December Snowfall 2018

These are the days of . . .

snow hanging heavy on the trees

wrapping up on the couch with a blanket

catching up on my reading

nothing but the sound of kids laughing

breaking the cold, damp winter silence

 

These are the days of . . .

lights cutting off, the hum of the refrigerator falling silent

A different silence falling on the house

And the kids jumping into a game of bananagrams

waiting on the one who is missing, my eldest, to return home

from far away, with good news

waiting on another good news

 

This is the time . . .

for a lot of waiting

What else can one do with 13 inches of snow blanketing the house

and trees down across the driveway?

But wait, breathing in hope, breathing out fears

 

A Beautiful Life

my husband hanging a self-built bat house on the side of our deck, for temporary testing and observation

a daughter making raw carrot cupcakes, carrots never tasted so good

another daughter dropping a kiss on my cheek for no reason

teen brothers working in the kitchen, washing and cutting potatoes, dropping them into a large pot for boiling

all 6 of us around the table holding hands, praying Grandpa’s prayer “Thank you God. Amen.”

while at the table, *reading aloud about Enneagram number 1 (The Perfectionist), kids laughing, giving me knowing looks as I describe a One coming unglued over an inappropriately loaded dishwasher.  I am not a Perfectionist, but haphazard dishwasher loading will make me sigh, or quietly curse, or grump.

After supper, I see . . .

a son pushing the lawnmower while another son weedeats

a daughter coming outside, asking “Are you having fun planting your trolls, Mama?  Do you need any help?”  I give her the shovel, she digs while I drop in small celosia — deep red, fuchsia, orange, yellow

air dimming, colors and shapes muting

“Look at the sky, Mama,” a peach brushstroke against fading baby blue

fireflies drift, bats dart, we stand under the bat house, looking up, hoping

“I’ve heard that when bats come home to roost . . .” Sid says, sounding like a wise man uttering prophecy, “a whole bunch of them swoop to the bat house at once, all of them trying to fit inside that small hole.”  We laugh, imagining the sight and sound of bats pummeling the little wood house, like a Looney Tunes cartoon.  We stand there a little longer, looking up, hoping

Later, heading toward bed, I see . . .

my 3 teenagers and 1 almost teen, sitting around the kitchen table, chatting, laughing, the girls painting old turtle shells found in the woods, doing nothing really but enjoying being together, each loving the company of the other

 

 

This writing is my turning around, changing the way I see the world, pulling my heart from the pit of dread and despair (just call me Eeyore), and focusing on the Good.

Inspired by Erin’s post Small Step No. 17:  Say What You See at Design for Mankind

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* The Road Back to You:  An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery, Ian Cron and Suzanne Stabile

 

Brain and Heart Food

I began reading a lot of books and watching quite a few shows that I did not bother finishing.  I kept reading these and felt they were worth my time.

*Books absolutely worth owning and giving space on my bookshelf.

 

Fiction

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Mark Haddon

Gods in Alabama, Joshilyn Jackson

Written in My Own Heart’s Blood, Diana Gabaldon

*At Home in Mitford, Jan Karon, a comfort re-read

The Curse of Crow Hollow, Billy Coffey

 

 

Nonfiction

*The New Jim Crow:  Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, Michelle Alexander

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, Jenny Lawson

Bossypants (audiotape), Tina Fey

The Artist’s Way Julia Cameron

*Heretic!: An LGBTQ-Affirming, Divine Violence-Denying, Christian Universalist’s Responses to Some of Evangelical Christianity’s Most Pressing Concerns,by Matthew J DiStefano and Michelle Collins

Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative, Austin Kleon

*The Gospel of According to Mark, various translations

 

Poetry

*Maya Angelou (Poetry for Young People)

*Mary Oliver Poetry —  Why I Wake Early:  New Poems

 

Movies

Hidden Figures

A Man Called Ove

Foyle’s War (rewatching with the girls)

The Good Place

 

 

My independent thinking rabble-rouser

Last night, I picked up three of my kids from the youth meeting at a local church.  The teachings are conservative, with recent discussions on women under leadership of men and election/predestination.  My 12 yo, a self-published author, jumps in the car and says “Mom, I’ve got another idea for a new book.”

“Another book idea ??!!?” I ask jokingly.  She has been working on a book sequel, a rebuttal essay on why women can TOO preach, and she writes collaboratively with her sister, Rachel, almost daily.

“Yeah, and I’ve got a title for it,” she continues.  “It will be called ‘Liberal Thoughts of a Lady.'”

A Litter of Kids on the Couch

After years of “getting by” with a broken couch, it finally occurred to me, “None of us hang out in the living room because nobody enjoys lounging on the broken couch.”  We were separating and spreading out into different parts of the house, spending less and less time together.  

Since I wanted my teens to hang out with me and each other more often during the day, we bought the VIMLE couch from IKEA.  Now, this is the scene I often come upon . . .

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Yep, THREE teenagers and a dog all sleeping on the couch at the same time!

But they aren’t always asleep.

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Then they fully awaken and the wrestling and squeals begin again.  The couch was so worth it, just for this.

To My privileged Son from his very Privileged Mama

The man said, “If I had that much power, the kind that would let me grab any woman I chose and still be President, power without consequences, I too would grab her and her and her.  Because that is my true human nature and fear of consequences is all that stops me.”

Son, I’m still trying to decide whether I’m glad you heard him say that.  You’ve always respected him, and while there may be something to admire in his brutal honesty, I hope you will never decide that his truth is your truth, that his weakness will be your weakness.  I hope you see that he is wrong about no consequences in the here and now.

Words crowded my mouth, desperate to counterbalance his words.  I think you already know though, don’t you?  I think you understand the consequences of your moral conscience, living with knowing that you abused or preyed on another.

Son, you are white and you are male. That makes you privileged in ways that may be hard to completely grasp since you have never lived outside your whiteness or maleness.  But if you were born privileged, you were also born to a responsiblity — to use what you have to protect those who don’t have.  The harsh truth is that the greatest danger to those around you will sometimes be YOU —  protecting others from your own ego, your own desires, your own selfishness may be the only and most important protection you can offer.

This is true for all humanity, of course, but it is truer for you.  Because of your privilege, a privilege that makes it so easy to blindly trod on others without meaning to.

I think you already know these things, but anxiety gnawed —-  What if you know now, but lose your way later on?  As years go by, what if other people you admire share their own warped versions of the truth (and they will) and cause you to doubt yourself?  What if I’m wrong, and you don’t have the wisdom I think you do?  What if you wrongly interpret his words?  Can I change things, make you wiser, strengthen you?

Son, I didn’t know where to even begin this conversation and worried that I was going to miss the chance to do it “right.”  Then I remembered what I do know — the heart of you and that “one who is faithful in a little is also faithful in much . . .”

I remembered your kindness to your younger sisters, when you immediately apologize for a brusque word, when you make yourself answer kindly a demand made in a less-than-kind tone, when you sacrifice your time to help with her project.  In your daily interactions with those two younger siblings, you continually humble yourself, wield your power of the older brother for their good.

I see you practicing acts of love and mercy now, even when you don’t feel like it, as surely as you practice pulling your bow across cello strings.  Right now, daily you are practicing to be a better husband, a better father, a better man, a Protector and an Encourager.  Every time you wield your power of choice by laying it down in favor of another, you gain power over the Worst that is inside you with the Good that is also inside you.  True Strength is not wielded against another.  It is laid down for another again and again.

You have experience in this my dear Son.  I have witnessed your faithfulness in a little leading to faithfulness in much.

Still, the anxiety caused by the man’s words made me want to grab you by the shoulders, spear you with my eye and say “One day, you may be in a position of power, the kind where you can make a wrong choice without suffering consequences.  And it will be your choice — to do right or to do wrong.  Don’t blame your human nature overpowering you or some kind of Satan tricking you. It will be all you, making your choice.”

But I didn’t do that.  I sensed it was not the right way with you.  Struggling, I let trust in you guide me.  I chose to simply ask and hear you speak.

“Son, what did you think about ———– words?  Do you think it is true that only legal and social consequences chain you to right choices?”

“Well,” you said, “I think his view assumes that I, myself, am okay with the wrong choices.”

I exhaled, anxiety dissolved.  humbleness moved in.  You did not need me to show you the way.  All I needed to do? — Be still, know, and LISTEN, trusting that which is Good in you.

 

 

A regular occurrence

The house, unusually quiet as I sit reading.

Then pounding feet on stairs, basement door banging open, and my eldest son of 19 runs into the kitchen, around the island and turns, poised, looking back the way he came, face bright and expectant.

I abandon my book and watch Sidney, wondering . . .

His younger sister, 14, slowly walks into the kitchen, popping her knuckles.  Rachel moves around the island.  Sidney moves in the opposite direction.  She stretches her neck and shakes out her arms.  He laughs, makes a run for the dining room table, putting more distance between them.  She slowly paces him, menaces him with a glaring eye, a smile trembles her lips.

This has been a familiar scene since Sidney and I returned from Memphis 15 months ago.  Rachel loves locking her arms around her older brother, his arms imprisoned at his side, while he tries to wrestle free.  He twists and turns, dragging her from kitchen to dining room to living room.  She hangs on for dear life.  They fall to the couch, roll on the floor, twist their way back to their feet, lurch off walls and furniture.

Twenty minutes, thirty minutes — Rachel has a good, strong grip.  I hope they don’t break anything, including themselves, but it is a vague thought.  I am glad they play together.  In those early days of our return home, Sidney needed exercise, needed to rebuild wasted muscle.  During his tiredest days, escaping her grip was a fun distraction, a necessary workout.

I wonder if Sidney knows that Rachel needed those wrestling matches too.  Still needs them.

His reticent and undemonstrative sister needs to wrap her arms tightly around a brother she loves and never let him go.