Archive for the ‘Writing Life’ Category

Chere M.,

We are always happy to receive a letter from you. My daughter is always asking me if you have written. She made the enclosed notepad for you to write on.

We are happy, too, to know how to pray specifically for you. James 1:5 says, “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you.” I pray that you will grow in wisdom and in stature, just as our Lord Jesus Christ did. What is your favorite thing to learn about in school?

I am happy that you were able to buy some Christmas shoes. What do they look like?

We are traveling today. It is sunny and warm. My husband’s mother has been a widow for many years, but on Saturday she will marry again at age 82. God has been faithful to her. It will be a happy day. My children will wear their new shoes. We will think of you.

God bless you and keep you. We love you and are praying for you.



M lives in Rwanda and is the same age as our daughter.


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Recently, my daughter and I were reading Before I Was Your Mother by Kathryn Lasky. It occurred to me while we were on a long car ride and I was feeling nostalgic, that this would make a good writing exercise for me. My daughter loves to hear stories about “when I was a girl,” especially sad or scary ones, since she knows they end well. So…here is my version of the story. Feel free to play along and send me a link to your story.


You know, I wasn’t always your mother. I used to be a little girl just like you. I had a best friend named Melinda, another named Connie, and a dog named Brownie. We used to pretend to be Nancy Drew and solve crimes all throughout our neighborhood. We baked mud pies in Melinda’s backyard. We formed the Clemson Tiger club; and Melinda’s mother made us shake hands and say we were sorry when we argued.

I wasn’t always your mother who tells you to be quiet when I’m on the phone or to remember to use your inside voice.

Once, Melinda and I sat on her bed singing “Delta Dawn” and “Da do run run” into her tape recorder at the top of our lungs. And then there was the time when Connie and I tried roller skating down the stairs and through her living room.

I wasn’t always your mother who makes a pajama run to school and goes everywhere in fuzzy Crocs until the winter snow piles too high or the summer heat comes.

Once I was a little girl who like to dress Brownie in Grandma’s old hats, who wore smocked dresses, and then graduated proudly to shiny patent leather zippered boots.

I wasn’t always your mother, standing on the ground watching you perform, waving, taking pictures.

Once I was a little girl who climbed high in the tops of her favorite trees, jumping down scraped and sticky with pine sap. I savored long walks in the woods with my mother, holding fast to her hand as we crossed the busy street and stole into Mr. Roberts’ woods. I treasured the tiny souvenirs she would bring home to place on the kitchen table…a pine cone, a pebble, a leaf.

I wasn’t alway your mother, glaring at you, asking if you need a time out, reminding you to be kind to your brother.

Once Aunt Cindy and I wrestled on the floor of our room til we drew blood — after we had taped a “yours” and “mine” “do not cross” line down the center of our room. We needed a time out. After we cooled off, we made up and laughed while we danced in the living room to “Disco Duck” and the Jackson Five.

I wasn’t always your mother telling you the darkness has no power over you and imploring you to practice going to sleep on your own — without me at your side.

Once I was a little girl who dreaded climbing the staircase alone — who played possum on Daddy’s lap so I wouldn’t have to — who turned off the bedroom light, then ran and took a flying leap so the alligators under my bed wouldn’t bite my feet.

Now I am your mother and you are my girl. I snuggle with you and tell you stories about when I was a girl who put on shows in the backyard, played freeze tag, caught lightning bugs, and climbed trees. We make up stories of what we’ll dream about — and I dream of the stories you will share with your little girl someday.

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Shannon’s having a fun contest today. Why not sharpen your number 2’s and fire off a few back-to-school haiku? You must enter today before 8pm CST. Here are mine:
Pencils with sharp points,
four black dry erase markers,
One large box of Puffs.

On the night before,
walking sounds like such a good
idea. Not now.

“Mom, my tummy hurts.”
(I will miss you when I’m gone).
What’s a mom to do?

Fluffer nutter sand-
wich, pretzels, and a pudding.
Better than hot lunch.

No long socks at gym.
Teacher demands perfect jump-
ing jacks. I’m tired, Mom.

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It’s Haiku Buckaroo time again at My Mommy’s Place. Why don’t you submit your haiku? Deadline is this Friday. Here are mine:

Yellow bird sees me
singing at the end of day
perched on a high wire.

Head unpacks the day
four feet shuffle slowly
fingers intertwine.

Feet hit warm water
bright colored day dreams begin
fish nibble dead skin.

Sun shines on water
kids skip rocks across the lake
minnows swarm slowly.

Shaded woodland path
air grows cooler instantly
the day melts away.

Garlic basil cheese
linguine with olive oil
Last, toasted pine nuts.

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Mid-life poetry crisis

After my heady dip into Mary Oliver’s Red Bird, I decided to go back through my own poetry collection. Now that I’m *cough*40*cough,* I thought it’d be a good time to reevaluate whether or not I really need to continue carting these books through life with me — and whether they really are worth the shelf space, which becomes more and more of a premium in this growing family.

Some things have not stood the test of time, and I will soon be carting them to my Half Price Bookstore. But SOME things are even more delicious at mid-life. Badmom, I don’t have enough Keats in this house to indulge fully; but I found a few things in anthologies, one of which describes his writing as “sensuous” and “intellectual.” (Well, THAT’s got Badmom written all over it!)

MY new best friend is Carl Sandburg. I’m not even sure where I picked up this 1960 copy of Harvest Poems. But how FUN to read all the Chicago poems now that we live in, um, CHICAGO! When we were in SC, we lived about an hour from Connemara, his goat farm in NC where he spent the last 20 years of his life. I’m not sure where I’m going with this except to say, I’ve always enjoyed learning about him and digging into his work. There are some treasures in “Harvest Poems.” Here’s one that hit me where I live in the dog days of summer. From p. 25, “Red and White”:

Nobody picks a red rose when the winter wind howls and the
white snow blows among the fences and storm doors.
Nobody watches the dreamy sculptures of snow when the sum-
mer roses blow red and soft in the garden yards and corners
O I have loved red roses and O I have loved white snow–
dreamy drifts winter and summer–roses and snow.

And from p. 74, “Primer Lesson,”:

Look out how you use proud words.
when you let proud words go, it is
not easy to call them back
They wear long boots, hard boots; they
walk off proud; they can’t hear you
Look out how you use proud words.

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Last night, I finished Red Bird, a book of poems by Mary Oliver. Loved it. Here’s a gem from p. 37, a bit of a poem called “Sometimes:”

Instructions for living a life:
Pay attention
Be astonished.
Tell about it.

Well. There it is then. That about sums it up.

This book is full of wonderful poems — and wonderful bird poems.

My grandmother studied ornithology at Cornell in the 1920’s. When I was getting married, I started noticing birds EVerywhere; and their songs were so loud, and varied, and rich. I was sure they were congratulating me, welcoming me into their little lovebird club. My groom and I lived in our “love grotto,” as we liked to call it, the top floor of an old house redone into three apartments, where we set out birdseed and watched the love birds flock.

Of course, my two favorite poems from this book…not bird poems… Here is a fabulous one from p. 46 called “Of the Empire.”

We will be known as a culture that feared death
and adored power, that tried to vanquish insecurity
for the few and cared little for the penury of the
many. We will be known as a culture that taught
and rewarded the amassing of things, that spoke
little if at all about the quality of life for
people (other people), for dogs, for rivers. All
the world, in our eyes, they will say, was a
commodity. And they will say that this structure
was held together politically, which it was, and
they will say also that our politics was no more
than an apparatus to accommodate the feelings of
the heart, and that the heart, in those days,
was small, and hard, and full of meanness.

Ouch. Must. read. more. poetry. Got any recommendations?

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The blog, people, the blog!…My one year blogaversary has come and gone. I started this blog one year ago on Father’s Day. I was looking for companionship, community, intellectual life (ha!), and a blog that would honor God. I have found many of those things, but I’m still not sure where this ole blog is going.

That intellectual life I was hoping for has just not been happening of late; or should I say that where it is happening is not so much connected to the blog. I’ve agreed to help our church assemble its first library. I’m participating in in-depth Bible study, and find myself in two summer book clubs. If I know anything, it’s that Bible study has got to be a top priority during this season of mothering.

Perhaps it’s just the demanding phase my 3 year old is in, but it’s all I can do to fire of a quick twitter and check in on my peeps before we’re off to the park or I’m schlepping peanut butter crackers to him yet again — let alone step back far enough from the aforementioned slim intellectual pursuits to share them on the blog. Yet, I don’t want to completely give up taking time to document the sweetest moments of motherhood or chewing over a blog post for several days.

And the bloggy spiritual life…I love that you guys love “God Posts,” but they’re kinda drying up for me (probably b/c I’m spending so much time perusing frugal blogs). But Emily’s recent find did suggest the idea that I let you guys share what you see God doing in the blogosphere. But I’m not sure what kind of schedule I should adopt for that. And I really did enjoy praying for you. I could enjoy doing that on a regular basis. But I’m quite sure my blog would have to take on a monthly publishing cycle vs. a weekly one; and that seems like such a loooong time in the blogosphere.

I love the bloggy treasures (that would be you) that I have found along this journey. I’m just not sure what to do about the fact that by the time I wade through my feed reader, I’ve barely any time left to blog myself. But I’ve learned tons about couponing and other clever ways to save money and about mystery shopping, which is such a great bonus.

And this, in a nutshell, is why it’s been so quiet here for so long. Well, also, the husband went to Indonesia for two weeks, which turned into three weeks away from home b/c we went South to visit family while he was gone. I’m still too paranoid sensible to share such things with you the whole Internet while they’re actually happening. But I will have some sweet pictures to share with you from our trip. Later, friends.

I leave you with a photo of my dad and my boy in honor of Father’s Day 2008:

Jeremiah 17: 7-8:

“But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”

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