Friday, November 22, 2013

She No Longer Wears White

The girl is beautiful.



She stands near the road in a white dress. She's ready for her wedding day, but she's a young bride. Inexperienced. She is spinning in her dress, showing her friends the lace around its edges.

The man is just driving through, but he notices her. He notices her dress.

She is beautiful.

Her friends disperse when he approaches. But she's too happy to think bad thoughts. She only smiles up at him.

Later, she is in his car. And she is crying.

Maybe he stops along the way. Maybe he has his way with her.

But maybe not. Maybe his greed is stronger than his lust, and he keeps driving.

When they stop, the sun is gone. The girl is led through the darkness, into a building she's never seen before. She no longer knows where she is. On the drive, she could not see the scenery fly by. Her eyes were blurred by tears. Her dress is still white. It stands out in dirty surroundings.

The man leaves her there. Another man has handed him a fistful of bills. His greed satisfied, for now, he disappears.

Many years pass. The girl is sold again and again. She has slept with every man in the village, except the good ones. Then again, maybe some of the good ones also. Maybe even good men sometimes do bad things.

When women pass her on the street, they look the other way. She cannot get water from the village well when others are there. She goes in the heat of the day.

She no longer wears white.

Now, you tell me, is this the pretty girl's fault?

Did she do something to deserve her plight? Should she be blamed for the sins of the men who share her bed? Does the slave bear the responsibility of her servitude?

The Church is the Bride of Christ. He clothed her in white. He will wed her when the day comes.

She has been stolen. She has been sold by many hands, taken into many beds, used for evil ends.

Now, you tell me,

Did she do something to deserve her plight? Should she be blamed for the sins of the men who share her bed? Does the slave bear the responsibility of her servitude?

Maybe it isn't her fault.

Maybe it's mine.

Friday Felicities: 11/22/13

Friday Felicities

Modern Family with the hubster.
Book signing and dinner and coffee with girlfriends
The perfect gift for a friend
Retreat on the horizon
Letter from our Compassion child, Nathali
Audio books on car rides
My Carolina Girl long-sleeved tee
Hummus crusted chicken
Thanksgiving plans

Friday, November 15, 2013

Currently: Mists and Mellow Fruitfulness

Current Books: I've been immersed in a few volumes of Edna St Vincent Millay lately. I also read No Easy Answers by Brooks Brown. I have a few books on hold for my Kindle. Nothing is calling to me though. Oh, I read The Crane Wife by Patrick Ness, and it was pure gorgeousness. Poetry in prose. Delicious.

Current Playlist: "Mary Jane's Last Dance" has been on a few times recently, in the car. It's my Make-Me-Happy-Right-Now song.

Current Shame Inducing Guilty Pleasure: Filling our DVR with Doctor Who specials.

Current Colors: Kentucky blue

Current Fetish: Millay's poetry and making the lines make sense for my new story.

Current Food: My taste buds are all wonky from a medication. I'm craving sweets and really junky food. I need to get it under control.

Current Drink: Starbucks Refreshers. The new med has stolen coffee from me. *cries* So Refreshers are helping me not get caffeine headaches.

Current Favorite Favorite: My hubby. He gets me. Even in my crazy.

Current Wishlist: a new winter wardrobe for my new size, lots of books, uninterrupted writing and resting time.

Current Needs: My tastebuds to return to normal.

Current Triumph: My character is finally talking to me. She's becoming a real person. Hallelujah!

Current Bane-of-my-Existence: Being drained. I'm an introvert spending all of my waking time with two children. I just need some solitude on a regular basis.

Current Indulgence: Buying a few kinds of tea, trying to find something I like.

Current Mood: Tired but good.

Current #1 Blessing: My husband and my friends. And my upcoming trip to ISRAEL. Can you feel the excitement radiating off of me?

Current Outfit: Jeans, purple fitted tee, green jacket, studded boots.

Current Link: Stephanie hit the nail on the head for me today.

Current Photo:

Title from: To Autumn by John Keats

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Showing Up

I am craving a God encounter.

Do you get that way? Do you sometimes feel a bit empty and think about deserts and droughts and empty wells?

I was feeling that way earlier this year when I penned these words as the start to a poem:

I'm terrified of living
in this desert.
I am cacti,
reaching my prickly arms
skyward, begging,
oh Jesus,
let it rain.

Months later, I am still sitting on the sand, struggling towards oasis. Sometimes, I’d be grateful for the shimmer of mirage.

So I am plotting. For now, short trips to walk the paths of labyrinths, and – for later – a few days in a monastery, where the walls breathe prayer and Facebook does not beckon from my phone, where there are no children needing my attention and no calendar insisting I be somewhere else. I am plotting to encounter God.

Because sometimes you have to plan these things.

I didn’t grow a relationship with Corey into a marriage by sitting at home, not answering my phone, expecting him to magically get to know me and fall in love with me and want to be with me forever. No. I made an effort. I called him. I wrote him letters and poetry. I hid love notes all over his apartment so he would find them at random times.

My best friend didn’t become my best friend without some work on both our parts. It took opening up and sharing the deep things, the things we feel shame over and the things that make us proud. It took hours spent doing what looks like nothing much from the outside but translates as quality time in our relationship. We live three hours apart, so we plan time together. We work it around her work schedule and my homeschooling and the various other activities that take up our time.

I encounter my husband when I choose to. I encounter my friend when I choose to.

That doesn’t mean every planned encounter will involve angels singing and God’s purpose for my life suddenly made clear, vivid before me like a vision. No, there’s no guarantee. But there sure is a better chance of a beautiful moment when I…

When I what?

When I show up.

I spread out my hands to you; I thirst for you like a parched land. Psalm 143:6

Friday, November 8, 2013

Friday Felicities: Nov 8, 2013

Friday Felicities

Corey's schedule being so flexible 
The welcoming atmosphere at the school we visited today
My neighbors
Daddy's surgery went well
A light at the end of the tunnel
Photobook designing
Notebooks and G2 pens
1/2 lb Reese's cups
Teaching youth this past Weds

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Jobs That Are Easier Than Parenting

  • Calcutta Sewer Cleaner
  • UN Negotiator
  • Air Traffic Controller
  • Brain Surgeon
  • Coal Mining
  • Alaskan Crab Fishing
  • President of the United States of America
  • Prison Warden
  • Ice Road Trucker
  • Crime Scene Cleaner
  • BP Publicist

Okay okay okay.

This post is meant tongue-in-cheek. I am not belittling these jobs. Just the opposite. They are some of the hardest jobs imaginable and I don't want to do any of them.

But today, this week, with the refereeing of boy fights and the big decision making and the unable-to-fix-it-all-ness of life…

Parenting feels like the hardest job.


I keep seeing my kids as adults, discussing all of the mistakes I made in raising them. And I agree with these imaginary grown-up children. I find myself trying to explain to them, this is hard.

It is so hard.

When they fight, it is impossible to know who started it anymore. Where does one argument end and another begin? Who was copying who? Who looked at who funny and made a face and then laughed when he got in trouble?

I'm exhausted.

I love my boys. If I didn't, this parenting thing would be a whole lot easier. I wouldn't care so much about raising them right, making sure they know and feel how loved they are, helping them become the amazing men I know they can be.

God bless you mommies everywhere.

Now, back to my striped shirt and my loud silver whistle.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

A Blog About Lice Shampoo

I have a new friend. She lives in Cambodia where she helps care for women and children rescued from slavery.

Including sex slavery.

That's some heavy stuff right there, but it didn't hit me how heavy until I read her Christmas list.

See, a group of us are gathering items to send in a big ole Christmas box to Cambodia. Can you imagine spending Christmas so far away from home and family? What sorts of things would be on your list? Mine might include:

  • G2 pens
  • Reese's cups
  • Dandruff shampoo
  • Burt's Bees chapstick
  • Books galore
  • Thick socks
  • Hair clips
  • Writing paper

And, yeah, some items like that made my friend's list as well. She needs a new hairbrush and wants iTunes gift cards, etc… She also wants stickers and small games she can play with the girls there. All good stuff. Understandable stuff.

But she also asked for lice shampoo.

And this has wrecked me for days.

I will be going about my normal day and suddenly think, "Lice shampoo" and then I'm crying. It happened on the way to church Sunday morning, listening to my first world kids complain about first world problems. I cried and cried and tried to explain why, but they are kids. They just don't get it. They can't imagine purposely going into a world where lice is a part of daily life for the people around you, where you have to deal with lice in order to fulfill your calling, to help those who need your help so badly.

My friend hugs girls who need hugs.
And, sometimes,
those girls have lice.
And having lice doesn't make them
less worthy of her hugs.

I am a girl. I had very long hair for most of my childhood. I went to school with other kids. More than once, I brought home lice. Then, once I was old enough to pay closer attention and not pick them up, my sister was in elementary school and she would bring them home. The result? For years, every time my head itched, I checked for lice. And I have a dry scalp so my head itched a lot.

A whole lot.

In other words, I know about lice shampoo.
I know about stripping your house and spraying
and giving up stuffed animals you loved.
I know about notes home in backpacks and
holding your head upside down for
what feels like hours while
your mother runs a fine-toothed comb over every solitary strand
of my long

I know about feeling dirty even when you aren't.

I carried a fear of lice into adulthood. I was nervous going to hair salons, convinced I would have picked up lice somewhere and the hairdresser would shriek and point at my head. And then everyone would turn and look at the girl with lice. And the whole shop would have to be sanitized and I would be humiliated.

And I would have to go home
and deal
with lice.

When I had boys, I thought, "Praise God for shaved heads and please no lice."

So far, so good.

But I remember.

And when I saw lice shampoo on my friend's Christmas list, it just undid me.

It is still undoing me.

I look around at my abundance.
I look at my children,
not likely to be sold into slavery.
Not likely to even miss a meal or
not get the toy they most want for Christmas.

And, sometimes, all I can do
is cry
over lice shampoo
in Cambodia.

Monday, November 4, 2013


Middle Places


That's the theme at Middle Places this month. It is also one of David's vocabulary words this week.


It came up in one of the Proverbs I studied for Small Group Sunday. I've been reading Proverbs in the original Hebrew, thanks to Blue Letter Bible. 

I was surprised when I looked up the word used for "honored," as in "to live an honored life" and found it means heavy, weighty, burdensome, grievous… and, yes, also glorious.

One of our girls suggested Mother Teresa as an example.

Yes. How right. How true. 

Mother lived a heavy life. She carried people's burdens, weighty burdens. Her love, His love flowing through her, brought Him glory and her life is honored in our memories.

But it was never easy.

An honored life must first be a difficult one.

There will be abundant blessings, and sometimes blessings wear ugly masks. They whisper words like cancer, dying, lost, hopeless, divorce, betrayal, depression…

They whisper…

"I am grievous."

But they carry abundance in their arms. Their scarred faces crumple into tears of joy.

My mother and my neighbor are both facing situations I cannot fix for them. No one can, really. Or, the people who seem to hold that power are choosing not to use it.

And there is pain there.

I can chauffeur kids and send up prayers and tell my mom I love her.
But I can't be the solution, and it is hard. It is hard when, in the midst of abundant blessing, there is also abundant pain.

Both from the hand of God. Correct? Rain on the just and the unjust. Drought to them both. He giveth and He taketh away. And it can be hard not to hate Him for it. Hard not to love Him for it. Hard to grasp any sort of understanding.

I glory in His abundance.

But I also cry.

I also cry.

Friday, November 1, 2013

My Eyes are in the Rear View Mirror

We are driving home from my best friend's house, listening to an audio book, chatting here and there. I'm trying to stay awake. Coffee still tastes bad, no matter that it's my favorite specialty coffee in all the world. Med adjustments are the pits. Then, our book ends. I'll play music on my iPhone.

What to play?

Haydn has his daddy's tastes, and there's no heavy metal on my phone. Oy. So I pick Aerosmith. It's rock, right? And I grew up on Aerosmith. Steven Tyler remains one of the sexiest men alive in my opinion. We can jam to Aerosmith for an hour and a half and then we will be home sweet home. Hopefully before the medicated nausea kicks in for the day and before the predicted thunder storms descend on Tupelo.

I still know all the words to each song that plays. I sing along. I tell Haydn how I used to listen to Aerosmith with my daddy.

I tap out a rhythm on the steering wheel.
I sing loud, voice cracking.
I wiggle in the driver's seat.
I glance across the car at my son.
He is 11.

Suddenly, I switch places with him.

I am 11.
Dad picks me up for our weekend; Carrie in the backseat and me riding shotgun in the black Camaro.
Or maybe the teal Grand Am.
Music fills the car.
Dad sings along,
tapping out a rhythm on his steering wheel.

It's surreal.

When did this happen?
I am not the kid riding shotgun anymore.
I'm the parent dreaming dreams,
remembering when I lived these songs,
when each word felt so true to me.

I have my own man-child now, a boy so much like my father that I see my dad bursting from his seams.
And I miss my daddy, far away in Carolina.
And I miss 17, when there wasn't even breathing room
between pleasure and pain.
And I miss 13, watching Liv and Alicia
on Justin's big screen TV,
and I miss dancing in my underwear,
screaming WALK THIS WAY.

But here I am,
my eyes in the rear view mirror,
my kid in the passenger seat.

And, Steven, you were right.
The light at the end of the tunnel
might be me.

Disqus for Madame Rubies