Thursday, July 29, 2010

Just Call Me Maria

This past winter a set of Ikea curtains fell victim to a poorly placed space heater. Not everything was lost, but there was an ugly burn spot that deemed them unfit for service. Enter Maria VonTrap, aka Me. Well, not really, because I didn't actually make these bags since I don't have a sewing machine and shame! shame! I can't really sew that well. Maybe someday. But I did think of the idea! And there was this cute fabric at the tailor when I took the curtains there to be converted, so I had them make the lining with it which ended up making them reversible. How cute is that.

The color of the linen is kind of a boring white, so a little detail was begging. I've never embroidered anything before so the detailing is not so great, but it was FUN and really worked out a creative little bug in me. The kids were enraptured with the needle work, giving me lots of encouragement (even when they noticed the mistakes... "mom! from back here it looks PERFECT!") and cheering every time a new piece was done. I'm giving them all away... some stuffed with baby goods and others for grocery totes maybe? I'm starting to think maybe all my windows would look better without curtains...

Sunday, July 25, 2010

100 Posts {The Far and Away Life}

When I asked my mother what I should do to “commemorate” 100 posts, she appropriately responded with, “maybe you shouldn’t do anything.” A few minutes later she offered, a little tongue in cheek, “what about writing ‘In a Hundred Years, What Will It Matter?...’” How true, I thought. In a way, what could be more appropriate in a blog where I write my little thoughts, centering mostly around me and my life, than to think about what it will really matter 100 years from now. Sort of an antithesis, mockery celebration. Add to that the fact that I was already mulling over and dealing with a bout of “what are we doing way over here??” and you get this, the 100th post…

I remember the way the lines looked, all neat and straight with precision against the chalky feel of the blueprint paper. My mother would study them, rearranging each line, placing the imaginary furniture in front of a different window, placing doors and closets against a different wall. It was the dream of the perfect house, the house that would maybe be, if they found the right land, at the right time, for the right price. My father, he drew lines too. In his mind’s eye they lined up: rows of vegetables and the straight edge of barn beams, the curving sway of a property line edged by a stream, or perhaps a row of fir trees.

I remember too the day they signed on the dotted line. No blue prints laid out or barn beams raised, just a signature and a single file walk across our suburban street, to a slightly bigger house with a slightly bigger yard, tucked back against the sewage canal that became our “stream-edged” property line. The house dreams waned and the barn dreams died, the vegetable rows found a place inside a smaller picket fence. But other things grew where those dreams lay buried.

Three years ago, I the child of that house-drawer and barn-dreamer, packed the remains of our thrift store furnished house, saying goodbye to the budding friendships of our young family where the bonds of a lifetime are often formed, whispered tearful parting words to our families as they headed back to the East and the West, the South and the Midwest. We were heading to the Far East, to the Middle Kingdom where a new job and a new land, a new language and people and entire way of life seemed to have beckoned us to tear up our roots and replant. It wasn’t entirely clear why. There were reasons, there were confirmations, but there was never a calling in the way that some people are called. We simply meant to keep learning to do what we are always called to… love God and our  neighbor in all the myriad of ways we are meant to do so.

It’s three years post our leaving, twenty five years post their moving and I think back on those early, fresh faced dreams of my parents, of that house and that barn. I think of those dreams dying and the years since, marked both by the maturing and the marring of their mistakes, the kind that come from every one of us who are broken people living in a broken world. I think on the goodness of God. Those early dreams given up and given over, then slowly eroded and built up with a new and somewhat imperceptible work, the slow growing of a life that matters forever. That kind of life, it grows on a patch of land settled for in suburbia. Settled for but not watered with tears of bitterness or regret. Now a handicapped man moves in, now a broken marriage knocks on the door, now a neglected child comes to play, now a lonely woman comes to lunch. My imperfect parents with all the marks of their imperfect lives pour out imperfect love that rings out to all eternity, and I sit in my other world, in my other country and think of dreams.

I think of the dream to live overseas, to teach in a place that aimed for Higher things, to seek after a life that didn’t look the same, and I wonder where this dream leads. Because though I miss the land of Target-runs and Trader Joe’s less and less with its grind of the busy-ness, the push of the keep-up, the pressure of activity, I feel the weight of our absence in that place.

I look at pictures of nephews and nieces, of friend’s babies I once held and watched play on my floor, and I feel the three years’ absence in the little faces that are growing more unrecognizable to me. As the years pass, I will no longer be a faint memory to those little cheeks that are losing their roundness, but a forgotten one. Life moves on and I am noticeably not a part of it. I spend the last month, rejoicing in our summer here, void of consumer driven activities, but in the midst of the summer fun comes the realization… it’s been a year since Grandpa’s tractor rides and there is still another year more til they ride again.

But you chose it, you say. Many people don’t, and I wonder sometimes if we made the right choice. Is all the leaving worth it when your only goals are to love God and love neighbor, in all the myriad of ways he calls you to do so? Could we have just as easily chosen to do those things two doors down from flesh and blood, of the kind that is thicker than water? My friends and I, we turn to each other and we make ourselves sisters, patching together families out of the fragments that have come from other lands and other cities, but I think on the sister that drew demarcation lines with masking tape across our childhood bedroom and mourn that her son is only known to me in pictures and scattered words. My children run the streets and parking lots, forming friendships that are sweet and powerful and will make a lasting mark on the memories of their lives, but I also watch as their kin, with whom they share a hundred years of heritage, build separate memories and lives, unknown to their cousins on the other side of the world.

It's like I am looking at a photograph, filled frame to frame with the smiling faces of a family gathered. My face and the face of my husband, my children, are slowly fading away though the rest of the faces remain. No one does it to us, no one is abandoning us or making us feel removed. We’ve done it to ourselves. We’ve taken our presence out of the vacations and the dinners, the phone calls and holiday visits. We’ve made it impossible to run down the street to play or stop over for coffee or have grandma or auntie babysit for the weekend. And I feel the weight of it.

I feel the weight of it, and I think on the goodness of God, who takes a broken world and broken people, dreams that are dashed and dreams that seem to break families apart and I know there is something He is doing. My dad, he dreamt of a farm and though he lost it he found people and the building of a life that will last. I dream of a life that will last and know that it comes even while it feels like I’m losing in this one. I know that even though God cares about place and family and the way we embrace our lives in this present world, sometimes he calls us to leave those things because he is doing something else. There was another man who left a place for what reason he knew not. And though I am no Abraham I know that my God is the same as his. Sometimes what He is doing is unclear for generations, but the thread of his grace and presence of his goodness is evident to each and every one of those same generations. Sometimes it’s all I can do to cling to those bits of thread.

I think of dreams and I wonder what they will matter in a hundred years. The garden carved out in a corner of suburbia instead of the perfect plot of land, the suitcases I’ve packed and the people I’ve left, the words that I write here, what will they matter if another hundred years comes to pass?

I draw my lines alongside His, scribbling and erasing, making smudges and ugly marks, wishing I could see what it is He’s writing. In these moments of doubting and wondering, I make my mind think back on all that I’ve already seen. The lines written in Creation, in the written Word He etched out spanning the distance between heaven and earth, in the generations of lives He's made His mark on long before mine, in the criss-crossed lines of the wooden beams that promise redemption and hope and new life to all who come to it. It’s those lines He's left for all to see that make me trust in the ones I cannot see now, and bring dignity to the ones He is letting me draw out every day, in this life lived for both the here and now and the far and away.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Pwetty Girl

My girl. She has no business wearing dresses really. But she loves them, calls them her "pwetties!" And I feel like in some way, they tone down some of her more aggressive qualities. "Spirited," a friend called it. Yes, that's what I need to say when she climbs out of windows giggling as she stands precariously on narrow ledges (until Daddy runs in with heart at his feet and swoops her away), as she walks up to each and every child gathered outside to play and pushes them the way a linebacker would, just as a way of saying "hello."

A sun dress can make all that seem okay, can't it?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

{film} Woody Says It Better than Kirk

First, a marathon disclaimer.
1. My husband told me not to post this (he thinks he's my editor). He liked reading it but he had seen the film and said most people probably haven't. 
2. I know this could bore the brains out of some of you, or offend the rest of you who have a deep love for Kirk Cameron, so if that's the case come back tomorrow or the next day and I will have moved on from movies by little Jewish men. 
3. By the way I really love little Jewish men. Chaim Potok's books? Amazing. Life changing. Woody Allen films? Provoking. Brain Churning. I even named my son after a Jewish man. 
4. I'm not trying to have a go at Kirk Cameron or C movies, but I do tend to have less faith in them than those who think these films will bring about a revolution in marriage or saved souls or something. They probably do some good, for some people. I'll leave it at that.
5. I really enjoy watching a good film that makes me think... and then talking about it. 
6. There's not much of a forum for that where I live, and I can't very well send my little review to my old film prof from my college days, so the result is
7.  I'm posting it here.  
8. It's like I want to have a discussion about it, but I'm the only one talking, so bear with me.
9. Thank you

I watched a film by Woody Allen called Interiors (1978). It’s one of his less popular movies, receiving mediocre reviews but four Oscar nominations. I found this out after viewing it and finding much that moved me, then humbly realized I must not have much of a critical eye for such things, since the big whigs weren't that impressed. But the purpose of a good film is to draw you into a world and to move you in some way (to question, to see, to break through, to wonder, to grieve, to lament, to rejoice). And so I suppose in that sense this artist has done his job.

The story follows three daughters whose father has left their mother after three decades or so of marriage, and the way it severely affects their lives. The mother is a mentally unstable woman but an intensely artistic and successful one—yet her focus on the exterior in her work, her home, and most significantly in her relationships leaves her daughters crippled and hurting in their struggle to make their own lives and families.

One thing that stands out poignantly in this story about crumbling marriages and family relationships, as opposed to Kirk Cameron’s Fireproof (2008), is the lack of an attempt in the film to teach you something. A good story should, in its own right, take you to a place of reflection, of discovery perhaps. But a story with an agenda is oftentimes trite or just overtly preachy. And for many of us, this turns off our ability to be truly moved and changed.

In many ways, I think Allen’s film asks similar questions and explores some of the same content as Cameron's Fireproof (2008).There is the whole marriage issue. And beyond that is the portrayal of the Ego as god which is reflected upon in each of the characters, leading one to ask, is the love of self truly the way to happiness when it hurts and even destroys the selves around it? The father complains that it’s time for him to finally look to his own needs after all these years and he wants everyone’s support to do so, but he claims this right in the face of the tragic repercussions that follow. The eldest daughter and her husband pursue their careers as writers, but the husband is so torn apart by his inability to match the success of his wife that he lashes out in anger and jealousy and ultimately damaged pride, devouring the women around him in an attempt to feed his own diminished but increasingly hungry ego.

Even in the apparent supportive gestures of the successful daughter, we see that her inability to love others by seeking their greatest good is masked by her flattery and insincere compliments. Her love of her own trade and commitment to it, her laziness in wanting to help those who are struggling around her, leads her to offering pithy, weak comforts in order to hopefully assuage their pain. That, or she is simply ignorant to doing the hard work of speaking honest words in love, something most of us can relate to. Each of the people within her circle senses and even calls out this lack of honest feedback, which is something they need and crave more than a surface encouragement that is no balm to their truth seeking souls.

Over and above it all is the hollow mother. Spending hours perfecting the details of color and composition, form and aesthetic beauty, she cannot deal with the fragile but infinitely more important substance of the inner life. She backs away from emotion, from intimacy, from the warmth and vitality but also pain and sacrifice of relationships and we are unsure why. Is it because of sickness; an irregularity of mind and body that she cannot control? Is it because of choices she has made to unknowingly hollow herself out while buffering her exterior image? Is it because she is the inheritor of the faults of generations before her, raising her up with an inability to lavish love where it is most needed-- the heart and soul of another human being? Or is it all of these in their varying degrees? Again, something we too can relate to as we search for the why’s of the sins we are plagued by.

The daughters, the estranged husband, all are deeply affected by this tragic woman. And this too, I think is a reality of life that we often ponder. We don’t want to be affected by the fallenness of others; we want to rise above, to be walled off, to be “strong.” We also don’t want the guilt of our own fallenness and how it affects the people in our lives; we want them to bear their own responsibility and leave us to ours, to bury our guilt or pretend we are free of it just by saying so. But are we? Are they? Our families, our friendships, the way of the world since the beginning of time tells us this isn’t the way it works. And it’s not the way it works in Allen’s film either. The sin of each one are borne upon the lives of the others

Near the end, the middle daughter, staggering under the weight of giving so much sacrifice and time to her mother while never feeling approval or even much more than disdain from her, spills out her aching thoughts in a dark room, where the mother arrives unexpectedly in the night on the eve of her father’s remarriage at the family’s old seaside home. Pouring out her pain: the rejection, the despair, she ends with, “but I love you. And in the end we must forgive each other.” We sense a glimmer, a speck of light in the heavy darkness. But the stone exterior of the mother is cracked and she cannot bear it. She walks out of the room, down to the rough waters of an early morning sea, and disappears into it forever. 

The family is left, gaping with the tragedy of their mother’s broken life and the missing pieces of their own, longing to find a balm , a restoring thought or act that can move them beyond all they can’t understand. They muse over a simple, exterior memory. And as they wrap arms around one another, we are left hoping they find it in the bonding of their interior lives as well. 

Most importantly, we are left to ponder the ramifications and the intricacies of family relationships, even possibly the existence of such things as morality and a social outworking of it. We are not given tidy scripted stories that end in restoration and bliss after only 100 minutes. I am a believer in answers, but certainly they are not easily come to and the way there is often messy. This film offers a look at the mess, and if from there you go looking in the Right Places, (which I think Kirk, even in all his cheesiness leads you to) there can be great Hope in the end.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Hat Attack

There are lots of hats in the works around here. Babies comin' (not mine, but lots of friends and beautiful sisters having them soon!) and fall is around the corner, and to be completely honest, hats are just easy and fast to make for a young knitter like myself. 

There is also some exciting yarn coming over from the States, faithfully carried by some dear friends who were willing to use their precious and limited luggage space to help a sista out. It will be a huge improvement to my lackluster stash here that has been surviving on the little Chinese hole-in-the-wall yarn stores that are forever moving or closing down, playing one big and unamusing game of cat and mouse. Can't wait to dig my hands into some new projects when the new stuff arrives. Maybe a sweater will emerge... maybe a few. Who can say?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

personal day

Every school year my hard working husband is afforded a couple "personal days"-- time off that doesn't have to be excused by sickness or death or anything but some simple time away from the grind. This same hard working husband has graciously offered the same gift to me... a personal day all to myself. Actually, he has given me a few of them and let me tell you, they are glorious. I even woke up at 4:30 am so I could get out of the house at the beautiful sunrise hour and drink in all the things I can do when it's just me.

I don't have a whole lot to show for that day. Just a beautiful cup of early morning affagoto which I enjoyed in the stillness and quiet of a side street cafe, a door from a village walk, and some words written down about souls and marriage and Woody Allen. I also bought some new plants for our patio which now feels inviting instead of slightly trailer-trashish.

As the evening drew near and I moseyed home through the park near our house, I met up with a dear friend and her little girl at the beach down the way. Her daughter is stunning and too cute for words, as is she, especially being nine months pregnant and full with the roundness and beauty that happens when a baby takes over a woman's body. I took a few pictures, wanting something to give her to remind her of this rare and beautiful time that can often just feel puffy and tiring. The results didn't convince me to start a portfolio or anything, but it was fun to have someone to look through a lens at that wasn't my own offspring. All in all, a delightfully refreshing personal day.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

It Was Worth It

These long, hot weeks of summer have thus far been a challenge, an adventure... to find ways to enjoy and learn, to have fun and be together, all without the conveniences of consumer entertainment or accessibility of the familiar. It's been rewarding and sweet to see the ways simple things can bring so much joy and excitement. Things like bike rides and picnics, homemade ice cream and fountain jumping, beach combing and canvas painting, book reading and journal writing, lemonade stands and early morning "soccer training," camping out in the living room and in-house scavenger hunts, porch slip n'slides and popsicles, they all have meant little to no spending and have brought hours of restful play (can there be such a phrase? when you don't feel chaotic or frazzled, but are truly enjoying your Play... it is a beautiful thing). 

But today we threw money to the wind and went to the pool. There is a pool here in our city, a beautiful, brilliantly clean, serenely peaceful, gloriously quiet pool where there are umbrellas and soft, fluffy white towels and the water glistens aquamarine and sparkling with sanitary cleanliness. It's an oasis. And ridiculously out of control expensive. It is something that will maybe happen only once every two years. But oh it was worth it. Some of us never left the clear blue waters but for a bite to eat and then it was merely for fuel. We eked out every last hour we could muster and then headed home, sunburned and glowing with the delights of diving in and out of waters like newborn porpoises at play for the first time.

I laughed as I watched each of our children, completely living up to the stereotypes that gave them their nicknames. There was Skills, dedicated and task-oriented from the get-go, intent on learning new swimming techniques and asking repeatedly and without ceasing for the next challenge he could take on. He never left the water or his pursuit of mastering yet another sporting event.

Then Curls. So named because of his curly hair but also his sweet, curl up against your side personality that just wants to cuddle and burrow into anything he rubs up against. Today he wrapped his arms around one of his Daddy's and hung there contentedly with a far-off smile on his face as he watched the mayhem of activity around him. He never left that spot the entire day.

Finally, Scout. Her first move was to run headlong toward the waters edge and attempt to throw herself with abandon into the abyss of shining water, until a strong arm scooped her up from behind (an act repeated more than once). She never tired of jumping fiercely off the edge, giggling with delight and immersing herself completely in the water, time after time after time. My burnt shoulders bear the proof of this. 

Tomorrow we return back to normal life. Back to a land where pools don't exist and sometimes we pour water on our tile porch for a little fun in our bathing suits. But today we lived like kings, and even though we may have to eat rice and beans for a week to make up for it, it was well worth it.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

{book}worm wednesday :: Kipling and Shakespeare and Other Strange Tales

I'm not quite sure what happened to all the other Wednesdays between this one and the last time I posted a {book}worm. But nevertheless here we are again with another round of books that we are savoring, or enduring (in some cases), gobbling up or chewing slowly... or just working our way through.

You may wonder if it even seems realistic that I have more than one book on this list, and if I'm being truthful by sharing them here. I'll tell you that most of our reading happens in bits and pieces of time. With early waking hours these days we usually spend some time on our back patio with toast and coffee and pillows before the rooster or any other reasonable creature has cracked open an eye. If boredom or squabbles set in midmorning, we'll break for some book time. There's usually a story or two before naps, and then while the two younger ones sleep, Skills and I read a more advanced story that's just for the two of us. Keeping little feet out of the kitchen before dinner often lends itself to a couple more minutes on the couch, battling toddler legs that want to get up and down while two more attentive boys wish she would just sit quietly. And then before bed is when our chapter books get chipped away at. There are other moments of solitary "reading" which is more like flipping through picture books, though the older they get the more they can work at sounding out the words, etc.

For me, most personal reading is done in the evening or during a nap if that time isn't packed with something else like cleaning, shopping, cooking, you name it. My husband is somehow blessed with the ability to read while children scamper wildly at his feet or even over top of him, as well as while perched beside the bath while water splashes wildly about. I am somehow not blessed with his ability to focus.

What the Kids are Reading

On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder
On the heels of Little House on the Prairie, which sang of golden prairies and the lure and mounting tension of the Indian Territory, we head into the Ingall's family new venture in a small dugout on Plum Creek. I continue to be amazed at what Pa can do, at what the girls can be entertained by (days locked in the house, they sat by the hearth and amused themselves), at the lack of information about Baby Carrie and how in the world they did all they did with a toddler around (it's a small point, unimportant to the story... and I need to get over it)

Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
We curl up on my bed and get lost in the world of a boy and his hound pups. Every time I read it I have a teary moment. We took a break from this book for a little while but just got back into it and I notice my son has begun to do what seems natural for every young child... pine for a pet. He even has his two dogs named, and lists of what to do to train them (jumping through hoops of fire somehow seemed important). One thing I love about this story is how much is revealed about this young boy's character... and none of it is spelled out for you so it's not preachy, something even kids can pick up on.

Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling
A very exciting arrival. Last week we received a couple books I had been wanting for a long time. This was one of them. The kids were into it right away and don't seem put off by the slightly accelerated language. The stories are fun and imaginative, all recreations of things like "how the leopard got his spots" or "how the rhinoceros got his skin." Every time I read something by someone I admire, it seems they grew up on Kipling's stories... so I'm just trying to cover my bases- but enjoying it immensely in the meantime.

Hamlet (for kids) by Lois Burdett
A truly delightful and easy to read, easy to follow rendition of the Shakespeare plays. Honestly, they're good for me regardless of whether the kids like them or not. But they do like them. They can follow the story and of course his stories are riveting. The poetry is readable, but reflects the style and prose of Shakespeare, to the point that many original quotes are able to be included. This series comes pretty well acclaimed and recommended. I'll be getting more!

Anno's Mysterious Multiplying Jar by Masaichiro and Mitsumasa Anno
A simple book about multiplication but it is fun and helpful for counting too. It's really dealing with factorials in a fun and interesting sort of way... lots of good illustrations and ways of explaining things with words. This is a bit old for my kids, but the oldest likes to think through the math equations and copy them down. He's kind of a type A personality in that way. The rest of us just think it looks pretty.

Belly Button Book by Sandra Boynton
Have to include our twenty-times-a-day little feature. Sandra has a great way of talking about things and belly buttons are included. Now our little Scout runs around poking people's tummies yelling "bee bo!" and giggling infectiously every time you poke her back. What is so interesting and humorous about a belly button?... I wish I could remember.

What I'm reading

The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell
A spell binding story. A heartbreaking tale. A book full of questions, and characters who are slowly but carefully unwrapped. Definitely worth reading and pondering over. Everyone I know who has read it could not put it down.

Love in Hard Places by D.A. Carson
Isn't that the crux of it all? Love is all lovely until it gets hard. D.A. Carson... he is the man. I always learn from and appreciate the way he deals brilliantly with the exposition of the Scriptures, but thinks and works through it so enmeshed in the stuff of life-- which is what it is for. He's a genius scholar, but he doesn't get unnecessarily wrapped up in the scholarly aspects for their sake alone. He is after the gripping, life-altering Truth.

The Husband List

Modern Times by Paul Johnson
Lots and lots of history from the 20th century. A lot.

Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell
All I know about this book was that he "read it in Beijing.

The Murder Room by P.D. James

The Last Best League: One Summer, One Season, One Dream by Jim Collins
Apparently the most important summer league known to any aspiring baseball players. All the big prospects go there. Kind of like playing at Rucker Park in NYC. Jim Collins went and spent the summer there in 2002 and then wrote about it.

And as always, I'd love to hear what you're reading, or what you're doing to make the reading happen!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Ricotta to Rest: Last Two Dishes... To Die For!

Way too many puns in that title.

I have now used up all the ricotta in that wonderful first batch from a few days ago. These last two recipes are so delicious and fresh and full of summer flavor. I'm also on this salad kick so it was exciting to find one that could use up some of my overzealous jar of homemade cheese.
The salad is from a great food blog found here. Definitely not my own discovery... I find nothing original on my own but humbly admit I am usually a mere follower. Most of the salads on her list looked amazing to me, but this one was a winner because of this list of ingredients:
  • asparagus (love, love that my dad is growing it in his garden!)
  • broccoli (love like a faithful friend)
  • orzo pasta (can't get... I used couscous instead-- love)
  • sprouts (love in a it's-weird-that-I-like-to-eat-things-that-taste-like-grass-but-I-do kind of way)
  • fresh lemon juice, olive oil, garlic (love, love, love)
  • feta cheese (love, but I had ricotta and it worked great)
  • toasted almonds (love them, eat them, especially with chocolate but that wouldn't work here...)
  • avocado (oh my)
  • cucumber (love it like it's the middle of summer and nothing says it like the crunch of a fresh cuke!)

All together this combination is amazing and light, but filling and healthy, delicious and satisfying. It's not something I would eat every day like some previously drooled over dishes. Maybe it's because of the stronger flavors? But I will definitely make it again.

Next up: Pesto Chicken and Ricotta Pizza

We make a lot of homemade pizza here and though they usually have to include pepperoni and lots of mozza cheese, I tried a friend's combination the other night and it was so wonderful, made with... ricotta! I used chicken tossed in pesto, fresh cherry tomatoes, yellow and red bell peppers with red onion tossed in olive oil and salt, and a simple garlic white sauce as the base (and a light sprinkling of mozza too). 

So now my jar is empty, but I have loved every minute of consuming it. Still on the hunt for good salads. I'm thinking something fruity/cheesy/nutty for the next one...

Friday, July 2, 2010

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Re-entry Days

Rain, rain, come today. Come and wash my stains away.

Starting up the hill, I was plucking along on my four-weeks-out-of-shape legs, feeling the
slight burn in my chest, until it leveled out again near the sea where waves foamed gently in
the evening air and the crowds started to thin in the darkening light. Then the rain came. A
drop on my nose, one on the back of my shoulder, leaving me unsure if there was someone spitting high above where the embankment rose up from the boardwalk, or if a storm was pending. Minutes later the phantom spitter was acquitted and I welcomed the cooling downpour.

Just rain, you might say, but it felt like a baptism straight from the heavens above. I know He didn’t send that rain just for me tonight, but surely He speaks to me in it, using those cleansing drops pouring in rivers down the lines of my face as he poured spirit words from the Word into my soul.

It was a rough day. Re-entry can be like that sometimes. A husband gone long, now returned but spending his first hours shivering in bed on a hot and humid day, and an overly anxious wife with expectant eyes and nearly burst brain cells. It wasn’t the fairy tale homecoming I had been longing for.

The worst part of it is that I knew I would react wrongly. I knew something would happen in my over-eagerness of his return. And as he slipped and slumped into that aching, incapacitated state I felt the annoyance start to rise and I knew it wasn’t his fault but my eyes still stung with tears of weariness and disappointment as I hauled the kids outside for yet another day.

And at the end of the day when I had cried it out and we had talked it through I ran in that rain, wondering why it is that even when I know I am heading down the path of bitterness and begrudging and want to stop, I still nurse those inner feelings of entitlement and resentment.

And then that rain kept falling and the Spirit kept talking. Maturity doesn’t always look like sainthood, sometimes it looks like needy weakness on its knees. That’s not to say I am in that place… I still think my choices reflect immaturity most of the time. But rather than drive me away to despondency, I know I need to lift my face to look straight into the weeping eyes of heaven, letting those drenching, cleansing drops wash my filth away. Pride tells me to sit and nurse the day’s mistakes, but humility says this is my wrong and if it wasn’t for You it would leave me dirty and muddied. But admitted, it is washed clean over and over again. And I run clean, and wet with the memory of what it took to make me free.