Friday, June 18, 2010

Follow-up to "You Might be a 2010 Mommy if . . ."

Jodene wrote: "Daniel’s birthday was this week and we had a Star Wars birthday party for him last weekend--complete with Jedi training (that’s what we called the games!) . . . Jedi training games….like hit the bubbles with the pool noodle light sabers or tie the stuffed Yoda to your back and go through the obstacle course. It really was too much fun AND my kids are still playing the games a week later. I have never tied Yoda to a child’s back so many times."

I'm in good company. Anyone else want to send me pictures?

Friday, April 2, 2010

You Might be a 2010 Mommy if . . .

I know that's the redneck's bit but . . .

In case you ever find yourself at a birthday party and can't remember whether you are at a modern birthday party or one from say, 25 years ago, I have compiled a guide:

1985: "Themed birthday party???"

2010: Theme = Springtime in Paris

1985: The mother just got out of the shower but managed to put on a puffy paint t-shirt, spandex and pull her hair into a scrunchy.

2010: Both parents are dressed like artists.

1985: A sad looking paper donkey with a pock-marked hide, several fatal looking wounds to the head and a tail stuck to his abdomen

2010: A 4-foot French poodle pinata

1985: A 4-gallon tub of ice cream and a yellow cake with chocolate frosting

2010: Miniature Eiffel Tower cakes

1985: Present from grandma: a real screwdriver to put in the toolbox she gave you for Christmas

2010: Present from grandma: a trip to Paris

1985: 10 kids; no parents

2010: The presence of every kid within a 10 mile radius of the birthday child's home

1985: Impromptu games such as "Harass the hapless toad unlucky enough to have hopped into Nicole's yard on the big day."

2010: French manicures

1985: Pointy paper hats with rubber bandy straps stapled to the sides

2010: Berets

1985: Jumping on the bed and a red-faced mother screaming, "Jenny B," (every other kid in the 1980's was named "Jennifer", even the boys), "I'm gonna call your mother and tell her to take you home!"

2010: A bounce house the size of the Louvre

1985: Air-popped popcorn

2010: Baguettes and Crepes

1985: Spin the tail on the bottle because the few parents who stuck around are in the living room swigging Shasta

2010: Parent-manned activity centers including, "Make your own Monet!"

1985: Party favors - A kazoo no one ever intended for actual noise-making

2010: Party favors - lavender seedlings

1985: Thank you cards???

2010: Thank you cards with a picture of the exhausted child dwarfed by a veritable Alps of presents

I admit with a little chagrin that I am the 2010 mommy (and if you are thinking of a Paris-themed birthday party, you are too). But on the other hand, you can be confident that there will be no kissing in closets at Weston's birthday parties, not even French kissing.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

WSL classes

I have always been jealous of people who acquire second languages easily. But I now know what I can do if I want to get serious about learning one. I need to be taught it by a 2-year-old. Positively merciless in their instruction, they throw hysterics until you alight on the correct word. And just the way a peacock can be a circumference of wild feathers, once the word is found, they can fold themselves up into a normalish looking bird in just 2 blinks.

Here are a few terms I am learning in my WSL (Weston as a Second Language) class:

dumma = yes
ouk = milk
pease = please
a-do = thank you
omus = Thomas (as in, the Tank Engine)
bup = cup
mamnam = woman (This is embarrassing in the market when he is not technically correct)
auss = horse
aus (as in, a very proper pronunciation of another word) = nose
teton = Weston
ucky = ucky
awwaw = water
big-o = big old (In a brief lapse back to junior high, I said, "That's a big old truck!" and West latched on. He loves his newfound compound adjective, perfect as a descriptor for every noun. As a redeemed English teacher, I am wonder-struck that he uses the adjective correctly every time. My 2 year old may not know the term, but he knows how to use an adjective!)

One, two or three of these words may be in a given . . . sentence (I use the term loosely). West is getting accustomed to my pauses ("This is her processing time; think of her like a Commodore 64".) That does not mean he is patient while I process, but that he is getting used to me staring at him as if my brain might rupture at any moment. Finally I attempt to decode: "Mommy is a big old woman? And mommy is drinking her water from a cup?"

I am relieved when his plumes fold neatly behind him, "Dumma."

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Commiserate, anyone?

I got a sales call today.

After "I'm calling from the Home Design Center . . ." I cut in truthfully, "Sir, I'm working right now".

His response? "Painting your fingernails? That's work to you, huh?"

After a "Do I hang up or try to remain nice?" pause, I began to remark, "Sir, I'm about to hang-up," but he beat me to it!

I was hung up on because he was rude. Insane!

If you're in that small group who actually reads my blog, what is the craziest thing they've ever said to you?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Two Today

When West turned 1, I looked back and thought, "Wasn't he just born?" But, I don't have that impression today, his second birthday. He is far from that tiny baby I took home and was so scared of.

I know him now, his little personality. Some snapshots:

I hide his truck shirt in the hamper because otherwise, he'll pull it out and cry until I put it on him. Tonight, West weaseled Daddy into letting him wear his truck shirt over his PJ's and his Happy St. Patrick's Day tee over that. Yesterday he wore his truck pj pants over his sweats and his new striped tee over his sweatshirt. B.W.E. (Before the Weston Era) I smirked when I saw girls in princess costumes and tiaras strolling through Target. I smirk no more.

I could not gel his hair into the shape it takes after a nap - I love every last plume! (And it's a good thing, since any attempt to trim, gel or otherwise tame that plume is hysterically resisted.)

Plasma car. West still travels Fred Flinstone style, but I'm learning that this is a swift method of transit.

Today, the baby view mirror in my car revealed West intently pulling off his Crock's & socks to extract and eat the fuzzballs between his toes. Yet, he refuses most green foods on his plate. Perhaps if I stuck broccoli between his toes . . .

Finger up his nose and I believe I have seen some taste-testing as well.

Sentences. "Mommy; Chee-Chee." Translation: "Mommy, come play trains with me."

"Daddy." "Bye." This needs no translation, but the context is helpful: This conversation happens several times a day while Sam is at work:
West: "Daddy." "Bye."
Paula: "Bye, bye, Daddy; we can't wait to see you again. When we see you, we're gonna kiss you."
There is something in West that needs to rehearse what for him is a traumatic daily event: Daddy going to work.

Munching. I fold my lips over my teeth and munch his little arms and legs, and tummy and neck and he laughs until he's angry.

Repeating the alphabet. The perfection of his "s" amazes me.

"Go." I love to have places to go and people to see and I've created a little go-er & do-er. Whenever I ask West if he's up for a journey, "Do you want to go to church?", "Do you want to see Elizabeth?", he answers, "Dah". (We've a little Swede on our hands).

Picking all the m & m's off of his birthday cupcake.

His mathematical way of shooting hot wheels down his mailing tube. There is no shocked joy when it shoots through his room, through the hall and half-way into the living room. It's all science for him, just one car after another.

Focus. I love the focused face. Like Sam, his lips go into a slight pout for more technical tasks.

"Mump Guck" Dump Truck

"Doe Guck" Tow Truck

"Guck" Truck or Duck; the context usually gives me clarity, especially when he quacks.

"Chees" Shoes or Cheese. Imagine being handed cheese when you want to go outside.

"Ba-pu", "Ma-mu". These are always said tenderly and with a question mark at the end. As in, "Are Ba-pu and Ma-mu coming over?"

"Deat". Treat or eat. A finger jammed between his upper lip and his teeth sometimes accompanies. I've some serpentine wisdom; I always translate this as, "Eat".

"Tat". Pat or cat. I can rarely figure this one out, so we simply have a conversation about both Pat and cats. Perhaps West will forever think of felines when he meets a Pat.

"Ze-zus" Jesus.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Crawl Under a Rock. It is I. Pee Your Pants.

Oh, no, I messed that up.

He says, “Take heart; it is I; do not be afraid.”

I love this self-introduction. I want to go to my friend's house and when she goes to get the mail, bound out of the bushes, "Take heart; it is I!" I want to subject the UPS man to it, the grocer, my boss. I can see the UPS man jump out of his shorts pleated like slacks (Really?! What’s the point? They’re still shorts!), "Hot dang!” He shouts, “All the crazies are on my route!"

The statement is ludicrous because of it's arrogance. "Take courage! I'm here!" Unless . . . well . . . unless it’s sufficient reason take courage.

The sentence's construction makes it obvious that, "it is I" is the reason the exhausted, soaked, and generally scared for their lives disciples should "take heart", why they should "not be afraid."

Jesus' logic is not unlike our logic nor does he have a different logic than we do. Those are commonly held and terrifyingly dangerous views in some circles. No, Jesus was employing boring, old-fashioned, run-of-the-mill logic. By His comment, "it is I", I assume the disciples feared the ghost. When He said, "take heart" and "do not be afraid", Jesus was recognizing that "I see dead people" is a terrifying state. Jesus is going to give the disciples a logical reason that they need not be afraid.

And it's not just, "Sure, the sea is boiling up and the wind is pounding you into it and sure, you see a ghost, but you don't need to be afraid because it's just me." No, what Jesus says is more like, "Since I can walk on water, and because I'm here, you do not need to be afraid". Okay, Jesus didn't say, "Looky here! I can walk on water!" But any theologian worth his regalia will tell you that, said or unsaid, that was part of the lesson - "I can overcome the natural world." In other words, if all of their circumstances were the same but Jesus, the Water-Walker, were not present, it would be logical to freak out. "However, I'm here; take heart."

Jesus' confidence in His own power and trustworthiness is better aligned with reality than was the disciples'. They're a little deficient in the facts and He's going to supply better facts so that they needn't be afraid: "The benevolent Water-Walker's here”. He's not trying to move them out of “human logic” and move them into “God’s logic”. He's providing them with more truth so that they can experience the emotions that follow this understanding.

I slipped that "benevolent" in there, didn't I? Jesus wouldn't be telling them to "take heart" and "fear not" unless He had 1) power beyond their circumstance and unless He were 2) benevolent enough to use that power for their good.

Even knowing that God, by definition, could not be otherwise than He is, I am compelled to thank him that He is benevolent. I still can imagine a Grand Who-Hah as someone whose presence would imply, "Crawl under a rock; it is I; pee your pants." But Jesus supplies me, through the relation of this event with better facts. He says, "I'm trustworthy. If I were not with you, you would be in danger, but take heart, it is I."

Friday, November 21, 2008

Parmesan Dill Brown Rice Pasta

8 oz. Brown Rice Fusilli (Trader Joes)
1/2 Cup Shredded Parmesan Cheese (Yes, I use the containered Kraft stuff)
2-3 Tbsp butter or marjorine
2 tsp fresh dill or 3/4 tsp dry dill
1/2 tsp garlic powder or 1 garlic clove (Increase if you are garlic lovers)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

1. Boil Fusilli to package directions. Drain.
2. Dump in the rest of the ingredients. Then stir to combine.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

A Reality Check for the Expectant Mother

"Wait til reality hits her."

Reality gets a bad rap.

Dirty diapers and sleepless nights and tantrums, but do you know that West gives me unsolicited kisses?

Here's a dose of reality for the expectant mother from my own experience:
* A purposeful waddle-thump walk
* Weston dancing like a mini Michael Flatley
* Peek-a-boo from under a hamper
* The way he raises his eyebrowns and giraffes his neck from the back seat as if to say, "Um, I think you were supposed to take a left there." or "I don't think that was a complete stop, mommy."
* Rides in the laundry hamper (The main benefit of having hardwood floors with a . . . rugged appearance)
* West at a petting zoo, exuberantly yelling, haphazardly waddle-running, waving his arms in the air
* West on a pile of books, parousing a book about Abe Lincoln upside down (As a friend aptly commented, "You're never too young to learn about the Civil War.")
* Weston dumping the toys, turning the tub over and crawling atop with the victorious spirit of a gold-medal olympian
* Weston eating anything with parmesan cheese or peanut butter -- Running his fingers through his hair, sticking his fingers in his ears, rubbing his nose, touching everything in his reach
* The way he folds his big toe over its neighbor when he's watching Baby Einstein or snacking contentedly in his high chair
* Weston's whole body bumping and jumping to rave music
* Squirming & giggling when tickled or kissed behind the ears
* Weston with a hose, watering himself thoroughly
* Weston's going to bed routine (while mommy & daddy peek through the slit between the door and the jam). "This blanket needs to be crunched up under my tummy. Lion should go right here. . . umm . . . no, there . . . definately, there. I need to hear one more song from my electronic aquarium. Where was that blanket? Ah, yes, it should go . . ." thud - snoring.
* Pat-a-cake with tickling variations that provoke cackle-laughing
* Fake coughing & fake laughing
* Whatever his prior mood, Weston filled with electricity at the sight of Sam's Jeep -- West runs to the door, knocking wildly, ants in his pants, wiggling his fingers through the door's mail slot.

Labor and exhaustion-sobbing and "I've tried everything! What else could you possibly want, baby?" is real, too, but I think you've heard enough about that (especially if you're pregnant - there's no good way backward now!)

I wanted West for such a long time and the waiting was the category of "reality" we usually mean, the despairing and dry place. And I'm told there is some certain trouble ahead, but honestly, I often look at my son, remember my yearning for him and think, "Thank God I didn't know how good reality is."

Monday, May 19, 2008

I'm Getting the Mother Beat into Me

It dawned on me Mother's Day week that mothering makes servants out of women. (This is not to mean that fathering doesn't make servents out of men or that only mothers are servants).

Boot camp begins after the baby is born. I can imagine the 19-year-old who's signed up for the Marines, "You know, they're gonna cut all your hair off, and yell in your face if you don't make your bed right and give you 3 minutes for showers." And he knows all that; he's heard all that; he's forced on a couple weekend sessions where he gets a taste. And pregnancy is similar: You wake every 2 hours to pee; your body takes that shape you have been fighting since junior high; you wake screaming in the night when your leg goes rigid with cramps.

But, then you become a soldier. They hand that baby to you and without them even saying it, you immediately know, "If I don't figure out how to at least minimally care for this thing quick, it's not gonna make it." And "minimally caring for this thing" is no minimal task. They've got you feeding it from your own body every 2 hours, round the clock. This means drinking a swimming pool of water every day, eating food portions the size of the accompanying deck-side chairs, and for sleep, you get 45 minute increments whenever you are not feeding or wiping up this baby.

It does get less physically intense, but soon, you are on to sleep schedules. Doctors abound telling you of the, at best: irresponsible citizens; at worst: inmates (not kidding) that have poor sleep schedules. So you read books, you stay home between 2 pm and 4 pm while your house is sweltering at temperatures to make demons repent, you snip off the head of anyone who dares knock on your door or ring your line during said hours, you develop a philosophy of good sleep and discuss it endlessly with anyone who will feign listening.

The being does not have language, so you learn to read its grunts and giggles and you teach it hand motions for communicating its desires (it comes up with some hand motions of its own). Water? No? Milk? No? Poop? No? Tired? No? Bored? No? A tag I forgot to take off your clothes? No? Food? No? A little more attention? No? . . .

Here's the thing. I'm not complaining. I'm only recognizing that it's changing me, that I've got no choice but to change. I made no intentional character development plan, but I am certainly engaged in a character development curriculum.

This is going to sound feministic (and I'm okay with that), but I don't think women are natural mothers. Nurturers. I would guess that some really do have a special gift and are servants, but I think the idea that women are these natural servant-nurturers, well, I think that's mustard-poopy. But, good luck getting through motherhood without becoming a servant-nurturer.

I've got this friend, a mother of four (okay, Mina). I walk into her house and within 3 minutes she's got toys out for West, a glass of water for me, a place for me to sit down and she's asking me, "So how is your brother's wife doing, the one who just had a baby?"

What happened to Mina? Was she ever like me? In my house, you're lucky if you've got a glass of water in your hands within the first 30 minutes. It's likely, if you came in with a group, that a third of you have water, a third of you have none and the other third is still outside because I got distracted and shut the door after the first two-thirds came in.

Okay, it also strikes me that the servant-nurturer myth may be why women are abandoning their posts. I don't mean that being a mother is a woman's post, only that women, who of their own volition, said, "I'm going to be a mother," eventually say, "You know, I am NOT GOING to be a mother." Within the last few years, I've seen several marriages fall apart (No, I don't think it's only the woman's fault), and it's the woman who says, "You can have the kids; I'm outta here."

So, why are they abandoning their posts? Because they get into this and go, "THIS IS NOT NATURAL TO ME. Those other women are natural mothers, but I do not have what this job requires." Maybe it's because we always talk about how great it is to have a job "we love," "something we're excited to do every day," "something that fulfills us" and when we find ourselves NOT LOVING 3 am and NOT LOVING baby food bingo ("Okay, what are you going to eat today? Banana? No? Carrots? No? Cheese? No? Oatmeal? BINGO!") we lurch, "I was not made to do this."

I wonder if royalty thought peasants had a genetic pre-disposition toward service. In The Emperor's New Groove (a movie worth quoting at every opportunity), a peasant brings his request to the Emperor's Advisor and she replies, "It is no conern of mine whether your family has . . . What was it again?"
"Um. Food."
"Hah! You really should have thought of that before you became peasants!"

People may think we're pre-disposed. I don't think we all are; I'd even wager that 90% of us or better, aren't. But, I have this vision of the day someone walks into my home and simultaneously feels that it is thier home and (in this moment) I submit to this character development curriculum because I want what the graduates have. Yeah, it's a cliche, but, I want the heart of a servant.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Book Club Books; A Few Words . . .

Specifically, 3. The ratings represent the average from our book club. But I think I'd like to include a few words (of my own or stolen from book club members) about each book, so here it goes:

A Morbid Taste for Bones by Ellis Peters: 2.6 stars
3 words: Modern literary relief.

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini: 4.5 stars
3 words: Gripping. Universal. Hope.

Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende: 3.5 stars
3 words: Fascinating. Fragrant. Rich.

Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser: 4.5 stars
3 words: Terrifying. Convicting. Compelling.

Freakonomics by Steven Levittt and Stephen Dubner: 4 stars
3 words: Not that freaky.

Garlic & Sapphires by Ruth Reichl: 3.9 stars
3 words: Sensual. Attack verbs.

Girl Meets God by Lauren Winner: 3.5 stars
3 words: Closed mouth smile.

Happiness is a Serious Problem by Dennis Prager: 2.5 stars
3 words: Opinions. Expected more.

Mudhouse Sabbath by Lauren Winner: 4 stars
3 words: Gently Inspiring. Fresh.

Ruby Slippers: How the Soul of a Woman Brings Her Home by Jonalyn Fincher: 3.75 stars
3 words: Still mulling it.

Snowflower and The Secret Fan by Lisa See: 4 stars
3 words: Broad. Intriguing. Sad.

Some Danger Involved by Will Thomas: 3 stars
3 words: Disguised education. Odd.

Talk to the Hand: The Utter bloody Rudeness of the World Today or Six Good Reasons to Stay Home and Bolt the Door by Lynne Truss: 4 stars
3 words: Hilariously, painfully accurate.

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho: 2.5 stars
3 words: Uh . . . okay. Yanni.

The Greatest Generation: 4.5 stars
3 words: We need them.

The Street of a Thousand Blossoms: 4.5 stars
3 words: Yet beauty grows.

The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell: 4 stars
3 words: Conversation book. Power.

The Whistling Season by Ivan Doig: 4 stars
3 words: Hearty. Tardy plot.

The Zookeeper's Wife by Diane Ackerman: 3.5 stars
3 words: Animals. Polish undergound!

Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortneson and Daid Oliver Relin: 4.1 stars
3 words: No couch humanitarian.

Truman by David McCullough: 4 stars
3 words: Like him. Worker.

Water for Elephants: 4.125 stars
3 words: Swashbuckling less pirates.

Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks: 4 stars
3 words: Weaves in reader.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak: 4.42
Macabre. Worth reading.

Twilight by Stephanie Myer: 3.5
What you expect.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte: 4.7
Brilliant. Plot! Unforgettable.

Blink by Malcolm Gladwell: 3.55
Fascinating Studies. Inconclusive.

The Madonnas of Leningrad by Debra Dean: 3.55
Gentle despite content.

Lean Mean Thirteen by Janet Evanovich: 1.5 (2 reviews)
Score's too high.

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls: 4.4 (4 reviews)
Your family's sane.

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card: 4.14 (7 reviews)
Low-fi Sci-fi. Adventurous.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows: 4.3 (5 reviews)
Friendly, yet literary.

Franklin and Winston: An Intimate Portrait of an Epic Friendhsip by John Meacham: 3.3 (3 reviews
Less Meacham, please.

My Life in France by Julia Child
Half-finished. Mehh.

Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson: 4.125 (4 reviews)
Japanese "Internment". Yearning.

A Civil Campaign: A Miles Vorkosigan Novel by Lois McMaster Bujold: 3.75 (4 reviews)
Surpasses my nerdiness.

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley: 2.95 (5 reviews)
Sciencey. Smirky. Saucy.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Book Club Scoring Guide

1 star: Oops! It was terrible. I couldn’t finish it.

2 stars: I only finished it because it was a book club book.

3 stars: Good enough to finish and I might recommend it.

4 stars: I’d recommend it to a reader who likes this genre.

5 stars: I’m going to run out and tell all my friends to read it.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Carrot Oat Bran Muffins

Carrot oat bran muffins

Preparation time: 17 minutes
Baking time: 25 minutes
3/4 cup oat bran
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup all-purpose whole wheat white flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger*
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg*
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves*
2 Tbsp blue agave sweetener or honey
1 cup almond milk
1 egg
2 Tbsp applesauce
1Tbsp vegetable oil
2/3 cup packed, shredded carrots
1/4 cup roasted pecans (To roast pecans, spread on baking sheet and bake for 10 min @ 350 degrees)
1/4 cup cranberries or raisins

* option: replace the nutmeg, ginger and cloves with 1 tsp all spice

Preheat the oven to 375°F, and line 9 tins of a standard muffin pan with muffin papers. In a mixing bowl, combine oat bran, flours, baking powder, baking soda, and spices. In a small mixing bowl, blend agave, almond milk, egg, applesauce and vegetable oil together. Slowly add wet ingredients to dry ingredients, stirring until dry ingredients are moistened. Stir in shredded carrots, pecans and cranberries or raisins. Fill each muffin paper with 2.5 heaping tablespoons of batter. Bake for approximately 25 minutes until muffins are golden and baked through.
Yield: 9 muffins

Adapted from:

I haven't actually tried exactly this combo, but I'm pretty positive it will be good. I needed to write it down somewhere so I could remember how I wanted to make it. :)

Friday, March 7, 2008

No Dairy Baked Spinach & Mushroom Omelet

4 oz drained frozen spinach (I thaw the frozen and then ring it out in a towel)(Trader Joes)
4 beaten eggs (Trader Joes)
1 cup almond milk (Trader Joes)
4 oz can mushrooms drained*(Costco)
1 tsp onion powder*
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1 1/2 cups shredded dutch goat cheese (You have to shred it yourself. It comes in a wedge.)(Trader Joes)
1 Tbsp all purpose white wheat flour (Trader Joes) You could use any all-purpose flour if you don't have this.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spray 9" pie tin with cooking spray.

Sprinkle all of the spinach on the bottom of the tin.

Mix all remaining ingredients. Pour into pan. Bake for 1 hour until golden edged and when a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

* You could substitute the can of mushrooms and tsp of onion powder with 1/4 cup fresh mushrooms and 1/4 cup of your favorite diced onion. Sautee mushroom & onion.

I think I get to call this "no dairy" even with the goat cheese. I had NO yucky feeling in my tummy after this delicious breakfast.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Getting In - Freedom to Hope to Inspiration

John 13

8Peter said to Him, "Never shall You wash my feet!" Jesus answered him, "If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me."

9Simon Peter said to Him, "Lord, then wash not only my feet, but also my hands and my head."

10Jesus said to him, "He who has bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you."

. . .

21When Jesus had said this, He became troubled in spirit, and testified and said, "Truly, truly, I say to you, that one of you will betray Me."
22The disciples began looking at one another, at a loss to know of which one He was speaking.

* * *

The direct and obvious reading as far as I can tell is that Jesus' declaration totally boggled them: "The disciples . . . [were] at a loss to know of which one he was speaking . . ."

Reflecting on my own depraved nature, I got to thinking this morning how different my response might have been.

I would have known who he was talking about:

"Wow. James or Andrew. They are always grasping to be #1 in his kingdom. They're not disciples; they want prestige and power."


"Probably Peter. That guy's so impulsive like that rocky ground Jesus was talking about - quick sprout, but no endurance. He seems so spiritual then he just falls apart. Flaky."


"Thomas. That guy really doesn't trust Jesus."


"Me. I knew I'd fail him. I'm like that - so weak, my devotion is so little and far between.

"He knows how small my faith is.

"I'm so unloving. I'm so embarrassed of that time I shooed away those kids . . . and I was totally repulsed when he talked with that Samaritan woman or that time he told that story where the Samaratin was a hero."

I find myself thinking, "Wow! The rest of the 12 got in?!? Doubting Thomas? Grasping Andrew and James? The disciples who shooed away innocent children? The bigots against Gentiles and Samaritans? Three-times-rejecting-Peter?"

The martyrs get in, the faithful prayer-journalers, Bible-readers, quiet-timers, sick-visiters, charitable-givers, volunteers, Christian social activists - I can see them getting in, but Jesus who "knows all men" allows all those other guys in?"

I feel an inner, "WOO-HOO!" I can get in! He'll take me even if I'm all those awful things: unloving, doubting, bigotted, selfish, proud, irresponsible, a bad witness . . .

Maybe you're thinking, "Yeah, but that's a pretty pathetic aim." I'm thinking that too, and truly, that would be a pathetic use of the life Jesus offers. Like winning a shopping spree and spending it on those quarter turnstyles at the front of the grocery store for handfuls of Skittles. But . . . sometimes I think, "I can't possibly be in." I've even gotten the feeling that others are thinking of me, "She can't possibly be in." I've thought, "X will probably never get in."

But the retrobate can get in. I just feel some freedom. "I'm in!"

And I feel some hope, "Maybe they'll get in!"

And some inspiration, "This guy's amazing; He knows I'm not and He still wants to hang out with me. I want to hang out with Him, too. 'Lord, then wash not only my feet, but also my hands and my head.'"

Monday, February 4, 2008

Daily devotions

Daily devotions.

I wish I could extract the meaning of the cliché from my mind and re-build from just the base words that compose it. If “daily devotions” weren’t a cliché, I would be astounded when someone asked, "How are your daily devotions going?” I recognize that the church has used the term "devotion" for hundreds of years; I just can’t forthrightly use it to describe what I do.

I understand the cliché to mean:
- reading one's Bible
- praying
- writing in a journal to God or about godly things
And, like a skeleton with the above appendages dangling from the logical places, is the teaching I have heard every teacher espouse when discoursing on the topic: There is real merit in doing these things with little to no heart behind them. One day your heart will catch up with your practices.

Okay. I buy that. I think the principle, "Do what you can and trust God to bring you spiritual life" is good. I just don't think the term "daily devotions" fits that definition. What I just described would be better called, "daily check-in" or "daily timecard" or "daily practice."

"Devotion" is just the wrong word. If a lover says to her beloved, "I am devoted to you," I don't think she means, "I'll pick up the mail." "I'll change the oil in your car." "I'll wash your dishes."

No, "I am devoted to you," means, "The force of my entire self is for you." It's the sort of thing people say when they marry and hardly ever else. I'm not remotely attempting that daily. If I can maintain the analogy, I may be taking the shirts to the cleaners or making a run to the post office. If this seems pathetic, like learning to bowl with a Fisher Price set of pins, I can only agree. I have no expectation to drum-up devotion, daily.

I actually think that only God could make devotion out of what I'm doing. I think, “practice” is to “devotion” what “study” is to “genius”. “Genius” is fortune; it's a "gift"; it's something you can't drum-up. I daily practice, daily exert, daily punch-in, but I'm counting on Him to bring the daily devotion.

But if that’s pathetic, it gets worse. Wait until you hear what I consider legitimate "practice":
- As I lay West in his crib, this rote prayer, "Dear Jesus, protect us in every adventure. May we walk with you in every adventure."
- Every few days, reading a couple of pages in my Bible and stopping with a natural break in the text.
- Whispering as I walk by West's room, douse the hall light and crawl under the covers, "Thank you, God, for West. We are so grateful for his life."
- Listening with a soft heart to a friend who says, " I don't think you should ever talk to Sam in anger."
- Apologizing to Sam for talking to him in anger.
- Cleaning the shower.
- Making a meal for others, even if I grumble while doing it (because the act of service, though a lesser act for the grumbling, is still “practice”).
- Tipping big even if the waitress doesn’t know I’m a Christian.

My girlfriend with twin one-and-a-half-year-old boys was talking to me about joining her church's weekly Bible study. Her angst is over the nap she will miss. The boys will nap while in child care and she may miss that single hour of "Quick, there is no one who needs constant supervision, do that thing you need to do now!" I didn't ask her, " Isn't God more important than calling the dentist to get the details about your filling?" No, instead, out popped, "Well, if you need someone to help guilt you into that, you are talking to the wrong person!" I think she needs that hour! Ideally, to sleep! If she can't sleep, then to vegetate through a magazine. If not that, then to call the dentist with hope that her call will take a little edge off of the 16 hours a day of tornado supervision.

If I could change one thing about my daily "practice", I wouldn't do more (If I could change two things, I might do more). Rather, I'd like what I do to be whole. "Do" with cognizance, with an open heart, with ears that hear. I still couldn't call that "devotion", exactly, it hasn't got the impassioned force necessary to justify the word, but it could be good solid practice.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Why aren't my Floors Clean?

Why aren’t my floors clean?
Why don’t I write?
Why don’t I get that picture framed?
Why don’t I get my social security card fixed?
Why don’t I dust?
Why don’t I water my plants?
Why don’t I get more done for the boutique?

I always wondered how it could be that a stay-at-home mom can talk about her inability to get things done. Doesn’t she have so much more time than all of us 40-hours-outside-the-homers?

7 am – Nurse West
7:20 am – Laundry in wash
7:40 am – Feed West & wipe West up
7:55 am – Change & dress West
8:05 am – Make Sam & I breakfast. Make Sam lunch
8:15 am – Eat breakfast with Sam
8:30 am – Read West a story and put him down for 1st nap
8:45 am – Breakfast
9 am – Move clothes to dryer
9:05 am – Tidy house (toys, clothes, throw blankets, table tops, counter tops, make bed, pack stuff in car for Costco shopping, dishes)
9:30 am – Shower & dress
10:00 am – Fold clothes
10:15 am – Put woken West in a safe place
10:20 am – Lock up house, put West in car
10:40 am – Shopping at Costco
11:20 am – Feed & Nurse West
11:40 am – Bathe West
12:00 pm – Read to West & put him down for second nap
12:20 pm – Clean up after bath
12:30 pm – Put away Costco groceries
12:45 pm – Lunch & answer work & personal email
1:15 pm - Make Chix for the month & freeze & clean up
1:45 pm – Mommy naps
2:30 pm – Put woken West in a safe place while I put needed items in car
2:45 pm – Drive to Church
3 pm – Clean nursery toys
5 pm – Unpack West from car; Go to park across the street
5:45 pm – Make dinner
6:15 pm – Feed, nurse, change, dress West for bed
6:45 – Dinner
7:15 – Read to West & put him to bed
7:30 – Dishes
7:45 – Tidy (tables, countertops, empty Sam’s lunch box, toys from West’s play times)
8:15 pm – Edit for a friend
9:30 pm – Wake, feed & change West
10:15 pm – Start bread maker
10:30 pm – Bed


On Tues, I can substitute Costco & the church for the bank, taking back items at Target, post office and a visit to Belly Sprout to buy cloth diapers.

Weds, I can substitute these for volunteering at WPCC & cleaning the shower and ironing Sam’s dress shirts. How exactly did I manage to write this? Oh, West is up from his nap!