Tuesday, October 31, 2006

most mothers sing to their children on their birthday, others a carroll at xmas, or perhaps a lullaby before bed. mine sings to me on halloween. 10 til 5, the call came, "Halloween comes once a year when everything is still, the witches and the goblins come a creepin over the hill..."

my family is weird.

when amy and i used to cry and mom couldn't get us to sleep, she's put us in our car seats in the back of the honda and drive us around town singing the mizzou fight song. you'd think i'd be a football fan.

but i'm not. i'm a halloween fan. So tonight at 5pm, I came home, turned on the halloween lights, put on my orange and black argyle stockings and bat earrings, set out the candles on the sidewalk to my front door, poured candy into my big black pot and waited anxiously for trick or treaters.

They didn't start arriving until about an hour later, but they did come. most dressed in costume. some were older, some young. one baby was dressed as a frog. all the children (except the shy ones) said "trick or treat" and if they forgot that part, they didn't forget their "thank you"s.

my friends and i watched the halloween simpsons, csi, house and all the other good "scary" tv shows while we waited for kids.

the night was perfect until zorba bit me. please don't hold this against "satan's little helper;" he was provoked and i told my friend not to provoke him, but to no avail. the thrill and suspense of halloween was in his veins. and true to form, zorba bit, fangs to the bone.

oh well. such is life.

and besides, what's halloween without a little blood?

Monday, October 30, 2006

Has everyone prepared their Halloween costume? I have hung my orange and purple spooky Halloween lights, bought a cute but scary door hanging, and little cans with cats and pumpkins on them to put candles in and set along my sidewalk leading up to my door. I cannot wait to give out candy to kids. In Waco, poorer people would drive to the "rich" neighborhoods and get candy: kids, teenagers, adults even, all with bags asking for candy. Sometimes the parents would have two bags, one for their candy and one for the infant hanging on their hip. That was Waco culture. I'm curious to see what tomorrow night holds in East Austin...
"You look almost dead."

(I'm not, but other people are)

"Your eyes are really dark."

(I'm laying on your couch because I can't go home, and it was one year ago today - Sunday - don't you remember? I can't lay here and act happy when I remember that. They called me the other day - the lawyers representing the company responsible for his death. Do you remember one year ago when the deaths began and it felt as if they would not stop? The next one comes on Thanksgiving. Halloween and then Thanksgiving. Why did they have to happen on holidays? Those are days especially given to us to help us break from routine, to dress up and eat good food and not go to work and smile and love our family and friends - not bury them.)

"Are you okay?"

"I'm fine."

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Happy Birthday Amy! One week ago today, just seven days shy of your 27th birthday, you ran 26 miles in your first marathon! You are truly amazing, not to mention resiliant. I love you. Hope this next year just keeps getting better Dr. Pittman. You can do it! Remember Trekain in College? Run for your life. It's true, it's yours...

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Should I do it? Should I get a dog? Everyone says no... "you have two neurotic cats," "dogs take so much work," "it'll be a madhouse," (as if it weren't already) "no, no, no, ann, no"

But I finally have a yard (even if it isn't fixed yet) and with the recent rains, i even have grass. I've wanted a dog to take on walks with me as a walking companion and as a safety measure. I've wanted a dog because they're different than cats and I just kind of want one. I've wanted one to bark at strangers (another safety measure) and scare them away from my house and yard (not that there has arisen a need for that yet, but i'm wishing for pre-emptive strikes here).

It's not hard to tell what's been on my mind lately. If it's not heartbreak, it's halloween. And there's been some nerve-wracking safety issues popping up lately in austin (as in every city) and maybe its the time of year, or maybe i'm finally starting to take everyone's warnings about safety seriously, but i've moved the "someday i'd like to get a dog" to "i want a dog."

I told amy today. She's driving to St Jo Mo and picking up Emmers on the way. That means she'll probably tell emily and then it's only a matter of time before the good news (or the frightening tale) gets delivered to my parents. So that's why I'm blogging about it - cause I know the ones who will freak out about it the most will find out by this afternoon anyway and by then it may be too late. wa ah ah ah. (that was for the halloween effect). Ineffective via internet, I know.

So that's the scoop. What do you think? Should I adopt a dog?

Friday, October 27, 2006

Traffic stopped on I35 Sunday, but not because of all the cars...because of all the birds. I'd never seen birds flying like this before. Granted, they were high in the air, but they were such tiny birds, not the usual v-flying or mass exodus birds one might easily spot this time of year. These birds were small and the clusters of them flew so slenderly that they looked like a line of smoke that seeps lazily out of the end of a smoldering cigarette held too long in a hand. They were ribbons flying through the sky, kite tails perhaps.

And I swear, they stopped traffic.

Perhaps everyone who slowed to peer up out their windows had the same curious reaction: what were those birds and what were they doing?

The elegance as they left what appeared to be downtown and their mass quantity was almost overwhelming, like we had wandered into a ball, but were still dressed in jeans or jammies. Their movement was georgous, breath-taking, peculiar. So peculiar that fast-paced Austin slowed to a mere 20mph on a busy highway, everyone, to watch the birds fly.

And fly they did. I don't know where, I don't even know where from, but whatever the situation, they flew gracefully away, catching everyone's attention on their way out.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Okay, so I know this is the week of birthdays, (and i did't even do my cousin robbie's on the 19th), but here's another birthday shout-out to my former roommate, Mel. She used to be my partner in crime when it came to dating, not that either of us actually enjoyed juggling our dating schedules, but she's since left me on my own in that department. So rude. JK, Mel, I love you - have a most amazing birthday!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Happy Birthday Lanceous. You deserve the very best; I love you. Always remember the mac n cheese in my tiny back apartment and wine on the large front porch. You're my favorite.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Happy Birthday Potter! Potter woke me up at 5:30a.m. (I went to bed an hour and a half late last night and Potter adjusted his schedule accordingly). I discovered that instead of knocking things off my vanity he was attacking the bag hanging on my bedroom door. That bag held the mice I bought for him. Realzing that is was indeed his birthday, I slid out of bed, grabbed the bag, ripped open the package of mice and threw some out the door for him to chase. Of course, he did. I shut the bedroom door and slept for the few hours those mice kept Potter busy.

He really is a joy though. Potter makes me and my friends laugh all the time. If ever there's a lull in conversation, Potter's right there to run into a table, gnaw on our toes or pass gass in our faces. Love that cat. Love him. Love his crossed eyes peering up at me, love how he loves to be pet all over, love how he loves to pretend to be a mink hanging around my neck. He's a blessing, and I never use that word.

So Happy Birthday Pottery Barn, Ponce de Leon, Pothead, Gunter Gatsby...Potter. Mommy loves you.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Happy Birthday KC! (Under the hat). I know you don't want to celebrate but here's to you...

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

I was twice foiled at my attempts to get to work today, but finally arrived after the third departure from my house. The first time I made it to Airport Drive. "Crap, I forgot my cell phone." The second time, I almost made it to the Carver Library. The phone I had previously left at home rang. "This is Brinks Home Security calling because your alarm is sounding." Of course it is. In my haste to depart the second time, I had failed to turn the motion detector off. "It's just my cats, I'll go home and handle it... No, please don't send the police."

Turns out I didn't even need to leave that early because after two calls to Janet, the pastor's assistant, explaining each time the new deterrent, I was forty-five minutes late to staff meeting which didn't start until half an hour after I arrived anyway. Geez. I could have just slept in and started my routine later. I didn't sleep well last night.

Because the cats are causing problems, and by cats (for once), I mean Potter. He's just like his older brother Radley was. Like clockwork, at 4a.m. He awakens me to pet him, which I do, night after night, naively believing he will then lay down with me. Not the case, ever. From my sleepy palm, he moves to my vanity and proceeds to knock my make-up off of it. Awakening my vocal chords, I holler at him to stop. He knocks the hair-dryer off. I angrily jump out of bed, scoop him up and throw him out of my room.

2 more hours of sleep. The door to my bedroom begins banging as if someone were incessantly knocking on it. Unable to sleep with that heinous noise, I open the door and Potter returns to repeat aforementioned procedure. Damn cat. By this time, I'm easily awakened and lucid enough to grab the water bottle and turn on the bedside lamp. We have a stare-down: me in my bed with finger poised on water bottle, he on the vanity with paw poised on jewelry container. "Potter, no!" I say very sternly. He looks at me, looks at the water bottle, and before I can even send the signal from my brain to my trigger finger to point and pull, he has knocked my jewelry container onto the floor, and shot under the bed from where I now have to fish him out.

After that cunning move last night, he got locked in the bathroom. The litter's in there, it's two shut doors away from my sleeping ears, and the cat likes to sleep in the tub anyway. It's a win/win situation.

...By the time 7a.m. arrives, that is.

Tomorrow I have to teach at church. Let's hope that I get more sleep tonight so that I may leave on time, finish my reading, prepare my presentation and have time to enjoy dinner with all the elderly folks who always arrive early.

But every night it's the same pattern, even with my high hopes for change as I groggily pet and coo at him.

And you know what the definition of insanity is, right? The repetition of a certain activity with the expectation of different results.

Maybe Potter will figure that one out after he gets locked in the bathroom again tonight.

And maybe I'll figure out how to keep the cats out of my bedroom in the first place...and to always put my phone in my purse.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Whenever my sister would get dumped by a boyfriend, it was not hard to predict what her next move would be. Obviously there would be the tears and the heavy reliance on our parents, but then there was also the mall, because nothing made Amy feel better about herself than "pretty underwear" or soft underwear or whatever. Once when Amy was a little girl (the most impossible little girl for a father to dress mind you), I remember my dad threatening to call Mrs. Bradley, our school secretary to tell her Amy wouldn't be coming to school today because she couldn't find the right pair of underwear to wear. Ooh, I knew the kid was in trouble then. I was of course clothed, winter coat, gloves and all, waiting with my backpack and trapperkeeper for my little sister to pick out the perfect pair of underwear and finally get dressed. Every day was difficult with Amy and dressing; even back then she had a distinct taste and style, and even back then, I had none. I digress. My dad was a trooper.

Emily had a car wreck today, and mother called me today seeking counsel, "I'm depressed." And why did you call me? "I'm upset, Emily got in this wreck... she went on with other woes. And poor Emily, she's badly shaken, and this couldn't have come at a worse time for her.

A first year student at William Jewell died this past week in his dorm of seisures. He was a KA pledge who played baseball and apparently danced great for campus sing. The night before he died, Emily called him out in front of everyone and said, "he does it perfectly, everybody watch him dance." And now his body is immoble. They had an immediate service at Grand River the night they found out, and his close friends went. Emily said she couldn't believe the campus minister could stand up there and talk. She was amazed (and a wreck). There was another memorial the next day. Jewell cancelled Campus Sing and all points associated with homecoming this week. So she was already upset about her friend's tragic death and then she totaled her car.

Then there's Amy in med school. Her mac crashed last week, and to retrieve the 9 months of research on the hard drive it'll cost her $1900 and that's after a 10% off coupin, a student discount and a "man I feel sorry for you" discount. She feels guilty about mom and dad always helping out, and for her birthday in 14 days she's asked for no presents because she knows she's already such a financial burden on our parents. Oh the drama.

Parents are amazing. At least mine are. If I can muster up half the patience my father had with amy and her underwear, my mother has with emily's cars, and then there's my mixed up if I can be kind to my best friend who just lost her brother in a tractor accident (he left behind two high school daughters) and who has to take care of her mom who recently fell, hurting her hip....if I can attend my daughter's best-friend from high school's grandmother's Hindu funeral....If I can be what my parents are to these people...

If I can swing all that with even 1/10 the grace and authentic love, I'll be happy. Even if right now, they're all sad.

At least we have our health. (don't think of Emily's knee - surely it's not that bad)

And at least we all have each other to go through this with.

That's what I told my mother. Those two things. And I meant them.

I left at the funeral two weeks ago in Waco, a woman named Alice: a mother who has burried her husband and now both her children. She has only a grandchild and some great-grandchildren remaining.

We have each other. And we'll have Christmas to have a big insecurity cry fest and then we'll have the best of time making fun of each other, waching or participating in the final decorations (depending on who you are), going to the movies (at least two) and singing chrismas carols as we walk around the neighborhoods. We'll eat at Barbosa's and then we'll eat all of mom's and grandma's and Amy's delicious dishes and I'll gain five pounds. It'll be fabulous. I bought most of your presents in DC, the rest I'll get in South Austin of course.

And it'll be great to be back together again adults and animals alike. Oh the animals. I won't even go there.

But until then, in the wisdom of my younger sister, I will put on my prettiest, softest nightgown tonight and go to bed. So that I feel good enough about myself to take care of my family.

And tomorrow we will wake up to God's day. God's special day. And we will be reminded that through the heartache, the financial troubles, the car wrecks, the life wrecks, we have each other but most importantly we have God, who admittedly will not fix our problems, but help us through them. God's presence is everywhere. Look for Her calm spirit. Feel loved by His open arms. It will be good. Between the jammies and church, we'll be alright.

I love you.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

I'm sorry I've been so delinquent in blogging, but every time I've gone to write a blog, my internet has been down at home. Argh. No comment.

What was I going to blog?

Damnit. It was good. I had two posts going in my head last night and now I can't remember them.

Was I going to write about how exhausting Thursdays are? How last night I came home at 10:30p.m. and laid down on the couch feeling like a tired out little kid? I just completed a full day of school learning the dewey decibel system, and then played all afternoon outside on the patio - little house on the prairie - with tricycles. And now I'm asleep on the couch. Will my dad scoop me up, cradle me in his arms and lay me carefully in my bed to complete a good night's sleep?

Will he?

Or maybe I was going to blog about what finally arrived. Not a long awaited package, not a visitor, not a promotion, but a cold front. It finally arrived yesterday at 5pm... a few days late if you listen to the meteorologists. And I slept last night with the air turned off for the first time since I bought my house, and it was wonderful. But today it turned out to be hot again, so that feels like false advertising so perhaps that wasn't what I was going to blog about.

I can't remember.

Tonight I celebrated the birthdays of two friends, so I guess I'll blog to them. Ginny and Bria - love you. Fun parties tonight. Bon chance with all your adventures.

And may your internet always work and if not, may your memory always be keen.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Yep, it's still hot here. I'm going to read by the pool.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

The Question: Who do you believe?

The Contestants:

Your parents, who raised you (thank god), and have for that reason witnessed your greatest failings and your greatest accomplishments but, truth be told, not much in between because you've been gone for over 10 years...

Your friends, who have stuck with you through thick and thin, who have also seen you at your worst and best, and don't really give a flying flip about either because they're not that into titles and they think "shit happens" to everyone, but they've also only heard your side of the story...

Or Yourself, who really believes that you are learning to be a mature person; that overall you've made the best decisions for your life. I mean, look at yourself!

You're one of ten chosen pastoral residents in the nation (at least that's what some other contestants told you to put on your resume). You're talented, and you know your gifts and how to use them. You're "cute" (as the old ladies as church like to call you) even if you don't have your sisters' unfading beauty. You're articulate, funny, creative, enchanting and charming. You see needs and you seek to meet them. Thanks to your parents, you have a heart for the marginalized and thanks to your friends, a mind keen on creativity. And heck, you've got a great body even if you're "pushing 30" as your sisters love to remind you.

Dad, you taught me to go for the gold. Mom, you taught me to stand up for my rights. Friends, you taught me that love is unconditional and I am so thankful for you all.

But right now, I'm sticking to myself. I don't even want to be analyzed by my therapist.

I mean think about it. How many people offer commentaries on our lives every day? How many people put themselves in the running for running our lives or our thought processes every day? The commercials on TV want to tell us about ourselves, the media wants to inform us of who we are and who we should be, people on buses listening in on our conversations always have their two cents to add, then there's co-workers, neighbors, bosses, in-laws. Geez! We're constantly offering each other advice and insight, and I'm left with my head in my hands wondering, who do I believe?

And so on a personal note, if everyone could just not ask questions, not offer opinions, just for a little while, maybe for only a week. Please just let me be me with my thoughts and my empty coffee can.

You filled me up, but one day the bottom of that coffee can broke, and the pennies cascaded out the bottom. With your love, I repaired the can, but now every time a penny or a rock or a token or a memory is dropped inside, it clinks loudly, reverberating against the metal, and I'm reminded of how empty I feel right now.

It will take a little while for it to fill back up. Do you understand? So please, continue to love me, but i can't handle any more opinions.

I have to work out these deaths, some literal, some metaphorical, and I have to find the resurrection. It may take three days and I may not recognize it when I see it, but I'm confident when he calls my name, I'll be changed. And I'll believe.



But we must be silent and I must go to the garden or I might miss him.



Friday, October 06, 2006

This was my short spoken word last night at Beresheth kicking off our study in worship of the Beatitudes...

The Beatitudes. Truthfully, I don’t know much about them. I managed to remember they were at the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5, but that was about it. Upon reading it, I discovered there were 8 beatitudes – perfect. That will finish out 8 weeks in October and November for Beresheth and lead us straight into Advent. However, then I discovered they were in Luke too and that in Luke there are only four beatitudes and three woes. Didn’t fit my schedule. Not nicely nestled in the Sermon on the Mount. Sticking with Matthew’s version.

Of course, Matthew’s is different than Luke’s. Whereas Matthew says blessed are the poor in Spirit, Luke just says blessed are you who are poor. Matthew says to the poor in spirit belongs the Kingdom of Heaven. Luke says the poor have the kingdom of God. Are these differences theologically substantial, or are they just different ways of talking about the same thing?

So I looked at what “poor in spirit” meant. According to Song of Solomon the poor in spirit are those “who live in humble acknowledgment of their impoverishment before God and who lift up hopeful prayers.” David Garland juxtaposes the proud with the poor in spirit who “throw pride and caution to the wind in desperate appeals for help.” Likewise, Dom Crossan notes that the Greek word used denotes a desolate situation. And as the quote read states, Jesus called blessed “not the poor but the destitute, not poverty but beggary.” So is that different from Luke’s plain old “blessed are the poor?” N. T. Wright says no. He states, “I do not think there is much actual difference between Matthew and Luke at this point. The contrast upon which we should focus is not between material and spiritual poverty, but between the way of the powerful and the way of the powerless – who are likely to be the poor in all the senses, certainly in first-century Israel.”

And Israel was oppressed. They were all around destitute.

Quite different from the state you and I live in today.

We live in a mostly free country with a mostly ethical sense of morality. My religion isn’t suppressed, my civil liberties aren’t oppressed. In general, politically, we’re doing alright. Not well mind you, but compared to first-century Israel, or to 21st century Palestinians, we’re doing okay. Even the poorest of our poor in America can usually locate a soup kitchen.

But Matthew isn’t talking about money in this passage, he’s talking about spirituality.

Humility, some would say. Beggars before God. One scholar notes that in Aramaic the word poor in Matthew means bent down, afflicted, miserable. Juxtapose that with the word for meek in verse 4 which means bending oneself down, humble and gentle and I get a sense that poor in spirit has very little to do with how we choose to be spiritually. It seems imposed. Spiritually impoverished because we have no choice to be anything but. If I am meek, I move my body into the submission of bowing down, but if I am afflicted, I bend down due to external weight.

And that I get. And that I almost like.

Because it’s nothing I can control.

Many scholars call the Beatitudes the New Testament’s Ten Commandments. Matthew makes many references to Moses with regard to Jesus and there are many similarities. Dreams about their births, the slaughtering of male children by a ruler, people fleeing into exile, both fast for forty days and nights and both ascend a mountain.

There are distinctions too though. Matthew is careful to note these. Whereas Moses is taught by God, Jesus does his own teaching. Moses speaks in the name of God; Jesus speaks in his own name. Moses’ face shines with God’s glory, Jesus is transfigured. And the list goes on and on.

And of course whereas Moses brings Commandments, Jesus brings congratulations.

Congratulations to the poor in spirit! Beatitudes speak of happiness acquired by someone. In the Greco-Roman world it was a lovely bride, excellent children, moral stature, wisdom, wealth, honor, etc. Needless to say, poverty, humility and suffering didn’t generally make their list. But Jesus offers congratulations on these states of being and for what will come as a result.

A new way of being Israel. A new way of being the children of God.

And again Jesus calls to examine our hearts. For a rich old man may be just as spiritually estranged as a poor young boy because external circumstances do not determine the status of our spirituality. They may encourage or hinder it, granted, but what lies inside… hurt by the church, hurt by people, confused by evil, longing to be accepted and made whole… the status of our spiritual health is what Jesus congratulates here.

Congratulations Ann, you can’t make yourself whole so quit trying. Only God can accomplish that.

Congratulations Ann, you alone cannot fill up what is empty, so stop trying.

You cannot make your spirit light, you cannot make yourself powerful, you cannot heal what has been broken, free what was oppressed.

Only God can do that.

Enter the kingdom of heaven. Enter the reign of grace. Enter the policy of compassion.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God.


Thursday, October 05, 2006

Moxi, I love you and I'm sorry about your grandma. Her obituary was beautiful though and mom said the funeral was neat. I wish I could have been there for you Mox. You are in my thoughts though... Miss you.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The world is always changing, it's true. At some times more quickly than at others.

But sometimes, the world stays just the same too.

The same gold, 1980's BMW still pulls slowly out of the driveway next to 2825 where I sit on the porchswing and watch. Around me the chairs are still fixed in a circle from the night before where yet again a community gathered to drink and speak to life and to each other.

Another chair is broken because of my friends on that porch who are all bigger than me, and have all managed to break something of the Eades over the years due their the largeness of their lives.

I cried another hard cry last night because 2825 is a safe place to cry. I was put to bed by the same little girl who greeted me four years ago with welcoming arms balancing books and a little black kitten, who now at 10 years old knew to bring me jammies, turn on the sounds of rushing water, and put allergy medicine and water on the bedside table. I fell alseep in a safe bed with the same cat crawling over my tired body all night long.

I held another black baby in my arms today at the Eades as Holly has taken another child with a child under her wing. I sat cradling another frail bird as her mother mends her broken wings and cleans the house for money Holly doesn't have.

Everything changes and nothing changes. We thank and question God.

Everything changes and nothing ever changes.

And that's why I needed to come home.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Ruth Ann Foster, 59, passed away at her home in Hewitt, Texas, Thursday, Sept. 28, 2006. Visitation will be from 10 a.m. to noon Tuesday, Oct. 3, at First Baptist Church, Waco, Texas. A memorial service will follow at the same location at 1 p.m. with the Rev. Julie Pennington-Russell, pastor of Waco's Calvary Baptist Church, officiating. Ruth Ann Foster, an Ashland, Ky. native, was Associate Professor of Christian Scriptures at Baylor University's George W. Truett Theological Seminary. She earned a Bachelor of Theology degree from Clear Creek Baptist College, Pineville, Ky. in May 1978. She excelled academically and went on to earn the Master of Divinity degree in 1982 and the Doctor of Philosophy degree in New Testament Studies in 1989. She served as an adjunct instructor in the Department of Religion at Texas Christian University (1984-91) and then moved to become Minister of Education at Manor Baptist Church, San Antonio (1991-94). In 1994, she became one of the founding faculty members of George W. Truett Theological Seminary. She was involved in every aspect of the early development of Truett Seminary and was a beloved and effective teacher. She firmly believed that female students attending the seminary should be encouraged to explore their giftedness from God. She was held in the highest esteem and admiration by her faculty colleagues at Truett Seminary. Dr. Foster is survived by her mother, Alice; a nephew, David Foster of Ashland, Ky. and his wife, Annette; a great niece, Beth Foster; a great nephew, Jeremy Foster; a cousin, Connie Marshall and her husband, Roger and her life-long best friend, Jane Kerns and her husband, Ken of Lexington, Ky. Mrs. Foster and her family wish to thank the people of Odyssey Health Care Hospice and the Truett Seminary family for their warm and untiring ministry during this difficult time. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Dr. Ruth Ann Foster George W. Truett Theological Seminary Endowed Scholarship Fund at Baylor University, Box 97026, Waco, Texas 76798-7026. The family invites you to leave a message or memory in our "Memorial Guestbook" at September 14, 1947 - September 28, 2006