Tuesday, March 31, 2015

My Life as a Felon

Lately I discover one of my closest friends is a convicted felon.
Wounded. Wounding.
Repentant. Repenting.
It happened once. It could happen to anyone. It could have been me. 
It is me.

She calls to see how I’m doing. 
(So normal.)
She texts to inquire after my mother’s health. 
(What is normal anyway?)
We strategize a secret birthday surprise for her husband. 
(Normal doesn’t exist.)

It happened once. It could happen to anyone. It could have been me. 
It is.

She wins an award for her outstanding talent and brilliance. 
(No one knows.)
I complain long and deep on days and she weeps with me. 
(Knows what?)
But we can only meet in certain places and in certain cities and she cannot leave the state.         (Everyone knows.)

It happened once. It could happen to anyone. It could have been me.

Monday, August 16, 2010

This one's for my Dad.

It's 7:00 a. m. in the Santa Barbara cottage on Vista Buena Rd.

The sun is coming up over the 100-year old mission-style adobe farmhouse next door and I know my 86-year-old neighbor will be coming out to tend his fruit trees any minute. 

The days are still warm and bright but the air this morning is misty with dew and carries the sweet coolness of fall on its breath.  Fall actually doesn't change much about Santa Barbara: it still hardly rains, leaves don't really turn and the temperature won't drop considerably until the rest of the nation is layering for winter.  Mainly, you just have to slow down on your way to work and watch for school children crossing streets.

So maybe it's the temperateness of the climate than, that I'll really miss when we move to the Sacramento valley in two weeks. 

We've called our 70-year-old single-wall-construction honeymoon home "the cottage," sometimes "the cabin," but more affectionately, and perhaps more accurately, "our tree-house," because it's nestled under a huge Magnolia.  It has all wood flooring and all wood walls, a knotty pine with unique little termite dinners carved out in places, and it feels like we carved it out of the tree trunk.  

We have loved every inch of this place during our first two years of marriage: Terry revamped the front porch into the open-air studio/launching-pad he needed to get his dream of an art career off the ground again. I tended to the yard and to my heart in the process: filling flower-beds, trimming hedges, picking plums and watching apples turn. I saw flowers magically become fruit, uprooted cuttings to explore how they took root, garlic bulbs to explore how they divided, potatoes to wonder at how they multiplied.  

"Just leave them in the ground," Terry teased me.  But I couldn't.  For the first time, it was all mine and I was curious and I was allowed to make mistakes.   So I did, and I killed a lot of things but a learned a lot of things too. I think maybe that's what the first years of marriage are about.

So, I'm broken-hearted that the next tenant seems predisposed to be critical of every inch of our honeymooner-paradise. 

Chester and Lois, our landlords, flew out to show the place this past weekend and before they came I cleaned for a month straight: weeded the easement, bleached the tub, scrubbed at calcium deposits from the water, oiled nearly every beautiful pine board of the wall, chased out spider friends and destroyed their homes (if you're reading this guys, you can come back now ;)  The landlords cooed that they had never seen the place so lovely or so well decorated and that they should pay us for living here, we'd done such a fantastic job. 

And they did. They gave back our full deposit and cut the rent for our last week here.  

But the woman said, "Are you going to take care of this before I move in? " and "Is there a screen for that? Can I see it? Will you put it back on?" and "What about barking dogs?" . . ."Will I hear the neighbor children? I don't want to hear skateboards scratching."  She didn't get this place, at all. 

So I clamped my mouth shut and went in the back yard to prune my (it is still my) tomato plant, to stress it until it feared for its life (as well it should) and produced.  Hopefully two weeks will be enough to turn something hard and green to red, juicy goodness. 

"Are you going to have it cleaned before I move in?" she asked.
"What exactly is it you want cleaned?" returned Lois.

"Lady," I wanted to yell, "You can see the MOUNTAINS from your living room!"

But she doesn't get this place, at all.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Things I do

It seemed like I got nothing accomplished yesterday. And by evening I was feeling pretty crabby about the cobwebs in the bathroom and the general state of my ambition. So I did what any recovering perfectionist would do:     
I made a list.  

Things I do:

make homemade breads
put flowers in the bathroom
dishes 3x a day
notice when the toilet needs cleaning
write thank-you notes
mend clothes
plant flowers
replace trash bags
bleach the sink
have coffee with friends
open the shades
read in bed 
google definitions
debate posting a facebook status
annihilate dish sets
leave a light on
buy more vegetables
throw away old food
stash favorite pens
brush my tongue
make myself laugh
take out extra words
make lists.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Going with your gut

I had to make a really tough decision yesterday . . . so this post is about going with your gut. 

Not going with your gut as in succumbing to a few extra pounds around the middle, but about intuition and learning to trust it. Or you might call it being Spirit led.  I don't know if those words are really interchangeable but you get the idea. 

Going with your gut means knowing when to say "Yes!" and when to say "No, thank you," when it's okay to leave your doors unlocked and when to get a dog.  For a rational thinker with what my friend Meg calls an "over active guilt complex" it also means saying "no" sometimes, to people or needs or opportunities without having what feels like very good reasons.  And it can be HARD.  Hard to disappoint people. Hard to avoid toying with regret or beating yourself over the head with unnecessary guilt. Hard to remember that that "no" was really just a "yes" to something else.  

But yesterday I had to just trust my gut and trust my husband and shush my brain full of "what ifs" and "ya-buts."  And today I'm trying to live in that decision with joy, thankfulness and trust that even when I make mistakes, the Lord is big enough to sustain me.   

I wonder what "yes" yesterday's "no" will have opened up  . . . .

Friday, August 14, 2009

Being Free

I've been trying to free up my heart lately to express itself more genuinely.

So I cry a lot more, sometimes even when I'm happy.  And I cry in the presence of others in a more abandoned way than ever before.
I laugh a lot too.  I'm enjoying people and enjoying myself, my silly self.  Turns out I can be really fun to be with.

I dance a lot.  And make faces.  And daydream.

And I'm more honest about my dreams . . . I feel my desire and I feel my disappointment and longing and I feel the peace the Lord brings . . . instead of short-circuiting the process by not dreaming, ignoring my desires and rationalizing against my disappointments.
And, among other things, I want to have babies. I want to be a mother. I want to put my nose in the crook of a baby's neck, close my eyes and just breathe it in. I want to throw a toddler into the air.  I want to tousle the hair of a teenager working on a project.  I want to see my husband's eyes in our child's.

I "lose" time a lot.  No wonder my mother was so often trying to keep me from "dilly-dallying" so I wouldn't miss the bus as a child . . . I like to move slowly.  I like to think, and watch and experience.  I hate to be rushed.

Growing up quickly and trying to look like I had it all together, I trained my heart to hide fear behind ambition, sadness behind reason, and creativity behind composure.  Somewhere I got the idea that Type A was the only way to be successful and failure was not an option.  I came down on myself with a very heavy hand, shushing and molding myself into what I thought "valuable" looked like.

Well, with the help of Jesus, a few "vital failures," my amazing husband and some precious friends, I'm peeling all that off to find out who I really am, and who I really want to be. 

Clears up a lot of internal conflict, taking off the shell that competes with your genuine heart. But it's hard to let go of old standards and ideals and give yourself freedom to be different, to have new standards and new ideals and to believe they're just as valid.   

I feel like I'm breaking the rules sometimes . . . like I cut school and the test got cancelled anyway . . . I guess that's what unmerited favor feels like.  

And it turns out I really like grace, even though for much of my life I've given it a requisite nod above a churning religious stomach.  I rarely experienced actual sentiment toward grace and have given it little of the real honor it deserves.   But as I increasingly recognize and believe how imperfect I am, how imperfect and ordinary I will always be, and that my tremendous value doesn't come from perfection or performance but from belonging to and being loved by "I AM," the more I really like grace, value grace, long to show grace.  

I read a surprising quote yesterday in the context of building character and perseverance  in children that said: "Anything worth doing is worth doing badly."  In other words, don't let perfectionism keep you from attempting wonderfully valuable and difficult things.  It's okay to make mistakes and it's okay to fall and it's okay not to be embarrassed about it . . . 

Jesus, You are all the righteousness I need. Thanks for setting me free from guilt and the law.