I'm looking at some of the images of the devastation left behind by Katrina; I'm listening to the stories. I'm speechless. I just heard on the Weather Channel and CNN that 80 percent of New Orleans is under up to 20 feet of water and that another levee has been breached, which will result in the water rising further yet.
Monday, August 29, 2005
Friday, August 26, 2005
I was just finishing up the dishes, and one sink had about two inches of water, polka-dotted with brick-orange grease. Chicken meat floated in the water, clogged the drain. I reached my hand into the water to pop up the drain and as I felt the cool slickness of it embrace my hand, I began to gag. Old dish-gunk-food gets me gagging anyway, but here I was reaching my hand into this evil water and in my mind I couldn't get Jamie's post out of my mind. So here am I, retching over the toilet and thinking to myself what you're probably thinking, "What a pansy."
When I began this Web log, I chose a title for it. I chose one title out of a great number of possible titles. The title meant something to me because, at the moment, it summed up how I felt about my life: Out-of-control, wild, unpredictable, oddly ordained. I feel the same today, but perhaps with a broader view of how one is swept over.
Mirth and joy sweeps over me at odd moments. It may be the sheer audacity of fully stuffed clouds pinned to a sky of Carolina blue. It may be a song or a face. It may be tripping while walking up stairs. But sometimes in my life, scandalous joy sweeps over me and rolls me along in its surf. I crawl to my feet, pull up my shorts, and just laugh.
My children sweep over me. Words can't adequately express the disturbing blessing of each one. They humble me with their wonder and their innocence and their being. They are ever so fragile, ever so strong. I try to preserve moments - but only the tiniest fraction get recorded. This quartet moves my soul with their melody, their harmonies. I find myself humming their song wherever I go.
I am simply swept over. All his waves have broken over me. And deep calls to deep in the pounding surf. I am overwhelmed by Jesus.
Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell is an interesting book. I picked it up today because none of our libraries had it yet and, last night, I had just finished reading/skimming nearly 80 reviews of the book on Amazon that left me feeling intensely uncomfortable.
Heresy was ringing in my brain.
So naturally I bought the book.
I don't know Rob. I never have. I'm sure I've met him before because we attended the same church in high school. My sister's best friend dated him. Some of my high-school friends chummed with him at church. But I don't know him. I've never had any kind of relationship with the guy.
Quite honestly, I probably wouldn't have liked him all that much then.
He probably wouldn't have like me all that much either.
But I get him now.
It's just one slim volume, of course, but I think I understand what he's saying. I think I understand what he's trying to say. More importantly, I think I understand what he's trying to do.
From what I can tell, he's neither heretic nor apostate nor infidel. So I guess that makes him a saint, like me - a Jesus follower. Quirky writing (which I like) from a quirky guy who loves life, and who loves God. He wants other people to be who they were created to be - to be restored, to be reconciled to God.
It's a good read.
And if you do think he's a heretic and you do have urges to gather firewood or rocks or rope, remember that it's Rob's book and not mine.
Wednesday, August 24, 2005
I'm not teaching at the community college.
I figure after all the voice mail I've left without any response that they just might not want me around. That's fine since I'm pretty busy anyway.
Perhaps the appropriate response would be to show up on campus one afternoon, disheveled and sloshed, and begin screaming, "Hey! You called me. I didn't call you, you filthy blackguards!" until security dragged me away. I mean, maybe not, but WWJDD - you know what I'm saying?
Anyway, it's all good.
Sometimes I can barely keep myself from laughing when around my kids. The yellow-haired child, for instance, had a mouth full of watermelon Bubblicious and she told me her tooth had just come out (her oldest sister has two front wobbly teeth). When I told her it didn't, she leaned back, threw her arms wide, and shook her head; her eyes were wide open, and her speech was a little slurred from the preposterous wad of gum - "Not yet?" she said. She looked totally wasted.
Sunday, August 21, 2005
I tried calling the administration at the local community college on Friday and only got voice mail. I stopped by the offices and the contact lady wasn't there. I left a message with someone who had the contact lady's cell number about calling me over the weekend. And . . . nothing. Nothing - can you believe that? I don't know if I'll hear anything tomorrow.
There is some good news, however, if all this happens. Someone from church said they thought that the school provided daycare for students - so that might be a possibility for me with the noon class that I may or may not be teaching. We'll see.
In the meantime, I'm trying to write an article for Monday and prepare for my Bible study on Tuesday.
(Sorry about the boring update posts, I'll try to work up something better soon.)
Friday, August 19, 2005
Life is crazy - it can be dammed up and unchanging for months, years even. And then, overnight the dam bursts and you find yourself trying to tread water in a sea of change.
We've been busy here in North Carolina, just as all of you have. This week our Bible study was on Wednesday night (as opposed to the normal Tuesday night) - along with a pool party and some good food. I've been tapped to teach next week's lesson, which I pray will be well. I also have an article for Tyndale due Monday. Busy, but no big deal - the kids sleep longer than I do, after all. Then yesterday before lunch it happened. The dam cracked and burst with the ringing of a phone.
"May I please speak to Scott Lyons?"
"This is he," I answered.
It was the local community college asking if I would teach a couple of writing classes this semester (scary and funny all at once, huh?) - probably the following semesters as well. Classes start today. I wouldn't be able to start, at the earliest, until Monday. One class is during the lunch hour, which I would have to arrange childcare for about an hour and a half on M, W, and F. The other class is M and W evenings.
I hung up the phone and it crossed my mind to say nothing to Laura about it and tell the community college No. That's a typical response from me - I've never done it, but I'm tempted to time and again. Change is hard - especially change that is going to complicate my life. But the job would be a foot in the door, it would be good experience, and it would be extra cash. All positive things. It would be busy. It would be hard. But I'm more afraid of what might happen if I passed up opportunities such as these that are dropped in my lap.
As I left for my dentist appointment, I got the mail. At the bottom of the pile was a packet of more freelance work. I'm telling you, when the dam breaks, it breaks.
I have to run by the community college this afternoon and meet with the lady who called yesterday. I'll find out more information then. Anyway, here it goes.
Sometimes I'm simply swept over by the sheer gaiety of life.
(I know, Jamie, I said dam.)
Tuesday, August 16, 2005
Millers, the term we use for all kinds of small moths, have been serious pests this summer in my neck of the woods. They've been breeding like rabbits in our minivan. Of course, the minivan is filled with a cornucopia of Miller staples. On the floors and in the cup holders are old sweets, baked goods, cheeseburgers, spilled juices and milks - just about anything you can feed children (or Millers) in a vehicle, if you are apt to do so. And we are.
One thing that amazes me about the Millers is their tolerance of heat. You'd think they'd die in the sheer intensity of the midday sun, but they scoff at it. They dance along the roof of the van and wait it out, breed it out at Club Minivan. I don't even keep the windows down for them - I deliberately neglect them, but they don't die.
Also, I've eaten three Millers this summer, to date. I just breathed in and choked on their immovable, furry dryness. One morning on the way to church I inhaled one and nearly started a barf-a-rama with the fam-in-the-van. I couldn't get the feel of the freaking thing out of my throat.
There is one bothering me even now, drawn to the grace and genius of my writing. I can hardly pick it off my display because it's so small and I have no fingernails worth mentioning - not that I want fingernails worth mentioning, because I don't. I'm just saying. When I do get it off, it flies right back on to this mysterious, monolithic Miller-beacon. (I hear the Space-Odyssean drums and I wait for it to take up a small Miller exoskeleton and begin to bludgeon another, dumber Miller - but it doesn't happen. It may be it just needs more time.) Perhaps it just wants me to kill it. Perhaps it's pleading with me in its vigorous little Miller language-dance: Squash me! Eat me! Kill me! I feel obliged, but I just don't like killing things - not even Millers.
Monday, August 15, 2005
The boy has been busy digging through our trash. It's the second time in three days that he's gotten into it. His primary target both times seemed to be the coffee grounds. This morning the grounds were caked onto his legs, around his mouth, and tracked across the kitchen floor. The Pop-Tarts box, the peach peels, and the vinegar-based slaw he passed over, completely oblivious to their obvious charms. But the little wet anthills resting in stained filters are irresistible and are the object of his raccoonish ways.
It's not like we don't feed the boy. He eats. He eats a lot. He eats as much as his sisters and, many times, more. He's 14 months old and this past week he made short work of an entire cheeseburger. If he wants to eat it, we usually let him. But there are boundaries. Eating coffee grounds out of the trash can just seems, well, desperate. You know, something Meg would do if she couldn't afford to brew her own beans.
Now he's buzzing around the floor all hopped up on coffee grounds. And there goes the lamp - I better go.
I really don't understand it. None of the other kids did this. Maybe he's getting the idea from his mama.
Saturday, August 13, 2005
The following verse connected some disparate thoughts that have been floating around in the slough of my brain. So I'm placing a marker here, on this page, because I have trouble remembering.
At our Tuesday night Bible study, a friend closed the study with a familiar passage: "And he said to them, 'The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest' " (Luke 10.2, NASB).
As he read the passage, the combination dial turned and the contact points clicked gently into place: We are both the pray-ers and the laborers. We are both the senders and the sent. If you are a Christ-follower, then you are a laborer in his harvest. Jesus did not bring us into the kingdom for pew-sitting. Atonement is not simply for you and me, but for the nations. And it is too small a thing for the Servant to redeem us from sin and death. He redeemed us for life, for living, for living with and for others. He saved us so that no matter where we might be we would herald Jesus as Lord. He is Lord over all the earth - over every place, over every government, and over every authority.
Any other thing for which I live my life - recognition, wealth, success, admiration, patriotism, church, family, me - is trash. Christ is all. The One who made lambs, made tygers; the One who made a baby's softness, made a father's whiskers. He made the stars, and he made the cold vastness between. And this same Holy One calls me to labor for him and for his kingdom. So I labor. I labor for his kingdom as I shepherd my children. I labor for his kingdom when I bless those who only know how to curse. I labor for his kingdom as I become every man's slave. I am his laborer because he is Lord. And his burden is light.
This is not nothing. It is the gospel.
(ScottB has been discussing these ideas at his site far more thoroughly and clearly than I have here. It's good reading. I appreciate it, Berkhimer.)
Friday, August 12, 2005
My head hurts. I have had this headache for over 24 hours now. The pain is lodged in my right temple and half of my head pulses with it. As I lie here, I wonder how quickly Keifer would lose the TV gig if he suffered as I do. I mean, how ordinary would that show be?
Embarassment: Trying to compliment a young lady on the beauty of her eyes, but instead of saying irises you say areolas. How do you confuse these two words?
Wednesday, August 10, 2005
Yesterday was Sophie's first day of first grade. It was the first day she's left the house for school, since I homeschooled her last year. She's been excited for some time, but the night before last there was the anticipated worry in her voice. She's shy, after all.
I had to drive Laura and Sophie in to school because our van was in the shop (gettin' it all pimped out, dawgs). Anyway, it was hard watching her walk hand-in-hand with her mommy into the school. I think, though, it would have been far harder if she had been walking into the school by herself. School is an interesting little experiment. It's sort of like pushing your little one into the deep end to see if her instincts will kick in and she'll swim. You trust that it will all work out, but you have your doubts about the process.
When I picked her up in the afternoon, she had a big smile on her face. I asked her what her favorite thing that happened in school was and she told me that it was not having to flip her card (for misbehavior). She was a chatterbox and filled my ears with her honey voice telling me all about her day.
During lunch she cried. They were serving pizza and the sauce was too spicy for her so she offered her food to another child who wanted it. The teacher told her that she couldn't share her food - it's against school policy (allergies, complainers, whiners, little babies, etc.). Sophie cried because she thought she was in trouble. After she related the story to me, I told her that it was never wrong to share and that I was very proud of her. (But don't do it while the teacher's looking.)
Today is Day 2 and I pray it will be even better than Day 1.
Monday, August 08, 2005
The reaching for sharp instruments, the involuntary choking motions, the falsetto giggle - these things make me believe that I'll be shuffling around in my bathrobe before too long.
The purple-clad, yellow-haired child has been playing with my cell phone for over an hour now. Right here, next to me. She does the same thing with it over and over, endlessly entertained by its colorful display and toddler-size charm. Every time I try to use it she grabs at it and says over and over, "Gimme da phone!" And I lie here with a purple-bead necklace around my neck, with fingernails painted from an afternoon catnap on the couch, and with my right eye twitching. Is it any wonder that my children won't listen to me?
RoseArt has these markers, Body Art markers. They're stamping markers that wash easily off the body. (Sure they do.) When I see a product such as this, I chuckle to myself and wonder, "What kind of idiot would buy that for their children?" As it turns out, exactly my kind of idiot.
The RoseArt Body Art markers lie scattered across my dining room floor. The yellow-haired child has followed the explicit instructions of the markers and drawn on her face once again. I never told the yellow-haired child what to do with the markers, so I reckon she must be able to read. Let me tell you something about washable markers. If you leave the marker on your child for more than a couple of hours, like for a day or so, it might as well have been a Sharpie. I know these things because I normally don't make a point of cleaning my children after they've drawn all over themselves. I figure, what's the point?
Now I don't live in the posh part of town. In fact, my town doesn't have a posh part of town. My town is antithetical to poshness. So a gaggle of kids simultaneously dressed in stripes and plaids, or running around in sagging, heavy diapers, or painted with RoseArt Body Art markers doesn't really phase anyone. It may even help to raise my standing in the community.
Saturday, August 06, 2005
I am sitting patiently, waiting to start Ocean's Twelve, though it's probably not worth the wait. I haven't even read a review on the movie. But what the hay. My only other option from Netflix tonight is Pooh's Heffalump Movie and while it is excellent, I've already seen it half a dozen times. The voice of Lumpy, the heffalump whom Roo befriends, is played by Kyle Stanger, whose voice reminds me of my favorite kids' show, Charlie and Lola. The kids' voices on this 15-minute Disney show are fabulously disarming (stole that description from a review) - Honestly, I could watch the show all day. It starts out with little English Charlie saying, "I have this little sister, Lola. She's small . . . and very funny."
It amazes me how volatile we Christians can be about the littlest of things. Well, we don't think they're little things and that is why we are volatile about them. I'm thinking about Harry Potter specifically. I've almost been burned at the stake two times for mentioning that I enjoy the books. I've almost been hanged four times. And before you start blogging about the perils of Potter, I already know my soul is in mortal danger and that at any moment I may - *pop* - become a Pagan. What can you do?
Friday, August 05, 2005
We just purchased a new vehicle - used, but new for us. It is a 97 Jeep Cherokee and we got it a couple thousand below the Blue Book price. Nice and nicer. It's got its downsides, but overall the vehicle is very cool. And that's what matters, isn't it, that it's cool? My greatest grievance is that I don't get to drive it during the week. Laura drives it to work while I drive around the minivan. The de-masculinization continues.
In North Carolina, we have a tax-free weekend "holiday" before school starts each year. You can shop for school supplies - computers, clothes, supplies, etc - without having to pay taxes on any of it. It starts today. Last night on the little news-blurb commercials - you know the ones: "Thousands die of local plague. We'll tell you how you can avoid certain death at 11:00." - the anchor wondered if, with our current budget woes, we deserved a tax-free weekend. Laura and I laughed and laughed and laughed. Deserve? Pish.
Thursday, August 04, 2005
You know you're in a bad way when you pause to consider whether to place a Krispy Kreme widget on your Dashboard that tells you where the nearest Krispy Kreme store is. Time to get out those walking shoes. Well, not now when it's 400 million degrees outside. Maybe I'll wait till morning.
Monday, August 01, 2005
Sophie learned in Sunday School that she had to control her "temperature." It's been consistently 98.6 degrees since then, so she's doing well.
My wife started back up at school on Friday - she teaches first grade. She has about a week and a half of work days and then the kids come back on the 9th. I know, that's crazy early, but she teaches at an extended-year school (200 days - ack!). Sophie will be attending first grade at the same school and will be driving there and back with Mommy.
Mac still at shop. Waiting on ordered part. If not ready soon, I shall perish.