My Not-So Hidden Talents


This post might be completely different written at the other end of the day.

RIM thinks that if I just get a good head of steam going and make some serious inroads into the jungle that is my laundry room and get something to eat and maybe take a walk and read a couple of chapters in my new book that the day could turn out alright after all.

We'll see.

CIM feels more like wallowing.

Because next to hibernating I am best at wallowing.

Scratch that.  Next to hard-heartedness I am best at hibernating and then wallowing.

(None of these are very good in talent shows.  It occurs to me that this would have been my only weakness on the pageant circuit, by the way.)

Sometimes when I'm in the shower and all that's facing me is a laundry room posing as a jungle I imagine the alternate paths my life could have taken.  Beauty Queen is one I hadn't thought of until just now.

Suddenly I like laundry masquerading as the Amazon.

RIM just interrupted me to ask what it is I'm writing about and to nudge me toward breakfast.  My blood sugar is clearly too low to be out in public.

But I know it's too late.  I'm to the point where I can't even think what to eat.  It's a lost cause.

If David were here he could make me a sandwich and then make me eat it.

But he's not.

Did I say that already?

No, I didn't.  But he is.  Gone, I mean.  And so is everyone else.

Which means that the hibernation is over and this only leaves me with hard-heartedness and wallowing.

Which is a real shame.

Worn Out From Being Right All the Time

Bam.  The weekend's over.  (That was fast.)  I am reeling a bit from the jolt of Monday morning.

Here we are again.  Just me and the laundry and a week's worth of entropy to clean up.

David and I spent the better part of last week trying to be right.

Each of us finally conceded that we were wrong late Saturday night, and I do mean late.  But I had a lesson to teach on Sunday and I was desperate for the Spirit.  (I only repent under pressure.)  So I caved, abandoned my position, and kissed him back.  And thought if I could just kiss him everyday I would be willing to be wrong all the time.  (But don't tell him that.)

Sunday was a blur of shirts and ties and lessons and brunch and worship and peach cobbler, topped off with a court of honor.  (My favorite way to end any day.)  There was dessert and talking afterwards, but I was anxious to leave.  I kept pinching David's butt (our universal sign that we are ready to go) until I nearly accidentally pinched a member of our bishopric.  I looked at David then and said in no uncertain terms that it was time to go home.  We gathered in a circle for prayer at eight thirty and, thinking I couldn't stand one more minute of the day, I hustled the children to bed.  It was the end of a very long week, and I was happy to see it go.

I woke this morning worn out from myself.

Yesterday in my lesson about the Martin and Willie Handcart companies, I asked my Sunday school class if they had ever felt in need of rescue. 

The class was silent a long time.

And I thought how I feel in need of rescue about every day.

Rescue from myself.  Rescue from my own hard heart. 

Someone raised their hand and said that those handcart companies had kind of brought it on themselves, they were unprepared, they didn't heed the warnings, and then they were caught by an early winter.  And I thought how I must have taught the lesson all wrong because I didn't see it that way.

Because the truth is I never heed the warnings.  I am always unprepared.  I am always stranded by early snow and a very stiff neck.

And how grateful I am to have a Rescuer who will come to my aid even though it is always my fault.

Help me, is my constant prayer.

I am sure heaven tires of hearing it.

Help me get up.  Help me face that sink of Sunday dishes.  Help me forgive.  Help me repent.  Help me to live without regret.

Of course it's my fault.  Send help anyway.


That is what I meant to say.  That if you read my history, you will see that I am unwise and foolhardy and too stubborn almost all of the time.  That those I travel with are suffering because of it too.  But heaven sends relief and rescue wagons over and over again.  Most often, those wagons look like a sacrament cup. 

Rescue.  Repent.  Renew. 

I am trying again.  (Send help.)

The Only Solace of September

Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy and I put up the rest of the tomatoes and peaches on Tuesday.

(They are my loyal canning companions.  It was nice to see them again.)

And then, because I couldn't help myself, I bought three more boxes of peaches yesterday.

I'm out of bottles, of course.

And shelf space.

But it's now or never.  There are no more peaches in November.  So we're making the most of it.  And eating peaches on everything.  Last night I had some on my hamburger.  Delicious. 

In bed last night, as I was drifting off, I remembered my grandmother's peach nectar, a drink so good it makes you feel wicked.  And I made a little plan to make some of my own.  That thought alone is enough to make me happy for the rest of September.

Which is saying something.

Because September is my hardest month to be happy.  (With May the close second.) 

It is the interminable month of the year.  Back at school full-time, the schedule and the early mornings taking their toll by now.  The heat is still oppressive while the rest of the country is getting a respite, and envy is making me crazy.  I am so madly jealous of every resident of Wisconsin right now I can hardly stand it.

And so I console myself with Austen and dreams of peach nectar. 

And sometimes I feel nearly human.  Though I was so prickly with David this morning he may disagree. 

Never mind.  I am off to drown my regrets in peaches and cream.

Just hope I bought enough.

Through A Glass, Darkly

This morning Caleb said the prayer.  It was longer than usual. 

Over the weekend our prayer list grew.

And he was reminding heaven about each of our loved ones by name, one by one.

On Sunday we went to church fasting and praying with the rest of our congregation.  I walked into church behind a good friend and thought about the comfort of worshipping together as I watched her Sunday heels enter the building.  I thought about what it means to pray together when tragedy strikes.  Of asking for help when we feel helpless.  And the comfort of belonging.

This weekend we received the news that one friend had died unexpectedly, and another two had come very, very close. 

And suddenly, in a flash of awareness, I remembered that one breath separates this life and the next.  That ordinary life is a luxury.  That asking your husband to take the garbage out is a gift.  That being irritated that he's in a meeting and late for dinner is a grace.  That most of the time, I am living blind to the real situation:  that anything and everything can change in a moment.

I thought about that all day.  I went to church and prayed with my family.  And in between my messages for comfort and healing for our friends, I asked heaven to also help me remember that regular, ordinary life with its dishes and homework and socks left by the side of the bed are evidence of the kindness of heaven.  That being able to wake up next to David and then blearily make pancakes for six is the tenderest mercy of all.

I thought about that all day.

And then we went to bed and had a fight.

(Technically, it was really just me fighting because David never participates, despite all my goading.  He'd rather kiss than fight.  And sometimes that, in and of itself, makes me want to fight.  I don't need a good reason, see?)

He rubbed my foot while I railed.

He rubbed by back while I got it all out.

And then I fell asleep and after a while, David's snoring woke me.  I pushed his heavy arm from around my waist and I thought about the luxuries of my life.  Of fighting over nothing.  Of an arm thrown over me in the dark.  Of someone lying next to me, waking me with their snoring.  Of how dark the glass I am peering through must be.  And how between that and the blindness of my mind, I must be nearly always lost.

And for a long time after that, I thanked heaven for my blessings. 

Especially the ones I can't see.

Epiphanies You May or May Not Want to Read

[The other day my sister told me, more or less, that my blog was just the same thing over and over again.  This post is about entropy and the return to school and my long-standing insecurities, all of which I have written about "ad nauseum," apparently.  So if you have something better to do than revisiting these themes yet again, go do them.  Otherwise, don't say I didn't warn you.]

This morning we went for a swim.  Trying to beat the sun to the pool.

On the way, the conversation turned to entropy.  And then to the fall and the resurrection.  And then, naturally, to the after-life, and the kids surmised about houses and babies in heaven.  I had to steer us back.

"We're not talking about the next life.  We're talking about this life.  And in this life there is the law of entropy."

The kids all groaned.

Because they know what's coming next.  A conversation that will turn into a day of fishing stuff out from under the beds.  And that's just for starters.

But after the swim, I was in the shower asking David to admit that living with me is hard, and that in addition to my many character faults, entropy currently has the upper hand in our house.

He refused.  (He's good like that.)

And then he said, "I don't care what you do.  I just want you to be happy."

I started to get emotional, but stopped myself just in time.  "But if I'm happy, what will that say about me?"

He looked at me.  Clearly mystified.

But in my head it goes something like this:  I live in a fallen world (remember all those briars and noxious weeds?), which requires toil and sweat and, yes, most of the time, tears.  And if you're doing it right, it means you're right down in the weeds mucking out your salvation.  And the harder you work and the more it hurts, the better the salvation.  Or, something like that.  Or maybe it's the harder you work and the more it hurts, the better the person you are.  (It's twisted either way.)

And for me, all of that gets mixed in with the return to school, which for the first time, this year will include all of my children leaving for the entire school day.  And not only do I feel that loss very keenly, I also feel like I will no longer be earning my keep.  (To say nothing of my salvation.)

I tried again, "The summer is one thing.  I can enjoy it because I'm with my children.  And the enjoyment of it is part of my nurturing of them.  Part of the job, see?  But if I enjoy my regular life, it means I'm not working hard enough, I'm not giving enough back, just taking up space."

And then he just sighed.  And kissed me.  Because he was long overdue at work and my issues are too big to resolve during his shave.  And like he said, he only wants me to be happy.

Why is that so hard?  Because what will it say about me?  That I'm more hedonist than pioneer?  That I'm more selfish than sacrificing?  That I'm more spoiled than deserving?  That I am more prodigal than saint?

That is, in fact, the case.

And maybe that's it.  That I'm bothered that this truth is finally about to be revealed to the world.  That it was only a show after all, and now I am about to be exposed.  I made it look hard in order to be worthy, carrying the burdens on my back as proof of my value.  I made my life seem like a sacrifice so that I would be worth the sacrifice.  Of feeding and clothing me. 

And, especially, of saving me.

And there it was.  The stumbling block to my happiness.  It was me all along.  My fight against entropy.  My fight to build the facade.  My fight to be enough.

I will never be worthy of the beauty and magic in my life.  Of love, of salvation, of redemption.  Of any of it.

But it is there anyway.

And I'm out of fight.  I only want happy now.

And maybe if I'm not brave enough to choose happy, at least now maybe I am tired enough not to choose fight.  And then maybe I will get happy by default. 

And I'm not picky. 

I'll take it any way I can get it.

Checking Off the List

It's time to start making some serious progress on my list. 

Checking things off rather than adding more.  (Or worse, watching old episodes of Arrested Development rather than doing either.)  Our road trip is supposed to commence in two days and we are far from ready. 

Speaking of checking things off...

On Wednesday night, David and I went out to dinner.  We sat in a booth and while I ate a mushroom ravioli that was so good I started moaning just a little and David ate an aged New York Strip, we talked about our lives.  The past, the present, the future.

When we got to the future part I told David my plans to be published.  Nothing new here.  We have the same discussion every birthday and anniversary.  I imagine we'll be having the same one fourteen years from now.  David tried to be interested, again.  And supportive, as always.

He said, "I'd like to get rid of at least one of those regrets.  You know, 'Check.'  Cross one off the list.  Then it could be 'The One Regret.'" 

I cringed a bit inwardly that my blog title has clearly caused him some pain.

And cringed even more that of my two regrets, to him the thought of me writing a book and getting published (a monumental, excruciating, and impossible task) seems easier to accomplish than for me to stop hurting the ones I love. 

And this morning after I flipped him off on his way to work, I acknowledged sadly, that he is quite right.