Sunday, June 30, 2013

What I'm Into Lately, May & June 2013

May 30: discovering the pottery wheel is the perfect antidote to the stress of moving 
In the fall, I stopped posting my Monday Mixtape posts in favor of a more personal weekly series promoting independent art-makers.  That series Buy More Art has been fun and I'm looking forward to starting the series back up in August or September.

Still, I miss being able to share with you the daily bits of song and story and craft I'm enjoying that was the original intention for Monday Mixtape.  I stumbled onto a fun blog link-up hosted by Hopeful Leigh.  I think I've found the happy second generation of Monday Mixtape -- so ingenious it birthed two spin-off series:  a bi-weekly Buy More Art post and a monthly What I'm Into Lately.

I don't know about you, but happy mediums make me -- well -- happy.


From the book pile

12  One Hundred Demons, written and illustrated by Lynda Barry (Sasquatch Books, reprint edition 2005) - May was moving month (again) so I stocked my nightstand with easy reads.  For many reasons, this book probably would have never made it home in my library tote had I not seen it quoted in the daily asterisk*.  Plus, I liked the idea of reading a book categorized (by the author) as "autobiofictionalography."

The book collects 20 cartoon narratives originally featured in Salon's Mothers Who Think site.  The title was inspired by the author's discovery of an Asian painting exercise (called, uh, One Hundred Demons) which connects each story as a series of "demons" Lynda Barry wishes to rid from her life.  For example, old boyfriends, lost childhood friendships, embarrassing family moments, and even the 2000 "hanging chad" elections.  Barry's drawing is awkward but funny, her writing voice sad but sweet.  

13  Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers by Anne Lamott (Riverhead Hardcover, First Edition edition 2012) - I didn't plan to read Anne Lamott and Lynda Barry together in the same month but, in retrospect, they'd make interesting companions in real life.  Maybe Barry should offer to illustrate some of Lamott's stories.

Like this excerpt:
"Some of you were taught to pray at bedtime with your parents, and when I spent the night at your houses, I heard all of you saying these terrifying words: 'Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I   wake ... ' 
Wait, what? What did you say? I could die in my sleep? I'm only seven years old ... 
'I pray the Lord my soul to take.'
That so, so did not work for me, especially in the dark in a strange home. Don't be taking my soul. You leave my soul right here, in my fifty-pound body. Help."
I should probably admit that Lamott's theology irks me quite a bit.  I suspect that's kinda what she's going for. For example,  her affinity for referring to God in the feminine pronoun makes me a bit nutty (Seriously, girlfriends, we want God to call us by our very own particular name, don't we?    This doesn't have to mean we can't see the male and female both in His image, friends.  Let's return the favor and call God by the name He's chosen for Himself, "Father".)  

But the woman can write, Anne Lamott, he can write.  (sorry, couldn't help myself). And the idea of breaking down our prayer life to three essentials is a beautiful meditation: Help, Thanks, Wow (or wowowowowow, in the reverberating sound the author helps us imagine).

I'm glad I read this book.  I'm glad Anne Lamott is a writer and someone who loves God and people.  

14  A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes From My Kitchen Table by Molly Wizenberg (Simon & Schuster, 2010) - This is a library book that I read and want to buy.  Partly because I want to try the recipes at a leisurely pace.  Partly because I loved the way the blogger-turned-author wove memoir with how-to, literary and easy-to-read at the same time.  I'd like to write a book with the same feel someday.  Since I only bake twice a year, I'll have to figure out something besides recipes, though.

Mostly I want to own this book because it's simply beautiful.

An excerpt from chapter 1: 
My father woke up each morning wanting that day. You could see it on his face. He was the one at the end of the table, laughing so hard that his round face split open like an overripe watermelon and his fillings shone darkly like seeds. He laughed so hard that he gagged a little and pulled out his handkerchief to wipe his mouth. He knew what he had, and he loved it. 
He could have taught me a lot of things. We'd hardly begun. But I have his recipe for potato salad, and when all else fails, it's a place to start.

15  Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset (Penguin Classics, 2005 edition) - I began the first of this trilogy, The Wreath, with the book club in our church. The idea being we'd read together one part of the trilogy for each month in summer.  When I picked it up at the library, I was a bit overwhelmed by its heft, and it took me a few chapters to warm up to the characters, setting, and tone of Kristin's story.  After missing the book club gathering -- but completing the first nove -- l I'm still a bit ambivalent.  While I've begun to appreciate the setting (admittedly painted in my mind a bit like an Elsa Beskow postcard) I've continued to be more aggravated than engrossed with the relationships between the main characters.

"Set in fourteenth century Norway, Kirstin Lavransdatter portrays the clash between feudal violence and christian piety, traditional imperatives and the individual conscience" says the book jacket.  "It's sort of like a 14th century Norwegian Jane Austen story" says I, describing the title to a friend last week.

I'm glad I read The Wreath.  As much as I'd like to feel the accomplishment of completing all 1124 pages, I'm not sure I can go the distance with the Daddy's-girl-marrying-the-scoundrel protagonist for two more.  

16  Memories of a Catholic Girlhood by Mary McCarthy (Heinemann, reprint 1957) - My friend Micha recommended this memoir recently.  I'm intrigued by the memoir as a genre, fascinated by the different forms it can take.  For example, Ms. McCarthy sets up Memories of A Catholic Girlhood acknowledging the various ways truth can be reshaped in writing the story of one's life; an author might forget the particular details and need to create them in order to fill in the blanks of her story or she may just want to change the details because it makes the story more fun.  In this author's case she followed each chapter of her story with a chapter setting the record straight.  At first I found this admirable, but at some point I began to resent the interruptions to the flow of reading her story.  In either case, her writing -- especially her description of people -- delighted me throughout.

I happened to listen to the Writer's Almanac podcast on June 21 which, unbeknownst to me, is Mary McCarthy's birthday.  The brief bio they chose to highlight her work included a professional spat McCarthy held with playwright and memoirist Lillian Hellman, famously declaring on a televised talkshow, "Every word she [Hellman] writes is a lie, including 'and' and 'the.'"  

I now better understand Ms. McCarthy's apparent compulsive need to differentiate between truth and fiction in her own memoir.

17  Jayber Crow: A Novel by Wendell Berry (Counterpoint, 2001) - I wrote this full review a few weeks back:  The Book Review In Which I (politely) Disagree With the Mad Farmer

I also made you a quote print.  

Hope you like it!


Movies & TV 

We splurged a little bit with back-to-back blockbusters to kick off the summer:  Iron Man 3 and Star Trek Into Darkness.  I guess I should confess that I've never watched even an episode of Star Trek.  But my family are all  mid-level Trekkies so I figured it was time to jump on ship.  You know what?  After the stress of moving and finishing school, a night sharing popcorn up and down the theater row watching a variety of good-looking species save other planets and each other is a pretty good thing.  

A few evenings when I was too tired to do anything else, I vegged out with a Freaks and Geeks marathon on Netflix.  I don't know how I missed the show in 1999 (oh, I know!  I had four kids under the age of 8 and probably fell asleep by that time of night).  I'm so glad my son suggested I might like the series; best suggestion my kids gave me since my daughter told me I might like this little band called Mumford & Sons.  I was only 9 in 1980, but all the highschool cousins and schoolmates I idolized were the exact age as James Franco, Seth Rogan, Jason Segel, Linda Cardellini and Busy Phillips' high school characters and the story lines are spot on.  The  clothes, the hair, the sound track, the new microwaves and Ataris all take me back in the best of ways.  


In my ears 

Pretty much every weekend goes to working on getting settled into our new little house.  I thought a funky, soul-ish playlist was in order.  I give you my Saturday Working Around the House playlist:


Art I'm Loving 

[Loie Fuller Dancing]

Samuel Joshua Beckett (British, 1870–1940). [Loie Fuller Dancing], ca. 1900. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Gilman Collection, Purchase, Mrs. Walter Annenberg and The Annenberg Foundation Gift, 2005 (2005.100.951


On the Blog (Get This Sacramental Life delivered by email.) 

Favorite pin/In the kitchen...soon!  (Follow me on Pinterest here.)


Random thing making me happy 

The Daily Office online from Trinity Mission (+ my back patio, the neighbors in our back house and my chipped orange mug from Goodwill)


Looking forward to in July

  • my girls are home from individual mission trips and have promised to share some of their stories here on the blog in the next couple weeks
  • unpacking the last dozen boxes sitting around our house & filling up my great-grandmother's glass-cabinet bookcase that just arrived to us from New York!  
  • FAMILY VACATION IN NEW YORK!!  Counting down the days...


So, what about you? What's in your book pile? What art, film, song has captured your imagination? What are you pinning or cooking or planning? 

Share in the comments, won't you?

For more “What I’m Into” posts, head over to Leigh’s blog.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

8 lessons from 9 months doing stand up in Austin, TX [guest post by Andrew Murphy]

I asked my son, Andrew, to tell us what he's been learning the past nine months since standing on his own two feet stepping into Austin's celebrated stand-up comedy scene.  

Like every other time he's written for us here, he raised the bar for my own writing in this space. Thank you, Andrew!  (p.s. You make me proud)

8 lessons from 9 months doing stand up in Austin, TX

Before I list some lessons, let me preface them by saying I didn’t make these up on my own. All these lessons were gathered from my original skewed stance on how comedy works, and if more seasoned comedians didn’t put me in my place and share some wisdom, I wouldn’t have grown at all in the last 9 months. Also, this is a poorly written article. It’s hard for me to be subjective when I’m writing about my favorite thing, but hopefully some of this still resonates with you. Thanks for reading and thanks to my parents for seeing my passion and engaging me in discussion.

8. Never Expect Anything
I’ve probably done over 150 open mics and shows at this point, and there’s never a day when I don’t leave my house—my material rehearsed and prepared, amped up on caffeine and short on sleep—that I don’t have lofty expectations for how awesome my set is gonna go over and how full and excited the audience will be. Then, right before I go on stage, there’s never been a moment when I haven’t instantly dreaded doing comedy and contemplated quitting or pulling the fire alarm right before I go on. It’s in these moments that it’s important to remember to abandon expectations and control only what I can control. Have confidence in your jokes, take a deep breath and remember that you’re doing something you love…

7. “The Audience Is Never Wrong.” Eh, sure they are.
 …But say the audience isn’t full and/or excited. Maybe I’m doing an open mic in a coffee shop where most of the people are sitting at back tables and doing homework. Or maybe it’s in a dingy bar where the patrons have wandered in from the street, ready to interrupt. I have to be careful to remember that if my set doesn’t go well, I can’t scapegoat the people for not laughing. This will give me false confidence and stunt my growth as a performer. However, “the audience is never wrong,” is a dangerous motto to have. That sort of excuses heckling and crowds with a strong taste for racist jokes. At the very least they may just not be listening. They are human beings after all. In situations like that, I’ve started to shrug off a bad set and assess what I could do differently, while not molding into whatever that particular audience needs me to be. It’s a delicate balance.

6. It’s not okay to be offensive. However, no topic is off limits. And “Too Soon” is a crock of malarkey.
- There’s nothing okay about making mean-spirited cracks about recent tragedies. There’s also no proper way to make cracks about darker subjects like abuse, sexual assault or civilian casualties. However, once you can acknowledge that such topics involve layers and layers of complexity, there’s still a way to inspire laughs out of the darkness. I’m in the often polarized camp that believes a comedian has the ability to joke about anything. At the same time, unless you acknowledge the effect that topic has on people, and the history involved with tragedy, you probably shouldn’t joke about that topic. Most “offensive” comics are the ones who have been around for years and years. The reason they approach dark material is because, frankly, they know how to delicately construct a joke. Until I learn that skill set, I won't dig myself a hole.

5. Networking is important, but friendships matter most.
- Networking is very important. When the industry folks and bookers are around, find a genuine way to show your face and get your name out there. But once you start sacrificing friendships with other comics to achieve that, you’ll become miserable and your love of what you do will diminish in the process. I need to work on this goal more than any other. I’m doing the thing I love, so the idea of not having companions who love the same thing sounds like it could lead to depression and isolation. The comics I hang out with now may not have a ton of opportunities at the moment, but when they do, they’re going to share them with the people who matter most to them. Just being funny and funny alone will not assure me much of anything in the scene.

4. You are going to bomb. That bad news is, that’s not such a bad thing.
- The first mic I ever did actually went very well. What I failed to realize at the time was that most of the laughs I was getting were coming from other comics who knew it was my first set, and were frankly just being generous. However, I still had the thought that I would NEVER BOMB. That’s actually a goal I had for about a week until I did my next open mic and failed miserably. No one in the history of comedy has never tanked. The good news is, it’s not always a bad thing. In fact, it’s one of the only ways to learn and grow as a comic. The sad truth to stand-up is that you don’t really learn anything from a good set. It’s more of a celebration of what you’ve gathered through bombing so many times. Once you get over the lie that bombing is the worst thing that can ever happen, accept that it happens to everyone, pull up your pants and move on to the next set, all of a sudden taking risks on stage will be less daunting. Bombing always feels crappy, but you’ll go farther as a comic if you remember that it’s not the end of the world. In fact, if you lose your fear of tanking and get over your aversion to silence, trying new material will become more and more of a natural process.

3. Boredom is contagious
Recently I did the same exact set that I did in the Funniest Person in Austin contest at a packed open mic. The same jokes that convinced the judges to put me in the top 3 performers of the night and advance me to the semi-finals. They tanked. All of them. I tend to forget that every show yields new audience members who don’t know who you are, and have no expectations for what your material will be like. That’s why the best comedians in Austin are the ones who walk on stage and perform years-old jokes like it’s the first time they've ever done them. Simply reciting your successful material will not assure a good response. If you’re bored with your jokes, even on a subconscious level, your boredom will spread like a virus. Audience members are not dumb people. They go to shows not only expecting comedy, but ingenuity and charisma. If they catch a scent of running-through-the-motions, they will not courtesy laugh for the sake of your feelings.

2. Stop pretending you’d be doing anything cooler if you weren't doing this.
- This seems like a pretty self-explanatory tip, but it’s the rule I struggle with the most any time I’m compelled to stay home and not hit up an open mic. Comedy is not a marriage. If you wanna quit, quit. Picture yourself as the hobbits, and you’re not even halfway to Mordor yet. There’s still time to go back to The Shire, but unless you’re willing to do that, get as much stage time as possible. This means Coffee houses, biker bars, stages with poor lighting, and even furniture stores. Yes, furniture stores. Nobody ever got successful from comedy by only doing TV spots. Comedy may not always be glamorous, but neither is staying home and ordering Dominoes pizza online. Netflix streaming will always be there when you get home. But for the moment, it’s important to gain humility and be above nothing. I may sound like a broken record, but realize you’re doing your favorite thing, and try and enjoy where you are. Disclaimer: I know doing comedy in a pizza restaurant sucks, but…who cares. Which brings me to my last point.

1.    Patience
- Working hard in comedy and sucking at comedy are essentially 2 sides of the same coin. As Bill Burr--successful Boston-raised comic--puts it (paraphrased) “You’re gonna suck at first. You just gotta keep doing it until all the suck is gone.” As bleak as that idea may first appear, it’s an extremely liberating goal to work with. Basically, there’s no deadline to becoming a great comic. I’ve learned a lot about this field since I started, but I’m almost a year in (that’s one year of basically non-stop performing and writing) and I’m just now becoming a decent comic. And I’m totally okay with that. I’m 21. If it’s true that it takes “seven years to find your voice,” then I’ll be 28 by that point. There’s a possibility I can be a confident performer before I even turn 30. And even if you’re around that age when you start, comedy is not age-specific. Successful, touring comedians like Lewis Black and Louis C.K. didn't even really build a name for themselves until they were in their 40’s. Since comedy isn't sexy, there’s not necessarily a strong demand for “young, hot talent.” 10 years and 100 pounds from now, I can still be successful. And besides all of the logistical reasons behind patience, If you like doing something, it’s simply worth waiting for. In the years to come, I’ll go through adulthood, accumulate experiences and milestones, and ultimately become as good of an interpreter as I am a recorder. If I’m asked to write another article just like this in, say, 3 years, I may backtrack on everything I've written here, but I’ll still be the same person. And that’s what a lot of this boils down to. Comedy is about becoming better at being yourself.

Friday, June 21, 2013

7 Quick Takes: Mother's Day! Father's Day! New drivers, short shorts, stand up comedy and more!

It's been more than two months since I've written a Quick Takes post.  It was fun to pause to enjoy the weekly Practice Resurrection photo stories and, now, it's good to be back!  A few things we've been up to since then...

Mother's Day was lovely; my kids got me a gift card for a chic coffee shop downtown, drove me there so I wouldn't even have to worry about parking, left me there for several blissful hours while they were home preparing a feast. Andrew's job at a meat market comes in so handy for family gatherings:  chicken cordon bleue and steaks he cut, seasoned and grilled.  Delicious.

They also bought me a little fire pit and we tried to sit in the backyard with it but the wind kept blowing smoke in our faces and, well, it was sort of hot.  I'm looking forward to using it in the fall and winter this year on our new back patio.

--- 2 ---

Mother's Day fell the weekend before we packed up the Roosevelt house.  Saturday of that weekend was one of the best days we've ever had together in Austin.  For one day we were all feeling at peace together.  Alex was home for the weekend.  Andrew had the weekend off from work.  Brian had to edit a paper but, still, he was home with us!  I made pancakes for brunch, we read, hung out in the yard, Alex's girlfriend gave both guys an excellent haircut on the back patio, Natalie and her girlfriends walked together to a deli a few blocks away, Brian and Andrew worked together on his car.  Just a great family Saturday.  Exquisite rest.

--- 3 ---

I confirmed with Alex's girlfriend that he did, in fact, wear these short shorts for the
 Mr. Baker competition.  So surprised he didn't win.

The weekend before moving into our new place we helped our son move out of his dorm in Houston to the apartment he'll be sharing with two other guys for the next year.  Other than a dead van battery, searing heat and this shocking discovery in Alex's suitcase we had a good time.  I guess a mom could discover worse things in her college son's room, right?

We did the nervous parents in the audience thing for our oldest son's participation in the annual Funniest Person in Austin competition.  He made it through the preliminary round to the semi-finals; I confess to a bit of whooping and hollering when his name was called as one of the three people from his night to move forward.  Have you ever been to a stand-up comedy show?  These people have to be the most vulnerable performers out there; nothing but them and a mic on a stage.  No instrument or bandmates to hide behind, no props, scripts or video montage.  Just them and their jokes.  

Terrifying.  Needless to say, we're so impressed with his courage.  He figures he's participated in 150 open mic nights and other stand-up events in the past year.  That's a lot of hard work.  I asked him to write up a post for us telling us some of what he's learned in the last year and hope to share it with you all on the blog next week.  I've seen the rough draft and it's good stuff.  

last day of school

The girls finished up a very successful school year -- thanks be to God!  I'm so proud of how far they've come in the almost two years we've lived in Austin.  There've been many days I wasn't sure we were going to make it!  Love these amazing young women.

Also, Kendra got her driver's license.  The whole process took her at least a year longer than she would have liked but we had to (almost literally) donate an organ to jump through all the red tape Texas DPS required of us to get her road test.  I'm not kidding when I say that I thought one or both Brian and I would end up in the hospital with a stroke trying to navigate the system.  Night. Mare.

BUT -- it's behind us now and this girl wasted no time grabbing the keys and driving away from us.  This scene right here is the real reasons mothers pray.  Lord, have mercy.

Sharing some great links from around the internet this week:

Mr. Putter: My Kind of Writer by Bradford Winters at the Good Letters blog -- a fun reminder that writing takes, well, writing.

Watch the Civil Wars' In-Studio Video for "The One That Got Away":  It's good to hear new music from these two and I love the footage from Charlie Peacock and Andi Ashworth's Art House!

Knowing Christ Conference with Dallas Willard and John Ortberg from February 2013:  I found this site linked in one of the articles I read following the sad news of Dallas Willard's death.  I've listened to each session of the conference while I've been packing and unpacking my house.  I have needed desperately to hear these sorts of words at this time in my life.  Knowing now that Dallas was speaking from great illness and near death adds great weight to his already profound influence on the Church.  
And we also bless thy holy Name for all thy servants departed this life in thy faith and fear; beseeching thee to give us grace so to follow their good examples, that with them we may be partakers of they heavenly kingdom.  Amen. (BCP, 1552)

And then we celebrated Father's Day and Brian's birthday, three days apart this year.  I love watching the kids bless their Dad.  Also, if you missed it, I wrote this poem for Brian to celebrate another year of life:  A Poem For My Husband On His Forty-Third Birthday

a Craigslist turntable and a thrift shop album = great gifts this year!

A beauty and grace-filled weekend for us all, dear ones.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

a poem for my husband on his forty-third birthday

43 years

Adapted from "Yesterdays", a poem BY ROBERT CREELEY
Ninety-two, ninety-three, I most remember   
As the winter a blizzard shut us in and we are   
Broke from a hard two years as newly wed  
Where the meager provision of being   
Student, employee, father for our first born
Son and now another one on the way, we've
Neither a degree nor cash. Dreams die in   
Fatigue and bank accounts give way as you and your    
Muscle and sweat and hope fall in to make   
A loss. We lived in two bedrooms down the   
Hallway from kind friends in their nice  
Neighborhood. Or that has all really   
Happened and we go to Johnson City where,   
Thanks to Rick Jindra and Steve Conroy,   
You get a job cleaning cars at Dependable   
Auto Sales. It’s all a backwards dream, a slog
To get a life and home before the next
Arrival of another son, your dogged days 
Of honor. A church acquaintance  
Has encouraged us that giving when we   
Don't think we have anything to give keeps the   
Scarcity of our mindset overwhelmed by
The bounty. I love the mentors, at least I   
Think I do, in their wisdom, their attempt   
To find ways for us to find a living from the WIC   
Office. Otherwise the early years seem   
Like a country music ballad. A stunned   
Twenty-something man runs from school to work   
And home up three floors of the apartment house on Frederick Street,
Chasing a toddler with the second-born in hot
Pursuit where otherwise you sat up late writing  
Required lines, planning for your next degree  
And child, a daughter. We were waiting to get our   
First salary and listening to the Yankees win the pennant
On the radio. You worked, you dreamed, you wrote the   
Fifty-two pages of your thesis, the new baby  
Arriving near the end. I slept on the couch and  
healed and nursed and cried while you stayed up
Thirty-six hours straight, determined. Then that   
Summer there is the day of the great Teaching Job   
Offer, we move to Conklin -- Richard T. Stank
Middle School, beloved George Schuster  
Down the hall. You read “Goodnight   
Moon” to your children and Teddy Roosevelt
To your students, and Rick Patino for the team.   
Then it’s winter again. My water breaks   
And we head back to Lourde's Hospital   
And we welcome another daughter, and   
Sometime just about then you must have almost   
Seen yourself as others see or saw you,   
people like Dr. Jagger and Scott Gravelding, but could not quite   
Accept either their affirmation
Or their equally anointed naming. Uncertain,   
Afraid, you kept at it. A few years later
Crisis and pain and forgiveness fall in to make   
A calling. You lived into yourself, a man named.   
You are still the father, student, teacher, much the same,
but now also mentor, pastor, friend.
Now you are happier, I think, and older.
Those of us lucky enough to know you say
That we have won the Brian Murphy lottery.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Summer of desperate rest

morning office on our new back patio, overlooking the house of poets living at the end of our driveway

I entered Ordinary Time the same weeks I packed and moved our family for the third time in two years.  In two years' time we've moved across the country, fought to keep our budget alive after my husband's layoff in 2010 and the subsequent expenses of raising four children in the expensive highschool and college years, looked for jobs and found jobs, homeschooled my daughters for our first year in Texas, helped four kids and my husband find the right education pathways, began writing for publication, entered a new state, city, and church community, became confirmed in the Anglican church, had various health problems and a minor surgery which felt anything but  minor during recovery,  led four consecutive sessions of ministry for those who've been relationally and sexually wounded, watched a new, dear friend die from cancer, learned how to relate to family and friends from a long distance and how to make new friends in a new place.

I am exhausted in every way it is possible to be exhausted.

On its own parenting, four kids at desperate, delightful, discovering and demanding ages of 15, 17, 19 and 21 would wear me out.  Add the rest and I'm on the crackling edge of breakdown most of the time.

I am begging God for rest.  He promised it.  He said if I come to Jesus, He will give me rest.  I'm trying to listen for the words I've not heard yet to solve this riddle.

For right now, the only answer I have is to say no unless I know I'm supposed to say yes.

I'm going to say no to almost everything this summer.  Of course, my yes to Brian, my kids, and for now, my job are a given.  Thanks be to God for the grace that makes room for me to say no to so many good things.  

On the blog, I'm thinking that means I'll show up here when it fits into the rest I'm so desperately seeking.  If it crosses your prayerful mind to lift me to the Father, I'd gladly receive your gift of intercession.

You have been dear to me for seven years.  I am blessed to share this space with you.  

May God receive pleasure from my trusting in Him for rest.  May He, through His Son and by His Spirit, make it so.

Peace and grace, dear ones,

Sunday, June 16, 2013

a poem for my daddy on Father's Day

Dear Daddy,
I'm so glad to be your daughter.
Happy  Father's Day!

My Dad & me - 1973

The Invitation

To pull the metal hook from the fish's mouth
my father focused all attention on his catch.
I watched his puckered face and not the fish's.
With only a few finger sweeps , he’d removed
the iron sliver I thought it'd die from.

I can’t remember the words,
but hear the speechless motion, a creak
of row lock, a slap-slap of water beside us.
And I recall his hands,
two knuckled planes, one wedding band's
glint in the sun,
a flame of benediction
he raised above my head.

Had you rowed out with us that morning 
you would have thought you'd seen a man
fishing, a brown-haired girl sprawled across the bow,
book cover shielding the sun's flame.
Had you followed that boat
you would have arrived here,
where I pause at every creekbed.

Look how I search for trout, bass, bullhead
to find the ones that got away.
Watch as I scan every water field for ripples.

I was seven when my father
took me on the St. Lawrence,
and I did not fear the great steamships.
Slamming within their water wake, I did not think
Metal that will bury me,
christen our aluminum rowboat journey,
Poor Fisherman and His Daughter.
And I did not lift my face into the spray and cry,
We're going to be killed!
I did what a child does
when she’s invited into adventure. I leaned into the wind and
I trusted my father.

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