this week's wisdom

December 29, 2009

wait on the lord,
and keep his way,
and he shall exalt you to inherit the land;
when the wicked are cut off, you shall see it.
i have seen the wicked in great power,
and spreading himself like a native green tree.
yet he passed away, and behold, he was no more;
indeed i sought him, but he could not be found.

mark the blameless man, and observe the upright;
for the future of that man is peace.

but the salvation of the righteous is from the lord;
and the lord shall help them and deliver them;
he shall deliver them from the wicked,
and save them,
because they trust him (psalm 37:34-37, 39-40).

and last week's

but no man can tame the tongue. it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.

with it we bless our god and father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of god. out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. my brethren, these things ought not to be so. does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh.

who is wise and understanding among you? let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom (james 3:8-13).

this week's wisdom

December 15, 2009

i've been racking my brain's trying to figure out what to get my father for christmas. every year he tells me the same thing--books. this year he wanted me to use the money i would spend on him to buy something for the wonder twins, but i don't like that idea, because he should have things under the tree, too. he's my daddy. i want to get him something, because he's always getting me something.

a week or so ago, i asked my mother for ideas. she said to write him a poem and frame it. she also suggested putting a little book together of photos of he and i.

i don't want to do the first thing. i already did that.

the second idea, though, had merit.

so tonight, after an ugly day at work, i play with the boxes of photos mom has stored in my brothers' closet.

at first it's fun, this little scavenger hunt. at first, when i find photos of myself in which i'm obviously happy, i'm glad. in addition to any photos i might find of my daddy and me, i'm setting aside those photos of a happier me, so that when i get sad or when i think my childhood was completely miserable, i can look at those photos and be reminded that it didn't all suck.

the trouble with photos is thus: they can lie just as well as a writer can.

take the one of my younger brother, his wife, their mutual friends and i standing on the porch of the colorado cabin our family once owned. we all look like we're having a good time. everybody's grinning and seemingly happy.

i was eager to get home. i was irritated that they weren't helping me clean up the place. i was irritated with him for rushing me. but you wouldn't know this by looking.

so there's all these photos of me with the shy, but supremely bright smile on my face. i wonder in how many of those photos i actually was happy to have had the picture taken.

anyway. by the end of it, i was depressed, and crying, because i wasn't pretty and poised like mama. and i only found three pictures of only my father and i.

so, i'm a little bummed.

today's wisdom is thus:

therefore we do not lose heart. even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. for our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things for which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. for the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal (2 corinthians 4:16-18).

ain't i a woman?

December 14, 2009

mom wanted to watch that people speak thing on the history channel. we tuned in just in time to hear this fine speech.

ain't i a woman?
by sojourner truth
delivered 1851 at the women's convention in akron, ohio

well, children, where there is so much racket there must be something out of kilter. i think that 'twixt the negroes of the south and the women at the north, all talking about rights, the white men will be in a fix pretty soon. but what's all this here talking about?

that man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! and ain't i a woman? look at me! look at my arm! i have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! and ain't i a woman? i could work as much and eat as much as a man - when i could get it - and bear the lash as well! and ain't i a woman?
i have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when i cried out with my mother's grief, none but jesus heard me! and ain't i a woman?

then they talk about this thing in the head; what's this they call it? [member of audience whispers intellect] that's it, honey. what's that got to do with women's rights or negroes' rights? if my cup won't hold but a pint, and yours holds a quart, wouldn't you be mean not to let me have my little half measure full?

then that little man in black there, he says women can't have as much rights as men, cause christ wasn't a woman! where did your christ come from? where did your christ come from? from god and a woman! man had nothing to do with him.
if the first woman god ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back , and get it right side up again! and now they is asking to do it, the men better let them.

obliged to you for hearing me, and now old sojourner ain't got nothing more to say.

(i feel compelled to mention that my diatribe earlier about how a person shouldn't be elected just because she's a woman, there's a part of me that's concerned i might sound like a hypocrite, saying that and digging this, but it's because of this that i can say that.)

hiking in hay

December 13, 2009

this was a good afternoon. this was me hiking up a fairly steep hill to get to this spot on the way to hay's bluff which is near the town of hay-on-wye in wales. this was me traipsing about in a field covered in sheep shit to get to this spot. those little brown specks you see near the bottom? yeah, that. this was me in the chilly, windy, welsh afternoon underneath a fabulous sky overlooking a fabulous countryside.

the first picture gets bigger if you click on it. the second one doesn't. sorry for that.

that scene in the 2005 version of pride and prejudice during which elizabeth bennett is standing on the cliff reveling in the warmth and the wind, this was my version of that moment.

yeah, i know. i'm not on a cliff. i did mention the hill was steep, right? i was almost there, and i could've gone on, but i had to pee. i wasn't sure if i went on that i would make it back without certain events transpiring.

the help and the hindrance

December 8, 2009

the benefit of carrying around all this baggage is that sometimes i find things inside that i'd neglected to notice i'd packed for the journey.

today, i woke up at ten, shoved the ugly memories of yesterday's unpleasantness aside, texted my stylist to see what time my pedicure appointment was, texted my trainer to see if could come in today for a refresher course which i badly need (he didn't reply, and i'm thinking it's because i stood him up a couple of weeks ago), snuggled back in bed and watched an episode of law and order: special victims unit, played on the computer, got my pedicure, got lunch, filled the prescriptions for the sinus infection diagnosed last thursday.

spent an hour and a half at my younger brother's house. my nephew's walking. short journeys. you park the boy on his feet near your knees and he runs headlong into your chest with his arms outstretched. we're working on balance and control.

my niece is still perfectly content to crawl.

most of the time when i'm in my younger brother's presence, i feel small. spinsterly. here's my baby brother, gainfully employed, making twice as much money as i do, well-respected by his coworkers and management team, residing in his own home, happily married with two beautiful babies and a close, comfortable circle of friends who enjoy his company. he is thriving. he is the epitome of this. to top it all off, he's as intelligent as i am, but he's also emotionally and socially stable.

he has everything i wanted for myself. and i constantly feel as though i'm a disappointment to him. he used to be proud of me. he used to marvel at my strength.

i was driving home from his place to have dinner with my mother when i had another epiphany.

a decade or so ago, in my last year of college and the year or two that followed, my older brother was living in houston. my parents would travel a lot more because their children had become adults and they trusted us to fend for ourselves.

on top of all the baggage i carry, i'm phobic of several things. one of them, typically, is being home alone. if i'm lucky enough to sleep at night, it's with all the lights in the house burning. my older brother had some idea of this fear i had, though he couldn't understand it.

he had this uncanny knack for showing up at my parents' house almost immediately after their departure. i came to dread this because bad things happened every time he would show. he also had an uncanny knack for disappearing immediately before their arrival.

i used to think he did this because he wanted his own home, but couldn't afford it, so he borrowed my parents' in their absence.

today, as i was driving home, it occurred to me that maybe he had that uncanny knack because he didn't want me to be home alone.

when i spoke of this to my mother, when i mentioned how irritated he was with me and my reaction when bad things happened at the house, that i'd thought of his visits as more of a hindrance and made my opinion obvious to him, she thought maybe his irritation was because he'd failed to help, to support me.

and i see now how he might've felt as though he was a disappointment to me.

i used to be proud of him. i used to marvel at his strength.

i can't fix that. but it's nice to think that maybe he'd meant well.

this week's wisdom

we are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed--always carrying about in the body the dying of the lord jesus, that the life of jesus also may be manifested in our body (2 corinthians 4:8-10).

last night i dreamt that stupid boy from earlier this year and i were still talking, still friends. i didn't remember it right away when i woke. i've had dreams like this before. not about stupid boy, but about other people i'd like to call friends who weren't actually friends. some of them are people i've known since i was ten. some of them have looked me in the eyes and said they loved me. yeah, i can see that you do. one of the dreams upset me so much upon remembering it that i curled up in my bed, on my side and cried. i'd been up for five minutes, max.

dreams like this leave me feeling hungover.

my inability to be punctual is supremely close to getting me unemployed, as if i can afford that. okay. fine. i am supremely close to getting me unemployed.

my fat ass is supremely close to weighing a hundred-fifty pounds, which i know doesn't sound so bad, except my scrawny, tissue-filled bones and screwed-up ligaments can't handle that weight very well.

i am alone and lonely.

and angry. i'm angry today. and most of this anger is directed toward myself.

i think of all the others out there whose lives are far more challenging than mine. i've friends who are in severe physical pain. i've friends who are dying. i've friends who have family members who are dying. there are children out there who don't believe in the goodness of christmas. there are children out there who don't believe they'll get a warm meal. there are children out there who are being beaten or worse. babies. there are...

this doesn't make me feel any better. it only makes me angrier, actually. angry because then i tell myself i've no right to feel the way i do.

here is where i close my eyes and take a deep breath.

let me love...

random acts

December 2, 2009

so there's this woman who comes into our store fairly frequently. i didn't like her that much when i first met her. my impression of her was similar to that of the one i had for most of our regular customers--i thought she was demanding and difficult.

but over the past three years, i've learned that impression is really, really wrong.

she's this really sweet lady. she's got these mannerisms, this tone of voice and facial expressions that calm in seconds. she genuinely cares about people. she's the epitome of good. she's also a really interesting lady. i spent my lunch break one evening discussing costa rica and her travels there.

she's had a rough few months, though, lately. earlier she had her knee replaced. recently, she'd had cortizone injections in her hip. today, she went in for another cortizone injection, but this one was in her back.

last night, she came through my line and bought a few books. one of them was god's wisdom for your every need. i'd commented on it, asked if we had anymore. we didn't, so i took a second to jot down the isbn, then finished ringing her purchase and sent her off to meet her daughter for dinner.

a few minutes later, she came back, smiled at me, said merry christmas and that she'd been wondering what to get me. i told her she didn't have to get me anything. the pleasure of her company was enough, and i meant it. but she insisted that she had to get me something, so she set one of our small plastic bags on the counter. it's folded in half, and i can tell there's a book in there, and she pushed it a little my way and said that it was for me. i told her again that she really didn't have to get me anything. she told me again that she did. that she'd gone an ordered a copy of the book for herself, and she wanted me to have this one.

this one being the book of wisdom.

so touched by her generosity was i that i had to remind myself i was on the sales floor and my other customers could give a rat's ass about me. they just wanted to pay for their books.

so i suck it up and go back to my spiel.

this week's wisdom is thus:

my son, if your heart is wise,
my heart will rejoice--indeed, i myself;
yes, my inmost being will rejoice
when your lips speak the right things

do not let your heart envy sinners,
but be zealous for the fear of the lord all the day;
for surely there is a hereafter,
and your hope will not be cut off. (proverbs 23:15-18)

do not love the world or the things in the world. if anyone loves the world, the love of the father is not in him. for all that is in the world--the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life--is not of the father but is of the world. and the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he woh does the will of god abides forever. (john 2:15-17)