Sunday, October 28, 2012

On Church

I'm about to talk about church, which I know can be a sensitive subject, but I beg you to thoughtfully consider what I'm about to say before you respond in anger.

I used to go to church (it's true!), but for the past several years I've been only an occasional visitor. The reasons I stopped attending don't matter, nor will I discuss them here. Instead, I want to acknowledge my desire to return, to find a church where I feel a sense of community and belonging, where my children can both learn about and witness the love and grace of Christ, and where all of our questions about faith, God, and religion will be taken seriously.

Because of this desire, I decided that I would visit the next chruch I was invited to.

I made this decision in March.

It is now nearly November.

I have yet to be invited.

Please believe me when I say that I am not trying to put the responsibility for my own church attendance onto others; this is not the case. I have, in fact, visited churches during this time. But one fact remains: I want to be invited.

Or, I did. If somebody invites me now I will think it's because they've read this post. Although I will try not to, it's likely that I will look on such an invitation with suspicion and cynicism.

So instead of inviting me, I urge you to invite somebody else. If you attend church, and if this church is a vital part of your life, if it is a place that not only serves your needs but also offers you an opportunity to serve the needs of others, then please invite your friends.

And if they don't visit when you invite them...invite them again. And again. Invite them to services. Invite them to special events. Invite them to concerts. Even if they never attend, you can still invite them with love and without judgement.

Sometimes Christ pursues others through you. If you let him.

How has he pursued you?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Kandinsky Hack

I don't know much about art, but I know what I like.
And I like Kandinsky.

I like that he tried something new.

First of all, he didn't begin seriously studying art until he was almost 30. I mean, he was a law professor, for crying out loud. He was set. But he left his life as a University lecturer to pursue something completely different. He chose art over security.

He intentionally changed the course of his own life.

How many people actually do that?

Plus, he was basically the first artist to create completely abstract pieces. And he continued to create them even though it irritated some pretty powerful people (ahem... Communists, Nazis).

Finally, he was pals with a guy named Gustav Freytag, who I like to pretend is hiding out somewhere on my family tree.

Hey, a girl can dream, right?

At any rate, my Nate and I made our own Kandinsky over the weekend. If you know me at all you won't be surprised to read that it's basically made out of garbage: a painted pizza box and some colorful plastic lids.

The process is pretty self-explanatory, but here are a few photos anyway.

So, tell me: what do you think?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Books: A Top Five

My pal over at Wanderations left an open invitation to participate in a Top Five Books  project. The challenge for me is to limit my favorites to only five. Oh, and not to write an entire post on why I chose each one. In the end I chose, not five books that I simply enjoyed, but five books that in some way defined a season in my life.

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

A Midwife's Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard, Based on Her Diary, 1785-1812 by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon

The Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

And here's a brief look into my own wanderations:

Nate capturing the sunset in Siesta Key.

Monday, September 3, 2012

A Gift of Time

Now that our anniversary has come and gone, I can finally share my gift idea and how I implemented it.

I wanted to give a gift that represented the most important thing we have ever given each other -- indeed, the most important thing we ever can give each other: time.   A clock was the obvious choice, but I needed to find a way to make it meaningful.

You see, my husband has always loved and wanted a clock to chime the hours. With a sort of wistful fondness he has frequently reminisced about the tick and strike of his grandparents' clocks when he was a child.  Because of the sort of history that he already had with such things, I wanted a clock with meaning beyond just a sentimentality for his own past. I wanted it to represent our family and our memories, not just his.

So in January of this year I asked my uncle to find a clock for me. I knew that involving him in the gift would ultimately make it that much more meaningful since my husband holds him in such high esteem. And luckily for me, my uncle repairs and restores clocks in his retirement.

Seeking his help turned out to be a very good decision.

My uncle put this together from two separate auction items.
The actual clock mechanism was purchased and restored first.
He later found the body, which was in pieces and completely blackened.
(P.S. This is one of those times when I wish our home had better lighting. Also, I am moving "paint the office" up on the ToDo list. That wall is just ghastly!)

However, just two weeks before our Big Day I still didn't know if the clock would be ready in time. What I needed was a back-up plan.

So I made a Plan B gift that, while much less impressive, still thoughtfully represented our Time together. It's just a simple list of dates, but I thought it turned out well for a last-minute emergency gift.

I will say that my husband loved both gifts, but his favorite thing of all was the card. Perhaps it's because I rarely give cards. Or it could simply be that I took the time to make it myself. But I like to believe that he loved it because of the obvious amount of thought that went into its creation. When he finished reading it -- and then when he finished chuckling and re-reading it -- he said, "This makes me feel loved."

It's difficult to read, but this is a collection of catch phrases, song lyrics, and movie quotes that we have used over the years when a lengthy conversation was just not necessary. Either one of us can say any of these lines and it immediately invokes ten years of meaning without having to say anything more.

And he is loved.  Very. Meus amor.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Summer Reflections

It's been one of those summers. You know the kind: kick off your sandals and watch shirtless boys run around in the heat, fill water balloons while the cook fire gets hot, fix a Dutch oven dinner in the coals, and finally watch the moonrise kind of summer.

In a word: glorious.

If you've never had a summer like this, I wonder what you could possibly be waiting for.

Time is flying.

And dinner won't save.

8 Years, 51 Weeks

my love Poesy Ring

It's no secret that I loved my engagement ring. Platinum. No gemstone. Engraved with "amor meus," which we always said in reverse: "meus amor."

And it's no secret that I lost the band within a month of our engagement. All I have now this sad, empty box.


My wedding anniversary is one week from today.

This is big news, but not the big news that you might expect. You see, this is the first year that I remembered which day my anniversary actually falls on. Most people assume that men are the ones that habitually forget important dates, but that is not the case in my household.

Here, it's me.

But this year--this year--I am prepared.

I even arranged a gift. And made a back-up gift.  And I promise to post photos of them soon.

But not yet. On the off-chance that my husband stumbles over and reads this post, I will refrain.

Monday, May 7, 2012

A Son's Challenge

So, my Neil has been in public school for 2.5 years now, and I believe he has truly hated every minute of it. In addition, I'm not sure he's even actually been learning. This, to me, is depressing. But what to do?

I certainly don't have that answer, but it has led me to think extensively about education. What is it? Can it be compelled? How does it differ from schooling?

As I contemplate these and other questions, I have offered my son the following two-part challenge:

1. Think of three things that you want to learn. These do not have to be academic; they need not even involve books or formal research. Perhaps he wants to learn how to drive a stick-shift. Maybe he wants to learn how to make cream puffs. Maybe he wants to learn how to play more than just the guitar intro to Back in Black. For the purposes of this challenge, almost anything goes. I did stipulate that it cannot be illegal, unreasonably dangerous, harmful, or fueled by hate. Beyond that, he is limited only by his imagination.

2. Think of three things that you want to do, to earn, or to accomplish. Again, there is a world of possibility here. I know he wants his driver's licence. Great. Put it on the list. Does he want to go SCUBA diving? Rock climbing? Does he want to dig a root cellar? Fine. List it. I just want him to think about what he really wants to accomplish.

I have now put the challenge forward, but I do not want an immediate response. He still has three more weeks of school, and I will remind him of the challenge frequently during this time. By the end of this month, however, I want him to have developed these two ideas. What does he want to learn? What does he want to do?

And I did not guarantee that I would make these things happen for him. But I will do my best to help him find a way to access the tools he needs to pursue at least one item from each list during the course of the summer.

I want him to know that education, insofar as it includes the pursuit of knowledge that adds to a sense of self and fulfillment, is within his reach.

But he will have to do the reaching on his own.