And in this world I begin again

Here I sit, watching my more-or-less sleeping children on the monitor during their nap time, typing words into this little box with big words above staring me down: “Add New Post.”

I stopped blogging a year and a half ago to take a few-month maternity break. Then I realized I had nothing to say in this space. I wasn’t a blogger anymore.

But here I am again with words and at least half-formed thoughts and maybe a blog post or two in mind (which mostly began as rants that were too long for a Facebook status).

I don’t know what kind of blogger I am. Originally, I wanted this to be a place of art and theology, of big ideas and beauty and the sort of discussions you might have in a seminary forum or a coffee shop with people wearing black berets.

I never wanted to be a mommy blogger, but I’m a mommy, so I suppose in some way, I’m a mommy blogger. (Side note: I never wanted to live in the suburbs, but here I am, and don’t tell anyone, but it’s not the worst. Mostly, I love my little suburb and am constantly maintaining why we shouldn’t move, though my husband always wants to move, unless we’re going to move to Rum Cay, in which case, I can pack our bags in two suitcases and be ready in a half hour.)

So I’ve embraced the suburbs, and I’ve embraced the minivan. I am a suburb-dwelling wife of one and mother of (almost) three. I have a vegetable garden teeming with weeds, I rarely go to coffee shops anymore because chasing after two toddlers isn’t conducive to conversation, and I don’t have the energy to read the foreign film subtitles at night anymore.

On Tuesday evenings, I dash on a bit of make-up (sometimes), leave Chris to sort out dinners and baths and bedtime, and I teach a discipleship class, pretending to be a fully functioning adult with fully functioning ideas. Then I return home, stumble over a toy or two, turn a blind eye to the day’s dishes, and cuddle with my husband while we watch House Hunters International. In the afternoons, I put the kids in for their naps and hide in the office, jotting a line or two of a short story or studying Scripture. Then they wake up, and I take up maracas and dance around the house with them.

It occurs to me that all of this–a quiet moment snatched in prayer, a nap time indulged in sermon preparation or in a short story, scrubbing vomit out of a favorite stuffed animal, singing with toddlers, figuring out what to make for dinner, sneaking a good morning kiss in bed with my husband while the little ones attack us–all of it worships God.

This is my kingdom living. This is L’Chaim. This is my blog.

(I’ll try to leave out the bits with vomit.)

In my life, I accept:

  • my thoughts happen in fractions,
  • the laundry will most likely never be folded and put away,
  • a layer of dust protects my furniture,
  • Play Doh flakes and food crumbles litter my kitchen floor even though I mopped in the morning,
  • over the next few years, my children will eat lots of hot dogs, Kraft mac-n-cheese and goldfish (although we do eat lots of fruits and veggies as well!),
  • the toys create an obstacle course that makes Home Alone look amateur,
  • I read less, write less and knit less
  • and instead play with lots of trains and baby dolls and puzzles and maracas,
  • I am clueless about indie music and films (and the Oscar’s and Grammy’s, for that matter), and
  • my life is still about big thoughts and beauty and deep intellectual discussions–just without the big words.

So ends my sabbatical. I suppose we’ll meander together through the marked trails and sometimes the underbrush of life. And in this world, I begin again.

The Art of Small Art

"Small art" by Willem van der Werf via flickr

Recently, a ministry contacted me about writing a couple of devotional pieces. An opportunity to study Scripture and share what fascinates me? Um, yes. Plus, these particular pieces should be about 425-475 words. How hard could that be? I’d written 6,000-word exegeticals.

Ahem.

Turns out I’m verbose. I like to take my time unraveling a story. (Chris has been telling me this for years, but he’s a business guy. What do you expect?) Trimming a story and its meaning down to 475 words max while retaining theological soundness and personal impact is harder than trimming Keegan’s toenails.

Have I told you that Keegan is not a fan of having his nails cut? You’d think I was yanking them from their nail beds. (I’m not, for the record.)

Even my blog posts tend to run twice the devotional limit. I empathize with Gerald’s panic as the end of the book approaches in We Are in a Book!: “I have more to give! More words! More jokes! More ‘bananas!’”

After studying one particular story–looking at the Hebrew, reading commentaries, you know, the usual–and wondering how on earth I could cram all of this richness and beauty and complexity into 475 words, I turned to one of the best resources I know of to guide my way.

The Jesus Storybook by Sally Lloyd-Jones.

I read the same story in this book and noticed she didn’t remove the richness and beauty and complexity. She tricked us. Lloyd-Jones weaved it through the stories without telling us. The theological truths and artistic word-plays and cultural nuances were all there.

The teacher in me loves to share how we see discover truth and beauty, and that’s good. It shows others how to look for themselves.

But in art, we show rather than tell. And that’s what these devotional pieces are. Works of art. They are tapestries for displaying God’s creativity and truth in new ways.

Thinking about the pieces in this way frees me to knit without worrying about the reader seeing the inside of the sweater. And maybe I can do so in 475 words or less.

The Master’s Artist: On Foreign Worlds and Other Imaginary Matters

I heart Pixar. I want to own every Pixar movie. Strike that. I want to live in every Pixar movie. Which doesn’t make sense, I know, because how can I converse with cars? (I do, though, with my Annie.) How can I talk to toys–and have them talk back?

I’m up at The Master’s Artist today reflecting on one of the (many) lessons Pixar has taught me: how to create believable worlds when they have nothing to do with reality.

Read On Foreign Worlds and Other Imaginary Matters.

The Master’s Artist: Getting My Chops

I’m up today at The Master’s Artist, sharing how Miles Davis and my ten-week-old son have inspired me in my writing.

Read Getting My Chops.

Baby Mix: The Uncut Version

I know there’s been a lot of baby talk going on around here. I promise to curb it. But first, the songs that didn’t quite make it onto the baby mix:

“Welcome to the Jungle” by Guns’N'Roses (suggested by my cousin, Chris Fisher; actually this was very close to making it)

“What’s the Buzz/Strange Things Mystifying” from “Jesus Christ Superstar”

“Push It” by Salt ‘N’ Pepa (or as covered by Jeffster in Chuck)

“Everybody Hurts” by REM

“I’ve Got You, Babe” by Sonny and Cher

“Bleeding Me” by Metallica

“Baby Got Back” by Sir-Mix-A-Lot

“Stay Up Late” by Talking Heads

“Stuck in a Moment You Can’t Get Out” by U2

And a couple that I kind of wish I had put on:

“Original of the Species” by U2 (but I had too many songs already by U2)

“Beautiful Boy” by John Lennon (but I don’t know if we have a girl or boy)

Who knows–maybe I’ll add them anyway.

In other news, I’ve had this jazzy, bluesy lullaby in my head the past couple of days along with two short verses. So far I like this baby-inspired tune.

The Master's Artist: Turning the Profane into the Sacred

I’m up at The Master’s Artist today talking about one of my favorite Christmas traditions: the Christmas tree. It may have had pagan origins, but Christ transformed this profane symbol into one of his new life.

Read more here.

on the fringe of my dreams

Wilderness

The Worst of Humanity

I think sometimes we’re tempted to think:

Wouldn’t it be easier to nuke the Middle East?

Wouldn’t it be easier if the mountains of Haiti, melting around them, would finally collapse and hit the reset button on the whole country?

Wouldn’t it be easier to shed myself of this needy relationship, which only, after all, brings me down?

Wouldn’t it be easier to get rid of all the immigrants and leave them to their own countries and problems?

But that would mean that the Bible would have ended after Genesis 3.

Two Shakes of a Lamb's Tale

I once worked as a medical receptionist in a surgeon’s office.

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