Thursday, July 30, 2009

It always comes back to this

Note: I wrote this 2 weeks ago (as you might notice reading the post) but haven't gotten around to publishing it until now. Kind of apt, isn't it?

People are forever. One day when this stay of ours is done schoolwork and deadlines and alarm clocks and everything else that looms so large right now won't matter anymore. People will always matter. I dare to think that in Heaven my mother will still be my mother, my father will still be my father, my sister still my sister...I won't have my courseload or my GPA or the Dean's List but I will have the people who sat next to me in class whose lives I touched in ways I might not even know. I think we will know then; we will see how it was that God put exactly these people in our lives to help us become who He meant us to be.

I wrote that on February 22, 2008, in a post entitled On Being a Sojourner, which was reposted on this blog June 27, 2008.

As I write this it's July 16, 2009, and I'm publishing that paragraph for the third time because God just keeps pulling me back to that truth.

Since I started this blog I've been struggling to publish regularly; my self-imposed requirement of something resembling Deep Content means that my post ideas are sometimes few and far between. But in the last few weeks I've been managing to get my thoughts out there a bit more regularly. Between June 30 and July 8 I published three posts. (I think the June 30 one may have actually been published July 1, but I don't remember now.) Meanwhile I was doing a really good job actually sitting down and writing things relating to my novels; I was even doing a pretty good job of fitting in prayer time.

It would be eight days before I posted again, and I can't say that I was writing profound fiction or praying or working on any of those goals I had. Starting Thursday a situation came up with my family that meant my help was needed a lot more around the house (we're all fine, just crazy-busy), and the weekend slipped by without me managing to put up a post. So on Tuesday I was absolutely determined to write a post...but then my future roommate called, and we talked for an hour and a half, and the time I might have spent writing went just like that.

Very well, I thought to myself, But I will be sure of writing a post tomorrow.

At 8:06 p.m. the Cobbler sent an IM over Skype: Can you come over tomorrow?

Now, we had been trying to arrange a visit for a couple of weeks at that point so it wasn't entirely unexpected, but at the same time...I just don't do visits on less-than-24-hour notice.

And yet, somehow, at 10:00 a.m. the next day I was calling him to make sure my "between 11:30 and noon" arrival time was acceptable (he hadn't been able to check with his parents the night before; they'd just given general permission for sometime Wednesday). It was. I left a few minutes later, and arrived at about 11:45.

People, I just do not do that. I am not the sort of person who in a million years would even think about confirming ETA as I was headed out the door.

My spiritual life thus far seems to consist of letting God redefine my notions of what sort of person I am. And it almost always seems to involve stretching myself a little farther outside my comfort zone for the sake of someone else; of letting my schedule go for the sake of being present.

It's hard. I'd be lying if I said that I'm always happy with God's insistence on people. I'd rather have rules. I like rules. Rules are tidy. I love people, but people are so very messy. Does my salvation really have to depend on dealing with them?

I think it does. And I also think (for the record) that people are ultimately a lot more rewarding than rules. (Rules never hug you and tell you that you're wonderful, for starters.)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

WARNING: This is a post about potty-training

Lately, the Princess has (at 2 years and 9 months of age) decided that diapers are Not Cool. Now, this does mean that she actually goes in the potty occasionally, which is a good thing. However, it also means that her reaction to waking up with a wet/dirty diaper is to tear off the diaper, toss it aside, and go finish her business in the potty chair in her room. Then, being the tidy little thing that she is, she decides that she should take the little cup insert thingy and empty it. Into the base of the potty chair. Which means that basically every day after naptime (and sometimes a couple of other times around bedtime/waking up) the big people of the house have to find the used diaper that she flung somewhere, clean up any messes on the floor, and hose down the potty chair. Oh, and catch the half-naked toddler and put a new diaper on her.

Today Mom took care of cleanup while I took care of toddler-wrangling. Princess was up on the top bunk (there are bunkbeds in her room, and she learned to climb them a few months ago) and happily chirped, "Megan! Cyimb yadder!"

I grabbed a diaper and wipes and obediently climbed the ladder. As I am attending to the Princess, she grins and says, "I get candy."

And of course she does.

***

Mom, afterwards: "I know in three months you'll be using the potty like a good girl and I won't remember any of this..."

Me: "You'll remember it, because I'm going to blog it."

Does anybody else think this would be a good idea?

I have had a thought in the back of my mind ever since the day in the fall of 2006 when I skipped out on a whole day of homeschooling to read the entirety of Danielle Bean's archives. (At that time, she'd been blogging for about a year.)

Why are archives in ascending chronological order? I can understand the main page being that way, since people who visit your blog regularly will want to see the newest posts first, but why are the archives that way? On the few occasions that I have liked a blogger's writing enough to want to read every single post they ever wrote, I have gone back to the oldest archives and worked my way through in chronological order.

So, wouldn't it make more sense if you could, for instance, click on my "July" archives and the top post would be the first one of July and the bottom post would be this one? Or am I just being weird again?

Summer Reading: 26 days to go

So...I stink at meeting goals, apparently. Though I've read half a dozen books in the last two months, I haven't even got through the second chapter of Brideshead Revisited.

Since I have less than 4 weeks until classes resume, I'm declaring a freeze on getting new books from the library. Once I pick up the reserve that just came in (this book, recommended by Scott--cool, it's only $10 on Amazon...) I am not going to get another book.

So, between Brain Lock, Brideshead Revisited, and two somewhat lighter works of contemporary Christian fiction that have been sitting neglected by my bed, I should be set until school starts again. Especially since fairly soon I'm going to have to message my Honors classmates and see if any of them has gotten a copy of the syllabus. I like having a head start on the reading.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Tired

I feel like I haven't been posting on this blog as much as I ought lately. Maybe because lately I haven't been seeing much of God in the mundane.

Don't get me wrong, life is pretty good. Nothing terribly exciting happens, but I've never been one to like much excitement. The Princess is the cutest kid in the world and the Cobbler is the best boyfriend in the world and really with the way life is going I have no reason not to be happy.

And I am happy, most of the time. But I'm also tired. Soul-deep tired, and I find myself wishing that I could get back to the days when God seemed closer. I might not have had as many of the things I wanted back then--but then again, the fewer things you have the less you have to lose.

There's a chance that the Princess' case, which has been in legal limbo for months now, is actually going to go somewhere. There's a chance that the county might actually acknowledge what I've known for a long time--she's ours. She was always meant to be ours.

Scott continues to be wonderful, and I continue to wonder what I ever did that made God think I was good enough for him. Yet as many times as I remind myself that I'm the most blessed girl on earth to have him...it's still really, really hard. Because he's far away, and he's going to be far away for years yet, and every single day I miss him so much it hurts.

And at Franciscan I'd go curl up in the Port for a few hours but I don't have that choice here. I wish I was better at finding ways to let God find me, but I'm not. I have to practically be tripping over Him to notice He's there.

So instead of getting back to the place where I'm okay with where I am even if it's not perfect, I'm back in the place where I tell myself that once this happens things will get easier...and so get wrapped up in my illusion of life magically becoming easy (which it won't, thanks to Original Sin and living in a fallen world and all those nice things), such that I can't deal with life the way it is now. And I don't like this place at all.

Pray for me?

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Further proof of my weirdness

Yesterday:

Me: "Mom, am I the only person in the free world who likes watching previews?"

[long pause]

Mom: "Yeah."

(This is probably one of the reasons nobody ever lets me have the remote. I am, correspondingly, the only person in the free world who doesn't fast forward through the previews.)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Enchanted 15: Doing Other Things

Part 4 in an ongoing series based on Jen's Enchanted 15 workshop.

The freedom of college can get to one's head a bit. There is really very little external motivation to do things. If you are late for class, your professor isn't going to march up to your room and order you to get dressed and get down to the classroom. (Maybe this difference is specific to homeschoolers, though--when your teacher is your mom you don't get away with much.) Nobody is going to tell you to study. Nobody is going to tell you to make your bed or do your laundry or empty the trash before it draws rats.

Now, thanks to my academic perfectionism I am very internally motivated to go to class and do my homework. I'm not really motivated to make my bed; I don't think I made it up pretty for the entirety of my sophomore year. But that's beside the point.

Another thing about college is that you can keep your own schedule. You have a great deal of freedom in deciding when your classes are (unless you're a Comm Arts upperclassman, in which case you're stuck with the one session there is of each class). You can decide whether you want to eat dinner now or later. You can decide whether you want to do your homework before dinner or not. You can decide whether to stay up till 2 a.m. talking to your boyfriend.

Then you come home for the summer, and suddenly you're expected to eat dinner with the family and do your chores when your mother says to do them and go to bed at a reasonable hour.

What does all this have to do with writing, you ask? Well, it has to do with Doing Other Things, and how often (at least in my world, and almost certainly in Jen's since she has two little ones) the Other Things are often decided for you. Unless you're living by yourself out by Walden Pond you can't just think to yourself, "Oh, I've written enough today, now I shall take a turn about the pond and allow the exercise to clear my head." You think to yourself, "The child is being suspiciously quiet; I don't think I can afford to ignore her any more." Or you think, "My mother is using that tone she uses when she means business; I'd better stop putting her off and go see what she wants."

We writers can be egotistical little beasts, and that's kind of understandable (of course, I say that because I'm a writer). We have this deep burning internal motivation to write, but all our external motivators (a.k.a. family members) are telling us to do other things. Not only that, but these things are so mundane. They are distracting us from our Great and Lofty Endeavors. Very frustrating, don't you know?

I think the secret of Doing Other Things is becoming internally motivated to...well, to Do Other Things. You see, if you view your time as your own you resent anyone who infringes on it. You wash the dishes to within an inch of their lives all the while fuming that you could be writing right now. You do whatever's necessary to make people stop bugging you and then scurry back to your lair until somebody comes along needing you again.

This is a bad way to operate for two reasons:

1) If you are frustrated and resentful all the time your brain can't loosen up to let the Source in, and anything you write is probably not going to be your best work.

2) I've found that you actually get surprising amounts of free time when you accept that your time is not your own. Maybe it's just the shift in attitude. When you expect to be busy for the entire day and fifteen minutes suddenly open up after lunch you view them as a wonderful and exciting gift. If you constantly think about getting time to yourself, then you view the same time slot as "Only fifteen minutes?! I swear, this house would fall apart without me!"

It's also a bad way to operate for the two reasons Jen lists in her post, which you should all read.

So, my writing assignment for this week is to keep repeating a personal mantra I recently adopted for myself: Service is joy. I don't do things around the house because my mother makes me. I do them because I love the people who live here and doing something to make their lives more pleasant causes me joy. Or should. I figure if I fake it long enough I'll start internalizing it. If not, at least my family will have somebody who's more pleasant to be around than usual.

It makes you forget all the whining

Three stories from yesterday:

In the morning, Miss Kitty had someplace to be. Before she left, LP climbed up on the couch to say goodbye. She gave Kitty a big, snuggly hug.

"I love you, Princess," Kitty said.

"I wuv oo, Eda*," LP replied.

***

Right after Dad got home from work, LP took off out the open garage door and he followed her. A few minutes later they came back in. LP ran up to me, grabbed my finger, and said, "Go see beans." So I allowed myself to be tugged out to the garden, where LP crowed happily over the beanpods that are starting to sprout on our green bean plants. Then she snatched an almost-ripe tomato off the nearby tomato plants and raced inside to show Mom.

***

As we were getting dinner on the table, she sang "Happy birthday" to everyone she could think of. "Happy bir-tay to you, happy bir-tay to you!" and then a name. "Eda", "'Cott", Scott's family's dog, "'Cott's house"--it was everybody and everything's birthday yesterday.

(It really is Kitty's birthday on Saturday, which is why LP's had birthdays on her mind lately.)

*LP's approximation of Kitty's real name.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Dancing

"I'm glad you're not one of those girls who runs away and expects the guy to know whether or not he's supposed to follow."
"I do run, though. Just never very far. A couple of steps, then I stop and wait for you to catch up, then a couple more steps and I stop..."
"If you do that while holding hands it's called dancing."

Scott and I have, for no particular reason, spent the last several days discussing this list (PDF). As of late this afternoon we'd made it halfway down page 2 and we pretty much agree on everything; so far our biggest challenge seems to be remembering not to nag. (Which is my challenge, actually. Scott does not nag. I suppose he might have a corresponding challenge but I'm not going to bother identifying it because it's not my job to change him. Plank in your own eye and all that.)

One of the most interesting discussions, at least to me, was the one we had this afternoon on the basic responsibilities of the wife and of the husband. The consensus so far seems to be that earning money (so we can buy food and stuff like that) is Scott's basic responsibility, and keeping small humans alive is my basic responsibility. Everything else we categorized as a "joint operation" (Scott's term). This covered everything from teaching the kids to cleaning the house. Now, "joint operation" doesn't mean "everything must be split 50/50." It just means that we contribute to a given area according to our abilities.

A part of me thinks we ought to have a chore chart or something that is more concrete than "Well, we both pitch in as we can." And perhaps there will be seasons in our lives when we need the structure and clear-cut divisions of a chore chart. The key word in that sentence, though, is seasons. Life is not a static thing. Marital and familial dynamics are not static things.

There will be times when I have everything under control and then a strict 50/50 split would do me no good because it would make me feel like Scott owes me something if I am able to do more than that 50 percent. And that's not a good attitude to have. I'd rather think, on those efficient days, that I am choosing to serve my husband to the absolute maximum of my capacity, without counting the cost or keeping score. Because to one who loves, service is joy.

There will be other times when I have nothing under control--either because I am simply having a bad day or because something like a new baby has for a season rendered me incapable of much more than the basic "keep small humans alive." And those days I will let Scott do more than his fair share, and not complain or scold him (I really am a nag; I nag him about being nice to me) because to one who loves, service is joy.

Life isn't standing still. Life is moving back and forth, sometimes faster, sometimes slower. Life is trying really hard not to fall down.

And if you do it while holding hands it's called dancing.

Ignorance

"Listen. Easy now," said [Professor Faber] gently. "I know, I know. You're afraid of making mistakes. Don't be. Mistakes can be profited by. Man, when I was younger I shoved my ignorance in people's faces. They beat me with sticks. By the time I was forty my blunt instrument had been honed to a fine cutting point for me. If you hide your ignorance, no one will hit you and you'll never learn."

~from the novel Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury



I very much like being right. I attribute this to two main causes: 1) I am a diehard, obsessive perfectionist. 2) I'm academically gifted. (Seriously, I was tested and stuff in first grade. I have a Label and everything.) If not for 2) I might have channeled my perfectionism into some other pursuit, like...making my bed neatly every day. (My mother would love that one.) However, since being academically excellent gets you all kinds of positive reinforcement I channeled my perfectionism there and everybody thought I was awesome and I was happy. Believe it or not, I like it when people like me. (My introversion--which can sometimes seem like standoffishness--notwithstanding. Trust me, I'm standing there quietly glowing with happiness whenever anybody indicates that they like me.)

I was a senior in high school before it occured to me that I didn't have to be right all the time. I was taking Advanced Math, you see, and due to my intense loathing of anything involving numbers I had set up a nice mental block for myself and was getting Bs on most of my tests. (Of which there was one every 2 weeks or so, if memory serves.) As any perfectionist knows, Bs are The End of the World and You Shall Surely Die. The lovely and brilliant Emily eventually saved me from my misery by loaning me a set of videos in which a lady with a soothing Southern accent carefully explained the stuff I was supposed to be learning, and so I slogged my way through Advanced Math and came out with an A or A-minus (I can't remember now. Which proves that grades are really not Life and Death.) Anyway. Before Emily saved me, I looked at those Bs on my online transcript and told myself, "Okay, all that says is that you don't perfectly understand everything. And that's okay. That's how things are supposed to be. If you perfectly understood everything to begin with there'd be no point in you being in school. You're in school to learn things, and the prerequisite to learning things is not knowing them to begin with."

That mental pep talk didn't work too well, but 2 1/2 years later that lesson is starting to sink in. If I already knew everything there is to know then I wouldn't be human. There wouldn't be any point in me being on this earth because I am here to learn about life and love and everything else that people have wrestled with since Eve ate the apple.

So I blog. I stick my philosophical and theological guts out there for you all to look at. And every now and then somebody disagrees with me and my first instinct is to take down the post and then go crawl under a rock and flagellate myself. Instead I respond with, "Well, I had thought of that and I'm sorry if I was unclear in the part of my post which addressed it" or "Wow, I hadn't thought of that. I'll keep it in mind." And I learn.

So, here's the deal: I'll keep blogging, even when I'm scared silly of getting something wrong. And you all (all five of you) will keep commenting and if necessary telling me when I'm showing the fact that I'm only a 19-year-old with a big mouth and an internet connection and not an actual philosopher or theologian.


Note: This post is not meant to be a sort of passive-aggressive response to anything recent. (Or any particular not-recent thing, for that matter.) It's just something that's been percolating in the back of my mind for a long time.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

I am very, very easily entertained

Look what I can do!

(
..)
(
..)
(
..)
(
..)

Um, yeah. I thought it was pretty cool.

You all can go on with your lives now.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Children's TV is Stupid, Part 2

(Part 1 can be found here.)

Just now LP was watching TV and a show came on that I'd never seen before (I guess she doesn't usually watch TV at 4:30.) The premise of the show is vocabulary-building--there were about 2 or 3 words that the main character repeated in various contexts throughout the 15-minute show.

Not bad so far. I can get behind that premise.

Things start breaking down after that. You see, the heroine's nemesis is this boy who builds robots. Admittedly his robots do seem to turn evil sometimes, but even if he is kind of unfriendly I personally side with him. You'd be a bit cranky too if your hobbies caused you to be mocked and ostracized by the "good" characters.

In the episode I just watched, the kids were all going off to summer camp. The robot-building "evil genius" was dropped off by his mother, who stated very firmly that he was being forced to go to this camp because she hoped it'd break him of his robot-building habits. (Lady: Your middle-schooler is building robots. Does the prodigious coolness of that totally go over your head?)

The "evil genius" disobeys his mother (okay, that's one point against him...) and has his robot build him a cabin, which he stays in for the remainder of the weekend while everybody else is in flimsy tents. I left the room after the "heroine" started lecturing him that the idea of camping is to make you independent, which means thinking and acting on your own.

People. Does anyone PROOFREAD these scripts? You tell me how designing and building your own robot before you're old enough to shave doesn't count as thinking and acting on your own. You tell me how keeping your mouth shut and meekly doing whatever everybody else is doing is by any stretch of the imagination thinking and acting on your own.

I really hate children's television.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Things I have learned

One advantage (among many) of my parents doing this whole foster-parent things is that LP gets to be my guinea pig and save my poor firstborn from lifelong therapy. (At this rate, he might only need therapy for 20 years or so.)

Lately I've had another little guinea pig. Not one of ours; we're babysitting him during the day for another foster family. We'll call him The Quiet One. QO is four and he and LP are like night and day. She's barely mastered sentences and she talks about 5 times as much as he does.

Things I have learned from having these two together:

1. Kids only play together nice when one of them isn't constantly trying to tackle the other one. Poor QO is constantly overwhelmed by LP's unbridled affection.

2. I like quiet kids. Don't get me wrong, I think everything LP utters is The Smartest Thing Ever Spoken by a Human Being, but by noon I'm thinking, "Please, please take a nap and stop talking."

2a. QO would be perfectly happy for most of the day just sitting and playing quietly with a piece of paper or something. Or staring at the wall. He's not picky. Mom's reaction to this is, "Hey, do you want to do anything? Play outside? Watch a movie? Something?" My reaction is, "He's happy and not destroying anything. Leave him alone."

Mom and I have already established that my children are going to think she's a crazy hyperactive old lady. They are going to come back from visits to her house complaining, "Mommy, she made us do things all day long."

2b. Despite doing my best to stack the genetic odds by marrying a fellow introvert, I am going to give birth to a Statistically Improbable Sanguine (I am convinced of this, because God has a sense of humor). And she will make me grow in virtue more than all of my other children combined. Otherwise I will just spend her whole life telling her, "Why can't you be more like your brothers and sisters?" and she will really need therapy when she grows up.

3. Grocery shopping with 2 kids actually isn't that terrible, if you keep the little one strapped down at all times and keep a very sharp eye on the only-slightly-bigger one to make sure he's actually following you and not trailing further and further behind getting lost in thought.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

There are worse reputations

The scene: During a three-way conversation with Emily and Scott, Em mentioned the possibility of taking a little detour to pick up Scott the next time she visits her family in the Polis.

[Note: Em and Scott have their names in Latin; I did too for a while but switched it back. Mine was Margarita.]

[7/8/2009 8:59:34 PM] Aemilia: And you, Miss Megan, ought to try to see me too when I'm down there :)
[7/8/2009 8:59:36 PM] Aemilia: I misses you
[7/8/2009 8:59:39 PM] Aemilia: !!!

[7/8/2009 8:59:41 PM] Megan: Of course!!
[7/8/2009 8:59:58 PM] Megan: I am not going to be all, "Hey, thanks for bringing my boyfriend, have a nice weekend."

[7/8/2009 9:00:07 PM] Aemilia: Lol
[7/8/2009 9:00:08 PM] Aemilia: I'd hope not

[7/8/2009 9:00:12 PM] Megan: I'm going to be all, "Come in! We have cookies!"

[7/8/2009 9:00:14 PM] Vagus Adversor: Heh heh.

[7/8/2009 9:00:20 PM] Aemilia: Okay, I'm in!

[7/8/2009 9:00:24 PM] Megan: Well, the cookies will be gone by then.
[7/8/2009 9:00:27 PM] Megan: But we can make more.

[7/8/2009 9:00:27 PM] Aemilia: Man, now I want cookies

[7/8/2009 9:00:34 PM] Vagus Adversor: XDD
[7/8/2009 9:00:41 PM] Vagus Adversor: Cookies? Gone? In your house?

[7/8/2009 9:00:55 PM] Aemilia: I might have to go buy some cookie dough tonight

[7/8/2009 9:01:05 PM] Megan: Whatever do you mean by that, my love?

[7/8/2009 9:01:26 PM] Vagus Adversor: You just make more whenever that happens, I thought.

[7/8/2009 9:01:38 PM] Megan: Not always.
[7/8/2009 9:01:43 PM] Megan: We had to make pudding the other day.
[7/8/2009 9:01:46 PM] Megan: It was a terrible trial.

[7/8/2009 9:01:53 PM] Aemilia: That is sad

[7/8/2009 9:02:01 PM] Megan: (We were out of flour, oddly enough.)

[7/8/2009 9:02:14 PM] Aemilia: I don't think I've ever been over to your house before when there weren't cookies around in some way, shape, or form

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Enchanted 15: Source

A day late again, and I can't even blame photo upload issues. I had it all written and simply failed to hit "publish post". It's been a long week.

Part 3 in an ongoing series based on Jen's Enchanted 15 workshop.

Last October and November I had a practice I called Port Therapy. The germ of the idea started when I realized that I wasn't visiting Franciscan's perpetual adoration chapel at all because I didn't have time in my schedule for a full holy hour. So I told myself, "Fine, you don't have a 60-minute chunk. Do you have a 10-minute chunk?" It turns out I did, and 5 days a week I would spend 10 minutes of my morning in the chapel. (Adding up to almost a full holy hour per week.)

The beginning of the practice corresponded with a rather difficult period in my life. So I told God my terms: I was going to show up in the chapel and I was going to sit there for 10 minutes. I did not guarantee that I would pray. I just sat there and let my body and my thoughts do whatever they wanted. I usually ended up facedown and crying (my body is funny like that), but my thoughts went everywhere. Sometimes I did pray. Sometimes I felt something. Sometimes I just sat and fidgeted for 10 minutes and then walked away feeling nothing.

But I showed up, and it was those 10 minutes a day that kept me sane and kept me in the habit of putting myself in a place where God could speak to me if He wanted to.

So far I've been kind of lame at actually doing the Enchanted 15. Interestingly, the one time I did it I wrote for 20 minutes because once I started I didn't want to stop. Still, I've been justifying not setting that timer on the grounds that I don't feel like writing.

Well, nine months ago I didn't feel like praying, but I still showed up. Maybe that's what I need to tell myself--that if I have to I can spend 15 minutes a day sitting in front of a blank Word document. Maybe something will come, maybe it won't, but I need that habit of showing up and putting myself in a place where God can speak to me if He wants to.

You see, writing is prayer. For the last several years I've kept a prayer journal off and on (I'm more off than on lately) and it was some of the best prayer that I've ever had. I didn't always have something that I felt like writing. In fact, I didn't often have something that I felt like writing. When I didn't have any ideas of my own I would read a Psalm and write whatever came to me from that. My journal has a lot of paraphrased Psalms in it; it also has a lot of entries where a word or phrase or image would spark something and I would be off.

So, I've given myself an assignment for this week: Get out my prayer journal and my Bible. Read Psalm 1. Read it carefully. Spend as much time as I possibly can just soaking it in. Then spend 15 minutes writing.

Image credit: The photo is one of my own that I happened to have lying about (taken about a year ago to demonstrate that I hold my pencil funny), but inspired by the header of Jen's series.

Monday, July 6, 2009

How to make a 2-year-old's day

Two weeks ago Saturday, my whole family went down to Scott's family's house to join them in a barbeque. The Little Princess spent most of her time chasing the dog all around the house. In the sixteen days since, she has talked about petting that dog at least once a day (often several times per day). Sometimes for variety she'll throw in "'Cott's house!", "I see 'Cott!", or her version of the name of one of his brothers.

(We taught her that brother's name because she kept calling him "'Cott." [In her defense, they look quite a bit alike.] I should see if I can round up good pictures of all the siblings so she knows their names next time.)

Mom suggested that I see if she can identify a picture of the dog, so today I got on Facebook and found a picture of the dog that I happened to take last summer. Then I printed it off and presented it to LP. (The printer only does black and white, but the dog is black and white anyway so all was well.) Sure enough, LP correctly identified the dog and then carried the picture around babbling happily about "'Cott's house!", etc.

Now she's napping with the picture on her pillow.

Quote of the Day

"I need you to hold my hand while I'm letting go!"

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Girlhood and Lost Innocence

Last night I was going through the archives at MommyWrites (You happy few who read this should all go read her stuff; she writes the sort of things I would write if I were cooler.) and came across this post, which led me to this article.

Now, I haven't read the Twilight books (I haven't even read Harry Potter yet; now I'm at least two pop culture phenomena behind. Oh well.) but I am a teenage girl (until November, anyway) so I feel I'm qualified to comment on teen girl psychology.

There are so many points in this article I'd like to pull out and discuss but there is one passage in particular that struck me:


As I write this, I am sitting on the guest-room bed of a close friend, and down the hall from me is the bedroom of the daughter of the house, a 12-year-old reader extraordinaire, a deep-sea diver of books. She was the fourth person through the doors of the Westwood Barnes & Noble the midnight that the series’ final volume, Breaking Dawn, went on sale, and she read it—a doorstop, a behemoth—in six hours, and then turned back to page one as though it were the natural successor to the last page.

Posted on this girl’s door—above the fading sticker of a cheery panda hopping over a pink jump rope, and one of a strawberry and a lollipop (their low placement suggesting the highest reach of a very small child), and to the right of an oval-shaped decal bearing the single, angry imperative STOP GLOBAL WARMING—is a small, black, square-shaped sticker that reads My Heart Belongs to Edward. In the middle is a photograph of a pair of shapely female hands proffering a red Valentine heart. Also taped to this girl’s closed door is a single piece of lined paper, on which she has written, in a carefully considered amalgam of block letters and swirly penmanship and eight different colors of crayon:

Edward’s Fan Club You may only enter if you know the password

[snip]


Years and years ago, when I was a young girl pressing myself into novels and baking my mother pretty birthday cakes, and writing down the 10 reasons I should be allowed to purchase and wear to the eighth-grade dance a pair of L’eggs panty hose, I knew that password. But one night a few years after that dance, I walked into a bedroom at a party and saw something I shouldn’t have, and a couple of months after that I unwisely accepted a ride to the beach from a boy I hardly knew, and then I was a college girl carrying a copy of Hartt’s History of Renaissance Art across campus and wondering whether I should take out a loan and go to graduate school, and somewhere along the way—not precisely on the day I got my first prescription for birth control, and not exactly on the afternoon I realized I had fallen out of love with one boy and had every right to take up with another—somewhere along the way, I lost the code.

I read that, and I felt...misplaced, almost. Or perhaps divided would be a better word. There is a part of me that understands all the tired skepticism of the coed who knows that guys can be jerks sometimes and girls get their hearts broken more often than not. (In all fairness, girls can be jerks sometimes too, but that's beside the point at the moment...)

Yet at the same time...I still have the code. I can still pick up a story about a bewildered adolescent girl just starting to discover boys and feel for her, deeply, because I still don't know the answers to most of those questions she asks about boys and relationships and grown-up things like that.

Maybe someday I'm going to lose even that last fragile hold on innocence. After all, someday I'm going to get married and then men (in the form of one particular man) will become rather less mysterious, right? And then perhaps I will suddenly realize whatever it is that all these grown-up women have realized.

And yet, and yet...another small quote from the article:


In Prep, the heroine wants something so fundamental to the emotional needs of girls that I find it almost heartbreaking: she wants to know that the boy she loves, and with whom she has shared her body, loves her and will put no other girl in her place.

We all want that. Some of us want it in a sort of desperate way after we've already given the boy everything we have to give. Some of us lack the desperation but still have the need to have someone tell us that there are guys out there who are worth waiting for. We're not waiting because if we don't it will be gross and he will leave us. We're waiting because if we do it will be wonderful and he will love us forever.

Can God have given us all this desire and not meant for us to have some way to fulfill it? Ninety-nine times out of a hundred we mess it up, because we're fallen humans; or the guy messes it up because he's fallen too. But maybe once in a blue moon we who give all the passion in our girlish souls to trying to get it right actually make it. Maybe that is the fulfillment of everything the dreamy teenage girl in us ever imagined. Maybe growing up doesn't have to mean being disillusioned.

To put it another way: maybe all those dreams are a beautiful but fragile flower, and ninety-nine times out of a hundred that gets crushed and destroyed, but sometimes it's protected and left to grow so that what you get in the end is its fruit--not as pretty as the flower but still whole, and sweet.