Thursday, July 19, 2012

Fill the universe

juniors and seniors spoke
and the earth could have stood still
(he told me his heart did, for a minute):
a dad long-forgotten out of neglect and
and a son who name-embraced through
they spoke of minutia, the things that fill the universe
like tears and laughter
birth and decay

twin name-bearers, how do they seem now?
like a weed overgrowing the beautiful things
or like the lone dandelion offering sunny hope?

they don't know yet

Saturday, July 14, 2012

10 books that changed me

sarah says you can feel a person out by looking over the titles on someone's bookshelves. i agree wholeheartedly (and spy when i visit a home for the first time--whom of my friends shall i see? which new friends might i make?)
emily talks of the shadow these books make on our souls, and truly, i can feel the thumbprint of many characters, turns of phrases, and book covers in my heart. 
i've been reading as long as i can remember: ravenously, i learned about washing your hair, rinsing, and repeating, or the ingredients in toothpaste tubes, every game of cross-worded cereal boxes. i don't remember a time without the power of words in me. shy school-girl who found solace in books and played out her favorite stories when not reading them. books have been the grid of my life, and it's hard to narrow down to just a few, but here are 10 pieces of literature that changed, shaped, or defined me at some point. 

i was in 8th grade with Ms Shipley, and she read to us for the last 15 minutes of every class. i could not wait for the story, was devastated when the book was over, and immediately immersed in the new book before she'd gotten far at all. and then she read The Little Prince by Antoine de St.-Exupery, and i cried inside when it was over. i can't think of any book previous to this experience which moved inside of me so much a whole new universe had unlocked itself. the whimsy, the adult-child-understanding, everything about this book makes it a top-tenner every list.  i still cry when i put this book down, its words memorized, certain images forever implanted in my mind.

the next several books all came to me in my college years, and they've been a part of me since. i met my first real, christan girlfriend who sharpened me and loved on me and gave me A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken. This is a lovestory with two dimensions; the first between a man and a woman, and the second about falling in love with the Savior. there is romance, heartbreak,love as service, and the everlasting Story of redemption and mercy. (this book also gave me my first glance into apologetics because of the letter exchange between van and c.s. lewis.)
in the same year my bible study leader grinned wildly while i timidly asked, "i know i'm a christian, and i believe that i am saved, but what does grace mean?" that was my year of grace, and she gifted me with her tattered and well-loved copy of The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning. i think i truly became a believer at its close, and have worn ragamuffin's name ever since. 

when i had to read A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving for homework, i simply marveled at my english lit major that allowed me to laugh and cry and simply read beautiful words over and over. but with each re-reading of this poignant novel i am more appreciative of the complexity of irving's world and use of language. i read this in a class discussing christ-types, and owen is that but much, much more. 

i could list each of c.s. lewis's works here, as i took an entire philosophy course on him, but i will share my most-most favorite and sadly under-read novel by the famed author. Till We Have Faces is a retelling of the cupid and psyche myth as a pagan story about sacred love. in this haunting book i see myself everywhere, from the main character's fist-shaking at the gods/God to the love between sisters and mentors. if i were locked away on a deserted island, this would be the only book i'd take.

i'm a fiction girl through and through, but the memoir by dave eggers A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius is a story of tragedy told in a cheeky manner full of self-deprecation and irreverence, while at the same time uplifting Good and making the urbane heroic. egger's parents die within 32 days of each other and he and his older siblings care for and raise their youngest sibling, and so it is a story of love and childhood as much as it is about the larger world around them dealing with the largest issues we all face. speaking of cheeky: i'm going to be sly and tell you to read They Shall Know our Velocity and What is the What, also by dave eggers. the first is incredibly fast paced (spend a vast amount of money on other people in a short amount of time) and the second is incredibly deep (a narration of a Lost Boy of Sudan and his struggles and victories both in africa and the US.)

Donald Miller's Blue Like Jazz is a lot like Harry Potter was for me--everyone was reading it/them, so i refused to be, you know, trendy. and then i read anyway. blue like jazz opened up this part of me that i had been afraid to express, namely that my faith could ask questions both of myself and of my God, as well as the Church, and that i could be richer for the inquiry. i read blue like jazz and mourned the loss of spirtual community that i'd had in my college years and also made me eager for more like-minded comrades-in-arms. the book itself is so richly written that i found myself reading passages aloud when simply underlining them wasn't enough.

not exactly a book, but i'd be remiss if i neglected to mention the work of e.e. cummings. the fact that i don't have excerpts of his poetry tattooed all over my body is smply a matter of time. :)  i have long since eschewed capitalizing in my own writng, but he gives me much more than grammatcal freedom; i yearn and ache at the beauty in his love poetry and stylized language. 

if you don't enjoy reading plays, then this one won't be for you, but Translations by Brian Friel was magical for me.  encompassing my love of all things irish, love stories, and whimsical use of language, translations also explores the effects of colonization (in geography, society, and yes, language).  i'm still to this day haunted by reading the lover's exchange of their feelings, both written in english but presented as with a language barrier--one speaks gaelic and one speaks english, but feelings speak themselves out-loud anyway. truly, truly magical.  

for my last choice, i couldn't choose between two contemporary novels, so i offer The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein and The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery.  The former is from a dog's perspective and is simultaneous outlandishly fun and humorous to thought-provokingly deep and tragic. i loved the reading of every single page of this book. and no title has ever been more evocative of the treasure inside than elegance. i think truly, it is one of the most elegantly written novels i've read. it tells the story of a concierge, a 12 year old girl, and a japanese gentleman, whose lives intertwine to tell a story so rich you savor every surprise and indulge in the incredibly intelligent writing.  

enjoy this little glimpse at the books on the shelves of my heart and indeed my home. i'll read these again and again! have you read any of these? would you recommend anything else?

Sunday, July 8, 2012

How longing is yellow

i never knew, til that day, reading her words.
just a blip, but it screamed in my ears.
no, it didn't. but it did make my stomach leap a little
like ridng a roller coaster and the unexpected
thrill of suddenly going down
(just kiddng. i hate that part. no thrill)
"but it's true,"
i thought.
that ache in the pit of my stomache:
the smear of crushed dandelions on my fingers,
the creamy tart of homemade lemon curd
(even w/ some of the eggwhites showing their slip
like how i never could seem to keep mine
from peeking out of easter hemlines).
or the catch in my throat when i hear that line from that song:
the limpid curls of cressida's crown,
the flickering spark of butane lighters,
(i miss that smell, a little- not a lot, just enough).
 all this yellow melancholy,
dropping like the petals
(he loves me falls with just as much oomph
as he loves me NOT--
i believe this now. i didn't then.)

Saturday, June 30, 2012


we had VBS. then last week we had 5-day club. these have to be intrinsically good becuase the gospel is shared, but they wore me out like nobody's business.
and so i woke up on thursday a little earlier than usual (i'm a sleeping in kind of mama, and i have mostly sleeping in kind of boys), with just one awake, and i almost didn't know what to do.
but i did what any sane mom would do: i made coffee in the christmas present keurig, poured my creamer and sugar in, stirred til it swirled, and i took a hot sip of coffee.  such a small pleasure to be such a languishing victory.
i wish i could say i read my bible or prayed beyond the popcorn prayers i've been offering when certain people enter my mind, but i did sit, quietly before the clamor of three more boys came in offering dream recounting, diapers needing changes, and breakfast served right up.

the rest of the coffee usually swirls to tepid, and by then the day is too hot to care anymore, but for 30 minutes i enveloped the warm silence.

i'm late in joining, but michelle is having a graceful summer series. join us?

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Where the wild things exist

a mother i don't know
told her daughter to save
in her world
for the


there is no
as wild
and reckless
as love

(i don't think)

but some people

and weed them

i have

(i think)

is my heart
to hold all the
tame, calm creatures
as well as
the wild that exists
in darker forests,
higher mountains,
eery oceans,
and vaster plains
than i'll

to love a wild thing
is a secret

linking for the first time in a long time with emily and a whole wild community of imperfection

Monday, June 25, 2012


i have a 13 month old taking his nightly nap on my lap, his arms folded ann geddes-style under his chin, his eyelashes are black feathers on a pink cheek, and his feet are almost as long as my hands. he's growing too quickly.

my connor has become an artist almost overnight, and i don't even know how to tell you what this does to my soul. it has made me fall a little more deeply in love with his blues (i wonder if his all blue see the world differently than mine, all brown?) and his imp-dimple, and his limber little legs. there is a story for every drawing (mostly bombs and fish, lately), and a smile for every time i ask him, "tell me about it?"

shea, so close to six he can't stand it, squints his eyes a lot, and we think he might need glasses, but he's already shocked me by his right vision, how he already knows that jesus died for him because He loves him, and he knows that we need to be perfect again one day. that we will be. he trusts this so fully i'm humbled. i want to ask him how he came to trust so well.

little-yet-not mr avery, how he makes my heart swell with his golden spirit. his curls wooed me like his bobbing bottom when he was a baby, but now i wonder my love at him because of how he loves: with every fiber of his being. he apologizes for being sad, he wants the whole world to know he exists, and he wants most of all to laugh with you, and hug you, and make the world okay.

these boys of mine, they are pieces of me, aren't they? the story-boy, the literalist, the people lover, even the baby who knows his securities.

slowly, i am emerging from this hollow place i've been. i feel words trying to trickle back inside of me, outside of me.

Monday, March 26, 2012


i'd be lying if i didn't admit that i'm feeling a bit overwhelmed these days. i can't even always pinpoint why or by what, but i'm a bit foggy. these days that melt into yesterdays all too quickly are filled with frozen pizza survival dinners and housework rarely caught up, and some days i'm okay with it, this just doing what i can, and others i feel weak and tired and incapable. this has been my journey with motherhood, and with grace. i profess 'not i but christ in me' while wishing the me looked a lot different, more perfect somehow.

lying in bed and talking last night, i whispered to him that i just wanted to be normal. and he caressed me with his gaze, and said, "no you don't. you want to be perfect."
and i do.

but i look around and all i see are my own imperfections, the ones that cry out, i can't do this, i can't do it all, the ones trying anyway.

and these voices clamor loudest some days, especially the days he's further away, and we long-distance our love and skype goodnight to the boys. i'm afraid all my brokenness will break them somehow, and i just want to hold it together so i never have to let them go.

so today i give thanks in an imperfect picture of life right now, so that i truly live in the truth of grace, the kind that glues us together, the kind that mends the shattered bits, the one that reminds me to love myself because He first loved me, not shunning my imperfections but taking them on as his own.

356. owen's fuzzy hair
357. because he slept on me all morning
358. not allowing me to get a single thing done
359. the laundry mostly caught up
360. even if not all put away
361. and connor chooses to wear War Machine, again
362. and avery isn't even wearing any pants
363. owen said "mama" for the first time
364. at just 10 months old
365. and i've been smiling ever since
366. avery's success at the potty--self led
367. which means less frustration for both of us
368. connor, the golden boy who would play outside all day
369. reminding me how important it is to be outside, all of us
370. the gorgeous weather we're having
371. and the spring plants
373. i can't get enough of the dogwoods and wisteria and azaleas
374. and texas sister calling to tell me the bluebonnets had bloomed
375. making me miss them, flowers and family both
376. rickey, my beloved, for all the ways he holds me and lifts me up
377. for my mom
378. for girlfriends
379. for coffee

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Welcome, spring

today is a beautiful day.

today we went outside to swing and practice bike-riding
and connor plucked dandelions, blowing their seeds
and avery picked wild narcissus and tried to blow their petals, too
and i couldn't help but laugh at such innocence
and the trees above us danced
scattering pollen in the air, and i wasn't even mad
because it just means more beautiful things will grow
(and there can never be too much beauty, ever)
like owen, laughing at the wind who hugged him right back
and me on the swing listening to all this music
the laughter, the little boys playing, the spring-song of outside

Monday, March 12, 2012

When late doesn't mean untimely

i really dislike being late to things. i set clocks a few minutes early, and i'm one of those "if i get there on time, i'm actually late" kind of people.

except motherhood has changed me. or rather, it's change my sense of timing, not so much my preferences to be early for things. the tyranny of the urgent is different when your hair is unwashed, the table still laden with yesterday's dishes, and your food comes through the fast lane (because sometimes it just does). they say the now is all about them, the little moments, and they are, and i just eat them up some days. others, though, i just keep my head above the mess, and barely.

i've been so absent here. i've felt so wordless, and yet there are so many spewed meaningless-ly elsewhere. and then i finally bought ann's book. so late i am, but finally here, and i remember the counting. and somehow i also remember that when you have an eternal perspective (and which christian bought does not, i ask?) you aren't actually late; you are simply donning grace's cloak.

counting, join ann and others?

340. the "better lates than nevers" i'm experiencing with my family
341. for bikes delivered to the boys
342. so we can exercise together
343. and those three little boys sleeping in their helmets because they just can't get over the gifts
344. and sleeping in (despite daylight savings)
345. and husband getting a taxi to airport instead of waking us up
346. sleep
347. sleep
348. owen no longer sick
349. and shea less sick
350. and the others avoiding getting sick
351. for husband's work going well
352. for impromptu play-dates
353. and mamas coming over at night
354. and sister phone calls
355. always, grace