Friday, March 26, 2010


These are the beautiful tulips that showed up at my house unexpectedly on Friday last week, brought by a dear, dear friend here in Austin to encourage me at the end of my spring break. I started this blog three years ago solely to keep up with my wonderful friends in Houston when we moved. I wanted them to know what was going on in our lives and only later did it become a forum for my more random thoughts and writing. I could never have imagined then that there were other wonderful friends waiting here in Austin and that I would come to love them deeply.
In order to really understand this, you have to know that friendship was really, really hard for me as a kid. Almost every really painful memory I have from childhood came from peer relationships, especially with other girls. I eventually learned how to fake it, and I did make some friends, but I left high school not really caring if I ever saw anyone there again. I wasn't much better at friendship in college and often felt jealous of the girls who seemed to find their soulmate, not in a dating relationship but in a friend. I had friends but I was never anyone's best friend and I felt like I was on the outside looking in.
When I married C, I married someone who knows how to do friendship well and I learned a lot. Gradually, after we moved to Waco, I started to make real friends (whom I love to this day) and then in Houston, my life just exploded with the most awesome people who wanted to share life with me. And when I left them behind, I was desperate to keep the connection alive (hence this blog), not even dreaming that there would be people here in Austin that I will keep for a lifetime.
I am so blessed.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Feeling contentious

I'm itchin' for a fight. Seriously. I want to have an argument. I never get to have arguments. C and I never fight. My serious discussions with my friends sound like this: "I hear your thoughts about that and I just have a concern . . ." and "I don't disagree with you but I see this one thing differently" and "I see your point and I'm just wondering . . . " We're just so darned nice.

I want to have a knock-down-drag-out debate with points and counterpoints. I want to vigorously defend my point of view from a totally polarized position without having to think about the merits of your point of view. I don't want to see the other side. I don't want to have empathy for my opponent. I just want to slug it out and let the best (wo)man win. I want my opponent to be a worthy adversary. And when the fight is over, I want to go out for milkshakes.

As a moderate who tips progressive and who goes to a Baptist church in the south, I know there are lots and lots of people I love who disagree with me. Of course, they have no idea. They like me, so they assume I am like them. And I don't disabuse them of this idea. Sometimes I say, with a smile, "I see that differently." They blink, startled, and then go on with their thoughts. No one has yet asked me to explain. I don't even offer that much when I know there is no chance for real dialogue. I just steer clear. Usually that works for me. I'm not a person who seeks out conflict--in fact, it makes me sick to my stomach.

I guess what's got this bee in my bonnet is Facebook. These past few weeks, I have learned that my friends think I am a fascist, a false Christian, a diabolical liar or a sheep (take your pick.) They don't know they think that about me but I know. And I want to defend myself. And I want to experience the exhileration of a spirited debate and still be friends at the end. I just don't think that's possible anymore.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Thirty years ago today

This is a flyer from the youth revival at which C preached his first sermon. His text was the story of Ananias and Sapphira but he doesn't remember what the application was. 30 years later, God is still using him in the pulpit every Sunday and all the days in between.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Spring Break so far

Well, my fantasy was a whole week of vacation without having to take care of anyone--a whole week to just be myself and do what I wanted to do and think about what I wanted to think about. The problem with fantasies is that they are, well, fantasies.

I have had a wonderful break so far, though. I spent two nights in a hotel in Houston, thanks to the couple whose wedding I officiated on Saturday. I was on the 11th floor of the Hilton in Clear Lake, with an overstuffed chair overlooking the lake and a comfy bed and some time to myself.

Then C met me in Houston and we stayed at a downtown boutique hotel, saw a play at the Alley and had a really fabulous steak dinner and lots of conversation and time together. We also visited my lovely in-laws and headed home on Tuesday.

The rest of the week won't exactly be the kind of vacation I hoped for, but it will be productive and definitely more leisurely than a normal week. Boo has been on a mission trip all this week but she will be home on Saturday and we'll have Sunday together before it all starts up again on Monday. One thing I have learned: I need to take time off more often. Not sure how that will happen, but I think I've got to do it.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Last night

Last night, I had the privilege to bring the message for the Lenten service at St. Richard's Episcopal. (Isn't this a pretty church? It's even prettier at night.) My dear friend Mary is the rector at St. Richard's and I thoroughly enjoyed getting to see her in her element for the first time as well as she led the service after my message.

The message was about thirst--and then the Scriptures in the service were also about thirst. If they came from the lectionary, that was quite a coincidence! I'll have to ask Mary about that. I was frazzled, having gotten sidetracked trying to get out the door and then driving an hour to the church. But just walking in the door into the narthex was calming. Friendly people were eating soup and chatting; they welcomed me and showed me into the sanctuary. After my talk, the liturgy was deep and rhythmic and inviting. (Worshiping in a liturgical church always feels to me like going underwater in a calm, cool lake. I can hear the chatter overhead but it's muffled, far away, and I feel enveloped in peace.) The congregation was lively and engaging. It was just a lovely way to end a very stressful day.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

What a rich and full life looks like

This morning, between 9:30 and noon, I rehearsed with a trio, taught my Sunday School class, mediated the effects of a thoughtless remark between two young adults, scheduled a breakfast and a lunch with church members for the coming week, screened a young woman for depression and referred her to a doctor, helped a Bible study group consider new curriculum, worshipped (great sermon, C) and sang in church! And then we went out to lunch with my class.

The best part is, I didn't feel overwhelmed at all (a bit rushed sometimes but not freaking-out-anxious) and I had a great morning. But looking back . . . it may have been a bit much! No, actually, the best part was the 2 hour nap I took when I got home.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

I love this man!

I was standing in the kitchen, pouring out my heart to C--the crummy day, the impossible schedule--when I heard myself say, "It's all just so unmanageable." Tears welled up in my eyes. Here's the rest of the conversation:

Me: (Repeating, letting it sink in.) My life is unmanageable. *Long, poignant pause* You know, that's the first step in AA: "We admitted that we were powerless over alcohol and that our lives had become unmanageable."

C: Maybe you should start drinking.

And then he helped me with my wedding homily.

Speaking of ugliness

I just watched a short video shot at a small demonstration in an impoverished neighborhood in a large city. One group gathered in a peaceful (mostly silent) protest, explaining what they were protesting while another group surrounded them shouting boos and insults. Both groups were made up of people who would identify themselves as Americans and Christians. When the protesting group began to pray the Lord's Prayer, saying just briefly that they wanted to pray that God's kingdom would come on earth, the other group began to sing-shout "God bless America," drowning them out. Based on what I see in forwarded emails, in in Washington, even from my friends on Facebook, this is the America we live in now. I'm sad.


It's Thursday evening and the end of the week and I am unbelievably glad. This was a day of ugliness--of hurt people hurting each other--and I'm glad it's over for me and I'm sad that it's not over (and may never be) for them.

Tonight I'm sitting alone at home, trying to muster up the courage to write a homily for a friend's wedding and enjoying the silence. Tomorrow, I'll go shopping with another friend and out for breakfast to belatedly celebrate her birthday. Tomorrow night, my mom and dad are coming to town for dinner and to go with Boo and me to see Fiddler on the Roof. Saturday, I have only a few hours to get ready for the next week but I think it will be enough. (Poor Boo has to take an SAT practice test in the morning and then an SAT prep class all afternoon--that's enough to make me glad I'm me and not her!)