Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Paying rent.
Grading at the Spur.
Cream in my coffee.
Nora pulling out four flyers from the "Explore Nebraska" display, talking rapidly about dinosaur digs and wearing gloves before touching the bones.
Steak and mashed potatoes.
The frantic anxiety of Monday dissolving into a mid-week peace.

And Prayers:

For my sister's son Owen.
For my dads.
For my cousins.

The last few weeks have been intense.  God is near.  Lean in.

Monday, November 28, 2011

I've Got this One (Not!) or How to Be Thankful Despite Yourself

Paul reminds us to give thanks in all circumstances.

For mornings with Nora doing our Bible study together.

Making Christmas presents in our pajamas.

Chocolate Oatmeal cookies and the "delightful smell of baking"  (Nora has a way with words...) in preparation for Mom's open house this weekend.

For the IT department at Concordia and their assurance that I didn't ruin everything (and I imagined EVERYTHING including the laptop and possibly every top secret document the FBI has on file) because of the virus that appeared on my school laptop.

For the chance to take my anxiety about the little things to God and His answer.

Understanding that I can't do it all, and that believing that I can creates anxiety.  THIS is the day the Lord has made.  Let us REJOICE and be GLAD in it.  Notice how He doesn't say, Let us WORRY about everything and feel OVERWHELMED by it.

For Nora who responded to my audible sighing and pacing with a hug and a little whisper in my ear:  Hakuna Matata.

Sunday, November 27, 2011


I'm contemplating this gift, a bronze cowboy boot on a rust colored chain, white and black beads dangling at the side and embossed lettering spelling the word:  Jolene.  See, Marge remembers back when I was kicking things aside and making some space for myself to live and breathe and get my hands dirty in the garden.  But I had forgotten.  I was plowed under by the worry and activity.  I haven't had this much gray hair in my life.  (And, yes, I'm going to dye it.  My Grandma Aanonson started going gray at 18, and she dyed her hair for years, back to the same jet black color, sporting her red lipstick until she said her eyebrows started to fade.  So, once my eyebrows start to fade, I'll pack in the dye.  I promise.  Until then...)

I was starting to feel soul weary, kneeling in the kitchen and asking why I only feel as if I'm moving objects, giving directions, feeling like I was getting it wrong somehow.  And down on my knees again because He knows I can't live quiet, can't live part way, can't pretend I am alive through the motions of living.  I was calling out to God for some real live living, for Him to show me why He made me so I could get to work.  I don't know how it happens or why it happens so frequently, but when the devil comes to steal, he takes my boots and it's those boots that help me walk with Him kicking aside the lie that I am quiet and good.  But I'm not quiet and good.  I've got too much to say, and I am also a sinner.  The thief can try to convince me that if I just try hard enough to fit into that quiet and good space, I can make God happy.  But that's a lie.  I don't know what God made me yet, but I've been finding out from one day to the next, and Lord, you didn't make me terrified.  You gave me boots.  And I will hang on to You this whole way through knowing I'm not quiet and I'm not good, but You know what You're doing, and I trust You, so stand me up again with a little kick in my stride because You've got a live one here.

Thank you, Marge.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

I'm Counting It Out (Inside)

1.  "Nora, what is your favorite way of knowing how much I love you?"  "Kisses and hugs."  That's an easy one.  I was expecting something impossible, the way showing love to adults sometimes seems impossible.  I still have so much to learn about how to love.  This break, I let my pride, my belief that I am right, storm through the house and out the door.  Even so, I did not let the sun set on this anger.  I'm still feeling the aftershock and praying for home.

2.  A woman cannot live on mac n' cheese and fish sticks alone.  So, I cook family-sized meals (tonight: smothered shredded chicken burritos--too many tomatoes, too spicy, so delicious) and freeze single servings.  Nora tries a single "no thank you bite" and sometimes, like Mikey, she likes it.

3.  I am addicted to a BBC series called "Downton Abbey."  I think about it during the day while I'm cleaning and folding laundry.

4.  With three weeks left of school, I am wondering where the last burst of energy will come from to "finish strong," as they say.  I'm guessing the box of energy bars in my school bag will help.  And how I am praying that I rely on the Holy Spirit to direct my hours and my words.

5.  I love that Sufjan song about "pulling our collars up tight" and walking hand in hand by the lake and "counting it out, working it out inside."  The first time I heard that song I, in my small-mindedness, thought, "Whoa.  Is he really talking about working things out inside?  What kind of man is this who does the kind of complicated internal algebra that I've always thought of as being a 'woman thing?'"  I immediately liked him on facebook.

6.  I am particularly excited about a block of "bleu cheddar" cheese I picked up today.  It's the little things--especially when they are covered in cheese.

Friday, November 25, 2011


For my cousin Chris who lost his 5 month old son Gus today to bacterial meningitis. 
For my cousin Stephi who was beside Chris and grieves for her brother.
For my dad to know the jewel in his heart.
For my sisters to continue strong and steady through the gifts and challenges of motherhood.
For my mom to find the time and energy and strength she needs to do what she needs to do.
For Mike (my other dad) to be safe while in uniform.
For Nora, Lord, you know all that is in my heart.
For both my grandmas and my Aunt Dottie, for their health and Your peace.
For my friends and all they are blessed with and for all they are challenged by.
For my students and colleagues who will be traveling.
For clarity and patience; dispel all the worry that clouds my gratitude.
For a world that needs Your love and Your peace and Your guidance.

Lord, in your mercy, hear my prayers.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Homing Devices and Other Stories

I missed a call on my cell today from my sister who was checking in to see how we were progressing on our way back to Nebraska.  An hour later, Mom hands me her cell phone.  "It's for you."  "Hey, I tried to call you."  "Sorry.  I was really busy."  We're both laughing because we know that I've been sitting in the back of the truck watching the terrain change:  the Monfort meat packing plants outside of Greeley, the rolling hills of yellow grasses peppered with the occasional herd lucky enough to have found itself under free range ownership, then finally crossing into Nebraska.  I imagine a giant woman in a long skirt ironing out the wrinkles of the land.  We roll across the plains like a marble her boys have set free in a game that so many other travelers are playing today, straight and true and a little tired.  East.

The last few days have been spent in Colorado, the Wild West, home of the bronco and the mountain men and the canyons carved by the white waters of the Colorado river.  I am staring out the window.  I had forgotten how tall the mountains are around my dad's place in Silt.  The two horses have been replaced by a Ural, a motorcycle with a sidecar.  The hillsides glow with oil rigs and big houses.  This is not the town I grew up in.  I drive Nora up to Roy Moore Elementary school only to find a patch of bare dirt, a rectangle, a barren ghost of some seven years of my life where I learned to read and curl my hair with a curling iron.  I have to turn around and drive back down the road again.  "I don't understand, Nora.  It was right here.  It's not here anymore."  I look for the busses turning around, the green lunch trays, the water fountains, the construction paper train that wound around the entire school three times, each car a book we'd read that year.  Gone.

We drive up the winding hill to the mesa, and I take Nora to the dirt road we walked down each morning to meet the bus.  Grandma and Grandpa's house is still the same stormy blue color, but the roof is falling in.  There's a pick up truck out front and a "No Trespassing" sign.  I turn around.  "There are so many houses here now, Nora.  All this land used to be Grandpa's and the fields were green and we played out there all day long."  "Did you bring toys?"  "No, we didn't have many.  We didn't really need any.  We just...roamed.  I can't believe how many people live here now."  "You shouldn't be sad, Mommy.  Maybe you should be happy that all those people who needed a place to live have found their houses."  I stop talking, letting her heart teach mine, but it's still hard to be that generous with my memories and how I think it should be.

And here I am now:  home.  I have told so many people about this farmhouse, how Ila and Merle raised three kids, how it was built in '49, how I am here now and Lynn has to knock on the door to come into the place he called "home" for so many years.  I think of Ila finally telling me after another invitation to come out and see the place, "It's just too hard to go.  There are just too many memories."

And I'm thinking of the disappearing school, the principal it was named after, the one I loved.  I'm thinking of my dad's place and the trees growing up through the deck and in front of the swing set, and I'm thinking of Grandpa's fields sectioned off and occupied, and the roof that covers us all, the renters who wait to be called to the mansion He built.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

More Thanksgiving

Have you ever noticed that it almost takes as long to pack and get ready for a trip as it does to actually go on the trip?  After

cleaninglaundrytrashshoppingforautomaticfishfeederpackingwrapping and doing a pile of dishes

I'm ready for a vacation.

We're Colorado bound, over the passes with Grandma, Grandpa and Great Grandma for an 11 hour "jaunt" in Mike's Chevy Silverado.  I actually like driving over the passes in a truck.  When I went to college, I had this tin can sized Toyota hatchback that I'd drive back and forth over the continental divide.  I would have been safer holding an umbrella while riding a donkey.  I remember one Thanksgiving getting snowed in at Vail pass (about 8 million miles above sea level), sitting by the indoor pool of the Holiday Inn and studying for my astronomy test.  The roads were so slick cars were sliding back down the mountain, and people were leap frogging out of their cars to push the cars in front of them.  I remember the puddles of water on the Pizza Hut tiled floor, left there from the snow melting off of stranded travelers' shoes.  I remember being glad that after 8 hours in the car creeping along a stretch of road that usually took 2 hours to cover, we were finally given permission to be late to school.

The story takes place miles before you arrive, so be not anxious while covering that ground.  Just pay attention, and take a few notes for the next fella that comes down this way.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Preparing for Thanksgiving

1.  Clay

Her hands take the earth and model a functional beauty--her gift.

The one that keeps her up late at night, turning the kiln up at odd hours--1 AM, 5 AM.

And she sits with her works inside Harvest Hall and there is praising at the gates.  The work of her hands.

At the craft fair in Seward, they serve a sloppy joe and carrot cake and good, strong coffee and chips for 5 bucks, and we eat lunch together.  When she gets up to look around, and I watch her booth for her, people come up, comment on her pottery, and I wish I could take credit, but this isn't my gift.  "My mom, she makes these."

A woman finds a Blessing jar, and Mom explains:  "You write down your blessings during the year and put them in here.  On Thanksgiving, you can read them."

She is an older woman with glasses, fingering the letters: Blessing.  "This is going to sound wrong, but do you have any that are smaller?"  The woman, my mom and I break the space of an implied sadness with laughter.  Suddenly she needs a bigger jar to hold the birds of joy flapping around us everywhere.

2.  Chalk

A letter arrives with a divine calling confirmed.  And my hands are shaking as I read the letter to Nora sitting behind me in her car seat.  "That's great, Mommy.  Does this mean we can get an RV now?"

This means so much, Nora.  This means we can help in ways I don't understand yet.  Whatever it is: Lord, let the work of my hands be worthy of praise at the gates, setting the wild birds free with love for the song and for their flight, which I am blessed to witness.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

A Way to Rest

I scrape the thick frost blinding the windshield, and the sun turns the lower portion of our hemisphere pink.  I'm in my $9.00 fluffy, black coat trying to reach the middle part of the windshield and already thinking about the fiction writing class that begins in 45 minutes down Highway 34, up the 3 flights of stairs and into the tower where there is sunshine coming through and the stories seem even brighter, so much so that I have trouble speaking about them without shadowing places that need to simply shine on their own terms.

They write notes to my next class of writers about how not to fear fiction, and they will read them slowly out loud, bleeping out the one swear word.  And why didn't I think of this before, this breaking of borders between classes, so they might be an encouragement to each other?  And when they present their fairy tale revision pieces, I think we're all feeling a lot alive and a lot good and a lot like the semester will end soon and it will be missed.

Thanksgiving Break arrives and they pack cars with loads of dirty laundry and piles of homework, and I want to curl up inside a warm, dry place for the next 12 days and collect time like the girl in the red cape bringing an empty basket to her Grandmother's house, so she might gather moments of strong living like a breadcrumb trail that is home:

When you are worried, stop thinking so much.
Listen to the Holy Spirit.

I worry about us, how we race and move and sprint and climb and sleep and rise and run.  And the curious girl within me yearns for the next 12 days to be spent relearning the slowness of a line break, the architecture of a classic novel's sentence, how to draw, how to hear music, how to eat and how to stare.  To turn inward, not to find myself, but to find the instrument He made that knows how to live rich and deep, like the strong soil that prepares itself all winter for the epiphany of spring.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


1. Grandma GiGi:  "Nora, you're amazing."
Nora:  "Sometimes I'm just desperate." 

2.  Nora on the phone with Grandpa, who is currently hunting:  "Grandpa, I just want you to know, someday I'm going to have a baby deer, and you can't kill it."   Was this a scene in The Yearling?  I can't remember...

3.  Getting sucked into another Hallmark movie with Mom and Grandma.  Sometimes I too am just desperate.  I may have to admit to my Intro to Lit class that happy endings are kind of nice.  Naaaahhhh....

And a quick list:
3 part harmonies and ukes
bread dipped into cheddar potato soup
a week of rest
watching Grandma GiGi laugh until she cries
hearing a friend's voice across the telephone lines
a hand-sewn orange apron with my name stitched in it
the thought of Mom as a girl staying up late to watch movies and eat potato chips dipped in green salsa

Monday, November 14, 2011

I'd Like to Be a Morning Person, But My Mornings are Too Busy

One of the disadvantages of writing a blog post at the end of the day is that I'm running on about 15 minutes worth of gas and hoping it will get me to bed after (hopefully) brushing my teeth and washing my face.  But honestly, my skin care regime is shaky at best.

I want to talk to you about hiding your heart in Christ and just a lot of stuff, really.  I'd blog in the morning, but I try to go through some devotions and praying while Nora drinks Ovaltine and watches cartoons.  If I was really good, I'd get up a couple of hours before Nora and exercise for 45-120 minutes, eat granola with bran flakes and wheat germ and some iron--like REAL iron, from a car fender or something.  Then I'd write for an hour, read for another hour, do my lesson plans for the next 4 months, grade 40 essays, and feed a few birds directly from the palm of my hand while singing "It's a Small World, After All."

This isn't what actually happens though.  I wake up to Nora sounding the alarm like a rooster.  I mean, literally.  She actually does the whole "cock-a-doodle-doo" thing.  I'm lucky to have a really thoughtful "past Lisa" who makes the coffee for me at night, so all I have to do is push the button to get the coffee going.  This is good because I'm fairly dysfunctional at this point.  I do my "farm chores" while in this stumbling dream state:  Lucky, one pinch of fish food.  Henrietta, a handful of birdseed and some old grapes.  Farm Cats, dump the slop bucket with a few cups of dry food out the back door.  Try not to shut their tails in the screen door.  Nora, two heaping scoops of Ovaltine in her 2%.  Open the blinds.  I need light right away.  I sit and sip coffee as the cup empties and my eyes fill with more and more of the day.

Who doesn't have this "perfect morning person" who gets everything done before 5AM?  We've all dreamed of becoming her.  I read a 300 page book about the Proverbs 31 woman and how her lamp never goes out, and I'd like to be more like her.  I also don't want to turn into Martha troubled about so many things, I forget to sit at His feet and listen.

Anyway, may your mornings start with the reminder of God's constant presence, the deep desire to hold your hand the whole way through.  And lots and lots of coffee.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Whales, Hallmark Christmas Specials, and Maya Angelou for the Win

1.  Like most folks in similar boats, I may be experiencing that point after you've completed something massive, like having to read Moby Dick in three different languages (one of which is whale), like crossing the ocean in the blue cap you get off the top of a gallon of milk, something like getting 3/4 through the journey and realizing you've had the anchor down this whole time because you forgot to let the Captain call the shots.  At Mom's today, I found myself drifting aimlessly and letting out huge breaths, like I actually had a whale spout.  I know there are seasons not just in our life, but in our weeks, in or days, and I am looking forward to the season of rest coming up, a chance to dock, take stock, walk around the block.  Buy some chalk.  Okay.  I was running out of rhymes.

2.  I rarely sit down during the day to watch a movie, so when I found myself watching a Hallmark Christmas special with Grandma, Mom and Nora today, it felt like some rare treat.  Nora was having trouble watching me sit down, but we eventually worked through it.  (Um, yeah.  I let her play pbskids video games.)  I had to hide the fact that I was really enjoying the Hallmark special by camouflaging my interest with sarcastic comments:  "Mom.  Grandma.  I think I'm in love with this movie."  "Uh oh.  My Hallmark Mystery Sleuth is kicking in.  I'm fairly certain that she is going to eventually find the lottery ticket stuck to her son's shoe, forgive her love interest for lying about stealing her car, AND enjoy a surprise ending where he buys and remodels her dream cafe."  "Uh oh.  I think I'm in love with that guy now, too, but there's so much that's coming between us--he's in love with her and he's a fictional character in a Hallmark movie.  I haven't got a chance with this guy."  This stinks because I could have used a little help with a few remodeling projects myself.

3.  Maya Angelou for the win (everyone is saying this "for the win" thing these days, so I thought I'd get hip, too):  "A woman's heart should be so hidden in Christ that a man should have to seek Him first to find her."

I could write an entire blog post about this.  And, you know what, maybe I will.  Tomorrow.

Friday, November 11, 2011

11:11 on 11/11/11

Girls' night out:  We hit Walmart and leave with a bubblegum machine.  With 30 minutes before Puss in Boots 3D begins, I realize I have no cash and we still need to eat.  "Hey, Nora.  Do you wanna go eat at the Pac n' Save?"  (This is one classy date.)  "YES!  That's the place that has my very favorite chicken."  She's jumping in and out of her seat after we get our meat and two sides and the 20 bucks I needed to get into the show.  "I love this girls' night out.  I just love it.  We are really having a good time.  Here try this french fry.  It is so delicious."  We park in front of the library and the clock in the courthouse building starts chiming.  "Hurry, Nora!  The clock is striking 6!  The pumpkin!"  We're holding hands and running down the sidewalk, and I'm not sure I could be happier.  Into the door, windswept, out of breath, full of fried chicken, we get our tickets and our popcorn and sit down.  Nora has been wearing her 3D glasses since the ticket man handed them to her.  "So, Nora, is everything in, like, 6D with those on?"  "No.  But this is the best time!  Can I have Nerds?"  I had asked for M & M's.

I'm pretty sure she can't see the whole screen.  I dip down to about her height and test it out.  Hmmm...somehow I don't believe her about being able to see just fine.  Fifteen minutes into the movie, she sits on my lap.  "Who's that guy?"  It's Puss 'n Boots.   I wonder what movie she's been watching.

We drive home.  I bring in groceries while she puts pennies into the gum machine, and the moon and the stars and antenna lights blink and blind anything hopeless so it wanders far from here.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Letting Tears Open

My heart is overwhelmed tonight by all those who need, that "poverty begins with a poverty of relationship," as Ann Voskamp says in her recent blog documenting her and "the farmer's" trip to Ecuador to meet several of the children they are sponsoring through Compassion.  A year ago, Nora and I decided to adopt a boy--Juan is his name--from Mexico.  And we put his picture in a frame that says "Love" and there were two frames left empty, one that says "Believe" and another "Home."  And in January, Nora and I will fill those two empty frames with pictures of two more children who need help.  Juan writes letters telling us of his grades, his best friends, how he loves soccer.  He signs these letters love and calls me godmother.  And I begin to build dreams of visiting him one day at his home so I can see beyond this small, blessing-filled world; so I can bring some of these things to his door.

I didn't think we had enough money to do this, but $38 is so easy to find, and clearly God gave me that much each month, and Nora and I have always had everything we could need--more than enough--friends showing up with ground beef and corn, a second hand store that always seems to have what we need.  Mom and Mike always being there to help with childcare and all the projects I couldn't have done alone--a new bathtub, a compost bin, a fenced yard, and a sprinkler system for the garden.

Grandma Aanonson and I were talking at the table tonight, and she mentioned how they ended up living here in a farmhouse just a mile down from where I live now.  The farmhouse has since been torn down to make room for higher yields, but those months they spent here in the late 60's changed everything for more people than we can even know.  And it all began with a conversation in a bar between a chemical salesman and Grandpa Aanonson, one that inspired Grandpa to make a call and move his family to Seward, Nebraska.  They lived here long enough for Mom to meet and fall in love with Mike who was growing up just two miles down from where I live now, and then they had to move--Mom and Aunt Deb and Grandma and Grandpa.  And I can't imagine the nights Mom spent wondering if she'd ever see him again, and they left the farmhouse that is only there in memory and some 27 years later, Mom came back and here I am, too.

And it makes me wonder how our small words have gigantic ramifications--how a random conversation at a bar could eventually lead to this life that calls us out of ourselves, past the Nebraska fields and all the way to Mexico.

Lord, let my words be those that only heal, only love, only say the truth, only inspire, only lift, always in Your presence.  Let my words be those that I would say in Your presence.  Let us only speak words of peace to and about each other.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Plan B

Plan A involved telling you about a lot of the amazing things that happened today:
A visiting author who self-published herself into 100,000 book sales.
Classes working on a production of Susan Glaspell's play Trifles.
Nora praying for all the guys who work at the telephone pole production factory that their "owies" would heal fast.
Mom's hug.
All the cheese and summer sausage and crackers I just ate for supper.
Finding my coffee mug sitting by the trophy cases in the basement of Weller.
The fire of the sky and the trees for a moment while I walked into the building.
Christmas lights and hand shakes and a morning at home.

Instead I'll tell you about Plan B:


Monday, November 7, 2011

Little Things We Saw Today

A loose tooth.

A decorated Christmas tree.  (I'm just ready for this holiday, okay?  No offense, Mr. Turkey.) 

The first Christmas craft.

Nora putting a few hours in at the office.  

A new shawl in the making, soft and green.

Hand-painted in 1965.  Et. Cetera.  $5.00

The only dirty laundry in the house as of 3 PM.

Sea monkeys.

A batch of Grandma's Banana Tea Bread.

Littlest Pet Shop.  We created an applesauce company whose mottos are "Don't be suspicious.  The apples are delicious" and "Don't sit down to rest because the apples are the best."

Ideas unfolding at the Bronco Spur gas station.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Books, Books, and More Books

1.  Due to an accidental purchase on Amazon, I am now the proud owner of a copy of Country Living, a gargantuan encyclopedia of all things country ranging from hatching chickens to candle making, driving a tractor to pinching a penny.  I'm sure there's a recipe for biscuits and gravy in there, too.

2.  I just finished The Reluctant Pilgrim by Enuma Okoro.  I feel disciplined by this book as a worshipper and a writer.  That's all I'll say for the time being.

3.  I'm also looking at a couple of books I'm planning on digging into next gardening season (sorry for the sad pun):  Vertical Gardening and the Square Foot Gardener.  While cleaning up the garden today, I was going through the kind of inventory most gardeners go through at the end of the season, each item starting with the words, "Next year, I'm going to..."  I had to laugh at myself when I pulled up my drip line, the one I was so proud of and the one that didn't work, only to find that I hadn't attached one of the lines to a water source.  In fact, I'd put end plugs on both ends.  Yeah.  That was a good idea.  I wonder if that Country Living book has an entry for this kind of mistake.  No, wait.  That's in that book Barely Alive in the Country.  There's a big difference.

4.  On Nora's reading list tonight:  Pooh's Scavenger Hunt, Clifford and the Leaf Pile, and Read Me a Bible Story.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Do you love me more than...

Her shyness gives her away; this is something she's partially afraid to ask but needs to know.  "Do you love me the most?  Do you love me more than your books?  More than your Bible?  More than Grandma?  More than..."  "Nora, I love you very, very much, and I also love all of those people and things you mentioned, too."  Her eyes begin to tear.

She must be thinking she doesn't love me.  I'm not important.

"Do you know how you love me?  And how you love Daddy?  And Grandma and Grandpa?  And your cousins and Mrs. Backhus?  You love all of those people, right?"

She knows where this is going.  "Did you know, Nora, that God gives me all of my love, and He gives me so much of it that I can give everyone in my life lots and lots of love?  And my love for you can fill the moon.  It could fly to the moon and back and the moon and back a million times.  I love you so much, I don't even know how much it is.  No one can count that high.  And I love Grandma and Grandpa, too.  You can't run out of love, Nora.  And you are my one and only precious daughter named Nora, and there is no one else in the world like you and I love you.  I will always love you.  No matter what you do or say. No matter how angry you get at me or how sad you get or how happy you feel or how squirmy you feel or itchy.  I love you even when you get really itchy and when you are hungry and full."

I think she's feeling better because she hugs my head in a vice grip.  She looks into my eyes and says, "You look different."  "Oh, like happier or sadder or..."  "You are getting bigger.  Your eyes are really big and you have brown spots on your skin."  This might be her way of saying, "Mom, you're putting on some weight and I think those are age spots appearing."  I don't mind.  Maybe she just hasn't seen me this okay in awhile and this looks different to her.

I wonder what she must think, this girl who skips everywhere she goes and has grown up with a mom who vacillates between crises like a trapeze artist.  But I have never, not once, stopped loving her.  Never will.

Friday, November 4, 2011

"Use My Hands to Use My Heart"

Four years ago, I was living in Mom and Mike's basement in York.  Nora was asleep, and I, with my headphones on, was listening to Sufjan Stevens' album "Michigan" for the first time.  I remember how everything in the room was some shade of gray with just enough light coming in from the small, square window to suggest the shapes of the objects but not the colors.  As I listened, I could feel some sleeping part of myself waking, like a person tasting an orange for the first time--the surprised bite of vitamin C and the sweet sun sugars lifting the fog on my tongue.  I was jobless, without a home of my own, the mother of a 10 month old, and wondering...too much, maybe.

All this is to say, I prayed a lot in Georgia and I prayed in that basement in York, Nebraska and even when things didn't go as I thought they should or would, I'm here now living on a farm and teaching at a place that lifts and grows and loves.  And you may know some of the stories from this farm and some of the stories from those classrooms.  You know Nora's heart and you know mine, and tonight it's going to bed early with my hands making the silent "thank you" gesture because this story is good.  Even when it hurts.  And even when it goes better than you could have hoped.  That was today.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Tonight is a good night for praying, resting, "relaxing in the word," chatting with my family, watching Nora sleeping, trusting, receiving, giving, loving.

Tomorrow is the day--from 8:30 to 3:00, I will be interviewing for the assistant professor position.

I'm shooting for responses that please God.

This has been an awe-inspiring week in so many ways.  When I am done with it, I will tell you all about it.

See you on the other side of the next 24 hours.


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Lean on Me

1.  Everyone lean in on everyone.  This is so good to see you here together leaning into this space and holding your hand out to offer your words, your advice, your encouragement.  Because we've forgotten how to listen to our elders, forgotten what we can teach each other, how we need each other to lean one into the other linking arms making this great chain of breath which was the first breath He gave Adam.  Use it to speak love to one another, to lift each other, carry each other, provide for each other--even those we don't know.  I witness this tonight during our class interview date night.  Somehow it feels so large--the entire experience.  Let's lean into it.

2.  A friend posts an Amos Lee tune that I have been listening to on repeat since the first listen 20 minutes ago, and I will probably keep it playing until I crash into the orange sheets on my bed because I love the color orange, all fire and warm and alive and I love this song, too.  And I'm listening and leaning.

3.  I can feel myself moving toward Friday.  Everyone has been here before.  You have a big thing happening, and all the days leading up to it partially belong to the big day ahead.  I am praying that God direct my words because He knows my heart.  I have no clue what my heart is made of sometimes.   And it's easy to believe the lies that cling to me when I'm not giving myself up every moment to the One who made me.  I'm leaning.

4.  I'm home and Nora is asleep at Grandma's--the week's schedule calling for odd hours, and I'm leaning into this writing because I need it.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

I told her there is a quiet person inside me just screaming to get out.

How a thing opens, your life,
how your life opens to reveal
a deeper life, how that life is
both light and made of a heavier thing.
To the top of the mountain, to the heart
of the forest, under the ocean, covered
in dirt, hiding in grasses:  where we go
to listen and meet Him.  Why I am
an introvert.