Tuesday, July 19, 2011

On reading and sexism

I pride myself in being a pretty tolerant person. While I have my days (just ask my family) when people of the world get on my nerves, most of the time, I accept people where they are. I'm not one that has prejudices against others just because they are different from me. And if I identify a prejudice that I am harboring, I try to change it in myself. That being said, I pretty much refuse to read books written by men. Oh, ocassionally I will read a book by the likes of Thomas Merton, but when I choose books to read for pleasure, they are exclusively by women. So much so that I won't even look at books by men. Another thing about how I choose books, though, is that I have to like the cover. You know that adage "don't judge a book by it's cover?" Not true, for me, when choosing reading material. Cover is important. I believe in not judging people by their "cover" aka first impressions, etc., but when it comes to books? Well, forget it. I am drawn to interesting book covers. By women. I did read a book by a man recently, and liked it immensely. Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford. Doesn't that title just make you want to read it? And it has a pretty cover too. I'm thinking he must write like a woman.

Friday, July 8, 2011


I was cleaning yesterday and came across a paper copy of the sharing I did during worship (I wouldn't call it a sermon, because, well . . . I just wouldn't), when I left my job at the church. It brought back such memories of my work there, the joys and challenges.
I loved that job, and the interactions I had with our church community and the larger community as well. I spent a lot of time on the phone and in person with people in need in our community, and it was a part of the job that was most challenging and most rewarding at the same time. Sometimes we couldn't help, and that was hard. I was often the one who had to say no. I remember vividly calling a woman back to tell her we couldn't help her. She was in a dire situation and I had cried along with her when she initially called. I took her plight to the pastors, even though I knew our funds had been depleted for the month. When I called her back to tell her we couldn't help, she thanked me. Thanked me, even though I was the bearer of bad news. She appreciated so much that I had taken the time to call back.
I was humbled by the appreciation expressed when giving out groceries. People were surprised when we said they could take what they needed from our grocery cupboards, no limits, just take what you need. I think people in need are so used to restrictions, that when there aren't any, it's such a nice surprise. Also, when we gave our garage sale "leftovers" to the women at the domestic violence safe-house. These were the things we didn't want and also the things no one who came to our garage sale wanted. The dregs, essentially. But these women were so thankful to have them. Most of them were starting over, and needed everything for their new homes. Very humbling.
My experiences in that job made me a better person. I hope as I get farther away from it I don't lose that growth. I hope I continue to be a light-bearer to those I meet. I know I'm not always, I can come up with many times just off the top of my head that I haven't been. But I hope more times than not I am. And I hope I can always see the light in those I meet. I pray for that.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Sending them out . . .pulling them closer (when I can)

This summer has been a series of sending my children out into the world, and pulling them close when I can. It's what you do all the years of parenting for, but it isn't easy.

Our oldest went to Texas/New Mexico for 5 weeks. I know we are spoiled by having her in college right up the street. It's not that we (the parental units, anyway) see her that often. But we, and she, know we are only 5 minutes away, should we need each other for some reason. Of course we need each other, but in case we need direct contact. Having her 16 hours away was a new experience for all of us. She was homesick and we missed her. But we all grew through the experience.

12 hours after her return, our middle daughter left on the train for a week in Pittsburgh with our youth group. She was surrounded by people who love and care for her, but she was still going out into the world without us. After sitting at the train station for 45 minutes or so, she said "why are you still here?". It was 3:30 AM by that time, so we said our good-byes and left. She will be home before we know it. I know that's true, but I still miss her already!

In both of these letting gos, I have held it together, no crying. That's not normal for me. I used to cry leaving them at camp. As hard as it is for me to believe I can hold it together, I think it must be a natural step in parenthood. If I continued to cry every time they left me, I would be a basketcase. But it's weird, for sure. A new normal, I guess, to not have all of my chicks under my wing, or at least nearby. I've had people tell me "you need to loosen the apron strings" or similar platitudes. They have no idea.