Friday, October 9, 2020

Behind the Back of the Back of My Backyard

Today I went wandering...

Winding way away
Beyond the eastern boundary of our not-so-big burg 
Behind the back of the back of my backyard
On a gaunt twoway tract of Texas tamed by blacktop over bridges and byways
Under cornflower skies clouded with cotton, so wide they reach beyond the corners of the mind’s eyes to the afternoons of childhoods past where they filter through lenses of reminiscence amplifying the azure to a sharpness that pierces the heart with want for all of the promise once promised
Impaled by that point, bleeding bygones over bridges past bales and barns where cattle and cactus and cottonwoods cross paths with cemeteries and new construction and antiquity scantily secured by the rusting rails of what remains
With wounds inflicted by wishing, but not necessarily needing, nursed for no reason other than the harassment of hindsight all of the way to an apparent nowhere

Out past the prior passages ventured to for a view of anything other than the day to day of pandemic perimeters imposed by our present predicament
Finally, filling my lungs with a refreshing that afforded the opportunity to turn back to where I belonged
Wayfaring a backtracked route through that wild tangle of what once was and now is and one day soon shall be, lined up all along the asphalt that divided its direction with nothing more than a thinly dotted line that can be crossed over, so easily sending one off in the wrong direction
Beyond the eastern boundary of our our not-so-big burg 
Behind the back of the back of my backyard

Monday, October 5, 2020

She Just Works with Kids

She doesn’t do real ministry

she just works with kids.

She can’t be on the speaking schedule…

she just works with kids.

She wouldn’t have any insight…

she just works with kids.

She couldn’t teach that class…

she just works with kids.

She wouldn’t understand…

she just works with kids.

She wouldn’t be tough enough…

she just works with kids.

She wouldn’t know how to do the research…

she just works with kids.

She’s not a real pastor…

she just works with kids.

She’s not actually in leadership…

she just works with kids.

She doesn’t need to be included…

she just works with kids.

She doesn’t need a day off…

she just works with kids.

She couldn’t handle the complexities…

she just works with kids.

She really sold herself short…

she just works with kids.

She’s not important enough…

she just works with kids.

She really doesn’t matter…

she just works with kids.


She has had all of the above said about her without a second thought because...

She "just" works with kids.

Friday, October 2, 2020

Laugh Along

I was baptized on April Fool’s Day.


In second grade, after accidentally eating little smokies during lent, a boy in my class told me that they were going to have to take me to church and pray the weenies out of me. I was horrified. But my mother later assured me, much to her amusement, that there was no Roman Catholic ritual for the exorcism of miniature kielbasa. 


At my confirmation, my dress blew up over my head in front of the cathedral.


And while giving my high school baccalaureate speech, to my amazement and delight, I was not struck by lightning. 


I’d anticipated in my adolescent brain that this just might be a possibility, as it was the first time I ever intentionally used honesty and humor to share with others about faith in a public forum. It was then that I began to truly believe that God just might have a sense of humor after all. Something I now see was being clearly conveyed to me all along. First off, I was created female (Ha!), in a Roman Catholic household (Ha!), with a gift and calling for ministry (Ha! Ha! Ha! HILARIOUS!) So, as I headed off to college, I couldn’t help but think that somehow, the joke was on me.


My first weekend away, I went to church…and then didn’t return. For weeks. Then months. Then finally years. I want to be clear, this was an absolute surprise to me because I wasn’t raised a “casual Catholic.” I completed my Confraternity of Christian Doctrine with almost perfect attendance. My entire growing up I only missed church twice. EVER. Once when I was having an appendectomy and the other when I went to New York with my choir…but went on a weekday to make up for it. 


But as a young adult, I loathed it. It really grated on me. Not because I didn’t believe in God, or want God in my life, or even love God, but because the talents and calling I had been gifted with and the beliefs I had brewing, just didn’t reconcile with the rest of it. That little mustard seed of grit I was granted was not gone, it just needed to be planted elsewhere. But I had no idea where to begin. So, I started with the Catechism of the Catholic Church and I went through it a page a day because leaving something so central to how I was raised was a big deal. And it took a long time. But before I was even finished, I could see it wasn’t who I was meant to be. So, who was I?


Well, after a lot of deliberate research, study, and discernment turns out I am a Presbyterian, who recommitted to Christ and officially joined the church when I was 30, with a wicked sense of humor who loves storytelling and still hasn’t forgotten what it was like to be that little girl from way back when. But who is able to laugh about it. And write about it. And talk about it. And be absolutely okay with others laughing along and seeing themselves somewhere inside. Someone who’s taking it just a page turn at a time like with that hefty catechism, slowly discerning what to do next and always waiting for that wonderful punchline that I now know is never at my expense.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Things These Little People Taught Me That I Needed To Relearn

Today I got the pleasure and privilege of spending time at the park in the crisp air with a small pack of preschoolers and their parents.

Things these little people taught me that I needed to relearn:

1.) Try it all, every last thing, before it’s time to go home!

2.) Ask for help, not necessarily to do it for you, but to hold your hand when you’re feeling unsure. Someone who will promise to not let go...until you’re ready.

3.) If you fall down, take a moment to decide if it’s an owie or a surprise. This will help you to determine the best course of action to get you back up on your feet again. They’re two very different things, but both pretty unpleasant, and sometimes you just need a little acknowledgement.

4.) Take your shoes off, at least for a little while. Even when it’s cold. How else are you supposed to get every last wiggle out, clear down to the tips of your toes?

5.) Celebrate your accomplishments and look back at how far you’ve come! You stretched yourself for every inch of that climb. Enjoy where it’s gotten you.

6.) Squeal with joy from that fantastic feeling of going fast. Because it all goes fast. So very fast.

7.) Share a spot on a blanket in the sun. It’s warm and wonderful, but even better when there’s someone sitting there beside you.

And last but not least...

8) Tell your mom you love her. Then do it again. And again. And again.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020


Our smoke detectors, although they require emergency batteries, are wired up through the ceiling electrically and communicate with each other.

Last night, before bed, very LOUDLY, the one in the master bedroom, begins...


I step up to the offender, on the ceiling, right inside the doorway and test/reset it. Test beeps are fine. All units communicate.

I step back down.


I climb back up but cannot reach the battery.

My husband climbs up. Changes battery. Climbs down.


I climb back up. Reset. Climb down.


Attempt to remove entire unit. Can’t quite reach it. Husband can’t either.


Climb down. Completely undress. Put on real clothes. Drive through the rain to Lowe’s just before closing. Buy taller ladder.

Flip down seats. Wrestle taller ladder into my vehicle in the rain and drive home through said rain.

Unload ladder. Get it into the bedroom without dripping or scraping anything. Climb back up. Remove unit.


Hallway detector now chirps to let me know bedroom unit has been compromised.

Remove battery. Drain remaining backup power. Clean with air. Replace battery. Replace unit.


Back up ladder. Remove entire unit except mount. Remove battery altogether. Set aside.

Hallway chirping and now, regardless of the fact that I’m holding the main master bedroom unit in my hand with no batteries in it at all, the doorway unit MOUNT itself apparently continues...


Internet search. This sequence of chirps is indicating that the carbon monoxide portion of this unit is toast.

I am not happy because these are relatively new and Lowe’s is now closed.


Back up ladder. Attempt to fill mount with alternate smoke detector from other location that does not have CO monitor to fool the system.


Attempt to call company. No one answers because it is late and offices are closed.


Inspect unit mount. No way to disconnect power without shocking myself or causing other units to alarm. Decide to turn off breaker in attempt to reset system with this unit unhooked or at least stop electrical power to unit.

Out in rain to breaker box.


Breaker off longer. Rain harder.


All breakers off. Even the yard lights and the pool, standing in the pitch blackness and pouring rain waiting for coyotes and wild hogs to eat me. My husband reports from inside on the ladder...


Drip my way back inside. Everything electrical is now flashing the wrong time or resetting.


Wipe up muddy floor. Fight with husband. Rummage for earplugs.


Pump up air mattress in office at other end of the house for alternative plan in case (and the case is highly likely) the screeching proves to be too much for earplugs and guest rooms.


Exasperated. Done. Surrendering to the fact that the smoke detector/CO monitor company now, forever, permanently owns my sanity.


Remove the ladder from the doorway pulling it into the master bedroom rather than out so I can scale it first thing in the morning and resume fighting the good fight. Slam the rarely-if-ever-closed-in-a-house-with-no-children master bedroom door behind me to muffle the screeching that is radiating through the rest of the house.

And there on the wall, always obscured by the open door, is an ancient carbon monoxide detector not at all connected to anything else...


I rip the AA batteries from its heart. Tear the unit from the wall. And flip it off like the mature adult I am.