We Almost Missed it!

Today – Thursday, April 20th – is Poem in Your Pocket Day! We almost missed it! If you go to this Poets.org page you can download pocket-sized poems to print. Apparently cities and libraries all over the country are hosting special events, but the main idea is to keep a poem in your pocket and share it with people you meet all day long. Tell me your day would not be seriously better if the person in line in front of you at the grocery story pulled a poem out of his pocket and said, “Would like to hear some poetry?”

I have some favorite poetry, from the Bible and from other sources, but I will admit that my not-quite-literary favorite right now is in Macy’s bedtime book, This is the Sunflower by Lola M. Shaefer. It begins like this:

This is the sunflower

tall and bright

that stands in my garden

day and night.

Our favorite part is this:

these are the birds

full of song

that crack the seeds

black and brown

found in the blossom

yellow and round

that crowns the sunflower

tall and bright

that stands in my garden

day and night

The poem in this book rocks back and forth like the chair we sit in every night. By the time we get to the end, I’m ready for bed too. (I was also inspired to create a sunflower fort in our backyard garden this summer . . . more on that later!)

Share some poetry today if you get a chance!

I Only Screamed a Little Bit

We did it! I know you want to know how Monday’s visit to the doctor’s office went and that is the summary: we did it!

Claire went into the morning very brave, telling us she planned to not even cry today. And she stuck to it for a long time, but when the set-up started taking longer than expected I saw the look on her face the moment her courage began to fail.

Before the actual shots, the doctor puts numbing cream around the injection sites in her calf and hamstring. While that medicine gets to work, Claire positions herself on the exam table with her arms draped over a pillow. We watch a YouTube instructional video for the line dance in the Hannah Montana Movie and wait. We make a false-alarm trip to the potty and then wait some more.

The doctor brings in the small electronic machine made to guide his placement of the injections, the biggest part of the waiting is over. She is doing so well, we all take our time. Too much time, apparently, because slightly before the alcohol wipes are smeared across her tiny legs, the tears began to flow.

“I don’t want to do it. I don’t want to!” Now my courage fails, but I smile anyway.

Put a rush on that, Dr. – we’re about to lose contact with all sense of perspective!

Now she actually has something to yell about as the doctor inserts the needle, injects Botox (lovingly termed nerve poison), repositions the needle under the skin, and injects more Botox.

“Owie! That hurts! Ohhhh! That hurts! . . . . ”

We take a short break while a second vial is loaded. Breaks aren’t good. She starts to cry, announcing again that she has changed her mind and does not want to go through with it after all.

“We know, Baby, it will be over soon.”

And it is, but not soon enough. Claire is wiping tears while we pull back on her jeans and notice the tiny broken blood vessels around her eyes and cheeks. “It’s all over, Baby.”

She sits up tall on the exam table, looking a little ashamed but still confident, “Yeah, I only screamed a little bit.”

We smile, knowing what a trouper she is.

“And I didn’t even spit at him.”

Botox and Provision


It is another day of Botox fun for us. Claire’s hemiplegic CP is keeping the muscles of her leg really tight right now and her doctor has prescribed an aggressive treatment of Botox shots every 12 weeks as well as two new braces, one for night and one for day. Since we were still paying off the last round of Botox, our financial hopes were looking rather dim about this time last week.

But. God. You’ve heard that one, right? The one about blah, blah, blah, all my problems, blah, blah, blah . . . but God. And it isn’t like I’m one of those full of faith people. I usually manage to say I believe God will provide even though on the inside I’m thinking, of course, this time He might provide by forcing me to sell a kidney or something because He certainly isn’t in any hurry, is He!? Or something along that line.

Anyway, yes, we were financially in a jam and yet knowing that our window to make a difference in Claire’s less than 40 pound body was shrinking. Not getting these muscles under control now means a future of surgeries to cut tendons and muscles so that bones can grow straight. It means listening to the tears of a teenager who can’t walk without drawing extra attention (you’ve been there – being a teenager is rough enough!). All these thoughts and many much more dramatic versions were weighing on me like a sopping wet quilt.

Provision didn’t come in one swift movement. It came in many little steps of obedience and blessing. I signed up for a secondary insurance that wounded my pride a little but came through beautifully. I recieved an actual, downright miraculous gift – that I can’t tell you about because the giver wants all the attention to be given to God. Grandparents everywhere were offering support and moo-lah. These and a bunch of other little things started adding up to provision, to comfort, and to a reminder that God is able.

Pray for us today. Pray for our courage to hold up and our pain to pass quickly. Pray also for the doctors and scientists of this world looking for a better long term solution to Claire’s problem. For now, thank God for Botox and provision. Amen.

Friendship Post for a Blog Party!

I met Anne & May a couple of years ago after I read about them in Radiant magazine. They write “Christian fiction for the real world” and I felt at home visiting their blog right away (yes, we’re THAT kind of friends). This week they’re celebrating the release of their latest YA novel, Breaking Up Is Hard To Do. This post is part of their blog party! My role at the party is to tell a story about one of my friends.

In keeping with the novels for teenage girls theme, I’m choosing my friend Jill for this post. I met Jill at a get-to-know-the-new-girl party in my honor the summer before my sixth grade year. Talk about trauma. I don’t remember much from the party except a few warnings about which boys were already claimed and what to avoid in the cafeteria. But I know Jill was there, and she has stuck with me even when I, as her father kindly notes, have taken the non-traditional path in so many ways!

Here’s my short list of the reasons Jill was an awesome friend:

She indulged my love for Kirk Cameron.

She invited me to sleep over and always ordered Casey’s pizza for the occassion.

She kept me up on school gossip when I transferred to a private school.

She let me tag along on her trips to the out-of-town doctor and hit the mall afterwards.

She threw me a surprise 18th birthday party!

She never missed one of my important events.

She let me sing a Celine Dion song at her wedding!

She took care of me when I was stuck in the hospital with a very sick baby.

She kept pushing me to finish my college degree – I’m almost there!

She never stopped calling me. Even when I was (am) a jerk and didn’t return her calls in a timely fashion.

You simply cannot have too many friends like this girl! Love you, Jill! (I know you’re out there reading this but never commenting!)

from North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

One of my favorite passages from one of my favorite books. In this scene, Margaret Hale has invited Nicolas Higgins, a working class man who has just lost his daughter to consumption, to join her father, a recently displaced pastor losing heart for the established Church of England, for tea and conversation. As Higgins, sitting in a parlor the like of which he has never seen, decides to take his leave, this is how the chapter closes:

‘Stay!’ said Mr Hale, hurrying to the bookshelves.  ‘Mr Higgins! I’m sure you’ll join us in family prayer?’

Higgins looked at Margaret, doubtfully. Her grave sweet eyes met his; there was no compulsion, only deep interest in them. He did not speak, but he kept his place.

Margaret the Churchwoman, her father the Dissenter, and Higgins the Infidel, knelt down together. It did them no harm.

My Favorite Part: The Miss USA Pageant

I’m watching my DVR’d version of the Miss USA Pageant alternately thinking the girls would love this and wondering if I know how to explain it to them. I mean, really, The Biggest Loser already has my 5 year-old asking how many calories are in a Rice Krispie Treat. Do I need her comparing herself to what I’m seeing on that stage?

My sisters and I have already discussed the fact that despite my mother’s feminist oversight, we all played with Barbies (loved playing Barbies – would spend hours of our childhood divvying up the Barbies in an NFL draft-like fashion) and have made it to adulthood without an eating disorder or body image problem. And this pageant (or the other one, what is it, Miss America?) is a highlighted memory in my childhood. We got to stay up late, eat snacks, and hope our favorite made it into the top ten. Oh, the joy of that!

Watching alone tonight I had all the misgivings a mother of gorgeous daughters should have: what if they buy the lie that your body is something you should flaunt on national television? What if they see so many 5′ 10″ toothpicks they despise the beautiful 5′ 6″ athletic build they are more likely to have? I needed to reconcile these two dilemmas: my past joy in watching a show like this and my current fear of glutting my daughters on commercialized exploitation of women? (I can be nearly as dramatic as Seren, but I usually keep in quieter.)

Ellen to the rescue and My Favorite Part from the Miss USA Pageant. Ellen’s Cover Girl commercial played during one of the first breaks in the show. For me it was perfect timing.

I laughed at Ellen, I laughed at myself, and I saw myself laughing one day with my daughters. Like everything else in this life, the key is to keep the conversation open. We can enjoy a show like the Miss USA Pageant at the same time that we can discuss how ridiculous it is to dance across a stage in a bikini that is – no way around it – a bra and underwear. I mean, who does that? But still, the dresses, the music, the competition, . . . it is all part of a show. We can enjoy it. We can remember not to take life too seriously. And that’s My Favorite Part.

Mini Memoirs


Lately I’ve been coveting Donald Miller’s new DVD series about the art of story. Here is a short clip of the presentation from Miller’s blog. I love the thought that story is what guides us, that story is what drives the Biblical narrative and stirs us to believe in something bigger than ourselves.

Then, remember how much fun we had playing the Seven Word Wisdom game? At least, I’ve been having fun! (And actually getting so pretty good advice.)

So what happens when I combine my new love of word games and the art of story? Mini memoirs!

Smith Magazine started a project called the Six Word Memoir. Their tagline is: “Everyone has a story. What’s yours?” (Get it? Six words. You can read this coverage in The New Yorker that is written entirely in six-word sentences!) Their most recent collection of these memoirs is titled Not Quite What I Was Expecting. One of my favorites was from comedian Stephen Colbert: “Well, I thought it was funny.” Or how about Food Network chef Mario Batali: “Brought it to a boil, often.” This one doesn’t have a named author: “Artsy married Fartsy had two kids.”

You can see there aren’t any rules beyond using six words to describe your life in a nutshell. Easy, right?

Alright then, EVERYONE play!

My entry: “Named Happy and stayed that way.”