Wednesday, June 20, 2012


Last Monday, nine days ago, my friend had a colonoscopy and was told that she had a two inch cancerous mass in her colon. The doctors scheduled her for surgery two days later, on Wednesday morning. By Wednesday morning, however, more tests had revealed something more, so they postponed the surgery to investigate further. By the time we were all gathering for dinner at church that night, she was getting the news that cancer had completely overtaken on kidney and was working on the other one. She was scheduled for surgery again, this time for the following Tuesday (yesterday) and this time to remove one entire kidney, a section of the other one, and the mass in her colon. My friend sits next to me every Sunday morning in the choir loft, every Wednesday night in choir practice, we frequently eat dinner at the same table on Wednesday nights. She is a little older than my mom and fills a similar role in my head when I’m at church. I tried not to cry through choir practice last week. We’d gotten the news just an hour before practice, and some of our members weren’t present when it was announced, so those of us who were had to repeat the horrifying diagnosis several times. I choked back the tears when we sang about God’s glory and unending grace, and let them flow freely when our director prayed over us before we left. I called my husband and told him about her. I was heartbroken.
She had the surgery yesterday. We all got emails from the church secretary keeping us updated on her progress. She came through the surgery well. She will be in the hospital for a week and a half. I was relieved. But here’s the confession: I didn’t pray for her. Not really. I offered up some paltry “God please help her, please be with Jennie, etc.” prayers while I was applying foundation and drinking coffee and brushing on my mascara before work yesterday. I got in the car for my for my 45 minute commute and instead of spending the drive praying for her, I turned on NPR to get the latest on the Egyptian presidential elections and whether the Greeks had voted to keep the Euro. Because those are the really pressing issues in my daily life. I got to work early and instead of praying for her, I took a phone call from another friend who I hadn’t talked to in a while. I had to fill her in on all of the details of my brother’s wedding which had taken place over the weekend. I got up this morning and thought briefly about praying for her while I was in the shower, but this stupid song was stuck in my head so I couldn’t concentrate. I can’t even remember the song now, but trust me. It was stupid. On my drive in, it was a similar story from yesterday. Did you know that Myanmar’s long-time protest leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, was finally able to accept her Nobel Peace Prize? And that Julian Assange, the jerk who released all sorts of classified information about the US and is also up on rape charges in Sweden, sought asylum last night at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London? Side note, it’s right around the corner from Harrods.
Disgusted at not being able to pry myself from the radio long enough to even think about my friend, I slammed the dial off and drove in silence, considering this post. Maybe, I thought, it’s not that I’m spiritually paralyzed by laziness. Maybe it’s that I’m having a faith crisis. Yes. That’s the ticket. That would be so much better. I can pray to God for my daily issues, pray about the direction of our family, pray for wisdom, pray to have a servant’s heart. It’ s just that I’m struggling with this cancer diagnosis. It’s too big, and I don’t want to pray my heart out only for it to be crushed if my friend isn’t cured. That’s it!  This is a coping mechanism.
What a wonderful blog post that would make. It’s tailor made for Deeper Story. It’s got heart. It’s got humility. I’d be admitting a shortcoming, and to top it off, it would be a totally righteous shortcoming. I’d totally get points for admitting it. For authenticity. For owning up to my “brokenness”.
But the truth is that I haven’t prayed to God for my daily issues, about the direction of our family, for wisdom, or for a servant’s heart in weeks. I’m in a slump. I’m in a lazy summer slump. My life is going well. I’ve been bobbing along nicely for some time now. No major crises. Nothing I can’t handle. And right there. That’s the problem: I’ve been handling my own life, and I’ve fallen out of communion with God. I’ve just been too busy. It hasn’t been important to me, but now, when I come upon an issue that really is more than I can handle, my friend’s cancer diagnosis, I am so rusty at prayer that I can’t even get a word to come out o f my mouth. Maybe I was handling my own life just fine, but we don’t just pray for ourselves. We pray for each other, for our whole community. We need each other to be strong in the Spirit and we accomplish that through prayer, through constant communication with God, through an ongoing dialogue. We need to be constantly exercising our faith muscles because the enemy is never lazy, never in a slump, but always lurking. But for me, when the time came and my friend needed my prayers, I was so spiritually out of shape that I couldn’t come through for her. So this is my first post about brokenness and authenticity, and it feels a lot more sinful than not having enough faith that God will heal my friend.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Scratch Made

i'm always coming up with ideas for saving money, making our family healthier, being more organized. in general, i scoff at self-help authors, gurus, websites, books; but personally, i'm going to self-help myself to death! ha. my latest idea is to make more things from scratch at home. in looking at our grocery budget, the items we spend a lot of money on are mostly pre-packaged foods and/or going out to eat because we didn't have a meal planned ahead of time. while i'm not jumping into the deep end exactly, i think this past weekend's walmart receipts (as in two trips) will show that at the very least i jumped in where the 5ft. starts sloping down and you have to bob on your tip toes.

behold the various notes that are on a notebook that sits beside my chair:

Staples I buy a lot:
 - Marinara sauce
 - Black beans
 - Kidney beans
 - Chick peas
 - taco seasoning
 - chili seasoning
 - Oatmeal bars
(not sure what's up with the inconsistent capitalization)

Learn to freeze:
 - dried beans
 - marinara sauce

Learn to make:
 - granola bars

Figure out:
 - where to buy beans in bulk

This week
 - beans
 - cheese its
 - chocolate muffins

as i mentioned a few days ago, i am a meal planner. our budget lives and (more often than not) dies by the strength of my meal plan. this week, not only have i planned out our dinners (successfully this time, i hope), but also a few snacks to have around the house and something for breakfast. and, since beans show up so frequently in our weekly menus, i decided to work on cooking and freezing dried beans (they're so much cheaper than the canned variety plus they have much less sodium).

i found this blog, joy in my kitchen or something like that. she did a whole 31-day series on cooking from scratch. she covered topics from stocking your pantry to making your own version of Wheat Thins and Cheez Its, so for my snack i decided to give the cheese crackers a shot. also, i have an old standby recipe for chocolate chocolate chip muffins that make a wholesome, if not entirely healthy, breakfast, so i planned to make a batch of those, too. at walmart yesterday, i bought a 2 lb. bag of dried black beans and soaked two cups of them in water overnight.

today after church, olivia insisted on making the chocolate muffins even before we ate lunch. so we did. who am i to say no to licking a bowl of super chocolately batter??  after lunch, i threw together the cheese cracker recipe. it was remarkably simple, just whole wheat flour, a little oil and water, and shredded cheese. turned out it was also remarkably bland. next time, i'll add garlic, salt, cayenne pepper, and more cheese (extra sharp this time, too).

while i cooked dinner (homemade waffles, bacon, and eggs) and listened to grady brown at the beach (my sunday ritual), i diced up some onions, celery and carrots, and threw them into the leftover bacon grease to simmer. after dinner, i added them to the soaked and drained beans in a stock pot, poured in a little water, and put it all in the fridge for later this week. oh, and also, i made a batch of jello and divided it up into all these tiny, plastic condiment cups that i have (thanks to my grandma...i'm sure she got them at a garage sale. i don't know, but they're awfully useful), put the cups in a casserole dish, and slid the whole thing in my fridge. it looks like i made jello shooters for a party. the truth is dissapointingly more mundane: one box of jello is a heck of a lot cheaper than one 6-pack of jello cups.

so, at the end of the weekend, we have:
 - beans in a pot, waiting to be cooked
 - bacon in a bag, waiting to be added to a quiche
 - two spare waffles for breakfast
 - 14 chocolate muffins
 - 1 bowl of almost inedible (but very cute) cheese crackers
 - lots of nonalcoholic jello shots
 - about a half cup of homemade tomato basil soup left from last night that i'm probably going to have for lunch tomorrow.

i'm tired. wish i'd put my bottle of wine in the fridge!  it's only 10pm..i've got time to kill. later, y'all!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Post, the 2nd...this one's gonna be long, too

we had an adventure today.  actually, we have an adventure most days, but today, being saturday, it was an epic adventure. first, we slept in a until 8:10 am. then, jason hit the yard running (or riding, to be more literal. he was on the lawnmower when we left.) and, olivia and i headed out to complete our "to do list" (or is it "to do" list? someone tell me, please).

first: we had to wait until barney was it was actually almost 10 am before we could leave the house (it takes an awful long time for a little girl to get ready).

but then we were ready to go. i tried to use back roads to overshoot the farmer's market and land us at a fast food restaurant so we could eat biscuits on the way. didn't work out quite right and we ended up passing the farmer's market (much to olivia's confusion and chagrin) to get to a hardees where we sat in the parking lot and each had a sausage and egg biscuit (they've got a special going, 2 for $3). while we were there, we discussed in great detail the little bird who was hopping on our windshield wiper blades. that was fun.

finally, we went to the farmer's market where I bought twelve snap dragons, olivia picked out one container (a 4 pack) of hot pink vincas to buy with her "millions of dollars" (the $2 jason had given her before we left), and we together bought six ears of silver queen corn from Byrd's Farms as an impulse buy.

moving on, i trusted my super duper navigation skills and successfully used the back roads to land us at the super walmart. because what visit to the farmer's market isn't made twice as good by pairing it with a trip to walmart?  olivia did a spectacular job pushing the buggy through the store while i steered it from the side. really, she did. this was the best behaved she's ever been in the store. usually, she has to ride in the buggy. she's growing up over night. after several scenes like this: "Olivia, can you find me the orange cheese with the blue label? the orange cheese with the blue label. no, the blue label. no, the other one. GOOD!", we finally made it out of the store just after noon (note to self for later reference: 2lbs great value dry black beans $1.38).

we came home, and, as i mentioned in my previous post i don't plan to sugar coat things, i let olivia sit in front of the tv for a solid hour and a half while i put away groceries, washed dishes and puttered around. during this time, i did fix her lunch, though. which she ate in front of the tv. sue me. i make it work. plus, it was sesame street, so that's educational.

now for the fun stuff. we spent the next forever hours (i lost count. it was almost 6pm when we finally came in the house) planting flowers and pulling vines out of the blueberry bushes. and having an archeological dig. see pictures below (i know what i said about pictures yesterday, but these aren't artistic in any way. they were snapped with my phone). 

i can't figure out how to make them go across the page, so i'll just have to ask you to scroll, scroll, scroll.  i'll get better at this blog thing.


so the big excitement came after i discovered a piece of glass buried in the dirt between the blueberry bushes and olivia's swing. i set about digging it out with a stick, but once i figured out what it was, olivia got her own stick and came to join me.

once again, it's approaching midnight, and i'm exhausted. good night, all. i'll try to figure out the pictures thing later. just wanted to throw them up here for now.  

Friday, June 1, 2012

alright, i've done it. i created a blog. except for one failed attempt at a group blog among some of the church ladies (we were all inspired after a beth moore conference and decided we were going to memorize two verses a month...), i have no experience blogging. i read them all the time. a lot more than i ever meant to (thank you very much, caroline privette, beloved sister in law of mine). ever since she introduced me to Sarah Bessey formerly of Emerging Mummy, now just of Sarah Bessey I think, I've fallen down one vole hole after another (we have a vole infestation problem at our house) in the christian blogosphere and wasted countless hours in deep thought. but today was the nail in the coffin for keeping my ideas to myself. i stumbled on ann voskamp. my first reaction was "aahhh...this is lovely", but then i noticed a typo. a glaring typo that could not possibly have been poetic license. and then, i noticed how incredibly annoying her weird phrasing was. and i've got an english degree and am a voracious reader, so i have encountered unusual prose styles before, but this was just too much. pretentious. confusing. utter nonsense, really. i was flummoxed. what do i think of this strange thing? the pictures are beautiful, but really. do we need four pictures of the same combine? i'm from a place called lake swamp. i've seen a tractor. so i emailed the aforementioned sister in law my feelings on voskamp:

Have we talked about Ann Voskamp before? Do you know this strange person? Maybe you've mentioned her? Whatever, um...I'm not sure
how I feel about her. I think I'm going to buy her book for myself for my
birthday. Here's how I feel when I open her blog (with the volume up on my
>  - I feel like a bull in a china shop.
>  - I feel a little jealous and think rather aggressively, as if someone's
accusing me of being the opposite, "I can be gentle and kind and meek, too. I'm
this kind of person, too!  Don't you see?!?!  I AM SWEET AND LOVING AND HAVE
>  - I feel annoyed because she has a lot of glaring, dumb typos.
>  - I feel perfectly at home and like this is someone who would not look
strangely at me if i were to show up for dinner at her house wearing a cape,
funky shoes, black nail polish, several strands of handstrung beads, and bearing
a loaf of banana bread.
>  - I feel peaceful.
>  - I feel like I'm walking through a quiet, kitchy tourist boutique in the
mountains; one in Maggie Valley rather than Cherokee.
>  - I feel inspired.
>  - I feel like it can't possibly be this simple.
>  - I feel like she's naive.
>  - I feel like she's brilliant.
>  - I feel like she knows something I don't know.

> - I feel like an awkward teenager at an adult function. I'm wearing a dress
that doesn't fit properly because at 14, I'm too big for the "little girl"
department but my mom won't let me shop in the Juniors department because it's
all trashy, so I have to settle for Misses, where all the clothes are cut for
women with breasts and butts and hips, and I have none of the above. 
>  - I feel annoyed again.
>  - I feel inspired again.
> How do you feel?

the bigger problem, though, was that i had not discovered all of these shortcomings until after i'd already told a few people i was planning to buy her book, one thousand gifts or something like that, for myself for my birthday next week. now. what can these people possibly be thinking of my judgment?!?!  they probably think i'm a total sap. oh, well. anyway, i moved on quickly because i had a shit load of stuff to do in the house, and the autoplay music on her site happened to be someone i actually like (can't remember his name. check out her blog if you dare.), so i cranked up the laptop speakers and went to work cooking and folding clothes and straightening things up, but ultimately not being nearly as productive as i am leading you to believe here. i get the girl wonder to bed after some strange arguments over whether it's a good idea for her to try to balance on the back of one of her chairs a la an eastern european acrobatics troupe and huddle into my recliner with my trusty blanket and my baby computer (is it called a netbook? is that the technical term? i don't know these things.) to search for recipes for tortilla casserole because i'm meal planning. i have a 45 minute each way commute, i'm a mother and i'm a wife. i meal plan.

holy cow, this thing has gone on for a while. whew. land the plane, there, lew. land the plane.

ok, ok, anyway, i went from recipe searching to more mommy/christian thinker/whatever they're categorized as blogs, and after one too many quiver fulls, fundies, and others of that ilk, i found one with this tagline (or whatever you call it):  "a place where joy, stillness, sorrow and bliss flow seamlessly." and that's when it really hit me. they're all full of shit. "joy, stillness, sorrow and bliss flow seamlessly".  no they don't. it's a long, rocky row we're all trying to hoe here. i'm so done with all this fluffy, lovie dovie, everything's roses stuff. no. it's not. it's hard, man. so i am doing the world (or at myself at the very least) a service:  i'll write my own blog. it will be kind of the bizarro ann voskamp blog in that it will lack artistic pictures, flowery language, an actual following. so, here it is. the language will become more coarse as hour approaches midnight (i turn into a pumpkin at 12:01am). i'll try to make the grammar and punctuation unoffensive at the very least. can't say the same of the opinions expressed.

(for someone who signed up for twitter two months ago but still hasn't sent out the first tweet because she can't think of anything to say, i didn't have any trouble conjuring up an inaugural post. sorry.)