Thursday, September 28, 2006

Today is not the greatest day of my life but it is another day in my life; whereas today was the last day of Dr. Foster's.

Ruth Ann was my Into to Theology and Greek professor at Truett Seminary. She was fairly young, quite spunky and even allowed me to submit a prayer request one day in class because i was traumatized that I had to wear all white grandma shoes to my new job at Applebees.

Remember that? Forgive me Ruth Ann, I was only 22.

The insulation man (who finally arrived after two weeks to put insulation in my attic) fell through the ceiling and into my bedroom this afternoon. I laid down on the floor of the FBC office in a state of shock about the hole as Ruth Ann laid down her life and left an even bigger one.

I remember the last time I saw Ruth Ann. It was 11 months ago at Kyle's wake. I had just seen his body, and came out of the room unable to control my tears. I saw her sitting at a table, so I sat down in her safety and sobbed. She patted my back and said she was sorry, but she had no words of consolutation for me. She was going to have to argue this one out with God. Maybe now she will.

A man fell down through my ceiling and Ruth Ann, you ascended up into heaven.

Promise to come back down and teach us all about it.


Wednesday, September 27, 2006

I come home to a computer. Not to a person. Not even really to the cats. They've started ignoring me unless I'm feeding them or lying down with a blanket they'd love to sink their paws into.

Granted usually every night someone is at my house. Last night it was Frank. Tonight KC. Tomorrow night Grant and Amy. My house is a safe place for friends, and I think many of them consider 5406 a second home in a lot of ways. My neighbors may think I run a brothal though what with the people who frequently crash on my comfy couches.

But not every day. And tonight KC just came over to prove he could upload my ipod songs to my itunes. He was right of course, but after proving himself, he scurried off to the Side Bar to watch Project Runway and maybe meet a girl who doesn't think he's gay.

But I'm not the only one.

With an empty house I mean.

One of my friends doesn't feel at home at his house even though he has four roommates. I pray for him.
My sister comes home only to a dog and a cell phone, so I pray for her too.

And others have more family than they'd care to admit.

I remember one friend in high school who lied to one of our teachers about her brother. She said she didn't have one. Oh really, the teacher said, knowing she did. Nope. No brother, my friend responded.

I lied once and said my parents had been married before and that in reality I had an older brother by one of my parents first marriages. But I was in grade school. And I was adding to my family, not subtracting.

Still, it was a lie.

And 20 years later I lie on the couch and reflect on family and life and my empty home.

Someday when I stop buying computers and ceiling fans, I'll begin classes for foster parenting. Then I'll share my love and care for a child who desparately needs to learn about family.

Because I've got a lot of love to give the world. And it's just not being fully utilized.

Or at least, that's how I feel when I come home to an empty house with a computer, two cats and a couch.

I need a roommate.

Or I need to join a commune.

Or I need to go visit my family in Missouri. I miss them.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Yesterday, an off day and an odd day. I started it by waking up, a novel idea on most days for me. Then I raked leaves, and Tommie noted that I hadn't been around much. Yeah, I'm a workaholic I said, trying to muster an excuse. It was true that I had worked 8 days in a row without a day off. That at least constitutes one week of workaholism.

After the leaves, I headed for the flowers which I watered and began to pull the weeds away from. However, as I grabbed one large unwanted green apendage to the dirt and wood chips out marched, no flooded, ants ants and more ants.

Now many of you know how I feel about ants in Texas; my feelings initiated one unfortunate night at the edge of an apartment complex in Waco where I held back the hair of a puking roommate and first felt the sting of death. So I hate ants. Nothing has ever relieved my anger. So I marched inside and grabbed the pesticide (don't read this part Michelle) and mixed an appropriate amount with water and headed back outside. My plans were thwarted however, when I discovered that the already dilluted brew had to be hooked up to a hose to spray. Still furious with ants still spewing forth from the ground I yanked the lid off the container and just poured the poison all over those damn ants.

Granted, I probably killed my plants too, there's a chance. But I'd rather kill a plant or two with my anger than myself, and if I can release eight days of tension on some no good nothing poison packin' ants, I'm gonna.

After my yard had returned to dust what with the leaves gone (Lord knows it doesn't have grass) and mother earth easing back into her hole of oppression, I ate lunch with an old friend. Well, he's not old, he's only 20, but I have known him for two and a half years now. That's about par for an "old friend" in Austin. We ate at Pei Wei, a restaurant I mostly associate with an ex-boyfriend, but with very good, not very expensive food. I pulled a fortune that satisfied me out of a cookie and stored it in my purse to take home and put up on the fridge with all the other good fortunes on small pieces of white paper that give me hope.

I had dropped off my car at Groovy Automotive, my favorite car-fixing place in Austin and it wasn't finished yet, so my old friend dropped me off at a new friend's house and new friend and i went shopping! Determined to have a thoroughly productive but fun day, I had decided this oddly off day would be the one in which I would spend the money Grandma gave me for my ordination to buy a computer. She and Grandpa had bought me a computer when I graduated from College, and i've not had a new one since. Needless to say, it was time.

The mac store was a delight and although I received a disturbing phone call regarding my car and $750, I pushed forward determined to anny up on the quality of my life.

On the way home from the mall, I remembered that I had also wanted to accomplish a hair cut since I have to sing in a wedding next weekend. Plus I felt I needed a little lift if you know what I mean even after having successfully shopped. So new friend and I went to his barber shop on South Lamar, and I entered a world of wonder. His styist was booked so I sat waiting for the next available person. He pointed out one barber across the room, "My stylist can't stand her. She does full shaves and cuts, and literally I saw a bushy man she shaved for like an hour sitting there with probably 20 nicks on his face and blood pouring out." Gross, I replied. I don't want her. "You won't get her. She's a barber."

I got her.

Of course.

So I'm already nervous and she then she asks me if I've ever had "the razor." Sorry? Huh? "The razor cuts your hair and makes it fuller than just regular scissors do." Oh. Okay. My hair's naturally limp. So whatever. Let's do it. So we wash and shampoo and I appreciate the head massage and then we return to the chair to begin to chop.

"Could you stand up?"


"I'm a perfectionist and your hair is curling (huh? you are cutting my hair right?) and i think I'd do a better job if you stood.

Of course you would. So I stood for almost 10 minutes with stylists and customers walking around me. It was the weirdest hair cut ever. Eh-ver.

And it took for-eh-ver.

So fun with the new mac that cost more than what Grandma gave me (of course - don't they always), was put on hold a little longer as I retrieved my now $500 fixed car and took off during rush hour to sing with my woman's choir at a nursing home. Sans choir director because she had to move to the piano because we were sans pianist, we performed fairly well. Having resurrected Route 66 from the fall of last year, our audience loved it, singing along with all the old songs. Nothing lifts the spirit more than giving to people who could not be more grateful.

By the end of the show, as I sat outside in the dark quiet air, I felt calm, cut and collected, and I returned home finally to play with my new computer loading music and pictures to my hearts delight.

I sit now in front of my new mac laptop writing my first mac blog. My newest friend asked me today if I had even slept since I last talked to him, but I assured him that after hours of playing on the new computer last night I had indeed gone to bed and to work today. Granted I returned home at 5 and started playing again (even though I should be reading and exegeting Genesis 3 and 4). But that's to be expected. Even ambitious, driven women get distracted by toys, art and beauty.

It's to be expected.

You got that? Expected.


And off.

That's me.

Happy Birthday Crazy Carol. Still young and beautiful, just like your daughters. (Remember this pic from Phil's wedding? - that was fun. You should come down and visit again soon) Love, Ann

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Ann Richards died, but so did Harley Oldenborg.

Hilary Clinton spoke at Ann's funeral, and my grandma wrote about Harley to her grandchildren.

But she didn't have to. We knew him.

Ann inspired all aspiring women. Harley maintained the land and entertained children.

Harley pushed me high on the tire swing on his farm in Minnesota which neighbored ours. Hands down (or hands up) it remains the greatest tire swing of all time. You can follow Ann and Amy's and eventually Emily's progression in age as each year new pictures were taken during the summer on Harley's tire swing. There was hardly time to unpack our bags and clean up the farmhouse upon arrival before the grandchildren were begging to run to Harley and Evelyn's.

Grandma writes of a time before grandkids when the Makers and the Olderborgs raised their own children together and farmed the land. I love the story of when they had to dig the turkeys out from underneith the snow after one Minnesota blizzard. And grandma just sent me a story of one Palm Sunday when a late blizzard came making it "impossible for them to get on the road to church. That afternoon [grandma] looked out the window, and here down the road trudged the Oldenborgs, in a line, Harley carrying the youngest – all bundled up, and the blizzard raging. [They] spent an otherwise lonesome afternoon together with them."

I would have liked to make the trek up to Minnesota for the funeral, but that was impossible. ACL tickets, friends flying in, college worship service, regular worship service, sunday school, children's sermon. Impossible.

But I said good-bye six years ago when I accompanied grandma and grandpa up to the farm for one final farewell. Our farmhouse was un-livable by then and we stayed with the Oldenborgs. I took lots of pictures of our farm, the old schoolhouse, the Oldenborg farm and old Minnesota friends. Harley pushed me one last time in that tire swing, he in his 70s and me in my 20s . . . and the rope broke.

I fell bumping to the ground and Harley and I looked at each other astonished and apologetic. And also a little sad, recognizing the symbolism in the event.

Six years later, Harley has been lowered into the ground, the earth he spent so much time nurturing.

Thank you Harley for taking the time to nurture us too.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Okay, so I'm totally ashamed to admit that I'm adicted to Project Runway. I've seen Season Two the whole way through (except one or two shows last week that I missed when I was working on my children's sermon).

My finger nails are way too long. My tolerance is way too low and my joy is beyond belief.

Holy cow.

I love my friends, I love my job, I love chilling at my house watching smut reality T.V.

Does it get much better?

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Dear Lauren,

The weather is very nice right now. Not too hot, but cool with a breeze. Doesn't that sound nice? You should come home and feel it to believe it.
Clarence and Tommie added a back sun room to their house. They are very proud of it. Doesn't that sound pleasant? You should come see it. They'd like that.
Austin City Limits is next weekend. There are a lot of cool bands coming to play. Doesn't that sound like fun? You should fly back to hear them.
The trees are turning colors? You got to attend the opening to a new movie? You were invited to a famous guy's after-party last week? And your new apartment kicks ass?
Okay, stay in New York then.

Your friend,

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

This is what I "preached" at Beresheth last Thursday (the Sloth sermon was from a couple weeks before that)...

This past weekend, I went to my ex-boyfriend’s wedding. I know, that sounds a little sketchy, like I might be “crazed” as the saying goes or obsessive or wanting a death wish, but hear me out on this. First of all, I was invited. And it wasn’t just a courtesy invite. It was a small wedding. So I went. I went to my ex-boyfriend’s wedding and he was glad I was there. I think his new wife was comfortable with me being there and even I was comfortable, happy to watch their union.

It’s a little different, I know. My first major boyfriend promptly got another woman pregnant after he and I broke up and we never spoke again. My last boyfriend kind of wigs me out. But with my ex-boyfriend who invited me to his wedding and gave me a huge hug afterwards, things were different, and I think it all has to do with community.

When I moved to Waco, Texas in January of 2001, I was in complete culture shock. I knew no one in Waco, let alone in Texas, had no family, no friends, just a scholarship to go to school. I moved in with three people I didn’t know and I began a new phase in my life. Does this sound similar to yours? Have you ever started school unsure about your classes, moved into an apartment or dorm unsure about your roommates, moved to a new town unsure about its culture?

Needless to say, I love Waco. Now. I repeat, now. Not then. Then it was full of obnoxious republicans and sexist classmates. Then everyone was a Texas lover and I had to cut through the pride just to get into the doors of the classrooms. Everyone who heard I was from out of state promptly informed me of Texas’ right to succeed from the Union (as if that were an intelligent decision). Doormats and potato chips were carefully crafted in the shape of the state of Texas. But there were other oddities too. Someone invited me to go eat dinner at the place where all the branch dividians died. A basketball player shot and killed his roommate. The water tasted horrible and you weren’t supposed to swim in the river. There were horrible fire ants in Texas that made blisters on my feet and legs. Baylor in all its wealth and glory sat smack dab in the middle of a poverty-stricken ghetto. Then Waco was scary, foreign, peculiar. But now it is beautiful, stable, and I miss it.

And the change in attitude is all because of community.

Because in Waco I found community and it changed my whole perspective on life.

In Waco, I made friends who I know I will remain close to until it’s all I can do to pull myself out of a rocking chair to go to the bathroom let alone get out of a pew to preach. They will be forever with me because of the community we created living together.

Together in community, my friends and I learned what it meant to truly love one another. We saw each other fully, with our faults and our unique blessings. My friends recognized my gifts and quirky personality, but also my downfalls and weaknesses and they loved me anyway. There was no pretension, no judgment. Everyone was always welcome, the door always open and the beer always in the fridge. When I found a cockroach in my bed at 12 am one night, I called my friend Big Phil and announced that I was in the car and on my way over to sleep on his couch. When he was devastated with a broken heart one night, he called me to come take care of him cause he’d had too much to drink. When I was hungry and didn’t know how to cook anything but cereal, my friend Lance would come over and cook me mac ‘n cheese and together we’d eat dinner and talk theology. When I was depressed over men, my roommate Cat and I would go get a pizza and watch Bridget Jones’ Diary, because laughter and grease always help heartache. When I obsessed unnecessarily over an issue, Josie would sit me down and tell me to stop. To stop right there because I was over-reacting. When sorrow was necessary, Julie would let me cry for hours in her bed. When I was in a play, Chris was always there on the front row.

We all provided this for each other. I had a list a mile long of people I could call, even people I didn’t know very well, who I knew would drop everything to help me out if I was ever in danger or in need. They understood community.

Community means sharing meals, talking long hours, goofing off, wrestling with hard issues, supporting each other, sharing jokes, taking each other lightly and taking each other seriously. It means you let your guard down and let someone else in. It means you get new members to your family, even if they aren’t blood related.

Communities are everywhere. We have communities at school, at work, at church, from High School, in our neighborhood. But the important thing to remember is that whoever we choose to embrace into our community deserves our very best. They deserve us: ourselves, our full selves – not the image we want to portray, not what we think they might like in another person, not another acquaintance full of quaint hi’s and how are you’s who don’t listen for an answer.

And we begin to live in union. In America we live in a Union, in a union where the majority is supposed to rule and the minority agrees to continue to live in community regardless. That’s not how we always behave though. And we live going to church, learning about God, talking to our friends and going home to eat with our family. But there’s so much more to church than that. We live 40 hours a week at work or in school interacting with the same people every day, some of whom we don’t even know their name, some of whom we’d just as soon not know at all.

Who is your community? How do you define it? And are you allowing yourself to live fully by choosing to invest in the lives of people around you and choosing to let them into yours?

It’s a risk. I don’t want people to know about my eating disorder, we may say. I don’t want people to know I love Star Wars. I don’t want people to know I like to read classic literature. I don’t want people to know I drink. I don’t want people to know I don’t drink. I don’t want to be back-stabbed again. I don’t want to be lied to again. I don’t want to be overlooked again. I don’t want to hurt again.

It’s a risk.

But it’s a rainbow too, a promise, of a true communion available only through our triune God. True community: three in one.

“May they live in unity,” Jesus prayed. “Just like you and I are one, let them be one.”

Don’t just go in and out of the doors of the church. Don’t just go in and out of the classrooms, the cubicles. Open your eyes and open your heart. Let people love you and love others. Create family out of friends and work hard at healthy relationships and trust and vulnerability. Learn to know when to shut your friends down in love and learn to listen to them too. Encourage one another. Laugh with one another. Challenge one another. Support one another. Take care of one another. Cook organic mac ‘n cheese for one another.

And you may find yourself celebrating the wedding of your life to the lives of those around you.

And that will be a beautiful marriage indeed.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

It was a happy ending. The wedding proved a success: tons of friends and a completely in love bride and groom. It was amazing. Surreal actually, to see him so . . . happy.

A "Happy Ending" as opposed to An Interesting Resolution means that your ex-boyfriend will give you a huge hug after his wedding and thank you for coming. It means you can say "my pleasure," and actually mean it. It means you can cry with joy for each other.

And it means you get to see old friends...

Congratulations Jer.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Happy Anniversary Bob and Mary Maker!!! Love from Texas...