just a bowl of oatmeal

December 26, 2004

To my shame, I was impatient this morning. As I tried to figure out how to correctly prepare Mamie’s breakfast, I grew frustrated, and thought, “Oh, why does it matter so much whether it’s made exactly the way Mom does it–it’s just a bowl of oatmeal!” But then I was ashamed. Of course, it is not just a bowl of oatmeal. It is Mamie’s routine, and her routine is all she has left in this life.

And I knew that I was terribly wrong to be so selfishly earth-bound in my way of thinking. Mamie is my step-father’s mother, and she has not been blessed with the ageless vigor my own grandparents seem to have. She is losing her mental facilities, rapidly now, and her movement is limited to a slow shuffle from the bedroom to her chair to the kichen, and to the bathroom. Mom and Lou have cared for her in the home for almost 6 years now, since they married, and she does indeed require constant care.

So, this morning, once Mom and Lou were both at work and the boys were heading out the door, it was discovered that none of us here knew how to prepare her breakfast the way it was always done. Mom tried to tell me over the phone, in between customers at work, and from her hurried instructions I fumbled through it.

And that is how I came to my morning lesson of being more mindful to be gracious in allowing for other people’s routines, no matter how inconsequential they may seem from my own limited perspective. The truth is, of course, that we all need our routines, some of us clinging to them more than others, but all alike in our need to some sort of daily order and expectedness to our lives. So, for Mamie, this means a large bowl of stove-cooked oatmeal–2 servings with a spoonful of sugar, a spoonful of honey, and a dash of milk–and on the side, the blue cup with a spoonful of French Vanilla Carnation instant breakfast mized with a half cup of water, and the yellow cup with a spoonful of Citrucel mixed into a half cup of water, each with a flexi-straw.

And for me, that meant an Amelia Bedelia moment. You see, as Mom was instructing me, I thought, now why-ever does it matter which cup is used to mix what? I did not initially catch the fact that each side cup was separate, and so mixed both the instant breakfast and the Citrucel in with the oatmeal. She did not notice in the taste of it, but she did, after a moment, ask about her “milk.” “There’s something else too, she normally gives me, and I can’t remember what . . .”

That was when my cheeks flushed with the realization of my error. I knew better than to try to remedy the situation with another spoonful of Citrucel, this time mixed with water. So, I did the best I could, and gave Mamie the blue cup with instant breakfast–her “milk.” She was satisfied with that, and contentedly ate the remainder of her oatmeal, sipping her cup of milk.

In the end, Mamie got an extra spoonful of instant breakfast this morning and I got a dose of humility and, hopefully, an extra portion of lasting patience.

my oma

December 22, 2004

It is one of those nights. One of those in which I go to bed knowing that I am fighting the urge to write–tonight I was thinking practically, thinking of the many hours of driving ahead for tomorrow, of the unknown road stretched before me. But the story won out over practicality–the story of my life, of our lives. And so I am out of bed and writing, resisting no longer.
In this case, it figures that the need would be so strong, considering the power of the inspiration. The words that are swimming in my head are about my Oma. She is a force to be reckoned with–a woman to admire, a woman to obey, a woman to love.
Oma is what I have always known her as, and I am only one of millions of Germans who know their German “grandma” by the same term. Though in fact she was raised in Russia, on a remote farm where she grew up poor–so that she and her siblings in the winter sought out fresh, steaming piles of cow manure to warm their bare feet in. They moved in her childhood to Germany, however, and so she is more German than anything else, marrying a German and raising her kids to speak German. One of my uncles in fact made fun of them all once, telling me that he was amazed that any of them were able to marry, wooing a wife-to-be in such a horribly un-romantic sounding language as their own mother tongue.
But Oma had no trouble being on the receiving end, turning down several suitors before my grandfather won her over, surprising her when he did so, seeing as how he was younger than her. But he was a handsome, charming man, charismatic to no end. He sang in a popular men’s ensemble in their young married days, and ran a successful carpentry business. Until the alcohol won him over.
It took Oma completely by surprise. They were staunch German Baptists, in a culture of normal beer and wine consumption, so she brewed her own beer and had her own wine cellar, using their orchard fruit, so that they would always be well-stocked for wedding and holiday parties. And parties they were indeed. This was a family in which hard work was a given, and real celebration was considered as much a part of life as the work was. So, when there was something to celebrate and to praise God for, the celebration was a hearty one, with much laughter and many hours of good companionship.
My grandfather was a good man, a sincere man, but one whom Oma said could have been addicted to anything–he just had a nature with a weakness for addiction. During the War he fought well, and was wounded–received a medal for it, I believe. At any rate, the wound left him in constant pain from then on. So the doctor started him on a morphine prescription that he faithfully took for many years. Until, that is, the medical world discovered the extremely addictive nature of the drug. His prescription was immediately changed to something substantially more innocuous, but by that point it was too late for him. Opa was terribly addicted to morphine, and in withdrawal as well as in constant pain again as soon as the prescription was changed. Oma was horrified at the state her husband was suddenly in and went to the Doctor begging for whatever they had changed to be changed back—he declined, apologizing for the fact that they had only then realized how addictive Morphine was.
After some time in pain, Opa began to drink more, more often and more heavily, and soon he was an alcoholic. Eventually it got so bad that he moved out, explaining that he did not want to make his wife and kids see him in such a state. And so Oma raised her eight children alone, without complaint. Oma could do anything. She was a trained chef, a trained masseuse, an amazing homemaker, and a prayer warrier. She prayed for Opa, and never considered looking for anything other than the life God had given her. The way she saw it, she had given herself to my grandfather many years ago, he would forever be her husband before God, and she may or may not be with him in this life, but what did she have to do but to care for her children and, eventually, dote on her grandchildren.
That she did—she doted on us all fiercely. When I was old enough to try to express my sentimentality, I made simple little gifts for her. One year for Christmas I used a rather tacky satin scrap I found, probably in the discard bin of a fabric store, to painstakingly labor over the process of figuring out how to make a pillow. And I did—I sewed a little, slightly skewed square throw pillow for her that I mailed to her from Tennessee. The last time I visited her there in Canada, 4 years ago, she still had that pillow proudly adorning the sofa (to my slight embarrassment). And when I began to shyly offer an “I love you”—a difficult move for me with my ever-loving but not openly affectionate immediate family, Oma responded in just about the best way possible. She accepted my gesture in a way that allowed me to give it freely, without embarrassment. She took it as if it were the most natural thing in the world for me to say, and gave me a rib-crushing quick hug and a “You better!” I still have difficulty hearing “I love you” without smiling to myself as I whisper a silent “You better!” to my inner child.
As I grew up, Oma began giving me about the best compliment I could ever imagine, saying that whether I liked it or not, I reminded her of herself when she was younger. Oh, I hope so! If I can be a woman like my Oma, for my own children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren, I will truly have lived a blessed life.
But the story I was going to tell, out of infinitely many that could be told, is the end of one story, at least—my Opa’s. After many many years alone, fighting the demons, Opa turned his eyes upward and rediscovered the God who had claimed him so many years before. He became a new man, the man he had been before the alcohol claimed him. And about that same time, he was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease, and it began its slow process of stealing his strength. As he grew weaker, Oma began to discuss with him the prospect of taking him back in. They had already divorced a while back, after my aunts and uncles convinced Oma that a divorce was the only way she could remain financially stable as the years went on, seeing as how it looked at the time like Opa was forever lost. But Oma decided she was still his wife, if not legally, and she wanted to care for him in his latter years—so Opa moved back home.
My senior year of high school, I decided I wanted to go to visit Oma and Opa for spring break. After thinking about it for some time, I found some decent airfare, and just knew I had to do it. I didn’t know why I wanted to go so badly at the time, but was compelled to do it. That week Opa was doing well. They were planning for a big gathering there for Easter the next month, and everyone was excited at how healthy he was. It was the first time I had been around him for any period longer than a short passing-through visit, on our way to or from Africa, so I watched.
I watched as Oma fed him, teasing him still for his odd taste for steak prepared to be more like “leather” than steak. But she made it the way he liked it, happy when he could enjoy his meals. I watched when he persuaded my aunt to hold a cigarette in his mouth for few short puffs, sneaking in a smoke, for old times sake, when Oma wasn’t looking. I watched when his face lit up as Oma talked to him—by this time, she was the only one who could really understand his garbled speech, though his brain was still sharp. So I watched his facial expressions to try to figure out what he wanted to communicate when he spoke to me. More than anything else, though, I just watched as he smiled. And I got to see him ask Oma to start his favorite hymns. He still loved to sing, and we would all 3 sing together each night before bed—3 voices raised together in praise, a praise that God no doubt relished. Those were moments in which we could taste some small piece of that which God intended us to be, some hint of the eternal creatures we were at heart.
I awoke to Oma’s frantic calls. “Anna! Anna! Come, come quick! He’s gone, gone . . .” Her voice disintegrated into a series of wails, and I ran up the stairs to see her at his bedside. “His lips—I kissed his lips before I went to bed. And I thought they were colder than usual, but I didn’t know . . .” And she sobbed—paced and sobbed. The next few days were filled with nurse visits, police reports, and phone calls to family members.
Opa died in the best way possible, for ALS. Often death comes from suffocation, the throat muscles being the last ones to go. That thought had terrified him. But he actually died in peace, quietly slipping away in his sleep, after a day of contentment and of good spirits. And thus ended the story of Oma and Opa’s life together. What amazes the most about it all is the sheer redemptive grace God has for us. To put back together again the pieces of such shattered lives as these. The truth is that life, all of our lives, is full of evidences of such grace. We fall, and God picks us up again, and again, and again. And something beautiful is created in the end, something more beautiful than any story we could have invented for ourselves.

ode to hoover

December 20, 2004

Call me a nut. Though you needn’t really trouble yourself to do so, as I call myself a nut plenty for us all. I spent the past hour in hog heaven, thanks to the exceedingly delightful companionship offered by my newest friend–a Hoover SteamVac. Oh my, the simple act of steam cleaning my entire carpeted apartment, and the furniture along with it–it was enough to make a silly girl like me giddy with the thrill of deep-cleaning joy. You see, I am pretty sure that this place has never seen a thorough carpet cleaning–not since we added this apartment to the back of the house back in 1989. Since living here, I have been cleaning, bit by bit, as thoroughly as possible. Yet, I was handicapped with the carpet, not having the funds to pay for a professional cleaning and not having the resources for anything beyond a regular vacuuming. That, in fact, is a tale in itself . . .

Shortly after reclaiming this place, I discovered, tucked in the cavernous depths of the garage closet, an ancient vacuum cleaner, left apparently by one of the past tenants. Intrigued, I pulled it out, dusted off the cobwebs, and plugged it in, on a whim. My assumption was that it would have long since seen its demise, but in fact, it worked. Not only did it work, but it worked more beautifully than any other vacuum cleaner I had ever used, picking up the bits of kitty litter that resiliently resisted other cleaning efforts. When it stopped working one day, I took it to a vacuum repair shop and, thankfully, he was able to fix it and assure me that this Hoover had many year left yet. He also informed me that I was the proud owner of a 1927 model. I thanked him profusely, resisted the urge to hug him, and brought Mr. Hoover home again, where he continues to serve me–his biggest fan–beautifully.

And then last night, my neighbor showed me the steam vac she had borrowed from a coworker. As I was fascinated with it, and transparent, as I always am, with my excitement, she assured me that I was welcome to use it. So, this morning, I gratefully took her up on the offer, and am now laughing at myself for the silly amount of excitement such a simple act has afforded me today.

I suppose this is a symptom of some strange neurosis–should I begin a Neurotic Vacuumers Anonymous support group?

the magnificat

December 18, 2004

Holy. Holy. Holy is the Lord. The familiar catch of breath. The sting in the eyes. And the tears begin to flow with the falling rain. Or do the tears fall with the flowing rain. What is it in these words that I whisper that wrenches at my heart so? Why does Mary’s prayer touch the core of my being, so many centuries after it was spoken?

I think it must be because I know that she was just a girl, just a human being, with a woman’s heart like my own. And so, when I hear her wondering words, I can feel with her the emotion she must have felt. To bear the son of God—what wondrous mystery, what glorious honour! And she was, like me, just a young woman—much younger, in fact, than I am now. And so, no matter how often I hear the story and read her words, it still has the power to bring abrupt and unsought tears.

What a gracious God, to work wonders with such frail and faulty creatures as us!

December 17, 2004

another day older Posted by Hello

I have a story to tell. It’s been itching to be put to words since yesterday, but waited until this moment due to concerts to perform and a work day to be done. You see, my grandmother turned 77 yesterday, and we celebrated with a meal and a gathering she hosted at their house. She didn’t want anyone to know, before coming, that it was a birthday party and to feel the need to bring gifts as a result, so she just invited her friends for Sunday dinner.

Once everyone was full with a good meal and good fellowship, my grandfather explained to everyone that it was, in fact, an occasion we had gathered for. And then he proceeded to delightfully shock us all, my GramBea and I included.

Now, a couple of things should probably be explained for anyone who does not know my grandparents. They are, by all accounts, adorable. As silly as that may sound, it is the honest truth. I have grown quite accustomed to comments like, “Ooohhh—are you one of Bea & Charley’s grandkids? I just love your grandparents!” . . . “Your PaCharley, he is one special gentleman . . . have I ever told you what he did for my family and I? Oh, we just think the world of he and your grandma both” . . . “How do they ever manage to do all that? You’d think they were spring chickens or something!” . . . You get the picture.

So, imagine a group of seasoned folks, gathered in a cozy Southern living room, celebrating this ever-generous, kind, and Godly couple. My grandfather clears his throat in that soft-spoken manner of his, indicating that he is going to say something important–a man of few words, they are always well-chosen and important, so that ears perk up when he begins to speak . . . “It’s so good to have you all here . . . we are honoured to have such good friends here to celebrate Bea’s birthday with us. I thought I might use this occasion to tell you all how I first met Bea. You see, I actually met her first when she was hitchhiking one day, and I gave her a ride . . .”

PaCharley then proceeded to hold up a 9″ x 13″ photo he had blown up, proudly displaying this black and white print of GramBea by the side of the highway, looking all glamorous–as she always did–in short shorts and a tied-front blouse, one hand on her hip, and one up in the air, with a come-hither look on her face. PaCharley had printed up a caption on the bottom that said, “Goin’ my way?”

GramBea gasped and stammered, “Charley, now that’s not the way it happened at all!!” And the rest of us gasped, and then roared with laughter. After we had time to gather ourselves again, PaCharley passed the photo around, and then did concede that he had perhaps embellished their meeting tale slightly. Now, I just happened to know the real story behind the photo, though no one else did. The truth is they were married at the time, and on a road trip shortly after Mom was born–and they were just goofing off. But, no one ever did get around to asking that, because Pa Charley then told the true story, which is just as interesting, it turns out . . .

PaCharley was working in a friend’s workshop at the time, though officially in the Army, I believe, as he was drafted during the War. At any rate, he had a factory job during which, on day he noticed this “beautiful brunette” walking across the street. After that, he began to see her regularly, as she would walk around running errands during her work day. After a bit, he asked a friend if he knew who she was–he did: “Well, that’s Beatrice Fox!”–who was being courted at the time by one of her suitors, of which I think there were many . . .

Well, after that, PaCharley continued to watch for her–sure enough, he kept seeing her, and he simply could not get her out of his mind. But, he just knew that she was too good for him . . . He kept working, and kept being distracted. So finally one day, he decided he had better just get it over with and ask her on a date, seeing as how he was rather impaired in getting his work done as it was. So, he knew her name, found her number, and called her up. “Uhh . . . Beatrice?” Yes, this is. “My name is Charley Hicks. I work at . . .” Yes, I know who you are.

At that point Pa Charley paused in his story-telling, to explain to us all that he was shocked that she knew who he was. I mean, he had already gotten to 1st base! We laughed. And he continued his story . . .

Then, still on the phone, he asked if she would like to go somewhere sometime. She said yes. And now, he suddenly realized he had a bit of a dilemma. You see, he hadn’t anticipated an acceptance at this point–he thought she would turn him down. So now, Pa Charley was faced with the small issue that, well, he didn’t have a car to take her “somewhere.”

So, Beatrice gave Charley a ride.

And the rest is . . . well, it’s history. My history, eventually . . .

our own stories

December 12, 2004

Tonight we had a combined choir practice, children and adults, as we are preparing for tomorrow’s Christmas concert. I was sitting next to 2 boys I had not met before, seeing as how I am slowly getting to know people now in the new church. These boys were very clearly brothers, in the way that I recognized from my own experience of growing up in a family of a bunch of kids that all looked alike. In fact, they bore a resemblance to my two brothers at their age—about 7 and 9, I would guess. As a result, I caught myself stealing glances at them, grinning at their antics and resisting the urge to weird them out by reaching over and tussling their heads or something of the sort—you know, the kind of affectionate gestures that weird ladies did at Church when you were a child, making you roll your eyes and grimace . . .

After a bit, in between songs, I found some excuse to chat with the younger of the 2, and asked what his name was—Josiah, he said. “And your brother?” Isaiah—at that point, Isaiah joined our “conversation” as well. How coincidental, I thought, considering my long-time desire concerning names for my own children. So, I said to the boys, “You know—for ages now, I have wanted give my own children the names you have. If I get to have boys (and, of course, am not vetoed in my opinions J), my 3 top name choices are Isaiah, Josiah, and Micah.” Josiah stared at me for a moment, suspecting some sort of conspiracy, I now realize. Then, deciding I was innocent enough, I suppose, he said, That’s funny—our little brother’s name is Micah . . . Sure enough, their father, sitting on the other side of them, confirmed this to be a fact.

This is a small little instance, but it got me thinking for the rest of the night (hmmm . . . ok, so maybe one would be hard pressed to find something that does not get me thinking . . .). At any rate, I realized that the story-ness of life never ceases to amaze me. In small ways, and in great ones, life, if we will listen to it, graces us with the most intricately beautiful series of stories imaginable.

So often, it seems, we find all manner of distractions, of way to sort of check out of life for a bit and to not have to really live it. I am afraid that in writing out this thought, it will seem preachy of me somehow. The truth of it is that I have been, as Paul so aptly described is, “the worst of sinners” in this respect—I have simply been repeatedly graced by a God who gives 2nd chances, and who doesn’t give up on those children of His who just keep messing up. Oh Golly, now I’m crying, and my cat is peering up at me with a look of confused concern J That reminds me of times when I was a child, crying—I always wanted to be alone when I was crying, so would do silly things like the time I was reading a book that made me weep—Where the Red Fern Grows, now that I think about it. Embarrassed, I hid behind the armchair I had been sitting in so that I could cry in peace—knowing that the noise of our crazy household would keep any sound I made from being an issue. Our amazingly intuitive Boxer found me, though—she came over to lick the tears off my face and whimper along with me—and to preclude any possibility of my spot remaining hidden from the rest of the family!

But—before getting distracted by silly side notes—what I was going to say is that I cannot help but wonder if, were we to really be mindful of our own stories, we would be less inclined to get caught up in worldly distractions and more inclined to fall in love with the joys life has to give us.

This thought tonight is actually a continuation of one that began for me this summer. After a period of too much moving and work stresses combined with too little consistently meaningful human interaction, I was suddenly faced with the lonely lull that came between the completion of home-making and the beginning of the next semester of studies. I realized that when I did not have a challenge to tackle, there was little left to do in the days once the workday was over. And, because I was still getting used to the transition, I hadn’t taken the time to develop new meaningful activities to fill my down time. For a short period of time, I forget all that God had done in my life in the past and the gifts He had given to use, for His purposes, and just felt lost. It manifest itself in the way I just lost energy for social activities, and had an ever-earlier bedtime. That in itself, mind you, does not necessarily say anything, as I actually prefer going to bed at a decent hour and getting up early in the morning—I love the morning—the promise of the dawn and the peaceful excitement of the sunrise. But, this summer, I knew that I was just checking out of life—in fact, I would even shake my head at myself, when I went to bed before the sun had gone down—one night, I literally just whispered to myself that I was “done with the day” and ready to “check out” until time for work in the morning.

I also realize that there are times when a good, restful sort of slowing down is perfectly healthy and necessary. But, oftentimes, forgetting the ways God is working in our individual lives can lead to some form of depression. Or at least, that was my situation this summer—I certainly would not want to claim that to apply to other people’s lives as well.

So, my story is that this realization hit one night while I was driving home. I was returning from a “date” (I hate that word!), and, despite the fact that absolutely nothing came of it, that hint of possibility led to a barrage of memories. I was suddenly overcome by the force of the reality of my own past—the memories of being closely involved with another person and of all the vulnerability, pain, and joy that comes along with it. And, suddenly, I was weeping, as my mind flooded with the pains and joys of life—of my own life. It caught me off guard, forcing me to wonder why I was so surprised. It was simply because I had forgotten that life itself, even my own little insignificant life, can carry with it such a depth of experience that I needn’t rely on anything more than my own memory to provide as much meaning and teaching as anything I could imagine.

So, I have been remembering a lifetime of moments when life just overcomes me with its mystery, and when reality is so much more poignant than fiction could ever be. Doing so, I find my heart just ready to burst with more emotion than I feel like one heart can hold. How gracious is this God who gives us—each and every one of us—a life which, frighteningly short though it may be, is cram packed with moments of shocking significance and intensity. Oh, would that I could keep the eyes and ears of my heart wide open, for the remainder of this lifetime given me, to the magic and meaning of each moment . . .

In choir practice tonight I was struck by the certainty that this was what Christ was talking about when He spoke of the kingdom of heaven on earth. He had us–the motley crew of us–in His mind’s eye. Tonight we laughed so hard it hurt, laughing at everything and laughing at nothing in particular, all at once. And I realized why–still–after practicing together 3 times a week lately, we can laugh so heartily. I think it is because I am surrounded by people who are bruised and battered by life, sometimes fighting our way through the day. And yet, knowing all the same, that all is well, that we are saved by grace, that we are loved . . . Beloveds of the only one who really matters when it comes down to it. Somehow, he has plucked us out–chosen–out of the muck so that in all our messiness we can glow. And so tonight, we laughed. We sang, and we laughed. The drummer danced his beat out, somehow beautifully graceful in all his burliness, his wad of gum measuring the time of his drum strokes. Our directors cracked themselves up with their own antics, letting out huge peals of knee-slapping laughter. And I watched, mesmerized by all the beautiful people around me–so much so that I turned at one point after realizing I was being watched; the man next to me, in his muddy work boots and construction clothes, after a moment, asked me, “What’s going on in your head? You’re just . . . just thinkin’ somethin . . . !” I laughed and said, yeah, he had figured me out, I suppose. I was indeed thinking my little brain away–thinking what blessedness is in this sanctuary–what starkly stunning crude reverence we are witness to at this moment. God is smiling down on His creation at this very moment in time, laughing right along with us.

potty tales

December 7, 2004

By the time I began my baby-sitting years, I was well prepared for potty-training adventures. My own siblings and I were close enough in age to where I was not terribly involved, except for the occasional bespeckled-toilet-seat scolding, in their early years in the bathroom. It began, though, when Mom started taking in other’s kids, when I was in middle school. She was amazing with kids, and we had a vibrant and welcoming household, so she ended up taking on child-care without really intending to.

One of these children–Keith–actually ended up moving in with us, as a 4-year-old. He was the only child of a single mother, and she decided to try some sort of intern career move to another town. As she did not want to commit to the move, and uproot Keith in the middle of the school year, she asked my mom if she would take him in during the week. Never one to say no, and happy to have another child around, mom happily agreed. So, Keith moved in to the spare bedroom upstairs, that was in between move-in friends at the time (of which my dear friend Julia was later a resident–but that’s another story for another day . . .).

Well, soon after Keith joined our family, I discovered that he was not entirely great about using the toilet in the middle of the night. The bed-wetting was beginning to improve after a few weeks, however, and I rejoiced at the decrease of wee morning sheet changes. In exchange, I was happy to turn the bathroom light after him when he did get up at night to use it, and so I got used to waking up to the flushing toilet and going in to flip the switch when I saw the light still glowing into my bedroom.

Until, that is, I realized the occasional unfortunate result of such a late night awakening for Keith . . . One night I routinely got out of bed after the flushing toilet, and walked sleepily into the bathroom. The way the house was added on to when my large family moved in, we have en attic entrance door next to the toilet in that bathroom. As the door is unfinished wood, I immediately noticed that night that it was suddenly substantially darker than it’s original hue. “Hey Keith,” I asked, “did something happen in the bathroom?” He walked back in, cute as ever in his spiderman undies and nightshirt. Rubbing his eyes, he looked at the door for a moment before replying “Oh–yeah–I didn’t aim fast enough . . .” I laughed–and still can’t remember that answer without laughing all over again. “Ok, Keith–thanks–go on back to bed now,” I managed, in between giggles. Even at 13 years old, I was thankfully amused at childhood frankness that eliminates any chance of possible annoyance.

Between occasions like this that occurred regularly at that time, and plenty of others, as kids trickled in and out of the household, I eventually developed some sort of immunity against being bothered by interesting bodily function events.

Later, as a nanny, I discovered a tendency that conversations with other women confirmed as not limited to my experience. I had recently begun caring for a 6-week-old little boy, who I cared for from that time on through the birth of his little sister and then, after full-time care, on and off until I moved away from the area. At any rate, I don’t remember how old he was at the time, but one night, during bath night, I discovered why his last few days of diaper changes had been curiously innocuous. It turns out he had saved up all his #2 activities for bath time. It actually took me some thought that night to figure out precisely how to manage clean up of the interesting mess I was then faced with. Thankfully, I came up with a decent plan, as that was his preferred method for several months. By the time he had rediscovered his diaper for that purpose, I was quite pleased, to say the least.

*sigh* Believe it or not, I do miss those eventful days and nights of child care– I do think those types of experiences remind us of the necessity to laugh at life’s little perplexingly amusing moments :-)

beyond the daily

December 7, 2004

It was an intensely moving afternoon–a work day that brought with it the power of transcendence, of realization that I was in the midst of the real stuff of life, in its earthy humanity as much as in its eternal value. Something about the resignation speech and the feeling in the air made for a certainty that something of significance was happening at that moment. It wasn’t as much what was said, as the words were vague–genuinely Spirit-filled, but not earth-shaking in any sort of enlightenment. Rather, I suspect what I was touched by was the power of a great number of hearts unified in their combination of love and confusion. None of us–save a couple of particularly in-the-know folks perhaps–really understood why he was resigning. What we all seemed to agree on, those in tears and those of us dry-eyed alike–even those like me who knew the man himself little but by brief interactions and hearings-about, was that this was a man after God’s own heart, who had truly lived in service to his Maker, and who had done great things as a result. I suspect he was often unaware, and mainly just living each moment as it came, dealing with people and situations as they presented themselves to him. But because he has an evidently passionate heart for the Father, he has been blessed with a life that hints to others of Christ’s love . . . At least that is what I think, as best as I can tell at the moment, is what I was experiencing today . . . perhaps further thought, or the completion of this exam-in-progress, will give me better clarity about it all. Then again, maybe not–it could be that this sense of the Greatness beyond me is all I am meant to know for certain, and, come to think of it, that is enough . . .