Sunday, May 31, 2009

sunday nights

i hate to be maudlin. i really do. but i want to go home.

what do you do when you are at home, but you want to go home?

not to my parents house, not to my childhood residence.... but home.

i am done my life for today.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

perfect day

the inflatable pool is on the deck, slowing filling from the hose.

the sun is beating down and the fans are swirling the air in every room.

ahhhh..... summer.

Friday, May 29, 2009


"Allow children to be happy in their own way, for what better way will they find?" (Samuel Johnson)

meet nutmeg. she is our beautiful, joyful, moody, creative & wild 9 year old, and this is one of her (many!) dreams - pink hair. what mother would deny her 9 year old the ability to be "happy in their own way" for something so simple, so easy as that? she flounced out of the house today with a wide grin, calling behind her, "i'll let you know what everyone thinks about my hair!" she expects some envy, some bewilderment, and some disdain. but she doesn't care - because she is a fierce individual who is being raised on the truth that it is better to be hated for who you are than loved for who you are not.

i believe one of the greatest gifts i will give my daughters is the ability to love themselves for who they are - their whole selves. to acknowledge their weaknesses, revel in their strengths, and move with grace through a world that will judge both. it's a difficult thing to impart, but i am trying, every day. it is a battle i will not surrender.

frankly, the world could use a little more pink hair.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

i knew it!

i experienced a little piece of americana last night: the golden corral.

curtis and i have long avoided it's cattle shute approach to food, but thanks to the girl scouts year end "banquet", there was nothing to be done. so i paid my $9.99 and entered... with trepidation. and it turned out that i was justified in my fears.

as i paced up and down the astonishingly long counters, people passed with plates piled high. i, on the other hand, could not bring myself to put anything onto mine. i finally settled on a bit of pot roast, some bourbon chicken and fried rice. the roast was tender, true, but whatever it was slathered in was inedible. the rice was spiced with something akin to plastic, and the chicken, well, i actually ate that. i left the rest on my plate, appalled at both my wastefulness, and the food itself.

thank goodness for the salad bar...

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

ta da!

some of you ask, so here you go! i present to you, aly & zoe! :)

Monday, May 25, 2009

direction vs. intention

"I want the presence of God Himself, or I don't want anything at all to do with religion...I want all that God has or I don't want any." - a.w. tozer

curtis and i have been talking on and off lately about "religion"... what it is, what it isn't, what it ought to be and whether it should be thrown out all together. this quote is pretty close to what i would say, too... pretty close to my hearts desire.

the tricky thing here is that, as andy stanley said, "direction, not intention, determines your destination". you can "want all that God has" - intend it, if you will - but if you are not going in that direction with your choices, your destination isn't going to look much like what you intended. and this is where what would fall under the catagory of "religion" can be helpful; it gives a structure to inform our choices. a map, if you will, to help us choose our direction wisely.


following the map for the map's sake is insufficient. and this is where "religion" is a risky proposition.
tozer makes this point with the little word "or". "i want God, or i want nothing to do with religion". he knows that our disciplines and practices are empty and hollow unless they lead us into the heart of God. going through the motions doesn't give you "all that God has", because God is inherently not interested in our motions; they are fully insufficient anyways. we are none of us holy, and our best effort is simply not good enough. but there is good news here - God "desires mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings". or, in the message translation, "I'm after love that lasts, not more religion. I want you to know God, not go to more prayer meetings."

yet our love finds it's framework in the disciplines and practices of our faith. because i love curtis, i want to show him. i want to know what he wants, i want to make him happy. and from God's point of view, because he loves us he wants us to, in the words of ralph (a la simpson's valentine episode), "choo-choo-choose" him. not check off a list of "to do's" that will satisfy some vending machine God, but choose him. choose to engage our hearts and minds in putting hands and feet to our intentions.

because your direction determines your destination; not your intention.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

i'm up way too late ... again...

"Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: "What! You too? I thought I was the only one." - c.s. lewis

good friends ... easy conversation ... a night of hope and future and the camaraderie of shared experiences. brownies and beer ... little footsteps thumping up and down stairs til pale faced & sleepy eyed they wander into the living room, reminding the grown ups that it was later than we thought.

Saturday, May 23, 2009


it's late for a saturday night around here, and i'm the only one up.

alone in the night is an entirely different experience than alone in the day. in the afternoon delivery men and neighbors drive down the street, dogs bark and birds chips. but not at night. a lone & distant frog is the only sound, and that muted by the windows & walls.

lately, i don't often let myself get this far. i used to think & read & write & turn life over in my mind a lot. not lately. there is too much that i would rather not remember or mark - too much that i want to forget so that i will be able to sleep. so i go to bed early, and toss and turn, contenting myself with thinking about whether or not i turned the air on, and if the bedroom fan is too loud.

yet here i sit. perhaps i am avoiding the darkness by writing these words. in fact, i probably am. maybe i should go ...

new buttons!

oooo look! if you don't like, or don't feel like, leaving comments, just click one of the buttons at the bottom of the post, a la facebook!

Friday, May 22, 2009

meeting mark

i was reminded today that this is the 2nd anniversary of "meeting mark". i count from a little earlier, when we started talking, but memorial weekend is the weekend we clapped eyes on one another. the things i remember about that weekend would fill pages here - so i will keep it down to one, for your sakes. :)

i didn't look enough. i would look at him, but he'd notice and i'd look away. i was too shy (me, shy!?) to really look, to stare, to drink in his face and expressions, to etch them into my mind. i regretted it as soon as we got in the car to drive away. i was so worried that this had been my only chance, and i'd blown it.

clearly, i was wrong! :) thank God!

a funny thing has happened in my mind. although i know my life exists as "pre & post mark", my brain works hard to fit him into my childhood, my memories. i don't remember anything clearly anymore... there's always someone moving in the photo - a blur. it's odd, but in my heart, there is no "pre/post" distinction. my entire inner orientation has shifted, so my life has always been "post mark". i know that probably doesn't make sense to you, but there you have it.

he is a lovely boy. i secretly love him! :)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

oh the things i've seen

her mousy hair is pulled back in a headband, revealing a solemn face with large eyes behind red-framed glasses. carefully following the line behind all the other 1st graders slipping beneath my gaze i almost missed her. and i would have, except for her hands.

held carefully at waist height, with the palms turned toward her body and hands clutching empty air, they bobbed every so slightly with each step. not just up and down, but a slight rocking forward motion. my eyes travelled down to her pink clad feet, and saw the most discreet hint of a stutter step - an intentional gait that was done with such grace & control that you could hardly notice it. but every tenth step or so, she would forget herself and one mighty galloping step would escape.

and so, down the hall she goes, this serious little girl quietly riding her invisible horse.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

the mulders give it 2 thumbs up!

ok. much to our great surprise, the new star trek movie is fantastic! i mean, we thought it'd totally be enjoyable, but it was really, really good! the time went by so quickly, and we were totally engaged -pardon the pun! :) and for the record, the casting was superb!

it ain't all it's cracked up to be

this morning was my first of three mornings this week where i am proctoring for the EOG's (end of grade tests) at my daughters' school. the rules surrounding these tests are fierce and yet, somehow, it managed to be the most excruciatingly boring morning of my life. a proctor must be on their feet at all times - for 3 hours! -, roaming the room and keeping an eye on the students...while not touching any of the materials. watching closely to ensure that they are filling in bubble 34 when they are answering question 34, that sort of thing. oh! i also functioned as a bathroom escort - very exciting!

maybe tomorrow i'll get hall monitor duty... i hear they get to sit down...

Saturday, May 16, 2009

the view

i have nothing interesting or new to share - i just didn't want that disgusting picture of a tick to be the first thing you saw when you strolled up to the porch!

plus i'd love to go on safari.

Friday, May 15, 2009



we are up to EIGHT ticks already this year - that is more than all the years previous to this combined!

ticks are disgusting, sneaky, diseased little buggers... and i hate them. the one pictured above is the female lonestar tick, most recently pulled out of kyra's hair 2 nights ago, after she came upon it while playing with her hair absentmindedly. after which her piercing screams rent the house and caused no small amount of panic. that was only number 7.

i've pulled EIGHT of them off already this year. sheesh!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

margins as metaphor

can we live without margins? without the spaces at the edge of our pages that give us room to doodle and play tic-tac-toe? obviously, we can go day to day, but can we Live?

...with no margin of time - going from "must do" to "must do" to "MUST DO" without time to sit on the porch, or go to bed early, or hang out with the people who make you laugh

...with no margin of money - paying the bills with nothing left for a coffee with friend or lunch with your honey; or trying to figure out which bill not to pay this month so you can have groceries

...with no margin of space - constantly surrounded by the needs and voices of others, with no moments where you are truly alone, in the quiet, with no conversation and no demands

...with no margin of energy - filling the demands of the world, leaving you with no energy to give to what you want to give, be that your family, a good cause, or just walking the dog

Life was made to have wide margins - in fact, i would argue that some of it's best moments happen in the margins of our pages. living without them drains us of so much of our best selves. i know too many people living without margin... it seems to be the curse of our culture. but we would do well to take a look at our lives and figure out where we can create a little white space, because the doodles are important.

you be x's and i'll be o's.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

little buddy!

awww! look what curtis found while he was mowing the lawn today!

yes, krissi - we have turtles wandering around "wild" in our yard. we also have them doing the "wild thing" in our yard! :) :)

hope it gives you hell

i have a headache. a lingering, eye watering headache.

i also have the new 'all american rejects' album. i can't resist the song 'hope it gives you hell. so i bought it...and i really like it. it's been a long time since i bought a cd from the "rock" section of the store.

that is all.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

i don't want to be an older brother

curtis is reading me 'the prodigal God' by tim keller. it's very interesting... he begins the book with something i've never heard. the word "prodigal" doesn't mean quite what we think it means. it means "recklessly extravagant " and "giving or yielding profusely; lavish". keller's big idea is that the most prodigal person in the story is the father, who represents God. huh.

last night was chapter 3 - how both sons in the parable are "lost"... that we can be lost by our dissolute, selfish and amoral choices like the younger brother, OR by our rigid morality, fierce rule following and self-righteousness like the older brother. (i wish i had the book here - i'd "read' you some of it). both ways of living isolate you from God, and in both lifestyles you are trying to be your own savior. and then i read this article this morning: teen suspended for going to girlfriend's prom. his baptist school doesn't allow dancing or handholding or rock n' roll - really? "rock n' roll"? - and when he went with his girlfriend to her prom at a different school, they suspended him.

because Jesus didn't come 'that (we) may have life, and have it to the full' (john 10:10) - he came so we wouldn't or hold hands, dance or listen to rock n' roll. *sigh*

i read this, and i know tim keller is right. the older brother is just as lost, or more lost, than the younger brother. at least the younger brother recognizes that he is wrong...

Monday, May 11, 2009

my first whisking

i was awakened friday morning to, "rachel, put your sundress in a bag - we're going to the beach!"


naturally, i flung off the covers and as i hastily brushed my teeth, learned that childcare had been arranged, work had been taken off, and we were really spending the day/night at the beach... just us... and i was totally surprised! it was my first whisking!

the short drive to wrightsville beach was fragrant with the honeysuckle growing up alongside the highway... the room was ocean view, and the weather was glorious. we walked for miles and miles, just being together, ate fish and chips, & sat on the lifeguard tower and watched a full moon rise over the ocean, spilling it's orange light toward us. we saw little fish trapped in tide pools skim the surface and scatter at our feet, and it was perfect. a perfect 24 hours.

this summer will be our 15th anniversary. and you know what? i still choose curtis. he is still the guy i want to be with - even though some days i feel like stabbing him with a spoon. :) he is one of God's many good gifts to me. i love him.

and it turns out i love being whisked away to the beach. feel free to do it more often, honey.... :)

Thursday, May 07, 2009

the bar on the corner

A chorus of drunken frogs
croak ‘oh danny boy’ outside my window
while a raccoon of unusual size
(Wesley doesn't believe they exist)
Entirely gracelessly defies several laws
Of gravity and physics
To upend the birdfeeder onto the lawn,
Hunting and pecking delicately in the dark
for the good stuff.
With quiet knocking the possum,
Late from work,
Undoes his tie and and slinks
Into the grill, helping himself
To the crisp fat left there, wiping his fingers on his sleeve.
The hum of the crickets’ conversation
Fills the bar
As they try to hear themselves over the lurching song
Of the inebriated amphibians –
“keep it down over there!”
But they’ve already had too much
And their song is a jubilant ode
To friendship & drinking & excess
Last call – take it outside!
But no one is listening –
Someone might have to call the police.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009


Nelson Mandela said, "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be so brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?' Actually who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn't serve the insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us. It's in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we consciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

war zone

one friend is letting go, she told me with tears in her eyes. two more are brokenhearted in the face of death. one has to start over - again. one is fighting to pay her bills, one is fighting with her kids, one is fighting just to be sane. and those are just the people i've talked to since sunday.

i feel war on all sides - within me and surrounding me. the accumulation of hurt in the lives of the people i love, not to mention my own, is threatening to swamp me. overarching all that is our global pain - children in poverty, human trafficking, rampant war and genocide, aids & disease, the groaning of the earth itself as we abuse it's resources and strip it's forests.

i add my voice to the chorus of "why, God? where, God?" it's not doubt, understand. it's not that i don't think You are real, or even that i don't think You are here. i see the Your beauty in the lushness of the green outside my window. i see You working though kids who go hungry for a day so others won't have to. You are in the hand extended across a line, the small acts of mercy seen in a cup of water or a piece of bread. if we are to be Your hands and feet, forgive us. we do so little. open my eyes to see where these hands and these feet can be Yours. i don't want to stand mute & frozen in the face of all this suffering...

Monday, May 04, 2009

the results are in!

what a weekend! phew! over a hundred kids came out this weekend to participate in world vision's 30 hour famine - and together they raised over $6000!!! hooray! i am so proud of them all! and let me tell you, even though they were soooo hungry, they did not complain one bit!

friday night was tribe competitions, fantastic worship & box city building - yep! all the kids slept outside on/in/around cardboard boxes, to get a sense of the homeless experience. i suppose it's unsurprising that they loved it? :)

then saturday morning, after the final tribe competitions, we took them out into durham to serve the community. my group went the to durham rescue mission where we sorted out a POD full of donated toys - boys & girls, and then into age groups. we got through the whole POD in an hour, working hard and having fun, despite our hunger.

in the last hour the hunger really hit - and a couple of kids said, "i can't imagine what it would be like to be this hungry all the time..." i think that the famine made an impact - i know it did to me.

Friday, May 01, 2009

ranting & raving

there was a headline in the "news" today that said, "kirstie alley vows to get her bikini body back!".

kirstie alley is 58. why should a woman who is 58 - or 28 or 18 for that matter! - need a "bikini body"? surely as women we have more to offer the world than that? surely our lives matter more, mean more, have more fulfillment in them than that?

when i am 58, i want to have a life that is so full and joyous that it wouldn't even occur to me that swimsuit season is coming. i want friends & grandchildren & curtis & my brothers with their families; i want meaningful work & thoughtful conversations & new ideas; i want to be so much more than the sum of my physical parts!

this made me sad today. for kirstie, and for all the women & girls who can't seem to look beyond the size of their jeans to see where & why they matter. frankly, it's all too often me, too. india arie, in one of her songs, sings, "i am not my hair/i am not this skin/i am the soul that lives within".