August 2013


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I’m the last person in the world who is even remotely qualified to talk about Miley Cyrus. I have boys, folks. And really, popular culture is not my thing. I’ve never seen a Hannah Montana episode, and I had to google VMA awards to find out what the heck everyone was talking about.

VMA awards? The Grammy’s and the Oscar’s, these are the things I know about awards shows. Apparently, there are a bunch more of them now. Apparently, Miley Cyrus recently made a spectacle of herself on one of them. And now you can’t ┬áturn around without bumping into something that has been written about it.

(The VMA awards are MTV’s Video Music Awards. You’re welcome.)

People are talking about her, that’s for sure. And maybe that’s what she hoped for.

I haven’t read everything I’ve seen in print about the girl, but I’ve noodled around enough to understand she’s stirred something up in people. Some are pointing and laughing. Some are analyzing her motives or discussing potential fallout.

Some of the more reflective folk are praying, even weeping for her. And for the culture that has produced her.

The word is burning on my tongue. Can I just say it? Hogwash.

Because that’s easy. I mean sure, pray and weep a little. It’s sad to see a young woman doing what she is doing. But it’s also far far away.

It’s easy because I don’t know her. She lives in someone else’s world of influence, and feeling bad for her is like feeling bad for orphans or child slaves or children living in poverty.

It only matters if I do something about it.

I might think I don’t know Miley Cyrus, but really, she lives next door. She’s the teenage girl at church, and the young woman posting sexy selfies on Facebook, and the precious face of my friend’s daughter.

She’s every young woman out there who just wants to be seen.

I can bemoan the world I live in. I can take shelter and pray. I can feel sad and write commentary. But at some point, if saying I’m a Christian means anything at all to me, I have to look up.

Look up, see, touch, hug, talk…

There’s a Miley Cyrus in your world. I know there is. Can you see her?

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It’s always been this way with boys.

I sit on the beach, blanket and book, toes anchored in the sand. But there’s no anchoring a boy.

With a boy, its sand flying and in and out of the water and up to the swings even though they are much too big and the swinging threatens broken legs or arms or worse. The better-behaved children watch, mouths open, but the dervishes whirl, undaunted.

One of them says a bad word, and one brother calls the other a name, and I caution, like any good mother would.

But they run away, swim away, swing away.

It’s always been this way.

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Birches, by Robert Frost

When I see birches bend to left and right
Across the lines of straighter darker trees,
I like to think some boy’s been swinging them.
But swinging doesn’t bend them down to stay.
Ice-storms do that. Often you must have seen them
Loaded with ice a sunny winter morning
After a rain. They click upon themselves
As the breeze rises, and turn many-colored
As the stir cracks and crazes their enamel.
Soon the sun’s warmth makes them shed crystal shells
Shattering and avalanching on the snow-crust–
Such heaps of broken glass to sweep away
You’d think the inner dome of heaven had fallen.
They are dragged to the withered bracken by the load,
And they seem not to break; though once they are bowed
So low for long, they never right themselves:
You may see their trunks arching in the woods
Years afterwards, trailing their leaves on the ground
Like girls on hands and knees that throw their hair
Before them over their heads to dry in the sun.
But I was going to say when Truth broke in
With all her matter-of-fact about the ice-storm
(Now am I free to be poetical?)
I should prefer to have some boy bend them
As he went out and in to fetch the cows–
Some boy too far from town to learn baseball,
Whose only play was what he found himself,
Summer or winter, and could play alone.
One by one he subdued his father’s trees
By riding them down over and over again
Until he took the stiffness out of them,
And not one but hung limp, not one was left
For him to conquer. He learned all there was
To learn about not launching out too soon
And so not carrying the tree away
Clear to the ground. He always kept his poise
To the top branches, climbing carefully
With the same pains you use to fill a cup
Up to the brim, and even above the brim.
Then he flung outward, feet first, with a swish,
Kicking his way down through the air to the ground.
So was I once myself a swinger of birches.
And so I dream of going back to be.
It’s when I’m weary of considerations,
And life is too much like a pathless wood
Where your face burns and tickles with the cobwebs
Broken across it, and one eye is weeping
From a twig’s having lashed across it open.
I’d like to get away from earth awhile
And then come back to it and begin over.
May no fate willfully misunderstand me
And half grant what I wish and snatch me away
Not to return. Earth’s the right place for love:
I don’t know where it’s likely to go better.
I’d like to go by climbing a birch tree,
And climb black branches up a snow-white trunk
Toward heaven, till the tree could bear no more,
But dipped its top and set me down again.
That would be good both going and coming back.
One could do worse than be a swinger of birches.

My words are next door today, over at How to Homeschool High School. Anne and I have started writing letters back and forth, and it’s so much fun. I’d love to have you join us.

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My letter to Anne today is part reflection (summer is almost over, you know) and part kick-in-the-pants. I’m still trying to figure out how we (my son, Colton, and I) are going to approach the rest of his homeschool experience. Structured? Relaxed? High School transcript or not? College credit courses?

Decisions.

Please pop in on the conversation, and if you have any wisdom to share, that would be fabulous.

And enjoy the last days of summer. We are trying to.

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It’s made almost entirely of goat hair, is only about 1 1/2 inches across, and I can barely feel the weight of it in my hand. A miracle of construction and efficient in its purpose. Not flashy, not stately or even very sturdy. It wouldn’t last a Saskatchewan winter.

He brought it in for me, rather than mow over it, because he knew I’d love it. And I do.

I love it for its simplicity. I love the sweet bowl, the cradle of it, and I imagine the tiny babies that would have nestled in it, covered by breast or wing until, growing big and getting crowded, they fly.

Everything that is mommy in me feels the pull of this tiny sculptured home.

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I’m working on a wee book about Home. Not about decluttering or decorating. Not really. More about loving. Maybe you’ll read it when I’m done? And think of me, pray for me even, as I try to squeeze bits of creativity and writing time into my days.

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All the people I’ve known in my life who have come to the place of living openly as same-sex attracted people, have left their faiths.

There might be some, I’m suspecting, who are living closeted lives and who go to church, but I had never shared a hymnal with anyone who was open until I met Sally.

We were at a Christian Women’s Renewal, about sixty of us, and at our worship time on the first evening, I sat beside her. I stuck out a hand and introduced myself, and we shook, and we started to talk.

She shared her passion for her ministry, Center Peace, which she described as an organization that provides support for men and women who experience same-sex attraction, and which does workshops for churches to help them both better understand and provide healthier environments for same-sex attracted people within their congregations.

And then we were singing and worshipping and that was that.

We ended up in the same prayer group, though, and spent a few moments in conversation here and there, and I came to admire and respect Sally Gary, for her story, for her life, for her honesty, and for her courage to be someone who loves God and likes girls.

A few weeks later, at a big Christian gathering at Pepperdine University in Malibu, Sally launched her new book.

Loves God, Likes Girls is a memoir. It is a beautifully written account of an only girl-child born to older parents and raised in a bible-belt Christian home often marked by anger, secrecy, and emotional abuse. It’s Sally’s journey, her story of growing up in an often confusing environment, and her eventual realization that she was attracted to women.

It’s a sad, poignant, but ultimately hopeful story of one woman’s experience.

What it’s not, is a book that takes either polarizing side of this emotionally charged issue. You won’t find arguments supporting homosexuality, nor will you find arguments against it. Paul isn’t quoted, and neither is Leviticus.

This is a book that is descriptive, not prescriptive. It’s Sally’s story, told honestly and bravely, and it’s beautiful.

Love you, Sally Gary. God bless!

Sally ministers at Center Peace, and blogs at Peace of my Mind…

 

IMG_1345 When I was in college, a christian college in Texas so, you know, as foreign to me as if I’d gone to college in Jamaica, I took a statistics class. I had to, as part of my undergraduate degree program requirements. The prof was a sweet old guy who was teaching his last year of classes before retirement and really, he was just phoning it in.

It was the easiest statistics class in the history of statistics classes.

We talked about almost everything under the sun. Except statistics.

I remember one day, sitting in class and this prof asked us what we had planned for our lives, or something like that. And students were talking about grad programs or marriage or job possibilities, and I honestly never said much in this class because, like I mentioned, they were Texans and I could barely understand them let alone relate to them, but that day the sweet old prof specifically asked me a question.

I remember somewhere in my answer I said something about being a feminist, and I remember hearing a mighty collective gasp and it was like all the air left the room for a few seconds.

And then the sweet old professor kindly and patronizingly said something like, That’s very interesting, and went on to the next student, but after class he asked me to stay behind and kindly and patronizingly suggested that I not give up on men, and that marriage and children were the most fulfilling and God-honouring way for a woman to live her life.

I hadn’t realized that considering myself a feminist meant giving up on men or marriage.

Honestly, I don’t think I really knew then what it meant to be a feminist. Except for equality, I suppose, and maybe that was definition enough.

I went to a secular, Canadian university after that, in pursuit of a Master’s degree, although I never finished the program because I got married (to a man) and started having children. Oh, the irony.

Now, as a mature woman with many years of life experience behind me, I don’t call myself a feminist anymore. I still have a fondness for equality, but there’s some other stuff that bothers me.

Mainly, the babies. I don’t think I can call myself a feminist because I can’t not see a fetus as really and truly a human person. And there’s some other stuff too, but mainly, it’s the babies.

I know there are qualifying terms out there. Christian feminist, etc. But once you start doing that, it all gets so deeply defined, it becomes meaningless. Like the sabbath laws, or a bill in parliament. The forest gets lost in the trees.

Anyway, that’s where my thoughts have been taking me lately. One friend told me I was copping out. Another said I was over-thinking. Ya, probably.

But life is short, and kids grow up fast, and I just want to spend my time loving the ones I love.

And all the stuff I believe is important? I think I can believe those things as a woman, without needing to define myself any further.

Although Sarah Bessey just wrote a book called Jesus Feminist, and I’ll probably read it.

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Hello, Friends!

I have a new post up over at How to Homeschool High School, where we are discussing the question, Should you buy your kid a car?

Hope you’ll pop over and join in.

Just click here, to go there.

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