Wednesday, October 29, 2008


1 a: the act or process of providing b: the fact or state of being prepared beforehand c: a measure taken beforehand to deal with a need or contingency : preparation (made provision for replacements)
2: a stock of needed materials or supplies ; especially : a stock of food —usually used in plural
: proviso , stipulation

Work is a little stressful right now. I found out nearly a week ago that after payroll is paid tomorrow, Rejoice won't have enough in the bank to pay next month's payroll. While I'm not the executive director, I am the Development Manager, so fundraising is my job. I started in May and have been writing grants since the moment I joined. I've not focused exclusively on grants, but I knew we didn't have any grant awards in the pipeline and felt it would be wise to work towards having something coming in down the road. I had no idea (until last Thursday), just how close we were to running out of money.

I am more stressed by this than our Executive Director. This is not, by any means, the first time Rejoice has been in a situation like this. Before we received a large grant two years ago, this was a common occurrence. She has seen God provide before and believes he will again. While I don't disagree with that, I'll admit I'm somewhat scared by it. I'm not used to depending on God for day to day provision.

I certainly trust him to provide safety for my family, an income through my husband's job and wisdom for J and I to use our resources to the best of our abilities. But those things seem amorphous compared to needing and expecting God to provide $20,000 before the end of this year.

So what's my role in this? To pray, certainly. But also to continue to write - grants, letters, descriptions of Rejoice - that compel others to know more about us and give money to us. I think this will only work if I'm using God's words instead of my own. The most amazing thing about Rejoice is that it's God's vision. He planted the seed in the director's heart and has instructed her all along, right down to the color of leotards the students wear.

One thing I've always loved about Rejoice is that I think it is uniquely designed to teach the dancers how much God loves them. He values them highly (which is why they wear leotards named after various jewels and precious stones), he wants the best for them (which is why they dance in a beautiful studio, not a second rate facility) and he wants them to know and worship him (which is why they dance!) Maybe my role is to remember all of what God is trying to teach these children, so that I don't forget who he is. If that's my foundation, earthly provisions will take on less importance.

Saturday, October 25, 2008


1: of or relating to the halcyon or its nesting period
2 a: calm, peaceful b: happy, golden c: prosperous, affluent

I have a friend who lives on Halcyon Avenue. I told her one time that I love the name of her street and the images the word "halcyon" evokes for me. When I think of halcyon, it's almost immediately followed by days. (I guess the books I've read with the word are most frequently talking about halcyon days.)

I realized not long ago that I think right now our family is living in the halcyon days. While "calm, peaceful" might not be true all of the time, I do think these are "happy, golden" days. I think we will look back on these days in two decades and remember them with such fondness. I've been trying to cling to that during the day-to-day difficulty of doing everything that I want to do and doing it well.

I think these are halcyon days because we are past the challenges of toddlerhood (with our youngest daughter now 4) and not into the unknown waters of pre-adolescence (with our eldest daughter at age 8). Some of the sweetest things to me right now about our spot in life are:

1) Involvement: Our daughters still want to be around us. They get excited when their father gets home from work and crave alone time with either of us. While alone time for a chunk of hours is a rarity with two parents and three daughters, we try to snatch minutes here and there for our sake's and theirs.

2) Imagination: They play wonderfully imaginative games in fanciful worlds - with each other! From the time B was old enough to play, she and A have lived a good portion of their lives in fantastic worlds only they fully understand. I'll never forget the first time I heard them call "Mommy" and was told, "Not you, the pretend Mommy." How much longer will there be a pretend mommy and will they continue to actually call for me when they need me?

3) Independence: Even K is able to play alone while her sisters are at school, get a snack with permission and go for stretches of time without needing help. Independence is one of the traits we've always sought to foster in our girls, even from the time they were very young, so it's rewarding to begin to see the fruits of those seeds. Especially because I have daughters, I want them to feel empowered and strong to face their lives. I think the satisfaction and confidence that comes from doing little and big things independently is one of the most valuable gifts we can give our daughters. I rarely wish they would ask me for help rather than take care of it themselves, but I hope we are striking and will continue to strike the right balance of being there for our girls and encouraging them to be the fully-formed, strong women they can be.

4) Individuality: One reason these halcyon days of ours don't always feel calm and peaceful is that each of our daughters are involved in after-school activities. A is a dancer and will probably always be a dancer. B has truly come into her own on the soccer field. This is her first year to play on a team that uses a goalie and her first game as goalie is a memory I will always cherish. I've never seen her so engaged as she was during that game and it utilizes her strengths of a quick mind and a fearless body to great effect. She's also doing an art club at a local church that feeds her innate creativity and her desire to be a part of a social group. K is dancing and playing soccer and while these may not be the two particular activities she pursues in years to come (she's only four, after all), she clearly loves organized activities and, more importantly, the attention. She enjoys soccer and smiles the entire time she's on the field playing. When I'm tired from running around every day after school to one activity or another, these are the things I remind myself. We're not doing these things to help our girls build a resume for the right high school or college (some parents really do think that way!), we're doing it to help them become who they were made to and to help them find a life preserver to hang on to during the rocky days of adolescence.

I hope and believe these will not be the only halcyon days our family experiences together, but it's a sweet experience to get to live them together.

Friday, October 24, 2008


1 : a church that is the official seat of a diocesan bishop
: something that resembles or suggests a cathedral (as in size or importance), i.e. cathedral of business

It's been a good week for me: I've been to the art museum three times in the last seven days. J and I went on a date there last Friday night. I went to ArtQuest yesterday with B for a bit of alone time with her and then today I went with a visiting Canadian friend. It was interesting to see how different the experience is with a different partner joining me.

There are three exhibits currently available at the Frist: Rodin's sculpture, Photography from the Eastman collection and Art from AP High School students throughout Tennessee. It's been interesting in looking at each of them to think about the role that the title plays in a viewer's experience of a work of art: My favorite Rodin sculpture on exhibit was The Cathedral . I love the graceful hands, but even more I love thinking about our hands being used in they way cathedrals are used. Cathedrals, especially gothic cathedrals, were meant to reflect God's glory in an earthly way and
(literally) point visitors to heaven. How are my hands and the works of my hands pointing others to God?

Cathedrals are also an interesting example because they were the work of many people in one place. It's not natural for me to think about my hands being just a part of the whole, but I do think that's what I'm called to be. I should not only see my body, but my gifts, as meant for the greater good and actively seeks ways to work with and for others. As a natural introvert, this can go against many of my natural inclinations. I love many solitary pursuits - reading, writing, running and cooking, to name a few. But there aren't as many group activities that inspire or energize me. Does this mean I'm off the hook and don't have to use my hands (and other parts of me) as part of the body of Christ and the world at large? I don't think so. I think even when it goes against my natural inclinations - maybe especially because it goes against my natural inclinations, I need to look for ways to be a part of the larger cathedral that's being built to point us to God.

Sunday, October 19, 2008


1 a (1): friendly regard shown toward another especially by a superior (2): approving consideration or attention : approbation b: partiality c archaic : leniency d archaic : permission e: popularity
3 a: gracious kindness ; also : an act of such kindness b archaic : aid , assistance c plural : effort in one's behalf or interest : attention

Ruth 2:1-7

I've been thinking this week about whose favor I am seeking. It's been largely prompted by the passage in the book of Ruth where Ruth tells Naomi that she is going to glean behind "anyone in whose eyes I find favor." In the King James Version, "favor" is translated "grace," so that made me curious about how I think about favor. In this context, Ruth is really just looking for someone who will look favorably upon her and allow her to glean behind them.

It's funny how God will take a nugget of thought and lead you down the path he wants you to take. By the end of the week, He had made clear to me that I have a family member who is very critical and I am constantly on edge and on guard around this person. I am guarded around The Critic because I don't want to provide fuel for criticism of me after we've been together. What I want is "friendly regard," "approving consideration" and maybe even a bit of "gracious kindness." That's not terribly likely to happen since The Critic is very critical of most everything in life. More importantly, that's not whose favor I need to seek.

Paul says in Galatians 1:10, "For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God ? Or am I striving to please men ? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ." I certainly spend too much of my time trying to please men and that caught me up short as I thought about seeking favor and how I should correctly approach that. How do I seek God's favor through my relationship with The Critic? I think the answer to that comes from my study of I Peter earlier this year.

Peter instructs us to love each other "fervently." In the Greek, the word "fervent" carries with it a connotation of "stretched out." In sharp contrast to that, the best description of my recent interactions with The Critic have been guarded, the very opposite of being stretched out and therefore vulnerable. In examining how I could seek God's favor, not man's, in my relationship with The Critic, I think I must be willing to be fervent. The Critic's criticisms and generally negative view of life are not ultimately about me. The best approach that I believe I can take is to be willing to be myself, even if that means I am exposed to harsh words, subtle criticisms and slights.

One of the great things about seeking God's favor is that His favor will not falter. Even were I able to remain guarded in my interactions with The Critic and blunt the criticisms of me and my family for a time, I would never be able to maintain The Critic's favor. The favor of any man is fleeting because we are easily satisfied, easily distracted creatures. If I will instead focus on pursuing the continued favor of God and on using His favor to bless others, the favor of men will gradually fade into the background.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


1 a: affected with or expressive of grief or unhappiness : downcast b (1): causing or associated with grief or unhappiness : depressing (2): regrettable , deplorable c: of little worth
2: of a dull somber color

I've been faced with some pretty ugly realities yesterday and today and it just makes me sad. Yesterday, I was talking to my aunt who lives in rural Alabama. She was sharing how difficult it has been to realize how many of her very close friends are racists. This election has really brought those feelings out in the open and it was appalling to hear. One friend called Barack Obama's mother a whore. When I exclaimed to my aunt, "But she was married to his father!" She said that no, they said that because she slept with a black man. It not only shocks me, but hurts me to know that people think that way.

Then today, I drove a friend to the doctor because she was too upset to drive herself. 18 years ago this friend (who is white) fell in love with a black man, who is now her wonderful husband and a great father to their children. Her parents disowned her and still do not talk to her, have not met her two beautiful children and have said truly horrible things to her. As she shared some of this with me, my heart just ached and I thought about how much hate their is in the world.

Racism should really be nothing new to me. I grew up in Alabama and went to a school where things were socially segregated, if not literally segregated. My parents would have been appalled had I dated a black guy and would probably have forbidden it when I was in high school. Yet it still makes me sad to know that people think this way.

My own eight-year-old daughter is adamant in her support for Barack Obama partly because she thinks it is wrong that we've never had a black president. She has a placemat with all of the presidents on it and after looking at it for a while said, "You mean we've never had a black president?! That's crazy!" Until my daughters were in about first or second grade, they didn't even know the term "black." They simply described people by the color of their skin ("brown" or "the same color as mine") until a classmate educated my eldest daughters on the finer points of racial distinction and description.

It makes me sad that my daughters, who even now are not as innocent as they once were, will grow up in a world where people hate each other for no reason other than the color of their own skin. It makes me sad to think about the things they will realize as they age, but it gives me some hope on a day when I'm saddened by our world that one daughter enthusiastically questions every family member to make sure they are voting for Obama and another daughter got to actually push the button casting that very vote. I hope when they are old enough to vote, it really won't matter what color the candidate's skin is.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


1: a unified body of individuals: as
a: state , commonwealth
b: the people with common interests living in a particular area ; broadly : the area itself community>
c: an interacting population of various kinds of individuals (as species) in a common location
d: a group of people with a common characteristic or interest living together within a larger society community of retired persons>
e: a group linked by a common policy
f: a body of persons or nations having a common history or common social, economic, and political interests community>
g: a body of persons of common and especially professional interests scattered through a larger society community>
2: society at large
3 a
: joint ownership or participation <community of goods> b: common character :
likeness <community of interests> c: social activity : fellowship d: a social state or condition

Community can be a bit of a loaded word for me. One of the first things we attempted at our church when we became members several years ago was to join a "community group." While different churches call these groups different things, at our church, they are essentially groups based loosely on geography that give you an opportunity to get to know other church members in a smaller group. To say that this first experience was not a positive one is an understatement. The group transitioned to new leaders shortly after we joined and one of the new leaders, for reasons I still do not know, could not stand me. She's Southern (note the capital S), so she tried pretty hard to disguise her dislike for me. But it was still evident to me and to my husband. To make things harder on me, it was a group where every other woman was a stay-at-home mom. At the time, I was working full time while my husband stayed at home with our daughter. I felt not only different, but like I was a poor mother.

The whole experience left me feeling a bit gun-shy about trying to make Christian friends. I thought that maybe being a part of Christian community just wasn't going to happen for me. Sure we're all sinners, but maybe I was just too big a sinner.

A few years after this experience, we moved to a different part of town and joined a new community group. I am so thankful that I was willing to try again because I learned so much about community from this group of people. I felt accepted, encouraged and included in a way I never had in the first group. I clearly remember one member of our group saying as we stood around in someone's kitchen, "This feels like family! It's so great when we're all together like this." And he was right, it did feel good. I grew a lot in that group, largely because I was able to be myself and be pretty honest about who I was and what I believed.

When the leader of that group moved to another city, she told me one thing she had always valued about me was my authenticity. It was funny to hear because that's exactly what I valued about the group.

After that experience, my husband and I led a group for over two years and are currently helping to build a larger community through a Sunday School class. It's amazing how a very negative initial experience has shaped my beliefs about community, my desire for it and my willingness to word towards it.

Monday, October 13, 2008


3 a: having a touch or trace of : somewhat b: having the approximate age of (fortyish)
ALSO: a fabulous children's book by Peter Reynolds

If you've not read Peter Reynolds' wonderful book, Ish, here's a brief summary:
A young boy Ramon loves to draw. Anytime, anything, anywhere.

Until one day, his older brother sees him drawing and says scathingly, "What's THAT supposed to be?"

Ramon crumples up the paper and for a long time thereafter, nothing he draws satisfies him. He sits at a table, surrounded by crumpled pieces of paper.

Then one day, his younger sister is standing by as he crumples and throws a piece of paper. She grabs it and dashes off. Ramon chases her to her room, where he finds a gallery of crumpled masterpieces. He stops dead in his tracks and the little sister points out her favorite.

"Yeah," Ramon say, "that was supposed to be a vase, but it doesn't look like one," "Well... it looks vase-ish," she replies. Ramon pauses, sees it through her eyes and agrees that it does look ish.

After that Ramon's passion for drawing returns and he approaches all of life in an ish fashion. He writes ish poems, draws ish draws and lives ishfully ever after.

It's one of my favorite children's books for several reasons:
1) Ramon's passion for drawing at the beginning is cheerfully innocent
2) We see how our words can rob other's joy when Ramon loses his enjoyment in drawing after his brother's comment
3) His sister is the one who restores his vision for art and life, so that
4) We get to see how our words can build up and encourage one another

Not long after I started sharing this blog address with others, a friend told me it was unlike any other blog she'd ever read. So, I've decided my blog is blog-ish because it "has a touch or trace of" what other blogs contain. Initially, I was hesitant about sharing Word Girl with others, but I've decided I'm not writing for others, I'm writing for me. I want to live an ish life and not worry about whether my blog posts are funny enough, deep enough or relevant enough. They are "enough" because they are enough for me. I know not every post is as good as the previous - or the next - but it's important to me, like Ramon's drawings are to him.

Ramon saw the world in drawings and I see it in words. I don't want someone to laugh at my writing, but even if they do (when they do), I won't crumple it up and throw it away because it's mine and my words don't have to be validated by anyone else to be valuable.

Are you living an ish life? Do you cook soup-ish meal or bake casserole-ish dishes? How are you seeking and using outlets for your creativity, no matter how big or small? Are you living like Ramon's sister and validating other's efforts? I want to live like Ramon and talk like his sister...

Re-posted from the archives

Sunday, October 12, 2008


: mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty

Ruth 1:16-22
My Bible study group is studying the book of Ruth this fall. We always start a study with a book chart, which requires reading the book through multiple times to get a good feel for the overall book and seeing the book as a whole. I'll admit that after spending time on this book, I was not left with a favorable impression of Ruth. The night that we shared our book charts, someone in the group said she wished she were more like Ruth. I wrote down "Do I want to be more like Ruth?" that night.

The main thing I didn't like about Ruth was that she seemed to just obey Naomi without question. Now, unquestioning obedience is supposed to have a prominent place in the Christian faith, it's just not something that comes easily to me. I essentially saw Ruth as weak because she obeyed Naomi's instruction to put herself at Boaz's mercy. What I didn't really see until this week was that Ruth put herself at God's mercy long before meeting Boaz.

For a large portion of Chapter 1, Naomi urges Ruth and her sister-in-law, Orpah, to return to their homeland instead of continuing on with her. After two speeches from Naomi, Orpah relents and goes home. Naomi gives it one more go with Ruth, but Ruth replies with a passionate speech of loyalty to Naomi that you may have heard as part of a wedding (where you go, I will go...). The text says that after this speech, Naomi sees Ruth was 'determined.' The Hebrew for this word can also be translated as 'courageous.' Ruth was certain and steadfast in her decision to accompany Naomi. So steadfast, in fact, that Naomi quits trying to persuade her and ignores her for the rest of the journey.

Seeing Ruth as courageous changed my perspective on her. She did not take the easy road. Ruth went as a foreigner to a land where she was not only leaving her family behind, but her customs, her home and her gods. Ruth had clearly thought all of this through because she did not waver when Naomi tried multiple times to get her to return to Moab. She was courageous and determined.

Seeing Ruth's determination to do what was right in God's eyes rather than taking the known path made me think about my own fears in going where God sends me, staying where He puts me and doing the work He gives me. It feels somewhat courageous to write this. Writing is a creative outlet, but it's intimidating to put my thoughts, emotions and fears into words, especially written words.

As an avid reader, I know there are many great writers in the world. What can my small contribution possibly be worth? For right now, I'm trying to focus on listening to the command to write and not on the relative value of what I am writing. If the only value this writing brings is that I have a forum for creating something, that will have to be enough.

Saturday, October 11, 2008


1 a: a set of written sheets of skin or paper or tablets of wood or ivory b: a set of written, printed, or blank sheets bound together into a volume c: a long written or printed literary composition d: a major division of a treatise or literary work e: a record of a business's financial transactions or financial condition —often used in plural books show a profit> f: magazine 4a g: e-book
capitalized : bible
3: something that yields knowledge or understanding book of nature> book>
4 a
(1): the total available knowledge and experience that can be brought to bear on a task or problem book> (2): inside information or analysis book on him is that he can't hit a curveball> b: the standards or authority relevant in a situation book>
5 a: all the charges that can be made against an accused person book at him> b: a position from which one must answer for certain acts : account book>
6 a
: libretto b: the script of a play c: a book of arrangements for a musician or dance orchestra : musical repertory
7: a packet of items bound together like a book book of stamps> book of matches>
8 a
: bookmaker b: the bets registered by a bookmaker ; also : the business or activity of giving odds and taking bets
9: the number of tricks a cardplayer or side must win before any trick can have scoring value

Our local library had a book sale Saturday. $1 for hardcovers, $.50 for paperbacks, $.50 for young adult novels. A & I went and spent $13.50 on 26 books. What a lovely way to spend a Saturday morning. Books hold so much potential. They can take us places we can never go, teach us about ourselves, move us and change us. I love that my daughters love books. K has yet to be truly passionate about them, but she's 4, so I'm going to pray that she will grow to love them as much as the rest of us do.

I'm reading a book
right now that's set partially in 1250 B.C. Modern day Nantucket is transported centuries back in time, so the main characters face major adjustments when the fundamentals of their existence change immeasurably. One of the things I've thought a lot about is that I don't think I would be who I am had I been born in another time. I simply can not imagine an existence without books. What would be the point? How could I get enough mental distance from my life to process what my life is about?

One striking thing is that the characters living in 1250 B.C. are not interested in "processing" their lives. They are focused on survival, something that I take remarkably for granted. But I can't get away from the fact that I do have books readily available to me. I have a wonderful library system, that has virtually any book I want, if I'm willing to wait long enough to read it.

This morning, before the book sale, A came into the kitchen and told my husband and I "We are acting like the typical family on a fall Saturday. We're all reading books!" I laughed and told her that not everyone loves books the way we do. She shrugged that off and replied that it was still the perfect way for us to spend the morning. I couldn't agree more!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


1) nationally recognized university located in Nashville, Tennessee
2) historically, a source of great pain for its football fans
3) the team ranked 13th in the AP College Football poll as of Sunday, October 5

As I mentioned in a previous post, I am a lifelong college football fan. However, until I was 18, I was a fan of winning football teams. That all changed in August of 1991 when I enrolled at Vanderbilt University. Growing up in southern Alabama, the comment I most often received upon telling acquaintances that I was going to Vanderbilt for college was, "Oh. You mean that team Alabama beats every year?" Yes, that's the one.

I didn't go to Vanderbilt for its football team (few do), and until this year, I've mostly come to accept that we were doomed to be at the bottom of the best conference in all of college football. The problem is that now I've begun to believe that we can actually win. This is a whole new universe.

Let me recap some of the emotions I've experienced thus far this season:

Stage I, Acceptance: Before the season even starts, I've accepted that Vanderbilt will self-destruct during at least two close games, manage to pull off an upset, lose to someone we should have beat and end the season with great disappointment. This is in sharp contrast to my husband, whose Stage I emotion is always optimism that THIS will be the season. Before the season started, some of my husband's college friends passed around their predictions for the season. The most optimistic prediction was 6-7, with a loss in the Music City Bowl to finish off the season. I'll admit I thought our friend was a bit delusional to think we could win 6 games. I have been a Vanderbilt fan for more than 15 years and we've never been to a bowl game. If we couldn't manage to do it with Jay Cutler quarterbacking or last year, with Earl Bennett, why would we be able to this year?

Stage II, Anxiety: Vanderbilt won its first three games of the season, including a second game upset of nationally ranked South Carolina. Our 4th game was Ole Miss, in Oxford. No sane, informed Vanderbilt fan thought we would win this game to go 4-0. We have self-destructed with far less grand opportunities than this. For those of you who don't follow this sort of thing, we beat Ole Miss. That's great, but my immediate emotion was great anxiety. The last time we started 4-0, we crumbled in the 5th game (to MTSU, of all people) and finished the season a greatly disappointing 5-7. That's right, in recent memory, we went 4-0 and then 1-7 to finish the season. My overwhelming thought after beating Ole Miss was, "How are we going to blow this?" I truly did not enjoy the Ole Miss win because of my anxiety about the rest of the season. This anxiety was well-founded. Up next, after a one week bye, was nationally ranked Auburn, who boasted a stifling defense.

Stage III, Hope: During Vanderbilt's bye week, Auburn played Tennessee. It was clear from watching that dismal game that while Auburn's defense was fabulous, their offense was, well, not much of an offense. They didn't seem to know what they were doing or how to do it. That they managed to beat UT was more of a reflection of UT's ineptitude than their own strength as a team. Maybe we could beat them? No, of course we couldn't. Then it was announced that ESPN Game Day was coming to Vanderbilt for the Vandy/Auburn game. This was huge - and a huge opportunity for us to blow it on national television. The anxiety returned and stayed with me until near half-time of the game, when Auburn led 13-0 after scoring two quick touchdowns.

Stage IV, Pride: But shortly before the half, Vanderbilt put together a drive and scored a touchdown to make it 13-7 going into the half. We had momentum on our side and one of the biggest differences in this Vanderbilt team and the teams of the past was that we were BETTER in the second half than in the first half. I think for years, Vanderbilt's football team didn't really believe they could win a close SEC game. This year is different. I think our players know they can win. I was so proud of our team's play through the rest of the Auburn game. We won 14-13 and our defense and offense both did their jobs. It wasn't a comfortable win - a victory margin of more than 1 would have been nice - but I think the team believed we could win, the crowd believed we could win and Auburn beleived we could win. We did and it was glorious. I was somewhat amazed that my primary emotion was not vindication - it's hard to lose close game after close game, year after year and not be a little bit bitter. But I was proud. I was so proud of our coaches, our team and our fans.

I can't wait to see how the rest of the season plays out. I know we will lose games - as of right now, we play two teams that are ranked higher than we are in the AP polls. But this is a new Vanderbilt and my word for right now is: "Expectancy." Let's see where this season takes us...

Sunday, October 5, 2008


1: besides , also too
2 a
: to an excessive degree : excessively <too large a house for us> b: to such a degree as to be regrettable too far> c: very too interested>
: so 2d <I didn't do it. You did too.>

Ruth 1:11-15

For my Bible study this week in Ruth, Naomi tells her daughters-in-law to return to their homes. As part of her encouragement to them to return, she essentially says, "I'm too old to remarry and produce any more sons for you to marry. Go back to your own family." One book that I read talked about how Naomi was clearly being rhetorical in talking about remarrying and giving birth to more sons for Ruth and Orpah to marry. The point she was making was that she couldn't provide for Ruth and Orpah like she wanted to.

The verse where Naomi says she is "too old" took me, via a cross reference, to Genesis where both Abraham and Sarah separately say they are "too old" when God tells them He will make their descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky. Sarah even laughs behind the angels backs. Where am I laughing behind God's back? There are definitely days when I feel "too old." Too old to parent three fabulously energetic daughters. Too old to pursue new passions in life. Too old to try new things (writing, running, teaching). But if Sarah got pregnant and gave birth in her 90s, who am I to say I am too old to do something, especially if it is something God wants me to do?

After confronting myself with this difficult question, I started thinking about the word "too." Naomi's assertion that she is "too old" is bound up in her ability to care and provide for family and this bring me to another conclusion: Naomi thought this problem was too big for God. Well, maybe she didn't exactly think the problem was too big for God, but she thought the problem was too big for God to use HER to help solve it. How could He use a widow with virtually no family as a tool in the life of two recently widowed foreigners?

Where am I quick to decide God can't use me? Where am I bound up in my own vision of myself and unwilling to be the tool God wants me to be? Does it matter if I feel incapable of doing the task set before me if I am truly called to complete that task? Some days I feel like a lot of the opportunities that stand before me are things outside of my comfort zone. Yet I feel a persistent pull to do things I never would have imagined trying. I am afraid to keep trying. I am afraid I will fail - fail to meet my own expectations, fail to fulfill a commitment, fail to live up to what someone else thinks I should do or be.

But while I am afraid to fail, I am more afraid to not try. I am afraid that if I don't do the jobs God gives me, he will stop giving me jobs. He'll stop pursuing me as a tool for His kingdom and let me languish at some rest-stop on the way to where He really wants me to be. So, I'll keep writing, because it's the most persistent and consistent pull that I feel.

Saturday, October 4, 2008



1) the time for a huge pot of chili
2) a respite from the heat of summer
3) the time to watch football
4) the herald of wonderful things to come, i.e. Thanksgiving, Christmas and a New Year

I love fall. This time of year is my favorite because it brings with it so many of my favorite things. I suppose my love of fall started back when I was in school and I looked forward to returning to classes. Sure, I couldn't wait to see my friends, but also because I loved (and still love) learning. Fall meant new things: new classes, new teachers, a new football season.

It's interesting to write a definition of what fall means to me now and see how different it is from what I would have said or written 15-20 years ago. Growing up on the Gulf Coast, fall didn't exactly mean a respite from the heat... that didn't really come until late November, if at all, but it is truly one of the reasons I love fall now. I clearly remember my first fall in Nashville and realizing that trees do actually have leaves that turn colors and fall off. When you're surrounded by Southern Pines and the occasional Oak, you don't really get the stereotypical colorful foliage.

My mother hated cooking, so a huge pot of chili as a harbinger for fall wasn't added until I grew to love cooking (somewhere within the last 7 or 8 years).

Football has always meant fall and it's been fun to talk football with my mom as an adult and realize that my love for the game came from her. I can remember her sitting and watching whatever the SEC game of the week while folding laundry. I'll be doing that myself in a few hours and will think of her.

Finally, fall is about what comes next: extended family gathered around a table and giving thanks for our many blessings, celebrating Christ's birth and a new year that reminds us of all of the possibilities that await. Each of these holidays focus our attention on a different aspect of life. Thanksgiving makes us look back at what we have to be thankful for, Christmas is a holiday grounded in the present (and, all too often, in the presents) and the New Year encourages us to look forward. As someone who needs introspection to feel alive, this trio of holidays clustered so close together feeds my soul.

I have so much to look forward to.