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    Thursday, January 24, 2013

    Nothing Says "I'm Sorry" Like . . .

    So Chunky had a fight with his special friend. He came home Tuesday with a disjointed tale of lunchroom rejection. I gave him the “Sometimes Girls Need Space” line, which I’ve used on him more frequently this school year.

    I expected it to blow over, but the situation escalated yesterday. His teacher even called me, disbelief in her voice, to say that Chunky’s friend accused him of calling her stupid. We agreed it didn’t sound at all like him but that we weren’t getting the full story.

    I talked to Chunky who said it was all a misunderstanding, then I talked to his friend’s mom, who had a few more pieces to the puzzle, but was also perplexed. We agreed to talk to our feuding kiddos individually then allow them to work it out on the playground.

    After some discussion, I suggested to Chunky that he draw his friend an “I’m sorry” picture. He liked the idea but chose bedtime to create his work of art.

    I slumped into his room, aggravated that he was still drawing at his little table when I wanted to tuck him in bed and catch an episode of Big Bang Theory. He eagerly showed me his drawing, a comic book style page of stick figures and captions divided by a giant SORRY across the middle. Chunky pointed to the first strip.

    “See, Mom, he has a gun.”

    “What?!” I glowered at the stick thug.

    “It’s ok.” Chunky pointed to the next frame. “See, he drops it and the other guy says, ‘Phew!’”


    Chunky turned wide eyes on me. “But…he drops it.”

    I dug my hands in my hair. Where were the rainbows and hearts necessary to placate an 8-year-old girl?
    Chunky moved on to his second story strip. Two stick figures, one with long scribbled hair, stood beside a giant ice cream cone. The boy’s stick arm ended in a clumpy fist.

    At least the ice cream was a good move. I pointed to one of the cones. “Why is there ice cream here?”

    “That’s not ice cream. It’s a tree.” Chunky pointed to the next picture where a caption above the boxer-fisted boy read ‘Nope,’ and explained. “See, she’s thinking ‘You wouldn’t hit a girl, would you?’ and he says, ‘Nope,’ and he hits the tree instead.”

    *face palm*

    This had to be the most violent apology in the history of greeting card expression.

    I decided to give up on the tree abuse (it was nearly 9:00 and no actual trees were harmed), but I couldn’t let the gun thing go. I don’t think I managed to fully communicate to my little boy why guns just don’t say “I’m sorry,” but finally I convinced him to replace the gun with a snake. Less violent. Still troubling. Especially considering Stick Boy dropped the snake in the next picture.

    I thought bedtime was in sight, but Chunky started adding words to the giant SORRY in the middle of the page. I leaned closer and almost groaned aloud as he spelled out, “you misunderstood.”

    I can only hope his little girl friend doesn’t yet have the emotional maturity to realize that Chunky didn’t actually apologize. In fact, as most women know, in the heat of an argument the words “I’m sorry you misunderstood” can sound a lot like “You’re stupid.”

    But he didn’t mean it that way just like it never occurred to him that fight scenes don’t convey repentance and hope for a happy future.

    Next time, I’m going to recommend he skip all personal communication and go straight for flowers and chocolate. I owe it to his future relationships.

    Wednesday, January 16, 2013

    14 Reasons

    Today is our 14th anniversary! I thought I'd share a few reasons why I love my husband. I decided to limit the number to 14 in keeping with the number of years we've been married, and because, otherwise, we'd be here all day.

    So, here's 14 reasons why I've got the best husband in the world!


    14. He fixes stuff, but he doesn’t try to fix me (anymore.)

    13. He doesn’t watch football.

    12. He builds things—like our turtle enclosure that looks like a coffin—providing conversation starters for guests and concerned neighbors.

    11. His blue eyes.

    10. He’s a great father and provider.

    9. He will dance and go to plays with me.

    8. He doesn’t make fun of the fact that I can’t dance or tease me when I sing at the top of my lungs after seeing Wicked or Les Mis.

    7. He plays the piano and makes my knees weak.

    6. He has an app to remind him to tell me he loves me.

    5. His geekiness.

    4. He puts up with things other guys wouldn’t.

    3. He has never said, “Go get a job.” And only sometimes says, “Stop spending money.”

    2. He’s an artist.

     1. He supports my dreams and dreams with me.

    Happy Anniversary, Honey, and here's to many more years, because it was hard to narrow down my list to 14.

    Monday, January 14, 2013

    A Book that's Changing Me

    Ok, I have blog guilt. I’ve been neglecting my posts. In case you didn’t know, guilt is not conducive to creativity. I should know, I feel guilty most of the time. Guilty for not limiting my kids’ screen time more. Guilty for eating the wrong things. Guilty for my messy house and all the bitterness I’ve collected over the years.

    I could probably do a weekly post called “Evangeline’s Shortcomings.” But it wouldn’t exactly be riveting reading. I suspect I’m not alone in my talent for finding large sticks to beat myself over the head with.

    But I just finished a book that wedged a stick under my deep-set boulder of guilt and is gently prying it loose from my subconscious. Now as a rule, I don’t read non-fiction, and I confess to being less than enthusiastic about books I label “spiritual,” but A Year of Biblical Womanhood is not what it sounds like. Actually, the full title is A Year of Biblical Womanhood: How a Liberated Woman Found Herself Sitting on the Roof, Covering Her Head, and Calling Her Husband Master, a title which, had I not been familiar with Rachel's blog, would've sent me running.

    Author and well-known blogger Rachel Held Evans undertook a project in which she explores what the Bible really says about women from the female characters in the Bible to Scripture written about women to the Apostle Paul's much-argued instructions for women. She also determined to follow certain guidelines from ancient Levitical laws to 1950s rules for housewives, all in an attempt to better understand the role of women in modern faith communities.

    The result is liberating. Yes, you read that right. Here’s what I found life-changing.

    A more accurate interpretation of Proverbs 31:

    Most women who’ve grown up in an evangelical environment have at one point faced what seems to be THE checklist for how to be a perfect woman. There are Bible studies and books on Proverbs 31, but one look at the chapter is all you need to know that even supermoms can't measure up.

    But here’s the thing, Proverbs 31 is a poem in praise of women, in praise of what they ALREADY are doing. It is not a checklist.

    Rachel’s scholarship and writing on Eshet Chayil, Hebrew for Woman of Valor, changed how I view myself and made me want to tell my girl friends, “You are amazing. You are a woman of valor already. Don’t listen to anyone who tells you differently!”

    Equality between the sexes:

    I am a feminist, but for years I've apologized for my viewpoint, calling myself a closet feminist and hoping this little belief of mine that women and men are equal in God's sight wouldn't ruffle any feathers. It’s not that I’ve faced any sort of discrimination, but I have balked at subtly communicated prejudices. The reality is that while many churches give lip service to the concept of equality, their actions don’t always back up their words.

    After reading A Year of Biblical Womanhood, I’m tossing out any notions of being quiet on this subject. And not because I feel that I need more rights or more attention, but because across the world women are oppressed and violated and it’s my job to speak up for them, to help encourage revolution in countries where women, if given half a chance, would change the world for the better.

    Rachel quotes the book Half the Sky (also on my reading list) which presents the reality that in devastated third-world countries, women who are given help and opportunities, perform miracles on behalf of the oppressed. In these countries, women are not the problem--as their culture might define it--they are the solution.

    Permission to be uncomfortable:

    There are things in the Bible that are uncomfortable. Things that have to be wrestled with. Things that, dare I say it, need some re-interpretation.

    Ironically, acknowledging those things that don’t sit well in my mind makes me more interested in exploring the Bible. I may never understand what Rachel calls “the texts of terror” or find an answer to the question, “Why did God allow this to happen?” But the fact that I have permission to ask, to be uncomfortable, to say, “I don’t know, that doesn’t make sense to me,” is freeing.

    I recognize all of this sounds very serious, but this book has many funny parts too. I even read bits out loud to Kory. I laughed over Rachel’s struggles with a “butter-bleeding apple pie,” her clomp-clomping shoes in a silent monastery, and her tongue-in-cheek call to action against the Cretans.

    I don’t think I’ve ever recommended a non-fiction book on this blog, but this one is life-changing. Read it!

    Friday, January 4, 2013

    2013, A Vague-ish Beginning

    This time of year everyone is picking a word. It’s the thing to do. I believe in equal opportunity for all words and therefore don’t single out one to focus on throughout the year.

    Some of you may know that I pick songs to exemplify my goals for the year. Actually, it’s more like the song picks me. I get a song stuck in my head and somehow it ends up melding with my vague-ish thoughts and feelings about the coming year and my life in general.

    Which is why I’m a little neurotic right now.

    It’s January.

    It’s time for resolutions, goals, or, in my case, vague-ish thoughts and feelings.

    And what song is stuck in my head?

    This one.

    Yeah, I don’t want to own that.

    But, seriously, have you seen the movie yet? I thought it was amazing. Anne Hathaway’s performance will stay with me forever. I know some people are criticizing the vocals, but I think the director’s approach of having the actors sing live in every take brought raw emotion to an already moving story. In fact, I think a perfect and pretty vocal score would be false to the gritty reality portrayed.

    Just go see it if you haven’t already. And if you have, let me know what you thought.

    And for goodness sake, please suggest some songs for me to listen to. My brother and sister-in-law gave me a Florence and the Machine CD for Christmas which I haven’t listened to yet. Maybe I’ll find my 2013 song there.

    So do you make resolutions? Choose a word? Or do you just have goals you plan to pursue?

    Last year my goal was something like surrender (yes, vague-ish) and my song was “Giving up the Gun” by Vampire Weekend. And it was a year of giving things up. Not giving up, mind you, but laying dreams and desires down. I even gave up writing this past fall as the needs of my family weighed heavily on me. It seemed like all the voices in my life were ones of need and there was no voice, other than my own imagination, telling me to write. Thank God for critique partners who understand the pressures of life but also believe in me as a writer. They gave me the freedom to take a breather and focus on the clamoring voices but wouldn’t let me throw in the towel for good.

    So in the absence of a song that isn’t terrifying, the firm refusal to discriminate against words, and the ironic scorn of clich├ęd resolutions, I present a list of things I’d kind of like to do, maybe this year.

    1. Make memories with my kids that don’t include the words, “Remember that time we sat on the couch and did nothing?”
    2. Try to be more professional about writing. You know, stuff like sticking to daily writing times, blogging, and seriously pondering what to do with my website should my husband ever have time to work on it again.
    3. Read more books.
    4. Spend less money.
    5. Drink water.
    6. Figure out how to combine the following two letters into meaningful communication. N. O. So far all I’ve managed is, “On, on, on,” which is not producing the hoped-for result.

    How about you? What’s your word? What’s your goal or resolution? Do you pick a song for the year?

    Does the phrase “Life has killed the dream I dreamed” wake you in the dead of night?

    I have GOT to get my Spotify on!