Sunday, September 28, 2008


intransitive verb
1 a
: to go back or come back again <return home> b: to go back in thought, practice, or condition : revert
: to pass back to an earlier possessor
3: reply , retort

transitive verb

1 a
: to give (as an official account) to a superior bBritish : to elect (a candidate) as attested by official report or returns c: to bring back (as a writ or verdict) to an office or tribunal
2 a: to bring, send, or put back to a former or proper place b: to restore to a former or to a normal state
3 a
: to send back : visit —usually used with on or upon bobsolete : retort
: to bring in (as profit) : yield
5 a
: to give or perform in return : repay <return a compliment> ; also : to respond to in kind <returned his calls> b: to give back to the owner c: reflect <return an echo>
: to cause (as a wall) to continue in a different direction (as at a right angle)
: to lead (a specified suit or specified card of a suit) in response to a partner's earlier lead
8 a
: to hit back (a ball or shuttlecock) b: to run with (a football) after a change of possession (as by a punt or a fumble)

Ruth 1:1-10
Where is home for you? Are you returning to where you were, who you were, before God made you a citizen of His kingdom? Or are you returning to where God wants you and who he envisioned you being when he created you?

Even though Ruth had never been to the homeland of her mother-in-law, Naomi, she asks to return there with her. We'll probably never know exactly why. Many scholars have theories as to why Ruth wanted to return with Naomi rather than go back to her mother's home, as Naomi tells her to do. Any number of these theories could be right - or wrong.

My own (uneducated) theory is that God had started to change Ruth during the time of her marriage to one of his people. Ruth saw who she had been and got a glimpse of who God was changing her to be. She probably also saw that even though Naomi was bitter and felt wronged by God, she stilled called out to him, she still returned to his people and she still called upon him to bless her daughters-in-law. Even in the midst of her suffering, Naomi believed in her God and his power.

No matter where we call home now - a one-story ranch, a two-story contemporary or an arts and crafts bungalow - we should remember that we are not permanent residents. We are sojourners here and should be returning to a homeland that our hearts cry out for, not returning to this world, which is bereft of eternal hope.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


transitive verb
: to bring into existence created the heaven and the earth — Genesis 1:1(Authorized Version)>
2 a
: to invest with a new form, office, or rank created a lieutenant> b: to produce or bring about by a course of action or behavior created a terrible fuss> <create new jobs>
: cause , occasion creates high food prices>
4 a
: to produce through imaginative skill <create a painting> b: design <creates dresses>

intransitive verb
1: to make or bring into existence something new
: to set up a scoring opportunity in basketball <create off the dribble>

A few weeks ago at a luncheon, I received a stone with the word "create" on it. Each attendee was given a stone and they all had different words on them. I immediately loved my stone and what I took to be a command to create. I put the stone in my kitchen so that I would see it and remember when I'm cooking that I am doing more than meeting my family's nutritional needs when I cook. I am creating meals, memories and moments.

The stone is still in the kitchen where I will see it, but more and more, I feel the need to create with words. That's one reason I started this blog and continue to make time to eke out entries. Having been out of school and away from grammar books for so long, I'm a little rusty on the difference between a transitive and intransitive verb, so I'm not sure whether the best definition for what I do when creating is "to make or bring into existence something new" or "to produce through imaginative skill."

It seems like imaginative skill is required for writing a novel, not a blog. It also seems rather bold to say that I am bringing something new into existence, but I guess the beauty of words is that they can be strung together in innumerable ways and the way I am putting them together right now is technically new.

What's interesting is that the term create carries with it no value assessment. I am creating something here, but whether that something is worthwhile is a post for another day...

Sunday, September 21, 2008


1: conduct due to parents and superiors : respect
2 a
: obligatory tasks, conduct, service, or functions that arise from one's position (as in life or in a group) b (1): assigned service or business (2): active military service (3): a period of being on duty
3 a: a moral or legal obligation b: the force of moral obligation
: tax ; especially : a tax on imports
5 a
: work 1a b (1): the service required (as of an electric machine) under specified conditions (2): functional application : use duty out of the trip> (3): use as a substitute duty for the thing — Edward Sapir>

Tonight I was asked my favorite movie. It was not a tough decision to name Roman Holiday. It has many assets: Audrey Hepburn is beautiful, silly and generally wonderful, the setting is Rome (!) and the pacing of the plot is wonderful. But the main thing I love about Roman Holiday is the scene where Hepburn (a princess) has returned from her "holiday" with Cary Grant and is lectured by her governess about her duty to her country. Audrey pulls herself up and tells the woman that she is never to lecture her about her duty. The governess doesn't know, but the young princess would never have returned were it not for duty. I love that Roman Holiday ends with Audrey Hepburn's character doing what is right - and not running away with a man she just met, even if she did fall in love with him. It's not a trademarked Hollywood Happy Ending, but it is so much better than the two of them riding off into the sunset.

Thinking about my favorite movie and favorite scene within the movie made me think about what duty is and what its implications are for self and others. What are my responsibilities and obligations to myself? As a mother of three young children who are all involved in after-school activities, I am often the last person I think of. I know this is not wise. I know I risk burn-out or worse by not taking better care of my physical, emotional and spiritual needs, but I've been stretched thin recently to make the necessary adjustments to our back-to-school and back to after-school activities schedules. It's been hard to get up at 5:30 a.m. to run, but I know deep down that's exactly what I should do.

What are the
"obligatory tasks, conduct, service, or functions that arise from my position" as a wife? Am I giving my husband enough of my time, attention and energy? Am I encouraging him in his gifts, caring for him and loving him well? He has been so helpful in making sure B & K are at their soccer practices and games, and has helped with not only shuttling children, but cooking dinner and other household duties. Am I honoring that with a thankful heart or taking it for granted?

What are the
"obligatory tasks, conduct, service, or functions that arise from my position" as a mother? Yes, I make sure my daughters are fed, dressed and at their respective activities. Am I loving them through all of it? I am, but do they know it? Am I finding moments to share my heart with them or am I too tired to do that?

At my Bible Study tonight, someone said she wants to be more like Ruth. I'm not sure whether I want to be more like Ruth - she follows her cranky mother-in-law to another country, obeys her without question and puts herself out on a limb by going to a man in the middle of the night to offer herself for marriage. She does these things with a quiet confidence (that part I would like) and without complaint (I could use some of that), but blind obedience and ready compliance do not come easy to me. Who I know I want to be like is Audrey Hepburn's character from Roman Holiday. I want to see my duties to myself and others and embrace them. I want to be bold in knowing that I'm doing the best I can.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


1: free from harm or risk : unhurt
2 a: secure from threat of danger, harm, or loss b: successful at getting to a base in baseball without being put out
: affording safety or security from danger, risk, or difficulty
4obsolete of mental or moral faculties : healthy , sound
5 a
: not threatening danger : harmless b: unlikely to produce controversy or contradiction
6 a
: not likely to take risks : cautious b: trustworthy , reliable

A friend recently had a blog post that talked about how the suburbs are a better place to raise a family and while she loves to visit fun, funky parts of town, her suburban small town is just as cool in a "Republican" sort of way (her own description). I live in a part of Nashville that is just about as far from the suburbs as I can get - not geographically, but conceptually. I have friends ask me - outright or more subtly - Do you feel safe there? The short answer is yes, the longer answer... well, here's your chance to hear the longer answer.

I think when I'm asked whether I feel safe here, people are generally referring to physical safety. This is a legitimate question. There was recently a front page article in our local newspaper about crimes rates in East Nashville. The rates are going down, but they are still higher than average. I not only feel physically safe, I feel much more emotionally safe here than I would be in the suburbs.

I want my children to be "free from harm," but I want them to be free from emotional harm and be free to be whoever they want and are made to be. The Webster's entry above says "
unlikely to produce controversy or contradiction." Well, I'm not sure that kind of safety is what I want for my children. I want them to produce controversy AND contradiction when necessary. I want them to wear what they want, do what they want and be who they are, regardless of what the acceptable norms are for a given subdivision of people.

I want my children to be comfortable in their own skin and I think you sacrifice that kind of safety when you move to a subdivision that tells you what your mailbox can look like, how closely cropped your lawn must be and what model of car to drive. I realize that I'm being a little harsh, but I do genuinely believe that a diverse neighborhood with people who look different from us, have a different set of beliefs and make more or less money than we do is a better microcosm for my children than one filled with cookie cutter families.

It reminds me of the scene in A Wrinkle in Time when the children happen upon a neighborhood on another planet where all of the children look the same and even bounce the ball to the same rhythm. It feels so wrong that my skin crawls as I read it. Don't we do the same thing on a smaller scale when we regulate every little visible part of a home? Doesn't that trickle inside the home, which should house individuals, not drones?

I have a few goals for my children and more dreams for them... one is that they would find out who they are with as little pain as possible. Another is that they would like who they are much earlier than I liked who I am. I do want them to be safe... but physical safety is not all that's at stake here.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


1 a: one's place of residence : domicile b: house
2: the social unit formed by a family living together
3 a: a familiar or usual setting : congenial environment ; also : the focus of one's domestic attention b: habitat
4 a: a place of origin ; also : one's own country b: headquarters 2
5: an establishment providing residence and care for people with special needs
6: the objective in various games ; especially : home plate

"at home"
1: relaxed and comfortable : at ease
2: in harmony with the surroundings
3: on familiar ground : knowledgeable

My husband and I went to an OAR concert last night at the Ryman Auditorium. It was a great show and my favorite song of the night was one that was new to me. It talked about home and how when you're on the road, you can long for home. Prior to having three children and changing my career direction from for-profit to non-profit, I traveled a lot for work. I rarely travel now and when I do, my family is usually with me. I don't really get far enough away from my home to long for it, but the song did make me thing about the qualities that make us long for home.

I am in a season of life right now that's very busy. All three of my daughters are involved in after-school activities and while I try to be someone who preserves our time as a family, we are undeniably short of time at home together right now. Instead of longing for home, I long for the images conjured in my mind by the word "home." I long to curl up with a cup of tea and a book and have my children flitting around the house while my husband putters about or curls up with his own book.

What is home to you? Is it fragrant soup with warm bread on the table? A clean house? Has your definition of home changed over the years? I clearly remember a flight during my first year of marriage when the plane landed in a city I had lived in for less than six months and I thought to myself, "It's good to be home." Now, this city was technically my home, but my emotional relaxation at being "home" was from the fact that I was back in the same place as my husband. That one moment made me aware that home is so much more to me than wood and shingles. The people are what makes it home. So while I don't get very far from my home right now, I'm longing for home in a different way. I'm longing to have these people that I love so deeply (A, B, K and J) with me with nothing else to do but be together.

Sunday, September 14, 2008


1: punishment
2obsolete : instruction
: a field of study
: training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character
5 a: control gained by enforcing obedience or order b: orderly or prescribed conduct or pattern of behavior c: self-control
: a rule or system of rules governing conduct or activity

I've decided I need to be more disciplined in my writing, so I thought my first entry on this brand new blog should deal with the concept of discipline. I think the most relative of the definitions above is not the primary. I do not write to punish myself, but to train, correct, mold and perfect myself.

I feel the need for more discipline in my writing because writing stays on my mind. I compose essays, reviews and blog entries in my mind, not just once but several times each day. If I'm mentally writing all day long, it seems like I should at least take the time to put some of it down in a semi-permanent format. I do a lot of writing for work, but not much of it is creative in nature. With that writing, I'm trying to best capture what our ministry does, why it matters and, usually, why someone should give us some more money to keep doing it.

I'm hopeful that I'll be disciplined enough to leave work at work while I write here. I think the pressure on my heart to write comes at least partially from all of the reading that I do. I love to read (reading brings into play more self-discipline than discipline) and reading a good novel makes me thankful that the author chose to listen to their inner voice that told them to write. I'm not saying there's a novel hidden inside me, but unless I take some time to write, how do I know what words might come out?

I took my eight year old daughter today to the first major audition of her life. She's a dancer and desperately wants to be selected to participate in this ballet. I admire her. I admire that she is disciplined with dance. She dances three to four days each week and she said last week that sometimes it's just so hard that she wants to cry. That same day, she felt like she was on top of a mountain while she danced. I hope the mountain-top experiences keep her going back. And I hope that regardless of the outcome of her audition, she will continue to dance.

I am much more afraid of failure than this brave eight year old. I won't even give my husband the address to this blog for fear of looking like a fool. But that's exactly why I need the discipline of writing. I hope that as I go along, I'll eventually write something that just screams to be shared. My daughter dances everywhere - in her room, through our house, in the hallways of her school. She can't contain her joy in using the gift she's been given. I hope she'll always see her gifts as gifts and not begin to dance only in her room, where no one else can see her.