Category Archives: musings

Faith in Humanity

With all the horrors that surround us on a daily basis, the ones that leave us shaking our heads, shaking our fists, shaking in our boots, it’s nice to find out that kindness, compassion, generosity and chivalry still exist amid the ugliness.

Sometimes it’s the most simple of gestures that reminds us of this. Someone holding open a door for you when your hands are full or even when they’re not full. And someone coming to your aid when stranded with a flat tire definitely reminds you that!

This morning, as I drove GMan to school, one of my tires blew. And what could have been a stressful, nerve-wracking experience, turned out to be the most pleasant flat tire experiences I’ve ever had. There are a lot of factors that contributed to that, the nice weather, the fact that it occurred in an out of the way place where I wouldn’t impeded traffic or be in any sort of danger, and Bobby.

Bobby was the State of Tennessee employee who just happened to be in the right place at the right time. He came upon me just as I had pulled over and was looking at the damage. He directed me to a more level area in the parking lot, he got his jack and he proceeded to change my tire. I could have, possibly, done it myself had I needed to. And if I had been unable, I could have called my father-in-law or brother-in-law. (DB was, at that point, out of town.) And if I had managed it or if I had had to wait for someone, GMan would have been late to school and I would have been rather flustered.

But none of those things happened because of Bobby. We chatted, he talked to GMan, he got the “donut” put on and sent us on our merry way. GMan was only about 10 minutes late to school and even though I’m sitting in a Midas shop waiting for a couple of new tires instead of at home doing laundry and other household chores (like I had planned), I am grateful for this experience.

Grateful to have something to smile about. Grateful to be reminded that we can still have faith in humanity even when the world around us seemingly wants us to believe otherwise.

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Mental Snapshots

A few weeks ago on The Office, Pam & Jim were on their way to get married and they had this exchange where they talked about taking mental snapshots of the whole wedding experience. I feel like I’ve been doing that for a couple of weeks now as Nashville has been in the throws of peak Autumn color and perfect fall weather (well…once the rain stopped that is.)

October sky

The photographer in me wanted to capture everything with my camera. There were many, many times that I would be out and about and kick myself for not having my camera with me. There were a couple of times that I was able to go back to a spot and take a picture of a tree I’d seen. Yet even when I did take pictures, they never seemed to quite live up to what I had seen in living color.

autumn color

Instead, I’ve tried to soak it all in and enjoy. My weekly routes take me through some really gorgeous parts of Nashville. It’s quite the miracle that I’ve not had an accident since I’ve spent way more time gawking at trees than watching the road. When I accompanied JBelle on her pumpkin farm field trip last week, the scenery along the way was breathtaking. I did have my camera then but most of the really good color I saw was along the interstate and it’s just not prudent to be stopping on the interstate to take pictures!

red leaves

This Autumn has been an unusual one for us. It’s been uncharacteristically rainy and wet. The result has been vibrant fall color juxtaposed again lush green.

tulip poplar tree leaves

I do love this time of year!

red & yellow

 

I take the pictures, Picnik.com makes them better.

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Filed under I take pictures, musings, Nashville life

Hello November

With a bit relief and wave of nostalgia, I relinquish October.

At the beginning of the October, I stood in front of our refrigerator filling out the dry erase calendar we use to keep track of our schedules. When I finished filling in all the known activities, all but a handful of days had something written on them. It made me want to cry. I don’t like being that busy. But, thanks to “Mother Nature”, a lot those obligations were washed away in a series of cancellations and postponements.

All in all, it was good month.

October collagebig boy bed

Yep, that’s 31 pictures for 31 days of October. (You can see the pictures in more detail on my Flickr.) Intentionally taking at least one photo each day for the past sixty-one days has been an odd sort of blessing. There have been days when I had no inspiration and just snapped a quick picture of…something. And there have been days when I was overloaded with picture material and took over a hundred shots. Yet through it all, I’ve captured  moments and memories, and I’ve collected objects of beauty and inspiration, and I’ve sharpened my skills, and I’ve enjoyed something. Truly enjoyed.

Which gives me hope.

Thank you to all of you who have kept me in your thoughts and prayers. Not much has changed since the Lacking post. As with all of life, some days are better than others. Some moments are better than others. Thank you especially for the encouragement to keep writing. I am going to attempt to write more.

Here I stand on the precipice of a new month. More pictures to take, more to be hopeful about.

Hello, November.

blowing out candle

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Adulthood: Everything you ever wanted and more

Do you remember how when you were a kid you so badly wanted to be an adult because adults get to do whatever they want?

You’re laughing, but I’m serious.

It IS true, to some extent, right? I mean, I do get to stay up as late as I want and eat what I want and really, nobody tells me what to do. Sure, there are bosses who have demands and officers of the law who say I can’t go that fast but for all intent and purposes, I do want I want to do.

Unfortunately, it comes with a price. Because along with being able to do what I want to do are responsibilities exponentially greater than my leisure allows. So when I spend too much time doing what I want to do, all those responsibilities are still there, waiting for me.

And now you’re wondering what my point is because you already know all this.

I think I’m having a “mid life crisis”. Or an existential crisis. Or maybe just a really hard dose of reality.

I didn’t sow many oats in high school and college. I was a “good kid”, kept my nose clean, etc. And what I did sow I kept to myself and tried to not be caught. But in the past few years, I’ve found myself sowing some of those oats left in the bag. And this year, in particular, I’ve been railing against the tension of doing what I want to do and doing what I have to do.

Is this what they meant when the said it’s not all it’s cracked up to be? Probably. So here I am stuck between the thrill and the bondage of freedom. Remembering my 15 year old self who couldn’t wait to be older and living with my 35 year old self that can’t seem to accept the truth.

One foot in Neverland, the other in comfortable shoe, ready to take on the world.

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Coming into focus

Lately, I’ve been taking a lot of pictures.* When I have the camera in front of me, I’m focused on focusing. I’m looking for the best angle, I’m fussing over lighting and I’m focused on capturing the image in front of me.

Focus.

I put the camera down and my life becomes blurred. What do I focus on next. Do I: Write? Clean the kitchen? Tweet? Fold laundry? Update Facebook? Run errands? Read blogs? Make phone calls? Send e-mails? Prepare and cook the next meal? Look for a job? Do housework?

Endless possibilities and responsibilities. I’m having a very hard time focusing. Too much is forgotten, neglected…dismissed, unfocused…blurred.

When I try to focus on the tasks at hand, I’m overwhelmed. When I try and step back to look at the big picture and gain perspective, I’m even more overwhelmed. Caught between what I desire to do and what is desired of me. Wrestling between what I used to believe and what I now believe. Balancing motherhood and womanhood. Coming to terms with life and mortality and forever.

Wanting everything to come into…focus.

whitetuberose

*I’m working on a year long project with Blissfully Domestic that involves taking at least one photo a day and posting it to a Flickr group. Our official start date is October 1, if you’d like to join us.

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Tethered

I got the opportunity to hear Scott Hamilton speak back in July at Lipscomb’s Summer Celebration. He joined Rhonda Lowry (Lipscomb professor and wife of the university’s president) in a session called Walking in the Spotlight: Conversations with Christian Celebrities.

Scott talked about his journey into skating, his battle with cancer and meeting his wife. It was his wife, who took him to church and propelled him toward a relationship with God. Before meeting his wife, he described his belief and faith in God as being somewhat general and vague. He said it was “untethered”. And if this had been a cartoon, you would have seen a light bulb turn on over my head.

tigertetherballIf we were to play a word association game, “tether” brings to my mind the game of tetherball. And specifically I think of the tetherball pole at Camp Manatawny. We are usually at camp during the week that high school Juniors and Seniors attend. The tetherball during that week is rarely utilized for it’s intended purpose which is a game played between two people. At best, the ball gets batted around the pole by pre-campers (children of staff members) or a lonely or bored camper.When it’s being used, it’s flying high and far away and then eventually wraps itself tightly around the pole. Other times, it hangs listlessly beside the pole, waiting.

The tether ball is a fairly accurate metaphor for my faith. Sometimes, I’m swinging high and far away. Sometimes, I’m wrapped tightly around that pole. And sometimes, I’m just hanging there. But no matter what, I’m always attached, bound, connected, tethered. God is not letting go and neither am I.

photo credit: Brian L. Romig

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School Memories

Lindsay at Suburban Turmoil has a giveaway post up on her review site. To enter the contest she requested that you leave a comment with your favorite back to school memory. I was trying to think of a specific memory about going back to school, instead of the general feeling of extreme fondness for back to school supplies or the high level of anticipation I experienced as I looked forward to entering each and every grade. From somewhere very far back in my school memories came this:

When I was in first grade, I had a Holly Hobby lunchbox that I had been super excited about when I picked it out at the AFB PX. I couldn’t wait to use my Holly Hobby lunchbox. Yet, when I got a glimpse of Misty M.’s Strawberry Shortcake lunchbox, Holly Hobby was suddenly very old fashioned and not so exciting anymore. I knew I could not get another new lunchbox and I spent the rest of first grade coveting that Strawberry Shortcake lunch box.

Before second grade, I BEGGED my mother for a Strawberry Shortcake lunchbox so that I could be like Misty. Much to my delight, she relented and bought me the lunchbox. On the first day of school I excitedly entered the classroom with my heart’s desire of a lunch box (and the self satisfaction of being just like Misty) and low and behold, Misty had a Fox & the Hound lunchbox.

I was crushed and bewildered but I learned a lot that day (though it would take another 15 years or so to really sink in*) about being myself, about not having to always be just like others and of being thankful for what you have.

*Oh, who am I kidding! I’m STILL learning that lesson!

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Filed under I blog they blog wouldn't you like to be a blogger too?, musings

Sisterhood and Recognition

My sister got married last week.  Way back in December after she became engaged, she asked me to be her matron-of-honor. I wonder if she knew I had to choke back tears when I answered yes? I didn’t choke back the tears Saturday night when the doors of the church auditorium opened and she headed down the aisle with our father on her arm. Even though I’d spent the better part of the day with her, watched her bridal transformation from first curl to final lipstick check, helped her down the steep stairway from the “ready” room to the lobby and handed her her bouquet, I couldn’t help but cry tears of unabashed joy at the site of her.

Not long before that moment, while we were laughing and primping and chatting with the other bridesmaids, she said I’d been the best matron-of-honor ever. I nearly cried then. I certainly hadn’t felt like the best matron-of-honor ever. I had fretted over whether or not I was doing right by her. I wanted her to feel special and loved and like the center of attention but I’m inherently selfish and feared that maybe I had done too much spotlight stealing. I was humbled by her statement and relieved and grateful. As long as she was pleased, then I was pleased.

IMG_4025

God made us sisters, hearts made us friends.

Sisterhood is a special thing. I’m so blessed to have my sister in my life.

I’m also blessed by the online sisterhood that I share with so many of you. A couple of weeks ago, I shared my heart with you about The Magic of Potluck. The post was inspired by a writing contest, with a prize that I dearly hoped for. But the heart and soul behind my words was real and unprompted. I think, in some ways, I’d been carrying that post around with me for a long time, it just needed the right reason to be written.

Much to my utter delight, the judges of the contest liked it! I was awarded a runner-up scholorship to the Type-A Mom Conference in Asheville, NC next month! The funny thing is, as much as I wanted the offered prizes, that wasn’t what thrilled me when I saw the e-mail that my submission had been selected. Instead, it was that “you really like me!” kind of delight. I’ll be honest, it’s one thing when y’all tell me that you like what I write. I truly do appreciate it, it warms my heart, it inspires me to keep writing, it helps me know I’m not writing in a vaccuum. But it’s something else entirely to have your work judged and then awarded. Wow. Especially knowing who else entered. I’m humbled and amazed and honored and thankful.

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The Magic of Potluck

I grew up going to church potlucks where dish after dish after dish were lined up on long tables. The aroma was enticing and the waiting was excruciating. The funny thing about potlucks is that none of those dishes really go together. It’s a mish mash of dozens of different meals plus the obligatory bucket of fried chicken. You wouldn’t necessarily pair those recipes when making dinner for your family. But when you get your plate and make your way down the table, taking a dab of this and a dollop of that so that you can try as many of the dishes as you possibly can, that’s when the magic happens. You sit down with your heaping plate of potluck fare, dig in and find that while each dish has a uniqueness of it own, they all inexplicably go together to create a delicious, comforting and satisfying meal.

On a beautiful spring night, a little over two years ago, a group of women bloggers came together for food and fellowship. We all brought a dish or two to share, your typical potluck meal. And again, the magic happened. The dishes ranged in variety from ethnic to vegan to garden fresh to grandmother’s old recipe. I think the only thing missing was a bucket of fried chicken! As I sat back in my chair and relished in the food and laughter and conversation, it occurred to me that we had our own blogger potluck sitting around that table.

If you were to take the blogs of each of the women there that night and place them on a table, you wouldn’t necessarily think that they “went together”. The flavors and aromas, textures and tastes would not, to the unaware palette, seem appealing. The world would want to put labels on us and tell us that we could not get along because of our differences in political views, religious beliefs  and so forth. On the surface, we should have clashed and been unable to even get along.

But we didn’t, because we know the magic of potluck. We’re a sisterhood of bloggers who are as seemingly different as macaroni & cheese and molded jello salads and PB&J sandwiches cut in halves with the crusts removed and a bucket of fried chicken. You wouldn’t think to put us all together around a table and expect there to be laughter and joy and harmony but it happened.

You know you’re a sister when you can come together in a potluck of acceptance and friendship found in the most unlikeliest of all circumstances. Sisterhood is a delicious, satisfying and comforting meal, shared together.

This is my entry for the ‘I Blog With the Sisterhood’ Type-A Mom Conference contest, hosted by The Sister Project.

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Filed under by Malia, I blog they blog wouldn't you like to be a blogger too?, musings

A Really Good Day

Last week, Thursday to be precise, I had a really good day. Many things happened that day to make it so good but what I can’t seem to put my finger on is why I’m feeling the need to hang on to it so tightly. It’s gone beyond simply savoring the moments to a full on death grip of not wanting to let go. I feel almost terrified of forgetting that day.

Perhaps it’s because so many good things happened that day. And how often do we get random days that are completely filled happy happenstance? Or perhaps it’s because I knew that it was a good day while it was happening instead of realizing it during an end of day reflection. Being “in the moment” of that goodness was quite profound. And perhaps it’s because up until then, there hadn’t been very many good days at all. Not that not being good had made them bad but more of nondescript, unremarkable, rather forgetful days.

We have a blanket my mother made from old t-shirts. The shirts are mostly from mine and DB’s high school and college days. They’re the kind of shirts that held great significance to those who wore them. Concerts shirts, school logos, sorority events and the like. To you that blanket has no special meaning. Yes, you could look at it and discern special events and particular themes. But, you don’t know the stories behind them or the memories associated with them. When I look at that blanket, it’s like a patch work timeline of one particular period of my life. It’s special to me because I know the stories that go with the shirts and I hold many of the memories made from them.

In order to remember things, I usually try and write them down. And I’ve wanted to write about this really good day for a week now yet it somehow doesn’t seem right to do so here. It’s not that what made the day so good is particularly private or personal. No, it’s that this day was filled with one special encounter after another and they are laid out together in my mind like that t-shirt blanket. I could tell you about it and you could maybe see some of what was special and profound but the significance of it all is really only meaningful to me.

What I think I really want to share with you about the day though is what it taught me. Good days like that one are often few and far between and that’s fine. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be, couldn’t be so very meaningful in our lives. And not everyday can be memorable and remarkable (our brains would surely overload) but more likely than not, there will be a nugget of goodness somewhere in each and every day. A wise woman once told me that at the end of each day she reflects on two things:

What good has happened today? Give thanks. What bad has happened today? Avoid it tomorrow.

And just as His mercies are new every morning comforts us in the bad times, when we know we’ll get a fresh start the next day, the same goes for those really good days. In Benedictine spirituality it is taught that every day we begin again. “If yesterday was a failure, today begin again. If yesterday was filled with successes, great. Today is a new day. Begin again.”

Somehow I will find a way to perserve the memory of that really good day. It could be that it’s time to start a personal journal that could serve as a written t-shirt blanket for times such as these when I need to document and cherish something dear. But I guess it’s time to release the vice grip on that really good day and begin again.

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