codependent as the day is long

squirel
i have a real problem.

i’m nearly addicted to the approval of people.

it’s strange.  and it strangles.  it has made me do things that i’m not proud of.

i’ll be the fool.

i’ll be the fool for you.

for me, there is a thin line between love and utter codependence.

cardinal

and it’s funny.  it really is.

i love people a lot.  the people who i give my time to – they matter too much to me sometimes.

and it isn’t wrong to love people.  it’s the language of god.  it’s good.

but somewhere in there, i slip.  i’ll put on any costume to make you laugh or see you give that inside joke of a smile my way.

does this work?

is it working now?

do you love me back?

pig

i called everyone yesterday.  no one picked up the phone.  so then i pretended that jesus had a phone and i called jesus.

and it was so.  good.

i was honest.  i told him what i couldn’t have said to any of the people who didn’t answer.  i talked about the things i didn’t realize i was dying to say.

i talked to god who is also my friend.  that is the language of god, too.

then this morning, i opened my bible and i sat on the receiving end of the line.  i heard the words of god spoken back into my ears.

“we are not trying to please people but god, who tests our hearts.  you know we never used flattery, nor did we put on a mask to cover up greed – god is our witness.  we were not looking for praise from people, not from you or anyone else.”

and i can breathe again.

thank you.  thank you.  thank you.

and i can love again without slipping.

thank you, lord.

thank you.

Posted in faith, friendship, healing, jesus, thankful | Leave a comment

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closing papers and the letter of the law

city building

“sign here and initial here.”

there are many papers to be signed.  we are buying a house, we are selling a house.  the closer across the table has a wide smile and glasses halfway down her nose.

“this paper just says that if there are any typos that you’ll come to the office and resign those documents.”

it’s strange what i’ll sign my name to.

binding contracts with clauses and fine print – one sheet after another.  i’m taking her word for it.  i’m listening to what’s being said out loud.  i’m not taking the time to read through it all myself.

not that it would matter anyway.

woods

the letter of the law is malleable depending on the state of the reader’s heart it seems.

i’ve done that before.

when what i want to do is confirmed around every corner.  i have been so sure of what god would have me do with this one life at one time or another.

when i wanted the approval of my teachers, my friends – of god as i understood god at the time – i signed on the dotted line with my life.

every word agreed and every sentence said what i knew it would say.  there was dew on every fleece.

it’s true, hearts can hold sway over the letter of the law.

and that’s okay, too.

sign here

i run my fingers over dry, cracked lips.

being a human being is a fragile business.

the small points, the tiny white blossoms of queen annes lace of living, feel driven over the past days and months.

we can never be sure of the integrity of our choices and yet we must make them.

how to live an honest life then?

i’ve got some ideas.  do what you love.  get away to the quiet places as often as you can. give away money.  worship god with the upright when possible.

these things seem best to me these days.

finishing touch

“this page shows what you’ll actually pay over the entire 30 years of the mortgage.”

it takes my breath away to look at the totality of what i’m signing my name to.  better just to live today.  this one day.  first today and then tomorrow.

but we sign and initial a little differently this time around.

for one thing, i’m not so sure of myself or of the future.  i sign knowing that houses and places don’t make people happy.  i’m signing aware that god doesn’t readily share his will with humanity, no matter who nods along when you share your plans.

so we sign anyway.  we sign with our lives, carried by the grace that marks us, right on the dotted line once more.  and it’s going to be alright.  i think it really is.

Posted in christian culture, detroit, good life, provision | Leave a comment

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where is god?

birthday

i’m opening the clasp between four fingers, just at the tips.  it is delicate work putting on a necklace.  silver on the very edge of nail and then it’s behind my back and in my mind’s eye where this smallest loop is waiting.

it comes to me that god is like this.

these arguments that god is too busy to care about the small, the insignificant – they’ve never held sway.  “don’t bother god.  he’s god.  your prayers about your petty life are wasting his time.”

i feel the light chain on my fingers.  i find the loop i cannot see.

i know god cares about the details of a life.

clasp

because if we can, why can’t god?

the argument of god being too big to care about the small makes god so very small. i imagine that it’s god’s close, intimate way that makes us say such things.  how can someone so big want to get so close?

so close, that is, to me.

instead we say, “stay far away, god.  stay remote on a cloud or deep in space or buried in the furthest regions of my mind.  you stay there.”  and then i will claim that god is too big to fit into my bedroom, into my car, into my life.

lovely

the god i know is big, yes.  it’s unfathomable really.  it’s nice to wonder about that sometimes. that in this big silent world there is an unseen power who could pull it all off.  i like to revel in that, i do.

but the god i know is also laid bare and close.  god is vulnerable beyond what most of us can stomach.

i feel him now, standing close behind.  he is taking the silver clasp from my fingers.  i’m bringing my hands down to my sides now and letting the necklace fall into place.

i’m not alone in these smallest of endeavors.

Posted in beauty, contentment, jesus, the presence of god | 2 Comments

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a strange and bitter crop

strange

how do you write about the strange fruit in america these past months?

how do you write about it as a person with skin so light that i always pass in every situation?

maybe you don’t write about it.

but i don’t know how not to.

as each video was shared i understood that this was not new.  but rather the public was just now privy to an old, old story.  that these videos were new for mainstream media, they were new for the privileged.

but it was nothing new for people with black bodies.

we, those who have existed in ignorance, were only beginning to witness the normal of the oppressed.

fruit

“The expectation that catching things on video tape is going to save us is deeply flawed and even when things like Eric Garner’s killing is caught on tape that doesn’t necessarily mean anything is going to happen.”

“You really can’t be an African-American in this country and see the Walter Scott video and be completely amazed.  You just don’t have the luxury of living that way.”  

–  Ta-Nehisi Coates

human

Ta-Nehisi Coates says it better.  Read him.

i live in detroit.  i am the minority on my block.  i’ve lived here for four years.

when the michael brown decision came back i wondered what it would be like outside my door.  i thought my neighbors might act differently, that maybe i’d be ignored or ostracized.

i was wrong.

it was exactly the same.

it was truly just another day in the life.

we said hello from our porches.  people got in the cars and went to work.  we picked up our kids from school and pulled our garbage cans in from the streets at night.

and it was this more than any other thing spoke to me about black reality.

we were experiencing their normal.

and really that their normal was our normal.

we were both looking at the american reality to the american dream – but my neighbors were light years ahead of me.  i was just starting to comprehend the whole of this old, old story.

it was then that i was determined to make eye contact with every person who walked by me.  to say hello.  to say good morning.  to acknowledge the humanity of each person i encountered no matter what.  to work against the fear in myself to prejudge and to assume.

to assume the best of each person instead of the worst.

tree shadows

there’s nothing heroic about that.

it is so small.

but little by little we either fail or succeed.

orchard

there’s another old, old story that i am always beginning to comprehend.

another story of innocent blood and of its power.

it cannot be silent and dead people don’t stay dead.

that’s what the old, old story has taught me.

is it possible to wake up from The Dream as Coates calls it?

i am slow to learn.  but these times are important.  i credit the election of a president with a black body.  it has mattered.  it may be, in part, why the videos and the revelations have been accepted into the media and put on our radar.  i credit the seeds sown by the civil rights movement and the innocent blood that has watered those seeds all these long years since.

i credit the vast generosity and imagination of americans with black bodies who have lived among their oppressors, lived in occupied territories, for longer than any person without a black body can comprehend.

i credit words from new voices who are brave and willing to write letters to their sons.

maybe one day a better fruit will grow?

it feels wrong to even ask that question.

but still; maybe one day a better fruit will grow?

Posted in death, racism, redemption, time | Leave a comment

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it’s right before you

girl

it is as though leaves on trees are saying, ‘i love you.’

that the sunlight on your path says, ‘you are cared for.’

this world has been made for living in; a place formed in love for those who see the sun these few years.

mazzy

child

it is right before you, do you not see it?

this week my friends boarded a plane to fly around the world.  they went to get children living in slums ready for school this fall.

why?

why do people leave their comfortable lives to love the forgotten?

sky

i can’t see them, but i can hear them.

children are singing down the street from me.

and out from open windows the piano plays out onto the porch.

there is just too much music outside on this beautiful day.

in the magnolia tree on the lawn there are finches hidden in the leaves.  i see them jump a branch, vanish and sing their yellow songs.

the world wakes up singing on this early day in july.

beautiful

truly you are a hidden god, singing in the branches, just out of eyesight.

i hear you today.

this day that i’m still here, still spinning on this blue and green globe.

i am here in the sunlight and i hear your songs.

i am hoping to catch a glimpse of the hidden god who has been so kind, who has loved us all so well.

the hidden god that i love.

Posted in beauty, faith, hidden life, savior | 3 Comments

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what god thinks of down syndrome

this weekend held world down syndrome day within it.  3/21.  if ever there was a reason to dust off the ol’ blog, this is it.  a conversation with my dear friend, jamica, reminded me of what being mazzy’s mother has taught me, is teaching me still…this post was an article that was published in that last issue of Hope Signs – a newsletter of L’arche USA. enjoy!

jaja

when my daughter was born with down syndrome, the views of the people in our faith community regarding her diagnosis swung widely back and forth on a spiritual pendulum.

on the one end she was an angel.

i remember a very levelheaded man helping me carry her car seat out to my vehicle one winter.  he told me he’d be praying for us as we drove home.  then he nodded towards mazzy, who was barely three months old, and said, “but I know someone is praying for you already.”

i was confused.

then driving, it came to me what he meant.  he meant the infant in the backseat must have full knowledge of our situation and that her special connection to all things heavenly was working even now on our behalf.

mazzy

on the other end, the pendulum swung to the view of disability as affliction.

one night a friend came by, our daughter again only months old.  he let us know he had waited until we were settled in, but could wait no longer.  he had to tell us the truth: down syndrome was not of god and we tonight could begin praying for her healing.

i stood stunned with my brand new babe in arms and felt as though i’d been sucker punched.  i loved this friend, and over the coming days i engaged him in his views and debated various parts of scripture, but in the end i had to ask him to please leave our family be. i told him that if he was right then God would be able to tell me in some other way, but for now i wasn’t going to be praying for her complete healing.

i didn’t buy either of these spiritual takes on disability.  they rang false and missed the point and the person, entirely.

above all else, they both lacked love.

best

i went on a spiritual retreat a few years after mazzy was born and found jean vanier’s From Brokenness to Community while looking through the bookshelves there.  i didn’t know anything about l’arche at this point, but as i read my heart started beating faster.

this is it!  i thought.  this is the right way to understand disability and spirituality!

when jean vanier meets a man or a woman with a disability, he has the unique ability to see god clearly.  from the start, he had so oriented himself towards god that when the moment of decision was before him, he answered, “yes lord” in regards to living his life with those men and women.

that ‘yes’ has blessed my life and many others besides.

friends

my daughter will never measure up to the world’s standards.

not to its standards of physical beauty or of intelligence.  in this world’s eyes she is flawed and she will never attain its approval.

i remember then that if it is impossible for her to attain it, then it is meaningless.

mazzy is a beloved child of god.  he is completely pleased with her as she is.

mazzy is not an angel, she is a human being.  she is not afflicted, she was crafted in love on purpose.  so physical beauty and human intelligence get put in their proper place and i give thanks for this pointing towards true north once again.

forever

i so appreciate the spirituality of disability i’ve found in l’arche and the vision of jean vanier.

it imparts freedom to those with eyes to see and ears to hear.

it pays attention to the truth tellers among us who testify with their very existence about what is true, what is beautiful and what has real meaning.  i respond to jean’s vision by giving financially to the men and women who are living out that vision every day.

i gladly give whatever i can to support a spiritual view of disability that loves the same human being I love.

vist l’arche’s site here and make a donation in mazzy’s name if you feel led

a beautiful interview with jean vanier 

Posted in disability, faith, good life, love, mazzy, real life | Leave a comment

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building a platform

building

i started writing this blog with no end in mind.

i’ve always written.  ever since i was little and the blank, yellow page seemed safer than any other place.  i’ve got thirty journals for people to burn after i die.

then came the internet.

boy

staged

i lived in a small town in ohio when i wrote my first blog post.

i had two tiny children and i’d moved away from my friends, from my family.  i started sending out my little thoughts on the line for them, for anyone.

for myself.

scripted

glue

and it worked.

people i loved who lived far away knew how my children grew.  they knew what i was thinking about.  they knew what i’d been up to yesterday.

years went by and i met real bloggers.  bloggers who had followings and wrote books.  i had already thrown my hat in the ring it seemed, so i kept writing and writing and writing.

m'lord

welcome

i’ve written enough for a good sized book.  which i might try to get an agent to help me share with the world one day.  but i’ve also written myself into a corner.

i never counted on my voice on this blog sounding like one particular thing.

but it does.

if i had to categorize this blog it would be a Christian, Married Lady Blog.

blogging to me now is little more and a little less than picking up a script and reading the lines i started writing for myself back there somewhere.

these days i feel like an actor on a stage when i sit down to write.

m'lady

maestro

i’d like to do something else now.

i think it’ll look a little less flat.  it will have three dimensions.  a bit more depth with a few surprises.

a real place that i made with my hands.

i’d like to write more than considerate neighbor.

so i think i will.

pages
maybe you will miss me.

that’s okay.  give me a call or drop me a line.

or maybe you won’t.

that’s fine, too.  there are many Christian, Married Lady Bloggers, so i trust you will be well provided for.

thank you for reading.  thank you.  thank you.  thank you.

i’m sure we’ll meet again.

Posted in contentment, new year, real life, writing | 11 Comments

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the invisible ties that bind

solo

a mother can forget her child.

it’s true.  it’s in the bible.

and it’s true in my life.

i like to go and have a cup of coffee alone.  i’ll read until i forget where i am.  i like to get lost in thrift stores and have long conversations with friends i love.

i can forget that i ever had a child, let alone three.

at least, that’s what i tend to imagine is true.

place

rooftops

the sky is so blue like my only son’s eyes and when he isn’t okay i can’t think of anything else.

i dream solutions when any three of them has a real problem.

i reorder life to meet them low and lift them high.

like the dark blue sky over a snow-covered place, each one of their souls have been trusted to us.

it is no forgettable thing.

son

so i stay tied at the other end of this rope that binds me to three small humans right now in three small classrooms.

just because i can’t see the invisible length that keeps me theirs, doesn’t mean it isn’t there.  

the rope gets let out further and further the further they go out into the world.

and i need to remember that this world is a beautiful place.

it is.

it still is.

this globe crisscrossed with all the ropes that tie us to one another.

no shadow

i know that the bible is right, that a mother can forget her child.

i’ve seen it, i’ve read the stories.

but that’s no place for you and me.

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jesus died for you and other sentences that don’t mean anything

frostbite

waves

“i’ve heard so many teachings on why he had to die, but it never seems to stick in my head.”

i’m looking out at the frozen neighborhood.

sentences can freeze and crack, too.

the meaning they once held is nowhere to be found.

they are brittle, ready to snap.

justice

“the question of sin used to keep people up at night – but no one even thinks sin exists in our culture, so why care about the cross?”

sin is just a word.

is there a better one?

death.  destruction.  evil.  wrong.  wicked.  crime.  offense.

those words are still alive and well.  green with life.  filled with meaning.

we say and hear them everyday.  they matter.

but sin has frozen over.

trees

has there been a culture so righteous as ours?

each one of us able to judge with such accuracy about what is true, about what is not allowed.

everyone sure of our own viewpoint and able to humbly bow before the opinion of another no matter what it is.

so permissive and so unbending.

marilyn said it best.

“in this culture everyone thinks they are god.”

sunset

it’s a cold morning.

cold enough to kill a man.

never have we needed new words like now.

new stories.

new sentences.

i pray for them to come soon.

i pray they come before the whole world freezes over like hell itself.

Posted in christian culture, real evil, real hope, the church, the weather, writing | 1 Comment

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santa is over for now

christmas

the holidays.

sigh.

the holidays found me bumming a cigarette off strangers and wandering through the woods with bright sunlight blinding my eyes.

there was so much to do.  so much to get done.

i felt the absence of youth this time around.

into the woods

doors

when i was a little girl we would put our christmas tree together.  first we’d assemble the metal trunk pole.  we’d place the color coded branches in piles and then stick them in at just the right time.

it was thrilling.

it was just as good, if not better, than driving out to a christmas tree farm and chopping down an honest-to-god, real tree ourselves.

falalalalala

bright lightsmy mother loves christmas.

and she handed down her love to us like another wrapped gift under the tree.

but this year, i don’t know.

i didn’t feel the thrill.  i felt the work and the budgeting.  i felt the plans and the going here and there.

i saw the kids and i heard them, too.  they were in the wonder and i was…watching.

bullseye

it’s okay though.

i don’t have to feel everything.  i don’t have to experience every pang of holiday wonder each time in order to say “happy holidays” to the lady at dollar tree and really mean it.

i don’t.

but i tell you what.  when those kind folks in the park handed over that marlboro red with such compassion, the camaraderie of getting through the holidays written on their faces, i nearly wept at the milk of human kindness.

“i really appreciate this.”

and i stumbled away down the worn path into the wide open woods wondering what next december might bring.

Posted in christmas, contentment, new year, thankful | 5 Comments

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