Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Thoughts on Love

When love beckons to you follow him,
Though his ways are hard and steep.
And when his wings enfold you yield to him,
Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you.
And when he speaks to you believe in him,
Though his voice may shatter your dreams as the north wind lays waste the garden.
For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you. Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning.
Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun,
So shall he descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth.
Like sheaves of corn he gathers you unto himself.
He threshes you to make you naked.
He sifts you to free you from your husks.
He grinds you to whiteness.
He kneads you until you are pliant;
And then he assigns you to his sacred fire, that you may become sacred bread for God's sacred feast.
All these things shall love do unto you that you may know the secrets of your heart, and in that knowledge become a fragment of Life's heart.
But if in your fear you would seek only love's peace and love's pleasure,
Then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love's threshing-floor,
Into the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears.
Love gives naught but itself and takes naught but from itself.
Love possesses not nor would it be possessed;
For love is sufficient unto love.
When you love you should not say, "God is in my heart," but rather, I am in the heart of God."
And think not you can direct the course of love, for love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course.
Love has no other desire but to fulfil itself.
But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires:
To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night.
To know the pain of too much tenderness.
To be wounded by your own understanding of love;
And to bleed willingly and joyfully.
To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving;
To rest at the noon hour and meditate love's ecstasy;
To return home at eventide with gratitude;
And then to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in your heart and a song of praise upon your lips.

Friday, October 26, 2007


After rain after many days without rain,
it stays cool, private and cleansed, under the trees,
and the dampness there, married now to gravity,
falls branch to branch, leaf to leaf, down to the ground
where it will disappear - but not, of course, vanish
except to our eyes. The roots of the oaks will have their share,
and the white threads of the grasses, and the cushion of moss;
a few drops, round as pearls, will enter the mole's tunnel;
and soon so many small stones, buried for a thousand years,
will feel themselves being touched.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Grace, Part II

My day started at about 4 AM, with the jackhammer in my head. My migraine was back. Sometimes I think it never really leaves.... Despite the fact that my new medication seemed to be working, apparently my migraine had "crashed the gates" and taken up residence in its favorite spot, directly behind my right eyeball. Typical sharp sharp stabbing pain, like a hot knife. I knew falling back to sleep was an impossibility. So, as usual, I wandered downstairs to hang out with the dog and watch "I Love Lucy" re-runs on Nick at Night.
The day never got much better. It was one of those days when I was much more aware of the pain of those around me: I saw a mom shout at her little kids in the grocery store.... not just shout a little, but really mean, vicious hate-filled shouting... I turned on the news and saw a weeping couple, looking defeated.... they had lost everything they owned to the fires in California. They had to start over again and, as the wife said, "We're not kids anymore".

So, to that end, I thought I'd re-visit the concept of grace, and add my thought that even in life's nastiness, where all you can see is the thorny painful thistle, God's grace is like the rose that comes OUT on the same branch as that nasty thorny thistle, despite ALL seeming "evidence" to the contrary.

"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God..."

- Ephesians 2:8

"Grace fills empty spaces, but it can only enter where there is a void to receive it, and it is grace itself which makes this void."

- Simone Weil

"Grace strikes us when we are in great pain and restlessness.... Sometimes at that moment a wave of light breaks into our darkness, and it is as though a voice were saying: 'You Are Accepted'."

- Paul Johannes Tillich

"All men who live with any degree of serenity live by some assurance of grace."
- Reinhold Niebuhr

"The grace of God is, in my mind, shaped like a key, that comes from time to time and unlocks the heavy doors." (This one is my favorite.) :-)

- Donald Swan

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

A True Hero

Earlier today I ran into Max Cleland while I was having lunch in Buckhead with a girlfriend.
For those of you unfamiliar with Max Cleland, he is a former U.S. Senator from the fine State of Georgia, as well as a former Vietnam Era military hero. Mr. Cleland was awarded both the Silver Star and the Bronze Star for valor during combat, as his brave and selfless actions undoubtedly saved the lives of many others. He lost both legs and one arm (yes, that makes him a TRIPLE amputee) in service to his country.

I had last seen Max Cleland, 23 years ago, when he came to speak at my high school. I remember how impressed and genuinely moved I was by what he had to say (and, as we all know, it's pretty tough to impress a jaded, know-it-all 16 year old).

So, today, after my friend and I finished our crab cakes, I made my way over to his table, introduced myself, shook his hand and we spoke for a bit. One of his lunch companions had just returned from active duty in Iraq; I thanked him for his service. I, like most other Americans, have serious concerns about our planning (or lack thereof) in Iraq, as well as our "extrication strategy". Regardless of how I felt, I wanted to sincerely thank these two military men for serving our country. They did their job, and we owe them thanks, and honor.

When I came home after lunch, I googled Max Cleland and was reminded of a recent unpleasant incident involving the ever-incendiary (and increasingly unpleasant) Ann Coulter. Ann Coulter had the nerve to assert that Max Cleland wasn't "really" wounded in combat and had "dropped the grenade on himself" and was using his injuries for political gain. Amazing. I've never been an Ann Coulter fan, but she really knows no limits to how low she'll stoop for ratings and shock value, does she? And what bothers me the most about Ms. Coulter is how loudy she crows that she's a Christian. Is she acquainted, at all, with the concept of God's grace? That it's a free gift? And that we are to give freely as well and not judge? (Bring salt and light into the world? Does ANY of this sound familiar to her?) If she is acquainted with these basic tenets of the faith, she certainly hides it well. Unfortunately, I see her "brand" of Christianity driving people away from the faith.... she is of the same mindset that brought the Crusades into the world; she is of the same mindset that burned heretics at the stake; she is of the same mindset that drowned supposed "witches"; she is of the same mindset that announced that "the skulls of unbaptized babies pave the road to Hell".

Can you tell I'm riled up?

I must say - I was thrilled not long ago when Elizabeth Edwards took Ann Coulter to task on live TV and basically kicked her *ss. Coulter sooo deserved it, and Mrs. Edwards was right on the money... eloquent, succinct, and very firm. (Well done, Mrs. Edwards.)

I think history will view Max Cleland as a True Hero.... a man who served his country on the battlefield, and then came home and served his country again as a public servant. As far as Ann Coulter, I think history will view her as little more than a coward; an incendiary Talking Head who existed mainly to stir up controvery, then line her pockets with the royalties from her many books. She is, indeed, nothing more than a mean-spirited moral bully.


Since my other posts tend to lean toward the heavy and the serious (or, at the very least, the contemplative), today's post will be ridiculously vapid and shallow. Hooray!

Yes, my girlfriends and peeps, I give you the one, the only, the eye-poppingly incredible Viggo Mortensen. Viggo is, in my humble opinion, God's Gift to Women. (And I say this only half jokingly.) After my handsome husband (the Tall Cool One), Viggo is, hands down, the finest piece of manliness on Planet Earth. And for all you Lord Of The Rings fans out there (props to my home girl Dawn!) was he NOT the utter embodiment of King Aragorn??!! No other actor would have even come close!

So let's all gaze, in rapt unison, and issue forth a collective happy (and vapid) sigh of aesthetic appreciation, shall we?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Relentless Grace

Anne LaMott has been one of my favorite writers for many years. I read Operating Instructions, her hilarious memoir of her first year of motherhood, when my own son was a newborn and I was struggling with post-partum depression. I laughed until I cried, and have given copies to several mommy-friends.

My favorite book she has written, by far, is her tender and honest Traveling Mercies, which details her thoughts on faith and how she wound up becoming a Christian. Below is an excerpt. I think this encapsulates, quite beautifully, how God continues to pursue us, persistently and relentlessly, throughout our lives until we finally let him in.

"I had a cigarette and turned off the light. After a while, as I lay there, I became aware of someone with me, hunkered down in the corner, and I just assumed it was my father, whose presence I had felt over the years when I was frightened and alone. The feeling was so strong that I actually turned on the light for a moment to make sure no one was there - of coure, there wasn't. But after a while, in the dark again, I knew beyond any doubt that it was Jesus. I felt him as surely as I feel my dog lying nearby as I write this. And I was appalled. I thought about my life and my brilliant hilarious progressive friends; I thought about what everyone would think of me if I became a Christian, and it seemed an utterly impossible thing that simply could not be allowed to happen. I turned to the wall and said out loud, "I would rather die." I felt him just sitting there in the corner of my sleeping loft, watching me with patience and love, and I squinched my eyes shut, which didn't help because that's not what I was seeing him with. Finally I fell asleep, and in the morning, he was gone. This experience spooked me badly, but I thought it was just an apparition, born of fear and self-loathing and booze. But then everywhere I went, I had the feeling that a little cat was following me, wanting me to reach down and pick it up, wanting me to open the door and let it in. But I knew what would happen: you let a cat in one time, give it a little milk, and then it stays forever. So I tried to keep one step ahead of it, slamming my houseboat door when I entered or left. And one week later, when I went back to church, I was so hungover that I couldn't stand up for the songs, but this time I stayed for the sermon, which was just so ridicuous, like someone trying to convince me of the existence of extraterrestrials, but the last song was so so deep and raw and pure that I could not escape. It was as if the people were singing in between the notes, weeping and joyful at the same time and I felt like their voices or something was rocking me in its bosom, holding me like a scared kid, and I opened up to that feeling - and it washed over me. I began to cry and left before the benediction, and I raced home and felt the little cat running along at my heels, and I ran down the dock past dozens of potted flowers, under a sky as blue as one of God's own dreams, and I opened the door to my houseboat, and I stood there a minute, and then I hung my head and said "Screw it: I quit." I took a long deep breath and said out loud, "All right. You can come in." So this was my beautiful moment of conversion."

Monday, October 22, 2007

Who is Happy Wife Happy Life?

So.... who is Happy Wife, Happy Life? And why the heck does she have a blog? And what in the world is she going to muse about, anyway? HWHL is a stay-at-home-mom-of-two (and wife-of-one), entrepreneur, chauffeur, maid, psychologist, referee, etc., etc. I am also a committed Christian who loves God and strives every day to walk with him (without wandering off). Wandering off to do my "own thing" is a daily issue for me, and I find myself reading Romans 7:19 regularly and being very thankful that Paul shares his own struggles with the flesh. (Hey, if Paul struggled with this stuff, I guess we should all just chill out and realize this battle between spirit and flesh is going to be a lifelong issue for all of us....)
As far as hobbies, I love to hang out with my husband and kids, read, cook, take pictures, sing (usually in the shower), joke around, tell bad puns, and just generally be goofy. I go to the gym and work out from time to time, but I'm hardly a "hard body" (more like a "cream puff" to be honest). I love animals and (almost all) people. The arrogant and rude people really get on my nerves, and I just have to keep reminding myself that Jesus died for them too. So, why the blog? Well, now that I'm a freelancer from home while my children are in school, I have a very thin slice of free time. It's either channel my creative juices into "blogging" or watch yet ANOTHER scintillating episode of Montel (NOT). Also, I recently discovered (and was deeply moved and inspired by) a lovely blog called Holy Experience, written by Ann V., who is the wife of a Canadian farmer. Her writing is much like little raw gems, glittering in the dust. I stumbled upon it by accident and was amazed by the profound beauty and grace in her words. So, I thought I'd give blogging a shot. Our styles are obviously very different. I'm definitey much more of a smart aleck, but still think I have some observations I'd like to share (read: INFLICT upon you, gentle reader...). I look forward to posting some thoughts and ideas. Maybe some poems and photos. Perhaps an idea for peace in the Holy Land....? That would be nice. But I'm not holding my breath.
Until next time.... TTFN!

PS: One of my hobbies is photography. I took the above photo, at sunrise, on the Georgia coast just as the sun blazed over the horizon and a flock of seagulls flew overhead. It was a glorious, moving moment, and I was the only one on the beach to witness it. It was, to my mind at least, another gentle tap on the shoulder from the Father that "Yes, I'm still right here... and I still love my kids". God is good.