fathom that somewhere in the world there are parks of water

And then there is here, too.  This summer of no rain and everywhere, farmers are plowing under crops and choking on the dust and trying to add up the numbers that just don’t add up. 

And yet, here we are. 

There is crystal clear water spraying and squirting and showering

And for some reason that I will never understand this side of heaven, we are here and others are there.

I sit on the side of the water and catch a glimpse of a tiny little girl, crouched in the middle of the throng, hands to her face, crying.  She is looking frantically around her, desperate for a glimpse of someone, something familiar, but it is clear that she doesn’t really see.  Slowly, she starts to spiral inward.  I go to her because I know that fear, that longing. I feel it, too, sweet girl. 

She is reconnected with her own in seconds but she will never really forget this day.  This moment.  This feeling.  Until she crosses over into the hands of love, she will always remember the craziness of feeling so alone among thousands of people.

And then it hits me. 

This is what it means to be blessed.

Blessings fall. 
Every day.
They rain down just as ludicrously as the millions of gallons of water that fall from these fake pirate ships and colored sprayers. 
They never make sense.
They are never earned or deserved.
They just rain down.

It is when I respond in love to these storms of grace filled blessings…it is then that I come to know what it means to be blessed.

Ironically, we are at this oversized extravagant park because of the generosity of others.  Evidently, there are folks who think that kids who read should be rewarded with free things.  We never could have afforded to even walk through the gates of a place like this, otherwise. 

Again, these blessings…they are ludicrous.

This whole place is ludicrous.

But I am here with these two amazing boys and we go down slides too fast and our hearts leap and our voices scream and I know that I don't deserve any of it.

But the water, it keeps raining down.

And I throw my hands up in worship and my eyes brim with the excess.

 Linking up with Emily at Imperfect Prose today

Monday, August 6, 2012

{On, In, and Around Mondays} Sometimes love looks like Yoda

Sometimes, I make these promises
that dangle from threads
that flap in the wind

You hear me, somewhere deep
and there is a quickening
in your chest

Only to be snuffed out
as my words
fly away
loose and easy
on the breeze

I should know by now
that to say what you don't mean
is to lie

And if love rejoices
in the truth
my dear boy

Then what is my heart
really whispering
into yours?

So, I stop.
I turn off everything
but my love

I sit at the table
and curse my clumsy hands
that try so hard

And in the wake of my unease
I cut green and brown shapes
that don't match
the way they should

I make knots and pull thread
and if you squint
real hard
you might be able to make out
some semblance of a figure

It is at that moment that I learn
what you already knew
that sometimes
Love looks like Yoda

linking up with L.L. Barkat today
 On In Around button

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The incredible lightness of being

They don't happen often.  Nights without kids.
We don't go on dates.  Usually.
We don't steal away for the weekend.  Usually.
Most of the time, we are all together.  Sharing the same space and time and air.
And, most of the time, that is good.  We have chosen that reality, again and again, and it is what helps shape us as a family.  All of the ways that we move and live and breathe together, well, they ooze and squeeze and flow into something bigger than ourselves.  That's the way that it should be.

But then along comes a night when both of our boys are invited to a double-brother sleep-over and I find myself grinning because I can make chicken chilaquiles and gin and tonics for two and I laugh out loud because, for once, there is not a dish of plain pasta in sight.  And then you walk through the door and I'm smiling and pulling you close because there is no competition and I have you all to myself.  It doesn't matter that I haven't put the sheets back on the bed yet and Yes, this is happening, and my, how I have forgotten the beauty of you without distraction.

We take our dinner upstairs and eat in front of the Olympics and we don't worry about the stain of red tomatoes or saying "please" and "thank you" because we are already messy and we have each other and that is just one great big "Please and Thank You" wrapped up in one.  We marvel at the inane commentators and I find you incredibly funny and I laugh louder and more freely than I have in a long, long time.  It is not often that we get to experience each other give to each other this incredible lightness of being.

And I know that we haven't gone anywhere and that this wasn't a planned formal event with fancy clothes and makeup and uncomfortable shoes but I still know that important.  You and me with nothing in between, this is good.  Very good.