Archives for November 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

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For each new morning with its light,

For rest and shelter of the night,

For health and food,

For love and friends,

For everything Thy goodness sends

~Ralph Waldo Emerson

A prayer

As we go about our very busy lives at the start of a very busy season, I thought I would offer up a series of short reflections for us this week.  Something small, to center us on truth and grace and the gift that is apple pie. Today, a prayer.

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Gather us now, to you.

Join hands with us around our tables and turkeys and delight in our tryptophanic rest.

Meet us in the late-night errands, the lists we scribble, and the important things we’re sure to forget.

Live within the words we speak and the meditation of our hearts.

Revel in our off-key tunes, our living poetry, our messed up lives.

Quiet us as we enter the tilt-a-whirl of family and friends, so we might listen more than we speak.

Place the forgotten, the invisible, the weak and wounded, in the palm of your hand.

Teach us to trace our names, the ones inked on the very same palm, as we gather there too.

Reveal yourself in the weak morning light, in the stars, and in your storehouses of snow.

Encircle us with grace and crown us with wisdom.

Gather us now, to you.

Five Minute Friday: Fly

Hello, Friends. Welcome back for another Friday spent with Lisa-Jo and the Five-minute crowd. Today, we’re taking five minutes to write on the prompt Fly. Do you have five minutes to write, read, or both? Why don’t you join us?


1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community…

Today’s Prompt: Fly

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This might not work is either a curse, something that you labor under, or it’s a blessing, a chance to fly and do work you never thought possible.” – Seth Godin

I didn’t think it possible for me to find any type of work for which I have a natural affinity. Or to find work that I love, or look forward to, or enjoy in any capacity other than the simple joy of bringing home a paycheck. For much of my life, I believed the part of me created to do good work was essentially–broken.

Writing flipped everything on it’s head, and I find a deep joy and satisfaction in creating. Every bit of writing I’ve done, every word laid down falls into the “this might not work” category. Most of it has never flown, but instead toppled from the branch into the mud below. But, I believe hope is a thing with feathers, and regardless of my work “not working”, not paying, not flying in the way I hoped, I believe it still has the means to fly. It possesses the downy, tender fluff  which may someday grow into full, broad wings.

I think so much of the work of writing is impossible. It’s impossible to show up in front of a computer screen with something fresh everyday, and somehow writers do. It’s impossible to believe that one’s work will connect with someone, communicate a truth, meet a need. And yet, it does, even when that need is the writer’s own. It’s impossible to believe that stories change the world, but I am living proof. Stories continue to change me.

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Are you doing things you never thought possible? Are you trying hard to fly? Tell me about it! I could use the encouragement.

Life tracks

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My husband brought home a sound system with an enormous, ugly speaker, and slid it onto the kitchen counter next to the vintage blue scale holding three artfully arranged white pumpkins. I told him no. I moved it to another room when he wasn’t looking. I said “absolutely not”, when it magically re-appeared. Beauty always wins out over function for me. He convinced me to turn the speaker on and use it until he could find a way to wire it into a less obvious venue. He’s a cracker-jack lawyer, that one.

I spent a day listening to jazz. Then I discovered the acoustic channel, and after much fumbling, I figured out how to stream in my own playlist. Bliss. I turned up the sound to White Owl while I peeled potatoes for dinner, and the music transported me back to Switzerland. The scent of fir trees caught in the back of my throat, and I heard the muffled crunch of snow under my running shoes. While my hands prepared a meal, my mind ran through Horgenberg, along the rock-strewn path around the lake. Forest to my left, fields to my right, cold air filtering through my chest.

I forget that my days, even entire life seasons, have a soundtrack. There were a number of years where, out of necessity and a deep need for soul silence, I pressed pause on the music. The cacophony of the baby’s cries and the toddler’s calls and the ever-present physical needs that shouted “Listen to me!” all day long put my sensitive ears on overload. I could not take in one more sound, one more insistence that I pay attention to this moment. I think, perhaps, I listen a little too hard.

I remember the passing of seasons when familiar music plays, and I feel grateful for so many of them, wistful for others, even angry at a few. The music is a mirror image in many ways. The songs are weird and eclectic and pure pop sugar and raw. They are forests and birthing rooms and finish lines. They are first dates and poetry and watching my younger self dance in front of the basement glass door. They are the muffled crunch, the inward scream, the healing balm.

I set Switzerland to the soundtrack of Güngor and Josh Garrels. Their art served me well in that place. I don’t know what the soundtrack of our new/old life in New Jersey will sound like, but now I have an ugly/beautiful sound system to help me figure it out.

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What are you listening to in this season of your life? What soundtrack is the most meaningful to you?

Life in numbers

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I have exactly fifteen minutes before the kids trickle in the door, one by one, with shoulder-slung bags and algebra-weary faces. It’s funny how numbers can write themselves across our skin, and we sag and crumple under the weight of them.

I know a family, a veteran and his wife, saddled with medical bills and car troubles and an unexpected, difficult pregnancy. No doubt, they count the years of his service. They count the monthly means that never seem to add up, always more month than money.

My mother in law counts the years her husband has been gone. My sister, the years she’s lived away from her city. My parents the hours they work, the grandkids they miss. We’re all counting something. We’re all marking time or money or the number of ways we succeed or fail.

I adventured in the big city last week, attending an open house at a university and later, a conference on “Women and Calling”. The numbers that were thrown at me made my shoulders sag and my heart crumple. The cost of a graduate education, the number of students they don’t allow in, the hours it takes to get there, the tick, tick, tick of time spent away from my kids. And then the conference: the number of times I hopped the wrong train (one, if you must know), the steady rise of my tricked-out heartbeat, the new friends I met, the countless times I wondered what in Heaven’s name I was doing there among women who are actively changing the world for Christ.

My husband tells me not to be ruled by the numbers. But, I inwardly wilt when I calculate the years my children might need therapy if I decide to pursue school, writing, or this fuzzy, indistinct call. How many years have I wasted? Can I afford to spend my years in this way any more?

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Fear takes the form of numbers when I see an impending fork in the road. I am Robert Frost facing his yellow wood, and everything in me wants to take the road most traveled, the clearly marked one, where fear lurks in the bushes, but doesn’t reach for my hand along the way. And yet, there are whispers of another way. One that might require me to grasp hands with fear, and make peace with the numbers. One that follows Mr. Frost down his lonely path of the less traveled. Who knows? It might make all the difference.

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What numbers weigh you down? What are you counting?