Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Coping, Poping, and Alliterating

Where have I been? I've been resting from the Michigan trip, feeling tired (fighting something?), and enjoying time with the fam. I've also been reading vast quantities of Catholic materials. (The people cheer; the audience roars.) I know, I know, you don't want to hear about it, but I'm just saying. And, of course, this will be fodder for future posts - maybe later today even. I'm telling you so you know where I've been and where I'm going.

At this point in my reading and studying, I already feel somewhat disabused of my Protestantism. And, to be a teensy dramatic, I also feel somewhat used and deceived: too much information, of the truth, has been kept from me. I know it is not a malicious dissemination of disinformation, but all the same, I feel a little angered and slightly slighted. (I plan on sharing some of this information at a later date.) It is almost as if after struggling financially for much of my life, I've just discovered that there is, in my name, a bank account with several million dollars in it.

I mean to cash in on and even share some of my newly found wealth. I won't be angry if you don't want any of it. Regardless, I hope you keep hanging with me.

To do something completely different and unrelated now: Here's an alliteration piece I worked on over the weekend to post at Jamie Dawn's blog (see blogroll). I wasn't going to post it here, but I spent an hour to an hour and a half on it late Saturday night. It uses the word "ass" frequently, so skip it if that will offend.

Arthur's ample ass, attired appropriately, acquired attitude at an All-Ass Amble, accomplishing an acrobatic and arresting antiphonal air.

Addie, awestruck at Arthur's artistry, asked about acquiring Arthur's adept ass at April's assembly. Addie's assistant, Abigail, aghast at approaching an ass-artisan, almost appealed Addie's adjuration.

Arthur's ass ambled ahead.

Abigail approached and ass-ambled, albeit awkwardly, alongside Arthur.

Arthur ass-ambled astoundingly.

Abigail's arms ached after Arthur and Arthur's ambling ass.

Arthur approached. Abigail, anxious about appearing amateurish, angled away.

Arthur advanced again, almost angrily at Abigail's angling.

And Arthur's arms acquired Abigail. Abigail - alive, Ah! alive - acquiesced and alluringly ass-ambled against Arthur. Arthur assessed Addie's assistant approvingly. Abigail ass-ambled and Arthur accompanied.

And asking Arthur about April's assembly abandoned Addie's assistant - Abigail adrift, Abigail adored, Abigail accepted, Abigail angelic.

Ah! Amore!

Sunday, February 26, 2006

There and Back Again

The drive was not nearly as bad as I imagined - neither to nor from Michigan. The kids were wonderful. They didn't sleep well at Grandma and Grandpa's (it always takes a couple of days for them to acclimate), but the trip was pretty okay.

It is so nice being with Laura and Sophie again.

Thanks for your prayers.

When I got home Friday night, just as I lifted Will out of the car, he began vomiting. Laura took him and felt his forehead; he had a fever. He hadn't felt hot on our last stop and had been asleep for the past three hours. And though I'm so sorry the little guy was sick, I was sure glad he had waited until we got home.

Oh, and no gold. No dragons.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Expecting You

I keep expecting you to walk into the room, to ask me if I’ve seen your brush, to sit next to me, to lay your head on my shoulder. But you don’t. I wait for you to come down the stairs from your shower. But you don’t. I keep expecting you, but you are not here.

I thought I’d see you as I turned the corner into the dining room, but the table was empty and there was only food for me.

And as the sun set and the children fell asleep, I was sure you would be in your chair with your legs curled under you – knitting, reading, or growing tired. But the chair is quiet and empty, because you are not here.

Sweet Afton

FLOW gently, sweet Afton! amang thy green braes,
Flow gently, I’ll sing thee a song in thy praise;
My Mary’s asleep by thy murmuring stream,
Flow gently, sweet Afton, disturb not her dream.

Thou stockdove whose echo resounds thro’ the glen,
Ye wild whistling blackbirds in yon thorny den,
Thou green-crested lapwing thy screaming forbear,
I charge you, disturb not my slumbering Fair.

How lofty, sweet Afton, thy neighbouring hills,
Far mark’d with the courses of clear, winding rills;
There daily I wander as noon rises high,
My flocks and my Mary’s sweet cot in my eye.

How pleasant thy banks and green valleys below,
Where, wild in the woodlands, the primroses blow;
There oft, as mild Ev’ning weeps over the lea,
The sweet-scented birk shades my Mary and me.

Thy crystal stream, Afton, how lovely it glides,
And winds by the cot where my Mary resides;
How wanton thy waters her snowy feet lave,
As, gathering sweet flowerets, she stems thy clear wave.

Flow gently, sweet Afton, amang thy green braes,
Flow gently, sweet river, the theme of my lays;
My Mary’s asleep by thy murmuring stream,
Flow gently, sweet Afton, disturb not her dream.

- Robert Burns

Monday, February 20, 2006

The Drive

I will be traveling tomorrow with three little people: a five-year-old girl, a three-year-old girl, and a crazy toddler boy. They're all mine, as far as I know. Laura and Sophie can't go because of school. So it's just me and them for twelve gr***ing hours. I am traveling to the edge of the Great White North - to Michigan - for an interview or two.

I had a dream last night that my wife told me she didn't want me coming back until I found a job. I was crushed. But then I woke up and now I'm okay. Mostly okay. Really. Mostly.

So here I am contemplating this trip from The Place That Shall Not Be Named (that would be "Hell" for my slower readers). And twelve hours, by the way, is only the trip there. At some point we will need to make the trek home, unless my dream prove prophetic.

Anyway, I'd appreciate your prayers throughout the day on Tuesday. I may just buy diapers for the older kids and slap them on them for the trip. Maybe for me too. That'd save some time. Now if I could only find some legal, ethical way to make the children sleep the entire trip. I'll have to burn some new music for the trip - something that will drown out my yelling and crying, preferably, and something that will keep me awake. Any suggestions?

Friday, February 17, 2006

The Gospel of St. Avery

My yellow-haired child crawled up into the bay window and picked up my Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament (placed there by the raccoon). The raccoon, using a stool, followed her into the window.

Avery then crossed her legs and said, "I'm going to read you a story, Baby Will."

Will sat down criss-cross-applesauce and listened as Miss A, in her platform shoes, translated the Greek scriptures for him. He grunted affirmingly in all the appropriate places.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Yeats, for Laura

The Young Man’s Song

I WHISPERED, ‘I am too young,’
And then, ‘I am old enough’;
Wherefore I threw a penny
To find out if I might love.
‘Go and love, go and love, young man,
If the lady be young and fair,’
Ah, penny, brown penny, brown penny,
I am looped in the loops of her hair.

Oh, love is the crooked thing,
There is nobody wise enough
To find out all that is in it,
For he would be thinking of love
Till the stars had run away,
And the shadows eaten the moon.
Ah, penny, brown penny, brown penny,
One cannot begin it too soon.

When You Are Old

WHEN you are old and gray and full of sleep
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true;
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face.

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead,
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Breaking News

BAGHDAD, Iraq, February 14 - Millions protest as Judge Raouf Rasheed Abdel-Rahman acquits Saddam Hussein from all criminal charges and sends him on a week-long quail hunt with the vice president of the United States.

Photo: Gene J. Puskar

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Roxy and Bailey

Wee, sleeket, cowran, tim'rous beastie,
O, what panic's in thy breastie!
- Robert Burns, "To a Mouse"

A brace of Guinea pigs are in my house. My eldest, Sophie, is playing host to these two wee beasties for the weekend. They belong in her classroom, believe me. But while they are here they bring endless joy to my children and continuous temptation to my cat. Last semester there was only one wee beastie, named Roxy, but she died over the holidays. We think perhaps a dog got to her, but it was not our fault, not our watch. Two new beasties were then purchased, one named after the former, Roxy, and one named Bailey.

I walk into the girls' bedroom and there on their dresser is the Guinea pig pen, the cage. The door is open. "They won't get out," says my wife. "They leave it open in the classroom." But their escaping is not the problem. There in the cage lies Talullah, our cat, full-bellied and purring contentedly.

I am dreaming as I lie on the couch. I'm tired and I have a small headache. I wake and find myself in that middle place between waking and sleeping. Curled up, I face the couch and hear Sophie behind me talking to one of the pigs.

Sophie sits in the recliner holding Roxy (the new Roxy, not the old dead one). As she holds her, I hear, "She just pooped on me! Roxy just pooped on me!" And what I thought would turn into panic and little first-grader squeals becomes a strange source of delight and a "Whoop!" The squeals of joy summon the other children to assemble. Peals of laughter follow "She pooped again!"

The children gather. An empty styrofoam cup is picked up and I hear the small pellets being dropped into the cup by Anna. Plonk, plonk. I hear it, the sound is unmistakable.

"Don't touch the poop," I say, wasting my breath.

"Why not?" says Anna.

Like an electromagnetic pulse, her question shorts out my capacity to think rationally. I take a conspicuous step toward Insanity and say, "Do you touch Daddy's poopy?"


"Then don't touch Roxy's, okay?"

"Sure, Daddy." I hear another pellet plonk lightly against the styrofoam.

Soon afterward, their mother herds the children outside into winter to play. All of them go but Avery. The yellow-haired child wants to hold the other wee beastie, Bailey.

Avery grabs Bailey and sweet-talks her. She sounds like her mother or me as we cajole potty-trainees. "C'maw, Baiwey. Wes see yoh poopy. I wanna see yoh poopy," she singsongs. "You can do it. Wes see dat poopy." I suppose the pig-rat is being gently squeezed as well, as Avery tries to physically generate the little turds, but my back is turned and I do not care to roll over.

Bailey, confused, calls out a string of questioning squeaks and oinks. I don't speak the language of the little wee beastie, but I can only imagine she is saying something like "AAAAAGH!"

Saturday, February 11, 2006


"There ought to be some horses on the road we're taking," I say.

"Slow down so we can see them," Anna says.

I pass the corral, but I see no horses. "I guess they're not here today," I say, and drive on.

She says, "Daddy, you have to be patient. Just like we be patient when we wait for you to make macawoni and cheese."

Thursday, February 09, 2006

On Schism

There has been some debate about the new Southern Baptist Church (SBC) International Missions Board's (IMB) position on baptism. Eternal security, no speaking in tongues - a less generous position, in my opinion. It all smells like schism to me. Lord willing, it will not end in that for the SBC, but it stinks regardless.

I was re-baptized after college by a church fellowship that, the week preceding my baptism, split over the issue of baptism. I've written about it before here, but it continually strikes me as a sad coincidence.

Nowadays we view schism in the church, at best, as merely regrettable. I believe it's sin. And I believe it's sin for two reasons. (1) Christ called us to be one. When we split, when we divorce ourselves from one another, we are resisting his call upon our lives. We are being disobedient children. (2) Church division allows us to feel better about, more certain of, ourselves. That's right, subconsciously, we love a good schism because, whatever side we choose, we are left feeling that we are in the right. It creates an us-them dichotomy. Schism is proud. It says, "I am better than the one who broke away/stayed because I am more gracious/because I hold more firmly to the truth of the scriptures." But schism is graceless and ends in little truth.

Here are some arguments for schism: apostasy, heresy, differing practices, distinctives, or interpretations. Which of these arguments, if any, are valid for schism, for division within the Body of Christ? Are there other arguments? Can we maintain unity in the midst of our differences? If so, how?


It snowed briefly this morning. Nothing on the ground and little in the air, but the flakes were large and beautiful. Stained with apple sauce, the Raccoon grunted twice, pointed, and climbed up into the bay window to get a better view. Anna threw on pants and galloped outside to taste the water-as-snow on her tongue. The yellow-haired child just sat in the recliner and grinned.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

What Your Daddy Never Told You

The following information is revolutionary. It may change your life. Brace yourself.

Whether it's a rental or it's new, your husband or your wife's, a parent or a sibling's - there are few things worse than getting in an unfamiliar automobile and wanting or needing to fuel up. You never know which side of the vehicle the tank is on. (Can I hear an Amen?) You crane your neck and your mirrors to try to see the tank, but often you cannot crane far enough.

Your craning days are over.

Simply look at the dashboard inside the vehicle. On the gas gauge there is an arrow that points to the left or to the right. That arrow is pointing to the side of the car the tank is on. It's true. I KNOW! Mind-blowing information, huh?

Now, let's all de-lurk and post whether this is news to you. (I heard it in church two weeks ago, and I haven't been the same since. I've been giddy with this tank knowledge.)

And for those of you who knew, let's not be too smug. Okay?

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Eduff Is Eduff

My children are sick.

I lurch backward as these germ-evangelists sneeze in my face. They smear their tracts upon my shoulders and pant legs. As they reason with me, they steal sips from my cup. Their arguments are overwhelming.

And now it feels as if my three-pound brain is slowly draining into my nose. My face lists to the starboard side. I find myself moving in sluggish circles, spiraling toward my destination, clockwise.

I arrive at the couch. There I am jungle gym. I am sofa. I am pillow and blanket and handkerchief. I drift between here and nowhere and ask about the baby. It's a game: Where's Wills? Find him please. Take the markers from him please. Turn over the chairs please. Pour him some juice please. Tape him to the ground please. Make him spongy with Benadryl please. Help me up please. Let me sleep please.

The phone rings, of course. I let it. And then stagger toward it with the desperation of a thousand housewives. For I am all sub-wifery, with slugs for brains, with monkeys for children, with messes for rooms. No one is there. The automated, tele-circ library voice, a poor reader, botches my surname as it asks for Mrs. "Lee-OHNS." With a tinny voice, it asks about overdue books. It asks about the same books as it asked about the last time and the time before last. (Would they let it go already?) With these books we are building their tiny kingdom of romance novels and LaHaye fictions.

"I bust fide those books," I mutter. As an afterthought, I curse Mr. Bell and his invention and spiral back toward the couch. I curse him again for good measure.

It is nighttime and I navigate through the dark of the bedroom. I am a blind man who knows each dresser corner, each clothes pile, each stuffed animal and firetruck. With some relief, I climb into bed.

And there, in my place, a small evangelist is asleep, softly rasping out her gospel.

"You're preachig to the choir, Baby," I whisper, and push her to the middle of the bed.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Snot for Sale

I've got four, fully functioning snot factories currently up and running. Three of them have fevers, which increases output significantly. By year's end, profits should be through the roof if we continue at this pace (assuming we find a buyer).

Keep up the good work, Team.