Tuesday, April 7, 2015

But I Will Never Knit Them Into Thneeds

Each week,  I water my air plants.

( Yes, you're right. That statement does sound entirely oxymoronic. But it's true. Air plants need a weekly soak or spritzing, and I like to give mine a long, luxurious bath.)

And when I pick them up, I hold the ethereal lightness of each one in my fingertips and marvel at their:

mysteriously muted shades of green and grey,
geometrically precise stems,
impossibly delicate tendrils,

and totally wacky, utterly unique personalities.

And I find myself wondering, which is the bigger miracle - that God put such a fascinating creation into my hand, or that Dr Seuss conjured their likeness into the colorful tufts of his Truffula Trees.

Monday, April 6, 2015

The Devil And God Are Raging Inside Me

When I feel the weight of the world's injustices heaped upon my shoulders (as we all do from time to time,) I know just what to do.

I bust out some angry music. Nothing soothes my wounded soul like raw lyrics and raging guitar chords.

For such angsty companionship, this album is my all-time go-to favorite.

Because Jesse always knows just what to say. He understands suffering like none other.

And after listening to all four sides of this curative double album, I always, always feel Brand New.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

What Is Easter Dinner?

There is special satisfaction to sitting down to a pretty table and a well-cooked meal. 

Granted, the extra effort required to pull off a nice sit-down dinner is a luxury that's sometimes difficult to afford. Like every weeknight ever.

Not gonna lie. On any given night of the week, I can usually pull off a quick stir fry, but we love to take our plates into the family room and gather round the coffee table to watch Jeopardy while we eat. Such are the benefits of having grown-up kids. 

But when a holiday rolls around, there is no substitute for setting a special table and preparing a festive feast. Today, for Easter, we managed two exceptional spreads:

^ Around noon, we ate brunch!

Now I know that brunch is hardly a novel concept. Many families consider a late morning meal to be a mainstay of holiday dining. But given the fact that, like most families with growing children, our Easter mornings used to consist of the kids eating candy by the handful from seven a.m onward, I have never wanted to set myself up for failure by making real food for them to eat before sundown.

Now, my girls have learned to wait and stuff themselves with candy after our meals.

So now we can actually enjoy brunch. 

^ We decorated the table with our official Easter bunny plates,

^ And scattered around a few of my ever-expanding collection of succulents. 

None of this was fancy or elegant. The recipe for the egg dish was simple and inexpensive; the tablescape was an impromptu arrangement of what I had on hand. 

Still, this morning meal was peaceful and delicious, and a lovely addition to the day.

* * * * *

^ Easter dinner was served at five pm. As usual, our menu was a mix of traditional dishes and family favorites.

Instead of the typical ham, lamb or pork, we just went with steaks and mashed potatoes. Spring fresh asparagus and deviled eggs round out the classics, and my first-born treated us to another holiday batch of baked macaroni and cheese. 

^ I like my eggs heavy on the paprika. Pass me four, please.

^ I might have slightly scorched the asparagus, but my husband suggested that we just pretend it was grilled. Which actually made it taste extra delicious. 

^ To fill in the ends of the table, thereby making me feel a little less lonely for my two missing daughters, I added silver trays each bearing a vase of tulips and a miscellaneous collection of either sheep or rabbits. I did spring for some new place mats this year - and some new napkins that lay forgotten in the dryer while we ate - but everything else has been kicking around the house for the ages.

* * * * *

Along with the fresh strawberries and ice cream that we ate for dessert, I'm satisfied that this year's Easter celebration was a success. As my family has grown beyond the childish pleasures of each holiday, I'm increasingly certain that what happens around the table is the heart and soul of the celebration, and like most homemakers, I genuinely enjoy putting forth the extra effort to make these moments special.

Now, make no mistake.Tomorrow night, we are definitely going back to stir-fry on the couch at 7:30 with Alex. But that is a tradition worth honoring, too.

What I Know About Easter

As I was growing up, no one taught me a single thing about God

I was not baptized.
Literally never went to church.
Didn't even touch a Bible, let alone read one.

Whatever I thought about God - and I did think about him quite a bit - I had to figure out for myself.

And I'll be honest. Easter not only puzzled me; it downright creeped me out.

I mean, I knew I was missing a lot of the details. But an innocent guy got nailed to a cross, stakes pounded through his hands and his feet, and left in the hot Middle Eastern sun to die?

And then a couple days later, he popped back to life and just up and walked out of his grave?

No. I didn't accept that any story with those gruesome plot points could possibly be about love

Because I knew in my soul that if God is about anything, he has to be about love.

* * * * *

Decades later, I still have moments where I push back against the hideous circumstances of the Easter story.

The lies, the brutality, the bloody violence.
The nails, the spears, the crown of thorns.

I don't like those bits at all.

But now I know for sure that on a deeper level, Easter is a story of God's love.
The world is a rough place. Ugly things happen, innocent people suffer and die. 
But that is not the end of the story. God has more for us - all of us - and when he decides on the time and place, we will move on from this world into the next, swept up in unimaginable currents of tender forgiveness and never-ending love.
Now I daresay that most card-carrying Christians would generally agree with my summary. And I'm sure that, later this morning at Easter worship, a man wearing a long robe and a cross around his neck will stand up front and explain in great detail what I am basically trying to get across

But my grasp of Easter doesn't come from what I have been taught.

I know about Easter not because I was baptized.
Nor because I go to church.
And definitely not just because of what I read in the Bible.

I believe that Easter is a story about God's unending forgiveness and and abiding passion for the whole world because I know in my soul that if God is about anything, he has to be about love.

Saturday, April 4, 2015


Taken from my car at the intersection of Mukilteo Speedway and Bev-Ed Road. 
No, Officer, of course I wasn'tt driving at the time. 

Sometimes, when the wolves of this world have locked their jaws around me, and shake me so hard that I don't know what to do, I look up.

Living here in the Pacific Northwest, that usually means I see the tops of tall trees and our ubiquitous marine layer of low-lying clouds.

But also, since Boeing's final assembly plant is in the neighborhood, I almost always see planes.

Huge planes.
The biggest planes known to mankind.
Circling over our streets and homes.
Low in the sky.
Just after take-off and right before they land.

And when, in my hopelessness. I notice one of those technological wonders, I remind myself of what they represent.

A dream.
A journey.
A series of frustrations and set-backs.
A lot of hard work.
A miracle.

Somehow, those planes give me strength to keep going.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Thank You

You came from heaven to earth 
to show the way.

From the earth to the cross,
my debt to pay.

From the cross to the grave,
from the grave to the sky,

Lord, I lift your name on high.

- Petra

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Chicken Dance

Today was a busy day full of algebra students taking final exams. After a whirlwind of dropped signs, forgotten formulas and senseless mistakes, I celebrated with the victors, who are now free until September, and made remedial plans with the vanquished. Quite a complex and emotional process.

At home, I craved nothing more or less than a quiet afternoon. To be honest, I wanted nothing more than to lie on the couch watching Arrested Development on Netflix.

What I got was even better than Buster.

* * * * *

I was heading out the door with Ranger for our daily constitutional when I suddenly remembered my English daisies in bloom. The path leading off my patio was lit up with their sweet white faces, and the late afternoon sunlight was perfect for photos. 

Knowing that Ranger was totally revved up and halfway down the driveway ahead of me, I hollered up the stairs to my second-born and asked her to grab me some photos. 

She did. I found these shots on her camera.

But as I scrolled on past the flower shots, I found a little surprise.

Apparently, Cedric - the grey tabby among our trio of cats - made an appearance during her photo shoot. In classic Cedric style, he undoubtedly rubbed against her legs and purred with vigor as she dodged the raindrops and tried to capture his cuteness.

* * * * *

In the meantime, Ranger and I were dashing between the sprinkles as well. Out on our usual route, we encountered a couple walking toward us. Well before we met, I noticed they were both wearing great big grins on their faces. As they came closer, I noticed them staring at me..

Well, not exactly at me. At my left leg. 

And who should be marching along in perfect obedience and Irish swag, right next to my left leg?

Mhmm. Ranger.

As the gap between us narrowed, the woman spoke. "I love looking at your dog," she enthused, obviously familiar with seeing us out and about. "He's so cool."

I laughed and thanked her for her kind words.

The husband didn't speak, but beamed even more broadly as Ranger and I squeezed past him on the sidewalk. Ranger wagged effusively. 

* * * * *

We got back home just as the late afternoon shadows lengthened and the sun dipped toward the horizon. With a heart full of spring flowers and happy pets, I was just about as content as a dog after a long walk, or a cat in the sunshine.

Or a Bluth doing a chicken dance. Which is pretty darn happy indeed.