Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Praise of My Man

Two weeks ago I got to watch men working together along the dusty, rocky outdoor adventure land of Moab, Utah. This was a motley group, though disguised beneath their sunburned, unshaven faces and dirt flecked clothes were accountants, firemen, web consultants, waiters, nurses, retirees and one philosopher / theologian / speaker / writer that was my husband.

The first morning was scorching, pushing 90 degrees before 8 o’clock. In the small cab of my husband’s khaki Jeep, who we've dubbed "Conrade," I bounced along the scenic “easy” trail that led us to a look-out point aptly named "Top of the World." We dared to swing our feet over the ledge long enough for this picture.

On the way down the mountain my patience got tested because it was MUCH bumpier and hotter. And I began feeling that sickness feeling (the sickness I got, see "Inopportune Sickness" post) way in the back of my throat. To top it off, Dale’s sway bar (read the thing that keeps the car from bouncing like mad) broke (well it didn’t really break, but that’s laywoman’s terms for what happened). The entire caravan of 30 Jeepers stopped on the road, scores of men got out of their Jeeps, swarming around injured Conrade.

I sat inside, trying not to think of other places I’d rather be. That’s when I realized that while I was sitting inside these men were giving up their own air conditioned cabs to lay down in the dirt and inspect Conrade's problem. Two men were laying flat on their backs, squinting into the dark recesses of Conrade’s front end. Prying, levering, suggesting, I heard, “Hey JT you have an allen wrench?” “What about using this rock, it’s large enough to jerry-rig the sway bar from re-attaching.” Tool bags come piling out of Jeeps, men are getting greasy, sweaty, but even more determined. I watch sort of dumbfounded that they want to help make this happen. I want to announce, “Hey, it’s not really worth all this work in the dirt and heat of the afternoon, let’s just get out of here and get home.

Then I overhear one of the guys say to Dale, “It’s really hard on her, huh?” I glance over and see he’s talking about me. I quickly pretend I didn’t hear, trying to wipe the disgusted, befuddled look off my face. I sit and feel like a wimp. Then I hear Dale’s rejoinder, “Actually, she hasn’t complained at all.” I feel my heart jump with amazement. If only I was as good a woman as he thinks me.

The men never did get that sway bar working, but I learned that controlling my tongue mattered more. Because I did I can look at the pictures and remember the men’s teamwork, Dale’s trust that I could make it with him, and his praise of me in front of those hard-working Jeep guys. I'm proud to be his Jeepin' wife.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Why Value Mothers?- Part I & II

Before Ruby Slippers was published, I remember how skeptical people were about my writing project. I'd hear things like, "Wow! You're writing about the woman's soul?" I'd see a doubtful glance at my youthfulness and then a slow smirk, "Good luck!" Some would tease, "Nice, small project!" The more outspoken gave unsolicited pointers, "Women are emotional, make sure you put that in your book." Others would counter my enthusiasm with, "I'd be very interested to see what you find." Some would just state that women are complicated and mysterious and change the subject.

Ruby Slippers is now out there, living, moving, and having its being. While the comments keep coming to my inbox, they've changed their tune. Recently a friend from seminary days now working as a church leader called. She told me that she was planning to buy her mother and mother-in-law a copy of Ruby Slippers for Mother's Day. I wanted to know why.

"It's got a great cover!" she said laughing. "But, really, your book is going to give both my moms a new perspective into their womanhood. For their generation this is not a very familiar topic. They haven’t thought a lot about what it means to be a woman. You've respected femininity here, giving it new life, breathing purpose, value and dignity into something that the church doesn’t know what to do with. You've helped women see they don't have to be smashed into one place. They can have full life, now. I just can’t wait to hear what they think, to talk with them after they read it."

Read the rest of these Mother's Day musings, including Part II at Zondervan's Blog.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Inopportune Sickness

This morning I awoke with a relapse of a cold that has lingered uninvited and mostly unappreciated for the last three weeks.

I was sick with a wretched sore throat while visiting my long time friend Erin in Dallas, TX. The only mercy there was that she happened to be sick, too. So we took it easy and watched lots of Anne of Green Gables. (It was while visiting her that we happened in on a Barnes and Noble where I got to see my book in a bookstore for the very first time!) The visit proved to be more memorable because I was sick. Pain sharpens my senses. I enjoyed the salty bacon she made for me upon arrival much more than I would have had I been well.

The cold revisited me while Dale and I camped in Moab, Utah, the very next week. This was our first long vacation in awhile. No speaking, no Soulation Chat, no email. It was supposed to be an adventuring, holiday time for us. But I got that razorblade feeling in the back of my throat again. So when I faced the windy, dusty, lightening, rainy, windy, sleety climate of Moab with three Welsh Corgis and an adventurous Jeeping husband (More on that week's learnings later) I felt attuned to notice more. I had my cold to reckon with and it kept me thankful for the little things like sturdy tents, friends to repair broken down Jeeps, air conditioning and sunscreen.

I thought I was better, but two days back home and the cold has re-appeared, which makes me suspicious that I never really got over it. As each swallow reminds me, pain brings us into the present. Each moment of this long day has stretched out, from the wee hours of morning to the dark clouds of afternoon. But today I've also seen more, the courage, willingness and capability of my husband who has fetched and carried for me again and again, the sweet laziness of dogs who are happy to cuddle and doze with me, the amazing power of chicken broth to soothe and the temporary relief of throat lozenges.

When I'm sick I see the hedge God has put around me. This morning as I shut the window on a cold, icy wind I thought of Corrie Ten Boom who was sick when carted off to a dank prison. I don't think I would have survived.

Though the pain makes me perk up and notice, I'm ready to be well. That's one of the lessons of colds, they require stopping, resting. There's no hurrying good health. In the meanwhile I will wait and watch and taste and see that God is still good.