Thursday, December 12, 2013

Poem For the Perfectionist



prepare a table

before me

my cup

runs over

and I

worry about the spill

table manners

you desire

are only

open hands


the poison of perfectionism

has seeped into my feast

but I wean


the poison drink

and instead sip


discovering I am only

the glass

which might reflect

your love, your face

getting it right

trumped by

reflecting your light

(Thank you to Ann Voskamp for the idea of perfectionism being a poison.)

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

I Remember Her Name

She is a freshman, and I am a senior. I have a car, so she asks me to drive her to Planned Parenthood. “I think I might be pregnant.” For half the year, she sits across from me, diagonally, at the huge table in art class. She’s cute—a short, spunky, blonde 14 year old who clearly likes boys and parties. She chews gum and has braces. She talks about the boyfriend, but I never meet him.

“You mean during school?” I ask.

“Yeah. I’ve already talked to the school counselor, and our absences will be excused.”

I’m shocked. I didn’t know that was possible. She doesn’t even seem scared. I agree to take her.

The next day, we meet at the school office at the agreed time. We get passes from a lady who apparently keeps attendance records. I have never seen her before. She doesn’t smile. I can’t tell if she is annoyed or concerned. She tells us that this will not be on record and our parents will not know.
We walk out of the stuffy high school halls into the California sun. It’s 1992, and life still feels safe. We get in my 1986 Nissan and drive down to the city. It’s a quiet 20 minute ride. The only reason I agreed to this, I think to myself, is to try to talk her out of an abortion if she’s pregnant. But I am tongue-tied. I don’t know what to say. The radio buzzes faintly. I am too nervous to turn it up. I ask her what she will do if she is pregnant. She mentions abortion. I ask if she knows how those work. She doesn’t. I tell her what I know about abortion procedures. Maybe knowing will keep her from this choice, I think. Silently, I pray.

We find the building. We agree that I will wait in the car while she goes inside. (I wish I had gone inside. I wish I had been with her the whole time.) She jumps out of the car and walks in. I think about what I might say if she is pregnant, if she’s not. I think about the class I’m missing and watch the clock. I have my own turmoil of life, moving to a new school for my senior year. Few friends. Family troubles. I can’t believe I’m doing this. I think about what her life at home is like—her mom is single and has a boyfriend. I don’t know much more than that. She seems popular. Why did she ask me to take her? Doesn’t she have other friends with cars? Did she not want them to know? The radio still buzzes.

She comes back to the car and bounces in. Not pregnant. She seems relieved, but not really any different than she seemed going in. Has she done this before? I don’t remember our conversation afterward, just the rush to get back to school.

As often happens in the weird culture of high school, our two lives went on. She changed classes, and I didn’t see her in art class again. Occasionally, we would see each other in the hallways. Our eyes would meet, then a smile and hi, and we’d walk on. After graduating, I never saw her again.

Twenty years later, and I think how differently I would respond to her. But I was 17 and she was 14, and maybe it happened just as is it was supposed to happen. Sometimes I still pray.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Home ~ A Song

I wrote the following song as I reflected on what "home" really means last year (March, 2012.) This idea of pilgrimage is a theme in my life, and I would guess for many Christians. Some inspiration for (and allusions in) this song are Psalm 90, Hebrews 11, and one of my mother-in-law's favorite quotes, "Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass. It's about learning to dance in the rain." At some point, I would like to make a recording of this and post it. In the meantime, it might be meaningful to know that the first half of the song has a slower tempo with a more contemplative tone. In the second half, the tempo increases. As many of the Biblical Psalms, the tone of the song changes in the middle of the song, I and consider God's greater purposes, character, and love. He not only is the destination of our journey, but our refuge and security along the way.

You have been our shelter, LORD,
You have been our home.
You have been our shelter, LORD,
You have been our home.
In every generation
You have always been the same:
A dwelling place secure
And free from harm.

And I wait for you… I wait for you.

We have wandered over all the earth.
Where can we find rest?
Our shelter is the LORD.
He is our home.
We are weary. We are wounded.
Where can we find rest?
Our shelter is the LORD.
He is our home.

And I wait for you… I wait for you.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I will not wait to live.
I will fully embrace the life you give!
Thank you, Father, for the journey.
I’m fighting for joy in the midst of pain.
I’m learning how to dance in the middle of the rain.
Thank you, Father, for the journey.

My hope is in the Lord
My hope is in the Lord
My hope is in the Lord
Maker of heaven and earth.

I will not wait to live.
I will fully embrace the life you give!
Thank you, Father, for the journey.
You have a plan that is bigger than me.
Give me the faith and the eyes to see.
Thank you, Father, for the journey

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Saying Goodbye

I wrote this after one of our last visits with my father-in-law, who passed away November 25, 2012.

Visiting Pop 11/10/12

electronic beep
cold silence
of hospital hall
we sit
one on each side
of him

(thank God)
but not alone

“Jesus is with you”
falls awkwardly out
hoping comfort sticks
“all the time”
his reply

“are you afraid?”
“no… no, I’m not afraid. I know
where I’m going…”

electronic beeps
warm room

across the bed
intently watching
old wounds no longer sting
tears fill but do not flood,
“what are you thankful for, Dad?”
“what do you want me to tell the boys?”
“you fought a long time. It’s ok to
stop fighting…”
He lets him go.
Son lets father go.

“Are you worried, Dad?”
“What do I
have to worry about?
With Jesus’
hand in my hand
I‘ve got nothing to worry about.”
And he always wondered what it would be like
and now
he’s here.

hands clasp
a kiss good-bye
I look back
his eyes fix on son--
eyes ask for more--
but he lets him go.
Father lets son go.

cold silence
of hospital hall
rapid pace
choking back
must fall.

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Three C’s to a Joyless Life

Do you want your joy sucked out of you like a balloon, blown up taut, then released by a little boy who gleefully watches it dart full speed from ceiling to corner to floor, limp and shriveled? Do you want your joy sucked out of you? Here are three easy steps. However, you don’t even need to do all three! Just pick one and enough of your joy will be diminished that you may not even need the other two!


Compare yourself to your neighbor, your sister, that other mom at playgroup, your “sisters in Christ” at church, the weather person on TV…. Anybody really. Compare your body, your clothes, your socio-economic status, your home, your husband, your fitness level, your car, your job, your children, your smile, your hair, your toenails…. Anything really. After all, you were made to be like them. You were made to be like that. Right?


Complain about the weather, the food, the dog, the kids, the spouse, the tech problems, the chores, the laundry, the dishes, the mess, the leak, the traffic, the old car, the new car, the old house, the new house, how long it’s taking, that it’s going too fast. Complain about ALL of it. After all, we were made for complaining. Weren’t we?


Compromise on what your really hold dear. It’s ok. Just take a step or two away. It’s not that important, is it? Compromise on who you really are. It’s ok. Maybe who you really are isn’t what this world needs. Maybe who you really are is a bit of a mistake, and really you need to be more like … oh, here we are at step one, comparing!

As you can see, joylessness need only be around your next corner!

* * * * *

YOU were made with PURPOSE in the IMAGE OF GOD.

GIVE THANKS in ALL things, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

REJOICE always, PRAY without ceasing, in everything GIVE THANKS.

GUARD YOUR HEART with all diligence, for out of the heart spring all the issues of life.

BUY THE TRUTH and sell it not.

HOLD FAST to these things.

ABOVE all, put on LOVE.