Archives for November 2011

Five Minute Friday: Remember

Last week’s prompt just didn’t move me – maybe because I’m pretty much convinced that the church’s attempts to be ‘relevant’ over the last 3 decades or so have produced an end product that looks less and less like church to me. (Even though I totally get the desire to meet people where they are with the gospel, I’m just not convinced that changing how we do church so dramatically is the best way to really be relevant. And I just KNEW I couldn’t even scratch the surface of all that in 5 minutes!) At any rate – today’s word is rich for me, causing me to be pensive and nostalgic and all kinds of things that surprise me, in ways both hard and wonderful. So, I’ll put fingers to keyboard for 5 minutes flat and see what comes out when the buzzer rings:

Maui sunset – for no reason other than I loved it and needed to remember it on this grey day in Santa Barbara.



I remember being young and foolish and full of myself and wildly, passionately in love. I remember wanting to be with that man every minute of every day. I remember the joy of a big wedding, with lots of family and friends around and I remember the naturalness of coming together in lovemaking and tenderness.

I remember the adventure of taking a freighter across the Atlantic to Africa, to live in our newly married passion in an entirely different place. I remember being so sure of myself and then being told to cool it by a very conservative bishop.

I remember being pregnant – and not fully comprehending how I got that way. (Yes, I was that naive – well, really not THAT naive – but, still it was puzzling when we thought we were being SO careful.) I was 14, 000 miles from home, no telephone service, no internet, letters took two weeks round trip. And I had no pre-natal care. And I remember the rush that came when she pushed her way into the world  and the joy of having this perfect treasure to nurse and hold and watch with wonder.

I remember the birth of each of my 3, all of them spectacular in their own way, each of them unique and wondrous and complicated and scary. 

I remember the day they told us my husband had prostate cancer and the surgery that followed and the difficult recovery and the changes that wrought in our relationship. There was loss but I remember deepening joy, wider acceptance, and partnership through the tough stuff as well as the joyous stuff. 

I remember that God has been there in, through, around and above it all, providing moments of close connection and years of doubt, all of it to push me along this journey of life, this journey of faith. 

I remember that he said, “Remember me.” And that is the most amazing remembrance of all.


Chewing on Words…a guest post

From my earliest memory, I have loved books. All kinds of books. I love the sight of them on shelves. I love the sound a new book makes when you open it for the first time. I love the smell of ink on paper. I love books. This love is an inherited one – my mother was a reader, a lover of words. And she encouraged me to love words, too. Especially words that might make me think, that would encourage my imagination, that might open a window into a different space, time, or way of thinking….

Today, I am honored to be guest posting over at Jen Ferguson’s place, “FindingHeaven.” Jen is the creator of the soli deo gloria sisterhood and a transparent, energetic, authentic follower of Jesus. She has created a series on “Nourishment,” asking the question, “What in your life nourishes your spirit, helps you to grow in your faith and helps to connect you to Jesus in a deeper way?” I jokingly commented a couple of months ago that it would be great to see book lists from a number of people so that we might create a ‘to read’ category based on the real life experiences of others. She surprised me by writing back and assigning me a date to write my own list! This was harder to do than I thought it might be – mostly because the list could go on forever. Right now, as I’m typing this, I am regretting that I did not include Parker Palmer, especially his small gem, “Let Your Life Speak…” So please consider this a work in progress! You can read this post by clicking right here.

Family Portraits #3: Uncle Charles

This is third in a series of about twenty family portraits I am attempting as a ‘kick-start’ to the compilation of some sort of memoir for my grandchildren. It began as a Community Writing Project over at We were asked to submit 500 words, with lots of detail, about someone in our close circle growing up, someone who influenced us either negatively or positively. This week, I’m also joining Bonnie over at The Faith Barista for her weekly invitation. Her theme this week is “a gift you’ve recently received from God.” Uncle Charles as gift is not a new thing – but this project most definitely is. In the process of searching my memory for influential people, I have been reminded over and over of God’s goodness to me over time. My family growing up was far from perfect – lots of eccentricities and flaws. But it was most definitely God’s gift to me – helping to form me into the person I am and modeling for me the living of a faithful life. I am grateful for the story that is mine – the good stuff and the tough stuff – and it is a pleasure and a privilege to reflect back on some of those people whom God used to let me know I was loved. So, this week – Uncle Charles. (This one is about 65 words too long, but I really, REALLY tried! Portrait #1 can be found here and #2, here.)


He was my grandmother’s ‘baby,’ born nine years after my dad, ten years after their sister. He came with a cleft palate and separated lip – and his mother said ‘no’ to major corrective surgery: the lip was sewn shut, the palate wasn’t touched. Gran thought it would be ‘too painful’ for her sweet little boy. Such a hard choice, and such a wrong one – Charles struggled his entire childhood with both talking and eating; pictures of him as a small boy show him glowering, always on the outside edge of things.

He was a college kid when I was born and I remember him as a ‘big brother’ who would often swoop me up and take me outside to play. My grandmother kept chickens at her home in Los Angeles and my uncle had a favorite he called Rusty. One Sunday, gathered around their table for an after-church dinner, Charles refused to eat. I was young and curious, so I asked him what was wrong. “This is Rusty’s leg,” he said, angrily picking up a drumstick, “and I will not participate in this meal!” I was stunned and shocked. So that’s where drumsticks came from.

When I was about eight, Charles disappeared from our lives for a few years to do some biblical studies in a different state. He went to Asbury in Kentucky and met and married Aunt Norma. I could not for the life of me figure out why he needed any other female in his life!

He found a job in Duluth, Minnesota where they lived when their two sons were born, last in the line of cousins of which I was first. About that time, Charles opted to have the corrective surgery his mother had refused him so many years before. It required money, pain, and hard work, learning to talk and eat all over again, and I was so proud of him. I also sensed his bone-deep discouragement as he struggled to find a teaching job during those years.

In later years, Charles poured all of that pent-up determination into pursuing a PhD, becoming a concert level organist and an excellent and highly competitive tennis player – sometimes at the expense of his family life. Both of his sons grew up estranged from the church and both died young and sadly.

I asked Charles to be the organist for our wedding. And the single thing most folks remember about that day is this: just before the pastor was set to introduce us as husband and wife (as part of a liturgy that I had put together at the know-it-all-age of 20), he jumped into the “Toccata” postlude a beat too soon. I turned toward the organ and stage-whispered, “Not yet, Uncle Charles!” And he stopped just in time for the grand announcement to be made. We made a good team.

Charles died over 20 years ago, the first in his sibling trio. The doctors said it was pneumonia, but I have always believed he died of a broken heart. His life was a mix of struggle and triumph but at the end, I think maybe the struggle just wore him down. I admired and loved him, but I did not understand all the angst that drove him so fiercely. I trust that he has found the peace he sought – and I miss him.