Monday, September 29, 2008

Sleeping with Bread: Best Things v. Worst Things

I am in an odd mood this morning as I reflect on my past week. I do not really know how to explain it, but it seems to be leaving me at a loss for a coherent post. I guess, when that happens, it is time for some bullet points:

Best Things (in random order):

The world did not open up and swallow me whole after my post last week. I was hesitant after I posted it, running to Paul and asking him to read it and let me know if I should delete it. Partially it was the vulnerability I felt and partially it was the open discussion of my church that left me nervous. However, I received some positive feedback in the comments and in personal emails. And... ultimately, it is what was on my mind and heart and it was better to express it than obsess over it internally. I definitely felt a release after posting it.

I finished a paper I had been fretting about. It was short, but I have been struggling with clarity in this class. Mercifully, the professor has already sent us her feedback and it looks like I am on track. It was a much needed boost to this semester in which I feel a little sluggish and bogged down… and I am a complete addict for positive professorial feedback.

We had a beautiful church service yesterday. With financial issues and a move to a new location on the near horizon, we took time out to be upfront about the challenges we face and to share about what the church means to us as individuals. There were tears. There was laughter. One thing I found interesting was the commonality in our responses: acceptance, finding a family of choice, learning how to love God through each other, the meeting of physical, emotional and spiritual needs. All of us feel it… that we aren't a church better than any other—but we are a place in some way unique in our formation. With each other, we find our home.

Kids. I babysat for the mom's group at church this week and the kids crack me up. May-wee. That is the closest approximation to how they say my name. They all have their own unique personalities--car-loving, kitty-petting, mama-wanting personalities. Let's not kid ourselves, I am not the Romper Room lady. I am helping out because it is needed and I can do it. But still, cute is cute. You gotta love it.

Catherine Tate. She brought me a lot of laughter this week as I spent time YouTubing her show. She is so talented and wickedly funny. Laughter was a gift to me this past week.

Worst Things (again, in random order):

No exercise. Spotty CPAP use (my sleep apnea treatment). Too many tortilla chips. This is not acceptable, and yet, somehow, I embrace it.

I'm not sure if my perspective is off, but school seems to be this monstrous hurdle this semester. I find myself unable to study at home. There's no major harm done. I'm a little behind in reading and I've got some tutoring stuff to catch up on. It is more a feeling than anything else. (It does make me grateful I am only taking two classes this semester.)

American Girl. For months (seriously--months), Marley has been anticipating going to the American Girl store with a friend for the friend's birthday. The months of waiting, along with—how shall I put it delicately—misguided expectations of what was actually going to happen while at the American Girl store led to much drama. How do I communicate to her that her friend is being a little, um, wishful in her statements that Miley Cyrus is going to pick them up in a limo and take them to the party… or that they are each going to get a doll, two outfits, a piece of furniture, etc. I spent months dialing back the expectations only to have to face it head on the day before with a flat out "You will not be given a new doll and outfits at this party." Of course, that led to hours of "I want a new American Girl doll! Wah!!!!" I couldn't take it. I did the lovely time-honored tradition of first being mean and then compromising (and I don't necessarily mean compromising in a good way). Ugh. Isn't parenting lovely sometimes? The upshot is that my daughter came home with a new American Girl doll, new outfits, etc. Half of it she paid for with her allowance (some saved and an advance through December) and the rest is part of her Christmas bounty. But still---the whole situation was frustrating and I hate that my buttons were pushed so much by it. Blech.

Well, when you put it all together like that, it definitely looks like the best things outweigh the worst things… Hey! That's another best thing!

I was given a little bit of bloggy bling (Oh, that should be a best thing, too!) last week. I'll be writing about it and passing on the love later this week.

Until then…


P.S.  For more fresh baked bread, you can go to this week's SWB host post.


Thursday, September 25, 2008

And now for something completely different...

Well, Life, the Universe and Everything has been somewhat dreary lately so I thought I'd try to lighten the mood.

Given my lack of comedic writing ability, I thought I'd share a little funny from other places in the blog'verse.

Here in Idaho, a new read for me, posted preemptive negative comments this week. . .

Omaha Mama sent me flashing back to when my children were two. . .

and Lauren Tate meets up the the Doctor (you may have to be a BBC America freak like me to enjoy this). . .

Happy Thursday to you all!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Sleeping with Bread: Imperfectly

There's been a lot on my mind lately. Okay. Who am I kidding? I always have a lot on my mind. Let me rephrase that to say there has been a lot weighing on me lately. These weighing-down things are multiple in nature but some of them have led me to ruminate about the nature of imperfection.

My family is imperfect. When I was a child, though, I didn't know that. I knew that I had lots of aunts and uncles and cousins. I knew I had a grandma and grandpa I adored. I didn't have a father, but because I had never had a father living with me, I didn't know the difference. I loved family get-togethers. There was always a lot of laughter and joy—and more laughter.

As I grew older, two things happened. One, my family dispersed. Picking up and moving, one family at a time. Most of them to Oklahoma. So, the first real change was its reduction in size. The next big change was that as I grew up, my perceptions of them changed. I began to see the dysfunction. I started hearing the family secrets. Still, I loved them fiercely. I was now grown up and growing older. Loved ones died. More secrets. More dysfunction. And Pain. The secrets were painful. I was a part of the dysfunction and didn't know how to deal with it.

The pain became a wall keeping me from feeling love for some of the people in my family. I'm not sure that I have torn that wall down yet. But I have always felt that I wasn't released from my family. I have no doubts that there are times when you have to leave your family behind. For your sanity. For your safety.  But I've never felt that. Not yet. I've talked to enough people to know that my specific experiences may be unique but the nature of them is not. Many, many people experience the type of dysfunction I do in my family.

Yet even in the midst of all that dysfunction, there is joy… and love. There are still hugs and laughter and joy. It isn't the same as I remember as a child. But it is there… and so I stay.

When I became a Christian, I was still growing up. 15 years old. I don't think I thought about the church and whether or not it was perfect. Looking back though, I can see that I assumed the church was perfect. It became another home for me. A refuge.

I grew up and older, and just like with my family, I saw changes in my new church family. We dispersed. People moved to different churches. People left the church altogether. I moved from the church I attended in high school for no better reason than I thought I needed to start over somewhere new where the bad habits and attitudes I had developed with some of my friends would not be such a temptation—gossip, negative attitudes, etc.

I grew up some more and began volunteering and then working at a church. My perceptions of the people there began to change. I saw the imperfections in how they dealt with each other. Worse yet, I saw the imperfections in the ministers around me. I started hearing church secrets. It wasn't always easy but it was actually a good thing to experience—a catalyst for maturity, a bigger perspective.

I became part of a church plant. We started out with high ideals, a lot of energy, and a determination to do things the "right way." But eventually the dysfunction I thought I'd left behind at my old church bubbled up. Some issues were ones I realized that all churches experience. Some were unique to the situation. And they hurt. Badly. The body of Christ which is supposed to be united, nipped and bit and spat at each other. The church got smaller… and smaller… and smaller. People left because of their anger. People left because the worship wasn't the same. People left because there wasn't the right menu of church goods and services available to them. People just left. The leadership prayed and worked and prayed.

A remnant remain. Some really amazing people who, for whatever reason, have called this church home and chosen to love it—in spite of its imperfections. They love it well and they, apparently, have not felt like anything that has happened as been enough that they need to leave.

All of this above is for you to understand that…

In the last week, I have felt the most love for my little church, my hurting church. I have felt love for the wonderful people who've chosen to look past the numbers, and the lack of a menu of services, and the imperfect people. They've chosen to stay put and love God and each other in our church community.


In this last week, I have felt the least love over the rumors I have heard. Rumors that some who have left are saying that God is no longer at my church. I have grieved over the people who act as if their leaving didn't matter, who carry on as if nothing is different, who don't seem to have any doubts of their rightness, who question the decisions of those who haven't left yet.  I am tired of pointing fingers and accusations.

And finally, I am left with my struggle. My struggle to deal with my anger and grief because people wouldn't stay and love my imperfect church. My beautiful church. And I have so many opinions and judgments about all that. But the biggest problem I have is that I know I am supposed to love those people. Those leaving people. Those imperfect people.

Imperfect like my church.

Imperfect like me.

And I don't quite know how yet.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Sleeping with Bread: Maybe, Maybe Not

Today is shaping up to be an interesting day...  interesting in that Marley has a sore throat and a fever but insisted on going to school for picture day.  Her fever is very low, so I let her go, but getting a slightly ill child picture-ready for school was less than pleasant.

I also have to do some preparation for school later today...

Sooooooo, there may or may not be a proper Sleeping with Bread post sometime today.

Still, there will be other posts over at the SWB site.  I encourage you to go read them.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

I don't know what to think about this...

As a woman who named her blog after one of Douglas Adams' books, I just don't know what to think about this announcement. Eoin Colfer is writing the sixth book to the Hitchhiker's Guide series.

Oh dear.

Can ANYONE do justice to the Hitchhiker series?

I've heard of these Artemis Fowl books, but is Colfer the right man to try?

I don't know...


The only thing I do know is that 42 is still the answer to the question of Life, the Universe and Everything.

Candle Wax in Hair Update

A few people have asked me how I got the candle wax out of Marley's hair.

A quick Google search found result after result of how to get candle wax out of carpet but precious little on how to get wax out of hair.

Finally.  FINALLY.  I found some sort of "Ask the Scientist" website.  The first solution was some sort of glue remover.  I don't know about you guys, but I don't keep glue remover in the house.

The solution was vegetable oil.  So that's what we tried.  It seemed to help.  I kind of crumbled up the pieces of wax in her hair and the oil seemed to help it slide off without pulling out too much hair.

Of course, now I had to get vegetable oil out of her hair.  I sent her to the shower and had her wash her hair a couple of times.  Wet, it was hard to tell how well it worked.  By the next morning, I could tell her hair was still a little gummy, but now, after a few more washes, all is right in the world.

Till the next time.  And I'm sure there will be some sort of next time!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Sleeping with Bread: Keeping Busy

I can't believe this but I am actually going to attempt to do my weekly bread baking in the wee hours of the morning. I am having a bout of insomnia, which is such a joy, but I thought I would at least try to be productive... Of course, I think part of the reason I am having insomnia is because I did not get any substantial amount of homework done this weekend and am now facing the week with quite a bit of work to make up.

If this doesn't make sense, you will at least understand it is due to sleep deprivation!

In the last week, when have I felt the most alive?

When I started school last semester, I was so freaked out about doing well and feeling insecure about how I could do after such a long absence from academia that I really cut back from all extra activities, including finding time with friends, etc. Being the completely unstructured and undisciplined person that I am, I didn't really apply that extra time to studying. I mostly spent if fretting about studying and avoiding studying. That was just a little too isolating for this extrovert and so this semester I decided to try to stay in the world around me.

To that end, I threw myself into Marley's class this week. I think I ended up doing something there almost every day. I also had a chance to go out to lunch with one of the other moms from the class. And... I even helped babysit for the mom's group at our church.

It felt good to spend time with people, to hang out, to help out. I definitely felt most alive when I was keeping busy this week.


In the last week, when did I feel most drained of life?

Well, after keeping so busy, I have to admit I was exhausted. Over a year of not exercising, not eating well, and not sleeping all that well have taken their toll. Complicating matters was that Paul was out of town on an "over the weekend" trip. By the time he got home last Wednesday, I was ready to pass the parenting baton to him.

I think I will need to be careful to balance the keeping busy in the world with making sure I am rested.


Please check out other Sleeping with Bread posts here.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Thank Heaven... for Little Girls...

... or else I'd have nothing to blog about on this Saturday night.

Yes, the choices of three members of the family led to the following results.


1. Colin lights candle and leaves house without telling anyone.

2. Sometime later, Mary-LUE blows out candle.

3. Very soon after, Marley picks up candle to show a friend how much of the candle was burned the night before.

Voila! Candle hair.
Posted by Picasa

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Sleeping with Bread: Compline Prayers and Other Things

Today marks the return of Sleeping with Bread as a Monday meme in this vast blog'verse.  One thing I wanted to note is that for me, when I do the SWB exercise, it relates very specifically to my Christianity.  I wouldn't want anyone to feel, though, that they can't or shouldn't participate if they don't share my beliefs.  Taking time to stop and look at what is life-giving and what is life-taking is beneficial for anyone.  It is a time to reflect, analyze, be still, etc.

I've got a post up over at the Sleeping with Bread blog and it has automated links.  If you'd like to join us, put up your own Sleeping with Bread post and then enter in the post link on the form at the bottom of the post.  Remember to use the post URL and not your blog URL.  If you have any questions about doing that, you can email me at aseveremary @ pacbell dot net.

Now, on to my baking...  this week, my consolation and desolation are thoroughly intertwined.

In the last week, what has given me consolation?

I've been reading Compline prayers to Marley from this book most nights since school started. Designed to be said at the end of the day, they are written to bring peace and comfort and a feeling of protection.

Marley isn't too sure what to think of them. I don't have kids who have these amazingly precocious relationships with God. My kids don't want to pray. They don't want to talk about God. At least at home. By just reading the Compline prayer though, I feel like Marley gets to absorb a little perspective, have the prayer said over her--all without the pressure of having to be so vulnerable as to verbalize prayer requests or come up with words of her own.

Sometimes I try to break some things down for her. Tonight it was as simple as asking her if she knew what the word "Thy" meant. She thought it was a way to say "the." We also talked about God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. She has a pretty good handle on God the Son, but when you start adding in the rest of the Trinity, she's thrown for a loop. She is a very concrete thinker and at 8, I think God as three persons is just too much.

But talking about God as Father, I was able to share a little with her about the comfort of these prayers--how they are like God my Father holding me in his arms. We talked about the symbolism of being sheltered under his wings. I told her that I didn't have that type of relationship with my daddy, so I was grateful that I had a heavenly daddy to do what my "real" daddy didn't. I told her she was lucky because she has two daddies. (A look of complete confusion was on her face.) I told her that she has her "real" daddy and a heavenly one. She made sure I understood that she likes her "real" daddy the best. We wrapped up our "daddy discussion" with me explaining that her real daddy helps show her God's love and how he loves us.

It actually turned out to be quite the theological discussion.

One thing I was pleased about was that I was able to share with her my own need for a daddy. Right now I wish I was in a father's arms. I say 'a' because I can never say 'my'. Bill just never inspired that in me. It is partially because of him and the havoc he wreaked on my world that I am feeling so much in need of a parent these days. A daddy to hold me and love on me and tell me everything is going to be okay.  

I'm so glad I do have my heavenly one.

In the last week, what caused me desolation?

One reason I haven't been writing SWB posts is because I feel like my desolations are overwhelming my consolations.  In reality, making a point of doing the posts would probably have given me some much needed perspective.  But here I go...

Today in church I had a moment of clarity.  At one point in the sermon, the congregants were asked to consider a question:
Where am I finding my value?  Is it the right way, through knowing that I am a deeply loved child of God or am I trying some other way to feel valued and important?

Um...  er...

The truth is that my first response was "What value?"  No matter how much I can intellectually tell you of my value in God's eyes, my family's eyes, my friends' eyes, right now, I feel worthless.  And the energy it takes to counteract that gut feeling with what I know to be true is just not there right now.

I have enough energy to fake it briefly but I feel a bit like a pinball that is being propelled by the energy of someone else's efforts.

I can analyze all this to death--to a certain degree I have.  After all, it is what I do.  Analyze things.

But that isn't really the point.

No, I think the point is that I need to let go of the effort--the effort I think I should be making and what little effort I am actually making and turn to the Lord for support and comfort.  I think the Compline prayer from the other night was such a great opportunity for me to practice that.  


Softly as the dew-fall of heaven,
may the Holy Spirit come upon me
to aid me and to raise me,
to bind my prayer firmly
at the throne of the King of life.

God's will would I do,
my own will bridle;
God's due would I give,
my own due yield;
God's path would I travel
my own path refuse.

All whom I love,
into Your safe keeping;
all that I am,
into Your tender care;
all that will be,
into Your perfect will.

Cuthbert - Into a desert place
Celtic Daily Prayer 

Saturday, September 06, 2008

For love of the dictionary

Is it just me or am I little weird for looking up the correct spelling of keister on

Am I a little weirder for caring if I spelled keister correctly?

Am I well into the weird zone for how much I love

Am I truly all the way gone to weirdsville for paying for a one year subscription to so that I can click on the little speaker button and listen to the pronunciation of the word I am looking up?

You can be honest with me.

I'm a word geek, aren't I?

Friday, September 05, 2008

A StoryCorps Moment

My name is Mary-LUE and I am a StoryCorps addict.

I was going for a fix today and heard Frankie DeVito's interview with his mother.

I don't even know what to say.  This 10 year old's story, remembering his grandfather, made me cry but I was also so impressed with this boy's eloquence when his mother asks him how the loss has changed him.

Go listen.  It is on the right hand side of the page and is the featured story.

Warning:  This interview is part of StoryCorps September 11th initiative.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Sleeping with Bread Bulletin

I used to make a regular point of writing Sleeping with Bread posts here.  I also had a SWB blog for others to link their SWB posts.  I took a long hiatus when I started school, and even though I'm back in school for the new semester, I think I would like to get back into the habit of examining what in my life I am grateful for... and not grateful for.


I created a new URL for the Sleeping with Bread site and added Mr. Linky to the posts so anyone who wants to join can do so.  I'll start back up this Monday, September 8th.  

I hope you will join me!