Friday, May 28, 2004

A writer friend of mine, Eric Wiggin, wrote this on one of the email loops I frequent. I asked his permission to share it here. I'm sure you can guess his answer!

From Eric:

John Eldredge writes, in Wild at Heart, that, "There is Eve. Creation comes to its high point, its climax with her. She is God's finishing touch. . . . As C. S. Lewis wrote, 'The beauty of the female is the root of joy to the female as well as to the male . . . to desire the enjoying of her own beauty is the obedience of Eve, and to both it is in the lover that the beloved tastes of her own delightfulness.'"

My own take on this is that everyone looks at girls and women, and it's not only a lust thing but a beauty thing. I am married to a woman who can watch figure skating for hours and shamelessly comment on the girls' figures--come to think of it, why should there be shame in that?

The answer, of course, is that sin has so marred this perspective that we fail to appreciate it. A lot of older women, I believe, are constantly concerned that their teens are showing "too much skin," not so much out of protecting the girls (who do need to be taught modesty, BTW), but out of fears arising from their own decaying bodies. Sin is the reason we all decay--but that's a rabbit trail I'll not pursue at this point.

I believe that the most under appreciated book in the Bible is the Song of Solomon. People are embarrassed by it. It is written to married lovers, but the principles have much broader application. In chapters four and seven the man is telling his bride how beautiful she is in some very specific ways. Not something that a man should tell just any woman, of course. But all women are made for beauty, to be appreciated, and women do have a much sharper appreciation of female beauty than do men. Women also notice roses, sunsets etc. much quicker than men.

How much happier we'd all be if men learned much earlier in their
marriages that God made their wives beautiful, and a man's job is
to learn to appreciate that beauty. Girls don't have to learn,
however--it's instinctive. Did you know that girls know about
three times as many names for colors than boys? Or ask girls to name flowers and birds!

What do men notice? Hey--several guys are making guy talk on a
sidewalk. A pretty girl strolls past, in shorts, even. About that time a Corvette tools past. "Ooo, would I ever like to get my hands on that," one of them says. He means the car. Sorry about that, ladies.

The car represents power and money. Men are attracted to these
all the time. Helen of Troy is said to have started a war over her beauty. I think that's the only time that feminine beauty ever started a war. All other wars have been about power and money. And all wars have been started by men.

You get the picture?

Lisa here: Sure do Eric! Women rock!

I know I've been sounding like a cheerleader the past couple of days, "Go females!" But honestly, lately I've been particularly bombarded with impossible images of beauty, when really, the inner beauty inside of us all is what deserves celebration.

Ever thought about this? God sees the heart. That's where we must be beautiful.



Thursday, May 27, 2004

ugly ducklings

Well, that's just what we needed. A reality show called The Swan. Brazenly proclaiming a group of women "ugly ducklings" the show transformed them into "swans" for a pageant, where one woman was crown "THE swan" and wore the most godawful crown I've ever seen.

Thing is . . . it's not like these women were deformed people. Sure they had a little extra weight, like a lot of us. Their pictures were taken without make-up, some wore glasses. Their hair wasn't glamorous. I thought, "Shoot, what's wrong with them?" So they believed the lie they were ugly ducklings and succumbed to four months of extreme makeoverdom.

Down to the final three, they answered why they should be "THE swan." Most of them said how much this had changed their life, that being beautiful made all of the difference to their self-esteem.

Well, crap. I guess that's what I've needed! Some reality show to tell me I'm ugly, then spend four months changing me, putting me under a surgeon's knife and mutilating me and awww, isn't Hollywood so nice for doing this for these gals?

Ugly ducklings, my butt! And are the producers going to be there for them when they go back to their regular lives, and things haven't really changed all that much? Talk about one of the most demeaning shows I've ever watched. Hollywood is the first to celebrate feminism and the last to give us a break. See Lara Flynn Boyle on the cover of The Inquirer this week? Just goes to show, Hollywood eats its own, ounce by ounce.

I feel sorry for these women and all those entertainers who feel they must torture themselves for someone else's ideal. Who are they doing that for? What person said, "Hey you're fat now!" (From my memory, I think Calista Flockhart brought the skin-and-bones look to Vogue, didn't she?) Not their fans. I remember when size 6 was the norm. Still mostly unattainable for us regular gals, but not shocking, not wasting, and surely possible if we stuck to a program for more than a week. (Watch Spike TV if you want to see what actresses really look like! There are 80's shows on there all the time.) We want these ladies to eat more! We want them to look a little more closely like us! We want them to have periods and babies and real boobs!

And we want them to admit it's not normal, so our daughters won't feel like ugly ducklings, and neither will we.



Tuesday, May 25, 2004


Did I actually freakin' do the Elvis thing?

My gosh.



the feeding of the 5,000
the modern man has left the building

And so he should. And if he hasn't, he needs to.

Twice now in the past six or seven years I've listened to gray haired men preach on the miracle of the five loaves and two fishes. It sounds good. See, Jesus prayed over the small lunch of this selfless child (who had a very conscientious mother or dad) and the crowd, seeing the goodness of the boy, decided they'd pull out the bread and fish they had secretly spirited away in the recesses of their robes and share with their neighbor.

Now THAT is even more of a miracle! they both said. Jesus performed a miracle of the heart.

Thanks, but no thanks. I want miracles of the heart and miracles. Plain, garden-variety, suspension of natural laws miracles.

For years the modern man sought the need to define everything in terms he could understand. He sought to suck God into the vortex of his own rationalization (and boy, can we humans rationalize), throw Him into the spin cycle of skepticism, rinse Him in the right verbiage, and viola! Explainable God!! Understandable Jesus.

There's only one problem with that. People don't want their God to be bound by man's rules and expectations. They didn't then. They don't now. In seeking to explain away Christ's miracles and the mystery and awesomeness of God Himself, they lost their audience. And some of these Elvises are still hanging onto their lackluster beliefs. I mean, I'm supposed to give up my life, take up my cross for Someone that inept? Get with the program, guys. It was screwy theology and people didn't want it then, and they don't want it now.

I want miracles. I want twelve baskets leftover. Jars of wine. Hearing returned, sight restored. I want Legion gone. I want death on the cross--time in the tomb--and a resurrection. I don't want explainable, demystifying castration of a miracle working Son of God. I want Him in all His glory.

And I don't believe I'm alone. I believe this is what people are crying out for now. They know there's a God. But do they know, after these Elvises have been yakking away for at least half a century now, that He can actually make something great of them? That He can take the five loaves and two fish of their lives, break them, and have twelve baskets left over. That He can make their Boone's Farm Strawberry Hill into a bottle of Amarone?

So gentlemen, with all due respect, I'll skip your dessert. And one question, why the heck have you given up your lives to proclaim that? I just don't understand.



Monday, May 24, 2004

The Painter of Light

The art of Thomas Kincaide makes me want to regurgitate.


Did I just say that?

But there's some really great Christian art coming out of Asia these days. (Among other places.) Google it and see for yourself.



i said i wouldn't talk about this here

But I'm going to talk about fiction. Ack!

I read a lot of ranting posts about the poor quality of Christian fiction out there, the mediocrity of CBA, and Christian art in general.

For the most part, I agree. But I place the blame at a different, more philosophical level than writers. Although, I will admit that if we don't hone our craft, or even care to, we are guilty. If any artist thinks they've arrived, not only are they wrong, but they've cut themselves off at the knees. At the end of the day, I hate every book I've just written. A few years after publication I can go back and think, "Well, maybe it isn't completely awful."

The reason for CBA's lack of quality is simply this: they get away with it. Not only that, they make big bucks. Why is that? Consider these points:

1) The Alternative-Entertainment-Form Christian Reader. Some Christians are scared to venture out of the safe fortress walls of American Commercial/Cultural Christendom. They believe that if they read a cussword, they are sullied. They cannot see beyond the face-value of a story. They couldn't read a book like Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius and find the redemption if it bit them in the hiney! Therefore, incapable of digesting fiction as an artform, they approach it as a learning experience, seeking to utilize it as a form of devotion (which certainly it can be), but most probably deeming fiction in general less spiritual and uplifting than something by Max Lucado, less practical in their faith walk than a book by Rick Warren or Bill Hybels. IOW--if it's going to be an indulgence, it had darn sight better be pristine and not "a waste of time", which leads into the next point of why art is seen as a waste of time.

2) The Last Century. More like beginning with the Reformation, Christian art holds little respect. Unless it's some weird picture of Jesus placing a healing hand on the Liberty Bell. Oh, my gosh, go to CBA and try to fully digest the weirdness in the prints that are popular these days. I doubt if you can! Something else kind of interesting to chew on, and a thought for another day: Remember "The Seeker Movement", and worshipping in something that, God forbid, doesn't look like a church? Hopefully, all that is going away. Consider what Sacred Space means? In your heart and in the church and in the church building? What place does creativity hold in the very physical elements where we worship?

3) The Gatekeepers on the bookstore level. Not all bookstore owners, but those who see themselves as the mavens. Some readers who complain so loudly--the bookstores step to. They're many, they're mean, they're ready to kick my butt or the butt of anybody they think is stepping over their line. Unless it's making money, like Benny Hinn, or somebody. God help us if the words "damn" and "hell" appear in a book. But freaky doctrine? Hey, no prob. And they take this gatekeeper stuff very seriously. Unfortunately, I doubt they've engaged the culture in years, or perhaps they believe the Testamints blurb on the CBA floor, "Changing the world, one piece at a time" can apply to them, except not just candy, but necklaces, plaques, quilts and snow globes. Now, there are some bookstore owners that really want to challenge and provoke the complacent church, whose true desire is to bring people to a deeper understanding of God. Bravo to them. Spread the virus to the others now! I think a lot of the problem is that, not having enough time and staff, they take the blowbags' word on matters because they can't read the stuff for themselves. Hey! If you have time, why not offer to read stuff for your local bookstore so they actually know what's going on in-between the pages? Become a maven yourself!

4) The Undemanding Reader. A friend of mine in publishing once told me it's all out of their control, what makes it and what doesn't. That's true. His metaphor, "It's like throwing gobs of wet toilet paper up against the wall and seeing what sticks, then putting your money behind that one." Oh, sheesh! So "what sticks" isn't always "what's good." Bummer, but there it is!

5) 80% of Christians never set foot in a Christian bookstore. Here's the biggest reason, I believe. They're busy reading good ABA fiction. How in heaven's name do we get to them with the good stuff?

6) I don't know one Christian fiction writer who thinks he/she is part of the mediocre problem or isn't writing realistic fiction.

There are novelists who are doing a great job in CBA. And things are changing and improving. Bottom line, it's easy to armchair quarterback those struggling in a relatively new genre of literature. Please remember that Christian fiction hasn't existed all that long. We're all still finding our way, unfortunately, for a lot of us, one book at a time, and in print! When I read my first seven or eight novels, I just want to hurl!

Discombobulated post, I guess. Apologies. Would love your thoughts.



creative people

Will (my husband) read that the only difference between creative people and non-creative people is that creative people think they're creative. Which means we're all creative.

So spread the word!



Friday, May 21, 2004

finding a place in this world

Yesterday I talked about separation. In the Old Testament, circumcision was a physical sign of being in the covenant. St. Paul talked about being circumcised in your heart. Which is, I believe, where true separation takes place. My heart belongs to God. God can be anywhere my heart is and He recognizes His ownership. In fact, He's in there Himself.

Today I just want to lend some practical thoughts to serving others, to being Jesus, not just talking about Him, to those who may or may not (sometimes faith isn't as orthodox or protestant/evangelical as we like to think it is) have a true, abiding faith in Christ.

First of all, I think a lot of us spend way too much time in church, or doing things for church. We're so busy we have no time to be Jesus to those who need His touch the most, to build the kingdom of God. How many programs do you personally need to be involved in? Really? I love it that churches have options, but that doesn't mean each family has to take part in every option there is! I don't think God meant for us to be so busy in the storehouse we spend no time in the fields.

Here's what I do. I'm not saying this is right for you. But you can get the idea and find yourself a community. I write and do some general hanging out at a cigar shop. Now before I go on and on and act like I'm all that, let me say, these people are my friends and have been so kind to me, that I've ended up receiving far more than I give. Which is so like God, isn't it?

Our conversation rolls around to faith issues more than one might think, without my ever engineering it at all. Sometimes, I hardly join in. Maybe just a comment or two. But the great thing is, these folks don't mind hearing my opinion, in fact Main Street Cigar is a place where all opinions are allowed. Be ready to defend it, mind you, because Tony, the owner, doesn't let you get away with not giving a good reason!

It's hard to describe the attitudes and atmosphere of Main Street Cigar. But there I am, in the leather chair, with my computer or notebook, and I belong. They love me and I love them and I hope some of the faith I have rubs off because I know what a difference it can make (not because I think they should agree with me), but that's God's job, not mine. I just simply show up and have a really good time. Try to serve them in small ways, but more importantly I really care about my friends there. And it isn't some manufactured caring, I just do, because they're wonderful people and how could I not? It isn't as scary out and about as some Christians think.

Christians get so busy trying manipulate people and situations, it isn't any wonder nobody wants their input. Just . . . be. Hang out. Be a friend without some agenda.

Where can you go? Well, if you're working outside the home--you've already got a place. Ever go for drinks with the gang after work? If you don't, you might think about it. Despite what we've been taught, you won't be made fun of if you get a Coke, and nobody will think you're the devil incarnate if you order a beer. If someone's relative or friend passes away, please, show up at one of the viewings.

If you're not in the outside workforce, find a diner or restaurant where you can have breakfast at least once a week, maybe twice. You'll get to know the regulars in there, as well as the staff, within a month! I used to do work at a Greek Diner here in town. I still go back occasionally, but it proved non-conducive to work there for some reason. Are your children involved in sports? (And don't get me started on the way Christian parents are sacrificing their children on the altar of Athletics!) There you go! Set your lawn chair with the other moms and dads, not off on your own with a book. God help you, I hope that book's not the Bible!

Look for ways. They're out there like crazy. It's nothing to be scared of, and you will be given far more than you give.

And honestly, being salt and light is not an option!

In the meantime there are always small ways to serve others, be an encouragement, to redeem small situations at whim! Read "Servant Evangelism" by Steve Sojgren.




A jeweler was shot in the head once, the back twice, in NYC's diamond district yesterday. He'd been indicted on drug laundering charges, molding drug lords' gold into screws and belt buckles. I was in the diamond district in November. I saw many Hassidic Jews. Even a group gathered for afternoon prayers. And many other people as well. I saw big fat diamonds like I've never seen before. I mean, absolute giants! My sister and I salivated a river right down the sidewalk. But did I see that guy? Perhaps he was the guy that told me I could try on one of those honkers? Like a dummy, I refused. Was it him?

So here's a little tidbit about faith -- we display it all the time, whether we're a Christian or not. I, and thousands of other people, some of them stupid, unsuspecting tourists like myself--most probably regulars down there who fully realize the extent of unsavoriness, have walked around the diamond district. We all walk about in faith everyday. Nobody's going to come up and mug me. Today won't be the day a car plows into me because if it was, well, I'd just stay home, right? This egg I'm frying isn't full of creepy crawly bacteria. My kids' teachers aren't psychologically abusing them. The sun will rise. The delicate balance of the universe will remain as it was yesterday.

The diamond district only contains nice people.

Aaack! I was around money launderers and I didn't know it. Thank You, GOD, for looking out for me.

So there you go. Faith is exhibited inside us and all around us every day, whether we think so or not. I believe a lot of us are just blessed enough to recognize that Someone's looking out for us: on the road, in school, in the refrigerator, at home, at work, in the diamond district.



Thursday, May 20, 2004

sisters sisters

"There were never such devoted sisters."

I want those days again. We just watched White Christmas, which we view all year 'round. I want a robin's egg blue lace dress with a big feathered fan. I want to be the floor show in a Vermont lodge. I want to break out in song, in perfect harmony with a coordinated two-step no matter what the hour. I want to go to parties where people sit around the piano and sing while women pass out champagne. I want to smoke and not know it'll kill me. I want to watch The Ed Harrison Show.

I want Vera Ellen's legs.



in response to yesterday's comments as well as regarding separation

First of all, I appreciate any and all comments. I love dialogue! Friends, thanks for your Gwynnie comments. Another event from the mean girls happened yesterday, and I was able to talk to the teacher this morning. I would have totally misinterpreted things a week ago. So, you know, let's lift our coffee or teacups to the grace of God this morning! Cheers! To Sue, you're exactly right that this prisoner abuse fiasco shouldn't be an excuse to color everyone in the military. I hope I didn't come across that way. I actually am friends with a lot of career (or retired from career) military people (we live right between Aberdeen and Edgewood Maryland which makes us almost as military-friendly as, say, Chespeake/Norfolk, VA!) and hold them in high regard and appreciate their service (and yours) to me and my country. My point was with Christians and how they can act like it's "just one of our dirty little secrets" and then get on their moral high horse about our country turning away from God.

News Flash! We did that years ago!

Now it's time for us to be Jesus. (I'm off of the military topic now!) Which leads me to my major spout-off today: separation. I grew up in this weird mixture of fundamentalism. My church wasn't legalistic in the sense of "don't wear pants, don't go to movies" but they were extremely right-wing, John Birch style conservatives. So honestly, if you were a liberal democrat--you couldn't possibly know the Lord! The school I attended was worse. Very legalistic, fundamentalist, judgemental (I invite you to insert your own descriptor here!). I next went of to a very, very fundamentalist, strict college. So I heard a lot about the topic of separation. Live in the world, but not of it. Which being interpreted by the practical stance of their lives actually meant, "Live on the planet but not in society."

No wonder our country went down the tubes! We separated ourselves from the culture and are surprised things have ended up this way?

Then there was secondary separation, separating from brothers and sisters in Christ not in agreement with their stance.

No wonder our witness was unheard! And when any sort of evangelism was done, it was more like a secret mission. Run down, preach, tell people they're going to hell, then get the heck out of there!

But I'm excited about the future! I'm excited that people are willing to get out there now, befriend those who need Jesus without feeling the need to stuff their mouths full of chick tracks! We are free to love, give account of our faith in Christ when the conversation rolls around to it (without having to manipulated the conversation ALL THE TIME to it--like people who aren't Christians can't see through that! Please!), but more importantly, serve them. Serve . . . them?

That's exactly right.

Wow, what a concept!

George Barna did a study (if you want me to find the exact percentage I will, but right now I'm on a roll!) that showed within two years of conversion, 80% of people had no unsaved friends left. Now, I realize that some of the common ground people had in the past with their friends was built on alcohol, drugs, sex ('n rock 'n roll!), but how can those who need God hear unless we go to them, or, in some cases, stick with them long after we've come to faith? 90% of life is simply showing up. The Spirit is more than capable of convicting a heart. It's up to us to follow the example of Christ who "ate with publicans and sinners" whores and all manner people, to love our neighbors as ourselves, to love as He loves. Christ isn't exactly choosy about who He loves, now is He?

How do you get out there and meet people? I've taken up enough of your time so I'll write more tomorrow on how God has given me a place where I can love others and actually, truly be loved and appreciated in return. But I'd love to hear how some of you have been able to serve and connect.

grace on this day,


Wednesday, May 19, 2004

gwynnie picked me flowers

I misjudged her. I pushed my seven-year-old daughter Gwynnie into an imagined corner, not the real one in which she found herself. The image I fabricated of her "at school" was all wrong. I figured, hellion she can be at home, she was the mean kid, the bossy kid who made trouble. I mean, that's the way she acts with her older brother and sister. I figured she probably actually got away with it when employing it with her peers. If she complained the girls were mean, I thought, "They were probably just responding to you!"

We went to Concord Point Lighthouse the other day for a field trip. After the kids took turns climbing up to the lantern, they played on the grassy park square in front of the lighthouse, running around, screaming, doing kid things. Not my daughter. Off by herself for the most part, she squatted down picking a small bouquet of white clover, buttercups and delicate blue cinquefoil-looking plant. I thought, "I wonder why she isn't playing with the other kids?"

Next stop, the park. The lunch boxes were opened, the merry-go-round spun, sand flew beneath school shoes. And Gwynnie played mostly on her own. The only girl who chose the plain jumper uniform ensemble that day, my daughter flew solo. She wasn't the mean one. She wasn't the bossy one. She was the loner.

"Does Gwynnie usually stay on the outskirts?" I asked her teacher. I love Gwynnie's teacher.

She nodded. "Yes, I'm afraid she does."


Continuing on, she told me, "There are some really mean first graders this year. I should have told her this, but I told her to just not play with them. To just leave them alone."

She didn't expostulate on just who "them" were. But it's the end of the year these days and does it matter now?

"Oh, no! That's fine. Gwynnie doesn't always respond like she should. It's hard to teach a seven-year-old to turn the other cheek. It's better for her not to even be in the situation if she doesn't have to be."

For the past three or four months Gwynnie hasn't wanted to go to school. I guess I know why now. Sometimes she speaks up and defends herself, but more than not, according to her teacher, she backs off, allows people to butt in front of her, to exclude her from the play yard games.

Honestly? There's a place inside me that is happy. My daughter's not the mean one! But another spot waggles its finger. "Shame on you, Lisa. Shame on you for misjudging her, for thinking so little of her."

I'm sorry, Gwynnie. I'm sorry I wasn't watching. Wasn't listening. And thank you.

Thank you for the flowers.

blather, blather, blather

Just came home from taking Will to the airport. He's going to that Emerging Church conference in Nashville. And for any creeps out there reading this, I've got a really big bodyguard staying here at the house who's trained in 8 forms of martial arts and gun stuff!

So, listening to NPR and talking to Will, I've got some general blathers today. You may find it tedious, so if you don't want to read this, I don't blame you!

blather no. one: prisoner abuse

two things: have had two discussions with Christian women who don't think this is really anything to be sorry for. Wow. Just, wow. I'm horrified. Yeah, sure. Our government does crazy crap like this. We all know it, but don't want to think about it. But do we, as Christians, really have to just say this is okay? Okay, I admit we're powerless to do anything about it, but shouldn't it at least turn our stomachs some? Doesn't Jesus love those people too? Over-simplification? No. Just simplification, which is very Jesus-like. Just goes to prove one thing to me: America is not "a Christian nation." We're not. We're evil. And not because of gay marriage either. We're evil because we abuse people and justice means nothing anymore. Which leads me to

blather no. two: the ten commandment thang

So, why are those who were so against removing the ten commandments Roy Moore put up not outraged about prisoner abuse? Talk about the removal of God from our government! Even back in the OT, in what is now uber-creepy to us, Israel decimating the Canaanites, God didn't tell them to torture them and shame them. He just told them to kill them! See? Easy? I don't mean to be flippant, but man, I know I'll understand all that "on the other side of glory" but here in Maryland in 2004, I still don't understand why the women and children were mowed down too. Anybody who wants to give me a good explanation that doesn't sound hard-hearted, feel free to respond. I'm honestly searching for one. Back to the ten commandment controversy. How many people who felt so strongly about this can actually quote all ten commandments, accurately, by heart? If they're not written on the tablets of the American believers' hearts, how in heaven can we even begin to display them in our courts without it being some sort of exercise in hypocrisy?

blather no. three: the democratic party

I admit I'm getting more liberal everyday. But there's one issue I don't budge on. Abortion. If the democrats didn't make such a litmus test of liberality out of abortion, I'd vote for one now and again. But they have, and they've left a lot of Christians out in the cold who aren't hard-line conservatives but, as a matter of conscience, can't pull down a lever if it means more babies will be burned alive in saline solution, dismembered, or have scissors jammed into their skulls and their brains sucked out. I don't have a place in either party these days. That stinks.

Maybe I'll move to my own island somewhere and never wear shoes again.



Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Missing Grandma Snider

I was going to blabber on about the Feeding of the 5,000 and those pre-historic Moderns who try to explain it away and remove my miracle. I hate it when that happens. But that’ll keep.

I remembered something today—a month-long visit at my Grandma Snider’s house the summer I was nine or ten. My grandfather died when I was three. This may be boring to you because right now I’m simply remembering a nice lady that played pick up sticks with me, taught me how to play double solitaire, yes that’s right, “solitaire” for two people. It didn’t get much crazier than that there on Dorchester Rd!

This particular summer, my normal week away turned into a month. Each Saturday night I’d ask my mom for another week. But in the end, as with all kids, I finally wanted to go home. But what a month. Grape Twinsicles. A rope swing. Tibby the little Lahsa Apso (I’m sure I spelled that wrong.) Walks to the Haraundale Mall, a tiny little mall with a fountain and everything! Grandma would grab her pocketbook and keys and set her glasses more firmly on her nose. Sometimes, not on our walks of course, she’d let me look at the keyhole incision in her iris that Dr. Brumbach cut there during cataract surgery or something years before. She had angina too. We also made sure the little brown bottle of Nitros were tucked inside her pocketbook.

Grandma Snider hated the word “purse.” For her sake, I’ll only use the word pocketbook here.

It was always Grandma’s “last Christmas.”

What blistering walks! Making sure the gate was latched, we’d then tromp down the cracked sidewalk, up the street, over the sand in the lot where the water tower stood, Grandma letting me looking up at the high blue cylinder as long as I wanted. Then over to the Mall, or the Box ‘n Save. The coolness of the Mall was something! And we’d sometimes even get a little treat at the restaurant counter in the middle. I seem to remember Jello in one of those stainless steel, pedestal dessert cups. Maybe chocolate pudding.

Grandma’s brother, Uncle Cal, stayed with her that summer. He bought a really old red car we named Magnolia. Grandma Snider hated it, but she threw in part of the money so he could drive her to her doctor appointments. Uncle Cal was always happy. I didn’t realize until later that he was an alcoholic. I’m happy to report he finally kicked it. But only after Grandma, his sister, who he called Girlie, kicked him out.

Oh, and church. My goodness. A Wesleyan Holiness style church. No wedding bands. No scissors touching the heads of the women. And there we were in Grandma’s kitchen with decks of Playing Cards! Grandma Snider was her own girl. But how those women could wail! One time someone was injured very badly in a car accident just outside the church during a Wednesday Night prayer meeting. I’ll never forget their wails there at the altar as they prayed. It scared me then. Now . . . looking back, I think it’s pretty cool that some people realize the throne of grace is sometimes for storming on behalf of little boys practically disemboweled in car crashes. Okay, I guess I’m still a little scared. If anything ever happens to one of my kids, God forbid, I’m calling them!

Other things I remember about that summer: sparklers on July 4th, a myriad of glass animal figurines catching the afternoon sun in the big picture window at the back, disseminating colors all over the old pull-out couch and shag carpeting, Uncle Cal rolling his own smokes, Uncle Cal cutting things out with the jigsaw for me to paint, stories of Uncle Bert, their other sibling, who then lived in New Jersey with Aunt Jean. And all of these people are dead now.


I mean it. Now that I’m old enough to appreciate what they have to offer, they’re gone. I hate that. Don’t you?

I loved it after dark at Grandma Snider’s house. She’d turn on the local Family Christian Radio station and we’d listen to Songs in the Night.

Songs in the night, songs in the night. Let there be songs in the night.

Long after I went to bed, on a foam mattress tucked into a closet and was that ever cool, I heard the soft, dark sounds of my Grandmother. The shuffle of her solitaire cards. The clink of spoon against cup as she made more Sanka. And songs in the night.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

The Madman

You know it's scary when you're reading the Bible and feel you have more in common with Legion in the land of the Geresenes than you do with, oh, let's say Mary or Martha or Lazarus. And wouldn't you love to be able to sit around their house? I mean, that's the place Jesus relaxed, visted, kicked off His sandles and hung out. Were they ever lucky.

The Madman reminds me of me. Here he rushes up and throws himself at the feet of Jesus. He does. The real guy inside there with all of those demons. He makes a desperate showing, a last-resort push to dash those demons once and for all.

So there lays the Madman, sprawled at the feet of the Savior, and the demons start their yakking.

Like me. When I'm trying to pray, trying my best to cast all my burdens on Him like He told me to do. And my demons start up.

"You know, I'm sick of church. Sick of the people that . . . blah, blah, blah."

"If I don't stick to a diet soon, I'm going to look like Roseanne Barr."

"I can't believe that kid did that to my perfect, unspotted, sinless daughter! Kids these days! And I'll bet that mother thinks it's *my* daughter's fault."

"That Brad Pitt is a hottie."

"Gwynnie's never going to make it past eighteen. And she'll probably end up pregnant."

"My house is a mess."

"I've got to stop smoking. I'll bet God would answer my prayers more if I didn't smoke."

The good thing about the story of the Madman is that it has a happy ending. He was sitting there in clean clothes and a right mind. So I'm hoping that'll be me someday.

In the meantime, I guess I'll keep throwing myself at Christ's feet, hoping maybe He'll cast out my demons one by one and maybe someday, I'll be able to pray like I should. To be honest, I think I'm still trying to cast out my own demons and I haven't quite figured out how to just let go.



Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Okay, I Admit It.

My "fixer-upper" was a bottle of prescription sleeping pills. Sonata, to be precise. My doctor, who I love, love, love, was telling me, "Lisa, I hate to write you a prescription. I think we need to find out what's causing the insomnia." Now, I've basically not slept well for 22 years. I don't CARE what's causing it. I've been on Effexor, Celexa, in counseling. I've taken St. John's Wort! So when Dr. Knight said that. I hissed passionately. "I just want to sleep!!!"

He wrote me the prescription. It's not working all that well, but last night, I decided I'd do the bit where you go to sleep on your own, if you wake up during the middle of the night, take the pill. Well, I did that, and I didn't need to take the pill. So it's just kind of sitting there on the nightstand, all pretty and blue, and I'm wondering if it will be kind of like that infamous "last cigarette in the pack" a person carries around for 50 years or so.

I can't say I haven't prayed to be delivered of this insomnia, or the tendency toward depression and lots of other things God's chosen not to deliver me from. But so far, I think God wants me to be a little more tormented. If I wasn't, I'd be writing books like Janette Oke's. Which is fine! If you like that sort of thing. And lots of people must because she sells far more books than I do.

Hey found a cool blog, but I'd have to scroll back to get it for you and I know I'll lose this one. I'll post it separately. If I can remember to, which is highly unlikely.

Ever want to read the Bible through in a year? Me too. Have I ever? Nope. I always start with the book of Matthew. I don't know how many times I've read Matthew because I start reading the New Testament and then get waylaid by living in these pesky, earthy husks I call a body, the frustrating thing. But today, I made it to Mark. See, miracles are still happening. I miss them all the time. How 'bout you? Any small miracles occurring around you? Personally, my favorite is breathing.



Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Waiting for the Unknown

I'm officially on 'sabbatical' or, to put it another way, am now ensconced in my year of 'jubilee.' No novels to write for a year. God made it clear it was time to take a break. I've no idea what will emerge when I look back a year from now.

Heard an interview on the radio today about a man who came to faith in Christ in prison. Mother shot to death when he was 11, father stabbed to death when he was 14. He said, "Nobody loved me. Then I found out that God loves me."

I've always been loved. I'm glad God reached out to him. And to me.