Saturday, September 29, 2007

Just Some Saturday Afternoon Meanderings of the Mind

I know I've been praying for humility, but I don't really want God to answer this prayer.

God gave me the gift (??) of being able to analyze things. It made me good at math. I was good at drafting--I was going to be an architect. It has made me a good counselor in hospice work. Sometimes it makes me a good partner in a relationship.

Do any of you have this gift (??)? You may have this gift (??) if you have ever had people over the course of your life say things to you like:

"Lighten up!"

"You think too much."

"You need to let loose a little and be more fun."

and (in response to a question)..."I don't know. I guess I never really thought about it before."

Sometimes I feel abnormal, but then when I think about the word abnormal, I realize it really isn't an accurate word because I don't know what "normal" is because all I know is what I know--not other people's "normal". Sigh.

Today this gift (??) is driving me batty. I'm sick of myself. I wish I could kick myself out and have a break from myself. Self--get out! didn't work.

It all ties in with humility. I'm thinking about a way I have let some friends down. There's really no resolution outside of deeper humility, more strict hiding of self, and greater selflessness and humility on my part. The thing I keep thinking about is that I know I will fail and disappoint again and that I don't like how I feel and that God is actually answering the prayer I prayed to him to be more humble. Gaaah!

(side note: be careful what you ask God for in prayer)

But I'm just plain sick of thinking and turning this around in my head.

I wish I was like someone who'd say, "Just let it go. Let it roll off your back."

So as an act of the will I now say, "Thank-you, God. And continue to make me more like you. Purify my heart. Give me the strength and grace to love others as you love them, and let it not be about how I want to be loved."

Friday, September 28, 2007

A Pot Dares to Critique the Potter

I've been thinking about this statement from a book I'm reading:

"But just as God gives different kinds of faces to people and not one single type of face, so He gives different kinds of occupations and not one."

I'm sorry, Lord, but sometimes I wish I had a different face, or different ability, or someone else's gifts. Other gifts sometimes seem so much more dynamic, or charismatic, or attractive. I think, "if only I was like so and so, people would like me more."

Such pride......such arrogance.

Forgive me, God, for my dissatisfaction with how you made me at times. You know I've come a long way in this. It's been one of those days. I seem so ordinary at times. Help me to be content in my vocation and abilities.

I'm reminded of one of my favorite scriptures as I think about this: "But who indeed are you, a human being, to talk back to God? Will what is made say to its maker, 'Why have you created me so?' Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for a noble purpose and another for an ignoble one?" Romans 9:20-21

I stand reprimanded. You, God, are the potter. I am the clay. I have no right to say to you, "I don't like the common use you made me for. I don't like your artistry...your creativity. Why don't you remove that ridge from this spot, and add a splash of color over there. I'd rather look more like that pot over there."

Who am I that I dare to critique the work of your hands?

What's that old bumper sticker saying ... "....God don't make no junk"??

Put this pot on a shelf Lord that all who see it may glorify you and praise you as the artist. Let me reflect a part of your infiniteness to the world around me.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Lord, I'm Not Worthy

I experienced God in many ways today:

Through the forgiveness of a 7-year-old when I asked his apology for hollering at him this morning;

In the observing of love of a niece who came over 2000 miles to stay for three weeks to care for her dying aunt;

Listening to the passion spill out of a friend's heart regarding her vocation;

In the quiet coolness and sweet smells of a twilight bike ride alongside a 9-year-old.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


I love this time of year. It's the time of year where God takes out his paint brush and begins to color the landscape of the upper midwest--first with delicate detail....a little color here....another color there....then with broad, sweeping strokes as the passion of His painting grows.

You've heard the saying, "You can't see the forest for the trees." In spring, summer, and fall, you can't see the trees for the forest. Unless you look carefully at the landscape, the trees don't really stand out from each other. They are often one mass of differing shades of green.

Not in autumn. You can't see the forest for the trees. You lose the larger picture as the trees spotlight themselves. It's almost as if you meet them for the first time:

"Well, hello, Mr. Majestic Red Pine. You look mighty fine against that backdrop of yellow and red! I didn't know you lived there!"

"Why Mr. Blue Spruce. I had no idea how blue you really were!"

"Mrs. Burning Bush. Really. Do you need to be so flagrant?"

"I must say, Mrs. White Pine....your needles are looking especially soft today."

"Good day to you, Maple Family. Are you going for the fluorescent-orange look of the 80s this year? It's very becoming next to the red!"

Not only do the trees begin to pop out, but the painted landscape surrounding the straw-color of corn still standing in the field makes one want to don a flannel shirt and sit down next to a campfire with a cup of hot cocoa.

I love autumn.

("You made the moon to mark the seasons, the sun that knows the hour of it's setting...How varied are your works, Lord! In wisdom you have wrought them all....May the glory of the Lord endure forever; may the Lord be glad in these works!" ---from Psalm 104)

Pic from the Half Marathon

Thought you'd like to see an action shot of me approaching the finish line of my first ever half marathon. My eyes are closed. I think I'm praying to make it to the finish!

I'm already looking forward to a long race again next year. Maybe I'll go for a full marathon.

Monday, September 24, 2007

For All The Dear Women in my Life--This quote is for you!

One of my favorite authors is G.K. Chesterton. I love his wit, his wisdom, his knowledge, his faith (did you know he was a convert to catholicism??), his dry humor, and his plays on words.

Anyway, I found this cool quote by him today and thought I'd post it to all of the dear women in my life. It spoke to me in a moment of feeling overwhelmed with all of my many and varied duties (paragraph breaks added by me for ease of reading):

"...I cannot, with the utmost energy of imagination, conceive what they mean. When domesticity, for instance, is called drudgery...the difficulty arises from a double meaning in the word. If drudgery only means dreadfully hard work, I admit the woman drudges in the home--as a man might drudge at the Cathedral of Amiens or drudge behind a gun at Trafalgar.

But if it means that the hard work is more heavy because it is trifling, colorless and of small import to the soul, then, as I say, I give it up; I do not know what the words mean. To be Queen Elizabeth within a definite area, deciding sales, banquets, labors, and holidays; to be Whitely within a certain area, providing toys, books, cakes, and boots; to be Aristotle within a certain area, teaching morals, manners, theology, and hygiene, I can understand how this might exhaust the mind, but I cannot imagine how it could narrow it.

How can it be a large career to tell other people's children about the Rule of Three, and a small career to tell one own's children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone, and narrow to be everything to someone? No, a woman's function is laborious; but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute. I will pity Mrs. Jones for the hugeness of her task; I will never pity her for its smallness."

----G. K. Chesterton, from his book, "What's Wrong with the World"



Sunday, September 23, 2007

I did it!!!

Today I ran my first-ever half marathon!! I completed it in 2:15:05. Not too bad considering the longest I've ever run is 10 miles, and that back in June before an overuse injury!

I'm excited!!

And I'm pooped! I'm off to bed....

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Touching Someone Touching the Next World

Ever have a conversation with someone with one foot in this world, and one in the next?? (And I don't mean a bleary-eyed, non-morning person, either!)

I had one today. It always intrigues me.

Today upon arrival at a home, the family was telling me how their mom (a hospice patient) had been hallucinating all day. When I inquired about details, they said she'd been talking to family members who had died years ago. She would reach into the air and grab at nothing (seemingly).

She kept asking, "Who did that?" Her kids could not get out of her what "that" was. And the patient, we'll call her M, became agitated when they would not tell her and kept trying to get her to explain herself. M just kept repeating her question. I said, "M, we don't know who did that." And she settled back into her pillow, staring at me but not at me, and said, "God did that." And a slight smile came over her face. And then she said, "do you hear that?" And I replied, "What do you hear?" M said, "it's beautiful." And by then her daughter had caught on and was supporting her in conversation instead of trying to get M to explain herself.

I know she was hearing things and seeing things that I could not hear and see. And to kneel below her, holding her hand looking up into her face and glazed eyes gave me the goosebumps. To be that close to someone so close to the next world awes and fascinates me.

One cannot be a hospice worker and believe this life is all there is.

A bit later in the visit at a more lucid moment, I said to M....."remember the past few weeks how you've been telling me that you are ready to go home to Jesus and that you don't know why He has not taken you yet?....well I think you're gonna get to meet him soon. And to tell you the truth, M, I'm a little envious."

Her little smile was priceless.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

An Idyllic Day

Just for the record, not every day is like this, lest you think I live a charmed life. Well, actually, I DO live a charmed life, but not every day is like this......

3 women. 3 kayaks. 1 pick-up truck. A couple of beers and lunch.

Floating without sound except the occasional splash of paddles, or the patches of rapids and rocks.

Clear water. Sandy bottom. 5 painted turtles. An assortment of fish. A great blue heron. 2 bald eagles. An albino great blue heron? 3 mallards. Another unidentifiable bird watching us drift by. (Next time: binoculars and a bird book)

Beached on the right bank. Egg salad and spinach sandwiches with onion and garlic cheese. Fresh mango. Trail mix. A toffee bar. A diet wild cherry Pepsi. A self-picture with the camera propped on a rock.

Portage around one tree. Limbo under another. Rock the kayak over a third. Hopping out to free oneself from the occasional sandbar or rock.

Laughter. Silent companionship. Pulling up to home. A relaxed drive back to the truck.

BLTs for supper. A good friend visiting at home. Examining dh's workshop in the barn. Burning a massive hornet's nest out of a fallen tree.

Soccer practice. Three laps around the park for a run=4.4 miles. The crunch of fine gravel under feet. Rhythmic breathing. Strong legs. Soft ground.

Home. A hot shower. Kissing boys goodnight. A cup of tea. Cool, cotton sheets.

Contentment. Fullness of heart.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Thanks, Father Joel!

I listened to a homily today of a friend of ours. He was ordained to the priesthood in July. At his inaugural mass, he spoke about God's call on our lives (the theme of the scripture readings for that day....which, for you on a 3-year cycle in the liturgy. So they are "pre-set", so-to-speak. Coincidence? I think not!).

Anyway, he said he realized in seminary that he was waiting for this big moment where he would choose to be a priest in answer to God. In reality, he found that he answered this call daily. Every morning when his alarm went off at 5:15 for morning prayer and mass, he had the choice to get out of bed or to sleep in. He chose to get up. When he met someone who was suffering, he had the choice to listen to them or not. He chose to listen.

So he was answering God's call to him, but sometimes moments at a time, day to day. And it got me to thinking that often I strive and pray to grow spiritually to a certain image I have in my mind of how I should be. Or I think about what God will call me to in the future. And I forget the here and now. And that God calls me daily....even several times a day.

Do I choose to clean the house for my family, or piddle away time on the computer? Do I choose to sit and listen to my boys, or multi-task and offer an occasional, "really?" "oh, wow!" Do I choose to start my morning with prayer, or get right into my long list of stuff to get done? Do I choose to participate in gossip, or walk away from the conversation?

Hmmpf. There is that "live in the moment" theme that has been so prevalent lately on my mind.

The other thing Fr. Joel's homily reminded me of is that God's call to us is never convenient. And it always requires sacrifice.

But God only calls us to what he first lived himself.

Help me choose you, Lord. Every moment.

(Found this quote by Rich Mullins on another blog, and thought it fit great here):

"Never forget what Jesus did for you. Never take lightly what it cost Him. And never assume that if it cost Him His very life, that it won't also cost you yours."
Lufkin, Texas (July 19, 1997)

Sunday, September 16, 2007


A dear friend sent me the lyrics to this song as part of our ongoing discussion of being "in the moment". I put the name of the artist at the end. I'll turn off my song for today.

Not knowing the melody, I have found the words very poetic. My favorite part is where it says we dance to a whispered voice overheard by the soul. If we still ourselves enough, if we enter into the quiet that is so often elusive in our hectic days unless we fight for it, carve it out, we will hear the Voice that calls to us--calls us to enter into communion with Him.

Still yourselves. Listen for His voice. Be as a page that aches for a Word.


On a painted sky
Where the clouds are hung
For the poet's eye
You may find Him
If you may find Him

On a distant shore
By the wings of dreams
Through an open door
You may know Him
If you may

As a page that aches for a Word
Which speaks on a theme that is timeless
While the Sun God will make for your day
As a song in search of a voice that is silent
And the one God will make for your way

And we dance
To a whispered voice
Overheard by the soul
Undertook by the heart
And you may know it
If you may know it

While the sand
Would become the stone
Which begat the spark
Turned to living bone
Holy, holy
Sanctus, sanctus

As a page that aches for a Word
Which speaks on a theme that is timeless
While the Sun God will make for your day
As a song in search of a voice that is silent
And the one God will make for your way

--Neil Diamond

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Brats or Sweat?

I'm sitting here and I keep getting a whiff of what smells like bratwursts. And it seems to be coming from me. Are any of you firm enough in your self confidence to admit something like that???

We had an open house/brat fry at school tonight and I helped serve a part of it. And I grilled the nearly 100 brats on my deck yesterday afternoon. I think the smell is stuck in my nose. And on my skin.

I just love the parish/school community that we are part of. There are so many people with such big hearts and gifts and willingness to help. It's overwhelming at times to experience. And very humbling.

The richness of community.

hmmmmm.....and I keep getting a whiff of sweat. And it seems to be coming from me. I went running in the dark and the rain after the open house.

Brats and sweat. Isn't my husband lucky tonight.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

I Have a Friend

....who really only seems to pursue me when something is needed from me: a listening ear, a favor, an idea, an affirmation, etc. I love to help but sometimes I likable just for who I am? Does this person care to know about my day, or why I may be sad, or what the desires of my heart are? Should I even desire that they know me....or is this selfish?

I find that so many people today are so absorbed with themselves or their crazy schedules that they don't take the time to stop, look around, and connect. Or if there is the pretension of care, it is in order to receive something in return. They miss out on a lot of the richness around them.

This is one of the reasons I love my job with hospice. I occasionally (more often than in the "well" world) get to meet people on their deathbed where all pretension is stripped away. Their words mean what they say. There are no underlying or hidden meanings, no reading between the lines. No crap.

Do I do this, Lord? Help me to pursue others because they have a soul, and not for what they can do for me.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

One Part of Parenting I Don't Like

I was laying next to my son tonight in response to a request by him to snuggle him as he was falling asleep (a pretty frequent request of late....hmmmm...). In the dim twilight filtering in thru the curtains, I could see his profile. He's still a child, but his features are changing. His nose is beginning to lengthen. The front of his mouth is filled with his adult teeth.

He's in fourth grade. The boys and girls in his class are starting to separate along gender lines--inevitable, I know, but sad nonetheless. Girls, once dear friends of his, turn up their nose now at some of his conversations or desire to play soccer in the backyard. My husband and I are starting to talk about when and how much we begin to tell him about God's design for marriage. He is starting to hear more and more words that I don't really care for him to use. He's at the age of kids where they notice things about other kids that are "different" and pick on them. He and his brother seem to raise each other's ire more and more often.

I ponder these things. I do not think I will be able to protect him much longer from the hurts to his heart that all of us experience through later childhood years. I fear he may deliver some of those hurts, even, to others at some point.

I don't like it. Not one bit. Where is my 18-month-old with the messy hair and the juice stain on his shirt most in love with his toy trains?

Monday, September 10, 2007

My day today

Just a usual work day.....
Up at 4am. Quiet/prayer time. Computer time. Laundry. Checkbook/bills. Getting work stuff together, boys together, stuff for after work together.

Drop boys at school, stop by one credit union and then the other, drop registration for son's flag football at park and rec dept.

Visit #1: A weekly check-in on a family caring for their mom at home the last two years--making sure they have the help and respite they need and that they are all getting along

Visit #2: Meeting a new woman to our services who is dealing with some anxiety right now, possibly related to unmanaged pain

Visit #3: An urgent visit made at the request of a call from a nurse coworker...."Help!". A couple not really safe any longer in their home, no caregiver available, and adamantly stating that no matter what they are not leaving their home. Sigh

Visit #4: Meeting a new man to our services. Actually, he was sleeping, so the visit was spent meeting his daughter/primary caregiver and giving her suggestions about how she can approach the idea of her need for respite with her dad

Visit #5: A bi-weekly check-in on a woman who is cared for by her son. She reminisced about her family of origin. I love her soft, brown eyes

Visit #6: Meeting a new woman to our services and talking with three of her children. "Are we doing everything right?" "Do you think she's comfortable?" "Do you have any other suggestions?" Some underlying current of tension. I'm sure I'll find out the source soon enough. I usually do......

First night of the year for teaching 2nd grade religious ed. It looks to be a great class. And the bonus: my son is enrolled!

Home to tuck boys into bed, hear their excitement about religious ed, and finish my work charting.

Didn't the house elf get my chore list of things to take care of today while I was gone? Oh well. I guess that's why I have tomorrow.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

I Love to Run

Well, I ran a full 6 miles today, 7 total with warm-up and cool down--the first time I've done that in about 6 weeks since dealing with a running injury.

I remembered how much I love to run--the sound of my breath in my ears, the feeling of dampness on my shirt from my sweat, the crunch, crunch, crunch of my feet hitting the asphalt/gravel, the feeling that my body is doing efficiently what God designed it to do.

Mr. Bluebird who landed just above me as I went by, the squirrel who raced me on the electrical line, the beauty of colorful late summer native Wisconsin weeds, the air heavy with their sweet smell.

Walking into my house to the sound of my crazy barking dachsund, the smell of coffee and of french toast and sausage.

It's good to be running again.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

What Will it Cost Me?

I was talking with a friend about a story we read about a Korean woman who was killed in 1839 by Korea's pagan regime. She and her husband were arrested for their faith (catholics were being persecuted during this regime) and imprisoned. While in prison, she was made to listen to the screams of her twelve-year-old son being tortured in an adjacent cell. Her cruel captors would torment her further by describing to her afterwards how they had tortured her child. She was beheaded at the age of 36 because she would not renounce her faith.

Having children, my friend and I wondered whether if faced with a similar choice we would choose faith or our children.

We pray we never have to make that decision, and also pray for those around the world who even today have choices like that to face.

Today's gospel reading is related to this. It is from Luke 14: 25-33. I'll let you read it for the details. Basically, Jesus addresses the crowds and tells them that if they choose to follow Him, all else comes second--family included. And then he asks who, if planning a project (I'm very much paraphrasing here) does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if there is enough for its completion.

You think about your choice, you understand what it can cost you, and you continue forward--not in blindness, but in full understanding of the consequences.

Following Jesus is not for the faint-hearted. It is not a "happy" life, per se. It is joyful, and full of peace, but Jesus did not promise us happiness on this earth. We are asked to follow a God/man who leads us to the cross.

I've been praying since age 17 that if presented a situation where my choice to follow Him could mean I give my life, that He give me the grace and strength to say yes to Him. I pray now that if presented a situation where my choice to follow Him could mean my children lose their lives, that He give me the strength and the grace to say yes to Him. To give life for Life.

Because without Him, nothing else matters or has meaning. Not even my children's lives.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

My Pondering for Today....

Silence is the safe guardian of humility.
--Elisabeth Leseur

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

I Wish My Name was Yoder

"What!?"......yep. Yoder. Amish people are named Yoder--some of them, anyway.

I was talking with a friend the other day about how we are both trying to be more "in the moment". And I was pondering that conversation tonight driving home from a meeting. And then I heard this goofy commercial on the radio about a "Yoder auction" service. And I thought to myself......"Yoder......hmmm...amish....the amish seem to know how to live in the moment!" (just to give you a glimpse into the inner workings of my mind) And if the Amish people named Yoder know how to live in the moment, then I want to be a Yoder (just to close the circle on my thinking in case you weren't quite sure...).

So as a Yoder, I'm good at being in the moment during moments I want to be in. Like laying next to my boys tonight snuggling them before bed--in the dark, listening to their breathing, feeling the rise and fall of their chests under my arm draped over them, pondering how big their bodies are getting and how small they used to be, wondering when the last time ever will be that they say, "Mama, will you snuggle me?"

I can handle being in the moment during times like that.

Sometimes I think when we think about being "in the moment," we think only of the good moments--using the saying as a reminder to slow down, take it all in, not to miss anything.

But what about the moments we don't want to be in? Would we say to someone else in moments like those "Just be in the moment"??? We know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. But none of us want those we love to have to be in the moment of suffering--emotional or otherwise. Neither do I want to be in those moments.

Do I? Should I try to be a Yoder in those times, too? Because when I think about the times that I'm not good in the moment, the times that I'm waiting to get onto the next "good" time, all I'm really doing is wanting to get out of the moment. To avoid an uncomfortable confrontation. To stop squirming with awkwardness and helplessness at the expression of someone's grief--a suffering I cannot remove. To make some excitement for an otherwise mundane and ordinary day. To pass a time of loneliness in expectation of that next intimate connection with someone.

Now that I type about it, I think maybe I am a Yoder in those moments, too. I mean, if I wasn't, would I even be aware that I was wanting out? Probably not.

Maybe I'm more in the moment than I think, and it's just that I don't necessarily like every moment that comes my way.

Thanks for being a Yoder--for being in my moment here.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Bobette the Builder

I read a post today describing motherhood (but we can substitute parenthood for you males) analagous to building a great cathedral. It talks about the strenuous, rewarding, vision-casting, perseverance-testing, seemingly endless and repetitive job of raising children. The article said there are four similarities:

1. No one can say who built the great cathedrals—we have no record of their names.
2. These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished.
3. They made great sacrifices and expected no credit.
4. The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.

I love analogies. But I had two reactions to this one. The first--irritability.....because:

1. I want my name known.
2. I want to see the influence and impact of my actions.
3. I want credit.
4. I want others' eyes to see my building--not just God's eyes.

O.k. So I'm not proud of those, even though I am prideful. Hmmmph. But there is hope for me. My second set of reactions (albeit more slow to come around than the on that, God, 'k?) are thus:

1. As long as the job is finished and my boys come to know Him, my name can be mud.
2. I will see it finished one day.....God willing!!! (in heaven!)
3. I can do sacrifice, and without credit. I'm getting better! God's brought me a long way! and there are days when the realist in me knows absolutely that "there by the grace of God go I," and by nothing of my own effort whatsoever.
4. Knowing God's eyes see everything helps me persevere in the building.

Build on, construction workers, build on!!

Monday, September 3, 2007


We just returned from a wonderful family weekend--just the four of us. Times like that are few and far between and oh so precious. I get to sit back, look at my little guys and ponder how much they've grown, how little time before they leave home, and the wonderful personalities God has given them. My heart always lurches.

School starts tomorrow. I will miss them. Yet I look forward to watching how they will grow and learn. They will change.

Anticipation. There is change in the air. I feel it. I love the adventure of the unknown--the future....good and bad.

I've been thinking a lot about a prayer a friend of mine has been uttering every morning lately.....a simple "Yes, Lord." Before she starts her day. And probably in the midst of it--I'll have to ask her.

It challenges me. What do I say "yes" to, and what do I say "no" to? I want to say yes to all God brings my way.

I love a saying I heard once.....that God is not a "safe" God. He is good, loving, merciful, just....but not "safe". But despite the scariness of that unknown adventure, there is great anticipation to where he will lead me.

I want to say "yes." Like my friend does. Thank-you, friend!