Friday, August 31, 2012

FMF: Change

Five Minute Friday

I'm linking up to 5 Minute Fridays, a weekly writing prompt shared among all bloggers who participate.  This week's theme is change.  You can find out all about it here.



Change is that chill in the air first thing in the mornings now.

Change is in the pencils and glue sticks stacked high in the Target aisles.

Change is my belly that swells and now moves as this tiny girl finds her legs and arms.

Change is the three sentence words coming from my toddler's mouth.  And the new power behind her tantrums.

Change is what can happen when I get off my high horse and sit down to that slice of humble pie.

Change is moving, sorting, finagling huge piles of tiny clothes as one grows up and another is on her way.

Change is clearance stickers on those Target school supplies.

Change is leaves on the ground, crispy, even though it's not quite time for them to turn color.

But that will change, too.

Because change is constant; it is the only thing that never changes, but is never the same.  It is the rhythm of these days that fly by, the beat we hardly notice until it's passed.  And all we feel are its old ripples.


Thursday, August 30, 2012

Love Story (3): Summer

{Just joining us?  You can find Part 1 here}

Professor and I didn't see much of each other between prom and the end of the school year.  We only shared one class, speech was over, and everything about the end of senior year is crazily hectic.

But there was one afternoon that our paths crossed.

A friend and I were waiting until the parking lot traffic thinned before going to our cars.  She was talking to some friends when I saw Professor in his track uniform heading toward the drinking fountain down the hall.  I had to walk that way anyway, so maybe I could hope for a close encounter.

(I have since learned he was thinking the same.)

We fell into step halfway down the hall, went through the usual how-are-you's.  Then he asked, "Do you want to get together again sometime?"  I knew Professor to be shy, reserved, quiet...but here he'd asked me out, his voice confident and calm, with people milling around, listening and everything.

I said I would then rushed toward my car while he rushed off to practice.

Graduation came and went.  We attended each other's parties; I made him promise to call me as he left mine.  And he did.

The summer passed with dates for ice cream or bowling or just grabbing snacks at the convenience store, watching a movie, and filling the rest of the night with talk.  Oh, did we talk.  On those summer nights, we solved all the world's problems and shared our deepest secrets.

One night, I could tell something was up.  We sat on the picnic table in my parents' backyard, and I told him to spit it out.

He was flustered, shy like he was asking me to prom all over again.

"Do you think," he asked quietly.  "You would ever marry me someday?"

"Yes."  The word came without thought or realization.  But something inside me unclenched and I knew it was true.

"Really?" he asked, somewhat stunned but pleased.

I reached for his hand and nodded.

Why did he ask so soon?  Because Professor isn't the type to kiss a girl or tell her he loves her unless he knows it's for life.

And both those things happened on that starry night.  And the stars seemed to align in our favor: we were headed to different colleges, but they were both in the Twin Cities.

The only question that remained?  How would we make it work across two cities, on campuses that were separated by an ideological ocean, with no cars and no idea how to get to one another?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Lady Who Ran from Bible Study

Running part 1

My church does a ladies' Bible study in the park over the summer, complete with childcare for the littles.  One hope in meeting at the park is opportunity to be seen and even joined by others.

I arrived early one Tuesday and started chatting up the only other mom on the playground.  I mentioned our Bible study, she thought it was neat (especially the childcare!), and we went on to talking about our kids.  Ladies from my church started arriving and I decided to take Pookie for a bathroom run before everything started.

As we traipsed to the restrooms, I told the woman I'd been talking with that she was welcome to join us and introduced her to our childcare helpers on the trip back.  She got her older kids checked in for their swimming lessons and joined us.

I was feeling pretty proud of myself: inviting a stranger to join us was going out on a limb for me.  Boy, I'd done a good job.

The study went well, she referred to various Scriptures as she spoke, and seemed to be doing just fine.  Then one study question referenced Hell in a way that a friend of mine didn't understand, so we stopped to discuss it.  Several ladies offered wise, biblically-backed explanations of the verse.  Our newcomer mentioned she thought it was more allegorical.  Someone else brought up Scripture that refuted her idea.

The picnic table got awkwardly quiet.

Whoever was leading the study picked up the pieces and moved on, but our newcomer went quiet.  A few minutes later, she started looking past us and bolted from the table, scooped up her toddler, and made a beeline for the pool.

Now...this might have happened because swimming lessons ended and she needed to pick up her kids.  But the mad dash struck me.  After retrieving her kids, she loaded them in her car, then came over and gave us a quick "Thanks, bye!"

And I couldn't stop thinking about it all day.  And eventually the Lord tapped me on the shoulder of my heart: was I holding on to that moment because I felt for that woman...or because I worried what she thought of me?

After all, I had invited her to join us.  I had made the small talk, the invitation, the connection.  We must be cool, right?  But what does she think of me now?  Does she think I'm a crazy?  The worry went on and on.

I made the entire endeavor about me and how I looked, instead of praising God for the opportunity to talk to someone about Jesus.  I worried about how I looked instead of how the truth of the Gospel was presented.

I'll never know just what that woman thought of me, but I do know that I followed the Spirit's prompting in offering the invitation--and since only God can control the outcome, that is all that matters.

Guess I need to keep offering, inviting, speaking up...even if they forever run away.

Friday, August 17, 2012

FMF: Stretch

Five Minute Friday

I'm linking up to 5 Minute Fridays, a weekly writing prompt shared among all bloggers who participate.  This week's theme is stretch.  You can find out all about it here.

But my life isn't moving toward stretching, even as my belly does.  Everything but my middle needs to shrink.

My outside obligations.  My go-go-go attitude.  My personal projects and wants.

Little people need a lot of love, a lot of time.  I've had plenty of time to go hither and thither with one little person and still fit everything into the day, but with two?  With two, I need to shrink to the outside world and stretch into this little home of ours.

There will be less escaping to the mall up the road.  Fewer trips to the grocery store just because one item is on super sale.

There will be a lot more popcorn made at home and snuggle time and Bible reading while the littlest one suckles and the big little one nuzzles in close by.  There will be a lot more demands on this mama's time and attention...and there's the stretch.

Can I pull away from my desires, my ambitions, my in-this-moment wants to love these little girls the way they deserve?

No, I can't.  Not of myself.  And so we walk into this next season of nesting and preparing, with hands folded in prayer and Bibles wide open.  Because I simply may not be ready to parent two little girls in my own strength...but by grace alone I don't have to.



Thursday, August 16, 2012

Love Story (2): La Noche Festiva

{Just joining us?  You can find Part 1 here}

Needless to say, my feelings toward prom were drastically improved.  My mom and I shopped like crazy to find the perfect dress (and paid way more than we should have).  My friends and I chose a restaurant.  Professor and I went for a get-to-know-you-so-prom-isn't-awkward outing and then ordered our corsage and boutonniere at the local flower shop.

When the day finally arrived, Professor pulled up to my house in a car he borrowed from his grandpa (a vast improvement over the white van he usually drove).  I peeked at him through the curtains: handsome in his tux, his hair neat, corsage in hand.  I was all butterflies when he knocked at the door.

My mom answered and called for me.  Professor stared but said nothing; later I found out he had lost his breath and was gripping the door knob behind him.  We posed for pictures for my mom then hopped in the car for pictures with at least four different groups of friends, which was all a blur.

The only things I remember leading up to the dance?  Professor having to fight my dress into the car so he could get the door shut, smiling like a crazy woman at every mother and HER mother's camera, being too excited to eat at dinner (unheard of for me), and Professor letting me know that he'd cover my hair with his jacket if it had started to rain when we headed to the car.

A true gentleman.

{I feel dated scanning a photo!  But there you have it...none of the pictures I have
is great, but I always smile when I see this one: my mom kept directing us to move
this way or that to make up for the height difference, but we were both so shy and
nervous, we ended up backing all that way up the stairs!

The dance was fun: we usually were within sight of each other, though during fast songs we often ended up socializing and moving among various circles of people.  But slow songs?  That boy found me like a magnet finds...another magnet.

Now, Professor is 6'3"; he's got a foot on me.  I couldn't keep looking up at him while we danced or I'd have become at one point I leaned my head on his chest.  And, sappy as it sounds, it was like finding the jelly to my peanut butter; we just fit together perfectly.

I asked if he wanted to duck out before the last song to beat traffic out of the parking lot (oh yes, my dad taught me well).  He glanced at me, heard a slow song start and pulled me back toward the dance floor.

Post-prom was like the dance: usually in sight of one another, sometimes within talking range and sometimes not.  Around 5AM they were ready to wrap up and hand out door prizes.  I was so tired, I let myself rest my head on Professor's shoulder...he didn't seem to mind.

Poor Professor was so tired on the drive back to my house, I asked him 1,453 questions to keep him awake.  Even exhausted I loved hearing his answers.  Little did I know it was only the beginning of hours and hours of discussion that lay ahead of us.

Friday, August 10, 2012

5MF: Connect

Five Minute Friday

I'm linking up to 5 Minute Fridays, a weekly writing prompt shared among all bloggers who participate.  This week's theme is connect.  You can find out all about it here.


Connect.  Fellowship.  Friendship.  When you've pulled up your roots from home and feel like a tumbleweed, these can be dirty words.

Growing up, it was easy to connect with anyone: I had a big mouth and lots of time.  As an adult, it's tough to find five minutes in a person's schedule to chat, let alone an hour for coffee...or a few for dinner.

And I will admit we haven't tried as hard as we could.  Professor and I are just rolling through, getting a PhD so we can go onto the next place for some post-doc work, and then a final destination after that.  Why work so hard to leave people behind in the in-between?

"...and love your neighbor as yourself."

Oh, right.  We are called to connect, to reach out, to support, to love on those around us.  It doesn't matter what I want or that I get frustrated when our efforts aren't reciprocated.

Jesus gives no qualifiers.  No ifs.  Just do it.

Just thinking this way reminds me of some kids I promised ice cream and a family I've been meaning to get back to about a get-together.  It is my job to connect, to love, no matter how uprooted I may feel.

Even tumbleweeds roll into other things.


Monday, August 6, 2012

The moves!

I've had a "Work in Progress" word count tool in my sidebar for ages.

{photo source}

And it's been at zero.  For ages.

But, not anymore!  As August drew near, I decided that WIP needed more than just good needed a swift kick in the pants.

I've blogged before about schedules and plans and such, but I dreamed up those things before being pregnant.  And before the Crazy Heat began.  And before the terrible twos descended upon us.

I'm taking this manuscript process slow; my goal is 500 words/weekday, plus another 1000 on the Saturdays I get to leave home and write (obligations are starting to crowd out these precious blocks of time, but I'll still try to do my best).

My wordcounts will go up on Twitter and Facebook to help keep me accountable.  Hopefully I have a finished draft before this baby enters the world!

Friday, August 3, 2012

FMF: Here

I recently stumbled on a great writing challenge: Five Minute Fridays, a prompt to write for five minutes without editing or revising...then sharing whatever comes out.  I've been lurking for a few weeks, but I decided today to throw myself into it.  You can find lots of great writers in the link up, but this is what I did with the prompt, "Here."

Here is a place beyond yesterday's doubts.

"What if they can't fix the car...again?"

"What if we have to put more money than we have into the car...again?"

"What would our life be like if we just gave up on having a car?"

We went through a lot of "what if" before we got to

"God is big."

"God is sufficient."

"God has a plan for us, even in car trouble."

And we were serious about talking car-free living, that maybe God was calling us there.  And that maybe we would be okay with going to that place.

I scoured for bus routes to get us there.  Two and a half hours one way IF the schedule ran exactly on time...on a Sunday?

I thought about biking.  We've got a newborn on the way and another Midwest winter around the corner.

I thought about taxi rides.  But I cringed at the cost.

I thought about humbling ourselves and asking for rides.  And then I realized we'll be a two car seat family and who has that kind of extra space?

Then I got the "you can come pick up your car" call.  And it was smooth sailing, with no more knocking sound, all the way to the gas station.  Then to the grocery store.  Then to our home.

And I thought about how we'll be able to drive to a birthday party tomorrow, church on Sunday, and a send-off for a family from our church who are moving...because God has gifted us with a car.

So here?  Here is a place full of gratitude for transportation and a God who gives more abundantly than we deserve.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Love Story: Prom?

Note: this is the first in a series about how my dear Professor and I fell in love.  Everybody likes a good love story, right?

Senior year of high school, I was pretty sour on the idea of prom.  Junior Prom had been fun, but it was kind of awkward: my group of "going stag" friends all got dates at the last minute.

Which left me sitting in the bleachers for Grand March.  By myself.

Other than that, it was a great night: we went to dinner as a big group, danced the night away, and then went to a school-sponsored post-Prom party (complete with games, snacks, racketball, sumo suits, you name it) that lasted until morning.

But nobody had asked me to go with them, and I went through typical, teenage, nobody-will-ever-love-me angst over it.  And when prom came around senior year?  I wanted nothing to do with it.

I also launched into long, unending rants about how I wanted nothing to do with boys, would never get married, and planned a dream journalism career for myself in which I was too busy for romance anyway.  (How my friends put up with me during that time, I still don't know.)

My best friend happened to be discussing prom with a fellow classmate who mentioned he wasn't likely going since he didn't have a date.  She saw her chance.  "You know, Michelle doesn't have a date, maybe you should ask her."

This boy and I didn't know each other well, but in a class of just 150, you know everybody to some degree.  We were both on speech team and had friends in common--who were more than willing to let me know he was going to ask.

So when my morning plans fell through one day and I ended up sitting in front of my locker at 7:15, I knew exactly why the lanky kid from five lockers over sat down beside me.

We exchanged good mornings, but then, feeling shy about the whole thing, I turned my attention back to my homework.  American Government, maybe?  Even at the time I couldn't make any sense of it.

"Hey, I was wondering..." he started, sounding nervous.  "You're probably already going with somebody, but I was wondering if you would maybe want to think about maybe going with me to Prom."*

"No," I said.  His face fell, crushed, before I could say another word.

"No," I repeated, then sped up. "I'm not going with anybody.  I'd love to go with you."

And oh that little grin on his face.  "Well, great," he said.  "Now I'm just going to go...jump for joy."

He really did jump up from the hallway floor then sprinted down the hall and around the corner toward the calc classroom we'd both sit in once the bell rang.

I'm not sure his feet really hit the floor as he went, and I doubt either one of us learned much in calculus that day.

*Did you notice all those maybes and hedge words?  Professor still does this and it makes me smile.

{Linked up to the Perspective on Life and Love Carnival at}
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