Saturday, July 28, 2012


I am not terribly graceful. While not exactly awkward, I’ve never thought my movements were beautiful or lithe. I ain’t no ballerina, much as my six year old heart wanted to be. Now, I long for a different kind of grace and beauty in my life. I picture scenes like this: I wake up before dawn, push the button on the coffee pot, take a quick shower, maybe throw a quick bread into the oven, grab a cup of coffee and settle down to do some Bible study. I light a candle, turn on Fernando Ortega, and spend an hour immersed in Scripture. God speaks to me. I listen. I am moved. I have learned much. I am a better servant for Him. I am prepared for the day. I have put on the Full Armor of God, am ready to ward off the evil that may attack my household. My husband can sit proudly at the city gates now. My children, er-um…just the one that I have, will call me blessed. Except - my idea has flaws: no quick bread under the sun takes an hour to bake…I’ve burned the coffee cake.

Here’s the real picture of my Saturday. I did wake up before dawn. At 5:40am, actually. I started the coffee pot, debated on taking a shower, and decide to whip up a batch of fresh sourdough bread while I wait for the coffee to perk. Because I’m good like that, yo! I start proofing some yeast and then try to find something soothing on the radio. Nothing’s on. I try to listen to NPR, but the show that’s on before 6 AM ain’t no Terri Gross…or Tom Ashbrook…I try the local Christian radio station. Nothing but bubble-gummy pop. Whoops, I banged a glass. I’m going to wake up the whole rest of the family!  Finally, I pull out my husband’s laptop and turn it to that good, old faithful blog I go to all the time and complain about punctuation, and listen to her lovely autoplay music. It really is peaceful. I love it.

Ok, got the music going, got the coffee perking, my yeast is proofed. I haul out my big bread bowl, pull down the box of flour and…damn. I’m almost out of flour!  I may not have the requisite 5 cups of unbleached all purpose. Oh, well, no reason to panic. I can totally deal. I measure out as much white flour as I’ve got then do the rest with whole wheat. Add the other ingredients, add the yeast, lukewarm water (which I’m sure is too hot), start to stir. It’s not incorporating all of the flour. I remember that whole wheat flour absorbs more liquid, so I throw in a splash more water. It turns sticky. I do not remember it being this way the last time. Must be because of the whole wheat. I’m sure it will work out, so I go ahead and cover it, put it on my back porch to rise, and go get a coffee cup to fill.

As I’m sitting the carton of coffee creamer on the counter, I hear the tell-tale signs that a little person is awake. I walk to our bedroom door, shoulders sagging, and open it. There she is. “I want to hold you, Mommy.” My husband, noting the look on my face, says, “Bring me a bottle of milk. Maybe she’ll go back to sleep.” But I know it’s no use. She’s awake now. There will be no scented candles burning while I pore over the Words of God. I pick her up and carry her to the kitchen.

“I was just about to fix myself a cup of coffee,” I say, much more cheerfully than I feel. “Would you like one in a big girl cup, and then we can drink it on the front porch?”

“Yes, ma’am,” is her reply. Well, thank you, God, for the small things. She said “ma’am”.

I praised her for her good manners, reminded her that she needed to use the potty as soon as she woke up, and then we fixed our cups of coffee. She chose a pink and white novelty mug that someone had given me a long time ago. It’s got the silhouette of a woman wearing high heels and a ruffly dress. In girly pink letters, it reads “So Blessed” then in tiny letters along the bottom of the cup “No wonder my heart is filled with joy! Acts 2:26”.

Anyone who has ever had a little person of this particular age knows that it takes a long time to do anything with them. As we are finally ready to go out to the porch, coffee cups in hand, I spot my tub of sourdough starter, all fed and ready to be…made into bread!  I FORGOT TO PUT THE SOURDOUGH STARTER IN THE SOURDOUGH BREAD! This is like saying, “I forgot to put the cream cheese in the cheesecake.” Again. Damn. Is that the second time I’ve mentally cussed this morning? I cannot believe I’ve done this. I’ve wasted what little flour I had, wasted that precious 30 minutes when I could’ve been reading the Bible and praying and listening to God and doing all of those things that I beat myself up for not doing.

Oh, well. No point crying over it now. We take our coffee and books out on the porch, and I start writing this. And that is where we are. She spilled her coffee on the little outdoor table and insisted on cleaning it up. I took her in, and we got a damp wash cloth. I carried her back out to the porch and sat her down. “You’re a good carrier, Mommy!” she says. I moved the plants and books off the table and let her wipe up her spilled coffee. “I clean up the spill, Mommy! Now you can put all the ‘fings’ back,” she tells me. I was sitting on the steps, just getting ready to type some more. I get up. Replace the aloe plant, my book, her coffee. We chat a little with the green lizard who had been hiding on my chair. My coffee is cold. We go back in for a refill. We come back out. She wants to put on her ruffly dress (she spotted the ruffles on the woman on her cup). We go in and put on the dress.

It is at this point that I pull out the silver bullet. The one that makes me feel so guilty but works every time. “Do you want me to get my phone for you? So you can play your games?” I ask. I am a bad mother. I am horrible. I work all day, five days a week. We have two days together, and here I am giving her the phone to entertain her within the first hour she’s awake. But…I NEED MY CUP OF COFFEE. I NEEDED A HALF HOUR WITH MY NEW BOOK I WAS READING! Did I mention it’s called Seeking Spiritual Intimacy? I’m sure it holds the secret to that deeper relationship with Jesus that I so crave.

And she has to go potty.

And…I just spilled my coffee on the porch while I was trying to come back out the door holding this giant laptop and my cup of coffee.

And….she has forgotten the phone that was keeping her occupied for so long. She runs to get it. She is adorable. She drinks her coffee by holding the handle only, the cup shaking violently. It’s only half full, but I can imagine it spilling all over the dress she is wearing, the one she wants to wear to a coffee shop later this morning where we are meeting some friends. Whew. Ok. She got it to her mouth and back down to the table with no spills.

I have to stop now. I’ve spent too much time doing this and not enough time with her. Plus, I have a friend coming over later today, so I have to straighten some things up in the kitchen. And throw out that lump of sourdough-free sourdough.

“Look! I catched one!” she is telling me. I look over. She has blown some bubbles and managed to catch one with the wand. Seriously, this is a big deal. She’s never been able to accomplish this before. I have to stop before I miss something else. Thanks for dropping by today. I forget what the point of this post was, but it had to do with grace.

Friday, July 27, 2012

It's the little things

Sarah Bessey challenged us to write, quickly and without thinking about it too much, what's saving us right now. (Oh, my gosh, I'm such a tech flunkie, I don't even know how to link properly. Here's the site: For me, it's not one thing (although as a mom who's debating weaning her almost three year old, I completely identify with what's saving her right now: nursing her sweet little girl, seeing those precious cheeks, those eyes looking back up at you) but a number of small things.

It's that email I received from one of my true "bosom friends" in response to a frustrated, I-can't-do-anything-right rant I'd sent her early in one morning. She said she was right there with me, understood exactly what I was saying, and ended with this clencher: "You are doing a great job. I know you are because I know you." Oh. Thank you, God, for sending her into my life so many years ago!

It's the new posts I get in my inbox from places like Deeper Story, Sarah Bessey, sheloves, and others (again, excuse the lack of hyperlinks; I'm very new at this...also, Kathy Escobar, I miss you! Please come back!) that remind me that I am not alone. I am not the only person neither boycotting nor stocking up at Chick-fil-A. I am not the only one who knows who she is in Christ but still wonders if she's doing anything useful at all.

It's that Michael W. Smith's "Go West, Young Man" came on Pandora yesterday. Really. First man I had a crush on. He so rocked (and still does, of course, but I've got my own personal rock star now with whom I am completely enamored). I can remember, right this second, sitting in my booster seat in the back seat of my Mom's 1980's model Nissan Sentra, studying every section of the little booklet that came in that tape. He knew how to rock a color blocked jacket (though I hope he won't try bringing the trend back anytime soon) and...was it cowboy boots?

It's sitting on my Olivia's bed with her after a long day at work, making a flower design out of her new set of sparkly headbands that Daddy bought her. Did you know you can make the letter "S" by putting two headbands together, just so? She didn't either. She thought I was a genius!

And lastly, it's that deep, abiding knowledge that I AM is big enough. That no matter my doubts, my worries, my tiredness, my confusion, my tears, my anger, my joy, God is bigger than it all but also encompasses it all, is within and without it all. It's that gut feeling that I heard and felt, loud and clear, this morning, driving down that long two lane road between corn fields, "I AM big enough!"

Thursday, July 26, 2012

I Can Count on Bobby McGee

In his (excellent!) sermon on Sunday, our pastor said that among the barriers to real, personal revival was our sin. Of course, he's right, but the idea of barriers to revival is sticking with me, and I wonder if the barrier isn't more insidious than just flat out, easy to identify sins. I think it's also very much about being overwhelmed. Overwhelmed by calendar appointments, committments, and responsibilities, yes; but also, I find myself so completely overwhelmed by too much information. I hadn't even started processing and mourning for the people of Aurora, CO when my heart and mind (thank you NPR) were turned back to Syria again. And then there's the problem of all of those children and families in Haiti that Ann Voskamp posted about last week (Don't you love the ambivalent relationship I have with her blog? Much as her lack of punctuation grieves me, I can't stay away from it.). And I can't forget about the teenage-married-homeless-with a baby couple that my coworker told me about last week. I have to remember to email her, and see if I have any baby things that would be helpful for them. And these are just the things I'm thinking about now, at 7:52 AM...before the workday officially even starts. I'm reminded of Olivia and turtles. She watched an episode of "Monkey See, Monkey Do" a few days ago.  It featured a turtle who repeatedly showed the kids how to "be a turtle": get down on all fours, tuck your knees, elbows and head in, say, "Look!  I'm a turtle!" This is what I want to do. An altered version, underneath my L-shaped desk, elbows and knees tucked in, with something like Ron Rolheiser's The Holy Longing, a cup of really good coffee, and some great music playing. Or maybe a junky paperback. At times like this, I'm not sure the better therapy.  But, as it happens, Janis Joplin's on my Pandora right now. And I'm pretty sure my coworker just made a fresh pot of Folgers. And it is, indeed, time to get to work.

This was very much a stream of consciousness post, as most of mine are likely to be from here on out. Don't spend too much time trying to figure out what the "point" of it was.