Wednesday, March 27, 2013

thank you, but what about this?

Up at 4:30am; awake since around 3:00.  That's my early Wednesday saga.  Thoughts going through my head.  Work stuff, kid stuff.  I just sent emailed myself a to-do list.

I should probably try reading instead of staring at this screen.  The light doesn't help my insomnia.

I'm fortunate in that I generally don't struggle with sleep problems.  My husband does, and it's not something I'm envious about.  He has great hair, of which I am envious.  He's a logical thinker; I am often not and again, I am sometimes a tad jealous of this fact.  But he can't sleep as well as I can, so I guess in that category I win.

Yet alas, this early morning, I do not.  It's most likely a tie, because I know he was up earlier in the night.

This is the week in which some days have a name.  Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Sunday.  The week is labeled Holy Week, as you most likely know.  On Sunday, I'll wrap up my focus on gratefulness.  It's been a good time, and since I'm a decent person, I'll continue to be grateful.  Or at least try.

I've had many reminders during Lent regarding thankfulness.  People and things I am grateful for.  Yet, there have been so many questions.  Questions I thought I'd figured out the answer to.  Things I thought I could explain, yet I realize, more than ever, I simply just don't know and might never.

So, I'm grateful too, for the questions.  And I am more unsure than ever why some are so afraid to ask them.  They seem so sure everything can be neatly packaged, written about and sold at LifeWay Christian Stores.

Sometimes I actually wish I was more dogmatic, more of a fundamentalist.  It seems easier.  Easier not to question, just blindly believe.  Perhaps there's a sense of freedom for those who offer themselves little or none.

I prefer to think God can handle the questions though.  After all, he did give me an inquisitive mind, right?  So I'll thank him for my middle aged brain, and my husband's logical one, and my teenagers' minds because they are so curious and challenging.  Which I'm happy about.  Yet frazzled because there is so much we just don't comprehend.  And what do you tell them?  Google the answers to the universe?  That doesn't work so well for things that cannot be proven as fact.  So we discuss them, sometimes heatedly, at the dinner table.  And that often brings up more questions.

Maybe that's part of the joy of Easter.  Knowing we don't have to have it all figured out.  Knowing we don't have to know the details and the answers and why dreams don't always come true.  I will try my best to focus on redemption and reconciliation, which to me is what this week is all about.    And what I am most thankful for.

Thursday, March 21, 2013


This is a prayer from the February 5 reading of Common Prayer:

Lord, remind us that it is not always agitated uprisings and nonstop activity which lead to justice, but that change often comes through the quiet commitment of a small group of people. Help us raise our small body of people to set about quietly becoming the change we want to see in the world. Amen.

The prayer above is interesting.  It's not a bring down the house kind of prayer.  It's not a call to action.  Well, actually I suppose it is.  It's a call to a quiet commitment.  It's a call to set about quietly becoming the change.  It's revolutionary, but not in the typical revolutionary kind of way.  No shouting, fighting, or calling to arms.

I was reminded recently of some of the personal goals my husband had when we married.  They were fine goals.  They were reasonable and most likely achievable.  But that's just it.  They were about achieving.  And they would have required nonstop activity and noise.  The opposite of the above prayer.  So I'm glad he didn't obtain them. 

Yes, I know that sounds strange.....I'm glad my husband did not meet his goals!  I'm happy he's not doing anything extraordinary.  And neither am I doing anything extraordinary, of which I'm also glad.

But really, I'm not sure if that's really true.  Get this:

Unless you make what is right left, and what is left right, what is above into what is below, and what is behind into what is in front, you will not learn the Kingdom.
Acts of Peter
The Apocrypha
[please do not label me as a heretic for quoting The Apocrypha]

But please do consider, perhaps we live in an upside down world, and what we deem as ordinary is often [as on a regular basis] actually extraordinary:

taking a walk with your family
making dinner with someone you care about
eating a meal together
watching a football game with your spouse
listening to an orchestra
riding a bike or hiking a trail or running in the rain
teaching a child
cleaning your bathroom
being alone

In other words, quietly becoming the change we want to see in the world.  And being thankful for the joy found in that quietness. 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

surfer table

Sometimes I wonder if I have any business doing what I do.  Being where I am. Living where I live. Etc.

Midway through my college years, I transferred schools.

Northern Arizona University
I went from a state university to a small, private school.  I moved my educational life from the forested mountains of northern Arizona to the beach.  As in San Diego.  As in this:

Point Loma Nazarene University
These are two of the dorms at PLNU.  My senior year, my roommate and I had a view of the ocean.  I am confident I never will again from my living quarters.

One of the things I noticed early on about PLNU was the cafeteria situation.  At my former school, the cafeteria was large and I and my fellow diners ate wherever we chose for the particular day.  There was no real order or method to our choosing.  Well, at PLNU, there were a couple of tables I will refer to as the "surfer tables".  Ironically to me, they were not near the wall of windows affording the ocean view, but nearest to the buffet line's end.

The people that sat at these tables were surfers.  Mind you, when I say surfers, I mean actual surfers.  It didn't take long to realize these folks were different than the rest of us.  They dressed differently, they talked differently, and for the most part, they seemed to stay to themselves.  It was a small school attendance wise, very similar in size to my high school.  Everyone knew who everyone was.  Not necessarily by name, but by association.  I don't know how they came together so quickly, but from day one, the surfers knew to sit together at meals.

No one else sat at their tables.  Sure, there were other kids who knew how to surf, who owned a surf board, who kept one in their dorm room.  Others who occasionally went out on the water for an afternoon.  But these guys, these guys were the serious ones.  We actually had a surf team.  And they were actually quite good.  This clique, so to speak, was mainly males.  But there were a few females who were part of the group.  I'm not really sure how all the girls got in.  I know some of them could truly surf, but I'm not sure about all.

I've always been a bit of a sociology buff.  This type of group intrigues me.  There is very little chance another type of person, no matter how cool, exciting or popular was going to break into their pack.  They weren't necessarily snotty or holier than thou.  Many of them were friendly enough.  They just had this small society thing going on. 

You can join most entourages.  Hang out enough and eventually, you'll most likely become part of the group, provided you have beauty or money or something to offer.  If you can make the group better, they'll let you in.  But eat at the surfer table?  No.  You had to be one of them. 

Despite my niceness, whether or not I taught myself to surf, how many Gidget episodes I watched as a girl, or how much time I put in researching the surfing life, I was not going to be invited to sit at their table.  I was not one of them.

There are days when I feel that way now.  I no longer have a minor obsession with surfers.  I got over that in 1988.  No, this has to do with what I am today. Some days, I feel like I'm trying to fit into something that I have no business in.

Kentucky is a hard place to move into.  Despite having lived here for 9 years [and this is the 3rd time I've lived here, making for a grand total of about 14 years], I often don't feel totally at home.  Strong yet often misinformed opinions, low educational standards and the fact that Kentucky ranks 49th in happiness out of the 50 states doesn't help.

Lately I question whether I am ridiculous for living in my neighborhood.  Do I have a clue?  Am I naive?  Can I possibly make a difference on a street which the police frequent with flashing lights?  Where do I begin?  I'm not here as part of a {missional} trend.  I'm not part of a group of people, except the three I live with.  We're not here to represent a movement or a fad.  We're here because we want to bring hope to a street that could use some.

Do I have to become a different person to bring hope?  Sometimes it seems that way.  Sure, I've changed through the years and grown.  But for the most part, I still like the same things I've always liked and have not developed into some pseudo personality.  

I'm sure most people have doubts and questions.  I realize that's normal.  But lately I wonder.  I really wonder if I am a square peg, so to speak.

Or perhaps, I'm once again over analyzing everything.  I tend to do that. 

Monday, March 11, 2013


Today is Monday and it's a rainy day.  I'm one of those "rainy days and Mondays" people.  In other words, it's not easy for me to be overjoyed on a Monday that's also a rainy day.

I'm trying to focus on gratitude during this season of Lent. One of the specific ways I'm trying to do this is during my morning commute to work. As in, I try to think about what I'm grateful for. This morning, as I reflected on my weekend, I realized for the most part, it was an ordinary one.  Nothing spectacular happened.  My family did not leave the city.  I did not acquire anything fantastic or eat out.  It was a regular few days, and even included a Taco Night, which while something we Moncks greatly enjoy, was not out of the ordinary for us.  Perhaps we should rename it Noche de el Taco.

While this weekend was not at all significant or special, I realized there were some joyful experiences.  I went to a University of Kentucky gymnastics meet with my daughter and a friend/co-worker.  Our team won the meet.  Likewise, the UK men's basketball team won on Saturday, invoking a few yells at the tv [by me] and leaving my husband, son and I standing during the final seconds.  On Saturday morning, the weather was glorious and my daughter and I went for a run.  Saturday evening, our family went to Starbuck's and played a board game.  On Sunday morning our family attended a church service together.

There was the usual chatter.  I think we covered the following topics:
  • hell
  • Rand Paul and his filibuster
  • fads in the church
  • donuts
  • various theological thoughts, views, theories
  • college basketball
  • Rory McIlroy
  • the possibility of making Vine and Main Streets in downtown Lexington one-way streets
    • and the possibility of our family taking it upon ourselves to paint solid yellow lines on said streets
  • whether our new neighbor might be attempting to poison our dog
  • the failing careers of female Disney stars
  • and various and assorted other things
Nothing out of the norm for us.  

I'm coming to realize there's much to be grateful for in the ordinary.  And a mindset of gratitude can make the normal more pleasant.  It's in the outlook; it's dependent on the lifestyle.  It comes down to a choice.

"Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings."
~ Williams Arthur Ward

On Sunday, we took a walk.  As in all four of us, plus our beagle.  We walked around our neighborhood.  And while it was simply a walk, it was a blessing.  I was grateful for a sunny afternoon, two teenagers still living at home, a husband/dad who makes us laugh, and an old dog who loves a stroll.   Sure, it would have been more exciting to fly to Chicago or dine at a gourmet restaurant.  But I'm not sure if either of those would have brought any more joy.  I'm learning to be thankful for today.  It's not always easy.  It doesn't always come naturally.  Especially on rainy days and Mondays......

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

ombre and fashion and kids

If you are not familiar with the term ombre, I suggest you GOOGLE it.  It seems to be popular now, in hair, in nail color, in furniture painting, decorating, etc. Basically, if you can change the color of something, ombre is a possibility.

After much [and I emphasize much] consideration, my teenage daughter decided upon ombre hair. We recently tried a blond dip dye, to no avail.  Her hair, already blond, did not show a definite difference in shades.  On Saturday, she leaned towards purple.  As in, a subtle, purple dip dye.  Again, if you're not familiar with what a dip dye is, by all means, utilize GOOGLE.  I will not take the time to describe or explain.  But alas, all we could locate in the purple dye department was something akin to what punkers use.  Actually, I think it is what punkers use.  Since daughter Allie is not a punker, she wasn't willing to go as dark as they are.  Come to think of it, is there such a thing as punkers in this day and age?  Anyways, on Saturday evening, after visiting Walgreen's with her dad, she came home with an ombre kit.

Why she trusts me to dye her hair is beyond me.  But she does.  I, personally, am not a fan of hair dye.  I prefer the natural methods of coloring one's hair.  I use henna when my gray becomes unbearable.  Sure, in my youth I highlighted and applied Sun In.  I became a blond during my college years.  But that was a long time ago and I lived mostly in California during that phase.  Enough about me.....  Dear, sweet Allie wanted a change.  So, a change we attempted.  It's a bit difficult to tell from this photo, but I do believe the ombre dye was a success.  Her hair is lighter on the ends and darker on top, which is what we were trying to achieve. 

Having a daughter is an adventure.  Often a stylistic adventure.  Allie chose to spend some of her saved money on a subscription to Vogue.  She and I watched the documentary September Issue together.  Then she read Grace:  A Memoir, which is about Grace Coddington.  And now I'm reading it.  She follows Cara Delevingne, has numerous magazine cut outs of Cara on her wall, and knows when Fashion Week occurs.  [Yes, I realize Grace and Cara are not everyday type people, so again, by all means GOOGLE if you're unfamiliar.  Were it not for Al, I would be.]  Allie will shop at American Eagle, but prefers Topshop.  She believes in putting together an outfit, not just wearing a shirt and jeans from a popular store together.  There's a difference [in her mind and I agree].  And she photos herself and posts her outfits on Instagram on a regular basisI don't think posting them has anything to do with arrogance, I think she just enjoys fashion as a hobby.

I believe we as a society, especially those of us who have at least some compassion and mercy in our hearts, often see fashion as frivolous.  Yet I'm not sure it's anymore so than sports or music or art in other forms.  While I would never condone demeaning anyone because of their attire, I would also not discourage a star athlete from accomplishing anything possible.  See, I'm not sure there's a difference in a 6'10 basketball star and a 5'10 thinly built girl who might end up on a Paris runway.  They're both using what they've got, so to speak.

Enough of my mini sermon on the art of fashion.  If you know me today, you realize I'm not exactly a fashionista.  Yet there was a time when I enjoyed clothes much more.  I have very fond 1980s memories of diving into boxes of my aunt's old clothes from the 1960s.  My grandmother let me take what I wanted and interestingly enough, people complemented me when I wore many of those items.  Today we'd call them vintage.  Then I called them my aunt's old clothes.  I still love a good thrift store adventure.  And I quite honestly would never buy my clothing at Chico's, even if I could afford regular trips there.  For one thing, Allie would not approve.

This is the shoe I liked.
Our family visited a shoe store on Saturday.  Husband Chip needed a new pair of shoes.  While he shopped, I looked through the women's clearance section.  I found a pair of shoes I liked.  Allie even liked them.  Son Jamie, well he disagreed.  When I pointed out a pair of ballet flats, he mentioned they were better suited for me.  So, honestly I cannot win.  Not as far as pleasing my kids.  My son thinks I should wear less makeup.  My daughter, more.

Teenagers are fun.  Once they move on, I figure I can wear what I want, unapologetically. Until then, well, it's always a risk to walk downstairs in the morning.

"Mom, what are you wearing?"  

That question is heard often.  I suppose it's a bit like peer pressure, yet my kids are not my peers.  On a positive note, Allie did give up spending for Lent.  My husband and I did not push her that direction.  We did not require our children make a sacrifice for the season.  She came up with this on her own.  I'm proud of her, because she likes to spend.  So no new shirts or pants or socks until after Easter.  We did buy the ombre kit for her.  We're nice that way. 

Our dog CJ is very fashionable, also.

Friday, March 1, 2013

the failure of hopes to manifest

A little over a year ago I wrote an entry entitled, {disappointment}.  It was written in response to just that, some disappointments our family was facing.

Funny that today, a Friday, the first day of a new month, the eve of a weekend filled with family activities and enjoyment, I find myself struggling with disappointment.

Our daughter wants to study in England.  Her plan is to be a foreign exchange student her junior year of high school.  She's currently a freshman.  We found out last week England, Ireland and Scotland do not participate in the exchange program she would be a part of.  These countries feel the the US is not culturally different enough from them.  There are other countries she could choose.  France, perhaps?  She is in her third year of French.  Except France doesn't accept vegetarians, which she is.

I realize it will work out.  She can go to another country and probably have the experience of a lifetime.  Or she can wait until college and study abroad then.  Or perhaps another plan will come to be.  But for today, it's the failure of her hopes to manifest.

She really, for whatever reason, desires to go to England.  And it seems to be more than a phase.  As a parent, it can be difficult to monitor these things.  Is this feasible?  Is this out of the question?  Is this......?  She's passionate about it.  To the extreme.  It's like she's ready to go, fly, explore.  And of course, we, as her parents, don't want to hold her back.  Yet, it's a big deal.  Moving across the world, that is.  But today, today England is not possible. 

There comes a point as a parent when you can no longer mask disappointments.  Kids come to the realization that life is unfair.  Life is not always pleasant.  There are rules that apply to us but we'd rather they do not.  Things don't always make sense.  Algebraic formulas that work on paper don't always converge with the realities of life.  People come, go, move, change, and so do situations.  And we can control very, very little.

Those are hard lessons for kids.  Those are hard lessons to convey as parents and guide our children through.  

When our children were young, a problem could be taken care of with an ice cream cone.  A consolation meal at McDonald's could bring joy.  Now neither of our children eat meat, and an apple doesn't make for the best treat.  I actually put together a small surprise for my daughter last week.  She was happy, grateful, seemingly touched.  Yet, she knows the happiness won't last indefinitely and the disappointment is still a real feeling.  It simply can't be covered up.  At least not for long.

Comforting a teenage girl is not easy.  It's nearly impossible in our case, and I'm not certain comfort is what she wants or needs.  She wants a ticket to London, and that's not going to happen as planned.  So we'll modify and maybe purchase a ticket to Rome or Milan.  Or maybe Prague.  Time will tell.  Meantime, I'll try not to obnoxiously [help], which is difficult, because being obnoxiously helpful is one of my specialties.  But again, a cheesy smiling mother is not what she needs.  She needs to work through the disappointment, establish an alternative goal, and make it happen.  I'm certain she will.  And eventually she'll need and want some help with the plan.

Seeing your daughter's hopes fail to manifest is difficult.  It is frustrating.  It is a disappointment.  I look forward to seeing how this aspect of her life plays out.