Sunday, August 31, 2008

Sunday, August 31, 2008

1. Computer crashed, was repaired and is back.
2. Sent home from work sick yesterday, still sick but getting better.
3. Found my green pajama pants with lemons on them. Makes me happy. Excellent sick wear.
4. I Love Lucy on all morning, excellent sick watching.
5. Left work yesterday and went straight to 24 hour urgent care clinic; closed for the Labor Day weekend. Isn't that exactly when a 24 hour urgent care clinic should be open?
6. Jay's on vacation, please pray for safe travel and a great time. He called last night and sounded very very happy (and tired!) Landed in Los Angeles at 11:30 and had seen the walk of fame, star's homes and eaten at Farmer's Market. Aunt Sue and Lisa are taking good care of him just like we knew they would.
7. My mom just now tells me that one cannot eat a garden planted around a utility pole, toxic. Well, this explains my giant leafy miniature tomato bearing garden. P.S. I'm giving away free tiny vegetables this year if you're interested. Just as long as you don't mind bearing cyclops babies someday.
8. Mrs. Grass soup makes everything better.
9. Have settled on paint colors for family room, kitchen and living room. More to come on that...
10. Planning our yearly Marshall trip and ready for Autumn. To everything there is a season.

Isaiah 32:17 The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever...

Sunday, August 24, 2008


She was wearing a mint green suit the first time I met her. She approached me to introduce herself with this smile that even my cynical self couldn't doubt. In that moment of introduction I went out on a limb and decided that I'd be friends with this woman if she'd be friends with me. My life was in a secret shambles. I knew that my marriage was in serious trouble but I hadn't spoken it aloud. When I tried to talk to Dean he brushed me off. But there was something wrong. Something terrifying was being born in our home and I was the only one who knew it.
So I figured when it all finally fell apart, I'd need a friend. Maybe the smiling green suit would be that person.
Her youngest was older than my oldest and she was giggling about having just gotten back into that suit but knowing full well she looked "stuffed" into it. She didn't care, she was just happy to have squeezed it on. She whispered to me that she was wearing a girdle. This sealed the deal, if we could talk girdles, we could be friends. She brought me into the circle of friends there at church where ladies talked about their kids and their husbands and their homes. She was proud of her family without being arrogant. She openly loved her husband and openly shared their imperfections at the same time. When I dropped hints that my marriage was hurting, she didn't miss a beat. She just kept smiling that warm smile but somehow, a gentle sorrow for my pain was added to her eyes. I never felt that she looked down on me. I believed she wanted my family to survive.
Her businessman husband talked and prayed me through the night when Dean was at work and somehow the secret something had become large and loud and out of control. The smiling green suit never really gave me any advice. She wasn't someone who needed to be your advisor. Just kept on that same steady track of friendship, accepting my conversations whether they were outpourings of sadness or just small talk.
I don't know when the healing came on the timeline of our friendship. We were never BFFs. I don't think I ever had a phone conversation with her unless it was to confirm what we were bringing to the church picnic. I didn't tell her my deep dark secrets, didn't catch her up on the latest every day when the Mr. left for work. But somewhere between a few months and a few years later, God healed us. The role of the smiling green suit and her husband remained one of there when they were needed and stepping aside when they weren't. Taking what we could give when we could give it.
She kept being a proud wife and mom, clearly loving her family. She was fulfilled in being the one who drove this child to soccer practice or that one to music lessons. She took pleasure in keeping her husband's business suits laundered and had his shirts pressed at the cleaner so they'd have an extra sharp crease. She knew their ins and outs and made their lives sweeter in the small ways individual to each of them.
And then she changed. She became short-tempered and sarcastic. She slammed doors. She stopped smiling. She stopped chatting about meat loaf recipes and soft ball games.
The business man husband didn't think he wanted to be married any longer. He didn't come to church and we kept asking where he was. Her answers were simple at first, "he's out of town" and then biting, "how should I know?" Where I used to count her as among one of my favorite people, I dreaded being around her. She was so angry and so sad that she became a force that seemed too powerful for me, I didn't know what to do with her.
Her pain not only erased her smile but turned the air around her heavy and bitter. The scent of it was familiar to me, my own rage and terror had been its equal.
But she was different in one way. At my bottom I wanted Dean destroyed, rode out of town on a rail. Take that bass away. Get him off the stage. Do you know what he is? Anger was all I was for a while there. Spite, revenge. Something to preoccupy me from myself.
She was angry, but it never overtook her love for him. She raged when it was discussed that his position at church should be revoked. He hadn't been there in months. She stood in his place to defend him and remind everyone that this was a good man in a bad time. He moved out of the house and she continued to take his shirts to the dry cleaner to be professionally pressed. She took their children to school and practice and cooked dinner every night and took a full time job because now they were supporting two houses. The week their divorce was final she told me she didn't want him to hurt. She never said anything about the specifics of their split. When his father died she cried for him. When people asked how he was she told whatever good there was, bragged on his accomplishments like she always had. "You know him, he's so smart!" "He's such a perfectionist, it's no wonder he's doing so well." "Pray for him, just pray for us."
I never heard of another man that she might have dated. I'm not saying I would have. We were never that close. She was a warm smile during my coldest days. I tried hard to be that for her, I didn't do it as well.
Years went by with her hugs when we'd run into each other and a whisper in my ear, "Pray for us." Still us. After years. After little kids grew up. After grand babies. Pray for US.
I know that they found one another again and when he was ready, she took him back with joy. I know that the years and the pain are not entirely erased. I know that the trust is slow to build and this new life will be different than the life of the before.
I haven't seen her in a long time now. Him longer. It was at least a year ago when she hugged me and whispered the usual, "Pray for us."
This woman, the woman in the mint green suit who smiled at me, she is love. She who was brave and honest enough to bear her grief without shame and somehow protect the dignity of the one who had destroyed her. She who kept a home for his return not knowing if it would ever happen. She who had moments of rage and ugliness. I now realize her angriest moments were those when she was left standing alone to demand that his friends stand by him as they wanted to turn away. She who was once one of a couple and then came alone to graduation parties. She who once had such an easy smile and then looked so tired I wondered how she stood up. She who loved, raged and came full circle to put her heart again on the line for him.
Today I don't know where they are. I think together. I haven't heard anything. We've drifted, that group of friends and us. This morning I awoke and thought of her. I bet that first smile was about 20 years ago.
After all this time, her impact on my life remains. Love dies for the beloved.

1 Corinthians 13:1-13 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames,but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

August 24, 2008

Exodus 15: 13 In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed. In your strength you will guide them to your holy dwelling.

The painting is "Eternal Jerusalem" by Shoshana Meerkin.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Back Porch Thoughts

1. Went here a few months ago for a work breakfast. Thinking about having a leisurely breakfast with the Mr. here on Saturday.
2. Gonna go get some paint chips and figure out the Ricardo House theme.
3. Mr. is playing at Baxter's again Saturday night, you comin'?
4. I really need to clean the left over garage sale stuff out of my garage. Yes, it's still there. Blame my mother, I do.
5. Mr. gots to paint the side garage door.
6. Hey! My grapes are almost ripe! Thanks Tom!
7. For the third week in a row I'm planning on getting some black work shoes. We'll see if I actually go to a store this week.
8. Summer is winding down, it feels like fall rolling in. Can anybody else feel it?
9. As I was leaving one of the units at work I heard one staff say to another one, "I just love Ms. Sara, don't you?" I don't share this to brag but to say how humbled I am by moments that lift my weariness and expose my blessings.
10. I really do need to get a book to read this weekend. I have nothing around here.

Pic: My back porch with only a month of so of morning coffee in the sunshine left.

Thursday, August 21, 2008


OK, drop everything this is very important and I expect you all to cowboy up and help me.
I want my house to feel like Lucy's house after she and Ricky moved to Connecticut. This is what we know so far, it was rustic with a mid-century feel. Farm housey but not country-precious.
This is all I know. Your assignment is to figure out exactly what it is I'm trying to do here and explain it to me.
In other words, you've got some 'splainin' to do.
Meanwhile my mother's only advice is to marry a Cuban. Which I haven't ruled out.


I should be almost ready for work this morning but I'm moving slowly. At 1:24 a.m. Donny decided he wanted outside. I invited him into bed. No. I patted his bed to demonstrate how comfy it is. No. I used my stern voice, "Donny! Go lay down!" No. Whine, cry, dog sounds that are almost words but not quite. Hound face peeking up over the side of the bed. Clicking toe nails of a pacing hound on a hardwood floor. At 1:30 I gave up and let him outside. I thought maybe someone neglected to give him his bed time potty break.
So I let him out and stand at the door expecting a quick taking care of business and back to bed with us. Well, apparently at 1:30 in the morning there are fabulous smells which are not there by the light of day. At the end of ten minutes I promise you I never saw him relieve himself despite trotting happily around our double lot with his nose to the ground. He did come to the door with a tennis ball in his mouth.
So he comes inside and hops happily into bed next to the Mr. falling asleep immediately with tennis ball in jaws. I can only assume he awoke and realized he'd left it outside. I don't know.
I do know that at 4:30 this morning I was still awake thinking about paint colors for my kitchen, meetings at work and that I should plant some mums this fall.
At least Donny is well-rested and the midnight tennis ball bandits were foiled again.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Therefore The Redeemed

Job 19:25 I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth.
As I've lived here in my grandparent's house, it's been a slow process of envisioning what I want to change to make it my own. When we first moved in, everyone was asking what I was going to do in terms of decorating. After a month of so of lengthy conversations and magazine searching and deciding what we wanted we gave up. We quit trying to decide realizing that we needed to live here to know what we wanted, a sort of settling in. Five months later I am starting to have more of an understanding of this house and me in it, memories making it that much more complicated. I'm almost ready to put paint to walls. And almost ready to let go what was for what will be.
Jay is moving into my other grandma's house. He's ready for home ownership and dreams of his own. So he sits and talks to his grandparents, his aunt and us about what he wants his own new old house to be. We look through magazines and try to help him identify the commonalities between this picture and that to steer him toward what he seems to like best. We envision walls torn down, flooring and function that will change what this little house has always been. Much like his dad and I on the other side of town. Dogs living where they never lived before. A young man starting life in the house his grandfather lived in. You might think of opportunity and blessing and time moving on.
I think of redemption.
It is the desire of man's heart to claim life and make it his own. To mold our lives into something that in turn molds us. We desire a home that reflects past, present and future if our pasts have been happy and we embrace the future with hope. We greet the present as the starting gate. I watch my son's eyes light up as he talks about copper pipes, mortgage rates and how long it takes drywall mud to dry. He is captured by redeeming what he has been offered to make it even better.
Life is continual redemption. It is carved within us, being the only thing to turn us toward our own redemption. The ability to see what might be better. To admit that all is not well and to reject the things that are less than they could be.
Isn't it familiar to us, to know what we want to change and yet struggle with the most obvious ideas? Eat less. Exercise. Save money. Mop the floor. Study. None of these are mysteries we cannot solve and yet we struggle. We want the better, we are dissatisfied with what is and still...
I can look at many years of knowing that all was not redeemed and knowing how to fix it. And doing nothing. It could weigh me down with suffocating regret should I let it. The inner voice that knew something better was within but not being able to make myself find that better something. Not being able to let go of the things that stood between me and redemption. That same battle lives inside of me. Lessons are learned slowly and often learned, lost and relearned as regrets pile higher.
I have understood so acutely that so much needed to be redeemed that I've thrown up my hands knowing I just couldn't do it. Days became weeks became months became years until I suddenly realized I had made some determination that just never happened. Shame almost convinced me that the redemption clock had run out.
Now I know that life is like this new old house, you have to live in it to understand. It isn't a matter of hopelessness or opportunities lost forever. Redemption is just the opposite. Redemption of life, like new old houses, just requires someone to dream and reach for it.
Along the way, some things get left behind. Sometimes you can't reclaim the stuff you lost. The Mr. broke a vase I got from my grandma the day after I put it on my kitchen table. Broken vases and broken hearts cannot always be restored to what they were. That vase that survived decades in my grandma's basement survived twenty four hours in our house. It hurt my heart to put it in the trash. For a while I thought about it being the favorite of the things I had from her, that nothing would ever replace it. There's a certain panic to losing something that you know cannot ever be replaced.
That is the magic of redemption. God never leaves us surrounded by broken glass. The panic isn't real. I am not a creator, I cannot form another vase and if I could; it wouldn't be my grandma's anyway.
But the Creator redeems life in a different way. He doesn't fix, he recreates. He makes us into something new, in fact he uses the broken pieces and creates something glorious out of it. His redemption is the ocean that my redecoration represents as a droplet. His plans are beyond my imagination.
He allows the broken vase to go into the garbage can without suffocating regret. He says to us, "It's OK, I can fix it."
We hunger to redeem, our homes and our bodies and our finances; because we hunger to be redeemed.
Now we need to realize that redemption is never finished, like the repair of a house. It's forever until we are forever.

Monday, August 18, 2008

What I Inherited

Both of my grandmothers have passed in the last 10 months. This has left us barely having finished the work of sorting through one life before we've started the next task. Another house with eighty one years represented in 900 or so square feet. You have to do this kind of work slowly and carefully, like an archaeologist who brushes away each layer, careful not to miss some treasure. As we worked at my Grandma Tookie (ie my dad's mom's) house, we'd joke, "Hey, I just found the mid seventies!" Although the way-back machine went way backer than that.
My Grandma Tookie (also known as the Took-woman and Diana when differentiating between she and Eleanor, my other gramma), was Armenian and English Canadian. Point of reference, she always referred to herself as French Canadian, we don't know why. Her father Arthur (Great Grandpa Mezigian) was one of two children who survived the Armenian genocide to immigrate to America. I know that impacted her life in more ways than I will ever understand. Her father's frame of reference was one that very few could share, the first-hand witness of the murder of a nation including his parents through a child's eyes. What did this young man think, feel and treasure as he raised his children? And what did he teach Diana to treasure? I am the now the representative of the Mezigian survivors of the Armenian genocide. Not me alone of course. But the responsibility is still mine. I am the keeper. I am the one to ensure that Arthur Mezigian's treasures, passed to his daughter remain to be honored.
When you are a part of the immigrant culture from the first half of the century, those treasures are not so simple as you might think to unearth. They are kept hidden deep in places where the Turkish Army or immigration officers or slum lords cannot find them. There was no family gold to survive, only the minds, muscles and sinew of those few chosen people carry the treasures.
Furthermore, those early great grandparents of mine were not poets and scholars. They left no lengthy journals to express the years of desperation. The ways they were changed forever are not marked in hieroglyphics on a cave wall. They had no time to write plays or novels about their lives. They hit the ground of Delray running. When you need money to eat that becomes the point on which your family focuses. My grandfather shared stories of his life which my grandmother remembered and shared but they were not enough to understand the heart. They were a retelling of events. I want to know, after all of the pain and struggle; what remained? How did this shape them, us, me?
And so with great pleasure and a careful hand we spent three weeks digging. I am joyful to tell you that my grandmother was a keeper of history second only to Henry Ford. She just lacked a museum and a village. And to steal a phrase, it would take a village to house her history. That remark about unearthing the seventies is not just exaggeration. My son walked away wearing a heavy gold donkey necklace from the Carter/Democrat era after day one.
One day my parents and I sat for a long time poring over old photographs. I knew these people were Armenian because they look as unrelated to me as they could possibly be. Somehow this blue-eyed blond fell out of a tree full of dark haired, browned eyed, olive skinned Armenians. These were old pictures, frayed and delicate. Formal wedding portraits and pictures of young people laughing on the river front. One marked "Reid" which was my dad's first glimpse at his own great grandfather. Babies in the arms of young aunts and uncles in basements celebrating holidays. My grandma and her sister in broad shoulder pads, ankle strap shoes and hats. The forties. My great uncles in basketball uniforms, the thirties. Young Armenian men in American military uniforms. The next generation still fighting for freedom.
All day long for three weeks one question floated up from the basement and out of bedroom doors, "Does anyone want this?" We'd all drop what we were doing to run and examine "this." Sometimes a photograph of one of us being silly in the old backyard pool. By default you get to keep the pictures of yourself. My dad's army badges and Boy Scout projects. I claimed the giant red sled that used to sit on the television at Christmas time. I thought I was just taking home a piece of my childhood until my dad told me that at age eight he made that sled in Boy Scouts. Even better.
I claimed some mid-century coffee cups, a cast iron skillet and a load of gaudy jewelry that defined my grandma's look. Oh, and I also took her giant jewelry chest to house what has become known as my beads.
The photographs were divided between my dad and my aunt. Of course as far as I'm concerned anything in my parents' house is mine and Amy's so that works out. It's the stuff from the seventies and back that I am drawn to. I picked old platters out of the garbage when everyone said, "I can't take any more stuff!" I can't take any more stuff either but I did. Lord knows what will become of it.
All I know is that a young man survived with nothing. And a young girl was raised by immigrants with nothing. And pictures prove that my childhood was full of Christmas gifts, birthday cakes and backyard pools. There is something there amongst the nothing. Someone said, "It will be different for them" and meant me. One day someone had enough money to buy a fancy platter at Montgomery Wards or Sears. I picture my Grandma paying money that would've been unheard of during her childhood to buy a pretty bowl for Christmas when her parents would come for dinner in the basement. I imagine my great grand parents being amazed at the wealth of just one generation beyond their own desperation.
So I took the few remnants of coffee cups from the 1960s. I took a couple of platters that only came out for Christmas. I took the beads.
This is the treasure from William Street. That we could spend three weeks looking through eighty one years and try to talk one another into taking items home saying, "I don't need that. I have too much stuff already."
Every time I drink coffee from the one surviving white mid-century coffee cup with the matching saucer, I will remember that a poor immigrant raised a daughter. I will remember that a group of people with no hope demanded life not just of survival but of change.
Beads and coffee cups and platters that I can see in those old photographs when my grandmother and her brothers and sister were young and raising families. My great grand parents sitting in the background smiling.
It's no wonder we all feel like we don't have enough room for any more.

Deuteronomy 7:9 Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands.

Picture: Arthur Mezigian, my great grandfather. Now we know where Mac got his hair.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

August 17, 2008

Job 11:16-18 You will surely forget your trouble, recalling it only as waters gone by. Life will be brighter than noonday, and darkness will become like morning. You will be secure, because there is hope; you will look about you and take your rest in safety.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Buncha Nothin

1. I can't think of a list so here is a collection of miscellaneous statements.
2. I woke up at 5:44 this morning.
3. I am wearing beige shorts.
4. I would rather be slightly too warm and not run the air conditioning.
5. I listen to Doctor Radio on satellite every afternoon on my drive home.
6. I have a clear glass bowl of lemon balm on my kitchen table.
7. My feet hurt.
8. I love a good ink pen.
9. I am going to prune and water after I post this.
10. I don't know why anyone reads this blog.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Welcome To The Pumpkin Pat(ch)

Well I am de-crankied because it is Friday, I'm home and work is over for the week. Dinner's cooking and I'm about to toss a salad. The Mr. is on his way home and Donny is laying in his yard hole. Jay will be here in a bit for dinner and Mac's out with friends. Can't think of much to complain about besides my big butt which is self-induced so no use complaining about it.
I love my home and my family. I'm told on a daily basis that people care about me. I wore a brooch in my hair to work today and my pastor has promised a short service on Sunday morning.
In closing, some of you may think my mother's recent foray into weird head gear was a departure. Let me correct that assumption by directing your attention to the picture at the upper left of this post. This is a pumpkin hat. Just like the one she wore for most of Wednesday.
This should explain a lot about why I am like I am, brooch in my hair and all.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Sara The

Boy, what a long day today has been. I worked at my grandmother's house with my parents most of yesterday and must've used some rarely used muscles. My arms and hands and butt (yes, my butt) are so sore. Even my feet are sore! I did not want to get rolling when that alarm clock sounded this morning for work. I laid there thinking about how much I wish I was off today just to rest. But, up and at 'em.
I, of course, ended up working late and then being late for my niece's birthday dinner. That got me home late. After about ten minutes chatting with the Mr. I realize, I am grouchy.
I'm tired and achy and cranky like a little kid who should've had a nap. So instead of sniping at him and grouching at him like I want to, I'm headed for a long hot shower and a little reading in bed before I hit the hay.
Hopefully he (and I) will look better by the light of day...tomorrow.
For tonight, I'm cranky and he don't look so good to me. ;)
Good night!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Mucho Nacho

Well I am on my last day of a few days off this morning and headed once again to grandma's house to work with my parents. It's a mixture of nostalgia and sadness but I think in a way it's also a catharsis; it's healthy. And I can't help but think about what a better house she's living in now so at the end of the day, every day is a good one.
Last night I went to my first Tiger game in a few years. The Mr. always purchases tickets assuming I'll go and I always do everything in my power not to go. It's not that I don't enjoy myself once I get there so much as I'm such a home body that "here" is always better than "there." So I went with no excuses not to as I didn't have to get up for work this morning and I liked the company.
One of the Mr.'s (and by association, my) best friends went with us. Marty is a musician and he and Dean have that joined at the musical DNA thing going on. Those of you who don't know Marty should still be impressed with him since you know I don't hang out with just anybody, especially outdoors in a large crowd!
The Mr. has an unnatural love of this thing at Comerica Park called the Mucho Nacho. Basically it's a giant plastic sombrero filled with various nacho stuffs including synthetic cheese topping. Those of you who know the Mr. (or have been to Frankenmuth with him) will also understand that he insisted Marty eat a Mucho Nacho as well, despite the fact that Marty didn't particularly want a Mucho Nacho. It does not matter, the Mr. is very dictator when it comes to outtings and the food eaten therein. But Marty is a good guy so he ate the Mucho Nacho. No word on how the Mucho Nacho is treating him this morning.
Being that I don't care about making the Mr. feel good about himself, I refused the Mucho Nacho and ate a Hebrew National hot dog which was all kinds of delicious and some of them cinnamon almond or pecan things or whatever they are. The point is we spent too much money on ballpark food and the Mr. eats disgusting food and forces his friends to do the same.
I did not get one of those giant foam fingers that I usually insist on when I got to events. I'm maturing.
Much to my surprise I did enjoy myself and I'm glad I went. The Mr. and I were just saying a few days ago that we are at this point where we suddenly look around and realize that we have this amazing core of friends (mostly musicians, go figure) that are just much a natural part of our lives as breathing. People whose company is easy and with whom you can talk and laugh or sit watching a ball game or just be with and know that God has given you these friends.
We're through trying to force ourselves outside of our comfort zone to be best friends with people we like but who just aren't meant to be in that special circle of people. The Mr. is wired to worship and so are his friends. I fit in there somewhere but I don't know for sure how. I think it's my running commentary that keeps it interesting.
There's an old poem about friends for the moment and friends for the distance or something like that. I go away grateful every time I'm with that circle of people. One of them I've been dragging around since she was in middle school and we have those fifteen years worth of life that makes us able to speak in glances and single words. Some of them I've known for just a little while. And some people we of the inner circle have voted on and rejected. Ha! You can decide if I'm kidding on that or not.
Anyway, speaking as someone who is socially inept and has to be dragged kicking and screaming and mumbling sarcastic remarks from my house; I'm glad I married a guy with such good taste in friends. That way I get all of the benefit with none of the effort. It works out really well.
Meanwhile, Viva Le Mucho Nacho.

Proverbs 17:17 A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Birds

So my mom refuses to share this store leaving it to me to be the keeper of family legend and lore.
We were organizing my grandmother's house together yesterday and had gotten to Christmas decorations. My grandmother had no shortage of Christmas decorations. For several years, she was into white birds on her tree. Amongst the white birds we find a white partridge with one of those clip things so you can attach it to the Christmas tree limb.
It takes my mom and I about four hours at any given task together to get stupid. Once looking for prom dresses we ended up on the Lodge and couldn't get off and decided that it was originally called the Beaver Lodge. At this point we couldn't find the exit for laughter and snots. My mom was yelling, "Shut up and help me find an exit!" while I'm saying, "It kind of looks like a beaver dug it out anyway."
My son Mac has the same gene. Shopping for home goods he started up with some ridiculous story about meeting the pope who told mac, "Call me Popey" and then gave him five dollars. This made my sister pee her pants right there in Sak's Fifth Avenue.
Many years ago there was a bird in my parents' basement and the Mr., who was at that time the boyfriend, walks past us with a Dorrito on his shoulder, his plan being that the bird would land on his shoulder to eat the Dorrito and he'd simply walk it out.
You see how it goes.
So my mom and I find this clippy white partridge and she puts it in her hair, of course.
Then we notice the junk man driving by and she decides that he could pick up the stove if we catch him. You see where this is headed. She ran outside to call him in and proceeded to have a lengthy discussion with him about the stove and some other items we'd like removed. With the partridge in her hair.
I called her attention to it about fifteen minutes after he left.

Monday, August 11, 2008


Usually the Mr. does the grocery shopping but on Friday, I ventured out. Mostly because we were down to ice cubes and diet Pepsi if you don't count my mint and lemon balm as food stuffs. My bill was $193. With no frills. Five or so nights worth of dinners. Laundry soap and a kitchen remodeling magazine. No lunch supplies for little kids. No Starbucks coffee (Folgers Black Silk). Just a week's worth of plain old dinners and the few necessities. In fact, the Mr. went out on Saturday to buy water and a few things I'd forgotten. And I made another stop for shampoo and such; another $48. As I took out my bonus card and paid my bill, I did not feel anxious but so thankful to be able to simply pay and be on my way with my week's worth of groceries. We're not rich by a long shot but we can afford food.
There was a time in our lives when I did all of the grocery shopping because I was a full time home maker. And while I wax eloquent about that time before I was working; there was a price for the luxury of staying at home with daboyz. The price was we were stinking poor. Every week I'd tell the Mr. I was off to buy groceries and without fail we'd have the same conversation, "What is the least about of money you need to get us through this week?" I hated that conversation. It seemed that no matter how many corners I cut, I still spent too much on groceries. I think his goal was for Farmer Jack to pay us to take home food. I'd get a knot in my stomach just anticipating the grocery conversation. I'd go to the store with a calculator and add up every penny that I put in my shopping cart fearing going over the limit before I ran out of aisles. And about half of the time, I'd have to go back through the store returning this item so I could afford that item. I was torn between paying with cash to force me to stay on budget or writing a check to force him to cover our expenses. The problem with theory number two was that in those days, over spending on groceries meant not paying another bill. Grocery shopping seemed like a huge burden on my shoulders every week. We'd sink or swim on my choice of breakfast cereals. I think those days of cutting corners to the extreme had a lot to do with my weight gain because eating fat is cheaper than eating skinny. Not to mention eating fat is a small comfort when you're flat broke. This is why the Mr. now grocery shops. I figured, let him try to live within his own budget.
In hindsight and having survived those years, I can't say I regret staying home. It was way hard and I don't want to go back there. I'm glad it's over. That's probably why I don't mourn my twenties and didn't freak when I turned forty. Probably why my kids graduating high school and growing up is nothing but happiness for me. It means the days of white knuckle grocery shopping and praying that the winter coats would fit for one more year is over. Thank you Jesus.
Now I find myself doing what my parents and grandparents were probably doing; worrying about how young families can afford to survive in this environment. If my grocery bill makes me gasp; what about the young mom or dad with little ones who don't have twenty years seniority in their pay check and a second income to stretch the budget? Now that $193 grocery bill really isn't about the money draining from my account. It's concern for the people walking where I was walking.
If you're there, I am praying for you today. You'll be ok. You'll make it. You'll use that calculator and find out which restaurants feed kids free on which nights (because then it's cheaper to eat out.) You'll eat a lot of hog dogs and mac and cheese. Time will pass and you'll take a deep breath having lived through it all. And then you'll worry about the next generation of young families. It will be your turn to pray.

Father, I ask you to extend your hand to young families struggling not for luxuries but to afford food and clothing for their kids. I ask you to cover their minds with peace and increase their faith. I ask you to grant them wisdom as they try to find money where it doesn't seem to exist and bring them blessings in the form of provision. You Father are able to send manna from heaven and draw water from a rock. This is not too difficult for you. Meet the needs of these men and women. Let them not go so long in crisis that they are crushed but show them your miraculous love as week by week they see you hand at work. Burden the hearts of those who are able to be your hands and feet that we would be the bearer of the help that they need. May this not be a time in their lives of desolation but of the revelation that they are loved by you and your people and never alone. Lord, I come boldly to you to say that pretty words are not enough when you have run out of milk before you have run out of week. Send help in a real way. I thank you God, knowing that you are Jehovah Jireh; Provider. The cattle on a thousand hills are yours and these families are your children. Send them manna. Amen.

Deuteronomy 6:10 When the LORD your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you—a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, 11 houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant—then when you eat and are satisfied, 12 be careful that you do not forget the LORD, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

August 10, 2008

Jeremiah 32:17 Ah, Sovereign LORD, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Things That Are Hard For Me

1. Not checking my work e mail when I'm off.
2. Getting motivated to mop the floor.
3. Resisting carbs.
4. Having regular bowel movements. Aren't you glad you checked in today?
5. Finding comfortable shoes.
6. Not fussing at my family about leaving their junk around the house. Really, is it that hard for me to put a pop can into the bin?
7. Being a social butterfly, I'm more in a social cocoon.
8. Talking on the phone.
9. Making myself exercise.
10. Pursuing Christ like I know I should.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The Line That Has Finally Moved

We have all officially moved up one space in line now. The grandparents are all gone, mine that is. I think figuring out exactly what that means will be a work in progress. So far I have figured out that it means no more screw-ups; there's nobody to bail me out! In fact, Jesus help us, I may need to do the bailing!
There is a weird kind of feeling not having to do things like we've always done them and then trying to decide, now what? How much do we let evolve and change and how much to we cling to fiercely to pass on to future generations? It is time to be solid, to be the foundation. The problem is that yesterday I was the granddaughter which means by default the child. At the age I am now, my mom was a grandmother. I can remember vividly when my own grandparents were about my age. Simple math would prove that indeed, the line is moving forward.
I am beyond blessed to have had all of these grandparents, I even had great-grands for much of my life. My kids' employers were taken aback that they needed bereavement for their great grandmother. Nobody, or so it seems, has relationships with great grandparents. And that relationship has been a close one, not the elderly relative in the nursing home kind of grand parents. The living in the homes they have always lived in five minutes away grandparents. There at every family function. So close we speak in shorthand quoting them to one another and knowing exactly what we mean. Right down to my kids. What wealth. Wealth that I seem to have inherited before I am quite sure what to do with it.
I wonder if my parents feel a burden to now hold those positions that we all are tethered to, like kites being held by their hands passed from their own parents hands. How inexplicable it must be, to mourn your parents and guide your children and grand children in the same moment.
My grandparents always seemed so knowing, so capable and so well defined. How can I possibly be that way now? Already? Or do my boys already see me as more than I see myself to be?
How can it be too soon and yet we are in such small company to have had them for so long?
And how can I have lost all of my grandparents, who each had a nickname for me and put such a fingerprint on me and still feel peaceful and complete?
This may be the only question I can answer today. Robert and Eleanor Gerhardstein; Harold and Diana Trent loved me incredibly. And surrounded me with prayer and with Jesus. When the line moved forward, they just stepped one step closer to him and out of my sight. They stepped into heaven. And that is why I know we will all be fine. We too, have stepped one step closer to heaven. And to them.

Psalm 24:6 Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek your face, O God of Jacob. Selah

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Body Surfing

My husband recently teased me that "everybody" gets on my nerves. He is more or less correct. Partly because I am simply not a people person and I'd rather be alone most of the time, I guess by default you could say that people get on my nerves. Secondly because people just get on my nerves, period. They irritate me sometimes. And some of them irritate me all of the time. The Mr., on the other hand, is rarely irritated. I do find it amusing that he will state that someone is "just an idiot, what do you expect" and then deny that they irritate him.
As a young bride there were relatives on my husband's side that irritated me no end. I ran the spectrum from full-on desperate (and humiliating) attempts to win their favor to downright not caring and telling them so when my attempts kept falling flat. Of course, these folks also let me know that I irritated them. Which irritated me even further. How dare they! Of course, I now am quite certain they were saying, "How dare she!"
We all irritate each other. That is the long and short of it. As sure as people irritate me, I am well aware that I can be as equally offensive. It is the nature of living amongst this filthy rabble we call humanity. In general, we're just idiots, what do you expect?
The problem with my relationship with the "other side" back in those days was that I was shocked and hurt that I irritated them and they likewise. None of us were mature enough to realize that real relationships are like body surfing, you ride to the crest and back down again. Struggling against the tide just pulls you into the under tow.
I think it's normal that people sometimes irritate, annoy, aggravate, offend and disappoint us. In fact, I think it might be an exercise in growth if we are able to simply allow that reality to reflect back. If I find you so irritating, it's likely you or someone else sees me in the same light. For the sake of change? Sometimes. On a grander scale I see it for the sake of grace. I wanted Dean's family to see me as all kinds of wonderful and therefore love me. But that isn't really love. Love sees the cracks in our facades and either reaches out to repair them or sees them as part of a beautiful whole.
When someone irritates me, I need to remember my own need for grace; stretch out my arms and let my body ride the crest of life. If not, we will all drown in the struggle.

Isaiah 57:19 & 20 "...creating praise on the lips of the mourners in Israel. Peace, peace, to those far and near,"says the LORD. "And I will heal them. But the wicked are like the tossing sea,which cannot rest,whose waves cast up mire and mud.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

My Burqa

With the political and international climate in which we all exist, there has been an increased awareness of other cultures. Considering the events of the last eight years, the current Middle Eastern conflicts and the United States involvement in Iraq, most of us know what a burqa is. Living in Dearborn, MI; I live amongst women who wear a burqa and have no choice but to become accustomed to this previously foreign attire. In case you're wondering, I do not wear a burqa although there are days when it would be an improvement.
I am not for or against the burqa, it is simply a statement reflecting a different ethnicity. I know it represents oppression to some and modesty to others. And I whole heartedly agree with the requirements in some situations for the wearer's face to be exposed for the sake of security. But political and social issues aren't what I generally think of as I pass a woman wearing a burqa. I think of religion.
I am not speaking of how the faith of the Muslim community differs from mine. I'm talking about how this expression of belief makes me pause to consider my own and what it means in my own daily appearance. The burqa leaves no doubt about what the woman inside means to express. The burqa represents the wearer's modesty. It makes me think about the idea that this woman has reserved parts of herself for only her husband. In this, the burqa speaks to me.
I was raised in a conservative Pentacostal church and in a home where the church rules were not changed for private life. There was never a question about modesty and purity in my upbringing. I was taught that my sexuality was created for only my husband. That husband was as real to me as a young girl long before I knew who he was as it is to me today, nearing 22 years of marriage. You could say, I wear a spiritual burqa. My parents wrapped me in this spiritual burqa when I was born and when I chose to remove it, it was on my wedding night.
My burqa covers my body that only my husband is permitted to see and touch. It covers my eyes reminding me that he is the only man that I am to be drawn to. It covers my head reminding me to discipline my thoughts. It covers my mouth reminding me to keep from conversations that compromise the purity of my intimate relationship with this one man, my husband.
My burqa makes it very hard to compromise what I am supposed to be. Just as a physical burqa makes the statement that this woman is in no way public property, my spiritual burqa keeps hidden those things which are not meant to be exposed except between Dean and me.
I don't think we all need to put on burqas. But I do think these women have surpassed the American public in wisdom by placing such high regard on their purity. They have maintained a determination to keep themselves for only their husbands. We have gotten too comfortable with our marriages and in doing so make what should be sacred common. That which is common will be quickly compromised.
I am grateful for my burqa. It makes me uncomfortable when other men cross a line with touch or words. It makes me keep certain aspects of my marriage within my heart and stops me from discussing those most intimate moments even with other women. It saves me the heartache of impulsive choices or secrets I must hide from my husband. In difficult moments, it ensures that these other people, everyone except Dean and Sara stand outside of us. That we share with each other this thing that makes us one.
A burqa can be taken off within the home and in the presence of a woman's husband. A burqa can also be put on at will. There is no one, regardless of culture, who has not compromised in deed, thought or conversation what God has created in marriage. Certainly not me. But I cover my head, my eyes, my mouth and my body as soon as I am reminded that this is what protects me and not what inhibits me.
It is never too late to learn the lesson of the burqa.

Psalm 51:10 Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

August 3, 2008

Psalm 30:5 For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Top Ten Reasons To Come To Baxter's Tonight

1. The headliner is Dean-Marty-Eddie-Chad-Barry-Tina.
2. At intermission there will be a name the band contest, winner gets ONE MILLION DOLLARS!
3. I've been listening to these songs for months, why shouldn't you listen for one evening?
4. Sitting at a high top is fun!
5. Steven Tyler is opening.
6. A rare opportunity to spot me out in public, maybe.
7. Pastor Jeremy is buying ice cream for the first 100 guests.
8. See for yourself who's right; the Mr. says Chad has 18 ear piercings, I say a few less.
9. A free ride home from your choice of band member if you get drunk.
10. Someday when they're famous you'll be able to say, "I was there the night Chad was so poor he had to sell one of his piercings for a cup of coffee and that's why he only has 17 today, Pastor Jeremy refused to pay up for the ice cream and Marty arrested him, I got so drunk that Steven Tyler drove me home and I am the one that gave them the name Ham Stand which is why I am a millionaire today. They say Sara was there..."

Baxter's @ 7:30 Saturday night (Tonight!)
P.S. If you go to the Baxter's website, the coming events are for April. We don't know why. If you need directions, call Steven Tyler. We're too busy for such foolishness. **Baxter's is attached to Metro South Church in Trenton, MI.

Pic: Steven Tyler at the last gig he opened for Dean.

Friday, August 01, 2008


Top pic: Donny
Bottom pic: Black & Tan "Max" at the Franklin, Tennessee Animal Rescue