Welcome to My Club!

Care for some tuna sandwiches and sweet tea?

I’ve been listening to my girls play “club” lately. They take turns outside on the back patio conducting their own clubs with the neighborhood children. They herd them into white plastic chairs and teach them a “lesson” as they thumb through a well-used spiral notebook. Usually they scour the cabinets for a few remaining bags of fruit snacks or a pack of mostly non-crushed graham crackers to pass out to the faithful assembly. Sometimes they can only find stale saltines.

I have three daughters and they each have their own club. The funny thing is, all the members of each club are essentially the same. It’s just that when it’s Ada’s club day then she gets to be in charge and so on down the line to Macy. On her club day stuffed animals are always involved.

I’m pretty amazed by the members of these clubs. They seem very patient, willing, and generous with their time. They raise their hands. They come back each afternoon even though the snacks are less than gourmet and the teaching can be didactic and simple.

They come because that’s what friends do. They visit each other’s clubs.

So, thanks for doing that for me here on this blog. Thanks for coming to my club. When I started this post I thought I’d make some kind of clever comment on the analogy of how our blog world is like my daughters’ clubs and how we also probably take ourselves too seriously and how we also share most of the same members and aren’t we silly. But I totally changed my mind. Instead I feel grateful. It’s just nice to have you here even when the snacks are sub-par and the lessons are old.

Now, where can I find your club? If I’ve never commented on your blog, be sure to leave me a comment here. I probably just haven’t found your backyard yet!

I Want to be a Runner, But . . .

Recently, Jesse mentioned something he was reading that described a character receiving the gift of an invisibility cloak. When you put it on, you became invisible.

My husband laughed, “Oh, Felic, that’s what you need for running!”

Because, you see, I want to be a runner but I’m embarrassed to start. I’m afraid I’ll step out my door that first morning and the real runners in the world will magically wake up from athletic slumbers yelling, “Who is the imposter?! Who dares to attempt the sacred sport without million dollar shoes and secret-club preparations!!”

I want to be a runner before I start running. You know, sort of like wanting to be in shape before I hit the gym.

Or like wanting to be disciplined, wise, or spiritual without practicing it in my life. Everyday. In the little decisions that matter, like smiling when I feel like throwing something or being kind when I want to be impatient. Sort of like that.

It didn’t help when last week I was walking home with the kids from church and Macy (my four year-old mini-me) challenged me to a race on the last block. So I started to run. And then I could hear one of the older kids – although I couldn’t pinpoint the voice in order to assign appropriate blame for the physiological damage inflicted – say casually, “Huh, I’ve never seen Mom run before.”

WHAT?! Never seen me run? Even my children are against this pursuit.

Something helped yesterday, however. Claire had an appointment with her surgeon/specialist in St.Louis; just a check-up, but always a time for thinking about the important things in life. These drives are good for contemplation.

I don’t think I was thinking, “What am I going to do about this running thing?” but the answer came anyway. There along a frontage road was an Amish guy jogging.

Full dress: dark pants, suspenders, button-up shirt, and work boots. Beard. A little heavy around the middle. Jogging.

At first I checked to make sure no one was chasing him. Then to make sure he wasn’t running toward someone who needed help. No, I think he was just jogging. In my imagination he had been ill recently and his doctor had politely suggested that he work on dropping a few pounds and he, all business and practicality, slipped out of his barn the next afternoon to get a little exercise.

And I was there to see it.

What inspired me was the sight of someone becoming a runner, not the sight of a runner running. I thought about how proud his wife must be that he cared to live a little longer. I thought about how prideful I am for not wanting to be seen working on it myself. I smiled for the next several miles. I loved it.

 

So, as you can see, I’ve managed to make this a post about spirituality instead of physicality, but I think you get my point. No one minds watching you struggle through this life trying to become the person you know you should be. Stop apologizing and just keep at it. You’ll get better. It will get easier. You might even learn to enjoy it.

 

(But, seriously, any tips for beginning runners are welcome! Am I the only person plagued by this fear? Also, if you happen to see me actually being brave enough to get started on this jogging business, do me a favor. Pretend I’m wearing an invisibility cloak!)

 

 

Telling Our Stories

The new STORY website went live this week. The first thing I did was check the list of presenters and oh. my. goodness. the awesomeness. Anne Lamott, you guys. Anne Lamott!! I just started following her on Twitter and you cannot believe how lovely it was to read this tweet -  “One bad messy paragraph–where nothing existed before–is a small miracle. Now one more, & one more. You did it! We’ll make it better later” – on a night when the last thing I wanted to do was write. But it was like she was TALKING TO ME and she would not be refused.

Who else will be there? Makoto Fujimura. I will never be completely satisfied with my home decor until it is accented by one of his paintings. And? Bob Goff. You know him if you’ve read Donald Miller’s A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. He’s the guy who created a neighborhood parade that no one is allowed to watch; everyone has to be in it. And more.

After checking out the line-up, then I found some audio clips of the 2011 speakers and I listened again to the closing session with Ian Cron. His book Jesus, My Father, the CIA, and Me is fantastic. At STORY he mesmerized us and it happened to me again when I listened to the recording. Since Serenity just published her memoir about her cancer years and I’m chipping away at my own, these words resonated again (paraphrased and quoted non-academically here):

We all have something that stalks our histories. In what rubble field or place of devastation has God called you to push back the darkness with your art? You are an artist. You are a creative. That is a noble and high calling.

I learned in the process of writing my story . . . . how vital it is for us to sit in the places of rubble and despair of our own personal histories. Everyone in this room has a puddle of grief somewhere in your heart. You have to name the losses. We’re frightened to do this because grief is the most powerful emotion in the world. You have to describe what happened there. And only then will you be able to see the thread of grace that got you through. An artist who has not done their work in the debris field and passed through cannot be free. Tell the rest of this grieving world that there is hope.

 

I read Seren’s story in two days. That was partly because it was almost like reliving some of the saddest, most worry-filled days of my life and I wanted them to be over again, and partly because I kept wondering what she was going to say next about ME! : ) The Thank You Room is available for Kindle now and other devices soon. Check it out. Support an independent artist doing the beautiful work of sorting through pain for a glimpse of Jesus. He’s there, you know.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have my own debris field to walk through. (Anne would be so proud of me right now!)

Prayers for Friday and Saturday

from The Book of Common Prayer:

“Good Friday”

Almighty God, we pray you graciously to behold this your family, for whom our Lord Jesus Christ was willing to be betrayed, and given into the hands of sinners, and to suffer death upon the cross; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

“Holy Saturday”

O God, Creator of heaven and earth: Grant that, as the crucified body of your dear Son was laid in the tomb and rested on this holy Sabbath, so we may await with him the coming of the third day, and rise with him to newness of life; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.