Thursday, August 27, 2009

Mary Oliver

The Journey
One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice-though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen branches and stones.
but little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,determined to do
the only thing you could do
determined to save
the only life you could save

Mary Oliver

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Molly got into my brain somehow again with this post. I swear I've never even met her. I just read her blog. Honest!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

I don't know if we'll get to attend or not, but the Battle of the Bridge is coming up Thursday. This battle is when the rivalry between two Loudon high school's (Loudon vs. Lenoir City) takes roaring form in the shape of a football game. It's like the face off between two lion prides defending their kingdom, and the Loudon bridge clearly marks territory. I've heard about this game before, but I never had anything at stake. Let's face it, I'm not a sports gal. I've always wished I had the talent to do something physical really well, but the only person I can compete and win against is myself. I can't catch anything, but a cold. I have the athletic ability of a turnip, but by golly, I return to the gym to be the best darn turnip ever!

Now I see the Battle of the Bridge with new eyes- a chance to build a deeper relationship with my son. Tater's other love beside every breathing teenage female on the face of the earth is football, so I'm sucking up my mother's heart that hates to see her son pushing, smashing, crushing, pulling, and squashing other people, and tuning into the love of the game. Slowly but surely, I've begun to forget the manhandling and actually enjoy the sport of it all. That's right, folks. I'm having loads of fun being a football spectator just like the rest of America. And it's sincere.

Still, don't think my heart didn't skip five beats last Friday watching the evening news of the Knoxville kid who dropped dead on the football field. My fears are real.

Though Buck has been gently been poking fun at my football game cheering, "Nice receiving!", when I should have shouted, "Great interception!", I'm surprised at myself letting go of my list of injury statistics and standing for a big play. I love my boy. that. much.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Catechist humor

So, this post is for Catechesis of the Good Shepherd folks, cause noone else on earth would understand.

I've been working on the Level II Blue Strip material. It's a "timeline" to emphasize the three moments in Christian history and set up for typology later:

Creation- the beginning of the our universe, our planet and ourselves,

Redemption- the time Christ was born and now

Parousia- the time Christ comes again, and God will be all in all.

This particular teaching tool is a very long strip of paper with events from each moment depicted in pictures.

Now here's the funny part. I'd stretched the the Blue Strip out across the living room floor and into the hall to glue on the pictures, and of course our two cats quickly found their way to the new surface upon which to lay as all felines must do. Bees...honey. Cats...paper. Buck walked in on their slumber and announced, "I learned something new from closely examining this time line. Apparently cats were around before the creation of the world and will be present when Christ comes again for all eternity as well."

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Buck took the boys to school and Pooh Bear to the doc for a stuffy yuck nose, and Wise One is quietly occupied. Buck is kind in that often he gives me time and space just to think by taking care of everything. So I'll think here on my keyboard.

School started this week for Peace, and he's got classes which are a good fit. Probably easier than next semester, and he gets to challenge his brain the first half of the day and build things with his hands the second. He's loving cross country team as usual. He's got a better attitude than last week when I was ready to sell him into slavery to the traveling gypsies should they have passed by. He does love school and considers it to be a great opportunity. Peace gets frustrated with kids who are just there and don't appreciate the chance to learn. Last night, he asked me what to do about sitting next to a person quite fond of cussing in Latin II class. Peace observed the teacher noticing bad language from his general direction and worries she'll think it's him. I told him to ask her advice, but he didn't like that idea. I know he'll find his way like he always does.

Tater is loving life. He's surrounded by girls and football with school as the bothersome vehicle to project him into the scene. Amazingly, his RAD is usually not the first thing I think about when I look at him. Since last summer he's been in a positive place for the most part. Not healed but going in a generally good direction. He's middle school varsity on his football team though he's never played in his life before this year. First string defense. Second string offense. First game tonight, and I have to say I'm a bit excited for him.

I've got some issues to work on in myself concerning Tater's "player" attitude towards young women. This week he posted that he is "in a relationship" on his Facebook. Ugh. I met the girl a few days ago at open house, and let's just say, I quickly developed the standard answer, "I like all the girls my son likes". Mostly because if I indicated a strong opposition to anyone, she'd surely end up my daughter-in-law for a while. I don't think there's a setting on FB of "heartbreaker" which is a far more accurate description of my son's relationship status. Double Ugh. Fair warning to all teen girls out there- though he says it's just you he loves, it ain't. He digs you (and you, and you) simply because he likes to be dug. It's all a cover for low self esteem. And just in case you were wondering, moms or girlfriends cannot hand that out like candy and bandaids. It's a long work, a big internal work which takes vast amounts of courage. Hoping and praying for Tater to stay on that road to self acceptance.

Wise One started co-op courses this week, and he's delighted. He knew one person when he walked into class and walked out with a bunch of new friends. No surprise there. Next year, God-willing, I'm putting him in middle school for eighth grade,and these classes are a great step to get him ready. Of all my children, he's got a very best friend, Kole. In fact, I feel like Kole's family is a bit of an extension to ours. They spend nearly every weekend together here, at Kole's house, or on an outing. Since Wise One is my third son who happens to have an easy nature, I feel like I must be more intentional, because he'd be easy to neglect.

Buck called to tell me Pooh Bear has a touch of bronchitis, which makes her irritable. She was downright unpleasant last night. She asked to go to the doctor this morning, because she does not want to miss her horse vaulting Saturday. She got to ride the horse bending in half at weekday practice, but her teacher says she gets to ride standing on the weekend. Good night, what have we gotten ourselves into?

Pooh Bear's schooling is off to a good start though I'm definitely having trouble lighting a fire under her to read and answer math facts with speed. Any suggestions? My boys liked the game of it. She feels offended, like I'm pushing her, when I make it a speed game. Girls. What am I gonna do?

Buck had a birthday yesterday. His quote, "Forty-five is a lot like forty-four, only my shoulder hurts just a little bit more." Uh-huh. When we went to bed last night he explained what a privilege it was for me to sleep with a forty-five year old, since I've never done so before. Uh-huh.

Personally, I'm doing fairly well. The food I've tested in elimination diet for allergies has come back negative except hazelnut. Who needs hazelnuts anyway? The downside is my esophagus in not healing. Stuff still gets stuck. Oh, bother.

Buck and I are in an uncomfortable place with our church lately, because his thing is worship music and mine is children. The worship teams are dropping like flies, and there is no leader to be found. After somewhere around a year on staff, the children's pastor is moving to South Florida to start a church. Once someone new is hired, I'll have to start over again for the third time in three years of preparing a place for the specific work I do with children. Sigh. I'm not sure I want to keep trying at this particular church, since leadership keeps changing like light bulbs. Buck is about to start working Sundays for 16 weeks straight, so we found a nice fit of a Wednesday night study elsewhere in the mean time. It's a precious small congregation, something I've missed after struggling through our current mega-church.

With the start of school and early mornin' alarms, I've gone into "dragging me arse around" mode . I wake up tired and fog through the day. It took me till at least October to become a fully functioning human being when my son started school for the first time last fall. Hopefully, the learning curve will be shorter this time around.

All is well on the pretend True Vyne Farm. I don't want to take this good life for granted.

Saturday, August 15, 2009


No worries, grandparents. This is the sport your granddaughter wants to try next!

Horse Vaulting- gymnastics on a horse.

Friday, August 14, 2009

I'm told Uncle Laughter used to put tiny shells in Aunt Artful's shoes just for fun. He possessed a child-like quality of playfulness which touched every one's heart. I can picture him sneaking to her shoe just before a walk, placing in the shimmering object with great stealth, calling her to the door, and responding with great chuckles as she slips on the footwear announcing, "There's something in here. Just a minute..."

When I visited Aunt Artful this summer, of course we reminisced some of the time about sweet Uncle Laughter. She showed me the memorial video of pictures from his abundant life. He quite literally made friends everywhere he went with his easy manner of being. Buck used to joke with Uncle Laughter that even made friends at the automatic teller.

Over my visit with Aunt Artful, I came to understand better the love between my aunt and uncle. My aunt has always used the phrase, "He worshiped you" and "He worshiped me," and I'll admit, I didn't quite comprehend it. However, this stay with her I caught a glimpse of these phrases. In his boyhood pictures and really all pictures since I noticed a glimmer in his eye that spoke, "I am deeply loved and adored." Aunt Artful attributed that joyful expression to his wonderful mother. She gently spoke about his mother in a reverent manner which she would not have done if it were not so. When Aunt Artful started dating Uncle Laughter, his family's great love spilled over right onto her. His mother bought her a beautiful marble topped desk to study for school, took her places she needed to go, invited her over all while Uncle Artful was in the navy and before they were married.

Aunt Artful told the tale of how she met her husband. She was on a double date with someone when they ran into another group of friends unfamiliar to her. Uncle Laughter was in that bunch, and asked if anyone wanted to play basketball. Aunt Artful's date refused, but she didn't. I can picture Uncle Laughter playfully digging for the ball as Aunt Artful dribbled with the carefree vigor of youth. She said he was just so much fun. They simply laughed and laughed. Fun must have been hard to resist. Their marriage spanned several decades.

I asked later how she became an artist after all, since that wasn't something available to her being from our impoverished family. She pensively answered, "Uncle Laughter truly believed there was nothing I couldn't do. He thought I hung the moon. He believed whatever I did as perfect and made me believe in myself, so I started art school." Acceptance and adoration must have been infectious. You should see the paintings and other my aunt has produced and collected.

Anyhow, I can't even begin to imagine what my aunt's life is like now that he is gone home to be with God. Somehow I like to think he's with us in a different way than simply absent. Aunt Artful must feel the same, because she brought out an alabaster box from her bathroom vanity to show me on my recent visit. When she opened it to reveal the contents, I was taken aback- for there was a tiny pearled shell within. "I didn't put it in there. I think it's his way of saying, 'I'm still with you,'" Aunt Artful explained.

Later that afternoon, I snuggled into a comfy couch to read a book, I reached over to examine a colorful bowl from the Dali museum I'd given for Aunt Artful and Uncle Laughter a few years back on a previous visit. Immediately tears sprang to my eyes. What do you suppose I found inside that piece of art? A tiny shell letting me know Uncle Laughter was also thinking of me.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

I have been hungry for an awfully long time it seems. Hungry to learn. Aching to be in a fresh experience. Wanting new life. In fact, I've been praying for something to open up and inspire me in daily living. I begged at church for in depth study, but I have not come across any offerings. I turned to friends outside my church and asked, "What is filling you? Where can I find it?" The reply? "I've been waiting and praying for something myself. Let me know when you find it, because I might want to join."

If the stars align properly, I meet with a out-of-town friend, Jo, on the phone for accountability and prayer once a week. Jo is in an incredibly rich season of faith. Each morning she wakes up to meet with God on her front porch, and apparently they've really been enjoying one an other's company. Yet she never criticizes or judge when I say for millionth time, "Still pray for me. I got nothing on spiritual growth. Dry. Dry. Dry." And she does pray for me. Faithfully.

Next week, I got something better to say to her. In fact, it might knock her socks off. First of all, I found a study group of folks and attended last night with my entire family. It's a refresher on basic Bible study. The pastor even gave homework without obligation which had me in a happy place with God in my own home for the first time in a long time, and that's not for lack of trying before. It's that I have a communal direction, and someone else is sailing the ship while I delight in the ride.

I have to wonder if God was just waiting for this particular moment, because of the earth shattering events of last weekend. The "what ifs" of that situation remain, yet I've found peace in not going ahead of what is present.

I also have another thing to tell Jo. I've begun making materials for the children which I teach spiritual formation through Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. I've been stuck for years literally on how to proceed in teaching older children, because of the denominational barriers. Will I offend those who have graciously passed the work onto me in original form by essential adaptation to meet the need of parents and children who express Christianity in another particular way? It's been a question I've not been brave enough to really answer by following all the way through with all necessary materials.

At the formation leaders conference I got an incredible amount of encouragement to dive in from friends and through God-given ideas. Once I began construction this week, I've found the work in itself to be utterly fulfilling. In a way it's like Dorothy always having the ruby red slippers, yet never knowing she's a always been a few heel clicks of the way home. How could I have forgotten the method of work of the hands leading to God? Yet it does.

Here's something of the discovery made in the delightful time I had this morning. The homework from our study focused on examining each phrase and getting as much meaning as possible from each verse in Mark 8:22-30 where Jesus heals a blind man and then asks the disciples who they think He is. He leaves Bethsaidia to head for another town to have this conversation with His followers and enters Caesarea Philippi. I became curious about each city,and the search turned up some interesting things. Turns out Caesarea Philippi was a particularly pagan town in which the god Pan was enshrined. I looked up Pan and was surprised to have found he was known for being in charge of fields, herds, shepherds. In fact, he was half goat, half man. Satanic ritual borrows the image of Pan for services. Interesting since Jesus went to Caesarea Philippi as the Good Shepherd and all. Pan, in his capriciousness, frightened his worshipers by evil stunts in lonely places. Believe it or not, his name is the origin for the word "panic". I think of Jesus as the exact opposite- peaceful, always good, always loving. Pan played the pipes and was known for music- sometimes erotic and other times to strike panic. Such a contrast to the comfort and glory of hymns and spiritual songs of Jesus we sing. Curiously, Pan was the only Greek god to have died. Another contradiction in that Jesus conquered death forever. In this very city, Jesus allowed His disciples uncover and assert His position as the Christ.

Here's to digging for more hidden treasure in days to come.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

The first person I've ever known in real life to have a blog is my cousin, Wes. He took a photo of something different everyday for a year and posted it on his blog. Then he took a break. Noticed on his Facebook today that his blog is up and running again. His work is very inspiring, so you might want to check it out.

mind of the photographer

Friday, August 07, 2009

Humility given flesh

There are some disadvantages to being a Protestant Evangelical hanging out and working in a Catholic and Episcopal community. I don't understand the obvious, because my experience is so vastly different. At my Catechesis of the Good Shepherd formation leader events I tend to "get it" later than sooner.

Here's an example.

Many nuns have joined the work. I've had the privilege of sharing meals and deep conversation with many in my journey. Being slow on the draw, I figured out after a few years that Sr. indicated "Sister" not senior or senator or senorita. Otherwise, I wouldn't have been able to single out these saints. They look and act in the same dignity and elegance as the formation leaders who have not married Jesus in a literal and intimate way. So, this week I simply did not grasp when the speakers at our formation leaders conference were going on and on with the excitement of a little girl given her first set of jacks about a particular group of Sisters being trained in Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, "It would be such a privilege if the Sisters would come here to join our meeting." In my small mind, I thought, "Yes, that would be lovely to share with more holy women."

I'm embarrassed to say that I wondered if I'd be able to pick them out in the crowd to greet, because I hadn't ever been able to before. I should not have worried. At some point a quiet bustle erupted and hush during the conference. I turned my head, and I privately blushed at what my eyes were taking in. A Red Sea of participants parted to allow a group of the most humble and beautiful women I'll ever see make their way to chairs. Their heads and eyes were bowed, but their garments and faces spoke volumes. It was as if new rays of bright sunlight stepped into our room. I can only say I haven't seen any persons (besides sleeping babies) look so, well, so pure and utterly peaceful. As people spoke softly to them as they walked, the sisters deliberately and solemnly pressed their palms together and bowed to the persons talking with a quiet, "Thank you." The particular Sisters were the Missionaries of Charity from the same order as Mother Teresa, and I only figured it out from their impeccable white habits with the distinguished thin blue stripes. With every movement each made, their bodies spoke, "I respect the humanity of each living being before me." I'm not exaggerating, and I've never seen anything like it- humility given flesh. The leading Sister looked downright pained and became red from her collar up when asked to say a few words. I could plainly visualize addressing and being acknowledged in a crowd did not suit their work.

One primary theme present in CGS proposes that the things that are small and unassuming, the least of these- mangers, children, the poor, mustard seeds, stinkin' shepherds, little countries like Israel are made great and honored in God's eyes. From this one might draw the conclusion of the significance of including The Missionaries of Charity in our work. Their mission is truly unto the least, and now these join our work with children. I'm lost in amazement and wonder.

Apparently I'm not the only one. When our quite elderly Sofa Cavalletti, the writer and founder of CGS, heard that the Missionaries of Charity desired training in CGS, she immediately responded in Simeon's prayer, "Now Lord, You are releasing Your bond-servant to depart in peace, According to Your word; For my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples". Luke 2:29-30. She followed in conversation with something, "Now Catechesis of the Good Shepherd will go those whom it has always been intended."

Amen to that.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Twenty-one years of marriage. It's our anniversary today, and I have to say, things have never been better. We're celebrating with a simple dinner out, but it'll be sweet. Buck is the love of my life, my best friend, and I'm the luckiest woman around.

We accomplished other mundane things today. Talked to Tater's new vice principal and homeroom teacher to set up meetings. Also registered him for school. Got Peace's schedule changes finalized at his high school. Nice balance on it. In the hall, we ran into his physics teacher from last year and chatted for a long while. Peace will have her again this year for honor's chemistry, and it's nice to have her be so friendly and complimentary of him.

Gonna scram for now. Have a blessed day.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Today as I was about to enter security check point at Chicago O'hare on my way home from a conference, I got a call which left me gulping for breath. When the surprise caller identified himself/herself, I immediately moved behind a partition between the swelling crowds to hide my shocked and awed expressions. During the conversation, I was comforted as a Muslim woman laid down her mat and prostrated herself for evening prayer beside me and out of the airport bustle. Forgive me. I can't talk about any of it just yet in fact, but that phone call could influence the rest of my family's life. I don't want my children to get even a whiff of wind or even sense anything is afoot, so it's got to stay completely under the radar.

In some ways, the new development been a ticking time bomb, and at least, I know where it's located. Buck and I have some serious prayer and counsel to seek.

My intentions were to come home and blog about my Chicago adventures and learning experience, but now my mind has been riveted in a completely direction.