Saturday, April 30, 2011

Papa Bear

Dad and I watch The O'Reilly Factor almost every night. Some guy wrote O'Reilly a 4-line poem, and Mr. O sent him a signed copy of his book Pinheads & Patriots. So I wrote him a song. I want a signed copy of Pinheads & Patriots.

Your suits look nice
they complement your shoulders
Sitting behind your desk
have you gotten any older?
Surely all the these pinheads
would make your hair turn gray
but perhaps Dennis Miller
has scoffed that threat away

'cause the spin stops here
and the Factor is lookin out for you
You need have no fear
when O’Reilly is on every weeknight, on Fox News

So I’m spouting off
from anywhere in the world
name & town, name & town, name & town
and the word of the day is “chortled”

‘cause you held your own on The View
and you’re number one in cable news
without you, where would be the Talking Points memo?
caution: you’ve just entered the no-spin zone
Friday, April 29, 2011

blessed is this life & I'm going to celebrate being alive

Sometimes I see jobs that I never, ever want to have, and I start thinking about how horrible it would be if I was forced to have them, if I didn't have a choice. Yesterday I was looking at the fashion section in the Wall Street Journal and I started to panic, because what if I was forced to be a super model on the runway? What if I was forced to wear makeup on my eyes like scary space raccoons, grease my hair onto my head like a skullcap of snot, and wear a swarm of fake butterflies around my head to complement the runway's "nature" motif? Then, when I saw these shoes, I started to hyperventilate:

"Help us! We are trapped in giant mole heads!" - Feet
I had to close the newspaper and watch the Weather Channel to get my mind on something else. I would never, ever want to be a runway model. I like my hip bones softly enfolded in revolt of the vegan lifestyle, and not protruding from my body like permanent javelins.

I had a what-if-I-had-to-have-that-job panic attack a few days ago, too, when I starting thinking, What if I had to work in a daycare for the rest of my life? I have loved a few small children in my life, this being one of them:

"William, can you do Down Dog?"
But in mass numbers, little tots are not my favorite thing. People like to tell me, "It's different when you have your own." After watching several episodes of SuperNanny, however, the only difference I see is that, when it's your own kid, you're allowed to lock him in the basement after he's colored on the walls with a permanent marker because you told him he couldn't have more animal crackers, whereas if you were just the daycare provider, you'd get fired & sued. (Note: Locking in basement has never been a Super Nanny approach. I myself do not recommend this approach on a human, but it works very well with demon cats.)

I have actually been thinking a lot of jobs recently. I've been thinking about the talents and gifts God has given us, and the ones He hasn't. One of the RDs at Asbury spoke this in chapel a couple of years ago:

Don't you know that I have made you in my image? Anytime you degrade yourself, you degrade me. Anytime you deny or misuse the gifts that I have given you, you are no better than the one who hid his talent in the ground and waited for the master's return. Will I not bestow on you the same fate as him? Why do you compare yourself to others upon whom I have given other talents? Don't you know that all that I have is yours if you will just open your hands, heart, mind, and soul to receive them? When you hide the ways I bless you, you fail to expose me. No amount of false humility or religious jargon will hide these facts from me. You honor me by living life to its fullest. You honor me by speaking truth about how I have kept you. You honor me by being who I have created you to be, and I called you to be you, not [anyone else]. It doesn't matter how much you have felt you messed up things or failed in the past. You fail to humble yourself when you refuse to acknowledge how I have redeemed you. You refuse to be humble when you meditate on your insufficiency, and not on me.

I have learned this, and it has made all the difference. For the longest time I thought I had to try to be someone who would please the Lord, to change myself into someone who could be a servant of the Lord. But now I see He is most pleased when I live in the fullness of all He has created me to be, and I serve Him best when I use the very talents He has given me.

This week I am getting ready to begin a new job at one of my favorite places on earth. I feel incredibly blessed and humbled to be a part of the VCC team. And I am thankful that, when we give everything to the Lord in surrender, He gives right back to us even better.
"This morning was...great. We went to the Vineyard again, and for the first time I lost self-consciousness and felt longing to reach God. See, the sermon explained Jesus' purpose and what he did in a better way than I've ever heard, and when we began to sing "Jesus Paid it All" I felt engulfed in praise to Jesus....Wow. I simply walk into the sanctuary and I feel the presence of the Lord. I don't know if it's I who's changed...or is it the church? But Jesus seems so much more real...alive...close." - journal entry from Sunday, December 2, 2007
And 3 1/2 years later, I get to work there. :)

Vinefest, 2008
Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Saturday, April 23, 2011

trampling over death by death

To put it succinctly, Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a pastor and a theologian in Germany who was involved in a conspiracy to kill Hitler. He was arrested by the Nazis and, over a year later, executed 3 weeks before the war ended, and 2 weeks before his prison camp was liberated by the Allies. As he walked out of his prison cell to be hanged, he turned to his prison mate and said, "This is the end--for me, the beginning of life."

As I read the account of Bonhoeffer's last days, I saw him living - and dying - with complete and unquestioning faith in the incredible gift Jesus has given us:

He has given us life.

He has conquered death

We have nothing to fear.

We will be with Him, the Creator of the universe, forever.

Death shows that the world is not what it should be, but that it needs redemption. Christ alone overcomes death. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

"When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: 'Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades." - Revelation 1:17-18


And because He's alive, I live.
Saturday, April 16, 2011

jellicle songs for jellicle cats

I do not have a good history with cats.

Cooper hated me, probably because I put him in the closet once and forgot about him for many hours. Or because I liked to hold him like a baby, aww, da wittle beebee Coopy. He used to hide behind corners and attack my legs when I walked past. Once he bit me and then I grabbed him and bit him back. I got a mouthful of fur and he walked away like he was smarter than I was.

Dinah did love me, until I had her declawed and spayed. Then she didn't like when I touched her, as though she held me personally responsible for her loss of womanhood. I imagined her thinking something like, "I like to think you will disappear someday when I open my eyes." Instead I made her disappear.

The cat we have now we never named, because we couldn't think of one. We've had her for 7 years and she's fat with a little head and little legs that spread far apart when she sits down, because there's so much fat in between them. "Kitty, sit like a lady," I tell her. She looks at me, legs apart, and then I say, "Kitty, you're stupid." I call her Stupid now. Especially when she meows directly outside my door at 6:30 in the morning because she wants to be fed. As if she needs food. "Kitty, you are fat," I tell her, poking her belly with my toe as she lay on the floor. One time Brother tried to feed her tuna juice with a turkey baster, cradling her in his arm like a newborns. One time I smushed her face with my hands so that her ears were over her eyes like little awnings and her cheeks scrunched up around her eyes and made them all squinty, and then I proceeded to laugh so hard that the tears streamed down my cheeks. I don't really like her very much. "Kitty, I don't like you very much," I tell her, as she walks into my room. Then I throw in for good measure, "Stupid."

Then let's not forget Demon Cat who, just yesterday, attacked my arm in the same place where the scar from his previous savagery still lingers, a light purple reminder of how precious life is and how quickly it can be taken away by a bengal spy cat. 

But even with my unfortunate past with kitties, I want one. I want it to be a boy and I have several literary characters' names listed out to name him, depending on what he looks like and what his personality is like. Dad won't let me get one, because he knows I'll be leaving sometime and he doesn't want to get stuck with another cat. But I want one, as soon as I move out and have enough money to support us, me and my feline refugee. We are going to be best friends, and he is going to sleep on my bed and purr, and his breath is not going to smell like Meow Mix, and when I say, "Who wants a fresher house?" he is going to raise his paw. Because my cat is going to be perfect.
Friday, April 8, 2011

true story

So there's this girl. Let's call her Eleanor. (I've been naming a lot of things Eleanor lately. And by "a lot of things," I mean myself when I pretend to be a famous actress being interviewed in my bathroom mirror.) She's a pretty outgoing young woman, and pretty active in the community. She has to be, you see, because she's an only child, and her father is an extremely busy military leader, so she gets lonely. She's an extrovert, you see, and we extroverts need people in our lives, because when we don't have them we resort to pretending to be famous actresses being interviewed in our bathroom mirror.

So Eleanor teaches dance. That's what she does for a living. That and probably she's a baker. Maybe a seamstress, too. She's young, but girls like her know a lot of trades. She's pretty liked in town, because she's honest and genuine, and she has a fun spirit. People like girls with fun spirits. At least that's what my pretend interviewer says when he interviews me about my latest movie, in which I play a girl with a fun spirit. Aw, shucks.

But Eleanor isn't bashful. Nooo, not at all. She's a strong young woman. How has she not been married off yet? She has thick, dark curly hair, and dark skin, and brown eyes the color of molasses. A guy could get lost in those tresses and all-consuming brown eyes. Have you ever tried to escape a pit of molasses? It's impossible. Point proven.

But she wants to be married. Not in a "gimmee gimmee gimmee a man after midnight" kind of way, but it's a resigned desire that she keeps close to her heart while she's teaching couples to dance for their wedding receptions. And she wants it, even more than she loves dancing and baking and sewing, though she's great at all those things. It's her one desire. And she knows it's coming. She just knows that she has to wait, and it'll come.

And it's not like she's completely alone. She and her father are pretty close. For all his military maneuverability, he's a loving, doting father. His name is Jephthah. Whoa, what? Yeah. His mom had just had 4 teeth pulled before Jep was born, so her mouth was still numb and full of cotton balls when the nurse asked her what she wanted to name him. Really she wanted to name him Harry. It got lost in translation.

Jephthah and Eleanor have a pretty strong bond. They get each other. He loves her like no other, because his wife is absent from the picture, and Jep used to take Eleanor on these grand adventures, riding camels and swimming in oases and generally being the apple of his eye. He'd do anything for her, like pay $9000 for a wedding dress because she was a former Miss Delaware. (If the government's looking for some money, they should check Say Yes to the Dress.) He'd had a rough life, too. His mom was a woman of ill repute (and unkempt teeth, apparently) because his father evidently had no self control. And Jep's brothers from another mother were kind of jerks, the hoity toity type, and they chased Jep away saying, "No inheritance for you!"

Well for the past few months Jep has been at war, and this is a big war. If he wins this war, he becomes general of the whole kit and kaboodle. (That's what they call armies where Jep comes from.) And today Eleanor happens to be rehearsing the "I want to be in America, la la la la in America" scene from West Side Story, which the local theater has asked her to choreograph for their spring production of the torrential musical. So to get in the mood before class, she blasts the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack on her stereo and dances around the house.Then she opens her front door, her swooshy skirt piled high on her thigh in Latino flair, and there's her father, Jephthah, walking towards the house, looking bedraggled.

Eleanor's first reaction is to greet her father with an enthusiastic "Daddy!" and throw her arms around him with daughterly affection. But before she can, he falls to his knees, rips open his shirt, scattering buttons everywhere, and throws his hands up in the air in agony, like that scene from Platoon with Willem Defoe.

Eleanor stops dancing and stares at her father. He's in tears, literally weeping into the ground, and Eleanor thinks that the only other time she's seen her father cry was when Goose dies in Top Gun, and that emotion paled in comparison to what she was witnessing now.

"Why'd you have to do it?" He asks.
"Do what?" Eleanor asks, genuinely afraid, curious, and concerned for her father as she would be for a wounded wild animal.
"I made a vow to the Lord that, if He helped me win this war, I would sacrifice the first thing that come out of my house when I came home."

Now, my response to this would be, "You WHAT?! I'M THE ONLY ONE WHO LIVES HERE, who'd you think was going to come out of your house?! DID YOU EVEN THINK THIS THROUGH??" Or maybe I would have been coy and said, "'dya do?" Or maybe I just would've taken off running very, very fast, and never looked back.

But Eleanor and I are very different. She squares her jaw and looks at her father and says, "Do what you promised." Then she walks through the city and says goodbye to all the people who love her, and she comes to terms with the fact that she'll never be a wife, or a mother, or have any of the things she dreamed about having, and she lets her father offer her as a human sacrifice to the Lord.

The end.

Just kidding!

No but seriously, that's where it ends. Read Judges 11 if you don't believe me.

Sometimes I don't understand the Old Testament.
Sunday, April 3, 2011


I took my rainboots for a walk.
I knew that they would never talk to me
the way I wished somebody would,
but as I stood out in the wind & rain I knew
I wouldn't hear them if they could.

I wanted them to see the day,
to present them to the world
& say, "Here we are! my rainboots and I."

Did they know what it felt like to fly
on a swing, grasping cold iron rings in your hands
& leaving your fingers to smell like rust?

Or swap the dust of the diamond
for puddles like lakes of fallen sky
& mud that suctions you to the ground?

Could they hear the thunder, humming
like the strumming of God's bass vocal chords
& resounding promise of His presence?

Did they understand what it meant
that the ice is being sent into the earth
& what worth there is in a tiny crocus bud?

But silly me! they are just rainboots;
their skin is made of rubber flesh
& they cannot soak in a poetic life,
so I did it for them, ad hoc,
and wrote this poem on a walk with my rainboots.

"I suppose that's how it looks in prose. But it's very different if you look at it through poetry...and I think it's look at it through poetry." - Anne of Avonlea

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