Monday, June 28, 2010

A Little Good News

Buried in the Sunday Washington Post was this little item.

Chirping For Mommy and Daddy

Alexandria, Mount Vernon and East Mason avenues, June 11. An animal control officer met with an employee about a nestling house sparrow that was found outside a store under an air conditioner.  Three pairs of sparrows had built nests and laid eggs that had hatched recently.  The officer worked with the employee to determine which next the baby belonged to.  The officer held the chirping bird next to each nest and waited for the parents to chirp in response.  When a set of parents chirped to the baby, it was returned to their nest.

If only life was that simple for the rest of us, right? Jesus asked, "Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows" (Matthew 10:29-31)

Microfiction Monday

Susan at Stony River hosts this brief meme. It's a lot of fun and I really appreciate her doing it week after week. Take the illustration she provides, and give it a story. Simple, right?  Well, the string attached is that the story must be 140 characters or less. That 140 includes all spaces and punctuation. It doesn't have to be funny, or insightful or even really coherent, just brief!  (Coherent is good though).

Here's this week's illustration, followed by my story.

(Singing) "We ha-ve ta-ils. Nyah, nyah, na, nyah, nyah!"

"So what? I have GREAT hair!"

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Great Summer Salad

From the Cooks' & Hash-Slingers' Guide to Great Grub,  I fixed this recipe the other night and I'll enjoy the last bit of it today. It is SO yummy and the flavors just improve with age! (Since the Farmer's Markets are open now, feel free to use FRESH corn kernels!)

1/3 cup fresh lime juice (2-3 limes)
1/3 cup olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp ground cayenne
2 15-oz cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 c. frozen corn kernels
1 avocado, peeled, pitted, diced
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
6 green onions, sliced thin
1/2 c. chopped fresh cilantro

Place the first 5 ingredients in a jar and shake until the ingredients are well mixed.

In a large salad bowl, mix all the other ingredients.  Shake the dressing once more and pour over salad ingredients.  Stir to thoroughly coat the salad and serve.  Store leftovers in fridge.


If you want more great recipes and to support the library, you can get a copy of the book here.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Air to Air

After I left the gym today and was on my way to the bike shop (yes, again. Sigh), I saw something so cool I wanted to tell you about it.

I saw a mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos) chasing off a crow. Not too high above the road, the little fighter pilot was screaming in guns a'blazing to get that marauder out of his territory. The crow's relative size to the mocker was about 6 to one, but he knew when he was whipped and was flying off as quickly as his lumbering body could get going. As the traffic light changed so I could turn left and go away, I saw the mockingbird put on a final burst of speed and actually RAM the crow before he made a tight loop and flew back to wherever they'd come from.

I love mockingbirds. They are aggressive and nasty at times, but it's all in defense of their babies. And they're at their most aggressive when the babies are fledging - just beginning to fly. Both parents engage in these ferocious battles with any threat they perceive. They're not daunted by size at all -- the crow was an easy target. They'll go after cats, dogs, raccoons, and people.

When we lived in Alexandria, we had a tall holly in a planting box. Our front steps wrapped around the box, so by the time you got to the front door at the top, the top of the holly was at your feet level. One year some mockingbirds nested in there (which had nothing to with my husband leaving out raisins for them, of course). As the babies neared fledge time, the parents got really antsy.

When my husband would come home from work and come up the section of the stairs where he was eye level with the nest, they'd explode in fury, dive bombing him and trying to drive him off. On nights that he was bringing home a pizza he'd put the box over his head and they'd be marginally deterred. He could have entered through the garage but he loved the game.  The small child and I, however, were a bit less foolhardy.

There is research showing that mockingbirds can recognize individual humans' faces if they view them as threats! But we all know these birds are really smart. They're great mimics and boy, can they SING!

My mom lives in West Texas and reported a couple of years ago that one of the mockingbirds that lived near the tennis court learned to mimic a cell phone ring. He would trill, and women would stop playing tennis and run over to their bags to see if it was their phone. I'd imagine that now with all the variety of rings, the mockers have a huge repertoire!

And, come to think of it, my all time favorite book and movie is "To Kill A Mockingbird"...for different reasons. I loved it long before I watched these aviators with such delight. But now I understand this line:

When he gave us our air-rifles Atticus wouldn't teach us to shoot.  Uncle Jack instructed us in the rudiments thereof; he said Atticus wasn't interested in guns.  Atticus said to Jem, "I'd rather you shot at tin cans in the back yard, but I know you'll go after birds.  Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit 'em, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird." That was the only time I ever hear Atticus say it was a sin to do something, and I asked Miss Maudie about it.  "You're father's right," she said.  "Mockingbirds don't do one thing but make music for us to enjoy.  They don't eat up people's gardens, don't nest in corncribs, they don't do one thing but sing their hearts out for us.  That's why it's a sin to kill a mocking bird." 

Thursday, June 24, 2010

In Search of Gills

I just did a quick ride up to the Middle School for something.  I left at 8 and was home at 8:43. It is so muggy and humid I felt like I needed gills!  I had to go off trail for part of it because there is construction on the path. The drivers were oh so courteous -- NOT!

At any rate, I'm sitting here dripping trying to recall what it felt like when our electricity was out and it was 40 degrees in here.  Ahhhhhhhh....

Next errand (going to next town to get daughter's hair cut) will be via auto!

Three Word Thursday

Three Word Thursday, hosted by Quilly, is a challenge for writers to come up with a story using archaic words Quilly has mined from her various sources. If you play you can feel smart. If you continue to use the words in conversation, you can feel like the 911 for old words! This week's words:

  • curglaff, n. the shock one feels when plunging into cold water
  • auriferousadj.  gold-bearing; a stone bearing gold
  • heimishadj. Warm and comfortable; homey; folksy

The young boy peeked out of the woods into the clearing. He was sure that he had heard many voices in this clearing the night before. Letting his eyes wander, he could see where grass had been trampled down.  A hush  told him that even the birds were uneasy.

A gleam in the middle of the clearing caught his eye in the bright morning sunshine. Cautiously, he emerged from the cover of the trees and started toward it. He reached the source of the sparkle and marveled at the auriferous stone lying on the ground. It seemed to call his name with a loving tone - inveigling with a sweet voice. His head knew that this was a thing of magic and he should leave well enough alone, but the warm feeling was compelling his body toward the beautiful stone.

Slowly, he reached out to touch it. But before his hand actually connected with the rock, a shock like a curglaff pierced his hand and traveled up his arm. Instinctively, he jerked the arm away from the temptation and stumbled back.

"Strewth!" he whispered. "Tis heimish and inviting, yet the touch of it gives great offense!" Where his hand had almost touched the stone, there was a strange rune, almost like a brand, that glowed brightly against the tan of his skin.  The small amulet he wore around his neck also glowed, as if it were in communication with the beautiful stone. He hesitated, began to reach again toward the stone, and then stopped. Clearly a battle was going on between temptation and fear.

Despite his youth, which usually caused his curiosity to trump his fear, this time fear triumphed. He turned and fled the clearing, certain that the Midsummer magic was too dangerous for the likes of him.

Miles away, the boy's mother saw the rune stone on her windowsill cease glowing and fade. "Good!" she thought. The amulet had protected him once again. Raising sons was difficult enough. In these days of magic, it was thrice dangerous and a mother needed all the help she could get!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Victory on Wheels

I did it again -- yesterday I rode my bike to the "Y", did a work-out, and rode home!  This time, the chain stayed intact, although I think I'm only getting 3 gears.  I'll think about that tomorrow.

Then about 2 pm yesterday I was DONE. I was so tired my eyelids hurt! So I guess I need to do it more often to make it less of a drain on my poor body! Especially if I'm still getting up at 5:30 to get kids moving. Two more days. Two more days.

Making them go these last couple of days -- and for only TWO HOURS on Thursday is just stupid. Tomorrow is Field Day at my son's school and he's begging me to stay home. Field Day is mandatory organized outdoor fun. He's a bit of an athlete but even he hates it. Sorry kid, you got the mean mom.

I'm told it's the legacy of segregation in Virginia that requires legislature approval for cutting the school year shorter (because Virginia closed the schools rather than integrate back in the day).  Right now, it doesn't matter what color a kid is, they want OUT, OUT, OUT! They gave us 1 day grace, or we'd be going Friday too.

Anyway, last night I made a ginger garlic chicken that was easy and FAST and healthy (well, except I spilled the salt when I made the rice so it was much saltier than usual).  Here's the chicken recipe.

4 chicken breasts, boned and skinned
1 Tbs oil
3 garlic cloves, minced or crushed
2 Tbs minced ginger (see the tip below)
The juice of 4 limes.
salt, pepper

Using an extremely sharp knife, cut the chicken breasts in half making them thinner -- like from a half-heart shape to a sort-of heart shape. (This is easier to do if you put the thawed breasts in the freezer for 15 minutes or so)

Put the breast pieces, one at a time, in a ziploc bag. Push most the air out, seal it, and pound the chicken with something heavy until it is no thicker than 1/2 inch. Repeat with all other chicken pieces.

Put the oil, garlic, ginger and limes into a different ziploc bag, add the chicken pieces. Push the air out and marinate the chicken in the fridge for 30 minutes MAX.

Heat up the grill.  Salt and pepper the pieces. Grill them about 5-6 minutes on each side. Serve with rice, veggies, or anything else. Leftovers are great on tortillas.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Microfiction Monday

Susan at Stony River hosts Microfiction Monday. She gives us an illustration, and tells us to come up with a story in 140 characters or fewer. Try it!

This week's illustration (with apologies -- I think the fish looks like a missile -- and this whole mission of the world to get Israel to trust people who lob rockets onto their heads drives me nuts.  Sorry if it isn't funny this week)

Pointing the giant fish towards Israel, Hamas hoped the “dog of war” would fool the Israelis into thinking it was a tourism billboard.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Dads Are Irreplaceable

Dead or alive,
Good or bad,
Absent or present,
involved or indifferent . . .
Fathers have the most significant impact
on the lives of their children.

Everything a man does is modeling for his sons how to be a dad and husband. I watch the interaction between fathers and their children at the library, swim team, church, and other places. I celebrate that today's society encourages hands-on fathering. I delight in the little boys who want to be 'just like dad.'  We have a family in our church with two little boys. The dad often leads our music and is a drummer. His 4 year old son is totally engaged in imitating his dad. Two weeks ago the little boy got a 'head shave' haircut so he could look 'just like dad.' His dad is bald!  It was amazingly cute. I love that, and I love seeing how the dad works with their younger one who has some sort of muscle problem as yet undiagnosed but who is hell on wheels with his walker. Dad is encouraging, but not babying. Patient, but firm. Loving and kind. And he laughs a lot with his boys. And he clearly loves their mother.

Last summer during our swim team season I watched the interaction of one of the families who has two teen sons. The boys had been away for a camping trip and had left when their dad was out of town, so it had been a while since they'd seen him. When they returned it was to the swim meet where their dad was officiating. The young men came in and both of them launched at their dad with great big hugs and laughter and clear joy for all three. It was beautiful to see. It was what I imagine when I see my mind's picture of the father welcoming home the prodigal son -- sheer joy at reuniting. I thought, "that is the kind of young man I want my daughter to marry - one who has that kind of relationship with his dad."


Everything a man does is modeling for his daughters what kind of man to choose and how they should expect to be treated. Sadly, many men, as their daughters become the hormonal basketcases teen girls are, back off and treat them differently. But that's when the girls need their dads most. Girls that age feel their bodies are betraying them. None of them feel like they're pretty. Every zit is 10x bigger in their mind and they're either too skinny or too fat or their hair is too this or that.  Girls need their biggest fan to tell them they are beautiful. I can be the one that says, "you're right, that outfit isn't very flattering." Their dad needs to tell them that they are absolutely beautiful to him. He also needs to tell them when the outfit they want to wear is not modest enough. Dads being loving when the girls are being awful prepares the girls for when they're married, pregnant, and hormonal or married, menopausal and hormonal. They need to know that they are worth the investment --that a man who loves them will hang in there in the tough times.

I see many dads who are totally hands-on with their little girls under a certain age. But I see less of that in the teen years. It's almost as if the dads hand the teen daughters over to the mothers to deal with. I have become more aware of it in our household and the only way to counter it is to acknowledge my complicity. You see, I LIKE being the ONLY ONE who can solve a child's problem. It validates me as a mom. And I'm much more ready to concede that my husband is best for our son to emulate than to think that he can solve our daughter's dilemmas! As if I'm the only one with good ideas!

But God has shown me my selfishness in this. My daughter NEEDS her dad to spend time with her and help her think through solutions to problems. An example is next Sunday. She'll be leaving for Governors' School, which is a 4.5 hour drive southwest of here. We can't both go because our son will be returning from a camp-out and will need a pick-up. I desperately want to go and had planned to. I've tried to justify it on the grounds  that I'm the only one who knows all the details of the check-in procedure, etc. I've even tried to ignore that I have trouble staying awake on long drives when I'm by myself (the way back). But God . . . 

My own dad was away a lot when I was a young child. When I was a teen our family was in crisis, and I blamed him for our move. I left a high school that I loved in a state that I loved for a high school and place that I hated. Rationally, I knew that he had to go where the job was. Emotionally, I was hostile and difficult. My older sister had put my parents through h*ll in her teen years, so I think by the time I started being rebellious he was just weary. At any rate, he didn't engage. And as soon as I could get out of that town I began living a life of destructive choices, looking for affirmation of my worth. I didn't pull out of that behavior until about eight years down the road. I managed to finish my education and get started in life, but with a whole lot of baggage that I might not have had.

When I became a mom, I forgave my dad. I now understood that the hardest thing to do as a parent is to always make the right choice. And although he wasn't Ozzie or Ward, he worked hard to do the best he could to provide for his family. He gave us what he was able to give emotionally, and none of us ended up destitute. In fact, three kids = three intact marriages, three college degrees, two post college (one JD one MD). We all own our own homes, pay our taxes, and those of us with kids are raising our kids to love the Lord FIRST.

As I read/listen to the psychobabble that says kids can get by without a dad, my answer is that getting by isn't good enough. Kids need to thrive. And for that, they need a dad.

So Happy Father's Day to my dad and to my husband. My prayer for both of you is that your children and their children will remember you as men of integrity who loved the Lord, loved their wives, and did not exasperate their children!

Friday, June 18, 2010

In the Details

You know how they say God is in the tiniest details?  Read what happened yesterday.

The setting is that I was at the Rec Center helping set up the All-Night Graduation Party for our high school.  While we set up, the Rec center was still open and people were coming through for classes. A young woman with a small child came through for swim lessons. She asked what high school this was for, and I answered. Then I laughed and said, "Man, there was NOTHING like this when I was in high school." She said, "oh we had one, back in Arkansas." I laughed again saying, "Yes, but you're a lot younger than me!"

Then I asked, "where are you from in Arkansas?"She said, "Little Rock." I said, "that's where my cousins are from." She said, "really, where in town do they live?" I said, "I don't know the parts of town, but one of my cousins is a pastor at a Methodist church." She said, "Really?  I was a Methodist all my life." I said, "Oh, maybe you know her.  Her name is (and I told her my cousin's name)."

The young woman's eyes got as big as dinner plates and she teared up. She said, "Your cousin's mother B was my mom's best friend." She went on to tell me about her mom and B teaching together, her mom attending B's funeral and attending my cousin L's wedding (which I also attended)! I asked if she remembered my uncle, F (he died of ALS several years ago). She said, "oh yes!" I told her my mom is F's surviving sister. Then her child wanted to move, and I needed to get back to what I was doing, but I think we separated as changed people.

So, of all the people in DC area and all the people in Little Rock, Arkansas, what do you think the odds are that I would have met someone that specifically knew our family?

I don't remember her name - it was a really chaotic time, but I know she takes a child to swim lessons on Thursdays, so maybe I'll stop by next Thursday and see if I see her and talk some more. But maybe not. Maybe this was just God's way of reminding me that He is in every detail.

And by the way, Congratulations to South Lakes Senior Class of 2010.  Well done!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Sticky Hot

This is the season in Northern Virginia when each day is a roll of the dice for weather. And if you don't like the roll you've just gotten, wait 30 minutes and it will change.

So yesterday was pretty muggy.  I left early and was out all day.  When I came back home I thought the house was warmish but figured it was the humidity. Finally, when I was serving up the pizza that I ordered for dinner (it was one of those days with a 4 pm dentist appointment for one of the kids!), I asked my son to go check the fuse box to see if the AC had popped off for some reason.

BINGO -- he flipped it back and on and blessed relief.

But now I'm worried.  Why would the AC have tripped the fuse?  See, there's been a gremlin around here recently. Our TV screen (that we use for movies and Wii) refused to go on one day. Fortunately, it's under warranty and they're taking care of it. Although it's on a power surge protector, it's not as robust as the ones the computers are on. I wonder if there's a stray electron party running around inside our walls looking for places to burst out and create havoc for the humans?

More importantly, I don't want a fire inside our walls! Anyone have any experience with this?

Monday, June 14, 2010


We live on a quiet cul-de-sac. As many of you know, we have LOTS of big trees all throughout the neighborhood.  At least once a week I have someone knocking on my door offering to 'trim my trees.'  The guy who came by today even offered an opinion that "that ivy up there is strangling that tree."  Um...yeah, we know that but I'll be darned if I'll pay someone to pull ivy!  As a matter of fact we would have already pulled it except my friend wanted it for the baccalaureate service for the high school graduation. NOTE: Service is over - guess what I'll be doing for fun this weekend?

I understand that people need work. I also understand the liability issues of people doing work for which they are not trained, qualified or insured.

I think it's invasive for people to ring my doorbell and try to sell me things, but a 'no solicitation' sign seems pretty stark -- and when in the past, we've lived in gated communities with it posted, and no one reads it!

Maybe I should view these as witnessing opportunities. I can just hear the dialogue:


"Ma'am, we're in your neighborhood doing tree work. That big pine/oak/poplar is looking like it needs some help. Would you be interested in us having it cut back?"
"No, thank you for asking.  However, do you know where you're going where you die?"

So, how do you handle unwanted solicitation?

Microfiction Monday . . . er . . . Monkey

Susan at Stony River hosts Microfiction Monday. She gives us an illustration, and tells us to come up with a story in 140 characters or fewer.  I have to say, I don't understand the timing of so-called Monday memes. They post on SUNDAY! It was one thing when Susan was in Ireland but now she's the in the same time zone as me! I feel like such a lay-about if I actually wait until Monday!

This week's illustration:

 “It’s bourbon,” she said.
“Yum,” he replied.
“How are your inhibitions?” she asked.
“Not loose yet,” he said, politely covering his mouth.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Luxury of a Western Perspective

Yesterday I listened to part of a radio show on NPR where Diane Rehm and her guests were discussing the impact of an early parent death on the development of a child. There were people who commented that they, in some ways, never got over that. One of the guests was involved in a camp for children who experience the death of a parent with the focus being on helping them prepare to cope with life afterwards.

I don't particularly care for Diane Rehm (I think she is rude and interrupts people with whom she doesn't agree), but I listened to this show anyway because I was cleaning the oven and I needed something on to keep me from focusing on how grungy things had gotten when I forgot to the line the cheesecake pan . . . ick.

I absolutely do not minimize the impact losing a parent to death might have on a child. I have very close friends whose youngest was a high school senior when her father died, and I've watched them struggle as they've viewed every "family occasion" since then (weddings, graduations, holidays) with pain.

But as I listened, it occurred to me that the intense therapy and mourning that these radio people advocate is a truly Western luxury. In Africa, there are thousands of children who have lost one or both parents to death from disease and/or violence. It doesn't hurt them any less; they just have to get on with life anyway. In fact, most therapy that is embraced and engaged in (and often paid for under Health Care) in the West is unique to an affluent society. Only those of us with extra income and/or time can engage in introspection and deeper meaning to crises we experience.

On the other hand, if we didn't have therapy for E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G. in the West, a whole lot of counselors and therapists would have to find other jobs.

I'm not saying therapy is good or bad. I imagine that for many people it gives them something to hold onto that they wouldn't otherwise feel they could find. But I wonder -- if we lived in a society in which there was no way forward but to put one foot in front of another, would we find resilience within ourselves that we can't find because we live in a Western culture that tells us to embrace being victims of circumstances?  Perhaps people who need this therapy come out of it much "happier" people. Is that the same thing as success?

Just wondering through these things.

The oven is clean now, so you won't have to 'listen' to me wonder again for a while.  Going to the gym for MY therapy!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

D-Day Tribute

My mom sent this earlier this weekend, but I wasn't ready to share it yet. Now I offer it to all of you who wonder whether HOPE lives and breathes in this world.

Here it is D-day, and like most of us older people, we are remembering the excitement and joy of that historical day. Grandpa had worked all night at the newspaper and then that morning the paperboys raced all over town shouting "extra." The print on the paper was the largest ever used by the Fort Smith Times Record which meant that my grandpa had to adjust the type cutting machine to accommodate the larger type. People raced outside in excitement, many leaving homes with signs in their windows showing a family member serving overseas. We kids all raced outside singing and shouting without fully understanding what this represented. After so many years of bad news, pain, saving pennies for the war effort, doing without rubber and other critical products; our lives would now revolve around hope. Soldiers would return, including my uncle Wilbur and uncle Bill. Aunt Nan would not have to drive an ambulance for the Red Cross again. The future was not clear, but all we knew was that the young men who had fought for our American dream with the women at their side were coming home. This was the first tme I can remember the pride associated with being an American.

Long Ride Made Slightly Longer

Yesterday was such a beautiful day, I resolved to ride my bike to the "Y" for a workout. The total distance is about 4.3 miles from my home and there are trails the entire way. It is a gentle but steady incline all the way, so I knew I'd get my cardio warm-up on the way there, and that coming home would be easy!

I sprayed myself with bugspray (part of the trail runs near the creek), filled my water bottle, checked the tires for air, strapped on my helmet and launched into the big adventure.

At about mile 4, my chain broke.  Arrghh!  I walked the bike up to the Town Center to see if the bike shop there was open yet. Of course not. So I coasted the bike down to the "Y" and locked it up.

The wonderful and amazingly competent Wellness Director, Nick Dorazio, very kindly fixed my chain 'good enough' to allow me to get back to the Bike Shop after my workout.  Since I was doing so much riding and walking, I decided upper body was the way to go for the gym!

I made it to the Bike Shop where a new chain set me back $30.  However, the bike is 21 years old (I bought it in Europe and LOVE it) and the chain was original, so I think I got my money's worth on the first chain.  It was smooth sailing all the way home.

About 8 pm I was D.O.N.E. There was no strength or energy left in this poor old body! But today, I feel great and motivated to do it again tomorrow!  Except without the broken chain part.

I have to give a little credit here to Susan from Stony River. Her talking about walking everywhere got me off my rear end and out from in front of the computer.  I could have driven to the gym, but I figured if Susan can walk all over West Virginia AND keep up with 2 autistic kids, I should be able to bike 4.3 miles and back!  Thanks Susan!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Microfiction Monday

Susan, at Stony River, gives us a prompt and we write the story. Use only 140 characters though (includes spaces and punctuation).

This week's prompt:

Pinocchio, having graduated to a body of flesh, found himself well suited to join his cohorts in Washington, D.C.*

*To get this, you have to know about Pinocchio and Pleasure Island. For more, see here.

Friday, June 4, 2010

A Sad Friday

I'm a little blue today. One of the families my daughter babysits for has suffered a tragic loss. The mom was 8.5 months pregnant and the baby (a boy) stopped moving.  One emergency c-section later, they delivered a perfectly formed, ready for life, but lifeless child. His umbilical cord had become kinked and trapped.

It mystifies me how the abortion lobby can say that this was not a child. He would have been able to sustain life had he been delivered in time - even at 8.5 months. He was big enough to be buried, not disposed of as medical waste.

From the moment he started moving within her, to this mother, he was a baby, just waiting to meet his new family. Now the mom and dad are struggling with how to mourn and still provide wisdom and understanding for their 5 year old daughter and 3 year old son.

I went to go buy a card for them, and even at the vaunted Hallmark store, it was a struggle to find something appropriate. The "loss of your child" cards said things like "sustained by memories".  This baby didn't live long enough for them to build memories that the card referred to. And there were tons of "loss of" cards for parents, grandparents and even pets, but very few for children. I guess that's a good thing that it reflects the market in which a small percentage of children don't make it.

But I found one that spoke of the certainty of heaven and the love the Lord has for little ones. (This family is also Christian). I sent it today along with an offer to take the older ones for some stretches of time as the mom needs it. But I'm still sad -- and this is kind of dumb, but when I saw the front page of the Washington Post today, with a photo of the bird covered in oil, my heart was breaking for the birds on the coast. It made me want to grab an industrial size bottle of DAWN and a scrub brush and our canoe and head to Louisiana.

Perhaps I'm just a wee bit more emotional than I normally am.

And my daughter is torn between crying huge tears and wanting to not think about the baby.  Or the oil spill. Or other stuff that makes her sad.  Me too.

If you feel moved, say a prayer for the M family. Thanks.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Three Word Thursday

Since Quilly was kind enough to blame me give me credit for the words, I should at least post something! So here it is, and it's a true story.

Rethink That

Siri sat at her computer, stunned by the vitriol in the e-mail she was reading.  She had sent a request to be removed from a mailing list the evening before.  It was a fairly standard request these days when e-mails piled up faster than she could read them.   In the request, Siri had referenced that the church directory was the possible source of the conflict since the only intersection of their lives were that they attended the same church.
The reply read:

I would never purposefully send e-mails to the likes of you. I have not seen a church directory in years. Any electronic one goes straight to my spam folder. I do not know how my business and personal e-mails synced to include you.

Remove my e-mail, my families’ e-mail, and any other contact info you have for me from all of your contacts. I would not have included you in my contacts. Trust me.

“Wow,” she muttered. “This woman needs meds.”  Siri sat back and reflected on her contacts with this woman over the years wondering what might have prompted this animosity.

When Siri first started attending the church six years prior, she had made a point of meeting as many people as she could.  She had introduced herself to the woman one Sunday. The woman, childless at the time, asked where Siri’s children went to school.  Siri named a particular local Christian school.  The woman said, “Oh” and turned away. Siri was told later that the woman and her family ran a for-profit Christian school near the church.

From that moment on, Siri could not remember a time that the woman had been friendly or even interactive.  If there had been momentary conversations forced upon them by circumstances, they had been innocuous enough to be forgettable.

In the fatuity of her Christian cocoon, Siri had moved on to people more friendly and helpful. There was no need to compose a jeremiad regarding lack of contact with one member of the congregation. Everyone else was friendly and relaxed.

The family kept themselves very distant from the rest of the congregation as well.  They always entered church late, with the husband leading the procession like a panjandrum. Because she was on the worship team and felt joy when she noticed people who were worshiping in song, Siri had noticed they did not join in the music unless it was an “old” hymn. “Perhaps they are traditionalists,” Siri had thought, and then thought no more about it.

Siri also helped in nursery, taught Sunday School, and led the children’s church services when needed.  The family’s two children had never participated in any of these activities. They always sat between their parents, hands folded, and eyes straight ahead. Siri thought it was odd, but recognized that different families have different ideas of children’s roles in church. She herself had struggled with the idea of providing children coloring pages for the days that there was no children’s church service – thinking that once a month the children could learn how to participate by emulating their parents – but Siri’s children were pretty compliant. She knew that some of the bouncier children in the congregation might be more of a distraction if their parents didn’t allow them to color and do the puzzles quietly. So she conceded that different parenting styles dictate different rules for children.

But Siri had also been involved in setting up women’s retreats and prayer events. She always included the woman in the invitations, but the woman had never responded or attended.  “Oh!” Siri thought as the light bulb went on in her mind. “That must be where the contact came from on my end – the list the Womens Ministry director gave me for the invitation list last December!”

That didn’t explain how it synced with the woman’s business e-mail, but these days, who could keep track of which pieces of software were talking to others?  As Siri thought more about the whole situation, she realized the absurdity of it. This was a woman who was either herself, very troubled, or was in a marriage that was very rigid and it had affected the woman’s judgment.

“Darn it!” thought Siri. “I want to be judgmental and harsh but you’re giving me a picture of a woman who needs compassion, Lord! I know what I need to do.”

So before she composed an e-mail back, apologizing for leaping to a conclusion about the church directory, Siri bowed her head in prayer.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

A Whole New World!

If you want to have insight into a completely different world, let your kid (or another kid) borrow your MP3 player.

My daughter's iPod was stolen at school.  While we awaited her birthday money, she borrowed my mp3 player and put her own songs on it.  That was fine.  This morning I got it back and wanted to use it at the gym but decided I didn't have time to reprogram it.

Oh my goodness.  I was laughing out loud. The first song was "I don't like your girlfriend" in which the singer is telling the boy all the things wrong with his current girlfriend so, of course, the singer can take her place.  That song was on there TWICE!

Then there were a bunch of songs that were partially in English and partially Japanese.  No, it's not language acquisition, she's just into anime so likes these cross-cultural songs.

I will say the beat on these songs is really high, so my heart rate was up.  And the laughter did my soul some good too!

What a trip.