Monday, April 28, 2008

Creativity in everything

It is impossible to understand what a blessing church is in the life of a Christian until one has gone without it during a difficult time. When BJ and I moved to Frisco, we had a horribly difficult time adjusting, and we just couldn't find a church that felt right after the near-utopia of our experience at Nugent. However, last December, we stumbled upon a church filled with good, loving people, and we've been there ever since. They have helped us emotionally and spiritually through a whole slew of difficult situations.

This coming Sunday, our preacher is going to be out of town for the Pepperdine lectureship, so BJ is getting to step back into the pulpit for a week. This is perfect timing because a lot of the churches that BJ has applied for are requesting recordings. Since this little fill-in gig is rapidly turning into an audition for several job prospects, BJ has been putting a lot of time and effort into his preparation.

Last night when I came home from my closing shift at Micheal's, BJ asked me to listen to what he had down so far. I was happy to oblige, but as soon as he set down at the computer, his shy bone kicked in. The next thing I knew, BJ had the lights off and me laying down with my eyes shut so that he wouldn't get self-conscious. We giggled a little over the absurdity of the situation, but the trick worked, and BJ was able to recite the first third or so of his sermon to me.

While I was laying in the absolute dark listening to BJ's words said with his own peculiar accent and inflections, it occurred to me that being his wife is a role I absolutely relish. Hopefully this isn't overly prideful, but I am extremely proud of my connection to a man that can articulate God's word so giftedly. Laying on the bed after a long, tiring day at work and listening to a sermon is exactly the way I want to end my day, and I want to end a whole lot of days in the same way. Being casually mentioned in sermons when the point calls for it is a fascinating experience.

There is a sense of rightness about it all, like this is in fact how BJ and I should spend our life. It is a feeling similar to how I feel when I paint a watercolor or write a perfectly worded line of poetry; like I'm living the way God wanted me to live, I am becoming the creator he intended me to be. It occurs to me that being BJ's wife requires a huge amount of imagination. In order to appreciate his words and ideas and to help him develop them more fully, I have to be creative and in tune with the Creator in a way that little else requires me to be. It is as if my training in art unknowingly prepared me to be a preacher's wife, to not only hear the words of a prophet, but to see them clearly and realize them fully.

I've been reading Madeleine L'Engle's Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art, and it has been helping me better understand my role in life as an artists. What I am finding as I read it is that being an artists is an all-encompassing vocation that will shape every aspect of my life. Here are a few words from the book that articulate far better than I can the realization I had while listening in the dark to BJ's sermon:

"What do I mean by creators? Not only artists, whose acts of creation are the obvious ones of working with paint or clay or words. Creativity is a way of living life, no matter what our vocation or how we earn our living. Creativity is not limited to the arts or having some kind of important career. Several women have written to me to complain about A Swiftly Tilting Planet. They feel that I should not have allowed Meg Murry to give up a career by marrying Calvin, having children, and quietly helping her husband with his work behind the scenes. But if women are to be free to choose to pursue a career as well as marriage, they must also be free to choose the making of a home and the nurture of a family as their vocation; that was Meg's choice, and a free one, and it was as creative a choice as if she had gone on to get a Ph.D. in quantum mechanics."

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

A True Gus Moment

Today, I tried out a new yoga tape. The dogs are pretty good about staying out of my way when I'm working out. They just stare from the side-lines. Yoga sequences usually end with a really relaxing pose that is held for one or two minutes. At the end of the yoga sequence I was doing today, I had to lay flat on my back, arms by my side, with my palms facing up. I had my eyes shut, but I heard one of the dogs moving. I opened my eyes to take a peak, and Gus was laying himself down perfectly parallel to my legs. He then laid his chin perfectly in the palm of my hand and stared at me with those huge brown eyes. We just laid there relaxing together. It was an absolutely perfect moment in my day.

(As a side note: if Tony is in the room when I am doing yoga, he usually attacks me.)

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Thirty is rapidly approaching...

BJ has now entered that precarious state we know as the beginning of the end. He turned 29 years old on Friday. One more year of his twenties. What's weird about this is that I vividly remember my mom's 30th birthday. BJ is old enough to have an eight year old!

As always, I got a little carried away with presents. I really, really like getting BJ presents, and I believe in a nicely coordinated wrapping scheme. This year was lime green, teal, and navy blue.

BJ was kind enough to wear white and denim so he didn't clash:

Of course, we also gorged ourselves on a lovely meal. Missing from the picture is steaks and slap-me-naked cake (I'll leave it to your imagination on the cake):

Kayla spent the weekend with us, which was a lot of fun. We went out for BJ's b-day, ranted and raved about church, politics, and a whole slew of topics, watched The Office, shopped with no money (but still managed to buy a few things), got mistaken for being twins, and planned a get away for all of our Fat Tuesday friends. It was an awesome weekend. Yay for birthdays, food, color-coordination, and college buddies!

Friday, April 11, 2008

If you are my father-in-law, don't read this post for a week.

BJ inherited many wonderful traits from his father, but there is one trait BJ acquired in this fashion of which I am not so fond: an irrational love of science fiction. It doesn't matter what it is, books, movies, horribly acted TV shows, they love it all so long as it is sci-fi. Usually I disdain this trait, but this week it has served me well. My father-in-law's birthday is coming up next week, and I have found the perfect card. Here it is in video form. Enjoy!

Friday, April 04, 2008

Plum Jelly

Tomorrow marks the one year anniversary of my grandmother's passing. We have all missed her deeply through out the year. A few months ago, I wrote a poem about her death and my own mourning. I have never posted one of my poem's on this blog, but this feels like a good time for a first, so here it is:

Plum Jelly

Ice-coated bluebonnets lined the path
leading to the cemetery
on that Easter-eggless Easter morning.
Death chose a curious time to take
you, but Nature, being kind, froze over
postponing Spring in a respectful moment
of silence.

A forest green tent offered shelter
from the frost as we set in velvet folding chairs,
Morris & Sons Funeral Home monogrammed on each.
Finally, dust descended from Reverend Riley's hand
and hushed the shine of your powder pink coffin.

Months later, on a smoldering summer day
when I was going about resuming my life,
I embarked on the menial task of cleaning
the fridge. Hidden behind
the ketchup and cocktail sauce I found a jar of plum jelly
whose lid had been neglected one busy breakfast
allowing air to seep in and work its decay.
I reached to throw it away, but paused when I saw
a sticky label with a picture of a candy cane and holly-
"Merry Christmas. Love, Grandma" written
in your slanted, shaky, decaying cursive.
The chill of the glass jar, of the frozen bluebonnets,
ran through my finger, up my arm, into me.
I replaced the items that had sheltered your gift
leaving the chore for another day.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008


Other than having a stable marriage, BJ and I have yet to experience any other kind of stability in our short marriage. Life has been constant uncertainty and flux as we have looked for jobs, moved, and looked for jobs some more. I'm not complaining. I have not been bored for about three years. However, sometimes I get tired.

Our luck is laughable at times. Or, at least, laughter seems like the better choice when crying is the other option. I have this uncanny feeling that luck is not the only component, that we must be doing something terribly wrong, but no one has bothered to clue us into the cosmic secret that makes things go magically right. Whenever I put my logical self on, though it be a rare occasion, I am able to remind myself that Biblical characters rarely had easy or comfortable lives, so why am I complaining? I fear that the myth of the American dream has caused me to forget the reality of my Christian narrative. Life is hard. We rely on Christ and serve others. We die. Something better happens.

I thought I would take a hiatus from funny Gus stories to write what has really been going on in my mind, but things have gotten a bit despair-ish, so I think I'll sign off. But one last thing, to comfort the people who care about me, don't worry. I am living in the abounding hope of Christ.