Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Little Bits of This and That

It feels so late tonight, though it is not so late. My heart was racing today, again. But I can’t resist a little more coffee than is good for me. Simple pleasures. Tomorrow, a half day, and then done, that is, until Friday.

No one is showing for their appointments. Everything is off, it’s vacation time, not “keep your appointment and show up on time” time. And so I spit out paperwork.

Today the woman who sorted our donations was fired. It seems that for years she has been pilfering among items and taking the best for herself. Well, actually, been taking the best and creating gift baskets of items and selling them. She must have quite the boutique in her home. But no more. She denies everything. Bit by bit, different folk reveal small pieces of witnessed indiscretions. The puzzle image is not a pretty one. But she will no longer be there. I wonder how abundant donations will seem in her absence? Ah, corruption. How it sneaks up upon us! (I thought you were a friend. But goodbye feels like hope.)

The air outside smells of fresh dirt and springtime. It is warm. Tonight I walked with a friend. I wore no jacket, only a scarf--hands nestled in pockets. The trees were lantern lit and Orion was clear in the sky. We heard shouts and felt threatened, but they were far away; not intended for us. We walked and the air was tangy and made me want to dance.

Sometimes I act as if my mood is some kind of moral indicator, but more often than not, it’s most pronounced influence is the weather.

It will be warm again tomorrow. (Cold front after that.)

Friday, December 19, 2008

"Don't look a gift horse in the mouth."

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Journey of A Thousand Miles

Maybe it is love of mystery, or maybe memories of the overbearing glare of the Texas sun make me prefer the night sky to daytime. Driving at night is somehow nicer, the darkness is a thick comforter and the small glows of the other headlights are warm beacons; the street lights point the way of the road. All else is cool and darkness.

Community radio DJ brings out the most trance-like, obscure music at night, and the soundtrack takes me down distant highways, road trips into strange lands.

I think of fragrance, and it’s ability to transport. Soft floral shampoo and bath wash of warm oranges and soapy vanilla, an everyday aroma from when I first lived on my own. All of life was possibility and unknown. There were no more filters to protect me, now it was up to me to make choices and feel my way into the wide world. It was terrifying and beautiful at the same time. Always I remember it with a strange intensity: the sensory cues from that time are evocative of so much fear and hope all blended together in an intoxicating brew.

I arrive home to a dark place and instantly there's a cat at the ankles, demanding attention. I drop my bags and remember the damp laundry, leftover from morning. One more trek up and down stairs, one more trip to the basement dryer. Soon, I’ll shed the day like a molting lizard, one size too small, and now I've outgrown it.

I fold away the last fragment of today's responsibility, and place it in the laundry basket: testimony to accomplishment, once dirty, now clean.

What is adulthood without second mortgages and shuttling kids to practice? What is adulthood without screaming babies and first mortgages? I’ll find the answers to the questions between full time work and sending off the rent check to the landlord. I’ll find the answers over warm dinners shared with friends and meetings at deserted coffee shops, on long walks and solitary runs. I’ll find the answers in my church family, broader and wider than any nuclear-type.

Day-by-day I build upon what is, to what will be. Not having answers in hand, I do what I must: I walk by faith. When I falter, (and I do) grace carries me. I'm never alone on this strange trip.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Home Again, Home Again

It was a cozy, craftsy Thanksgiving this year. My parents, sister & brother-in-law, and nephews were there. I got to see my friend Janelle. In our house, there are always lots of games. This year: board games, a little soccer in the backyard (primarily the nephews) and of course football on TV.

I brought home lots of strange little projects to complete while sitting around watching football on TV (because I could care less about football on TV). Earlier in the year, when I bought a blanket for my bed, I was disgusted that the matching pillow shams were 35 $ a piece. Seemed like a rip-off to me, so I decided to keep an eye out for interesting pillows elsewhere. I was at the World Market and I really liked the fancy, decorative table napkins from India. I decided to sew a couple together and stuff them, for homemade pillows... here's the final result, mom!


I love that Larry is in practically every picture I upload to this blog. It's like "Where's Waldo?" only easier because he isn't very cleverly hidden. Well, I was happy with the pillows, and I also (with help from my mom and dad) fixed a broken lamp and two formerly unwearable pairs of pants. How exciting!

When I left on Sunday, it was a wintry wonderland outside. In my mind, I was composing Haiku as I drove down a few treacherous miles of highway.

Cautionary Tale

Cars, a train, through snow
weave tracks: black, safe lines. In drifts
stranded car, a warning.

The tale has a happy ending though, after about 45 minutes of driving the snow turned to rain and then cleared off all together. And now I'm home again, my other home.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Body Language: Think About It

"Charred Body found Inside Vacant Home."

"Body Found by County Roadside."

When does a human become a “body?” Both of these grim statements are quotes from my local newsfeed this Sunday evening. I was thinking how depressing it is to become a body. It implies a death of sorts. We hear talk of bodies in crime reports and on the local news, in obituaries and unsolved mysteries.

Pop culture also frequently refers to bodies, usually the living, breathing sort. When bodies are referred to in pop culture, it is a way of discussing the limbs and shape of a person, detached from the personality and soul of the person- also known as “objectifying” people.

I wonder if it would improve our appreciation of one another and our feelings towards ourselves if we could refer to one another differently. Our words could affirm the soul and personality in conjunction with the body- holistically- as persons. After all, body won't ever be separated from person and soul until the day we die.

And when life's sweet fable ends,
Soul and body part like friends;
No quarrels, murmurs, no delay;
A kiss, a sigh, and so away.

-Richard Crashaw, in his poem Temperance (1652)

Monday, November 10, 2008

Sweet Dreams!

Dream interpretation has always been a hobby of mine, if such a thing could be considered a hobby.

Last night's edition:

I dreamt I was at Target and had a cart-full of clothes. I realized I had a shirt I had purchased previously that I needed to return. It had stretched ridiculously in the wash and was no longer wearable. I took it to the counter without a receipt and they were able to look up my credit card transaction and give me the full price back. I was excited. When I went back to my cart, money in hand, I looked through the items in it, and though they were nice, they were not mine. I realized that another lady accidentally took my cart and left hers. She took my cart with all the things I had selected in it!

Interpretation:

In trying to focus on the past and settle old scores, don't lose sight of the present, or new opportunities could be lost.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Pod. Fruit. Plant.

Plant grasps fruit tightly.

For a time- then it must release.

Fruit grasps seed tightly.

For a time- then it must release.

Life is holding on and letting go.

This is growth.

Lord, help me know

when to hold on, and when to let go.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Days Slip Away Like...

Thursday already! The combination of leaving a little late and the shorter days had me driving home at sunset tonight. It was lovely to see the clear, autumn sky and all the headlights rounding those concrete curves, and the city traffic lights twinkling merrily at twilight. The arch was partially illuminated against the dark sky.

Sometimes I forget the wonder of living in the city, but when I'm approaching a bridge just as a Union Pacific train chugs across, I think of my young nephews and how excited they would be. I wish I had more "exploring" time... I think I could zip downtown in five minutes from my current location.

I google-searched “days slip away like”

and here were the top results:

Days slip away like leaves.

My days slip away like a shadow; I wither away like grass.

I let the uncharted days slip away like they should have, and then tonight, just tonight I decided that I couldn’t go on not writing.

If you are reading this, don’t let your summer days slip away like I did.

Or maybe just living instead of watching the days slip away like they don’t mean anything.

School days slip away like a greased weasel now.

But good days slip away like trout you can't catch, a flash of silver and they're gone.

Alas, the days slip away like water in our hands and we discover that our resolve has dissolved, and we have failed to make good on any of those resolutions.

The calendar on his computer informs him that the days slip away like those rubbery children toys filled with water.

And without him, the days slip away like molasses.

Days slip away like a cloud drifting over the ocean, Quietly unnoticed, muted above the sea.

Some days slip away like early morning mist being burned off by the late morning sun.

The days slip away like water into roots.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

This One's For My Mama

Because she wanted me to take the Flokati rug:

Here it is. The cat, of course, loves it's natural woolliness... perfect for cozy fall and winter. Happy mom?

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Rainy Tuesday Morning

Rain and coffee fragrance the air this morning. Outside my window is an explosion of gray and green... one of the rainiest years in St. Louis history, no wonder autumn hasn’t set in yet. The plants retain their bright bits, though a few hints of orange and yellow are starting to show up. It will probably be a lovely fall.

I’m struggling lately. I’m struggling in knowing how to keep going in the mundane stress of it all, the stress of same problems, different day. My work days are a blur of people and their problems. That’s what I’m there for, a sounding board and support for problems. The administration is changing. There’s a hope for change, that deficiencies will be addressed. There are fears that the old guard will continue to make the same mistakes, continue to ignore the same issues.

I’m praying right now. I’m praying for work and for my own life. I feel so stuck, so trapped. It’s not that I’m really trapped, it’s just that I’m powerless to make the changes I would like to see. So if that’s the case, either God will move me on, or he will help me stay here (and be changed in the process). I’ve been begging God to help me. I think that’s an ok place to be.

It's not that I'm not ok in this place; it's just that it's hard. And the changes I would like to see are not that clients stop having problems. I would just like to be personally moving and changing more towards my goals right now. If I felt my own life was not mired in deep mud, maybe I’d have more to offer clients. But the funny thing is I think I might be more supportive, compassionate and understanding even while I’m in the middle of my own frustrations. Because I understand what it is to have no answers. I understand that it’s not necessarily spiritual deficiency to struggle. In fact, it’s part of the path. Accept and cry out, or deny and refuse comfort in this moment.

I’ve had a friend ask “Have you prayed about it? Then why don’t you have peace?” Sounds simple, ridiculously simple. I don’t think it’s that simple. I don’t think it’s “push the prayer button and be flooded with peaceful, easy feelings.” Like a vending machine. But mysteriously, there is an underlying support and comfort in crying out to God. And at various moments, I do feel his Spirit meet me, nourish me. But there’s still the wrestling. And maybe that’s just my nature, to wrestle. But there it is.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Theme: work, weird, outdoor infestation

I feel like I’ve been going crazy at work lately. I don’t know if it’s me making the work crazy, or vice versa, but either way....

*************

Last Friday I was in a little group with some kids and a coworker on the playground. The coworker Brenda* is a new employee, she’s kind of like a “Zen Mama”- super sweet, and she could be your mom, plus way into peaceful concepts such as releasing bugs found inside to the outdoors and all kinds of other mellow things like; “mindfulness,” “yoga,” “gardening,” “journal-making” and “watercolor painting.” I, on the other hand, am into “oil-painting,” “running,” “road-rage,” and “killing” outdoor bugs that make their way inside.

Well, on this fine morning, we were outside, and a small child became afraid of a giant cockroach making it’s way across their play area. The child pointed and ran. I grabbed an iron shovel from the gardening shed and began to bang it along the gravel and playground equipment trying to kill the disease- ridden, bold little creature, coming out in the full light of the sun.

Well, the little weasel got away. I asked sweet Brenda if she was bothered by the shovel-banging debacle, and she calmly shared, “No, I figure the cockroaches were living before we got here and will probably outlive us as well..."

She's probably right, but I wish this particular cockroach wouldn't.

****************

Also- Margie*, (life-long B------ville resident) who answers the phone in the afternoons, has lately been bringing all her lawn ornaments from home into work, and “decorating” our parking lot, landscaping and entryway. It started off with a bronze butterfly by the door and a few wooden birds in the bush. But slowly, its been lawn-ornament infestation, complete with ceramic snake (that frightened a small child) and plaster bear and moose heads poking up from the ground, other critters planted using metal stakes: strange things; strange, strange things.

Most folks at work see it this way: If you want to decorate your lawn at home, feel free. Isn’t the point, to make it “homey?” But this is a business! (One employee sneakily tossed the ceramic snake in the dumpster.)

I transferred the plaster bear-head into a E.’s metal file cabinet. She thought it was funny and placed it atop as a decoration. She was laughing with another coworker Rachel* and said “Someone put a tacky bear-head in my filing cabinet!”
Rachel, (another lifetime resident of B----ville), said “Oh is it a lawn ornament?”
E, said “Yeah, so tacky! Who puts a bear head in their yard?!
Rachel said “Oh, I have one just like it.”
E. laughed, “Really?!”
Rachel, (serious), “Yeah, really.”

!!!

But enough about work...

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Today's Forcast


My family has always been obsessed with the weather. In our house, that manifested by silence throughout the living room as they caught the weather at 5:23 pm or 6:23 or 10:23 pm for the evening news. (We didn't have cable growing up.)

I was never that into it, except that I do love weather websites. I love looking on the radar before going on a run to see exactly where precipitation is falling. My favorite weather website is Wunderground. Just type in your zip code. All kinds of interesting information on there. This photo was also on their weather photo album! (Click on the photo for a link to the photographer's blog).

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Deepest, Darkest Secret

What makes you decide to spill your deepest, darkest secret? Do you have a deepest, darkest secret? It’s a phrase I jokingly have thrown out there among friends, for lack of a better thing to say. “Tell me your deepest, darkest secret!” When I say that I’m just kidding, and expect to hear nothing, or nothing serious.

But when you think of the world being what it is, people certainly must have secrets, both deep and dark (and in my job I’m privy to hear many) and there are many more waiting to be told, I’m sure.

Some people are very free with their secrets and are not very secretive at all. Others are cautious. And how many secrets are known to none but the holder and anyone else involved? How many people have unconfessed murders, robberies, other crimes? How about if it was “an accident?” Hit and run? Abused? Abusive? I just wonder what burdens we carry? Do we think about them often? As Suzanne Bates said to me once, “The more I talk to people, I’m just not shocked anymore. People say they are ‘shocked’ but nothing shocks me anymore. Sometimes I’m sad, or disappointed, or upset, but not shocked.”

What is hidden in the depths of the heart?

Friday, September 05, 2008

A New Year, An Old Promise

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

Monday, September 01, 2008

Road-Weary Randomness

Back from my wanderings, and almost thirty.

***

(some parade pics)The sirens were loud!

Everyone in town with a flashing light, a tractor or a muddy truck was invited to be a part of the parade.

Wheee!

I went home and saw the family. Saw some garage sales. Saw some small town parade. Saw some friends. It was good to see folks. Fun to read bedtime stories to the nephews. Good to go for walks with family. Picked some fresh fruit and veggies from the produce section of the back yard. All in all, nice visit.

***

Random weird, hypothetical conversation tonight: Which would be worse, to be terminally ill and all alone, or to be terminally ill with a husband and small children? To me, situation # 2 is infinitely worse, but my friend pointed out situation # 1 would be pretty awful too. We changed the subject. Impossible to judge from this standpoint (tongue in cheek).

***

Too many hours in the car, driving, watching the sunset, bring strange thoughts to mind, but it also makes music sound better! As well as the sound of my own singing!

***

I think we have to ask God to give us forgiveness, for ourselves, and also to give to others when they wrong us. I don’t think it comes naturally to us, ever. But bitterness sucks!

***

I don’t want to become too cynical. Thinking of how it’s kind of a sad thing when one becomes all hardened and cynical, even though the naive and hopeful seem a little more ridiculous, they also have something special, fresh eyes or something. Also, it seems like there’s a greater capacity to love in a less cynical state. How do we become cynical or reverse the process?

***

Ah well, another week!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Home

As a small child I remember sitting next to the speaker as the reel to reel tape (yes, reel to reel) played Simon and Garfunkel. One of my favorite songs was "Home with Al" and at one point, I cried for the poor singer who just wanted to be home with (his best friend) Al and instead he was somewhere else.

Anyway, my parents laughed at me and gently corrected me, "Home with Al" was "Homeward Bound," which is also what I am, tomorrow.

Hurray! I'm thankful for the love of family...

Tonight I'll sing my songs again,
I'll play the game and pretend.
But all my words come back to me in shades of mediocrity
Like emptiness in harmony I need someone to comfort me.
Homeward bound,
I wish I was,
Homeward bound,
Home where my thought's escaping,
Home where my music's playing,
Home where my love lies waiting
Silently for me.
Silently for me.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The New Pad!

Here's some pictures of the new place, to satisfy the curiosity of those out of state, and those who just haven't been over yet!

Living Room (as seen from dining room)



Dining Room / Computer Room



I seem to be destined for small kitchens... on the plus side, everything is within reach!

The built-in cabinets are a plus compared to my last apartment!



Zzzzzzzzzzzzz~ and the little door on the right...


Opens to the Sunroom /Art Studio /Storage space!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

My Strong Friend

She was a shot-put thrower in middle school.

One time I needed help carrying up a bag of cat litter (40 lbs.) with my groceries to my apartment. "No problem," she said. She threw the bag over her shoulder and shared that she used to carry two 50 lb. sacks of feed at a time, on the farm.

She was a power-lifter in high school.

The biggest amount she ever dead-lifted was 275 lbs.

Even without training, she could kick my butt.

But she never has and she doesn't ever threaten to! What a nice friend / bodyguard.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Seven Strange Facts Unearthed While Moving

Alright, Angela, you Meme’r- here you go.

Here are the rules:
1. Link to your tagger and post these rules on your blog.
2. Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird.
3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blogs.
4. Let them know they are tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

Since the story of the day is that I’m moving... I think today’s little factoids are going to be things unearthed while packing.... not to mention that I’m procrastinating on some packing right now.

1. Something about being artsy is seeing endless possibilities in things. Not to mention, I know the best thing to do with many objects (recycle, take to Goodwill, reduce, reuse, etc) but that all takes time and organization. Anyway what that all adds up to is piles and piles of junk stashed away in boxes, closets, under the bed. I’m trying to weed things out. A “less-is-more” friend has been helping me let things go. She noticed I have a lot of collections.
- movie ticket stubs (maybe every movie and playI’ve ever seen)
-bottle caps
-stamps
- postcards
-flattened pennies (from those tourist machines)
-foreign coins
-one fashion magazine from every year of my life
-old makeup (for Halloween!)
-dress-up clothes (i.e. out of style, bizarre, or thematic clothing, saved for costume-y events)
- old pieces of ribbon and string
-old canvases
-pieces of wood (to paint on)
-coffee cans (the metal kind)
-sample size soaps and shampoos
-pens (lots and lots and lots of pens)
-empty cardboard boxes and bubble wrap (for wrapping gifts, etc)
-empty jars and plastic containers (art projects or maybe recycle?)
-old computers (how to dispose of properly?!)
-pretty much everything I’ve ever written, from journal entries to short stories from elementary school
-every old card and gift ever given me (practically!- Sentimental value, right?)

My friend has been helping me since I seem to have trouble tossing anything with as much life left in it as a paperclip or old barrette. Her reminder that none of it will go with me is helpful!

2. In some kind of prophetic foreshadowing, I had a bit part in the play “Meet Me in St. Louis” in high school. (That’s St. Louey)

3. In high school the (1972?) Volvo I drove had the bad habit of slipping out of park into reverse. When I was delivering papers at 4 a.m. one morning, it kicked into reverse while I was running a paper up to a lady’s porch. It chugged straight back and hit a policeman’s house. I’ve had trouble with the police ever since. ;)

4. My brother and I used to set up a pretend “Double Dare” course in our backyard in Texas.

5. On the plane to the Congo, I sat next to a Congolese rock-star named Serge. He even had groupies to meet him and the band at the airport!

6. I got a scholarship in high school from a sorority and forgot to cash the check. I found it when I graduated from college and wrote to them apologizing my forgetfulness. They were so happy to find out what had happened to the “missing?” money (new treasurer), they reissued the check for grad school!

7. I just got promoted at work to “Behavior Specialist!”

Ok. I meme Tina, my mom- (just kidding Momma- I know you don't blog), Heidi V. and Neil. I don’t think anyone else reads this blog that also blogs! Ok, but if you are ever online again, I also nominate you- Laura and Meg! That's all for now, folks!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Back from Africa


The Congo was amazing... How to describe? I loved the people. We stayed in the city of Kishasa most of the time. The people were incredible in their graciousness, their welcome, their hospitality. I noticed that the culture is more communal than the States, and there seemed to be a greater willingness to offer a helping hand to one another.

There is obviously a breakdown in the government, from war and in the supporting infrastructures that is so oppressive and difficult to live in. Imagine many potholes in the road, 6 inches deep, some that stretch for the length of a house! Imagine 11 million people and only 1 million cars, the rest trying to get rides through public transport, or the enterprising "taxi" (we counted the people on one Volkswagon bus and estimated 35). We complain about the roads here! We complain about the traffic, the healthcare. Let me just say, things can and do get much much worse!

Even so, life was everywhere, vibrant and struggling, but still rising against the pressures. I'm so thankful that the country has entered a time of relative peace and stability. Our new friend, and driver, Benjamin, shared with me his struggles in finding employment after his job at DHL was cut. He had loved his job, now he was trying to operate a small grocery to make enough money to get by. His car is broken down, but there is no money to fix it. Official employment is only 10%, but truthfully, it is a city of entrepreneurs, everyone working hard, and seeking ways to survive, either through vending in the street, picking food and selling it, breaking rocks into gravel (I would see young boys doing this). I long to see justice and even a decent chance at a life for these beautiful people. The world is a very big place.

My friend (who left a day later than me) shared that some of the military were hassling her and some missionaries at the airport, demanding money, but fortunately she was traveling with a liaison whose entire role in the trip to the airport was to field such demands, and he was able to placate the military men and get her and the missionaries safely off without having to offer bribes or pay fines. Despite that difficult ending, everyone was so gracious and friendly to us, even strangers on the street, and I felt very safe in the city, safer than I sometimes feel in St. Louis!

It was neat to see missionaries in the context they are serving in! It was wonderful to eat with and talk to the Congolese in their own homes and it was difficult to meet the orphan children, and see the horrible conditions they simply accept.

God help us!

My heart loves and aches for the people of Africa... we are all one Body... If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

And We're Off!!!

I'm leaving for the Congo tomorrow. That's Wednesday, for any would-be burglars out there (watch out for the guard cat!).

Anyway, there might be a few updates during the trip posted on this blog. So check it out, if you are so inclined.

Also, I decided to move at the end of the month. A few things pushing me that way... the construction on my doorstep here, the rising rent rate here,

the cool landlords there, the Botanical Garden being across the street there, and the commute there,

all factored in... not to mention the spaciousness and free laundry in basement there!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

I Think I've Lost My Mind!

In the last two weeks:

• Monday (2 weeks ago):Lost my apartment keys. Looked everywhere for them. They should be inside my apartment! Can’t find!!!

• Monday: Called landlord. They told me they had copy. Went to pick them up.

• Tuesday: Couldn’t get mail due to lost keys. Went to post office. They said go to landlord.
Landlord said they would replace the lock.

• Tuesday: Put a note on the mailbox, and got mail delivered to step. Awaiting a $100 gift card in the mail and nervous that someone might take it. :(

• Wednesday: Got a check for $600 in mail, tax stimulus money, transferring from one account to another. Put it in pile of papers.

• Thursday: Came home- my power was shut off. Called power company. They came out, and turned it back on. Told me that my meter is not the meter that my bills have been coming from. Goodbye super-cheap bills.

• Thursday: Got my new lease in the mail. Noticed the wall in the bathroom felt very warm. Storms all night, woke me up. Room felt very warm..

• Friday: Overslept. (Set alarm wrong after power outage.) Only going in for a half-day anyway. Called in to work. Got stuff done around house.

• Friday: Landlord replaced mailbox lock and key. Thank you! Sense of relief.

• Friday: Called landlord about hot wall. Very hot, kind of squishy. Said they would send out a plumber today. Didn’t happen that I saw..

• Friday: Looking for that $600 check. Couldn’t find it anywhere. Prayed. Still couldn’t find. Looked in trash on impulse. I had thrown it away. Rescued from trash.

• Friday: Went downtown with friend, Tanya. Walked all over, looked at floodwaters, spun in circles under Arch, went to fountains, walked around a bit. Came back. My keys (car key, new apartment key and new mailbox key) had fallen out of my pocket. Missing!!!

• Agh!

• Walked and retraced our steps. Did a sweeping search under the arch with park ranger flashlight. Couldn’t find keys. Park Ranger gave me lost and found number to call.

• Went to the Millenium Motel, and called friend, Neil. Neil and roommate Jonathan came and picked us up.

• Broke into my own apartment. Wall hot and radiating heat and humidity. Paint bubbling with water seeping through in bathroom. Found spare key.

• Went back to arch, picked up my car.

• Wall did not explode in night. I will call landlord’s emergency maintenance line.

I’m leaving the country next Wednesday for a mission trip to the Congo...... All these things, though frustrating, freaky and making me feel scattered and like I’m spending all my energy putting out small fires, are not devastating and could be worse. I wonder if some of this is spiritual attack as I prepare for this trip? Please be in prayer for me! Thank you

Monday, June 16, 2008

Title Unknown


It’s a cool, breezy evening in the city. The near-full moon shines down on the gravel path in the park. The path is marked by the footfall of two pairs of feet; disturbed by the murmuring of two voices, laughing and reflecting in turn.

Anticipation and anxiety, flip sides of the same coin. It’s name is “Expectation”- heads or tails? You call it. Lists are made of things to be packed, purchased or acquired, completed, and then, when the time comes; departure, flight.

The preparations are strange ones, purchasing socks and underwear for orphans of unknown sizes. Learning basic greetings in French. Transferring toiletries to 3 ounce bottles. Reading up on the customs and culture of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Prayer. Trusting God to provide. Trusting God to lead. Exciting.

In our normal routine, we think we have to do something to make changes. We think that every day just follows the other, like paperclips linked together in a mundane, little chain. We sit at our office desks and dread returning phone calls. And it is true that we can invite change. Even so, we grow attached to our paperclip chains, we idly wish for something new, without anxiety, without the unknown. And then change comes, in her own time, an earthquake, shaking everything, nothing left unmoved. We wish for change to come in comfortable volumes, and with outcomes that we control. Can we take it all in stride, the changes, the sameness, the everyday with so much beyond us?

The path through the park, so commonplace by day, is mysterious in the moonlight. It is partially illuminated, with shadows of leafy trees wavering and bending, obscuring and ornamenting the ground on which we walk. Our moon-shadows stretch like giraffes behind us, distinct, swaying with our footsteps. We hug and depart, and our cars bear us back to the lamp-lit places we call home.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Waters of Oblivion


Would you erase all the pain you have known, (but consequently the lessons you learned with it) if you were given the chance? Or put differently, given the choice, would you choose to be naive and happy or sad and wise? Would you rather know the truth and have suffered for it, or not know and live happily in delusions? Or on a more concrete level, if you had the option to have an IQ of 60, and not to grasp many things that other adults take for granted, but you were pleasant and happy, would you pick that over having an IQ of 140, and being a genius who saw many problems in the world and was greatly troubled by them?

I love the phrase “Waters of Oblivion.” To me, it sounds somewhat romantic and enticing, yet ominous at the same time. The “Waters of Oblivion” are originally from Greek mythology, in which the river “Lethe” runs through Hades, and its waters cause the drinker to forget the past. In the Greek mythology, people were reincarnated, and the wise were taught to seek instead, the Spring of Memory, so they could learn from their past lives in the new life, and be wiser than the average soul.

Sometimes I think of drug and alcohol abuse as waters of oblivion that people willingly drink of, to forget, for a time, the past, the present, and any uncomfortable emotions that accompany those thoughts. It’s a sort of living forgetfulness. The movie, “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” explores the theme of forgetting one’s pain creatively and with some insight.

I don’t believe we get multiple lives to learn from, but I’m grateful that within the lives we have, we are given the capacity to learn from the past. Take this cup...

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Welcome to My Blah-g!


Yep, it’s been quiet around here lately... maybe it’s the spring-to-summer weather that lures me outside so much, or maybe I just haven’t felt like writing.

Anyway here are the events(?) of note:

* Went to three different stores (two Walgreens and one Walmart) before finding Ivarest today. Praise God, Walmart had one dented box left on the shelf. (Poison ivy!)

* Today at work we had a refresher course on how to handle an irate client.

* Congo trip update: a health insurance company has pledged $5000 and is challenging their parent corporation to match the amount to put towards starting another self-sustaining health clinic!!! Total start-up costs for one clinic... about $10,000~ wow.

* I’m feeling a little anxious/excited as I think about the Congo. I’ve had more opportunities to talk about it with folks at work. I’m not sure what to expect, but I can’t go in “my” strength.

* went home for Dad’s birthday in Indiana. Saw entire immediate family. To quote my nephew, “Those were fun days.” I also got to catch up with the twins.

* A coworker asked me why I’ve been so happy the last few weeks. I didn’t know I’d been so happy the last few weeks. She said I had, and said, “Good attitude, that’s nice.” That is encouraging to hear since the last month or so, Anna and I have been meeting to pray weekly about work and all things related.

* This weekend, Sister, Bro-in-Law and Nephews come to St. Louis.

*This weekend we are having my five year GRAD SCHOOL reunion! Wow~ has it been that long?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Way of Love

"A friend loves at all times..." Proverbs 17:17 a (NIV)

If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don't love, I'm nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. If I speak God's Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, "Jump," and it jumps, but I don't love, I'm nothing. If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don't love, I've gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I'm bankrupt without love.

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn't want what it doesn't have.
Love doesn't strut,
Doesn't have a swelled head,
Doesn't force itself on others,
Isn't always "me first,"
Doesn't fly off the handle,
Doesn't keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn't revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.

Love never dies. Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit. We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled.

When I was an infant at my mother's breast, I gurgled and cooed like any infant. When I grew up, I left those infant ways for good.

We don't yet see things clearly. We're squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won't be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We'll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!

But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.

1 Corinthians 13 (MSG)

Friday, May 16, 2008

Book Review

Well, I wrote a book review for Dr. James Spiegel's book "Gum, Geckos, and God: A Family's Adventure in Space, Time and Faith" for the online magazine Catapult. If you feel like it, check it out!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Visual Brain Trumps Verbal Brain

As a person who loves the arts, I find that I tend to swing back and forth between my verbal and more visual/non-verbal ways of thinking. I've always felt that there are times that words are my more natural expression, and other times that words just can't do justice, for whatever reason, and color on color or listening to music seems more natural.

Right now, words are a struggle. I have nothing to say, or perhaps, the things I have to say can't stand on their own. Whatever the case may be, my verbal brain is tired. Times like these, journals and blogs lie latent.

Here's a lovely tune- Killing the Blues, Alison Krauss and Robert Plant.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Don't You Let Them Take the Fight Outta You

My friend and I were talking tonight, and I found myself quoting this song:

"There's always someone younger,
someone with more hunger,
Don't you let them take the fight outta you."

So here's the video- Ben Harper- "Fight Outta You"

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Grieving the Darkness

We approached the back door, and three silhouettes stepped out into the night rain. They sized us up, and my friend called out, “It’s me.” They laughed, relieved and let us into their home. Was it a home?

Reclining chairs were lined around an over-sized TV, with the Halo 3 mainscreen flashing blue light on the scene. On the counter, chips, empty wrappers, dirty dishes, cat food, socks. Two huge dogs rushed out to greet us. On the kitchen floor sat another TV, unplugged, next to a dog dish, and a large bag of garbage, spilling out indiscriminately. Two cats filled the house with a musky odor and the air was smoky and damp. The walls were stained with dark water marks and dirt and the doors of the kitchen cabinets were left open at random. An empty kleenex box overflowed with stale cigarette butts. Disorder. A caseload of frozen dinners boxes, some eaten, sat on the floor.

Sitting on the couches, were a girl and two guys. All had a vacant, glazed expression in their eyes, beer cans in their hands, and a pipe to be passed. One recognized me. I asked him what he had been up to; it had been years since I’d seen him. He was taller, scruffier. He said something about lawyer fees, referring vaguely to some trouble with the law.

One guy, who had lost his job this week and his thumb at his previous industrial job, got out a guitar. He began to quietly strum with his index finger, and for a moment, the sights and the sounds of despair were veiled under a beautiful melody. “When I am alone I’ll be my own best friend.” He apologetically shared that this was his best song, and the others encouraged him. It was good. In the lull after the song, I made my exit, letting them know I’d been on my way home anyway, just stopping in.

I had agreed to go along, for a few moments, on my way home from visiting another friend. His house was an entirely different scene. It was a beautiful, brick home in an established neighborhood, with landscaping lights and fresh flowers. Inside, his parents, exhausted from the stresses of their days, had ordered take out Chinese food. The house was spotless, with all the finest things, in pristine condition. But it was a home with it's own quiet tragedies, of addiction and divorce proceedings, and a three-year old grandson troubled by the strain of his parent's separation.

My work brings me face to face with many sadnesses, families on the brink of destruction, often due to the willful, oppressive sin of one partner against another. I see children who are hurt by those who claim to love them. Many children are used as tools of manipulation and weapons against ex-spouses. I sometimes see teenagers who are lost, unseen and think no one cares, who just try to check out for awhile and see what in the world can make them feel better for a few moments.

We all try to go our own way, but every brick of every Tower of Babel we build, to lift us out of dependence on God, is just an exercise in despair. The beauties of life, the springtime clouds and flowers are there. But when I look at us, at what we do to one another, and what we do to ourselves, all in the name of desire, I grieve. Everyday I watch lives self-destruct.

But wait.

There is another side to that. Every day, I also watch lives redeemed. I watch people pulled from impossible places, and inexplicably, moving forward. I watch love given where it is not deserved. I also see parents who have such a love for their children, they are willing to make great sacrifices to care for them. I see children, growing up, who come to realize that just because they didn't "feel" their parents were loving them at the time, now they see that so many of the actions their parents took were in love, and to protect and care for them, not to harm them.

Isn’t that the deeper story for all of us? We tried to go our own way. It brought us nothing, it was a trap, we wanted to give up. But Love was given, and it was not deserved. Where are you, God? I know you are here. How do I love people in the darkness? Teach me.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Rest in Me, Little Ones


Psalm 23

1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.

2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,

3 he restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness
for his name's sake.

4 Even though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death, [a]
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.

5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.

6 Surely goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD
forever.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Playing Ketchup

I just got back from coffee with a friend. It was nice to see one another, nice to talk, and good to encourage one another. My eyes are tired now, and my back is sore. It’s almost time to call it a night. Today was a wonderful day of warm breezes and sun.

I made every excuse possible to be outside at work today, eating lunch outside and even starting the assembling of a “hot-wheels” type tractor for the playground (a job I was ill-equipped to complete). I decided each lovely day this spring, I will go outside and put in a few minutes on that little tractor, till it’s drive-able.

I’m trying to wrap my mind around this trip to the Congo. I just watched a short video clip sharing about people in the eastern and central portions of the country, dealing with the aftermath of the war. It’s so sad, so tragic. It is so far away from my bedroom here in St. Louis. But I guess part of the purpose of this trip is to bring it a little closer.

This weekend I started a new venture in painting portraits. It was challenging in a good way, and fun. I'm happy that my artistic muscles have not completely atrophied into nothingness. There’s still "a ways to go" on this portrait. If it turns out cool, maybe I’ll offer to paint portraits to interested parties.

I’ve put the impossible goal upon myself to learn French before I go to the Congo. Ha! Keep dreaming. But a very kind soul has offered to give me some rudimentary lessons over coffee. Soon, I will get on that, soon. Au revoir!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

"...And Sometimes the Saving of Dead Bodies..."


Whew, that line (I used to title this post) gave me chills. Here's an article to explain why I am not, and never will fully be... the crazy cat lady. Thank you, God!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

He's Been Moving Me Beside Strange Waters



As I look over the list of immunizations: Yellow Fever, Typhoid, Meningitis, Hep A and B, and of course Malaria medication, I think to myself... It’s a good thing I can put that old passport to work- a year before it expires. Opportunity knocks. Listen.

My creative mind is quiet. I think of the painting I will start after I’ve envisioned it perfectly, that is, sometime later. I think of the book I’m reading, left on the chair, tented, reading interrupted by a ringing telephone.

I think of the spring-like weather that I anticipate like a little, purple crocus, peeking out from the shade. Tomorrow I shall stretch my legs gladly at the park, a celebration of everything moving, warm and alive! I will run just to feel the wind on my bare arms and cheeks without a chill. I will run to feel my blood pulsing in my temples and chest in a happy rhythm of cooperation.

Life is caught in a cross current, one can focus on movement or stagnation. The choice is in the eye of the beholder.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Note to Self

I really should file my taxes while it's still cold and miserable outside.

Monday, February 25, 2008

How Long Must We Sing This Song?

I had a delightful conversation with a friend today...

We were chuckling together about how we are with God about our struggles.

“If only I could understand!”

“If only this problem were solved!”

We both know that we are to be dependent on God.

She wants understanding + dependency.
I want solutions + dependency.

We say, “Of course, Lord, I want to depend on you but Agh! Fix this! And it will be so much better, for both of us, see? And I just can’t take it if this doesn’t change!!!!!!! HELP!”

But the reason we laughed is that the struggles are the MEANS of dependency

we have to depend when we don’t understand, when we can’t solve our problems. We have no choice. I see our struggle as a bit like laying on a table, having an MRI or, at the dentist with plaster forms of your teeth being set in your mouth.

In the wait, if you panic, it’s nearly torture- the tube becomes a confining deathtrap, the plaster and tools in your mouth will surely choke you! “I’m gonna die like this!” That claustrophobia is panic. But the truth is, it’s not forever and if you can trust that, and just stay calm... the moment passes.

And I’m thankful that God doesn’t delight in torturing us, though that is how discipline feels as it is occurring... God is constantly stretching our faith and dependence on him.

I think of Abraham... how long are we willing to wait on the Lord?

Saturday, February 23, 2008

There I Was, In the Congo

Alright! I'm doing it, I'm in!

Our church is sending a mission trip to the Democratic Republic of the Congo this summer...
Lord willing, I will be there.

Photo Courtesy of National Geographic, photo of the day

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

A Slippery Little Fish Called Life

You live your life in the clouds,

in the pages of a book

or on television screens,

echoed in the voices of actors,

in html text and emails.

I live my life on restless waters,

questing and never finding.

Life passes by, slippery, it eludes our grasp

and if we seize the day,

so what?

If the day fades away into evening shadow,

so what?

Sunday, February 10, 2008

I Wish I May, I Wish I Might...

There's always a reason not to hope.

When you want something, you may not get it.

When that something appears within reach, it could just as well slip beyond your grasp- devastating.

When you finally have what you want, you very well could lose it.

Or it could be taken from you, or just change until it is no longer what you had envisioned.

You may just get bored with it and realize it never really made you happy.

Sigh. The truth is that our hopes are really far too big for the things and people of this world. We know there has to be more...

"Build your hopes on things eternal..."

This is from a journal entry, April 2006. I am not without hope tonight. Even so, I know that can be jolted by a phone call, a particularly discouraging day, sometimes by seemingly small events.

From a conversation, November 2007: "Be thankful. Don't just focus on the next thing, the next area you are uncertain of, or the future you don't know. Be thankful for right now, and how God has provided today for your daily needs and for where you are. Be thankful for how he has gotten you through. Recognize what you receive as God tending to your heart, and be thankful."

Monday, January 28, 2008

Of Shadow and Illumination


Ten billion little stars, twinkle in the night sky. They shine with all the fire they can muster, and does the light reach anyone? Does any parched, little desert canyon feel a sparkle in the night? If no one is there to see the light, does it matter? And if it does or doesn’t, what of it?

The stars appear close to one another. Clusters dance in constellations, but the closeness is the illusion created by distance. Light years separate us. We look from a fixed point and watch them move and track their movements- and it is true- they move, but we are also moving, and all changes. Nothing that is will ever be again. All is change; every moment is lost even as it is born. We mourn.

Yet even the newness bears echoes of the past. We begin to rely upon the resemblance of new to old. All change in the universe starts to disintegrate into patterns, ever expanding. The radiating movement blurs before us, meaning is lost in the vastness of the universe. Is there anything, upon which I can focus? Any turning-point, upon which I can fix my eyes?

If I am just one of ten-billion stars in the universe and it is up to me to make sense of it all, to make my shining worthwhile, then just snuff this light out, I am nothing new. I cannot create meaning.

Perhaps, if we all work together we can create something beautiful, valuable. Not one small light, but many. But who orchestrates the direction of our shared luminosity? Or are we just a chaotic stream of atoms crashing together, sometimes forming chemical bonds, and sometimes breaking them?

Is my bright star really just a flashbulb of the paparazzi, going off in the night, flaring up and dying out? My moment passes. Someone else will either create something from the remnants or discard them altogether. Can this be?

In the distance, there is something greater than the flashbulbs, brighter than the stars- the Creator of the Universe and all that is in it. The creator of ten-billion humans who just want to express themselves in one way or another- who just want to be seen and to be heard.

The Maker of all things has chosen to make me, and to make me thus. Why? What are you doing here- has it any value? Do I dare question? I bow my head.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

How Quickly I Forget


My heart seems to have dropped into my stomach lately. Too many roller-coasters? Not enough solid ground. All around feels foggy and dark, and though I know the voice I follow, I struggle to see where it leads. What do I do?

A little accident with the curb on Saturday turned into nail-biting waiting the rest of this week, waiting to see if the other guy (who unwittingly ran me off the road) was gonna “bail” on me or if he was honest (he was and decided to settle through the insurance company), waiting on insurance, waiting on a new steel rim, which has to be shipped from somewhere not here.

Strange means of grace have come to carry me through- rides from Ralph to work, a M.L.K. march and celebration that I happened into with dear Anna, a nice time of chat and catch up with the other Heidi, (within eyeshot but not earshot of Angela who seemed to have the same idea of catch up on the same night at the same place). I have friends who will pray with me and give words to vague longings in my heart: longings for justice, hope, understanding, courage, love.

Some days it’s just too much caffeine, too little progress, feeling burdened by a vague sense of uncertainty. Even so, all the evidence I have ever been given, in the long run, adds up to one conclusion: Trust in the Lord with all your heart. In the fog, on the roller-coaster, awaiting response, I question, and I fear. My own understanding wants to prepare for the worst. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding. In all of your ways acknowledge him and he will make your path straight. Proverbs 3:5-6

Why do I fear? He certainly carries me through.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

PAINT IT BLACK

Today was a day of sunshine with milky clouds- warm enough to roll the windows down, cold enough to wear a coat. It was the kind of day I daydream about in August.

I convinced my colleague not to black out Valentine's Day on her planner with a permanent marker. I suggested to her that it might imply “issues” to the parents of kids she sees, and necessitate weirdly personal conversations with people who would prefer to see us in medically neutral terms- as practitioners of health and well-being. She reluctantly agreed, and instead outlined with black around the whole month of February. Where do we get the time? Two hyphenated words: NO-SHOW.

NO SHOW is when clients schedule an appointment and don’t come. It’s a common enough occurrence. Why does the dentist calls you with a reminder of your appointment? NO-SHOWS.

Reminder calls from your counselor are, in general, not a good idea- too much guilt attached. It’s too similar to a guilt trip from mom, (“Honey, did you call them back and ask if they got your application?”) and it doesn’t encourage people to take responsibility for their own issues. So we don’t do it. If it’s really important to you, you’ll come. Well, you’ll at least call to reschedule once you realize you’ve missed.

NO-SHOWS are so common that three of us made a chart to track them. Actually, we don’t track the actual NO-SHOWS, we track our ability to make predictions. Using our intuitions, and the client’s track records, we guess whether or not “iffy” clients will be coming. Right now I’m on a good streak. My percentage of accuracy (in the last 2 months) is 78 %- compare that with Valentine girl’s current accuracy rating of 29 %.

Today: two NO-SHOWS. That’s why we had time to be coloring in days in our appointment books. I was actually daydreaming about taking vacation time in April and trying to guess when would be the first week of sunshine and actual warmth. My colleague was coloring with black. Tough day at the office...

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Just a Few Notes:

I hope your Christmas was good- mine was ~peaceful~...
How often does that happen? Work didn't even feel so stressful upon return. (That can't possibly last).

Well, down in Phoenix, where my brother is, and I spent three days, the weather was just as warm as he had been promised... Up in the mountains with all the rest of the family, it was just as cold as round here (though drier and more picturesque!)

Here are a few snapshots.

Me and a cactus and a mountain- to prove I was there at Sedona.


Doug on a little mountain over ASU- his school.


The foggy mountain in the background is Camelback- can you make out the Camel's head and back? - My brother and I climbed it. To me it was very strenuous, but to give you a proper picture, there were also nine and ten year old kids scampering up the boulders and rails!

My feet over a look-out point somewhere on the camel's head. (Not very far up at all!) See the tiny people on the trail under my feet? Those aren't ants, they are people! That's where I came from!



The rest of the family that went to Sedona- my parents, brother, me, my Grandpa and Aunt Glenna. Aunt Glenna and I shared a room and talked till late several nights. It was fun to catch up. She's the middle sister in my dad's family, and I am in mine. The last morning, my brother and I chilled with my Grandpa and talked. It was nice.



More Sedona- Sliding Rock- in the summertime you can swim here! I don't advise it in the winter, do you see the icicles on the right?


And if you are the praying sort, please lift up the families of my coworkers Aubrey and Yvonne-both had deaths in the family on the week between Christmas and New Years.

My friend, Leandra will be around for a few days- she's a good pal- that Simon and Garfunkel song "Old Friends" makes me think of her and her twin sister.

I think I'm going to keep New Years Resolutions simple this year- maybe something about washing the dishes before they start to pile in the sink. Manageable and I would love to see it happen...