Thursday, December 16, 2010

Because This Day Needs A Little More Whimsy

No time for a real post this week. How about a little magic and mischief instead? These whimsical name generators come up with their descriptions based only on your name, so I was surprised by how well certain elements (in bold) seemed to actually fit my personality. Like, I've always been particularly enchanted by that moment between sleeping and waking (also the moments between day and night like dusk and dawn). Interesting, isn't it?

My fairy is Meadow Reedwitch
She plays reed pipes and sings spellbinding songs.
She lives in fields where wild flowers and poppies grow.
She is only seen in the enchanted moment between sleep and waking.
She wears a skirt made of red petals and has deep green butterfly wings.
Get your own fairy name from the Fairy Name Generator!


My mermaid species is Red Flotsam Seeker
Typically the tail and fins are an unusually deep red colour acting as a camouflage from predators in deeper water. The skin is a mottled, freckled sandy colour and the hair is often reddish.
(curalium dissolutio)
The dissolutio is a treasure-collector, gathering finds from the beach and ocean and creating caches of interesting and beautiful objects.
Note: Known for its foraging behaviour, this variety particularly likes to seek out small crustaceans and starfish.
Get your own mermaid or merman species from the Mermaid Name Generator!


My unicorn is Orchid Snowy Coat
Orchid is as wild and untamed as a desert horse.
She is as white as the driven snow,
and she climbs the mountains of the world.
Get your own unicorn name from the Unicorn Name Generator!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Stop. Look Around.


This weekend I received the gift of suspended time with three girls who I love very much and don't get to see often enough. I enjoyed red wine, chocolate, and celebrity gossip with Christine. It was so good to catch up, compare notes on newly-married life, open our eyes and hearts to big dreams and exciting possibilities.

Then it was time in Dallas with Erin and Kelly. Pedicures, coffee, shopping, wedding talk (Kelly's big day is coming soon!), delicious food, good news. We reminisced about old days and laughed, and I couldn't help but wonder at how we've remained so close. Despite distances and large gaps in our time together, these women are some of my dearest friends, true kindred spirits.

And I finished it off with a quiet Sunday evening back home. Christmas music playing over a muted football game, hanging ornaments on the tree and setting out Christmas decorations. Then curling up on the couch with my favorite person on earth, snuggling to stay warm while watching a movie.

I wish time could slow down, and stay that way. I wish that I was better about stopping, about looking around me. I can look back on many times that I relish, that I wish to return to. But I so often let them slide right by me in the moment, rather than gathering them close and drinking them in. Holding them still. Making them last. Reveling in life and all it's everyday amazing glory as it occurs. Then moving quietly on to savor the next little thing.

Monday, December 6, 2010

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas

Santa's on his way...

Tree is lit and trimmed...

Everyone gets into the Christmas spirit....

New, handcrafted nativity scene from Peru. Thanks, Mom!!

New additions to my old favorite nativity...

My oldest favorite nativity from when I was tiny....

Another nativity....I just love them....

Friday, December 3, 2010

Getting in the Christmas Spirit


It was a little slow around the office this morning, so I was put to work fluffing out the branches of our newly purchased, pre-lit, office Christmas tree. It occurred to me while dutifully fluffing away, that besides ordering gingerbread lattes at Starbucks every chance I get, this the only even remotely Christmas-related thing I have done. I have not yet pulled the Christmas decorations down from the attic. I have not done any holiday baking. I haven't embarked on my annual attempt at doing holiday crafts. I haven't done any Christmas shopping, unless you count a single online purchase. Heck, I haven't even made my Christmas list yet.

I continued fluffing those branches on the cutest, six foot tall, pencil style Christmas tree you have ever seen, and suddenly it all clicked into place. I would buy one just like it. After all, Keith and I have been prevaricating over what to do about our tree. I love live trees, have always adamantly insisted upon them. But the kitties will rip one to shreds, we won't have much time to enjoy one before we leave to spend Christmas in Colorado, it will dry up and die and leave it's needles all over the carpet before we get back. Plus, I'd have to pay about the same amount for a pretty tree that will die in a few weeks as I would for an artificial one that will last for years. I must confess, somehow I've actually become practical about Christmas trees. Blame my mom. She insisted on buying an artificial tree for the first time two years ago and I think it broke something inside me.

And now I've discovered an artificial tree that I actually like, one that won't take up too much space in our tiny and already cluttered living room. One that will be adorable in an entryway or guest room someday, when I regain my sanity and once again return to my only-a-live-tree-will-do ways. My Christmas-deprived spirit seized on this single idea with manic glee. This will be it, I thought with triumph. This will bring Christmas to my life, to my heart. This tree. I need this tree. So on my lunch break, I set off to buy one.

There are a few things that decidedly don't put me in the Christmas spirit. The crowded Hobby Lobby parking lot is one of them. Another is rushing straight to the Christmas tree section only to discover that my tree, my perfect tree, the one that will save Christmas for me, has been sold out. They are not expecting any more shipments. They do not have any tucked away in the hidden corner of some darkened supply room. I know, because I asked the sullen Hobby Lobby employee that exact question and she swore to me that there are none left.

However, I talked to Steven over at the Hobby Lobby in Temple. He still had four of my trees in stock and was willing to put one on hold for me until the end of the day. And my sweet, sweet husband agreed to drive an hour and a half round-trip just to get me the tree my heart is set on. I am such a lucky girl! And if knowing that doesn't put me in the Christmas spirit, I don't know what will.

Hallelujah Chorus Flash Mob

When I clicked in to watch this video over at Exploring our Matrix, I was not at all prepared for the way it would affect me. I don't know if it's the beautiful sounds of praise invading such a mundane space as a shopping mall food court, or if it's the sheer joy and delight of the singers as they share this special treat, or if it's the awe and wonder on the faces of the children who are obviously just aching to join in. For whatever reason, watching this video, this beautiful surprise, really touches me. It just fills me with emotion.


I just had to pass it along. HT to James McGrath.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

A Great Beauty

She was a great beauty. A famous beauty. Known far and wide for her breathtaking smile, her rosy cheeks and lips, cascading blond curls, pert nose, alluring figure. Her beauty was celebrated. People came to stare and be stunned. Prizes were awarded. Crowns were conferred. She was young. So young.

Her great beauty captured the heart of a dashing man. The day they met she was swimming in a stream when he came galloping up on horseback. He was devastatingly handsome, charming, a perfect match. Her heart soon belonged to him. She was married at eighteen. A mother at nineteen. Like something out of a storybook, only it's isn't. It's real.

Her portrait hung on the wall in a golden frame. The white dress, the glittering crown. I was fascinated by it as child, have been fascinated by it my whole life. This image, perfectly preserved in time, of the woman who is now a great-grandmother. Who is my grandmother. The woman who still carries such a great beauty, still radiates that beauty, with her rosy cheeks and lips, her blond curls. A beauty only enhanced by the lines on her face. By the wisdom of such a long, full life in her eyes. A beauty that comes, that has always come, from her love and her kindness. Her strength. Her tenderness. Her wit. Her fierce devotion to her family. Her unfailing generosity. Selflessness.

I wonder if she knows, even now, how her great beauty has shaped me; how it shaped even my very perception of beauty. I have seen beauty pour from her, from the inside out, and color everything around it. Life is made more beautiful in her presence. I am made more beautiful in her gaze. Does she know how much I admire her and adore her? How proud I am to be hers? How I have emulated her, as best I could? Does she know how beautiful she was, and is? Will always be? She is a great beauty. A true beauty. And I celebrate her great beauty today.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Giving and Receiving and Grace

My sweet friend Jan got married on Saturday night. Just a few years shy of my mother's age, Jan has really filled the role of my "Waco Mom" for the past five years. She has laughed with me, cried with me, comforted and encouraged me, given me a gentle dose of unvarnished truth from time to time, and always, always cheered me on. She is positive and energetic and unfailingly kind to everyone around her. She's funny and wise and brave and strong. She radiates so many of the qualities that I desire for myself.

And on Saturday evening she stood in the midst of a small and beaming band of friends and family, face alight, hands clasped with a new love, as they pledged "to freely give themselves to and joyfully receive each other" as the good gifts they are created to be. And I was struck again by her bravery, in turning this new chapter and starting a new life at her age, and with such hope and wonder. And I saw in her eyes, and in his, that they truly are giving themselves freely to one another and freely and joyfully receiving each other as gifts, as good and precious gifts from the Lord, the Father of heavenly lights and the author of their lives.

It's not an easy thing, to give yourself freely. To drop the masks and step around the barriers, to let facades crumble and face one another in naked vulnerability. It's never easy, no matter how much you love and trust. It's something we are only able to do through grace. And receiving can be even harder. There are times when I feel so undeserving of my husband's love, so small, so petty, so flawed, that I can't let it reach me. Just as there are times when he feels so low, so uncertain, so anxious. This takes grace too, to stand awash in unconditional love and to receive it, to know it is ours. To believe it, to accept it, to lean into it, to need it. Only grace can surmount the fear that would keep us from giving ourselves freely, from receiving each other joyfully.

I do think it's helpful, in those times when it's hardest, to remember that we are gifts. My husband has been given to me, a gift. He is mine. To delight in, to enjoy, to receive. I can't cast my eyes down or fear to take hold. I cannot spurn the gift, or the giver. Here is a gift I have not earned. One I cannot earn, any more than I can or have earned life or breathe. A gift entrusted to me. Belonging to me. Mine always. Just as I am his gift.

And this is grace too. This is the essence of grace. That it transforms us. That it takes us, all of us, even with our walls and masks and barriers, even though we're small and petty and anxious and so flawed, and it makes us gifts. Grace makes us good gifts, worthy to be received joyfully, aching to be given freely and completely. And grace gives us good gifts in return and makes us worthy to receive them, and gives us courage to receive them with joy and with all humility. And grace reminds us of that, each and every day in a thousand ways both great and small if we will only have eyes to see it and ears to hear. And hearts to receive, and to give. Freely and joyfully.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Monday Musing

"To encourage, to comfort, to awaken, and to stretch those who find themselves riding this big ball as it screams thru time in the silence of space. To be a bridge, not a barricade. To be a link, not a lapse. To be a beacon and bolster; not a bragger or a bummer. To help bring the corners of life's lips to their summit. To be a friend to those who find their fit a little awkward in this chaos society calls living."
-Vess Barnes

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Maybe He Knows Something We Don't?

We have four cats. Ransom, our biggie-sizer, is a twenty pound lapcat. Falcor is a tiny ball of demonic energy and cuteness. I swear she is spring-loaded. Eowyn is the matron. Sophisticated. Aloof. Proper. I'm also convinced that she has Jedi mind powers, but that's another story. Then there's Ajax, who is all beauty and no brains. He's one of the prettiest cats you'll ever see, all creamy with dark brown marking around face, legs and tail and bright, bright blue eyes. But he's also, sort of, hmm.....mentally stunted would be a wildly generous way to put it.*

Keith named Ajax after the famous Greek warrior of the Iliad, hoping that he would show the same strength and ferocity. Alas, no. He's actually the wimpiest of our brood, letting all the other cats boss him around. He has a fractured attention span, very little cognitive skill (even for a cat), and, we suspect, tunnel vision (judging from the fact that he frequently can't discern objects that are in his periphery. He is also devastatingly codependent when it comes to his love for Keith. He follows Keith from room to room throughout the house and if there is a closed door between them, Ajax will sit on his side of it and howl unrelentingly until Keith comes back.

So, needless to say, with Keith out of town all weekend, Ajax was despondent. And being as "challenged" as he is, he couldn't quite grasp the concept that Keith physically left the house and never came back, thus he is gone. Ajax reasons more along the lines of: Keith isn't in this room. I wonder where he is. Maybe he's in the bedroom. If I sit by the bedroom door and howl long enough, surely he will come to save me.


And that's what Ajax did. Saturday morning, I get up, make myself some coffee, settle onto the couch with my book, and suddenly Ajax realizes that something's wrong. I'm in the living room, but Keith is not. He must still be sleeping. Ajax must wake him up. And he proceeded to yowl. For a good 10 minutes he yodeled his little cat brains out. Then he took about a five minute break of prowling restlessly around the house before the yowling commenced again. And on, and on, in cycle, ad nauseam. Until finallly, I let him into our bedroom. I let him sniff around, and look for Keith, and sleep on our bed until he was satisfied. Then I brought him back to the living room and he was happy again.

Until the next morning. When the cycle started all over again. I recounted this to Keith over coffee this morning (he returned late last night). I told him I don't think Ajax grasps the concept that when someone leaves and doesn't come back that means they are not there. Or maybe, Keith countered, there's a teleportation device in our room. And he knows about it. And he just assumes I've used it to travel back home.

Which I suppose is possible. How do you argue with that?

* They're all named after characters from favorite books or movies.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

My Reclusive Weekend

As previously reported, I've been sick lately- of the sniffling, snotting, phlegming variety. So when Keith left on Friday afternoon to attend the annual conference of the Society of Biblical Literature in Atlanta, I settled in for a weekend full of hermit-ing.

I spent almost all of Saturday and Sunday in my pajamas. I ordered a whole bunch of Pei Wei for dinner Friday night, then ate off the leftovers the rest of the weekend.

I watched lots of old movies and new movies about old times, the kinds of things that Keith doesn't like to watch with me. The Duchess. The Young Victoria. Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Avonlea. I also watched two seasons of The Tudors, which is basically a medieval soap opera. Fluffy and scandalous and highly entertaining.

I also read a ton. Harry Potter (again for like the sixth time), and glossy magazines, and The Art of Family, and blogs I was behind on, and A Million Miles In A Thousand Years, and celebrity gossip websites. All in all, I feel it was a fairly productive weekend.

Then Monday rolled around and it was back to showering and dressing and going to work. This evening we will make our way south to have Thanksgiving in the valley with my family. Still feeling a little phlegmy. Here's hoping I kick this thing soon.

Friday, November 19, 2010

This Week

I used up five boxes of Kleenex.

I blew my nose approximately 517,001 times.

I coughed up a lung.

I switched from one side of the couch to the other at 15 minute intervals just to give each nostril a chance to clear up for a little while.

I took a day and a half off work to try to make my head stop spinning.

I missed contemplative prayer at DaySpring (something that becomes increasingly more important and essential to me with each week that passes).

I went through an entire bag of Ricola cough drops. Then proceeded to get incredibly sick to my stomach from all the sugar.

I pumped at least 100 squirts of nose spray into my nostrils.

I sneezed 247 times.

Then I braved temperatures in the mid-forties at 10:30 last night.

Sat in an overly-crowded theater for over an hour and a half, just waiting. 

Rolled my eyes 412 times at all the obnoxious people around us.

And finally, finally got to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part One.

Which somehow made everything else in this entire snotty week seem totally okay.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Countdown to Deathly Hallows

It's nearly here. Are you ready? Do you have your tickets? Tomorrow night at the stroke of midnight the end will begin. Keith bought our tickets a few days ago and I am so excited. And just to remind you that I am not the biggest and weirdest Harry Potter fan ever, I give you this:


I can't decide if this kid is sad, creepy, or completely awesome. No matter, his point is well taken. I cannot hold a candle to him when it comes to Harry Potter fandom. But I can sit through the movie in rapt enjoyment, nonetheless.

Tomorrow night. Midnight. Wands at the ready.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Lazy

I don't really have it in me to write a new post. I feel like I'm getting sick and my head is all fuzzy and the Kleenex box is my best friend today.

So instead, I'll point you over to Keith's blog, where he is posting on Paul and free will and quoting a passage of Chesterton that I love so much. That's one of the reasons I married him, y'all. He is so smart and he appreciates all the right passages by all the right authors.

So go read him today and pray that I will feel much better soon!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

2011 Calendar Update

I wasn't able to hold out as long as I thought. Two weeks ago I chose the two calendars I wanted to commit a whole year of my life to (this one and this one), and I ordered them. They arrived at the end of a really long, really stressful day at work, just the pick-me-up I needed. I tore into the familiar brown Amazon box and pulled them out slowly, reverently, only to be met with...

Disappointment! Turns out I need to pay more attention to the size measurements when I order calendars online. Because they are both small. Really, really small. With little tiny squares barely big enough to write initials on. I love marking my calendars with appointments, reminders and special occasions. These squares are so small, I'd have to come up with acronyms for every single event. KRBD (Keith Reich's Birthday), DSWPDC (Diana Smith's Wedding in Playa Del Carmen), RCFB (Remember to Clean Fan Blades). Not nearly as much fun, and I'd probably never remember what anything stood for.

Keith watched quietly as my expression went from hopeful anticipation to morose despondence and put a sweet, comforting hand on my shoulder. And then he laughed at me. Because he thinks it's so funny that I can get so excited and then so sad about something as small and silly as a calendar. And I reminded him that part of the reason he married me is that I can take pleasure in simple things, and thus am usually easy to please. Then I decided, grudgingly, that I could make do with the calendars, small as they are. Because they are pretty. And they've already been paid for.

And then, yesterday, Keith told me that he'd ordered part of my Christmas present and he wanted to give it to me early. I was, as always, amenable to that. So I closed my eyes and he placed a large, flat envelope in my hands. And it was this. My old faithful stand-by. The calendar that's seen me through years and years and years. The Mary Engelbreit calendar. And it's big. And the squares have plenty of space for me to write as many words as I want. And I'm reminded how nice it is to have things you can count on. 

Like calendars that are consistently awesome every year. And incredibly thoughtful husbands.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

I WANT ONE!!!

These baby otters are so cute, I am officially adding them to the top of my Christmas list. Can I have one, please, please, please? I'm sure they would love the kitties! And the bathtub! Don't worry, no wading pool required.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Ratty Law School Hattie


I had my hair cut Saturday morning. I finally screwed up the resolve to lop off a good three inches. I've been avoiding it, because it takes so long to grow my hair out and this is the most I've had cut off in at least three years. But it needed to be done, and I'm sure my hair is healthier and probably looks significantly better. It's still pretty long, and yet, every time I look in the mirror it feels so short to me, shorn even. Guess I'm still adjusting. But sometimes, you have to do what needs to be done in order to look presentable.

Which brings us back to the story I'm interested in today. I had my hair cut Saturday morning. I arrived a little early for my 9:30 appointment (standard for me) to find that Joy, my stylist, was running behind (standard for her). So I curled up with my Starbucks (gingerbread lattes are back, yo!) and a magazine while ten, then twenty, then thirty minutes ticked by. And it's like Joy to run a little behind: she gets carried away talking and gesticulating and sometimes forgets to actually, you know, cut hair. But it's not like her to run thirty minutes behind. Especially in the morning, when I'm only her second client.

So I engaged in a favorite pastime of mine: watching people and trying to deduce, or fully fabricate, their stories. The girl in Joy's chair was an attractive young woman with little to no makeup on a beautifully formed face. She had long, blond hair, perfectly groomed brows, a trim figure, fashionably casual clothes. She alternated between refined, articulate speech and a sort of "valley girl" dizziness as she discussed law school (she was in her third year), her parents (impossible to please), reality television (OMG, she, like, so loves it!), and the boy in her life (probably The One, but mom and dad will never approve). Fairly typical, ambitious, Baylor girl in law school, I concluded.

And then finally, finally, she was through and it was my turn. As soon as Joy had me settled me into the chair and swathed in the standard waterproof cape she leaned over and lowered her voice. "I'm sorry I'm running so late but it took me twenty minutes just to comb out her hair," she confided. "She told me she hasn't brushed it in over two months!" Joy and I stared into the mirror at our matching reflections of shock and horror. I shuddered as I tried to imagine it. "You mean she just doesn't brush her hair? Like, ever?"

Joy confirmed this was true. Apparently "Ratty Law School Hattie" showers, she even washes her hair, she just doesn't ever deign to break a brush or comb through it. Even now, days later, I am floored by this revelation. And I am not a major hygiene stickler. I don't wash my hair every single day. I think over blow-drying can be damaging. I'm not above wearing my jeans a few times between washes or sleeping an extra thirty minutes instead of getting a daily shower. But not brushing your hair? Your well-below-the-shoulder-length hair? Ever? And then going to the salon and putting that rat's nest in someone else's hands and expecting them to deal with it? I just can't imagine.

And then, this morning, I came across this article about The Great Unwashed in the New York Times and it appears this is a trend, and the cool thing to do, and "kids these days" are not only foregoing shampoo and hair-brushing but also even just basic bathing and deodorant. What's next? Not brushing your teeth? Not wiping? I feel we may, indeed, be just a few, precarious steps from the steep side of that particular slippery slope.

And it's uncomfortable to think that I am this close to a head-shaking, fist-brandishing, kids-these-days rant, because even at twenty-nine, I don't feel I'm that far from the kids, these days, but there you have it. I must be, because I just don't understand this. Apparently, I am officially old, and out of touch, and fogey-ish. But at least I smell like jasmine and vanilla rather than body odor and sweat. Nor do I smell like Icy Hot and denture cream.Yet.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Do You Know About Pinterest?


Because it's one of my favorite fun new addictions! It's basically a virtual bulletin board. See an image you like on the web? That perfect pair of boots you've been searching for? Inspiration for a living room makeover? A kitschy version of a favorite quote? Simply "Pin It" and your little gem will be collected on Pinterest's site. Then you can view all your pins together, sort them into separate boards by subject, or share them with friends. You can also view other people's pin boards and "Re-Pin" their images.

It's loads of fun. I used one over the summer to gather inspiration and ideas when I was building a logo to launch our new brand. And though I haven't done much with it since, I have another one going right now with Christmas gift ideas and wish list items. Right now I'm cruising for tall boots and rugged bags. You can see them all here. And I'll be adding more as the weeks go by.

I can't help thinking how much I would have liked this when I was wedding planning. It would have made it so easy to keep all the pretty, pretty pictures together and organized in one place, rather than keeping track of a million bookmarks on my web browser.

If you're interested in an invitation to join Pinterest let me know and I'll hook you up. This holiday season is the perfect time for it!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Fall Dinner for Four

We had a couple of friends over for dinner last night. I had taken the day off work to play catch up around the house and to take a trip to the zoo with Keith. So we had lot more time than usual to tidy the house and prepare for dinner. It was so much fun to really go all out with the pretty dishes and matching serving pieces and a centerpiece and everything. And we really enjoyed spending the evening talking and laughing with new friends over a good meal.


We served orzo pasta with Italian turkey sausage, red onion, garlic, roma tomatoes, roasted red peppers, feta cheese (on the side for those who find it too strong) and a little Italian parsley on top...


...and spinach salad tossed with with green onion, green bell pepper and parmesan, and topped with pumpkin seeds toasted in sea salt, sugar, and cinammon.


This was supposed to be for after-dinner coffee or tea, but we got sidetracked by red wine and leftover Halloween candy, and I never even got around to offering any.


After our guests left and we cleared the table, I rearranged a few things and ended up with this little centerpiece. With my ubiquitous black and white, the bright orange pumpkin and the sunflowers it just says fall to me. And despite the last gasp of summer's heat we've been experiencing lately, today actually really feels like fall. It's a welcome change.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

For Halloween

Enjoy this chilling, creepy, haunting poem discovered in The Threefold Cord: Peoms by Three Friends, edited by George MacDonald (a beloved favorite writer of mine). It's long but awesome, and strangely redemptive and beautiful if you stick with it through the end. It was apparently inspired by this image (below) by American painter Thomas Moran. Feel free to skip it if you're not really into this sort of thing (poems, Halloween, or both).


THE HAUNTED HOUSE

I. THIS must be the very night!
The moon knows it!–and the trees–
They stand straight upright,
Each a sentinel drawn up,
As if they dared not know
Which way the wind might blow!
The very pool, with dead gray eye,
Dully expectant, feels it nigh,
And begins to curdle and freeze!
And the dark night,
With its fringe of light,
Holds the secret in its cup!

II. What can it be, to make
The poplars cease to shiver and shake,
And up in the dismal air
Stand straight and stiff as the human hair
When the human soul is dizzy with dread–
All but those two that strain
Aside in a frenzy of speechless pain,
Though never a wind sends out a breath
To tunnel the foggy rheum of death?
What can it be has power to scare
The full-grown moon to the idiot stare
Of a blasted eye in the midnight air?
Something has gone wrong;
A scream will come tearing out ere long!

III. Still as death,
Although I listen with bated breath!
Yet something is coming, I know–is coming;
With an inward soundless humming,
Somewhere in me or in the air–
I cannot tell–but its foot is there!
Marching on to an unheard drumming,
Something is coming–coming–
Growing and coming;
And the moon is aware–
Aghast in the air
At the thing that is only coming
With an inward soundless humming,
And an unheard spectral drumming!

IV. Nothing to see and nothing to hear!
Only across the inner sky
The wing of a shadowy thought flits by,
Vague and featureless, faceless, drear–
Only a thinness to catch the eye:
Is it a dim foreboding unborn,
Or a buried memory, wasted and worn
As the fading frost of a wintry sigh?
Anon I shall have it!–anon!–it draws nigh!
A night when–a something it was took place
That drove the blood from that scared moon-face!
Hark! was that the cry of a goat,
Or the gurgle of water in a throat?
Hush! there is nothing to see or hear,
Only a silent something is near;
No knock, no footsteps three or four,
Only a presence outside the door!
See! the moon is remembering–what?
The wail of a mother-left, lie-alone brat?
Or a raven sharpening its beak to peck?
Or a cold blue knife and a warm white neck?
Or only a heart that burst and ceased
For a man that went away released?
I know not–know not, but something is coming
Somehow back with an inward humming.

V. Ha! Look there! Look at that house–
Forsaken of all things–beetle and mouse!
Mark how it looks! It must have a soul!
It looks, it looks, though it cannot stir;
See the ribs of it–how they stare!
Its blind eyes yet have a seeing air!
It knows it has a soul!
Haggard it hangs o’er the slimy pool,
And gapes wide open as corpses gape:
It is the very murderer!
The ghost has modelled himself to the shape
Of this drear house all sodden with woe,
Where the deed was done, long, long ago,
And filled with himself his new body full–
To haunt for ever his ghastly crime,
And see it come and go–
Brooding around it like motionless time,
With a mouth that gapes, and eyes that yawn
Blear and blintering and full of the moon,
Like one aghast at a hellish dawn.
–It is coming, coming soon!

VI. For, ever and always, when round the tune
Grinds on the barrel of organ-Time,
The deed is done;–and it comes anon–
True to the roll of the clock-faced moon,
True to the ring of the spheric chime,
True to the cosmic rhythm and rime;
Every point, as it first went on,
Will come and go till all is gone;
And palsied with horror from garret to core,
The house cannot shut its gaping door;
Its burst eye stares as if trying to see,
And it leans as if settling heavily,
Settling heavy with sickness dull:
It also is hearing the soundless humming
Of the wheel that is turning–the thing that is coming.
On the naked rafters of its brain,
Gaunt and wintred, see the train
Of gossiping, scandal-mongering crows,
That watch, all silent, with necks a-strain,
Wickedly knowing, with heads awry,
And the sharpened gleam of a cunning eye–
Watch, through the cracks of the ruined skull,
How the evil business goes!
–Beyond the eyes of the cherubim,
Beyond the ears of the seraphim,
Outside, forsaken, in the dim
Phantom-haunted chaos grim,
He stands with the deed going on in him!

VII. O winds, winds! that lurk and peep
Under the edge of the moony fringe!
O winds, winds! up and sweep;
Up, and blow and billow the air,
Billow the air with blow and swinge;
Rend me this ghastly house of groans;
Rend and scatter the skeleton’s bones
Over the deserts and mountains bare;
Blast and hurl and shiver aside
Nailed sticks and mortared stones;
Clear the phantom, with torrent and tide,
Out of the moon and out of my brain,
That the light may fall shadowless in again!

VIII. But alas! then the ghost
O’er mountain and coast
Would go roaming, roaming; and never was swine,
That, grubbing and talking with snork and whine
On Gadarene mountains, had taken him in,
But would rush to the lake to unhouse the sin
For any charnel
This ghost is too carnal;
There is no volcano, burnt out and cold,
Whose very ashes are gray and old,
But would cast him forth in reviving flame,
To blister the sky with a smudge of shame.

IX. Is there no help–none anywhere,
Under the earth, or above the air?
–Come, come, sad woman, whose tender throat
Has a red-lipped mouth that can sing no note!
Child, whose midwife, the third grim Fate,
Shears in hand, thy coming did wait!
Father, with blood-bedabbled hair!
Mother, all withered with love’s despair!
Come, broken heart, whatever thou be,
Hasten to help this misery!
Thou wast only murdered, or left forlorn;
He is a horror, a hate, a scorn!
Come, if out of the holiest blue
That the sapphire throne shines through;
For pity come, though thy fair feet stand
Next to the elder-band;
Fling thy harp on the hyaline,
Hurry thee down the spheres divine;
Come, and drive those ravens away;
Cover his eyes from the pitiless moon;
Shadow his brain from her stinging spray;
Droop around him, a tent of love,
An odour of grace, a fanning dove;
Walk through the house with the healing tune
Of gentle footsteps; banish the shape
Remorse calls up, thyself to ape;
Comfort him, dear, with pardon sweet;
Cool his heart from its burning heat
With the water of life that lakes the feet
Of the throne of God, and the holy street.

X. O God, he is but a living blot,
Yet he lives by thee–for if thou wast not,
They would vanish together, self-forgot,
He and his crime:–one breathing blown
From thy spirit on his would all atone,
Scatter the horror, and bring relief
In an amber dawn of holy grief:
God, give him sorrow; arise from within:
Art thou not in him, silence in din,
Stronger than anguish, deeper than sin?

XI. Why do I tremble, a creature at bay!
‘Tis but a dream–I drive it away.
Back comes my breath, and my heart again
Pumps the red blood to my fainting brain
Released from the nightmare’s nine-fold train;
God is in heaven–yes, everywhere;
And Love, the all-shining, will kill Despair.
To the wall’s blank eyeless space
I turn the picture’s face.

XII. But why is the moon so bare, up there?
And why is she so white?
And why does the moon so stare, up there–
Strangely stare, out of the night?
Why stand up the poplars
That still way?
And why do those two of them
Start astray?
And out of the black why hangs the gray?
Why does it hang down so, I say,
Over that house, like a fringed pall
Where the dead goes by in a funeral?
–Soul of mine,
Thou the reason canst divine:–
Into thee the moon doth stare
With pallid, terror-smitten air:
Thou, and the Horror lonely-stark,
Outcast of eternal dark,
Are in nature same and one,
And thy story is not done!
So let the picture face thee from the wall,
And let its white moon stare.
(End.)

HT Andrew Peterson at The Rabbit Room

Friday, October 29, 2010

Is Starbucks Breaking Up With Me?

I've been making more trips to Starbucks lately. Whether it's due more to late nights, hard work and lack of sleep, or to the triumphant seasonal return of my favorite pumpkin spice latte, the result is the same: more $3.00 charges to my credit card, more caffeine in my system, and more time with my friendly, neighborhood baristas.

But I've been puzzled by something lately. Every single time I leave the Starbucks counter or drive-through window the perky baristas force coupons into my hands, "You can get $1 off our new Starbucks Via," they happily chirp. Or they're foisting samples down my throat, "Have you tried the new cinnamon spice flavored Via?" they ask. "You can make it at home for only about $1 per serving!" they crow. Via is suddenly everywhere, and it's being touted desperately by every Starbucks employee I cross paths with.

And every time I refuse the coupons, and every time I decline the free samples. Because here's the thing. This might be the easiest and cheapest way to make the best-tasting coffee I've ever swallowed. But if it is, I don't want to know about it. I really just don't even want to know. Because I don't want to make my Starbucks coffee at home. I have H.E.B. coffee for that. And I don't want to whip out a Via packet and stir it into my bottled water on a long road trip. Half the fun of a road trip is scouting out the next Starbucks stop. And I don't want to think that capturing the taste of Starbucks coffee is as simple as rip, dump, stir. I like thinking of Starbucks as an indulgence, as somewhat exclusive. I like getting away from the office and stopping at the corner Starbucks and being slightly weirded out yet oddly comforted by the overly-friendly young hipster taking my order. I like the smell of coffee filling my nostrils. I like the sound of the espresso machine and the steamer.

My love of and loyalty to Starbucks is based on the Starbucks experience as much as on Starbucks coffee. Maybe even more-so. And Starbucks used to understand this. They built a brand around being trendy and cool and costing more than everybody else but being totally worth it. A Starbucks was a place to come in, sit down, relax, and stay awhile. But more and more, I've seen Starbucks pulling away from alignment with that original brand image. And now, suddenly, I feel like they're trying to convince me to save my money and stay away.

Do you not want to take my hard-earned money in trade for delicious frothy creations? Do you not want me around anymore? Even at the drive through? You'd rather I sat at home all alone and stirred up my own one buck per pop brews? Are you breaking up with me, Starbucks? What did I do wrong?

I have to tell you, Starbucks, I'm not a girl to sit around and wallow. If Via is all you have to offer me, I can find steamy, hot, tantalizing coffee someplace else. Someplace that wants me. That truly appreciates me. You're not the only coffee in town.

But I'd rather stick with you, Starbucks. We have such a long history, such a real connection. Please love me again! And please stop insisting I try Via.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

I'm Already Craving

It's a fight Keith and I have had every year of our marriage, and probably one we'll continue to have each year around this time. I'm already itching to buy a new calendar for the upcoming year, and he thinks I should wait until January when they all go on sale.

Is his point of view sensible, logical, practical? Well, yes, of course! When is he ever not? But should that practicality overrule all the emotional factors that lead to me wanting a new calendar now? I'm just not sure I can help myself.

I just love wordsy things, and papery things, and designy things, and inspriationy things, and changey things, and organizationy things. And a calendar manages to be all these things at once. It brightens the vanilla walls of my little office, it brightens my day. The patterns or photos or artwork or inspirational quotes change from month to month and imbue me with a little extra creativity. And I love filling in all those little blank numbered boxes with reminders and appointments and special occasions and then sitting back and looking at the neat, organized little grid that is now a road map to my life.

I love calendars. And choosing a new one each year has become a sort of ritual for me, as well. Who do I want to be this year? What do I want my calendar to say about me? Will I need bigger spaces because I'm going to have more to fill up my time? Should I choose one with inspirational sayings that will give me extra courage and fortitude throughout the day? Or do I want to get lost in beautiful colors and patterns? Do I feel more modern this year, or more vintage? Can I get away with a retro pin-up girl calendar at work?

I love pondering these questions. I love sorting through all the various options. It's a tiny bit of self-reinvention that I get to do every year. Here are a few of the options I'm loving today.

Found this whimsical little gem on Etsy.

And I love the faded colors and vintage style of this one!

I think the black and white simplicity of this one makes it perfect for my busy, black, white and red kitchen

How sweet are these lovely vintage images of girls with books?

Then there's my perennial favorite Mary Engelbreit calendar...
In the end, I'll probably end up getting two...one for the kitchen and one for my office. But I'll take a little more time before I decide. I'm trying to compromise here. And I may not actually be able to wait until they go on sale . . . but I'll at least try!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Pumpkin Spice Cookies with Cream Cheese Icing

We had family and friends in town this past weekend for Baylor Homecoming, so I took the opportunity as an excuse to try this delicious-looking cookie recipe I've been salivating over. I made some slight modifications- substituting whole wheat pastry flour for the plain old white stuff and Splenda brown sugar blend for the the dark brown sugar the recipe called for. But there didn't seem to be any way around the three full cups of powdered sugar and real butter that made up the filling. Until mom stepped in. She suggested cutting the recipe in half and using it as a light icing on the cookies instead of a filling. There's still real butter and powdered sugar in there, but it's all about portion control, my friends. And we all deserve a little treat now and then.  Bonus:  These cookies leave your entire house smelling amazing for day!

Pumpkin Spice Cookies with Cream Cheese Icing


For the Cookies:
3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 Tbs ground cinammon
1 Tbs ground ginger
1/2 Tbs ground cloves
2 cups firmly packed Splenda brown sugar blend
1 cup olive oil
3 cups pumpkin puree, chilled
2 large eggs
1 running over* tsp vanilla extract


For the Cream Cheese Icing:
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
4 oz reduced fat cream cheese, softened
1/2 running over* tsp vanilla extract

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 and prepare two baking sheets by lining with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients and set aside. In another large bowl, whisk together brown sugar and oil until well combined, then add pumpkin puree, eggs, vanilla and whisk to combine. Sprinkle flour mixture over pumpkin mixture in increments and whisk until fully incorporated.

Use an ice cream scoop with a release mechanism to drop heaping tablespoons of dough onto prepared baking sheets about 1 inch apart. Bake about 17 minutes each until tops are just beginning to crack. Let cool completely on pan.

To make the icing, beat butter and cream cheese until smooth, then add powdered sugar and vanilla and beat until just smooth. You can ice the cookies once they're completely cool or serve plain with icing alongside and allow everyone to add as much or as little icing as they prefer.

* I'm a fan of the "running over" teaspoon or tablespoon, if you can't tell, especially when it comes to vanilla. I believe a recipe can almost always use a little extra hit of vanilla. But you can judge for yourself.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Baylor Homecoming Win

I think I've mentioned before that I've been a Baylor fan for as long as I can remember. And that being a Baylor fan can really have its ups and downs.

This is one of the "up" times. As of Saturday's six hour Homecoming game between Baylor and Kansas State, the Bears have managed to pull out six wins, make them bowl eligible for the first time since the mid-90's. As we sat through lightning delays, heavy wind, driving rain, even plummeting temperatures, it really felt like even the fundamental elements of the earth were acknowledging the mystical feeling surrounding the game. The Bears really battled it out for their win, and the fans really battled it out to stay put and see it through and after four nail-biting, anxiety-inducing quarters we gained the reward.


I've been to lots of Baylor games- some completely disheartening, some incredibly close losses, even one or two really exciting wins, but I've never been to a game that felt like this before. That felt like so much rested on it. That felt like we were on the cusp of greatness. That felt like I was just as much a participant from my seat in the stands as any of the players on the field. It felt like it mattered that I was there, like it was critical for me to stay there and cheer the team. I'm sure I wasn't the only Baylor fan to experience that feeling.


I'm so glad we were there. So glad we waited out the wind and rain. So glad we saw the victory. So glad that I've loved this school for so long. Maybe even a little glad that this has been so long in coming, like the waiting has made our success even sweeter. I'm so glad my parents raised me to love this school and this team. So glad to call it my alma mater. And so glad to have married a man who loves Baylor just as much as I do. It was a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

"Greek Style" Sloppy Joes

Our first foray into the new cookbook met with less than stellar results. However, we have cracked it open a time or two since then with relatively tasty success and even hit a couple of home runs with it. This recipe is one of our new favorites. It's a little strange to think of sloppy joes without buns, but the whole wheat orzo is a great substitute and the feta flavor really compliments the spices. I just have one cautionary note. Even though this is one of those rare dishes that tasted even better the next day when I heated the leftovers for lunch, I do not recommend trying to eat it while driving (as I was forced to do since my lunch hours are basically non-existent lately). Which, I know, should be obvious since the word Sloppy is in the title. Big. Old. Mess.



Ingredients:
five oz. (about 3/4 cup) whole wheat orzo
two cups low sodium beef broth
one Tbs. olive oil
one large, sweet onion, finely chopped
three cloves garlic, finely chopped
one red bell pepper, finely chopped
one lb. ground sirloin
one tsp. ground cinnamon
one tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
one can chopped tomatoes
three Tbs. tomato paste
1/4 cup water
three scallions, thinly sliced
crumbled reduced fat feta cheese

Directions:
Bring broth to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add orzo and cook according to package directions. You can use lightly salted water instead of the broth, but I like the added hit of flavor.

While pasta is cooking, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions, garlic, bell pepper and sauté until onion is soft and translucent (about five minutes). Add sirloin, sprinkle with spices and cook, using a metal spoon to break the meat up, until only a little pink remains (about three minutes). Add the canned tomatoes with juice, tomato paste, and water, lower heat to medium and simmer about ten minutes or until sauce is thick and flavorful.

Strain broth from orzo and divide evenly into four bowls, spoon meat-sauce over the orzo, then top with scallion and as much feta as you desire. Sit down at a table, tuck a napkin in your lap, and enjoy!

A Great Good

"A great good is coming - is coming - is coming . . .
I know that good is coming to me -
that good is always coming;
though few have at all times the simplicity and the courage 
to believe it."

-George MacDonald, Phantastes

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Middle

The reward you get from a story is always less than you thought it would be, and the work is harder than you imagined. The point of a story is never about the ending, remember. It's about your character getting molded in the hard work of the middle. At some point the shore behind you stops getting smaller, and you paddle and wonder why the same strokes that used to move you now only rock the boat. 
The shore you left is just as distant, and there is no going back; there is only the decision to paddle in place or stop, slide out of the hatch, and sink into the sea. Maybe there's another story at the bottom of the sea. Maybe you don't have to be in this story anymore.
I think this is when most people give up on their stories. They come out of college wanting to change the world, wanting to get married, wanting to have kids and change the way people buy office supplies. But they get into the middle and discover it was harder than they thought. They can't see the distant shore anymore, and they wonder if their paddling is moving them forward. None of the trees behind them are getting smaller and none of the trees ahead are getting bigger. They take it out on their spouses, and they go looking for an easier story.
It's like this with every crossing, and with nearly every story too. You paddle until you no longer believe you can go any farther. And then suddenly, well after you thought it would happen, the other shore starts to grow, and it grows fast. The trees get taller and you can make out the crags in the cliffs, and then the shore reaches out to you, to welcome you home, almost pulling your boat onto the sand.
-Donald Miller, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years

We're in the middle, my love, of a great, big story. And it's probably just the beginning of the middle. But I love you, so much. And we both keep pulling, and keep reaching. And we are making each other better- sharpening some places, softening others- each and every day. And this is the important part, the most important work we have to do. The rest will come eventually. Those shores are waiting to welcome us home.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Pure Words

"The words of the LORD are pure words, like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times."
-Psalm 12:6

I love words. But I sometime have a problem with mine. Sometimes the facility that I have with language- and a certain quick wit and the occasional bad mood and, let's face it, a penchant for snark -can all conspire together to result in incredibly sharp, unkind words that I instantly regret and brood over long after their echoes have diminished. 

I so want the words from my mouth to be kind, to be encouraging, to be true, to be pure. I want pure words, like silver refined in a furnace, purified seven times, to spill from my lips. I want the Lord's words to be the only sounds I utter. 

I fail in this endeavor daily, but I pray that I will continue to grow and that my words and even my thoughts will continue to be refined.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Mid-South Trip



Three and a half days: Most of Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday

Five separate states: Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, Tennessee, then back to Texas

Twenty-five hours and thirty minutes: in the car, with three men that I work with, in uncomfortable seats and uncomfortable silences and no good radio stations

Four crossings of the Mississippi river: beautiful and wander-lust-inspiring every time

Four meetings: unload the car, set up the room, rearrange the room, conduct the meeting, tear down the room, load up the car

Three hotel rooms: bad beds, glaring streetlights, smoking floors, ice machines next door, lumpy pillows, yellow water, missing husband

Two days till the weekend: and a whole week's worth of work to cram into the hours between now and five o' clock tomorrow

Every day this week has felt like a Monday.

Did I mention the hay trailer that caught on fire on the side of the road and stopped traffic for an hour?

I don't want to leave Waco EVER again.

I'm so glad to be home.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Have You Ever Wondered . . .

What the world looked like before highways? Before farmland?

Whether animals have emotions?

What you ever did before Google? Or Wikipedia? Or the iPhone?

Where the phrase "for Pete's sake" comes from? And who is this Pete, anyway?

How cooking was discovered? Who thought up flour? Or butter?

How the eighties (clothes, hair, cars, music) can possibly keep coming back into fashion?

Why unhappy people insist on trying to make other people unhappy?

How sunshine can lift your spirits?

Why you just can't stop wondering?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Slower

“The North Americans’ sense of time is very special. They are short on patience. Everything must be quick, including food and sex, which the rest of the world treats ceremoniously. Gringos invented two terms that are untranslatable into most languages: 'snack' and 'quickie,' to refer to eating standing up and loving on the run … that, too, sometimes standing up. The most popular books are manuals: how to become a millionaire in ten easy lessons, how to lose fifteen pounds a week, how to recover from your divorce, and so on. People always go around looking for shortcuts and ways to escape anything they consider unpleasant: ugliness, old age, weight, illness, poverty, and failure in any of its aspects.”
- Isabel Allende, My Invented Country

"My friend Don Kuhl is one of the world’s leading experts on how change happens. A couple of weeks ago Don said something on the telephone that I hastily scribbled down: 'Change is not an event. It’s a tiny decision made over and over again. Change isn’t once. It’s daily.'"
- Roy Williams in a Monday Morning Memo


I'm spending some time in the Mid-South this week. Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas. It seems like time moves a little slower here. Maybe it's the heat. Maybe it's the lack of good 3G service. Maybe they just can't keep pace with the rest of us. Somethings's off, somethings's backwards.

Or maybe they remember something the rest of us have forgotten. That time moves quickly enough all on its own and we accomplish very little by our insistence on hurrying things. That patience is a virtue, and that waiting builds our character. That the things that take the longest- to do, to make, to become- are the most rewarding things in the end. That there is something to be gained, not lost, in slowing down. And that so much is really just out of our hands anyway.

Friday, October 8, 2010

I Love My iPad, But...

Having an iPad is wonderful, but it also means you're never really "off", never officially disconnected. Emails keep pinging, and work follows you home, and sorry not now I'm in my car is no longer an acceptable excuse when your iPad works perfectly well in the car and you can easily pull over, or even type on it while driving if you're really careful.

Which is how I ended up on my lunch break, huddled in the back booth at a restaurant, furiously scribbling on postcards in between scalding hot bites of a veggie burrito trying to finish notes to my Sunday School kids that I promised I'd get around to doing sometime back in August. Notes with frayed edges and slightly dog-eared corners, crinkled and a little worse for wear, because they've been banging around in my purse for six weeks, because I keep telling myself the next time I get a few free seconds I'm going to take care of those, but I just never did, because I just never do (have a few free seconds), and oh my gosh, I am one of those people who just needs to spend time being still and quiet and I don't really feel like I've been doing enough of that over the past few days. Or weeks. Or even months.

And it's really stressing me out.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Mmm...Not Really, No

We've been in a bit of a food rut lately. We pretty much cook exclusively from one of our three South Beach Diet cookbooks, with an online recipe sprinkled in here and there. Which means that, delicious as all of our tried and true South Beach favorites are, we recently realized we're eating the same things over and over again. And, frankly, we're getting a little bored with them. So, being the super-amazing-wife that I am, I swoop in and save the day by ordering one more brand new South Beach Diet cookbook.

It's strange how much excitement the purchase of a cookbook can bring. The obsessive research on Amazon, reading every review of the three South Beach cookbooks we still have yet to purchase, weighing the benefits of each of them, determining which one to order. Then the anticipation begins. Each new day could be the day the cookbook will arrive. Then, when it finally comes, the first thing I want to do is sit right down on the couch and read it cover to cover, salivating wildly over all the delicious new flavors I'm going to experience.

And then the planning begins. Picking out recipes, making grocery lists. Revising selections. Taking into account which vegetables and fruits are in season to ensure maximum freshness. Then shopping, then unloading, then storing.

Finally, it's Tuesday night. We've decided to make Gazpacho Salad with Scallops. And finally, finally, we get to execution. Slicing and dicing and juicing and sautéing and sprinkling and grinding and tossing and serving. We sit down with our plates, take the first glorious bite . . .and realize we've ended up with a bowl full of tomatoes and onions and a few vaguely fish-flavored chewy chunks. Not terrible, just . . .So. Not. Appetizing. Keith is fairly utilitarian about his food. He can live happily off of pretzels and beef jerky, so we he was fine. But this girl needs flavor. I ended up having to supplement the meal with a heaping side of Flaming Hot Cheeto's. Which is tasty, but, kind of defeats the healthy purpose?

I'm still excited about our new cookbook. The next meals we have slated are Roasted Pork with Sweet & Sour Cucumbers, and Butternut Squash Gratin, both of which look amazing and yummy. So we're giving it another chance. But you can be sure we will not be making the gazpacho salad again.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Right Now I'm Celebrating


Double-tall low-fat pumpkin spice lattes (my first of the season).

Highs in the upper 70's.

Record-setting Baylor football games (more please).

Double-feature movie nights with my husband 
The Social Network (brilliant) and The Town (pretty good), back to back.

Possibilities.

And Grace . . .

Upon Grace . . .

Upon Grace . . .

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Remembering Our Wedding


A few weeks ago we received the following email from some friends of ours (who attended our wedding more than a year and half ago with three daughters in tow). Their eight year old was recently asked to write about a "wedding experience" and this is what she had to say:
"One of my dad's friends had the best wedding I have ever been to.  My friend Olivia also came.  We got one free toy each from a basket.  We played house under tables. Also we danced crazy by the elevators and danced with the bride .  We all got to ring bells when the bride and groom left.  I had so much fun.  We still see them sometimes like last night at a football game.  The bride's hair is red and she looked so pretty.  She is also so nice."
"Way to make a lasting impression!" our friend added below.

I love that. And while it was definitely our intention to have a kid-friendly wedding (and I think our "lasting impression" has something to do with that) I also think there's a whole lot more to it than that. A wedding is intended to be more than just a ceremony, more than just a celebration. It's also a mystery, and a holy union, and it invites us to a deeper love, and it calls us to a higher place. It's both a picture and a promise. And I think she was responding, mostly, to that.

People tell you that you will barely remember your wedding. That it goes by in such a blur. But I remember our wedding. Not the whole day, in its entirety, but there are moments, perfectly preserved moments, that I remember with absolute clarity. Keith's face as I came toward him down the aisle. My daddy's kiss on my cheek. Tears in my mother's eyes. I remember hugs and congratulations. Beaming smiles. Dancing. And dancing. And dancing. Glances and touches. Whispers. Shouts. Words. Beloved faces. There are so many moments that stand out to me.

And I remember, most of all, the feeling. The feeling I had all day and well into the night. It was too strong to say it was mere giddiness. Too sweet to call it just excitement. Too boisterous to consider it only gladness. Would it be overreaching to describe it as transcendent? No, I don't think so. I think it was absolutely transcendent. A kind of transcendent joy that I'd only experienced in hints and murmurs before. And I was completely consumed by it, lit from within, on fire with it.

It was a perfect night. Do all bride's feel like their weddings are perfect? Maybe. Probably. I hope so. Ours truly was, in every way. There was nothing out of place. Nothing wasted. Every word, every face, every step, every touch was destined, ordained, blessed. It was like something from a fairy tale- the good and true kind of fairytale, where there is so much at stake, but the hero is brave and strong, and love is triumphant. It was magical and beautiful and thrilling and real.

We didn't have a professional video made, but we do have the ceremony's audio recorded. It came up on my iPod yesterday and I was reminded again just how perfect- how right and true and good -each word was for us. I relived that transcendent feeling. I remembered how this life can be, is meant to be, full of Grace and Truth. And I remembered, in the words of Frederick Buechner (words we used in our wedding ceremony), "that here and there even in our world and now and then even in ourselves, we catch glimpses of a New Creation, which, fleeting as those glimpses are apt to be, give us hope both for this life and for whatever life may await us later on."

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Wednesday's Words of Wisdom

And yet there are some things I would be willing to bet maybe even my life on. That life is grace, for instance – the givenness of it, the fathomlessness of it, the endless possibilities of its becoming transparent to something extraordinary beyond itself. That whether you call on him or don’t call on him, God will be present with you. That if we really had our eyes open, we would see that all moments are key moments. That he who does not love remains in death. That Jesus is the Word made flesh who dwells among us full of grace and truth. 

That here and there even in our world and now and then even in ourselves, we catch glimpses of a New Creation, which, fleeting as those glimpses are apt to be, give us hope both for this life and for whatever life may await us later on. 

What's lost is nothing to what's found, and all the death that ever was, set next to life, would scarcely fill a cup.

-Frederick Buechner