31 May 2007

My mom tagged herself

Gosh, I love my mom. Look for more about how and why later. But for now . . .
She wasn't even tagged (since she has no blog) but emailed me 8 random facts about herself anyway. I've asked if I could post them here as a "guest post" and she obliged. Her 8 reminded me what I left off my list: namely, how much I love the game of bridge (inherited honestly from the women of my distaff side) and how I am clearly my mother made over (except for the quilting thing). Enjoy!

8 random facts about my mom, guest-written by my mom:

  1. I love the hand of a fabric. Randy noticed it early on: "You shop with your hands, not your eyes!" I love the folds of fabrics, the play of the light, the weave, the color combinations, the weight, you name it, I love it about fabric. Even though I've always had an affinity for fabric, I'll never look at it the same way since I started quilting.
  2. Air is different colors. My favorite is just after dawn or just before the sun sets. There's a rare pink, blue, turqoise (and too many other colors to name) quality to the space between you and any particular object in the distance.
  3. Reconciling a bank statement is a beautiful thing! I've come upon this love relatively late in my life. It would have been helpful in earlier times, but as they say better late than never. The advent of computer programs like Quickbooks and Excel have brought a completeness to reconciliation. Who knew there would be so many opportunities for my favorite activity: bank and credit card statements, cash reserve and bad debts, associate advances, chargebacks, ahh the list grows all the time! At the end, not a penny's difference, that's my goal!
  4. I'm an oatmeal kind of gal. For the last many years I've enjoyed a half glass of orange juice and plain oatmeal made with water for breakfast almost every day. Recently I've added dried blueberries, but it will take several months to decide if they are a permanent addition to the menu.
  5. I love looking at old family photos. All, except ones of myself. To see Jennifer stretched out on the couch sucking her thumb at about age 3, and Emily riding her tricycle in the backyard gives me a thrill and warms my soul. But then there's that photo of myself, hairstyle and clothes of some unknown era. What was I thinking??
  6. I would wear a long gown with a train everyday to work if I could. I think there is nothing quite as elegant as a gown with a train and I've decided there just aren't enough opportunities to wear one. My daughter's wedding dresses are sheer beauty! But let's face it, that's a one-time opportunity. I did have the hint of a train in the gown I wore to ILC this year, but it only whetted my appetite for more!
  7. A good hug will fix anything! I'm a hugger from way back. I don't understand or even really trust people who don't like to hug. I've known several people like that, but the joy they miss is immeasurable. Good people hug. Or anyway that's how it seems to me.
  8. Finally, I'd like to discuss a finesse. A finesse is a beautiful thing! Getting someone to do what you want them to do without complaint, or hesitation, or even really knowing they're being led to do is a high art. In Bridge, a finesse yields extra tricks. In life, a proper string of finesses could end war.

28 May 2007

Tagged: I'm It

Shannon Stevens tagged me. Walked right into my inbox and said "You're it." Or something like that. Here are the rules:

Each tagged "player" states 8 random facts/habits about himself or herself and then writes a blog entry that reveals the 8 things and posts these rules. At the end of the blog, the tagged person must list 8 newly tagged people, leaving a comment that says "you're it" and asking them to read your blog.

So here goes. 8 random facts about me:

  1. I'm a huge fan of The Cosby Show. Got highly disappointed when a sociologist visiting Centenary several years ago said the show didn't do any good to upset African-American stereotypes and might even have had an opposite effect. Hrmph. I love it anyway. Hardly missed a new episode growing up, hardly miss it in syndication now, am buying the DVDs as they come out. Go on, ask me any trivia.
  2. Like Shannon, I love roller coasters. Even "the old, crickety wooden ones like the Texas Giant at Six Flags." One of my favorites: The Big Bad Wolf in Busch Gardens Williamsburg. Katy Valentine and I rode that hanging coaster too many times in a row just because we could (the park was so empty that day), and we tried it out in the front, in the middle, in the back. At dusk, we learned by experience not to ride in the front car of a roller coaster once the bugs come out.
  3. I'm afraid of big things, like the really tall statue of Ramses II that finished the eponymous touring exhibit my family visited when I was a kid (subsequently, I have learned to go slowly and searchingly through museum doors lest some huge thing in the next room shock me). Too, the ocean: I love the sound but won't go past where my toes can touch, because other big things like whales and giant octopi live there. And also like St. Stephen's in Vienna; we got lost returning to our hotel from the opera late one night and suddenly, there it was, dark and looming. We had walked into the incense-filled nave a few days before, and I pivoted a careful, scared circle to map it in my mind: immense rose window behind, the tomb of Emperor Frederick III plus various relics and mystical things in side chapels, Habsburg intestines in the crypt below.
  4. Whenever I hear Willie Nelson or Prairie Home Companion, I feel a little carsick. (My dad made us listen to his one tape of Willie every time we took a road trip. As for Prairie Home Companion, it was always on during my parents' seemingly endless countryside drives on Sunday afternoons: "Look, girls, isn't that dogwood beautiful? See it, in the middle of that forest? Right there. Beautiful." We learned to quit saying "no" because it just prolonged the pause; until a few years ago, neither my sister nor I even knew what a dogwood looked like. And we're working on Willie and PHC.)
  5. Every time I move, I pack all my books in alphabetical order. Not alphabetical in each box but alphabetical per box, so that a box marked "Mc" only has books authored by writers whose last names begin with "Mc" and so on. Thankfully, we don't move often (random bonus fact: I dislike moving).
  6. In high school, I rarely read required books. Well, I generally began them but almost never finished. But in 10th grade, I tested very well on the books: the now-doctor April would tell me what happened just before the quizzes.
  7. I didn't have play clothes growing up.
  8. I have a scar at my hairline where my sister threw a size D battery at me. We were fighting over a tape player and when the battery compartment opened from our jostling it, she just picked up the batteries and threw them, not meaning to actually inflict injury (she was maybe 7) but just get me out of the room, I think. My mom didn't punish her: she was so scared that she didn't need it! And my dad figured I didn't need stitches, so now I've got a wad of scar tissue to remember it by.
So there we have it. Now to tag a few more: Strange, Two Sheds, Sic, to-be Mrs. Menefee, Kathryn, Shelby.

23 May 2007

Are you busy?

So my grandmother called this morning while I was at work. We don't have a land line anymore, so she called my cell, and even though she understands it is mobile, she nevertheless assumes that I'm at home when I answer it. She'll probably remember later that I work on Wednesday mornings, and then she'll feel terrible: she hates to call when I'm at work, even though I tell her that if I'm busy, I won't answer. But she definitely didn't remember this morning. Here's about how the conversation went:

Me: Hello? [I say this like I'm answering a land line without caller ID, because that's what Grandma expects, even though I'm actually answering my cell phone.]

Grandma: [Long pause.] Ooh. [Like I've surprised her.] Jenny?

Me: Hi Grandma.

Grandma: Jenny, did you call me?

Me: Um, no.

Grandma: Well, I was just in the bath [by which she means 2 inches of tepid water in her tub] and the phone rang, but I couldn't get to it in time. Called Jackie because she sometimes calls in the mornings, thought she was at her exercise class but maybe not, so I called her to see if she called, and Bob answered, said she wasn't back from exercise yet, so it wasn't her. Thought it might be you, but you didn't call?

Me: Nope.

Grandma: Well, I hurried out the bath [which now makes me think she could be dripping naked next to the phone, like when she answers the "What're you doing?" question with an obvious mouthful of toothpaste muffling "Just brushing my teeth" because she's crazy afraid of missing a phone call] and put on a bathrobe real fast [phew] but didn't make it. Thought it could have been Jackie, but no, so I thought maybe you.

This continues on a loop for a while as she runs through previous missed phone calls and possible callers, reiterating how Jackie often calls in the morning but it couldn't have been Benita because she calls at 10:30 every night and never in the morning, etc. Then, finally:

Grandma: So I probably ought to let you go because I'm getting cold here. Are you busy? [Absolutely no pause for answer.] I mean I just got out real fast and put on this bathrobe.

Etc, with a diversion about her always impending haircut, until finally she does say bye.

17 May 2007

Curious as the World Turns

It's Friday night. Noel has finally fallen asleep after lots of rocking: every noise, every shift of the tide, every relaxation of a new muscle of his own and Noel arches his back and pins his eyes open to check it out.

This isn't new. Most naptimes and night-bedtimes go this way: sometimes it's accompanied by fussy crying, but usually it's just a long winding down with lullabies. Even at only five months, our son seems rather concerned that he will miss something important if he submits to sleep.

But finally, last Friday night, with Curious George in hand, he falls asleep in my arms and I take him to the bassinet. When I lay him down, he manages to keep Curious (as Micah calls him, even though I insist that's not his first name) in his hugged arms and looks particularly precious, so I call Micah in to look at him.

Micah brings the camera and even though he takes care not to use the flash (hence the blurry image), I am skeptical. The camera still clicks, a vestigial sound alluding to the actual click a non-digital shutter would produce.

Noel's eyes crack open once and he tightens his grip on Curious. We finally exhale, figuring he has not really awoken.

As Micah gets ready to take one more picture, Noel's eyes open again, focusing straight on daddy and widening his eyes. Not long after this, he drops Curious and extends his arms to be picked up.

Nothing to confirm a suspicion that there's stuff you're missing during sleep than to wake up and see daddy hovering over your bed with a camera.

03 May 2007

Lessons from a saint

I wrote earlier about the homegoing of a friend who suffered with brain tumors these five years and finally departed this flesh in favor of a glorified body that has no tumors whatsoever. Now a few words about lessons observed from another friend over Libby's last months.

I've learned so much about real ministry watching this friend (let's call her "Sue"), though I'm sure that what I've observed isn't half of what one could see. Her love for Libby was a true overflow of her affection for her Lord, so she gave of herself in body, mind, soul, and affections liberally and gladly and without pause. This is primarily remarkable because, honestly, Libby wasn't always the easiest woman to love.

What I observed in Sue was a real forgiveness, reconciliatory spirit, compassion, and sacrificial love. Her love toward Libby in those last days especially was tireless, never seeming to remember any former complaint or difficulty. I'm sure the hours she spent praying for Libby in the last months, not to mention the years over which she knew her, are nearly countless. And after Libby's death, she grieved deeply in that hope-filled manner that befits the people of Christ.

Sue often stayed with Libby overnight at Grace Home and stood bedside for counsel. A few weeks before Libby's death, I thanked her for staying with Libby those nights, for I wished I could and knew that it was very hard as Libby was in much pain. Her response was, "Jen, what else could I do? I love her!" And of course, she meant it: no false modesty or imagined affection, no mere sense of duty.

Now, Sue isn't an emotional kind of gal; her heart is simply near to the heart of God, which means she loves all those in Christ with a genuine and sacrificial affection. I've been able to watch it unfold these past few months especially, and it's taught me a lot about how to minister. This is how one must conduct ministry: love to the uttermost, never keep a record of faults, pray unceasingly, regard those the Lord gives you to care for as true daughters, never demand fruit from your efforts and rejoice only in God if you ever see it, never count any of the work as your own but offer it all up to the Lord as a holy and acceptable sacrifice, and give up everything you are (body, time, emotions, mind) to do all the good you can.

All this Sue has learned from our Lord, of course, who did and does all that infinitely better. And all this she would insist is not of herself but is only of Him. And she's right. That's why she can do it. And that's how and why I must do it too.